“Ahhhhh, Congratulations! Girl or a boy? How much does she weigh?”

These are the questions that typically follow the magical creation of life.

They are the wrong questions.

Because sometimes, a bundle of joy comes out as a bundle of fear.

The questions we should really be asking new mothers include: “How are you? Did you get enough support? Do you want to tell me about it? What do you need?” And possibly, if you know them well enough, “Has anyone talked to you about pelvic physiotherapy?”

I often tell the Big Small that she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. This is because it’s true, and also because everyone deserves to hear that from someone. (Now I get to smile when I hear her say the same thing to Catonthenetheredge). 🙂

But the best thing happened in the worst way.

Her birth was not what I imagined, to say the least. And for me, postnatal depression began in the labour room.

I thought I was prepared by my rather airy fairy NCT classes to power through the pain and be empowered by it. I thought I’d read-up and watched-up on it. I genuinely believed in the birth plan (I was so cute!) and I genuinely thought I’d tough it out with a tens machine and a bit of a massage…

Ha ha ha ha!!!!!

Instead my birth story was a tale of mistakes and over-stretched midwives, shift changes, and ultimately long, long hours of a back-to-back labour stuck on my back with a monitor on, and no pain relief. The epidural had failed, but no one noticed and I was treated like I was making a terrible fuss over nothing. All followed by an emergency c-section.

BIG FUN.

That particular combination of impotence and injustice is pretty huge to deal with, and is something I still grapple with today. It somehow takes you right back to being a child, doesn’t it? The powerlessness, rage and fear of it – nameless and hopeless swelling in your chest. The knowledge no one believes you and no one will help you.

That sudden understanding that when it really, really comes down to the wire – you are fundamentally alone.

The loneliness of motherhood started there. Right there. And thinking back I can still taste the blood and metal of it – that very moment – under my tongue.  

Not being able to control your own body or your fate is pretty scary for anyone. Not being able to do what millions of women have done throughout time is pretty disappointing, too. And it all came with a sense of distance, and inadequacy, and isolation, and desperation like I’ve never known.

None of that actually left my body with the placenta. It didn’t just disappear – how could it?  It all stayed inside. And it made the bits that came next even harder.

It was all still there as I struggled to adjust to motherhood, to feed the baby (intent on starving itself – another story), to manage, to love every moment, to join in, to be joyful – to feel myself, to feel REAL again. I was overwhelmed by it. I thought I had made a huge mistake. That I couldn’t do this. That I’d let the baby down and didn’t deserve her.

Now, I’m one of the lucky ones, because in the midst of all that I was still violently in love with her. That doesn’t always happen.

And no bloody wonder.

Even the births that go right are huge physical events that change your body forever, followed by huge responsibility, no sleep, and massive hormonal fluctuations. And there is so little support. Your partner goes back to work after two weeks, and you are left broken in a fog, in charge of a tiny person you have no idea how to care for, with endlessly conflicting advice and everything you’ve ever known fundamentally altered.

And yet it is so universal…

So how can it be that we are still sending women into the breach (sometimes literally) so woefully under-prepared and under-supported?

And how can it be that we still don’t talk about postnatal depression, or birth trauma, or the horrors of early motherhood?

How are we still not asking women the right questions?

There has to be a line somewhere between scaring expectant mothers stupid, and giving them the coping mechanisms, tools and knowledge to help them take control of their bodies, and their babies, and make informed choices – even when things start to go wrong.

I don’t think we’ve got the balance right.

Today is Father’s day, and fathers are to be celebrated. But the day fathers became fathers was the same day that mothers became mothers (pretty obviously), and there’s no point pretending it wasn’t a day that had a far bigger impact on HER life than on his. It’s a combination of biology and society.

The real question is how we make that impact more positive.

If you had a traumatic birth, there’s a great organisation that’s there to help – The Birth Trauma Association. They do fab work to support women (and men) after traumatic birth experiences.

And if you’ve got an experience you’d like (or need) to share, I’d like to hear it.

 

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The need to squeeze – love in the palms of your hands

Today, I need to talk about children’s bottoms, and how ridiculously adorable they are.

Also their thighs, right where they meet the knee. And arms – at the elbows and wrists.

Basically all of the squidgy, pudgy, squeezable bits. I want to fill my hands, and my eyes and my soul with them.

This is probably partly because a friend of mine has had the perfect, rounded, deliciously chunky baby and OH MY GOD THE NAPPY BOTTOMS, how could I possibly have forgotten the solid, round, rightness of a nappy bottom???

