Dealing with heartbreak for the first time

Never in a million years did I expect to be writing this post now. It's scary how much your life can change in a short amount of time and you don't know how you'll handle it.

On Sunday 15th October, my life changed forever and I lost my beautiful, kind, loving Nonna Maria.

I hadn't seen my Nonna for a while, she went away on 30th August to Italy to see her family over there and she was there until the 7th October. I said I'd go and see her during the week but because I was tired after work during the week I said I'd see her at my 21st birthday party the next weekend.

Unfortunately, she didn't make it to my party as she had, what we thought was a stomach bug, and was too unwell to come so both my Nonna and Nonno stayed at home. The next morning she was taken to hospital, and we thought she was dehydrated and she'd be out probably the next day after some TLC. But about 2pm my sister rang me and said she was deteriorating and my other sister and I  should try and get to the hospital as quick as we could.

Within 20 minutes we were there. I went in to see her and tried to keep myself together to make sure she didn't realise that this was it. If she had to go I wanted her to have everyone she loved around her and I wanted a smile off her. She was surrounded by my Nonno, her daughters, all of her grandchildren, her sister and her niece and I really think she felt the love. I managed to crack a joke about my mum and dad with her and mention my boyfriend to her so she would have a memory of him before she went. My biggest regret is that she never got to meet him but I'm glad I got to tell her on so many occasions how happy I am with him and she said so many times she's so happy I've found somebody who treats me well. I managed to get that final smile off her and I can still picture it now.

In fact I can still remember every single moment of that day. Within an hour and a half of us being there my beautiful Nonna passed away. I held her hand and kept her warm for as long as I possibly could.

My life has changed so much now. Anyone who knows me knows how close I was to her and I'm so gutted that I didn't get to see her after she returned from Italy. I wanted to show her the tattoo I got whilst she was away, just so that she could tell me off and I won't ever get that moment again. Luckily for her I have a special tattoo planned in memory of her and I know she'll be looking down telling me off.

Losing someone you love is the worst pain you could possibly ever feel. It's so surreal. One minute I'll be okay and the next minute I remember I'm never going to get a phone call from her out of the blue just to ask me how I am and I'll burst into tears.

You start to remember every single memory you have of them like they happened yesterday and it's also amazing because these were memories I'd forgotten but they're so vivid now. When I was in primary school she would always pick me up from school and take me on the bus home, and then she'd watch me do my homework and she couldn't read or write in English but she'd watch over me and the smallest thing I did she'd always be like "VERY GOOD" and give me a big smile. She'd always make the best bowl of pasta I'll ever eat and then we'd spend the next few hours watching Neighbours, Home and Away, Emmerdale, Eastenders and Coronation Street.

At weekends when my mum and dad worked I'd spend full Saturday's with my Nonna. We'd go to Bury market, we'd always go and see her Italian friends and family and she'd always seem so proud of me. We would gossip so much about people who lived on her street and now I've come to realise now where I've got it from - it's her! She'd take me to church and I secretly enjoyed singing the hymns and sometimes we'd go and buy some carnations from Asda and go to the cemetery and put flowers on people's graves that looked like they could do with some love.

I remember being 9 and being dumped by my boyfriend of probably 2 weeks and I told my Nonna and I remember the advice she gave to me when I was nine was "you don't want a boyfriend, you want a job" and she continued to give me that advice right up until last year and it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

She had some of the best stories. She had so many to tell me from World War 2 and of how she met my Nonno and from when my mum was little.

One of my favourite things about my Nonna was she always wanted to see my achievements and she was always proud of me. She would come to all of my Christmas plays at school even when I only had a little part. She went to see me sing in Young Voices at Manchester Arena and said I was amazing even though I was singing with a hundreds of other kids so she probably didn't actually realise I sounded terrible. She came to wave me off when I was going to prom and I'm so happy she did. Every time I got a new job, she thought it was amazing. I spoke to her about my blog and although she literally had no idea what a blog was and she never read it, she would always listen to me and say it was really good.

I have struggled so much with coming to terms with her no longer being here. Her funeral was the most moving day of my life. The music chosen were the most perfect choices.

After she passed away my granddad gave me my birthday card. They hadn't written out my birthday card for years because they'd usually forget and my mum would write it but this year they wrote it and I was surprised with the words. They wrote "All our love forever" and I was given £100 as my gift, and my granddad said it was all her idea. It's as if she knew. She wanted me to use the money to get some jewellery, so I used it to buy another charm for the bracelet they'd got me for my 18th birthday. I chose to get the 'Forever in my heart' charm and get it engraved so I'd always have that symbolisation of her, and I absolutely love it.

I wanted to write this post so I had a memory of her on my blog. So I could put some sort of closure to it all. I will honestly treasure her for the rest of my life and I hope I continue to make her proud.

lots of love
Jennie x 

Getting fit without the gym & gaining body confidence

It makes me very happy that after years of hating my body I'm finally able to share my weight loss journey and how I gained body confidence.

