Collateral Damage Pt. 2

Collateral Damage Pt. 2

I am angry. I am angry with myself mostly.

There is a lot of responsibility that lies squarely at my own feet for how I allow people to treat me. I am not blameless, though truthfully I’ve never claimed to be.

Rather I am achingly aware of my shortcomings and I spend a disproportionate amount of time focusing on them. I have low self-esteem and in incurable desire to care for people, to “love them whole”. Noble but not practical. It’s like having a neon sign above my head that reads “Free Heart Repairs Here While You Wait”. I unwittingly make myself available to the emotionally deficient and manipulative.

What is it about these people (men) that doesn’t stop me from getting drawn in? When it becomes clear that these people (men) are not suitable, why do I not turn and run?

I spend a lot of time processing the emotions of other people and I’m not very good at turning this off. It’s for this reason that I avoid social contact, unless it’s with a close knit group of people, because walking into a crowded room is like receiving the signal for hundreds of radio waves which all broadcast simultaneously.  I allow myself to be affected by each one of those radio waves as opposed to letting them simply move through or past me.

Sometimes I project these feelings without realising their origin (meaning they aren’t my emotions). This is bad, especially when I’m under stress and have the tendency to dissociate which  impairs my reaction to an emotionally charged situation. I will either shut down completely, try to run away or I will become defensive, agitated and shouty.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. On the positive side, my empathy makes me very good at helping others with their problems, talking through deeply emotional issues and providing comfort because I can feel their pain, sometimes on a visceral level. I can relate to others on a very intimate level and as a result of this the other person feels cared for, understood, appreciated, and I feel needed. This is the hook.

Co-dependency.

I am primarily focused on helping the other person but I do this at the expense of my own emotional well-being and welfare. Something that is apparent in a co-dependent relationship. This disorder was first identified around a decade ago while studying the interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics but the term has broadened to include any dysfunctional family or relationship.

Often co-dependency is called relationship addiction because people with co-dependency very often form and maintain relationships that are predominantly one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Co-dependents have low self-esteem and will look outwards to make themselves feel better and may do so through alcohol, drugs, food and/or sensory pleasures like gambling or indiscriminate sexual activity.

This can also be true for the INFJ who when stressed is forced to process data using our extroverted sensing function with which we have very little experience and with which we have extreme difficulty managing.

It’s been said that there is no better way to deal with your own pain than by helping someone else with theirs. It seems this is something I have taken to heart as a method of ignoring my own pain and consistently not dealing with it. Noble but not wise.

Childhood bullying, emotional trauma suffered at the hands of my ex-husband’s family, the divorce of my parents and my father’s subsequent marriage to a woman who despised me and my siblings, my emotionally distant relationship with my father, as well as my own divorce have all had long term effects made worse because I didn’t adequately deal with them.

The more I have tried to dull, cover and numb these painful events, the more I’ve sought out a subject to nurture, take care of and “fix” without ever having afforded myself the space and time to sufficiently process my own traumas and heal sufficiently.

So where to from here?

It’s easy to feel uncared for when people cannot love you the way you need to be loved. It’s also difficult (for HSPs especially) not to internalise this as a reflection of your own self-worth.

The truth is, how people behave and operate has so much less to do with you than you think. It’s about their own insecurities, their own struggles, their own anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.

This is not evidence of your failings and it doesn’t mean you are difficult to love. Nor does it mean you are unworthy of love.

The fact that you can empathise and are able and willing to share your love even if it means having your heart broken, is a strength. Loving someone else is a courageous act.

And so the work isn’t to fundamentally change who I am, the work is to deal with what happened and leave it behind in the past where it belongs and make better choices. To stop making a choice of people who only make an option of me.

I am not too much, I am not needy, I am not too sensitive.

I am thoughtful, I am empathetic, I am kind, I am vulnerable, I am generous of spirit and I am enough.

You are enough.

 

Image by Amarit Opassetthakul and licensed by CC

 

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Thank you…

merakigirl.wordpress.com

Thank you for ripping my soul apart in so devastating a manner that I have no choice but to stitch myself back together – properly this time.

Thank you for showing me exactly the type of man who will never deserve a space in my heart again, ever.