It’s probably also because I don’t get to lay my hands on my children every day, and I’ve found that a lot harder than I thought I would.

Missing them isn’t just cerebral, it’s physical.

This need to squeeze really never happened to me before I had kids.

But I can remember the exact moment when it started – which was the exact moment the Big Small was placed on me, skin-to-skin, after my c-section. And I wanted to absorb her back into my body through my chest, and store up the imprint of her in my palms forever.

It was the very first time I’d felt love in my HANDS. (I imagine it’s the same feeling Queen Elsa gets when she’s making snow and ice). It’s a sort of fullness and emptiness all at once that can only really be relieved with touch.

Pre-kids, if I thought of children’s bottoms at all I would have been repulsed by the thought of anyone willingly wiping up another human being’s faeces direct from source.

How times change. And actually, it’s very hard to explain that change, and the physicality, the WEIGHT of that sort of love to someone who doesn’t have children.

It’s a hollowness that burns your palms, a swelling that flips your stomach, bulges your eyes, closes your throat, seizing you, freezing you – clenching everything inside for an expanding, throbbing, impossible, HUNGRY moment.

That probably makes no sense to you if you’re not a parent. And do you know what?

I’d have HATED that, before I had them.

That stupid, groundless disdain of the parent for the non-parent – like they have some smug secret to life or some level of feeling that you can’t possibly understand just because you’ve not squeezed a human being out of your nether regions. I mean, get over yourself.

But I look at them now, the whipper-snappers, the young folk around me, with their daily concerns and thought patterns and lives, and think, God, if only you KNEW.

And it made me think about the things that you really can’t pass on. The things that hold the human race back, because we cannot communicate them to the next generation. Not really. Things so weirdly universal, but that have to be experienced to be understood – really, truly understood. The need for experience is a very human burden, isn’t it?

Arrogantly, I thought it would be different with my own kids – something else that I could only learn the hard way. Because the truth is that as their parent you don’t really get to impart wisdom to them – in fact you are the last person they will hear. All you get to do really is to try SHOW them the way in your actions and reactions, and hope for the best. Because they will learn the biggest and hardest lessons their own way, as all people will do, for all time.

And I suppose one of the biggest and hardest lessons is love.

I will never be able to explain to my children the thunder of love that blocks my hearing and fuzzes my vision – his heavy mass of a thing I both long for and struggle with. They won’t know it unless or until they have their own children.

Love hurts, the saying goes. But no one ever told me how very palpable that hurt would be. Or that it wouldn’t necessarily be someone breaking my heart, but me labouring to carry it around so very full.

When it really overwhelms me, I will say to them, “Hey. Have I told you how much I love you today?” The Small Small will say “Yes!” and roll her eyes at me. The Big Small will always say “No” – slightly coyly – and make me say it again.

Some days I think love was my undoing.

Other days, I think it’s made me.

It has certainly made me lead by example – even when it’s been the very, very hardest thing I’ve ever done. I could not, for instance, let them grow up thinking love looked like the relationship I was in. I had to show them a better way.

But sometimes I worry, because I’m conscious that it is my burden to carry, and mustn’t weight them down or hold them back from the lives and experiences they deserve and NEED to live for themselves. Because, well, they’re people. Their own people. And as they get bigger they will be less and less mine to squeeze anyway.

We’ve been swimming a lot this half term. And in a swimming costume, it is obvious to me that the Small Small is really not so small any more. She is losing the squidgy bits. She is stretching out like her sister – a lean whippet of a girl whose body is all amazing muscle and sinew and LIFE that makes me marvel every time I see her dance or leap.

The babies that taught me what love was, are not babies anymore.

I think it’s okay to mourn that stage, especially at a time I’m still processing so much loss. Because even as I mourn it, I am learning to welcome the next stage.

At the pool, the Big Small pressed herself to me suddenly, and gripped me with an unabashed force I recognised, and said to me with shining eyes, “I think we’re the best family here.”

Later the same night, the Small Small, on the edge of sleep, cupped my face in her hands and squeezed and said, “Have I told you today that I love you?”

And I saw their easy expression of love, their joy in it, its depth and ferocity and purity. And I knew that they had learned that from me. By example.

And for the first time in a long time, love didn’t feel quite so heavy anymore.

 

 

Eating an elephant – by the hair

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? Well that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to nibble away at the edges of this big awfulness and hope that one day I look up to find it’s gotten smaller.

I started with the toe nails. Now for another periphery: the hair.

