For One of My Constants…

This was the only place I could think of to write this. To give proper time and length to it despite how meaningless words feel to me at the moment.

I shall try. I have to try.

This has been incredibly hard to write, because I really cannot articulate how much this man means to me – I may have been just able to do it with Bowie, my favourite singer of all time and another huge inspiration; but this man… I can never truly articulate my feelings for him without coming off as outrageously emotional (yes, I have an extremely, painfully heightened sense of self-awarness) – yet every word of it would be true. I will try to steer clear of any of this in this post because words and explanations are not the medium for that kind of thing.

Anyone who knows me even the tiniest, very far removed bit knows that I have always carried Alan Rickman inside my heart somewhere. Foregoing the time when I was not aware of his existence, there hasn’t been a single moment in my life when I have not openly adored him, and loved him. It would be natural to assume that this was all thanks to Harry Potter considering my even more convoluted love for Severus Snape but this is actually not the case; in fact Alan and Severus are two completely separate entities both in my mind and my heart. They have little to no connection for me, despite me feeling extremely bemused when I heard that my favourite actor was going to play my favourite literary character.

To be honest I can’t even pin a precise time on just when I stood up and really took notice of him. It’s a vague, swimming, collection of memories… seeing him in various films, popping up here and there… eventually I just became accustomed to him. Whenever I saw Alan in a film it would make me smile, and I would feel good for the rest of the day no matter how dismal the day. He brightened my life.

Eventually I became more and more intrigued and happy and enthralled, that it gracefully transformed into an elegant, subtle, yet no less powerful love. And it was love… as one-sided as it may have been: I know what loving someone feels like. I felt that with Alan.

This was mainly in thanks to getting to know the Alan who was off stage, out of the cameras and out of the spotlight. From all accounts (I mean all accounts) he was this enormously loved, respected and admired human being. I could go on and on about stories of how supportive and generous he was to everyone he came across, how he gave without a second thought, how privately involved he was with countless charities (a lot of this has only recently come out in tributes). I mean hundreds of people cannot be wrong. There was literally never any negative press of him to speak of, and I think that says something quite important.

He was also one of my greatest, if not the greatest, inspirational role models. He grew up without a father, who died when he was very young – raised by his single-parent mother who had three other children… he said this was what aided him in becoming a “staunch feminist” as he put it. He gave up a successful and fruitful career as a graphic designer, and not at a young age, in order to pursue his dream of acting. He literally just picked up a pen and paper and wrote to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art begging (he did use the word “begging”) for an audition; that dream came true but only because he had suddenly decided one day that dreams needed to be followed, no matter what anyone else said or no matter how much sense people try to talk into you.

He taught me resilience, he taught me to just keep going, keep at it, keep working hard… no matter how much time it takes or no matter how many obstacles – it will be worth it in the end. I have had obstacles in my life… loss, abuse, mental illness, I suppose it’s no different from many other people… and yet looking at Alan was like looking into a bright future, where my dreams were finally becoming realised all due to the fact that I just didn’t give up. 

I’m slowly getting there nowadays, and I can tell you that his lessons have a massive part in getting me there. I can’t possibly hope to repay him for this. Now, after the 14th, this hope is dimmer than ever but it is still an innate need of mine.

It was my greatest wish to know him. Or at the very least just see him, be in the same room as him, just so, even if he wasn’t aware of my existence, I could have been part of his world for maybe just an hour. Just one hour. I remember hearing about a new play he had committed to in 2012, Seminar, which was being run on Broadway in New York, and I remember feeling so desperately sad that I wasn’t there to see it, and to see him face to face. This general malaise continued for several days before the thought struck me… to just go to New York! Buy a damn ticket and just go for a week and half, woman. You won’t get many opportunities to see Alan Rickman in the flesh… just bloody well go.

… So I called my best friend and asked if she would like to go to NYC for a few weeks. She said “yes”, and so we went.

Seeing Alan Rickman enter onto the stage is a kind of ethereal, out-of-body experience I can’t hope to possibly describe. My breath was caught in my chest the entire two hours I watched him. The way he moved, the way he spoke, most importantly the way he listened to the other actors and interacted with them – he was a master beyond comprehension. So gifted in the craft that he could hypnotise an entire audience of people with a look, or well-placed word or sound; I watched him perform a monologue just before the intermission and I was flooded with tears from the emotion that radiated from him.

If I wasn’t in love then, I was certainly in love now.

Despite my utter blissed-out demeanour from this experience, I was still terrified in the back of my mind the entire time about heading to the stage door after the show. Wasn’t this experience enough? What if I held out my programme to him and he merely reached over me to sign something else behind me and quickly scurry away, with not even a second glance? To some people it may sound silly (of course to me and those who know me it’s not) but if something like that had happened it would have killed me on the spot. He had been such a huge driving force in my life, for over a decade at that stage, he had been someone who shaped me and many of my values and inspired me like no other… if he turned out to be a blatant arsehole then my heart would have been broken beyond repair. I couldn’t bare the thought of how disillusioned and saddened I would be over losing him in that aspect. And so I was very, very scared. I almost didn’t go to the stage door but instead wanted to run away on my amazing high and just leave it at that.

But he was Alan Rickman. I had dreamed most of my life of being face to face with him, of having him actually look at me and just very briefly realise that “you exist, you’re there, I mean something to you” – because that is really all I wanted him to know.

In the end, I didn’t only get that dream – I got something I couldn’t even imagined.

I came face to face with Alan outside the stage door, and he didn’t only merely sign my programme and move on down the line but he said hello, we smiled at each other and had a conversation about his play. I told him I had come all the way from Australian and he was amazingly gracious and thankful, telling me how much he appreciated it. He was telling me how much he loved Australia, having shot a film there years and years ago in the outback and how it was one of the most beautiful places he had been on earth. I made him promise to come back and he did (he actually did several years on) and then thanked him so much for everything and we parted. The moment was surreal, as if it couldn’t have just happened and I couldn’t have just been proven beyond and above right about someone I loved and admired so much. My life had just been made.

Alan eventually moved on to my best friend who was further away from me down the line, I watched them for a moments completely blissed out and infatuated with the man, took a few photos of Maree and Alan… and then all of a sudden he turned and looked right back at me. He pointed at me, looking rather intrigued. It was only after a while that I realised that he had recognised Maree’s accent and where she was from and was moving back down the line to point me out to her – he literally tried to introduce me to my own best friend, thinking that we might get a long. When we told him we already knew each other all three of us laughed. He smiled at us both and we said goodnight.

Not only did I end up getting a “you’re here, you exist” kind of look… I ended up getting so much of his time, when he could have just not bothered he decided to take the time to get to know us, and not only that he actually remembered me and made a connection. He came back down the line to point me out to my own best friend, and it was the most perfect thing. He was the most perfect, more than perfect, human being that night and I will be forever grateful of the person he was.

Gracious, considerate, funny, completely obliging, handsome beyond compare, just the most beautiful person.

And I will always have that. There is nothing, especially now, I can ever possibly do to repay him for what he gave to me – both that night and throughout all of the years I’ve loved him.

I’ve followed his career for more than half my life now, and I loved him for almost just as much. Alan has been there, though he did not know it, throughout all of the trials, heartbreaks, successes, victories and failings of my life. In some juvenile way I always thought he would be there, as one of the constants. I thought no matter how hard it would get, at least Alan would always be there, somewhere, on this earth… and it made me happy. The thought of him being happy created happiness in myself.

The night I heard of his passing and the circumstances that led to his passing, which he hid from almost everyone for more than half a year, is too painful and raw to write down, and it is not important when I’m remembering him. All I know is my life will never the same without him. There will always be an emptiness inside me that I won’t be able to fill now that he is gone…

But I am grateful for that now.

I am grateful that we can love people so much that we just don’t know how we are going to survive when they aren’t here.

I am grateful that we are capable of so much love that it destroys us.

I am grateful for him while we had him. He has shaped me in ways he will never know: but a naive part of me hopes he does, somewhere… inside or outside the confines of the universe.

I don’t really care that people may think it’s silly to grieve so much over someone “you barely knew”… but I counter that by saying I knew him every day of my life. When someone is so ingrained in your heart I don’t see how it could not be like ripping a part of your chest out when they are no longer here.

My feelings are true to me, and I loved him. If he loved me for nothing more than being a person in the world who loved and adored him then that is more than enough – because none of this is about me… it’s about him.

Over time, I’m sure it will hurt less; at least I hope I won’t feel quite this empty for the rest of my life because I know that’s not what Alan would have wanted. He would have wanted me to keep on, keep loving, keep living, keep working, keep giving – and that is what I plan to do. He will live through me in that sense.

So thank you, Alan. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. The pain will sink and become part of me eventually and it may ease (despite not feeling like it at the moment), but my love for you will always remain in my heart. From all the tributes from your family and legions of friends and fans I’ve seen over the past week, it seems universal that an extremely bright light has been taken from us all, and we will never be the same without you. You were loved and adored everywhere so very much, by everyone who knew you.

I guess all I can do now is to say the same.

I love you.

 

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The Meeting Place.

birthsuite

Yesterday was the first time I went back to the hospital where my daughter was born.

We took her with us, happily bouncing along in my arms and then her daddy’s arms. We walked through the same doors to the maternity ward and birthing suites – this time it was in the middle of the day as opposed to eight in the evening, so we didn’t have to speak to anyone on the intercom like last time with my husband explaining that they were expecting us, and me having a contraction against the wall behind him.

