The World Doesn’t Reward Dreamers

The world doesn’t reward dreamers, so dream anyway. What do you have to lose? Everyone expects you to fail.

I am a dreamer. I have always been. My world was dark and confusing when I was a child. The people who loved me could only do so part-time–they were busy, young, confused themselves. The people who hated me made it crystal clear. So, I began to dream.

First I dreamt of being someone else; something else. Mythical. I wanted to be beautiful and magical and special. Later–frustrated with how ordinary I was–I would dream up stories. My characters would be dreamers, too, but their dreams could come true.

It wasn’t until later (it wasn’t really until now) that I realised that dreamers will always only be dreamers unless they have obstacles to face. You don’t dream of starting a business if you know you’ll be given the family business someday. You don’t dream of helping to solve world peace unless the world is already a disaster. Dreams are born of nightmares, not the other way around. To want better for ourselves is inherently human. To be afraid of stepping outside of our comfort zone to get to what is better is also inherently human.

One of my favorite authors said something once that I have strived to live by: “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”–C. S. Lewis

Essentially the author of The Chronicles of Narnia is saying that anything worth having is worth the pain of hoping and striving for it. Love is difficult. It is a daily choosing of something other than the self. Ambition is difficult. It is a daily sacrifice of progress over laziness. Dreaming is the hardest choice of all. It is a daily acknowledgement that you have a hope for something that may never come to pass and that you will hold on to that hope no matter what.

The world does not reward dreamers, but dream anyway. Love anyway. Try anyway. You will be happier than the cynics flooding their confined, airless hearts with more negativity and doubt. You will be healthier than those who are so overwhelmed by failure that they can’t see the lessons in the setbacks. You will be stronger and capable of making your dreams a reality.

Dream, because the only thing truly stopping you is you.

Advertisements

Worth Living

My world is a little bit upside down today. Not much. I’m still privileged and educated and so far financially stable. I have a family who loves me, a patient and kind boyfriend, and even a few friends.

My depression doesn’t know the difference. Every now and again it convinces me my life isn’t worth living. Not because school is difficult, or work is challenging, or relationships of all kinds can be taxing. It convinces me because my ears are ringing and they’ll likely never stop. Because my insecurities feel like leeches attached to my flesh that I can’t ever seem to be fully rid of. Because those few extra pounds will shed and grow back seemingly forever. Because there’s something wrong with me, the shadow behind my reflection whispers. Other people manage. Other people keep friendships and boyfriends and have lean, beautiful bodies and perfect grades and are the best siblings. Other people aren’t such ridiculous failures, this voice inside me says.

I am afraid of failure. Not when I take tests. Not when I drive my car. Not when I cook something without a recipe.

I’m afraid of failure when my boyfriend seems exasperated with me. When I just can’t make myself go to the gym again today. When my neck hurts and I wonder if this is just an ache or if it’s some new chronic pain I’ll take with me forever now. I’m afraid of failure when my siblings would rather play video games than FaceTime me. When my hair doesn’t seem to be growing. When I post a nice picture and it barely seems to get any likes. When I realise all I ever wanted to be was a writer and here I am, more than 10 years later, still ‘learning how to write’.

The biggest black cloud depression pulls over me is the fear that I will keep being a failure forever. That’s when it whispers softer, right at the base of my ear: give up

Most days I’m happy to be alive. Well that’s not true. Most days I’m happy enough to exist on autopilot. A handful of those days I’m actually happy to be alive. Then there are these days. Nothing particular happened. Just a cluttered amount of normal stressors. Then, like an unscheduled guest, there is the voice, clear as day.

Give up. Give in. Why fight it anymore?

And I have to remind it I am worth fighting for. I am worth believing in. I am worthy of love and compassion and even the frustration expressed by people who love me and know I can be better. I am worth getting knocked down and getting back up. I am worth this messy, imperfect, uncontrollable, often tiresome living. And I am worth all the beauty in it, too.