Thank you for showing me that I am strong beyond comprehension – something I have never believed about myself.

Thank you for showing me that I am capable of the most incredible and all-encompassing love that a person has to offer.

Thank you for showing me the greatness of the love I have to give and how to keep that so fiercely guarded that I never waste it on another undeserving boy playing at being a man.

Thank you for showing me who you are and teaching me how to listen out for someone who is narcissistic and subversive, in effect teaching me exactly the toxic type of man whom I need to stay away from. 

Thank you for teaching me how to not be so selfless that I (almost) forget who I am.

Thank you for teaching me that I cannot pour all of my love into another in an attempt to heal them.

Thank you for replacing me so easily that I had no choice but to excise the cancer that is you, move on and keep moving on, every day, one foot in front of the other.

Thank you for teaching me that my boundless love does not come from me (it comes from a Source so much bigger than me), and that despite pouring all of myself into you, I’ve in fact gained more than you could ever have taken away.

Thank you for teaching me that I am not hateful – not in the least – because even after all this, I don’t hate you.

Thank you.

Fight Club: How To Fight A Fair Fight In A Relationship

Fight Club: How to Fight a Fair Fight In a Relationship

Relationships, especially romantic relationships require work, they require love in action, they require compromise and a necessary element of working out our issues comes in the form of a fight.

A fight does not have to be a screaming match, nor does it necessarily have to be something we look at negatively. A fight that is fair, has boundaries and is constructive can do your relationship the world of good, clear the air, set things straight and often bear some pretty tasty fruit aka make-up sex.

If you want your relationship to be one that weathers the stormy days, then implementing some clearly defined boundaries when you fight is essential. Though not an exact science because no two relationships are alike, here are some practical and helpful guidelines to ensuring that you are not only heard but that you hear what your partner is saying, which will in turn help you to address concerns levelled at you and most importantly, deal with the issue at hand and move forward. No one wants to fight over the same thing time after time, it’s frustrating, not at all constructive, demoralising and largely unnecessary.

Fight Club Rules
1. You do not talk about fight club
Aside perhaps from trying to gain perspective and guidance from only your closest and most trusted confidants do not get caught up in the trap of bad mouthing you partner every time you have a disagreement.
Constant bad mouthing will create a negative and one-sided perception that you would not appreciate were the shoe on the other foot. After you’ve kissed and made up, your relationship may lose credibility in the eyes of your friends.

2. You do not talk about fight club AT ALL on social media
This really should go without saying but having witnessed couples having a go at each other whilst still together or shortly after having broken up, it warrants repeating.
Break-ups can be messy, emotional, and traumatic events for the couple going through a separation, yet are largely storms in teacups taking place in a land far away for bystanders and friends.
If you condemn your partner or ex on a public platform, prepare to be judged for every utterance, which can severely affect relationships with mutual friends. Always remember, when you fling mud, you’re likely to get some on yourself.

3. If Someone Says Stop, The Fight Is Over
No two people have the same temperament, tolerance levels and attention spans. To expect your partner to sit through an overly detailed account of everything they’ve been perceived by you to have done wrong can be exhausting. When tensions rise and you are nowhere near to resolving the conflict, you may need to take a break and calm down.
No one likes to be shouted at. No one likes shouting because they feel they are not being heard either. When it stops being constructive, take five (or fifty) minutes to breathe. Come back to resolve the issue when you are both calm. Be respectful of your partner’s desire to take a time out and conversely, don’t leave it for too long if you know your partner likes to sort things out and move on faster than you do.

4. Only Two People To A Fight
There are two people in the relationship, there should only be two people involved in any given argument. The moment you involve a friend or family member in your intimate relationship, things are going to get messy. If you are arguing about what a third party said or did, look at the incident in and of itself and put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
If someone close to your partner offended you, for example, speak to that person directly and do not take it out on your partner. If a friend says something that is unwarranted of your partner, have your partner’s back and do not undermine them because you want to put on a show for your friends. This will damage the trust aspect of your relationship in the long term.

