Motherhood – a rant! (Part 1)

[This read is a longer one. I read through it in 8mins and it’s my work – so I’d say give yourself 10mins]

I’ve read a couple of things of late that have made me so angry. Usually when I come across something that makes my blood boil, I keep my thoughts buried.

But sometimes silence isn’t enough.

I know it’s because I’ve been looking at the issues I’m about to raise through a personal lens. It’s also been triggered due to my family’s recent visit to London to stay with me last weekend.

I’m all for a debate, they’re vital – when carried out correctly as rarely is anything black and white.

Well that should say, I’m all up for people debating and voicing their opinions. I’m usually stood at the side-lines winning imaginary heated discussions which miraculously open people’s minds.

Whenever I do actually voice my opinions – in the real world, not Emma Land! I try to be as open-minded as possible, leaning in from different angles, willing to be swayed. I also bring my personal experience into the fold wherever possible.

So when reading points of view that could only possibly come from people who hadn’t actually spent time thinking about the issue. From people who are so far removed from the topic at hand that they may as well have been from another planet.

Well….that’s when my words won over my silence!

My Gripe

A study was shared on Facebook that showed women were waiting later in life to have children and that it is no longer classed as such a high risk to have a baby after 35 years old, which in the medical world was coined a ‘geriatric pregnancy’.

Heavily scattered between posts from mothers that were in their late 30’s and early 40s, who shared pictures of their healthy newborns with beaming descriptions of how happy they were. There were ignorant one liners, criticism and comments that could only cause pain.

People saying that these women were selfish, because:

  • children should have young/energetic mothers
  • older mothers will die earlier than younger mothers

There were even comments saying that if they wanted children and couldn’t have them by a certain age, then they should have adopted earlier, as there are plenty of children that need a home.

As my thumb continued to scroll through the vitriol from young women, people who were already blessed with children and men, oh so many men – I could feel my jaw clench and noticed my breathing had changed. Oh yes, I had just entered into seething mode.

I’m not the type of person to jump in and feed the trolls on social media sites. Although I have done once before and what I said actually made an impact and led to the person who wrote the cruel message to delete it. Hmmm maybe I could be a social media superhero! I may share this story in another post but right now I don’t want to digress from this issue close to my heart.

So I put aside my iPad, since my 3mth break I only access Facebook on my iPad which I keep at home, and made my self a cup of tea! Us Brits!

Nerves calmed. Seriously, a cuppa is like timeout for adults! I tried to view the points from their perspectives.

I got it. From a surface level view-point. A flat one-dimensional point of view.

Topics like these deserve attention. Not a quick throwaway comment before moving on to join a discussion on whether ‘cheese and onion’ or ‘salt and vinegar’ are better crisp flavours.

Before these people mindlessly typed their response had they actually considered:

  • speaking to someone who had an older mother or was an older mother?
  • that there are many mothers with health issues that although young, they too don’t have the energy?
  • that many children may have lost a young parent? Death doesn’t just visit the elderly.

So, I’m stepping forward with my personal experience.

I was brought up by older parents, they were 50 years my senior. Not only that but they were white too, this post isn’t about the difference in our skin colour, but you can read about that here Back to Black 🙋🏿

I loved my parents for who they were and spending time with my family this weekend reminded me how lucky I was, to be loved and to be wanted.

I’d be a liar if I said that having them as parents was always amazing. I have vague images of me trying to run away when I was about seven, suitcase packed I made it to the end of the street before forgetting why I was running away. Then I became a teenager with a penchant for banging doors whilst working out the strange changes to my mind and body – I didn’t very much like anyone!

There was also the time I was left embarrassed when my mum got barred from a pet shop. A bloody pet shop! I’d wanted a Guinea Pig so bad and she wanted me to have one. Having a disagreement in the pet shop my mum got told never to return. I’m not sure if that was before or after she told them to go: ‘Fuck your penguins’.

