Parallel

I spent a lot of my teenage years being insanely depressed. It was desolate. A desperation. A yearning for something but a lack of confidence to get it. Or trying to obtain it in the worst ways possible.

Dark streets and lamp-lit winter, leaves falling from trees onto shiny wet pavements. The crunch underfoot of all sorts of nature, lying limp on pathways. Outside frames my memories. Not inside the home. It was escape, really. I tried to escape, and I don’t know what from. Away from home? From heavy, pregnant expectations. Aspirations turning to dust. There was a lot of pressure and blame I think. Pressure to do well and be something because a big sacrifice was being made for me… ten years on and the sacrifice is still ongoing. Makes me wonder if it really was for me at all. Or can a judgement just be a bad one?

My sister goes camping and volunteers at a farm. She cleans out henhouses and mucks out stables. She pulls potatoes and onions, relishes in the dirt between her fingernails. Those fingernails that used to scratch me in childhood fights. Her weapon of choice, with her being so small and skinny in those days. Now she towers above me. Three years younger, and I look up at her. Notice I did not say ‘to’ her. When we were children living in the desert we yearned for the fresh green of the UK. The heavy foliage, the thick weeds. We yearned to ride horses and wade through marshes and walk through fields. Every summer when we came back to visit grandparents and family, our parents took us here there and everywhere, sfilling our bottomless cups before we had to go back to the torrid heat of Arabia and my father at work work work and my mother…. sad but trying her best.

My sister adores the farm. She says she is the happiest she has ever been in her life. She doesn’t want to leave. In the evenings she has a chat with a few straggling volunteers. Sometimes they make homemade pizza. At night she retires to a caravan by herself. The hob doesn’t work so she can’t cook anything and the bathroom is not in use, so she has to walk in the pitch black to the compostable toilets several feet away. I asked if she felt lonely or scared, and she said no way. Such vehemence in her voice. When I saw videos of where she sleeps, I could see the old familiar things that make my sister. The way her duvet is thrown back. The little things she uses everyday, and has always used. She sends me clips of her long fingers practising using a piano for the first time ever. We have an argument over Snapchat, but on WhatsApp our conversation flows freely and cheerfully. Parallel conversations, very different tones.

When I think of my sister on her farm, and me here with my two kids, I can’t help but think of me back then. I was happier away from home too. I was desperate for friends, good friends, any friends. Moving across the globe at that age made it hard to find people ‘like’ me. I was socially awkward and painfully shy. So when predators made their moves on me, I gave them the time of day. I fancied myself ‘in love’ and let them trample all over me. Heightening my depression, pushing me further into loneliness and isolation. When I did make friends… I put a predator before them. I yearned to live on a farm, to travel places, to explore and learn and have adventures.. like my sister is now. But in searching for that I fell into the wrong crowd. They laughed like hammers on a rotten fence and their teeth were brown from smoking. The put me on a drug high and laughed at my terror and confusion. They told me they loved me but used me to within an inch of my life. They hurt me and forced me to do things I still shudder about.

My parents are ‘disappointed’ in my sister, but were ‘happy’ with me. My sister who is being so wholesome and finding her joy and fulfilling her childhood dreams in the right way. They didn’t know what I was doing, they didn’t know my authentic self. My sister is vocal and stubborn. She doesn’t always respond in a way that pleases them. She has her own opinions and isn’t afraid to voice them, even if they are wrong in my parents’ eyes. Wrong in my eyes sometimes too, but then I step back and I think.. she is an adult and she is making choices, who is anybody to stop her or dictate to her or make her feel bad for it. We can make choices the other doesn’t agree with and still be a harmonious family. It doesn’t quite work that way in my family though. There is often a ‘villain’.

We are so loved, but there has to be a villain.

Cracks

I am feeling so ridiculously overwhelmed.

I don’t know but that I may just be defeated, this time.

Life is full of small things which add up to big things and these leak through the cracks and drop into a chasm of what is something huge. I can see glimpses of it when I peer through the cracks. Much like my two year old peeping through the gaps in the bridge, at the water rushing beneath. It’s dangerous, but I feel safe on my solid perch.

Except… it’s not so solid. The cracks are beginning to widen.

Image Credit

It is not…

Hello.

It is not anti semitic to oppose apartheid.

It is not anti semitic to oppose zionism, which stands for ethnic cleansing and brutal murder.

It is not anti semitic to condemn the ripping apart of small children bodies. Children who do not have air raid shelters or air raid sirens. Children who can be seen on video screaming in terror every time an airplane flies above their house. Children who can be seen in literal shreds.