I first felt "fat" when I was in my second year of high school. All of my best friends were slimmer than me and didn't look like they had any issues with their body and I unfortunately was cursed with being chubbier than the lot of them. I hadn't gained weight between the first and second year of school but I grew a bad opinion about my body from what was going on around me.

I have bad memories that I can still remember now of a lad mocking my chicken legs after school and one of my closer friends mentioning that I had thunder thighs. I think a lot of confidence of your body gets majorly lost for teenagers depending on the people around them. With people pointing out flaws I didn't even realise I had I soon began to hate my body. I wasn't actually overweight, my BMI was healthy for my age and height so I shouldn't really have been worrying but when you're young you listen to the people around you and are easily influenced into sharing the same opinion they do. I was only a size 10 and to me that felt huge when it wasn't unhealthy at all for a 14 year old girl.

I didn't do anything about it though. I hated P.E, not just because it was exercise but because I despised anybody seeing me in shorts and having to show my bare legs off in front of everybody at school. I always wore tights or pants whenever I could, you'd only ever have the opportunity to see my legs if I was made to wear shorts during P.E. I look back now and do think I had eating issues, I'd get full packets of jaffa cakes and just sit their and demolish one their 24 packs quite regularly and every other night after school I'd find myself in McDonald's before going home to eat a full meal.

It wasn't until I had a really short relationship when I was 15 and it ended badly and the guy told me I was fat that I decided I was sick to death of my weight. I went the complete wrong way about it but I did lose a lot of weight. I decided to cut down on my food intake but it got quite drastic. I'd stop myself getting hungry by constantly chewing gum and I'd keep myself out of the house a lot that Summer so my dad wouldn't question it too much. I was barely eating one meal a day and that meal I would have a few mouthfuls and then say I was full. This was stupid and the complete wrong way to go about losing weight but once I started it became a bit of an obsession to keep my weight down. It wasn't until my dad started to notice I wasn't eating properly and that I should probably go see a doctor about it that I realised I had some sort of problem. I became obsessed with the scales going from a 9 and a half stone to under 8 stone in a couple of months without 'doing anything' is actually a bit scary. Once I got below 8 stone I didn't want to go over so was always on the scales making sure I didn't ruin it for myself.

I then got into a relationship for a few years and over that time ended up gradually building up my food intake to two proper sized meals per day and with that I gained more weight but never went over 8 and a half stone.

It was only until I became single that I decided I didn't actually like the body I had again, however I wasn't going to do anything about it. After that relationship I had no confidence in my body so instead I just dressed in a way to cover up the lumps and bumps I had. I put on a few pounds over the months I was single because I was going out every weekend and drinking a lot and ending up at Dixy Chicken or McDonalds at least once a week.

It was only until I met Ash that I wanted to get fit. It took months for me to get motivated to do anything. He said not to mention him much in this post because it's all about my journey but he was a huge help in it. From the start he pointed out areas of my body that were really good and a focus point for me to gain the confidence to show off and he motivated me to start working out at home because he knew I really didn't want to join a gym. He started off by setting me days to train and which workouts to do and it was like having my own personal 24/7 PT to be honest. At this point he started training and that was enough for me to want to as well because I didn't want my boyfriend getting incredibly fit and me being the blob next to him.

I started on The Bodycoach workouts. His Youtube channel is so good and updated regularly with workouts ranging from 8 mins - 30 mins and I rate pretty much all of them.
The best one to start on I think would be the Low Impact Leg Burner. I also love the ones where he's in a nice location because it's a lot more motivating, like this one.

After training for a while I then started to prep my lunch for work which consisted of a chicken breast, roasted sweet potato and broccoli. I was not a healthy eater before but doing this has helped a lot with my journey. At work I also drink a lot of tea but sometimes swapping my tea for a cup of hot water and grapefruit helped again with blitzing my belly.

Since then I've stuck to training and try to do a workout once a day, sometimes even if it means getting up at 4am and doing a fasted workout before work to fit it in. I eat healthy still but allow myself treats as long as I commit to a brutal workout that day. I've started to use weights in my training so because of this I've added an extra meal to my diet and have a mid-morning meal of pasta (yes more food!!) because I need more apparently... I don't know all the facts and scientific side to it but it's working! I'm now again under 8 stone but this time I'm healthy and fitter. I'm gaining muscle and losing fat, and although people say I have no fat to lose, I DO. I'm just very good at hiding it and it's not a negative that I want to get rid of it. I've managed to gain a bum and my next aim is to gain some abs too.

