Whispers in the night-time.

Many of us are used to having control in every aspect of our lives, unless we’re married because we all know who’s in charge then. In all seriousness though, you decide how your life goes every day, don’t you? You choose the clothes that you wear, what you eat, what you do on the weekend, red, white or no wine with dinner, no one picks rose, the television shows you watch, what time you head for bed. Life can seem pretty simple usually but now and again, it’s the most difficult thing for any of us to deal with.

It turns out that sometimes we all have things in our personal lives that we can’t control. It’s tough and definitely has a negative effect and impact on all of us. Maybe how much depends on each of us as individuals and the coping mechanisms that we’ve developed. That’s assuming that we’ve even managed to find anything at all to make the darkness a little bit lighter. It’s easy to go off the rails, you can be resilient but when something or some things happen that you didn’t expect, it might click suddenly that you’re only human after all. Control has left for a little while but you need to try and wrestle it back, right? What do you do though? Bottling things up can never be a good thing, but it can be the easiest thing. Everyone gets advised or told to speak out, to ask for help but no one wants to show that they’re vulnerable, no one wants to feel like their soul is turning itself inside out. Misguided or not, perhaps it’s just pride, it’s a hell of a thing.

Male pride, whether male or female, we’ve all experienced it. As a man, when you realise that a part of you is broken, the last thing that you want to do is tell someone that you’re not who they thought you are, at least not right now anyway. It’s more than okay to be hesitant at first, but asking for help will be your most important first step. Mental illness is something that’s often not visible to everyone else in your world. It’s going to be one fucker of a journey with countless ups and downs and finding comfort or resetting yourself can be a constant process.

Imagine that you’re holding onto two bottles, you drop them on the floor, what happens? They both break, don’t they? Thing is, it’s how they break that’s important. While one bottle crumples into a pile of glass, the other shatters into a jagged edge weapon. We all break sometimes, but we don’t all break the same. You have to take a shot though before it’s too late. Thing is, a shot at the buzzer only counts if you drain it. Take the shot. if anyone in your life thinks any less of you for daring to reach out, then are they worth having around?

Just maybe though, everything’s going to be okay.

Different things can make your head and your heart hurt. It’s often said but everyone is going through some sort of personal battle that no one else knows about. If you think one day or in that one moment that someone close to you might be hurting, can it ever be a bad thing to try and reach out? Sometimes questions are scarier than answers, but you’d rather know than not, wouldn’t you?

A question is asked about the most important person on the planet. This one amazing human being doesn’t get told the truth about the question and it hurts like fuck when I find out. The relationship is gone and it seems like there isn’t anything that can be done about it. One person’s perception is their reality, despite what the truth might be. Life feels like a daydream.

How do you try and get through your days, weeks and months when someone thinks that you’ve caused them pain?

Self pity is never a good thing. Closing everyone out in your world out can never be healthy but that’s what happens. The curtains stay drawn, social invitations are politely declined, sometimes even ignored. Everyone knows that something is wrong but no one wants to stick their head above the parapet and find out what the deal is. It’s fine, again, we’re all human.

Trying to take control, but I don’t know how to. A day comes though and it’s fine to realise that whilst you maybe don’t want to expose your frailties to your friends, it’s easier to do so to a stranger. Help is fine, isn’t it? Tears? A shit ton of them but it’s okay to be told that it might be okay, no judgements are made. Opening up to someone will be the best thing you can do, who wants to be in the backseat of their own life?

I don’t want to be sad any more. I just want to wake up and realise that everything’s going to be okay.

All proceeds from this song will be donated to various mental health organisations across the world that work to help destigmatise mental health issues, please go and buy it if you feel like you want or are able to help.

For those of us who are experiencing crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

If you’re in the UK, please call the Samaritans on 116123, at any time, day or night, free of charge.

http://sadforever.lauvsongs.com

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

Don’t let yourself sink.

‘Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.’ James Conant, a former president of Harvard said those words, clever guy. Maybe the consonants and vowels that left his mouth are about stepping out into the unknown and finding out what we’re all made of, perhaps trying to find that positive attitude towards change and your willingness to take risks in order to move forward with everything that you have going on in your life. Some days are easier than others though, aren’t they?

