Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pretty, fat

So I am basing this on the above image. This image is an argument that i have been having over the years, both directly and indirectly.

You see, the comeback to announcing that you are fat is ‘..but your pretty..’ Not every time, and maybe the wording is slightly different, but the intention is the same. I know some of you will not use the word fat as it is not fair to label people. And honestly, I commend your postive action. I am not merely a fat girl. I am more that what I present to the world or rather the first impression that I leave. However, please don’t stop me from using it. If I am using it to describe myself – it is what i need to do.

You see, as per the other posts, being told that you are not fat, you are perfectly fine, you have nothing to worry about. These are damaging things to say to a person. What you see in the mirror is completely different to what others see. I might think that I am not too fat, but I then stand next to a slender friend and what can I say? I am fat.

I am going to keep using the word. Fat. It is important and empowering. By using the word, I am giving it meaning, and strength but I am also owning it. I am fat and I am the only person who can do something about it.

Telling someone that they are pretty when they are discussing their weight, shape or dress size is extremely unhelpful. Have they asked about how they look, have they dropped a hint about wanting a compliment? Or are they just having a moment of clarity or honesty. Are they explaining why they don’t want to have a slice of cake, or that they won’t be joining drinks after work, or why they have switched to a packed lunch.

If someone is making changes, by all means take an interest but make sure that you don’t make a big deal about it. If someone is trying to make a change, having a spotlight shone can be damaging and their motivation or willpower can evaporate. Swinging words around like diet, likewise can be unhelpful. Don’t start wading in with some magic pill that worked for you, because it worked for you. It may not work for someone else. And be aware of why someone is making lifestyle choices. Often we are given ‘quick fixes’ we are told how to drop a dress size, or lose a couple of stubborn pounds.

What is most helpful, is being honest. Not to the point of rudeness. Don’t start expressing that a person shouldn’t be having that snack, or wearing that dress, or asking how much they have lost. If someone says they are fat, let them use the word. Lets not sugar coat it. It is a word, and an explanation. I personally, am carrying too much fat on my body. Until this has been resolved, I am fat.

To summarize, I am fat, I am pretty. These are not mutually exclusive terms. It would be better if we could all learn to separate the two.

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The V word…

Vagina, vixen, vaccination, vinyl….. I won’t go on.

What i would like to talk about Vegan products. Disclaimer: I am not vegan.

I have a number of vegan friends, and the reason for their diet is varied, it can be down to health, going ‘free from’, not liking meat, animal rights and everything inbetween.

Now this isn’t the first time that I have spoken about being Vegan – and i was of a mind to write this in January when we were all having the benefits of joining in on Veganuary but you know, life happens!

One of the things that I came accross and that seems to garner a lot of backlash, is Holland & Barrett’s Veganuary campaign. The idea was that you could be a vegan part time. Either you chose to go down the cruelty free makeup route (there is a difference between vegan and cruelty free) or you are vegan only when you are at home. There were a lot of other examples, like I said, an entire advertising campaign was designed around this idea that you could be ‘Vegan: your way’. This seemed especially abhorrent to be people, on both sides of the fence.

Now there is an argument, for example, people not using a brand (Urban Decay, Body Shop) because they are owned by a company that isn’t vegan or still uses animal testing. But this argument for me, fails. SImply because these same people are still shopping in supermarkets that sell animal products, buying a latte in a coffee shop that serves 90% of their hot drinks with cows milk.

Like my previous blog, I would say that buying vegan/cruelty free products no matter where, sends a clear message to companies that this is something to invest in. Now like I have said, I am not vegan, but try my best to buy vegan as and where I can (to the point i rope the fiance into it by making him vegan meals). I don’t like meat, I don’t like the smell, texture, flavour. So for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why people would eat ‘fake meat’. I mean if you won’t want to eat meat, why would you want to eat something that reminds you of meat.

Well it is pretty simple. The meat industry is failing, the amount of stock needed to break even, let alone make a profit makes the farm a bad business model. We don’t have the space either, and with leaving the EU soon, farmers will be losing the EU subsidies that they have become reliant on. That is just the UK. Globally the population continues to rise, and we aren’t able to produce enough food.