As well as The Body Coach I've also tried some of Mr PMA's and enjoy his too. Following Instagrammer's like Krissycela not only inspires me but she has some great routines that I've liked trying. I find Pinterest a good source for fitness tips and workout routines and love using this to mix it up a bit.

My new-found body has allowed me to gain so much confidence with my body and I've started to love it. I wear clothes I never dreamed I'd be able to look good in. I get my legs out and I'm now proud too! I got myself in a bikini on my holiday and wasn't completely terrified (still a little bit though...) I must admit I take so many pictures of myself after I've trained, not only because I'm confident to do this now but because I love being able to track my progress.

It's a very long journey and it's not complete yet because I still have changes I want to make, but I'm enjoying it and finally after seven years I feel happy with my body.

lots of love
Jennie x 

Our first holiday together, Barcelona 2017

First holiday's are exciting. For months I'd been looking forward to our short break to Barcelona. To be honest, Barcelona wasn't a place I'd thought about much but when Ash suggested it I didn't think twice about saying yes, remembering that it was the setting of Cheetah Girl's 2 and that alone is enough reason to want to visit, let's be honest.

The Friday began with a 2.30am start as I wanted enough time to get ready before I got picked up by Ash's grandparents who were taking us to the airport. We'd agreed on sleeping at our own homes the night before so that we both had a really good sleep and didn't do each others head in on an exciting day. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this holiday. Ash had never seen me in situations like airports and going abroad so didn't know how I would cope with them and although I knew a lot about Ash's anxiety already, I'd never been around him in this situation so I didn't know how he'd cope. I just knew the holiday would be full of lessons more than anything.

The airport is something that panics me if I'm honest. And I say that now but I didn't make Ash aware of this at the time. I wanted to be the one in control, the organised one so that he was at ease as much as possible, but being in charge is a lot more stressful than it seems. Going through security I got stopped three times, like you do, and that scared the living shit out of me but after that I was pretty calm.

The flight was good I thought. Personally, I hate taking off and landing, where as Ash is the opposite, he hates actually being up in the air. We actually helped each other loads on the flight. He held my hand and took my attention away from me thinking about the taking off/landing and I learnt that I actually can help his anxiety. Because it was so early and he was the only person I'd been with enough that morning to chat to I was able to have enough to talk about with him for the whole 2 and a half hours, and though some may find that extremely irritating, it actually helped him being able to listen to me talk for hours. I found out that whilst he was listening he was saving his breathes so that he could use them for when his anxiety strengthens, which is a coping strategy I've now learnt he uses a  lot.

Arriving at the hotel, we were knackered. The hotel was a cute size. It wasn't what I expected but it was just right for what we needed for the next few days. We both just crashed for a while and then eventually got ourselves together and went on a walk. Our hotel, the Catalonia Atenas, was located in a bit of an odd location. It was miles away from pretty much everything so well done me for getting the location completely wrong, but on the positive I was able to get my steps in and win the Fitbit challenge that weekend. We both knew we wanted food so we headed towards the Sagrada Familia, so we were able to see that. It was so busy round here but it was beautiful to see. I completely recommend visiting if you come to Barcelona.

A few minutes away from here we found a burger place. You're probably wondering why we didn't go for Spain. We're not particularly keen on Spanish food in all honesty and we like to eat something we know we're going to like, foods we're familiar with, that's why you'll often find me having a spag boll because it's really hard to ruin a spag boll isn't it? Anyway. This burger place was meant to be one of the best in Barcelona, but I don't remember the name of it. All I know is when we went in, it was small, dark and narrow and this sort of setting, the uncertainty of a restaurant he wasn't familiar with and how tired he was triggered Ash to have a panic attack. For me I found it so sad to see him not be comfortable in a time he should be able to be relaxed and so we kind of rushed our food, which was actually delicious, and got out of there as quick as possible and strolled back to the hotel. This was the first example of how Ash put himself second on this holiday because he wanted me to have the best time.

We had a chilled out night, relaxed in bed, watched disney channel as it was the only English one on our TV, I ate my body weight in white chocolate oreos and then we crashed and went to sleep.

Day 2 we felt a lot more energised. Starting the day with a plate of Serrano Ham for breakfast put me into a fantastic mood to begin with. We headed out. Today was about going to Park Guell. We didn't know when we'd get there, how long we'd stay or what was actually there, we just knew we wanted to focus on that today. It took us bloody hours. What I thought was a 20 minute walk (I'm always too hopeful) was more like an hour and a half. The walk there was good though. Stopping now and again because we were shattered from the heat and the hills. Barcelona is full of steep hills - but that's not a bad thing if you're like me and trying to get fitter. Once we got there it was unreal. Full of Gaudi's architecture. I haven't done Art for years but taking it for GCSE and having a father who's an artist comes with a natural love and admiration for many forms of art and I was mesmerised.

