Category Archives: Uncategorized

Self destructive mode

The title says it all really. Every now and then I attempt to self destruct. Not myself literally. Just everything around me. Mainly my marriage.

Tonight was a partial self destruction. It was only partial because my husband is now so well tuned in to me that he chooses to give me space and time to calm down and realise that self destructive mode is not helpful or wanted.

Having a self destructive self is something that has been bubbling under the surface for some years now. I managed to hide it for a while pretty successfully. My self destructive mode stems from my mum I think. Being scared that something really good and lovely can be taken away from me in an instant therefore I attempt to destroy it before that happens. It doesn’t take a psychology degree and hours of therapy to work that out.

After the self destructive stage comes the self loathing stage. Trying to convince myself that my husband would be better off without me. Then the self pitying stage which is where I currently am at. Well I would be if I didn’t have a well timed message from a friend.

Some days I can convince myself. That my past and losing my mum hasn’t affected me. That I’m strong and ‘with it’ and coping well. Then I have times like today where I’m not so sure. Self pity is not a world I enjoy spending time in. It is grey and bleak and empty. It is full of tears and sadness and regret. It is being in a big deep hole with no ladder or footholds or way out.

I can hear my nan telling me to sort myself out. She is guiding me to those footholds with my mum. I will.

Just because…

When you take your first look at me…

Just because I’m white British and speak with a Yorkshire accent don’t assume that I’m Christian or have a religion at all.

Just because I wear a ring on my wedding finger, don’t assume that I’m married to a man.

Just because I wear a dress, don’t assume that I identify as a woman.

Just because you identify me as a woman and I’m married, don’t assume that I have children or that I want them.

Just because I don’t have children, don’t assume that I’m not fulfilled as a woman.

Just because I don’t wear short skirts, don’t assume it’s because my Muslim husband is controlling what I wear.

Just because I tell you my mum isn’t around, don’t assume that my parents got divorced.

Just because I smile and I’m generally cheery, don’t assume that I’m not crying on the inside.

Just because I’m good at listening, don’t assume that I don’t want to talk sometimes.

Just because I have a degree, don’t assume that I view myself as a clever person.

Just because I don’t talk about my relationship, don’t assume that we don’t have problems sometimes.

If you actually get to know me you would find out:

I am white British and do identify as a Christian. I am married to a man. He’s lovely. I identify as a woman. I do want children but didn’t want to get married and immediately have children. My work keeps me fulfilled at the moment along with friends, travelling and family. I don’t wear short skirts because I’m currently having a massive break out of eczema and have for some time which makes me self conscious about showing off my legs even in 30 degree heat. My mum died when I was young. I struggle with my mental health sometimes but have coping techniques in place, mainly friends, family and husband. I like talking a lot. I don’t use my degree therefore it has no relevance to where I am today. I love my husband but we don’t live in a happy world all the time, we do argue.

The first part is what people can assume. The second part is what I have chosen and it’s the truth. If you want to find out the truth, don’t make assumptions, ask questions. If you don’t care about the truth, don’t make assumptions and stay quiet. Assumptions are dangerous. We all make them but that doesn’t make them right. Assumptions can breed hate, distrust and is bad. Take the person as you find them and you could broaden your own little part of the world.

What makes me ‘me’

Nature vs Nurture. What makes a person develop their views, values and beliefs? Is it nature? Something that is just part of someone when they’re born? Or is it nurture?

For me, the nurture argument has always made me think. I know that some things that have happened during my lifetime have shaped my development and who I am. It goes beyond nature and biology and I’ve thought more and more recently about who has influenced me to be the person I am today.

My mum has influenced me massively. She was in my life for 9 years but she definitely made an impact. She was always there for me even whilst holding down a job. She used to go out to the pub every Friday night with my dad. Out by 8pm (after my bedtime) and back by 11:30pm but she made me realise the importance of quality time with your partner. She influenced me in other ways too. I always remember reading a letter she wrote when I was first born and I read on my 16th birthday. She talked about lots of things but the main thing she wrote about was that she hoped I would always judge people on their actions, not by their race, gender or anything else. It’s something I’ve always tried to live by. She influenced me because she was truly the nicest person I knew when I was younger and she never raised her voice and I never heard her say a bad word about anybody.

