Selfish

I have been called selfish a number of times in my life.

Always by men. Never for the reasons I would consider valid.

I am selfish in a number of ways and wouldn’t dispute that. I am naturally a loner, I prefer my own company over that of most other people. I don’t play well in teams nor enjoy group projects, preferring to work alone. I do not like a large group of close friends, liking to keep just a few I feel safe and comfortable with. I am selfish, I prefer to be with my self.

But that is not why I am called selfish by men. I am called selfish by men because I do not fulfill a role they require of me. I don’t give them what they want.

I was called selfish by a friend. He had feelings for me, emotions that were strong, and he expected me to reciprocate those feelings and to trust him and value him above all others. I didn’t reciprocate them. I didn’t trust him nor feel safe with him. I did not value his friendship enough. Selfish. When I did not give him the desired responses to his advances, nor answer correctly about how much he was meant to mean to me, I failed him. It was because I am selfish not because I am entitled to my own feelings.

I was called selfish by my ex-brother-in-law. He talked to me about his girlfriend and a fight they had, he told me what he wanted to do and what he wanted her to do, and told me how distressed he was. I sided with her. I explained that just because he wants her to do things a certain way it doesn’t mean she is obligated to and sometimes you just have to accept that people are who they are, not who you want them to be. Selfish. Because I didn’t not give him the answers he wanted.

I was called selfish by a friend who wanted to have sex with me. A friend who I was regularly alone with, who I trusted, who I allowed to spend time with my child. I refused sex and he believed it was his right to “convince me”, believed I was playing hard to get. A friend who believed our friendship was a coy flirtation leading to a sexual relationship. It wasn’t, it was a friendship. He tried to have sex with me, I refused him. He grabbed me, I pushed him away. He chased me, I ran.  A friend who called me selfish because our friendship was what I valued, not the chance it might lead to sex. Selfish because I wouldn’t have sex with him.

I was called selfish by a friend whilst working out in the gym. I often worked out with a friend, despite preferring to work alone, because it made it a better experience for him and he benefitted more from it. So I got involved and helped out, and for the most part I enjoyed it. But not always. Sometimes I was tired and couldn’t keep up to the standards he wanted, selfish. Sometimes I my head was full and I just needed to work out to clear it rather than focussing on him, selfish. Sometimes I didn’t want to be serious and just wanted to goof off and have fun, selfish. The fact it was my gym too and my pleasure in it was why I joined was irrelevent, I was there to serve a purpose and when I failed at that it was because I was selfish. It drained the fun for me.

Selfish.

To put myself before others.

I am selfish. I cannot give myself to people in the way they want. I cannot be a person I’m not just to make people happy. Selfish.

I have been called selfish for refusing sex. I have been called selfish for rejecting advances. I have been called selfish for not having the emotional response men have wanted from me.

My advice is this; be selfish. If being selfish means respecting yourself, not putting yourself in positions that make you uncomfortable, and trusting your instincts, then be selfish. Because it’s not selfish. It’s self respect, self love, and self protection.

Surround yourself by people who love you for who you are not what you can do for them. People who respect your choices and feelings, who don’t demand they change to suit their needs. Be you that you are, not the you that they want you to be.

You are valuable for you who are and not the function you can perform.

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Sharing Passions

I have two real passions in life; my baby girl and my writing. There are lots of things I love, lots of things I enjoy, but making a baby and writing have always been my life goals.

The Boy is similarly minded. His creativity is generally aimed more at music than words, but he has always longed to write but been too apprehensive to actually put his words out there. Until now.

The Boy has decided to start a blog. He is a man of many thoughts and many words, and indeed takes a lot of time to talk through the various complicated thoughts he has on many complicated things. As I write this he is “giving me a Hans Zimmer score to my blog within a blog” which seems to involve him dramatically waving his arms around and shouting “Dahhhhhh dahhhhhhh!” whilst two confused toddlers look at him with both judgment and bewilderment.

Whilst I am thrilled that he has found the courage to unleash his thoughts in written word for the world to see, as I know that when I began publishing my writing it was terrifying, I am equally torn.

Why?

Writing is MY thing. I cannot write music, I cannot play an instrument, and I cannot sing. He can do all those things and he can do them well. I can write. Writing is mine.

What if he’s more successful than me? What if his readership is bigger than mine? What if he manages to formulate a book faster than I did, and finds a publisher for said book when I have not yet managed for the two I have ready and waiting. What if he writes better than I do? What if people enjoy his words more than they enjoy mine?

Will my joy in my words and my writing be lessened if The Boy’s new venture surpasses mine? Writing is my love, my life, my passion. Words, to me, are of the utmost beauty. The utmost value. To lose that would mean losing a huge part of myself and that terrifies me.