I have seen children whose heads have been blown apart, pieces of their bodies hanging together by shreds of skin.

It is not anti semitic to oppose the strongest army in the middle east, to oppose a propaganda machine which imprisons the natives of a land in favour of white european settlers.

This is apartheid. It is happening again.

Why did we overcome Hitler, only to allow the trauma of a past generation to inflict horrendous crimes on a new one?

I support all Jews and condemn antisemitic attacks, but I condemn Israel severely. I condemn its propaganda. I condemn its war crimes on Palestinians, on their children, on their livelihood. I condemn its apartheid.

Enough is enough.

Why are people so afraid to speak out?

Because Israel and its propaganda has seeped into every part of our lives.

This is not a religious issue. If it was, Christian Palestinians would not be massacred along with their muslim brothers and sisters.

This is a human rights violation.

To say there are two sides is to be wilfully ignorant of the truth. The truth is that Israel has a 500,000+ army, an iron dome which deflects most attacks, while Palestine has nothing. Palestinian refugees cannot even return to the villages from which they were expelled, and Israeli law states that only people of Jewish religion can apply to build homes and can take over ‘abandoned’ land… land which Palestinians are not allowed to return to in the first place.

This is not a conflict or a clash. This is not an equal war. This is the same thing that happened in South Africa.

Wake the fuck UP.

Can you say no?

Can you decline a wedding invitation, a request to go dancing, an enquiry about your ballet shoes?

Can you say no to the girl who asked you to watch her sister while she spends some time with her boyfriend?

Can you say no to the woman who wants to go cycling with you… but you really want to be alone?

Can you say no… when someone says they will pay you £2.50 an hour to teach their son another language?

Can you?

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t say no and I was told all the time.. SAY NO. Say NO. No.

No, I said, to those telling me to say no. No, I can’t say no.

Even though I just did.

Say no to the man who says ‘come and see me, be brave.’

Alarm bells clanging and mouth dry and heart wringing in fear.

Say no, Lenora, please.

Say no.

Just say no.

But I did not say no.

Sometimes I think I have healed but then I wake up dripping in sweat, heart palpitating, from a dream in which I am saying yes to all the things I do not want to do. I am frantic and anxious and running away but I cannot escape him, he has his sharp claws dug deep into my back.

It’s been eight years.

I said yes for two years and then one day I said no and it took all my strength to do it.

And it took me seven months to stop hyperventilating everytime my phone rang.

Took eight months for the severe stomach pains to go away.

It’s been eight years since I said that final no, and I still dream I can’t say no.

So please say no.

Let your children say no when they’re little, so that when they’re big and need to say no, they should be able to.

Say no.

To the right people.

It’s okay.

This post is not what it seems.

Is anybody else feeling ‘Covid fatigue’?

Is anybody else sick and tired of staying indoors all the time and panting through a mask whenever they’re out around people?

Is anybody else craving a social life, when previously they were proud introverts?

Does anybody else not want to see their inlaws only all the time, because they’re low-level bullies, and it’s exhausting to brush off being undermined all the time?

Does anybody else want to see a real friend face to face, without lying to one’s inlaws about it, because apparently we cannot see anybody except for them, even if it is socially distanced?

Is anybody else emotionally controlled by somebody?

Don’t you just hate it?

Is anybody else sick to death of living life and making every single decision with the background thought of someone’s mother in law’s feelings and emotions about it?

Does anybody else’s husband act like they don’t love their wife, and tease her mercilessly when his mother is around, because he knows his mother would be jealous and hurt if he dared to show his wife affection?

When my maternal grandmother passed away in 2011, I remember my mum saying something very poignant to someone who came to see her at the funeral.

She said, “Losing your mother is losing your entire world, the one person who truly cares for you, asking nothing in return.”

I was sixteen, I did not understand it at the time, truth be told.

But recently, my mother and my mother in law were in the same room, and my husband and I were facetiming with them. They live five minute’s walk from each other.

My mother in law made one of her usual digs at me, and I laughed and brushed it off with a joke, which made everybody in the room laugh. My mother called me the next day, and asked if I was alone.

“Yes,” I said.

She told me she felt angry and upset at the low-level bullying I was experiencing, and she felt sick and tired of not being able to speak up to defend me, as I always tell her not to say anything ever.

I pacified her, and tried to explain that was the relationship, and not to worry as I don’t let anybody control me. It was kind of a lie, but I can’t tell my mother the truth, she would be furious. My mother is a strong fighter of a woman and I am ashamed to say such things to her, she would never accept it. I don’t know why I do.

At the end of the phone call, I broke down in tears.

