Married but Single

Freedom of speech and Equal opportunities – the very definition of the world we live in now. Not quite.

The complexity of these social issues goes beyond the need for change.Within every individual case, there are barriers, different barriers for all. Like the mutation of covid, the fight for freedom of speech and equal opportunities is an up hill battle. You may be thinking, that change is on the horizon, as more people are speaking out and standing up for what they believe is right. However, there are indivduals worldwide who are not aware that there is a fight going on or that what they are experiencing isn’t right or simply they are just numb with fear and unable to put their experience into words.

When we reflect upon the fight to close the gender pay gap, generally we see a rough idea of what we would like to achieve. However, behind many doors there are women who by no fault of their own… or maybe by fault of their own are trapped. There are mothers who fight every day to keep a peaceful home, fight everyday to keep the children well and happy. There is now a great awareness of domestic, sexual absue and even coercive control. Where women who live as Wife, Mum, Daughter and Sister; there you will find untold stories about manipulation and abuse that has occured in different shapes and sizes. The barriers that come up against women are very real but the unique nature of each experience does not simply have the same exit route as society would expect.

At the age of 20, I gave birth to my eldest. 8 years down the line, I am Mum to three wonderful individuals. I have said on many occassions that I have grown up with my children, from a very naive 19 year old to the woman I am today. There is no room here for the blame game, however, there is room for the truth. For the past 8 years, I have been married but single. What this means is that from the birth of my daughter, I have changed ever single nappy, done every bath time, every bedtime, every school concert, every dinner, every…really the list could go on. I’m not here to big myself up (although… Well done Beth, you’re a bloody saint) but I want to share my reality and the reality of many others. From the outside it may look like I am a willing housewife who adores her duties. Well, no. I am a woman who thrives in education, a woman who passionately desires to achieve and a woman who wants to be heard. The psychology behind all of this probably stem from the occassional sting of oppression, a constant reminder that I am just a woman, just a Mum, just a Wife. As I mentioned before, I have grown with my children and like a child I spent many years seeking affirmation from the people around me and it is a habit that has stayed with me. This deep scar is rooted at the centre of me. I fear that the words I say will be wrong, I fear that the wrong person will call my number, I fear that if I leave kitchen in a mess I will be less of a wife or Mum. The reality is, these deeply rooted struggles and scars are present among many. In all honesty most days just look like survival for me, but these kind of days are lessening. I am embracing my opportunity to study, embracing my opportunity to wear makeup, embracing my opportunity to stay up late to watch a series on BBC and finally, the saddest of all, I cling to this blog where I can share my thoughts in the knowledge that no one in my house actually reads it or is remotely interested in it. These opportunities are fulfilled with an underlying fear, however I have realised that I must claim my life back. Life was given by God and belongs to no one else.

To my sisters who do EVERYTHING and more. Power to you, POWER TO YOU! I am with you.

Confrontation

As an individual, I have for a very long time tredded the rocky path of avoiding confrontation. Whether it’s the fear of being hurt or hurting someone else; I have been weighed down on so many occasions. Weighed down by the words of others, weighed down by the fear of letting people down and being weighed down by the future.

Reflecting upon this, I build up a landscape of various stages in my life where this fear of confrontation may be rooted. It is actually hard to say specifically as it is not directly rooted by a physical experience. However, the more I become aware of empathy and what this means within my life, I see strength and weakness. As a child, I was deeply effected by the pain of others. I recall one day in high school, my history teacher who in fact was quite an angry person (or seemed that way) came into class swiftly, in tears, abruptly putting a video tape on and then soon after leaving the class still in tears. To the entertainment of many in the class, this whole experience was quite amusing. Although it’s easy to laugh at the jokes being made, my curiosity bothered me and left me concerned for this teacher. Obviously there was nothing I could do, but the pain she felt, I recognised, I wanted to know that she was okay.

It is definitely hard to explain being an empath, without sounding like a goody two shoes or someone who lacks sense of humour. The truth is though, empathy goes beyond sensing the pain of others, it senses the elation of a fellow, proud parent who has just been told that they’re child has had a good day today (on the back of many bad ones). If we begin to explore aspects of empathy that are non traditional, we begin to understand more about our own values.

Drawing back to confrontation, it could be said that confrontation is the opposite of having empathy. However, we must broaden our understanding that empathy is dynamic and should not be confused for sympathy.

