Everything is Derivative

Everything is Derivative

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this argument (usually from American men) when trying to discuss philosophy and profound revelations. Yes, we live in the age of information, and we are influenced by everything around us all the time. Truly original thought is near impossible (although I have met one man in particular who thought that everything he said had never been said before. He’s a self proclaimed megalomaniac though so, don’t take him too seriously). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a profound thought/idea/philosophy and adapt it or apply it to a personal experience or a hypothetical situation to make it mean something else or describe it in different terms. This shows true understanding and makes it original thought rather than parroting.

Example:
We are all influenced by the culture and religion of the society we are brought up in.

Parroting of a typical argument:
If you grow up in a Christian household, you’re likely to be Christian yourself.

Personal interpretation:
Being raised in a predominantly atheist area, I learned to to be ashamed of my religious beliefs. However, travelling to different areas of the country, I have been exposed to different cultures and found a new appreciation for religion as a whole, and as separate doctrines. However, I still struggle with the personal shame that I internalised as a child. Shame is also something that is usually associated with religion. It is typical to be taught to be ashamed for not subscribing to the ideals of the religion you are brought up in. Therefore, can Atheism be considered to be a religion in and of itself, as the worship of no Gods, rather than the absence of religion? And if so, is it possible to grow up without the influence of religion?

See how I also included the idea that childhood conditioning could have a more profound effect on a person than cultural exposure alone? And questioned that validity and perceptions of religion? Those aren’t original ideas either. But the fact that I am able to see their connection and relevance to the conversation shows my understanding of several theories. This is how we come up with new ideas/philosophies. We allow different theories to co-mingle and see how they play out in real world scenarios. Simply appreciating them for being clever doesn’t benefit anyone or anything, and what is the point in philosophy if you’re not going to really think.

So yes, everything is derivative but, you know, you can’t make mac ‘n cheese without wheat, water and cows. It’s still it’s own delicious creation though.

(Sometimes, I swear they just say it to try and sound smart.)

Ego vs Self-Worth

Ego vs Self-Worth

So I was bored yesterday and found IDRlabs. Then I spent the next few hours doing a million tests. What’s my sexuality? My gender balance? Which Harry Potter house am I? What GoT character am I? What kind of feminist am I? What historical villain am I most like? How racist am I? How high am I on the autism spectrum? What about ADHD? Am I a fascist? A psychopath? A sociopath? Rorschach test. Morality test. And so on. All the tests I did came out as I expected (Ravenclaw and Arya, btw). But something that was mentioned more than I thought was that I have narcissistic traits. So I thought I’d explore that here.

When I think of what a ‘narcissist’ is, I think of it in psychopathic terms. But my test results showed that I wasn’t a psychopath or sociopath. So I’m inclined to take it in the more colloquial way, to mean egotistical. Recalling some of the questions and answers I gave, I’m assuming these results came from my affirmative responses to “I think I am better than everyone else” and “I am special and deserve special attention” and similar questions. This is something that I have touched on before, I do think of myself as different and special, and I am better than, not everyone, but most people. I have more life experience than most people, I am more self aware than most people, I’m more emotionally intelligent than most people, I’m more generally intelligent than most people (I’m referring here to my logic and reasoning skills rather than my formal education), I’m better read than most people, I’m more articulate than most people, I’m more observant than most people, and so on. To be fair though, most people are pretty stupid, so the bar isn’t all that high. So here’s the question, am I narcissistic, or am I just self-assured?

From my perspective, I would say that I’m just aware of my own abilities and lack modesty. I don’t think I’m better than I am, I think I am exactly as good as I am. It just so happens that that is better than most people. I don’t, by any means think that I am flawless. I am well aware of my flaws and try to work on them daily (this practice, incidentally, also makes me better than most people). I suppose it’s also possible that I’m not as good as I think I am, and that I just have delusions of grandeur, but how would I know that? I know that people compliment my ability to grasp complex philosophical theories. I know that others have asked me to teach them things that they didn’t understand. I know that people often describe me as “kind, polite and funny”. I have been told that I am “self-aware” and “emotionally intelligent” by psychiatrists and counsellors. I know that I’m good at logic games and solving puzzles. Again, it’s possible that I’ve been lied to for years by many different people, but how likely is that?

In conclusion, I don’t think I’m particularly narcissistic, I think I just know myself and how I compare to the average person, and I’m open and honest about that, refusing to subscribe to the idea that being modest and talking oneself down, is polite. Maybe that has something to do with my autism, but I think people who think highly of themselves but pretend that they don’t, are simply trying to manipulate you or get the upper hand over you. I prefer to be upfront about things.

