Wednesday, 27 September 2017

What's happened to make me who I am?

This is a post in my sporadic 50 Things series, and I've been avoiding it for a while, a bit like the 32nd photo one, which I still haven't done, because scrolling through 32 photos just reminds me that I need to delete more of the pictures I take!

Anyway, why have I avoided this post? I justified it by figuring that I wasn't that interesting, that I am fed up of talking about myself and want to look outwards, and that it was none of your business anyway.

I've changed my mind. Studying Women's Studies I learned that the personal is political. There is history and politics in my story which is relevant to more people than me, and to be honest, I'd love to read this kind of thing if it was written by someone else.

So where to start?


First off, I was born (and for some reason, stuffed into a meringue). My parents were questioning the normal way things were done and tried new ways. That was a beautiful and brave thing to do and I am grateful they did it. They did many things, including divorcing, which showed me that they are people with their own concerns. That helped me to understand that we all are, and helped me to avoid having 'respect' or distance from people in authority. I thank them for that and for all the ways they introduced me to other adults and didn't ask me to stay out of the conversation.

I gained a brother whose pleasant demeanour threw my more caustic ways into sharp relief. I am still delighted that he is in my life. He is lovely and pretty normal really, and makes me look like the wicked witch of the west. He also makes me laugh my socks off.

I got married young, which I would not recommend. I'm not saying that the relationship won't always work, sometimes it will, but if it does you can always get married later. Anyway, my marriage failed and despite not having been married for very long and having no other ties between us the divorce was hellish. I wasn't actually sure I would survive it. The divorce taught me two main things:

  • you cannot expect things not to break just because no-one wants them to.
  • you can survive things that feel awful.
I am really sorry for younger me having to learn those lessons.

Anyway, now I have a lovely husband and a family. Motherhood has shown me my patience and my kindness (don't go fooling yourself I'm nice though!). Motherhood has also underlined the importance of love, which before I had associated for a while most strongly with romance. Now I am repeatedly amazed with the ferocious strength of mother-love. Even when I am reminded of just how small and insignificant I am in the face of things happening to those I love, I have this strength.

If I could face again pain like that I experienced on divorce, and so save my children having to face it, I would, again and again, though I may not survive.

Now I write, and I am grateful to those who support me to do it. People have always told me I'm creative. I can see that too now, but I don't want to write poems about myself all the time, so today I'm just writing this.

One more thing, and it's big. Something that has literally shaped me: I'm fat. One side of my family is fat and I am not convinced we could be otherwise without constant struggle. My mother works really hard not to be, and I know I am happier to be fat than failing to be otherwise. It's not all genes. Pizza helps, cake helps, chocolate helps, always always always thinking of the next meal helps. If I could take a magic slim pill I would, but I'm OK like this.

What about you? What's made you who you are?