We soon realised to enter the full area of Park Guell you had to purchase a ticket and the next entry was a 7 hour wait away, which obviously we weren't going to wait and do. So instead we just climbed to where we could and we still managed to see an amazing view of Barcelona. If you're planning on visiting I'd recommend booking in advance or coming earlier in the morning so you don't miss out.

After being out for hours, we decided to head back to the hotel to chill out again. I'm not the best at chilling out, I probably lay down for about ten minutes then started to get myself ready for dinner.
For dinner, we took into consideration the situation we had the previous day and decided to stay local and eat at the hotel. And I played it safe and I got to eat my spaghetti bolognese, which was actually really good. Like I said, it's very difficult to get a spag boll wrong.

We'd booked to use the spa at 8pm that night, the perfect end to a busy day. Getting into a bikini took a lot of courage for me. I wasn't worried about Ash seeing me in it, he's used to every imperfection I have, but the thought of their being others in the spa seeing so much of me was terrifying. It was busier than expected which didn't help. We both went in the steam room together and I loved it, I feel like I could sit in one for hours and sweat everything away, as grim as it sounds.

We wanted to go in the pool but it was only small and full of old men, not a single woman other than myself in sight, and that wasn't very comfortable for me so we just headed back to our room again.

The final day began with stress head Jen waking up and packing absolutely everything. Packing is the worst part of the holiday, I'm always worried I'll forget something. We were checked out by 12 but our transfer wasn't until half 5 because we had a late flight home, so we decided today we'd head to the beach.

Using the trusty, (or not so trusty as Ash would think) iPhone maps, I managed to guide us to the beach. I found the walk there hilarious. It was boiling and I had a boyfriend complaining he'd badly hurt his foot. Me being me didn't believe it was badly hurt, I thought he was just being a typical man and he'd pulled a muscle and was just acting like the world had ended - turns out when we got back home he found out he'd sprained his foot, oops. This whole day felt like a walk to be honest but it gave us so much time to just talk. That's what I loved the most about the holiday, we walked so much, something we don't do back home. We had some really deep conversations and found out so much more about each other and I really appreciated every moment.

The wait for the flight home felt so long. By this point we were sun burnt, tired and ready for our own beds. The actual flight was more difficult than our flight to Barcelona. I was tired and worn out so I didn't have as much to talk about so I found it more difficult to help Ash with his anxiety, and I think the flight was a lot worse for him. The flight just felt so much longer and that didn't help. Fruit Ninja saved the day. We spent half the flight competing against each other on the game so we were both distracted from the actual flight.

Reaching Manchester and seeing Ash's grandparents we felt relieved. And that's not a negative thing. We'd just managed to get through our first holiday together. An experience we'd both never had. We battled through anxiety's. We didn't let any of our differences cause any sort of arguments for the whole holiday. We turned every single negative into a positive. We learnt to compromise for each other. We learnt small details about each other that we never knew before. The whole trip was amazing and very special. I learnt when planning trips to consider his anxiety now and what triggers it. I've learnt that it's best to not plan too much into our day, take flights at hours that won't drain us and find a hotel in a central location so nothing is too far.

This post was never going to be just any old travel post. Barcelona was a beautiful place but the trip was an experience I wanted to share. I'm so proud of my boyfriend for getting through it. For finding techniques that help him cope with his anxiety whilst he's away. For putting himself second even though he really didn't need to, he always did because he wanted to make sure I had the best time and that to me is one of the most loving things I've ever had done for me. This isn't a soppy post either but he deserves the appreciation. I can't wait to see more of the world with him.

lots of love
Jennie x 

Personal growth

I just got notified that it's been 4 years since I started my blog. I don't even know if I have my first post anymore - I think it was a Paramore album review. I just felt like it was time to put finger to keyboard again and write something new. I have so many ideas rattling around my head that I often find it difficult to choose what I want to write about. I've loved writing about my personal experiences and finding out I helped people - that's all I've ever wanted to do through my blogging.

One thing I wanted to write about was personal growth. I've learnt a lot in the last six months about growing myself and setting myself challenges and goals to work towards. It's so easy to feel deflated if you don't automatically get to where you want to be, but you have to be realistic and give yourself time and reward yourself along the way.

I think the biggest, on-going area I've been growing is my mentality towards everything. I can't say I've always been negative because I had moments in the last few years where I really got into mindfulness and tried to teach myself to be positive but there's a lot more to positivity than learning to be mindful. You need to surround yourself with people that bring out the very best in you, you need to put yourself in situations that you enjoy rather than put yourself at the bottom of your list of people to make happy, because at the end of the day you're the most important person to please. Not everyone around me is positive, and you can't change that, but you can limit what you allow these people to do to you. I allow people to tell me about their problems and I'll advise them but I won't let their problems drain me too, it would be selfish of them to expect me to bring myself down over things that shouldn't concern me. Doing your part and offering advice is enough. I do more of what I love and see more of people I love now rather than choosing to do what others want me to do. I've adopted more of a yes to everything attitude. No I don't say yes to absolutely everything but I've started to say yes to things out of my comfort zone, that way I'm finding more things I love to do.

