Did what made me also break me? An indulgent mid-life musing…

I went to counselling recently.  Not something I ever thought I would do. But I was ready.  I went to the GP with stomach problems and mentioned my anxiety and then started crying and ended up with a bag of various meds.  I haven’t started taking any of it, I don’t know why.  Well – I do know why.  I’m scared. I don’t want side effects.  I don’t want dependency.  And, I wanted to try other ways to feel better. (I have no qualms about medication, by the way.  I know it can be life changing. I use a lot of pain relief. I know many people who swear by various anti-anxiety and/or anti-depressive meds. But it’s a very personal choice.  And I’m not quite ready.) So, I went on a waiting list for counselling, and got onto a six week course.  I started the first week feeling incredibly self-indulgent and apologetic.  By the last session I felt devastated that it wasn’t carrying on.

All I’d done was turn up and talk about myself for about 50 minutes each week. That’s all.  But I never talk about myself. It was new. I like to swallow things down, keep them buried in there.  It feels a bit like a lot of those things are clawing their way out, now. So it seemed like maybe I should think about dealing with them.

These hours gave me time, they gave me permission to think, to remember, to feel.  They allowed me to consider why I am the way I am. Yes, some people have it worse, much worse.  But in these hours, I was allowed to feel what I was feeling, irrespective of other people, of the outside world.

And then, outside of those hours, I allowed myself to think some more. And some of what I was thinking, I wrote down. My memory isn’t great.  It’s selective and patchy and I’m sure varies from anyone else involved in a given situation.  But, it’s mine. When I wrote down the following, I was revisiting the social side of my teenage years.  Outside of the family home, my adolescence is not a time I remember well, or fondly. It hurts me to look back, I mostly feel sadness and shame and there are many things I blocked out. But these are some of the things that stayed. Continue reading

The Queer Rebellion of Embracing Your Body As It Is

There are two things I never thought I’d do:  go bare legged in public without shaving, and wear short shorts.

I did both of these things last weekend, while playing in a roller derby tournament.  And I survived.  I won’t say there weren’t moments of doubt and self-consciousness, but they were minimal, just minor irritations I could brush away.

For some, this won’t seem like such a big deal.  But for me, this is HUGE.   Continue reading

Dear Auntie Beeb,

I don’t watch programmes like Silent Witness so much anymore. I spent a lot of my life watching crime shows on TV.  At some point, though, I’d had enough. Maybe it was an increasing sense of my own mortality, maybe it was seeing one too many women get horrifically killed for our viewing pleasure. After the first season of The Fall, which sent a clear message that if you dare to be female, single and live alone then terrible things will happen, and the Luther that ran at the same time and reiterated the same message, I swore off such programmes.

So I’m not sure why I watched the latest two episodes of Silent Witness. Continue reading

There’s No Big Question, There’s No Big Answer – I Just Don’t Have Children

When I was thirteen, the approaching millennium was an exciting thing, some distant and magical future.  We would talk about where we’d be, who we’d be, what we’d be doing.  I don’t remember every laying down any specifics, other than the unemotional assumption that I’d be married – to a man – and have children. Continue reading

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Whose Gaze Matters Most of All? 

I graduated the other week.  After two years of part-time study, alongside two part-time jobs, a house move, an employment change and being rostered onto two roller derby travel teams, I achieved my M.Litt – with distinction – in Gender Studies.  I should have been ready to mark this occasion, looking forward to celebrating my achievement.  But mostly, I spent the run up to the ceremony worrying about what to wear. Continue reading

I know, not all men. But definitely some of them.

I found another lump in my breast a few weeks ago.  My first thought was that it was probably another cyst, and I was right.  When I had first found a lump, just over a year ago, just before Christmas, I spent a few weeks thinking the absolute worst.  I  didn’t tell my new partner.  How could I?  She hadn’t signed up for that.  The morning I spent at the breast clinic, alone, was pretty grim.  They confirmed there was something there, gave me a mammogram, and then an ultrasound, which was when they told me it was a cyst. The relief was palpable.  I had loads.  It’s just a thing!  That particular one, they drained.  The pain was quite intense.  They were very sympathetic.  Told me to go to my GP if any changes happened.  And so, I did. Continue reading

the changing body fortunes of a woman in her forties…

…specifically, me.  An age is just a number – or, a gateway into a weird, dark, unsettling place full of doctors’ waiting rooms and sympathetic nods and new prescriptions and ominous letters from the NHS.  (And praise be for the NHS.)

weight gain

joints

migraines

breast cysts

ovarian cysts

polyps (actually just the one but it was a whopper)

hormones

periods: heavy, whole body painful, unpredictable…

…or not periods. who knows. still hurts like fuck though. sore boobs 4eva

perma pms.  what with the no period thing.

joints.  which I mentioned but seriously.  Fucken JOINTS

Okay, I know I’m too guilty of self-deprecating creaky age jokes (funny because they’re true though).  I mean I also think it’s weird to celebrate age (FUCK YEAH FORTY FUCKING TWO BITCHES) as if it’s not just some accident of birth or circumstance, there’s not really anything I can do about how old I am.  BUT.  You know, despite all the weird changes it’s going through and the distinct lack of love and respect I give it, my bod can carry me through a couple of back to back crazy tough derby games as if it ain’t no thang, so hey – it’s pretty amazing.