Category Archives: thoughts

Let’s talk about shame

I would argue that there are two kinds of shame, the shame of realising that you’ve completely fucked up and done the wrong thing and the shame used to silence people by either making them believe that they are wrong, that something they did was against societal standards, or that they failed to live up to some imaginary standard.

I don’t want to talk about the first type other than to say being ashamed of doing the wrong thing is a powerful lesson, provided you admit it, apologise and work at not doing it again.

The second type is the one I want to talk about.  The second type of shame, the silencing one, the one that can stop you seeking help you need, finding support mechanisms, that makes you feel less because of some attribute (real or imaginary) that you do or do not possess, or stops you leaving the house.

The second type can be imposed by other people or just through societal conditioning.  As an example fat people are regularly shamed by just about everyone by virtue of being fat.  Just existing as a fat person apparently is something to be ashamed of, and something that many people will point out to your face.  Also less subtly and direct, is all the media and government “concern” about obesity and what needs to be done about it.  Being fat is apparently shameful, and in worse case scenarios, fat people won’t seek medical help for life threatening conditions because they don’t want to be shamed further, or they attribute their health status to being fat versus whatever it might actually be.  The fact that fat people are also shamed by their medical professionals adds to an incredibly unfair burden.  Kath at Fat Heffalump writes a lot about why being fat is nothing to be ashamed of.

Being a woman is something that we’re often shamed for, whether it be because we haven’t removed enough hair, we’re not wearing the right amount of makeup, we’re wearing not wearing enough, we’re wearing too much, we’re drinking, we’re not drinking, we’re too old, too young, menstruating, eating, not eating, “being emotional”, nagging, having sex, not having sex, or any other of a number of attributes that some imaginary perfect woman would not have.

I looked at the list of things I was supposed to feel ashamed about one day, while standing naked in front of a mirror, and I decided that they could, for the most part, go and fuck themselves in a fire.  Why should I stand cowered by the world because I didn’t measure up to some arbitrary standard that next to no one else measured up to either.  Just think, if there were people who measured up to this standard women’s gossip magazines (which pretty much sell shame) would be out of business.  I decided at this point that I was going to do my best to live shamelessly, to ignore other people’s attempts to shame me for being myself, and love who I was.

I’ve always found it interesting that “shameless woman” is an insult, but there is no male equivalent.  Not that men aren’t shamed either – it’s just a different set of criteria (having feels about things, not acting in an appropriately masculine manner, being perceived as weak, etc).  The phrase “shameless woman” does come from the bible though, so thanks Christianity for making life suck.

One of the things I learnt growing up was that I had to do it on my own, that I should be able to manage by myself, and that appearing as if I couldn’t cope was a weakness.  Let’s just say that was one of the worst lessons to learn.  It took me close to breaking point before I realised that I was trying to do it on my own in silence because I was ashamed to ask for help.  The bad lessons I’d learnt included the silencing of shame – because asking for help would be an admission that I wasn’t able to cope and do this on my own any more.  The relief of laying aside the shame and finding out that help was available was an amazing thing.

It’s terrible that as a society that we both unconsciously perpetuate shame by not speaking up against it, and that we let shame impact on us.  Being you should be nothing to be ashamed of.  None of us are perfect, none of us are perpetually strong, none of us have a perfect body, our emotional responses are valid, our choices to participate or not in the beauty standard are our own, our ability to cope or not cope as the situation arises is ok, your health situation is nothing to be ashamed of, your money or lack of it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Please do not let shame rule your life.  Go out there, be a proud shameless person, and speak your mind.

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2011 a year in review

I can’t say I’m sorry to see 2011 go.  It’s been a pretty shit year for most people I know, there have been bad relationship breakups, deaths, illness, and other stressful events.  I’m hard pressed to find three positives for the year to focus on, in amongst all the crap that has gone on.

My trip to Malaysia earlier this year was a big highlight for me.  It was warm, interesting, cheap and fun – and a well needed break at the time.  It would have been more awesome if my two other partners could have joined me, but it was a great place to visit and I’ve love to go again.

My girlfriend finishing and submitting her thesis was a definite highlight – all that work and learning over (for now), and she has a life again!

I suppose the third highlight was finding my feet at work and being given my own project to run (with all the support I need to run said project).  Settling in, making friends and finding security in my job has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.

