As I grow bigger, so does my understanding of those around me

What a world you’re plunged into when you get pregnant. People start acting like you’re public property, you get stroked and groped (yes, groped – had one lady miss the belly stroke and start at my boob – I jumped quite spectacularly!). And you are suddenly surrounded by women judging each other and getting all riled up over whether we should hold our children every moment of the day, or let them cry themselves to sleep, whether the $1200 pram is better than the $1500 pram (god help you if you believe a $400 pram is sufficient, like I do!). It’s insane.

People warn  you that you’re going to feel inferior because you’ll be bombarded with images and descriptions of perfect mothers. To be honest, I’ve found the opposite is true these days. It seems  like every mummy blogger and mum-on-Facebook is in a battle to one-up each other on how terrible they are at parenting, how exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed or horny they are. I think if I see one more post about how hard parenting is, how it changes (read: ruins) your life, how you’ll never sleep again but of course, how much you will love your child (always tacked on like an apologetic wave to the knowledge they chose to be parents), I will scream like a newborn just appearing out of the vag. Which, by the way, we can apparently all expect to have ripped to smithereens, so that sex is never pleasurable again, but that’s ok because our partners can’t bear to venture near the horror that remains where our pert bodies once lay. It’s remarkable anyone goes back for seconds if this is all the truth!

Now, I’m sure parenting is going to be hard. I’m not oblivious or living in denial. I know how terrible I am at dealing with life when I’m sleep deprived. I know there will come a day when I will burst into tears because I dropped the lid to the Vegemite jar or can’t find my other shoe. But I also think a lot of the misery comes from focusing on the tough stuff. Why drill your brain full of the hardships and draining parts of parenting, especially for those of us that haven’t even pushed our bubs out of our enormous bellies? I’ve not enjoyed pregnancy so far, and did feel guilty about that for a while, because it is an amazing thing to be able to go through. But just because I’m not enjoying the aching hips, the uncomfortable lung squishing and getting kicked in the bladder or the backbone, doesn’t mean I’m writing the whole thing off as a horror story. I’m trying to focus on how cool it is knowing I’ve got a little person in there, marvelling at my body knowing what to do even though I haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen next, and looking forward to the moment he’s out of me and can kick around in the air rather than in my innards. I’m not perfect, but I don’t expect to be, and I don’t want to compete with others in either direction – perfect or hopeless mummy are both bad ‘roles’ to cast yourself in!

Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that non-parents start unloading their own fears and insecurities on you. I’m a first time mum, and making the decision to start trying was both terrifying and exciting for Simon and I. So I get people being scared about having kids. I’ve started finding out how many are though, as they feel the need to tell me (because apparently sharing fears with someone already fully committed and stuck in the situation you’re about to fantasise horrific things about is a good idea). I’m not sure if they feel like they have to justify why they’re not pregnant, because I am, or what it is – perhaps having my belly jutting out between us just puts it at the front of their mind. I’ve found out recently that one is terrified at the thought of giving birth to a socialist, another can’t handle the physical limitations of pregnancy as she’s a gym junkie, and another has the standard childbirth fears (don’t we all?). Oh, and my physio kindly informed me of a statistic she’d read about the rate of women who are cheated on, who are also pregnant, because their partner doesn’t find them attractive anymore, can’t handle the mood swings and the fact their pregnant partner’s sex drive may have gone down. Thanks, that’s what all women need to hear when they’re already dealing with their body rapidly changing. I’m glad I’m secure in my relationship and could see it was more about her insecurities, as she’s terrified she’ll pack on the pounds when she’s pregnant and her partner is a stick (her words).

It’s just fascinating to me how pregnancy opens up a whole new layer of communication. Some healthy, some not so much. As someone who loves delving into the depths of people, it’s like having a large, bulbous key growing on the front of me!

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Roller coaster!

I haven’t written for a long time again. I could bring forth all my excuses, but that’s all they are – excuses. I don’t know why, but somehow my introversion kicks in to the point sometimes where I can’t even bring myself to ‘talk’ to a screen and write out what I’m thinking or what has been going on.

So, what has been going on? A lot! Biggest news – I’m pregnant. We’re very excited, and yes, it was planned. Because we’re not married, I’m finding the vast majority of people have asked tentatively if it was planned. Like we couldn’t possibly have decided to have a child out of wedlock. I’m actually quite surprised how old fashioned people still are. I feel like explaining to them that it’s quite miraculous – I don’t need a band of gold or a diamond on my left ring finger to trigger feelings of wanting to be a mother, or to boost my fertility. But I don’t. I usually succumb and explain to them that Simon and I decided that we’re not getting any younger, and didn’t want to wait another year or two until we’re married, in case it takes us a while to fall pregnant. I’ve seen my best friend go through many painful years of IVF before her little one arrived, so we wanted to get started in case that was part of our journey too. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t and here we are! I’m 16 weeks tomorrow, and while I’m thrilled we’ll have a bouncing baby boy soon, I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of pregnancy.