I have to remind myself. I have to embrace that truth. I have to push my fears aside and live. Live the best that I can for however long it takes. There is no weakness or shame in wishing life was easier. I have to remind myself of that, too. Life is a balance. The good and the bad. Some days I have to convince myself to stay. Other days I’m glad I listened.

Hookup Culture and Deteriorating Mental Health

Winter in Limerick is proving difficult for me. My mental health is deteriorating. Some of this is normal. Seasonal depression is common enough that little boxes of sunlight are marketed to people trying to survive the dark half of the year. I love Ireland, but the winters are cold and bleak and boring. I understand now why my boyfriend was eager to get away before the end of summer.

Summer. I miss it. We had a rare heat wave and I wore backless maxi dresses almost daily. I met my boyfriend on Tinder. That’s quickly becoming a recognisable phrase. I was attempting to mend my broken heart from the now third relationship that had ended with me being cheated on. I wanted something selfish and quick but with someone of substance that I wouldn’t have to be ashamed of later. Because, you see, I was a virgin. I grew up very religious, but even before then I grew up afraid of pre-marital sex as I was a product of such an encounter to the detriment of my parents. They loved me as best as they could, but I was a burden and the memory of my painful existence in their lives has never quite worn away on me.

So I told myself over and over again through the years that I would never settle for a hookup. But in Summer 2018, that’s exactly what I attempted to do. Heartbroken, insecure, hopeless, I created a Tinder account. I wanted to be as careless as the rest of the world seemed to be. I wanted to lock away my emotions and hurl myself into modernity. I let the heat inspire me. I drank more, smoked more. I won’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I had flirtations with guys that amounted to nothing. One horrendous date at the start of June. Then one very good one.

I was practically numb when I met him. Happy and sad at once. I didn’t expect anything. He arrived slightly late and in his work clothes and was even more handsome than his profile. We spent the majority of the evening looking over the water from a bridge. I asked him to drive me home. I still don’t know why I did that. I don’t trust easily, and yet I didn’t fear him at all. I don’t know how to explain it.

I slept with him on our third date. That wasn’t by design, regardless of what he now says. There was another guy I had been talking to and I liked him. A lot. But I trusted the one who took me home safely. So I did what I had told myself I would never do for over 20 years. I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect. Then I was happy, relieved, calm. I kicked him out that first time and he hasn’t let me forget it since, but I needed to process. I felt good, but also terrified–convinced I had done something wrong. I cried later that night. Much later. I didn’t know his last name. Since deciding I was ready for sex I had told myself at the very least I would know his full name. I had failed again. My mind spun with the possibilities of my other encounters with men. Would they have stuck around and been faithful if I had had sex with them? What was I now? Not a virgin, so something closer to a whore?

When we had finished he casually noted that he didn’t want anything serious. With me, I thought? Is it me men don’t take seriously? I agreed. This is what people did now? Don’t take things seriously. Yourself, anyone else. Numb out. It’s what’s expected. Kick him out. That’s what he expects, right? Casual. Later I found out he had slept with another girl the next night. Sure. Fine. I wanted someone else, too. That’s how this works… An endless carousel until you find someone that sticks around? I didn’t know anything about this world. I still don’t. I never thought I’d hear from him again.

He texted me a few days later. I figured he just wanted sex. That’s what hookup culture is, right? And the other guy had just ghosted. I asked him over for 9pm and told him he could stay the night. He did. The first time I had ever slept beside a man in my bed. I was self conscious. I didn’t know where to place my limbs. He didn’t spoon me. Was he done with me? Is this what people did? I felt like I was in a hostel, sleeping beside a stranger.

I don’t remember which night it was, but I can’t forget it. Even now, months later, my mind returns to this one moment I can’t escape. We were lying in bed. I was desperate to be spooned by him but I didn’t know how to ask. We weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend. We were barely friends. But we had had sex moments ago. Everything new and terrifying and confusingly beautiful. I just wanted him to touch me. He was on Tinder. Half turned away from me but not hiding. Looking through his matches. Endless profiles. He clicked on one and told me how he knew her. He showed me her profile. It was less than two weeks later that he told me they eventually slept together. Even to this day he has those photos saved in his phone. And they remind me over and over again of how disgusted I was that night. Not only with him. With me. I have never felt so worthless. Just another girl on his screen. Just a hole. Just something to do.