I have quite long, limp hair, simultaneously prone to both greasiness and frizz. It spends most of its time scraped back into a ponytail – a style that does nothing for me (and even less for my increasingly gaunt and care-worn horse-face).

It can look okay if I spend considerable time straightening it or curling it, but THIS LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENS.

I think I like to think of my daily style as a messy ‘mum-bun’, but the truth of the matter is that my hair simply doesn’t have enough volume to achieve the look – it’s more like a disembodied rat’s tail left to curl up and dry.

And it finally occurred to me this week that the reason I have this hair is that Dadoffthenetheredge likes women with long hair.

And now I don’t have to please or appease anyone.

So in the manner of all divorcees I’m going to do something DRASTIC with it – or at least as drastic as one can possibly get with what will essentially be a bob – arguably the world’s most classic/conservative hairstyle.

The trouble is, I do not like going to the hairdresser.

It sets off my social anxiety in several key ways:

1. I’m not trendy enough. I feel the need to apply make-up and put on nice clothes just to enter most establishments – and then I just feel weird about having done so.

2. I do not like having to look at myself in the mirror for extended periods.

3. I don’t like to be touched. On the head. By strange teenagers. And having to make light conversation with them while doing so. WHY IS THIS A THING????

4. I don’t like bending over backwards to get my hair washed, which is either a showing my jugular thing, or the fact I once read an article in Closer (I was at the dentist, honest) about a woman who put her neck out in this position and essentially ended up paralysed 3 days after getting her hair done. This is exactly the kind of shit that would happen to me.

5. Should I accept the coffee? When I know I’m not going to be able to lean forward and drink it whilst my hair is cut? Will it look ruder if I refuse it or if I just don’t drink it? How are other people imbibing this stuff while sitting still underneath someone with scissors??? Why do I care about this??????? And should I care that I care about it?

6. The small talk. Look, my life is really, really, REALLY dull. I literally don’t have anything to say to people that isn’t boring rubbish about children and work. No, I’m not going out this weekend. No, I’m not going on holiday. No, I didn’t watch Eastenders.

To save my own chagrin and the poor hairdresser’s inevitable disappointment, I have in the past taken to just making shit up to try and make everything less awkward for everyone. (I’ve always been prone to a bit of social hyperbole, and I can spin a good yarn, if I say so myself). Trouble is I forget what I’ve said to whom, rendering it impossible to go back to any one hairdresser – who probably wouldn’t remember me anyway because I’m deeply forgettable, AND CLEARLY NOBODY ELSE IS THINKING ABOUT THIS AS MUCH AS I AM.

7. I can’t hear without my glasses. Yes really. I’m as blind as a bat, and while it is always something of a relief to remove them (see no 2), no 6 becomes even more fraught with danger because I have no conversational clues – like what the other person is ACTUALLY saying.

Honestly – with all the hairdryers and background noise you’d be surprised how much you pick up from lip reading your hairdresser in the mirror. Take that away and you’re screwed. (Or at least I am).

It’s that kind of thing where you answer the wrong question, and then your brain catches up, so you realise what they said, and that what you’ve said is therefore stupid, and in my experience there’s no way to recover from that kind of awkwardness besides DEATH.

8. I cannot do confrontation of any sort, ever. They could dye my hair green, shave it off in random patches and set fire to the rest, and I’d still say “Oh lovely!” when they showed me the back in a hand mirror. (I once asked for a hairdresser to take a little more off my fringe. It took me a week to recover).

9. I do not understand the tipping system. I get tipping in restaurants – I know what I’m doing. I don’t get it in hairdressers. Do you add it to the card in the machine? Do you put a couple of quid in the jar? What if there is no jar? What if you don’t have any change? Can you ask for change? How much is the going rate? Do you look like a wanker if you do or if you don’t? Does it go to the stylist or is it shared? WHY ARE THERE NO RULES WRITTEN DOWN FOR THIS STUFF?

10. I already know I will never be able to replicate whatever the hairdresser does, even if I actually like it. So basically the knowledge of my impending failure walks in with me through the door. It is under impending failure conditions that I perform at my very, very worst.

SO ANYWAY –

What I need are your recommendations, Sheffielders!

Given all of the above, where can I go for a hair intervention that is going to cause me the least amount of anxiety – and give me that ‘just stepped out of a salon’ 80s-vidal-sassoon-advert feeling?

I’m going to need someone who can give me some guidance on what will suit me and what my hair will actually DO, and of course what I can actually maintain at home with no hairstyling skills, time, thought or care.

