Me too.

I was ten when a man old enough to be my grandfather stuck his tongue in my mouth. We were at a party after a christening and I was saying hello to lots of people who knew me and I had no idea who they were. This man approached me, I thought to kiss me on the cheek, as the middle classes do. Instead I was met with his old tongue wriggling inside my mouth. I pushed him off and left the kitchen quickly. It didn’t seem that anyone else had noticed this heinous interaction. I kept quiet.
Shame, disgust and fear coursed through me. I didn’t tell anyone what had happened for years, pushed it down and tried to never think about it. If the memory did rear its ugly head I would distract myself with something else. When I did finally say something it was met with “oh, Blah? Yeah, he does that – you have to watch out for him”.
This man’s behaviour was explained away as something I should have guarded myself against. There was no blame put on this man, it’s just something he does. I should have been the one to know better.
Seventeen years later and I still have flashback memories of this event, I still feel panic when I think about it.

I was fifteen when a boy got angry with me because I didn’t want to kiss him in the dark shed at a party. What he didn’t realise is that I was seeking solace in his, what I thought was friendly company, because a boy much older than I had kissed me without asking if it was okay first. He stuck his tongue in my mouth too, and I tried hard not to bite it off. He gave me glandular fever and a guilty conscience when I heard he had a girlfriend.

I have been catcalled for years, sometimes ‘positively’ sometimes ‘negatively’, ALWAYS unsolicited. Always when I have been alone men have shouted at me from the window of their van, from the top rungs of scaffolding. Always I have felt like I want to disappear. My heart drops the second I see a group of men; whether that be on a night out, on a building site or just popping to the shops. I can feel the panic in my body almost stop me dead and assess a new route that I can take to avoid them. I am scared of men in groups, male dominated businesses, being reduced to something to leer or jeer at.
The ‘lad’ mentality terrifies me, it reduces women to nothing more than objects for men to get pleasure out of, whether they think that’s sex or making their mates laugh.

I was in my twenties when a group of four men surrounded me in a pub, making the assumption that because I was fat I would be appreciative of their longing stares, their strokes on my body, their promises to love me until I loved myself. Rubbing my stomach and cupping my bosom. Their ring leader doing the stroking was conveniently placed behind me, whispering his ‘sweet nothings’ in my ear. They may as well have been licking their lips. Making my skin crawl and brain frantically search for an escape route. Thankfully a few male friends came to my rescue and removed me from the situation.

I have endured men touching my bum as they squeeze past me in a crowded place, I have been flashed at on the bus. I’ve been sent dick pics I never asked for. I’ve been sought out by men on Instagram who want to talk about my sexual preferences and experiences. I have let men get away with this behaviour for so many years, mostly because I didn’t think anyone would believe me because of my appearance (I should be flattered they gave me attention, right?). And partly because I have been conditioned to explain it away as “boys will be boys”.
I have accepted that as a woman I will never feel safe walking home alone at night, or in the back seat of a taxi, an empty carriage on a train. I will always cross the road if I see a group of men coming towards me and I will avoid male dominated businesses/shops with every fiber of my being.
I am saddened at knowing that little girls will also endure this societal burden, will deal with sexual harassment, assault and having to live with those scars and the fear of not being believed.
I believe you.
And I want to change things for you.
We need to start putting more emphasis on the men that commit these acts rather than the victim blaming that I see so often. We need to believe every confession these women (and men, I know this isn’t just about women, but I can only write from my experiences) bring to us. If the burden of proof wasn’t so heavily placed upon the victim more people would come forward sooner, and the hideous people committing such acts would be brought to justice quicker.

When I first saw the hashtag going around on twitter, I didn’t think my experiences counted. I didn’t think that mine were severe, dramatic or horrific enough to speak up about. But then I read other women’s accounts and I realised that they all ‘count’. That we have once again be conditioned to keep our mouths shut, just like they all wanted us to.
I understand and fully respect the women that don’t agree with the #MeToo or who don’t feel comfortable or safe sharing their experiences. I want you to know that you are not alone. And I hope you one day feel safe enough to tell someone so the heaviness is no longer just yours.
My mind was racing in the early hours with all of these old memories, some I had forgotten or tried to re-write until now, when I had to come here, my safe space, and just let them out.