Because my husband, who I think loves and supports me in everything, but is sadly also controlled by his mother and doesn’t realise it, would never defend me against any comments made by his mother at me. He would not dare. Hell would rip apart if he did.

Nobody would defend me, I realised. Nobody would even notice. I would fight it off myself, and deal with it, but nobody would care for my mental health and well-being, except for my mother.

She would notice and she would hurt on my behalf but she would respect my wishes and not say anything, but she would seethe inside and she would always be on the lookout for me. No matter how busy she is, no matter how many of her own troubles she has.

And that is what she meant, when she said what she said after her own mother passed away. I understand it now. So so much.

On Less Cheer

I decided to put a post up last minute today because I just realised that while I don’t really care that it is the last day of the year or decade, it might be a nice subtle nod to time to do one last post, and make it 43 posts in total in 2019.

In 2019 I went through some very tough things that most people go through, but obviously since I am experiencing them for the first time, they still meant something to me and still shaped my personality.

I didn’t very much enjoy this year, and that is sad, because I ought to have. I had a baby and he really is the love of my life, and by rights this ought to have been the best year of my life. But it wasn’t. I struggled a lot with my mental state, and felt depressed very often. I had to relearn so many things, and reach for strength in places deep within me that I didn’t know existed.

I experienced severe frustration, betrayal, selfishness, both on my part and on the part of others, and learnt so so much. I fell in love so hard, with the chubbiest cherub ever, but still, it was one of the hardest years of my life and I am glad this year is an odd number and am glad to leave it.

There.

I hope 2019 was good for all of you, and I hope 2020 is even better.

Gladioli

Sometimes things look down, and then they look up again, and then minutes later they droop forlornly.

Much like old tulips left in a vase too long, the water around their stalks dried up and brown.

I planted some gladioli in my garden last year, and I did not take care of the plants during my pregnancy because I was just too ill and overwhelmed. Yet some gladioli still persevered despite the neglect. Two gladioli to be precise. I don’t know what colour they will be but they make me feel happy and also fill me with regret.

Happiness because some plants thrived, and I will have a little splash of colour in my garden.

Regret because I wish I’d planted more things this year.

However I know that babies are more important and there will soon be more chances to plant pretty things, perhaps even with little grubby chubby hands helping me!

So things look up, you see.

They do. The world carries on carrying on.

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This is gladioli. Not my gladioli. 

On an Undertaking

Hello internet. I managed to pop out a baby. Well I couldn’t actually pop him out, they had to wheel me into an emergency c section after 48 hours of labour, but I tried, dang it!  I did try. And my goodness, what a mighty undertaking that was.

I won’t go into any sordid details because that is faffy and to be honest I think I am still mentally trying to recover from the whole ordeal. It was very traumatic, actually. I cry to think about it so I don’t think about it. I suppose it is natural to cry at this stage. It’s all a mighty bombshell. As well as settling into this new shock of a life. It really is a shock, they didn’t lie. I never accused them of lying but I sure didn’t take them very seriously.

I feel a little bit as though my life has ended, in a way. But my mum says no, it is just the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. So that is ok. That is ok.

The main thing of course, is that there is a little man who has managed to steal my heart. A small little mouth and two gorgeous large eyes that are currently grey because they haven’t decided what shade they would like to be. He grunts a lot and is most patient with me, because I have had a series of problems after birth requiring me to keep going into hospital, and every time he has been so quiet and trouble free. May he stay that way.

And, I suppose I have come to say what I feel has hit me hardest these past couple of weeks. Life is so temporary, and change is so sudden. Even change that has been anticipated for nine months. That change is still sudden and a shock and they really don’t teach you that life does not come with a disclaimer.

I have not had more than 3 hours of sleep in one go for over two weeks, so perhaps I am sounding somewhat incoherent, but motherhood is very difficult. And I knew I wasn’t ready, but I think I have to power on through. And I can’t run to my mother anymore and cry my troubles to her and have her lift them gently away from me, because I am now the person that has to gently lift troubles from another little heart. I am the source of comfort and care for a little person, and that astounds me so much. It petrifies me, actually, that someone so small and tiny and incapable of even burping on his own is solely reliant on me for everything.

God I hope I can live up to the word ‘mother’ and do my best by this boy. He isn’t my property, he was given to me, and I need to take care of him as best I can before I can send him out into the world. And that, my friends, is a huge undertaking. And I have never appreciated my own mother as much as I do now.

There.

 

And how are you?

I have been off work for a month on Saturday, a MONTH, and yet I still cannot help getting onto my work emails to see what is going on in my absence.