5. One Fight At A Time
Multi-tasking is an illusion – so are 2-in-1 shampoos but that’s a story for another day. Give arguments the attention and closure they deserve to prevent them from rearing their ugly heads time after time. It is not constructive to dredge up long buried events, especially if you are using that event as a form of defence against a gripe levelled at you by your partner. That tactic is tantamount to emotional manipulation and has no place in a healthy relationship. It may be that you don’t like what your partner has said; however when we face the truth about ourselves and the effect our actions have on others, it can be painful. Put your pride in your back pocket and commit to working on your flaws as much as you would like your partner to work on theirs. If one person is doing all the compromising—which in fact is no longer compromising but sacrifice—it’s going to cause resentment and that is relationship cancer.

6. No Fists, No Weapons
Ever.
If you or someone you know is trapped in an abusive relationship, please contact one of the following organisations;
Lifeline South Africa’s National Helpline on 0861-322322
Stop Gender Violence Helpline on 0800-150150
POWA – People Opposed to Women Abuse on 083-7651235
Family & Marriage Association of South Africa on 011-9757106/7

7. Fights Will Go On As Long As They Have To
Though do whatever you can to prevent an argument lasting past bedtime. Take the time to listen to your partner. Too often we listen with the intent to respond and are busy formulating our counter argument before that person is finished speaking. This will cause undue frustration.
I once heard of a couple who fought over text message in different rooms of the house, so they did not shout at each other, talk over each other or have their children witness their spat. They did have some guidelines like one message at a time and at intervals of a minute. This may not work for everyone but find a method that helps you minimise fallout, as it were.

8. If This Is Your First Night At Fight Club, You Have To Fight
It’s much easier to lay down some ground rules for a fight before you actually have one. Some rules that I apply to myself are as follows;
Never use absolutes (pun intended) – No matter how valid your point, you will derail your entire argument by using absolutes.
Cruelty is unnecessary – In my experience, cruelty is only ever used to detract from a valid argument. Don’t fall into the trap. When you calm down you will likely regret having said something awful and you will be unable to take it back.
Afford your partner the same courtesies you seek – For instance, if you hate being spoken over, do not interrupt your partner. If you don’t like being sworn at, do not swear at your partner. If you expect your partner to change minor behaviours, you should be prepared to do the same.
Do not use accusatory language – Speak in the first person, say ‘I’ more than you say ‘you’ and try not to point. If you appear to accuse then your partner will go on the defensive and is less likely to listen to you.
Apologise when you are wrong – When you realise you are wrong, apologise, sincerely and do not use the words “I’m sorry” as some sort of fix all that you bandy about to get you out of trouble or the words become meaningless.
Make amends – If you have unintentionally hurt your partner and are sorry, make amends immediately. Find out what your partners love language is and make it up to them.

If you still find yourselves unable to navigate the stormy seas, you may want to enlist the help of a relationship counsellor.
Before you balk at the idea of therapy, take cognisance of the fact that your car needs fuel, oil, and regular services to keep it in good mechanical health. Your relationship is the same. You can take precautionary measures and stop problems before they start or you can address the problems when you encounter them. Long gone are the days where couples therapy was perceived as a failure or something to be ashamed of or laughed at. In fact, it demonstrates your desire to maintain and in many cases, improve your relationship.

You often hear it said that ‘all you need is love’ and I am not here to argue that. Love is essential but you need more than love to preserve your relationship and couples therapy is one of those tools that can help you do that.

The Christmas Not So Jollies

christmas

‘Twas the eve(ish) before Christmas and I spied on my Facebook feed a post that said simply “I am feeling so down”.
I immediately thought to offer some words of encouragement and as I looked at the comments on the post, I noticed a particularly ill thought out response that read; “Don’t be, it’s Christmas!”

Let me first say that this time of year means little to me. It is at best a time to spend with those close to me and share a meal. Though I am Christian, I do not celebrate this particular holiday. I did as a child but as I have grown and delved deeper into my faith, the reasons and machinations of what Christmas is became less of a production and more of a farce. I am however not here to discuss that—or any person’s choice to celebrate the holiday but it means more to some than it does to others and offering that as a suggestion to fix what may in fact be causing the problem in the first place is largely callous.

