Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

How do you teach a woman to feel like a woman?

Today I had a meeting with a nurse, who also works in CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It's a interesting technique. Rather than traditional therapy - which I do too :-/ In which it is very much one-sided, you talk, they listen and on occasion they will interject with perhaps links or common themes, often to do with family relationships. CBT is more proactive, you talk together about problems or worries or behavior that you have and the therapist will set you tasks which help you do to understand that behavior and be able to come to terms with it, live with it and which allows you to progress.

So through meetings with my therapist (who is a man... an interesting, but sometimes difficult aspect of our work together) and my shrink (who prescribes my medication and helps me to look at how I want to progress) ALL FREE - FRENCH HEALTHCARE ROCKS!!! We decided that maybe there was room for me to look at the specific issues I have with gender roles, masculinity, femininity, sexuality, confidence and self worth. It's the topic that I have avoided for over ten years. It's not easy to write, think or talk about, as she said to me today, I can see that this touches you in your core, this is the deepest pain as I sat there unable to actually verbalise anything. I just sat there with tears dripping down my face. The issue of being a woman, and what that means is a complete blackhole to me, to try to describe who we are or who I am and where our place is in society, my head goes blank, and I feel like I am swimming through pixalated dots not being able to string together and form a complete being.

The things I don't understand about femininity and women come from painful traumatic experiences, come from broken relationships, come from adolescence, come from depression, come from my mothers relationship with herself, with my lack of females in my extended family, come from porn, come from feminism, come from anger, come from shame, come from lack of self worth, come from no confidence...come from men...But I want to understand why and where these things come from.

When my daughter the other day turned round to me at the age of ten and said... "I don't think I am pretty" a part of me died... How could this be? Can she see within me and know how insecure I am? I have tried everything to show her inner confidence, put myself in bathing suits even though inside I am cringing, walk around naked and being ok with it... So why does she not feel pretty? And what can I do about it???

What does being pretty mean? And is it important?
This is something that I will work on, and want to, something that doesn't have the same conclusions here in France as it does in the UK. That doesn't have the same meaning now in such a hyper appearance based, social media led society, than it did for me growing up in the 90's, or my Mum in the 60's or my Grandma in the 30's.
In the UK we tend to be more accepting of individuality, we have that come as you are, be as you want mentality, which is something that I love. In France beauty and appearance are much more formulated, you groom yourself in a demure, classic French look - something I also LOVE and admire. So where does my poor daughter feature in all this, what should I be teaching her?
I remember asking a friend when my daughter was about 5 and wanted to put nail varnish on, was this ok? Should I let her? Should I not be telling her to be happy in her natural beauty? And my friend was like YES, it's just dress up, like make up, if it makes her feel good, then why not. You see this is where I come unstuck, I have been brought up to believe that make up as well as all the rest of grooming is society putting pressures on me to conform - to 'be beautiful' and what I should be fighting for is not to be judged by my beauty but by my brains. Natural is best (I know most men prefer their partners without make up anyway) SO WHY SHOULD I BOTHER? and this - even from one meeting today has made me realise...that 'bothering' is about self love, it's about looking in the mirror and liking what you see. Be it made up or bare face that is not the issue, but it's about taking the time and allowing yourself the tools to love who you are.

As teenagers my friends and I hated ourselves, some to more or less extent but all in our own ways hated ourselves. When you don't love yourself you feel unworthy and when you feel unworthy, you feel like you don't deserve self love. Some of my friends abused themselves with eating disorders, others with unhealthy relationships, others with man after man after man... Some with alcohol/drug abuse - some with a bit of all of that and the very few managed to just love themselve enough to make it through

Why is it that women give themselves SUCH a hard time?

How can I help my daughter navigate through this all??

How can I repair the scars of the past?

Well hopefully though the next few months I can share with you some of the tips I learn. I joked with the lady today I thought I might have to do the standing in front of the mirror in my big pants Gock style and then be transformed into a new woman, she said haha that bit is still to come. First mascara, then lipstick and then the world!


Friday, 10 February 2017

The working mother

So last night I posted a video on Instagram regarding the fact that I have to justify my absence from work as my son was sick. I didn't want it to seem as if I was blaming my husband. The blame for the unequal care-sharing in couples doesn't come from the father it comes from the system. A system that doesn't work for working mothers (or main carers) or working fathers. For the last 10 years since we've had kids my husband and I have faced crisis after crisis of ill children and the problematic of work (having no family close by to help out). And despite my cries (and often actual tears) about how disastrous it would be for me not to go to work, being a university professor with over 80 students and over 10 different classes a week, taking just one day off was a logistical, stressful disaster. Despite my situation the answer would always be the same my husband working in Industrial sales would say... "I can't take the day off, work wouldn't understand, It would be looked upon negatively, It would be badly seen". This is not equality as much as I was forced to take a day off, he was forced not to. Despite his willing, society doesn't see him as the carer of kids, he must work and I must stay at home.

It seems like societies' excuse - well you wanted to work women, so now you're equal. But life is a bit more complicated than that. Women are supposed to perform as well as men (because we said we could) but we are still viewed as the sole care giver. This results in enormous amounts of pressure, stress, fatigue and guilt, as yes we can perform as well as or outperform men but we also need support. Yes we have wombs, but does make us less capable, worthwhile employees? NO! Intelligent, creative, interesting, strong and important members of the workforce are getting burnt because the system fails to support them, or to allow fathers to share the caring of children.

It fails to appreciate the value us mothers can give.

For me this is what happened after ten years of building my career it crashed around me - not work I kept up my professional responsibilities, but me physically me I was destroyed I had been balancing all these roles and I had NO time left, I was as the doctor said clinically "in burn out". I was exhausted, depressed and broken. I felt that i'd let down women-kind, that I had let down myself, that I was weak. What I realise now was that no one can do it alone and society didn't protect me or my family by allowing my husband to be the same as me an equal, a true partner and parent along by my side and I know I am not alone in this.

So I quit, it was my only answer rather than not achieve at anything, I would concentrate on my children they didn't decide to be born, they deserved better than being left at 8 in the morning and being picked up at 19h in the evening by a burnt out, frazzled shell of a mother.
I tried to play the system but the system failed me, the system wasn't flexible, so I was forced for my own welfare and that of my kids to remove myself from the workforce... (even though my students loved me, I loved my job, I was valued and needed by my colleagues...I had to walk away).

And now because I know I have something to give, I am returning to work, because I have spent time putting myself back together stronger(I hope!) to continue to fight to be able to work and be a mother.

I want my daughter to have the right to shine and excel in whatever she wants to do, let her talent come first and her gender come second. I want my son to want to, and be able to be an equal parent.
It's not easy but we need to keep talking, supporting each other and valuing each other for our individual merit. #weareoneandoneforall

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Today in the news...

I probably should rename this blog the Kate Tempest appeciation and Donald Trump dispairing blog, as they seem to be my two subjects at the moment. Everyday I have this reflection

What can possible happen now.
This video REALLY got me today...
his blatent belittering of the journalist, and the instinct he has to dismiss what is a democratic political relationship is JUST HORRENDOUS... "There goes that relationship" I MEAN WTF!!!

This brings me to Kate Tempest and the video posted on Radio Nova's page, it's bloody depressing... but so much is resonating right now