Gender and Sexuality Update

Gender and Sexuality Update

I wasn’t going to make this into a blog post because I thought this was something I talked about only recently. Then when I looked back, I found that my previous gender and sexuality post was back in August 2020, so yeah, update time! 🙌🙌

If you haven’t read my last post, you don’t need to but it goes into more detail about my self identity. Essentially, I decided that I was gender fluid and bisexual. Since then, I’ve done more soul searching, more research (do you even know how many different genders and sexualities there are out there?) and, SURPRISE! I am officially coming out as a bi-gendered omnisexual who goes by the pronouns she/her, he/him, or they/them.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, you can find definition of terms here. Honestly, I am not familiar with all of the labels myself, because there are so many and some of them are really specific, but I feel like bi-gendered omnisexual describes me perfectly, so I’m sticking with that.

I have identified as bisexual since I first discovered it was a thing. Back in the day, the only commonly known sexualities were; straight, gay, or bi, but these terms assume there are only two genders. In todays world of “your gender is more than what your genitals look like”, I’ve discovered that sexual attraction is also far more than just what genitals a person has. When transsexuals started becoming more commonplace, I realised that I could be attracted to them too, but still considered myself bi because I figured they were either male to female, or female to male, remaining in the binary. Now, of course, I’m far more aware of the spectrum of genders out there and it feels ridiculous to restrict your attraction to binary people only. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would reject a sexual partner because their gender was “wrong”, that just seems arbitrary and weird. I am physically attracted to humans. So I’m pansexual, right? Not quite. Pansexual people are typically ‘gender-blind’. They either don’t see gender or gender has no influence over their attraction to a person. My attraction feels different to me depending on an individual’s gender or, more specifically, their presentation of their gender (masculinity vs femininity). I’m going to oversimplify things now to help readers understand, but obviously it’s far more complicated than this: Essentially, I prefer feminine women and masculine men. Again, this is a massive oversimplification, but this is the thing that makes me omnisexual rather than pan.

I have identified as non-binary for a while, simply because I knew I didn’t fully identify with the female gender I was assigned at birth, but I also wasn’t trans. Non-binary is a nice umbrella term for “I’m not a man, and I’m not a woman either.” However, this never really sat right with me because it sounds a lot like agender. I definitely have gender, and binary gender at that, my problem was that it was always switching. I took a couple of online quizzes and spoke to a few trans and non binary people online and, more often than not, was given the label “gender fluid”. This is closer, but still makes it sound as if I’m in between male and female, like my gender is on a sliding scale and I could be 65% female and 35% male (for example) at any given point. Again, this is inaccurate, I am 100% male or 100% female depending on my state of mind. My dysphoria goes along with that, I either love my body or totally hate it, I never like some parts but would change others. So I had a little read of some gender terms and found bi-gendered. Perfect. I have two binary genders. Some bi-gendered people can be both genders at the same time, but that’s not true for all. Maybe one day I’ll discover a gender term that exactly describes me, but this one is pretty damn close.

And on that note, let me tell you about Kai. Kai is my male counterpart. That’s right, my male gender is so different and separate from my female gender that he gave himself his own name. He’s not only different from me in terms of gender and sexual preferences, but in personality too. We have similarities but he’s more like a twin brother than my own self. Maybe one day I’ll do a full post about him, or by him, but for now I would briefly describe him as outgoing, cheeky, charming (or at least he likes to think so), and carefree. He’s much more “do now and think later” whereas I’m all “think so much that you never get around to the doing part”, and together we form a functioning human being.

So there you have it, the latest epiphany in the never ending search for labels that can accurately describe my personality so that I feel less weird about how unique I am. Any questions, feel free to ask, I am an open book.

Stupid Trauma Brain

Stupid Trauma Brain

Trigger warning: I will be talking about flashbacks and other trauma responses and referring to (but not detailing) sexual assault.

Last weekend, I had a flashback. The trigger was being out of breath and getting light-headed. Needless to say, I have experienced these feeling many times before and they have never triggered a flashback, so I was taken by surprise (to say the least) when it happened.

The last time I had a flashback was just before Christmas. I saw a duvet cover in a shop and I felt my brain going to ‘the dark place’. I tried to ignore it, then realised I was being triggered quite badly and was likely to have a flashback, so I found the fiancé (who was elsewhere in the same shop), left the shop and clung to him while I rode it out. And this is generally how this kind of thing goes. I have been working on my PTSD for 5/6 years now, I have dealt with my known triggers and I’m self-aware enough that if something does start coming up I’m able to make myself feel safe, ride it out, then self soothe after it has passed. The flashback before Christmas lasted only a few minutes, then I was able to pull myself together and we finished our Christmas shopping.

