Tag Archives: love

Dear potential boyfriend…

Dear [insert name]

You are just a normal guy in a world where we are constantly exposed to casual nudity and sex…where women’s bodies are used to sell everything from email providers to oranges…where nobody has to try anymore because marriage isn’t sacred, divorce is cheap, unfaithfulness is common…where we are constantly encouraged to look for the bigger, better deal…

And here I am, in the midst of this world, trying to carve out a comfortable place for myself as a woman, where I can look pretty without being objectified; feel sexy without being called a slut; love a man wholeheartedly without feeling that I need to be perfect, like the airbrushed bodies on the internet, or he will look elsewhere: for me, gender is political and I’m angry that I am part of a race so relentlessly associated with the body, when the truth is that what matters most to me, and I hope to those that love me, is my brain and my heart…

I think it’s sad, the world we live in, because it glorifies sex and makes so little of love…but the truth is that to be fully human, we need both, together, because in the absence of emotion, sex is just two animals, scratching an itch…

As a little girl growing up, I was in no doubt that the most important thing for a girl to be was pretty. I can remember being 6 or 7 and looking at myself in the mirror, examining my face from every angle to try and work out if I was going to be attractive. I didn’t think so. And then the first boy that told me I was pretty, who was some years my senior, did some scary, horrible stuff to my body which I really wasn’t ready for, and I guess that was the beginning of this tension in me, between wanting to be pretty and sensing that being pretty might be dangerous. At the same time, he taught me that my body didn’t belong to me, that it was there for the taking and that to get male attention, I had better be prepared to share it. Refer back to paragraph 1, and you’ll see that the world has done nothing to disabuse me of this notion, quite the contrary. My political anger intersects with my personal experiences, which is why when we talk about feminism and gender politics I will get so agitated. It’s not just opinions which will burst out of me, it’s my lived experience of being a girl and a woman and it has been, and continues to be hard…

The truth is I am soft as butter, like my alter ego, Softy Butterpants!  I am a romantic. I am a born monogamist. I want to live in a world where love means more than sex. I want to live in a world where people get married and stay together forever. We’ve lost something, cheapened something really beautiful, and central to our happiness, by creating a world where you can watch strangers screwing anytime you like, 24/7…where you can go to your email client and see someone else’s wife gyrating in her knickers…and for me, to go with it, to watch that stuff, to engage with it, is a betrayal of my values because, titillating as it is, it’s not healthy for us on a personal level, or as a society. Maybe you feel, that in the moment, it doesn’t hurt anyone, but it’s more complicated than that, because if everyone stopped clicking on that stuff, maybe our world would change. (I won’t even get into the shocking statistics about the amount of females in the sex industry who have been abused as children). Where has it got us, as people, as societies, this impersonal, sexually driven world and our quest for female perfection and readily available bodies? – We have higher divorce rates than ever, a higher instance of mental health issues than ever…it’s just one of the factors in an increasingly unhappy society…because we are meant to pair for life…we live longer, we smile more, we hug more, we are healthier, we live better, and more meaningfully when we do.

You’re not me. You might not feel this way and you are entitled to your opinion: you share these opinions with millions of other people, who think ‘what’s the harm?’ and that because the people they look at are on a screen, it doesn’t constitute unfaithfulness and that because women’s bodies are everywhere, we might as well take a peek now and again. But, these are my core values, old fashioned as they are and I want you to share them.

I know we are animals. I know there are prettier women in the world than me. I know you will want to look when you see a pretty face. I know you will fancy other people. I know how easy it is to find female nudity and porn: you don’t even have to look for it, it’s right there when you go to sign in to your email client. I’m not naive and it’s no different for me; although, I am less visually driven than any man I have ever met and most women I know. But, you don’t have to entertain it. You don’t have to look twice. You don’t have to click on it just because it’s there. For me there is a relationship between cyberspace and the real world: if you met a gorgeous woman in a bar and she offered to strip down to her knickers for you, I hope you’d walk away, so why should it be any different because she’s on a screen? I know that in the real world, she’d constitute more of a threat to our relationship, but it’s not really about that. It’s about choices. It’s about values. It’s about respect for me and for what we could have together and the distance offered by the internet does not mean that what we do does not have consequences. Following the same logic, would it be OK to watch animals being tortured, or children abused on the internet, because they are not in the same room with you?

If I see that you have casually clicked on videos of other naked women, it will make me feel inadequate because I will never achieve that level of airbrushed perfection: she probably doesn’t even look like that in real life; it will make me feel betrayed because you actively chose to see another woman in a sexual way; it will cheapen what we have because it will make me feel like when I offer you my body, it’s nothing special, it’s just something you can get anywhere, anytime and it will threaten me for the same reason. If you can’t resist a click now, can you blame me for worrying about what it is you might not be able to resist in five years, ten years?

