I have just finished reading a book. It contained fifteen stories of all sorts from being a child to being a divorced single mother. I loved the book. Every time I buy something by a new author after finishing the last page I need to dive deep into this person to know more. I must have read several articles by her in a women’s magazine, and I always thought she stood out. She was describing something that felt so real, and you could never be sure whether it actually happened, happened to her, or happened at all. I mean in her mind of course, because she put it on paper at some point. Anyway, I am fascinated, and when I go home I’ll buy more of her books. I have this rule of buying from women authors only, to give money only to support their work, and restrict myself to focus on women in general, when I am looking for opinions, writings and guidelines for my life. Read more
I thought I was used to the fact that I have all these memories of being harassed, assaulted and just hurt by men mostly. I know they happened. I remember them. I know it was not my fault, even though in some cases I do think: was I asking for it? And I think I have learnt in the recent years that decent human beings do not abuse someone. There is no “asking for it”. I posted this hashtag in solidarity. I think I am talking more and more openly about the things that happened to me. Not only in this hidden blog that is public, but in general: to people and also in my other blog that is actually well-known in a certain group of people.
Here is what I was not prepared for: me posting on facebook would make my mum post: #metoo as well. I mean, I knew… But I am not ready to be faced with that fact again. As I have explained in the past: I am more a mother to my mum than she was to me. And every time my mom is hurt by someone I turn into this warrior, who wants to protect her, and just destroy the person, who has anything against her. These outbursts by me must be totally strange to people, who know me. I am very critical about my mother, my relationship with her is not tight at all. It could be, but it is just fucked up due to the past. Due to the difficulties. Due to her not getting enough help to stay a mother. It’s not her fault. Life was too hard on her as well. But it still hurts, I still had it very hard as well.
So when she posts: #metoo it straight away reminds me of her worst story. Which obviously I learnt about only by accident. Once I said something, just a quick comment about survivors of assault: that they should speak up, and shame on all, who don’t listen, who are there and don’t help. I am sure there was something on the news, like the HW case these days. I mean I was talking about children, them having the need to be protected. My mum listened for a second than she quickly said: “well, I was raped too when I was 8 years old.” I was so shocked I could barely say anything. I only managed: “who was it?” She said: “I don’t know, it was in a summer camp. Some older boy, I didn’t know him.” I knew she was lying. She knew, who the person was, because the way she said it was the obvious – very obvious to me – give away that she didn’t want to continue talking about it. She was leaving my room. When I said: “well, you should also talk about it with someone.” It was somehow linked to the piece of news or what we talked about earlier about speaking up.
I felt horrible for my mum, and did not have the courage to ask about the rape anymore. I would like to, but I don’t know how at this point. But I will. It is heartbreaking to see my mum’s #metoo. I know what is behind it, what it means, and I am filled with rage. Sexual assault is the worst. It is both mental and physical, it stays with you. It doesn’t really let you go. It shuts you down and makes you passive. All I could think about after my mum’s confession: many things are clear now. Now… now I understand a lot. The inability to protect me, the way she is still in a way just part of her shut down. I’m so sorry mum.
All these days about coming out, and sexual abuse, women talking about their experiences hit home hard. It also makes me reflect on my own job prospects that I do have this will to be appreciated at work, and be paid properly for the work I do. And that of course that will come with compromises, but what kind?
However I pay more attention to the Weinstein story, and see what kind of abuse this man did. And it made me think just how many times I got sexually abused:
- unwanted touching of the breasts – honestly, I don’t know how many times I was touched without being asked, because nature gave me absolutely gorgeous boobs. They look perfect and I understand that many people have the feeling they would love to touch them. Well, many failed to ask.
- taken advantage of when I was drunk. Of course, you could argue that I shouldn’t have drunk so much, but why does the other one think that this is the way to go, and now is the time to step in and just take advantage.
- being asked for a blow job, when said no, my hand being taken and put in or on the pants of a guy, just like that, because I made them hard.
- while being drunk someone else started flirting with me and took advantage of me not remembering anything at all, then later based on that night offering a threesome.
- all the times guys would just not let it go, when I said I would not give my number, forcing me to lie about it.