There is what feels to me to be a deluge of forced joy and displays of ‘look at how fabulous I am’ that you can only wonder if any of it is genuine or if people are merely trying to keep up with (or out do) everyone else, which is not a little farcical, and don’t even get me started on the metaphor that is the gaudy bauble and tinsel draped trees that are hacked down, dressed and lit up and left to die a slow death as some sort of symbol.

This time of year is loaded with so much expectation by way of bombastic and for-the-sake-of-others’ show, social media plugging about what a wonderful time I’m having on my island holiday or on my destination ski trip, that it creates a very skewed yard stick against which we measure ourselves.

With so many high expectations and people running around behaving like pseudo jetsetters and hotel chain heirs, there are equal, if not greater, amounts of people who succumb to the pressure that this time of year is known to bring.

However, getting back to the “Don’t be, it’s Christmas” statement on my friend’s page, it struck me first as glib and then as a little insensitive. I’m certain that was not the intention but Oscar didn’t intend to kill Reeva, and well, she’s dead… but I digress.

I believe it is paramount that we feel free to acknowledge and express our feelings in order for us to deal with and move past them. Unless we do so, we have little hope of ever overcoming them and growing as individuals.
Furthermore, there still exists an inordinate amount of stigma where mental illness is concerned.
Speaking up is one of the scariest things a person can do because saying the words “I need help” can lead to feelings of incredible shame and failure.

So what am I trying to say with all of this? Well I guess it is that we need to encourage people to talk about the things that are bothering them without fear of recrimination and judgement. That we need to foster an attitude of acceptance regarding how we feel, especially when those feelings appear to be the opposite to what’s going on around us and/or despite what is going on around us.
It can be murder to constantly force a smile because we are expected to be happy and fulfilled.
It takes a super human effort to pretend that everything is okay when you feel like you are breaking to pieces inside. We can often feel a great sense of isolation and loneliness as a result.
The good news is, if we do not feel able to talk to a friend or relative, you can seek the help of a professional. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, everyone—including myself—has at some point had feelings of extreme sadness and/or depression and the important thing to realise is that there is always a way out!

My personal philosophy is “Throw the closet door wide open, monsters hate the light and the more you shine the light on them, the smaller and less scary they become.”
To some this will come relatively easily but for others this can be very intimidating and even frightening. If this is the case for you, reach out to someone, which you can do anonymously but make the effort to reach out.

If you need help or if you need someone to talk to, here is a list of places you can find help:

The South African Anxiety and Depression Group http://www.sadag.org
Depressed Anonymous http://www.depressedanon.com
Psych Central http://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/

Alternatively, contact a support group in your area.

In closing, I hope that everyone reading this does find some joy this holiday season. Be safe and may the next year be a better year than this one.

Thank you for reading!

A Year In the Making

What a difference a year makes.
It is amazing how much you can accomplish, how much it can bring you, how much it can take away and how much you can learn.

I leave my finance job tomorrow. I open my own business in a week. I am now a content developer. I have been invited to collaborate on a women’s lifestyle book. I am emotionally in the best place I have ever been in and I am living a love that makes me light up every time I think about it. All of this is of course not solely thanks to simply starting a blog but it is largely due to the fact that writing has served as the catalyst in helping me reset the tape inside my head. It has served as a way for me to work through all the hurt and pain of the past and to look at it objectively, learn and grow from it and allow that pain and those experiences to change me. To make me better.

It has helped me redefine myself, clarify what I want from life, who I want in my life and all of this has ultimately helped me to find a meaningful balance. Still lots of learning and growing to do, most assuredly, but I am far more centred and at peace now than I was even a year ago.

It is from this vantage point that I can see not only the great strides I have made to get here but I can also see the bright future ahead of me, an exciting, fulfilling and promising future and that is truly priceless.

When I was younger my father would ask me why I was so angry. I never had an answer for him because I never understood my own emotions and thoughts enough to make sense of them, much less communicate them to someone else. This journey, however, has led me to uncovering and exposing the empath side of me and that knowledge alone has made me more consciously aware that the feelings I am experiencing are not all mine. Awareness of this has enabled me to better choose my reactions to external stimuli. I don’t always get it right, sometimes my conditioned response–especially when under stress–is a negative one but I’m working on it and that’s what matters.

