I’m struggling.

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I’m struggling. Big time.

You all know my story… pretty much.

When I was in the psychiatric ward in March 2018 and in the months and even year following, this blog provided a safe space to share what was going on and for others to share what’s going on for them too. Without judgement. So excuse me if whatever I’m about to write becomes a ramble but it’s honest and from the heart at least.

I came off all of my mental health medication approximately 3 months ago now. It’s a decision I didn’t take lightly ant I tapered down off my medication slowly with the doctor’s support. Family and friends were kinda wary of my decision because I’d had a horrible experience over the summer with trolls literally trying to ruin my life (and all during a global pandemic) and various other things going on for me personally BUT it felt like the right time. I felt numb. I felt like there were no ups and downs any more… just an emotional monotony.

Although I still take therapy when I can, a lot of my pre suicide-attempt BPD style meltdowns are becoming more frequent. The other week, the smallest trigger snowballed into a really big meltdown. I couldn’t find my headphones and because of that, I thought, “I lose everything” which led to believing “I can’t do anything right” which ended in “I don’t even deserve to be alive”. To have those tiny triggers result in such massive meltdowns is really tiring both emotionally and physically. And the feeling of stupidity which follows is a lot to take too. Logical thinking just isn’t an option when your mind is in that state of fight or flight.

Another issue which happens to a lot of Borderline sufferers is pushing those who actually care away from me. Both family and friends. Something I do which isn’t helped by my condition is I give and give and give to others… to a fault sometimes and then I have this horrible resentment which builds inside when I feel my needs aren’t being met in return. But the difficulty is, I barely communicate when I need help and support in return. This week has been unique… I’ve really needed help. And it can be hurtful to find that people have other priorities and busy lives. That’s why we can’t rely on anyone else.

It’s natural on a day like Valentine’s Day in lockdown to feel hyper sensitive to the fact that everyone has it better but just remember that not everything you see when you’re scrolling is real.

People filter, embellish and outright lie about their lives to show a highlight reel which they’re rarely living. How do I know that’s the case? Because I’ve done it myself! When I was married. So take social media with a pinch of salt on days like today to keep yourself comfortable and safe.

I have really rambled tonight but I needed this space to just write. So thank you if you’ve made it this far and I’ll hopefully see some of you soon… this community totally rocks.

You are worthy.

Mandy @ TEWP x

Why are you so bothered?

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“Why are you so bothered?”

This is a question I have found myself asking more and more each day over the past year or so. Who is it that I am asking this question to? Well, mainly young cis males on social media platforms.

The reason I’m pushed to ask this question so frequently is that every single day I log onto one of these apps, namely Twitter, I see at least one post that negatively pertains to the actions of females. 

Not just any action however, it’s usually in regard to females en masse enjoying / being interested in / owning something.

Take ‘Fiat 500 Twitter’ for example. If you’re not familiar, this term references a portion of Twitter users, typically females, whose characteristics such as the way they dress, act and even speak, supposedly suggest that they would drive this make and model of vehicle. 

Being part of ‘Fiat 500 Twitter’ is deemed negative and even goes as far as to suggest that you lack individual identity. What makes this more troubling is that the term has transgressed its use on the internet and is now commonplace in everyday language too. 

What I really struggle with is why females identifying with one another and sharing likes and dislikes are looked at disparagingly, or even construed as a threat. I personally celebrate when I share interests, no matter how serious or trivial, with many other women. It brings a sense of belonging and validation outside of oneself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe validation should come from external sources, but as a human being it is a gratifying experience that no one could deny. 

Society encourages men to celebrate their collective interests, typically in male dominated sports such as football and ironically, cars, so why are women judged for pursuing shared interests?

Why did this negative framing of female homogeneity begin? Because there is something about females enjoying, or being interested in something together as a majority or, in the case of the previously mentioned ‘Fiat 500 Twitter’, owning a particular vehicle, that can really bug men. 

So I find myself truly asking the question – what is it that causes these men to be so aggravated by females identifying with something in particular, that they feel the need to mock or call-out in a public realm? 

