Em

Growing old is not growing up

On Sunday I will be turning 21 years old. I guess that is some sort of mile stone for most people, yet as much as I try to feel excited or proud of it I just really dont care. It's just another number, the same as it was when I turned 18 or 19 or 20. Most of my friends consider 21 to be the marker of when you finally become an adult. As though all of a sudden you have a birthday and whoa look how grown up you are. I don't. I starting growing up long before now, in fact as a child I always felt a little bit older than everyone else my own age simply because I had been thrown into growing up much to fast. 21 doesnt make me the Woman I am, it doesnt make me responsible or ready for the world. Growing old is not growing up.

AGA Roll Call: Dear Me

Dear Me,

I have putting writing this letter off for a long time, but it has never been far from my mind every time I come to post a blog entry. I think most of that is that I am finally coming to terms with the fact that in ten years time I probably will be around to read this letter, which only a few months ago was a hope that I couldn’t quite grasp hold of, and now it seems a lot more realistic.

In a couple of months I am getting out of here and moving to Canada for a year (at this stage) to start a new life. Right now I don’t feel like I am leaving much behind that I will miss, aside from a few people who I hope I will keep in touch with. A while ago now, Heather told me that as you grow older you start to make your own family, from people you really care about and who care about and are invested in you. I have started that process only recently, and I do hope that as I read this ten years from now I do have those people in my life, even if they are few, and I hope that I am one of those people in someone else’s life.

Can't change her

My Mother is a good person, she loves me and has done a lot for me when I was growing up but everytime I see her there is one thing that makes me feel nervous and sick because I know that she is going to mention and point these things out. Ever since I can remember my mum has had huge issues with my physical appearance, weighing me when I go to visit, pulling my clothes, if other people are around she points out the things that she doesnt like about me to them so that I will be embarrassed, that sort of thing.

As a teenager it upset me to the point where I just wouldnt eat anything for days at a time, would obsess over my hair and clothes and how I looked even when I got up in the morning because she might see me and not like it. Now that I am out on my own, I still find that when I go and see her I have a few moments of panick before I get out of my car and walk in to see her, I wont eat or drink anything while I am there, I always wear new clothes and I always make sure my hair is in place, yet I wouldnt do this for anyone else. Im almost 21, and I am terrified of my own mother. She never hit me or was horrible to me, she just looks at me like she wishes I was somebody else, and it breaks my heart.

Women's History: Kate Sheppard

New Zealand is a rather odd place for women, and it really always has been. Socially we still have a lot of work to do, many would argue that New Zealand is a very socially advanced country for women, but having lived the other side of that my eyes have been opened to a lot of suffering that women in my country still go through daily with little continued support. However politically New Zealand women have worked hard to keep women in parliament from the very start and as of right now we have a wonderful feminist prime-minister Helen Clark.

The political advancement of women in New Zealand was bought about by a handful of courageous women, particularly Kate Sheppard. Kate was born in Liverpool, England in 1847. After her fathers death the family moved to New Zealand in 1868 settling in Christchurch (my home town) a few years later, where Kate married and had one son.

My Scarleteen Story

Having recently become a Volunteer over at Scarleteen (Whoo Hooo!) I wanted to share my own story of how I stumbled across Scarleteen during some of the most confusing years of my life, and how that place has made such a huge impression in my life. So I guess I will start at the beginning!

My high school years were a confusing time for me for many reasons the big one for me was that I was still being abused by my fathers friend which made it extra confusing for me when I started to develop feelings toward boys my own age and entered into the world of dating, drinking and all that comes with those two. It didn’t help that I hated my school, it wasn’t that I didn’t like the people I had lots of friends, always had a party to go to and friends to talk too much with in class, it was the school itself. I was sent to a private, all girls, catholic high school. I am not Catholic, although I was raised one but I learnt very fast that families like mine are not very welcome in the church, and I was not upset by this as I felt it was a good excuse to get out of that whole scene at a very young age much to the horror of my mother.