So yes, the idea would be that we all become vegan, it would be great if we could help our planet, our selves, stem global warming, and be kinder. But lets be realistic, as anyone who had attempted to diet will tell you, the moment your restrict access to a certain food; the more you want it.

So what do we do? Well we start looking at alternatives, we start looking at like for like swaps, so that people won’t miss the animal by products. And you know what, I am all for it – I am here for the vegan cheese, the vegan pain au chocolate, for the vegan burgers. And I would honestly encourage you to try some. Even if you just do it for one meal. Pop into a super market ( I personally recommend M&S and their fab range) and grab a vegan meal. Sit down with friends or family (both) and see how you enjoy it. Because trust me, you will.

And every item sold, encourages the company to make more, try more, invest more. Which can only be a good thing.

No excuses

Now, ladies, let us get serious Smear tests. They are embarressing, awkward, and in some cases, painful.

I had my first one at 20, I remember the letter arriving on my door step, some sort of ‘coming of age’ – Congratulations, your officially a grown woman! And off I trotted to the G.P surgery to have my first experience of how utterly humiliating it can be to be a woman. 

You see, I was not longer living at home, and certainly have no female friends to discuss this with, so I went in blind. There were stirrups, and a metal contraption that was wound open once inserted, and then the swab? YEOWCH!

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So I have have had more than a few of these, pretty much every one has been uncomfortable to a degree, and after being repeatedly told I have a small cervix, asked about bleeding after sex, and having anomalies with each result… it is just not something I look forward to. But it is something I still eventually get around to doing, because a moment or 2 of being uncomfortable is a pretty small price to pay. And let’s face it, we are all going to go through it! 

I remember vividly Jade Goody, both her rise to fame, and then how important she suddenly became. If you don’t remember, Jade was a pseudo celebrity, but her legacy is discovering she had cervical cancer and she died after a tragically short battle with it. Whilst battling cancer, she campaigned asking people to get their smear test, explaining how important it was, not to leave it, to leave it too late. And following her death, there was a spike in attendance. 

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However, somewhere between my first test and Jade’s death, the age for your smear test was raised to 25. That may seem like a small jump but it is significant. Getting girls, and women to start this routine early is as important as detecting and catching cancer is. It then becomes habit forming, another check on the to-do list of womanhood. While I understand that there is some medical backing suggesting that waiting until 25 makes some sense, I suspect that this is financially motivated as despite some people’s assumption, the NHS is a business and each letter, each appointment, each test, costs the individual trust money. 

Now, speaking of money, where do you get your smear test? It is important to be comfortable with the person and environment. I have switched between GP and Family planning. As I mentioned early, smear tests have never been especially comfortable for me, and especially after moving to Northampton, I tried to do all my family planning, at the family planning clinic. I liked and knew the doctors and nurses there and felt much more comfortable. However, funding changed and now I can only go to my GP to have the test. 

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So when I called a couple of weeks, imagine my surprise to learn that not only can I only go to my GP to have the smear test, there is only one nurse covering 2 GP practises. Now I am not going to lie, this is not making it any easier! 

Now, something that prompted my booking of the test is a post in a FB group that I haunt called Queens of the New Age. There was a status about having a smear test and having glittered the lady garden. I love a challenge so I made sure I had styled my downstairs with some glitter for me appointment and used some Snow Fairy powder to try and keep things fresh.

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Things have moved on since my first smear, should I have led with this? Possibly but I don’t like to do things in a sensible order. You will be shown into an examination room by the nurse, asked a couple of questions, and asked to undress – waist down, lie on the couch and place the paper towel over yourself for modesty. A plastic speculum is inserted to allow the nurse to use a ‘brush’ to get a sample of cells. That is is. Now I managed to chat throughout with the nurse, and we joked about the glitter and lack of shaving (an over sight) and it was over in seconds. I have never had such a quick test, and it was completely painless. 