We walked down the same corridors, smelled the same antiseptic smells, the floorboards still creaked in the same places as they did when I attended my antenatal appointments… when I was so excited that I would get to hear my baby’s heartbeat again…

We saw the door to the birthing suite where I spent ten hours experiencing the worst pain I’ve ever felt within me. Of course, this time we couldn’t go in. But last time the midwives greeted us and took us into the visitors rooms while they set up my birthing room and got my notes. I remembered the visitors room as we stood next to the locked birthing suite doors… I remember feeling extremely anxious, and not because I was about to give birth to something fifty times larger than the orifice it was coming out of, but because my contractions had subsided and I was worried that the midwives would think I was making it up. What a thing to be anxious about…

I remember room 5, which was our room. It was at the very end of the corridor we now stood outside of, right next to the midwives station. I remember the probes being placed around my tight and contracting belly and various staff flitting in and out. The probes had been places incorrectly so my contractions weren’t registering on the same degree in which I was feeling them; this only added to my anxiety because everyone told me I wasn’t even having contractions when I was. I remember thinking (and it could have been out loud to my husband, very desperately) “if I’m not having contractions then what in God’s name will the REAL contractions feel like!”. Finally, one of my midwives (it was shift change) actually looked at my face while a contraction happened and decided that they weren’t going to just give me Panadeine Forte and send me to the ward until morning. We were all going to stay right here in room 5.

I remember the shower. And oh, what a blessed relief it was to have sweet warm water running over my back and my belly. I remember the shower taps and clenching my fingers around them with every contraction, and sucking like a maniac on my little portable bottle of gas and air. I wanted to stay there forever while my husband rubbed my back and never leave.

I remember the numerous emesis bags I used up due to my severe nausea from the gas. I remember thinking the gas was hardly worth it, as I was still in as much pain as ever – only now I was vomitting everywhere too. I remember the hours and hours and hours of increasing searing pain, and then it subsiding for a few minutes, breathing, and then feeling it come on all over again and screaming that no! I wasn’t ready yet! I remember suddenly there being two, three maybe four people in the room, an IV being hooked up to my veins, and I remember being terrified… hanging on to my husband’s hand was better than any gas or any shower.

As I looked down that corridor yesterday, I remembered screaming ringing down it. I remember wanting throw whoever exclaimed “wow, this is a big baby!” through the window as our baby crowned. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs: “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it” over and over again as the crowd of people were yelling at me, pushing me on and guiding me forward. The midwife held my hand and pulled it down to touch my baby’s head – and the “I can’t do it”’s turned into “oh my God, oh my God…”

I remember my daughter’s first cries in that room.

How I was in such a daze I could not remember anything else but her on my breast… she was so bruised and swollen, her skull misshapen from our shared ordeal. She was perfection. She was the most beautiful being.

I remember walking with her and my husband down that corridor at seven in the morning on Saturday the 14th June, two hours after our baby was born, and being taken to my room on the maternity ward. My husband went home for much needed sleep, and he says to this day it was the worst thing he’d ever had to do but there was no room for him in a public hospital, and I was alone with my baby. I was terrified, and had no idea what to do despite all of my education and classes.

I remember being angry that no one ever told me how much I’d be hurting. Physically – because episiotomys are the worst, and I dreaded (with cold sweats) going to the bathroom because I would bite my lips so hard with the pain that they bled. Equate it to the worst UTI you’ve ever had in your life, and it lasting for weeks. Walking down the hallway of the ward was also enough to tire me out for the entire day, but I had a baby to look after now. And mentally I felt so unprepared, and I didn’t feel like I was a mother even though my daughter lay before me. Even though I’d been fantasising about this amazing moment for nine months, it did not seem real or that it had just happened.

I remember crying when they told me I might have to stay in hospital longer because of further issues. I couldn’t stay there. I hated it. I needed to be with my husband and not be in a shared room with three other just as dazed and pained women and their babies. Finally the doctor talked to his consultant and relented; we left under the cloak of darkness and I remember feeling an escapee… just glad to be rid of the place.

But yesterday I went back and felt elated… like the veil had finally been lifted. The memories came flooding back as I looked and touched the place that gave me our most precious girl. It was no longer a place of intense sadness, fear and dread to me. Just as my thoughts are no longer a place of sadness and fear (and guilt that I should be even feeling those thoughts when I have a perfect and healthy little girl in my life) – but one of happiness and complete and utter joy.

I write this because I feel it is important to tell you, that if you are reading this and feel like you’re a failure, if you feel guilty that you should be happy and completely enraptured with a magical maternal love instead of wallowing in sadness and disappointment… you will one day remember differently. It might not seem like it now, but there will be a day where you remember those sights and those smells, those voices and those cries… and you will walk down those corridors (whether literally or figuratively, it doesn’t matter) with your baby in your arms, and you will remember. Remember every little detail that you might have missed last time. Every stitch in the fabric that made up the meeting place between you and the person who makes your heart burst with love. And it doesn’t matter whether your experiences were generally a positive or a negative one – all of this will be overridden.

You’re not a bad mother for feeling like you made a mistake. Or for wanting desperately to curl up in a dark corner and cry while everyone else is smiling with joy at your little bundle. Or for thinking that you are the worst excuse for a mother on the planet. Or for never wanting to go back there. I felt it too.

One day, you will go back there. You will. You will confidently stride through those doors in your mind and take in a sweet breath of fresh air. You’ll hold your baby close to you and be filled with nothing but the purest of love, void of the monster you’ve battled and conquered.

And it doesn’t matter when, or where, or how.

Just know that you will.

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/pregnancy-and-early-parenthood

Posted in baby, birth, maternity, Parenting, postpartum depression | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Victim-Blaming, and Why She Doesn’t “Just Leave”.

“You can rationalize it anyway you want and say she suffered from this and that, BUT SHE STAYED WITH A MAN WHO BEAT HER, OF HER OWN ACCORD. Thinking he won’t do it again is insanity, obviously there is something mentally wrong with someone who hits people. Weak woman, weak mind. Someone hits you? Leave, SIMPLE AS THAT. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions anymore, and yes staying with an abuser is an “action” that you take.”

I came across this comment left by an anonymous person on a domestic violence support board the other day… of all places (if you recognise yourself in this, by all means contact me to get your due credit – and I would also very much like to start a dialogue with you). There were also a few people voicing their support for such a statement… things like “I wasn’t brought up to be dependent on a man”, “I respect myself too much to deal with insecure, controlling ass hats” (all taken from discussions on various domestic abuse articles), “my friend left her abuser because she was stronger”…

Strength. What constitutes it? Of course walking away from an abusive relationship is a phenomenally strong decision and act. But that isn’t the only kind of strength that one is able to possess in such situations. I am almost positive that these commenters and anyone who uses the dreaded “why doesn’t she just leave him” phrase has never experienced just what it feels like to be in a relationship with an abuser. To be in love with someone who also hits you from time to time. To feel like you have no choice. This is victim blaming at its finest and is infinitely flawed.


Cycle of Abuse

The Cycle of Abuse may be an easier way to visualise just how intricate the abusive relationship really is. Although I will say that there is glaringly obvious omission from this cycle – I came to know of it as the entrapment, and it’s something that’s very important and crucial to understanding why domestic violence victims stay. But staying the cycle of abuse for the time being… you can see that it is rarely one violent incident after the other. It’s not as if the victim is being consistently screamed at, hit or violated in some other fashion (or rather, it’s rare that they are). Manipulation is key in the psychology of abuse, and abusive relationships rarely start out in the middle of this cycle.

Once you’ve been entrapped by this emotional manipulation, then the cycle seems never-ending. You have someone you believe you love dearly crying and sobbing, promising they will never do it again and that they will change – because they love you. You move on to the calm of the storm, and for all intent and purposes your partner seems like he is improving on himself and is living up to his promises. Everything is well again. Your fresh scars begin to sting a little less.

And then it all builds again… you get the tables turned on you, and, Master of Manipulation that your abuser probably is, you start to apologise for actions that you feel is starting to make them again, just to keep the peace. You can sense something is about to blow up on the horizon but you feel that if you just tried hard enough that you will be able to keep this at bay. But you never are, and somehow you feel this is your fault. It’s all you fault.

The physical, emotional, sexual abuse occurs and the cycle starts again…

Why didn’t I just leave my abuser?

It’s quite simple: I loved him.

When D and I first met, he was everything but violent. In fact, he was possibly the most charming man I’d ever met. Having met quite a fair few abused women, I know that this is a relatively common occurrence. It is highly unlikely that anyone would just fall head over heels in love with a person who came out and immediately throttled them. These things take planning… precision timing… seeds planted whose sprouts can’t easily be hacked away.

I was also very young at the time. Nothing more than a teenager. Not that it isn’t the same when a grown adult woman is manipulated into a relationship, but I was very inexperienced in emotional intelligence at the time. He was much older and knew exactly what he was doing. I was already in a cycle of low self-esteem and loathing due to past childhood abuse (not by my parents, I have to make that clear because they are wonderful and none of that was their fault), and so I latched on to him… he exuded a power over me which initially made me feel safe. He never did anything overtly romantic like sending perfumed love letters or use grand romantic gestures because he knew that I distrusted such things. D just seemed like a normal, genuine guy with genuine feelings. And that’s the genius of it… you never once feel like you’re being influenced. That’s the calling card of the greatest manipulators.

Just like that, you find yourself trapped in the cycle.


I’m not painting my experience with domestic abuse to be something different than any other abused woman has experienced. In fact, I felt lucky that I was able to escape D when I could… if I had any financial attachment or, god forbid, children with him, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to escape. I can’t imagine the endless emotional torture experienced by women who are (and were) unable to detach themselves from that psychological mindfuck. It was just under a year for me, and still I suffer horrendous night terrors and panic attacks over what he did. And it is still too painful for me to go into any details about it… I don’t think details are needed to explain my point of view, in any means.