“Isn’t it strange how every woman knows someone who’s been sexually harassed but no man seems to know any harasser?”

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Forgetting all the hurt inside you’ve learned to hide so well

It’s been a week since Chester Bennington took his own life. It has taken me this entire week to build up the courage to listen to his voice again. I have purposely avoided listening to Linkin Park for the past ten years where possible; since Chester helped save my life. It always felt too raw when I would hear his beautiful voice and take me straight back to the grey.
I found it hard to cope with my feelings and the misery that often consumed me as a teenager and from the age of thirteen for around three years Chester’s voice was a beacon for me. I had been listening to them for years, but the lyrics and his voice became so much more when I needed them most.
Sitting on my bedroom floor sobbing, their words and his all encompassing vocals held me. They kept me from letting the darkness take over entirely. I have never wanted to be enveloped by sound as much as I do when I hear his voice pleading and singing my thoughts.
As far as I’m aware my inner turmoil was fairly well concealed, I don’t think my parents ever knew how much I struggled or about the cuts that laced the top of my arms or thighs. Being a goth/fat it made it more normal for me to be wearing long sleeves in the summer. I didn’t want them to know. I still don’t, but I think these things are important to speak about, so here I am. I would hurt myself because I needed a physical reason for feeling the way I felt inside. For me it wasn’t about control, it was about rationalising the angst and turmoil within my own head. I wanted to see it.
It has been a long time since I have dealt with self harm and the scars have well and truly faded. There were a few factors that helped me stop, one being that Chester made me feel less alone in this crooked grey little world that I was living in.
If you have read my blog before then you’re probably aware that I still suffer from mental health issues like anxiety. Over the years I have been lucky to find new coping mechanisms for when I feel buried under, much healthier ways to function in the face of my inner monsters.
To anyone that ever needs someone to make them feel less alone when they notice the walls closing in, I am always here to talk. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t need all of the courage you can muster to speak to someone when you feel this way, but if you can, please do. And if you can’t, I always find writing helps…
I am aware that it is irrational but I feel guilt over Chester’s death. Here he was telling everyone that he was struggling, whether through songs or interviews, helping so many people just like me, and nobody was able to save him the way that he saved us.
I hope that wherever he may be now, his mind is quiet and his wounds are healed.
I am thankful for his honesty and how he guided me through something at the time, I never thought would end.
Unfortunately this post is not as articulate and thought out as I wanted, but I have just spent the last hour mourning his death and listening to Linkin Park and I needed to write.

When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory

You will forever be missed Chester.
Thank you for all that you did.

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Let’s let ourselves go under, someday we will all be ghosts

Yes, it has been forever since I posted anything. Honestly I have been struggling to find my inner voice so I thought I would try a few small writing exercises, super short stories. Publishing them makes me more accountable and hopefully feel more confident in putting more of myself back into this blog.
Enjoy…