What I am saying is that, most people will have completely painfree and painless experiences. You will be seen by a nurse who has seen it all before, probably several times that day before your appointment so you will not be presenting herself with anything new. But I cannot say this enough, please, even though the starting age is 25, do not forget, forego or not book an appointment. It is not even 20 mins of your life every few years that could quite literally, save your life. 

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Boys, girls, sex

This morning I watched a man break down toward the end of an interview about having ‘come out’ as being sexually abused as a young footballer. He was asked if he had felt that it was safer now, for children going into football. No, he felt it wasn’t any safer. And is it surprising when you look at the figures?

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In the last year, 748 victims have stepped forward, and 285 people coaches, and otherwise connected with football, have been named. That is a lot of people. This spans decades, the majority of cases from 70/80 and 90’s but there are earlier. And I imagine that there will be more recent.

So is it surprising that Andy suggested that little, if anything had changed? Not only does change take time, statements are still being taken. When you look at those involved, we are looking at people who have since passed and you can’t ask a dead man to give evidence or stand accountable for their actions. And on the other side, we have victims who are older, are parents, potentially even grandparents who have moved on with their lives and don’t want to drag up things from the past.

I admire the strength it has taken this man, to stand up in a very macho environment and call out abuse. He has risked everything in doing so, he has bought a spotlight onto his life, his family, and meant that the last 30+ of his existence has been pulled apart by the media. He has been questioned, risked ridicule, abuse, loss of friendship and breakdowns in his family.

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This is the same old story, one we see played out again and again. Money and power, people are afraid to said something because the people involved are powerful and often, good at their jobs. This can lead to collusion and a witch hunt again the accuser to ensure they are not a believable source. And on top of this we have to remember how slow these things are to move. Is it worth the years of going through questioning, courts, giving evidence and having it all dragged up repeatedly, have to relive stuff that you have spent so long trying to forget, trying to bury, trying not to effect your everyday life.

Now, this bothers me on several levels but as you know, I have a keep interest in banishing mental health stigma, especially among men. And this is what concerns me. This is a footballer, and call them what you like, it is a male institution and concern. 

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I started writing this post in 2017. So really I should be trashing it, starting over, rethinking. This blog was initially written in the pre #metoo world. Now you might think, considering some of the things that i have written about, that I would not really concern myself with things being pre or post such a movement. That it was a long time coming, that eyes should have been open to this a long time ago. 

However, one of the big names to have come out of this is Amanda Heard. We all remember the images of her bruised face, of her harrowing tales of life with Johnny Depp. How the papers salaciously rooted around in their life together, that he didn’t have any money. That one of the reasons that he didn’t have any money is because he was spending an obscene amount on wine. Which in a round about way, was explaining his behavior. 

So what relevance does this have? We have spent at least a year of reports about Johnny Depp losing the plot. that he is putting on weight, he looks haggard, what has happened, how the mighty have fallen. And fall he did – work dried up, and the fact he wasn’t sacked from the Harry Potter films was questioned with some enthusiasm. 

Meanwhile, Amanda has gone from strength to strength, going from a relatively unknown actress, to the sweetheart of Hollywood, a survivor of domestic abuse, the perfect spokes person. 

Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was a whisper that Johnny Depp had filed a defamation claim against Amanda. I searched and couldn’t find anything. Nearly a week went by before I found a couple of articles. The basis of Johnny Depps claim is that Amanda had gone ahead and written an article regarding being in an abusive relationship. This went against the agreement on their previous court case, and subsequent divorce, which was one of none disclosure. 

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Now what this also includes is proof, ranging from impartial witnesses through to surveillance videos that it was Amanda who was the violent partner.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the beginnings of this article,  but this is it. Men do not get believed. There has been extreme silence on Johnny Depp and his court case. On the possibility that he was not him, but his partner, his wife, a woman, who was the aggressor. There have been a lot of sympathetic articles, pointing out that he was doing his best to protect her. That he allowed it all to play out – in front of the world, took it, and lived with the consequences. Right up until she decided to continue following the settlement. But there have been as many articles questioning why he waiting, why not make a big deal. Why not call her out. 