She’s also the reason why I cling to my husband when we pass a motorcycle because of how she died. I know it’s an irrational fear but it’s something I just can’t get over.

My dad is another big influence. He’s the reason why I expect so much of my husband. He’s the reason I expect my husband to be truly involved in our children’s lives when we have them. My dad became mum and dad when I was 9 years old and he was brilliant at it. I don’t want to say he didn’t make mistakes because he did. He probably was too lenient in some ways and too expectant in other ways but, given he had lost his partner of 14 years, I think he deserves some leeway. The proudest moment of my life came when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding and when he did the ‘father of the bride’ speech. My dad is not prone to bouts of emotion but I look at him now and I know how lucky I am that I had him as my dad.

My friends – I have always always valued my friends. I have a pretty eclectic bunch of friends. One friend is a single mum to two young boys whilst holding down pretty much a full time career with her own house and still managing to keep in touch with friends. She is my benchmark for when I become a mum. She will cringe at that sentence but it’s true. For anyone who has said they are too busy to be there to support, I constantly look to her because she has everything going on but she is one of my constants.

I have a mermaidy and blinde (in-jokes) friends who are there for me when I want to be silly and free. They are there for me no matter what and they match their response with my mood. For a long time I expected too much from my other friends because they can’t be, for wnhatever reason, what the other friends are. In my thirties I have realised that’s okay. They have their own value and they too shape me.

I have my childhood school best friends. They have their own careers and own lives. Yet I know they are there. And that is more important than they know.

My aunties and uncles have shaped the person I am too. My aunties have been there, not as a replacement for my mum but still an influence. They have been there to tell me when I am being unreasonable, supported me with my decisions and ultimately made me realise that family is so important.

Finally, my husband. The guy who keeps me literally sane when I’m looking over the precipice into oblivion. He has taught me so much about acceptance and just being calmer. He accepts me for who I am and that in turn makes me more willing and able to accept people for who they are. He helps me to reach out to people on Twitter who have also shaped me, by gently challenging my views and assumptions and broadening my mind.

Nature makes you what you are. Nurture helps you to change the path you walk on.

City break – take me back to Budapest

Last week I took a short flight (through Storm Doris which was a bit interesting) and headed to Budapest for a 3 day, 2 night break to Budapest with some friends.

I have to confess I didn’t know much about Budapest. I knew it was in Hungary and that was about it. So I headed off with little expectation.

I came back last week immediately wanting to go back again. Budapest is a thriving city which is undergoing some massive redevelopment at the moment. On our first night we went for a trip along the Danube river taking in some sights and providing us with the opportunity to taste some lovely Hungarian food (dumplings, stuffed cabbages and paprika chicken) as well as seeing the sights of Budapest lit up. Budapest is one of those cities that is truly beautiful at night. The cruise we went on is http://budapestrivercruise.com/budapest-buffet-dinner-cruise.

After a few samples of the Hungarian house wine (had to be done!) we headed to the most famous ruin bar in budapest. Ruin bars are literally that, bars set up in ruin buildings, which have been left. The most famous (or busiest) is Simpla Kert. You kbow when you go somewhere and you feel at home even though you haven’t been there before? Well that happened for me there. Just chatting to anybody who happened to stop by our table and exploring the vast depths of Simpla.

The next day we headed out to take in the sights and history of Budapest. First stop was the House of Terror which brought to life the effects of Nazi and subsequently Soviet Communist rule. A sobering visit but so important to see, particularly given that some of the stories were eerily familiar in the current climate. Then lots and lots of walking to Buda Castle, to the Parliament Building and to the Fisherman’s Bastion. Budapest is rich in history and all you need is the energy to walk and find it.

Food wise, there is plenty of choice from Italian to Hungarian to lots more beside. Budapest is a city full of history. You only have to walk along the Danube to see brass shoes in tribute to the 3,500 who died during Nazi rule. The people are amazingly friendly, we were stopped twice to check we were okay and knew where we were going.