Part of me is still disgusted. Should I have kicked him out? I love him now. I’ve told him. But should I? What does it say about me that the photos are still in his phone. Not just of that one girl, but others. I’m not special. My photos linger there beside theirs, a digital trophy case–or that’s how it feels. Things are different now. I know that. Still, I don’t think he can ever truly know how much he hurt me in that one careless moment or how disappointed I was with myself. I don’t know if he’ll ever understand what those pictures are doing to me, pixel by pixel. Swiping right.

Winter. It’s so cold there’s no where to go to escape. I am becoming more needy. I hate that about myself but I’m used to it. My boyfriend isn’t. Perhaps he’s confused or annoyed with me. I wouldn’t know. His face is often blank, his feelings locked away. I watch the crows fight and read and watch my various screens. I try not to remember that night, but instead who we are now. He was supposed to be gone by the end of summer, but he’s still here and I’m grateful. I know he’ll be gone soon and I admit I’m afraid. We live in a hookup culture. People determined to make monogamy work are falling behind the times. He never wanted a new relationship. He never wanted me. Perhaps I’ve doomed my heart to break again. It’s only a matter of time. And then that night returns to me with all the clarity of a nightmare. It would be so easy for him. They’d all be there again. Waiting to take their turn. A carousel of empty, emotionless sex. It wouldn’t be easy for me. It’s cold, but I’m not numb anymore. And right now I don’t know which is worse.

The Gift of Timeless Style

I’ve partnered once again with Jord Watches to share my thoughts on their gorgeous wood watches. Pictured is my Ebony & Iron watch from the sophisticated Hyde collection. I love that this watch is dark and mysterious–classic in a way that communicates effortless class as the clean face shines from beneath a checked shirt sleeve.

I prefer men’s watches. They’re cool without trying. The lustre off the conditioned wood of the Jord watch reminds me of my father carefully polishing his dress shoes or oiling his beard. Usually I would get this watch for myself. I am a shamelessly girly girl who is nonetheless drawn to traditionally masculine things. This time, however, I knew this watch would make the perfect gift for a special man in my life.

I have always struggled with gift giving. When I receive gifts I prefer small things that show someone knows me well. When I give gifts, I stress myself worrying if the gift is good enough. With a Jord Wood Watch I didn’t have to worry about that. The quality of Jord watches is well known and the craftsmanship is clean and precise. However, the true appeal of a Jord Watch is the uniqueness of a wood watch. The Ebony & Iron watch could easily be mistaken for something sleek and metallic, but when you look closer and realise it is in fact gorgeous, polished, mostly reclaimed wood, it only adds to the impressive beauty of the timepiece.

Jord Wood Watches makes gift giving easy. There is a classic elegance to a watch collection. Jord doesn’t spare any detail–from their beautiful men’s and women’s watches to the smartly crafted boxes the watches are housed in. Wearing a Jord Wood Watch is to wear something both classic and unique, elegant and structured. No matter the occasion, these beautiful watches communicate consideration for the wearer. Jord makes it easy to give the gift of a timeless timepiece.

Click the link below for your chance to win $100 off your very own Jord Wood Watch:

http://www.jordwatches.com/g/blackcoffeebooks35

<!– JORD WOOD WATCHES ARTICLE WIDGET START –>
<a id=”woodwatches_com_widget_article”  ishidden=”1″ title=”Wooden Wrist Watch”>Wooden Wrist Watch</a>
///spanspan%20style=
<!– JORD WOOD WATCHES ARTICLE WIDGET END –>

Oh no, that’s his friend

Swipe. Swipe. Swipe.