But mostly, everything is quiet, is there a degree of embarrassment about everyone having turned their back on him. Not believing him, throwing him away. 

And that really is what it is to me, men do not come forward because like Terry Crews who was asked why he didn’t stand up to sexual aggression, there is an unbalance of power. 

Women often are not able to fend off, be it due to physical circumstances, maybe it is down to financial, or any number of reasons, but a man? Who would believe them? They will have their entire being questioned. What man isn’t able to fend an assault off, what man allows themselves to find themselves in that situation, that isn’t able to get out of it, what man allows themselves to be emasculated. 

Say hallo to toxic masculinity. 

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Pinning the tail on the

Victim.

Victim blaming. I am sure you are all aware of what it is, and indeed have done it yourself before now. 

Today, this morning, I woke up to a friend commenting about something that had happened while shopping, Not once, it had happened before when she was with her son, and again which prompted her post. She was followed, cat called, questioned by a group of men while shopping. Now this is bad enough, but what made it worse that in her explanation she said she would speak to the store to see if it had happened previously, because she didn’t want to over react. 

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And I came accross a story from a b-list celebrity (I couldn’t place her so I wouldn’t expect you to) who had been attacked on a night out. She had gotten talking to a guy while waiting for her taxi and suggested he share a taxi with her friend. He proceeded to try to sexually assault her friend and then after the driver had pulled over, attack them both. But she said, of course she shouldn’t have talked to him or invited him to share the taxi.

These are just 2 stories fresh today, but I hear them every day, I hear friends tell me something, first, second or third hand, we see it on the news, again directly or indirectly.

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Victim blaming can be external or internal – victims, try and reason what happened. Where they not careful enough, pay enough attention, do something to provoke it. External? Well why not look at any rape case, the victim is raked over – what where they wearing, where were they, what time of day was it, had they been drinking, were they alone, had they led the victim on.

But it has to stop, we can’t keep accepting something is a certain way, that ‘boys will be boys’, that if we talk to a man, it means we had led them on, that we can’t drink because that means we gave off the wrong signals, that we can’t be alone because that opens us up to attack. 

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See the problem here? The ONLY cause of rape is rapists. There is nothing else to be said. Most rapes occur between people who know each other, even in passing. It happens a lot in marriages and in families, between friends. A stranger raping someone is not uncommon but it is often part of a larger attack.

So knowing this, why when someone happen, is the natural reaction to victim blame. Why is is easier, normal, natural to suggest that someone has been stalked home, around a store, accosted, because … they are too pretty? Because they smiled at a stranger instead of scowling? Because they dared go out without a proper escort? I feel like I am writing about something that happened 100 years ago, that women where not expected to go out alone. But I am talking about things that happen every day. 

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Victims are not to blame VICTIMS did NOTHING wrong – whether you are Kim Kardashian getting robbed in a hotel suite, or a single mother trying to do some grocery shopping. Someone should not feel that they have to keep quiet over a legitimate concern because of how it might be perceived, worrying and checking it from each angle to see if it was something they caused or initiated. 

If we can all realise that victims are not at fault, and look at things critically instead of trying to reason it out. That would make both reporting and prosecuting so much easier. I realise I am leaning heavily on rape/sexual assault in tone, but that is pretty much the concern for most people in this situation and it is one of the most under reported crimes. 

We need to change the way we look at it, and change the conversation.

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Unisex toilets

Are actually a thing! Did you know? Really? Because they have been around for quite a while. So really what does this accomplish? No more or less than the rest of this series, #fakenews.

If a woman walks in to a bathroom, it is no different from a man walking into a bathroom. It is innocent. Most of the time. The difference is nothing to do with gender, it is to do with intent. Genuine mistakes do happen, and everyone is understanding of them.