That story, whilst embarrassing then, and I wasn’t even there – makes me feel all warm with happy memories now. My family when together always reminisce about how they were. You see, my parents have both passed away, my Mum when I was 15 and my Dad when I was 23. Keeping the memories alive is all we have left.

It really upsets me that someone who hasn’t lived my life is dictating from the side-line that as older parents that they didn’t deserve me.

To think people would have  preferred that I didn’t have the opportunity to have a great upbringing and spend quality time with my parents. To block me from being shaped into the person that I am now. To not have the chance to have silly fun times with my crazy family, who are still here (pic below) just because my parents were older. Now that hurts!

img_4052 Of course I wasn’t ready for them to die but at any age they would have gone too soon. No matter what age someone you love dies, it will always break your heart.

I’m 36years old and I’ve been broody since I can remember. So the comments did feel like a personal attack on me. I’m often left doing ‘relationship + time x age – baby’ math and it weighs heavy on mind without even adding other people’s opinions into the sum!

I wonder how many women also reading the post felt like a selfish person, regardless of their background, their story? And how many will have thought twice about having a baby, due to these critics? That also hurts!

And for people to throw adoption into the ring like it’s the easy solution. Clearly they don’t know how hard it is for someone to actually get approved to adopt. My parents tried to adopt me, apparently going through court (I was too young to remember) but they were too old and white to be able to. Times have changed slightly but I know that it is still a tough process to go through.

I have always said that due to my upbringing I would like to adopt or foster children and that’s still the case. But I also have a deep yearning to experience the feeling of being pregnant, having the miracle of life growing inside me. And there is no way I’m going to let any naysayers derail me from that.

If a woman’s body wasn’t meant to have children after 35years old, then why is it capable of doing so?

I also want to know where the opinionated mob are when the men that are over 35 have children? Just because women carry the babies, why should they get all the stick? There are so many older fathers and minimum eyelids batted their way. Age is age and a parent is a parent.

This leads very nicely on to the second issue. I was going to rant about some ridiculous stats I’d seen and some seriously nasty badmouthing about single mothers. Women in the firing line – yet again! That shall be for a future post, I need to drink a lot more tea before I conquer this one.

If you’ve been guilty of airing your views on this topic without really thinking and looking into it, then I beg of you to take some time to look at different sides of the story. Indeed, I’m sure there are people who also have the personal experience and don’t agree with having children at a later age. You may come out of it with the same opinion and that’s okay, you’re allowed to but at least you’re wiser on the topic.

Before you become a keyboard warrior remember that the person who may happen across your post is a human, has feelings and has their reasons.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday  If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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It’s the 3 month countdown……

We are in October! I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve overheard people baffled by the month we’re now in. As if they were unaware that it was the month that follows September, which they were also shocked at when it came around.

I can’t believe it’s [insert month] already!

I laugh and take the piss but I am guilty of these conversations too. But seriously, how did we get to October so fast?

With three months left of 2017 I thought it would be a great time to review where I am with my year of vulnerability. Plus, I didn’t really have another topic that I necessarily wanted to write about. Writer’s block if you will! Hence not writing for over a week!

So I read my first ever post on my blog My year of vulnerability 😳 – it was basically about being single – and not wanting to be. And wanting to do better with my business.

10 months into the year and…….

  • I’m still single –  although at the time of writing this post (22.40pm on 2nd October), I have a date tomorrow.
  • I no longer have a business. Nor do I long to have one at the moment. You can read more about my change of heart and letting go of my business goals here – The write path 📝

This makes me laugh, not out loud though, okay I’m exaggerating slightly, I’m not laughing, I’m smirking – as a part of me thought having a blog as a platform to be vulnerable was like stumbling across Aladdin’s lamp, and that in the year to follow I would have ticked off my wants:

img_3986 But there was no Aladdin’s lamp – which I am grateful for. As if I’d have got what I thought I wanted, that ‘surface-level’ want, I would have been working on a business that wasn’t right for me and who knows what type of boyfriend the lamp would have brought me – shudder!m grateful because having this blog has unearthed in me a strength and courage I didn’t realise I had. I still get clammy palms and a racing heart every time I press ‘publish’ to release another part of my private thoughts, worries, dreams BUT I also take a step closer to appreciating who I am.

img_5971 During my three month hiatus from Facebook my posts became braver, more raw and my following increased. I now have 57 followers! Which isn’t many in the world of blogging but it means everything to me.