Just how it is, different things have a way now and again of hurting your heart or throwing you a curveball. When whatever you have going on throws you a left hook, you always want to hit back harder if you can. Easier said than done sometimes, but the thing is, if you look hard enough inside, you can always find something redeeming in even the worst of situations. It would be nice if we were immune to hurt, emotionally and physically but none of us are superheroes.

That said, the easiest thing in the world to do when you’re struggling with things is to sit and feel sorry for yourself. Hopefully a day comes though when you’re done sulking, you realise that you need to suck it up and fight back. Stick on the big boy pants and start with the one person that you can directly affect, maybe you’ll surprise yourself. Haven’t you got to keep moving on, try and get past all of the bad shit and look for something that will keep you moving forward? There’s nothing easier than doing all of the things that we always do, but when you get that feeling of doing that something different, shouldn’t you try and begin a new chapter? Sure, it matters what your life story has been up until that moment when you get that you’re not happy, or when you realise that you need something more. Undoubtedly, special things have happened to you so far, you’ve perhaps met the best person in your life that you’ll ever meet, you know that you have someone that you’ll love forever unconditionally. How about embracing the fact that you can write the rest of your story though, even if it’s just a tiny part?

We’ll all check out one day but before you do, don’t you want to check in first? Do something that you’ve always wanted to do, even if it’s risky, even if it might accelerate the checking out process? None of us wants to let the world rob us of something that we’ve always dreamt about doing. Sometimes you realise where it is that you need to be in that one moment when you suddenly get it and you need something to get you through whatever you’re experiencing right now. Maybe it’s time to completely let go of what you know, what you’ve been comfortable with, even just for a little while.

You haven’t come this far to fall off the earth.

When January 1st comes around, we all hope and believe that the new year will be our year. Some of us will make resolutions, hopefully most of us stick to them, but there’s that curveball again, something happens that you didn’t see coming. The end of a friendship, a relationship. The start of a new friendship, a new relationship. Illness, having to move house, switching jobs, fuck, it could be almost anything, couldn’t it? Good and bad things, they happen to all of us.

2019 is not going to plan so far.

Flying thousands of miles across the world to try and resurrect something that never really stood a chance. Having people that are important pass on. Being subjected to unexpected hospital stays, leaving said hospital, and then having to go back because your male pride makes you ignore medical advice because you had a ticket for the game. Spot the idiot. It turns out that this idiot though accidentally did something good amongst all of the bad, this unexpected stay might actually do some good and take care of something that was unexpected. That said, anyone who’s ever been in hospital knows how lonely a place it can be, what is there to do? If you said to your younger self that you’d spend more than 20 hours of your day in bed, you’d be pretty excited. Who is she, do we take showers together, where do we order food from, does anywhere deliver beer? Do I even float the idea of her wearing a Celtic top?

Just silliness, but a long time spent on your own gets you to thinking. If you’re facing challenges, isn’t it natural for your thoughts to turn to all of the things that you always wanted to do? Like every other choice or decision in your life, you need to pick one first, the rest can follow later. Sometimes you have no clue where the ideas about all of the things that you want to do in your life came from.

The night grows dark, but I’m wide awake. I post a tweet looking for advice about something that I’ve always wanted to do and a good friend replies with a belter of a recommendation.

I have zero clue why, but riding a freight train across the US has always been a thing. Is it illegal? Yes. Is there a chance of being arrested? Absolutely. Could I die? You know it. NYC to LA is the preferred option, always good to end a trip with meeting a close friend. There was a study conducted once and a thousand people were asked if they could know in advance whether or not they would want to know the day of their death. 96% of people said no. Is it wrong to want to be one of the other 4%? Chances are, it might be on one of those days. The journey could last a day, it could last a month.

On the outside looking in though, doesn’t it seem that people who are the happiest do whatever it takes to get to whatever they feel one of their highest points is to overcome all of their obstacles? Perhaps it begins with doing something that you never thought you’d do.