Today, my empathy was drawn in many directions. During a post school run visit to the park with the three children and the puppy, I was faced with an unexpected confrontation. As I attempted to round up the gang, I headed towards the park gate to signal that Mummy means what she says “it is time to go”. With this, my excited four year old boy began one last run across the park, following another group of kids his age. Unfortunately he bumped, tripped or something along those lines into one of the girls. The parent of this child immediately scooped her up and followed my son across the park… to wait for it… to make him apologise for bumping into his daughter. With the parents friend onlooking, my son ran to me with his head hanging in fear, fear that he was in trouble and fear that he had hurt someone.

My hopes for a cup of coffee at this point were nil. I therefore approached the parent who was cradling their child to be welcomed with “it’s okay he apologised”. In the hope that everyone was okay and we would exchange an amusing conversation about kids being kids, I apologised for any upset, to which I received judgemental stares as we exited the park. At this point, I really could have walked away being the passive person I am, but truthfully my heart went out to my son. He was embarrassed and sad. With no signs of blood or any sort of injury, my empathy was not with the child as bad as that may sound. The whole situation had been deranged into an ugly judgement on my children and I. Indeed, I stopped and with a polite yet defensive “Excuse me, I’m sorry she’s upset but…my son is not malicious, he has sisters and would never go out of his way to hurt another person. Also, if you need an apology you come directly to me, the Mother, not him, the child.” I did not speak up to cause pain to this family and I fully weighed up an understanding that I did not know what they were going through as individuals, however neither did they know that my son is one who struggles socially and has taken a long time to come out of his shell. In this moment, the confrontation towards my son and the atmosphere created left me on fire, this was a situation I had to confront for the sake of my children’s understanding that some times you have to stand up and express yourself, despite what is up against you.

To conclude, empathy is dynamic, confrontation is not negative, the two can work together… even if you are left with a need to cry out the emotions that experience brought (#empath)

Quote to sign off: “Well that was embarrassing” – my beautiful seven year old who tells jokes always at the right time!

Empathy is essential to us, as a human race.

It’s that time of year, when anticipation and joy is in the air. We enjoy the comfort of our cozy, festive homes and the tempting abundance of treats in every shop we visit. I honestly love Christmas and all the memories I have of Christmas are warm and happy. As a follower of Christ, I have always had this sense of celebration; not just for the gifts or prospect of a new year.

Jesus is my new beginning every day, He is the one that keeps me above water when the world is pulling me under.

Reflecting on the actual story of Christmas, I have thought about the journey Mary and Joseph made. For an expectant Mother and anxious Father, it would have been intense to say the least. They travelled strong by their faith in Gods plan and purpose. It’s the story we hear about in the Nativity plays and on the TV. But when we read further, we are reminded that the long journeys didn’t end there. After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to seek refuge from the threat and persecution stemming from King Herod.

Matthew 2:13

Reflecting on this part of the story with deeper thought and realism, I have feelings of despair of the unknown, pain for the those families whose sons were killed and an overwhelming sense of confusion. I believe the only way Mary, Joseph and the mourning families could see tomorrow after experiencing the murderous corruption, physically and mentally is by accepting that life is more than what is happening here, now.

In comparison, I think of the millions of individuals and families that flee from their homes, seeking refuge and the warmth of knowing their children are safe from the danger they faced. I want to speak carefully as I write this, as my understanding of the experiences people seeking refuge is so on the surface. All I know is that the level of pain and distress is in a category of its own. We hear stories of refugees in the news, always painted with a political stance. Politics has this dangerous way of minimizing the real experiences, it launches a load of questions and information our way that leaves us feeling overwhelmed by what is right and wrong.

This is where empathy is essential to us as a human race. If we first listen to story with empathy, we begin to find ourselves on the freezing cold journey, approaching a foreign land. We begin to think in a way which questions “what next?”, we stand in a pair of shoes that can only go forward.

Reading the story of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with baby Jesus, we know the details, we see the bigger picture. In that moment though, the reassurance Mary and Joseph had was their faith in God and the plans that had gone before them. They would have had very human experiences, very human pains and very human fears, but this was the only way forward for them as a family, a scorching fire was chasing them and they had to flee.

Having a faith is a bridge that opens a path into tomorrow, into a tomorrow better than today. Even if we don’t see that straight away, one day we will reflect and see the resilience, wisdom and character that our experiences has gifted us with. Faith varies all around, however you see yours just know that it is as essential as the blood flowing around our bodies. It is what breathes us into our future.