Last weekend was different. I didn’t know I was being triggered, I thought I just couldn’t catch my breath (something that frequently happens to me with my M.E). Then I started crying and wasn’t sure why, then I began having a tactile (aka somatic) flashback. In the early days of my PTSD I would have full, visual, auditory and tactile flashbacks, completely reliving the trauma. Now I tend to only get one kind, depending on the trigger. The duvet cover forced a visual flashback, shouting can cause an auditory flashback, struggling to breathe and feeling lightheaded apparently triggers a tactile flashback with a few scattered images and my own inner-monologue repeating some unsettling phrases that I have associated with the event. I struggled to calm myself down and get a grip on reality again. I am used to focusing on my breath to bring myself out of panic attacks and it’s become an automatic muscle-memory kind of response when I feel emotionally or physically distressed. But every time I started to slow my breathing and start coming round, I was triggered again. Maybe because my breath was the original trigger, I got locked in a cycle, I don’t know for sure, just speculating. I don’t know how long it went on, but it felt like the longest one I have had in many years. Eventually distraction became the way out, forcing my mind to focus on something in the real world so I would keep getting sucked into the past. Afterward I felt embarrassed and guilty, because the fiancé was with me through it all, and angry that I’m still traumatised after all the work I’ve done on myself.

Please indulge me while I unpack these emotions.
Embarrassment: I take pride in presenting myself to the world as a strong, stable, well put together human being. No doubt I have my issues and mental health problems, but I am emotionally mature enough to acknowledge them and talk about them openly and honestly in a safe environment on my own terms. However, when something like this happens, I completely unravel and fall apart becoming an hysterical mess. Emotionally, it’s as if I’ve just soiled myself. And yes, maybe I’m unwell and it’s not my fault, it was out of my control etc etc etc, but it’s still embarrassing for another person to see you s*** yourself.
Guilt: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen anybody in severe emotional distress, but it’s really unpleasant. Especially when it’s somebody you care about, especially when there’s nothing you can do, and especially when your personality requires you to fix problems. Knowing that I put my fiancé through that makes me feel guilty. And again, I am aware of the logical arguments here; he loves me so he doesn’t mind going through that with me, he knows me and my history so isn’t shocked by my trauma response, he has been present for flashbacks before so is aware of what is going on etc etc etc, but I still wish he didn’t have to deal with it all.
Anger: This is the one I think most people will be able to relate to. As I already mentioned, I have working on my PTSD for years. For the most part, I consider myself over it. I mean, nothing will ever be the same again, but my trauma responses are manageable, when I have intrusive thoughts I’m able to push them aside, when I talk about the trauma I’m able to do so in a calm, logical way. I’m not angry that it happened because it changed me into a better a human being, and I’m not angry at him for doing it to me, because I know that he is a broken person too. I am angry at my stupid trauma brain and it’s stupid misfiring synapses. I’m angry because the trauma has left scars on me that I can do nothing about. After all the hard work I’ve put in to allow myself to live a good life, these scars will stay with me forever and, like a creepy Jack-in-the-box, will jump out and surprise me with my trauma and random times in my life. I am angry that I will never recover the control that he took from me.

Side note: I have heard that you can use binaural beats to increase neuroplasticity in the brain that can help breach the gap that trauma has caused. I don’t know if there’s any science to back that up, but it sounds legit to me, so I might try it.

Segway into a seemingly unrelated, but actually really relevant situation that happened a coupe of days later. Those of you who are friends with my on Facebook, may have seen this:

Now, when this first happened, I was very focused on the anxiety and the auditory processing issues that I have, but reflecting on it the next day I realised the link between this emotional response and my trauma. You see, I misunderstood a situation and thought that I was happy with what was occurring, then I realised my mistake and knew that I didn’t actually want it. Even so, I was about to go through with it anyway because it was my fault for misunderstanding in the first place. However, in this situation, I was able to say “no” (amongst many apologies) to the thing that I did not want. She did continue to try and convince me to change my mind and this was when the panic started setting in and I just kept saying “no” and “sorry” over and over before I eventually stopped talking all together. Then for hours afterwards I was overwhelmed by guilt and self-blame (“I’m so stupid, what’s wrong with me, I should have known better, I brought this on myself” etc). I guess this is proof that I’m not as “over it” as I thought, or maybe I have other issues that need to be addressed that may have allowed the trauma to occur in the first place, or maybe the recent flashback made me more vulnerable than usual and I reverted to behaviours that I wouldn’t normally display? Humans are complex beings.

So in conclusion, my stupid trauma brain is traumatised and causes stupid trauma responses that I’m not able to control. Just thought I’d share that with you.

I am Wahmen hear me Rawr

I am Wahmen hear me Rawr

Feminism.

Disclaimer: Everything written here is from an English perspective. Laws and cultures vary across the world and what is relevant here may not be elsewhere.

If you know me personally, then you know I’m pretty anti-feminism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for gender equality, but modern feminism is more akin to misandry than anything else. I know that people are going to say that feminism is about gender equality, but the first definition is:

If you think about it, the word itself tells you that it’s female-centric.