So go. Go see this beautiful city before it becomes overrun with tourists. Budapest is truly Beautiful Budapest.

An open letter to Mr Trump

Dear Mr Trump,

I have visited America quite a few times during my lifetime. I have worked there and met many wonderful American people from all different backgrounds. One of my closest friends is an American and she is one of the sweetest, kindest people I know.

America is a massive mixing pot of people from all different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicity. I remember eating Ethiopian food in Washington, Indian food in New York and traditional American food in Florida. Your America is a country that I wanted to visit again soon with my husband.

Yesterday I found out that I couldn’t visit America. Well, I could because I was lucky enough to be born in the UK. My husband on the other hand was born in Libya and, despite having a British passport, is now subject to a US ban because he has dual nationality.

When you first started campaigning, I was pretty worried at the things you were saying. There was another man who passed judgment on people because of their religion, sexual orientation or because they ‘didn’t fit in’. We all know how that ended. It is pretty ironic that you chose a day so close to a day in memory of the Holocaust to sign executive orders to ban Syrian refugees from the US and made it impossible for people with dual nationalities from 7 different countries to come to America for the next 90 days. Ironic may be the wrong word but I’m trying to keep this post PG rated.

There was a part of me though that thought you were saying things to be controversial, to show that anybody could be president and that people wanted a change from the Clinton administration. I didn’t actually believe you would do what you said you were going to do. After all, we have politicians in the UK too.

I also didn’t believe that you would be able to. How can one man hold so much power? Only a week after your ceremony I’m actually thinking that you will be able to do some of the things that you said you would. That scares me.

I understand immigration can be a hot topic. I understand people can get scared at the terrorist attacks in the world. I’m scared too. By all means, put into place checks to ensure that those who should get in (genuine refugees) can get in and increase security to make sure those who aren’t can’t enter. Your statement though isn’t just about a Muslim ban. It is specifically targeting countries and saying that anybody within those countries are potential terrorists. You’re saying my husband is a potential terrorist and is a risk to America. That makes me a little mad.

Let me tell you about my husband. He currently works 2 jobs. He has his own company exporting British goods to Libya. He paid over £11,000 in business tax in the last year alone. He gives to the homeless without thinking. He chose to live in the UK to be with me because he loves me despite the fact his entire family lives in Libya. He watched as the West intervened in the fight against Gadaffi and he watched as the West left the country as they started to work out how to rebuild a country. His sister spent a number of years living in America and they hope to return in the future.

You chose to disregard other Muslim countries in the ban like Saudi Arabia despite the fact that the majority of the 9/11 terrorists came from there or had strong links from there. Perhaps it is coincidence that Saudi does a lot of business with your corporations. After all, if it wasn’t coincidence, you would be saying that it’s okay to maintain links with a country that has terrorist links as long as they have the money and connections to profit America. And that would never happen right?

I’m mad that your actions have personally impacted me and my family. But we are okay. There are plenty of other countries that will welcome us and it’s only a holiday. I’m more mad that your actions have affected those who are fleeing from war and terror. A war that America has contributed to along with other countries. We should all have a responsibility to counter the actions of intervention.

The past few days have also demonstrated once again that there are a whole heap of people who are willing to stand up and speak out against your actions. This makes me feel proud of the country that I visited. Those people will keep America great.

Emotional overload

I’ve blogged before about the reasons for loving Twitter. The fact it’s around 24/7 with supportive folk when I might be reluctant to wake up some IRL friends, however caring and supportive they would still be if I did wake them up.

Today I read about someone I follow on Twitter who has developed terminal cancer. I don’t know them personally but they’re *that* Twitter person who posts amusing animal videos, makes jokes and is just generally a nice person. The post that they wrote announcing it was in a similar vein to their usual posts which made me both laugh and cry at the same time.

I sometimes wonder how I would cope if something like that happened to me. Although some of my friends would describe me as a ‘strong’ person, I sometimes wonder what that means. I think I’d probably be a mess, berating the world and those closest to me if something like that happened to me. I’m sure there would be some ‘why me’s’, ‘life is so unfair’ but I don’t think that means I’m not strong. It just means that I would be a bit upset at my lot.