Obviously I am being somewhat melodramatic. Others having success in something I love does not depleat my love for it. Does not take away any successes I do achieve and does not mean I love what I do less for it. I love The Boy and if he shares the love for the written word that I share then that is building more love between us, and more love can never be a bad thing.

The Boy shall be writing about films and TV shows mainly. Analyising them, rating or slating them. He has a fascinating way with words and a beautiful use of language. He thinks deeply and intently, and will find avenues of exploration into things I have seen that change my perception of them completely. He is fascinating, he is smart, and he’s very strange. I picture him sat before my computer, a Guinness in his hand, and a contemplative look upon his face. He shall stare at the blank screen as a sculpture stares at a block of marble, then he shall (after a bit more staring and several more pints of Guiness) chip away at that marble until a piece of writing that he is proud to launch into the world is sculpted.

And if he gets published before me I shall cry. And binge eat chocolate. Then cry some more. Then proudly hold his hand and celebrate him achieving greatness in a field I respect above most others.

The Boy’s blog is here, read it, love it. Tell me you love mine more. No I’m just kidding… sort of.

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Familiar Territory

When a couple becomes very familiar with one another it is easy for the sexual spark to dwindle. You know one another’s bodies so well there is no nervous apprehension building sexual tension, no more exciting discovery as you explore one another and find out what makes one another tick.

You know how to get one another to the place you want to get to and sex effectively becomes a set pattern of movements you go through without thinking about it. Day to day life can take over, discussions about bills or chores take the place of impromptu sex. Evenings are dedicated to pursuits to recover from the stress of the day such as watching Netflix or playing Xbox, the anticipation and excitement of seeing one another no longer distraction enough from the pressure of reality.

Sex can become not only rare but for many a chore. It is something you do because you feel you “ought” to, something to keep your partner from nagging, and so you go through the motions whilst thinking about tomorrow’s shopping or what outfit you should wear out for dinner with your friends at the weekend. When excitement and passion die, so does desire.

To combat the dull sexual rut that long term couples slide into, it’s easy to go from short term affair to short term affair; exciting, heat filled passion that is allowed to drift away before over familiarity takes hold.

It is one of the reasons people in long term relationships stray. When the lust and passion dies they crave it, long for it, and can no longer be satisfied by the occasional, begrudging sexual encounter of their long term partner. Their lust outweighs their loyalty.

So if this is the case, what do you do?

You need to find the passion for the familiar. There is something so exciting about stealed moments with a lover who’s body you know as well as your own. Sexual tension does not need to require emotional distance, it can come from craving the touch and feel of a body because you know how amazing that touch and feel is. It can come from the strength of the existing emotional connection and the desire to both satisfy and be satisifed.

Prioritise sexual contact, even if full sex doesn’t happen, make time just to hold one another and touch one another. Even if you are not feeling like sex to begin with, so often just the act of gentle physical intimacy and lead you to long for more.

Stop expecting sex to be a nuclear explosion all the time. Sex does not need to be a race to orgasm, sex can be about just having sex for the sake of intimacy. Sex is the thing you do with your lover and only your lover. Without it the person you live with is just a friend, a companion. You may as well be living with your best mate. That union, that connection, to physically be within one another’s bodies, that is a level of intimacy that cements a romantic relationship as something greater than companionship and friendship.

And remember it’s okay to laugh. To be dorky. To giggle. You know each other so well that there is no need to perform, no need to worry. If the encounter isn’t passion and lust driven, but “hey, we’re together and alone and have some time” driven, then you can have light hearted, fun sex. Plus sex is kind of weird, bodies make strange noises, you make strange faces, and if you’re slamming in a quickie just for the sake of fun, you may find yourself in tricky or amusing positions just to suit your surroundings. Stop being so serious and just go with it.

Long term love sex can, in my experience, be far greater in satisfaction and pleasure than any short term lust driven encounter. Short term can be fun of course, but there is no guarantee you will get anything satisfying out of it, and no guarantee you won’t come away feeling hurt, and no guarantee of when you’re next going to get it. Long term, if you keep the fire going, is guranteed satisfaction, guaranteed emotional safety, and guaranteed regulurity.

Familiar territory does not have to mean boring.

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The Bad Reputation of Back Hair

A hairy back is one of those things that women recoil from in horror when the bodies of men are discussed. “Ewww” is regularly heard when the subject comes up.

Why, ladies, why?

A furry man is warm and snuggly. His fluffyness saves on heating bills because at night you can scrunch up into the hair as insulation, and it doesn’t matter which way he’s facing, you still get that downy, soft and super warm heated teddy bear to cuddle up to.