And again, I’m not saying that feminism is inherently bad. Historically it has done some amazing things for women, but this was back when women were treated as second-class citizens. They could not vote, or earn as much as a man, or had any say over their children, or family, or body, they belonged to their Father until they were married, and then to their husband. They had little to no rights and feminism was an incredibly important movement that empowered women and gave them a voice and the ability to fight to be equal. But none of those scenarios exist now and feminism is no longer needed.

Now, I’m pretty sure I can hear some band-wagon feminists crying about the gender pay gap, and I am here to tell you that it’s not what you think it is. Firstly, paying a woman less to do the same job as a man is ILLEGAL. We have an Equal Pay Law which is covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) statutory code of practice on equal pay. The actual gender pay gap is the difference in the median hourly rate of men and women across all sectors. The average earnings of men tend to be more than women because they tend to hold higher paying positions (managers, directors, senior officials etc.). If you take into account all the men and women who work part-time jobs in stead of full-time, the statistics actually fall in the other direction, with women earning more than men, but no-one ever mentions that. This gap exists, not because women are being kept from high paying roles, but because they choose not to pursue them as often as men. Women often choose to take time away from work to raise children or care for a family member. They therefore have less experience, and sometimes less flexibility compared to their male counterpart, making him the obvious choice for promotion. So essentially, when you’re protesting to close the gender pay gap, what you’re actually saying is that you want women to be promoted over men despite them not being the best person for the job, and that you want them to earn more for doing less work. “But women shouldn’t be put in a position where they have to choose between their family and their career in the first place!” I agree. You know how we fix that? By breaking down gender stereotypes, empowering men so that they don’t feel obligated to be the “bread winner” and providing them with ample opportunities to be a stay-at-home Dad if they want. Did you know that in most jobs women will be given 6 months maternity pay (full pay) when they start a family, and then the option to take another 6 months at half pay to stay at home with the child. You know how much paternity pay men get? 1 to 2 weeks, if they’re lucky! Sometimes shared leave is possible but you’ll usually end up with less time off and less money overall. So you see, men are forced to choose between their family and their careers just as much as women are.

This is only one of many issues I have with modern feminism. But you can trace almost all of them back to the fact that feminists can’t let go of the past. They can’t acknowledge that the law, and the workplace, and society, actually work in their favour more often than not now, and they cling to the idea that they are being oppressed. Then they end up abusing men under the guise of “fighting the patriarchy” which no longer exists. For example, when a couple splits up the children will be placed with the Mother over the Father, unless she’s some kind of drug addict or physically incapable of caring for them. Then because she is looking after the children, she needs to keep the house that they are used to, and the car to take them to school and other activities. She then has all of the power over if and when the Father even gets to see his children. If she has the house and the car, she can lock him out or not drop them off, claiming that she was too busy or she forgot or it was a bad time for her, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Similarly, feminists love to say that they are never believed in sexual harassment or sexual assault cases. I call bullshit. A woman only has to hint at such a thing and the man she’s accused will be instantly branded a rapist whether or not he is guilty. On the other hand, if a man says that he has been sexually harassed or assaulted, then he should either be flattered by the attention, or he’s just outright lying. And, by the way, sexual harassment of men is not only normalised, but seen as female empowerment. Seriously, think about it for a second. How many times have you seen, on television, on the radio, in the media, on social media, or in person, a woman (usually middle aged, but not always) vocally lusting over a stereotypically attractive man? She will objectify his body, graphically describe the sexual acts she would like to perform on him (usually very aggressively, with or without his consent), and maybe even physically grope and fondle him. The women observing will whoop and cheer and laugh and applaud, encouraging her actions (you go girl). But if it were an attractive woman being objectified by an aging man, it would be appalling and disgusting and the man in question would be taken to court. The double standards are rife.

A little while ago I had a trawl through twitter for opinions on misandry, and the general feminist consensus was this:

  1. Misandry only hurts men’s feelings unlike misogyny which can lead to assault (including rape) and murder, and
  2. Historically, men have never been oppressed / had their rights take away from them / not been allowed to vote etc., therefore
    • Anything bad that is said or done to them is revenge or reparation, so doesn’t count, or
    • Anything bad that is said or done to them cannot affect their natural position of male privilege so doesn’t count.

These ridiculous arguments are misandrist in themselves, but that’s feminist logic for you. Firstly, misandry absolutely leads to assault (as mentioned above) including rape and murder. Only they call it, flattery, charity and liberty. Men should be grateful that a women might want to sleep with him, and any man who is hurt by woman must have done something to her for her to react in such a way, right? Secondly, just because your gender was historically mistreated by the opposite gender does not give you the right to mistreat other humans for something that they cannot control. That is the definition of sexism, and in this case, misandry. This also backs up my previous argument that feminists can’t let the past go. Men no longer have a natural position of privilege, women do.

