Of Life and Death

So, I just finished reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and it got me thinking. John’s books are great for that. In this recent one of his, my favourite parts were the beginning and the end – the way he introduced his thoughts and the character, and the way we said goodbye to both.

The main character, Aza, muses a lot about life and death, beginnings and endings (as well as a lot of other things!).

She thinks that happy endings aren’t really a thing – that they usually turn out to be, on closer inspection, either not that happy or not an actual ending. Aza also thinks that the only real ending there can ever be is death and/or extinction.

I have thoughts on both these points, but what I think is actually more interesting is the reply Aza’s best friend gives, saying it’s not really about all that, but about the frame with which we look at such things.

It reminded me of a quote by another well-loved Young Adult author, Rainbow Rowell. She’s asked pretty frequently about the ending of her book Eleanor and Park and why she left it open, and the official answer on her website is, “I don’t believe that 17-year-olds get happy endings. They get beginnings.”

I like that answer. There’s a lovely truth to it. But here’s the other side of that coin: it’s scary when it’s not true.

Let me unpack that for you:  Continue reading

12 Warning Signs That You Are With An Abuser

Last week, I shared two blog posts about very personal experiences I have been through with regards to abuse. You can read them here and here, if you haven’t already, but the reason I’m talking about them again today is that they reminded me of a much older post I wrote on a blog that no longer exists.

I wanted to share that post again because these things are both important and not talked about enough. So, here it is: A List of Signs That You Are With An Abuser

  • Manipulation is when you’ve said no to something – anything – and the other person keeps asking until you say yes.
  • Manipulation is when – after they’ve crossed those lines – they convince you that you were a willing party all along.
  • Manipulation is when someone will tell you ‘You want this’ enough times until you believe them.
  • Manipulation leaves you not knowing how you feel, or what to think.
  • Manipulators will make you feel guilty for being confused.
  • Manipulators will talk about other people, and flirt with other people in front of you, and then make you feel guilty for being suspicious of them.
  • Manipulators will get you to do things you don’t want to do, to prove to them you’re trustworthy.
  • Manipulators will sew doubts in your head about your loved ones, telling you they’re jealous, or that they don’t want you to be happy, or they don’t understand, or aren’t really friends at all.
  • Manipulators will try to cut you off from these people, so they can have more control over you.
  • Manipulator’s lies will stay in your head long after the person themselves are gone.
  • Manipulator’s lies will keep you up at night, worrying.
  • Manipulator’s lies take years to recover from. You’ll need your friends for this recovery, if you haven’t lost them all already.

If reading this post has been triggering for you, I’m sorry. If it has made you realize you need help, you can find an international list of helplines here.

Oxford and Everything After

Seeing as I opened Pandora’s box in my last post, I thought I might as well finish going through the rest of the contents before I put it all away again.

Here we go.

It was September 2011 – one year since I left Lincoln – that I moved to Oxford for a job with the church. That summer I had been doing some children’s work at a Christian festival.

The guy that ran the children’s programme was based in Oxford and he was the one that told me about the opportunity there.

I had a lot of different tasks, from more children’s and youth work to setting out tables and chairs, helping with meals for elderly people and audio-visual displays.

And I loved it. For the very first time in my life, I felt like I was doing something worthwhile. Making a difference.

From that September to December, I gave it my all and I got a lot of confidence and self-esteem in return.

Then I returned to Northern Ireland for Christmas.  Continue reading

Lincoln and What Happened There

***Trigger warnings apply to this post. Please read at your own discretion. 

My recent post about my time in Lincoln has got me thinking about a lot of stuff that happened back then. It’s things I’ve touched on elsewhere, previously, but not really something I’ve gone into detail about to any great extent.

I want to go into it now.

At some point, I want to really delve in and talk about my childhood as there’s: A, a lot to say there, and B, it gives so much context to all of this. For now, though, I will preface by saying I had very limited experience of life and/or the “real world” when I went to uni. I had very few social skills and even fewer social graces. It’s not that I wanted to be rude, or anything, I just literally didn’t know any better. Having had just one friend in high school can kind of leave you blinkered to what’s acceptable. But anyway, the point is I was fairly clueless. So there was a steep learning curve.  Continue reading