What will it take? Courage, determination, hope, perseverance and strength. Damn skippy, but that’s the same for anyone of us who’s fighting with something. It’s tough but don’t giving up on something that’s challenging.

Wherever it is that you want to get to, make fucking sure that you appreciate the view.

Just keep your head above.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

The fuel to your flame.

Empathy, it’s a cool trait to have, isn’t it? Being understanding of what anyone you know has going on in their life is a good thing, assuming that they’re willing to let you in. When someone chooses to pour their heart out to you, it’s easy to become more concerned about them, but don’t we always want to do anything we can for the people that we care even a tiny iota about?

Kindness is another cool thing to have in your armour. Treat people like you want to be treated, right? Sure, it’s easier said than done sometimes, but maybe if we all approach each day with that mindset, we’ll do okay. It sounds like a glib thing to say, but you wake up every day choosing how you treat people. Strangers, your partner, your friends, your work colleagues. It doesn’t sound too difficult, but sometimes it’s not easy. Things impact your own life and so sometimes you’ll not always be in the right place to offer help when it’s needed. It’s okay to miss things sometimes, but you reach out when realise that you need to, don’t you?

Whilst it’s absolutely the right thing to do, your kindness can be interpreted by different people in different ways. Some take your intentions in the way that you meant them, some others don’t, and whilst it’s those people who’ve read things wrong, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve misjudged things also. Did you go too far, did you give them too much attention when they needed help, did you make a mistake? We all make them, probably every day, certainly on a regular basis. Perhaps the difference is what we do after our mistakes, whether we learn from them or continue to make them again and again. It’s okay to make them but you want to try and not make them again.

Sometimes though, your radar is off, a mistake is coming and you have absolutely no idea about the consequences you’re going to face.

This one might be a battle, might not turn out okay.

When you split with someone that you thought you’d be with forever, don’t you try and focus on anything else you can that will help you try and do whatever the fuck it takes to make you get through it? Work it is.

The week is a little different than usual. Forty five interviews in five days is draining but finally it’s over. Two people are needed for my team and there are only six that make the shortlist. It’s like the NFL draft, will I get my number one pick? Turns out I do, but I have someone forced on me by the powers above that I don’t want. Nothing against her, she seems cool enough but sometimes you have a gut feeling about people, about things. Always trust it, right?

Days and weeks pass and it seems like my gut was spot on. She has a lovely personality, she’s friendly, warm, she’s Snow White classically pretty but there’s a but. No one else can put their finger on it either, but something isn’t quite right. Drinks are arranged one night, everyone gets involved, it’s cool to unwind without the stress of work chat.

Too many drinks are had by most, some of us remain sensible, but she doesn’t. She breaks down, starts crying, emotional kryptonite for most of us boys. I walk her home, making sure that she’s safe and we talk for most of the night. She opens up about personal things going on in her life, suddenly I get why she’s been off her game. She reaches in for a kiss and I don’t stop her. A mistake. I stay over, and whilst nothing happens, it’s another mistake.

More days and weeks pass and things develop, a proper relationship starts. More mistakes are made, I was just a pawn in a game that I finally realised one day that I’d never really understood. She’s pretty, she’s younger than me, she’s a girl that turns heads when she walks into a room. Irresistible. Who wouldn’t take a chance?

When we go out for dinner or drinks though, she gets numbers from boys just to satisfy her own ego. She talks down to my female friends, to the point where they don’t want to be around me when I’m with her. What am I doing? She’s batting a thousand and I’m the 1962 New York Mets, an absolute shitshow. I think she’s better than me in every way so I accept it every time, but that’s toxic and I know it but I need to accept it. Don’t I?

We argue a lot. There are a shit ton of emotions, anger, a lack of trust, blame, feeling unheard and undervalued, hostility, jealousy, what’s the point in even hanging around? No good relationship is built on magical thinking. You can know that someone is no good for you, yet the games and mixed signals seem okay to you sometimes but it’s acceptable to be vulnerable. It’s an abusive relationship, mentally rather than physically. I don’t know what you’re doing to me, better that we end our days and split our ways. Time to tell her, she’s the first girl I’ve ever broken up with on my terms. A meet is arranged. When I turn the corner and I see her standing there, my heart skips a beat, but tension corkscrews in my stomach. The words are said, it’s not healthy for me, and truth be told, how can it be healthy for her? Now gravity is a little less heavy though.