I’ve mentioned this before but here I am again. I HATE dating. Not just online. The whole process of small talk while attempting to be romantic and wondering if you’re entertaining a murderer or the future love of your life. My anxiety was not designed for the dating world. I can’t go on nights out and just meet people and bring them home. I’m on apps–a slight relief from actual social engagement–but I also live in Ireland. So between date-rape looking lads and 57-year-old farmers adding me to their “favourites” (who the fuck came up with that), I only occasionally come across a guy I’m actually interested in. Usually he’s the friend in the profile picture of the guy I now have to swipe left on…

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m looking for too much. Taller than me (and don’t give me any bullshit about it. I’m 5’3″, I’m not exactly exclusively scouting basketball players), treats me with respect, allows me to set the tone about intimacy on the first date, and can A. Respond back to a text message B. Respond to every question posed in the text message C. Carry a conversation about something besides his own interest. D. All of the above.

Recently I had a date. He came all the way from Cork to see me. He was prompt (a huge plus) and showed an interest in my Masters Dissertation. When we met, however, it was made abundantly clear that his online photo was a much more flattering angle than in person and some details were added that may or may not have been true (5’7″ my ass). I didn’t mind at first. Fine, a little different than advertised, but I can overlook a lot for a timely gentleman who shows an interest, which he seemed to be. A little over 30 minutes went by before I realised why he was single. Argumentative, rigid, and bossy are ways I would describe my date if there was a feedback section. I have put up with some jerks in my day. I have had my heart broken and dealt with liars, manipulators, and assholes. This guy was just a dick. I ordered a cab, did not invite him up, and happily deleted his number immediately upon crossing my threshold.

Later that night I called up a fuckboy. Not proud of it, but I’m young and selfish and enjoying myself, so I’m not exactly ashamed either. It doesn’t take much to please most. I don’t quite think I’m looking for love right now. I’d be happy to have it if it comes along, but I’m at the stage in my life where consistency is really the sexiest thing to me. Call me when you say you will. Be who you say you are. Be about me or leave me alone. No bullshit. Consistency.

Some day my prince will come, right? Someday the friend will actually be the guy, we’ll swipe right, and I guess happily ever after shit will happen. Til then, I suppose it’s Netflix, cuddly blankets, and my vibrator. Consistency.

What to do if your INFJ is returned to you (heart)broken

Introverted. Intuitive. Feeling. Judging.

If you subscribe to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator outlook on life, you’ll know that there are 16 possible personality types and that the INFJs are the most rare and sensitive of the batch. I am such a person (though I am personally against attempting to fit entirely into one man-made box, I do recognise the benefit to understanding oneself in many different ways).

Recently I was feeling very sad. I’m not a naturally cheerful or optimistic person. I’ve come to terms with that. In my high school days–dressed in all black and sporting lots of smudged black eyeliner–I was written off as an emo. Ten years later (still swathed comfortably in black, less eyeliner) I was introduced to the term INFJ and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I recognised myself almost immediately. Feeling everything intensely, even sometimes to the point of overwhelming logical reasoning. Judging everything, especially myself, for credibility and merit. At times feeling excluded from the rest of the world because of an inability to chatter idly or perform otherwise shallow tasks.

There are great things about INFJs, too. We are deeply loyal. If we trust you, we trust you and will do almost anything for you. In fact, just about everything we do is capital D Deep. We love deeply, we think deeply, and we care deeply. The biggest downside to this existence is that our wounds cut especially deep. Broken trust shatters. Heart break feels literal. We’re not the type to just “get over” something. What may look like an emotional paper-cut feels more like a bullet hole.

So I thought I would put together a simple three-step programme to curing your wounded INFJ (if they’re anything like me, that is):

1. Let them feel:

Sure, we said last week that we were over it. In that exact 12 seconds after saying it, it was probably true. But now we’re feeling it again and in the history of sadness has telling someone they should “just move on” ever actually worked for anyone? Oh, that helped you once…. Damn… Well we don’t process that way, okay?! It’s a cyclical thing, not quite linear. We’ll be back to subjectively normal in a bit.

