Baby Steps…TO GLORY!!!!

Hello everybody!!

Right now I’m imagining you all reacting to my return in a similar way to my cat Harry. That is you’re all extremely miffed by my long absence and are now turning your back on me and finding a very sudden and pronounced interest in every other single object in the room, so long as you don’t have to look in my direction.


I know, I’m so sorry and I’m officially the world’s worst blogger. However, the reason why I’ve not written in so long is because I’ve been up to lots and lots of stuff!

Let me take you back to long long ago to a time known as Saturday 15th of February…

On this day I received a call from my mum telling me that one of my pet cats Charlie was very unwell and that she was extremely worried for him. This in turn made me extremely worried for him. And so I decided that on Tuesday I would drive up to visit home for just over a week. This is a four hour drive which I had never done on my own before which would normally be enough to make me not sleep the night before and to spend the entire day going over and over all the stuff I needed to take with me. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t feel any nerves at all. In fact, I was extremely calm about the whole thing. At about 6pm on the tuesday, I packed my bags, kissed Burly goodbye, cranked up the volume on the CD player and set off up the motorway. I was so comfortable driving that I didn’t even feel the need to take a break and so I did the whole drive in one go! BABY STEP NUMBER ONE– I didn’t stress about driving on my own on the motorway for four hours! This is actually a really big deal as I mentioned in a previous post that my anxiety was causing me to have repetitive nightmares about crashing the car, meaning that I was becoming increasing nervous about driving. And I did it all by myself!

so I’d actually made it back home and was feeling extremely pleased with myself but my mum was right, Charlie cat definitely was not very well. Although he seemed hungry and would come for food, he’d refuse to eat it once it was placed in front of him and instead retreated to the nest he had made under my sister’s bed. Charlie usually is always super excited when I come home because I give him the best belly rubs (if I do say so myself!), but this time he just stayed hidden away in his safe place. It’s always a bad sign when cats seek out a dark, quiet place to hide, especially when it’s so against their normal behaviour.

While I was busy worrying about trying to get Charlie to eat, Burly rang up to tell me he might have possibly sprained his wrist during football and that he was in A&E getting it checked out. It transpired that he had actually BROKEN HIS FLIPPING WRIST and needed to have a cast put on. This meant that he could no longer drive, cook, do housework or even bathe. Seriously, I had been gone for less than 24 hours and THIS happens!!

So now I had a dilemma, do I stay with Charlie and try to get him to eat or do I go home to care for my poor, broken Burly?

Obviously a poorly cat will always win so I picked Charlie. Don’t feel sorry for Burly, he knew what he was getting into when we first started dating and he’s had four and a half years to get out of it.

Trying to get Charlie to eat was a task in itself. When we managed to coax him downstairs we literally surrounded him with little dishes of different appetising meals and treats; cat biscuits, cat food in gravy, posh cat food pate, tuna, chicken, even yoghurt which under normal circumstances Charlie would give his right paw for. However, these were obviously not normal circumstances as after one sniff, he turned up his nose and headed back to sanctuary.

'You call this food human?!!?'

‘You call this food human?!!?’

After failing pathetically at creating a sort of cat-tapas restaurant, I decided to try and be productive elsewhere. Burly and I are actually planning on getting married at some vague point next year and after being engaged for a year already we decided it’s finally time to get off our butts and do some organising. First things first -finding a venue. As Burly is Glaswegian, I’m from Stoke and we now both live in Southampton, this is more challenging then it first appears. I’d previously spent a few days going through immense lists of venues in each location and narrowing them down to ones I actually would want see/we could possibly afford. Now I actually had to arrange these visits, which was a whole other issue in itself. I HATE ringing people up as it makes me incredibly anxious. Normally in this situation I’d beg Burly to do all the ringing, even though this would mean he’d have to ring up during his spare time at work. He knows this is an issue for me so he usually doesn’t mind but I know that it’s obviously less than ideal, especially when meanwhile I’m just at home doing nothing. This time I couldn’t call on Burly to help so it was up to me to ring these places on my own. And I did it! BABY STEP NUMBER 2 – I successfully communicated with unfamiliar Glaswegian people over the phone like a boss! And, most miraculously of all, I didn’t stress out about it before hand or berate myself continuously for being hair-curlingly cringe-worthy during the conversation. I just rang up places and spoke to people like a normal person. AND IT FELT FANTASTIC!

After accomplishing this extraordinary feat, I return back to cat coaxing duty. This time I cracked the magic formula by using cat food in gravy, poking it with a fork and making eating noises by smacking my lips. Apparently having anyone else touch his food is NOT OK by Charlie as demonstrated by him jealously tucking into the meal.

After that Charlie picked up loads and I was able to enjoy a few lovey relaxing days back home. I even managed to sneak in cheeky visit to see Nottingham Quidditch Soc which was BRILLIANT! It turned out that one of my most amazing friends (who I’ll call Pony) who I hadn’t seen since August was there for a visit too. CUE DRAMATIC REUNION ON THE QUIDDITCH PITCH!!!!


After retrieving my bag which I’d cast aside in order to run across the field to hug Pony, it was time for a lovely game of Nottingham rules Quidditch. Aaahhhh, Notts Quidditch, how I’ve desperately missed you! I must say Gryffindor have truly upped their game since I was last there. I mean, it’s not really difficult to imagine when you consider that our old motto was ‘Be less shit’ but there were half-time team talks and everything. We still didn’t win but hey, you can’t expect miracles!

So after my nice week and a bit back home receiving cat cuddles and copious cups of tea, it was time for me to head back south. The drive back was a little bit more stressful as it was quite foggy but I still did it in one and made it back unscathed.