There was that element of chance but now I’ve learned lessons that I’ll never forget. Fucking mistakes. Just maybe you need to try and forgive yourself for the mistakes that you’ve made. You’re not crazy to be curious, we’re all going to disappoint someone at some point, but you don’t want to be disappointed. It’s not fair but you have to think of your own wellbeing sometimes.

Right now, I’d sooner lick an electric fence than let another girl in, but hopefully that’ll change in time. Trust is sacred and hopefully I won’t let this get in the way of the lady that comes next.

Relationship status? South of okay, north of giving a shit about her any more.

I know we’ll never be friends again but I hope that you know that I’d never do any of those things to you that you did to me. Hopefully it never happens to you, but maybe we’re all attracted to people that have the ability to hurt us. Sometimes it’s hard not to think what or who we think we love can affect us the most, but the truth catches up with us eventually.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

These hands are meant to hold.

Different things motivate all of us. Achievement, advancement, personal or professional growth, maybe recognition or responsibility? It can be something simpler than any of those things. Eating healthier, getting fit, listening to your favourite music, playing or watching your favourite sports. Once you find something that makes you want to do it religiously, it becomes second nature, you’re motivating yourself every day, although you perhaps don’t grasp that fact in every single moment.

We’re all different people, so all of our motivations are different. When you witness the success of others, it’s easy to not even contemplate the setbacks and struggles that they’ve had to overcome to get to where they are now. Sure, the road to get to a place that you need to be is often paved with failure and a shit ton of pain. There’s going to be hard lessons that you’ll need to learn along the way, you’ll need to have difficult conversations with yourself now and again. Humility and understanding is key, don’t we all need to harness those moments of adversity to help us move forward?

It doesn’t matter who any of us are, we’ve all experienced hard times in our lives. We all have different tools that we need to not only think about what’s happened to us before, but also to try and help us shape what’s going to become part of our future. Aren’t we all resilient on some level? A bad place can become a good place if you’re motivated to get there. Take music. Listen to any song with an open mind and you might realise that some of the words apply to something that you have going on.

It’s not always that easy though, is it? Some days are more difficult than others, it’s tough to see how any of what you have to deal with right now is going to get any better, to make you better.

Another day and you’ve had your fill of sinking.

It’s late on a weekend afternoon and I’ve been in the new place for a few days. The broadband engineer is finally here, first world problems are about to be solved. He ladders down over a high wall into the garden next door where the pole is to connect the street to the telephone and internet lines. I leave him to it, what the fuck do I know about installing wifi? Anything to do with the brain, I’ve mostly got you covered. Anything practical? Forget it, I’m the equivalent of a three legged cat trying to bury a shit on an ice rink.

He shouts over for my assistance, probably not standard protocol, isn’t that what they’re paid for, but part of you always wants to help. Grease on the top of the wall from his boots is there but I don’t see it, I slip, and I tumble over 20 feet to the ground landing straight on my back. I black out briefly, but when my eyes reopen, it’s easily the worst pain I’ve ever experienced that envelops me. He helps me back into my apartment and an ambulance is called. He leaves, apologising profusely.

The ambulance arrives, air and gas is given and a paramedic attempts to take a blood sample. Bless, they’re obviously new at this, and blood goes everywhere, it’s like a crime scene in my apartment, but finally we get sorted and I’m on my way to the local hospital.

I can’t feel my legs and the pain is excruciating. Every bump on the road hurts but I know that I’m headed to where I need to be. Being the weekend, it’s busy, hours pass with me being told to lie on my back and not move. Morphine is overrated, the pain doesn’t lessen. The staff are fantastic though, always checking in until I can go for x-rays and then a CT scan. That’s one thing that was never on the bucket list.

A doctor finally comes round with the results and it’s not good, there are severe spinal vertebrae fractures. Surgery is ruled out because it might make things worse. I’m scared to ask the question that I need an answer to. A day when you’ve lost yourself completely could be a night when your life ends. Painkillers for the rest of my days and intense physiotherapy will mean that I’ll be able to walk again. Hopefully.