And one would think that once a woman detached herself, and broke free of the shackles holding her back by her abuser – that no way in hell would she still have feelings for him, or them. But the most fucked up thing is, I still have feelings for D. After everything he did and said, and despite the fact that I have panic attacks just by hearing or seeing his name (and unfortunately it is a very common name), there’s a tiny part of me that yearns to see him again. Some ridiculous part of me that trusts that he would have changed by now.

And that’s why ‘just leaving’ is the hardest fucking thing in the world to do.

I’m not stronger than any other woman in the same circumstances just because I left him. I had a support network and places in which I could mentally escape to (read: The Snape Thing), I didn’t live with him and were it not for the emotional attachment there would no other reason for me to stay. A lot of woman don’t have that. Many don’t have a supportive family who’d be willing to take them in, they may not know nor want to go to a women’s refuge, they may be completely financially dependent on their partner, would they want to disrupt and overturn their children’s entire lives? This myriad of reasons bears discussing in greater detail.

There are many more, of course, but these are the main themes I have come across in my discussions:

Denial of abuse

Firstly, a woman may not even consider that she is part of an abusive relationship. This pertains to me also. D was so manipulative and my self-esteem so low that it didn’t even register to me that being hit by him was not ok and I was in fact an abuse victim. It’s a disempowering term that no-one wants to give to themselves. You tend to make many excuses for your partner… they had a bad day – it’ll be better tomorrow, I made them angry – I deserved that, I’m even lucky to be with this person – I just need to keep my head down. We love them and we want to believe the best of them… and the best of them certainly isn’t violent.

Guilt

This is obviously closely connected, and one that those who don’t quite ‘get’ the psychology behind abuse and its victims frequently seem to miss. When someone’s confidence is at an all-time low after having been conditioned that way through the intricate control of the abuser, they may honestly believe that they and they alone are the cause for all of the anger and violence. Sometimes you are emotionally abused to the point that you believe, as fact, that it would be impossible to find somebody else because the only person who genuinely “loves” you is the one you’re currently sleeping with.

Isolation

This is a big one. And thankfully one I didn’t have to deal with much despite his efforts. Often victims of domestic abuse end being cut-off from the world by their partner… contact with friends, family and other acquaintances slowly begin to trickle down into nothing. It tends to happen very subtly and very slowly, else attention get drawn from the outside world; you tend to find that you merely see less and less of a person until contact comes to a natural halt. Abusers love power. It’s all really a big power game. And the power to restrict access to you from others is a very handy tool in trapping you in one place, stitching you to their side.

So perhaps they decide they want to leave. Who do they talk to? Where do they go? They may have cut off all contact with their families and believe that they will no longer be willing to support them in such times. Perhaps they’ve been restricted in a financial sense and are reliant on their partner to provide for them, they may not have a car, they may not have access to the internet to find out what resources are available… they’d basically be left on the streets if they suddenly decided to pack up and leave. If you have a child or children involved, this is doubly impossible.

Inaccessibility of women’s refuges 

Many of the shelters available aren’t specifically catered to women and children. Many are rebranded homeless shelters. While homeless shelters are of course invaluable to the community, you can’t just house a vulnerable woman and/or child in a house filled with men and expect them to feel safe. Substance abuse is often rife in such places, which only adds fuel to the feelings of terror and vulnerability of the victim involved. I heard of a case in a Salvation Army run refuge in Broken Hill that actually turned down a woman because she couldn’t pay. 

Some shelters only open three days a week. So what are the women supposed to in the mean time? Some shelters are so full that women frequently get turned away at the door. Such a case happened with 26 year-old Leila Alavi, who was turned away from several shelters while on the run from her AVO-violating husband. Alavi was found stabbed to death in her car soon after.

Under Abbot’s dictatorship, this is a story that will only get far too common as the government closes down even more women’s shelters. Soon there will literally be no place for them and their children to turn.

Children

I suppose many would find the natural thing to say here would be “at least do it for the sake of your child”. But A) You are speaking from a far more privileged point of view free from the clouds of psychological and physical trauma and B) From what I have stated above, it really often isn’t that easy to just remove the child from the situation – not when their abused parent is isolated from the outside world and everyone else in it.

When a mother is struggling so hard to merely survive at the hands of her abusive husband, then the child of that couple may possess a tendency to feel isolated, vulnerable and neglected. A mother may think that her child is adequately shielded from witnessing the abuse that goes on in the family home, but often this is not the case. Even if a child does not physically witness the abuse first-hand, when one is brought up in that environment one tends to be hyperaware of sounds, movements, expressions, feelings. Children can be remarkably observant, and often make a distinction between the abusive incident itself and the aftermath of said abuse (observing bruises, cuts, a shift in their mother and father’s temperaments etc.), it is likely that they may also simply be aware of and sense the tension in the home such as their mother’s fearfulness when their father comes home from work in a bad mood.

It is easy to look to the mother to find fault and to victim-blame for “letting her children suffer” in such a fashion, but the fact of the matter is she may be traumatised so deeply psychologically that she fails to notice. That doesn’t give anybody the right to blame her for it. Depression and PTSD is extremely common for abuse sufferers, and unfortunately it is an illness that tends to cloud your perception. From my experience with talking to people, there is a disturbing imbalance in blaming the abused over the abuser in this instance. The mother is often seen as ‘neglectful’ and a ‘bad parent’ while the father really isn’t thought of at all.

Fear of reprisal 

People never, ever take this seriously enough until it’s too late. By the time of this entry’s publication, there have been 31 deaths due to domestic violence in Australia alone in 2015. It’s currently April. In 2014 there was a grand total of 84 deaths.

Many of these deaths, and I have read about most, occurred because the woman in question had left the abusive relationship. They were stalked on a daily basis, made to fear for their lives, and ultimately paid for it with their lives. It can’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination to consider that perhaps victims are just far too scared for their own safety (and perhaps the safety of their children) to leave such a violent relationship. In fact, it is statistically proven that more women are killed AFTER the separation from their partners then they are during the relationship itself.

If that’s not a fair enough point I don’t see what will be.


If you’re currently reading this and feel that you may be in an abusive relationship and would like resources about how to detach yourself from your abuser: it is imperative that you develop your own individual safety plan, in order to better protect yourself from any ramifications. 

Some examples from various safety plans include:

  • Assembling a bag with your important belongings inside (passport, I.D., extra cash etc.). 
  • Document signs of physical abuse when and if you can. 
  • If your partner shares the same computer as you, use computers at the library or internet cafes instead if possible. Histories can be easily traced. 
  • If you have contact with and are comfortable talking about it to friends, have a code set in place in the event that you need them to call the police. 
  • If you have left your abuser, change your phone number and protect yourself online.
  • DELETE THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION. I found this one particularly important if, like me, you have become so dependent and emotionally attached to your abuser that you would constantly be trying to reestablish contact with them if you knew how to. 

All that said and done, however, it still cannot automatically cut out the emotional reasons for staying… and that is certainly the hardest to deal with. Like I said, were it not for the fact that I no longer know how to contact D or know of his whereabouts in this world at all, part of me would worry that I’d be messaging him again. Yes, you feel stupid and you hate yourself for it and people would look on you as a weak and silly woman… but you can’t help it.

I’ve heard others equate it to something like alcoholism, and I agree. I was impossibly addicted to his presence and the strong emotions he showed in front of me. He said he would kill himself if I ever left him, and the reasons why he beat me sometimes was because I invoked the most intense feelings he had ever felt in himself. Yes, when you’ve managed to escape and you’re in a safe environment surrounded by genuine love then of course you’re going to know that that behaviour is absolutely not acceptable. But in the middle of it? In the abuse cycle I talked of earlier? You’re so obsessed and addicted to the passionate outcries that you’re willing to take being hit if it meant holding on to that passion.

Like alcoholism or any form of severe substance abuse – it shames you. You hate yourself for it and it’s like you’re looking at a different person altogether. And unless strict measures are put into place then you’re going to find that going ‘cold turkey’ is nigh impossible. One commenter debated with me on this and tried to convince me that alcoholics in fact ENJOY being alcoholics and so it was the same with abuse victims. But hopefully you, as a far more educated and enlightened reader, will realise why that’s a whole load of hogwash and let us bare them no more attention.

But, because said addiction is not tangible and unable to be seen, to many people it doesn’t exist. It is easier to victim-blame and ask “well, why doesn’t she” this and “what if she did” that then “how do we stop him doing this”. I think because the crux of the matter is we as a society have a tendency to believe that a man is untouchable in his own home. That because most abuse takes place behind closed doors it is nobody’s business, and so the onus is on the victim to escape the home in order to prove that they are actually suffering.

And so, if you come from that point of view and the ‘if someone hits you? Leave. Simple as that’ thought has ever crossed your mind, I hope you’ll read this and the actual research that supports this point of view and reconsider your way of thinking. Nothing is that black and white, and a bit of compassion, understanding and a willingness to help instead of merely standing behind a wall of your own misguided judgement goes a long way.

Edit: A few minutes after I posted this, I’ve learned that the death toll of women killed by violence in Australia this year has now risen to 32.

~*~

Please contact the Domestic Violence Resource Centre if you or anyone you know may believe they are in an abusive relationship. Alternatively, call the National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling line on 1800 737 732 if you need immediate help. 

(This amazing featured image still has no credit. If you recognise and it who might have drawn it, please bring it my attention.) 

