Checking my Privilege 

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First of all, I would like to say that I am very much a work in progress! I don’t claim to be perfect and I certainly haven’t stopped learning where my faults lie. I don’t know all of the correct terminology either – working on this too but my brain doesn’t work like it used to.

I hadn’t heard of the term ‘privilege’ until I started on Twitter. That, in itself, is a privilege. I’m writing this post to share my journey with you, my journey of learning about why my life might be easier or harder compared to others. This isn’t a post to educate on privilege btw.  

I’ve been making lists! This is my list of privileges (no particular order): 

Being born white.

Being born happy with my sex ie female.

A lower middle class upbringing.

Going to a good state school.

Being born in an English speaking country in peace times. No civil war etc.

Being able bodied …. Not so much these days. 

Having an education. 9 GCSEs 2 A levels, a ND in art and a BSc – I did my degree for free (apart from the last 2/3 years) as I was on income support and had my OU fees paid. I doubt this happens anymore. 

A stable family and happy childhood. Food and love always available. 

Wanting children and being able to biological produce children. 

All these things make or made my life that bit easier than someone else. Especially being born white in a  country where I had free speech. It is hard for me to imagine what it must be like to be born into a country where infant mortality is high through famine. As a teenage girl, these things bothered me so much that I didn’t feel worthy to be alive. I took on the guilt of the Western world and it made me very ill. 

I’m not expecting sympathy for that, just telling you how I felt. I felt as powerless to do something about it then as I do now. I’ve learnt to let go of a lot of my worries now – all they did was make me unwell and didn’t help those who I was worrying about. That is a privilege! Those who live it can’t just step aside and forget about it.  

I also know how fickle life can be and how even being born into privilege is not enough to have an easier life…

Being a single parent at 20 (but also very fortunate to have supportive parents). Now a single parent to 3. 

Having ME/CFS and the constant worry of losing my benefits. 

Being a victim of DA and rape and developing PTSD (and not being a male solider to get a proper diagnosis because who cares about VAW?!). 

I was privileged enough to own my own home for a few years until it was repossessed. After years of the children and I being technically homeless – we now have a HA house. 

Yes, I have struggled and yes I do struggle. My life feels on a knife edge at times – at the mercy of rich, white men who sit in parliament and play chess with my life and those of my children. 

When people speak to me of how they’ve had enough of asylum seekers, I say to them that I would do the same if my children and I stood the chance of a better life in another country. I don’t under estimate how lucky I am to live in the UK. How terrified must you be to risk drowning in the Med or suffocating in a lorry in order to leave your home country? 

I think of all of those people who don’t have the money or means to leave their country. They face the prospect of death every day. Immigration wouldn’t be such a hot topic if every country in the world was a safe and pleasant place to live. Governments could start this now by ending third world debt, we all know that they won’t. They don’t want an even playing field.

At the same time, that doesn’t make my suffering or your suffering any less relevant. Suffering is relative – always. 

I will continue to question myself and my attitudes. I cannot understand what it is like to be a WoC but I can listen (and not to expect them to educate me either). It’s difficult checking my privilege as it makes me uncomfortable to confront my prejudices when I’d like to think I have none. 

This is very much the start of my journey – I hope to read this in a few years time cringing at how naive I sound. 

Exxx 

Climbing, grief and tropical storms. 

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For those of you who have read all my blogs ( I applaud you, well done!) you may find this familiar and that’s because it’s a part of my life I still need to write about and to heal from. 

Scrolling through my TL on Twitter today, I read a post about a tropical storm baring down on the Bahamas that was named after someone I am more than familiar with. It stirred my brain to recollect the name of the previous storm …. And after a quick check, I was right, it was the name of my late ex boyfriend.

I don’t know if they repeat names but I remember seeing our names listed in 2003 (I think …..). That always stuck with me. I realise that it means nothing, that nothing spiritual is going on but it makes me shiver anyway.

I started writing this poem about it a few years ago: 

Hurricanes – 1st draft 
The two of us like hurricanes 

Our names called up for storms

That blew us together

And blew my soul away

Left me gaping open

Left you a mortal wound

And I never got the chance

To say goodbye

So should I wait for hurricanes 

To rip through me once more
And I was struck by the last line but one ‘should I wait for hurricanes…’ . This burden of grief that I have placed apon myself, has done very little in lifting. I’m wise enough to know that grief never truly goes but it lessens and it many ways it has. It’s not that raw, searing pain anymore. Like someone has torn out your chest and you can’t breathe. Now it’s more gentle but like the weather, there are times when it rips in to me. Today was one of those days. 

This year is slightly more poignant as the climbing wall where we met, where I was thunder struck by him, where he taught me to climb and where we had our fun times too ….. Is to be demolished and a trampoline park put in its place. It’s the whole chest tearing moment again. 

There are ghosts at that wall, not just of him but of other climbers who have died. The smell of the place, the office and the desk, the ropes, the holds, the overhang where he tried to push me up, the sandbag he jokingly pushed me off of, the platform where he taught me how to abseil….. All going and I have nothing physical left of him to hold on to now. 

I have no photo, no letters. Just a grave that isn’t my place to visit and my memories. My main memories  of him being when he apologised for breaking my heart. Then there was the time my ex husband banned me from being friends with him and the last memory I have is seeing him walking up the road with the pace of a man who was not long for this world (we somehow managed to end up living a few houses away from each other). 

I knew when he had died, I felt it. I had been walking past his house for months and literally smelling death pour under the door and out on to the street like black tendrils of tar. That day …. The day after my son’s birthday… I walked past the air was clear, there was a sympathy card at the toddler group we both attended and I cried. He died whilst I was celebrating my son turning 10. Out of fear of my ex husband finding out, I pushed my tears back in and spent many months feeling lost and hollow wirh no one to confide in. 
So …. Danny…. Where ever you are,I hope that you’re climbing. No need to think of me at all. We can let each other go, at least I can let you go. That’s a lie but I will do my best to rest you in peace knowing that no one can take memories away of the time we collided like stars or should that be storms? 

Exxx