I have no idea if I am going to end up publishing this or not. I guess I am just going to keep typing and see what comes out. Just be warned that I am talking about quite a sensitive issue, although I think in the end there will definitely be a positive undertone. But if you are sensitive about health talk, especially mental health, then you may want to give this post a miss. Just a quick note to say that I will start publishing and replying to comments soon. I am still easing myself back in to blogging and a routine.
I have not worn lolita properly since last October. This was partly a conscious choice on my part and partly because I had no choice but to stop wearing it for a while. As I briefly mentioned in a post in December, I went to try on a potential outfit that I was working on but I had to stop because it was proving too physically painful. My petticoat was putting too much pressure on my stomach, which when you have a digestive condition is not fun at all. I was also horrified by what I saw in the mirror. Mental and physical illness had been plaguing me for some time, but now my bones jutted out alarmingly from the weight loss. The dark circles around my eyes had worsened from lack of sleep and general worrying. With tears in my eyes, I ended up taking my clothes off in a rage. I shut my wardrobe, knowing I would probably not be opening up my lolita wardrobe for a while. And so my unofficial break from lolita began.
It sounds pretty bleak, and for a while things were. Since that last post I did in December, where I had to take an extended break, my health took a turn for the worse. I was unable to eat anything and just getting myself out of bed suddenly felt like climbing Everest. During this time all I could really do was wrap myself up and curl in to a ball on the living room floor. I had the television on in the background, just so the house wasn't too quiet. James was coming home from work during his lunch break to check on me and see if I had eaten anything. I even had concerned friends sending me gifts such as colouring books in the post, just so I would have a distraction. More than anything else, I needed to get away from all of the negative thoughts. As a result, I stopped going online and would only speak to a select few people. At one point it looked as though I would be spending my Christmas in a hospital bed, and that was the 'turning point' for me. The thought of being taken away from James, my family, my friends and my pets over the festivities upset me so much that I knew things had to change. I had yet another emergency doctor's appointment and got myself some new medication. Thankfully, the medication appears to be working. In the end I had an okay Christmas. It wasn't exactly what I had been expecting, but I got to spend a lot of time with loved ones, which in the end was what mattered the most to me. In fact, I think opening up about my health issues actually strengthened a friendship or two, even though I have unfortunately lost friends as well. One conversation I had in particular with 2 long-term friends of mine was especially morale boosting. We sat in a cafe, where I even managed to eat some cake, and had a massive chat about just about everything. That afternoon was the most 'human' I had felt in such a long time and it really made me re-evaluate some of my life choices.
I have always been quite a believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. We may not always understand why, especially at the time, but we can either grow from our experiences or choose to ignore it. A big factor of this period of illness was the fact that I was taken away from lolita fashion for a while. I don't just mean wearing the clothing, but all of the other stuff that comes with being a part of the lolita community. Not going online meant that I couldn't check the second hand sales pages or auctions. There was no Rufflechat or Closet of Frills, or even comments on this blog. I even stopped planning future outfits in my head- something I used to do frequently when I was feeling stressed. It was a complete clean break. Although I have been through a lot of turmoil, I can say with complete honesty that me taking a break from lolita has been one of the best things I have done in a very long time.
I hadn't realised just how much lolita had taken over my life. I was getting up, and if I didn't have much work coming in (my job is very supply and demand which means sometimes I can go from being very busy one day to very quiet the next) the very first thing I would do would be to check all of the second hand sites for any of the remaining items on my wishlist. That would usually take a bit of time, after which I would maybe get to writing a blog post for here or stalk the communities to see if anything interesting was going on. On average, it takes me about an hour to write a post for this blog, but it can be a lot longer, especially when I am not feeling that inspired. I was finding that focusing on lolita would take a large chunk out of the day, and that is without all of my other daily responsibilities on top. Whilst spending a lot of time on lolita is not necessarily a bad thing, it did mean that I wasn't confronting the problems going on elsewhere in my life. By having all that lolita stuff suddenly taken away from me, I was able to focus more on what I had been missing.
With a lot of time on my hands (I was too sick to work) I rediscovered a lot of things that give me a lot of pleasure. I love reading books, art, going for walks, listening to music, playing board games and video games. James and I had a particularly great time at a local food festival recently, which reignited my passion for food. I miss going for afternoon tea, but also discovering fun and quirky snacks imported from all different countries. I had a good talk with the guy who runs our local comic book store because he had gotten a load of the old Pokemon cards in and I wanted to complete certain sets. James and I have been playing the Pokemon TCG as well, even though I primarily collect the cards for the art. We have also been going to the cinema a lot, because we get free tickets through our health insurance, and I love discussing what we have seen. I am even considering taking up an exercise class. But even the simple pleasures, such as going outside, standing still and listening to the bird song have brought me such joy.
To a lot of people I am simply the girl who puts on those frilly dresses. But that is just one part of my life. I have so much I want to share and talk about. Also, being away from lolita has meant that I haven't been spending all my money on clothing. Not having to worry about shopping service fees and customs has been a real revelation. This month I randomly found myself in a position where I can afford to go out more and do new things, but I don't know what to do. I gave a bit of money away to causes I feel passionate about, but I am looking at ideas for new things to try. At times I feel as though I am living Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. There is a quote from this book which has always stuck with me ever since I first read it-
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
I very much feel as though I am sat in that fig tree right now. There are so many opportunities out there waiting for me, but I don't know which fig to pick and I don't want it to wrinkle and turn black. It is scary, but the same time kind of exciting. I feel as though I have learnt a very valuable life lesson recently and also, I am going to stop putting pressure on myself to be and act in a certain way. I am going to try and not put so much emphasis on what other people think of me. I love lolita, but I need to stop using it as a comfort blanket. Being away from it for a while and then slowly coming back has shown me that I need to focus more on wearing lolita for myself and nobody else. It is not the end of the world if I don't post an outfit for a while. Instead of spending my money on new stuff, I should learn to appreciate the stuff I already have. If I miss the odd post on this blog, it is not the end of the world and I am not going to try and 'force' content. But also, I feel as though I have been trying to put too much pressure on myself to make my blog content all about lolita when I could be taking a more broad approach. I wear lolita once a week maximum, but what about the other 6 days? It is this person who I am 6 days of the week that I feel I need to rediscover and nurture. This is still going to be primarily a lolita fashion blog, but from time to time you may see me deviate away from lolita from now on. You probably wont notice a great deal of a difference, but I am trying to learn to embrace the non-lolita inside of me. This is not about me loving lolita any less, but trying to move forward from what has been an eye-opening couple of months. Lessons need to be learnt. I have so much I want to explore and I am going to reach out and take a bite out of that fig.
The next challenge for me will be returning to actually wearing lolita. I have recovered quite well and I have managed to put some weight back on. My abdomen is still sensitive, but I feel as though the possibility of wearing lolita again may be quite realistic in the near future. What will I have learnt? How will it affect me going forward? I don't have the answers right now, but what I do know is the bell jar is slowly starting to rise.