Fitness and health
I think my body change is one of my biggest achievements of 2017 so far and I'm so proud to say that. I could do more but I'm completely happy with how hard I've worked to get to the body I have now. It isn't perfect and I still have more I want to improve on but comparing myself to a year ago, I've changed. The fact I train at least 5 days a week (not at the gym, just at home) says a lot as it took me a LOT of motivation to do one workout in six months just over a year ago. I worked for a fitness company for over a year and even that didn't motivate me to stop being lazy. A big motivator was actually my boyfriend. He sets me challenges and helps me understand so much more to health than just a few squats. The amount of research he does to help me improve my body is incredible. But he also tells me he's proud of me and how hard I work and I think it's another good motivator having someone around you to tell you you're doing well. I've started to eat a lot better too. Don't get me wrong, I'll still go out for food if I want to, I'll still have the odd treat because food makes me happy. I just make sure I do a really good workout that day to make myself feel less bad.

My body change has influenced my confidence too. I used to be really reserved with myself, and incredibly shy. Now I show off what I'm happy about and I do it proudly. If I'm having a good body day I'll whack a picture on my snapchat story and I don't think that's beggy, I think it's just another way to show you're happy with yourself. A few months ago I would NOT be posting my belly on social media so I see it as a huge positive that I'm happy to do that now. I can still be very shy, but usually it's when I'm first meeting somebody. I find it a lot easier now to make new friends, and a big way I think I managed to do this is I stopped thinking that everybody looks at me and has the same negative opinion like the few people that dislike me do.

Setting myself personal challenges are my favourite things, These are things that I want to do just for me. In May me and Hannah just decided to go and climb Mount Snowdon together. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my year so far. Some people can climb it easily, I mean we saw one person running up it with her dog, but me and Hannah aren't that fit (yet) and so it was actually a challenge to us. We were sweating like mad and there were times when I genuinely didn't think I would make it (probably just being dramatic) but after a few hours we did and it made me so proud to be stood at the top of that mountain. It wasn't just for the fitness that I wanted to do it. I wanted to prove to myself I could do something I hadn't done before. I wanted a day to appreciate the world. I wanted a day out with one of my best friends. I wanted a day where we barely touched social media.
And from then on I've set myself another challenge, to climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks in September for charity with my work colleagues and I can't wait to do that.

Friendships, Family and Love
The people around me are huge parts of how I've grown into who I am right now. My boyfriend has opened me up to new things that I admit I first thought "nah never gonna be able to do that" but here I am managing to do these things. I have an amazing group of friends, from all over the place, that I can trust and go to for advice on pretty much every topic. It's nice to be friends with people that don't feel threatened by any of my other friends. It's nice that they get on together so I never feel like I have to choose people over people. My family have and will always be by my side. We don't always agree, and we have very, very different opinions on many topics but they do like to see me do well and we all support each other.

I got a job doing the same thing as my mum in January, so I now rent out portacabins to events and construction sites. On paper that is NOT what I thought I'd be doing as a job but after being there for six months I love it. I love how challenging it is, how everyday is completely different and I always have something to do. I love the people I work with and how we always go out of our way to help each other out. My biggest fear when I started this role was speaking on the phone. I've never been confident doing it which may sound so strange to some people. I had one job a couple of years ago in recruitment where I had to speak on the phone but I always tried my best not to answer it because I lacked confidence, but now I'm a lot more confident, I don't actually shut up on the phone so I've managed to conquer that huge fear.

Personal growth is an on-going thing. I'll be growing myself until I die to be honest. I'll constantly be trying to improve an area of myself so I can be the best me I can possibly be.

Set realistic goals, for 3 months, 6 months, 2 years... be realistic though! Reward yourself along the way.

There will always be people that want to rain on your parade but I've found that these people are actually huge motivators. It's an amazing feeling achieving something that a lot of people said you'd never do.

Your biggest aim is to make yourself happy. You control your thoughts, actions and experiences so you have to make them the best you can make them.

Jennie x 

Stopping a poisionous past shaping your future

I just want to thank everybody that took time to read through my last post about my toxic relationship. I had so many messages telling me I was brave and how they felt bad I had to go through something like that, but honestly my aim wasn't to get any pity or to hate on my ex. Toxic relationships are common and a lot of people don't even realise they're in one until they read someone else's experience and my aim was to help anybody that was currently in one or to prevent people from going through one and I think I did that. I received messages off people I'd never even spoken to saying that it had opened their eyes and inspired them to get out of something poisonous.

Following on from that post, I wanted to talk about the after-math.