No lies, there are a lot of tears and a lot of self pity. I get moved to a ward with three other guys and their prognosis and stories are equally as bad as mine, if not worse.

The night passes and I can’t sleep. Sure, the pain is part of it but I need to figure out how to beat this. I need to be motivated. I listen to music, hit the shuffle button and let the songs take me where they need to.

It’s approaching 5am, no sleep has been had and a junior doctor pops her head around the curtain to check on me. Questions are asked, blood pressure is taken and the first thing she does is to ask me to take her hands and push them away from her. I tell her that I doubt I have the strength but then she says six words. ‘These hands are meant to hold.’ Those 24 letters resonate, I’ve heard those words somewhere before and I push as hard as I can. She smiles, does some more tests and leaves telling me to stay strong.

I realise where I heard them and what the song is. It’s my iPhone so I click on it. There’s my motivation right there. Six words from someone I’ve never met before will get me through this. Will it be tough? Sure as shit, but what’s the alternative, you have to keep moving and be positive when life kicks you in the stones. Time to man up, we can’t keep regretting things that didn’t go the way that we wanted, they’re not going to change the past. Go ahead as you waste your days with thinking? Zero point.

Friends ask if I’m alright. Stupid fucking question, but it’s okay to tell a tiny white lie and say yes, isn’t it? Sometimes you need to do things on your own, just keep on going no matter how hard things are. The answers won’t come straight away but if I’m motivated, they will in time.

The old guy in the next bed says to me, cliche as it sounds, ‘Your life is how you make it now, it’s up to you.’ He’s right. No matter how hard it seems just to keep on going, don’t you have to believe in yourself? We won’t all have the same problems but we need to find out what motivates us. Life can deal you a shit hand but don’t you want to beat the dealer?

It might seem like the world is against you, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, but you have to keep going. I’ve got this, I will walk again, I will run again. Whatever you have going on, you’ve got it too.

Even when your hope is gone, move along.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Change. The Chinese word for it, is comprised of two symbols, one for danger and the other for opportunity.

Pretty much sums it up, right?

New beginnings, new changes can be scary, it’s hard to know what to expect sometimes. Just maybe though, you gain confidence and courage by taking a moment to stop and look at those changes in a good, rather than a bad way. Sure, things could go wrong but what if they go right? You make a choice, deny what could be on your horizon, embrace it or resist it.

Some decisions are smaller than others, less difficult to fuck up. Choose a new store to buy your food from? What could really go wrong, you can always go back to your old place. Change your hairdresser? Admittedly, it’s more of an issue for the ladies out there rather than us boys, have you ever hear of a lady deciding to cut her own hair? Boys are idiots sometimes.

What if it’s something bigger? You want to change the person in the mirror you see every morning or the status of your interpersonal relationships. Do we all see our friends as much as we should? You know your relationship has gone stale, you know it needs to end but do you have the balls to say the words that you need to say? You get a new job offer, are you comfortable enough to take that leap of faith and try somewhere new, to work with new people? Deciding that you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship and pop the question? Moving house, calling somewhere new home? It’s a commonly held belief that changing your job, getting married or moving house are the three most stressful things that you’ll ever do in your life. Doing one is tough, but what if you decide to do two or three all at the same time? Time to make a choice.

Time for you to go out into the world.

The city and country where you’re born doesn’t always feel like home, does it? Being lonely is so hard at times, but being lonely in the place that you’ve known for most of your adult life? No bueno. Maybe it’s time for a change, who wants to be tired of being held back without being able to fight back harder? Male pride is totally a thing but sometimes it’s okay to reveal your vulnerability and your need to connect with something new. A change is maybe exactly what’s needed. Sometimes for good things to happen, we have to make changes and move on from old habits or experiences. Old doors closing and new ones opening. Doesn’t a new door mean a new beginning?

