For many of us, holidays are a time for relaxation, reflection and a chance to re-charge the batteries. Whilst I do many of those, my overactive brain also ensures that I spend my days lounging in the sun forward planning, analysing and making many lists on how I can detox my life. I sound like a barrel of laughs don’t I? (Sign up for a holiday with me here…)
I have just returned from a week in Santorini, perhaps the most beautiful place on earth (apart from Sheffield of course). I spent 7 days with my boyfriend, good friends and was lucky enough to witness one of by best friends getting married to the love of her life. It was stunning, the whole week. But I would be lying if I told you I spent the week in blissful happiness, instead there were moments plagued with anxiety and a few tears shed. Why, I’m not sure. But what I did learn is 10 important things about myself.
1) I most definitley have body dysmorphia
On the first day I said to my boyfriend Joe, I wish (as vain as it sounds) that I could be one of the girls who could take a bikini shot and be brave enough to share it with the world. “Let me take one photo of you so you can see how lovely you are.” He did, and I honestly could not believe what I saw. Perhaps it was the good light, black bikini and flattering filter but the combo made me look kinda okay. I don’t see it when I look in the mirror but it’s taught me that for a while now I’ve still been a ‘big girl’ in my mind and I need to stop dressing in tent like clothes and learn to appreciate and embrace my body. I’ll regret it when I reach 60 if I don’t. (The best thing was all the lovely comments from my friends and family, you babes.)
2) Greek food is like sex on a plate, but better
Good job I took the bikini shot on the first day as I have arrived home with a large gut or perhaps a baby whom I will call Stavros in my womb. It’s the most amazing food in the world and made me realise how much I am missing out on. It’s given my mouth a food orgasm and I want to experience more food cultures and learn to cook amazing food and fill my Instagram with those amazing dishes, like Mille Mckintosh but bigger portions.
3) I have to accept I am wheat intolerant
It’s a dark day for a foodie like myself, but after spending every night in the foetal position after inhaling mountains of pitta and tzatziki it’s time to accept that my body simply cannot digest wheat. I’ve given it up from today and I’ve spent 97% of my day thinking about bagels but I hope it will improve my gut, skin and hair.
4) I’m Mary and I suffer with anxiety
There I said it. There have been brief mentions of it in my blog and my boyfriend and close friends know it’s an issue that plights my every day but after a few hairy moments in Santorini, including one where I actually cornered the bride on her wedding day for a tiny little breakdown, it’s time to do something about it. In true Mary Hickey form I’m reading everything the internet has to offer, ordering books on Amazon and looking into professional help. I’ve realised it’s not normal to have a racing heart, painful chest and sweats every time I drive, or walk through a crowd or receive a piece of ‘bad news’. I’m sure admitting it is not the hardest part but at least it’s step in what I can only imagine is a very long journey. I hope others who think they are suffering the same will find someone to confide in, because once you do you wonder how you ever coped without the support.
5) There is nothing like a conversation with a female
As I just mentioned I had a number of wobbles on my holiday, luckily Joe was there to deal with the majority but every now and then you just need to chat to a female don’t you? I went with away with two ‘close friends’ and came back with a handful. I found that if you lay your cards out on the table, it’s so often others are playing with a similar hand. Sometimes you need to babble away to a group of girls and get your problems of your chest to discover they’ve been through it too and can help. I’ve come away with lots of incredible advice, many reassuring nods and the knowledge that I can call any of one them and they’d be there to listen.
6) I need to start appreciating the now
I’ve never been able to appreciate the now. When I first got my hamster, Harriet (may she rest in peace) I spent the first few weeks crying because I didn’t think 3 years was long enough for a hamster to live. I worried about what life would be like without her (I’m serious) and struggled to actually enjoy having her. I found it’s actually quite exhausting lying on a sun lounger with a cocktail and book in hand thinking about the fact I’ve got work in a week. So I really tried to turn myself off and I’m trying to do it back at home too.
7) Getting told there is a problem is not always a bad thing
Of course when me and Joe arrived in Greece we were met off the plane by the manager of our hotel who told us there was a ‘problem’ with our room. The previous occupants had been involved in a quad bike accident and were laying flat out in the room in full body casts. “You can’t have the room for another two nights”. Oh great. After Joe’s immediate “I’m the customer, I’m not happy” esque outbursts we discovered we were going to spend 2 nights in their sister hotel. AKA heaven. A cliff side resort with a free bar and fresh breakfast every morning over looking the sea. I felt like Miranda Kerr. I’m hoping I’ve learnt something from facing initial problems, and maybe the next time I am faced with a problem, such as a potential employer telling me post interview “we loved you, but we’ve decided to go with someone else” that there is something much better around the corner.
8) I have the most incredible boyfriend in the world
Cynics and singles look away now. But he really is. You know those girls who are crazy during a full moon, their periods, when they’re tired, hungry etc etc etc.. Well I am all of those rolled into one. A delight. How he puts up with me I don’t know but I do know is that I’m glad I enjoyed my single days and never settled because I’ve got a winner. He has shown me so much love, support, friendship and loyalty over the past 2 years it’s almost sickening. The past week has made me realise, like my mum and dad when I was younger that I shouldn’t blame him for everything and take things out on him and I’m so incredibly fortunate that I’m in love with my best friend. *Another part of me shrivels up and dies*
9) EVERYONE is going through stuff
How many times have I referred to social media as the devil that gives its audiences preconceptions that everyone else’s life is amazing? Well this past week has proven to me that whilst the majority of us are happy souls we all have baggage and shit going on back home that we are all having to deal with, even on holiday. What’s important is we help each other carry our shit bags (eww, but couldn’t think of a better word and I’ve already used baggage) and we listen, and most importantly we remind each other that we are all bloody amazing.
10) Writing is kinda my thing
You know when you leave a music concert or a dance show and you feel in awe but also kinda deflated because you’re not as talented as them? Well I get that a lot. But a conversation I had on holiday with a friend I call ‘The Body’ and whom I am incredibly jealous of, left me feeling all warm and gooey inside. “You’ve got a real talent Mary.” “Really?” “Yea, you can write, I wish I could write like you.” Yea, maybe I can. I love it, I think about it all the time and every so often I get a comment that makes my day and sometimes my week. Her comment made me realise that writing is kinda my thing and more importantly I’ve realised I don’t actually give a shit about how many likes, comments or shares I get. As long I just make one person think differently, and make my friends and family proud who cares? What’s more important than your family being proud or your friends looking up to you? Nope, not a lot.
Oh yea one other thing I learnt, the new Bridget Jones is AMAZING. But Bridget is 50, 50!!