"Men are being bombarded with images of the perfect physique"

Tonight at work we were even more dead than we normally are on a Tuesday night in the bar, so I found myself pretty bored after cleaning everything twice and decided to chill for a while and read our local newspaper. I don't often read the newspaper anymore simply because some of the things in it trigger me badly and because some of the other things, like today's event, just irritate me to no end.

Flicking through the first few pages of depressing news and junk advertisements, I found myself faced with the huge bolded title "Buck the trend, guys" which then read in larger letters underneath: "Men are being bombarded with images of the perfect physique, causing the same pressure to conform that women have long been used to, and bringing similar harm". Intrigued I read on... "Men spent 50,000 years advancing from bare skins and bearskins to the impeccably tailored suit... Twentieth century bloke had every reason to hope that personality and brains (or failing that, a fat wallet) would count for more in his sophisticated modern world than a caveman physique. But in the past 20 years civilisation has crashed into reverse gear". By this time, all I could think was boo effing hoo, guys. But I read on... "Not only has the modern girl become ludicrously intolerant of her mans flabby physique, and far more vocal about expressing her impertinent displeasure, but men also find themselves confronted at every turn by images of other men... godlike hunks. What has that done to the male self esteem, already reeling from the relentless advance of women in society?”

Guilt of the past heavy in my heart.

In my last counselling session I found myself caught in a conversation which I had previously tried to avoid entering into with anyone. Those words: “Do you think he has hurt anyone else?” make me feel sick to my stomach. That is never far from my thoughts and the guilt I feel about that weighs heavy on my heart. Yes. I do think he has hurt others. I think there were others before me. I think there were others after. I wish there were none, including myself, I know I couldn’t have saved those hurt before me, what kills me is that I could have made the lives of girls after me better. And I didn’t.

Seen the other side

This is going to be hard for me to post. I am not sure exactly why I am posting this at all, but I will because this has shocked me into reality about something that I have treated like some sort of option in my situation, some sort of relief of what I am going through, and this last weekend has really shaken me back into reality and I realise how very selfish I have been.

I have had people in my life commit suicide before. With them, I got a phone call, they were gone, I cried, I screamed, I sat in black at the funeral and felt like my insides were raw with anger and grief and loss, but this was different. I got the phone call. My friend, dear friend, who I don't see enough anymore, was in the hospital. She had overdosed and cut herself badly and was found by one of my other friends just in time. There was no time for tears. I sat in black at the hospital next to her bed, neither of us saying a word to each other just staring, my hand on hers. It was wierd, to be the one next to the bed. I have been the one laying there, more than once, waking up and realising where you are, only I dont remember someone holding my hand. Eventually they released her, and I drove her home. She lay down for a sleep, while I cleaned up the house from the night of what we were calling, the accident. Even though we both knew, it was no accident.

What if she wants to do it?

Last weekend I went up to a town called Blenheim, which is about four hour's drive from where I live (or seven hours on a damn train because our tracks s*ck so much that they bend if it's hot and the trains derail. I learned that one the hard way), to visit my big sister and brother up there for her fiancé's birthday party. It was a great weekend, and so good to see everyone up there, but a couple of things stood out to me that really bothered me about my sister’s relationship. She does everything. She does all the cooking, the cleaning, and the laundry, washes the cars, feeds the animals, takes him his lunch in her lunch break, writes to his family for him etc. Don’t get me wrong, he is a really good guy, he loves her and they have a nice relationship, but she does everything. I didn’t really know how to bring this up with my sister because I really did not want to be that member of the family who points out such things when everything seems to be going along nicely for them, but I have such strong feelings on these things that it took a lot of strength for me to sit back and watch this.

New new year

Today marks the tenth year since he started hurting me. Today, is the first new year day, in ten years, where I have not been raped on the day. The first day of the last nine years before this one, started with abuse. But not this one. I didn't do anything special for new years, I just worked at the bar untill three this morning, but it was special to me anyway. Those other years I guess I just expected it to happen, and I expected the rest of the year to follow that pattern, just as it always did. When I was in my early teens I didn't really have any way of getting away from him on that day, but as I got older my attending the parties with my family, where he would be, was out of fear for the other girls there, my sister, my cousins, my friends, I didnt want them to be seeing the new year in the way I did, so I just went. I also started drinking, hoping that I wouldn't remember it, but all the while making myself more vulnerable.