Not long ago I received a text from an ex-in law. She berated me, my blog, issued a kind of threat and an instruction. My reaction to that message partially baffled me and impressed my nearest and dearest. Once so quick to speak up, lash out like the cornered animal I felt, this time I swiped to the left and hit the ‘block’ and then ‘delete’ buttons.
On another occasion, I received hate mail from a toxic former associate. Once I realised who it was I simply deleted the messages.

The overwhelming sense of peace and relief I experienced was heady. I realised that I did not have to get into the ring on every single occasion. Of course being told this by people is one thing, coming to a realisation through your own experience is vastly more meaningful and empowering.

I never understood how liberating simply walking away is until I did it, until it was the only reaction I wanted to have. I was never able to do it until I started analysing, organising and categorising my feelings. Until I started searching for the “why” underneath it all.

Nowadays I don’t always have to get the last word in. If you don’t understand what or why I’ve said something, I don’t need to fight tooth and bloody nail to get you to do so. All that got me was statements like “You just want to be right” or “You just want the last word”. It’s at that point that I now walk away because that person is really just telling you that they are not willing to part with or see past their dogma, which borders on wilful ignorance when you strip it down.
Instead of trying to get them to understand, thank them and walk away. Seek out people who are intelligent and open minded enough to see more than just their own subjective view, who will converse with you and explore with you – you learn a vast amount more that way. It’s also how you solidify or change your own opinions based on new information. I’m not saying one should be blown about like reeds in the wind, have the courage of your convictions but don’t shut out every other voice in favour of your own. You will come off as arrogant and the only thing arrogance will do for you is make you a wholly unattractive person to converse with.

So with that in mind, I aim to take the lessons I have learned and work at putting them into practice daily. I really believe that life is that simple.
Be graceful when you are being taught a lesson in life, knowing that you are partially responsible–in small or large measure–for where you currently stand in life and you can either let it make you stronger or you can let it defeat you.

Thank you for reading.

The Narcissist Question

Write

“You sound like a bit of a narcissist.”

This was directed at me by someone who read my blog recently, someone who took offence to a past post. That this person turned out to be someone I knew is neither here nor there. I’ve never believed I was a narcissist but it’s been rolling around in my head enough to prompt me to explore it.

This is an autobiographical blog. I would hazard a guess that the vast amount of blogs on WordPress are of an autobiographical nature.
I use this blog as a tool to work through my experiences and considering that all other comments on this blog have been positive, I take that to mean that someone else out there is able to take what I have been through and perhaps use it.

If we look at the word itself, Wikipedia will tell you that ‘narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.’
I would say that hardly describes me but I’m honest enough to say that perception is subjective.

In any event, if my blog is to help me unpack things that have happened in the past, to analyse them and use what I’ve learned to be better, do better and keep from repeating the same mistakes, could I not just as easily have used a diary?
Diaries are private. No one else reads them and no one else takes offence because no one else is privy to what is contained in its pages.

A blog on the other hand is used to talk to an audience, and those who may believe they are the ones being spoken of don’t get to have their say to justify their position in your experience.

“I would not be concerned with the secrets, the lies, the mysteries, the facts. I would be concerned with what makes them necessary. What fear.”
— Anais Nin 

Using this quote from Nin is three-fold;

Firstly, it is far easier to lie to oneself than it is to lie to another.

Secondly, Anais Nin and her autobiographical diaries fell into complete disrepute and are now referred to as ‘the liaries’ which go to illustrate the fact that more often than not, we choose to remember things because of how we perceived them without doing enough to try to see the wood for the trees.

Thirdly, the reason I changed the names of all people involved is because it was never about those people. I was after the ‘why’, the ‘what’ that made the secrets, lies and ultimatums necessary. I don’t believe I have glorified myself or demonised others, again perception is subjective and I would welcome constructive feedback if this is not the case.

Further to this, I had accumulated a lot of baggage through my pre-teen years right up to my late twenties and I was starting to self destruct. I took a lot of what happened in my earlier years, internalised it and concluded that it must have happened to me the way it did because I was not smart enough, not pretty enough, not genial enough, not funny enough or not caring enough.