Is the notion of females coming together and expressing their agency a threat? Is this an ingrained issue that potentially dates back to the 1800s when women were branded witches for committing certain acts or for having a particular skill? You could perhaps argue that social media has facilitated and led to brand new forms of female oppression, that are just a contemporary embodiment of the aforementioned witchcraft issue. 

To illustrate the negative connotations highlighted, here are a couple of examples taken from my feed:


*Handles removed for anonymity


*Handles removed for anonymity

Women adhering to the new laws that were introduced temporarily due to the ongoing pandemic are being criticised. This is seriously a form of gaslighting on a large scale. To be verbally dragged through the mud and made out to be overly dramatic for having concerns in a truly unknown and terrifying situation is ridiculously unfair.

I really can’t understand why women should be put down, mocked and imitated in a derogatory way for celebrating their autonomy on a commercialised day about partnership, enjoying a particular beverage, obeying the law or for engaging in consensual sex work and reaping the benefits of such.

Yet this happens so often today, to the point that it isn’t always just men behaving in this way. Some girls and women even join in the criticism, perhaps without realising they’re contributing to the rhetoric of the patriarchal society that we live in and undoing the work of feminists throughout centuries around the globe.

I can’t help but feel that these females have been oppressed into believing that they should mock other females who have different interests to them, or that they’re a lesser person if they like or engage in these certain activities. The dreaded “I’m not like other girls” phrase comes to mind here. 

Now I know what the backlash to this article will be:

“You can’t take a joke”, “we’re obviously not being serious”, “you need to lighten up”, etc. etc. 

But that is the literal point, if you’re dragging women for clout, then you are part of the problem, joke or no joke. Whether intended or not, you are contributing to the dangerous entrenchment of thought that women are foolish or lesser for deriving joy as a collective. So, next time you want me to ‘take the joke’, tell me a knock knock one. 

With this dangerous form of gaslighting being fed quite literally into the palm of our hands through social media, as women we need to be reminded that being similar to other females isn’t a negative trait, it’s amazing, rewarding and gratifying.

There is a much deeper issue here, as to why this ‘calling out’ occurs and why female homogeneity is scorned. While we may be told that it’s just a joke, perhaps that deeper issue is the innate misogyny that is ever present today.

Danielle @ TEWP x

When am I a woman?

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We grow up as girls and turn into women. Like a butterfly emerging from it’s cocoon we all of a sudden reach an age in which we wear tailored trousers, a crisp white shirt that we somehow manage to never spill our perfectly green, lush salad lunch down. Sitting poised with coffee in hand and structured blazer sat confidently across our shoulders that are held up by perfect posture. A slick ponytail of glossy hair that doesn’t malt like a ragdoll cat after running a brush through it. Flawless skin, bright eyes, white teeth and a hairless body that if you sat on silk you’d slip straight off because we have obviously managed to somehow still possess the skin of a child who has never known what a growing pain or breakout is yet. A flourishing career with a work-life balance that would look like a montage out of a romantic Friday night movie with how seamlessly and effortless life is in those heels that make your legs look like a giraffe in skinny jeans. This woman wears lacy underwear on the daily, barely has a period and when it comes she gets a little tickle in her ovaries with a splash of blood on the smallest tampon in existence. 

Are you that woman? 

Nah, me neither. She doesn’t have time for the monstrous cramps or cravings. The day two period that feels like a shark has feasted on your womb and left you with internal bleeding for you to then birth into your big comfy pants, because they are the only ones that fit your little bloated belly without feeling like the material is sawing you in half.

I’m pretty much still a child compared to that persona I imagined I’d be as an adult. Yes some people do have that level of perfection, control and discipline. Myself? I’m still figuring out what woman I would like to grow into. I thought it was her, turns out… I’m nowhere near that human. It is an ever-changing horizon as I race against myself most mornings scrambling out the door in paint and ink stained jeans, a jumper that is more bobbly than my hair product draw full of loose hair bobbles and curby grips I fling off at the end of the night. All with the promise that I’ll organise that drawer… One day.  Toothpaste dried onto my lip and sniffing my armpit to see if I remembered to put deodorant on whilst I assembled my belongings for the day ahead like The Avengers. 