I once remember having a bit of a rant. I’ve always considered myself to have coped pretty well with losing my mum but on occasion the self pitying does become quite overwhelming. I don’t think that’s a bad thing because isn’t it better to speak out about feelings rather than keep it in? Sometimes life is pretty shit, humanity is rubbish and things are not fair. Yes, there are bigger things happening in the world but sometimes, you’re entitled to share your feelings and not have someone go ‘ well there’s worse things in life’.

The point of this post? Never apologise to me about ranting about something. Never apologise for being strong enough to share your feelings about something that is a little bit shit. If you are in a pit, I’ll climb right down in there with you and I won’t just provide you with a ladder to get yourself out. I’ll just expect you to do the same for me.

Self awareness is hard!

The title of this blog post says it all really. Over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling quite…erratic I guess is the word. Although on the outside I portray relative calmness at work, inside my brain it has felt like a whirling washing machine. The result has been fluctuating mood swings at home, mainly at the expense of my poor husband.

My husband is the one person who can make me feel calm. I’m not saying he is the only one who is supportive as he’s not. I have a few close friends who I know support me and do so very well but he is the one who can turn the whirling spin circle and make it slow down.

I haven’t shared this time with friends because the mood changes haven’t been happening for that long. Already today I can feel the spin cycle slowing down which is partly why I feel able to write this blog post. Today I came home from work after a long day and whereas other long days have resulted in nervous energy which has made me feel very awake and unable to sleep, tonight I am already starting to feel calm and sleepy.

I guess I’ve somehow developed self awareness because a year ago, I wouldn’t have even identified the feeling. I would have brushed it to one side and moved on until it came to the point where I was unable to brush it off.

I’m trying to slow things down in my life which is really hard and I fluctuate between making immediate plans to being sensible and recognising that I need some time to myself, to help the washing machine to slow right down.

Reflecting

I don’t tend to celebrate the New Year. I usually head out with my husband to watch some fireworks at the top of our road and will have a walk through the city centre with him afterwards taking in all of the Christmas lights but that tends to be it. I last went out to celebrate the New Year in 1999 for the Millenium.

Having said that, New Year does prompt me to reflect on the year. From a country perspective 2016 hasn’t been the best year. The world has seen continued conflict, hate and just downright nastiness. Thousands of people have lost their lives through no fault of their own, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time in their own country. I’ve seen some political decisions that are wrong at best and divisive and prejudiced at worst. I still live in a country where children live in poverty, homeless people are still on the streets and people are still struggling. And I live in the ‘first world’. My heart aches for the ‘third world’.

However, the biggest thing I admire in humanity is the ability, no matter how bad things get, to just get back up and continue to have hope. As Chumbawamba said “I get knocked down, I get back up again” and yes Chumba, humanity does just that.

For every racist, hateful story in the media, there are more people who put themselves on the line for other people. We just don’t get to read about it. From a personal perspective, and aside from the rage-filled moments I have experienced during political events (Brexit/Trump anyone?), this year has been okay. I am in a job I love with colleagues who I like spending time with. I have a husband who I adore and I think he thinks I’m pretty okay too. I have friends who I know would back me up in any situation, whilst gently chastising me behind the scenes. No one has died this year in my immediate family and for that I am truly thankful.

Life isn’t perfect. I have days where I worry about even thinking about starting a family because of the world I would bring a child into. I have days where I cry and feel like I am helpless and the world is just too cruel. I’m human after all. Yet I have to pick myself back up because there will come a day if I don’t that I just won’t want to be here. And I do. I really do. Even with all the faults in the world, there are many more people ready with sticking plasters. I just need to surround myself with those people more.

Have a good New Year’s Eve. Have a better 2017. Live your life, be free xx

No time limit

This Christmas will be the 2nd Christmas without my nan. It will be my 4th without my gran. It will be my 24th without my mum.

It will also be my 12th with my husband. It will be my 19th with my stepmum joining our family.