As I've written about in many different posts - I've moved on, I've changed and over-all I am happy in my life, and definitely ten times happier than I was a year ago, however I still do struggle. Most of which nobody will notice, unless you're closest to me and unfortunately the one's closest are the one's suffering the most.

I don't think I realised how messed up my head had got from that relationship until I was completely out of it and was dealing with the after math. Unless you've been through it yourself you won't know about any of it. It's all good and well saying "you're out of it now, you can move on and be happy" but what about everything you have to rebuild?

I got into a new relationship approximately 4/5 months after my last one ended and I don't think there is a range of time you should stay single because if that was the case I'd still be single now. You don't know when someone is going to come into your life and is willing to accept all your flaws and try and help rebuild you.

Remember you're no longer a victim
I was lucky enough to find somebody that was willing to have patience and help me grow, but I have to remember I'm not the only person in this relationship and I no longer can use the excuse 'someone else messed my head up so you're going to have to suffer the consequences' because it's not fair on your partner. It's likely he hasn't had the best experiences too, so you've both been victims to something but you can't let that be an excuse on the way you both behave.

Remember the person that made you insecure
I am probably the most insecure person I know. As much as I know my boyfriend loves me, I'll still question everything and over-think the smallest of things. Your new partner isn't the one that broke you, he's trying to make you better so don't take out everything from your past on his actions. My biggest insecurity is other girls. In my past I was made to feel like a competition and I never won, I was never good enough. So stupid things, like my boyfriend liking stunning girls photos or speaking of girls highly, does actually bother me as much as I tell him it doesn't. It shouldn't bother me because I know he's with me for a reason and there are other girls in his life but I automatically over-think it and come to some crazy ideas that he'll end up leaving me for these girls. It's not going to happen but over-thinking and being insecure can send your mind mad.

I do believe I'm getting there with not sounding like a psycho-girlfriend because I definitely never want to be one. If I want the freedom to be able to like pictures on Instagram and having male friends I can discuss with him I'm going to have to accept that he can do the same.

Stop comparing the two 
You need to begin to look at your new relationship as if you've never been in one before. Your past relationship isn't what true love is. Your past was mental abuse. It was one person taking advantage of you loving and caring for them more than anything. That is not a relationship.
My new relationship over-all is everything I've ever hoped for and more. It's two people being able to be happy. It's support and comforting from both sides. It's being able to argue without thinking that's it, that's the end. It's making memories you're both enjoying. It's mutual love.

There's been occasions where I've looked at this relationship and wondered what if it's going to be like the last? Because there was a time in my last where I was happy, at the beginning. It's natural I'm to think that. I'm scared and I'm worried because I don't want to go through that again but if I kept thinking like that I wouldn't get anywhere and neither would the relationship.

I'm in love and I should just enjoy it for as much as I can. I'm being treated like I should be treated so my partner should be treated the way he should be treated too. Why should he be getting punished for another guy's actions?

You're going to argue
These relationships that don't go through arguments and disagreements don't exist it's all an illusion on social media and TV that makes you think everyone is 110% happy and agree with each other all the time. We're not clones, we're human and we're bound to disagree on stuff. We have our own opinions and sometimes they clash. My boyfriend and I have over 20 years of thoughts and experiences each, we've gone through our own shit and we both think differently so we'd be mad to expect to agree on everything. So when these arguments do happen, don't look at it like they're going to leave you because it's a disagreement. I've looked at it like it's the end of the world many times. I've apologised for having my own opinion sometimes and even he has told me I need to stand my ground and have my own mind. Apologising for something you shouldn't be sorry for, just to make peace with someone, is not healthy.

Wanting space isn't a bad thing
Me and my boyfriend only saw each other once a week at one point and that's why it worked so well, but he came to stay with me for a week and I got so attached to him that after it I just wanted to see him all the time and became this needy, annoying girlfriend that relied on his cuddles to cheer me up and that is not who I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to cheer myself up. We decided to have a week of not seeing each other and I think it makes you appreciate your other-half more. It's not a bad thing to want to have time for yourself.

Do your own thing and be you
You'll want to do stuff with your partner but it's important to have stuff you do for yourself. Maybe stuff that he/she isn't interested in so it's purely your thing. I go to gigs quite a lot and that's my thing because we have very different tastes in music and he isn't really into going to see bands live and being in a mosh-pit so it works out well for me. It's good to be able to enjoy things without the other person being around. You don't have to speak 24/7 too. I let my past take over sometimes with this. If I open a message that's not even a message you can reply to (like a few laughing faces or "okay babe") I'll find something random to continue keeping the conversation going, something completely irrelevant that I don't even want or need to talk about just because I'm worried he'll be annoyed if I leave him on read. It's honestly so stupid that I go about it like that but it's just something I've been through and have to learn to stop doing. I think I'd be doing him a favour not texting him all the time anyway.

