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Coming Out…To The Children

We were recently asked by a LemonAider how we came out to our children…

Our situation was somewhat different from theirs since our kids were the same age and already knew each other from various activities and social meet-ups together, so our transition into spending more time together looked mostly like a growing friendship to begin with.

The Early Days…

We didn’t tell them for about 6 months which, while sensible, was very difficult when we were in the midst of something so utterly life altering for us all!

However, we obviously weren’t quite sure (or ready to admit) whether this was something huge and important and love or just 30 odd years of pent-up latent lesbian sexual desire!! (I think we were both pretty darn sure it was the former but a bit scared to share that too early on).

A lot of our early courtship happened around the kids…

I had hardly any child-free time except when they were at school and Lea home educates hers so it was tricky! Needless to say we spent a lot of time at the cinema and in soft play centres (ugh) with them during those winter months so we could have the occasional illicit hand hold or cuddle between the seats or behind a giant wipeable block. Sexy, huh? Hide and seek was invaluable to us!

Coming Out…

When we did come out and tell them all, they were relatively unfazed by it all.

The older two had an awareness that women could have girlfriends and men boyfriends but there was no-one gay with a partner in their acquaintance who they saw regularly. We kept it brief and simple to begin with – we started holding hands in front of them and being more tactile. Kissing was a spectacle and can still, even now, cause guffaws or calls of ‘gross’.

But what they’ve all witnessed and still do is our love, physical affection and, for the most part, our care and desire for one another, something that was lacking in our previous relationships with their fathers. We both really wanted them to have a healthier model of what a loving, adult relationship can look like.

The Impact…

On the plus side for the two older girls, they quickly realised that our relationship meant they could see more of each other and be the ‘besties’ they’ve become. The younger two have had their moments of jealousy with the mummy being ‘taken away’ from them narrative playing out at numerous times.

From the beginning however, we agreed that the family model we wanted to emphasise is that we are the parents and adults at the top of the tree (and that our relationship and partnership is pivotal to the success of the family as a whole), with the children in their roles as children, NOT rescuing any of their parents (a work in progress!), and that as our children our love for them is always there, but in a different way to the love of a partner.

None of it has been without its difficulties, not least of which has been my guilt…

We’ve experienced a period when the big girls were feeling a lot of anger towards their fathers and feeling let down by them, which led to them turning even more into their friendship with each other and discussing whether they were going to be lesbians (and even whether that would be with each other!!!).

That was a tricky one and Lea had to pull me down off the ceiling to deal with that one calmly and not go off in a state of panic!

Then there was the dawning realisation from Mali that sex isn’t just for procreation which led to us letting the big girls ask us anything they wanted to know about sex, including whether we’ve had sex with each other (bless!).

They haven’t yet asked how we have sex – they know how men and women make babies and that sex is also for pleasure but thank goodness their naive little minds haven’t joined up any more dots…yet!

Let’s Talk About Sex… 

Since coming out, it’s been noticeable how sexualised a topic being gay is for many people. We’ve always agreed that sex is going to be positioned as something ‘normal’, natural and healthy, between adults…hell we’ve shown them pictures of Kim Anami weightlifting from her vagina (if you haven’t checked her out you really should – gay or straight she’s THE biz for all matters sexual).

We want sex to be a topic that we always talk about honestly (in an age appropriate way), that we’re not prudish around and connect to it as part of a loving, intimate, healthy, ADULT relationship. There are kids at school in the same year as Flo who have no clue how a baby is made or the correct names for their vulva and vagina…we want our children to grow up considering sex a natural form of connection (with themselves and others), and without the stigma or negative connotations so many of us feel. 

…And Other Things…

Our coming out has led to many interesting conversations with all the children – the vaginal weight lifting for example, vaginal health more generally, stereotyping, gender fluidity, masculine and feminine energy and how interchangable that can be.

In many ways it’s putting the theoretical meat on the bones of the gender studies degree I did twenty years ago, albeit tailored to a slightly different audience!!

Two of the children are now aware that their uncle is gay, they know about Pride and rainbows and about feeling like you’ve been born in the wrong body. They know that some people prefer not to have a gender at all (that’s not as complex for them to get their heads around as it seems to be for adults!). They know that mummy stopped being friends with someone they knew because she believed gay people would go to hell. That led to some very interesting discussions about love I can tell you!!

Having Gay Parents…

They’re also learning and telling us about their experiences of having gay parents. At our old Primary School Flo encountered some negative comments about it being unnatural for two women to be together. The Head seemed more concerned with stopping us flexi-schooling than dealing with that! Similarly, at our current school we’ve just experienced an incident with another child commenting on the girls having parents in a same-sex relationship.

These incidents are so small and yet they each have an impact which we see when our daughters are considering whether to tell people at theatre school that their mums are ‘gay together’. They made friends with two girls who they did tell, but were much more discerning about telling some of the boys, recognising that they might make life harder for themselves.

Those are the only incidents we’ve had and generally people are warm, friendly and interested (sometimes a bit too interested!).

You can see people mentally trying to work us out as a family – did we each have sperm donors and settle on two brown and two white children?!? Did we each birth each others?! It’s quite hilarious to watch, and tempting to play up to!

Lea and I have only had two direct experiences of homophobia, once in a bar in Lincoln where a guy made a rude remark as we walked in and once when we went to a dance class together. On both occasions Lea, as the more masculine energy, is the one in the firing line from men who cannot hold or handle that.

We’ve not told the children this but they are aware that discrimination happens to gay people because of who they love, just as it does to people of colour, women, disabled people, and anyone who isn’t a white, of a certain age male.

There is already a sense of injustice in them all about this, and a matter of factness that this is their normal. It will be interesting to see how this changes or develops in their teenage years, and whether it’s different for our son and daughters…

The Experiment Continues…

Our living together, blended family experiment continues apace (see here for the warts and all version of how it’s going between the two of us!). While the kids all seem to be adjusting pretty well to what amounts to a pretty big change in their lives, it’s not been without its challenges and obstacles!

It helps that, for quite some time, all the children have been asking when we’ll all live together so we know this is something they want versus something we’re just imposing upon them with no voice, desire or choice in the matter.

Becoming Minimalist…

Delcuttering and streamlining two households to fit into one fairly small house, with stuff for 6 people, is an ongoing challenge.

It has meant the kids having drastically fewer toys between them and discussions about whether they’d like to sell some of their stuff and put the money into a travel fund for when we go travelling (the answer was a definitive “YES!”).

On the upside, they’ve all been far more creative with what’s available, with the little ones rediscovering needle felting, fimo-ing, playing ‘tennis’ with 2 fly swats and ping pong balls and the big girls creating endless set-ups for their dolls and creating stop motion animation music videos with them on the iPad.

For us, it has meant numerous discussions about whose stuff goes where, who gets the most drawers and wardrobe space and just how much stuff we’re keeping in the house!!

It has also meant repainting almost all the walls downstairs, as well as the gloss paintwork, negotiations over furniture and room layouts, and the difficult decision of what to do with the household pets (especially since cats and rats are not a great match!!).

Remote Working…

All of this has also coincided with Becky looking for (and getting) not just one but two remote working roles, and the stress that that has entailed.

This is critical to our goal of travelling more and being able to work while we do, from anywhere with a decent connection (this post, for example, is being typed from a hospital waiting room!).

Blended Family Dynamics…

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced – and continue to face – is navigating our way through the maze of blending our two units of three into one unit of six.

What has become absolutely clear is that if we are to make this work on every level, we need to agree on some fundamental principles…

1. That we – the adults – are the head of the unit, and that our relationship must be a priority because the more stable, grounded and ok it is/we are, the stronger the unit as a whole. 

2. That we are each ok with the other parenting our children; and by that we mean giving them loving and firm boundaries, guiding them when needed, helping them when needed and generally playing a parental role when needed. Our family unit just wouldn’t work in such a blended way if we took a ‘you parent yours, I’ll parent mine’ approach to raising the children, especially when we all live together. And for this to work, we have needed to agree on our parenting approach, what appropriate boundaries are (and aren’t) and, where there are differences, how we handle these differences in a fair and balanced way. 

We are fortunate to have discovered in each other an adult willing to parent our own children; to love them, to set boundaries for them, to model for them, to give enough of a shit about them that they feel secure, loved and that they belong with us and in our family unit. This feels so critical to our long term success in building a family together, and for our relationship too. 

Hard Works Pays Off…Doesn’t It?!

The minimalism, sharing a smaller space versus a 3 or 4-bed house, the remote work…all of it is great practice for the rigours of travelling and working internationally while home educating 4 children!

The therapy and emotional processing of some of our most deep-seated patterns feels vital to our relationship and the patterns we both still bring to it…and if we think it’s like being in a pressure cooker now, let’s see how it feels when we’re sharing a train carriage travelling across Europe!

This feels like we’re putting in much of the hard work now so things feel easier in the future. Here’s hoping!!

Showing Up + Being Seen Online…

Lea has been showing up online for over a decade creating a whole movement around being location independent. That was quite intimidating for me when we first met, given that my online presence was basically a personal Facebook account!! 

We’ve been showing up together online under our LemonAid banner for two years now and it’s been a fascinating journey for us both.

So what have we learnt in that time both showing up there?

(And also for me on Patreon, where I am writing about my journey penning a children’s utopian novel and for Lea on her various ventures under her own name, Lea Jovy and other projects).