Skipping down the stairs and revising my OCD check list as I try not to trip over my own feet eager for another shift in a career I could only dream of. At least I’ve got that part down. 

My hair gets flung up in a half hazard attempt of a “stylish” messy bun, it usually just turns out to be a top-knot with flyaway strands of disobedient baby hairs. They have the maturity of my sense of stability. Fleeing from any form of structure or security. I don odd socks most days and call it an achievement when I manage to match those socks I got off my mum for Christmas in a monogamous relationship. In my head they’ve just went on a break and the separated socks just needed that time apart to assess that they really did belong as a pair.

 It’s the little things.  I bought some plants that for once in my life I haven’t neglected to the point of accidental plant slaughter and eat breakfast everyday. I sometimes take a notion to write in a journal which leaves me feeling almost Lovecraftian with my secret little notes of dark, funny, strange and wonderful thoughts jotted down in almost illegible handwriting. Good luck to the future aliens and generations, trying to decipher those notes of days in the life of a modern-day ‘woman’. 

I still have a lingering sense of wanderlust ‘girl’ inside of me. The one who has big eyes and looks at the world with hope and naive love. The girl whose mouth waters at the first sip of a slush puppy and still gets amused when her tongue turns blue, which of course she shows it with pride to whoever will humour her. The girl who takes her shoes and socks off to feel the cold sea wash her feet. To still love the smell of outside after it rains. I hope I never lose her as I become more woman. More adult and more established within myself. 

The new ways I touch myself, accept myself and feel at peace with the parts of myself I used to torture and curse. She is the woman in me. She is my force, my awakening and my nurturer. Woman looks different to everyone. It feels different to everyone. To be Woman is to be empowered by your being. To become the woman you have always wanted, you just need to look in the mirror because she is her. And that little girl inside of you looking up at the woman you are. She aspires to be you. It has been a give and take with this child you hold so precious in your nostalgia. You have learnt more from her, than she will from you.  She is accepting of that because she got to grow up to be the woman you are now. She exists without judgment. Every move you have made has brought you closer to who you want and need to be as a woman. You as a girl, a she, a her have made decisions that will replace fear with ferocity and doubt with dedication . There is no room for regret or self-sabotage anymore. That embracing warmth of acceptance within your womanly body is a freedom only you can indulge in. So indulge! Much like the Vicar of Dibley in that chocolate fountain. 

You are you. You are woman. And it is the most beautiful thing you will ever experience.  


Robyn @ TEWP x

@sprouttheyobyn xx

A morning with myself.

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I touched every inch of my body I could reach today. Not in a sexual way. But a sensory way. I was kind and generous with my touch. Using my fingers as paintbrushes to gently graze the surface of the skin that wraps my consciousness up. Cocooned in a shell that isn’t appreciated by its owner. I felt every smooth patch to every rough scar, raised tattoo and stretch mark. Allowing it to happen. Appreciating what it felt like to be nestled in unapologetic bliss and awe of how this body of mine stretched and clicked as I reached around to find new parts of myself that had been lost in the fragility of insecurity. 

Afraid to venture my own map incase I didn’t like what I found. Instead I found the backs of my thighs made me giggle, the inner bicep of my arm made me breath peacefully with every trail of gratitude I made with my fingertips still stained with paint from yesterday. I found the bottoms of my feet, knowing every crease in their soles had taken me around the world. I held my own hand, comforted myself. Said it was okay. You’re okay. And this is okay. 

Running fuller cupped hands across my shoulders that usually ache with bad posture. They were forgiving in this act of kindness. Releasing tension I didn’t realise I was carrying. In this moment. I am safe within my own touch. I listen and hear my own contact connecting, listening for the roar of the road I created on my own surface. Aware of every tap and patter of fingerprints to this precious being that carries my soul. Realising it isn’t my body causing me damage. But the things I inflict on it. 

