Being Single isn’t Shameful, it’s Empowering!

When I look back at my choices in guys when I was younger, I think OMG what on earth was I thinking. I used to find it much easier to find a boyfriend. These days its not so easy and that is not because I have less options or because women are no longer attractive as they get older. It is because I am clearer on what I want and have higher standards. When I was younger I put up with so much shit that there is no way I would put up with now.  I didn’t know what I wanted. I liked the idea of finding some one and being in love, especially since I was insecure. Therefore I had this habit of jumping into relationships too quickly. I didn’t even think of the possibility of looking around because there were  other options and other guys out there that were more compatible. I created these fantasy versions of the guy I was with and fantasy version of how it was supposed to be, when in fact they didn’t represent reality or who the guy really was. Now that I’ve said good by to fantasy world, I don’t so easily fall for guys. I know exactly what I’m looking for, not that I’m looking but I know what I want for when I do meet some one.

When I first signed up to do online dating, I was asked by a few guys ‘what are looking for in a guy’ and ‘what do you want in life’.  I would think to myself ‘oh shit, I don’t actually know’. There’s all these things I had to think about, for example what are my values and beliefs? I had to ask myself what do I actually want out of life and a relationship? What things won’t I compromise on in a relationship. What traits do I want in a guy? Some of the things I came up with were he must accept my kids and preferably have kids of his own. He must  be honest, treat me with respect, be intelligent, emotionally mature, have a sense of humour, be supportive of things that are important to me, be attentive but not over bearing. He wants to improve so he can be a better version of himself. Being compassionate and wanting to make a difference in the world is an admirable quality. This is just a short list of answers I came up with but being clear about these things meant the majority of guys on these dating sites were not people I would actually be interested in.  It’s amazing how the tables completely turned. Now it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are so many options with online dating yet I can barely find any one that sparks my interest. Then even if I do come across some one I usually decide they aren’t right after chatting with them for a bit. It is so easy to waste your time dating heaps of people and the wrong when you are not clear about what you want.

I’m not in any hurry to find some one, I am happy with my life as it is. The biggest thing I have learned from it all this is that we can make bad decisions and have poor judgement when our actions are driven by loneliness and insecurity. Once I found my own self worth with in, then I would only find a man who’s worthy of me. I am a complete person on my own, I don’t need any one to make me whole. No one can complete me, although one day some one may compliment me.  Most of all, I can live a happy and fulfilled life being single. I have had things said to me like ‘why are you single, some one like you shouldn’t be single’ but I ask ‘why do I have to be with some one’? Why one earth would I want to waste my time being with some one for the sake of being with some one. I prefer to use my time and energy on some one who is worth it. Being single is empowering, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about myself and focus on the things that I am passionate about. Then when some one comes a long, it is an added bonus.

 

 

We choose how we want to be

I often hear and read about parents who spend too much time on their phone and who are emotionally unavailable. I am actually one of them and I won’t write a blog to defend myself. I will explain my awareness of this and how I’m trying to improve. I’ve always been a person that holds back a lot and found it difficult to show emotion. I definitely feel emotion, I’m a pretty emotional person but it just doesn’t show on the outside. I am naturally a bit introverted by nature and my whole life have struggled with social anxiety. Both things would contribute to the way I am. Growing up my Mum was similar when it came to showing emotion and affection. I always felt she wasn’t available emotionally or really understood me. I guess the way I am has been learned and is something that is quite deeply ingrained. I’m not going to blame my mother either. I know people often like to use their past or up bringing as an excuse for the way they are. I acknowledge it can greatly impact us but we have to want to change.

I’m aware of where I need improving and awareness is the first step towards change. I’m not as emotionally available for my kids as I’d like to be. I’d like to connect with them more and I’d like to be less awkward in general. Every day I am aware of this but despite the awareness, change is not happening naturally. I am continually reminding myself to be aware and bringing myself back to the present. I have this tendency to escape off into my own world. My phone, social media and Netflix series are great escapes for me. I find my phone can be a bit of crutch in social situations. I’m definitely not awkward around my kids though but I still have this continual urge to escape? I know I have a default tendency to disassociate and become numb. Maybe it is my temperament, maybe it is learned, maybe it is part of anxiety and maybe it is also due to some of the trauma I’ve experienced in life.