First trimester was a terrifying blend of cramps (oh god, am I losing it?), nausea (plastic bags in my handbag for emergencies), utter exhaustion (any form of lying down turned into naps) and just bewilderment at all the changes happening so rapidly to my body. I’ve never been good with bodily changes. As an INFJ, sensing is my least active attribute, so when it goes into hyperdrive I’m basically operating against myself. So I catastrophise and worry and analyse everything to the nth degree. It’s been a learning curve for me to try to just ‘go with it’ and treat it all as part of the journey. I’ve had some hip problems recently that saw me hobbling far earlier than expected, so I’m off to the physio this week to get that sorted. I have my first midwife appointment this week too, which I’m looking forward to, as my GP is really not great with pregnancy!

On top of all of that, Simon’s dad got diagnosed with cancer and has rapidly declined. He told us the week we were going to tell them our good news, so that turned that moment into a bittersweet one. A couple of weeks later, he had a 4.5kg tumour removed, along with the kidney it was growing in, and his ureter and some lesions  in his bladder. They snicked the tumour on the way out so he’ll have to have chemo. They hadn’t started that yet, but he was in intense pain for 2 weeks after the operation. That all came to a head on Monday night, when he collapsed in immense pain, broke out in a sweat and went delirious. An ambulance was called, they called another for senior support when they discovered his blood pressure was 50 over 40. He was rushed to the nearest hospital and has been in ICU ever since.

We haven’t been to work all week, and it’s amazing how quickly something becomes the new normal. We’d get up, shower, wait for a call from Simon’s mum and then head into ICU to take shifts at his bedside. He’d had an internal bleed from his splenic artery and lost half his blood. There have been other complications along the way as they tried to sort that out, so we’ve been on a hideous roller coaster of hope and fear, with a few moments where we really weren’t sure he’d make it. He’s still in ICU now, but his haemoglobin levels  have finally stabilised, and they’ve given him even more blood again to try to bring them up. It’s a day at a time at the moment, and a very long road to recovery ahead. With the cancer, they’d said if the operation went well, he’d be feeling great & up and about in about 3 weeks. Not happening. Now it will be 6 weeks before he stops feeling completely exhausted, then 3 months before he feels remotely well. He’ll have to do rehab to build up his strength again, and still has to tackle chemo somehow. He’s always been such a larger than life, strong guy, it’s devastating for the whole family to see him like this.

So, a lot going on at the moment! I’m just reeling from one thing to the next, trying to support Simon and still make sure I’m doing the right thing for our baby, so it’s incredibly difficult. And instead of these months being about people supporting me through the pregnancy journey, it’s more me expending my energy to look after others. Which I don’t mind, but I’ve got to try to remember I have another little person to look after now too, even though he’s inside of me and I tend to not think of my own bodily needs at times like this!

 

Facing fears like a…shaking leaf hiding in a cubicle

Because yes, that’s where leaves hide when they are shaking. Well, this one certainly did today at work when we had a TORNADO WARNING. I hear all you mid-USA folk snorting like ‘puh-lease, that happens like every day during particular months…’ (my knowledge of tornado alley extends as far as never go there).

But for good ol’ Melbourne, Australia, this never happens. Which is perfect in my eyes, as for some reason, tornadoes are my all time greatest fear. For some it’s spiders. Or snakes. Or being really high above the ground. For me, it’s tornadoes.

I blame you, Dorothy, I blame you.

I blame you, Dorothy, I blame you.

I was at my desk having a quick chat to some colleagues, when we realised how much rain was bucketing down outside. Our side of the building looks out over the river where it joins the bay – beautiful in good weather, fricking nuts in bad weather. The side we were looking out had pouring rain, but still some light & sky. Then we turned to look out the bay window and saw darkness and a wall of water. Right at that moment, my co-workers phone buzzed and she said ‘Holy crap guys, my sister-in-law says to stay inside coz there are tornadoes in Melbourne’. Oh…my…sweet…lord… Those words I only ever hear in my nightmares when I’m really stressed out were being spoken in real life, and I wasn’t even able to run away and hide in a cupboard (or a basement – I did take comfort in the fact my building has a basement until I remembered my pass doesn’t grant me access).