These followers are people I didn’t know before I started my blog. They cheer me on, they support my journey and sometimes a part of what I say resonates with them. If you’re reading this post dear follower – thank you! ❤️

I am also grateful of conversations that have taken place following posts that I’ve made. Conversations that would probably not have happened if I’d kept my thoughts to myself.

When I write I’m not only finding out more about myself but I’m finding out about others too and I know that I’m not on this journey alone.

I never expected to talk openly about losing loved ones, my anxiety and panic attacks, racism, feeling lonely, ugly, stupid…….etc. Like I said at the beginning it was surface level stuff.

I’m so pleased I scratched the surface and have kept on scratching, revealing parts of myself I’ve shielded for too long. As this blog has made something shift inside me and it warms my heart that it has inspired others too.

Who knows what will happen as the final months roll in? Maybe my knight in shining armour will come but if he doesn’t it really doesn’t matter. As it is no longer about that. It has never really been about that.

It’s about me finding happiness in ‘being me’ – unapologetically me!

I’ve also realised that the name of my blog, although catchy, if I do say so myself, is a tad misleading as vulnerability isn’t a {year} destination, it is an ongoing continuous journey.

I’ve signed up to this bad boy for life!

Until the next post. Cheers!

img_1704 Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday  If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

A follow on to ‘I’ve got a confession to make’

In my post I’ve got a confession to make! I gave myself a challenge.

That was to ask a guy, who I have taken a shine to, out for a drink. Make it known that I like him.

After declaring to the world my blog that I was going to bite the bullet and just ask, I had days to wait until I had the opportunity.

And those days dragged.

And my imagination went wild.

And I was going to back down.

But………I did it!

It was my initial plan to ask him face to face but partly due to fears, partly due to not wanting to put him in an awkward position and partly to do with some other obstacles, I couldn’t find the right moment.

I left feeling like a failure and had a huge cloud of uncertainty clogging my mind, which to be fair could have quite easily been the alcohol! But that’s when I knew, I had to tell him.

So I sent a text.

A text felt like the easy way out so I still felt like a failure but hey, I figured, I’m a writer – that’s the way I work. Plus the only awkward silence I would have to deal with is the silence of my phone.

And the cloud began to disperse.

I didn’t get the answer I was looking for (in other words, it was a polite No’) but I got so much more.

img_3746

I had broken the curse of ‘not putting myself out there’ and the rejection didn’t sting as much as the regret would have.

So as I sit typing this blog with a smile on my face and a Bloody Mary by my side (I’m going to Notting Hill Carnival shortly), I now know that closure tastes so much sweeter than ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder’.

Therefore, I shall continue on my asking path!

img_3747
A quote from Danielle LaPorte which is so fitting.

Oh, and another thing – I am pleased to say that I haven’t had any more crazy thoughts about ironing!

Emma x

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emmalouhalliday/

p.s. If you like this, or any other of my posts, please do comment, like or share 🙂

 

I’ve got a confession to make!

Okay……….there’s two!

I feel really vulnerable about it as it’s when I’m at my weakest.

I like a guy.

Like. Really like a guy!

Not an online guy or a guy I think I like because I think he may like me and he said ‘Hey’. Seriously thought shit like this would stop in my thirties! Clearly I ignored the countless warnings from ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ – they definitely didn’t have it together.

Anyway, I digress! Back in the room.