Posted in Domestic abuse, Domestic violence, Victim-blaming, Violence against women | Tagged , | Leave a comment

‘Don’t Call Me Mistress’: And Other Ways to Impress the Female Dominant

Domination.

… It’s a complicated thing.

Female Domination. It’s a fucking labyrinth.

I am being held hostage in my own bed today. Wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing were it not for crippling exhaustion and an excavator digging up my larynx. I could resign myself to lying prostrate and groaning helplessly all day – or I could blog.

I have decided to blog. At least until my fingers give way.

I thought I’d turn the focus back on BDSM today, specifically my particular area of expertise: that of the female Dominant and its many misconceptions. It’s called Introspections of a Domme for a reason, you know?


**A quick FYI: I know this entry will appear terribly heteronormative, but as I have not encountered any major negative experiences with new female submissives I can only write about my own history and my own experiences. They just happen to include a LOT of harmlessly clueless submissive males. I won’t even bother addressing submissive males who actually KNOW that what they’re doing is frowned upon and do it anyway. I know hopeless cases when I see them.** 

I really feel like I need to truly start the BDSM portion of my blog by pointing out what being a Domme is not, and the common misconceptions usually made by newbies about Dommes (and heaven forbid – propositioning a Domme). I will do so by using one message out of the approximate ten to fifteen I receive daily on FetLife. It goes a little (or exactly) like this:

“Hello Mistress… I was hoping you may have use of a sissy slut. I would dress in my sissy slut-wear for you, be your toy, your plaything, anything anyway you may wish to use me… I shall follow your every command and do anything you ask of me. I am nothing but your worthless slut.

I would live to please you. I have a genuine 8 1/2″ cock which also becomes your toy as does my trained arse.

Your sub Your boot worshipper Please use me”

This is one of hundreds. And they all stick to the same format. No introduction. No ‘how are you? What are you interests?’. It’s full steam ahead into Scene territory… and I, as the Domme with boots to be worshipped, are merely existing as vessel to service someone else’s fantasy. This “submissives” desire is for me to message a reply with: “Yes, slave! you are Mine. Get on your belly and crawl across broken glass for your Mistress, you pathetic little worm!”

In reality, the message is deleted. The sub forgotten. The Domme giving the most casual roll of the eyes. Dime a dozen.

Now, obviously I cannot speak for all Dommes of the world. The BDSM community is beautiful in its variation and constantly evolving state. But I have a lot of friends in the community – Dominants, submissives, switches – and I have not met a single one who wouldn’t reject that kind of offer. Perhaps it is because I tend to associate with intelligent, logical and skilful kinksters but who knows. All I know is, messages of instant submission and failure to recognise the Dominants needs and wants is not going to get you far as a competent sub.

Bearing in mind that these opinions are mine and mine alone – I will highlight why.

Obviously wankers and idiots are everywhere and won’t change their behaviour so this is not aimed them. This is aimed at those newbies who genuinely make mistakes and appear flabbergasted when they are shut down by so many Dominants and other members of the community.

Hopefully if you’re a new sub to the scene, or if you’re a vanilla person who is merely curious, you will find it helpful and educational. If you’re a Domme, hopefully you will get me:

I am not your Mistress. 

This one instantly springs out at me and it is a common mistake made by male submissives online, much less so at social events. As it currently stands, I am not a professional Dominatrix… I don’t perform scenes for submissives with the intention of monetary gain. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong in doing so; in fact, I have considered going into the profession many times in my past and I still do. It’s a skill I have been perfecting over the course of nine years, just like any other skill people learn, grow and make a career from.

That said, I currently do not perform any Dominatrix services. I am a Domme. There is a big difference. Dominatrixes perform for financial gain, Dommes do not (with the exception of financial BDSM which is certainly not one of my fetishes). If you paid me as your Dominatrix then of course you would be permitted to call me Mistress if it so pleased me.

However, seeing as I am not a Dominatrix and you are not paying me, I decide what you do and do not get to call me… and you certainly do not get to call me your ‘Mistress’. This is not so much disrespect to me as it is to my two collared submissives, who have both worked very hard to get where they are in my life. I am in a relationship with both of them, and we have a deeply intense connection with each other. The expression of our affection for one another is often shown through the names we entrust… it just so happens that they call me Mistress (interchanged with other names but it is usually Mistress, especially if we are participating in a scene), and it is a title that I entrust only to their mouths and their tongues. Don’t go around throwing these titles all over the place as if they are meaningless.

In the BDSM world, the use of titles can be sacred. Just as I wouldn’t allow any Dominant to go around calling my partners their slaves or their pets – I would like that same courtesy to be extended to my submissives. It is an expression of our relationship and our closeness. It’s not for some random ‘hi I’m new to all this’ stranger I meet on the internet or at munches to use.

I am not your Mistress. I am his Mistress, and her Mistress. They have earned my trust and I theirs. For you, my pseudonym Aurora will do.

… who are you, exactly?

For all I know, the people who proposition me could very well be blended up into the exact same person. You want to know the crazy thing that attracted me to my two submissive partners? The fact that I actually liked them as people when we first met! We dated! We laughed! We love each others company! Insane, right?

Let’s ignore the fact that a Domme explicitly states on her page that she is currently not looking for any more subs (because fuck knows nobody ever reads those things), I think she’d probably like to know a bit about the person who is starting a conversation with her. Do you generally waltz up to someone you find attractive on the street and inform them in no uncertain terms that you have an eight inch dick and would like to take them against a wall? I can tell you, and I’ve witnessed it happening frequently, if you were to turn up to a munch and do this – you would be ostracised from the community almost instantly.

Personally speaking, if I’m not attracted to someone’s brain – I can’t be attracted to them at all, no matter how “outwardly attractive” they are. And I don’t even know what constitutes outwardly attractive because my desire to be seduced by the mind is so great that I am blinded in almost every other way. Yes, there is a good chance that your intelligence will be disappointing to me (I’m not ashamed to admit that most people are disappointing in that aspect), but if you don’t give someone a chance to find out then you are merely a faceless mannequin parading up me and expecting that I would waste my valuable energy and attention on you.

Why?

Give a Dominant a reason to even respond to you, let alone develop some kind of connection to you. I am itching to say that all Dommes feel this way, but as I’ve not met EVERY Domme in the world I can’t – but I can tell you that all of the Dommes I know would never utter the following sentence outside of pure pulsating sarcasm: “Yes, he’s an absolute boring jerk with no personality and we have nothing in common and fuck all to talk about over dinner – but my God, he’s a wonderful submissive.”

Ain’t going to happen, gents.

The ‘Anything’ word.

This… always makes me feel uneasy and distrustful. “I’ll do anything for you”, “I will give you anything and everything you ask of me”…

I’m not talking about being in the middle of a D/s scene, because this is often uttered in such times. The thing about scenes is that they are usually well controlled by a good Dom/me. Subspace is a sacred trance. And submissives often want to be pushed to their limits when they are in such a space (obviously I am not a submissive so I can only comment on what I observe when I am Dominating them)… but we have clearly set boundaries and rules before we play. We have safe words and when they are used then play is stopped, support is given and the submissive rests and talks to their Dom/me when they feel safer and able.

Outside of playspace, and especially coming from a complete stranger outside of playspace, it just comes across as dishonest.

I think the worry here is that a Dominant might cast aside any submissive who clearly and honestly states up front what they are interested in, what they’re willing to try, and what they’re not comfortable with experiencing. For me, however, it is most refreshing to hear a sub who is confident enough to tell me their needs (even more refreshing when they ask me about my needs – even rarer and we’ll get to that in a bit).

I can tell you quite confidently that if a Dom/me disregards your requirements as a submissive and expects you to conform to their rules and their rules alone – then they are not a very proficient Dominant. Being someone’s doormat may be fun to toy with in a scene… but outside of that doormats do not make very good egalitarian companions.

We Dom/mes know things, you know. And we know complete strangers would not be willing to do anything to make us happy. We know that’s a self-gratifying kind of comment to please yourself more than it is to please us. Don’t come in playing the role of my little bitch and make wild declarations of your devotion to me in the middle of a scene when I have not consented to it. It makes me feel uneasy and is a one way ticket to block land.

We don’t care about your cock.

I guarantee you that my strap-on does a much better job.

Oh, and while I’m at it… dick pics. Please stop using pictures of your dick on your profile. I swear, labelling myself a Domme combined with my previous occupation as a registered nurse, I feel like I’ve seen more unsanctioned penises than someone who is paid to handle them. I am yet to speak to any female Dominant who is impressed by photos of a blurry cock while checking her messages at eight in the morning. Please don’t be one those men.

We know where this is leading.

“I’d love to chat to a Domme just as mentor/student thing even if you’re not into meeting”.

This pops up a lot too. And we all know what you are intending to achieve by this. If you weren’t intending on it, you would not have to add “even if you’re not interested in meeting” at the end. I had a far sneakier one the other day just asking for information about the BDSM munches that are hosted every month: I’d like to think that I’m pretty approachable if someone would like a question answered or if they were just curious about something to do with the lifestyle. But on the extremely rare occasion that I do answer you just with a tidbit of information about the next munch or some other beginners social event, do NOT then proceed to push my graciousness by adding: “thanks! now is there anything I can do to serve you?? ;)”

I don’t answer any unknown males on FetLife anymore because of the frequency of which this sort of behaviour happens. It is so underhanded and scumbuckety.

Females in BDSM often face a lot of shit behaviour, Dommes and subs and switches alike, and it’s fucking tiring trying to even find the right crowd. You’re not going to get very far by tricking someone into speaking with you. It is simply impossible to open up a dialogue with someone who is eventually just going to end with: “right. Now we’ve got the ‘hello’s’ out of the way, wanna meet up?”. Now trust is instantly unreachable… and honestly, no matter how good of a person you may be, it is highly likely that I will attach the label of ‘knobhead’ to your name forevermore.

