“No” Is A Full Sentence

Let’s talk about that famous ‘no’ word. It’s simple, powerful, and yet somehow often ignored.

Now, I’m talking purely from a woman’s perspective, because I’ve never lived as a man (shocking, I know.) So, forgive me if this sounds sexist or like I’m generalising men, because that is not my intention. Not all men are the same, I know that. But I can only write based on the experiences I’ve had as a woman, as well as statistics.

So, here we go.

Let me start but letting you guess how many times I’ve been accused of leading men on. Go on…

Jokes, I wish I could tell you, but it’s actually too many to count. So many times have I told male friends that I’m not interested in being more, and so many times have they continued to read into everything I say and do, hoping against all hope that I will suddenly change my mind, or perhaps I was confused. And then accuse me of sending them mixed signals.

Well, guess what guys… I’m fed up with it. Here’s a little tip, LISTEN to what a girl is SAYING. When she says she’s not interested, she probably really freaking means it.

Let me give you a scenario. I walk outside stark naked, and say “I don’t want to have sex or be touched at all.” Is it my fault if I get sexually assaulted because my ‘signals’ aren’t matching the words coming out of my mouth?

No, it most definitely is NOT. Again, LISTEN to what we are SAYING.

Sure, signs and signals can be fun, exciting, like when you first start dating someone. But when a person says “no, I’m not interested,” that counteracts ANY and ALL signals… Period.

And yet, somehow it’s our fault when we have to reinforce again and again that we want to be ‘just friends’ or nothing at all. Somehow it’s our fault if our skirt is too short, or our heels too high. Causing a temptation that apparently cannot be controlled.

But there’s also the problem of female friends excusing their behaviour with comments like “maybe you’re too nice” or “your personality is too likeable…” While the intentions are good, it is essentially victim shaming, placing the blame where it doesn’t belong.

I have a playful personality that can come across as flirty, I won’t lie about that. But despite pointing this out and still saying I’m really not interested, it never seems to sink in.

I find myself genuinely wondering lately what we have to do to actually be heard, to have our feelings and our needs respected.

I read recently a quote that said “no is a full sentence.” So freaking true! We don’t owe anyone any explanation for not wanting to do something, men and women alike, and we certainly shouldn’t have to repeat it over and over.

I’ve been bogged down, suffocated by what men want and how men think I feel, way too often. And look, I’m betting so many men have felt the same about women too! There’s no denying that. This isn’t a battle of the sexes, this is a battle against the inability to take what should be a simple response, and turning it into chaos and accusations. This is a battle against friendships being demolished because certain people can’t stop chucking temper tantrums when they don’t get the answer they want.

This is about freedom of choice, and the freedom to choose “no” at any time without being made out to be a villain.

If you read my last post about Mr Puppeteer, then you might understand this rant a bit more. Enough is enough.

Mr Puppeteer

One month – that’s all it took. Four weeks, thirty days, to see a new romance with a seemingly nice and normal guy sour to a tumultuous storm of intimidation, emotional manipulation, volatile emotions, and controlling behavior.

One month, and you became my puppeteer. And I, a slave to your emotions.

It happened quite suddenly. Once we were official, you visibly changed. I felt the strings tie around my wrists and feet, one by one, as you made me move and dance as you pleased, pulling the strings from your seat above me. My body became made of wood – not my own and completely out of my control. My face was a mask of a smile, of perfection, never letting my true emotions slip through my puppet facade for fear that Mr Puppeteer would come out to play again.

Today I feel raw, fearful… But mostly confused and sad. Sad because you were not who I thought you were, and I still like the guy you were before you became my puppeteer. I’ve made excuses for you that you didn’t deserve, because I couldn’t see you standing above me and pulling the strings in everything I said and did. I couldn’t see the little dance you had me doing until I took a step back.

My friend could, she could see it all. And she feared for me, for my safety. And I started to as well.

Things took a turn when you told me how you felt, that you were falling in love with me after only a few weeks. My response upset you, then angered you. Sitting up while I pretended to sleep as you talked to yourself and hit your bedroom wall. I felt scared, not completely sure if you were angry with me or with yourself. I wanted to hide under the blanket, under the bed… I just wanted to be anywhere but there with you in that moment.

I was scared for the rest of the weekend, scared to say anything or even move or breathe for fear that you would lash out again.