This is just another example of a group of people who worked really hard to right a wrong, but once equilibrium was reached, they had gotten a taste for the struggle and the power, and they didn’t want the train to stop, so they rolled with it. Now things have swung the other way but there’s no one to defend the men because they didn’t ever think they would need defending. So any man who tries to stand up for himself when he feels like he is being mistreated, is decapitated and castrated by generations of feminists who hold him personally responsible for all the wrongs ever done to women. The only men who survive are those who submit to their female overlords and sing from the propaganda hymn sheet. The whole thing would be laughable if it wasn’t so damaging.

So here is my plea to those few of you who genuinely want gender equality. Please stop calling yourselves feminists, because women don’t need any more help, and be more outspoken about the mistreatment of men.

Whazzup?

Whazzup?

Warning: There will be more swearing and aggression in this post than I would normally share. Be prepared for some emotions that you may not have seen in me before. Oh, and if you’re struggling with your mental health right now, probably best to give this one a miss, I don’t want to be triggering you too.


I’m another week late posting because I feel like shit, mentally and physically, and I could not be arsed to relive all the crap for the sake of a blog post. Basically, I keep going from utter despair, to totally numb, to fiery rage. I am seeking support. I’m talking to a counsellor that I spoke to before when I was struggling with my M.E. You know why? Because I’m emotionally intelligent enough to know when I need help, and to seek it out. I told her in brief what I was struggling with and she basically agreed that there was no way to fix it, and that I just have to work on managing my expectations. So this is going to be a fun process.

Now, obviously, there is a deadly virus sweeping the globe and disrupting our every day lives. But I am no stranger to living in fear, being isolated, unable to work, bed bound, knowing that I could become seriously ill at any given moment and there’s nothing I can do about it. This is my life. So if it were just the virus, I’d probably be fine. But it’s not the virus that’s fucking with me, it’s people. Fucking narcissistic, “the rules don’t apply to me”, “what do I care if some granny dies so I can party with my mates”, assholes. Forever bitching about the lockdown, and the restrictions, and “why hasn’t the virus gone away yet?”, Boris blaming, pricks. You know why we’re still in this situation? BECAUSE YOU WON’T FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES! God, I wish the virus to kill them all off. Let’s not give them the vaccine. We’ve been needing a good culling for a while.

And it’s not even that they are just stupid. Stupid is frustrating, but I can’t hate stupid, it’s not their fault. If they were just stupid (and some of them are, but not the majority) then I’d be mad at society, at the institutions that are supposed to educate, at the parents. Stupid I could deal with. But most people know better, they just don’t give a shit about anything or anyone except themselves. It’s sociopathic, verging on psychopathic. They don’t even see other people as humans with emotions and lives of their own. Everyone only exists to serve them and anyone or anything that makes them slightly uncomfortable is viciously attacked, callously destroyed. They take no responsibility for anything, and why should they since the world serves them? Everything bad that happens to them is someone else’s fault and they will fight tooth and nail to see that person punished, whether they are guilty or not. And once again, everyone else is paying for the selfishness of these fuckers, and that reinforces their behaviour BECAUSE THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES. The can do whatever and other people suffer while they get exactly what they want. Spoilt pigs. Scum of the Earth. These are the people who deserve the camps.

So yeah… I’ve always been a little misanthropic and anti social, but I think deep down I wanted to believe that people were inherently good, they were just being supressed under the monotony of living to work and working to live. I figured people were having their souls crushed and dreams destroyed and that was making them pessimistic, but that in the face of true adversity they would rise up and become the better versions of themselves. Oh, sweet, naïve, Belle. Foolish girl. No, it turns out that even the people that you thought were decent before, are actually despicable human beings when their creature comforts get taken away.

So I find myself in a world full of people that completely disgust me. And the problem is that I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or unknow what I now know. Even when everything goes “back to normal” and people go back to their lives as they were before, my optimism has been shattered. I will never look at another person the same way. I am filled with hatred towards my own countrymen and others besides.

I smile, I laugh, I clean the house, I watch TV, I do my work, I plan my wedding. The whole time I either want to kill myself, kill everyone else, or I feel nothing at all.

Live and Learn

Live and Learn

The New Year has rolled in and I feel obligated to mark the occasion. Most people I have seen, have chosen to go one of two ways with this. They either choose to disregard the past year and focus on the one ahead (mostly hoping and praying that things will get better without them having to do anything), or they are complaining about what a terrible year it was and how unfair life is.

I am a realist. I don’t believe in “searching for the good in a bad situation”. Nor do I believe in narrowly focusing in on tragedy because it outweighs any good that has happened. Nor ignoring things just because they are unpleasant.

We live in a delicate web of circumstances. Everything effects everything else. Every situation that arises has been brought about by situations that came before, and will bring about situations after it. Assigning blame, feeling sorry for ourselves, lamenting, or denying will do nothing to change what has come before or where we find ourselves now. What we can do is observe, study, analyse, learn and thereby become better people, better equipped to handle future situations. We can change the way we behave and react and these things will trigger change in our lives. But I digress…

In order to “Review my 2020″, I thought it would be best to create a “Pro/Con” list. This will keep things in perspective and give me a more realistic idea of how to approach 2021.