She could feel the stars running through her veins but she knew that they weren’t shining anymore, her glitter had dulled.
Her reflection in the moonlit puddle was not one she recognised anymore, a stranger stood before her, gazing back. A wave of numbness passed over the girl, “I do not know who I am” she sighed.
Her shadow followed alongside her  but she could not be certain it was hers any longer. She considered asking Peter Pan about the complexities of ones shadow. Was it necessary to have your own fairy in order to find and capture the escaped silhouette of self? Did it hurt to sew them back on?
Upon returning home she removed her make up and took her time taking off her clothes. Slowly unbuttoning her jeans and undoing the fly before stepping out of them and allowing her glare to meet the stranger’s eyes. Standing before the bathroom mirror, searching for the girl she had lost; the one that sparkled and magnetised those around her. Instead the insecurities she had been carrying and battling daily for as long as she could remember took a fatal blow and the goblins emerged.
With their malicious whispers and sharp scraping fingers grabbing at her flesh, billowing grey smoke began to rise around her, filling her lungs. Suffocating. The darkness growing thicker still until she could no longer see the stranger staring back at her. Only the words in her head crackled around her and illuminated the overwhelming dark – “you will never be good enough”.
The girl took a deep breath and with all her anxiety rattled strength she sucked all of the damage back into the seeping box that lived deep inside of her. A few tendrils of self loathing left squirming in the closures, trying to gain purchase on anything around them. The smell of smoke hung in the air as she brushed her teeth and avoided the pinpoint of the onlookers stare.
Climbing into bed, heaving her burdensome body onto the uncomfortable mattress, a sigh and a tear escaped her, sleep enveloping her shell.
The following morning fire danced inside of her, ignited and determined not to allow the box to open again, not today at least.

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You are made of waves and honey

I have been struggling with my self image recently. It’s most likely hormonal but it’s something I cannot shake. The lurking dark shadows always telling me that I am not good enough, pretty enough.
I went through a period of time where I was feeling really good in my own skin, empowered by my curves and rolls. Currently I cannot find that girl, that sense of self love, of confidence. Now all I see in the mirror is a potato; lumpy, bumpy and plain. I long for my flamingo to rise and spread her wings once more, but I don’t know where to look for her at the moment. It all seems a little futile.
I will never be her. Dipping in and out in the desired way, conventional beauty.

I am fighting hard to find the bold and self-assured woman I am again. Treading water and keeping my head above. There are many tears and doubts to work through before I get there, but I will find the love I have for myself once more.

I am made of waves and honey.

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Your pretty eyes I pictured in the fading light. Little darling, little darling, you’re mine

It may almost be halfway through November, but I haven’t forgotten about the fact that I have neglected to fill you all in on September and October. So, prepare yourself to be bombarded with selfies and other such snapshots from my trusty iPhone.

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September, week one.
The month of September kicked off with a trip to Starbucks with Floss on our way home from a very fruitless appointment. Now that it’s November, I had forgotten just how hot September was, so frappachinos were purchased. A selfie, mostly because I was enjoying my new NYX soft matte lip cream in the shade Transylvania. And a shot of the big blue sky on a lovely day.

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September, week two.
Another very warm day means trying to keep Dolly cool, so we had a fan on all day at her height. I thought she looked funny with all of her fluff wiffling in the wind. A lovely lunch and catch up with my aunt and cousin in one of my favourite places.My mum used to love the same place, so it’s always nice to go there as it reminds me of her. Great food, conversation and so many doggies! Another day of catching up with some of my favourite people. Sam was home from Oxford and it was such a lovely evening spent chatting with her, Meredith, Lee and Christopher. Plus, the pub we went to do y favourite gin glasses.

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September, week three.
A selfie, I really enjoy the combination of MAC Diva and my rose gold septum ring. An ‘artsy’ shot of the sea from behind some glass…I was on my way to see Christopher and I am always in awe of how beautiful the sea can be. Sometimes it feels like I spend my life at train stations waiting for the terrible service that Southern Rail provide. There are always, without fail, delays, cancellations or changes to be made. There is never a day that is straightforward when traveling on this awful service.

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September, week four.
Waiting to be picked up I got a little chilly and sleepy, so I decided to get myself a cappuccino. I don’t often drink caffeine because it can effect my anxiety and wont make me feel any more awake until two-am when I cannot sleep. Thankfully this one didn’t effect me negatively. This is Christopher’s cat, she is gorgeous and the only cat I have ever even remotely liked. She is so friendly and I love her. We visited a model railway on Sunday, we got given a checklist to try and find all of the different things hidden in the scenes. An hour well spent for sure, especially when you realise there is a brothel with a long queue of people waiting outside of it in the landscape that the old people have set up.

