David Bowie’s death and being a feminist killjoy 

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Today, I have learnt the real meaning of ‘feminist killjoy’. It’s something that I have joked about myself, the one in the room who’ll put a downer on a much loved film or celebrity. 
There’s no joking today, only conflict with the death of David Bowie swamping the news and social media. I grew up with his music, ok I was born in the late 70’s but he was ever present. My favourite childhood film was Labyrinth. I went to see it at the cinema with my mum and even had a few books of the film. Later to have it on video, I watched it over and over again and could recite the entire script. 
As a young girl, I had quite a crush on his character of Jareth. He was exotic and beautiful. I wanted to be Jennifer Connolly in the dream scene ballroom, to be whisked off my feet and lose myself in his eyes. Those eyes! So taken was I that I didn’t want her to win at the end. 
When I became an adult, there was an uncomfortable feeling with the focus of the film being about a grown man trying to seduce a young girl but I ignored it as I wanted to continue to enjoy the film, the music. 
Today I was stunned to hear that David Bowie had died, no one knew that he had been diagnosed with cancer 18 months before. This man who had been ever present in my life, a man that I wished I could have been like, was dead. I shared my shock and grief with thousands of others on FB and Twitter and turned the radio volume up to enjoy his songs. Then I read this:
http://elegantgatheringofwhitesnows.com/?p=3655
Being a victim of rape and one who has had to live with a not guilty verdict, I couldn’t let this new information just flow over me like someone shrugging off an insult. I’ve read some of the testimonies of the 13 yr old involved and there is no indication that she felt that she was raped. I don’t blame her for that and can completely understand how a young teenage girl can be groomed into ‘sex’ without ever thinking of it as rape or assault. What I don’t understand is how a grown man can find a 13 yr old sexually attractive, I will never understand that. 
And so I have this conflict…. I can never turn my back on someone who was sexually exploited by men who were famous and charismatic and yet I feel like I’m the ultimate feminist killjoy for sharing this on the day of David Bowie’s death. It feels so terribly wrong of me to do that. 
How do you balance your enjoyment of someone’s work with their deeply unpleasant past? All too often we brush these things under the carpet because these men are so adored and revered across the world. What does that say to victims of abuse though? Are we saying that if you are exploited by someone famous, forget ever being taken seriously or having justice as this person’s creative genius is FAR more important?! 

I’ll leave you to decide. 
Exxx 

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And so it is Christmas … (CW) 

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Christmas is an odd time of year. I was very lucky to have

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lovely family Christmases when I was growing up. The excitement of the wait, the decorations, the tree, the ever increasing open doors on the advent calendar… Even when my mum had to work a couple of times, she still managed to make Christmas for us later in the day.
Fast forward quite a few years and then there was Christmas as a young, single parent. That was when the shine started to go out of the tinsel. I loved the couple of days I stayed with family but then it was back home to a house that was difficult to keep warm and that darkness you can only get from feeling like everyone is all jolly.
Don’t even go there with New Year’s Day! Many, many years of going to bed early only to be woken by WWIII in the form of fireworks. Then there was 2014…. 
Anyway, Christmas had become an odd mixture of joy and sadness. I think that is the way of things as you get older, more loved ones not being there anymore – some move away and some have died. Then I met my ex husband and everything seemed to sparkle again. 
After only two months of dating, he proposed on Christmas Day in front of my family. I was so happy, I was also so relieved to leave the stigma of single parenthood behind. With my sparkly diamond on my ring finger, I felt like I could take on the world.
This lovely cloud floated around for a while. I’m not sure when the rot set in but when we were married in the Spring, I wasn’t as happy as I should have been. Christmassy became a time of worry and stress. 
There was the worry over money for presents, the extreme worry over how much he would drink (and that was a lot), the stress of trying to keep up a happy front. This became increasingly hard as family fell out with him and didn’t want him there. I was emotionally torn apart. I now dreaded the start of Autumn when Christmas loomed large wherever I went.
Arguments over how much alcohol he had bought and how most of it had gone before Christmas Day still linger on in my mind. Needless to say, he had to buy more. The time he threw away youngest’s Christmas dinner that I had just put in the blender – she was 8 months old. I told him off and he reduced me to tears. I served our Boxing Day Christmas meal with teary eyes to a silent and miserable table. 
I’m doing my best to enjoy Christmas this year. There are triggers and memories with each tradition that I have to face but I am determined that my children will have a happy Christmas. 
It breaks my heart when I think of all the women out there right now who are dreading Christmas. To those women who might not be alive to see the new year in or who spend Christmas keeping the tears from flowing like a never ending river….I am with you and I believe you. I’m holding your hand and feeling your pain, your fear. He will use Christmas as an excuse to be extra vile and abusive. 
There are helplines out there, people out there who care and want you to be safe. I won’t think any less of you if you can’t make that break this Christmas or any Christmas. Please know that there can be joy and light again though. I hope you will find a way to leave one day and what ever day of the year that happens to be – may it feel like the best Christmas you’ve ever had. 
Much love 

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 

#crochetmoodblanket2014

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My year in a blanket …..

It’s not quite a year as I didn’t start it in January. Someone on Twitter gave me the idea of the #crochetmoodblanket2014 and I’ve thought it was a lovely, creative form of therapy.

I was at home, recovering from my suicide attempt and ongoing panic attacks and anxiety …. Crocheting a square a day became my little meditation for the day. A moment for me to make a square and let thoughts drift in and out without giving them too much of my time and emotional energy.