2. Help them rationalise without making them feel crazy:

We’re not crazy, we’re not stupid, we’re not overreacting (*we might actually be overreacting, but ease us into that realisation). What we are is feeling everything! Think of us like a computer with too many tabs open and an outdated virus scanner. We’re crashing. Flames will start erupting out of us soon. We might need your help to clear out the clutter a bit because we’re just having trouble handling it ourselves.

3. Encourage them to meditate:

Look, it’s 2018. We can all seek mental renewal without feeling like we’ll be judged as some hippy dippy loser, right? Remember, your INFJ is a deep thinker anyway. Once you’ve helped them rationalise a bit it should be easy to help them help themselves by suggesting meditation. We all know meditation has many forms. I personally prefer guided meditation. I recently downloaded the app Aware. This isn’t a plug, I literally recently downloaded it to my phone and have really been enjoying the simple format. I also love to draw, do breathing exercises, write, and sometimes just lying on my bed not thinking about or doing anything except allowing myself to breathe. Sometimes that’s the hardest part as an INFJ (remember that J stands for judging and a lot of times we’re judging ourselves the most). Sometimes just feeling like we’re allowed to be still and quiet is the greatest gift we can be given.

Please do remember that I’m not a psychologist, I’m a writer. I wrote about this topic because I know myself enough to know what helps me. Other things that help me are cuddles, Netflix binges, and knitting. I chose to make my three-point list a little more practical and hopefully useful to the most amount of people. If you’re not INFJ but know one, I’d be interested to hear from you. Likewise if you are INFJ I’d love to hear from you. I was mostly talking about myself, but if you feel this works for you, too, I would genuinely love to know. It’s a weird world to live in when you’re sensitive. It’s like walking around made of bubble-wrap and everyone else is armed with scissors. But we’re strong, too, don’t underestimate us. We take everything to heart, especially life lessons.

Alone on Christmas

This year was my first year being alone on Christmas.

Desperate to miss the Christmas rush, my Dad helped me book tickets from Limerick to America for the first week in December. I spent four days in North Carolina and three days in Maryland before departing from Boston back to Shannon Airport.

The trip was perfect.

I saw my family. There were no mad lines at the airport. None of my flights were even that heavily populated. The four hour drive from NC to MD was blissfully traffic-free. The best part was that everything actually did feel like Christmas. All the best parts of Christmas. My siblings loved their gifts. The food was incredible. My Mum even waited to decorate the tree til I got home.

When I flew back I felt satisfied and full of Christmas excitement. I came home to an empty house, my roommate having left a few days prior to travel other countries in Europe. I’ve never lived alone. The silence was haunting at first but soon it became a welcome thing. I cleaned the whole house that first day. I just wanted everything new and spotless.

By the second week I was a little lonely, but for specific people. I missed my best friends, all of them back in America. My friends in Limerick were busy completing assignments and preparing for their holidays. Since I had finished all that up before going to America, I felt out of the social loop.

I had offers to stay over with some classmates in various places in Ireland, but I enjoyed the comforts of being home too much to venture out. After a while I decided that I would actively put this grass-is-greener loneliness aside and fully embrace the freedom of being on my own and financially independent for the first time in my life.

The first thing I wanted to work on was my body confidence. Perhaps that seems strange. I suppose in truth the past year in general has been a focus on this area. In many ways it has been a guilty journey. The things I used to hate about myself both physically and mentally had become so synonymous with me as a person that relinquishing their control on me felt undeserved and unjustified. In other words, who am I if I’m not the girl who hates herself? I chose to rediscover who I was by walking around my house in lingerie or nothing at all. I wanted to see my body in all its glory and stop being afraid it wouldn’t be enough for the mass-produced and often unrealistic standard of beauty in the world today.

After that I examined my sexuality. I suppose being naked most of the day helped with this one. I wanted to understand why I mentally both craved and feared sex. I wrote a sex scene. Not smut or pure erotica. Just sort of an experiment with the things I like being played out on a page. I don’t have a consenting male friend to practice with, so I gave myself permission to fantasise. I don’t really have all the answers yet. All I know is that my violent history with my mother’s abusers has made me wary of any aggression in men, but I also am completely turned off by passivity. My adoration of “gentlemen” is not a romanticised obsession, instead I believe it is a product of the terrifying reality of rape culture. The fact that having consensual and pleasurable sex has become a luxury in our society terrifies me. Above all, I am attracted to a man who respects me. I am drawn to intelligence and sensitivity as well as the many physical aspects I find appealing in different people. However, what I discovered was that the upmost attractive quality to me will always be respectfulness.