Turns out the tornadoes were over near where I live (great), so while I stared with terror out the giant glass wall that is the side of my building, convinced I was about to see a waterspout erupt and kill us all with flying shards and scared looking fish, I gave Simon a call. Here’s how it went:

Simon: ‘Hello?’

Me: ‘Are you inside?’

Simon: ‘Yes, why?’

Me: ‘Is the dog inside?’

Simon: ‘No’

Me: ‘Can you get her inside now please?’

Simon: ‘…ok…what is going on?’

Me: ‘There’s a tornado warning out for all of Melbourne and some have touched down near you.  Is she inside?’

Simon: ‘She’s barking. Maybe she’s barking at the tornado!’

Me: *not amused* ‘Is she inside??’

Simon: ‘Yes, yes, and there’s no tornado, she obviously scared it away’.

Very supportive, thank you, partner! He was actually pretty good after that and tried to distract me with chatter about his day but all I could think about was calling my mum to check she was inside too. She was much more supportive. Then I got off the phone and went and hid in the toilet for a moment because I was all shakey and sweaty. Having your dread come to life, even though I didn’t see an actual tornado in front of me was intense. God help me if I ever come face to face with a tornado (well, yes, help me because that would mean certain doom, but you know what I mean). I did manage to hold my shit together mostly though, which I’m pretty proud about. And also had to go face a difficult meeting straight after that, which I sailed through, so screw you fear, you didn’t win this time!

Setting myself free

I’m feeling much better today, compared to the stress levels I had when I last blogged. Work is still insane, and became slightly crazier recently as I’ve been nominated for an award and there’s some big reshuffles about to happen. But I made myself take a day off on Friday to use up some of the time in lieu I had accrued through my overtime. Even though it meant I had to work until 11pm the night before in order to be able to relax on the Friday, it was worth it – having that extra day, one empty of people, was just what I needed. Plus today I’ve had another quiet day as it’s the Melbourne Cup. Simon’s work continues as they serve interstate folk as well, who don’t have the day off, so I’ve had the house to myself again. And I finally feel slightly human again.

I’ve also done something else to help me claw back my sense of self. I’ve gotten back into my writing. I keep a personal journal (offline) and have started writing in there again. I write in there more often than on here, as I still struggle to share my everyday highs and lows with the faceless beast of the internet (though having some of you comment on my blogs has helped with that – I feel like I’m actually talking to kindred spirits rather than the general ether – thank you!). I also started a new blog where I’m posting a manuscript I wrote years ago, bit by bit. It’s a novelised version of my messed up life, so it’s both terrifying and fantastically liberating to put it out to the world. I wrote it when I was in a very dark place (and half of it is based on actual writings my grandmother did for me – go check it out and you’ll see what I mean: Biding Her Time), back when I was processing what had happened in my life and how I would move forward from it. Whilst I always planned on publishing the book one day, I never intended to make money from it – it was something I did for me, for my family, and for others out there who are going, or have gone, through something similar. For many years, however, I have been too scared, or ashamed, or defiant, to put my words out there. My stepfather was a psychopath, and that leaves some interesting ‘issues’ that rear their heads when you sometimes least expect them. Until now, I have felt too close to what happened to put it out there. But the other day I finally realised I was ready. I am strong. I have survived. And I want the world to know. I don’t even really care if no one ever reads it – just as people release balloons/lanterns/birds into the sky to set things free within themselves, I am setting my words free and it feels amazing.

The end is nigh…the end of my 20s, that is

It is officially the last night of my 20s, folks! Tomorrow I bid farewell to 29 and join the brigade of the 30-somethings. I believe that means from now on I will need to check a different box on forms – no longer part of the 25-29 demographic!

I always thought I’d feel worse about turning 30. Everyone holds it up as this hideous looming doom as you move through your 20s, every birthday peppered by comments about how you’re on the downward slope, not long now, enjoy it while it lasts. But really, your 20s are just hard work. Sure, there’s a lot of fun times, and the ability to stay up all night without falling in a heap for a week afterwards is sorely missed, but mostly it’s a lot of existential angst and wondering what on earth you’re going to do with the next 60-80 years of your life.

I had one momentary pang of anxiety and sadness just before when Simon was teasing me about getting old, but that’s just the usual anxiety crap that bubbles away in my brain awaiting a horror thought to latch onto. For the most part, I’m not fussed. I think a lot of the dread is that you won’t have your shit sufficiently together by the time you hit 30 (whoever set that as the aspiration should be given a swift clip up the back of their head). Surprisingly (and I am surprised), I have been fortunate enough to get my shit together – I’m actually really happy with how my life is at the moment. The anxiety voice immediately tells me not to say that because something awful will happen to take it away, but I’m going to hush that for a moment and comfort myself with my move into 30-dom.

