THE PAST – AN ANONYMOUS GUEST POST

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I recently started seeing a wonderful boy.

I have know him for years and years and suddenly he asked me out. It’s been truly blissful and I may have accidentally fallen a bit, sort of, kind of… well, you know.

In an honest conversation, he remarked that I could ask him anything and he would never lie. I giggled that there was nothing I felt I needed to know that would bother me, unless he had done something hideous like slept with a prostitute (something I know a male friend has done on a trip to “the dam”).

With an expression that can only be described as a man about to commit harikari he blurted out he had.

Twice.

I took a few days to think about it and in the end we had a lengthy, upsetting, painful conversation-come-lecture where I expressed the deep level of horror I felt about what he had done. I chose to take the role of educator – figuring men just aren’t taught to see prostitution the way I and many other women have taught themselves to think about it.

I outlined for him:

  • the objectification of women.
  • the abuse of women in the sex industry.
  • consensual/non-consensual intercourse and the idea that prostitution is almost rape.
  • the actual women and their lives, histories, families, lack of opportunities and education that would lead them into doing it.
  • the crimes surrounding an industry he has now paid into: drugs, trafficking, etc.
  • what this means about his integrity. Saying no to his stupid mates when they suggest something as vile as that on a lad’s holiday.
  • the culture of the privileged: see, want, take.

Anyway, he cried, I cried, and in the end I decided I didn’t want to let his past ruin his or my future and we are trying to move on. He was 18 and then 24 (excuse me while I gag at how sick this makes me feel) and now at 30 he is devastated about it. Friends told me the only person who could ruin this relationship is me, because he didn’t know me when he did this, there’s nothing he can do to undo it and he hasn’t done anything TO ME.

I guess I am just not quite over it yet.

I am not sure the respect can come back.

He has since traveled the world and grown into a grounded, sensitive and incredible guy, but I somehow feel as though we aren’t moral equals anymore. A lot of my friends brush this off and say I am being OTT, but unfortunately this is something that makes me want to move to an island and live with Kirsty Young where it’s safe.

Obviously I don’t want to use my name here. And I don’t wish to paint my other half as a baddie because he is quite literally devastated about his decisions and I am really proud of him for telling me the truth – although he probably didn’t realise who he was messing with when he opened his mouth to confess.

I think there’s a lot more I could unpack re. lad culture, etc. but I honestly feel sick if I think about it too much, so I think I’ll leave it there instead.

Anon.

THE WRONG SIDE OF MY TWENTIES

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And just like that, I turned 28.

I was so tempted to be all sad and mopey about the transition into my late twenties, but I realised there would be no point, as I’m actually not sad about it at all. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I’m feeling pretty happy about getting older.

I know right, unheard of.

As a woman, I sometimes feel as though I shouldn’t want to get old. Constantly being provided with unwanted advice on how to avoid wrinkles, hide those pesky grey hairs and being told which PT will prevent me from falling victim to my ever decreasing metabolism – and if I’m honest? It gets a little boring. Especially whilst men, in addition to not having to purchase tampons and being legally permitted to take their tops off in public, are also being told they simply get better as they get older; it just doesn’t sit right with me that age, along with our weight, faces and body shape, is just another thing we as women should be made to feel insecure about.

Which is why I am singing the praises of growing up and ushering in my 28th year with open arms.

Here’s why.

My 25th and 26th years were the worst. A story for another day, or perhaps never, actually, I basically let two birthdays pass me by, by getting far too drunk, not taking anything particularly seriously (although this still exists in moderation) and making bad decisions left, right and centre, not understanding the true meaning of consequence. Poof, two years, gone.

My 27th birthday, however, was a game changer, bringing with it a real difference in me. Not just in the sense that I moved halfway across the country, but I had a genuine mental growth spurt. As in, I actually felt it happen. I suddenly stopped sweating the small stuff (although I still have my moments), I relaxed into my skin, accepted who I am and took ownership for both my strengths and my flaws.

As fucking cringe as that sounds, it’s true. At 27, I began to grow into myself and realised when Ryan told me ‘things would be okay’ in that thick Yorkshire accent, they really would.

So if you, like me, are edging closer to what ‘they’ deem to be the wrong side of your twenties, embrace it.

Much like a fine wine, it seems shit really does get better with age.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE MOTHERHOOD

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Motherhood has always fascinated me.

From the mums who have managed to carry something that heavy inside them for nine months, enduring chubby feet, flatulence and raging hormones, to those women who invite children in need from around the country and across the world, into their homes and love them as their own: I honestly don’t know how you do it.

I’m lucky to have one of those amazing mums you hear about in storybooks. A woman so small, yet so powerful and strong, I am sure she defies some sort of scientific theory. Not only a pillar of strength and hope to me, but this little lady treats everyone who comes into her life with as much care and attention as she gives me and my brother. So much so, I’m convinced she’s Mother Nature herself, disguised as a pocket rocket with great hair and a penchant for Paolo Nutini.

When we were little, donning dungarees and a flamboyant hair tie (it was the 80s), mum used to pound the pavements of London; me in a pram and Alex by her side, wanting us to see and do everything possible, undeterred by the dangers of the big city. As I’ve grown older, she has become the sort of mum I call on an almost daily basis, to ask for sensible advice about boys, my career and everything in-between, but who also convinces me to buy the white studded leather jacket I’ve been eyeing up in Zara that everyone else told me to avoid.

With a wicked sense of humour, a big heart and an ability to never put herself first, ever, she really is one of a kind.

Although I sometimes worry I won’t be up to the job, having such an amazing mum has made me so excited for the day I have a child of my own. I’m always so intrigued as to what that time will feel like, so this Mother’s Day, rather than hear messages of gratitude and love from sons and daughters, I asked a few of the mums I know to share what they’ve learnt on their journey so far, and in true superhero style, between nappy changing, school runs and the rest, they managed to come back to me within 24 hours in time for Mother’s Day.

Tap the images below to find out what these absolute mega babes have learnt from their experience of motherhood, so far…

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If you’re lucky enough to have your mum around to celebrate for another year, then make sure you say thank you in any way you can, even if this means a phone call from across the country or a quick cup of tea in the garden. Trust me, she’ll appreciate it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonder women out there. You really are amazing.