Last Friday Night

Last Friday night I went out with my girlfriends. We were excited for the rare opportunity to be out together and to dance to the music from our late teens and early 20’s – The Pixies, Violent Femmes, Blur, Nirvana, Beastie Boys, The Cure, and so many more. It’s amazing how 25 years later we remember every word of our favourite songs. We had a blast and barely stopped dancing. It was a perfect night out.

Except for the drunken men on the dance floor. I became uncomfortably aware of my reactions and those of my girlfriends as we faced off with these men almost constantly. As women we are so conditioned to be nice and kind and to not be a bitch that we have a really hard time saying ‘No’ to these men, or asking them to leave us alone. What we do instead is

  1. say ‘yes’ then turn our backs on them,
  2. ignore them and turn our backs on them,
  3. re-position ourselves in our circle to get away,
  4. move to another area of the dance floor,
  5. press ourselves into smaller spaces to get away from the unwanted attention,
  6. pretend to be married or otherwise unavailable,
  7. pretend to be gay or assert our queerness,
  8. never make eye contact with them, never smile at them,
  9. make fake trips to the bathroom,
  10. leave the dance floor.

I’m conditioned in this way too. I remember these behaviours from almost the very first time I set foot in a club. Mostly I’m fearful of drunk men. And so on Friday night I ignored and turned my back, pressed myself closer to the table I was dancing next to, took up less space, and eventually moved to another area of the dance floor altogether.  

This is a letter for these men.


To the drunken men on the dancefloor,

No, we do not want you to dance with us.

No, we do not enjoy having you stagger into us, losing your balance and knocking into us.

No, it’s not sexy when you are so inebriated that you can barely speak or keep your eyes open. Your slouching body cruising the dance floor is not attractive.

No, we are not bitches for saying ‘No’.

No, we are not frigid for turning away from your unwelcome intrusion of our group.

No, we are not out on the prowl. We’re not looking for a man.

We’re out with our girlfriends, enjoying some much desired time together. We aren’t looking for a quick shag on the fire escape with a drunk man who can barely stand.

No, we do not want you to dance with us.

The Art of Navigating Despair

You wake up to another morning. You are reluctant to move your body, reluctant even to open your eyes. But you do. You lie motionless under the duvet, staring blankly at the ceiling. You are already weighed down by thoughts of emptiness, the void of human existence. These thoughts are a fine mist swirling atop the bland, grey fog of pointlessness.

This is grief.

You yawn and rub your eyes, think about making coffee. You wonder if you have the energy to walk to the kitchen. You do. You move the duvet off your body and lie there motionless for a moment, summoning up the necessary motivation to move. You stand up. Maybe you stretch. That feels good, despite your inner greyness. You walk to the kitchen, noticing how cold the floor feels in winter and switch the kettle on. Without conscious thought, you walk to the bathroom. You notice how cold the toilet seat is. You think about brushing your teeth. But you don’t.

This is unmet desire.

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To Love One Another

Eugene came over to the foot washing station, to where I stood waiting. I ushered him to sit on a black plastic chair opposite my child-sized green plastic chair. In his hands he held two bags, the sum total of his material possessions. The first bag was a small backpack that had seen better days, the second was a white plastic shopping bag filled with new items he had just shopped for at Street Store. He did not sit down, so neither did I.

“Would you like me to wash your feet?” I asked.

Eugene squinted his eyes at me, looking uncertain. I could tell his brain was trying to work out what this all meant. Eventually he set his bags down next to the black chair and said, “But these feet stink.”

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No Two Leaves

I focus on the earth beneath my bare feet. My heels as they strike the ground. The balls of my feet and my toes propelling me forward. The sand on the path is mostly dry and fine, a pale brown, casting a light dust across the tops of my feet. At one small spot, in the shade near the lagoon, it is dark and muddy, squelching under my soles. The earth is cool and solid, comforting in its very ‘thereness’. The wooden slats which form the bridges across the lagoon are surprisingly smooth. I walk more carefully here as they are uneven and the spacing between the slats does not make for a comfortable gait.

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the things i did for love

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

The things I did for love.
Tied ribbons in my hair for you to snag and twist in the crook of your finger
Anchored myself to the ocean floor, my voice screaming in a stream of bubbles rising to the surface where they popped in silence
Imprisoned myself in the cage of your fears, the padlock key hidden away so long ago that I no longer remember its burial place
Weighed every meal to the precise gram so you’d still see me as beautiful
Layered my skin so thick with masks that I forgot who I was underneath
Clipped my wings with the blade of your insecurities, ensuring I would never fly higher than you
Bottled up tears and trauma to spare you their ugliness
Dampened my light to the merest spark (don’t burn too bright)
Swept my mad genius under the rug, appalled when the wind blew too hard and my madness curled out, rising in the stagnant air like wisps of smoke from a smoldering fire
Stamp it down again.
This is not love.