It’s super early on a Monday morning and my iPhone rings. The number is private but I know who it is. An hour long conversation is had about something that could change everything, not just for me but for the people closest to me. It’s a positive call from both sides, follow up calls are to be scheduled to hammer out the finer details about leaving my life as I know it. This means leaving the people here that I love behind, my family, my friends, everyone that I care about. Sure, I know people in different countries and I’ll be able to settle quickly but my mind is still running at a hundred miles an hour. Just change. In any facet of your life, if something comes along that will alter everything for you, there’s a decision to make. Yes or no, what to do?

New beginnings are a chance for a fresh start and for trying new things that you never thought impossible, that you never thought you could accomplish. Time to give yourself a pep talk, to get ready, to prepare yourself for something that means that your life will never be the same again. Closing old chapters of your life, forgetting about the past, but getting ready to write new chapters, to experience new things.

Are there sad feelings of leaving things behind? Damn fucking skippy. Is there the excitement of new adventures? Damn straight.

Can somewhere else in the world really be your home rather than the place of your birth, the city and country where you’ve spent most of your days? Maybe you’ve been there before, but you had to leave. It hurts when you read about it on the news because memories come flooding back. It’s featured on countless television shows and your heart gets heavy for a minute, or an hour, or a day. There’s no rules when you know that you want somewhere else to be your home, rather than where you stay right now. Yes, it’s a roof over your head but does it feel like you belong? For some of us, absolutely yes, 100%. That’s a great thing, but for others, it’s time to go. It’s an often used cliche, but your time on this planet is short so why not do what makes you happy, or at least what you think will make you happy? If you’re happy with everything in your life, then I’m super jealous. If you’re not, isn’t it time to make a change? Danger and opportunity.

Sometimes when you go somewhere new, to a new job, you can have big shoes to fill. Luckily, I’ve got big fucking feet.

Sometimes the only person that you need to focus on is yourself.

It’s okay to start a new adventure alone.

I know who I want to take me home.

@TheSamMcLeod

Three makes it a crowd.

When a girl breaks your heart, your friends are quick to tell you things along the lines of, “she wasn’t right for you anyway, there’s plenty more fish in the sea, the girl meant for you will come along, we saw the photos of you two together and she didn’t look like a ‘Sam’ girl.’ Fuck knows what that last part even means, but the rest are all cliches that we’ve probably heard at one point or another, but you know that they come from a good place, even if you don’t want to hear them in that moment. It takes time though to find that trust again, to let someone in, to want to even let someone in, to try and learn who to place your trust in.

Maybe it’s like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but maybe you can’t fix it with the person that smashed it. There’ll still be cracks, won’t there?

It’s tough to try and move on though, everyone is unique, it takes time. How long it takes differs for all of us, depending on our circumstances. Perhaps the more that you begin to care about someone new, the more sure you are that they’re going to get tired of you and disappear and leave you alone. Just your own insecurities about what went before, right? It’s 100% not fair on the new person that comes along but it can be tough to alter your mindset. What if one day everything changes though and someone new enters your life?

We all know immediately when we meet someone whether or not we’re punching above our weight. It’s a shallow concept, but it crosses our mind, dare to tell me I’m wrong. If more than one person likes the girl that you think you might like, shit, that you know you like, one of you is the underdog. Sometimes you know what’s in your future and what’s not. What’s likely and what’s unlikely.

Conversations happen, she smiles with her eyes when we speak, is there a chance for me, despite everyone else that’s fighting for her affection? It’s looking good, but is someone out of their league here? For sure. Things progress, the conversation is on point. We kiss, the night is spent together, it’s completely innocent, nothing wrong with cuddles and kisses when you’ve been starved of them both for so long.

I don’t know too much about her, other than she’s beautiful, she’s funny and she makes me smile. She’s not my usual type, yet incredibly, it looks like I’m not the underdog any more. Insecurity creeps in again though.

I bet, I bet we don’t make it.

The morning comes and she has to go home. She doesn’t stay in the same city, far less the same country, but an open invite is extended to visit her at any time. An email drops into my inbox on a Friday morning a couple of weeks later, ‘Come visit on Saturday if you can, a friend is having a party, it would be amazing to see you. Let me know when your flight lands if you decide to come, I’ll pick you up, it’ll be fun, assuming that you want to see me?’ The email insinuates a slight tease, she knows that I do. Tomorrow is short notice, but fuck it, why not?