In relation to my resolutions for 2011, I learnt some Spanish cooking, but nowhere near enough – but then work and stress ate heavily into my free time, I continued going to the gym, but not as much as I would have liked (see previous reason), and I climbed all the stairs (certainly while I was in Malaysia).

So yes, not a stellar year, and one which I will toast the fuck off out of on Saturday night when we welcome in 2012.

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Running out of everything

It’s not a new problem for me, the problem of running out of coping, running out of caring, running out of energy beyond what is strictly necessary, but it is a problem that I have successfully managed to avoid for some years now, and so it snuck up on me with warning signs I’d forgotten how to read, and now I’m at the bottom of the barrel.

I could have seen it coming if I remembered the signs, but it’s been a long time since I ran out of everything that the signs were quite unfamiliar to me, until I hit that brick wall and stumbled backwards, landing on my arse and looking quite surprised with the world.

So the past few weeks have been really hard emotional work for me.  I’m an introvert (in the MBTI sense – I recharge by being near alone/alone), and so when I fill my calendar up with social engagements, and not sufficient time to spend recharging, I’m far more likely to hit that wall and sit up, blinking at it.  It takes a lot longer to recover once I’ve hit that wall than if I’d taken the time to myself to recharge before moving onto the next big (or small) thing.

It hasn’t helped of course that in the past 2 months my husband and one of his partner’s have ended ended their relationship (no hope at all of rekindling that, and she left him so he’s been really upset about that), a friend died and we’ve provided support to his partner and other friends who have needed it (and my husband went straight there when he found out and helped with the police report and other emotional supporting needs), spent a weekend in country Victoria with some lovely women, some of whom were working through issues – to which I gave hugs, a shoulder to cry on, and listening (as well as cooking and cleaning).  The following weekend (this wasn’t a wise move), I visited my parents and… well did parenting work.  This was the week after the funeral.  I then returned to Melbourne, had dinner with a friend, saw Bangarra perform Belong (highly highly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to see them perform – will write more later), went to a gig (saw Mareike Hardy and Gotye occupy the same room), celebrated International Celebrate Bisexuality Day with a meal at the pub with my bisexual community, and then went out on Saturday night to dinner and then a burlesque themed show with friends… that’s when I knew.

That’s when I knew that I had nothing left, almost nothing left for me, and certainly nothing left for the group I was with.  I was numb, distant and somewhat irritated (though that last bit had probably far more to do with the venue than anything else).  I left early, went home and sat around a bit before I went to bed.  I decided to spend Sunday doing things for me (playing computer games, looking at my garden, etc), and not going out to the birthday yum cha that we’d been invited to.  My husband started off on his way there, found out that the one person he was going to see wasn’t going to be there, and then came home and fell into a deep depression.

I had very little left, and so tried to do what I could, unsuccessfully, and then found a great, albeit temporary, solution – Doctor Who.  We’d not seen any of the second half of this season yet, and now we’ve caught up.

Being close to running out of everything, and the running out of everything, has seriously messed up my blogging.  I have all these ideas that I want to write about, but haven’t had the concentration, time, or energy to do so.  But soon, because for the next several days I’m the most important person to me and I’m going to do what I need to do, so I can continue to, when I have my energy back, do what I do for others.


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First World Problems

I sponsored a child last week with Plan (a charity I highly recommend).  I didn’t select a gender or a country trusting that Plan would set me up with whatever they needed for their aims of sponsoring children.  I received the details of the child on paper at the end of last week, and as I flipped through it all I noticed that Plan highly recommended that I write to my sponsored child and could do so electronically, including attaching photos.  It was made clear that any photo submitted should not show signs of materialism, and that my letter to my sponsored child should be about things we have in common in order to not upset the child with the things that they may never have.

This, of course, all makes perfect sense, and so I started thinking about the things that we have in common.  I am growing some vegetables in my garden for us to consume, not exactly something we have in common because if my crop fails, I can just go to the supermarket and buy food, whereas my sponsored child and his family and community will face a much harder time if their crops fail.  I have a family, he has a family, so we have that in common.  I have been to school and he is going to school, so we can talk about school subjects, learning goals, and where those things can take us as we grow up/older.

There was a point to mentioning this, which has slipped my brain, but that’s ok, it may or may not come back to me as I continue to ramble on about things.