Why cant it just go faster?

As the new year gets closer I have found myself becoming nervous about what next year is going to be like for me. In a way, I am excited because I know that next year there is not going to be abuse waiting for me around every corner, because finally, he is gone. But I don't want to allow myself to be too hopeful for next year, not after this one. This year has been painfully long and hard, and I have made a lot of changes in my life, many for the good. But yet, here I am with a brand new year just a couple of days away, and I cant even let myself look forward to it.

I keep being told that each day after the abuse is supposed to get easier, but each day I wake up feeling as though maybe I should be hurt that day because I woke up late, or because I spilt coffee, just small, stupid things that I do, I don't know how to deal with those. I am not getting hurt or yelled at anymore for those, so why do I feel like I almost need that? Everyday is so confusing. Conversations with other people are just a blur where I go around and around in circles about the same things, the same issues, talking about everything we have discussed a thousand times because I don't know what else to talk about without bursting into tears. I know the new year wont take that away, I know it is also silly to wish for such a thing, but I really really do.

Boy things, Girl things

Now that the summer is here (apparently... I havnt even been able to wear shorts yet!) I have been madly working 3 jobs to save up so I can get out of here next year and on that (oh so long awaited) plane to Vancouver. One of those jobs, which is my very favourite, is nannying for three awesome little children, two little girls ,Molly (4) and Frances (2), and the baby boy Darcy (9 months). I have been there for over a month now, and I love those kids, I have known their parents for years and so they already knew me before I started and they are just such a cool family.

There were a couple of incidents that really have had me thinking over the past little while, and I was hoping to get some discussion on these things. The other day, I was dropping Molly off at kindergarten, I had little Frances and Darcy with me in their push chair. Earlier that day, Molly and Frances had been playing with a butterfly stamp, stamping each others hands, one of them (probably Frances!)put a stamp on Darcy's cheek just as we were running out the door to walk to kindergarten. We get in the gate to kindergarten when one of the other mothers stopped and told me he (Darcy) had something on his cheek, saying I should take it off soon because "its a butterfly and thats not a really good look on a little boy". She was not the first to say something like that whilst we were at kindergarten.

Mrs Carter's Eyes

Mrs Carter is 91 years old. Grandmother of one of my dearest friends (who moved to Auckland when we were young) and one of the most inspirational women I think I will ever meet. I just wanted to share some of her with you, because she is a woman who really deserves to be here in a community of other women who are just as precious to me.

Long lost, never forgotten

I like sundays. I never used to, especially not in high school, because it meant the dreaded monday was just that much closer. It also meant that I had to find some sort of an excuse to tell my mother when I got home at 6am sunday morning in last nights crinkled clothes, which looked oh so good when I last left the house. Now, its my only day off, and I try to enjoy every second of it from the moment I open my sleepy eyes at the beginning of the day. Today, was an exceptionally good day for me, and the best part about that is I made it that way and nobody tried to ruin it. There is something so special about meeting up with old friends. Friends who you can sit silently with, and they know what you are thinking about from across the table. Friends who understand the importance of sharing a glance, a laugh, a tear, with them when there is no need for any words at all. Today I met up with some of those friends. Today was a good day.

I think I must have accidently hit my self destruct button...

...Because I am falling apart! I finally sort of get myself together (well, as together as I could possibly be right now) and off I go and get myself a kidney infection. Lovely. Ok, so there was a little more to it than my kidneys just being out to get me, there was another incident with Nick and getting hit there, which made the infection more painful. But, my real story here (yes, there is a point to this post) is about what happened when I went to the hospital today. As has happened many times before today when I have gone to the hospital about such things, I ended up with a male doctor. This was ok with me today, I was not feeling too concerned because it was not a gyn issue and so I thought maybe I can deal with having him examine me.

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