It was during the short time I spent with my therapist that started the journey of self exploration and something ignited when I got an unbiased opinion from someone who could understand and translate the behaviours that my ex-husband and I were exhibiting, having met us both of course. I was no longer to blame for it all. No one is, obviously.

I got to see things from an entirely different perspective and my journey thus far has been one of continued self exploration and the healing that comes along with that has been immense. Piece by piece I have been able to put myself back together without throwing up walls  – something entirely new for me.

~~~~~

Switching gears slightly at this point but this topic goes to the behaviour exhibited by the person who called me a narcissist.

If we look at the way men and women are taught to communicate you will see that women have historically not been encouraged to be honest by society. We are taught to use makeup, clothing and behaviour which forces us to walk a tight rope between two extremes. In the case of clothing; if we dress too conservatively we are prudes and if we dress too provocatively we are whores.

With regards to self-expression, we are to maintain a blank emotional canvas upon which men, (primarily and/or traditionally) can unload their own emotions, thoughts and desires.
Any deviation from this garners comments like ‘crazy’, ‘irrational’ and ‘hysterical’ and teaches young girls that their feelings are not valid or that we should be wary of them, lest they prove too much for a man to deal with which in turn makes us less desirable.

So women who write and who explore are pushing back against this accepted norm to the ire of both men and women. I include women here because they see those of us going against the grain as ‘tree-shakers’ forcing people out of their comfort zones and into introspection.
Some would go so far as to say that woman who explore are breaking new ground and to label someone as a narcissist simply because they choose to write of their own experiences is at best, banal and at worst, gas-lighting.

If you don’t know it, gas-lighting refers to a form of abuse whereby the abuser attempts to make the victim doubt their own experiences, thoughts and emotions. This is most commonly used in relationships where, for instance, a husband will label his emotional wife “crazy” when she is upset over his behaviour, either real or perceived. Instead of addressing the issue together and working through it, the husband has forced his wife to go on the defensive, where he can negate anything she says that does not suit him by virtue of her being ‘irrational’ and/or ‘crazy’.
This also sets up a false reality that emotion and logic cannot co-exist and places the burden on the wife to prove that she is not crazy and that her emotions are valid.

This behaviour develops not because the husband actually believes his wife is crazy, but rather because she is upset which is undesirable. He  likely cannot deal with the fallout of his actions or that he is being made to feel like he has to answer to someone, either real or perceived.

I will, in time write about my own experiences with gas-lighting, how I dealt with it then, how I have learnt from those experiences and how I deal with it now.

In conclusion, I would assert that in the context of the word, who said it and their attempt at gas-lighting that no, I am not a narcissist.
Also I completed a few internet questionnaires and my results were astonishingly average and so based on that scientific assessment *tongue in cheek*, I can put this question to bed and move on.

Thank you for reading.

 

Childless and Happy…? Surely not?!

As I sit and write this, in a favourite haunt of mine near home, I sit opposite a young couple with a small baby. They are cooing and stroking the child’s head and making lots of kissing noises and smiling at the child and at each other, which in turn makes me smile.

It’s a scene I have seen often in my life and it’s a question that gets posed to me with uncanny regularity. “So… when are you and Mr M going to tie the knot and have babies?” I cringe inwardly every single time that the question is posed, mainly because my honest answer is met with abject disbelief more than ninety percent of the time and it’s usually virtual strangers who feel they have the right to question my response; which is usually something like this: [Me smiling] “I don’t want children”.
It’s this apparently unconventional response from a woman that sparks in people a desire to change it, regardless of the fact that they do not know me, my lifestyle, my potential health issues or upbringing remotely well enough to do so.

The rebuttals. I have heard them all!
“What? You don’t like kids?”
“Oh, you’ll change your mind! I was just like you once, then I found my soul mate.”
“You can’t focus solely on your career, you’ll end up lonely!”
“I’m sure you think yourself too selfish now, but that all changes when you have a baby”
“You just don’t understand the mother/child bond” – this one I find incredibly narrow-minded but we’ll come back to this.

The truth is, I am not too selfish, I am not too career driven and I do not dislike children. I completely understand why people have children. To celebrate their love and spawn the next generation, full of promise and wonder. Quite.
