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Life is What Happens

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The thing with life is – like the famous saying goes ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’.. that when you think everything is about to get better. It can hit you with another life issue and quite easily knock you off balance. Alice Herz Somme r in her documentary says that life goes UP and.. down UP and down and that’s life (she lived til 106!).

Sometimes I tell myself to ‘be like the oak tree that weathers the storms… strong, powerful and unwavering’. But. Quite frankly that can be quite hard to do sometimes. For the past year my mobility has gotten severely worse. And as a usually active person it has been a hard pill to swallow. It has taken a little over two years to get a proper diagnosis. It was put down to a sports injury by medical professionals and therefore the battle to be heard commenced. Friends who invited me out thought I was exaggerating when I replied saying ‘I can’t walk very well so won’t be able to’. A cloud of depression covered my world like a dark cloud, as I felt like all my own efforts to not drown were being ignored as I didn’t feel like I was being taken seriously. 

Unfortunately some of us in life do not have support from family. Which can be hard to disclose to others – I’ve spent many a Christmas alone. But. To be honest, I never really liked Christmas anyway. As a child my grandma would come to visit.  Well. She was a grumpy old bag… (honestly she really was)…. And of course she used to get my bed when she came to visit. In my room. And well you know what that means don’t you?

No you don’t. Oh I forget that. I forget, sometimes that people cannot read my mind. That we didn’t all have the same dark childhood that I had. 

Ok. Well it meant I had to sleep in my parents bedroom. And considering I was being abused by my biological father of course I dreaded being anywhere near him. I did not want to make the access to me any easier for him. In those days I used to pretend I was deaf a lot (I must of been around 8/9 at this point). Unfortunately, one day, when I was taken to the hearing specialist. The man who was examining me blew my cover. I wasn’t too happy about that as he finished the examination on my ears exclaiming “there’s nothing wrong with her!” to my mother. Tsk. Fucking idiot. Thanks for that. Now I can see why people are labelled as ‘survivors’. I never used to like that term much. But it’s true really isn’t it. You develop as a child – strategies to survive. 

Anyway I’ve digressed. Sometimes – the avoidance of thinking about my past has meant that it has come back two fold in adulthood. The memories and the flashbacks. Like a whole other world that has come back to haunt me. Like waking up from a very bad dream. But that was then. And this is now. 

So it wasn’t until I went to a hospital appointment – and decided to take a Boris bike as I needed to gain some fitness back taking the route across Hyde Park. The bike was so heavy. And I was probably moving at about 1 mile per hour. ‘Oh my god!’… ‘I’ve gotten so unfit’ I thought to myself as a hot guy on his racer sped past me giving me the most quizzical look. So embarrassing.

But now I was stuck in the middle of the huge park with not a bloody parking bay in sight so I had to continue. Over the December period I had been emailing my Rheumatology team – ‘I can’t walk!’ I had declared miserably to them. So when I finally waddled in to my hospital appointment, n a huge amount of pain – the nurse looked gobsmacked. I saw her. And burst into tears. And that was the beginning of hopefully the end of this shitty journey! I was heard. She took me seriously. And I was immediately sent for an X-Ray.

I have found that the worst thing in life – is when you don’t have any hope.

Shawshank Redemption: Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies…

And to be honest by the end of that year – 2018 – I was starting to lose it. I was spending weeks at a time not leaving my flat. I’d had to drop out of my Masters. And I was not seeing anybody at all. Becoming more and more isolated. And to be honest I was embarrassed really. To let others know what was really going on. And scared.

There is nothing worse in life – than reaching out – for help and the door being firmly closed, locked and bolted. The trust one has to develop to actually reach out can be quite painful. For some. For me. The fear of rejection. And I guess as someone who couldn’t rely on parents or family to be there for me – I’ve had to be an island. 

I was at the hospital on Wednesday when the nurse had to ask me about my parents health.

“Do you have anyone to come and check in on you. What about your Dad where is he?”. I was in a good mood weirdly enough, hopeful to be finally being able to bounce about again on my legs. So when I was asked that question it took me by surprise. I gave in and disclosed what and why I do not have that sort of support system. The thing is. I’m used to it. I’ve lived with it my whole life. But the fear of how others receive it can sometimes be worse. The look of pity. The judgement? What is it they’re thinking?

“Sorry too much information!” I declared worrying about the feelings of the recipient. A behaviour I must have learnt as a child. To take care of the adults feelings around me and not my own. Eurgh.

