Through the Mask

Trigger warning – I’m about to go a little deep.

If you are a victim of abuse or have experienced domestic abuse you can choose to stop reading now and seek help.

Someone asked me for my memories and it struck me that as much as I could infer what was going on behind the scenes when you love someone you try to protect them from the ugly. They never really spoke about their issues and did so much to hide what was happening in order to make me feel that they were happy.

Having survived relationships that were either physically or mentally abusive, I know with certainty that I never allowed the people I loved access to that secret world. Even I, as the abused, couldn’t quite admit to it. Bruises on the skin were blamed on clumsiness or being just someone that bruises easily. Uncontrollable tears were blamed on hormones, high necked tops didn’t just cover love bites and doctors were never called for bashes to the head. In all honesty reading the above will come as a surprise even for those who believe they know me well. Masking is something that victims of domestic abuse become pretty skilled at. They’ll tell you all about their stressful morning at work or the drama they had to deal with booking an Uber, they will even tell you about arguments with that significant other but what they won’t tell you is that during that argument their partner threw them into a wall or threatened to make them regret their last words. That last minute decision to change their outfit on a night out will be blamed on the cold weather and not the fact that their partner told them in no uncertain terms that they were, “Not to wear that dress out of the house.” The truth is, they love their partner too much to let you see their faults, they hold onto the fact that they’re a good person and didn’t really mean it. Especially, if like my previous partners, it was all apologies and gifts to make it right. They also love you too much to expose you to the real horrors of their lives.

Knowing that your loved one is being physically or emotionally abused and are choosing to stay in that situation makes you feel powerless – nobody really wants that for someone they love – unless they are themselves abusive.

I was watching the Netflix series Maid and so many of the incidences struck a cord. You sometimes fool yourselves into thinking that the good times will increase if you can just make them happy but in reality, they are usually battling their own demons and the unfortunate outcome is a bottle being thrown at your head or a fist close enough to scare you into knowing what might come next.

In the UK 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will have been affected by domestic abuse in their lifetime and this is just those we know about. What’s horrible is that it can go on for so long without being detected because not only are those that are abused great at masking it but so are the abusers.

The best thing I did for myself was getting out of those situations before it was too late. What made it easy for me was the fear of not seeing tomorrow, not being able to watch my children grow and recognising that if I stayed and lived through it my self esteem would be so much in tatters that I wouldn’t be able to find a way back. I’m lucky, not everyone is able to come to that realisation and not everyone is able to seek the help they need. We definitely as a society have to learn to unmask and speak our truths. Yes, the truth can hurt but it can also heal.

If you are in need of support there are many great organisations that can help, you don’t have to face it alone.

A Hug and a Hot Chocolate Fixes Everything

Forget everything I said about being flirty and fabulous, the forties so far has given me athletes foot, a urine infection and eczema on my hands so between frequent toilet visits and itchy palms (not the money kind) I’m also banned from playing footsie. There go my plans for Saturday night. Not only does my physical health seem to be on a downward spiral but my panic attacks are on the rise, it’s like my brain has gone from 0 to 100 with thoughts of my ultimate demise. Sorry to be so morbid but I do like to be honest with my readers and that right there is my truth. When it comes to my health my brain seems to zoom straight past the, “Oh dear, you need to rest stage.” to the “Oh my God, you’re not waking up when you go to sleep tonight.” Thankfully, I’m not always like that, in fact most of the time I’m optimism and light so I won’t drag you into a pity party instead I’ll share with you my recent staycation which in all honesty, is one of the only reasons I managed not to fall completely to pieces these last couple of months.

It’s not often that I get to run away from the busyness of London these days, due to the fact that covid rules have restricted our movements, especially as I’m super paranoid about the vaccine, so Devon was definitely the welcome break that I needed.

Dog and boy in tow we hit the motor way, our friends following behind in their own car. We would have travelled together had it not been for the fact that we both have tiny cars and had to pack to not only accommodate ourselves but also our dogs. Packing for a dog is nearly as difficult as packing for a new born and I was sure something would be left behind. Really, it was the boy I should have been worried about, everything I handed him to put in his suitcase went onto his bed which meant he near enough travelled with two and a half outfits for a five day trip.