Lastly, I meditated more. A friend of mine suggested more mediation and mindfulness in my life. Typically I’m uncomfortable with meditating. My mind wanders and often turns dark very quickly. The first time we meditated together, in fact, I cried uncontrollably. I like guided meditation because I can focus on one thing at a time. But I don’t enjoy all guides. Some voices distract me too easily. A lot of the background music is actually grating to my sensitive hearing. So I took my friend’s suggestion and tried it on my own, only with my own music. A lot of times, I cried. I suppose I needed to, so I’m no longer ashamed of that outcome. Recently, though, I’ve been able to just relax and stop worrying about what is the “right” thing to be doing at that time. It’s been a freeing experience.

On Christmas Day I woke up beneath warm covers. I slipped on a blue lace-and-velvet lingerie set with a house coat and wool socks. I did my makeup and my hair and began cooking Christmas breakfast for myself and prepping for the Christmas dinner I would cook later. I read over my short story, editing a bit here and there. When my brother woke up and video messaged me, I covered up and wished him a Happy Christmas as he excitedly showed me all his new presents. He had more than our sister this year, so he was quite chuffed. I watched Christmas movies the rest of the day, talking to loved ones sporadically. My dinner was fantastic. The wine even more so. I messaged friends. I ate mint chocolate ice cream.

Just before midnight, I lay on my bed and meditated. I don’t remember what I thought of, if anything at all. I do know that I was happy. Not at all how I pictured spending Christmas alone.

Wisdom from my Mother

Twenty-six.

I never imagined myself at twenty-six. Twenty-five was as far as my ambitions really soared. I thought I would be married, have a thriving career, be finished with school. I never took time to imagine the next year, even in my fantasies. I thought the most important things would happen, and then the rest of life would drift as happily as floating in a pool.

At twenty-six my mother was married. Not to my father and not at all happily. At twenty-six my Mum was thriving in her career, but not the career she had imagined for herself. At twenty-six my Mum was working and going to school and minding her six-year-old-daughter who idolised her and mistook her beautiful smile as attainable perfection. It would be many years before I understood that that smile was only for me, a smile she had to put on to cover her tears.

Recently I spoke to her about my turning twenty-seven in just a few short months. I was worrying, as I do, about the relationships I want to have and the career opportunities I have little control over and the directionless path my life seems to be careening down. I spiralled further and further down this specific rabbit hole that I visit too often alone. I wasn’t looking for her advice, but as she is a mother, she gave it anyway.

She simply said, “Whatever you do, don’t force it”.

She began to tell me little cautionary tales from periods in her life where she had tried to control something to the point of forcing an outcome. Each little tale ended with her miserable. Her plan of attack had been flawless. She got exactly what she had wanted every time. Every time she was unhappy.

Her stories started to make me think of other stories. Those ones where someone is granted wishes and each wish leaves them unhappier than the last. I never could help but think that I would be clever enough to outsmart the genie or jinn or trickster spirit. I could figure out how to have everything I ever wanted without any fear of deceptive fine print. Perhaps that’s the arrogance of youth.

Now I’m starting to think all true happiness comes from contentment. The rest will find it’s way to you.

In three short months I’ll be twenty-seven. Another year I never imagined for myself. Nothing good in my life right now was planned even a year ago. I’m not advocating a lifestyle of aimlessness and I don’t think my mother is either. I’m only saying, as she did, to not force it. Enjoy the now. Be content. Joy will find you.

And I will try my best to take that advice, too.

No such thing as forever

I’m going home to Dublin tonight. I haven’t been back since January, but that doesn’t quite count. I was with my Dad and moody and mostly ate chips in bed.