On Monday I brought it up, that your reaction concerned me… I was being polite. Again, not realising I was scared of you, not realising you had purposely made me feel that way with the pull of your strings.

You apologised, you said all the right things that you knew I needed to hear in order to forgive and forget. But I never forgot, I never really even forgave.

Yesterday things turned quicker and harder, your strings couldn’t control me any longer and things turned… Volatile. Mr Puppeteer, how did I not see what you were doing sooner? How did you make me feel SO trapped so quickly? I understand now, I understand how women get caught in abusive relationships, constantly making excuses for the man they used to love. To those women, I see you… You are not alone.

Yesterday I told you I was going to WA for a holiday, to visit my family friends. Your mood soured after that, with hidden demands of how long you wanted me to go for. “No longer than a month.” The next demands came with who you wanted me to stay with. “Stay with Jess, not with Andrew.” This required a two hour deep and meaningful conversation, leaving me feeling caged and drained. Like you had pulled your strings and put me back in my box and taped it up, trapped in the dark and unable to move until you decided to pull your strings again.

Then you became clingy, again asking me to tell you how I felt about you and us, wanting those words from me that I wasn’t ready to say. Making me feel like I couldn’t breathe as you leaned over me, my arms trapped underneath you, as you stared into my face. Leaving me vulnerable and exposed in so many ways.

The day worsened from there. I was ill, in pain, cramping (most ladies will understand this.) You wanted me to meet your family and I didn’t feel up to doing so, so asked if I could go home. (Yep, you heard me, I had to ASK.) You did not like this, not one bit. For I’d stepped out of line with the little string dance you had me doing. You became angry, then upset… You cried. Don’t get me wrong, men are allowed to cry – but in this situation, really?! You did and said everything you could to make me stay. I was scared, genuinely scared for my safety. As were my friends who were frantically trying to get in touch with me. But I couldn’t touch my phone, couldn’t respond unless you weren’t watching. You wanted, needed, to know everyone I was talking to and everything I was saying.

I was scared of you. That was hard to say at first, hard to admit, but it’s true. I felt the need to do and say everything you needed me to in order to keep your mood level, to prevent you from lashing out. Where volatile emotions come into play, so does violence.

I drove home in a numbed state, feeling completely drained of life, completely empty inside. I’d stopped doing your puppet dance, and finally my mood and body crashed.

This situation taught me a lot, it taught me I have some amazing people who have my back no matter what. That even though you made me feel trapped and intimidated, I still had my safety net of support. Willing to hide me safely if need be, willing to do whatever needed to save me from any potential emotional or physical abuse.

I’m safe from you, because I chose to be. Mr Puppeteer, I cut those strings the moment I left your puppet house. Your constant calls and messages tell me that you’re aware of this, tell me you fear that you’ve lost your hold on me. Because you have.

I don’t write this to put you down, to be mean. I write this for exposure, for awareness. I won’t be a slave to someone else’s emotions, and neither should you.

Please, I implore every woman to watch, to notice even the littlest of red flags in your relationship, in the relationships of your loved ones. Please watch for abuse before it happens. Please tell someone and get out. Be safe ladies, be loved. We all have your back. ❤

New Year’s Resolutions

What is a New Year’s resolution? Is it a goal to eat healthier, keep the house cleaner, spend more time with family?

Oxford Dictionary defines New Year’s resolutions as “a firm decision made on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to do or refrain from doing something over the course of the coming year.”

But I think it’s more than that. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve never made a new years resolution unless it’s really going to mean something, possibly even change my life or give me an amazing experience I would have missed out on otherwise.

For the first time in years, I’ve made a resolution for 2020. My blog, my readers, and my friends & family have inspired me to write a book – a memoir of sorts. Something to raise awareness for something I’ve always believed is worth fighting for… Mental health.

The new year doesn’t mean anything to a lot of people, maybe just a chance to party. But for some, it’s a chance for change. A chance to start over. A chance to either put a crappy year behind them, or celebrate the amazing accomplishments from that year.

My health struggled to the point where I had to resign from a job and company I love this year. That wasn’t so good. But I still feel the need to celebrate this year. For the chance for change and growth. If I still worked in that job, I probably wouldn’t have the goal to write a book next year. I probably wouldn’t have found my passion for writing and sharing peices of myself in the hopes of helping others. I found my true passion this year, and I found hope and strength. To me, that is most definately worth celebrating.