PRO’s

1. Got engaged.
2. Got a car.
3. Graduated with a 1st Class Degree.
4. My employer was hugely supportive despite me not having worked at the company for long.
5. Was given a secondment so that I could work from home.
6. Had time to decorate the house.
7. Spent more time on hobbies and passions.
8. Spent more quality time with fiancé and cat.
9. Got to know myself better.
10. Haven’t lost anything I can’t get back.

CON’s

1. Was unable to properly start my new job due to being ‘high risk’.
2. Barely left the house since March.
3. Weight increased to my highest ever.
4. Health decreased dramatically.
5. The British public showed themselves to be more stupid and selfish than I thought they were.
6. Was unwell for the holiday season.
7. Have barely seen the family all year.
8. Had driving test suspended several times over.
9. Didn’t get another cat as planned.
10. Increased fear, anxiety, depression.

Dealing with the virus and the way it has changed the world is an unprecedented incident that nobody could have predicted (except the scientists who have been warning the public for years that we were on the brink of a devastating pandemic). I feel as though I was better equipped than most, since I am well practiced in managing feelings of fear and anxiety, I am an introvert and therefore don’t miss the lack of social interaction (living with one other person and a cat can sometimes feel too crowded for me), being a chronic illness sufferer means that I am more in-tune with my body and my health, it also means that I have endured periods of being housebound before (at least I’m still able to get out of bed and move around the house during lockdown), I have studied and worked in the biological field, frequently working under aseptic conditions (I know how to clean my self and my surroundings effectively, and I know which products will kill viruses and which will only kill bacteria, and I know what to look for on products that make such claims. Not to mention the general knowledge I have about how viruses, testing kits and vaccines work, so I know what to believe and what not to believe in the media) and finally because I am a prepper – I am prepared for scenarios where we lose all electricity and running water, I can more than handle wearing a mask and washing my hands repeatedly.

I won’t share all the things that I have learned this year but I have learned a lot, I have changed a lot, and I will continue to adapt to what comes next. All in all, this past year has been true to my general attitude towards life – It wasn’t great but it could have been a lot worse.

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

This morning I was thinking about the sorry state of the world, the awful way in which our government manages the country, and how ineffectual the police are. I was thinking about this and I considered, not for the first time, that maybe I should learn about law or politics, or both. I sure would love to have some kind of significant positive effect on the world, but have no hope of changing anything if I don’t first understand how it works.

The obvious flaws to this are that:
1. Considering the corrupt systems that are already in place, I’d have to go against my morals and ethics, which then makes me an unreliable person, in order to rise to a position where I am actually able to affect any kind of change, and
2. The subjects of law and politics are so vast that it would take a lifetime of non-stop study to know everything needed to navigate these waters.

The solution to the former, is to go outside of normal channels. Become a revolutionary, start something new instead of trying to change the thing that already exists. This though, has it’s own list of difficulties including but not limited to:
1. Revolution requires the backing of the majority and the public are fleeting and fickle,
2. The powers-that-be have means of silencing anybody who speaks against them, and frequently use these methods, not liking to be disagreed with, and
3. I’m not good at rallying people or hiding my annoyance and disappointment at the idiocy of the public. I’m am more likely to be publicly disliked than I am to inspire a new society.

The solution to the latter of my initial points, is to focus my study on areas of law and politics which either directly concern me and and mine, or which answer the biggest problems that I see in the world. The problems I see here are as follows:
1. If I narrow down my study to issues that only effect my own life then I am unlikely to affect change on a large scale,
2. The biggest problems in the world vary from country to country and are often interlinked with other issues. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to chose a particular area to work on without needing to know how other aspects influence it.

So I am unlikely to achieve the kind or change that I want. What I can do is join a political or revolutionary group that already exists and hope that I can help to affect change. Or I can learn as much as possible and hope that an avenue will open up to me that I did not consider before. Either way, I need to learn, a lot, and I should really pick a place to start since I’ll never have time to learn everything.

Or I can just take my family and run away to start our own private community in the wilderness. Always an option.

Do You Think She Hates Me?

Do You Think She Hates Me?

I don’t have anything deep or philosophical to talk to you about today, so I’m going to tell you thoughts I’ve had about my book in stead.

You may or may not know that November is National Novel Writing Month or, NaNoWriMo for short. The idea is to write 50,000 words towards your novel within the month. People do variations on this, working on scripts, thesis, a short story collection, or having timed goals in stead of word counts if they are editing pieces, or whatever. The main point of the event is to dedicate yourself to working on an important project for a full month.