But it’s not very nice is it. Not being able to be authentic. It gets exhausting no? The fear of judgment, or being shamed by other people who don’t want to hear the realities of what it is one is going through. The fear of being put in ‘that’ box. Feeling/being different to everyone else. Or people become some sort of pyschologist. Or they ask you if you’ve thought of visiting one (like one hasn’t thought of that one after how many years??? Hilar!) But surely it’s easier to look at someone else than oneself. Or. They shut you down because they don’t want to hear it/can’t cope with it or it makes them uncomfortable. 

Sometimes… sometimes I wonder if I’m still being encouraged by society to hide. Hide how I feel. Hide my life experiences. Like I’ve done something wrong? And you know. It’s exhausting carrying other people’s shame. And if I’m an adult and still struggle with sharing my truth – then how might a child feel about sharing theirs?

I had a good friend hang himself last year. He and his wife had written me a wonderful card a few days beforehand. And I thought. How can I tell others to be open and not to care what others think if I’m not doing the same?! What a contradiction. 

So this post is me not giving a fuck. Of me sharing my truth. About what I’m going though. About the isolation of having a chronic disease. About how sometimes I have felt jealous of Age Uk because they have so many cool workshops for people over 50 to go and connect – but I didn’t know where I fitted in. But life is getting better. And I feel hopeful as I have a hip operation date coming up. I feel hopeful. And I feel scared. And I suspect that is normal.

Have a great day! Becki Xx

ps if anyone knows/could recommend a designer that might want to help me improve my site please do let me know! 

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POEM: SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED

I am an STD, hidden beneath
Lurking in the unseen,
Shamed for being me
A virus permeating. If you catch me..

You’ll be dirty too, so stay away.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
About my negativity.

But it wasn’t my fault.
It was passed on to me.

I thought it was love.
Well that’s what he told me.

Sharing is caring.
That’s what he’d said to me.

Don’t you.. look at me with your judgmental eyes.

You see… you don’t see.

You don’t really see me.
You just see what you want to see.

Look deep, look down.
Oh yep! There’s the frown.
You look disappointed…
Don’t worry. You can’t be as disappointed as me.

The echo’s get louder.

‘You don’t love yourself’ says he.
‘That’s not true…’ says me.
‘You lied.
You took what you wanted.
You rolled the die.
You left me here.
Did you think I’d cry?’

He laughs. That laugh. Infectiously.

But this time.

I see.
It’s not too late.

‘Catch’ he throws…
‘No thanks’ I reply..

I walk away.

‘How ridiculous’.. I think.
Just then. I thought that STD was me.

Written by Becki Burrows

May 2018

©Copyright owned Rebecca Burrows 2007

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#DATINGDIARY: TINDER AND PROCRASTINATION

“I’m off to the cafe! To start my essay!” I exclaim to my friend. But when I leave my abode I know a part of that’s not true. I have things on my mind – and whether this is a form of procrastination, trying to make sense of the world – or just simply spilling my heart out to a world – that hardly ever listens… well. It’s probably easier than starting my essay right now (I’m currently studying an MA in Human Rights at UCL which is intense to say the least but hey! I know what Jus Cogens means now! ).. 

So back to procrastination. Dating in a large city. And well dating at all – can sometimes feel like a pull push situation. As an independent woman – I feel I’m consistently trying to understand what it actually is men want. Swinging between submissive and dominating I tend to find most guys these days pretty fucking lazy if I’m honest. But then these recent years I’ve generally attracted guys who are younger than me. Maybe that’s it.

After getting a little too emotionally involved with the last guy (who I’m not even sure is properly gone), I do believe it’s better sometimes to just move on and date someone else. Quick.. quick! Quickly. Push those feelings underground! Eurgh. Feelings. Is there anything worse. It’s good when it’s good. But I’m not afraid to say I am not that keen to to feel the  rubbish ones. I DEMAND EUPHORIA! Hmm.

Plus apparently due to my age – I’ll probably want babies soon – so might not be a great choice for him. I was pretty furious the assumption that was made on my age.

Oh yes. I obviously want babies and am hormonal.

So I was swiping on Tinder.

Nah. No. God this is shallow. Wtf is he doing. I am so shallow. I am going to hell. 

“Tinder is all about sex Becki” my friend whatsapp’s me.

“No. No it’s not – lots of people go on Tinder dates.. it’s not all about sex!”…I adamantly reply to my friend. Who is a young 53 year old. But obviously a little old fashioned. Obvs.

I have had only had one previous Tinder date. And he is simply a Facebook friend now. Nothing happened. The end. So I wasn’t too intimidated.

“Do you want to come out for a few drinks?” a guy. A cute guy – looking the spitting image of Billie Joe Armstrong.. asks. OMG IT’S BILLIE JOE.. my subconscious screams. Fit.

“Can’t. Broke lil next week” I reply.