One thing that is both wonderful and highly stressful at the moment is our house. I think I mentioned in my last post that we bought our first home. The plan was to give it a freshen up – new paint, new curtains, maybe re-polish the floorboards. Oh my. That turned into a full blown renovation! There was some asbestos in the laundry & toilet (normal in houses of that era here), which we knew about and Simon’s parents insisted on having removed. In the process of doing that, it became clear it was in the bathroom too, so out comes the whole bathroom! Which was a big deal, but we’d planned on doing the bathroom at some point (in a few years!), so it just moved that forward. But by taking the walls off, we could see the wiring. Luckily for us, Simon’s sister’s partner is an electrician and he took one look & saw the whole place needed rewiring. Though I’m not sure we needed a sparky’s opinion on that – there were a couple of wires literally bandaided together. I mean with an actual band aid. Wtf.

Plus the heater had to come out, so we’re doing ducted heating. And a whole bunch of other things that are a mix of our ideas, other people’s ideas (I reached the point where I said ‘no more thoughts on things!’ to everyone), disasters that need to be remedied and dodgy building stuff that needs to be fixed. All of which is great and means we’ll have a safe, nice house to live in, but has meant we’re watching our accounts bleed away and a lot of work has had to be done by everyone. I’ve had a few meltdowns, but Simon has been very supportive for the most part, and last night took me through an imaginary journey through the house to help me emotionally reconnect with it, which was exactly what I needed.

One interesting experience for me, as a feminist, however – I have noticed that as a woman, every time you voice an opinion on something in a building, or contribute to a discussion about something, people immediately cast you into the role of nagging shrew. If I disagree with Simon about how the shower head should be positioned, it’s greeted by the tradies (friends of the family) with ‘Oh no, better listen to the missus or there’ll be trouble’ etc. etc. At one point, the guy doing our plumbing said ‘Yeah mate, when we were doing our house, I did our whole bathroom, but I still had to check everything with the missus or I’d be in trouble!’ I retorted with ‘Well, it is her house as well’, which was completely ignored. Simon and I have a very fair relationship, so we discuss things as equals. I’m paying for a lot of this house, and we share a life, so my opinions about what the house should look like should be treated equally. And they just weren’t – not even by non-tradies, and not even by the women in some cases! It was quite an eye opener, and really pissed me off. I told Simon what was going on, and he admitted he hadn’t noticed but could definitely see what I was talking about. It was really good to hear him say that it was quite derogatory and that he’d stand up for me the next time it happened. I wish he didn’t have to, but since then there have been no more issues.

Anyway, I’m going to go, as I’m pretty exhausted by the craziness that is life at the moment, and I’m really craving some time in front of the TV – I have so many shows waiting for me on the IQ. Good night!

Back!

Wow. I have been neglecting my writing. A lot! But I’m back, and I’ll make that same old promise to myself- I will blog more often!

A lot has happened since I last blogged, so I won’t even try to recap. Instead, on to this week’s joys! Simon & I bought a house and it settled today! We are officially home owners. Well, owners of a lovely mortgage, but still – we’ll soon be in a house that we can paint, landscape and not have the intrusion of someone coming to inspect my housekeeping skills every 6 months! I’m just waiting for Simon to get home from work (he’s on the late shift this week – such bad timing), and then we’ll go over and revel in it. Getting the news from the lawyer and then getting the keys from the real estate office was bittersweet – super exciting, but Simon wasn’t there, so it lacked a ‘little something’. I’m looking forward to having him put the key in the front door this evening.

And then tomorrow the hard work begins – we’re going to repaint the interior, get new curtains or blinds, find rugs, a new couch etc. I’m really looking forward to making our mark on the place. Every time we’ve been there, the previous owner has been there, so it’s been difficult to get that ‘yes, we can make a home here’ vibe going properly. The worst was on Monday when I went to the pre-settlement final inspection. She was trying to pass the ‘woman of the house’ torch to me, which was very lovely, but the way she did it was completely overwhelming. I came home and had a panic attack and had to call my mum, crying that it was never going to feel like our home, it’s going to be full of her and the memories she just implanted in my brain. I know faaar too much about her daughters, including the fact one of them had their period arrive that day! My goodness!