Waxing is expensive. I can’t afford to get all my various hairy areas waxed regularly and there is significantly less fluff on me than there is coating a man’s body. If you don’t make him get waxed he can use the money he would have spent on waxing on things such as bottles of wine and cinema tickets. Personally I would rather get sozzled with a sexy hairy man after watching the latest Avengers movie, than sit at home with a glass of water whilst my man winces as he sits on the sofa because his back skin is raw.

When a man leaves his back furr in place it suggests a degree of confidence that the waxers of the world lack. If a man can strut from the beach to the sea, or the bathroom to the bedroom, wearing his pelt with pride you have to respect it. That confidence says “what I’m going to do to you will make you forget your own name, let alone the fuzz on my back”.

Hair removal is time consuming. SO time consuming. I am a lazy hair remover but I do it begrudgingly. Every so often I smooth my legs, and my love of swimming means you know I need to keep certain southern hemisphere fluffs under control. Lady hair is finer and covers a smaller and easier to reach area. The same razor can be used multiple times and the fluff can be whizzed off easily in the shower. A bloke’s back is a significantly larger area with thick fuzzy man fur in a difficult to reach place. It would take the poor chap ages, or it would take you ages. This time that could be spent trying to make his back smooth could be spent on drinking wine, watching the latest Avengers movie, and you know… forgetting your own name. Priorities, ladies!

Give a furry man a chance. If he looks like he’s wearing a wooly jumper when he’s naked you might want to conform to societal norms and avoid it, but honestly that’s just nuts.

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An Ideal Man?

An article on Hello Giggles was recently posted discussing women’s image of an “ideal man”. It compared the “hunk” that men expected women to want with the “guy next door” that was described in reality.

It made me think. My “ideal man” has changed over time, changed with experiences and time. Changed as I have grown and developed.

DISNEY PRINCE

As a little girl I wanted Prince Charming. Having binge watched simpering sweethearts such as Cinderella and Snow White, I firmly believed a man would sweep me off my feet, ride off into the sunset with me, and I would live happily ever after surrounded by crystal shoes and bunny rabbits that liked ironing.

Of course, hitting puberty swiftly proved that a) men like that don’t exist and b) I’m not a girl like that anyway.

 

BAD BOYS

As a young teen I was madly in love with a long haired drummer named Greg. He and his friends smoked weed, drank beer, and listened to rock music with swear words in. We all hung around together with purple hair and spikes round our necks, at grungey gigs where grungey boys played grungey music. I wanted a bad boy with a heart, someone wild and exciting with an obvious and utter devotion to me.

Turns out bad boys are just bad. They may well have a heart and a kindness that comes out with age and maturity, but when you’re a bunch of adolescents drinking cheap beer and feeling each other up in the park, that age and maturity is far away. Several heart breaks down the line and I gave up that one.

 

HOTTIES

After high school I started my partying phase. I hung out with hot girls in hot clubs drinking trendy drinks. We flirted and we danced, and finding a man hotter than the one your friend had her leg wrapped around was the order of business. I was a homing missile for good looks, firm muscles, tight butts, and the personality of a radish.

Boring. They look good, but they’re so concerned with the fact they look good that it’s all consuming. And if you don’t look good for a second you’re out of the picture and replaced by someone with bigger breasts, poutier lips and far more hair.

 

OLDER RICH GUYS

In my early twenties I went through a daddy-issues phase. I dated almost exclusively older guys. Men who loved having a much younger girl to show off, and treated me like a princess in order to keep my attention. So yes, I realise that basically I whored it about a bit, and I’m not proud of that, but I didn’t realise I was doing it. I fell utterly and totally in love with a man twenty three years older than me. He treated me better than any man I had met before, he was handsome, he was experienced and he was kind. He valued me. What he valued me for I will never know, but in my head and in my heart he valued me as more than just a hot young twenty year old he could show off.

Massive age gaps, whilst appealing, are often doomed. I wanted to be an average twenty something, they wanted to be average forty somethings. I had knowledge and experience of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Greenday, they had knowledge of Richard Burton movies and The Beatles. However loving and exciting they were, they were hopelessly and tragically doomed from the start as neither could artificially conform to the other’s basic relationship requirements for the long term.

 

STABILITY

I had been flakey and promiscuous, flitting from friendship group to friendship group, lover to lover, and finally was ready to slow down. I met my husband. He rapidly peed all around me and made his mark, I was taken. Same man, same face, same friends, same pubs. I was off the market. The initial excitement and passion died rapidly and stability and routine took over.