No more. I will listen to you. I will feel what you need and I will nourish you like you are my first love. I understand, even if it is just for today. I understand you and your meaning. Our meaning. This is what it is like to be in sync with your senses and appreciate them for what they really are. Life. This is what life has to offer. Experiences, sensations, smells, touches, sounds, comfortable and uncomfortable. I urge you, spend time with your being. It’s refreshing to introduce yourself to yourself. 

You might not realised how starved your body is of attention until you tend to yourself. Goosebumps igniting playfully under a flame of contentment for this moment. I forgive myself. 

Learning my own language. What language will you speak to your body with?

Don’t think. Just move. Instinctively. Move towards what feels good. You’ll loosen gears and cogs that had been neglected without you noticing. A language of self love. 

Robyn @ TEWP x

You haven’t always been this way.

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You haven’t always been this way

You haven’t always been this way.

Sweetheart, you need to remember that you haven’t always been like this. You haven’t always wanted to hide yourself away under a mountain of duvets and press them into your mouth so no one can hear you cry at night. You haven’t always been anxious about getting on trains or going to new destinations, hell, at one point, your heart burned for adventure and you were always ready to pack a bag and go. You haven’t always been so mindlessly wasting time, trying to find any distraction in the world to make you feel better, whether it was in the bed of some boy or watching hours of reality TV. You used to read and write, dance and create. You used to love filming and editing and baking and music. You had so many dreams.

You haven’t always felt this way and you need to know that you won’t always feel this way either. You won’t always feel like the girl whose sad all the time. You won’t always feel alone, wherever you are. This is temporary, I promise. Even though this darkness looming over you feels like it’s been here for lifetime and it won’t go away, I promise that it isn’t here to stay.

I promise one day you will be able to dance on the beach, ice tea in hand and not feel like you’re running from something. You won’t be drinking to forget, you’ll be embracing the moment and movement of the sand between your toes and the waves lapping at your ankles. I promise one day, you’ll feel the fire inside you burst into an explosion of colour and everything that’s been black and white for such a long time now will suddenly be vibrant again.

You’ll be able to breathe again and not feel like you’re gasping for air.

Who knows when this day will be? But it could be tomorrow.

You need to keep going, even if it is just to see what happens.

Jessie @ TEWP x

A-Z of Being Female: D is for Dating

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“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.” – Mandy Hale

I’ve been there; wishing I could stroll in to a book shop in Notting Hill and immediately fall in love, hoping that my male family friend in the Christmas jumper would see the beautiful Bridget in me, considering becoming a prostitute in the hope one of my rich clients would see me as more than a Pretty Woman. The films that I loved so much as a single pringle, I also despised. I was my own worst enemy; I’d be sobbing in to a bowl of popcorn balancing on my muffin top, watching these films that romanticise life and encourage me to unrealistically fantasise about, for example, being a secretary for the prime minister and ending up snogging him at my nephew’s nativity play because he spontaneously turned up at my house and declared his love for me. In reality, the thought of tongueing Boris at a primary school isn’t something I would do on a normal day. Fuck you, Love Actually. Yet, I still get excited over rom-coms more than I should. The truth is, dating in the 21st century ain’t like that. It ain’t like that AT ALL.

I’d say my thumbs are pretty damn strong. I swiped the living daylights out of Bumble and Tinder for two solid years. The outcome? An album of dick pics and some great memories with my friend Hollie, sending hilarious one liners to matches I was never going to meet. After getting bored of constant rejection/ghosting/requests for nudes, I decided to try one more app. If this didn’t work, I was going to pack it all in. I deleted Bumble and Tinder, and set myself up on Hinge. The outcome? Went on a date with a guy called Lewis and now I’m with him every single day. I guess it worked out for me in the end. But why did it take me two years? And what was I doing wrong before? On reflection, I have a few ideas on what I may do differently if I’m ever single again or how dating could be less complicated if I just tweaked a few bits, so I compiled a list.

Being a female on the dating scene in the 21st century

1. First and foremost, make sure you’re ready and you actually want to date. I signed up to the dating apps way before I wanted to. I was perfectly happy being single, and dating was never a priority. Maybe that’s why I got nothing out of it for two years. Don’t bother unless you’re ready and willing to meet someone. If you’re enjoying the single life, embrace it and stay away from the dating scene!