We ended our journey at the cutest little cabin hidden in the countryside with nothing but horses, pheasants and the occasional rabbit in sight.

As places I’ve visited in the UK go, Devon is definitely one suitable for the outdoorsy type. This was my second trip there, my first having been for a wedding and I think I only partially qualify as that type. I love the outdoors, long walks by the beach and picturesque tea houses where they serve fresh cream tea with a smile and a treat for your doggy friend but I’m a city girl by heart. I need to be near enough to shopping centres, theatres and bars; not that I spend much time in those places; I just need to know that should I wish to, they are right on my doorstep.

As well as that, it’s definitely not the place for rainy day fun. We struggled to find things to do in the rain but as the skies cleared we found ourselves back in the outdoors taking in the sights from the Devonshire Moors. That trip started off well, we love a bit of hiking and exploring but unfortunately for us and probably due to my crazy dog trying to chase all the sheep, we ended up way off track, truly lost and wading through mud, rivers and high grass lands. My boots were definitely not made for that which certainly didn’t do anything to help the athletes foot issue!

I probably could of done with a good pair of hunter’s to keep my feet dry and as I’m slightly in love with Minnie and Mickey (Mouse of course) their new capsule collection Hunter x Disney, would be right up my street. If anyone fancies treating me before my next adventure, they go on sale on November 15th and I’m a size 4.

Needless to say after the adventure (or trauma, whichever you prefer to call it) of our journey through the Moors, a log fire, hot chocolate and s’mores were definitely on the cards for us. What I will say is this, the company that you chose for a trip like this is so important. We went with one of my best friends, who is not only as spontaneous as I am but just like me, she believes a cuddle and a hot chocolate at the end of a stressful event fixes everything.

The best bit about Devon for me was definitely the beaches. If I ever decide to trade in London life, it will be for beach walks and an ocean view preferably in a place where sunshine is the norm. I don’t know what it is about the sound of the waves but I feel my most calmest when I’m by the sea, It’s as though the waves have the power to carry away all negativity and the shore has just enough depth to help me feel grounded.

If you could move anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

40, Flirty, Fabulous… or not?

There are conflicting views as to what happens when one turns 40 as though entering your 40s has some magical secret that you only become aware of as the clock strikes midnight. I’ve heard it said that this is when life begins, that this is the time that you really come into yourself, all your life’s experiences so far have been preparing you for this moment when you are the best version of yourself; the most free; most passionate; most fulfilled that you will ever be. On the opposite side of the spectrum I’ve also heard whispers of everything going downhill from here on out. You get more chin hairs, your fat gathers at your waist without your permission and if you’re not married yet be prepared to sit on the subs bench until some poor widower comes along and takes you in to ease his broken heart. Of course neither of these perspectives is accurate. I mean yes, your hormones are changing so you might find a hair or two and if you’re not an active member of the gym beware but these years are neither chalked out to be the best nor the worst of your life. They are merely just more years where the pen is placed in your hand and you need to choose your journey.

I’ve recently been fighting with the stresses of life, so much so that I’ve developed eczema on my hands and feet, trying to decide what the next best step is. If I decide to leave the area, am I running away from my problems or am I seeking to find the life I desire? I’m currently the epitome of what it means to work yourself silly. I’m often working in one or the other of my roles from 6am until 1am the earliest which means sleep evades me. I’m tired, grouchy and feel highly undervalued. The thing is though, even with this list of cons I often find that the pros outweigh the feelings of negativity. In my day job for example, I love being with my ‘school babies’ as I lovingly refer to them and I get a great sense of pride and accomplishment when they manage to learn something new or feel good about themselves because of something I’ve said or done. I really don’t know if I could find another career that would match that feeling and being practical, match my pay scale. The other job on the other hand is more a labour of love. I saw the perfect image on the internet which depicts exactly how that makes me feel at times.