Firstly, while I (Becky) thought I shared personal stuff on Facebook I now realise how much I was actually hiding. From others and from myself. Coming out and starting to live a life that felt more ‘me’ made it easier to begin to talk more frankly. Everywhere.

Still work to be done in some areas though as I realise there is still shame attached to sharing the bits I’m still working through or stuck in. Not that we HAVE to share every detail or the bits that are still raw for us, but I have a gut feeling that being able to delve into some of the more tricky aspects would be interesting reading for others as well as hugely cathartic and a process of ‘letting go’, for me.

Which brings me on to the next lesson, catharsis. Writing, processing, reliving aspects of our own journeys has been and continues to be hugely cathartic for us, especially when people resonate with it and reach out. 

We’ve also learnt not to judge ourselves by what others are getting done! The time pressures we experience fitting everything in with children, therapy, home educating, flexi-schooling, keeping our relationship well tended, leisure time, exercise, eating well can be a bloody big challenge.

Comparing ourselves to people without children or those whose children are at school five days a week is futile! Besides, our life presents us with much fodder for emotional growth, life lessons and thus things to share and discuss!

We are working at becoming more consistent even when we are weathering several storms at once. It also forces us to focus in the limited time we do have. Lea is really good at ensuring we still prioritise us and some leisure time, which left to me and my guilt-ridden ways would probably fall by the wayside somewhat!

We often feel worried that ‘Showing Up’ might be construed as ‘Showing Off’! This can lead to not sharing things that might be useful or of interest and also, dare I say it? Oh fuck it, I dare, what’s wrong with showing off??!!

Given that we share a fair amount of our fairly epic fails, downs, traumas, BUT EVEN IF WE DIDN’T, showing up is going to feature more! I’m going to call it ‘Celebrating The Good Shit’!

The final thing we’ve learnt – although I’m sure there’s plenty more that if it wasn’t 27℃ here in Brighton with a lack of aircon in the cafe I’m typing this in I might be able to think of – is that you’d be surprised who’s paying attention when you think no-one is paying attention!!

Sometimes it feels like you’re exposing yourself into a bottomless abyss, a void of nothingness and no-oneness, only to discover at some later date that people from your past, family, and random folk are reading your stuff, sometimes avidly!

We’ve learnt that people come to things in their own time if it’s right for them and our job is to keep on keeping on, telling our story, sharing our experience, and providing a space for people to join us/support us/work with us if it feels right for them. 

Showing up anywhere, including online can be a daunting affair…

We’ve had criticism from previous friends for ‘daring’ to do it (“But what about your exes and how they feel about what you’re doing?”) as well as from our exes themselves who take the tiny snippets we share online, jump to (wrong) conclusions and then throw it all back at us in various arguments.

But I can tell you categorically, it feels a darn sight better than hiding – from ourselves, from others (whether that’s to rescue their feelings or protect ourselves), from the life we really want, from our fears.

And if other people have a problem with that as far as I’m concerned…when it’s their shit, they can clean it up! Here’s to showing up!!

Building LemonAid: Why It’s Not Free To Join the Community!

In this video, we talk about building the LemonAid community from scratch, why we charge to join, and why we so fully believe in its role and value.

Note: Excuse my (Lea) puffy face and squinty eyes in this; I’d had some life-changing news this weekend and it was taking its toll!

 

Bent Becky

Bent Becky

Guilt is only a burden when you bend down and pick it up… apparently. Unfortunately, I keep bending.

Our last post saw Lea talking about whether it’s right that the children should always come first and how, as a couple parenting our four children, we don’t think it is – for them or for us.

One of the reasons I find it hard to let go of the idea that we SHOULD be putting them first is because I feel guilty if I don’t.

I feel guilty for considering my own needs, guilty for not making everything about them – whether that’s money, food, holidays, days out etc. Hell, I even feel guilty when I encourage their father to step up and have them more!

Take an incident this week for example…

My children’s father had agreed to have them on Friday and take one to a party she’d been invited to. He was meant to arrive at ten to be there on time. This was my day to work. That morning he announced he couldn’t come at that time, cue me (why not him??) scrambling around trying to arrange transport to the party and work out why he thought it was ok to drop this on me an hour before he was due to arrive.

Also cue me feeling guilty because neither child wanted to go to him for the weekend and were quite happy he wasn’t coming.

In moments like this I want to scoop them up and not make them go. But is that really the best thing for any of us?

After a lot of cross words from me, he finally came and collected them much later than agreed. When I packed their bags I snuck their school uniforms in the bag with the idea of telling him he should take them to school on Monday (they were due back with me Sunday afternoon) given I’d lost work time that day.

This didn’t feel ideal at all given I’d not told the children this, but I’m at the point where I feel forced to take drastic measures to get him to step up and take his parenting responsibilities seriously. Not only does it impact my working time and ability to make money but it also demonstrates to the children that they are not his priority.

After a quite spectacular row and him venting on me what I suspect is his anger at himself, he agreed to take them to school (something he never does). This feels important in so many ways…

First, because his children need to experience him having an active role in ALL aspects of their lives. Not just being a fun daddy (or not) for 1.5 days a week.

Currently I organise everything for them:

  • School stuff –  homework, spellings, reading, trips, dinner money
  • Activities – forest school, violin lessons, dancing, play dates, sleepovers, parties
  • Emotional well-being – sportscasting, processing, talking, listening
  • Physical wellbeing – making elderberry syrup, ensuring they don’t eat too much shit, talking to them about looking after their bodies…the list goes on.

Second, because my kids want to home educate at some point and there’s no way I can do that on my own. The more engaged he becomes in ALL aspects of their education now, the more chance we have of making that a reality for them instead of a promise that’ll never happen.

Third, because I want them to have a relationship with their father and experience him as just as capable of meeting their needs – albeit in different ways – as me…or do I?

This is the tricky bit. Whilst part of me, of course, wants this for them – hell my relationship with my own father was a once a fortnight job that didn’t feel enough – another part of me wants to keep them away from him and his influence!!

I want to be their number one. Not ideal! I suspect from hearing other women talk that this is common.

Letting go of our children is really difficult, who are WE, after all, if we’re not their everything? When motherhood demands so much sacrifice from us how do we be ‘us’ when we are only ever defined through our children?

No wonder we have feelings of guilt for giving them to other adults to look after – even when it’s their other parent, for fuck’s sake. It feels like a massive taboo…

Society tells us that mothers shouldn’t want to do that; that mothers should be the primary caregiver. Mothering as a verb comes with an implicit all-encompassing assumption that your children are your entire world.

We are ALL sold down the river by these narratives…

Fathers because they assume there is no place for them other than as a bit part actor to the mothers leading role. This then often stops them learning or having the confidence to step up and parent their kids and develop a strong relationship with their children accross all areas of their lives.

For the kids, well they often don’t get to see the model of both parents stepping up and parenting them competently (and incompetently at times!) which then repeats the narratives of whose job child rearing is when they become adults themselves. It also denies them strong loving and more complete bonds with their fathers which will sustain them throughout life.

Mothers because it is unrealistic to expect or want one person to be another person’s everything. That’s symbiosis and doesn’t end well for either party. Mothers need time and space for themselves aside from their kids.

The guilt we often feel though is pervasive and is based on the strength of the narratives that outline what motherhood is meant to look like in our society.

When we can’t or no longer want to live by these narratives, guilt is the common consequence. How dare we step outside of those narratives and define motherhood differently?

Sadly most of the time it is other women who are our worst enemies.

We’ve certainly had the biggest anti-feminist responses from other mothers. Is this because so many of us feel the pull of this all-encompassing guilt and we’d do anything to avoid feeling it ourselves including judging others when they step outside of the ‘good mother’ role?

So what happened in my weekend situation?

Well, after I’d been told that I was like a witch stirring a cauldron trying to come up with new ways to make his life difficult (Like really??!! Like I don’t have enough on already??!! Like asking the father of my children who cost me half a working day to compensate that by having his own children and taking them to school constitutes some kind of black magic??!!), he sorted himself out. Made their pack lunches, had them overnight and took them to school the next morning!

On talking to him afterwards I could see the pride that he’d done it, the delight that they’d enjoyed it so much and his confidence on a high. He also enjoyed telling me they wanted him to pick them up and go home with him that night! (That’s a whole other world of pain and panic in letting go of them for another post!!).

For now, I’m getting over the exhaustion of standing up to him, the anxiety about insisting he be more to them and enjoying their obvious enjoyment that ‘Daddy did it’ and Daddy gave enough of a shit to do some hard stuff.

I am also, as always, extremely grateful to Lea, who shows me where I need to face my own hard stuff around letting go, and supports me through it all, despite the tears and flouncings that often accompany it. She’s a wise one that girl…not least because she aint bending to pick up any goddam guilt. Now that is something to aspire to!

This Theme’s Soundtrack…

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Should The Children Always Come First?

Should The Children Always Come First?

I believe that making our children the centre of our universe is not the kind of parenting approach that benefits them most to prepare them for the world they’ll be living in as adults. Why not? I can think of at least 3 main reasons…

1. Because in the ‘real’ adult world, everything does not and will not revolve around them…

[This is an excellent talk about how recent parenting strategies have failed millenials going into the workplace of today].

Bringing up our children to believe that they are the centre of the universe and everyone should treat them thus, only sets them up for a rude awakening when they grow up to realise that very few other people consider them to be the centre of the universe around which everything else revolves.