Which is more than I could say for Burly. Upon opening the door I came face to face with the detritus accumulated over a week of him having to survive alone with one arm. And so for the next week I dedicated my time to house work and helping him out (in other words I watched TV all day until about 3:30, at which point I’d rush about doing things so it looked like I’d been busy by the time he got home at 4).


And then came Thursday the 8th of March. We’d been planning for a while to go up to Glasgow this weekend so that we could be there for Burly’s Nephew’s 3rd birthday and so that we could have a look at the venues I booked like a boss. Now, with Burly being damaged and unable to drive, I was faced with the task of driving from Southampton to Glasgow which is far further then I have ever driven before. Not only that, on the Tuesday before we were meant to leave my car’s exhaust suddenly decided to start blowing, meaning that I would have to do the drive in Burly’s car. AND I DID IT! BABY STEP NUMBER 3! We did split it up by stopping over in stoke on the way there and back, but I didn’t chicken out of driving! Plus the whole time we were up in Scotland I did a lot of driving between Edinburgh and Glasgow and no one died! SUCCESS!!

We came back to Southampton on the 12th after having viewed venues in Glasgow, the Lake District and Stoke. We think we may have a winner, however you’ll have to wait for a later post before we can confirm… (ooooooooh the suspense and drama!!).

Not a whole lot happened after the visit to Glasgow so I’ve spent most of my time until now trying my best to keep the house in order while Burly is out of commission. However, there are definitely a few more significant baby steps that might seem like minor things but they are HUMONGOUS to me!

BABY STEP NUMBER 4! – I spoke to our upstairs neighbour!

Now that might not seem like a major feat to you but let me just put this into perspective. Not so long ago, probably up until the beginning of February, I was so terrified of the neighbours seeing me that I would refuse to go out of the house and would even close the curtains and switch off the lights just to be safe. Even just the postman coming to the door would be enough to panic me and I’d mute the TV just to make sure he didn’t think anyone was in.

So coming back to the present, I was just tidying up the living room when I saw our neighbour go past in her car. I knew that I needed to talk to her to apologise for parking outside our flat as we’d only just been informed that we actually have an allocated space in the car park nearby. And I just stopped what I was doing, walked out the house and did it. Just like that. Like it was no bother at all. Oh. My. Fricking. GOD!!!!

We actually had a lovely conversation and she was super friendly and said it was all fine. Which led me on to my next baby step…

BABY STEP NUMBER 5! – I invited our neighbour to join us for a games night!

I just thought she seemed really nice and so I invited her to our house for board games with a couple of our friends. And she actually came! She seemed to genuinely enjoy herself too which is an added bonus. AND I DIDN’T STRESS OUT! Normally, if we have a party, I completely ruin it for myself by stressing far too much about if everyone has enough food or drink or that I’m making a massive fool of myself. This time I was just super relaxed and went with the flow. And I had a brilliant time! I never knew parties I organised myself could be fun before!

BABY STEP NUMBER 6 – I applied for a job!

This baby step is actually made up of a few baby steps combined. First of all, Burly showed me this job being advertised at a local rehoming centre. Now, it has been a while since I’ve plucked up enough courage to do a proper job application. For a long time I’ve had extremely low confidence and self-esteem. I would see jobs that would interest me but before I could even look at the application I would have talked myself out of it, convinced that I wasn’t good enough, that there was no hope in me getting the job so I might as well just watch some more youtube and forget the whole thing. This time it was different. The minute I read the job description I felt this spark of desire awaken in me. I wanted this job. I actually really wanted this job.

And so on Sunday I was just settling down to fill out my application when Burly suggested that we go to the shelter to see what it was like and, if I felt up to it, possibly introduce myself and ask a few questions about the job. AND I SAID OK! Just like that! I didn’t start panicking, I didn’t start crying. I didn’t convince myself that I’m too pathetic to ever have a job, that I’m so worthless that I don’t deserve happiness. I just said ‘Ok’ and went and got ready.

I drove us there and we headed in to have a nosey about. I fell in love straight away. The shelter looked incredible and there were loads of families milling about considering adopting pets. It just looked like such a lovely place for the animals to stay whilst they waited to find new homes. We went down to the cattery, where the position I’m applying for would be based, and while we were there Burly spotted a worker and gently coaxed me into talking to her. She only turned out to be the flipping cattery manager, as in the person who would be my boss if I got the job! And she was lovely! I explained that I was interested in the job, asked about what kinds of things they were looking for in an applicant and then had a joke about my failed cat-tapas industry.

As soon as I got home on Sunday, I started straight back to my application. I worked solidly on it for the rest of the day and for the whole of Monday. I recruited several friends to read it through and give me advice. I was going to make the best goddamned job application that had ever existed in the history of the earth! I wanted this job so badly I could taste it.

Today I drove to the centre to drop my application off in person. I wore my Gryffindor top for luck and told the lady at the reception to thank the cattery manager for answering my questions and to mention me by name.

I can’t believe how much my outlook on life has changed in just a few months. If I’m 100% honest with you, I was ready to give up on me and just end it all in January. I reached my lowest point and I could see no possible way of me ever feeling ‘normal’ or happy. But just look at me now!!! I’ve got my drive and focus back! I’m arranging parties, offering to meet up with friends for a drink, speaking to strangers over the phone, handing in job applications! And all of this just feels normal! It just feels right, like it should be happening, and that’s what I’ve craved for such a long time. I never wanted anything extraordinary, I didn’t need a parade and fireworks, I just wanted to feel like I was living a life. And now I am!

anchorman jump

I have absolutely no idea what has come over me recently but I flipping LOVE this new Natalie and I want her to stay!


About Universally Challenged

Just your average 80's child surviving depression through love, life and Quidditch.
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