I’m going to put on my ‘courageous cape’ (actually don’t own one of these) and let him know I like him. By……

asking him if he wants to go out for a drink!

Okay so I know this may not be a BIG thing for most people. But to me its massive!

Clearly my ways of trying to make it ‘known’ to guys in the past that I like them hasn’t worked.

So, it’s time to cut to the chase and just ask.

Regardless if the answer is: yes, no or………..silence. I’ll be so pleased that I’ve asked.

My career took off when I started to make it known what I wanted. Four promotions in 3.5years was possible because I asked and took action.

  • Alongside the four – Yes’
  • I got No’s
  • And even a silence… 2 years later, I’m still waiting to hear whether I got the job after having an interview! I knew the answer when I left the room but still they ignored me after countless calls and emails (they practically turned me into a stalker)

I got rejected and I’m still here and definitely in a better position than if I’d got that job.

Rejection sucks. But rejection from myself is no longer an option. I certainly shouldn’t be the one standing in the way of getting what I want it!

Whatever the answer is when I ask him out, I know that I’ll be in a better position than I am now. The unknown!

So wish me luck 🤞

(I’m also hoping he doesn’t read this blog – now that would be awkward).

Oh yes, the other confession.

I think I’m really nearly an adult!

Last night whilst changing my bedding. A thought crossed my mind that maybe I should iron it!

WTF!!

Can this be happening?

I immediately shook the ridiculous thought from my mind and left the iron in the cupboard.

I’m part schoolgirl with a crush and part old-maid wanting to iron things!

Here’s hoping you have a great week x

Emma x

p.s. If you have any tips on how to ask a guy out without looking desperate or sounding too awkward – throw them my way.

p.p.s. If you have any tips on how I can stop thinking about ironing before it gets to the stage where I’m grabbing pants and socks – throw them my way – right now!! Seriously!!

It’s time to FOCUS on August!

“Oh July August. What’s happened to you? You used to be so bright and have such a warmth about you. Now you’re miserable, keeping me in the dark, trying to dampen my spirits. I understand that change is good – but come on!”

This has been my conversation on most days when I leave my house burdened with a coat and umbrella. Hey, what can I say? I’m English, we love to moan about the weather.

Once I’m satisfied that I have given the weather we are currently having in England enough air time, my thoughts move onto what I’m going to focus on in August.

The words Generosity and Space rained down on me (excuse the pun), making me look at ways I could incorporate them into my goals for the month.

I would say that I’m a fairly generous person. I donate to three charities a month, always tips, give my spare change to buskers and the homeless, love to gift friends and spend a lot of my free time visiting family/friends. So I was quite surprised that generosity was a strong contender. Until I looked deeper. As all of these things are second nature to me, they don’t push me forward to be more vulnerable.

How could I make being generous bring me out of my comfort zone and in turn give me valuable life lessons?

An email provided one of the answers. I was going to spend a full week volunteering at the youth centre I usually volunteer for 3hrs a week at. I wanted vulnerable and I got more than I bargained for – so much more!!

My volunteering uniform for the week!

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I am a ‘people pleaser’ and I ‘like to be liked‘. Well not this week……I became Miss Moany Pants. Constantly telling the young people off, asking them to respect the guys running the session and each other. Most of the time I opened my mouth it was to tell them to be quiet or to watch their words. I was a different me, it was tiring and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Looking back. After I had a large drink. Or two! And some time away from them. Away from my constant nagging. I realised that it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. What the theatre company and the young people put together in a week was wonderful.

I stepped away from my normal self and by becoming vulnerable, I developed more in character. I discovered things about me that I didn’t know before. I threw aside my shyness battles to be able to support the young people with their insecurities. I got through the days without raising my voice, I didn’t let grudges grow or use passive aggressive means to protect myself. I used my skills to highlight their strengths – of which they had plenty. It really was a money can’t buy experience.

I already respected teachers, youth and social workers but WOW – I commend any one who spends so much of their time working with young people.

