Why are you here?

Better question why am I here? 

What in the name are we doing? 

Hustling, getting by, managing, surviving? 

No. 

Actually I’m living. 

I’m doing what I never knew I wanted to do. What I naively overlooked as important. 

Living freely. 

With everything in life there are sacrifices. 

Yet, the things I value most are safe, my people, life and craft are safe. 

As is my mind and sanity. 

I know this seems to be an incredibly understated explanation of freedom. But, the soles of my shoes are worn. 

For the path I have walked is long. 

Along my journey many elements of my being wavered. The stability of self became questionable.

So now I’m not hopeful for what I am yet to acquire. Just grateful for what I’ve managed to retain. 

The concept of fallacy isn’t lost on me either. 

In fact that is how I got here. 

With the belief that being strong was enough. 

No my dear it isn’t. 

Nothing is enough. 

Do you understand?

Nothing is enough!

Something though well I guess… there’s some weight in that. 

Anything is even better. 

Essentially I’ve found if you feel you’ve all the answers, you’ve nothing at all. 

Finding something is incredible because it means we’re beginning to accept this is where the substance lays. 

Anything, jackpot. 

You’ve only gone and mastered it. 

Anything is good enough. I realised I’ve no answers to life.

No mythical equation to solve the world. But I had found within me what I formerly lacked. 

That anything would keep my feet moving when my path felt unsteady. 

It would provide me with the fortitude to continue into the unknown. 

It could remind me that surrendering to my emotions and all the rest of what life had in store are where my lessons lay. 

When you feel like nothing: genuinely detached because it’s been one two many challenges. 

Finding anything within you encourages a level of perseverance that is untold. The “defining” moments we speak of, you can find them here. 

Where it’s okay if strength isn’t your first choice feeling. Nor should it always be.

So I guess why I’m here is a query  I may never be able to answer. 

Possibly because I’m not sure and equally because I don’t want to be. For all of its flaws and flairs life has brought me here. 

The semantics of how I got here only hold significance in lessons for living. 

The next steps are as frightening as the last forty. Maybe it’s because now I understand that like Jon Snow I know nothing and within that I’ve found freedom. 

The air was a lot heavier for a while.

Dense.

Thick.

Binding.

It’s interesting because as things start to fall into place naturally we begin to breathe out. With relief and usually it’s a sigh we’ve been holding in a thousand moments longer than we realise.

What I forgot is that for things to fall into place. Something has to give or move or simply dissolve. But that’s unnerving and admittedly I’m still adjusting.  It’s been 7 months now that it’s just Sans and I, in our little 1 bedroom flat. It’s also our first summer just us two. It’s been incredibly rewarding and also incredibly tough.

Maybe I think to highly of myself but I want more and expect more of me. There is something that I only touch upon because the hippie in me feels like giving it energy allows it to gain momentum. Yet ignoring how I feel about it hasn’t helped much either. So now after some much needed calm I can say being poor is stressful.

Nearly half of all single parent families live in relative poverty. We’re twice as likely than our two parent households to experience this. Which makes sense as two incomes are better than one.

It’s such a paradox because this time a month ago Sanaa and I were in Panama, having the time of our lives. What I didn’t share was the phone call two weeks prior; where I tried to cancel our vacation with BA because I couldn’t afford to go. Luckily due to some incredibly generous people in our lives we made it and had an amazing time.

Yet in context choosing what bills are the most important or wondering if there’s any expenses unaccounted for is part and parcel with being a millennial. Being a millennial mum, it’s a whole different ball game.

I have already had a pity party so this isn’t that.

I’ve already laid down in a pool of shame because my bank balance has been unreflective of my abilities.

I’ve already given myself tuts under my breath and head shakes for not planning better.

I have already exhausted every possible avenue in my head of ways to provide for our family of two.

I have already given myself a stern talking to and said you chose to become a parent so suck it up and make it work.

I have already watched my daughter sleep and thought about the impact my choices may have on her.

I have already vowed that no matter what happens next summer this one will seam a world away.

Like I said I have already had a pity party so this isn’t that.

I’m currently looking for a job. I don’t care what it is, after 30 minutes learning on Google and Youtube I can do anything. The truth of my life is pressing upon me with great speed and force.

Not only do we need to be okay. We have to be. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but they didn’t factor in a mum on a mission.

Things within my career have began to flourish. I’m being given ample opportunities to write and speak about my experiences. It’s something I’m forever grateful for particularly as most girls where I’m from in my position, don’t have creative outlets or people cheering them on near and far.