Well, we all know how that ended. We were more housemates than lovers, more vague friends than partners. The beautiful finality of divorce ended that phase.

 

HOTTIES #2

I went back to hotties. I was fresh out of a long term relationship and I wanted someone beautiful. I got it, I enjoyed it. I had fun and I rediscovered myself and my life and my body. Hotties were obviously a great time.

But hotties #2 ended for the same reasons as hotties #1. Good looks and hot bodies does not equal a long term relationship.

THE BOY

I met The Boy as I was reaching the end of my hotties phase. I had experienced fun and passion and excitement, and I was pretty much done with men. I was bored of it, fed up, and ready to just write off men for a while.

The Boy is hot, like my hotties. He is stable, like my husband. He is naughty, like the bad boys. He treats me like a princess, like the older guys. The Boy is what my experiences and types all lead to. The Boy is my ideal but he is not what I expected at any point. He conforms to none of the standards I anticipated I would need.

Maybe my ideal hasn’t changed as much as I have changed.

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Plague House

After The Ex-Husband, and before The Boy, I had a major life changing relationship. It was with my house.

At the start of May 2014, Miss Rose and I moved out of our family home in the countryside into our little terrace house in Stafford. It is small, quite dark, and not perfect for everyone but it gave us everything we needed and we loved that house as much as anyone could. That house represented a lot for us.

Moving into that house was the start of our new life. That house gave us freedoms. We could walk everywhere, and did daily, and were able to socialise with ease. I started dating again and experienced a new world in relationships as an adult, a mother, and someone who had been wounded but come through stronger than ever.

In that house Miss Rose turned from a baby into a little girl. In that house I learned just how capable I actually am. In that house I finished writing two books. In that house I felt love, pain, joy, passion, fear. In that house I was hurt and I was cared for. In that house I fell in love with The Boy and felt my life change course forever. That house was not the cause for these changes, these experiences, but it was the base for them. It was our home.

It changed.

We moved in the Spring. The Summer had some seriously hot weather. For 6 months we didn’t have a working oven, despite constantly asking for help, but we coped just fine. For 3 days we didn’t have any hot water, but it was Summer and we just showered at the gym. We got by. We were told not to use the fireplace because it was dangerous, but it was Summer so we didn’t worry about it.

Then the weather changed. The rain came. The mould started.

Water ran down the bedroom walls. As fast as I cleaned the mould off the walls it grew again. I asked for more help.

I was told that if I didn’t clean the mould off I would be charged and it was my fault. I panicked. I couldn’t understand what I was doing but I believed them. I kept trying to clean it, it kept growing. It grew high up on the ceiling over the stairs and I would have needed to get up ladders over the stairwell and I was scared. I was told to bleach it. I was told the damp was because of my lifestyle. Because I shower, because I cook, because I breathe.

Then the central heating failed. It was December, it was cold, and we had no heating. It was so cold. No heating, mould, and damp.

My little dog got so sick the vets predicted she would be dead in a couple of months. The doctor checked out Miss Rose and I and assessed us as pre-asthmatic. Exposure to the mould spores was causing irrevocable damage to our health and if we didn’t get it fixed soon as would both come down with asthma.

I called my dad for help.

I am stubborn, I am pigheaded, and I am proud. I wanted to be able to handle everything on my own and I wanted to prove that I didn’t need a man to fix things for me. I gave up.

Help me, daddy!

Understandably he was furious. The dog was shipped off to his house, where she made an immediate recovery and is now a happy and healthy little mutt who charges around like normal. He got environmental health in, a very nice man who checked out all the causes of the problems and ascertained it was actually the holes in the roof (literal holes you can see sunlight through), the missing tiles, the gaps in the render, and the cracks in the flashing that caused the damp. He called a surveyor who found rising damp in the plaster which had previously been painted over and gradually seeped through. He called an electrician who classed the electrics in the house as Category 1 dangerous due to bad installation and maintenance. He called a plumber who classed the boiler, which was not working since before Christmas, as irrepairable and in dire need of replacement.

It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t because I cooked, lived, breathed. It wasn’t my fault. It was the house. It was the landlord. Faults which I wasn’t to blame for and were genuine problems with the property which I couldn’t control.

They continued to blame me. It was my fault. They argued with the environmental health officer (which may I just say pissed him off no end), and they argued with my father (which quite honestly is like spraying a bull in the face with red coloured acid spray and not expecting to get gouged in the face).

I have been evicted.

Goodbye house. Goodbye place where memories were made, lives were restarted, strength was discovered, and love was found. Goodbye my first home as a single mother. Goodbye.