So what did 2019 bring you? Even if it felt like a horrible year, think about the positives, think about what you gained, and spend your New Year’s eve putting the bad behind you, to wake up fresh and ready for change on New Year’s day.

Maybe it’s just like any other day. But you can choose to let it be a symbol, to be a trigger for change.

I have a goal that I’m going to make happen in 2020 – what about you?

I’m Just Being Me

I’ve had a few people ask if I’m okay, or check in with my family to make sure I’m not depressed. Apparantly my stories make me sound that way.

I assure you, that is not my intention and that definitely is not the case in the slightest. I mean hey, I’ve definitely had my low points. But who of us hasn’t?

I started this blog because I am happy and confident in who I am. I’m not afraid to be an open book and share my story if it means I could be helping someone else, to help them feel less isolated in their own journey if nothing else, or to help someone who hasn’t experienced these things understand them better. I started this blog to be undeniably real. Yes, my health issues have been a battle and a half, and I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t felt depressed at times. But right at this very moment, and in general, I’m far from it.

I’ve experienced a lot in my 29 short years on earth, mostly from a young age. But really I think that’s only made me more resilient. When my health went downhill, that opened up a whole different can of worms for me, and I didn’t really know how to deal. My first instinct was to aggressively and persistently fight to find answers, even to the point where I was fighting against my friends and family, and isolating myself because that was my sole focus. After that came hopelessness and I’d say a bit of grief too. I’ve even gone through the stage of anger. But then came acceptance, and along with that, freedom.

I’d even hazard to say that I’ve never felt more free in my entire life. I’ve never felt more alive, and I’ve never felt more in tune with the world around me. Physically I am weighed down and limited to what my body will allow me to do on any given day, and that’s hard. But mentally, I’m all good!

I’m not who I was two years ago, that’s for sure. But that’s a good thing. I’ve learnt to fight for myself, against everyone and everything if necessary. I’ve learnt that I am my best advocate, but that I could also use my voice to advocate for others. I’ve learnt to appreciate each good day and each good moment that I get, because I may be abrubtly bedridden again at any given moment. I’ve learnt to be kind, and how the simplest act of kindness can impact someone else profoundly. Most of all I’ve learnt to love myself first, and be patient with any limitations I may have, and just be happy with who I am.

I mean yeah, if you call that depressed, count me in! 😜 But in reality, I’m just being me!

“You don’t look like you’re in pain…”

That’s interesting. What exactly is the right way to look like I’m in pain? Do I need to limp? Have bruising to actually SHOW the pain? Moan and groan all day? Complain constantly?

Would that make you more comfortable or make it more believable?

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. I think you’ll find that if you pay attention to the little things, you really will see the coping mechanisms so many people use while in pain, and that sharing that pain with the world isn’t really all that easy. Here’s a few of my own coping mechanisms…

Heat – while at work, I sometimes put the little fan heater on under my desk, no matter how hot it is outside. That direct heat to my legs can be a life saver for joint and muscle pain.

Tea – you’ll notice I switch from normal black tea to herbal tea when I feel a migraine coming on.

Movement – I often get up from my desk to clean the kitchen and other little things around the office when I’m in pain. Sometimes sitting still just makes me crazy in that situation.

Rest – that’s an obvious one, but one you wouldn’t ever see. I often can’t sleep from the pain, but I can’t do anything else either. So I lie in bed with my eyes closed, sometimes just hugging a hot water bottle.

Now those are just a few of my own, but you don’t really realise the strength in people until you realise that they’re not showing their pain, no matter how debilitating it feels. However, the sad truth is, they often feel scared to show it when they really need to. Will I be judged? Am I being annoying?

It’s interesting and sad to me that even through that pain that so many people with chronic illness feel on a daily basis, they feel the need to hide it for other people’s sakes. Why? But then when you finally reach the point of needing to say something when it gets too bad, you’re then judged for not looking like you’re in enough pain. It’s really a lose lose situation.

That’s not something I can be angry about though. It’s very hard to empathise with something if you’ve never experienced it, and we’ve all been guilty of that.

A little more compassion, a little more understanding, and a little more awareness would go a long way 💫

18.09.10 – Paying the price!