The things I do for love
Stand in the sunshine, my back straight, my arms resting at my sides, my face tilted skywards
Cut the kite string tethering me to your angry hands
Tend my wounds with gentle words
Wash my face free of makeup and grime, fresh and clean, freckles and wrinkles
Open my cage door, stretch my wings
Dive! Knowing I cannot fail
Peel back the rug, let my madness breathe and ignite my soul’s creative spirit
Here I am
I unlock your cage, untie your hair, lift you to the surface to gulp deep breaths of salty ocean air
Here you are.

This is love
These are the things I do for love

*inspired by the vulnerability of a video posted by an old friend; let’s walk each other home

No More Excuses! Now what?

If you read my last blog post you will know that I’ve declared 2019 to be my year of No More Excuses. There are three areas of my life that I decided to focus on: giving back, God, and exercise. So far I’ve made an excellent start to my commitment. And there are opportunities for you to get involved in these areas too!

never stop exploring signboard
Photo by Dale Brooks on Pexels.com
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Qualifying the Called

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I’ve had a couple of big ideas lately. At times I find them daunting. I don’t doubt my ability to carry them out but I do wonder at my legitimacy and credibility.

Do you know the kinds of ideas I’m talking about? The ideas that are outside your field of expertise (if you even have a field of expertise!). Those ideas that you imagine someone else is better equipped to bring to fruition. The fantastical, make-you-feel-alive ideas that keep you up at night. Those ideas! We all have them. Sometimes they are born out of conversation with others who share our passion. Other times they slowly dawn on us as we realise we have some skill or talent. Sometimes they even come to us fully formed in a dream.

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God Meets Us Where We Are

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God meets us where we are.
Not where we think we should be.
Not where others think we should be.
Not where we think others think we should be.
Not where we think God wants us to be.
God meets us where we are.

We see this time and time again all through scripture; that God meets us where we are. He approached the Samaritan woman at the well. The father of the prodigal son came out to meet his returning son. He met the tax collectors at their dinner table. He came to Saul on the road to Damascus. This is God’s unfailing grace and mercy. He meets us where we are. There is nothing we have to do, no way we have to be, no thoughts we have to think, for God to love us. God loves us because THAT IS WHO GOD IS, not as a consequence of our actions. There are no hoops to jump through, no ladders to climb, for us to be able to come to God. He is already here, breathing every breath with us.

See Me

I followed a little of the Ford Kavanaugh hearing yesterday. Mostly though I’ve been reading comments left by other women telling of their experiences of sexual assault, harassment, rape, and abuse. It’s been really hard and I found myself crying. A lot. I woke up crying this morning too. It feels very isolating. I don’t think these things ever go away. No amount of therapy, talking about it, having a good life now, takes away the brokenness inside. I am forever changed. And it is always relived. I still see it playing out in my life.

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I feel sad and disempowered and fearful for 14 year old me who was raped. Who started drinking the next day because I couldn’t make sense of the world. Who blacked out the first time I drank. Whose next sexual encounter was 2 days later in a drunken state with 2 boys. Who on 3 occasions woke up from black outs with men fucking me. Who twice received unwelcome sexual attention in the workplace and nothing was done when I reported it. Who, at age 20, would wake up distraught and fighting my boyfriend if he tried to cuddle me while I was asleep (I once kicked him, jumped out of bed, and ran through the house to escape). Who still chooses men who seem less physically threatening. Who still feels incredibly endangered when faced with an even vaguely threatening environment.

It’s easy and convenient to minimise small events; the unwarranted flirtatious texts, the unsolicited dick pics, the requests to ‘send nudes’, the ‘just for fun’, the ‘little secret’. I may even laugh at these things in the moment, but later on they’re not so funny. My first reaction is still defense (laughing) and only with some space and time can I access my feelings. The cumulative effect is large and draining.

Almost as bad as all of that is the sense that there is no one to turn to. There is the societal urging to ‘get over it’ and ‘rise above’. I can’t do that all the time. It’s painful to be the Phoenix rising. Yes, I may no longer be debilitated by my fear and brokenness but it is never gone, the scab is never truly healed because it gets picked at regularly in small ways. And in sad ways, I pick my own scab too.

I’m tired today, and I don’t know the way out. But if I get vulnerable with you, you may see me, you may hear me, you may remind me that I’m not alone, that my sisters got my back. If I get vulnerable, I’ll be shown the way out.