- I woke up completely hungover with ripped underwear next to someone, I was so drunk I had to think really hard how I ended up there and what happened. The next day this person thought we were in a relationship. What?!
- when I was asking for help, and suddenly the person started flirting with me, and then we kissed. At that time I liked kissing the most, I thought it was much better than sex, more intimate. And then he wanted to have sex: he was married, wife was at work, kid was away, and I had to run to the bathroom to excuse myself. But he was so turned on, I “had to” understand. I said no a thousand times when I finally could squeeze myself out the door and run away.
- there are many more at the back of my mind, and maybe it is better that I can’t recall everything at once.
Well, I think I am not alone in this. No, I know I am not alone in this and it makes me sick to the stomach. My niece is 14 years old at the moment and I can assure you, she’ll have to deal with this as well. And it is fucking unfair. So, let’s teach boys out there to behave. You heard me. No “she was asking for it”, “dressing like asking for it” shit, but actually call the blame on the perpetrator. The person, who did the thing. As Evan Rachel Wood said in her video: she is not ready yet to call those people out by the name, but she talks about what happened. I am the same. I can talk about what happened, but not call them out by name. Some people might recognize them from the circumstances who I am talking out. But most probably won’t.
I am still traumatised, still scared of these people. Not all of them, but some of them. It took me a long time to understand that these things were not my fault. That I could have been protected. That there were bystanders, who did nothing. That men took advantage of me. That it was not my fault. That getting drunk happens, but there are levels of it, and no, you don’t have to use that excuse for doing things to me I could in no way agree to. So, there is a lot of working through to go, a lot of letting go. I am just not ready yet, not strong enough yet.
Finally, I can sit down and enjoy the calmness of this room. All morning I kept going, packing things away, cleaning the kitchen, the tables, the floor, putting clothes away and doing laundry. Starting the dishwasher and recycling the accumulated mess of the past week. Probably this is the reason why I can work so well when I am on my own. But I always need to clean up first. I have mentioned this before how good it feels to sit down to work when you know that the house is organized. Or more precisely, I can only work when the mess is gone.
Last week I dedicated the whole week to my friend. She is working on a very important project, trying to set up a museum, and I helped her by creating facsimiles for the first pop-up exhibition ever for last Sunday. So it was hugely stressful and I truly exhausted myself creating these pieces for her, but it was all worth it. I used to study textile design. That was a decade ago, I have sat down next to a sewing machine maybe twice since finishing my studies. After getting my diploma I continued studying to become a proper tailor and seamstress. I didn’t finish my studies, because I chickened out. Today I can say that was the true reason. Back then I claimed something else. Obviously my life was very different and stressful, and I just wanted to get away as well. But mostly I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to pass my exams. The textbook example of impostor syndrome. Read more
Nobody likes networking. Okay, maybe that is not true. Probably those people like doing it, who thrive on feeling important, and are happy to get immersed in the unknown. Handing out name cards and showing off the company you work at. Also probably people, who don’t have a relationship and just want to get out there to see who is available. Yes, I envision only men loving the dull experience of networking. And the truth is: if someone wants to have your card that person will ask for it. It is not a fucking deck of card that you have to deal to everyone, while you are playing. Read more
The contemplation of pregnancy keeps coming back to my daily life as I learnt yesterday that one of my childhood close friend is pregnant as well. She is one of those very few people – if not the only one, who I used to write letters to. She has just told me that when she was home she found several of them in her mother’s house in Brittany. Just like I keep them in a box at my mum’s house.
So, she is pregnant, and looks really good in the pictures I have seen her in. I think she represents two things for me in my life: first that when I was young I used to have only older friends, and then I didn’t think it was a problem, but when they grew up and became university students and adults with job, I was still in secondary school. The other thing is that I have met her boyfriend later husband on a few occasions, and I think that he is one of the most boring people in the world. They must have been together for more than 10 years, and I just don’t understand how their relationship works, what she sees in him. Read more
Every so often someone remembers, and decides to forward something job-related to me. Most of time these descriptions have nothing to do with what I had in mind, and I start to wonder: do they not know me or am I giving out a completely wrong idea what I would be happy to invest my time in? However, I am grateful if someone makes the effort to think about me, and has a good intention in mind. My mum is convinced that I should give translation a try. She forwarded me a letter, where a woman was looking for another person to complete a job. I had to register on a website for that. I am always suspicious when I can’t just have a look at a simple job description before I subscribe, but I did it anyway. What could I lose? I subscribed the moment I applied for the job it disappeared. Okay, good, I did not waste too much time on it anyway.