Today I write to you from bed… And not in a good way.

Last night I went out to dinner with my boyfriend’s family, and I managed to stay out past 8pm. *Insert gasp here*

Now, while that is perfectly normal for anybody with a nice healthy body not intent on screwing them over on a daily basis, for me that is inconceivable! My nightly migraines over the last 2 months have made it quite impossible to stay out past 6pm, and have even made people concerned for my mental health.

I mean hey, if your brain was throbbing against your skull and every little noise made your eyeball feel like an ice pick was going through it, I think you may be slightly irritable and in need of peace and quiet also… Not meaning to be captain obvious, but just saying!

So here I am, at 2:41 on a Wednesday afternoon, just having woken up after a 2.5 hour nap. Wanna know why? Because one hour of Pilates was too much for me after such a HUGE night of partying. *Rolls eyes*

I mean seriously, who nearly falls asleep doing ab curls? They’re not exactly what you call ‘easy’ or ‘relaxing’. But my body was experiencing that bone deep exhaustion and was ready for a nap, and it certainly wasn’t going to wait for anyone!

Okay, so why am I sharing this with you? It may be a boring day in the life of Laura, but it is an unfortunately common one. A reality that has forced me to suddenly take a few weeks off work just to cope with the pain and fatigue that plagues me. I am simply sharing this with you, so that you see me in real life, so that you see all who are struggling!

To those of you fighting to get through the day without a coma-nap… I see you, empathise with you, and I give a f**k. It’s okay to take a moment to rest, it’s okay to allow yourself time to heal.

Until next time!

She Looks Well

I wasn’t really sure where to start with my first post, but this is something that has played on my mind since it happened. I’m aware of so many people who have to deal with this from health professionals, so I figured this was a good place to start.

Now, let me start by saying that I have nothing against health professionals. My mum was a nurse, my sister-in-law is a nurse, and I have utmost respect for them. There are some amazing doctors out there too…

However, there is sometimes a huge lack of understanding still in this day and age about complicated illnesses. I myself suffer from complicated Endometriosis, as well as a mystery undiagnosed illness that is most likely an autoimmune condition.

My Rheumatologist has been very empathetic and understanding thus far with my mystery illness, and I will continue to seek her health advice despite this slip of the pen. But one statement really stood out in her last letter to my GP…

“She looks well.”

OK… Well gee, if I look well, I must be well. Right? Those migraines that have been making my life hell every single night for the last few months… Irrelevant because I ‘look’ well. Those general muscle aches and joint pain that has been plaguing me for almost two years… Not an issue because I ‘look’ well. Oh, don’t even get me started on the heart palpitations so bad that I was suffering AT LEAST six panic attacks a day. They most certainly must be nothing to worry about because, yep you guessed it, I ‘look’ well!

This particular doctor has done a decent job of managing my symptoms so far, but I have to say, that final “I hope your migraines sort themselves out” on the way out the door was an extra kick in the butt! I do too Dr Obvious, I do too!

Now this is just one person, one health professional. But she’s definitely not the only culprit. I get it all the time. The “are you better yet?” comments are one of my favourite. Yes, after almost two years of constant illness, I magically got better today! It was a miracle! Or as I walk out the door of work because I can’t push through anymore… “Feel better!” *face palm*

That being said, I probably would have done and said the exact same things 2 years ago. I am just as guilty, if not more so. That lack of understanding is not their fault in the slightest, but doctors most definitely should know better.

Now for the life lesson. It doesn’t actually take understanding to be compassionate or to support someone. Shocking, I know! If someone close to you says something as simple as “I’m struggling,” then be there to listen, even if you don’t understand enough to have an opinion. Be kind peeps, that’s all it takes.

A bit about me…

My name is Laura, and I’m incredibly passionate about telling the truth about the shit parts of fighting chronic health conditions, as well as raising awareness.

I’m a huge advocate for quote a few charities through my day job, I love being creative in my spare time, and reading is my life.

My brother recently brought up that I should do some content creation, and I thought where better than my own blog! I’ve read a lot of people’s own articles on health and I know how much it helped me in lonely times. So if I can help someone else even marginally, then it’ll all be worth it.

Most importantly, I want this to be a constant reminder to myself and to others in similar positions. That we are worth more than our battle with our bodies, and to not forget to live because of it.