I happen to think that love is not something you only come by once in a lifetime. What I honestly believe is that love is something you have to choose and you have to work on, it’s not a one way road but more a merging of two roads, separate journeys combining to become one. It’s not only romantic love that I see this way, even loving your children is a journey, when they are born they physically separate from you and you begin to learn each other. You choose to get up out of bed at their first whimper or wait until they are in full fledged tears. As they get older you learn to work through their tantrums as they grin and bare your rule over them, until one day, you’ve learnt to value each other so much that you do what it takes to see them smile. I totally get why the brain functions differently when love is involved, it’s difficult to see anything better than love behind the door of decision because the truth is you will never see it until you choose to open the door.

When I blog, I usually just have a sentence or a simple thought in my head and I just start writing, this post should have been about what a fantastic birthday I had so I’m reverting back to course. With all that was trying to bring me down, on my birthday weekend my daughter brought me right back up. I told her that if she keeps spoiling me like this I might hold off on getting a significant other and just let her spoil me for the foreseeable future.

P.S. I don’t have favourites!

This is the year where I can chose to be flirty and fabulous. 40 is just another number, another year to tick off the calendar of life and if you want to mark it as a milestone, choose to make it the year you want it to be; set your goals in motion; find opportunities to laugh and dance and continue to send out positive vibrations – the universe is listening.

Dress? House of CB

Is it ok to be Vulnerable?

It’s been a while, I’ve been busy making work and life balance exactly how I want it too and so far there is some success.  I’m enjoying my role in school (I’m currently leading writing and have been given the additional responsibility of Keystage lead starting in September), I’m spending time with my family and friends and I’ve even done a cheeky bit of shopping.  The only thing not currently happening for me is travel; I’m itching to jump on a plane again.

I’ve tried to write a couple of times but each time what I want to say either doesn’t quite come out or has made me feel overly exposed.  Funny that, I write this blog with the aim of being 100% authentically me but when things get too personal I pull back and give 0%.  If I was like that in my every day life I’d never get anywhere.  So this post is just a catch up to say hello and perhaps make myself a little vulnerable in the process.

During the height of the pandemic, when gatherings were locked down, restaurants weren’t available and church was an online only event, I spent a lot of time doing not much at all except work, in some ways this was a good thing, it gave me time to do things around the house and make some financial investments however it also left me secluded, I forgot how much fun it was to go out with friends and family and instead got very comfortable with being in my home.  As things have gradually started to normalise my feelings about getting out and about haven’t.  I’ve converted to forcing myself to attend social events because I know once I’m there I’ll have an amazing time.  I’ve even told my friends and family that with my 40th birthday coming up, barring catching a flight, there is nothing I would rather do than stay at home and cuddle up with a hot drink and a book.  This of course has been met with hard resistance and family telling me I have no choice but to celebrate with them.  In my heart of hearts I know I’d probably regret it if I didn’t celebrate but currently my mind is screaming a big fat NO.

I’ve joked at the presence of a mid life crisis but in reality I’m probably just about to step into the best days of my life. Yes, I’m still single and longing for my Boaz to take me out of the barley fields but I’m also glad I didn’t choose to settle out of desperation. It’s easy to look back and think perhaps I missed out on the person that was for me because I wanted the complete package, even though I wasn’t the complete package but in reality they were never for me because I wasn’t ready.

Now I’m ready.

I have an adult daughter and a son who is in his last year of primary school. I have a good job and a decent side hustle. I have investments and savings for the first time in my life and a handful of solid friends who I wouldn’t change for the world. That’s not to say I don’t miss some of the friends that drifted. I’m a very sentimental person and there are people who for whatever reason left my life that I am not afraid to admit I miss. I’ve always said that love is something you can’t just erase, once someone had my love, they will always have it, perhaps not in the same way but love doesn’t just vanish.

So what’s next? God knows. I have plans and dreams to accomplish so I’m going to stay focused and continue to work towards the life I desire.