The reason that this is being talked about again is because of laws being debated, passed, revoked in America. There are a lot of people that believe that homosexuality is wrong, that trans, gender fluidity anything that isn’t cis-normative is some sort of conspiracy, lies, a millennial joke. Because of this background, there is now a growing argument for people having to use the toilets of their ‘birth gender’ under the idea that is makes people safer. Whom exactly? Because doing this puts a lot of people in danger. If someone is living as say, female. For all intents, and purposes, is female, why on earth should they be forced to go into the male toilets. And doesn’t that put them in as much danger, as when a man is in the female toilets? Isn’t that the argument that is used? That sexual predictors will use these situations to prey on women.

And what age does the separation start? When you are a parent, what age is it safe, or appreciate to ask your child to go into a bathroom by themselves? Is there a cut off for this? And are we not at all concerned about children going into bathrooms by themselves.

But to go back to the cover image of this post. Unisex bathrooms. In America Pence seems to be rather incensed by the very idea of a unisex bathroom. But definition every bathroom, not explicitly gendered, is unisex. STOP PRESS your home bathroom….. is UNISEX. And single cubicle is unisex. The issue it appears, is that is is somehow on the LGBTQ+ agenda to make public bathrooms a den of iniquity, a place for sexual debauchery.

This is because anything that is not cis-normative is obviously depraved, it is full of perverts, it will cause the downfall of society. The retelling of Sodom and Gomorrah, but instead of it being just 2 cities, instead it is a world wide epidemic. I may be being every so melodramatic but this is basically how i am trying to understand what the big issue is with unisex toilets.

Sidebar for a little history lesson – I am not going to go  full verse here – basically a deal was made with God that if a few good men could be found in Sodom, the town would be spared. So emissaries were dispatched. And this happened : Then all the men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” (Genesis 19:5, NIV) Lot was so infected by the wickedness of Sodom that he offered the homosexuals his two virgin daughters instead.

I mean you can see the obvious issues with this reading, and I am not sure how much if down to the numerous translations and agenda of those carrying out or requesting the translation. And sodomy means ‘crimes against nature’ which is a much bigger melting pot of understanding than we usual understand it to mean.

So are men understood to be perverts when they go into a ladies toilet? Nope, not generally. The argument is actually double edged, because people using this arguement about double standards are the same people who will be asking for people to use bathrooms based on their birth gender. Women do not, and I cannot stress this enough, do not choose to use a male bathroom UNLESS there is no other way. There is always a massive queue for the ladies, on top of the fact that we have to fight layers just to releive ourselves, there will be numerous other things that we are doing in that cubicle, that require a little privacy, if we are taking babies or children in with us, that is another issue. So we end up causing a hold up. So if you really, really need to pee, yes we go into the gents. We have probably all done it. But omg the mess, the smell, it just… eww. So no, we don’t do it through choice. And why do men not use the ladies to the same degree… I think I just explained it, we have massive queues. 

At the end of the day, any arguments for or against who is using toilets, is down to someone’s agenda. So we just need to be clear as to what the motivation is to help us understand a persons point of view.

The terrorism of Feminism

So as we all know, 2018 is a big year in the feminist calendar – in 1918 there was a big push to offer some women – not all, but some, the right to vote. Some might argue that as there were so many restrictions in place, it wasn’t something to celebrate. 

However, I would say that this was a massive step which leads us to the present day where most of us take being able to vote for granted. To the point that the right to vote is something so ingrained that people need to be pushed to vote in the first place. That we  are reminded that people actually died for our right to vote. 

And now we come to what I want to write about. 

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Emily Davison throwing herself under the Kings Horse in the 1913 Derby. She was killed.

What led to our right to vote, how did it come about and why are we quick to remind ourselves and others that Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under a horse in order to raise awareness to the cause that others like her were fighting for. 

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Fighting for. 

This is one aspect that seems to have been sanitised and I don’t want to go down the ‘because it is women’ road.  I really don’t. The fact of the matter is that the Suffragettes were terrorists, their intention was the terrorise the British people to force the government to take notice. 

Why and when did this happen and can we not take ownership of this part of British History? Women took extreme measures because that was the only way that they felt that they would be able to be heard, to be treated like human beings and not merely property.