It dawned on me that I was seen as weak. A single mother on benefits. I was easy to take advantage of, I wouldn’t fight, I wounldn’t argue. I would be too scared, perhaps too unintelligent. They could send me up ladders over the stairs with bleach and make me feel like it was my duty or I would be in trouble and have me do their dirty work. They could make me and my baby suffer through no heating because it was cheaper than actually resolving the problem. They could let me raise my child amongst dangerous electrics because it was easier than having them made safe. Weak. Vulnerable. Easy to take advantage of.

I wish I hadn’t had to go to my father for help. I wish I had been able to stand up for myself. I wish I was stronger.

But what I do have is support, and I have help. I have my dad fighting for me, my mum comforting me. I have The Boy loving me, and I have The Boy’s mum helping me. I have Miss Rose.

And I have anger. I have shock. My property was destroyed by mould; books, clothes, pictures, furniture. My dog was nearly killed. My baby was nearly made dangerously ill. And because somebody thought they didn’t have to bother with me because I am a single mum on benefits. Because I am weak and immaterial. Because I am just one a dozen lining up to be walked all over by people who think they are better than me.

Screw you, Mr Landlord. I am not weak and I do matter. You didn’t just take advantage of me,  you took advantage of my innocent little girl who asked for none of this. Screw you.

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Why I’m Nice To My Ex-Husband

Right now my ex-husband is in Austria, ski-ing with his friends. His Facebook has photos from the airport, him on a snowy hillside with his arms round a beautiful young girl, and references to how much fun he is having.

It’s almost a year to the day that he walked out of our home, leaving me and our baby daughter behind, and ignoring all attempts to contact him for nearly two months. He disappeared. He informed me of his intention to leave us via a Facebook message… after kissing me goodbye in the morning and promising to let me know if he has thoughts on what we should have for dinner.

He does not pay maintenance for Miss Rose, doesn’t provide any childcare, and visits rarely. He spends most of his time with his friends (much as when we were still married) and asking people to come for coffees at Costa.

By all accounts, and according to pretty much everyone (including my divorce lawyer) I have every right to be… for want of a better word… a bitch to him. But I’m not. We get on fine.

I’m nice to my ex-husband because he will always be in my life. We are connected. We have biology in common in the form of an innocent little girl who never asked to be born, never asked me to marry her father, never asked him to leave. A little girl who didn’t choose her parents, didn’t choose to be raised by a single mum, and didn’t ask for a life of conflict. A little girl who, quite frankly, deserves better.

Miss Rose adores her father. When he’s here she’s absolutelsy thrilled and loves to play with him, show him her toys, and climb on him. She gives him kisses and cuddles. It used to stress her out and after his visits she would have violent outbursts, tantrums and screaming fits, raging at me and begging for him to come back. Now she just waves goodbye and gets on with what she was doing. His presence pleases her, his absence is irrelevent.

Whether he chooses to step away from her life gradually or to increase his involvement is up to him. I won’t force his hand either way. If he’s involved with her I want it to be because he wants to be and because he values her, if I try and force it she will be the one who ends up suffering. If he steps away I want it to be because he wants to stop bothering, if I try and force him out Miss Rose will resent me.

I am planning to build Miss Rose a new family, a new life. I would like to make her a sibling and The Boy is making an incredible father figure whom she hero worships. If over time she and her biological father do grow apart then, in honesty, it would probably make my life easier. However, it is not my place to choose that for her. Just because I feel irritated by his lack of involvement in her life, and his lack of financial support for her, it does not mean I will cut him from her life.

If I am not going to cut him from her life then I am going to have him in my life as well. If I am going to have him in my life as well I am going to be nice to him. If I am not nice to him we will argue, we will fight. If we fight Miss Rose will be around anger and cruel words, an atmosphere of tension and unhappiness. If Miss Rose is around that, she will blame herself for the two people she loves most, her parents, being unhappy. Miss Rose is not to blame for our situation and if she tries to shoulder that burden it will break my heart.

So, for these reasons, I am nice to him. I smile when he tells me he’s off to Austria, I laugh when he jokes about how much money he spends in Costa, and I greet him with a hug and a warm smile. I put my feelings aside and enjoy his company, chat to him, laugh with him, and offer him kindness. The pay off is Miss Rose. She is raised in a relaxed, happy world with relaxed, happy parents. She has family and friends around her, and her father is not a negative force in her world.

I will always be nice to my ex-husband. Sometimes it’ll be harder than other times, and when I’m surrounded by people telling me to give him hell it’s difficult to argue with the logic, but I will ALWAYS be nice to my ex-husband. Even if it’s through gritted teeth.

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