A flight is booked, a couple of hours on a plane to take a chance on someone is no time at all. Better to arrive on the Friday though, get my bearings, although I lived and worked where she lives years ago, sometimes it’s just nice to have a little bit of time to yourself. The Saturday venue is familiar so I know where I’m going, but I use the Friday night to catch up in the same place with an old friend, drink some bourbon and reminisce. We both know the bar well, drinks are ordered and as is usually the case with my friends and I, a table is chosen in the back where you can see everything, always backs to the wall. No one wants to be taken out by a sniper!

The stories flow, memories are spoken about and laughter happens a lot. We’ve been friends forever, we grew up together so it’s a seamless catch up. I get up to go to the bathroom, come back and he points out a cute girl at the bar who he likes the look of. Guess who? I tell him who she is and he’s immediately apologetic. No biggie, she’s a stunner and he knows that she’s why I’m even here. Just as I stand back up to walk over to say hello, a guy walks in, hugs her and gives her the longest kiss that I’ve ever seen. Plot twist.

Neither of them can see us, thank fuck for small mercies. My friend and I look at each other and we both shrug, but inside I’m hurting a tiny bit. If something looks too good to be true, chances are that it probably is. I don’t go to the bar for a while, no way am I getting involved in whatever they have going on. Looks like my Saturday night will be free to do whatever I want to do, there’s no fucking chance I’m going to any party.

More bourbon is consumed, I get the piss taken out of me for trying to punch above my weight. I smile because he’s right, what was I thinking? Eventually they finally leave together with their arms wrapped around each other.

It’s my round. At the bar, I speak to the girl serving me and ask who the couple were who just left as I thought I recognised them. Seems they’ve been engaged for years and are set to get married in the autumn. It turns out I was a bigger underdog than I thought. It’s such a shame, a shame, we had to find out this way.

Fuck it, my flight is changed, my Saturday night will be spent with people I know who aren’t messing me around. Might as well get turbo though in the meantime with one of my oldest friends. Unbelievably, less than an hour later, my iPhone pings and it’s a text asking if I’m coming tomorrow?

Thing is, I know something you don’t.

I start to type a text a couple of dozen times and each one gets deleted. Finally I settle on, ‘I’m in the city already, I was in the same bar as you tonight. Good luck with everything for your wedding, we all deserve to be happy. All of us.’ The reply comes, ‘It was a mistake, I’m sorry.’ The thing is, it feels like the mistake is mine, for trusting you. Six words is all I get?

It’s one thing to make a mistake accidentally; it’s something completely different to make it on purpose. We all know what happens when you let yourself get close to someone, when you start to believe they like you, but you know that there’s a chance that you’ll be disappointed. Just choices, right?

We drain the bottle, handshakes and hugs follow and I head for bed, sleep and reflection is needed before heading back a day before I should be. The message I’m left with as my head hits the pillow is to be careful with who I let in, because I could have been the one that has messed everything up in the end for them, despite what she did. It’s not a nice feeling but how was I to know?

I’m down, down, but definitely not out.

@TheSamMcLeod

You’ve got it at your fingertips.

You’d do anything for the people in your life that you care about, wouldn’t you? No cry for help or question goes unanswered if a call comes, when you’re needed, you’re there. An email, a text, maybe a visit needs to happen. Shit, sometimes, your presence isn’t necessarily wanted or expected, but when you know something is wrong, you get there, you help in any way you can. Sometimes a cuddle is needed, sometimes harsh words need to be said, albeit in a caring way, sometimes just being around when that someone finally realised that when they need someone to pour their heart out to will help, even if they don’t realise it in that initial moment. We all have two ears and one mouth, sometimes it’s much better to listen than speak, especially if it’s someone who tugs at your heartstrings because they’re struggling and they need you, or they need someone.

We all need someone now and again, especially when you can’t tell that you’re bigger than the sea that you’re sinking in.