Is it ok to be vulnerable? Yes!! We have all been there and in those moments you have the opportunity to grow the most.

What’s next for you?

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Can we Survive the IG generation?

I often take a little time out from blogging and social media to have some element of rest. As much as I love writing I find that sometimes sharing my thoughts can be a bit too much, especially when there are things in my life that I’m struggling to deal with.

Recently, it’s been tough, I’ve had appointment after appointment to try and get through a health issue that we just can’t seem to put a finger on and I’ve been avoiding Instagram because it’s full of pictures that show people living the dream and at present I’m scraping at dream life from a distance with a dinner fork when really what I need is a flight and a forklift. You know that feeling when you’re so close you can smell it but far enough away that your fingertips just about scrape the surface? It’s that. But the kind of person I am means that I’ll just shuffle the deck and hand out the cards again until I’m winning.

I know that people mainly use social media to show their highlight reels and I’ve heard a million times that we shouldn’t compare our everyday to someone’s highlight reel but when it’s in your face constantly even the strongest of people can’t help but make comparisons. I know of one girl who chose her car because a girl who she thought was after her man had an older version of the same one, it’s sad really but its is what has become the norm for so many.

This is why I’m trying to be different. Yes I will probably still post my highlights, I mean who really wants to post pictures of them at their unhappiest? What I will do though is avoid digesting anything that makes me feel like giving up and I’ll avoid posting things that make it seem like I have it more together than I really do.

I’m human like the rest of you, I cry tears, I worry about finances and health and I battle with my emotions. I also have 2 amazing children that keep me going, a job that I enjoy and a handful of people who make my heart smile. There are twists and turns on our journey and in reality we are all heading in the same direction so each and every one of us should enjoy to the fullest and let our worries worry about themselves.

Single and Sharing

This could simply be a me thing but I find when I’m single and by single I mean not claiming anyone as my man, the left side of my bed tends to be occupied by books, devices, confectionery, anything other than a man. I read somewhere once, that you should prepare for what you want; set an extra plate at the table; leave a space in the closet etc and for a little while I actually did this madness. It’s no wonder my favourite ex used to tell me I was book smart but not street smart. In fact he would go as far as to say, “You have no sense of the common kind.” God rest his soul.

There is always so much pressure on a woman to fill that side of her bed. Either to have children, help raise existing children or generally just have a help mate. I get it, all of those things are important, if, you want them. What they do though, is impose a false narrative that without them you can’t be fulfilled. They make men feel empowered because they are needed, yet make some women feel a sense of desperation causing them to settle for way less than they deserve.

In 2019, I was in a long distance relationship with a guy I had met on holiday. I had insisted on the no sex before marriage rule so he was putting on the pressure to come and stay with me in the UK. When I told him he’d have to get a hotel or stay with friends he got very upset.

The offers of marriage had been flooding in from him and had I been back in my 20s, I probably would have agreed. He started getting possessive and wanting to know where I was and who I was with every minute of the day. I get that long distance it can be difficult but I didn’t share the desire to know his every move and at this point, I decided to call it off. His response, “You’re never going to find anyone like me who’s willing to marry you.” Strong words, which after hearing my response he soon retracted, but the fact he had the nerve to even think it, was everything that is wrong with the way society empowers men to think they are better than women.

BeyoncĂ© put it best when she said, “I can have another you in a minute…”

What men fail to understand is that we don’t have difficulty getting a man, men are always ‘available’. Most of us could have been married 3 times over if we chose to settle. What we do have trouble with is finding a man who is committed and doesn’t view monogamy as a straight jacket made to stop them ‘living their best life.’

I refuse to idolise anyone’s relationships because we all know that behind closed doors anything could happen but I do love some of the wisdom that comes from the mouths of men like Steve Harvey, he recognised his woman as an asset, his best one. He teaches woman that as misogynistic as it may seem, a man should profess you are his, provide for you and protect you. There is a lot to be said for this.