Another way I looked at being generous was with dating. To be generous with my choices and to not be ruled by physical attraction.

Last week I had a long overdue catch up with one of my best-friends from childhood. Of course the conversation turned to dating. And my lack of it.

She told me how she used to go for what she perceived to be her ‘type’ and how it would lead to nothing but heartache. Until one day her friend told her to cast her net wider, give other guys a chance. Taking those words on board she met someone who wasn’t her ‘type’ on paper. Almost three years later she is happier than she’s ever been.

I love and respect this friend so when she suggested I try OKCupid, as a few of her good friends had met their long time partners on there. It wasn’t long until I downloaded the app. Taking the time to thoroughly complete the profile and answer as many of the questions that didn’t make me cringe or shudder! Yes, I do have a blog that’s about being open and vulnerable. No I don’t want to answer questions about sexual positions and fantasies.

6 days in and I’ve had 635 likes and 52 messages! So my ego has been dancing around, feeling flattered that so many guys have liked me. I in return have responded to two messages. TWO! Online dating is so time consuming and in my defence I’ve been silly busy the past week, hence not blogging for sometime. I also don’t like to lead people on, in the past I’ve responded saying ‘thank you, but you’re not my type’ which then led to more messages, stealing more time. Still – I can’t help feeling bad and maybe I will respond to them all.

In all honesty I’m also still struggling with giving someone a chance online that I’m not attracted to. I don’t view myself as a shallow person – maybe I am? BUT meeting someone in person is different. You get to know them, see their quirks. Just like my friend did.

I’m not giving up just yet. I deserve to be generous to myself and to others. So baby steps. I’m going to take time to read some profiles and respond to the ones that make me smile regardless of the profile picture that occupies it. Wish me luck.

So I don’t take up too much space in this post (oh yeah the puns keep on coming). I’m going to post about my other focus in another blog post, later this week.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

The Dating Rollercoaster!

I started the night secretly retrieving tissue from my pocket……to wipe sweat from my forehead. I ended the night forgoing the tissue as tears streamed down my face. 

What a night. 

What a mixture of emotions. 

Such is the life of a single girl, diving back into the world of dating. 

As I’ve mentioned on a couple of occasions, I am single! In my post, ‘The Single Side of Me’, I delve deeper into how I feel about it. 

One of the reasons I started my year of vulnerability was due to my single status, which – I put my hands up and admit – I am to blame for! 

As the great Jim Rohn said: “For things to change. You need to change.”

And boy do I want things to change. 


So I’m looking at my situation from different angles, donning different shoes. It’s scary, staring my demons head on, feeling the emotions. But with it I come through the other side with a lesson. 

Although……..I wasn’t expecting tears on the tube, on the way home from an event, to be part of the journey. 

It all started Wednesday night when I nervously arrived at Farr’s School of Dancing in Dalston, for a silent dating event. The event Shhh party, was something that I’d never experienced before but it wasn’t totally out of my comfort zone as I proudly have ‘improv skills’ on my CV. Plus, silliness definitely is in my DNA. 

Not a stranger to being alone in a room full of people due to countless networking events and courses I’ve attended, I found it interesting that I confidently strode up to 2 women and asked if I could join them. Usually I would linger around the side of the room waiting for someone to approach me. 

Dating stories were swapped and I admitted that it had been over a year since my last date and that I was eager to ramp it up again. Hence the deep end. This event!

We started off with a few warm up games, making our way around the room, in silence, introducing ourselves in various ways. There were about 30 men and women, almost equally split, so there was always someone new to greet. Each round of games required more energy, confidence and movement than its predecessor, which didn’t bode well for my skinny black jeans in an already hot room. 

As I mopped my brow, taking off my freshly done makeup in the process, I realised I didn’t mind as I was having so much fun. My face ached from smiling and I was eager to see how the night would unfold. 

