This week the main theme has been shame. It started with the year ten poetry, and the ‘shame’ surrounding a pilot who didn’t complete his kamikaze mission. Then, the shame I felt when I realised I’d forgotten to give out positives to some of my most wonderful students, after they finally returned to my classroom! Followed by the feeling of shame, then the self-punishment, and purgatory I felt, after eating a family size bag of crisps and drinking a bottle of wine (I had to drink a lot of water and do a lot of dry brushing the morning after) on Friday evening. And then there were the old feelings of shame came back when I knew I was struggling to read a recipe book – hot on the heels after learning I needed another operation on my eyes. All such a mood killer. All so sad it you let it be.
But that’s not the real story. Nowhere near it.
Sarah Everard was a beautiful, talented and loved young woman, who had a wonderful life ahead of her. She was tragically kidnapped and killed, and all she was doing was walking home. Such a heartbreaking story, but one I, and many others, identified with straight away – she was walking home in the dark and straight away I felt the worry…Dangerous.
But then you see, I realised that I’d been allowing this worry to dictate my life for too many years. Leading me to feel utterly ashamed to be a women in the year 2021, and being so accepting of the fact that women can’t safely walk the streets alone.
I’m ashamed that I’ve let this happen: I’m a woman, a daughter, a mother to three girls…and I have to ask myself: why have I allowed this acceptance to go on for so long? I’m a fighter and instead, I’ve exercised some passivity towards something so restrictive.
The danger I feel as a women: all my life this has been an issue. Not just for me, but for every woman I know. We feel anxious when we walk somewhere quiet and hear footsteps behind us. We arm ourselves with keys in our fists, in case we are ‘jumped’. We are conscious of the way we dress; where we walk, who we talk to – how many of us have been polite and that person has taken it as something more? And, as careful as we are, we still aren’t always safe; if not safe, not always trusted. We build our daughters up to be strong and independent, and in the next breath, we are telling them to be careful, not go out alone, get a taxi. And what about our sons?
Recently, whilst publicising my book online, I had many offers of people wanting to review it. This is a great way to get noticed, to get the word out there, but you need to choose the correct collaborations (I’m so Insta-savvy right now, but that’s a story for another day!). I looked at accounts, communicated with many reviewers; however, not all were suitable. Some read fantasy, sci-fi and nonfiction – they just weren’t going to reach my target audience. When I explained to one reviewer that I didn’t think we could work together, he was upset because he thought I’d declined the deal because he was male. I was horrified, but at the same time felt some vulnerability – on both sides.
There is a huge debate here. How do we all stay safe? How can we redress the balance without being sexist towards men? After all, there are many wonderful males out there who feel as anxious as women when walking down that lonely path. How can they show that they are of no threat? Rationality and fear fighting for the top spot…and like when in the middle of the night we struggle with the rational, we tend to think the worst in darker moments. Moments of stress.
My lot were mostly busy today. I saw them all at some point and did some doorstep deliveries. I couldn’t see my family in Yorkshire, and no one could go and see nan, as the home has covid again. It wasn’t the most amazing day, but I felt loved and lucky to have such a beautiful family. Them all being safe and thoughts of brighter days for us all. And if I did feel a bit sorry for myself, I thought about those without today. Those who have recently lost loved ones to covid and other illnesses. And I thought about Sarah Everard’s mum. No one should bury their children. To be cheated of what she would have continued to bring to the lives of those who loved her.
I recently read that we are in danger of building each other up too much. The ‘you’ve got this’ can lead to us ‘not having this’ and hiding away crying at our shame of failure. So, I thought about this. I thought about all our secret struggles. I thought about how we tend to live with things we can’t control. We can’t control human nature – good, or bad. History books show us that there has always been a distinct battle between the two. But what we can control is our capacity for compassion. We can continue to be kind. We can continue to build each other up by small gestures, making each other laugh, and by holding each other up with love and advice. Solidarity – whatever your gender – is the key here. After all, hindsight always shows us that good eventually prevails over evil.
Whoever, whatever you are, all the love for another week in this crazy scary world. Keep being kind and let’s stick together for good.