Money is no object (actually it’s a very serious object, but this one is on my lovely Mum).

HELP!

 

Mumonthenetheredge

x

Thank you, Village.

I lost my village for a while.

Okay, I didn’t lose it – I hid from it.

I hid because I didn’t want to confront them, or rather them to confront me.

I had my metaphorical fingers in my ears and was singling “La La La” over how awful things were. I didn’t want to go out and see anyone, or call, or text, or visit, because I couldn’t talk about my life out loud – even to myself.

Instead I went to bed early. And tried to regroup. And to get up the next day with more energy to plough into my family, and to try harder to make everyone happy.

Perhaps the most hurtful thing that has been said during my break-up, is that he saw me do that. He saw me grab hold of the new day and determine to give it my everything. To make it work.

It was not enough.

His last straw, apparently, was three years ago. That’s a long, long time to watch somebody try.

Anyway, since then I have finally taken my fingers out of my ears, unburied my head from the sand, and looked around. And to my surprise, my village had not packed up and resettled elsewhere.

They were waiting at the borders, for me to reopen the gates.

And I literally can’t describe how grateful I am for that.

So this is a thank you. To the village. The friends, family, and perfect strangers who have been there.

Thank you to the friends who have listened.

Thank you to the friends who have checked me when I have needed it.

Thank you to the friends who have told me the things I don’t want to hear.

Thank you to the friends who have held me while I’ve howled. It has not been pretty.

Thank you to the friends who’ve forgiven me when I’ve erred.

Thank you to the friend who lent me her home office when I had no broadband.

Thank you to the family who lent me money when I had no credit card.

(Thank you also for replacing the broken washer and dryer so I can do less loads and set timers and try and keep on top of the house).

Thank you to the friend who helped me get a permanent job, when I really, really, really needed it.

Thank you to the colleagues bearing with me.

Thank you to the work-mate for the inconsequential chatter that helped me keep it together after something landed during a work conference.

Thank you to the friend who sorted out my tech. (Ongoing).

Thank you to the friends feeding me because I sometimes can’t face cooking for one.

Thank you to the friend who helped me get to grip with my personal finances, because I was that stupid woman who had never involved herself in them before.

Thank you to the family who paid my council tax in a hurry – because I didn’t know they don’t send you a bill until I got the angry letters (yes, I’m that clueless, and yes, this is apparently a Thing they happens to lots of folks on separation).

Thank you also for lending me money for things like solicitors fees and car insurance, until I got my arse in gear and got to my savings.

Thank you to the friend who fixed my inexplicably online heating (why is this a thing??), and my music streaming systems. (I had no idea how much music meant to us until it wasn’t there any more! #Firstworldproblems. #ImissCDs).

Thank you to the friend who gave me a lift to the Small Small’s hospital appointment in the worst of the snow.

Thank you to the friend walking the Big Small into school through the snow when the Small Small was too sick to be out in the cold.

Thank you to the friend who gave me her old bras, for putting my weight-loss saggy boobs back in approximately the right location (or at least up from around my waist).

Thank you to the friend who invited me on their mini-break, because the kids haven’t had a holiday for forever, and to her lovely husband, who drove to fetch me when I had a meltdown about the journey. It’s literally the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. (And they didn’t let me pay for a thing).

Thank you to the friends sharing their weekend and holiday time with me.

Thank you to the family who sourced and financed Catonthenetheredge – she has brightened our lives already.

Thank you to the friend who came to help me clean when it really was just all too much – and for de-furring my hoover. (Please come again soon).

Thank you the friends who have kept me company when I have struggled to be alone in the house.

Thank you to the friends being friends to my kids – they need all the support and love they can get.

Thank you to the friends who keep checking in, stick with me when I’m slow to respond, and bear with me when I go back over old ground, again. I am moving forwards, slowly. Honest. It’s just hard.

Thank you to the friend keeping me in comfort-fudge.

Thank you to the various people at various services/organisations who have helped me get to grips with Stuff. (There is so much damn Stuff to sort, while trying to keep it together and keep everything going).

Thank you to the strangers on here who have made me feel less alone. I started the blog because I was so lonely in motherhood – and it’s never been more of a lifeline.

There are a million thank yous I have missed. But I am grateful for each and every kindness – in fact I’m teary thinking about them, which is largely why I have to stop here.

I still find kindness kind of surprising. And that’s sad in itself, isn’t it?

Anyway. Thank you village. I’m not sure I deserve you. I’ll try to.