Don’t be a knobhead.

The Number One Pro-Tip

Proper Dominants thrive off strong, confident submissives!

It takes a strong self-assured person to submit entirely to their Dominant. I’m not interested in men who truly believe in themselves that they are utterly worthless. My own submissives are sublimely strong individuals and that is what attracted me to them; it is their carefully made and laboriously constructed choice to give their body and their mind to me.

Weakness is not appealing to me and most Dominants. Consensual submission is. There is a huge difference between the two.

(I’ll dedicate another entry to this with the help of my partners).


It is highly likely that I will do a round two of this – because the behaviour exhibited by clueless newcomers is so varied and almost endless. And look, I know what it’s like to be new to something… I was new to BDSM once as well. I certainly don’t wish to come across as ‘cliquey’ and unwelcoming. But I am guarded. I think all female Dominants need to be just to protect themselves…

It is hard to get across just how difficult and emotionally exhausting it is to be a female Dominant sometimes… just as it is to be a female submissive I am sure. Sometimes it just seems like it is one bombardment of shit after another in the quest for self-improvement and self-expression in ones own sexuality.

Wannabe submissive men message you relentlessly after completely ignoring the rules for establishing contact you’ve set out on your profile. The impression Dommes get on a daily basis is usually just this: “I see you’re a Dominant woman? Ok. You’ll do.” It is a rare occurrence when men actually take the time to get to know us as a person. Remember that a BDSM relationship is STILL a relationship, and therefore the usual rules still apply. Communication is even more important in a BDSM partnership.

I’m not going to give people a break just because they’re new to a lifestyle. Many do, but I do not. Researching and reading up on a topic that you are supposedly ‘fascinated with’ is not a difficult thing to do before you start barging in and making others feel uncomfortable. Intelligence is the sexiest god-damn thing I can possibly think of. Study up good and hard, know the right questions to ask and the right protocol to adhere to (there are even countless classes you can attend) and you’ll find that people will be a lot more open and willing to answer your questions… and they may even point you in the direction of an event where you can meet those who share your interests.

And hey, you’ve decided to read this blog entry. That’s a great start.

Deliver. Give me something. Be yourself. Send me one more photo of your penis and you will be very glad that we have only ever interacted online.

A x

~*~

Posted in BDSM, D/s, Domination, FemDom, Kink, submission | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

‘The Snape Thing…’

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It normally always begins with a book. I’ve always loved reading. I’ve been reading ever since I can remember. I pick them up as I go and almost breathe them in. I’ve never found an outlet quite like disappearing into a fictional world, with fictional people I can interact with and think about. With the obvious exception of unavoidable learning difficulties, if someone were to come up to me and say that they didn’t enjoy “reading books” (as if every single book in the world contained the very same letters and amount of pages) and that they’d rather just watch the telly or the film versions – my opinion of their character would drop quite substantially.  I don’t care what kind of books you are into, but if you’re into books then there’s at least a chance that we would get along.

Fantasy is definitely my home, my resting place of genres. Usually fantasy mixed with a little horror – a little of the grotesque mixed in amongst worlds that resembled something my own, but at the same time resembled nothing like it. I read Dracula by Bram Stoker before I could even fully comprehend it. I’m an avid Stephen King fan especially the Dark Tower series. I’ve read and adored and still keep re-reading the entire Discworld series by Terry Pratchett on a continuous loop. The Complete Works of Shakespeare is delved into on a annual basis, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, Peter Pan, The Wicked series, H.P. Lovecraft, a bit of Anne Rice here and there… I could go on… and on…

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What I’m trying to get at is, I’ve grown up and lived in Worlds all my life. I can’t imagine the kind of person I would be were it not for fantasy, and escapism. I don’t know how people cope without it – but perhaps I am slightly prejudiced in that aspect. I’ve never taken hard drugs, after all.

Perhaps it’s either fantasy or heroin. Thankfully I picked the former a long time ago.


There’s only one book series, however, in which I remember every single detail about first picking it up and reading it. Well… perhaps this not entirely true. My metaphysical heart also beats very strongly for Hamlet too… but I consider Hamlet a different medium than the novel. I don’t remember where I was when I first read Hamlet, but I do remember the first time I saw it performed in London. By my boyfriend at the time, no less. I suppose with my first love’s early and very unexpected death came a deep connection to the play, and a connection I still hold and treasure to this very day. But like I said – that’s a bit different. That’s connected to somebody I love dearly, and so it is understandable why it is so important to me.

I remember it was winter. I was quite young… about twelve. My father had just come back from a temporary physics teaching position at an English-speaking school in Shanghai, and he came back with three books for me. The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Thankfully, they were not in Mandarin (clever thinking, father…). I had never heard of this series before in my life, and I had a lot of other books to read so they remained unopened and dusty for quite some time. A few weeks later I thought I’d read The Philosopher’s Stone and see what it was about. I’m not going to beat around the bush… I didn’t like it very much. In fact, I barely managed a couple of chapters and I put it back on my overcrowded shelf. Doomed to be forgotten and consigned to oblivion.

If it hadn’t rained that one Saturday afternoon, I might never have picked it up again. No matter how much of phenomenon it came to be (I’ve never really ‘had much time’ for phenomenons).

But, it did rain. And I did pick up the book again. I didn’t go back and read the first few chapters about Vernon and Petunia and their horrid son, because no.

When Hogwarts finally came along, it was like something had pulled my rib cage apart and dropped a burning match in my chest. From that point on, my physical being remained in this world, but my mind lived in their world. It was more than obsession (because I think the word ‘obsession’ is far too overused and timeworn these days). It was a way of life. My escape and my sanctuary.


I probably should have put this disclaimer at the top of this blog entry, but it seems fitting to put it here anyway… I do not get on well with people from the ‘It’s Fictional, Get Over It’ school of thought. When I initially get over my rage at someone blatantly insinuating to people that something (or someone) they love deeply and that has probably gotten them through a lot of pain in their lives is not valid or real just because it is fictional, my feelings then tend to transform into something of pity. To not allow oneself to be so touched and affected by something… to not have a secret port in a storm where they and only they can escape to in times of hardship, or even times of great elation. For me, it would be a half life. One void of magic. And if my life was void of magic then I would be nothing but a moving, talking shell of a human.

I previously wrote a post about witchcraft and how I believed, for years, that I was a witch myself (and still have an intense pull and longing to be one)… but up until the point that I read The Philosopher’s Stone, I was a witch without a home. I blended into the wizarding world as if it were a form of osmosis through the pages.

I was about three-quarters through the first book on that one rainy Saturday, firmly already addicted to the world that had finally managed to pull me in after that rocky start. But it wasn’t until right at the end of the book that the spark in my chest began to mutate into an unbearable wildfire.


While I loved the world that J.K. Rowling had created, all it would remain would be stone walls and four poster beds without a connection. And it was a connection I wanted. I’ve never enjoyed novels focusing on the environment and world descriptions alone… I’ve always been drawn to the psychology of the human mind; towards characters and their histories and all of their neuroses and flaws.

While I enjoyed many of the characters in Harry Potter, none of them seemed… particularly intriguing to me. I’ve always liked Harry, because underneath it all he was never anything truly special, and he had a bad temper sometimes and he was wrong a lot of the time and he wasn’t some big hero. I could respect that. Hermione was my definite favourite of the trio. Self-assured in her intelligence but self-conscious in other ways that made her human and relatable to myself. I have never, ever liked Ron. Then there was Dumbledore… and in the beginning I saw him as nothing more than the ‘wise old wizard’ archetype. Nothing new. Hagrid was the kind-hearted giant with a untainted soul. Again, likeable but certainly nothing particularly interesting.

Then there was Snape.

Three quarters of the way into the book, I was very unimpressed with him. A thoroughly unconvincing, one-dimesnional villain if there ever was one. It wasn’t, shall we say, love at first sight (or love at first paragraph).

“No, no, no. tried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentally knocked me over as she rushed to set fire to Snape at that Quidditch match. She broke my eye contact with you. Another few seconds and I’d have got you off that broom. I’d have managed it before then if Snape hadn’t been muttering a counter-curse, trying to save you.”

– Quirinus Quirrell, Philosopher’s Stone, p. 209.

J.K. Rowling

I can pinpoint the exact moment in the books where Severus Snape became more than another character to me, and that was it. After I finished the book, I went back and re-read it to see all of the little clues that he was actually trying help our protagonist all-along… and I became completely enthralled. I read the next two books over the course of the weekend in quick succession, and all I wanted was more of him. I could almost feel prickles in my mind whenever he stepped into a scene and began to speak. He could be so horrible to people sometimes, acted purely out of spite on more than one occasion, and he was bitter, and he was deplorably mean to vulnerable students… all this I saw…

But he had the most beautifully cutting way with words. He was smart (I didn’t relent and finally give him the ‘genius’ label then until the Half-Blood Prince many years later). He was flawed. He was in pain. He was so very insecure and hid it well. He was quintessentially complex. He was complexity at its essence. I became haunted by his mind.

Bear in mind that I was still very young. So a lot of my deeper and convoluted feelings certainly did not exist back them. There is a part of me that hates him nowadays. But back then I was far too inexperienced in life to have the ability to introspect the way I do now. I was definitely more involved in the overall story of Harry Potter than I was experiencing a colossal mind-fuck over Severus Snape… back then, anyway.


I went on with my life, completely unaware what was awaiting me just around the corner. Then, when I turned fourteen, things would happen that would destroy a part of me forever.