The reasons aren’t important, working towards change is most important. It’s about taking baby steps over and over until they become habit. One thing I have come up with is hug time. I have talked to my kids about hug time and hug time is regularly at the end of the day having a five-minute hug with each child. During that time we can talk about their day or what ever is on their mind. It doesn’t happen all the time but the kids love hug time. They even ask for it. I have noticed since introducing hug time they have also become more affectionate towards me in daily life. Change is hard but its worth it. Sometimes change doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be as simple as being more aware and introducing something like hug time. Over time I may be able to add more things and then the little changes over time will result in big change. I have along way to go but I’ve made progress. These days I’m a bit better socially because I kept bringing myself back to the present, I pushed myself to attend things and make some effort to interact with people. Sometimes I felt like an outsider, stumbled on my words and just wanted to escape but over time I managed to get to know some people and make friends.

If you are reading this and also trying to make some sort of change, I urge you not to give up.  Don’t worry about any one else, it’s hard enough to change ourselves let alone changing any one else. Keep taking baby steps, don’t be too hard one yourself and be proud of the progress you have made. We don’t just have to stay the way we are, we can change if we that is what we choose. We can choose how we want to be.

Wake up call

It was Friday morning and I was driving to work. I was driving down busy pennant hills road, sipping on a chai latte that I had bought at a service station. All of sudden the car in the middle lane did a sharp turn, lost control and did a 180 degree turn. They were flowing in the same direction of the rest of the traffic until they suddenly were driving head on towards me. I hit the brakes, it have only been a second but everything seemed to go in slow motion as I was heading towards the car. I was thinking to myself `we`re going to hit`. Sure enough we did collide head on, but luckily we didn`t hit each other very hard. Every one was ok and the cars only had very minor scratching. I was in a little bit of shock but was able to continue to drive to work and have a relatively normal day at work. Well as normal as you can get when you work in the disability industry, lol.

The accident was a bit of a wake up call to me. I have written blogs about some of my experiences, my marriage separation last year and some of the ways it has impacted me. After having a break down later in the year last year, I had spent this year trying to recover and for most of it being unwell. It is now towards the end of May and I`m  in a much better space. Although I did feel I was still in a rut. Some how the accident motivated me to once again realise that life is so fragile. One minute you can be minding your own business, then in the blink of an eye it can be taken from you. I was lucky peak hour traffic was relatively slow and that I was no longer on the freeway. A head on collision has the potential to be very devastating if we were going any faster. I have seen it many times before, especially on the freeway.

The accident some how motivated me to get out of my rut and find my passion for life again. I did a spectacular fall off the horse, but now I feel I`m getting back on the horse. I can now feel an inner joy and this appreciation for life. My goals and plans are all still there and I`m now able to take action on working on making them happen. I feel very excited that I`m getting myself back. I always knew I had a purpose, for a while there I was in a dark spot but now I feel my purpose.

I would encourage any one who feels they have lost themselves, their clarity or who is going through a dark patch. Don`t put too much pressure on yourself. You are the way you are for a reason and it is a signal that you need to take care of you. For the past few months I have been doing the basics. That is going to work, looking after the kids and taking care of my wellbeing. You will come back, your clarity will come back. Healing takes times. The first step is believing, the second is regularly doing little things for you and third is being patient. It will happen in time. I just hope when it does happen for you, that you don`t have to have a car accident for it to happen. Honestly I was heading back to myself any way, the accident just made it happen a faster. Like a wake up call to remind me I can take control of my life and that I have something to offer. All of the things that have happened in my life have contributed to where I am now. No matter what has happened in your life. You don’t have to remain powerless. They are opportunities for you to learn and become a better stronger, version of yourself.