And when the brown stuff hits another fan, I promise I will step up to be someone else’s village back.

Because that’s how villages work.

Xxx

The Pussy Junction

There comes a time in every girl’s break-up where she has to choose between channelling her thwarted love into random, meaningless sexual encounters – or get a cat.

I call this the Pussy Junction.

I call THIS Catonthenetheredge.

Only I don’t, obvs, as I’d look a right twat yelling that in the back garden.

😻

Life is too short to scrub gussets

Life is too short to scrub gussets
Some advice both useful and sage –
I give it to you with my blessing
To apply it to life’s every stage.

It’s particularly apt when training
Small bottoms to use mini loos –
Because rubbing the poo out of cotton
Can give you the laundry blues.

The very worst bit of the process
Is keeping your cool unconcern
When faced with more toxic hand-washing
From a child taking AGES to learn.

So if you’ve got a toilet-resistor
And you’ve quite reached the end of your rope,
Let go of your scruples and Persil!
And save yourself heartache and soap.

Go buy up some Paw Patrol knickers
In cheap B&M packs of five –
And when the next accident happens
Chuck them out and raid your supplies!

My thanks must go to the woman
Who first passed this secret to me
It’s the key to zen potty training –
Untroubled by stray poos or wee.

The rule works for other odd soilings
(From quickies to menstrual leaks)
So abandon those pants with abandon –
And discard them without blushing cheeks!

Yes, I officially give you permission
To bugger the unseemly waste
Because life is too short to scrub gussets –
A new mantra to wholly embrace.

Contemplating my toes

On nights when I don’t have the kids, I get to have Me Time. I’m very out of practice at Me Time (about 6 years rusty – the age of a Big Small) and basically I suck at it.

Tonight I tried for Self Care 101, and decided to cut my toe nails. This was overdue.

And I realised I am still wearing the nail polish I was wearing the last time I had sex with my husband.

I don’t know whether this is a sign of how fast he moved on, how woefully neglected my grooming regime is, or just how toe-curlingly awful the toe-covering months have been.

Definitely though, it felt like a sign.

I think when I applied it that I thought I was ‘making an effort’. I didn’t know it was already too late.

And so I have spent a long time this evening doing nothing productive, staring at my toes.

And thinking.

I could of course break out the nail polish remover and scrub off every last vestige of chipped red.

I could pick out a new bright and shiny colour to replace it. Hot pink, perhaps. Maybe add a layer of glitter?

But I can’t quite bring myself to do it. And I don’t really know why.

I suppose the truth is that I’m not ready.

I don’t want my feet, or any other bit of me, to look attractive for anyone.

What I want is the reminder.

My new reality is still so painful and the future is so very unknown. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever have sex again. If l’ll ever want to. If anyone will ever want me. Want us. I don’t know where I’m going to live, where the Smalls will live, what school they will go to, what our lives will look like or who will still be in them. I don’t know much.

It’s like I still need an anchor, a connection with the past – which whatever else it lacked was at least consistent.

And it’s there, right at the end of my toes, in a thin smear of old scarlet.

So I’m leaving it. The last half centimetre of my old life. To grow slowly out, to be snipped off bit by bit over the next few weeks, in appropriately grotesque curls (why ARE nails so much more offensive when removed from the body?)

It’s not long left to wallow.

And when it is gone it will be nearly summer and surely everything will look better and sunnier.

And maybe then I will be ready for pink and sparkly.

(Or at the very least be forced by the prospect of sandals into better podiatry maintenance).

Mother’s Day

I thought today was going to be okay. And then I went to the park, and saw all the families there. Mothers – with children – and with fathers.

Teams.

I was jealous.

Because this Mother’s Day I am not the Mum I wanted to be. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t create that family. We were never a team.

And as a result I am not the Mum that is there no matter what, for every crisis big or small, every achievement or every joy.

Sometimes I’m not there at all.

And the reality is that all too soon someone else will be. They will be the team at the park.

I’m told often I need to get over this. I need to move on. But I cannot describe the pain of it. Why couldn’t I have that? What’s wrong with ME?

The only consolation I can find is that in some ways, I’m actually more of the Mum I wanted to be now than I was before.

Because it turns out parenting on egg shells around someone else’s moods completely sucks. It changes you.

There is now no unhappy, brooding presence in the corner, on the phone, judging and criticising and refusing to join in.