Do you want the kind of girlfriend who can laugh it off? If so, walk away now. I am an old fashioned girl, and in return for your total faithfulness I will give you mine, my heart and my body, with 100% commitment and I am a deeply passionate woman. I will never do more than look once. But I can’t be with you unless you want that too: there are no half measures, it’s all or nothing. I will never make you feel bad for finding other people attractive (and yes, I will probably know when you do!): that’s just being human. But acting on that, in any context, will always be a a step too far for me and that’s just the way I am. Life has made me that way, experience has made me that way and I don’t think I can ever change.

I hope you can understand me; I hope that you think I am worth it, but if you can’t, if you don’t, then please leave me be.

Love, Face x

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Musings on Love and Loss

Like polar bears on melting ice

we had a season

a summer of tenderness

Now

My face draws in

like winter

Falling leaves for eyes

The spectre of our life follows me

through the empty aisles of the supermarket

cracking jokes, inappropriately

fills the empty chair

eats a hearty meal as

I roll over into dead air

right where

you travelled the length and breadth of me

with the length and breadth of you

I lie in your imprint,

and hum a silent chorus of despair…

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Chrysalis Heart

My chrysalis heart as

Dark as midnight

I emerged

Blinking, like a newborn

Dazzled

By the light

 

Your arms my gravity

I tilt to those lips

Forever in falling orbit

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Pebbles

Pebbles knock against my bones

I turn like a dog in his basket

sway in the hollows beneath my numb limbs

but the light is fading

Flies swarm our picnic leavings

so we pack the dirty plates

and wrapped in our crumby blanket

sore stumble to the car

 

In the car park

a lone plastic cooler stands

on a white line at the edge of a parking space

well used and forlorn

 

I talk through the medium of car door

 

Words fall from my dry mouth

like stones

instead of water

I drink you in

taste days spent writing

the metallic tang of dehydration

italics and ideas

half boy half man

the small animal

of your tongue

resting on my upper lip

 

Days and nights

of liquid bliss

whispers, wishes, wanting

and kisses so

long

we come up for air

divers

contorted limbs burning

heads bursting

staggering drunk on lust

blood migrating south

on the updraft of our breath

 

Curtains half drawn against

the summer light

I forgot to guard my heart

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Ghost Life

I look over your shoulder

As we say our goodbyes

Your avatar is standing in the hall

yelling about dinner

As I drive away from you

we debate the options

chop and fry in sychronicity

I am halfway home

alone

before we eat

our shadow meal

cosy in the half lit kitchen

Picking over the

bones of the day

in the dying light

as you spit

the punchline

to my silly songs

through mouthfuls

of us

throw blessed handfuls

of the life we never made

into the air like confetti

<>

Later, in bed alone

I replay your reflection

in the wing mirror

A cassette loop trail of

false memories

spooling through your fingers

and longing would lay

my very bones

into your hands

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Progeny

Half grown you

fit me end to end

legs, chest

heart and head

fall into the spaces

my body makes for you

still

This fierce love

has written me

made the striped

tiger skin

of my belly

The soft droop

of my eyes

The rise and fall

of my breasts

Now toys are gone

we play with words

but it is skin, blood

and bone

which

binds us

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Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children

The movie The Crow, contains one of the most moving lines about the mother-child relationship I have ever heard: ‘Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children’.

I think of this statement often at the moment, as I watch my eldest child, who is legally an adult, but emotionally a baby, make a mess of her life. When she fell over as a toddler, I picked her up, patched up her baddies, cuddled her and set her back down again, free to explore and play until she should fall again: I still do this, but her falls are potentially more dangerous, her baddies have the potential to scar in different, deeper, more painful and long lasting ways. Back then, I set the limits of her universe: now, I can be here to pick her up, but when I set her down again she must make her own limits.

Two days ago we had a painful, heart wrenching conversation, in which I told her that I cannot keep picking her up because I am at the limits of my own mental and physical strength and her current behaviour is threatening the health and welfare of her much younger sibling. I am to all intents and purposes a single mum, who works full time to support her family: the analogy I shared with her was that I often feel as though I am swimming across a deep lake with her and her brother on my back and that her flailing and splashing about threatens to drown us all. I told her that if this continues, I will have no choice but to take her brother and swim away, even though it will break my heart. She looked me in the eye and said ‘if you do that I will drown mum’. I know that this is true, but the only alternative is that we all drown and I simply will not let this happen. I told her this. She cried. I cried. She made me promises that I knew would be broken the very next day: I was right.

Someone very wise once told me that teenagers try to destroy their parents and it is their parents’ job not to let them. I can only pray that she is right and that in setting the hardest and most final of boundaries, the only one, in fact, that I have left at my disposal, I might somehow be able to keep my daughter safe, just like I did when she was a toddler. This poem is a little prayer, just for her:

Remember when

My hands were your nest

Stroking wisps of natal down

Turning the dead of night

Into a lactescent

Snow -white feast

Remember when

You landed

Under the full moon

Of my eyes

And took your

First steps towards

Arms as wide

As the sky

My love

The invisible

Intact umbilical

Is longer than

Any road away from here

Stronger than any

Harm which you

May do yourself

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