October ~
week-1
October, week one.
I think I was ready before Christopher this day, so I used my time wisely by taking photos of myself…yeah, I know how to be productive. We went out for the day, starting with a few hours in Lewes looking around the antique and flea markets and then heading to Eastbourne for ice-cream, however before we got to the gelateria we spotted an adventure golf place. We love a bit of mini-golf, so it was straight in there for some very water logged pirate themed golf. I was appreciating how my hair, golf ball and scarf all matched so well. Mid-week dates lovely, this one involved a wander around town, an hour or so spent in Snoopers Paradise before heading for some cocktails. We tried a few but decided that Tropical BonBons were our ultimate favourite.

week-2
October, week two.
Early morning makeup application always means being tucked up in my bed to stay as cosy as possible. This is all of the stuff i fling on my face on a daily basis. I don’t know if that’s a lot or not. A trip to Oxford with Kit and Christopher to visit Sam, Adam, Tom and Shelley and see You Me At Six play. We went to a bar that doesn’t sell full pints but made delicious food, it was too hipster in there even for Brighton however. Then we headed back down Cowley road to see YMAS play. They were good, although some more of the first two albums wouldn’t have gone a miss in my books.

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October, week three.
I have never been one for sport, let alone willingly going to watch it and actively enjoy it. But the ice hockey has sucked me in and I find myself absolutely frozen but enjoying it entirely. It’s fast paced and a little violent, I like it. Christopher and I went for lunch at the place I went with my aunt and cousin that I mentioned previously. It is always filled with gorgeous dogs, and this puppy make my heart swell. She was absolutely gorgeous and so so fluffy. Then we went for a little stroll before enjoying the last of the sunshine and watching the waves crash along the shoreline. Mother nature really is amazing.

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October, week four.
Halloween week  brought pumpkin carving and watching my favourite, Hocus Pocus, both of those were firsts for Christopher and I think he thoroughly enjoyed both. We didn’t have any actual pumpkin carving tools, so a steak knife each were what we used to hack away at these. Dark lips and dark eyes, an easy go to Morticia look. This year my Halloween didn’t involve Kit and I covering ourselves in fake blood and getting ridiculously drunk. This year we at food, had drinks and played board games with Christopher, Floss and Sam. We played all of the games and ended the night in the wee hours after a very long game of Booooopoly (Halloween themed Monopoly). A lovely new Halloween tradition I think.

Staring at the clouds looking for a silver line

I have been away for a while now and I’m not going to apologise for it. Sometimes life and hormones get in the way of me waffling on the internet to no one in particular.
Since having my contraceptive implant fitted I have felt like I am losing my damn mind. There are ghosts that swirl and float around me, touching moments and sucking away all the colour and I cannot stop them. These goblins make me feel sad, prodding me until I am unable to do anything but cry. People staring at me on the train as mascara stained tears streak my face, I think someone is going to ask if I’m alright; instead I get asked directions. I don’t want these peoples pity, I don’t want to be crying at all, but the goblins clap with glee.
I have spent the last five weeks feeling insane. I shouldn’t feel like this. Exciting things are happening, I am loved and I am in love. After the chasm of losing my mother last year, the ladder has given me more rungs to climb and I am making progress. Due to this sudden surge of hormones skittering around my body like an intense game of Air Hockey though, a couple of the rungs have broken, and I slipped.
I have been doing my best to try and be my normal. To try not to keep from burdening the man I love with my insane reasonings for why I’m crying for the fourth time that day. This isn’t me. I suffer with mental health issues and I am not afraid to speak about them, but this isn’t my wheel house of anxiety, this is pure misery.
I had no idea that this small piece of plastic tubing in my arm would turn my even keeled lunacy into this woman I don’t recognise but cries a lot. Once the floodgates open I have little control to close them again. I have always tried to conduct my tears behind closed doors, so it’s becoming very embarrassing when I’m on the train and even when I have finished crying and want to eat my cheese, people are still staring at me.
I feel a tonne of guilt for often making Christopher feel helpless in the moments when I can’t catch my breath because I am crying so hard but I don’t know why. I just know that I feel overwhelmingly sad. My foibles are a lot to deal with at the best of times, but currently I know I must be a nightmare. I’m trying to hold it together.
When surrounded by those that support and love me, that want to spend time in my company I am held together tighter. It’s easier to hold it together, they stop my organs from leaking out of the big slit down my side. When I’m alone again I find it much harder to bandage, and often I am swayed to the grey and consumed by the colourless.
I have been told that my hormones will settle, and I know that they will at some point, but oh my am I exhausted. Grief and anxiety are grueling and demanding in their own ways, but this feels self inflicted and layered with guilt.
Trying my best to repair the broken rungs so I can see and feel the warmth of the sunshine again is a long process, but by writing again I have made a start.
My mum knew I was in a rough place when I would stop singing, but I am finding my voice again every now and then. I hope that means an establishment of cordial relations will soon be underway. That this tiresome rapprochement will soon be done with and I will be back to my normal.