A visit becomes a little tougher when they’re over 8000km away, although an offer is made, yet politely gets declined. Calls happen though, texts are exchanged, thank goodness for FaceTime. That said, it’s never easy to watch a friend struggle, to see them cry, to be able to witness their fragility. It doesn’t take too long to catch on to the things that she’s trying to say without her being able to articulate the words. What advice can you give from so far away without everything that leaves your mouth sounding like a cliche? ‘It’ll all get better in time, there are plenty more fish in the sea, you were better than him anyway.’ How easy it is for those words to sound hollow? Finally something I say makes sense, ‘How about heading away for a few days somewhere, have a change of scenery and try and collect your thoughts?’ A couple of days pass and I don’t hear from her, but you give the people in your life what they need, even if that’s a little bit of space. You can try and help all you want to but sometimes, they need to get to a place on their own when they begin to think that they’ll be okay.

A call comes and she’s at the airport. Not her airport, my airport, can I go and get her? I can’t, but she knows where I live and she knows that my neighbour has a spare set of keys so she heads there. Work is finally done, I get back to my place and she’s already there, is already in pyjamas and has managed to demolish a large part of a bottle of bourbon. Usually this would be a great night together, music on, maybe a film and just hanging out. Given everything that’s happened though, letting her finish the bottle would be a bad idea. We sit, we talk, she cries, we hug and awful television is watched.

She falls asleep so I take the chance to make up the spare room, who doesn’t like fresh bedding, although by this point, I doubt she’d even notice. I pick her up, lay her gently into bed and pull the covers over her. I head for the kitchen, grab a couple of bottles of water from the fridge and stick one on each side of her on the bedside tables. The lights get turned out in her room and I watch the rest of the shitty TV show and make sure that there will be no bourbon left by morning.

It’s been a long day emotionally so it’s time for bed. I climb in and as soon as my head hits the pillow, sleep isn’t far behind me. I’ve no idea how long it is, but I feel something, turn over and there she is next to me with her hands on me, trying to kiss me. A few years ago, absolutely. Right now? Zero chance. We have a difficult conversation, mostly because she’s still drunk but I lead her back to the spare room and put her to bed. Again.

Her actions are understandable, maybe we’ve all been there. Perhaps nothing numbs the sting of a breakup quite like a rebound fling or relationship. Toxic for some people, but maybe beneficial for others. Maybe sometimes it could grow into something amazing, but this isn’t one of those times. Don’t you both need to be on the same page about whatever the fuck this is? No point in dragging someone else into your emotional horror show while letting them believe that there’s a chance that your new relationship could be something real. Sure, it’s easy to assume that once they’ve finally healed from their breakup, that they’ll look to you as the knight in shining armour who swept into their life at just the right time to make it all better, but how is that a basis for something new?

It’s more than okay to hurt, but maybe if you’re in pain, you should try and heal, rather than move onto someone else straight away. A rebound will never the best idea you’ve ever had, everything should happen with dignity and especially when you’re sober. Take time to heal before committing to someone new, right?

No one wants to be the first person to be picked out of a lineup of a potential new partner.

It’s not going to be fun if I start to get feelings for her in a different way, there’s no way that it’ll happen though, to make her hope that things will be anything different, anything more than just a friendship. Once upon a time, maybe, but she chose someone else and that’s okay, but no one should want to be a rebound, I certainly don’t. Hopefully the morning comes, she remembers and apologises, or forgets completely. It’s okay to be alone and wait for the right girl but what’s the point in ever allowing your own loneliness to drive you into the arms of someone that you know that you don’t belong with?

It’s not difficult to get over the possibility of a relationship that I wasn’t even in, but it doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t hurt for her.

The morning comes, I’m awake first and breakfast is made, complete with a shit ton of coffee. She wakes, comes through, looks at me, hugs, says sorry and that’s enough. Saying sorry is always enough. She’ll be okay in time, cliche again, but she’ll always have a friend who has her back.

She stays for a few more days and we do things that friends do. It’s okay to put your arm around someone when they’re hurting, long walks are cathartic. She’s still hurting but K, I know that you’ll be okay.

I know you think your fire is burning out but I still see you shining through, you’ve got it in you.

@TheSamMcLeod