2. I started on Tinder first. It was pointless matching with anyone though, because I would NEVER message them first. That’s why I then moved on to Bumble (the same as Tinder but the female has to send the first message). Why should the men always speak first? If you’re like I was, be brave – slash the stereotype that the man always has to speak first. If you like the look of someone, speak up – you’ve got nothing to lose.

3. I received a lot of dick pics. I didn’t ask for them, I didn’t encourage them and I didn’t love them when I received them. But I got them. What to do? I used to laugh to myself and then un-match. Thanks, but no thanks.

4. I never did this, but I know a few females that did/still do and it irritates me. Do not expect the man to pay for everything on the first date. If he insists, at least offer. It shows you’re in it for a genuine connection rather than his wonga, and gives a good impression that you can financially support yourself.

5. Very cliché, but be yourself. On the apps and on the dates. There’s nothing worse than creating a connection with someone based on falseness, masks and lies. Embrace who you are and if you find someone, you know they want you for you.

6. Be open-minded. Being fussy will get you nowhere. Men are nervous too. I find a lot of men I know find selfies and witty bio’s awkward as hell, so give their profile a break if it’s a bit shitty. Lewis’s profile wasn’t amazing but he looked fun, so I matched. Never looked back.

7. Be safe. There are dangers around meeting someone off a dating app – make sure someone close to you knows all the details of where you’re meeting, what time etc and make a code word you can text them if you feel uncomfortable or threatened. I would also switch on your location on your phone, just in case!

I should also mention I am most definitely not an expert and there is more to dating than the apps, that was just my experience. The two years I was single was a bit of a rollercoaster in all honesty, but maybe I learned what I needed to. Even though I was on the apps, I spent a lot of time alone. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I absolutely hated it. But I did it. Maybe, before we date anyone else, we should date ourselves. Take solo trips,

go for lone days out and get to know yourself inside out first. Fall in love with your mind, your quirks and your reflection. Take the time to be you again, whatever that may mean for you. The more you love who you are, the easier dating becomes. As I say, I am no expert, but when I threw all my love in to myself, I then met Lewis and it all fell in to place. It could be a coincidence or it could not be, all I know is dating and loving others goes hand in hand with loving yourself too. So get swiping, be you and, most importantly, enjoy the dating scene as much as possible! If you love being single, enjoy dates with yourself – there’s nothing wrong with not having a partner!

Stay safe x


Mental health awareness week should be mental health acceptance week.

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It’s mental health awareness week – I think the main issue is that everyone is well aware of mental illness, it’s being accepting of it that’s society’s issue. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more reassuring to see your friends post about how they also struggle with poor mental health, or those offering an ear to listen to your problems. But this means very little if everyone has fair access to mental health services, or if there is still a stigma surrounding the ‘ugly’ aspects of mental illness. It’s all very well and good that we have this week, but it’s not making enough of a change to help those who are suffering. Only £9 per person is spent on mental health per person who is affected by it. The fact that this equates to two coffees from an artisan coffee shop in the West End, proves my point that these mental health awareness days/week/month are nothing unless they’re bringing about significant change.

This year’s theme of kindness really epitomises how shallow this week is. It’s like people show that they care about mental health for this one week, but then after that they just don’t give a shit. And it’s the same with the government; they back these mental health awareness weeks, but won’t give those suffering with the proper help. The thing is, mental health help shouldn’t be coming from your friends and family. That doesn’t mean that they’re not able to supplement the recovery process, but there needs to be a core psychological support system in place. And people aren’t getting that, unless they’re paying for it privately. I feel that by supporting the week, the government feels it has done its bit.

There is no doubt that the way that we view mental health has changed – there is more of an awareness, but I think that this just isn’t enough. For a start, society might be more open to talking about depression and anxiety, but what about borderline personality disorder or bipolar? What about the symptoms that are more than just being sad, but instead it’s an eating disorder, or an attempted suicide?