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Equal and Worthy

This is a photo me when I was thirteen years old. My Mum took the photo on my grandmothers wharf.  I have chosen this photo because it a very vulnerable time for me in my life, I have gone into more detail in another blog

This is a photo me when I was thirteen years old. My Mum took the photo on my grandmothers wharf. I have chosen this photo because it a very vulnerable time for me in my life, I have gone into more detail in another blog ‘My Version of 13 Reasons Why’My Version of 13 Reasons Why’.

As a mother I don’t know how many times I’ve heard comments like ‘your lucky your husband helps around the house’ or ‘where are the kids, is your husband babysitting’? Isn’t looking after your own kids called parenting regardless of whether you are a man or a woman? If the kids are both ours, we both work and both live in the house, then isn’t it fair that he would do some of the house work? The other thing that bugs me and I know also bugs many other Mums is how a Dad can take the kids out and get comments about how he is such a good Dad. Which he probably is, but the Mum never gets any compliments. She usually gets comments as to what she should or shouldn’t be doing. The exact same thing happens when Dads post on social media compared to when Mum’s post. One of the first questions I was asked by many people after I had my four babies was ‘when are you returning to work’. These days there is a much bigger expectation that women who have kids work, whilst those who don’t tend be judged more for staying home. In the past women were judged who didn’t stay home but now it seems the scale has tipped in the opposite direction. I know many women who feel guilt for staying at home because they don’t feel like they are contributing enough and they have also experienced judgement from others. It is fantastic that women are able to work but there is no need for all this guilt and judgement. I also wonder why there aren’t more jobs available the are within school hours. Because fitting into a standard 9am-5pm job means that we have to cover costs such as daycare, before and after school care. These costs take a large amount of our pay. The other cost of working 9am-5pm means the kids no longer have parents walking them into school when being dropped off and picked, then being there for them in the afternoon to give them afternoon tea and do homework with them. It is a mans working world and women with children are trying to fit into that instead society making more family friendly jobs available. The gender pay gap is also another issue for many, I personally am not affected by it but I think it is worthy mentioning here considering it is an issue.

From the beginning of time it  seems sexism is rife. In this age where men and women are supposed to be equal, there are many ways women are just not equal and this starts from a young age.  Boys and girls see their mothers doing the majority of the house work and cooking whilst their Dads watch football and drink beer. I know that is a very generalised comment, there are some men who are very good cooks and women who also like to watch the footy. I’m just trying to paint a picture and I’ve have actually witnessed this a lot. The 2016 census results revealed women still do the majority of house work regardless of whether they work or not and a whopping one in four adult Australian men doen’t do abosolutely any housework at all.

A lot of kids are given gender appropriate toys and are scolded if they play with a so called in appropriate toy. I think fair enough if kids are drawn to certain toys, there is a lot of argument that they may in fact have been conditioned to be drawn to certain toys. I’m not going to argue whether they are conditioned or not but I have known little boys who aren’t allowed a toy kitchen, to play with ‘girls’ toys or to do dancing class because they are girls things. They hear phrases like ‘such and such is for a girl’ and ‘don’t be a girl’. On TV, the internet and magazines little girls and boys are bombarded of images of what is considered beautiful and most models are pretty skinny, tall and with all their make up they look glamorous There is nothing wrong with being skinny or wearing make up but they do not reflect all women. A large percentage of women do not look this way and  are not this body type. A lot of time  the women they see are sexualised.