I can wind the kids up before bedtime. Dance like a loony. Eat tea on the floor with the Barbies. Stay at the park for hours on end. Not sort the washing. Bugger the washing up. Cover the house in slime. Go to bed when the kids do. Tickle them in restaurants. Sing the three lines of Moana I know on repeat at the top of my voice. Instigate lick fights. Do the Mystery Inc voices in public. Be too intense, too loud, too soft, too rigid, too – whatever I like.

I just have to get beyond too damn sad, and too damn hurt.

And I’m afraid I still don’t quite know how that’s done.

The sexism of emotions

The most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog was about the #metoo movement.

It turns out people really, really want to talk about low level sexual discrimination, harassment and assault. In fact if you read the comments on the post, it’s very clear how quickly and smoothly those turn into medium level, and then extreme examples.

I cried reading about some of those experiences.

And as I cried, I realised that crying was kind of one of them… a subtle, everyday way women are undercut.

The last few months have been emotional ones for me, in many different ways. And while in theory I know having an emotional reaction to an emotive situation is both rational and consistent – there is a large part of me that believes it is not.

Because I have been conditioned to think that my emotions are untrue, disproportionate, and inconvenient.

I have stopped trusting them. And I have stopped trusting myself. Because if you can’t believe what you’re feeling, what can you believe? You have no foundations to stand on.

But slowly, as I pick myself up, I am beginning to realise that there is an innate sexism attached to emotions, and how they are perceived in society.

If a grown man loses his cool (without resorting to violence, obviously) he is being assertive, sticking to his line, drawing one in the sand, sending a clear message – not being a pushover. He is strong.

If a grown woman does the same she is being hysterical, volatile, erratic, she is over-sensitive and over-emotional. She is easily dismissed. She is weak; and she is wrong.

I imagine a lot of women out there could say, ‘me too’ to this. Because the refrains used to undermine the validity of our emotions are so familiar, and so ingrained. And the most frustrating thing of all is that if we rail against them, we are doomed to PROVE them in the most frustrating of catch 22s.

How many do you recognise?

“You’re overreacting.”
“You’re misinterpreting what I’m saying.”
“Is it that time of the month?”
“You need to bring it down a notch.”
“You’re being really intense.”
“You’re too sensitive.”
“What are you crying for?”
“Psycho.”
“I can’t deal with you when you’re like this. “
“You need to calm down.”
“You’re blowing this out of proportion.”

Our emotions are unreliable.

And we are told so in no uncertain terms from a very young age.

Robert Webb has written of the damage caused to boys by being told not to emote. But there is similar damage caused to girls too, by being told they OVER emote.

Hysteria is the term historically used to dismiss female emotion – their wombs making them less. Less rational, less reasonable, less able to cope. Less everything.

The fact is that as women, to gain respect we are expected to make things easy for everyone – not to make a fuss. It is part and parcel of the same insidious secrecy and silence that is unravelling in the public eye in #metoo and #timesup.

Because our reaction to a situation – no matter what the provocation, mistreatment or injustice – is STILL always somehow greater than the original crime.

It is the woman scratching her keys down her husband’s car who is more frowned upon – the psycho – than the man having the affair.

It is the woman speaking out against assault – and daring to do so with emotion – who is unstable, and untrustworthy. Not the man she is accusing – not unless many hundreds more join her chorus.

The only recourse deemed suitable by society in these situations seems to be silent dignity. Because showing anything else makes women more guilty and more wrong.

But silent dignity is still silenced.

It still denies us a voice.

I have undoubtedly been more emotional since I had children. And I have assumed – and been told – it is a weakness.

What if that’s a lie though?

What if we’ve ALL been lied to?

What if emotion is a strength?

Emotional intelligence is not about NOT showing emotion or pretending not to feel it. It’s not about sucking it up, bottling it up, or denying it.

We certainly should not be at the mercy of our feelings. Not everything you feel should be immediately acted upon – that’s the ultimate key to emotional intelligence.

But it IS about feeling your feelings, recognising them, accepting them, appreciating the purity and truth of those instincts. Letting them pass through you and coming out the other side.

Because by going through them authentically, you will be a truer you, and you will make BETTER decisions.

And maybe that skill – because it is a skill – makes you a better person, a better employee, a better spouse, a better friend, and most certainly a better parent.

Because how will our children ever learn to process their emotions, connect with them, recognise them in others, and ultimately trust themselves, if we don’t show them how to do so?

My feelings, my empathy, my heart, my tears, my sense of justice, my poetry, my LOVE – they are the best bits of me. Not the worst.

And I will no longer be afraid of them.