A 'Lancashire lassie' escorted through the palace yard, Westminster Palace, London, March 1907.
A ‘Lancashire lassie’ being escorted through the palace yard, Westminster Palace, London, 20th March 1907. A young woman is reluctantly escorted by two policeman who are holding her by the arms. The woman is still protesting as she is led away. The last line of the verse at the bottom says ‘For Women’s Rights anything we will dare; Palace Yard, take me there!’ (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

There were women like Kitty Marion, who was not looking for the vote. Instead she was looking at changing the acting industry for reasons that echo #metoo and shows that in 100 years little changes and that is why we NEED extremists. Kitty carried out a nationwide campaign of arson and bombings. I am not suggesting she was alone, but that she was one of a number of extremists within a group (groups, there were several groups with similar aims). Or should I say, she was one of a number of disenfranchised women that had tried everything to make a change in a mans world and nothing worked. 

Does that sound familiar? Being pushed so far and reaching a breaking point, where suddenly everyone is forced to stop and look, listen, change is ushered through? 

We see it even now, time and again, where voices join together and manage to push something to the foreground. Where hushed whispers in corridors, the nudges, winks, the unspoken is suddenly out in the open. But where we have media, social and traditional to help promote a cause, and able to reach millions of people without much effort.. One hundred years ago, it was much more difficult to gain attention any further than locally. 

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Extreme measures had to be taken, and people, and property were killed, maimed and destroyed during the cause. Let us not sanitise this. I am not for a moment excusing or romanticising the violence that was used to make a point, to make noise, to get the Government to listen. I am not saying, that with enough distance and time having passed, that it was okay because it worked out in the end, I have rights, and can vote, drive, own my own property, I am not beholden to men, I can work and earn my own money. 

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I am not for a moment excusing the terrorism, what I am saying is that if we don’t talk about it, discuss it, review it, we will never understand the context, the history, we will not be able to understand what caused the extreme violence, why the participants felt it was the only way to get their point made, what pushed them to violence in the first place. 

“History shouldn’t be comfortable and safe, it should always challenge you and always be challenged.”

 

Grief or guilt?

When my great aunt died, it was a massive shock, as I had said in my last blog. I was not something I was at all prepared for. Not that I didn’t realise that she has been unwell, or that she was old, but that I had managed to convince myself that she was just always going to be there.

I am going to assume that this is a fairly normal reaction – that you just can’t see a time when someone isn’t around. That they are just so, present, that life without them just doesn’t seem right?

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I have been grieving for over 2 months. It took almost all that time to stop crying at the drop of a hat. That even thinking about Tante Hilde would mean that I would either expend a lot of energy forcing the tears back, or running and hiding.

The thing, for me, when I reflect on my feelings and consider what I am going though. It is guilt. Like I said in my last blog, I have managed to escape dealing with grief for most of my life so this has hit me hard, I just don’t have the coping skills, or frankly the emotional support network.

Why was I guilty? Was it the fact I couldn’t remember whether I had sent anything at Christmas? Or that I had ignored her phone calls last year – she had left voicemails on my mobile because although I have a landline, I didn’t had an actual phone plugged in. And if I had, no doubt I would have spoken to her. But you know how quickly time passes, you just … forget. days turn into weeks and into months, then you realise that she had last called you to wish you a happy birthday. Last July.

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Or was the guilt over not having been to see her? I recall her comments coming up to her 90th Birthday, that she kept saying that she wasn’t going to see my before she died. And boy, if I thought that cut deep at the time? Nothing compared to how I feel writing that. Realising that although she was saying it to get a reaction, her was making a prophecy.

She was supposed to be alive for longer, she was supposed to at least wait until I got to see her in August. Until I had made my prodigal return to the home I had not seen in over 2 decades. The home I loved and selfishly assumed would just continue to be there. Patiently waiting for my return at a time that suits me.

Guilt because times waits for no man. Time doesn’t give us a reprieve, it doesn’t slow because we are juggling too many things and just need an extra moment. Time just marches on and we are left holding the pieces after everything comes crashing down. That is it, isn’t it? Guilt is for the survivors, the ones that were left behind. The ones that are still here, still working through memories. Wondering what they could or should have done differently.