The key thing is to fight through it. You got yourself out of a toxic relationship, don't allow it to continue controlling your life.

Jennie x 

Removing yourself from a toxic relationship

I was 16 when I got into my first "real" relationship. Young and naive, I wanted to have a relationship that everyone envied. To be honest, I achieved that. Over three and a half years I was told countless times how my relationship was perfect and we seemed happy and in love. The key word there is seemed. Nobody knew what happened behind the photos I posted on social media.

When you get into a relationship this young you don't realise that you're still growing yourself and with that comes change. The first 9 months of the relationship were good - looking back, it was normal, I still felt like me. It's when I went to college everything changed. He became paranoid that I was going to cheat because I was in an environment he wasn't familiar with. Thinking about it the paranoia could've been due to the fact he got into a habit of smoking weed. Never-the-less I didn't feel comfortable going to college. My good morning texts changed to "what are you wearing today?" and the message I'd always receive when I got home would be "did you speak to any boys today?" To which I gradually realised that "a top that didn't cover my bum" and "yes, I spoke to my male photography tutor today" were not acceptable answers.

My friends became less and less. My only best friend lived in Wales and whenever she came back now and again I had to ask permission whether it was okay to spend time with her. On one occasion I lied and said we'd gone to the cinema when really we'd gone for a few cocktails because I was too scared to deal with the backlash of trying to explain that I'd been drinking alcohol around other men.

When I started working I couldn't enjoy things like the Christmas party because men would be there so I always found an excuse not to go like I was ill or I couldn't get there. It's like I wasn't trusted and there was no reason not to trust me - I'd always been 110% faithful. I was being punished for nothing.

Looking back, he could do anything. He went on nights out where I wouldn't hear from him. I'd be told how attractive girls from his work were but he never complimented me, making myself never feel good enough for him. He chose drugs over me, I paid his way out of drug debt and paid off holiday's we had planned together. I even bought myself my own Christmas card once so I could show my family that he did actually care about me when he didn't actually give a shit. Everything was taken out on me, if I didn't agree with him (which was most of the time) I would have the worst day.

I gradually lost the person I was. I had no friends. I only had my family and eventually he began to question why I wanted to spend so much time with them, even to the point where he'd get jealous if I'd be spending time with my nephew who was 3/4 at the time. I had no confidence to do anything. I didn't go for jobs I was offered. I was made to feel like I couldn't make myself up anymore because I'd be gaining attention from men that weren't him so I eventually lost any sort of beauty I ever had.

I would cry at least 5 out of 7 days in a week. None of us were happy in this relationship yet every time I tried to leave he'd beg for me to stay. He'd make it out like he couldn't live without me and that he was going to change and every time it was a lie and it didn't happen.

One day, a week after a holiday from hell, which yes I plastered all over Facebook as being the best holiday of my life, I plucked up the courage to just leave. It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. Not only was I leaving a person and a family of people I'd spent so much of my life with, I was potentially breaking someone's heart and hurting somebody and although I was already mentally broke by him I still felt like an awful person for doing that to somebody I once loved.

The next few months were incredibly confusing. How do you enjoy freedom when you're not used to it? I improved my friendship with my best friend, met new people, trained my brain into becoming more confident and created a complete new look for myself.

My biggest fear about leaving that relationship was being alone, but everyday was filled with people I loved. I got a lot closer to my family. I think Leeds Festival was an eye-opener of how happy I was. That festival for 3 years was miserable for me - arguing and crying during some of my favourite bands. Last year I finally got to enjoy it and had one of the best weekends of my life.

I didn't think I'd fall in love with anyone else for a long time, not for years. I thought I needed a while to better myself, on my own. I got into a relationship in October and I've fallen in love with someone I can call my best friend too. We don't plaster everything online. I'm not controlled. I'm encouraged to better myself, train hard, go for my dreams, travel, make new friends, be positive. This person entered my life at exactly the right point. I don't feel the need to be plastered all over his social media because I'm loved and appreciated enough in his real life. A private relationship is a happy one.

I'm still growing. I still have trust issues, I still question a lot in my head, I'm still very insecure about myself and I still have a lot to learn but leaving a toxic relationship was the proudest moment of the last few years.

If you're in a toxic relationship now, especially if you're young with no real responsibilities to stay in it, leave it as soon as you can before you lose yourself completely. It's hard and it'll take many attempts but you won't regret it. In ways, I thank him for putting me through it all because it's made me a stronger person now but I pity him - that he was that insecure with himself that he had to break me.


My selfish year

All my life I've put other people's feelings before my own. Turning 20 I think I started to realise that you've got to be selfish in this world if you want to have a positive life. When you're like me and you care too much for other's feelings you end up getting taken advantage of and it's always you that'll suffer. Thinking about it, you have to live with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year for the rest of your life so really you should do everything to put yourself first, especially for your own happiness.