In this website like in many other people can headhunt you. So I received a request to translate things, and I thought: well, not for that price, it is not worth my time. But eventually something interesting came along. Something that I wouldn’t mind spending time on. It was reading out loud words for teaching purposes. I thought okay, I could do this, then I looked at the text. It had mistakes in it. Instead of going forward the perfectionist-idealist, who wants to spend time on something to be properly done pointed out: look, I’d love to do it, but I have just looked at it, and there are mistakes. The reply: oh, it has been double-checked, but maybe another check wouldn’t hurt. How much money do you want for checking it before you read it out loud? I said a small sum, and now, when I am on the verge of getting my first paid job of 2017 the message came back: basically wanting me to do both for the same price as only the original project. Just because I pointed it out. And this is where things get hard for me. Read more
I love autumn. The colours are amazing, the smell of the leaves is a friendly reminder of what used to be the start of school. And the pumpkins, I made a soup, a salad and a quiche in the past few days. Someone always asks me: “why aren’t you opening your own restaurant?” Well, you need a bit more for that than just being an awesome cook, and I would like to continue enjoying my cooking skills for the happiness of myself and those, who enjoy the food.
It looks like we are staying where we are for the next couple of months, if not years. I don’t know exactly how I feel about that, because it is not that simple to describe. But I would really like to know what goes on in my head, so I am ready to explore whatever comes out in my sentences.
First of all, I am happy that we are not kicked out, that we can stay, that without proving income we can be here, and that is good. But the rent is high. If I count how much money it will add up to in the end if we do stay here three years altogether then my hands starts shaking and my stomach starts to turn. I can’t have my little bunny here and I hate that. I was supposed to give him away only for a few months until we could move and now we are stuck without him. It is pressure on my friend, and I just miss him. He is old, I am supposed to take care of him, and I can’t. It is hard to admit that sometimes I forget about him. But I do, because I do not get to see him very often. I would have had the chance this week and last week, but I was home and later I got sick.
My husband does not really like living here. I know that. People can walk through the place, in the middle of our living space. We do have a separate room for visitors and we have wi-fi and a washing machine included. Together with the kitchen, which is really good and the fact that this house is close to where my husband works, its location is excellent. Very close to the airport. Easy to get both there and back by public transport. Now that we are staying I am negotiating a compost bin as I am fed up with all the waste we produce. I want to get down to business to test a few things as a way to later be able to help others about their lifestyles.
Not everything is peachy. I am worried about the days getting shorter and how I am going to deal with that. So far so good. We also make very good use of our cinema cards and keep watching films on the big screen. I enjoy going out without taking my phone. Not all the time do I manage, but many times I can fight the urge to look at notifications. Creatively I am fine. I am writing, podcasting, thinking about creating workshops and how to teach. I feel that I can get to work soon.
But there is nothing pretty or romantic about mental illness. It takes time to get better. And it feels like that time to get better is very long. But I also don’t think it can get shorter in any way. It takes how long it takes. I do wonder whether if I tried harder I could get better a bit faster or not. I never click on articles that promise to fix anything fast. Whatever that might be. You can learn things by practice, change your life slowly, step-by-step. You can organize and create harmony around you gradually. You can’t just take things, throw them out and think: now I am done. It is all good. No, because you haven’t contemplated about your choices and what makes you not do the same mistakes again. There simply are no quick fixes. It is hard not to feel sorry for myself, to fight the urge to envy others who seem to figure things out faster and who look like that they have steadier lives. Though there is no one without problems or challenges. That thought is sometimes helpful.
The challenge that the recent days brought is dealing with the project that I started the year with. It is hard to let a project go, but it will do both of us with my husband very good. I can’t take it lightly when I am treated without respect, when my work is not appreciated. This has happened way too many times in the past. I just can’t help myself. I point out injustices when I see them, I talk about unfair occurences when I notice them. The result in many cases is being put into the corner, and called out for not being appreciative enough for the progress, for the good things that are happening. Hence it is good that we are quitting this project and try to let it go.