The games continued, not all in silence. The host, Adam Wilder, was the perfect compère, hilarious and engaging. He explained the reasons for playing each game, which also turned out to be perfect life lessons. Totally up my street.  

After the break the games took a sensual turn, shining a respectful light on intimacy. Something that lacks in so many people’s lives, not just those that are single! I don’t want to divulge too much into the event for those that may be interested in going themselves. So I will just say the last game was surreal, powerful, beautiful and……….sad!

The evening ended with people staying on for drinks to talk, finally introducing themselves by name. Some people coupling off and leaving together. 

I got a number. 

A woman’s number. 

Yup. I got me a wing-woman!

On the phone to my friend as I headed back home, I was laughing as I expressively explained the set up. All of a sudden, without warning, the gloom set in and I was……..despondent. I felt rejected and further away from my goal. 

And I moaned. 
“In dating situations today you have to vie for attention and it often feels like the guy is the one pulling the strings. Making the decisions. Whilst the girl patiently waits. Takes unnecessary digs at herself. Compares herself. Why do I let myself get pulled into this situation time after time, without actually giving my permission?”

And I cried. 
“I was sad that no-one showed an interest, even though I wasn’t particularly interested in anyone. I was tired of always having to try when others only have to look at someone to be in a relationship. I was fed up of constantly being the 3rd wheel amongst friends. I felt happy and independent one minute and then so alone the next.”

And I blamed.
“Damn the time of the month making me extra hormonal. Is there a full moon? It feels like it. I’m tired. I’ve had a few to drink. It’s been a long day. It’s probably the stress of the election. Damn you Theresa May.”

And my friend.
Knowing how I feel about advice and papering over problems with sickly sweet throwaway words of comfort, remained silent. I loved her for it ❤️

I can’t speak for all single women, nor would I want to, but I’m sure the majority will agree when I say that there are a list of things that we’re sick of hearing. I scribbled my top 5 down to include in this post but then realised it didn’t flow. So my ranting list will be in a separate post – you lucky folks you! 

Sometimes all anyone needs to feel better, is a non-judgemental person who will sit and listen. Listening is underused and underrated – in my opinion. Thanks to my friend’s ears, my tears soon dried and I was able to move on and the lessons, they came a-knocking. 

Lesson 1
Putting on some size 9 trainers, I looked at the guys that I had turned down in life. Who had bravely asked me out and I had snubbed their advances. Why was it any different when it happened to me? It’s hypocritical. We are all entitled to our choice. It just feels like I’m playing snap with no sets of pairs in the card deck. 

Lesson 2
As I was drifting off to sleep I laughed as I realised that this was what vulnerability felt like. I had asked for this. To be open, on my quest for love, could mean……..hurt, pain, rejection! I was firmly on the right path. This made me feel okay. Actually, this made me feel more than okay!

Lesson 3
When walking back from the polling station yesterday evening. I thought of Jim Rohn’s quote again and began to dissect it further. 

‘You need to change.’

I see this as not changing my personality to fit into someone else’s perfect partner mould. Instead, I see this as an opportunity to change into the person I want to be. A ‘me’ that would fit into my ideal relationship mould. 

I want my partner to be outgoing, open-minded, healthy, sporty and love the outdoors. I laugh as I try and remember the last time I went camping without it been a festival. Or the last time I went to the gym or picked up my kettlebells (which I’ve only used once). How can I expect to attract someone like this when I’m not this person myself? 

The lessons are always there. After the demons – they are there. Many people choose to spend most of their time entertaining the demons by playing hide and seek or wallowing with them. 

This time I chose to sit with them, with the pain. And I hurt. I moaned. I complained. I cried. Coming out of the other side feeling stronger and more certain than ever that I will not settle and will not give in! 

It cemented the fact that I still believe that I will get what I’m looking for. 