2. Because it benefits our children when we are the healthiest, happiest, whole versions of ourselves…

To do this, we need to ensure we meet our own needs in ALL areas of our lives – health, career, emotional wellness, physical health, significant other relationships and more. At times, this means we will need to prioritise ourselves so that we have enough energy, love and resources to meet our children’s needs, from a place of full-ness rather than empty-ness.

“You can’t give what you don’t have.”

3. Because as mothers of girls, and as feminists who believe in the equality of genders, it’s imperative that we model the kind of life we want our girls to know it is ok to lead for themselves as women.

Which means showing and modelling for them that it’s not just ok but absolutely necessary to meet their own needs and sometimes put those needs first.

Please do not mistakenly assume that at any time we neglect or ignore the needs of our children…

Our primary goal is to ensure that they too are the healthiest, happiest children (people) they can be – and I believe a key part of that is having parents who model what healthy and happy looks like. 

So being in a relationship together, expressing our love physically and verbally to each other, and wanting to spend alone time together as we do has become a priority for us.

Though this is not at the expense of the children who are usually with their fathers or sometimes grandparents; we typically schedule the entire week (year) around their needs, fitting in our work together, our alone time together as well as admin, grocery shopping and household stuff in the time that they aren’t with us.

We have received some flak for this – accused of being selfish, irresponsible and ‘just fucking about’. Frustratingly this has often been from other women and mothers (though that last was is from an ex).

I get it..

I know that for many women their role as a mother defines them; and in the absence of continuing or pursuing their career, the role of motherhood becomes a key part of their identity.

Who are you if you’re not a mother?

It requires trust that our children are actually ok and can survive without us being the sole centre of their universe.

It requires trust that other adults can be and are responsible and trusted enough to meet the needs of our children – yes, even their fathers who may not have not had a huge role in their lives to date (alongside some serious ‘training’ and support, where necessary).

Because the positives of this approach are many…

The children’s relationships with their fathers are better for seeing them frequently – for us letting them go and entrusting their fathers to be their equal parent.

And for girls and boys, I think it’s hugely important to see and have a male role model effectively be the parent to their children and to see their mothers also creating a life for themselves beyond children and being a mother.

And while we absolutely don’t have it all worked out, at times we can console ourselves with evidence that we’re not (hopefully) fucking them up too badly!

Our eldest 2 girls are best friends. The youngest 2 have a fun, cheeky and boisterous relationship and consider themselves best friends too.

As a 4, they think of themselves as a little wolf pack and it’s obvious to see the bonds between them when they’re out in the world and faced with threats. They pull together brilliantly as a pack, get confidence and ground from each other and their approaches provide endless opportunities to learn from and see how they each deal with similar situations.

But this is NEVER easy…

Balancing the needs of all the children and adults in the dynamic is an ongoing work in progress and has resulted in many a HUGE bust-up (between us and our exes).

We have to address ongoing feelings of guilt (Becky) and feelings of jealousy (adults and children)…but more on that in the next post!

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Night At The Circus

Night At The Circus

We wrote these letters after a Christmas night out with fellow LemonAiders, that also turned into a celebration of us being newly engaged. There was a fair bit of Becky’s stuff around and Lea felt she’d had a night at Becky’s personal Circus…

Dear Becky,

I found last night really, really hard. For a large part of the evening, I felt totally disconnected from you – like it wouldn’t have really mattered whether I was there or not – and wanted to head back to the hotel (or more ideally my bedroom at home aka my womb!) on my own.

It started at dinner – there was a point at which you were regaling a story and I asked you a question about what had happened. You seemingly didn’t hear me and didn’t answer, so I asked you again. No response, again. At this point, I tugged your sleeve/tapped you on the arm to get your attention but still couldn’t get it so I gave up.

Obviously, there’s an adoption trigger for me there – about not being heard/having no impact – but I was mostly pissed off. I could see/feel you behind your defences – the loud, brash, crude Becky – and as we’d previously talked about this, I so desperately wanted you to show more of the ‘real’ you that I am lucky to see behind the defences.

It continued throughout the evening as things got louder and louder, and cruder and cruder around our table. While I have no problem with swearing or crude language – as you well know! – and I’m rarely the one who cares about what anyone else thinks, to have to put my hand on your arm and suggest that ‘we’ might need to tone it down a little was, I felt, going to be a tricky thing to do and could well cause some kind of argument between us, if not in that moment but most definitely after the event.

But I did it anyway, because my needs – as the more classic introvert of the two of us! – felt like they were being totally overwhelmed and overlooked at the expense of others.

It feels like we’ve been working so hard to ‘be’ more ourselves with each other…how can we do this around others too? xxx

Dear Lea,

Whilst I’m tempted to reply thus…

Dear Lea, I’m sorry you feel this way. It’s clearly all your stuff. Maybe you should see your therapist more often? I am comedy gold and I must give of myself to my adoring crowd. Get used to it love! This is what being with an alpha narcissist is all about 😉 Xxx

However, the reality is very different…

Oooooh that’s hard to read. I can’t deny it as we’ve talked about this pattern of mine before. I had no idea that you had tried to get my attention AT ALL! That feels pretty shitty. I think by then I was far too carried away in the crudity and banter to even notice. I think I get something pretty powerful from these group encounters where the rude, witty repartee feels like it’s everything and the real me slips further from view.

Some of this is connected to my belief that just being me is not enough. As a child of parents with strong narcissistic traits, I felt that who I was depended on who they needed me to be. It was never about who I ACTUALLY was. The ‘real’ me got lost. Inevitably, growing into an adult, those patterns learnt in childhood – to be what others need at the expense of myself – continued, but the need to be seen, to be noticed, had to come out somewhere. Being the clown, using my humour as a defence to continue covering up the real me but to get some kind of attention – albeit not the kind I really wanted – became highly addictive. So addictive that whilst using this drug I seemingly have little awareness of what’s going on outside of my own personal circus!

I’m hopeful that the swing into my own narcissism is not a permanent one and that gradually, as I start to meet my own needs in healthier ways, I won’t crave this shallow, all-encompassing, spurious, unfulfilling type of attention anymore. As we know, this still happens between the two of us, when I slip into my defences – fearful of intimacy in all its forms.

However, we also have many more moments now where, as you say, you get to see the real me, behind all those many defensive layers. Not only do you see me, you tell me it is a privilege to see me and that you’d like to see me more!! Scary, (yet deeply exhilarating) times!!!!

I think another part of the extremeness of my behaviour that night was because it was only a few days since you had proposed to me, which sent me off in a massive spin! More intimacy, having to hold the fact that you had publicly declared your love for me, the fear that I didn’t deserve it or that you just hadn’t seen all the awful bits of me yet etc all got massively triggered and it probably felt much safer to retreat into Bozo’s clown shoes than hold that level of intimacy within a group of people eager to congratulate us!

So, I’m very sorry that the real me felt the need to hide so much on our night out. I think I know that the real source of much of my angst is a lack of self-love and that feels intimately entwined with the narcissism . Work in progress as they say. Please know that I desperately want to be the real me, as much of the time as I can xxx

This Letter’s Soundtrack…

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Step By Step (Parenting)

We went for a walk in the woods yesterday. All six of us. Nothing very unusual there given we are forest school types…But it struck me as we were taking moody wintery shots of the kids climbing trees and Lea was helping them climb higher, that I am a step-parent.

Now this might seem obvious to you, and I know I’m often a bit late to the party – I still say ‘Oh my god I’m a lesbian’ to myself fairly frequently – but this recognition was a little overwhelming!

Some of this no doubt comes from the fact that I’m in therapy, currently working on my own emotional and childhood ‘stuff’ so I don’t feel I can parent my own children let alone be any kind of useful influence on anyone else’s!

What I’m learning, slowly, with my own children is that the patterns most familiar to me from how I was parented really can be changed.

Being part of a blended family is interesting since you get another parent’s up close and personal insights into your own parenting beliefs, skills and decisions. Scary, but bloody useful!

When a break up happens its hard not to feel like you need to protect your offspring, especially as they didn’t ask for any of what happened.

For both of us, that sense was exacerbated by the fact that our own parents had dramatically separated – when I was six and when Lea was 4 – so we both knew all the feelings we’d had to bottle up then that are still trying to come out now!!

In the early days, this was my energy whenever we were together with the children – that we were two separate families of three. This feels inevitable when you’re dealing with the fallout from the initial separation and are unsure where the new relationship is going (although I think Lea and I always knew!).

However, there comes a point where we (Lea) realised we really needed to be thinking about us as a unit (family) of six, not just the three amigos x 2.

I resisted this, for many reasons…

Some of them connected to my stuff – I feel I have experienced a symbiotic relationship with my mother where it felt that she needed me to need her, and I consequently feel that I can’t do things for myself. I think I have unconsciously been doing the same thing to my children.

I have a belief that somehow they’re not ok, they won’t be ok and that I need to protect them from the big bad world. This has all been very unconscious and very insidious so probably not noticeable, except to the person in a relationship with me noticing the different ways we parent,  and the different beliefs we both carry around with us.

In the two and a half years we’ve been together we’ve had many, many rows around the children…

  • Whose (family’s) needs are prioritised and come first? Mine because my children are at school and our schedule is less flexible?
  • How do we meet each children’s needs, and their needs as a unit? Especially given the narratives each child has (more on those below!)
  • How do we meet our own individual needs, and our needs as a couple? How much child-free time are we ‘allowed’?