“I’ll pay to go out if you like” he offers. Temptation knocking at the vaginal wall. Can I come in.. 

Wow. I could hardly even get the last guy to buy me a coffee. Hmmm. Hmmmmm.. hmmmmmmmmm “ok… ” I reply.

My friend texts me – “careful it could be dangerous!” he says. Don’t be silly I reply. This is London – it will be a public place – lots of people meet people online..

I get ready. But haven’t heard from him. I look out the window. It’s fucking cold outside. I remember the last guy I dated. And I start to feel too tired. God what’s the point I start to ponder. I look at my phone. Can I actually be bothered with this. I question myself. I get into my bed.

“You want to meet central?: He queries. “hmmm. I think actually sorry but I’m going to cancel…sorry”..

The Billie Joe lookalike texts back. “Ok he replies… “I think you would probably disapprove of me anyway.’

“Why!?” I ask… “I like to stay out late and go wild!”

Oh I laugh. Thinking nothing of that. “Well that’s normal isn’t it on a weekend”

He sends me a picture.

unnamed

“OMG” I reply. Yeah naive. Feeling comfy and relieved that I am in my bed. Shit. That’s a lot for a first date. I think.

Screenshot_20171111-183338

So that was left.. then the next day..

Screenshot_20171111-181003

 

Screenshot_20171111-181014

 

Vanilla. Interesting. I think to myself. Is that sexual bullying I ask myself. I mean. So fucking what if I am Vanilla. Ice ice baby.

I remember a guy I dated when I was about 26. We were only together for 3 months – when he decided he wanted me to get a strap on. I thought about it. For a second. And I decided that. If I did it. I’m not sure I’d be able to look him in the eye again.

So I got really drunk. Snogged his female flatmate in an ‘anti man!’ moment. And legged it in the middle of the night.

But I do find it rather much when men (when dating) are only interested in one thing. My vagina. Ok – so men like to have sex. So do women. And not every guy you sleep with you want to marry. But still. Do I tell you about my sexual needs pre first date?

And.. isn’t life painful enough without whipping on the first date. Or indeed something shoved up my arse. And I question. In today’s society do we really let intimacy grow? Sex is important. But what about the rest. Friendship. Bit of romance. Then let the whipping commence? Hmmm.

So enough procrastinating. Enough I say!

I delete Tinder. And think.. fuck that. Fuck him. Fuck that one. Fuck him. In the non sexual sense.

And lastly. Be good – stay safe. And remember – whatever you enjoy – it’s cool – as long as you both are consenting adults!

Just maybe some flowers and a whip?

Bx

 

 

 

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DATING DIARY: THE SLEEPER AND THE PIMPS

Art on front by Seung-Hwan Oh – the mix interaction of photography and bacteria – “subjects blur into negative space, creating a sort of dystopian nightmare”

He leaned in – and started telling me about his studies. “Harvard”… “I went to Harvard” he smiled. Ooh the studious sort… I thought… that’s pretty sexy. “I’m studying my MBA in London… and ideally one day I want to get married” he leaned in… and stared into my eyes. “That’s really nice” I smiled back. I wondered if his eyes might be a little too close together. I reflected on ‘that’ old saying.. ‘never trust a man who’s eyes are too close together’. Where did that idea come from..? I pondered looking at his face. I wondered how many people born with eyes too close together might be unfairly tarnished with this untrusting brush. Or maybe.. it wasn’t unfair?

His fingers lightly brushed my arm snapping me out of my trance. I watched them dance daringly across… testing the water. He turned to the subject of marriage again. It was a first date so I was suspicious. Was he using my age against me thinking this was what most women my age wanted? What was with the marriage thing?

“I love the park. Will you come for a walk in the park with me on Sunday?” he queried moving his head wistfully and looking at me with wide expectant eyes. “Yeah. Maybe” I answered submissively. “Let’s get some food?” “Sure!” he replied.

Five minutes later we were sat in a nice restaurant… “Halloumi!”.. “Let’s get some Halloumi!” I declared excitedly ordering. Five minutes later the food arrived. And he leant his head in his hands. I thought he was looking down at the food. But slowly…as he looked down…his eyes closed. I took a bit of Halloumi looking on in perverse amusement as his head sank lower. Fuck. Omg. Has he… just… fallen asleep? This is going to be a terrible marriage I reflected. I shook him gently by his shoulders.. trying to awake him from his slumber slightly embarrassed that we were sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant. “Wake up…” I whispered… “Wake up”. He didn’t stir.