I’ve always had problems with mental illness – even when I was young, I had compulsive thoughts about all the different things that could kill me, and I would obsessively check doors were closed, hair tongs were off, and the gas cooker wasn’t on (checking each of these five times as part of a ritual when leaving the house). After being assaulted nearly four years ago, it all got worse – I started to self-harm, I didn’t sleep properly, and when I finally got help, after sitting on my window ledge, ready to jump, I was prescribed a cocktail of drugs, but no counselling. After waiting for nearly two years, I received the counselling I needed, but after a perfect storm of shit situations, I tried to take my own life last year. I was kept in the hospital for two days, and then I was diagnosed with complex PTSD.

I’m in a very privileged position – I have an incredibly supportive network of friends and family, as well as having access to counselling. But so many people suffering don’t have this in place, so what needs to be done? The coronavirus pandemic has not only highlighted the issues with the current system in place for those suffering from mental illness, but the restrictions of lockdown will generate a whole new cohort of people experiencing poor mental health.

I’m very open about my poor mental health, and some may argue that maybe I’m too open. There’s nothing more awkward than slipping into a conversation that I got completely overwhelmed to the point that I tried to end my life, but it shouldn’t be. I’m all for supporting each other through poor mental health. Some of the best friends I’ve made came from being open about my mental health, and bonding over similar struggles. I’m not shitting on the concept of a mental health awareness week, but it needs to have substance, more than people supporting this for a week, and just accepting that contribution is fine.

It shouldn’t just be those with poor mental health that need to advocate for change – everyone does. Considering mental health affects one in four people, someone you love will suffer from it – so fight for that person. Don’t just be kind – campaign for those who are struggling.

Bekah x

Bekah @ TEWP x

A-Z of Being Female: C is for Careers

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“’What’s your favourite position?’ ‘CEO’” – Lauren Conrad

My first ever job was a cameraman. I was about six years old and it was to assist the aspiring director who trained me on the job – my 8-year-old brother. It was a challenge; we had limited props and an under-qualified cast member (my Dad), so the films were not exactly going to be plastered all over the box office. After being sacked due to lack of skill, I tried my best at being a goalkeeper during the summer for Dad and Rob’s football league, became a pilot for Plane Bunk Bed and practiced my surgical skills during heated games of Operation. Of course, I did most jobs in my Mum’s high-heels and sent any admin to my Furbee; I couldn’t manage my work diary alone.

When I went to secondary school, I was taught about the ‘glass ceiling’ – a name for the invisible barrier in the world of employment, stopping some high-achieving, working women from reaching the same level of hierarchy or salary as men in the same career. It appears there is a ceiling that women can look up to and gaze at the stars; the stars being men, doing the same jobs as the women but with the recognition and larger payslip. If the men look down at the glass ceiling beneath their feet, they will see a lot of under-paid women wearing the same uniform as them, sticking their fingers up at them no doubt. Despite this happening a lot more in the past than today, it seems it does still exist – the glass ceiling has been smashed, but not completely destroyed.

The little Liz in me was horrified; you mean, in theory, Rob would’ve been given more pocket money than me, even though we both flew Plane Bunk Bed? And he probably would’ve been promoted to captain, even though that bunk bed was in MY room? Piss take.

In my early 20’s, I watched ‘Made In Dagenham’ on screen and on stage. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend. It is based on the true story of the female sewing machinists working at Ford. They made the car seat covers and there were four rates of pay: a skilled male rate, a semi-skilled male rate, an unskilled male rate and a women’s rate (which was only 87% of the unskilled male rate). The female machinists demanded equal pay and actioned a strike, stopping production for three weeks. As a result, not only did Ford agree to pay them equally, but their actions led to the Equal Pay Act of 1970. I’d bloody love to meet those Dagenham girls.

Now, in my late 20’s, I see more women smashing gender stereotypes in the workplace than before – my boss, my colleagues getting promotions, my mates handling their own businesses and me, I suppose! All women and all climbing up the hierarchy, deservedly so. It’s nice to see that things in the world of work are changing, so all genders have a shot.