I am tired. Again, we got to the point where I am tired. Looking forward to working again though.
It’s not the first time that I realize I am anxious to write, and then find it hard to start. Well, I have just spent a week at home. After coming back I got so sick, I can’t remember the last time I managed to get this ill. I mean physically. I have an idea why I suddenly got so unwell, and it is related to temperature change, nonchalant way of dressing for the weather, being on the go the whole week, and eating a lot of sugar.
My husband just laughs at me when I explain that I truly believe the biggest factor in me getting so ill was the insane amount of sugary foods I let myself consume over the week. I do see the connection and intersection between the factors. I ate in Chinese fast food places several times, always choosing the most delicious and sweet eight-treasure-chicken with soy sauce and bean sprout salad. Then I went out to eat cake and coffee with so many people, I can count four occasions just of the top off my head. When it was actually legitimate, meeting and catching up. I know I overdosed on sugar, and I am certain it weakened my immune system in a way that caused me to get this bloody sick. Either a virus, or only sinusitis, or bloody both, but it really got me down. Read more
My kitchen looks like as if my husband has forgotten about Valentine’s Day. Beautiful flowers in a vase, a huge box of heart-shaped chocolates and other heart-shaped sweets in a bag. Well, we don’t celebrate V-Day. It is not even February. Or May. What happened is that I had an influx of love and kind thoughts from my friends to uplift me, when I truly needed it. I talked about the outcry earlier, and how I know that friends, who actually make an effort to show me love and support are easy to separate from those, who just say they are supportive.
Well, support in action showed up in my life last Saturday. Thrice. Like in a fairy tale. I pushed us to go out to the park and enjoy a bit of nature and sunshine. I got back home and a text waited for me: do you feel like going for a walk? – from a friend, who is very supportive and whose life I still envy. It is hard not to envy where she is in her life right now. Nice home, loving boyfriend, successful and well-paid job, satisfaction all around, money for vacation. I struggle with these feelings of envy towards her, because it is obviously not knowing the negatives from her life, and also I do wish her all the best. She clearly is doing well though, and she deserves it. But who doesn’t? So we went for a walk, she asked the question how I was. I said I was struggling, but trying to keep my head above the water. It was nice to take that hour together to talk about friends and unfair people. Then, towards the end of our walk we turned to talking about history, biographies, books and learning. So I felt like a friend again, not the friend with the suicidal thoughts, not the friend with THE problems, not the friend, who can’t find a job. I felt much better after we talked.
When I got home from the walk another message waited for me from another friend, who lately has forgotten how to be a friend, she has become a bit self-absorbed. So we took some time and distance between us in the past few weeks. She asked: do you feel like grabbing lunch tomorrow? I said, I couldn’t do lunch, but later we could have coffee. I’d already planned to go out to watch a film with my husband, to make sure we leave the house. It was great to go into town. When we got back and my friend arrived in an hour, we had coffee and we talked for two hours. And not all of that was related to work. She also brought a huge bouquet of flowers and a nice card to thank us for our help when she and her friend moved. We talked about mindfulness, trying to be happy, a better, more conscious consumer and other books and interesting articles we have come across. I felt like a friend again.
Actually the morning of these events a package arrived. I saved this story for last as it was so kind and lovely, there are no words to describe it. I have distant friend, whom I don’t see very often. We used to go to uni together, all four of us with the two other girls mentioned. She is very kind, very sweet, protected by her family. Smart as well. She also had a break down at university in our last year. We tried to be there for her, but it was hard as she needed hospital care and serious therapy to get out of it. She disappeared. Later she let us back in her life, and she is back to her old self. She is not very good with words, she always worries that she sounds too silly. Which is weird, knowing how smart and what a good student she is. So, when she saw my post she simply sent me a package. It had a huge bag of candies, a box of chocolate, a lollypop also with a heart shape, and a card with even more pink and hearts on it with the message: how do you spell love? you don’t spell it – you feel it. From Winnie-the-Pooh. And just signed with lots of love. How sweet in every sense of the word. She expressed her support towards me the way she could. It means the world to me.
I am eating the chocolate, I am looking at the flowers and feel just a bit better. Grateful for these moments.