I can see that my colleagues are snowed under, and to be honest I would love to lend them a hand. Is that weird? I don’t feel bored at home. I am very busy, I have a lot of things to organise.

But I am also very huge, and my pelvis is slowly being pulled out of place by my increased weight, and also the weight of the huge bump that is growing daily in my front. It is something called pelvic girdle pain, and I have a severe version of it. It has been hell, to be honest. I have cried at nights from the pain. A physiotherapist told me that it should go after birth but honestly I just feel disabled at this point.

I am walking like a .. a huge person that has to drag one leg behind them, and I have to keep taking breaks, and not twist a certain way else I will fall and that is dangerous, and I crawl up the stairs, and cannot get out of bed.

I also have carpal tunnel in both hands because of all the water retention, so getting out of bed with a bad hip and painful hands is … acrobatic to say the least, lol!

My baby was also breech. At a late stage in pregnancy. They did a painful procedure to twist him around but it is just a matter of seeing whether he stays that way. He is displaying signs of stubborn naughtiness. But I shall never cast it up to him what a hard time he has given me. Hopefully he will be healthy and sound and he will be worth all the trouble. It is not his fault, poor thing. He has no idea what is going on, he is just relaxing in the warm comfort of his mother’s womb. I don’t care how much hell I have to go through as long as he is safe and sound.

So I am not complaining at all. I promise. I am just listing my woes, that helps. I am usually a very fit and active person, who likes to run up stairs and do some dancing on a grey rainy morning, but now it takes me six hours to sort out the laundry and tidying and washing dishes is too painful.

So my house is gradually getting messier and messier, and I am finding it harder to take care of the very basics like having a shower.

I won’t complain. I refuse to. I know how blessed I am, and I have failed pregnancies in the past, and that was painful too, so I am so so so so so grateful.

But I am also struggling very much with the pain and feeling very low. You cannot have it all, you really can’t!

So I was just chatting to my friends and my mum and the physiotherapist and I was thinking, you know, I have so much to be grateful for. So so so much. So I shall not complain. But sometimes in the dead of night I will cry, because I am scared and worried and anxious. But I will smile and get on with it, hobbling and dragging my feet, because hopefully this is not going to last, and I know it will all be worth it.

So yes, sometimes I check my work emails, and yes sometimes I want to do some work, just to take my mind off the mountain of chores that I cannot do, and to have something logical to focus on, to stop me spiralling into a net of self pity and pain and hysteria.

Don’t lose control, that is the main thing.

Anyway, how are you?

On Sundays, people do nothing.

On Sundays, people do nothing.

Well, I don’t know what people do.

When I was a child, we lived in a hot country. And our Sundays were actually Fridays, because the first day of the week was Saturday. Weird, I know. But it didn’t feel weird when we lived there.

My mother was a powerful woman, emotionally. She is still. She could make magic out of misery, but she never hid the misery.

Some mothers cover it with a silken gauze, layers of kisses, gentle smiles and eyes full of pain, but my mother didn’t.

She sobbed in front of us, over things that were out of her control, and then visibly pulled herself together and took us to places and made us happy.

Every Friday, she organised an outdoor pool party, because there is really little you can actually do in a desert, especially back in the early 2000s, at a location somewhere on the outskirts of the city we lived in. She made it so all the families attending pitched in to pay for the daily use of a huge pool, surrounded by a garden with swings and slides and sandpits, a football pitch, and some tent-rooms for the adults to sit in and chat amongst themselves while the kids splashed in the pool under the hot sun all day. We ordered food in and dessert was a potluck of many sugary delights.

And because it was a hot country, we would go every week for most of the year, except a couple of months when it was ‘winter’ – except ‘winter’ was just mildly chilly at best.

We had something to look forward to, every weekend. And weekly school was thoroughly enjoyable too.

We had dreary weekends, of course, but nothing like I’ve experienced since coming back to live here. There is something to be said for the serotonin of sunshine, and the vitamin D of happiness!

In the UK, I don’t like Sundays.

Houses are smaller here.

Children are more cooped up, because they don’t play on the streets like they used to do in the olden days.

And there is little to do. Or too cold to do it. And people are not as social as they perhaps once had been.

Also, it’s true what they say about the UK.

It is perpetually grey.

It’s a country blanketed in dismal cloud and chill and dampness spreading its tentacles through the earth.

So it’s no wonder people want to stay in bed all day, and watch TV, and eat comforting foods like crackers and cheese and relish and cups of tea.

Smell the fresh air. It is good for you.

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English winter is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. The days are so short, though, and lots of areas are so rough, but the countryside always maintains its wondrous glory, even with bare trees, it has an ethereal allure to it. Don’t you agree?