So, here’s to the female captains, directors, chiefs and CEO’s, but also to the males who have achieved the same. At least now, most people who have worked their way to the top have earned it through their ability and skill, rather than whether they have a dick or not. Hopefully, one day, we can all party on that glass ceiling together and it can be something under women’s feet, not over their heads.

The more us women strive to smash through the glass ceiling, the quicker it will shatter and make way for our daughters, nieces and their daughters and nieces. Let’s raise little leaders, baby bosses and managers in the making. Whether it’s a hard hat, a helmet or a hairnet, wear it like a crown!

Liz @ TEWP x

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What Normal People teaches a Survivor.

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Normal People premiered on BBC iPlayer this weekend, and it is no surprise just how much people love it already. I read Sally Rooney’s novel back in 2019, and finished it in one sitting; I was in love with it all, the plot, the setting, the characters. I could easily dedicate a whole piece just to how beautiful Connell’s eyes are, or how the backdrop of Dublin was perfect for the evolution of both characters and the relationship. Instead I wanted to discuss Marianne, and how, as a trauma survivor, the lessons she has taught me.With Marianne as a focus point, the show tackles the difficult topic of trauma, and how this intertwines with self-opinion, and how we all allow others to treat us, especially through intimacy. Marianne is lonely. She comes from a family where her father hit her mother, her brother is manipulative and emotionally abusive towards her, and her mum takes a very passive position to it all. Always there, but never reacting.

And this undoubtedly affected the male treatment – such as accepting to be Connell’s secret.

Her compliance translates into the intimacy of her relationships, often being hit, or being an actual submissive, but always showing how detached she is from the situation. This isn’t the same kind of trap James fell into when writing Fifty-Shades; that an abusive past is the only reason you would enjoy a domination/submissive kink. Instead, Rooney highlights the link between the treatment of the men in her life, and what she thinks she deserves, but she doesn’t become obsessed with the idea; it’s more nuanced than that. Although not resisting the submissive position, Marianne is shown to be vacant, like she’s there for the benefit of the guy, not for herself. So when she asked Connell to hit her during sex, and become embarrassed when he declined, I wept.

I was always very lucky with my family life, my parents were always kind to me and loved me. So it’s not the same situation as Marianne, but after I was raped, I didn’t become a submissive, but I became submissive. I never did it for my own enjoyment, even with guys I thought I loved, and would just prefer to get it done, like it was a contractual obligation. I disassociate, and that was something that I did when I was raped, because my body can’t deal with it. Sex is meant to be whatever you want it to be – casual, a way of assuring someone you love them, but like Marianne demonstrated, it is never something you think should be inlficted upon someone. Her love for Connell is one of the only things she is sure about, so when she thinks that the only way she can be intimate with him is by him ‘punishing’ her

By the end, even though their story is left to be imagined after deciding to part ways on their boxed-up, living room floor, Marianne is happy to get on with her life, she isn;t tied to Connell with the fear that no-one else will love her, she’s confident in the belief that she will carry on her own path. When I first read the book, I was in a relationship with the guy I thought I was going to marry. This was a guy that I got into a relationship with, a mere month after being assaulted, so he was my safety net. Someone I would never separate from, because without him, how was I supposed to carry on with my life? Someone wasn’t going to love me because of how damaged I was.

So watching the series, nearly a year on, after breaking up with my boyfriend of three years was never a position I thought I’d find myself in. And it was watching Marianne choose her own path, that showed me just how far I have come. It shows to any survivor how far they’ve come, if they have confidence in their

own decisions. Did that mean I didn’t bawl like a baby when they decide to go their separate ways? Nah, cried for twelve hours, but I understood it.

Demonstrated perfectly in both the book and the TV adaptation is the reality of carrying on with your trauma. It tends to be polarised; either your trauma is an indefinite burdening weight, or you use your experience to completely change the world. Marianne demonstrates the reality that both go hand-in-hand. Trauma will always linger, mine tends to appear whilst I sleep, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot harness it to drive you forward. Marianne chooses to live her life the way that she wants to, it doesn’t have to be this big announcement, but just chooses to get on with her life the way she wants to be.

