This comes to you from the sofa of an Airbnb apartment in one of my favourite places in the world – Cardiff. My youngest sister and I have taken a few days ‘vacation’ to the city; to make an escape from our real lives for a while. Netflix is playing a recommended film, Trainwrecked which in the first five minutes I am enjoying. Currently. (Edit: since writing this paragraph, the film has finished and a day has passed – I enjoyed it. It took me on a train ride of emotions: whey.)
And mentally, I am in the best places I’ve been for a while. It’s a total different mindset to where I was last week.
My sister and I are very similar. We’re three years apart in age, but we look pretty much the same, have pretty much the same personality, and pretty much like all the same things – we are practically twins. And this can be great. We can recommend new shows to binge watch, we can recommend new bands/artists/show tunes to listen too. We can, as of this week, steal each others clothes. My sister stole my cool, hipster denim jacket… and looked better in it than I do. I’m heart broken. But then again, being so similar we can go slightly batshit crazy. More so than maybe we already are. Yesterday for example, we had to go see different films just so we could have some time apart. We get irritated with each other far too easily, my hangriness flares up big time. My sister and I know that we love each other and that our relationship works because we don’t spend every waking moment with each other.
I’ve not lived with my sisters in about 7 years, so when we spend more than 24 hours together we realise why our relationship wasn’t great when we lived together. Having said that, our relationship has changed since we no longer live together. When we lived together, as a ‘normal family’ I was mother. I’ve played mother for as long as I can remember and when we lived together, my mothering took control. I wasn’t Louise the big sister trying to impose herself (though that probably happened anyway), I was Louise the mother trying to fix things and offer advice and whatever else I did.
Since we were split up, the mothering role got taken from me. It took years for it to fade as much as it has, but I am now able to be more Louise the Big Sister than Louise the Mum. Which is fantastic. It means I can have banter, and I have be cruel and I can show my love to my sisters in a more sisterly way. So being away with my youngest sister who is definitely a mini me is wonderful. Even if we do drive each other crazy.
But there is a downside to me having played mother, and still playing mother sometimes. I find it incredibly difficult to lay my burdens down on my sisters or to ask for help or to even express when I’m not having a great day, week, month or year. Last year, when I graduated from uni I ended up having a period of three months where I was broke. I could just about afford my rent and that was it. My sisters stepped in a few times and gave me money, which I’m still trying to repay to this day. In the past, and sometimes in the present, I give money to my sisters so they were just doing the same thing but for some reason I really struggled with that.
In actual fact, I struggle asking for help in general. Even when I was at school, if I didn’t understand something – I wouldn’t put my hand up and ask the teacher. No, that was weak. If I’m having a crappy mental health time, I can’t text people asking for help. When I was at uni, I indirected people a lot on Facebook or Twitter. I had this good friend, Jess, who picked up on this indirects and she would text me or ring me asking if I wanted her to text the people I needed/wanted – I don’t have that anymore unfortunately but when I was going through my worst patch, Jess picked up on it and got the ‘help’ I needed. When I was struggling finically last year, I couldn’t ask for help. In the end, the pastor at my church pretty much forced help upon me.
As an actor, and as someone who has worn many masks over the years, I have perfected the ‘I’m okay’ mask. So I was going about my Sundays with a smile on my face, laughing, trying to get to know people, doing kids church… but the pastor knew something was off. And he forced help upon me. And in fairness, looking back, I’m glad he did. It gave me some breathing room, a safety net, and a little longer to try and find a job. And then I did!
I guess, what I’m trying to say is, help is out there. People want to help. Coming from me, that’s probably shit advice because I can’t ask for help and then if people offer it to me, I don’t know what they can do to help. Aren’t I great? But in someways, that’s why I write this blog – it’s a coping mechanism for me, it helps me sort out the mess in my head and it gives me a way to tell the people (many of whom are Facebook friends) how I am feeling.
If you want to catch up on my gallivants in Cardiff, you can visit my Instagram @mynameis_2long .
If you want to support the direction of this blog, check out my Patreon page. I hope I have some inciting rewards, if not – let me know what you want!