I’m so grateful for Shhhh Party for getting me there in the most fun rollercoaster dating experience I’ve had. I highly recommend it to anyone. Maybe you’ll meet your partner, a wing woman or a demon with a message. Whatever happens one thing I can almost guarantee is – you’ll have fun! You can check it out here www.shhhdating.com

Finally I am beyond grateful to my friend who was ‘silently’ with me as I battled my demons. You know who you are 😘. 

Emma x

p.s. On Sunday night I deactivated my Facebook for a much needed break, you can see why in my post ‘We are on a Break’.  This has resulted in a more open and raw account of my feelings. As the amount of people that this blog will reach is smaller than my other posts I felt more confident sharing. Plus, I don’t have the opportunity to sit watching FB waiting for the feedback. Phew!! 

If you have liked this post feel free to give it a share. 

Back to Black 🙋🏿

I asked the universe for a sign of what I should put in the spotlight next for my year of vulnerability and over the course of the week I had numerous ideas skip by me. 

There was the invitation that made it’s way to my inbox with an offer to do a couple of Brene Brown’s online courses. Well as she is one of the reasons I’ve decided to focus on vulnerability – that was a clear message. I was going to sign up and write about it, until…….

An old school friend got in touch to remind me that “It’s been 10yrs since our school reunion and 20yrs since we’d actually left school and did I want to arrange another?” 20yrs and my brain still calculates in school years!! Does this ever stop? 

My blogging clogs we’re going crazy as I was going to write about; having achieved nothing compared to others since leaving school, no children, no husband, no driving licence, no mortgage, no savings in the bank! Ooh this is it – I thought. Time to get vulnerable about life and the uncomfortable feelings that the school reunion has stirred up.  

That was until yesterday when I picked up the book ‘Stupid White Men’. I had come across the book last year in a charity shop and started to read it immediately. A chapter in and for some reason I stopped – even though I was enjoying it. Yesterday, thinking about the next General Election, I was inclined to start reading it again. So I have Theresa May to honestly thank for that. 

Devouring chapters on the train, I was taken aback when my heart joined my mind collaborating to take in the message. And there I was. Sat on a Virgin train from Birmingham to London – and I’m crying. To a Michael Moore book that is almost 16years old! I’m shedding tears on the train and I’m asking for forgiveness. This message is too strong to run from now and I am asking for forgiveness that I haven’t faced the fact that – I am black!

I’m not coloured blind. I know my skin colour but I’ve never embraced it. Preferring to focus on my personality, my soul and everything else but! Not wanting to be judged by my colour and not wanting to add more ammunition to my ‘token black’ crown – it being a more unspeakable topic than saying the word cunt. 

But this book sang out and I got the message that I am hiding my race so much that it’s time the vulnerability spotlight shone on me. Shone on my dark skin – my black features and for once staying at surface level – shining a light on my black casing. 

I was brought up with a white family in the 80’s and we never discussed my colour. I was a part of the family – and that was that. I always laugh when my friend tells me about when she came round to mine for the first time and my dad answered the door. My old white dad. This gave her a surprise as I’d never mentioned it – I didn’t even think to. Yes, I’d experienced small boughts of racism and received ample confused stares but apart from that my life was solid. So I grew up on the privilege tightrope – basically my head was buried in the sand.

As I’m here to be honest, I’m going to admit that when I was younger I gave most black people a wide berth as the media portrayed them us as dangerous, poor, helpless, trouble causers, thieves……(insert stereotypical comment here). I was confused as that didn’t relate to me but I did see it in others. 

I got bullied for my dark skin at school………by a black boy, rejected and put down in front of a group of kids by another. The 2 fights I’ve had in my life were at the wrath of black girls, I hated getting my hair done as all the hairdressers I went to when I was younger were rude. I just couldn’t see myself as ‘one of them’. So I built my bubble and tried to disassociate myself! 

I actually didn’t realise I was doing this at the time and thankfully I grew out of that but as the memories come marching in – it hurts. 

The dots have connected behind me and I’m in pain 

and I’m embarrassed 

and I’m crying 

and I’m asking for forgiveness. 