These days these themes can still be the biggest source of arguments between us but I think we’re far more on the same page now…

  • Yes, we DO deserve child-free time without feeling guilty we’re not, for once, prioritising the children.
  • WE, that is the two adults, are the vital unit to prioritise…to work together as a team, to present ourselves to the children as a team; when we are strong, they’re strong and we’re ALL strong together.
  • Encouraging healthy separation, individuation and building up their own trust and confidence in them each as individuals is our priority as one of their main parenting units.

From speaking to people we know, it seems to be a common strategy when parents split up: Try and protect the children from everything: seeing stuff, feeling stuff, hearing stuff. Gather them in. Hold them even closer. 

When we, as parents, are left reeling from what has happened and are trying to make sense of it ourselves, how the hell are we supposed to help our children make sense of it?!

Well I won’t deny that I’m a big believer in therapy. Ok, more than that, I think it should be compulsory for everyone, that emotional management has far more use and relevance to us than many of the things we learn at school.

We’ve both worked hard – in therapy individually, and by processing things together – to understand the dynamics, patterns and narratives for ourselves and for each of the children…

  • One child has the narrative that she needs to be different/special in order to be loved; she takes up much of the airtime and energy away from the others and can be extremely violent, rageful and aggressive towards everyone when a boundary is put in place and held.
  • One child has always felt that her brother is the priority and loved more than she is (her exact narrative, as she so directly articulated is “I wasn’t good enough so you had to have another baby” 😱).
  • One child feels acutely inferior and ‘not good enough’ in every way; and another feels that his sister is better at everything than he is. (More on how we worked out their, and our narratives in later posts!)

It has been hard for me to hear that my children’s narratives may stem, at least in part, from me recreating the symbiotic dynamic I feel I had with my mother. It has taken many conversations, much processing, both with Lea and in therapy for me get a handle on it all and sometimes I still want to tell Lea it’s nothing to do with me, that it’s all her stuff! But as I’ve been starting to let go and do things differently I can literally FEEL those truths. 

Trust seems to be my life lesson, gah! And learning to trust my children, let alone myself, to believe that all of us are ok. That we’re not damaged, useless individuals, has been hard. Especially when I still feel damaged and useless myself.

It sounds terrible that somehow that’s how I’ve viewed my kids but deep down I think that’s what’s been going on. Because I don’t feel ok about myself, as some kind of extension of me, somehow they’re not ok either. Remembering that they’re not one of my limbs but their own people helps me separate that out and not engage in that symbiotic dynamic.

 Working on this – for myself and for my own children – is a MUST if I’m also going to have to step up and be a step parent to Lea’s kids too!

The When Life Gives You Lemons Podcast # 2: Becky’s Awakening in Lea’s Words

1. So why did Becky’s Awakening take so long??

 

 

2. And why did she hide so much, even in the beginning?

 

 

3. So when did Becky’s Awakening really begin and what happened?

 

 

4. What was Becky’s life like before her Awakening?

 

 

5. Clearing out Becky’s life, bit by bit and the thing that tipped the scales…

 

 

6. And the other parts of Becky’s Awakening?

 

 

7. Let’s talk about intimacy, shall we (and why sex and love just don’t go together)?!

 

 

8. And finally, what it’s like to be fully seen by someone (even when you thought you could bamboozle them for years!)…

 

 

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want…

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want…

Dear Lea,

This feels really hard, telling you honestly all the things I really want! Telling you in my last letter all the things that I knew I didn’t want, having already created them for myself felt a damn sight easier than this! I want you to know that regardless of the feelings of shame and embarrassment at sharing this with you (and others!!) I’m not going to hold back, so here goes…

One of my biggest wants I already have – to be in a loving, sexual, intimate relationship with a woman who is willing to process her own shit! Now don’t get me wrong it’s fucking hard work as we both know, but it feels so worth all the onion peeling, fear, pain, triggering, flouncing and arguments and the past two years show us just how far we have come and how much we have unravelled with each other and our therapists’ help.

I’d like to take this a step or two further though!! I’ve never been or wanted to be married and yet with you I really long to one day be your wife. We’ve talked jokingly about who would propose to who and you said you would want to propose to me because you’ve had that experience and I haven’t and, as much as I protest, I know that I would really like that. BUT, and it’s a big one, I only want to be married if we carry on keeping our relationship as healthy as we can, jointly working on our stuff, learning, growing and evolving together. I don’t want to be a dead weight.

My most painful want centres around a career. More than anything I want something that gives me the feeling of pride, pleasure, joy, worth, achievement, self respect. I have never had that and the closest I have ever come was being at University. Never seeing myself as particularly bright more reasonably average, my degree and, to a lesser extent, my Masters, were a real thrill as I was so invested in learning and felt that I could write, and well. My First meant so much to me and yet I’ve never been able to repeat the feeling it gave me – of being immersed in something, invested in it and having people take notice of me.

Years ago I read something that said often the thing we were ‘born to do’ is one of the first things we wanted to do as a child. Leaving aside my desire to be the first woman in space, the first thing I wanted to do was to be a writer. 

You have encouraged me to get onto Patreon and begin writing the book that has been in me for some years now…and yet…I still find it hard. Possibly because of the lack of deadline but deeper than that because fundamentally at my core are two beliefs that run contrary to me succeeding at things. 1. That I have very poor self esteem and don’t believe I am capable. I think this comes massively from my relationship with my mother – she has very little confidence and I think played out an “I’m not OK, you’re not OK dynamic” with me, as well as creating a symbiosis between us where I came to believe that I couldn’t function without her. This still plays out today as evidenced by the impact a simple text message from her can have. 

Early, on the morning I was going away for a couple of days with the children, she messaged me to check I had got someone to feed my cats. A simple and kind message one might assume and yet it feels so symbolic of the entire dynamic between us. I can’t be trusted to deal with things without her and she needs to have involvement in my life – to be needed – even though I am 44. This symbiosis I’m sure is the basis of my big/small stuff, where I constantly feel I can’t do things and it is further compounded by my inner child’s ingrained belief that if I am big I won’t be loved. I think I’ve had to play small for both my parents to ensure I got the love I needed as a child. ‘Be the good girl but don’t be too good that you detract from us and don’t need us’.

This is all still around for me right now and I spend my days swinging from trying to keep going and working on my projects small step by small step to feeling utterly inadequate and useless when the fear of not being loved, if I continue getting big, kicks in. I also recognise that I don’t want a career to have to give me something that’s missing in me – a sense that I’m OK just for being me. I can see that’s what happened for my mum and she continued to not feel good enough, which when she retired became hugely noticeable again. So while I want a career I love I want it to be from a space of OKness to begin with.

So on the career front my biggest dream is to write a series of adventure stories about the kind of utopia that I would like to live in. I’d like it to be thought-provoking but not in a twatty way and ultimately I would love it to sell. Big dream? For it to be on the Big Screen. There I’ve said it. But first steps are to write it!

Alongside my own personal career stuff, I’ve been overwhelmed and fascinated by how much I love working on LemonAid, our joint project, together. It feels like it reflects our relationship and the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve ever been in an adult healthy relationship before and I’m still learning to trust and believe that all these wonderful things between us really are real and possible! Working together in the way that we do continues to be life affirming, fun, challenging, and deliciously enjoyable. Long may it continue!!

I would love for LemonAid to grow and for us to continue doing more with it as we continue evolving. I’d like more people to subscribe to the blog and, importantly, find value in it. I have a vision that I’d like it to be like a secret club where an army of middle aged, fierce, strong, capable, beautiful, sexy, wild women, all wearing our LemonAid T shirts and drinking coffee (or vodka) out of our LemonAid mugs! 

This leads me nicely on to money and abundance. This is a bit of a sticking point for me. I want more money yet I somehow believe money is dirty and shameful! Two beliefs working against each other. As I research for my book, money is often one of the most challenging aspects to consider from a utopian perspective. I fundamentally believe that capitalism stinks and that it needs to go and yet I am creating my book within a capitalist system where I need to make money to survive! Tricky. It feels wrong and brazen to say I want lots of money but I do. I’m tired of having so little that I’m constantly in a state of anxiety about how I’ll manage. I remember when a close friend bought me ‘Get Rich Lucky Bitch’ and just the title sent me into a major frenzy!! There is still much work to be done here…

One of the reasons I want more wonga is because improving my health can be a costly business. I currently experience fibromyalgia and to manage it I need to eat well, and generally look after myself in many alternative (non prescriptive drugs) ways. I try to eat as much organic food as I can afford, but would like to see a functional medicine professional, have some regular massage or physical treatment and to be able to afford regular supplements. I’d also really like to be able to go on holiday somewhere hot more often as I need the sun on my bones and do more physical exercise somewhere warm.

On the relationship front I want to continue getting clearer about me, having a stronger sense of my own boundaries and knowing when it’s the right time to let people and things go and not settling for relationships that leave me feeling drained or out of alignment. This has been a steep learning curve over the past two years and I confess to finding it a period of grieving for friendships that weren’t giving me what I wanted and relationships with family where I consistently removed my boundaries and allowed myself to get triggered repeatedly.

The in-between stage is the hardest though I guess and some of the new relationships being formed feel on a different and healthier basis. I also want to get better at standing up for myself. My default is to mop up other people’s feelings, especially when they are negative, which I can usually sense. I allow myself to be manouevred into the ‘small’ position to protect other people feeling their own ‘small’ feelings. That doesn’t mean I want to go round pointing out and attacking their stuff unkindly, but I want to be able to challenge them fairly when I feel they are making assumptions or judgements about me and my life to make them feel better about theirs.