Other big news in my life – I’m most likely getting a promotion at work (there’s a headcount freeze for end of financial year that’s holding things up). Crazy times in my life these days. After all the horrible, hard years, this year everything is just coming up roses. It’s hard to believe it’s really me this is all happening to – this stuff just doesn’t happen to me. But I’ll take it! The role at work was created with me in mind, but I still had to go through the red tape of applying and facing the interview. It was yesterday afternoon and I thought I completely flunked it. Like so bad that as soon as I left the interview room I went to the bathroom and cried. It was awful. I had been laughing with family earlier this week, saying it was going to be super awkward being interviewed by people who already knew me – how do you big note yourself in front of people you know? Turned out it was horrible for another reason – humiliating yourself (or so I thought) in front of people you know and respect is absolutely crushing to the ego. I was so desperately upset at myself, feeling like I’d let my little family (Simon and our dog Minnie) down by not going up a pay grade when we just got a mortgage – on and on went the negative self talk until I could barely function, I was filled with that much self-loathing and despair. And then I ran into my TL today (he was one of those who interviewed me) and he started talking about me having the job like it was a totally normal conversation. When I was surprised, he asked why and I told him I thought it was the worst interview I’d ever done. He said I was much better than the others they interviewed and that Donna, the other person who interviewed me, thought it was one of the best interviews she’d ever been in. What?? I honestly don’t know who she’s been interviewing but they must be abysmal because I was terrible! I couldn’t think of any good answers to any questions, and half way through my replies I forgot what the question was (they were really long questions!) and kind of petered out and had to be prompted. Argh. Hideous. But again – I’ll take it! Maybe I didn’t seem as bad as I did from inside my head. There’s usually so much going on in my head it’s hard to tell what’s coming out and what’s not. I often get people walk by and go ‘Katie, you’re so quiet!’ and it always surprises me, as there’s so much going on in my head I feel anything but quiet. Those I trust would probably not say I’m quiet – I tend to gabble all my thoughts out at them if they give me an opening.

So that’s my crazy old life at the moment. There’s more that’s been happening but I’ll get to that in another blog post. Oh, one more thing – on top of all this, and the general insanity that is my life at work, it’s nearly my 30th birthday! So I’m in the process of planning the most elaborate party I’ve ever had (that’s not hard, I’m generally the don’t-make-me-the-centre-of-attention type). I think it’s going to be awesome. Way more people than I was expecting have said they’ll come – I feel very lucky in life at the moment. I hope the world is treating you all kindly too. If it’s not, take my word for it – from the darkest holes, you can rise to the brightest happiness. It just takes time.

29 and still a child…

I turned 29 last week. It still doesn’t feel real, which is slightly odd as I usually start aging myself up about halfway through each year. My brain seems to get stuck when I have to tell people my age now. I don’t think it’s a rebellion about being nearly 30, though that does seem bizarre. I remember clearly sitting in my shared flat when I was turning 20, with my flatmate saying we now had less than 10 years til we were 30. She was terrified, I was amused – 30? So far away! Of course, I set myself deadlines and goals to have met by then. One of which was to have a baby or start trying for one at the age of 30, even if that meant doing it solo. I didn’t want to let the drive to fertilise my eggs be the deciding factor when looking for a life mate, so I took the pressure off myself and decided I’d do it alone if it came to that. Now that I’m not alone, Simon knows of my 30 plan and we will probably work toward that. So maybe there is a little of the looming-30 going on in my mind at the moment. I keep getting impulses to do things, like this is my last chance to do them. Which is a little ridiculous, as I have my whole life ahead of me and while having kids will change things dramatically, it doesn’t end my whole existence. Just gives it some different priorities, I guess. So while I’m young and fancy-free, I want to enjoy it.

Last week was enjoyable, despite being really ill with a cold/flu bug that has still struck me down more than a week later (probably my own fault for working through last week instead of resting), so I’m off sick for the second day this week. I feel horribly guilty every time I take time off for illness, but I had to reason with myself that the doctor has given me today off & it is best to take it & get well, and not keep pushing and really make myself sick. Still, I feel bad as I know there’ll be a lot of work waiting for me when I go back!

Aside from the illness, I had a lovely lunch with my mum on my birthday, she spoiled me with lots of unexpected gifts. And Simon & I had a lovely dinner at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try – anyone in Melbourne, I recommend going along to State of Grace, the food was incredible and it all came out very quickly. There’s a lot to look at in the restaurant too, which is a good thing in my books!

Saturday evening we had dinner & drinks with a few friends, which was very nice. Again, the food was amazing – Terminus Hotel is our favourite place for a pub meal, they’re so creative. My friend Lauren and I had a lot of fun imagining what they could mean by ‘textures of strawberry and basil’, with Lauren picturing a chef rolling a strawberry across some cream to leave just the texture behind.