I was not a very mentally well person in high school. But, when one considers the circumstances in which I found myself spending a few nights in a psychiatric hospital, it is not all that surprising that I was. Deaths were commonplace around my inner circle of loved ones: I attended funerals like they were weekend lunch dates. But the one that really broke me was the death of my first real, proper lover. The sight of gazing down upon his gravestone and seeing his name etched into the cold, hard granite still haunts my dreams to this day.

In between this (and I say in between because my whole life was so intense back then that I have a lot of trouble remembering the exact chain of events – my brain is being kind and attempting to give me amnesia…) I became severely depressed and lost all of my self-esteem. I purposely fucked terrible people because that was how much I was worth to myself. Somewhere along the line, I found myself in an abusive relationship with one of those terrible people who promised that he would heal my hurt. He was wonderful to begin with, as all emotionally manipulative abusers are, but slowly and surely he begun to turn to me. While the point of this entry is not about what happened between us – let’s just say that I was left as nothing more than an emotionally catatonic, hateful vessel of bad thoughts and self-loathing during my time with him. It’s worth admitting that I became suicidal, and self-harming was a frequent occurrence. Worth admitting, because it’s important for me to remember how J.K. Rowling’s work did literally save my life.

I took the books with me wherever I went. I remember aways having a bag big enough so I could fit at least one of them in there. Never mind the anti-depressants, the counselling, the interventions… they were my best therapy. I couldn’t escape into the other therapies the way I could into the wizarding world. I had countless journals in which I scribbled my own stories, thoughts and drawings, usually related to my witch-self, my more powerful self. When I began my road to recovery I burned them all… not that they contained anything particularly bad, but I couldn’t bear to read them and be transported to that time, to look at the ink on the page and know that it was made when I was on the teetering right on edge and the sickest I’ve ever been. But they helped me then.

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… I still kept the page where I first came up with my invented name, though.


It was in the darkest times that my connection to Severus Snape grew. When I had nothing, I could escape into that world and stand next to him and just be. I felt I had no-one in my life who really loved me. No-one seemed to love him, either. I had transformed into what I see now as a pretty nasty person who alienated everyone around her because she couldn’t afford to let another person hurt her… so she did the hurting first. He seemed to act the same way. He slowly became my muse. Someone who wasn’t going to let me give up like a weak person, because I wasn’t weak. Thinking of what he would do or say helped me immeasurably, in a way others couldn’t. I had wonderful friends, who I love passionately to this day, who did everything in their power to get me out of my hole. I had amazing counsellors. I was surrounded by support.

But, ironically, it took a fictional character (and yes, I was well aware that he was fictional – even back then) to shove my mind back into reality. Tough love seems to work wonders on me.

I was extremely psychologically vulnerable when I returned back to “reality”, as you could well imagine. I needed a reason to leave my abuser, who was still fairly much on the scene despite my lies to the professionals. He had a hold on me in the way no-one has managed since. Looking back on this with a more logical, less insane mind with training in mental health, I can see why I made myself believe that I was “in love” with Severus Snape back then… I needed a way to transfer my love for my abuser onto somebody else. Somebody who, physically, could not hurt me. Somebody who did not actually exist. (I was a vulnerable young girl yearning for someone to support me. The “I don’t need any man to guide me, thank you very much” rampant queer feminist didn’t come into fruition until years later).

So I left the sexually inadequate boy who tried to destroy me. I left him screaming and yelling and crying and promising me he would change but I never turned back to look at his face. I never saw him again. He is now nothing more than a sorely needed lesson in the importance of self-love before any other kind of love.

And yet… here I sit, fourteen years on, bordering on thirty, trying to make sense of all these unbearably intense feelings I still harbour for this fictional person.


Now, I want to make a few things clear… I am, by no means whatsoever, a Snape-apologist. In fact, I see more sense when I talk to people who can’t stand him. I completely agree with them to the point where if you did not know me, you would think I was a part of them. There are numerous points of the series where I would like to give him a severe reprimanding, and he often makes me more angry than I would be comfortable admitting. It is akin to an intense love-hate relationship more than unsullied, virginal love. Besides, Snape fangirls seem to piss me off to no end. Don’t even get me started on that god-awful, overused, cliched “Always” line they seem to be so fond of…

I still think James Potter and Sirius Black had far more redeemable qualities. I think he learnt and he grew while Severus remained twisted with bitterness and petulance. But then… I give James Potter and Sirius Black no more thought than any other character in any other story. They all blend into the background of my thoughts where they create a vague miscellaneous wall. (Besides, athletic, masculinity-and-testosterone-exuding-from-every-pore “bloke’s bloke” men have never been quite my type.)

The same cannot be said for Snape.

It can’t just be this ‘thing’ I have for anti-heroes, because while I do tend to have this somewhat embarrassing fondness for complete arseholes who possess an equal (or more often than not, unequal) amount of flaws and redeeming qualities, there are plenty of those littered around the fictional Worlds. It’s much deeper than that. Sometimes I see him as a flawed embodiment of myself, other times I want nothing more in this world than to step through those pages and confess my abhorrent love for him, other times I want to unleash hell upon him. It’s a constantly evolving, ever-changing emotional beast that I’ve never quite been able to control.

I don’t excuse his actions – but I can see why they are there. I’m not like the people who go around saying “I don’t care if they were neglected or abused as a child, that is no excuse to abuse others as an adult” – because I do care. And I know how hard it is not to hate the world with such an unrelenting passion when that world has been nothing but cruel to you. I was lucky, because I had supportive and loving people in my life (and an outlet to which I could escape)… without these things, I don’t quite know how anyone could recover fully and become an emotionally healthy individual.

I often wondered how different Snape might’ve turned out with the right kind of psychological help (something the wizarding world seems to sorely lack), if he just heard the words “I love you” from someone… if he was told that he was valued. I often wonder how different I might’ve turned out without that.

(There may have been a good chance that I would have turned out to be Female Severus. Incidentally, I have a whole arsenal of theories about how worse off he would have been if he had been born a woman, specifically a transwoman. Yep. Let’s not go there tonight.)

And no, this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want to rip him limb from limb for saying the things he says – particularly to vulnerable children/adolescents like Neville Longbottom – but his behaviour still does not surprise me. After the last few books finally came out, I was surprised even less.


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“A hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner…”

– The Order of the Phoenix.

J.K. Rowling

And so The Order of the Phoenix came along… and we were given a tiny taste of Snape’s childhood. I suppose this was when my imagination and love for backstories decided to run rampant. It proved my theories that he was more than likely neglected as a child at best, and abused at worst. And thus my connection burrowed deeper into my chest.

The Half-Blood Prince was probably my favourite book in the series, for the simple reason that it gave me the gift of more of his backstory. I learned of Eileen Prince and Tobias Snape, that she was a pureblood witch who married a Muggle, that he was abusive to her, that Severus had grown up proud of his mother’s maiden name, that they were poor and could barely clothe themselves… I started writing fervently during this time, wanting to explore every tiny aspect of his past, perhaps to pinpoint why I still felt so unrelentingly riddled with fascination. As a domestic abuse survivor myself, I instantly related to both Eileen Prince and Merope Riddle – two very similar women in a sense. But I suppose I saw the most of myself in Eileen; as I knew what it was to still be in love with the man who simultaneously made your life a living hell. I knew what it was like to give up an entire life. I knew what it was like to love “Tobias”. The difference is, though, I managed to escape it.

I still write and ship a lot of Eileen/Tobias to this day. I find it infinitely more therapeutic than a visit to the psychologist, or a dose of Zoloft.


The most ironic thing about this whole ‘Snape thing’, is that after I read The Deathly Hallows – my opinion of him did not change that much. While everyone was crying over The Prince’s Tale and screaming “ALWAYS” from the rooftops and getting it tattooed on their wrists, I was feeling empty inside. I used to have something special with him. I had believed that he was inherently good from the beginning and if I’m brutally honest – I liked being one of the only people I knew who even liked him, let alone… kind of loved him.

Part of me resents what happened in Deathly Hallows, or at least the way it happened. It was akin to seeing a soul-mate being murdered before your eyes and then having everyone you know suddenly come out in mourning for them, even though they’d never given that soul-mate a single thought before. I felt lost in a crowd, unable to scream because everyone would just scream with me. It created an unstoppable, overly emotional horde who kept telling me that they knew exactly how I felt. I kind of wished that he would end up a neutral party with no loyalty to any side… at least that would stop that horridly misguided “I think we sort too soon” quote from Dumbledore which pretty much insinuated that Slytherins were not worthy of possessing any redeemable qualities. For a long while my connection to Snape waned and faded for a while, as I collected my thoughts and mused on the happenings of the last book… everyone else’s seemed to grow and flourish. I let the fangirls have their time in their spotlight.

It didn’t help that everybody I knew in the history of anything wanted to talk to me about him after that book. I made up many lies to get out of talking about him… usually including something like: “I’m just not that into it much anymore”. And that was the end of all Snape-based conversations.

To be honest, it felt not dissimilar to being cheated on. I can’t explain why, but that is exactly how I felt. And I needed my own space for a while to process it. I knew I was hurt. I knew I needed to leave him be for a while… possibly for good.

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With my own writing, coupled with good old fashioned time, came slow and soft healing. I was finally emotionally able to read the Harry Potter books after about a year and half hiatus from the entire thing. More importantly, I was able to think on him again without feeling like I was suffocating, like there were several pairs of hands upon my throat at once. I still avoid Snape boards and groups and discussions like the plague because it brings up all of that old hurt again… and besides, I usually only end up in heated arguments with the rather one-sided fangirls who run them anyway.