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I missed September’s monthly photo blog (sneak peek above), so I’ll combine those with Octobers and have a double feature. Hopefully now I have dipped my toe back into the water I will be writing more.

Oh you begged me to keep you in that house on the hill, looking out for love

And with the new light there was young hope, to underline the meaning and carve our names in.
At the end of August.

For a girl that revels in the general melancholic nature that bestows autumn, August has been far too hot for my liking. The striking sunsets have been a little compensation for the stifling and sticky heat, but not enough to make me fall in love with the summer. The steel grey skies and gentle fleeting kisses of cold on my bare skin are exciting to me. So, with this months photos we say farewell to the summer.
week 1
August, week one.
Sunsets over water are one of my favourite things in the world to see. A congratulations for surviving the day, a reminder to rest now. I had to capture this beautiful one, even if it did mean strangers staring at me. Then Snapchat blessed us with a filter that made us look like Bratz dolls, and I couldn’t pass that up. Followed up by more boats moored on a very still sea. It was a lovely evening for a stroll (okay, Pokemon hunting. shh…), I’m sure you’re all aware of my love of boats by now.
week 2
August, week two.
A lunch out at a firm family favourite, The Urchin in Hove, with my dad, nan and Floss. Some delicious seafood was devoured and a cheeky glass of Pimms was well and truly enjoyed. I didn’t have time to sort my hair out so had to throw it up one morning. It reminded me of cheerleader hair and this pleased me. It’s the simple things in life. Ah, my phone charger, perfectly safe to still be using I’m sure. right?
week 3
August, week three.
I needed American pancakes with chocolate sauce, syrup and sprinkles for pudding one evening. Yes, needed. I don’t often crave sweet things, and rarely have anything sweet to follow my dinner but it was necessary that night. My neighbour has these ridiculous fifteen foot aerials in his garden, this is the view I get when laying in my bed. I have come to like them in an odd way, they frame the sky nicely on nights like this. Floss has just qualified to be a hairdresser, so I asked her to re-bleach my pink strip as it hadn’t been done in about two years. It was so pretty when she too it off, this baby pink candyfloss colour emerged from the lingering pink. It’s a shame it was a little patchy and I couldn’t keep it this colour.
week 4
August, week four.
It was bank holiday weekend and Christopher was here. We ventured to see a local cathedral and it was beautiful. I, like my mother, have always enjoyed a church. We don’t subscribe to a particular belief set that would warrant us attending a church but I can always appreciate the beauty. Stained glass windows are magical. It’s been a while since I haven’t just straightened my hair, but the humidity and the wind made me remember why I had been doing as such. I looked like a lion by the early afternoon. On the Sunday we went into town to catch up with some friends, and meet Meredith’s lovely new boyfriend. This is a terrible snapshot of such a lovely afternoon but I accidentally deleted the better one, typical. Gorgeous friends, lovely catching up and even debates about who would win in a fight – a Dragon or a Unicorn (clearly the unicorn Theo, they’re magic!).
A delightful end to the last month of summer.