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It is more than clear to me, that I shouldn’t have kept putting off getting my passport, that a ticket to Germany isn’t all that expensive and staying with my aunt would have been at minimal cost and would have made both of us happy. And because I could only think of myself, because I expected the world to wait until I was ready, she lost out on seeing me and I lost out on precious memories with my great aunt. My grandmother, my hero.

That is the thing, she isn’t close just because I would spend summers with her, Christmas holidays, evening visiting on my own. It wasn’t a relationship of convenience. I really loved her and looked up to her and understood some of her quirks and shared similarities. She was stubborn, headstrong, independent and fierce. I look over her old photos, and I see her smile, her love for animals, I see her climbing trees and I see some of myself in her. I may just be finding things because I want them to be there, I want a small part of her to be reflected in me.

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Because I am guilty that I didn’t spend more time with her. Not that I didn’t have more time with her, I didn’t spend the time I could have had, with her. That was my choice. I could wax lyrical about how obtaining a German passport is a massive ball ache, how the Brits are staunch in their refusal and dragged my heels over an Irish passport.

See? How easy did those excused slip out? Because that is what they are. I am an inherently self absorbed and self centred person. Over the last 3 months I have had reason to reevaluate some of the things I have done, how through laziness (no better word) I had allowed things to happen. And how to build relationships. And while I type this I realise that it has been 2 days since I last spoke to my mother and am going to cut this short to go call her….

 

The long shadow of grief

My great aunt, Tante Hilde had been poorly for a long time. She had many damaging habits, including smoking, drinking and poor eating habits. She was in her nineties and should have moved into a nursing home last year at the very latest. She needed a lot of care and was resistant to having people in her home.

Not the most auspicious starts to a blog but I do tend to write as things come to me and not outline correctly. Three years reading English Lit at uni entirely lost on me.

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In February I went home to celebrate my FIL’s birthday (eightieth) and while there, I had lunch with my mother. My mother had power of attorney for my great aunt. Tante Hilde helped raise my mother, and since I really had no contact with my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandparents died while I was still in primary school, Tante Hilde was the closest approximation to a grandparent. Certainly the closest relative next to my mother. But I won’t go into my estranged family in too much detail as I can see this blog running away from me and I want to discuss grief.

Now in mid February I discussed getting my paws on a passport (another long story, for another blog) so I could go to Germany with my mother in August. She was planning on going over at the end of March which wouldn’t have given me enough time to get one organised and she was finding the visits increasingly difficult. Not long after my discussion, my aunt had a serious fall in her home and ended up in Hospital. My mother was in contact with both the hospital and local relatives. She was going to be placed in a local nursing home after being assessed and given the all clear by the medical staff. It was looking good and mother had discussed arrangements with the staff at the nursing home. Confident that while my great aunt would not like being in a nursing home and not her own home, she would at least be well looked after.

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And then, Tante Hilde had another fall. My mother was already concerned about the extend of her dementia (undiagnosed but at her age, not unexpected) and following the fall, it was decided that she should have her hip replaced to ease pain and promote recovery.

Which should have been a standard operation, one preformed many times, every day in every part of the globe, in most cases on elderly patients.

However, my great aunt had a D.N.R disclosure. Again, not something that would normally need to be acted upon after a relatively routine operation.

However, my mother received the call. The one that you don’t want to get. The one from medical staff asking for permission to resuscitate your relative. Because you are the only one who can make that choice. So at the end of February, my mother found herself going out to Germany a month earlier than anticipated. To sign paperwork to state that my great aunt was not to have a tube inserted to give her food. That she was to live on purely water until she passed. Which could be up to 3 weeks. Three weeks of watching your loved one, the person who helped raise you, who you ad spent over seventy years with. Who had been at your wedding, watched your children grow into adults. Who at her most vulnerable, could not tell you to ignore the D.N.R disclosure on her records.

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My great aunt died on Mother’s Day – 11th March for those outside the UK.