The rest of my week has been spent either at work or curled up on the couch reading and watching tv. Simon & I have finally jumped on the Orange is the New Black bandwagon (mainly because there was a marathon on Foxtel). And I’ve been revisiting some books from my childhood – the Little House on the Prairie series. I loved them dearly when I was a kid, but haven’t read them in years. My local libraries never had the full sets (good ol’ little country town libraries), so some of the books I’ve only read once before. They’re obviously an easy read, so I’m churning through them rapidly, but they’re so delightful I can’t make myself slow down. It’s been making me hungry for beans, cornbread and salt pork, even though I’ve never had cornbread or salt pork before! It also makes me want to bake and sew, so I’ve been feeling frustrated at my virus for making me all weak. At least I can live vicariously through the Ingalls girls for a while. Mum’s also ordered me some more kids books I love – we discovered them while waiting at a pathology clinic once – Poppleton. They’re hilarious, and I can’t wait for them to arrive. I know technically I should be stocking up on these kinds of books in preparation for future children, but I totally just want them because I love them! I never want my inner child to die, so even if I don’t end up able to have kids or something else happens, I will continue loving children’s literature. There are some truly beautiful works out there.

Women – our own enemies and saviours.

Obviously, I’ve been fairly terrible at keeping the promise to myself of posting at least every Saturday. Honestly though, work has been so insanely busy that my weekends are full of all the bits and pieces of things I haven’t had time to do during the week. Poor excuse I know, but it’s the truth.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this challenged in a role, and it’s testing my ability to stand firm on my work-life balance – I did overtime for the first time this week! Trying to keep a tight handle on that, but the next two weeks are critical for the project I’m on, so I don’t have a whole lot of choice!

Anyway, just because work has been consuming the bulk of my time, it doesn’t mean I’ve been completely isolated from the world. The internet remains my friend, and my free moments have been curled up on the couch with Simon. He’s been amazingly supportive of my forgetfulness and tearful confessions of being overwhelmed and exhausted by the brain drain of this new job.

This week has been an up and down one as a feminist also. Early in the week, I became aware of something called the LFL. It’s been around for a while, apparently, but I hadn’t encountered it before. And I have to say, it made my feminist hackles raise up and I got as angry about the world’s view of women as I’ve been in a very, very long time. For those of you who are yet to encounter this abomination to the women’s movement, it’s the Legends Football League. Sounds awesome, right? It’s not. Take a look at this video:

It’s more commonly known as the Lingerie Football League. It’s a bunch of women wearing underwear, playing gridiron. What…the…damn…hell? How on earth are women going to ever be treated as equals when we participate in our own degradation? I’m sorry ladies, no one’s there to watch your sporting prowess. If you were fully clothed, your football league would fall into the same category as every other women’s sporting group. We all know that women’s sport is horribly under represented in the media (Gender in Televised Sport). But taking your clothes off for the visual titillation of the audience? Not the way to get respect, ladies. I’m completely horrified by the whole thing. Simon quipped that maybe it’s aerodynamic. My response – if that was true, why aren’t all the male sportsmen running around in their jocks? The ‘outfits’ these women are wearing are lingerie, pure and simple. They even go so far as wearing garters, suspenders (sans stockings) and ribbon collars a la Playboy. I’m so angry at them for doing this, contributing to the sexual objectification of women. Seriously, are we only worth paying attention to if we’re pleasing a male audience? Have we done nothing to dispel this?

Whilst I was raging about this, I saw a fantastic video trying to change the way we speak about girls and the impact our words can have on a developing young woman. It’s a powerful little video and very telling about how far we still have to go in our society. But it did go a long way to restoring my faith that there are people out there still ‘fighting the good fight’ trying to make things better for women. I just hope the girls in this video never witness the LFL.

 

Not married, no kids. And perfectly happy about it, thank you…

I made a new rule for myself last weekend. Every Saturday I will write a blog. I made this rule last Friday. And then rebelled against it my very first Saturday. Because I’m awesome and take my writing very seriously. This week I have been stern with myself and put on some writing music (got to get my groove on to get going) and voila – here I am!

I’ve had something I wanted to write about for a couple of weeks, and conveniently life has handed me a couple more pieces of material while I’ve avoided putting finger to key. It’s the perception others have of you, and force on you, when it comes to your relationship status. And it gets me all riled up!

A few weeks ago I went out for birthday drinks with some girlfriends and the birthday girl’s other girlfriends. I didn’t stay too long because my new job is insanely exhausting and I’m also fairly lame when it comes to late nights out. I was going stag for the night as Simon is in the thick of exam time and therefore in social lock down. I hadn’t met a bunch of the women there, so we were testing the waters and getting to know each other.

