Thanks for listening, thanks for understanding

Some of the eagle eyed amongst you might recognise the line of the title for this post. It’s from the overwhelming, swelling, chorus of one of the latest The Hold Steady tracks. It’s called Entitlement Crew, it’s great. Go have a listen. Anyway.

I wanted to come on today to talk about… I don’t even know. Mental health? Music? The past? I have no idea.

Tonight is Eurovision. For those not in the know, it’s a night of the year where various countries across Europe (as well as Israel and Australia – yeah I don’t know either) compete in what can only be described as the X-factor crossed with a beauty pageant, on acid, where we’re all Simon Cowell and the UK always loses.

Here’s where it gets a bit confusing, so buckle up and prepare to get smacked with some emotional baggage.

I love Eurovision. It’s one of the last vestiges of ‘my old life’. The life before I was an outspoken, angry feminist; when I was desperate for validation from any man in my life; when I was really, awfully sad a lot of the time; I thought I was the worst human in the world but also I thought I was always right; and I still spoke to my dad.

So I love Eurovision. Me and my brother and my dad used to watch it together most years, go out for Greek food or get takeaway pizza, eat a lot of sweets and ice cream and generally lounge on the sofa, stuffed full of food, snuggling the cats and providing detailed critiques of the acts. I’m talking as far back (and probably further back) as 2003 Eurovision, where t.A.T.u came third. Memories. So we did this for years, ish. Not every year, I’m not going to romanticise it that much, but we did it a lot.

When my dad got a girlfriend – who hated cats – we stopped completely. We stopped spending time together, and even though she lived down the road from me at uni and he visited most weekends, they never came to see me. We tried, one year, to recapture it, the silly Eurovision magic, and it was awful. The adults got drunk and very loudly overshare-y, which was embarrassing at best and damaging at worst. I snapped. They shouted. I think I might have cried in bed that night, cos it was just so obvious to me that this man did not respect me in the slightest. And there’s no real love or care, without respect.

The day you realise your parents aren’t just flawed, but they’re just not nice people, is not a day I wish on anyone – but it happens. Sometimes your parents are just nasty people, and that’s what I happened to realise, watching Eurovision sometime in the early 2010s.

Fast forward to unrelated but not dissimilar events, and I don’t talk to my dad any more. I don’t want to. I don’t feel like I’m missing out – I have a fucking brilliant mum and step-dad (not to mention his extended family as well), and I’ve been lucky to find a partner with the most loving, generous and loopy family you could ask for. Seriously. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by so much love from people who aren’t doing it cos they feel they have to, but because they want to.

I’m not a totally different person to the one I was before. Some days I hide my reactions to casual sexism, cos I don’t have the energy. Some days I do need validation from people to feel good about myself. I’m sad sometimes. I still think I’m the worst and the best. But I don’t speak to my dad, and I probably never will again. Maybe when/if my little brother gets married, I’ll see him. I don’t know.

Cut toxic people out of your life, and make an aggressive attempt to enjoy things without them. At first it will hurt and it won’t always be easy, but life is too short to not enjoy things because they might remind you of someone who isn’t in your life anymore – by choice or not. Plaster over the memories you don’t want with new ones. Don’t hold on to the past, if you can. Don’t just let it go, crumple it up and crush it into the bin. Burn the bridge if you want to. You deserve to be happy.

There hasn’t been a post on here in months – literally almost a year – but I’m glad I have the platform anyway.

This post was inspired by the recent, and devastating news, of Scott Hutchison’s death. Talking about mental health, and the things you’ve gone through, isn’t always easy. I think it’s really important that try our hardest to normalise it. Please reach out if you need help, musicians especially can ring 0808 802 8008. Mental health is health, please speak to someone if you feel something isn’t right or you’re struggling.

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Thanks for listening, and thanks for understanding.

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