I remember the day well, I had been speaking to my mother daily while she was in Germany, visiting my aunt and staying in her house on her own. Various family members and friends visiting. There was no particular time for our phone calls, so when I picked my phone up to call Pete to pick my up after my gym session on the Sunday, and saw a missed call from Germany, I didn’t give it a second thought.

I called my mother, still hyped from the gym, expecting her to tell me about her breakfast on the veranda listening to the church bells. But that isn’t what happened. She told me that my aunt had died earlier that morning and I didn’t know what to say, I don’t remember exactly what I said but I remember I tried to distract my mother as I could tell she was on the verge of tears and I couldn’t do anything to comfort her.

I crossed the road and got in the car with Pete and … and I didn’t say a word. I didn’t tell him my great aunt had died. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to think about it. I needed time to process it. To understand.

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On the Monday I did everything possible to try and distract myself. On the Tuesday I was due to have dinner with two close friends. I had to cancel. I was just not able to pretend that everything was okay. I went home, and told Pete that Tante Hilde had died. And I don’t think he really knew what to say or do because I didn’t give him the ques to allow him to help me.

Because I am nearing 40 and this is the first time that I have had to deal with real grief. I had had loss before, I have been to a couple of funerals (although again, all children until a year ago). I had had relatives die – my paternal grandparents died in quick succession not long after I had started to get to know that side of my family. A close friend died this year and that did knock me sideways as it was unexpected.

To a degree, Tante Hilde was unexpected. I was making plans to see her in August. She had smoked at least 40 a day for longer than anyone cares to recall and had the lungs, and stamina of an ox. We often joked that she would outlive us all. So yes, shock was a big part of what I was going through, processing.

I realise that I am rambling but I am trying to get this all out in some sort of order. One thing that hit me hard, and I think has been the hardest thing to process, is losing my home.

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They say home is where the heart is, and I although I was born in England, I have always said that Germany was my home. And I never really had to give it any thought, I didn’t reflect. I grew up speaking German, most of the relatives that I had met or had a relationship with are from my mother’s side.

But what I began to realise is that, my heart, and home, where entwined with Tante Hilde. As I write this, I realise that it sounds like New Age bullshit. But hell, thanks for making it this far?

I have moved around a lot in my life, and I have lived in my current home, longer that any home prior to this. I guess it isn’t all that unusual to many people these days, but it means that I am lacking a rock. I have nowhere I can say stayed the same. But going to my great aunts? It never changed, it was always the same, she didn’t change. The town, for the most part, remained unchanged. There was a routine when we went there. We slotted into the routine without any real thought. Not only had I lost my great aunt, my rock, I had lost my home. I had lost my childhood. My security blanket.

And here we must stop for today because this has although become longer than I anticipated and need to break it up a little.

Protecting white male privilege

I actually cannot believe that I just wrote that. But it is not satire, but I am being a little sarcastic.

I posted an article, women have been banned, 30 days at times, for typing ‘men are scum’ because this is considered an attack and hate speech toward a protected group. Considering the language that I see hourly, daily, weekly, by both men and women on Facebook, that these are and were flagged is a joke at all.

Now I am noting that these are well known people, people in the spot light and it can easily be blamed on individuals having made the report themselves. I am tempted to give it a go myself. Will I lose my account for the sake of suggesting men are scum? I doubt it since I imagine that Facebook is now flooded by people doing exactly that.

And I recognise the language well, you see, I have been subject to a number of bans, all of which are resulted from photos or images (memes) posted in closed/secret groups which I feel should have offered some protection. I argued on a number of occasions (never got a reply) that the images showed no nudity etc implied at best, and the wording has now been amended slightly.

So Facebook does listen I am curious how the algorhythms work, since the last 3 bans, and 20 or so images that have been removed/flagged, were all pulled from images in public groups. What makes me so different.

However back to the matter in hand, if we state, men are scum. We are automatically using hate speech against a protected group. Men. Are protected. WE KNEW THIS ALREADY.

Moments after sharing the article, which no explanation as I couldn’t think of anything susinct to put with it, I got called out. Yes, I was laughed at and told that if it was the other way around it would be called mysogyny.