I’ll never take for granted what sharing my life in this way has allowed me to do. But until it pays me rent money or something close, I have to look elsewhere for our safety net.

I do believe in myself enough to know it will happen and of course Sans is the BEST motivation. Also what successful person doesn’t have a few wild stories and hard times to grow from?

This is absolutely apart of my making. I know this too shall pass. This is another step in my journey, but I always go back to my essence. Honesty is the strongest pillar upon which I share my craft of writing with you all.

So my absence has been me regrouping and also hustling.

It’s been because there was a stuck feeling I was finding hard to shake.

For a moment in life.

The air was a lot heavier for a while.

Dense.

Thick.

Binding.

 

 

Call me when you get this. Let me know where you’re at. How things are going! How are things going?
How are you doing my dear? Are you well? Do you feel well…better. Have you stopped pretending that perfection is not addictive? Oh god I wish I could have been there to save you. To hold you. To help you. To love you.
I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how I can help now. You seem well. We all seem well when the troubled waters become still again. When they regain that clear, vast temping stillness that only water can. When you know the slightest disruption can send ripples from the epicentre. From the epicentre to the point of chaos. Did you know that you are, were, my epicentre.
Wherever you are. Whatever you are doing. Whenever you can spare me three moments or four. I just want to hear your heartbeat in stillness. I just want to know your soul has found a home.
Impressions aren’t factual. They aren’t concrete. But your happiness is my mission, so I need to know that you’re okay. I wish I asked sooner. Checked in against my better judgement.
The presentation of a crystal doesn’t reflect its properties. Much like a dormant volcano doesn’t show the power of its eruptions. All that’s left is the history of its vigour solidified in its walls.  Like your tears, do you remember them? That’s where you found your stories… your freedom.
You hid your pain in your tears and shed them for liberation. It’s healthy to spare yourself easy isn’t always bad. I’m not making sense I never do but I can see you seem well now. I can finally see you.
I miss you? It’s a question because I don’t know if I’m allowed to. You are better now. But I lived with you for so long. Am I allowed to hope that you’re okay, that that part of you is okay? Well I do all the same. I don’t know if you will ever come home. Maybe this is it now.
But I’m still scared without you and if you’re never coming back then that’s okay maybe you shouldn’t. I don’t want you to. Oh this is confusing.
What I’m saying is I’m home now here, without you. But still call me when you get this. I was so angry with you. I’m sorry I didn’t treat you better.

How do you feel about your body?
That’s not a rhetorical question.

It’s something I often ask myself.
Its so loaded with meaning though; we dont like to answer it truthfully a lot of the time. I can only speak for myself, the stage I’m at now with my body took years to get here.

I used to look at myself and be repulsed by what I saw and unlike the size 10’s in my life my size wasnt acceptable. The idea of a girl like me being beautiful was so foreign. I still pinch myself when today I know this to be different.

I agree that society and the representation of beauty with the media isn’t the most inclusive. However the effects that has on some people is far more detrimental because of their own standards of beauty. Due to the norms and values they personally hold dear and what the aesthetics of what looking good is to them.

Maybe I’m naive but from a young age I realised that my beauty wasn’t conventional. So when I began to accept my body I started with me. I didnt seek the like sized or faced women to validate me. When it’s all about how you feel perfection is fluid. There’s no particular size that’s the optimum one for me. I used to feel my best at a size 14 but now I’m a 18/20 and have more confidence than ever.

A lot of that has to do with my post baby bod. After I had Sanaa mentally I had some really low times and like I said in MONOLOGUE “I love what my body did (giving birth) and not what it has become”. I was such an insecure teen yet I never thought I could feel worse about myself in adulthood than I did then. But thats exactly what happened.

I spent months in dark clothing that I hoped would hide me and hours mulling over all the pre baby clothes I couldn’t fit.

Instead of losing weight while breasfeeding I gained some. It was soul crushing to be honest it meant that my body still wasnt mine. It felt like I was destined for eternal self loathing. After a conversation with a relative she said to me just buy clothes that fit you. I did, nothing special a pair of mom jeans but I felt so awesome in them. Then I did all the things I was against I sought out women who were in my eyes flawless and plus sized. I looked at what they wore, I shopped in places only if they had a size inclusive range. I started talking about my size instead of acting like it didn’t matter. It mattered so much to me in those times.

Finally, I had a look at the plus sized mums and I decided I wanted to be a MILF (not in the naughty sense of the but the vibe). My size became an accessory not a factor and I could be sexy if I wanted to. I didn’t care anymore about what the status quo was, I plucked up some courage and posted a photo of myself in clothes I liked. Feeling confident.