As boys begin to get older their peers make sexist comments, sexist jokes and inappropriate grabbing is thought to be ok by many teenage boys and some young men, they just brush sexual harassment off as just a joke. Girls are much more likely to be slut shamed than guys. In this age where both men an women are supposed to have equal sexual freedom to participate in casual sex if they wish, the woman is still judged more harshly. It is much easier for a women to fall for a guy they have a casual encounter with, This is because we release a bonding chemical during sex. However with men, emotion and sex are in different regions of the brain. There for he won’t see or feel the same way for a woman he hooks up with, compared to a some one he feels something for and wants more from. A guy is also  less likely to not want any more from a hook up because he’s already got all he can from her and doesn’t want to be with some one who sleeps around. However it is much more acceptable for a man to engage regularly in casual sex until he finds a partner. This whole hook up culture is supposed to be women’s chance to explore their sexuality and feel empowered but many women’s experiences are far from empowering. The hook up culture is more beneficial for men. About 80% of males reach orgasm whilst only 40% of women do. This being partly due to the guy not making as effort with some one he doesn’t care for and not understanding how to satisy a woman sexually. Women experience a much higher rate of negative emotion afterwards. Emotions such as regret, shame and feelings of worthlessness. A big part of this post hook up hang over is due to societies double standards and because of men’s, especially younger men’s lack of understanding of the sexual and emotional differences between men and women. There is equal opportunity for both sexes to participate however it is more beneficial to one of the sexes because we are different. Yes some men have more feminine brains and some women more masculine, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. What  I’m talking about some of the basic differences in how we are wired and it is something that people don’t seem to talk about or educate our kids about. It is always the girls who have to protect themselves. They are told they are ‘just being boys’.

When I say this, I’m not talking about absolutely everyone, but the girl being too emotional and the guy not getting it is a common thing. Especially when younger. Too often it is said to girls ‘your too emotional’ and ‘get over it’. If a guy is appearing to be an arse then people often say ‘well he’s just young’ or ‘he’s just being a guy’. Yes maybe young and unaware, but is that an excuse for disrespecting women and treating them poorly? I wonder if some of this ignorance would be avoided if they actually taught the emotional and sexual differences between men and women in high school. Communication would be a good thing to teach as well. A lot of people fumble through relationships not being able to understand each other properly because they don’t have the communication skills. Many times where it seems a guy is being an arse or the woman over emotional is just a lack in understanding of each other. As we grow past our teen years and early twenties, many of us know this and begin to understand the opposite sex a bit better.  I know every one has to go through their own lessons and heart breaks but I think a lot of hurt and misunderstanding can be avoided if high school kids are taught some of these life skills. Instead of just the physical side of sex education and the importance of protection maybe a whole subject on relationships would be beneficial. I wonder if teaching some of these things would also help reduce some of the sexism in our society.We have made great scientific advances, become more connected with our world and people through social media and the internet, yet we are not so good at relationships, interacting on a personally level and really understanding each other. Often the women are the ones who are trying to fit into a man’s world. We dim our emotions, pretend we are sexually the same and stay silent on things that matter. When we don’t feel comfortable with something or as though we are not being treated right, too often we brush it off and tell ourselves things like ‘I’m over reacting’ etc. Young women especially have a tendency to do this and put on a front, yet the guys don’t know how much women are holding in behind the mask. They don’t realise the struggle and often don’t realise the impact of their behaviour. I locked myself up for years afraid to say how I really felt, but in doing this I denied myself and i was taken advantage of too many times. One thing I realised is that usually people don’t intentionally hurt others, they are often unaware of how they are affecting another person and do not realise until they are told. If no one tells any one anything, how are they ever supposed to know? Yes there are men out there who are intentionally being predators. I think it is so important to teach our girls to have a voice, to be assertive, confident in who they are and express themselves with ease. We can talk about sexism and change until the cows come home, but we need to be the change we want to see by modelling that behaviour to our children and confidently using our voices. Using our voices only goes so far, the deeply ingrained attitudes of society can only be changed by also educating our children.

It is quite easy to brush off what I’m saying as ‘making a big deal over things’ but I’ve experienced sexism my whole life. 1 in 6 women has been raped, 1 in 5 young women/teenage girls has been pressured into sexual activities, In a lifetime 1 in 5 women have been stalked or experiences sexual harassment, 1 in 4 has experience emotional abuse or sexual assault and 1 in three has experienced physical violence. I have experienced all of them. Pretty much since I was 12 years old there have been many times I have experience inappropriate sexual comments, grabbing and jokes. I am one of of every one of those statistic I just mentioned. I have been stalked, sexually assaulted, raped and experienced both emotional and physical abuse from different men. I am just one person and many of the women I know have also experienced these things. If you are reading this, then you would also know a woman, at least one, probably more that fit into these statistic.