On Sunday my computer catastrophically went splodge.  My husband was quite upset about the PC dying as it happened on his watch, so to speak, as I was out grocery shopping at the time.  I shrugged and said it was ok, which surprised him as he thought I’d be upset.  My PC has been giving signs of throwing in the towel for a while now, and clearly Sunday was the day for everything to fall over.  I will be upset if the dying of the computer takes out one of my HDDs (the one with all the photos on it), but everything else is backed up, or available elsewhere.  I was planning to buy a new PC with my tax return anyway, this just brought everything forward by a month or so.

So this weekend I’ll hold the brief funeral service before taking the PC (minus the valuables – HDD, RAM and graphics card) to the great recycling centre.  We’ll farewell the PC in the style it was accustomed to living – perhaps not with the all nighters I made it do regularly.

I’m typically a calm person, I have a very high frustration tolerance and don’t often get frustrated with things, I am resigned to bad traffic, delayed or cancelled trains, that phone call just as I’m leaving the office, and stuff.  That doesn’t mean that I’m never frustrated or angry, because that does happen, but just that it often takes more to make me angry than it does some of the other members of my household.  And as well, if anger isn’t going to be useful (ie being angry for 2 weeks while my computer is replaced is a bit much), then anger is not the response I typically choose.  Feminist flash rage happens on a daily basis.

It’s not that I think to myself that there are others in the world who are far worse off than me (as I think that’s a terrible thing to do to yourself) when something like my computer dies (or my house floods).  I just process it differently and put it in the bucket of things I cannot control so will not spend time fretting about.  I’m privileged enough to have sufficient savings to be able to borrow against to replace my computer – even if it is going to take 2 weeks for the custom build I’m getting.  I’m privileged enough to be able to typically access reliable public transport, have a relatively flexible workplace, have a reliable car and to live with others who will hear my frustration and anger when it is present, whether it be about the rantings of ill-informed political commentators or many things failing to do what they should at once.

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Personal stories

“Where’re you from?”

It’s a question I’ve been asked at least thousand times by at least a thousand different people.  It’s such an Australian question (to me), the curiosity of knowing where someone (and since they’re asking me – usually a fellow white Australian) is from, an opportunity to hear a story, an opportunity to hear something new or some gossip about another area you might have ties to.  It is a very old style question after all.  It harks back to the days when people travelled less, and to meet someone new was an unusual thing, therefore asking where they were from, and for them to fill you in on news from other areas was a novelty and useful.

Continue reading Personal stories

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It’s now 2011, and probably is now across most of the globe.  After a chat with my sister earlier today and reading a tweet from MyMilkSpilt which said:

This NYE do yourself a big favour: don’t resolve to lose weight. Set activity & home-cooking goals instead, if you wanna ‘get healthy’!

I thought I’d write down my resolutions for this year.  I’m trying to make relatively concrete resolutions about things that I am able to control.  The happiness of others, for example, is not something I can control, so won’t be on my list of things that I’d like to achieve/happen this year.

  1. Cook more often – I cooked a lot last year, more than I have other years and consequently I ate a whole lot less take-away than previous years.  I want to continue this into 2011, because I’m an awesome cook and I really love cooking.  I know I’m privileged by both being able to cook and generally having time to cook (as well as a partner who will also take turns in cooking).  I will also attempt to learn more recipes and cuisines.  I had fun exploring Moroccan last year and this year perhaps I should try something else as well.
  2. Exercise – Last year was up and down regarding exercise with time, health, stress and dramas getting in the way.  This year I want to get to the gym twice a week (at least) and to walk more and climb more stairs.  I do actually like being active and the way my body feels (after the initial shock).  So more of that please.
  3. Travel – I will travel to places this year that I have not been to (and places that I have, and really like).  I have rough plans to travel to Byron Bay and the UK, so will travel with an open mind, a willingness to have fun, and understanding that things don’t always go as planned.
  4. Writing – I plan to blog more, and not always write long, detailed and deconstruction posts, but just quick short ones pointing out things that interest me, annoy me, or have made me think.  I might even participate in NaNoWriMo this year to write out the novel that is forming in my head (or another one if I finish that one first).
  5. Believe in me – I’m going to spend more of this year (than I did last year) believing that I am entirely capable of what most people believe I am… well the positive things…. the negative things will not be listened to.

I hope that 2011 is far, far, far more awesome for everyone than 2010.  Do you have any new year resolutions that you’d like to share?

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