My one rule was that I would not use black! I think the reasons are obvious….. The whole blanket could end up being black! By the very nature of the blanket taking me this long to complete – there’s the blackness, the dark days. There have been many reasons why I haven’t managed to crochet a square a day:

Too sad
Too ill
Too anxious
Too heartbroken
Too busy
Too bored
Too unmotivated etc

The blanket will take me another few months but this doesn’t bother me. It will still show the journey of one of the toughest years of my life.

As for the colours… I don’t have a limitless budget to spend on yarn, such is life! 🙂 This means that I have had to repeat colours to build up a decent sized blanket. Having said that, all the colours that are in the blanket have been chosen because I’ve been drawn to them in some way.

Blues – the sky, the sea, Springtime, Summertime, cold days, low days, dark days

Green – Springtime, foliage, off colour days, meh days, countryside

Purples – International Women’s Day, domestic abuse, spiritual moments

Yellows – Springtime, beach sand, flowers, sunshine, happiness

Oranges – heat, hot days, energetic moments, Halloween, Autumn

Browns – Autumn, dead leaves, mud, dull days, crap days

Red – angry days, roses, Notting Hill, heartbreak, blood

Pink – love, happiness, joy, summer flowers, blossom, perfume

Whites – pale days, off days, nondescript moments, meh, loss, washed out

Some yarns are mixed and some have glitter …. Just chosen because I like them 🙂

The border and joining yarn will be cream. With all these colours, it needed to be balanced with something pretty neutral!

I really do look forward to the day that I finish this blanket and can focus on other crochet projects! I hope this blanket will be in my family for a long time and even outlive me – becoming a memory blanket of a year of my life.

Love, tea, hugs and yarn
Exxx IMG_1997.JPG

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Some Autumn Poetry ….. Sort of …

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Time To

Well the Autumn leaves will fall
Shall I run crying into a wall
Scratch my fingernails in the mud
But this won’t come to any good

You’re ashes to ashes, dust to dust
The coffin nails have turned to rust
Body gone to show your bones
Your soul has lifted to another home

I run wildly through the trees
Trip and stumble on the leaves
I look to the sky and breathe the air
Let the breeze lift through my auburn hair

But now it’s time to move things on
The life you had has been and gone
For a short time I stood in your light
But I have to turn my darkness back to bright

Patience

How many more Autumns do I need to face?
How many more tracks does the Moon need to trace?
I’ll focus my gaze on the coming winter
Plaster the walls and pull down the shutters
Sew up my mouth and bandage my eyes
The winter is coming, I can hear its siren cries
The cold will not touch me, the snow will fall short
I shall remain steady
I will remain taut
Brace myself ready for the long haul
Warm and protected against the enemy’s call.

My life, a constant crashing wave
Like some endless nightmare
Yet I’m awake
There are teasers of joy
Hints of amazement and
I’m smiling again
It’s so nice to smile
Then I hear the loud boom
Of water on rock
That was the sound
Of my happiness shattered
Crushed again wand again
Like some hopeless crew
Of a doomed fishing vessel
Getting forever slammed
Into cliffs built for protection
What use are they against
The storm that my mind brews
I will be broken down
Smaller and smaller
Until only atoms are left
And emotions are useless
But the process is slow
And it causes me pain
So what shall I do
Too exhausted to swim
Too bruised to hold on
All I can do is give in
And give up my soul

And in other news

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Today I visited the grave of a man that I fell in love with many years ago. It didn’t work out but we stayed friends. Most of my poems are about him, I guess he was my muse.
It’s been one of those days I’m afraid.

I left a piece of climbing gear and a Radiohead CD – The Bends (it’s ok, I have two copies).

Shit head was still with me at this point. Goodness only knows why I took him there.

Grief is an odd thing, it never really goes. It’s a bit like shingles, crops up occasionally and floors you. I can’t describe how his death still hurts me, how I’ve sat up at night and tried to reach him. Today, at his graveside I felt nothing. I was hoping to feel his presence but I didn’t, it was just a headstone and a pile of mud. I deadheaded some of the flowers and dug my hands into the earth. Touched his name with my fingers and swore at him for dying. We used to have good chats. He taught me to climb.

We lived our lives in a strange parallel. The same music collection, an obsessional devotion to Radiohead, we both had sons and went on to have daughters (born in the same school year) and his daughter’s name is my daughter’s middle name, we both had a near death experience in the same month, he moved ten doors away from me, he died on my son’s birthday, he was always nearby.

I didn’t speak to him in the six months before he died, I wasn’t allowed to…. The weeks leading up to his death, I could feel it every time I passed by his front door. I could smell it and had the feeling that black tendrils of tar crawled out into the street. It was oppressive, walking past his house was oppressive.

The day he died, I felt something lift. I can’t explain it but I knew he had gone even before anyone had told me. I walked past his house and it felt empty, the smell had gone. Then came the pain in my chest, an unbearable burning wrench.

I have let him go. I have moved on but that doesn’t mean I don’t shed a tear from time to time. You know the feeling, when you just want to talk to them and you can’t because they’re not there anymore. It hits you like a dull thump to the chest. I’m sure he would have had some choice words to say about my life.

It’ll be nice to have a rest from all this pain but someone told me to count my blessings and they’re right, I have much to feel blessed about.

The Sun still shines, even on a cloudy day. You just can’t see it but one day, the clouds will blow away and you’ll feel it’s warmth again.

Love, tea and hugs
Exxx