The end of 2016 I went through many changes that was really the starting point for my better life. So this year I'm going to focus on nothing but myself. The past couple of months I've been increasing the things I love and cutting out the things that were holding me back or putting me down in order for me to have a positive life. 

Making positive changes
Moving into the flat last year was a big change that I was incredibly apprehensive about but it's made my life a lot better. I now have a lovely room for the first time in years, I'm in the centre of my town so everything is incredibly close and I get to have my friends round more often because it's so convenient. I started my new job in the new year. For a start, the fact I managed an interview was a big deal for me because of how shy and nervous I can get but what makes the job better is I get to work with my mum, meaning I see her a lot more often and my wage has made me a lot less worried about my finances. 

I've recently begun a healthier lifestyle. I've been trying for years to become healthier but I was never in the right mind-set or surrounded by the right people. Now I feel I can actually do this. I've cut out so much bad food, started eating better, working out more often and drinking loads more water. I've got my boyfriend motivating me every single day, making sure I do my squats and I've got my mum at work coming on this journey with me. Every time I've told someone that I want to be more healthy their immediate response is "you don't have any weight to lose" which, although I know they're only being nice, is so frustrating to hear because my reasons for a healthier lifestyle isn't just for weight loss but it's also for muscle gain, it's to stop feeling groggy all day and having loads more energy.  

Giving myself my own space is always important for me now. Sometimes I just want to have a bath, get into bed and watch a film on my own. "Me time" is so important. I used to be someone that felt like I needed to be around people all the time so I never got lonely but it is possible to be on your own and not feel alone. Constantly surrounding yourself can be incredibly over-whelming. It's important to make time for self-love. Once a month I go and treat myself to acrylic nails. So many people tell me it's a waste of money but I love how excited I get to go to my nail lady, sit their for an hour and a half chatting away and coming out with a beautiful set of nails. It's small things that can make yourself a lot happier. 

This year I want to see more places and do more of what I love. I have trips to Liverpool. Dublin, Lanzarote and Santorini planned and hopefully some more to places throughout the UK. I love live music so I'm going to Slam Dunk and Leeds Festival as well as seeing many bands live including Avenged Sevenfold and You Me At Six, two of my favourite bands. Again, this is another thing people think I waste my money on but there's not many things that top how happy I get from seeing my favourite bands live. 

Cutting out the negative 
Being selfish doesn't mean you can't be there for somebody but there comes a point where you physically can't help anyone anymore and if their problems are draining your own energy then move yourself out of the situation and distance yourself. You owe nobody but yourself anything so don't feel like you're being a nasty person for removing yourself or not getting involved in something. The past few months I realised a lot of people I thought were my close friends only bothered to come to me because they knew I listened and cared about them enough to want to help them but when it came to anything else, they weren't around. 

If you read my earlier posts you'll know I went out a lot last year. I realised in November that I just wanted to cut down a bit. Going out all the time started to become boring, I felt like I'd waste my weekends because I'd usually be hungover for the majority of it and I'd also be wasting so much of my money. I took a complete month off going out and over Christmas and New Year I went out 4 times but actually was able to manage my money and realise my limits when it came to alcohol. I wasn't enjoying being that mate that was always the most steaming and the most embarrassing. I'm actually enjoying spending more nights in with a good film than I am going out these days. 

I've made my circle very, very small. I haven't cut people out as such but I've definitely distanced myself. Everyone seems to know everyone's business these days. Social media is a big factor in this actually. When I'm frustrated, annoyed or upset I'd immediately post my feelings as a tweet for all 850 of my followers to see. Why? Because it's like an outlet, a bit like a diary. The advantage: You're letting off steam. The disadvantage: People who don't even know you now know more about what's going on behind closed doors. One of my new years resolutions was to cut back on how much I interact on social media. It's a toxic place full of irrelevant opinions. Your own boyfriend could like another girls picture and even though it doesn't bother you because it's just a picture, you'll get told by another girl that doesn't know your relationship, she'll list why you should agree with her that it isn't right he does that and then you'll over think something as small as picture, that didn't actually bother you to begin with. I could honestly rant all day about the psycho girlfriend stereotype but I think I'll leave it for another post. Keeping myself a lot more private has helped a lot though. I used to share every single argument I had with pretty much all my friends because I felt like I needed their opinions but usually it makes it so much worse and handling it on your own and being more mature by not informing half of your group and escalating the situation ten times more means it's usually sorted a lot quicker with less stress.  

So 2017 is my year. The year I get myself comfortable in my own body. The year I get a positive mind. The year I finish my driving lessons, pass my test and get a car. The year I see as much of the world as I can manage. The year I let nobody get in the way of my goals. 

lots of love
Jennie x