Long term I would LOVE to be able to have my parents in my life without falling back into old patterns. I don’t feel strong enough for this yet but that’s the goal! I also think I’m starting to feel that it’s OK for me to choose to want people in my life who are willing to be vulnerable and who want to grow. My parents and several friendships have left me feeling that this is some flaw in me to want more authentic connections, and I don’t buy that anymore. If they don’t that’s their choice (possibly based on their own fears) but I do, and the rewards are many!

I definitely want to continue having fun and living a fuller life. Some of the things that we’ve done together have made me feel deserving of life, of time to myself, of spending money on myself, of doing fun things not always with my children. This feels sooo important for my mental health, for the health of our relationship and consequently for my children! Our Lemon List details many of the things we still want to do together, and it’s often growing daily!! Some of the highlights so far?? Elizabeth Gilbert In London, Taylor Swift at Wembley, Kate Rusby’s Xmas Concert together and Bath Spa are definitely highlights but so are my first time kayaking in the sea, our first child-free holiday and my regular bouquets. One I’m really looking forward to is us doing a Tantra course together!

Fun obviously features with my children too. As I work through some of the harder aspects of my stuff and notice the impacts it has had on my relationship with them, I remain fully committed to getting as healthy as I can for me and them. There are lots of things I’d love to do with them, especially as part of our blended family. I’d love us to travel together at some point, to do more fun cool stuff. But right now the focus is firmly on helping give them emotional ground so that wherever we go and whatever we do, that is a given.

Giving Back is on my goal list but I still feel there is much selfish work to be done on me first. I won’t feel guilty for that. It feels necessary and important so that when I give, it comes with the right intentions, rather than to save others as a form of personal projection. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I want to be doing in the meantime mind, and we’ll be trying to incorporate these into the whole ethos of LemonAid. Part of this giving back I want to centre around my desire for community, of bringing people together. While I currently help you (a bit!) with the Newark Circle I really want to reinstate the women’s meal meet ups that I organised and met you at several years ago. But you know all this because we’ve been discussing it for weeks and it’s now starting up!

All for now my lovely. So glad I manifested you from my, albeit underwraps, unconscious want list into glorious technicolour!! X

Hello you,

Ok, so what do I want now, having made this leap of ours and being 2 years in? Good question!

 I currently feel very resistant to doing a vision board – not sure why – I have tried a couple of times and feel uninspired, unmotivated and even resentful (being restricted to a particular format?!). I feel like my sense of what I want is hazy, vague and not definable, nor depict-able by twatty pictures I might find in a magazine or on the internet. I don’t want it to be represented by formulaic, stock photos of ‘things’ that already exist…I want it to be unique, created by me, and not by anyone else (my core value of freedom coming to the fore there, eh?!).

And this entire exercise of asking for what I want is from a very different place of two years ago, where more of my life is where I want it to be… 

I’m in the kind of relationship I want, with a woman that I very much want, in every way. I have the kind of day-to-day routine that I want – spending time with you, my children and on my work, both my stuff and our joint stuff together.  We’ve worked through the intimacy stuff and we’ve both said we want to take this even deeper by doing a tantra course together. Some of the fundamental of what makes me happy are now in place, where they were missing before. So which areas still need some work?

Health – I really want to keep processing my emotional stuff so that it takes less of a toll on my body. As you experience by my regular 5am awakenings, the insomnia for the past 2 years doesn’t feel great and I’m still prone to my body visibly ‘acting out’ my emotional stuff with random skin rashes, out-of-the-ordinary illnesses and numerous accidents. I am too sporadic on the fitness front, as well as the healthy eating front. I would really like to be physically super fit, super healthy and back down to my ‘fighting’ weight which is probably a stone lighter than I am 

Finances & Abundance – after taking my foot off the pedal business-wise for a while as our personal stuff has been so much in focus, I want to boost the coffers. I want to be in a stronger financial position for the long term, able to easily pay off my mortgage, keep this house to rent out as a source of income and buy at least another one (ideally I want to buy the row of houses I’m in). I want us to live together, FULL time. I want a compact but spacious house and easy-to-maintain garden. I want us to be able to take trips whenever we want, work when we go, and sometimes (maybe!) take the kids with us…with a nanny in tow 😉

Career/Business – I’d like the location independent circles to grow far larger, organically – to create a large, committed and active community of progressive, forward-thinking women who aren’t constrained by borders or any kind – mentally, emotionally, physically, geographically. I’d like the circles to become a force for good – a little like Together Rising – which opens up career and travel possibilities to women everywhere that they never knew existed. I’d like LemonAid to be a similar force for good, with a more personal focus…to encourage other women to wake the fuck up! It feels like more of a precursor to what we’re doing at Location Independent – “wake the fuck up” with LemonAid, now look at the possibilities being location independent can bring you.

Children – I’d really like to take my kids to NYC to stay with their uncle, and to the Philippines and other parts of Asia for them to learn more about and immerse themselves in Asian culture. Giving them a sense of their history/family feels like a really important piece of the puzzle that was missing for me and I want to give it to them. I’d like to create more of a ‘worldschooling’ experience for them, as they grow older, and broaden their horizons and experiences far more than currently. (Just gotta get over my own reluctance to travel and desire to stay close to home currently, while I work through my stuff!). 

Relationships/Family – I want to meet my birth mother and my birth family. I want to be welcomed, accepted, acknowledged and feel the sense of belonging I hear about from folk who reunite with their birth parents (and yet I know I need to remain unattached to the outcome ?). I’d like to form deeper relationships with more like-minded, local people – friends  – whether ‘local’ is Newark or elsewhere. And I want to continue to be more ‘me’ with you, to be able to fully open up and let you see the whole of me, more easily being able to share the dark corners without shutting you out and retreating to my island. 

Fun – I want to go to Devon regularly and on spontaneous trips to London and city breaks with you. I’d like to travel as a family of 6, when some of the dynamics have calmed down a little!! And I definitely want to go to another Taylor Swift concert. I want to be in the audience for Strictly Come Dancing. I want to have my own glass-blowing studio, or at least very easy access to one. I want to have my own/have easy access to a workshop – to become skilled at both woodworking and car maintenance!! I really want to convert and design my own camper van – to be able to take us off on road trips with a comfortable, custom and luxurious space to stay. Van porn is definitely in my Instagram feed at the moment!!

Personal Growth – I want to get better at anticipating my own shit and being able to walk down a different street…

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK – by Portia Nelson

Chapter 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2 : I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3 : I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4 : I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter 5 : I walk down another street.

I want to get better at getting out of the hole if I fall in. I want to change some of my defence patterns – to not need to retreat to my island so readily, or to abandon, or to lash out. I want to take that Energetics course together. And I want to keep playing more of my guitar – possibly write my own songs, though that doesn’t feel like something I can do which is probably why I don’t want it (yet)! 

So not a small list of wants, right?!

And even as I write this, I’m already scanning my head for things I probably do want but am still afraid to say because, on some level, I don’t think I can have/do/be them…or I don’t like the thought of what it might take to have/do/be them!

xxx

The When Life Gives You Lemons Podcast # 1: Lea’s Awakening in Becky’s Words

1. What prompted Lea’s Awakening…

 

 


 

2. What Lea’s Awakening looked like in reality…

 

 


 

3. Becky misses out an entire key part of Lea’s Awakening!

 

 


 

4. Why we each talk so much about our respective emotional ‘stuff’…

 

 


 

5. Just as Lea thinks Becky’s finished on her awakening, she hasn’t…

 

 


 

6. So which of us is really the ‘masculine’ one, then?!

 

Left Wanting…

Left Wanting…

Dear Lea,

As you know, prior to my awakening just over two years ago, my needs and wants were pretty much bottom of my, and consequently other people’s, list.

Did I know what it was I did want? Not completely but I sure as hell knew I didn’t want much of what I had – inadvertently or unconsciously – created !

I didn’t want to live with my children’s father. I wasn’t in love with him and we didn’t share the same interests, passions or beliefs. I couldn’t imagine not having the children there between us (literally in the bed!!!!) to take our minds off our faltering, largely sexless relationship.

I didn’t want to be with someone that I couldn’t process my emotional world with. I’d been in and out of therapy and done lots of personal development stuff since I was 27 and as I’d grown and stripped away more layers of my own onion he hadn’t. This gap was becoming ever more noticeable and I was becoming increasingly lonely from WITHIN the relationship.

I didn’t want to share my space with someone who was a hoarder and whose ideas about how to live together were so different to mine. I like order and cleanliness and these were both grossly lacking, to the point that I felt I was drowning in his clutter and physically, mentally and emotionally stuck (not much of a surprise that my feet hurt so much).

I didn’t want to have sex with a man who… well for starters I didn’t want to have sex with a man!! I was in massive denial about this for various reasons. It suited me to be in relationships with men because I got to play out my father dynamic repeatedly…

Looking for the closeness I never felt from my father, I often used sex inappropriately to try and create that intimacy. Then, disillusioned with the fact that I only got sex and minimal closeness (and ignoring the fact that I was offering sex so was it any surprise that that’s what I got?!), I would retreat from them because I felt angry and disappointed that they weren’t meeting my needs…So I got to repeatedly play out the dynamic of punishing my father by punishing them.

I played this out in relationships as well as by having casual sex, and the punishment continued once I’d ‘secured’ a man through the sexual aspect of our flirtation and ‘made’ them fall in love with me. I would then lose interest and sex became something to be avoided (sex and intimacy most definitely did NOT belong together!). When your self esteem is low, there’s nothing more unattractive than someone being in love with you! Makes you have no respect for their poor taste! Ouch, that really hurts to read that back.