The topic turned to men, as it inevitably does. I hadn’t really said much, just laughed along with the tales going around. One of the girls turned to me and said something along the lines of maybe we’d get lucky and meet someone that evening. I went ‘oh…no…’ and my friend jumped in with ‘Oh no, she can’t, she already has a boyfriend’. And I watched the other girl’s face shut down. She went ‘oh’ and then turned away from me and started talking to the girl on the other side of her. Shortly after that, she declared she was so glad to be out and about on a Friday, because otherwise she’d just be doing what she always does – ordering a pizza, drinking wine and watching tv at home on the couch in her trackies. She was so self-disparaging, and shot me a quick look like she expected judgement. It really made me pause. I’d been single for a very long time before Simon came along and rocked my quiet little world. It was odd for me to realise that having a man in my life has pushed me into another category in other people’s eyes. It’s been weird for me to hang out in the couple world, where there are little kids running around and we have doggy play dates with each other. I was feeling like I was back in my old comfort zone hanging out with these women, until the singletons made it very clear I didn’t belong with them anymore. All because of a man? I really wish I’d piped up and said what I was really thinking – that getting a pizza, having a drink and bumming around on the couch is pretty much every Friday night for Simon and I. Why does having another person there suddenly make that a more valid, worthy way of spending a Friday night? Give or take a bit of sex, our lives are pretty much the same as this woman’s.

It really bugs me that people judge you on your relationship status. It used to annoy me when I was single, with all the sympathetic looks and clucks from people – ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find someone one day’, ‘You never know who might be right around the corner’. Do I look worried? Do I look like I’m hating being able to sleep like a starfish in my queen sized bed and watch whatever I want on tv? No. Leave me alone and go back to your own life, it needs your attention more than mine does. When I met Simon and we moved in together, I thought maybe those judgements would leave me alone at last. Oh, I was so very wrong. Because once you’re in a relationship, the next gates of societal ranks start getting thrown in your face.

Last Friday I went to after-work drinks with a bunch of other business analysts. Because I’m being proactive about this career and actually do my darnedest to network (!). As the evening wound down, I was left briefly at the table with just one other BA, a 51 year old guy (we’d been comparing ages earlier at the behest of a 22 year old). I was looking at him, wondering if he’d kick off the conversation or if I was going to have to. I was relieved when he opened his mouth, as my mind was blanking on what to say (all the good small talk options had been exhausted). His opening line?

‘So, you’re not married.’

What the? I have never been asked that question before. I was completely thrown, and switched into auto-defensive mode.

‘No, not married. I have a boyfriend though. We live together. And we have a dog.’

Inside, I was asking myself why I felt like I had to justify my life to this man and list my relationship credentials like they had any kind of bearing on my worth as a person. Luckily for me the mention of a dog got us off onto that topic and I survived until my cousin returned from the bathroom.

I thought that was it, just a weird moment, possibly the result of him panicking and blurting out the first thing he could think of. But then yesterday I had a similar conversation. There’s another new BA in my team at work, so me and Kevin, who started on the same day as me, took him out for coffee. So it was a get to know you conversation. Kevin asked Nick, the new guy, if he had a family (he’s older). Nick said yeah, a wife & two kids. He asked Kevin if he was married & had kids. Kevin said no, not married, no kids. Not even a relationship, but having a date that night. Probably doing the same auto-witter I did the week before. Nick turned to me & asked the same question. So I parroted Kevin and said, no, not married, no kids, haha. But that I do live with my boyfriend. Nick gave me a sympathetic look and said ‘Oh well, you just enjoy your time’.

Oh well? Sympathetic look? Oh hell no. I got a little fired up and said ‘Enjoy my time? Why, before marriage comes along and ruins everything, you mean?’ Yeah, that’s right dude. You insult my life, I’m going to challenge you on yours. He got a bit of a surprise and said ‘Oh no, marriage makes it better. But that’s ok, you just enjoy your time’. What the hell? Why is he pitying me and implying my relationship is less worthy than his because I don’t have a ring and a certificate? Does getting a piece of paper from the government define our level of love? No. It blew my mind. I was used to getting that attitude when I was single. I hated it and thought it was ridiculous, but I understood that society is geared towards finding your other half etc etc. But now suddenly I’m still to be pitied because I’m not married? I do not understand. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. That is what matters. No one has the right to judge another person’s situation in life. I don’t judge them or deem them worthier of respect because they’re married. It means nothing to me. I just wish others would have the same attitude.