“Er yeah so how embarrassing was that” – I declared to my friend. “Hahaha!” she laughed. Some creepy looking guys were staring over at us as we sipped our drinks. It was early in the afternoon… “I’m really concerned we’re going to talk to them.” I declared out loud. One of them walked over. “Would you like a drink.” he asked us. He was a big man with a scary face. “Erm…” we both hesitated looking at each other. He sat down next to us.

“We are from the Ukraine” he smiled darkly peering at us. Nothing about him alluded light. “Oh that’s really nice!” my friend played along. A dark shadow passed over the table. The other guy walked over. “What do you do?” I queried to the other man. Crap question usually but I didn’t care in this situation. “Nothing – I’m a gambler. I gamble a lot of money.” he said looking out of the window. Hmm. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

“They’re fucking pimps… seriously I reckon they’re pimps! Don’t trust them” I whispered to my friend as they headed to get a drink. Five minutes later I was putting my coat on. I had an appointment to get to. “I need to go – please please don’t stay with these men for too long…call me???” feeling bad for leaving. “Course” she winked. I ran out and peered back through the window mouthing the words to her MAKE SURE YOU CALL ME…

An hour later I got a text… “All good in the hood – you were right though – one of them came out with it and just told me – they were pimps!”.

“Eurgh” I replied. Shuddering at the memory of them. Disgusted that they had the bravado to think they were worthy of our time… “I think I might stay home for the rest of the year” I texted back.

“For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Recently Becki has recently finished reading and recommends Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl and finds herself reflecting on the idea ‘what is it that life wants from me?’…

Be good,

Becki Bx

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DATING DIARY: TRUST ME

 

“Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a profound tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.” — M.Scott Peck

This #DatingDiary was written whilst listening to Friendly Fires.. ‘Paris’ (Aeroplane Remix)

The other day I found myself pondering on all the times a guy had uttered the words… “just trust…me…”. And how most of the time I wished I hadn’t. But I hadn’t heard the words uttered for quite some time until I met an intensely charming ab of steel, personal fitness trainer that oozed sex appeal. The type of guy, that one has to mentally compartmentalize if one should decide to touch. Within five seconds my intuition had summed him up… charming… player.. good for kissing. Too hot to not.

Cue self reflection: as one can start to dangerously question one’s own intuition… perhaps a desire to remain open minded or perhaps in hope… led down the path of self reflection, which gently leads with the opening line of ‘well….maybe he’s different…’. I find myself reflecting on whether I’m being judgemental… or perhaps stereotyping… and end up with YEAH RIGHT. Don’t be so naïve. And I get a grip.

We talk for hours. He tells me about his prison stays. His child out of wedlock. His cat. He tells me how it is to impregnate someone and have no power over the outcome (a story which hits me with a burst of gratitude that I will never have to experience that avenue). His stories are intriguing. I try to reciprocate something of interest. But find it hard to find a story of the same calibre. I resort to the subject of favourite films, which starts a light discussion about the difference between Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn as I assure him Audrey Hepburn never starred in Mary Poppins. Light but certainly not as interesting as his war stories.

He tells me he changes his number frequently. He asks for my number. I tell him I don’t know it. But he can have my email. He wrinkles up his nose and looks annoyed as I write it down. I know he won’t email. But he gets his ego stroke anyway.

I later reflect on why I find myself attracted to emotionally unavailable men. How perhaps part of me enjoys being on the periphery of the dating experience… self protection measures that halt one having to get in too deep…

A few days later I check my email. Nothing. And although I expected nothing, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed. If not for the stories. I guess you can’t force your feelings to act a certain way. Which is an annoying part of being human. But I also feel a slight relief. Aware that he’d be a terrible person to get involved with. Although I do find making amusingly poor excuses for the situation… Maybe he can’t write… always a possibility (Cue: open mindedness).

“What you doing tomorrow?” my friend asks me after a traumatic trip to the cinema to see Carol which was far more depressing than I thought it was going to be.“I’m playing squash!… Some guy on a fitness group on meetup.com asked me if I fancied a game…new ways to stay fit in 2016”.. and she starts to laugh. “What?” I query. “My ex used to randomly email girls and get them to be fitness partners from there.. he said he slept with two of them… he’s probably just trying to meet you!”…

“Oh. Seriously?” I ask. Surprised. YOU ARE SO NAÏVE! My brain shouts at me. I find myself amused. “I haven’t even looked at his pic you know. I don’t even know what he looks like.” I reply contemplative.

I decide to go anyway. I want to play squash.

TBC

ART: Carne Griffiths is raisingmoney for Cancer – you can sponsor him here and have the opportunity to win a piece of art in return: https://www.justgiving.com/Carne-Griffiths-dryathlete2016 a worthwhile cause!

Happy New Year!

Becki Bx

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