Christmas can be difficult but mainly because of the rollercoaster of emotions. On the one hand, spending time with loved ones, friends and family can mean that Christmas is an extremely happy time. On the flip side it means that I think about who isn’t around.

I miss buying my grandma and nan slippers. I miss buying my mum things that have no real value but show that I’m thinking of her. Instead I replace those things with my visit to her graveside. Carnations. A Christmas tree and a card taped securely to her gravestone.

It doesn’t get easier the more time passes. You just find a way to cope with things in different ways that mean that you don’t cry every time you think of the person who has died. I can go weeks without consciously thinking about my mum and then all of a sudden she pops into my head and then it’s like I’m back there 24 years ago listening to two police officers saying that she has died.

The difference is now that I have accumulated people. Lots and lots of lovely people who I can talk to about my mum and my nan and gran. The way that my nan was the least politically correct person ever but also the most tolerant. The way my gran would make me smile the minute I saw her. The way my mum made me laugh.

This Christmas I’ll remember all the people I have lost. I’ll also remember all the people I have gained though.

My womb. My business

Like most of my posts I debated about whether to write this but decided that it’s about a topic close to my heart.

I want to say first of all that you may be reading this and be thinking ‘Oh no! I say that all the time to her, she must hate me’. Well I don’t. I accept it’s something that comes quite naturally but I also think that it’s important that you know my views and basically don’t do it again!

I’m 34. I’ve been married for 9 years to a beautiful amazing kind man who is literally the love of my life (so far!). I have a great job that pays relatively well and I am surrounded by some beautiful friends and family who are an amazing support network. I don’t have a lot of surplus cash admittedly but I do have a husband who is a bit of a saver and always supports me if needed.

When I was young, I was constantly asked about whether I had a boyfriend. You would think that when I got married, those kind of questions would stop but no. Then comes the baby question.

“Any pitter patter of little feet”. ” You’re not getting any younger”. “You must get a move on”. Unbeknown to me, the rules are that if you get married, you naturally must be pregnant within the year, or two if you want to settle into married life for a bit. Two is acceptable. 9 is apparently just not on.

This morning I was asked about whether I had plans to have children. Normally I would shrug this off but this time it really upset me. Not through the fault of the person who asked but just years of friends, family asking me when we were going to start a family. I’m writing this not just for me but for all the childless women out there. Please don’t ask when we are going to have children. If we volunteer information then that’s fine. If not then there might be a reason but, put bluntly, it’s none of your business if I ever choose to have a baby. Here’s a few reasons why you should avoid asking about the baby question. I’m not saying whether these apply to me because if I haven’t talked about it to you already, then I probably won’t want to. That doesn’t reflect on our friendship. It just means that I don’t want to share.

1. Children do not make a family.

Okay, I know children are amazing and the love for a child is unlike any love that anybody has ever known. But maybe, just maybe the person you’re asking is pretty fulfilled as they are and don’t want children. They might not feel maternal. They might like the fact they can sleep in and do what they want when they want. Maybe they’re selfish. Maybe there’s lot of reasons but contrary to popular belief, women can be fulfilled and not have children. My amazing auntie who passed away from cancer was proof of that. She never had children but she was an amazing auntie.

2. One or both in the relationship are not ready for children just yet

The key word is ‘not ready’. Yes, there is never a right time for children but maybe they want to spend some time as they are before they have a label of mum and dad. Maybe one wants to but the other doesn’t. Maybe there’s all sorts of conversations happening that you’re not privy to because you’re not part of the relationship. Maybe mentioning children is actually harming the relationship because of all the pressure.

3. One or other can’t have children

Yes I know, there are people who (shock horror) can’t have children. It happens. And maybe months of tears and trying are compounded by you asking about whether there is a little one on the way.

So, this is a plea. Don’t ask me if I’m going to have children. Ask about my job, my career, my achievements, what I did at the weekend and my holidays away. Ask about how I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Ask lots of things but not children. If you mean a lot to me, you will know when I choose to have children. If not, you’ll find out on facebook like everyone else.