It wasn’t just for me though, it was for other mums, other women and also my daughter. For them I wanted them to know we can talk about how we feel about our bodies without being ashamed. For my daughter because one day she may grow up to look exactly like me, if she doesn’t love herself it’s because I never taught her how to. You can’t fake it either so I had to be active in my self acceptance. That also means there are still days where I’m not going to love what I look like but most days I do. I just have to be honest about that.

I’m not the most confident woman in the world and I know all the arguments that people have about health and fitness. Also I understand those who feel terms such as plus size and curve are exclusive. I wholeheartedly respect them. But, right now this is what I look like and so I have two options to continue down that very depressive road of woe is me I’m fat and ugly. Or to stay on the path I am now: My fat girl magic is real, I embrace all of my curves and I can be sexy too.

 

Recently, my life has started to look different.

It’s almost become an out of body experience at times. Particularly because when I left home at 17, I was green to the world. I was also very naive to what independence meant. In the interim of what it could be to grow up, I had done it. The years of 16-18 for me weren’t the spare time to figure life out.

The circumstances under which I left home weren’t great (I’d had a very messy break up and an abortion), but it was my choice. Most of us know that ANY life decisions we made at such a young age probably wouldn’t have been in our best interests. This is possibly the first time I truly understood the class system as well. Now a days, this goes in my favour because I am aware of my freedoms. How funny is that, I’m a black woman speaking on her privilege; slim they may be. I learned a lot about the art of blagging. Not that we all must do this but for me it was instrumental in maintaining the false sense of security I had lulled myself into.

I was poor. My official living status was homeless.

Picture this my room was at a hostel for families, (nothing like the hippy ones I spent wondrous nights in South America partying in 3 years later) it had a rather clinical feel to it. My bedroom was also my kitchen and there was a shared bathroom down the hall. It was about 10 x 13 so the size of a large double room it, wasn’t very much but it was my own space.

I used to turn my oven on so I had heating, mental I know. I also used to buy a box of 40 ramen noodles to last me for a month 1 pack a day was sufficient. They were the tastiest things in life to me, now I eat them and get nostalgic. I had way too much pride to call my parents for help as I knew this was a life I had chosen.

In comparison to my life now I don’t understand how I managed, this is my truth. I just don’t know. What I do know however is that I supressed a lot of my feelings at that time so this whole piece is being written from an objective even logical stance. The level of humiliation I personally put on myself was a catalyst for my dogmatic work ethic (when things started looking up work was a brilliant distraction). I had been 7 months away from teen motherhood of twins, a role I wholeheartedly didn’t want until after my abortion. I didn’t know how to move through my experience and aftermath of the “adult” situation I was in. It’s interesting because the regret that consumed me was silent. My heart was silent, I was silent. Isolated and poor what a combination!

Yes, poverty was upon me in the most private way, I was on benefits and I see no shame in that statement. I did, I did for many years but now I see reality. I mean it wasn’t like the government had set me up so my head was above water but I wasn’t going to drown any further. For this I am eternally grateful.

I was emotionally spent back then not tired, not sad, not feeling much really just spent, my cup had run dry. Tired of being me in this life I didn’t understand. You know as a young person from around 13 years old we are fed a narrative of the big wide world. The narrative of my world was filled with less opportunities and more circumstances. We only allow ourselves a certain amount of pain before we switch off.

During this time I would dream of the days when I could buy a thicker winter jacket and not because I wanted one but because I needed one. I thought about sleeping in a double bed again.  I even hoped for the days I could speak of being in an over draft because my credit rating was high enough to even have one. I wished for my emotions to return to me tenfold and for the sorrow of my soul to let me be free. For the self-disconnect to stop. For the regret to flee. For my nightmares to be kinder to me.  I thought of better days.

These are those days. While I know that I’m no lady of leisure now I understand how far I’ve come. I’m stable enough that I can go and do what I need to have what I want.

Now out of choice being broke is apart of my brand. For me wealth looks different than it does to others; so I will never try to live above my means in an attempt to mask my actuality. Its a temporary state subject to change, like most things in life what you put in is what you get out. I know now that better days are always coming and the worst were a part of my making. To have achieved the standard of living I have now…. God, I’m so proud of myself.

It took me so long to switch back on. But when I did I made a pact with myself. One that still feels a bit silly but has been very valuable. Remember who you are. Simple, but its a constant for me.

I will forever be the girl of my past, the being of my present and the woman of my future.

Remi BBB (65)