I first had a go at this 10 years ago. I was young and excited and had no idea how much work it would actually be. I did not reach my target. I had another go in 2011, 2012, and 2014. I never got close. The most words I ever wrote was 17,566. But this year will be different. I signed up to WritersHQ back in August and I’ve been writing more consistently and refining my methods to make writing large pieces easier. This year is my year.

I had originally planned to write the full 50,000 words since I’ve been isolating since April with little to do, but then, just before November began, my employers found me a job that I could do from home. So now I’m working I have less time to write but, determined not to let my novel fall by the wayside, I in stead decided to do a ‘half NaNo’, setting my target at 25,000 words. Call this cheating if you like, but considering I’ve never even made it to 20,000 before, I think this is still a good target for me. And if I reach 25,000 before the end of November, I’m not going to just stop there, I’ll keep going, it’s just motivating to have a realistic target to strive for.

But now to the thing that I actually wanted to talk about. The most integral part of any novel is interesting, 3-dimentional, characters. If you don’t care about the character then you don’t care about their story. One of the skills that I’ve recently developed is deciding who my main characters are before I begin writing. The exercise is to write a sort of bio for them. What are their likes and dislikes? What is their background, their history? Do they have any particular catch phrases or nuances? Etc. This not only makes sure that they are well rounded characters, but it makes the story writing easier because the characters already have personalities so you know how they would act or react in certain situations without having to think about it too hard.

The thing that I was thinking about the other day is this: My main character is a troubled person with a troubled past, and as such she behaves in some questionable ways and can often be irrationally cruel to others and to herself. But because I’m focused on word count right now rather than quality, some of her history and reasoning is being momentarily left out so I can really delve into it on my second run through. This means that my protagonist is doing some pretty horrendous things without any real explanation, and I wonder if she would be mad at me for making her do them.

Obviously I know that she doesn’t really have thoughts or feelings of her own, and I’m fully aware that I made her up, but when you put that much time and thought into creating a person, it is difficult sometimes to not think of them as a real, living being. So sometimes I feel as though, by writing her story, I’m making her do and say things that she may not want to. If I had taken the time to write in her backstory she might understand why she is acting so strangely. So I guess I feel sorry for her because I have inside knowledge that she doesn’t, and even though I know that it will eventually all make sense to her, I wonder if, at this moment in time, she actually hates me for screwing up her life the way I am. The idea of it makes me sad because I have a real fondness for her, after all, I did bring her into existence. And as much as I would love to make her happy, she’s not, she just doesn’t understand why yet.

If you’re not a writer (or avid reader or RPG gamer) I’m sure I must sound crazy to you, but you know, welcome to the inner ramblings of my mind.

The Unlucky (TW)

The Unlucky (TW)

Trigger Warning: I will be talking about my experiences of abuse.

A few years ago a trend was making its way around social media where domestic abuse survivors talked about their experiences using two short sentences beginning with “Why I stayed” and “Why I left”. Here were mine:

Why I stayed: Because I was his “favourite girl in the world” and I’d never been anybody’s favourite anything before.
Why I left: I didn’t. He decided I was more hassle than I was worth and ditched me.

When you read or hear survivors stories they always end one of two ways. Either they always knew it was an abusive relationship but they just didn’t know how to escape, then somebody or something shows them the way and, with the help of others, they are able to remove themselves from the situation. Or, the abuser goes one step too far, they do or say something that wakes the victim up and makes them realise that if they don’t get out, then they (or their children) will end up dead. Then, with the help of others they are able to remove themselves from the situation.

The people like me are usually the ones that don’t survive.

I was 100% delusional. I was in complete denial that anything was wrong. I was totally convinced that he was the love of my life and that everything bad that happened between us was entirely my fault and that I needed to do better. I believed that I was depressed and crying all the time because I was broken. I believed that the hate I felt, was for myself because I wasn’t able to make him happy and give him everything he wanted. I believed that I deserved everything he did to me, even that I was special because he wouldn’t do those things to anyone else. I believed that he could hear my thoughts and that he always knew where I was and what I was doing, even when I wasn’t with him. He had complete control over me and I would have given my life for him willingly if he had wanted it.

I even remember seeing a two sided informative card like the one above and, upon reading it thoroughly, I explained away all of the items on the lists. I feel too sensitive and unhappy because I have a mental illness. I feel helpless and not good enough because I’m not good enough and I can’t do anything right. I withhold information from family and friends because they wouldn’t understand and would just give me a hard time about it. He doesn’t ever lie to me, if he says that I’m lying then I must have gotten confused about what really happened. If he accuses me of cheating, it’s just because he’s insecure and it’s my job to make him feel better. He doesn’t like me to go out without him because he worries about me and loves me so much that he can’t stand the thought of anything happening to me. He tells me to go and see a therapist because he knows I struggle with my mental health and wants me to be better. He just doesn’t like me to talk about him because he’s a very private person and if I have any problems with him I can talk to him directly. He hasn’t turned anyone against me, the people who used to be in my life just can’t stand how happy I am with him and don’t want to be around me anymore, it’s their loss…

It’s amazing isn’t it? How delusional I was. But that’s what they do, narcissists, psychopaths, abusers, gaslighters, they make you really believe that you are the problem.