So almost every relationship with a man I’ve had has resulted in me going off the idea of sex with them. Ok, Ok, the gay thing is relevant here too lol.

I didn’t want to live my life as a martyr to my children with no life of my own. This was a pattern I never expected to fall into and yet somehow I did. This happened in various ways…

My ‘big/small stuff’ – patterns formed through a dynamic with my mother that have left me feeling like I can’t trust myself, that I’m not capable etc. left me all at sea in my thirties and so my children became a convenient way to hide from this on the career front. However, while one can hide from this in one’s twenties and playing small and being ditsy is deemed cute, by the time you get to your forties…not so much!

By always putting my children’s needs ahead of my own I had come to a point where I felt unattractive, undeserving of spending time and money on myself, and selfish for contemplating my own passions, desires and wants.

I didn’t want to live a life with little or no creative outlet. I’d been to enough festivals to know exactly the kinds of things that brought me joy – singing, music, dance, writing, crafts – and yet these barely featured in my life.

I didn’t want to live selfishly or self-centredly, only considering the needs of my own family and not a wider community. I’ve always wanted to give more back to the community, both local and global. This feels very hard to do when you haven’t been ‘selfish’ to yourself first and focused on prioritising your own needs.

I didn’t want to be ill anymore. Mentally or physically. I feel very strongly that health and wellness are a mirror to the relationship with ourself so I feel that the fibromyalgia and anaemia are ways of my body telling me that my coping mechanisms, defences, patterns of behaviour, thoughts and beliefs are old and defunct and that I needed to change them.

So darling Lea, I’ve basically listed all the things I didn’t want haven’t I?! But what DID I want I hear you cry?

Well, I don’t think I fully knew the answer to that, partly because some of the things that I wanted were un- or subconscious and my defences were still so strong in certain areas. Deep deep deep down, I wanted to be in a loving, intimate, connected relationship with a woman, for example, but at the same time I was so terrified of that, I couldn’t have even begun to have identified that as a want – Sex? Yes, intimacy? Way too scary!

I think the important thing for me was that I took some kind of action to get unstuck, and trust that the rest would follow and begin to take care of itself, that the path would appear as it were. Lo and behold that is exactly what did happen – granted with many a wobble along the way!!!

Love You,

Becky X

Dear Becky,

I’d aways thought I was pretty good at getting what I (thought) I wanted! But, as you now know, it became abundantly clear that I was in major avoidance and utter denial of asking for what I actually wanted (!) and, unlike for many, it wasn’t because I didn’t know what that was…

Two years ago, if you’d asked me what I wanted the sanitised, totally-in-denial version would have been something like this:

I want to be running a highly profitable business, from behind the screen of my laptop, with plenty of time to myself to work on my business, and a bit of time to spend going out for fun days with my kids and Jonathan (though definitely not taking them out on my own!). I want more time to myself to get in good shape post children, and I definitely want to travel some more as a family. Really, I’m pretty happy with the life and schedule I have…

But I knew, deep deep deep down that what I really wanted was not what I had nor what I would have asked for. So what did I want? I didn’t know the exact details of what it would look like but I knew one key part of it and when I set that intention on that pivotal day in the Spring of 2016, I knew that I just couldn’t keep things the way they were…

I knew then that my one big regret – at the end of my life – would be to have spent my life in a relationship with a man, and not with a woman. In my bravest moments, I could just about admit to myself that I’d probably known this from the age of 17 and yet there I was age 39 still not living that life. So I set the intention – by saying out loud to myself in my bedroom – that I wanted things to change, that I wanted to be in a relationship with a woman, and that I wanted it to happen within a year…

Obviously there were plenty of barriers to this happening – is it the right thing for the children? Should I just wait till they’re older? How will my (then) husband cope?

But I also knew I wanted my children to have a model of two adults in a relationship who were deeply in love with each other – not just friends – but who were passionately, physically and obviously in love and a team in every way. I wanted my children to have a model of a woman/mother who wasn’t afraid to ask for what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to get it.

I wanted to be with someone who also had children so they’d understand the priorities and realities of that (though clearly wasn’t prepared for the many challenges that has also brought!!). I  wanted a relationship that felt more evenly matched, more balanced and in which I could be more ‘me’, though at the time I didn’t really know what that meant or looked like in practice.

Those were the things I knew to ask for but in hindsight, knowing what I’ve received since then, it’s not at all what I’d have asked for…because I just didn’t know I wanted them!

I would never have known to ask for…

A relationship with a woman whose own ‘stuff’ so compellingly (and what feels like cruelly at times) interacts with my adoption stuff, but which gives us the opportunity to work through the most painful parts together, and heal.

The experience of exploring my adoption which has been and continues to be one of the most ‘awakening’ experiences of my life so far.

A relationship which allows me to be more fully me than I’ve ever been – to be able to draw upon my more masculine energy without it threatening someone else, to be able to look how I want without having to conform to a stereotypical role in a relationship, to be able to practice being the me that I know is still underneath layers of defences in a safe and loving relationship.

It’s such a tough question: What do you want? And I know from my coaching work that it’s often easier to start with what you don’t want, but there’s definitely something to be said for admitting to yourself what you truly, deeply want and then setting an intention to get it, isn’t there? 😉

Love always xxx

This Theme’s Soundtrack…

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I’ll Be Your Mirror

I’ll Be Your Mirror

Hey you,

Yes, I know – inappropriate much?! And yet it feels like it’s been a common occurrence since we came out and have been together…an avalanche of inappropriate questions and comments which reveal more about the person saying them than the answers they’d get from us!  Questions like…

“I’ve always wondered how you have sex”  ? “Why didn’t you fancy me?” ?  “So what’s the sex like with a woman?” ?

We have one friend in particular who – whenever we meet her – literally devours us with her eyes. Whenever we’re around her, there’s an intensity to the interaction and dynamic that feels uncomfortable. We both feel a sense of intense curiosity from her – that she wants to watch us, find out more about us, almost be a part of us, or that she’s imagining what it’d be like to be with us – with each of us individually, all together, and maybe even which one of us she could be with. Yes, sexually ?

I know I’ve written briefly about our sex lives previously – and I know it’s something you were curious about too! – but it often feels overly voyeuristic, like we’re some kind of fascinating spectacle for others to ogle and speculate about.

I think this touches on identity too – to define oneself as gay automatically brings sex into the equation since you’re essentially talking about the defining, identifying factor being about who you want to have sex with, if that makes sense? So it instantly puts sex at the forefront of peoples’ minds and very clearly on the table, so to speak!

I’m sure this is a common occurrence for gay folk since, fundamentally, we provide a mirror to others. And while I don’t believe everyone is gay (!!), I’m pretty sure there’s a little bit of gay curiosity in everyone. Having skimmed through the book, Sex & The Psyche, it is fascinating to see how many people’s fantasies involve people of the same sex, even typically ‘heterosexual’ folk.

I do believe that sexuality is indeed on a spectrum and that we can each move up and down that spectrum, at different points in our lives (maybe even on an hour by hour basis!). The reactions we’ve had feel like proof of this pudding!

But it’s the mirror thing that’s particularly interesting… I’ve mentioned before that our own midlife awakening has worked as a mirror to many others in our acquaintance – possibly forcing them to look at their own lives, where they are and what it is that they want, even if they’d rather not look in the mirror and crack it instead, in many cases!!

But it feels like a particular button is being pressed – ahem!! – when it comes to intimacy and sex; a nudge to look at what they have, what they really want and perhaps consider whether their fantasies are just fantasies or perhaps they’re dreams waiting to be realised…

I should probably go, before I head off on a rant about how important I think sex is, how I don’t think we – as a society – normalise it, talk about it, or see it as a natural interaction between humans. I know Becky’s got more specifics to share on this – will see what she has to say and report back…

Dear you,

I know you were shocked by my revelation that we’ve been asked some very dubious questions since coming out so, as you’ve asked, I’ll fill you in!

Yes it really is true that when I outed myself to one of my female friends (straight and recently married), she responded that she was a bit disappointed I didn’t fancy her!!! This has been just one of many odd comments in a sea of odd and inappropriate behaviour that Lea and I have been on the receiving end of since getting together.

Now I don’t want you to think that I don’t take any responsibility for my part in this comment being emitted in the first place…

I’ve become aware that being in relationships with men while being gay has meant that I have sought some level of closeness and intimacy from my female friends. I have been told I am quite skilled at shining a light on people and making them feel special, and this has certainly been true in this friendship. So the indignation in her voice that she hadn’t been first on my list becomes more understandable in that context.

However, this in itself raises other deeper questions about other people’s desires and fantasies, don’t you think?!

We’ve talked before about how it seems that most women fantasise at some point, if not frequently (!), about what it would be like to be with another woman sexually. My coming out to people who I already have a degree of intimacy with, who already feel a ‘special connection’ with me, must have thrown up all sorts of mirrors and confused thoughts for them.

Another very close female friend responded similarly by being very jealous of Lea. Passive aggressive, throw-away comments – on Facebook and to Lea herself – revealed how difficult she found it to lose her best friend to another woman. Again, the intimacy we had shared as friends – her a single parent, me unhappy in my relationship, and thus spending lots of time together in a kind of sexless, pseudo intimate relationship – made it a difficult loss for her. What’s sad is that instead of trying to renegotiate our friendship with different boundaries and for her to gain another friend in Lea, we have effectively lost our friendship, at least for now.