I don’t really have a point to this post. It was mostly to rant and get all that off my chest. It still puzzles me. Why do single people feel inferior to couples? Why do married people feel unmarried folk are inferior to them? I know not everyone feels that way, but I’ve copped it from all sides lately so it feels a little like it’s the majority. Do you guys encounter this judgement and pity about your situations? I know the answer is probably for me to just not care what other people think, and I honestly don’t care if Nick thinks I’m settling for second best by not being married – in my world, I’ve won the lottery when it comes to relationships. But I really, really dislike those conversations. The looks that get shot at me. The shut downs from single people, the ‘there there’ attitude from the married. It makes me so mad! Everyone needs to leave each other alone and stop passing judgement.

It’s not you, it’s me…oh, and the new salary…

I got the job! I mentioned in my last post that I had a job interview coming up, I ended up with 2 at the same place, different role levels as a Business Analyst. I got both, which was a huge surprise, after thinking I’d completely flunked at least one of the interviews. Luckily for me, and for my cousin who will now be my new boss (and dare I say, mentor?), the higher level role called me first – beating the other role by just a couple of hours. Simon also got his job and has been in training for 3 weeks now. He’s looking forward to getting into his normal roster as the demands of studying law and working full time are making themselves felt!

It’s been a hell of a stress roller coaster the past month or so. Getting ready for the interviews, surviving them (very glad I glammed up, as my new office building is plusher than anywhere I’ve ever seen, let alone worked), the interminable wait for a response, getting the response and then facing the moment of resignation. I’d been primed for a senior role in my current job, which is lovely but not where I’d like to end up. I felt awful handing in my notice though, knowing it was throwing a huge spanner in the works. My ops manager, who up until this point has been very friendly and approachable, hasn’t spoken to me since. It’s honestly like breaking up with someone, right down to all the empty reassurances given that it’s not you, it’s me. It’s not that the role here sucks, it’s just that I have a wonderful new opportunity. Blah, blah, blah. It’s excruciating. Made worse by people not believing you when you say you’re sorry for leaving – my manager took it well, but when I apologised, she said ‘oh, you’re not sorry!’. I was quite shocked. I said that yes, in fact, I was, and if I could be in two places at once I wouldn’t hesitate to stay, but that this was a career opportunity too good to pass up. She keeps making remarks about how much I have to do before I go, or how she bets I’m glad I’m leaving, etc etc.

Telling other people was a mixed bag. My good friends were genuinely thrilled for me, while being sad to see me go and worried about the impact it will have on the team and them. My ‘enemies’ (they hate me, I don’t give a damn about them) were thrilled for far more selfish reasons. One gave me a giant, awkward hug which said less ‘I’m so happy for you, well done’ and more ‘Hooray, she’s leaving!’, and the other has been the most chipper I’ve ever seen her. Others who don’t know me so well are completely puzzled how an ‘admin girl’ managed to land a BA role at a big four bank. Which is amusing, slightly insulting and a little unsettling.

Having got through all of that, my body has done its usual post-stress reaction and become incredibly sick. It happens every time I have a prolonged stressful period, and is just such unfortunate timing in one way because it’s meant of the 4 weeks notice I’ve given, 1 of them has been spent sick in bed. Which I’m sure my manager and my enemies think is just me using up my remaining sick leave. I hate it. I suppose in one way it’s good it happened now and not once I’ve started my new role, but I know I’m leaving my current team in a lurch a little by leaving so I wanted to get as much done as I could before I left. Mum and Simon tell me not to worry about it, they will just have to deal with it and my loyalties no longer lie with them. I keep reminding myself of the horrible things that have happened there, and how unhappy I’ve been a lot of the time. I still feel bad about having to take time off though!

But, looking forward, I think this new role is going to be amazing. I’ll admit, I am a little daunted by the prospect of the new challenges it will hold, but it’s really time I stepped up and had a ‘proper’ career. It’s bizarre for me, someone who has jumped from crappy job to crappy job, just doing whatever came along, to suddenly have a dream career, with a dream salary. I’ll not say I’m going to be rich, because there are people out there earning more than I ever will. But for me, it’s a lot of money. I feel as though I’ve gone from being a vagrant-20-something with no idea what she wanted to do with her life, to one of the successful-under-30-year-olds. Bit of a mind bender! But a wonderful one. It will mean Simon and I can save for a house properly, and if he needs to drop back another day, he can.

A huge change for both of us! For now though, I just have to limp through the final weeks of awkwardness in my current job, and cry my way through farewells. I truly hate this transition period. But as my mum always tells me, a hermit crab has to have its uncomfortable moments before it finds its new shell.