I had grown so much in myself during that time. I’m confident enough now to not need Worlds and characters in my life as means of escape from myself. I have a beautiful daughter, the most wonderful and supportive husband anyone could ever dream of, I have an amazing boyfriend/boy-sub, a girl with whom I am just starting a whole new adventure, myself and my partners are free to explore our sexuality within our bubble of honesty and trust, I’m confident enough in my abilities to call myself a very competent and proud Domme (and to be completely open about it), I was accepted into a Masters course and get to research an area of academia I am fascinated with every day, I have the best sex life known to womankind, I have so many fabulous friends. I am so lucky to live the life I do, and I’m proud that I’ve essentially built myself back up from feeling like I was nothing. I feel like I have everything I need to be happy nowadays.

But there’s the rub. I still have depression despite all of this. It’s something that has mutated into me now, it’s a part of who I am. And while making comparisons between my mental illness and a person who has buried himself into the darkest corner of my heart for the better half of fourteen years seems a bit of a disservice to him, it’s still a fitting comparison… Snape’s just a part of who I am now. He’ll always be there somewhere, even if I don’t want him to be sometimes. Part of me refuses to relinquish the connection because I feel the strongest kind of loyalty to him; after all, fictional or not, he did save my life once and pulled me, albeit rather forcefully in pure Severus Snape-fashion, out from the darkest hole I’ve ever been in. It would seem unbearably cruel to abandon him now everything is well.

The other part just wants him there, regardless.


There are a million more things I could say. There are a million and one things I feel. I might, in future, write purely analytical essays (or indeed post some of my essays I used to write for Hogwarts Elite… good times…) in order to delve deeper into the specifics of his characterisation. Certainly, for something so profoundly integral to who I am, I am sure that he will come up again and again in this blog from time to time (and frequently will in my fiction writing)… but just for this one time I needed to write something that was purely dedicated to him – because he deserves that time from me. He is so important.   And I can’t bow and scrape to J.K. Rowling enough for bringing him, this World, my sanctuary, into my life.

Fucked up? Maybe. Am I fucked up because of it? There’s a chance. But I’d like to think that I would far worse off in the world and as a person if I hadn’t picked up that book again that one rainy Saturday. Considering the fact that this entry probably wouldn’t exist because I wouldn’t exist at this point to be able to write it – it’s a good bet that it was a good thing.

People can judge all they want. It puts not even a single dent in the magnitude of my feelings. They may not be real worlds, and real people… but these here be real feelingsAnd for all my misanthropy, and general dislike for human beings in general, it is safe to say that I love the people (my daughter, lovers, ex-lovers, soul-mates) who break through and stitch themselves to me with such a potent energy that I literally ache from it – and more often than not, it’s an eternal sort of deal. Many individuals who have touched me in such a fashion are literally etched into my skin as body art. I will grow old with them, and I will leave ‘the real world’ with their memories written on the wrinkles of my body.

And whether I can only read about them on the weather-beaten pieces of paper that I hold in my hands, or whether I am able to curl up in bed next to them and feel their heat and hear their methodical breaths… I cannot distinguish what kind of love is more important. I don’t want to.

For all of those who give my heart a reason to keep on beating – I am forever thankful.

~*~

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(Addit: I found my featured image (pictured above) in the dark, sordid depths of my computer somewhere. I am sorry to say that I have no idea who the amazingly talented artist is. It is certainly not my work – hah. So if, for some lucky cosmic reason, you come across this and recognise it – please let me know so you can receive your well-deserved credit.) 

Posted in Books, Characters, Depression, Fantasy, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Harry Potter, Hogwarts, JK Rowling, Lost, Reading, Severus Snape, Snape | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Witches, Feminism and the Other Name.

*TW: Abuse, DV – minor mentions*

In light of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d write about witches.

When I was seven years-old, a little Welsh oddball with a waterfall of curly blonde locks and bright blue eyes, I thought I was one.

There were many girls in my class who pretended to be princesses (Belle from Beauty and the Beast was exceptionally popular at the time), various Disney characters, My Little Ponies, what have you. But whatever they were, they were always nice. Always good. I suppose it’s human nature for children to flock to such morally virtuous beings. I used to think that said something about the position of my moral compass more than anything, but I’ve come to realise that it was not at all a bad thing. I, on the other hand, could only see myself as a witch. Not a particularly nasty, “evil” witch – but nor was she all-together “good”… and she certainly was not nice.

I remember vividly playing outside on lunchtime (in the UK, playing outside hardly ever happened so maybe that’s why I remember it so well), my friends and classmates were running around in circles pretending that they were princesses dancing with their princes at the ball, and I was standing off to one side with a stick as my wand murmuring curses at them. Nobody had any idea what the hell I was doing but that was the way I wanted it. You couldn’t have all these pretty princesses prepared for stealthy sneak attacks now could you? Obviously I wasn’t wishing anything truly bad on them (she wasn’t evil, after all, she was just ‘not nice’), but I liked the sense of freedom it gave me: to be in control of my own environment (or least pretend to be in childish games), to not have to be partnered with a prince because I was capable of doing more of what I wanted if I was by myself, and therefore I had more fun. I played with the idea of embodying a witch’s persona for a long time (in some capacity I still do – but my alter-ego has obviously transformed into something more convoluted than just “I’m a witch I do what I want so sit the fuck down”). I loved the feeling of control the embodiment gave me; I started to believe, truly believe as fact, that I possessed the ability to fly at will and to this day I still harbour vivid, tangible memories of me taking flight and speeding around my living room – and despite logical thought telling me otherwise, it’s incredibly difficult for me to distinguish these fantastical memories from real life to this very day.

I started to read about them from a very early age and it only served to fuel my fascination. I ended up coming to the conclusion that if there was a female character in a story who was self-assured, content with being by herself, powerful and confident – it was highly likely that she was also a witch. I suppose one could take a very negative stand on this, and I do understand that angle. I mean, why should women have to be painted as witches if they possess even just a shred of independent thought? Why can’t they just be (and of course a Harry Potter phrase was bound to come up here somewhere but it’s in the dictionary so I am allowed to use it) Muggle women? I can see how the complete wrong message is given to young girls in this instance: “powerful women are not normal – the supernatural is also not normal – therefore only supernatural women are allowed to be powerful”. Female scholars, women of science, priestesses, midwives and the like were always the number one targets of the puritan culture (and I would argue that many still are in modern times) – and so obviously a label needed to be branded upon them. Yes, the 16th century and witch burnings are now a rather distant memory, but a seven year-old girl living in Wales in the nineties could still see the appeal between these sorts of women and a taste of freedom.

I thrived on the myths that fed these mysterious women. I didn’t care if they were fictional or not (I still don’t care)… in my head they were and still are as real as any physical being I can reach out and touch – but this is another blog entry in itself (seriously, me and my thoughts on fictional beings: tip of the iceberg). There is what can only be described as a fierce feminine pride that I associate with witchcraft; especially when women came together to perform such acts. There is such a strong allure for the coven… a female-only space where women could come together to support one another and practice acts which were usually ostracised by the wider community. The only thing that disappointed Little Me at the time was that (at that point at least) apart from tweeny Nickelodeon-type shows there were very few witches around, at least those exposed to children, that didn’t burn down entire villages or curse babies because they weren’t invited to their Christening party. (Edit: one major exception that I recall was definitely The Worst Witch which I still completely adore to this day.) 

… Maleficent is still fucking awesome, though.

Speaking of Maleficent – I think she was possibly my very first crush, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. Ok, she was the Mistress of All Evil and therefore possibly not the best role model for little girls, but I still looked unashamedly up to her far more than I did Princess Aurora (how ironic that my alter-ego bears her name). The lady could turn herself into a mother fucking dragon, locked the cookie-cutter Prince in her dungeon for her own ‘uses’ and was only really defeated by the copout sword of truth that couldn’t NOT kill her (what chance does that give anybody by the way?!) – I mean how could anyone prefer the Princess who danced around in the forrest singing about a man she never met and slept in her bed and waited for the Prince to rescue her? Sadly I have to report that according to my observations at least, the majority of little girls did.

I think I may have digressed just a tad…

.. Anyway…

Aurora came to life from the moment seven year-old me stood in that playground and wished she could be something more than a Princess, or a ‘nice girl because girls always have to be nice’. I never had a name for this side of me until I first read Harry Potter at the age of about twelve, and I came across the very minor and barely mentioned character of Professor Sinistra, the Astronomy mistress. For some utterly inexplicable reason she became my gateway to the wizarding world. In my mind when I read the books, Aurora Sinistra is basically the witch version of me. The fact that we knew nothing about her in the story really allowed me to delve into her being and live and breathe in a place that was, and still is, my private mental sanctuary. I’ve written a good fifty stories about her. I remember I was in year twelve when I had written my first fic including her; she was a gritty, feminist ex-Slytherin student turned Astronomy professor and academic. She was staunchly polyamorous, she had a fondness for casual sex because it was far more enjoyable than settling, she was a Domme in the bedroom, she had an extremely dysfunctional love-hate relationship with Snape (possibly a therapeutic way of the author trying to deal with her own destructive way of expressing love: still suffering at almost fucking 30), and she was quite self-conscious that her subject never included a shred of magical ability and so often questioned her status as a witch. I figured that all out at seventeen already,  so you could probably say I modelled myself around her as opposed to the other way around. I eventually became known as one of the more prevalent Sinistra role players online which made me many good friends in the process, some of which I still talk to today.  Years and years of endless fanfictions later, I still feel an immensely strong inexplicable connection to her. Though when I’m out of the Harry Potter realm (it does happen on the rare occasion), my usage of her name as a means of identifying my alter-ego was merely because I find the name extraordinarily beautiful, powerful and fierce.