I think for many women there is a two-fold curiosity with lesbian fantasy…

Obviously there is the sex side and the ‘otherness’ of it. This often seems to play out in apparently straight women becoming voyeurs. We have a number of friends who, since we have come out, almost devour us with their eyes, trying to consume every juicy detail of our togetherness, wanting to be around us but finding it painful too as it raises so many of their own frustrations, longings, desires and curiosities.

Sometimes this seems to go a step further, where they seem to want to engage with their voyeurism. At the recent Pride event we went to, there were two straight women with their husbands and – late in the evening and somewhat inebriated – they got up onto the stage and danced provocatively with each other. This felt grossly uncomfortable to those watching. Far from being titillating for the gay women in the crowd, as seemed to be their intention, there was an awkward embarrassment that their pissed writhing was how lesbians are usually portrayed in porn – staged purely for the male gaze. (Or what men think women want, based on whether it arouses them).

What feels frustrating about this, is that women trying to titillate other women have no clue about what other women actually find sexy!!!! When images of women engaging in sex with one another only ever involve prepubescent, hairless pussies, long finger nails (like really??!!), giant dildos and a preoccupation with penetration, no wonder straight women have no clue how to ‘play at being gay’.

The second part of lesbian fantasy involves intimacy…

I can still remember one of the things that put me off outing myself or having a relationship with a woman was the fear of intimacy. I’ve always had deeper, richer and stronger relationships and connections with women but always from the relative safety of friendship. For me, and I suspect many other women, while I was repulsed by the idea of loving intimacy in a relationship it was really what I craved the most. Fear always got in the way. So it was easier to keep my lesbianism as purely sexual fantasy and keep having relationships with men (where I wouldn’t be challenged to go to any kind of intimate depth), than to dare to seek out intimacy with a woman because I knew I’d find it and then have to deal with my fears!

I think many women feel this pull too, for those strong connections and sense of real understanding that they often only get from other women. I also think a lot of women do what I did and get small amounts of it from their female friendships where it is safe and non-threatening (although it never fully fills the void so to speak) – until said friend outs herself in which case your void is left exposed!!

So Lea and I become a mirror for all those parts that some of the people around us are massively intrigued by but don’t want to look at too closely.

We are, in effect, a playground that they want to come into, mess around in for a bit and see what’s there but then run off home when it starts to get too dark (close).

Fortunately, as you know, Lea is fucking boundaried and doesn’t let anyone get on her roundabout. That’s all for now, I’ve got several people I’ve promised to push on the swings…?

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Down To The Bottom (Of It All)

Down To The Bottom (Of It All)

Dear you,

Good question! How exactly have we managed to stay together for 2 years, given the potentially explosive nature of our stuff – how Becky’s shit triggers mine and mine triggers hers- and with the kids in the mix?! One of the most useful tools we’ve discovered is…

Sportscasting! WTF is sportscasting you might ask? (as has many a friend when I’ve mentioned it!).

I first heard the term when my kids were little from Janet Lansbury, a huge proponent of respectful parenting. She describes it as a “just the facts” verbalisation of what’s going on for a child without taking over. It’s not about judging, fixing, shaming or blaming but giving them the “space they need to continue struggling until they either solve a problem or decide to let go and move on to something else.”

For example, saying “You’re working very hard on fitting that puzzle piece. You seem frustrated.” rather than rushing in to fit the piece for them. It’s an acknowledgment that they’re seen, understood and empowered to continue to work things out for themselves with support if needed.

We use this approach with the children in a slightly different way these days, but we also use it for ourselves to get out of the drama our stuff seems to entangle us in frequently…I’m pretty sure it’s what has saved us from even more flounces, dumpings and huge bust-ups than have already occurred!!

It’s been useful when we seem to keep having the same argument over and over again.

It’s been relationship-saving when one of us is stuck knee-deep in a long-held but highly destructive narrative that might cause us to engineer a relationship-ending argument.

It’s helped us each reach the other person, kindly and with love, without that person feeling like they have to ‘give in’ or concede.

It’s been the single most effective way to get out of child, parent, victim, rescuer or perpetrator state (yep, heavily pulling from Transactional Analysis and Karpman’s Drama Triangle there), and back into adult where we can see things more calmly and in a less emotionally-fuelled state.

So what does it actually look like in practice?

It’s a pretty simple technique on the surface but takes quite a bit of practice to get right when you first start doing it…

For example, take this morning as we were both writing these letters – me to you, Becky to her friend. Becky was in danger of flouncing off – annoyed that we were ‘constrained’ to writing in letter format and pissed off that we were writing about something she didn’t feel like writing about today.

Sportscasting what I thought might actually be underneath/behind all of this, I said “But do you think it’s because letters feel (and are) more personal? And you’d rather keep things at arm’s length, especially when they still feel too raw, too close or too personal?”.

Or going back to the early days of our relationship when separation anxiety was rife, I’d often become (even more – as Becky would probably say) aloof, engineer arguments or be unnecessarily mean because of our impending separation. Rather than buying into the drama, engaging in the provocation and arguing, whenever Becky took a step back and sportscasted what was going on – “Is this about separation? Are you needing to separate from me?” – it all became clearer.

Followed up with “So now you have a choice – either stay in your narrative or triggered place, or choose to spend the time we have together in a loving way”…as frustrating and annoying as that can be, it was and is a great way to nudge someone back towards their adult place again!

While it wasn’t (and still isn’t) always easy to own what is really going on beneath the surface, the relief, gratitude, and sense of being held and still loved are worth the uncomfortable feelings of embarrassment, shame, or anger that someone else has truly seen you and helped you verbalise what might be going on for you.

But we don’t always get it right and – as we’ve discovered – there’s a fine line between ‘telling’ someone what’s going on for them versus allowing them to identify and confirm for themselves what’s actually going on. Get it wrong and it leads to more explosive fireworks between us “Who the fuck are you to tell me that’s what’s happening?” “What makes you the expert on me?”. Ouch.

But get it right, and it’s becoming easier and easier to own our stuff and what’s at the root of some of our patterns with less shame, less embarrassment and a feeling that – just because someone else has seen it first, it doesn’t make us weaker or give them more power. It’s made for the most open, honest, authentic and vulnerable relationship of my life.

Dear You,

Yes, you’re right! The kids and how we all come together as a six – especially as we don’t live together – is one of the things people are most curious about in our new blended family.

It can feel like a potential minefield helping four under 10s adjust to their new life and family situation. As we’ve already discussed, there’s nothing like a big life change to not only throw up new stuff but also highlight existing dynamics based on all our emotional baggage.

You know that Lea and I have a raftful of our own pre-existing stuff that we’re both currently contending with in therapy, and one of the themes for both of us around that stuff has been not knowing and uncertainty.

It seems pretty obvious then that our way of broaching our life change and its impact on the children’s existing narratives – the stories they tell themselves about who they are, how their world works and their sense of self – is about transparency, knowing and comprehension.

Do you remember when we first came across Janet Lansbury, the parenting educator? (Incidentally she’s rooted in Magda Gerber’s RIE conscious parenting approach that my cousin, Sarah is writing a book about).

Well, when we first discovered her we were obsessed with the techniques of sportscasting and used it loads with our then toddlers, didn’t we? We had many a chortle about how useful it would be to use on the men, parents or any other difficult people in our lives!!!

Well, it’s this sportscasting approach that has helped us so much with our children. Yes, even now they’re not toddlers – in fact especially now they’re not toddlers! Janet Lansbury’s work seems to be aimed at younger children and I’ve not been able to find anything about continuing to use it throughout their lives and with adults too and yet this seems so useful to everyone.

When we reflected back to our toddlers the facts of what was going on in a non-judgemental, factual way, as a narrator or sportscaster might do, the idea was to empower our children to figure things out and resolve things for themselves. The same is true now, although it feels like we get to a much deeper layer these days as we try and figure out what might be going on for them on a more emotional level – and whether they’re responding from within their narratives.

Narratives have been really important to get to grips with as they are essentially the lens through which they view everything else…

For one of them this centres around the belief that they play second fiddle to their younger sibling (they even verbally expressed that they thought the sibling was wanted as a second child because they themselves weren’t good enough ?), for another the focus is on them not being special or good enough to have air time or attention, and for the youngest two it seems to be the belief that they have to be different or special to be loved and that they will never be as good at things as their older sibling and that it’s not ok to make mistakes when they try.

Layered on top of these narratives are their additional anxieties around parental separation and new relationships and step siblings.

Sportscasting enables us to discuss with each of them what might really be going on underneath the surface behaviour of crying, shouting, lashing out, hitting, kicking, whining, etc – that often stems from their underlying narratives.

For example, “Are you feeling jealous because mummy’s spent time with your sister and you felt rejected and not as important?”, or “Are you cross because I’m cuddling your brother and you think he’s the favourite?”. Often we have to make numerous guesses at exactly what is going on, but can usually tell when we’ve got it right because they ‘feel’ its accuracy and feel understood, and confirm that to us.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a work in progress. I still struggle not to judge or attach blame or criticism at times but when it works it really changes things…

We’ve seen all four of them become more comfortable discussing emotions, be able to better access what’s going on for them more quickly and express this, understand the lingo around their own and others’ narratives, admit when they’ve been triggered, feel less embarrassed that their stuff has been seen, more able to discuss their emotions in a matter of fact way, and generally come out of their triggered places much more quickly.