This time, I’m fortunate to stay in The Gresham (which just happened to be cheaper than The Holiday Inn this week despite being the only 4 star hotel I’ve ever booked in my life).

I’ve been avoiding going back to Dublin. Four years ago, nearly five, I lived in the city and met people unlike any other people I had ever known. They didn’t judge me, they didn’t pester me about my anti-social ways, and they loved me more deeply than I had ever believed possible.

Growing up from school to school and county to county, I didn’t have many friends. The few I did make, I struggled to keep when I inevitably moved away again. The perpetual new-girl, eventually I stopped trying to connect with people. I was weird and emotional and didn’t have married parents (which was a bigger deal when I was younger than it is now). I came from a family of abuse that not many could relate to even if I did somehow manage to open the tightly sealed shell I kept around myself.

When I moved to Dublin, things changed. For the first time I felt I had a home. To this day when people ask me where I’m from I’ll begrudgingly tell them where I was born and then somehow slip in that Dublin is my real home. A lot of what made this little city I only spent a year in feel like home were the people–the friendships I made there.

Later, when those friendships dissolved like sugar in rain, the heartbreak I felt was unparalleled. To some extent I can still see how I am left reeling from the effects of losing people I was sure would be in my life forever. I keep people at an arms length now in a way I didn’t before. I expect them to leave me, not the other way around.

I get the odd Facebook salute of “we should catch up!” and “let me know when you’re in town!”, but largely I’ve dropped below the radar. One of my best friends at the time got married and didn’t invite me to the wedding. He’ll be having his first child next month, someone told me. We haven’t spoken in years.

At this point I’m fine with it. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but the fact that I can write this without crying is some progress. I’m a different person than I was when they knew me. They’d recognise my face, but not much else. Dublin is different, too. More violent I hear. More construction everywhere.

I’m not afraid to go home anymore, wondering if I’ll see one of them in the street and they’ll stop me as if I don’t still have splinters in my heart from the ease of their abandonment. I’ve got new friends. Maybe they’ll last, maybe they won’t. People grow up and grow apart. There’s no such thing as forever, and for the first time that doesn’t make me as sad as it once did.

It all starts with Page One

Page1Books (https://page1books.com/products/limited-edition-cozy-bundle-gift-set) is an incredible book subscription service a bit different from your typical vibe. 

You know that incredible feeling you get when you walk into a bookstore that isn’t that basic cookie-cutter chain feel? That smell of wooden stacks, not metal.  A teller behind the counter quietly sipping tea as you browse. That fantastic book they suggest that actually turns out to be the perfect selection. Page1Books strives to condense that indie bookstore feeling into their subscription service, and so far they’re definitely hitting the mark!

I selected the subscription entitled “For The Fiction Fan” because I’m a sucker for a good fiction novel, but there are a lot of different options for all kinds of book lovers. “For the Masterpiece Obsessed” and “For the Foodie” are just two of the other great options. After I made my selection and clicked the 3 month subscription option, Brandy (who I like to think of as the indie bookstore owner) asked me about what kind of books I like. Page1Books are dedicated to a personalised selection process so that you get a new book you already know you’ll love! And they’ve got a great policy if you get a book you already have. You get to keep it and get a different book from them free of charge! 

I told her all about my love for Neil Gaiman and my loathing of trivial and predictable plots. About a week later (from Illinois to Ireland!) I had a hardback copy of The Power by Naomi Alderman in my hands, plus a bundle of other goodies like hot cocoa and bookmarks! Brandy could not have chosen a better book for me! Girl power, magical realism, and a diverse group of characters in a dynamic plot! Brilliant! Ticks every box! 

Lucky for everyone reading this, Page1Books has a Limited Edition Cozy Reader Bundle Gift Set available right now and I’ve got an exclusive 15% off coupon code! So do yourself a favour: get the gift set or any other incredible offer from Page1Books for yourself or a loved one and use the code BCB15 for 15% off! 

Oh, and by the way, there’s nothing quite like getting personalised bookish presents delivered to your door. From one bookwork to another: treat yourself! ​