I never really thought of ‘Aurora’ as a separate entity to myself – but rather she was a part of me… our beings melded. I frequently became Aurora in moments of anguish or trauma. As Aurora the witch I could alter and master my own feelings so the abuse that I suffered at the (literal) hands of one of my ex-partners wasn’t so unbearable. Aurora was the beginning of my journey of finding my own empowerment and self-love. Eventually, throughout my recovery I found that I didn’t need to separate our entities anymore; my alter-ego, someone I wanted to be, ended up doing just that: becoming me. Eventually I didn’t need to call myself Aurora as a form of escapism and protection; I used the name as a homage because it had so frequently filled me with pride, sexual positivity and strength during my darkest times. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was leave my abuser… a man I still foolishly loved despite it all, and therefore the name will always serve as a reminder of the strength I had to call upon to confront him and to fight my own misplaced feelings. I am proud of it.

Nowadays, I normally reserve the term almost exclusively to the BDSM scene… so if you do catch me when I’m in my ‘element’, this is the name I would prefer to be addressed by (all of my subs address me as Mistress Aurora without fail, many don’t even know my other name and I don’t really see why they should… my Domme name, as I now call it, is just as important to me and part of who I am as the name which features on my driver’s license and bank statements).

I am eternally grateful that I was given the gift of witches so early on in my life. From such a mythical subgroup of individuals came entire philosophies and mindsets. I don’t see it as an all-together negative thing to acknowledge them as a symbol of female empowerment: especially with the recent media trends of portraying them in much more favourable light – sans warts, shrill Banshee-like laughs and shoving of children into ovens (still fun, though).  It empowers women to shackle off the guilt they may associate with these characteristics, and is a jolly good fuck you to the people who use them to shame. You could replace the ‘W’ in witch to ‘B’ and the sentiment would be exactly the same. Women who are assertive and self-assured usually find that they are found and stapled with the term “bitch” eventually… I know I certainly am usually on a weekly basis by some misogynistic manchild twat on a message board. Every phrase above and far worse was used against me, and I assume many other sufferers of domestic abuse, as means to demoralise and flatten the powerful being – everything that threatens and strikes terror into the heart of abusers. I suppose that is what the crux of the message is: take negative, insulting connotations and make them your own. Yes, I am a slut if a slut is a woman who enjoys sex and is not ashamed of the fact; I am a bitch if a bitch is a woman who is self-assured and doesn’t attempt to subdue herself just to make men feel more powerful and in control. Your point? On your way, please… I’ll just be over here enjoying glorious casual fucks with a myriad of gorgeous intellectuals while you stew in your own bigotry. Who is better off here?

This is the message that is so important to promote and celebrate. To take control of ones self-perception and to educate in order to change the toxic environment where one might find oneself. Own it. Own yourself before others can get to you. Yes, I fully realise it is much easier for me to say this as a white woman than it might be for women of colour or transwomen – because no matter how unashamedly and openly queer or poly I am, I am still able to hide behind the privilege of being white, cis and being married to a man. I can’t change that aspect, but I understand that for some it is nigh impossible (and potentially dangerous) to own themselves in such a manner. But for me, a socially isolated (albeit white and cis) misfit who constantly lived in fantasy worlds, the memories of that time serve as quite profound lessons. The longest lesson by far was the realisation that I don’t have to be ‘nice’ to be ‘kind’. Nor do I have to be a witch to be so gosh darn fabulous (but it’s still fun to pretend sometimes…).

Keep your glittery pink dresses and your princes and your niceness. I’ll just be over here slamming down gin, having lesbian orgies with fellow independent beauties and being all:

witch1(wiccareencarnada.wordpress.com)

Feel free to drop by my coven any time…

A x

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Guilt-free motherhood, served with a side of unashamed mental illness.

**TW: Mental illness, self-harm ideation (nothing specific), the like.**

I’ve been feeling particularly delicate over the past few days. It usually comes hand in hand with major life changes and this time it is no different. I used to think that perhaps the diagnosis of clinical depression and anxiety was wrong because of how my moods fluctuate – I’ll be fine for a few days and then I’ll hit rock bottom again – but I don’t think I get ‘high’ enough to be classified as a manic depressive. Either way my psychiatrist has never prescribed me mood stabilisers (it was plain ol’ Zoloft for me before I decided to stop them), despite me feeling like the moodiest bitch in all of bitchland that ever bitched.

This particular lifestyle change (which I might discuss in another entry) has been a remarkably positive one: full of self-realisation and growth in my sense of personal identity. But it appears that any change, regardless of it being a positive or negative one, has a deep effect on my ability to cope. I’ve fallen back into the hole of not wanting to get out of bed for the whole day, eating the kind of food where the most amount of effort required is opening up the packet it comes in (but I AM eating, that’s a triumph in itself), where the accomplishment of the day is mustering the energy to clean myself and avoiding thoughts of self-harm (I do not intend at all to go down that track again, it’s just the thoughts themselves that are triggering for me)… there are chocolate wrappers all over my bed and all blinds are shut closed in the house… it’s disgusting and it’s dark and it’s a general shitty situation, very much like the thoughts tapping away at my skull.

Yet now I have a responsibility. Perhaps the biggest responsibility I will  ever possess in my lifetime: now I have a tiny human who is completely and utterly dependant on me to survive.

Ah, motherhood and mental illness. I never thought I would ever have to consider such a thing before I got pregnant but here we are. I hate the thought of even having to state this because it seems so completely, painfully obvious to me – but I love my daughter more than anything in the world. I’m not going to go into cheesy clichés about motherhood, because I always find it really takes the true meaning of it away and transforms it into something generic, something everyone has… and no-body has my daughter but me.  I don’t love being a mother – but I love being her mother. It saddens me when the assumption is made that women are somewhat unnatural and undeserving of their offspring simply because their maternal feelings for their children are not publicised here, there and everywhere – because this what society expects from them. I am in no way faulting the women who do live completely for their children, their selflessness is something to be admired; but the guilt that I inflicted upon myself in the beginning, upon being exposed to all these societal demands, was nothing short of self-torture – and it benefitted no-one. Least of all my child.

Guilt was a major, if not THE major part of my existence the first few months of my daughter’s life. I felt guilty that there was no instant bond between us, I felt guilty that my depression was creeping back when I should have been consumed with love and happiness and butterflies instead, I felt guilty that all these other women seemed to have it together when I just wanted to walk out in front of the next bus, I felt guilty that I possessed none of these magical maternal instincts that I’d heard so much about. The guilt fuelled the depression, the depression fuelled the guilt. I hardly had time to just look at her and take her in because I was barely managing to keep my head above water. For months it droned on and on, and, because this blog is my sanctuary of honesty, I regretted even having her and I mourned so deeply for the life I thought I’d lost. Nowadays of course, I cannot imagine my life without her in it. When I say I love her it’s like me saying “I love air”, “I love to eat because it keeps me alive!” (preferably food that doesn’t come in a shiny purple Cadbury’s packet because God knows I’ve consumed enough of them this week)… so to say it so often seems kind of obvious and forced. And I don’t care for putting on shows for people.

But no clichés please. Maybe that was a cliché. Doesn’t matter – I felt it.

I had a turning point a few months after her birth. It started when I shut-off the ‘mums and bubs forums’ (cringe) and stopped attempting to be something I wasn’t.  My daughter was unhappy because I was unhappy with myself. I had to come to terms with reclaiming my own individuality back, and realising that just because I had a baby this in no way signalled the end to ‘Aurora’ as I knew her. And it seemed like such an obvious thing but it was the most complicated idea to get into my fuzzy, depressive head. What, just because I had pushed a whole human being out from my poor, battered and bruised Ladyparts (yes, I always capitalise) that meant that I had to give up the fetish gear, my lipsticks encompassing all of the colours of the rainbow, my piercings, my postgraduate plans, my plans to become a sexual health therapist in some capacity, my Hogwarts fantasies and my noxious love for one Prof. S. Snape, my Queerness and the fact that I find myself about 90% female-attracted, my polyamorous lifestyle, my gorgeous submissives, my fondness for full body suspension and blood play, my sense of self? My self-worth? Like fuck it meant that I had to give these aspects of my life up. These aspects are who I am. Who am I without them? To quote the Fifth Element – I’d be a walking meat popsicle… wandering around bitter and useless and resenting her uterus and that which spawned from it for the rest of her life.

That’s when I bonded with my daughter. She grew more and more into the beautiful individual she is today, and I gained my individuality back in return. I no longer feel guilt in not talking about her every second of every day, or posting a million photos just to prove that I am a super great mum type. I don’t care what the perception is anymore. All I care about is that she is happy, and I am happy. We are happy with our own little world. Obviously, my depression is still a major feature in this world and self-realisation is no curative magic potion, but at least now I can own these feelings and not get pulled into the depression = guilt Ouroboros. Yes, it is phenomenally easier when one has such a supportive and accepting primary partner and a relationship based on complete openness, honesty and trust – I grant you. But either way, the moment you realise that you don’t need to, nor should, live to please anyone else but yourself is the moment where recovery can commence.

Now, on my more delicate days, I play with my daughter in our bed. We read together. I always find the energy to feed her properly. She falls asleep with me. Even though I may be an anxious, depressive mess sometimes who doesn’t leave the house for days and lives off anything she can blast in the microwave – I hope that she still will grow up with the knowledge that we will have better days, and she is so loved.

There is no shame to be had in that.

A x

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