Grateful thought (13)

I am trying to push myself to be better, to want more. To open up. Not be so damn scared of everything. So I went out for the second time to help out with cooking in order to save food from being wasted, and met new people, yet again. I pushed myself to start a conversation with people, whom I haven’t met before. Though, it was good to see three familiar faces as well. It is good that I went. What is more interesting is what happened before I went.

I don’t know whether it is because I keep writing here, and I push myself to publish almost every day when I am properly home, but I managed to speak to I can easily say my closest friend about my deepest fears. Almost all of them. And how ashamed I feel about it all. So I was telling her about my husband, which obviously means that you keep telling more, about topics adjacent to where you started off, as those are all parts of your life and what you are going through. And then I knew there would be a question about contraception. Well, time to confess. So her reaction was: I can tell you everything, so you can be prepared to the maximum, when you do go to the gynecologist. I felt so relieved that she just started typing without me asking anything. In such detail, with such care and thoughtfulness.

In the mean time I did get a letter to show up for my compulsory check-up, as I turned 30. Scanning for cancer. I didn’t go, I just kept rereading the letter, thinking: what and how should I do. How do I get the courage? Then a few weeks, probably months later, I got another letter from the state health institute, which asked in a totally non-judgemental way: do you prefer to do the test at home instead? I thought: hell, yes! I applied for the home-test-kit and it arrived quite soon. I waited a long time to do it, I wanted to have time to read it, to feel relaxed. I decided I would do it this week. After the conversation of yesterday I opened it in the evening and instead of asking my husband not to come in, and I told him he could do it for me and help. It was a feeling like using an electric toothbrush for the first time. You know it is like going to the dentist: something very “dentisty” like drilling your tooth. But it is not drilling, still the first time is incredibly weird for those, who are scared of doctors, and dentists and all that. This time pretending to be at the gynecologist, taking a pap smear sample. So after using the kit, I felt much better. A new experience unlocked for the day. I felt empowered and much better about myself. Thank you to my friend, who helped me with listening to me, and giving me all the encouraging words that I needed. I am grateful to have such a wonderful, supportive friend. Let’s hope the results will be all clear to have even more joy out of the experience.

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panic vs. sex

Another traumatic talk, another traumatic night. We should not suffer this much based on what we have, where we are, what we do. My husband is suicidal, I know that. He is lost. Maybe not as lost as I am, but that is the key of being unwell. He links it also to sex. He feels that not having sex is end of life. But at the same time, of course it is connected to me not wanting to have sex with him, as I don’t feel it. When we used to have a lot of sex it was because he adored me. I loved that he thought I was the best person in the world, and he felt lucky that he could be with me. But it was also chemistry. Our bodies attracted each other, he didn’t have to do much to turn me on, I was already ‘on’, and ready to go. Read more

Failure

I like listening to podcasts. It is something I started doing only a few months ago, and it helps a lot when I am doing mundane tasks, and I want to spend time with listening to what other people have to say. I love the format of an interview, especially when there is time to dive deep in the conversation and not just ask the same old cliché questions.

What keeps coming back to me and my understanding, and I will keep writing about it to analyze it for myself is that most successful people have wonderful parents. Or at least one wonderful, inspirational parent, who clearly taught them young to go for it, to not be scared of failure. One interviewee even said: her mum kept reminding her that failure is just a stepping stone, it helps in the long run.

I listen to these people with envy, because I deeply understand what it is like not to have this inner unquestionable courage, especially self-trust that some parents do so well of cultivating in their children from a young age so that becomes their second nature. I am behind in my head, in my thoughts, in my brain and thinking, because for me the barriers are there, and they start miles before than for others.

I am not alone in that. With my friend whenever we talk the pattern of trying to unlearn something that is deeply, and I mean truly deeply is engrained in our lives keeps coming back. It is one thing that you are aware of it. And this goes beyond blaming. We both know that we took over our mothers’ way of thinking about failure.

He heard several times a day: we are so unlucky, nothing good ever happens to us, don’t try it, it surely won’t work out, this is just our luck! I was trained to embrace this thought: you have to succeed at the first try. Unless you manage the first time you are nothing. My mum claimed she always managed to do everything straight away. When I discovered that was not true… And I discovered lies really fast… She would convince me that it was true. There were no other options. I had to believe her. I managed and was good at many things almost without trying. But ultimately I failed at many things. And it taught me to be scared. Not to try. Know in advance it wouldn’t work out.

That is a burden many of us carry. I wish I had the gut instinct to deal with failure as something necessary to succeed. I’ll get there one day. But in the mean time I unfortunately stay envious of those, who got lucky with their parents and families. The advance they have is out of reach for me. I know it. Hopefully one day I can make peace with that.

Grateful thought (12)

Last weekend I was home for the second time this autumn, and I knew it would be a fast-paced weekend well in advance. What I didn’t know was that by the end of the four days spent home I would so many things to be grateful for.

Though I have to note here that maybe once you decide you are grateful for things they show up seemingly out of nowhere and then you go with the flow of noticing many wonderful things around you. But I know that this weekend was extra special. So, what happened? I have a friend, whose pain I can understand deeply. I didn’t know whether I would stay at my mother’s or not, because my husband is allergic to cats. So I asked my husband to decide whether we would stay over at this friend’s place or not. In the end he said it was not necessary as long as the cat did not go into the room where we slept. Nevertheless, exactly when we were discussing what we should do a little message arrived from him: when are you around next?

I replied: next week, Thursday. He asked: do you want a party in your honour? I said, no thanks, I will be too tired and overwhelmed, but we can surely meet up for a beer. And we left it at that. A day before we were to leave he wrote again: I am in trouble. Are we meeting tomorrow? But maybe for a bit longer than a beer? I thought I would be exhausted, hence I declined the party. We were picked up from the airport by a friend to have coffee together, so time was tight. Then dinner with my beloved niece, but I had to make it quick if I wanted to spend quality time with this friend, who clearly was in need.

So, I went to his place and while he was eating, and to warm up the mood I explained how I have been, how I was up late to make presents for my other niece and my mum, and I finished exactly at the moment he was done eating. I got a beer. I looked at him, and asked: do you want to start at the end or in the beginning? And so I knew it was about women. I was hoping for a good outcome. He is close to 40, and yes, he has his first girlfriend ever. He freaked out, and I hope I managed to calm him down. I am very happy for him. I remember asking him: so, who else did you tell? He said no one, you only. The reason I asked, because I was wondering what advice other people gave him about the situation. He said: I am happy you are home exactly now, because I thought I really messed it up. But he didn’t.

I went home and I wrote to him: I am grateful for your trust. Thank you. And he wrote back: you are a true friend, you were there when I needed you. It is very rare that you hear it like this, that you have this very obvious confirmation that you are a friend. A good one. I am reading a book, which makes the point of having a reminder somewhere in the house, or your purse about things that are important to you. And one example says: what would you like to be said about you during your funeral? It was not weird for me to read about this. I contemplate this often. I wanted to commit suicide several times, hence I thought about how people would say goodbye to me. But I could not hear it anyway. I never come up with anything about career, I always think or hope is more accurate that people will say: she was a good friend, who was there for others when they needed it.

Interesting

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

#MeToo

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.

Bulletpoints of an abuse

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.

 

Three-dimensional

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

Together

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 life of others

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