Lots, but not all, of my friends have children. Most of whom I like, some whom I absolutely love. I also have a niece who is one of the most beautiful souls in the world!

So what influenced this decision? Was I always this way? The honest truth is simply; no.

I had a somewhat normal childhood (bullying not withstanding). I had a difficult relationship with my brother in my pre-teen and teen years but those issues resolved themselves eventually and as mentioned before there were bigger things at play which we didn’t understand then but because it’s a very personal topic for my brother, I will not get into it here. I also have a sister, with whom I am very close and with whom I have always enjoyed a special bond. I love my siblings and am very protective of them. Lastly, I had and continue to have a great relationship with my parents, in particular my mother.

This brings me back to the response I get from a lot of women and recently one man; “You just don’t and can’t possibly understand the mother/child bond”.
I said that I find it incredibly narrow-minded because I have first hand experience of this bond – I am a child. I understand perfectly well what it is to love someone more than you love yourself, to love someone so much that you would–without thought or hesitation–give up your life for this person. I have five such people in my life–my parents, my siblings and my niece, so to say that I don’t understand that bond may be true of you but it is not true for me.
I won’t postulate as to the reasons why it’s not true for you but as I have mentioned before I am an intuitive empath.
I don’t have to have experienced something first hand to feel, on a visceral level, the pain or love or sadness or guilt or happiness that someone else is feeling. I get a sense of these emotions just by being near some people, which explains why I struggle with crowds and have to spend time alone after social gatherings to decompress and find my centre.
Oft times I will be inexplicably upset, angry, sad or happy and I cannot tell you why exactly but it’s in large part due to the people I have spent time around that day. It’s only because Mr Mr mentioned to me how striking it was that I could identify, empathise, sympathise with and vocalise things he had experienced that I started looking into what an empath is. Furthermore, he is not the only person to have said this of me so, to be told I simply don’t understand is not only narrow-minded but shows just how little you know about me, which then begs the question;
Why do you expect me to answer to you on this very personal matter?

I read a child free and happy blog post a while back and for the life of me I cannot remember who the blogger was but what she said stuck with me. (If I ever find her blog again, I will credit her in full).
This blogger mentioned that she had a friend who could not have children and went on to describe how deeply it hurt her friend when she had to try and answer some very personal questions without actually divulging her real reason for being childless.
In truth, the blogger’s friend was wracked with pain and longing and was ripped apart every time someone questioned why she was childless. It’s one thing to divulge these details to your inner circle but quite another to go into very personal medical details with someone you hardly know well enough. Someone who is trying to tell you what you should feel or do without actually knowing who you are.

When did people become so invasive and when did we feel it was the norm to offer opinions on such deeply personal issues without being asked for them?

I was not always intent on not having children. I was married and those thoughts crossed my mind regularly, especially in the dying throes of my marriage where my reticence to have children was the reason I was given that the marriage was not working.

Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

In truth, I was not prepared to have children to fix my marriage and when I said to Gerald that he could simply replace me with another womb to get the job done because it had nothing to do with how much we loved each other, he issued me with the ultimatum to have kids or get divorced.
I rested my case. No only was the blame for our faltering marriage being laid squarely and unequivocally at my feet (as it continues to be to this day), it showed me the reason why Gerald refused to do any of the work necessary to make our marriage work; because he did not believe he had any culpability for the breakdown. So whilst I was in two minds about having kids during my marriage, my decision was set in stone when he uttered those words.

Unless a child is forged out of love, in a mutually respectful and caring relationship, what are you trying to achieve by having one? Being a parent is one of the most honourable, difficult roles in life and is chosen far too glibly by far too many people. I have vastly more respect for what my parents did.

In closing I’d like to ask: Why is it then, that women who decide to forgo having children are the ones who have to explain themselves?

Has raising children suddenly become easier? Less costly? Less of a responsibility? Are there fewer dangers in the world?
I do not look down my nose and question why women choose to have children and it would be nice to have my choice respected, regardless of whether you agree with it or not because it’s not your choice to make in the first place.

Thank you for reading.