I think, as anyone who has experienced trauma, there are days being ashamed of it, and days of wanting to be this big middle finger to the world, and those that hurt you, but it’s okay just to live.

Bekah @ TEWP x

A-Z of Being Female: B is for Bodies

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“Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up, that’s all” – Joan Jett

I was on my bed; half curled up in my sunflower duvet, half leaning on the windowsill cluttered with photos of my school friends and half-eaten Pic N Mix bags. I was pretending the raindrops streaming down the glass were in a race to get to the bottom. I was bored, moody and feeling extra sorry for myself. All that was missing were the violins in the background, or a whole orchestra. I was only thirteen; why suddenly did my boobs feel like they were stuffed with balls of steel and why did I have a sudden urge to shit? I got up and there was the answer. I was dying. The Grim Reaper had found me and was making me bleed to death. And giving me the shits at the same time. I went downstairs to say goodbye to my family.

“It’s just your period, honey!” Mum laughed.

Fucking fantastic. So, in a nutshell, I was going to bleed every month for the foreseeable future, accompanied by wet farts and menstrual rage. I felt like a caged beast.

Mother Nature. She’s a funny woman, isn’t she? Throughout my adolescent years, she really pissed me off. I hated being a woman; half of my knickers got ruined (Always Ultra don’t Always Absorb), my boobs suddenly went from being ‘cute’ to ‘WATCH OUT’ and I briefly considered star-fishing in the garden when my step-dad mowed the lawn, because hair was sprouting out of me like a wild bush that couldn’t be tamed. The worst part? My friends appeared to hit it off straight away with Mother Nature; they always seemed to have legs as smooth as a wet dolphin, symmetrical breasts that sat perfectly in their pretty bras, and the lightest of light periods. Of course, this was most likely untrue, but thirteen-year-old me was convinced she had been hit the hardest. Cue the violins.

One day, I was moaning (again) to a girl from school about being a woman. I can’t remember who it was, but I remember vividly their response.

“Don’t you get it? All of this is great. Mother Nature loves ya!”

And there it was. A well-deserved slap in the face from Mother Nature. Was I looking at this all completely wrong?

In hindsight (what a wonderful fucking thing), yes, I was. As I grew older, instead of pure hatred and disgust, I formed a love/hate relationship with my two bouncy bumps on my chest; I even named them (they are called Phil and Grant because, like them, they do what the hell they want but are loveable all the same). I got used to my periods, however they never regulated normally so I took the magic pill (amen!) to manage them better. The other shocks of puberty, such as suddenly sprouting out hairs from everywhere, seemed to calm down and now my worries are revolved around the colours of my hair strands (not even grey, think more shiny silver you can spot from a mile away), and how long I can avoid shaving my legs and pits until someone notices. Overall, the current grown-up me thinks the female body is nothing to despise; in fact, it’s a miracle worker and a fucking genius.

Mother Nature doesn’t spring periods on most of us to be a bitch. She is giving us fertility – something that is taken for granted. Every month, our bodies get ready to cosily nest a baby for nine months, in case one of our eggs gets fertilized. Periods are just our bodies way of releasing any tissue that is no longer needed, if we don’t get pregnant. If we do get pregnant, the female body is even more transformative and impressive, and childbirth is a biological miracle alone, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time! I used to feel so sorry for myself during that time of the month, but now I realise it’s a gift. Mother Nature hasn’t given it to all women, and, for some, this is heart-breaking.

So, I embrace it all – the tits, the hairy pits and the monthly period shits (don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean). I love our hurricane of hormones and our viva la vagina’s. Most of us are blessed with the ability to carry a tiny egg inside us, as it grows and develops into a mini human, and then magically deliver a baby nine months later. If you aren’t, you may care or you may not, but you are still a woman so own it! Let’s face it, the female body is powerful and something to rave about, not be angry towards or ashamed of.

You’ve all got it, so all go and fucking flaunt it. You’re a woman, after all.

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Liz @ TEWP x