So whilst my bed might be taken up by chocolate wrappers and the latest self help guide to a better life, I’m going to enjoy my freedom and fill my time with friendship and laughter and maybe the next guy that comes along will be at a stage where their community cat days are over and they recognise the value that a good woman has to bring, perhaps they’ll even buy me another bedside table for the left hand side of my bed.

Mother’s Day 2021

Mothering Sunday has arrived.

There is always so much to be thankful for when it comes to mother’s, whatever your story, there is at least a little gratitude for the woman who brought you into this world. Today, and every day, my cup overflows with it.

Although Barbados has a different Mother’s Day to the UK, I still take this day to salute the matriarchal figures of my family. I am blessed to still have my grandmother and mother available for chats and laughter at the end of a phone line, when many of my friends have lost theirs. The wealth of advice they have to offer, wanted or not, is something that I will always cherish.

I’m also very blessed to have my daughter’s other Grandma, who blesses me with hugs, laughter and prayer in the absence of my mum. When you lose your only child, as she has, mother’s day can be heart wrenching. We are so grateful to be able to love on her like she loves on us.

My own journey into motherhood was not an easy one so I don’t take for granted what a blessing it is to have someone call you mum and despite this being “my day”, I am so thankful that I have my babies to love on.

So I end this post by saying to all the mothers out there, enjoy your day. Find gratitude for your blessings and hug a mother tightly, be that your own mother or someone else’s, acknowledge that most of us are out here trying to be the best we can. Have a blessed day.

What is a family?

Strange title today I know, surely everyone knows the answer to that one, or do they? I literally had to wonder if I was missing something when a friend of mine told me she had lost out on a property because they had given it to a “family”.

It angers me that on a clubhouse stage another friend of mine was told that she shouldn’t talk about mental health from the perspective of race, and it certainly angers me that despite living in a so called libral society free from the bonds of slavery my people are still shackled.

I can only speak as a single mother, because I am a single mother. I can only speak as a woman because I am a woman and I can only speak as a black person because I am black. When you ask me to offer my opinion on something I offer it as a black woman who also happens to be raising her children alone and the thought that in the eyes of someone else that means my children and I are not a “family” makes me angry beyond words.

I am unapologetically black and nobody has the right to tell me I shouldn’t talk about my trauma from my perspective as a black woman. Like it or not, we face the system differently to others. I remember the pain I was suffering on the labour ward with my son and being told I was exaggerating and just needed to use the gas and air and I’d be fine, before having to be rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section because apparently my word as a black woman means nothing. Before you tell me that this happens to other women too, black women are 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a white woman and it’s no coincidence that black people are more likely to die of covid either. Why do you think the results of those investigations are still hushed? The only reason for it is the disparity of care they receive due to their perceived “strength” After all isn’t that the reason we were brought and sold in the first place?

I remember as a teen, being told that perhaps I should be a nursery nurse instead of my ambition to be a lawyer or social worker, despite having better grades than many and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a nursery nurse, I did go on to do the job and love it but why couldn’t I get a job that required a degree? What was it that the career advisor saw in me that told her it was unachievable for someone like me? Nothing but the colour of my skin. P.S madam career advisor, I now hold 3 degrees.

I also remember sitting in the staff room of one of my previous work places and listening to the other teachers rant about particular children and how, “It’s the single mums that are the problem.” I kindly had to remind them that this single mother sat right next to them as a peer, not only works her ass of to provide for her children but has worked since the age of 15 and is raising children to be non-judgmental human beings. This is one of the reasons I got into teaching, I didn’t want children, especially black children, to continue to be told they could not achieve all that they wanted to in life.

So back to my initial question; what is a family? A family is, in my humble opinion and closely agreed with by Google, a group of people who love each other where there is at least one adult that has people that depend on them. When you start saying that single parents living with their children are not a family, you shackle them, you tell them that in your eyes they are not whole. You tell them that despite how they got to that position, they are not worthy of the same life chances as everyone else and you feed into their already fragile self confidence.

Something has got to change and I will be one of the change makers.