The many actions that I’ve undertaken to protect myself come flooding back to me:

  • Speaking out loud when I felt uncomfortable in a situation where I’m the only black person so people could hear my accent. My strong, born and bred, Yorkshire tones.
  • In a quest to fit in (outside of my family and close knit friendships) I secretly bought some whitening soap that would lighten my skin. If I was going to be black, I could be a few shades lighter! Thank god that didn’t last unfortunately some women are still scrubbing and bleaching themselves to this day. 
  • Holding in my anger so not to be judged as ‘an angry aggressive black woman’ or ‘diva’. 
  • Being upbeat and smiley in public even if I didn’t feel like it – because it hurt to be labelled ‘a black girl with attitude’ for having a down day. 

I did know I was black though – there were many episodes to remind me of that. Like the time that I met a guy at my local bar and went back to his for a night cap. No sooner had the drink been poured than his mother appeared at the living room door. Taking one look at the situation (boy on sofa – space – girl on sofa) and she left the room – hurtling up the stairs to shout “There’s a black girl in the living room!” This was not in the deep American South in the 50’s – this was 90’s North Leeds! I cursed the twat of a guy that dared to take me into such a toxic place and before slamming the door thanked his cock blocking mum for making me understand the world that little bit better. 

But then I had my white family, my white and asian friends and so many good people surrounding me that the horrific experience became a story and another layer of numb that I didn’t know I was wearing. 

Yesterday’s train journey thawed me out. And I cried as Michael Moore talked about the hidden racism that African-American’s are faced with on a daily basis in America. As statistics jumped off the page into my eyes, I realised that now was the time for me to stand up and fully embrace who I am. Yes I would rather people see me as Emma first and I have been fortunate enough for that to happen on most occasions. But this isn’t about just me. It’s about others that deserve fairness, justice, a chance and better opportunities – and I need to lend my voice to theirs. Not to flash the race card but to actually highlight the hidden racism that snakes through the world and seeps itself unconsciously in to people’s minds. Like it seeped into mine. 

Before reading ‘Stupid White Men’ I read ‘Blink‘ by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book Malcolm states that many people of all races are unconsciously biased to black people and they don’t even realise it. He mentions a test called the IAT (Implicit Association Test) where the majority of people who complete it have an automatic preference to white people – black people included. Malcolm Gladwell himself completed the test on numerous occasions and kept leaning to the white. Despite being born to a black mother and white father. I’m going to do the test myself so will feedback on that. I read page after page of how the unconscious mind even if just for a split second will judge on the appearance and parts of me ached. 

I ached because I know deep down I’ve missed out on jobs because of the way that I looked. I ached because I know that certain guys won’t even take a second look at me because my colour is alien to them – fuck my personality! I ached because I know that every single year without fail someone will call me either Serena or Venus when Wimbledon is on. If I actually looked like one of them I would get called it all year round – like I do with Whoopie Goldberg (which I’ve finally made my peace with)! Whilst I know that these throwaway thoughts, comments and unconscious actions aren’t done with malice or said with racist undertones, they can’t help but create invisible barriers and fractured mindsets. 

For example, when I visit new places (countries – cities) before I can fully relax I scan the streets looking for a black face so that I can let my guard down knowing I’m not the only one. When watching TV shows or films, I am wound up tightly when a black person is on the screen – worrying how they’re going to be portrayed. In the back of my mind I knew I did this but didn’t realise the significance until now. I put it down to me being sensitive or too politically correct. When in all honesty this shit needs to stop and I’m saying now – this is NOT okay.  

Tears stream down my face as I realise what I have to do. I have to finally break free from my protective bubble and play my part in re-painting the stereotype. Unmute myself from the injustices that are happening in the world and confidently stand up tall. 

But before I even get to that, the first stage is to actually love the black lass I see in the mirror. All of her. Not just what’s on the inside but the beautiful ebony skin that I live in!

Love Emma x

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