I have been avoiding this blog assiduously for some weeks. I've had a storming head cold and a mental and financial hangover from conference but that really wouldn't normally be any excuse for me to stop writing, quite the opposite. I'd like to say I don't know why I've not been around, exactly, but the truth is, I do.
Over the course of Lib Dem Conference, I got to know someone who described me as 'the most utterly sorted person' he had ever met. I was disbelieving, stunned. I may project an aura of confidence and savoir-faire, but underneath I've been a bit of a mess, if the truth be told, for about ten years.
I've faced some difficulties over that time that were not of my own making, but many more that were entirely, if unconsciously, self-constructed. I have set about transforming my life into one I could be proud of, one more fitting of my native wit and intelligence and the schooling I was so generously afforded by my family, several times. And each time I have simultaneously done things that set me up for catastrophic failure. I could go into anecdotal evidence, but it is all too painful and too private to broadcast here. Take my word for it, I have the process of taking great opportunities and spectacularly blasting them to smithereens down to a fine art.
I'm not scared of failure. I'm used to failure by now. I am deeply, deeply ashamed of living in a housing association house and working for two days a week in a job that doesn't actually stretch me one iota. It has caused untold damage to my relationships with anyone I care about who knew me before about 1999: I am seen as prickly and unapproachable - permanently on the defensive because I have become so accustomed to seeing myself as a poor, lost cause that I am convinced that that is all anyone else who knew me as a child and a teenager will see when they look at me and it makes me bitter. And that is a high price to pay for being a failure in my own eyes, but I have continued to plant seeds of destruction in my life thus far because I don't fear failure at all. What I fear is success.
So, one and a half years into my membership of this party, when I find myself unexpectedly the subject of praise and admiration, when I find myself pushed from all quarters to become a parliamentary candidate, when I am surrounded at conferences (and at the end of the phone from at other times) by a whole network of good, worthy people who see huge potential in me, when I find myself nominated for Lib Dem Blog of the Year against and over other bloggers that I don't feel like I come close to measuring up against, I feel tearful. I am actually even struggling to write this.
The truth is, I didn't join the party with any ambition in mind. I joined because I met some people who liked to talk about politics and political history, who had noble ideals and kind faces, and I wanted to spend more time around them and people like them. I laughed when my PPC said to me at the time that I would find that responsibility comes quickly in this party and I may find that things snowball, I remember saying "what, so you'll have me delivering leaflets in no time, then?". So to find that actually, this is a place where I could achieve some form of success, not only some form but a form that really appeals to me and would make me proud of myself as like anyone I want to be, deep down, TERRIFIES me.
I actually woke up this morning and swore off going to Welsh Lib Dem conference this weekend, ostensibly because of the aforementioned cold, but in reality because I'm in the grip of terror. You have my mother, who knows me well enough to know when I need an arsekicking, to thank (or address your hate-mail to!) for the fact I've changed my mind. And the fact I'm back here.
A Proper Blog Post follows shortly.