I think in the end I became boring for him. I had become so completely submissive that there was nothing for him to manipulate and play with anymore. I didn’t fight anything that he said or did, I accepted it, thanked him and begged him for more. If anything, I was too needy for him. I would stay locked in his flat, cleaning his oven for him while he was out with other girls. And this wasn’t something I found out later, I knew where he was and what he was doing, but I focused on making that oven sparkly clean so that he would come home and see what a good job I’d done and then maybe he’d let me sleep in the bed in stead of on the floor (God, I wish I was joking about this).

One time, while out camping, he laid down on some grass in the sun. I wanted to be next to him, but the only place where I could lie was covered in gravel. I laid down all the same, and as the sharp stones dug into me and made small cuts on my arms and legs, I thought to myself that it was a fitting metaphor for our whole relationship: It hurt to be near him and yet there was nowhere else in the world that I would rather be. And, if I stayed very still and gave into the ground beneath me, it hurt a lot less than if I fought it to try and get comfortable. A shocking realisation on reflection but I found it romantic and comforting at the time.

This complete submission was part of the reason it took me so long (after I was away from him) to accept that I had really suffered abuse. How could he have mistreated me if I never fought back? Even on the few occasions when I said “No”, “Please stop”, “I don’t want to”, how could he have known that I wasn’t just playing some game with him when in the end he would always get his way? Even now (6 years later) I still struggle with the definition of ‘implied consent’. But I digress.

As a survivor, I want to do anything and everything I can to help others who are in an abusive relationship. For the typical survivors (the examples I gave in the beginning), making sure that hostels and helplines are widely available and accessible is a great start, but what about those people who were like me? How do you convince someone that they are being abused when they flat-out refuse to see it? How can you help someone who stubbornly denies that they even need help? How do we prevent these deaths?

Before I entered into my next relationship (after I had accepted what had happened to me and begun treatment for my PTSD) I made myself a list. I wrote down where my boundaries were, what kinds of behaviours are unacceptable, and red flags that I should be aware of. I had, from my own stable mind, written by my own hand, a reference point that I could consult if I was ever again unsure of whether my relationship was healthy or not. I thought it was foolproof. I even had contingencies for each event:

If he should accidentally trigger me, I should explain again that this is a trigger and that he should try to avoid it. If a certain line is crossed or boundary pushed, then one warning should be given, if it is crossed again, I end the relationship. And finally, a list of specific phrases and actions that, if they should occur, I should end the relationship immediately and cut all ties.

But alas, lines were crossed, boundaries pushed, I was triggered more than I had hoped and one serious offense occurred, and I made excuses. “He didn’t mean to, it’s not his fault, it was an accident, he doesn’t understand…” I tried to end the relationship repeatedly, but kept returning to it, to him.

I want to be very clear here: This man was not deliberately cruel or unkind to me, he was not abusive, he was just foolish, immature, and had issues of his own. I should have taken control of a situation that he was ill equipped to handle, but I had not finished healing yet, and was no more able to than he was. Slowly, I did gain confidence in myself and certainty of what was right for me (and him) and I finally ended the relationship for good.

Even though I knew we shouldn’t have been together, and everybody I spoke to about us told me we shouldn’t be together, and my own list of rules confirmed that we shouldn’t be together, I could not break from him.

I frequently ask myself, how could it have been different? During the abuse, what would have brought me to my senses? Was there anything that anyone could say or do? Would there have eventually been an event that would show me what was really happening? I doubt it. I frequently thought that I might die, at his hands or my own, and it changed nothing for me.

And during the following relationship? I already knew what should be done, but I could not do it. What could have made me act? Should I have avoided getting into it in the first place? Would I have been able to avoid it?

If you were hoping all my questions were rhetorical ones and that I’d give you all the answers at the end, I’m very sorry to be such a disappointment to you. Maybe it’s all down to my own psychology. Maybe I have masochistic tendencies. Maybe my parents didn’t love me enough. Maybe it’s because I was bullied at school. I hope to find the answers one day so I can save others like me.

I will leave you with the knowledge that although I am happily engaged at this moment in time, I am fully aware of my own wants, needs and priorities. If he were to suddenly become abusive out of the blue, I would be able to leave and thrive alone. I am not dependent on him, I chose to be with him.

Disclaimer: As much as I wish this didn’t need to be said, I want to remind my readers that even though I am female and was abused by a male, abuse can happen by any gender, toward any gender. Frequently men find it more difficult to come forward because of the stigma attached to gender stereotypes.

If you are in UK you can find help for domestic violence and abuse here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/domestic-violence-and-abuse-getting-help/