These skills that they’re learning and the ability to talk so freely about their emotions feels to us like some of the most important tools we are equipping them with for adulthood, and sportscasting continues to be a really useful means of doing this, with their stuff and our own!

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Kill ‘Em With Kindness

Kill ‘Em With Kindness

Dear You,

Sorry for the delay in writing back. The article that Lea posted on feminism sparked some unexpected controversy with two of our friends so we’ve been a bit ‘self absorbed’ working out what was really going on beneath the surface and whose shit was whose!!

In a nutshell they took issue with the references in Lea’s article regarding the fairness of our ex’s having their own children EVERY weekend. I found this really difficult to hear.

As you know I have struggled with massive guilt about letting go of my kids to the degree that I have. Encouraging them to have regular and consistent time with their dad who obviously does things differently from me, felt really hard. Letting go also meant facing who I am without them, which after 8 years I didn’t actually know. Scary times.

I was really going to try and not defend myself to you – thereby exhibiting my ever present guilt – but I just can’t quite do it so I’ll get that out of the way now! One of the accusations levelled at us was questioning when the fathers manage to ‘self actualise’, to find love and create their own blended families, especially if they have their children every weekend. I was really quite stunned that someone who knew so little about my personal childcare arrangements could be quite so rude.

My reply was thus: “I think my ex’s self actualisation comes Monday to Friday daytime plus the five and sometimes six nights a week he doesn’t have the children. He is currently on his second relationship since our split and my children are part of his new blended family in which he is, at least for now, the house husband. He seems to be managing pretty well wouldn’t you say?!”

I found it really difficult that a woman who regularly posts feminist memes and clearly identifies herself thus could rush to rescue the males in this dynamic quite so readily.

Given how hard I (and I suspect scores of other women) find it to poke my head up above the parapet and try and own the fact that I want a life for myself too, that I want to self actualise, that I think it’s healthy for my kids to see me doing that and to have their father parent them just as (in)competently as me, I feel devastated that I should be so readily shot down by a friend, a feminist, a mother. As my therapist declared ‘women are often the biggest threat to feminism’.

So I’m in a shamed place. Shamed for daring to consider my own needs ahead of (although I don’t think that’s true!) my ex’s, shamed for having…drum roll…child free time (cue much tutting and head shaking or repeated comments about how lucky I am).

Believe me, it’s not luck that has created this child-free time; it is intentional, repetitive and practised behaviour and action. It hasn’t been easy on many fronts to help my ex parent his children from a foundation of almost zero parenting experience and carve out this child-free time for myself – from the weekly emails to him discussing where the kids are emotionally and how to handle it, to the odd feeling in my house with just me in it, to the guilt when I am enjoying myself without them and daring to self actualise!

But hey, shame loses its power when we share it with another – so Lea and my Lemonaid adventure feel really important to me. However, they tried to shame us for doing that too…

Suggesting if it were them that they’d “get a court order to shut us up” felt like the kind of comment a well-known US president might make – NOT a female friend – and it had an impact. I doubted whether I was ‘allowed’ to have a voice, to talk about my experiences and the full gamut of emotions this midlife awakening is having. That’s why this letter is late – it is, quite literally, shamefully late.

You know I’m a people pleaser; that I find it hard to be boundaried and not consider everyone else’s needs before mine so even after all of this, it was difficult for me to unfriend the people concerned, or respond further to their messages. However, it is done and for my own sake (see there I go again, putting my own needs first! Jesus – so bloody selfish! Interestingly these days I see selfish in different terms – as a form of necessary self care).

Kill em with kindness’ feels like an interesting phrase that makes me consider what kindness really is. They certainly wouldn’t describe our behaviour as kind, but why? Is challenging people’s behaviour when they post angry and passive aggressive remarks on a public and personal thread unkind? Is being willing to talk about publicly or privately what might really be going on with a view to resolving it and remaining friends unkind? I don’t think so (and believe me I constantly analyse my behaviour and find it wanting!!).

I find it difficult that directness is construed as confrontational, when really it’s about simplified, honest, communication, which to me feels like the best form of kindness. After Lea and I had both been direct and honest in our replies we were interrupted with a comment from the second woman in defence of the first of “I don’t like to see anyone getting upset or hurt”! We hadn’t been unkind, malicious or personally attacking in any way – we had responded to what had been veiled personal attacks on us (which was later clarified and confirmed in a personal message to a third party).

Her comment – that she didn’t like to see others getting upset – on the face of it implies kindness, but frankly that kind of kindness I can live without. This inability to differentiate between directness and passive aggression and to hold disagreement or challenge led her to send the most unutterably offensive remarks to a third party (behind our backs), whilst simultaneously messaging me ‘kind’ utterances about how it would be nice if we could just move past this and be friends! I was, quite frankly, at a loss for words by that point.

The scariest thing about all of this is that all the above feels like a smokescreen for what was really going on…

I think for a long time I was admitted to a victim club with these friends. This was a club that although I didn’t want to partake in, I sometimes did. My own health condition meant that in between trying to take responsibility, I’d have moments of feeling really sorry for myself and thus joining the ranks of the ‘Poor Old Me’s’.

Victim clubs thrive on others staying in static places with them so no one has to look at what they’re doing or not doing that enables such behaviour to persist. In finally choosing to step out of this club and begin a relationship with Lea (never described as a victim) Woodward I think they were confused and possibly a little threatened.

Often women seem to be triggered by Lea and what she represents and I think that is certainly true here. In Lea asking a direct and pretty pertinent question, all hell seemed to break loose and an anger that possibly already existed was tapped into…

Dear you,

Remember I told you I’d written a post about all the feminist stuff we’ve talked about over the past few months? Well it caused all sorts of enlightening events this past weekend! Both Becky, my ex and I were dragged into a vortex of other peoples’ stuff in the most frustrating of ways…

What became abundantly clear though, was quite how strong a reaction I appear to provoke in some people (women) because of my beliefs, values, behaviour and how feminist I am (yes, you read that right).

As you know, one of the reasons I wrote the post is the shock I continue to feel that so many women around me are still playing out the very conventional, traditional roles of primary homemaker and parent, despite banging the feminist drum.

I won’t repeat the contents of that post (you can read it here if you like), but suffice to say, I’m coming round to the conclusion that, when it comes to feminism in ACTION (and not just paying lip service to it), women are often the most guilty of holding back the movement towards greater or even full equality, for themselves (and others, if this experience is anything to go by).

If this has resulted in anything, it’s been the enlightening awareness of quite how other people (women, mostly) experience me. And not in a positive way…

When one acquaintance worries about my ex’s “self actualisation” because he’s having the children every weekend and another jokes to my ex about getting a court order to “shut them up” and suggests he “tell her (me) to blog about something else” it’s clear – to me at least – that there’s a huge amount of – anger? Resentment? I’m not really sure what – but something that feeds an already biased narrative about me. A narrative that puts me very much in the position of oppressor, or perpetrator (in the Drama Triangle) or more simply “bitch from hell” ?  Why?

…Because I ‘force’ my ex husband to have joint responsibility for his children. Never mind the fact he actually wants to and doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t actually share that responsibility, equally.

…Because I control my ex husband and don’t consider his needs in my alleged ‘demands’ for him to have the children every weekend, thereby stunting his opportunity for ‘self actualisation’.

Never mind the hours and hours I’ve spent processing his emotional stuff with him – since we divorced – encouraging him to look at his ongoing patterns so he’s aware of them, their impact and can then choose to change them, with a therapist (and not me) for a neutral and safe space for him to do this. Never mind the fact I’m the one who often urges him to have better boundaries – fully aware that this’ll likely bite me on the bum when he starts to use those boundaries with me too.

…Because I have strong boundaries, fight for my space and time and don’t do guilt when I’m not the be all and end all to my children.

Never mind the fact I’ve had to let go massively to let my ex’s parents play a far bigger role in their lives than they ever have before, or likely ever would if we’d stayed together. The reasons for this are many, but primarily, I wanted my ex to be able to stand up to his parents when needed on behalf of the children before I wanted them to spend more time under their influence – as well as the children being old enough to communicate and state their needs too. Now he does, both his parents and my children benefit greatly from their relationship.

And never mind the fact that I now actively encourage him to let go of any guilt he feels at letting his parents sometimes take care of their grandchildren while he has time to himself; something he has acknowledged he finds difficult.

…Because I have made some unconventional life choices, support myself financially and exhibit what are typically thought of as the more masculine qualities.

Never mind that doing this often results in me being labelled as cold, aloof and distinctly unnurturing, despite attachment parenting both my children (from intuition and innate sense without reading any books on, or even knowing till a later date that it was even called, ‘attachment parenting’) and having a very strong nurturing and maternal side that those who truly know and see me often experience.

As a loud and proud feminist – and one who LIVES this value in almost every way I can – I am utterly incredulous that this should leave me open to such spiteful and malicious attacks from other women.

How is that helping the feminist cause?

That some women feel such a strong need to (still) rescue men in the face of feminism, and that my life choices provoke this reaction – from women and fellow mothers – utterly dumbfounds me!

If a woman who equally shares EVERYTHING with her male ex – financial responsibilities, parenting responsibilities, personal development responsibilities and more – is perceived as a threat, vilified for not apparently caring about her ex’s self actualisation enough, urged NOT to share so much about her life (even though the act of doing this is an exercise for my own self actualisation) and is essentially torn down for fully living her feminist values, what hope is there?

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