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The Girl with the Daffodil Tattoo

A Welsh girl let loose in a wild world

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I don’t love you anymore with short hair

My boyfriend of almost four years didn’t love me, so I broke up with him. Did I love him? I think so. But I loved myself more, and I couldn’t handle the way he was trying to control me, so I left him.

He wasn’t serious about having a relationship with me. He couldn’t compromise. If I wanted to do thing A, and he wanted to do thing C, he would not look for thing B. He would not even consider option B. For him, meeting in the middle was other people doing exactly what he wanted. Sadly, I did that. But only for about 10 seconds.

He physically couldn’t empathise. He didn’t want to spend time with me outside of the house. We only saw each other in the apartment we rented. He drank a lot.

Two of our friends who were a couple broke up, but were still friends. “I admire that. I hope we can be like that” I said. “When [not if] we break up, I will never speak to you again. My friends are my family”. Why do I live with someone who speaks to me like that? Why do I spend so much of my time with someone who sees me as disposable?

He didn’t come to my mother’s funeral. I should have ended it then but I was too broken to move out.

It all started when we moved to Bilbao. He fell in with a bunch of very traditional, very culturally Catholic Bilbao guys, the type who shout and sexually threaten women in the street, then complain they don’t get any sex because it’s a “matriarchy”, completely ignoring the fact that women can have multiple orgasms and that if it were up to us there’d be a lot more sex in the world. They brag about cheating on their girlfriends, as if it were something to be proud of, they refused to call me by my name, insisted that I share cards with my boyfriend (a girl doesn’t know how to play poker, do they… After I wiped the floor with them, I was never invited back), and screamed racial slurs in my friends’ faces. He wanted to fit in with them, so he ignored all the ways that they disrespected women in general, and me specifically. I was making it all up, I was exaggerating, my feminism course was the real problem… After 2 years of arguments in our 4 year relationship, I’d just had enough. If he could turn a blind eye to this, what else would he turn a blind eye to? These friends were his “family”. I was nothing.

Every relationship I have ever had with a man has basically started and ended the same way, although the time span, names, faces, and nationalities have varied. “You’re so different to other girls” they tell me. “I love how strong and independent you are. My last girlfriend always wanted me to travel with her, she could never go anywhere alone” they croon. “I love the way you talk so openly about sex” they say.

Then, everything about my strong character seems to start to bug them. Or maybe I just seem to attract men who are looking for a challenge, who get off on breaking the wild horse. Why do you have to talk so loudly? You’re so vulgar. Stop acting like a man, you’re a woman. Don’t go on that trip, anything could happen. I like your hair long. Are you cheating on me?

“You’re becoming too feminist” he told me, six months before I left him.

I still thought it could work. I thought if I just explained to him in the right way, just… I deluded myself, as does everyone who sleeps with the enemy. Fear of being alone made with stay with him. I also liked the way that very few men sexually harassed me while I was “taken”.

“What’s the matter, don’t you love me anymore?” I said quietly, after coming back from a trip.

“Not with that haircut, no” he said quietly. “I don’t love you anymore with that haircut”.

“Ok. I’ll leave  this weekend then”. And I did.

He cried every time I saw him after that. I had to be strong and move my stuff out. He cried and cried. “My friend asked me was I willing to change anything. I said no. I’m not willing to even think about changing one thing”.

“Why are you fucking crying then? You’ve made me do this. All I asked you to do was listen. That’s all I asked”.

I put on a brave face to my friends. “I’m fine” I said. I really wasn’t fine, but after having survived the agony of losing my mum two years ago, this was unpleasant, this was painful, but it was like a nasty paper cut compared to losing an arm. There was no comparison.

I felt sad. I did feel sad. I do feel sad. I grieve the loss of the relationship. But in the end, our dreams did not even come close  to aligning (namely because he had few dreams and was not willing to make them work with mine, although they were very compatible), and all of my dreams he outright hated and tried to steer me away from with his negativity. One day I want to foster girls, I want to give them a home and love them unconditionally for as long as I can. He said he hated children. I thought “Maybe it’s a silly dream”.

Another dream. I want to buy a van and travel around, then live in my van while I build my own house. He told me that I can’t because I can’t change a tyre. I said I’d learn. He said he didn’t want to go, that he’d rather take a back pack. I told him he wasn’t invited.

Another, smaller dream. One day, I want a dog. He has a phobia of dogs. I said I had a phobia of men, and unlike him and dogs, men have actually attacked me, and all women live beneath the constant threat of violence from men. He told me that my feminism course was ruining our relationship. I told him the feminism course was more important than a relationship with him. He tried to pay for my dinner, claim my swiss army knife was his, be the macho man in public. I seethed.

I stayed so long because the sex was still good, and as a female, I feel that selecting men for sex is like playing the penile lottery. (Maybe it’s too long, maybe (more likely) it’s too small. Maybe it’s a good size but prematurely ejaculates. Maybe the man it’s attached to is so self-absorbed that he’s entirely untrainable in the art of getting you off and gets miffed when you do it for yourself).

Usually, in my previous relationships, the sex peters out and that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but that wasn’t the case in this one. I suggested to him we carry on boning. He declined. What a waste of good flesh, I thought. Life is just too short.

To people who don’t read my blog

“Do you mind that I don’t read your blog?” my partner said. I laughed, not in the least bit offended. It’s something friends often mention indirectly too.

I understand that in the “internet age” we are constantly being bombarded (or are we doing it to ourselves?) with information. I turn on the computer to just do something “quickly” (buy a ticket, look up a train time) and suddenly I’m pottering through the delightful internet garden, reading lots of interesting things. I’ve lost x minutes of my day (probably close to an hour), my eyes hurt, and I haven’t spoken to a real person face-to-face in heck knows how long. Time is money, and it’s important not to waste it, and live in the present.

I write my blog 100% for myself, as a way of organising my thoughts, and making them open to others who might want to share theirs. People often send me questions about learning Spanish, so instead of writing a long email to each individual person, I might write a blog post, and then send them the link. It’s as simple as that.

In the beginning, I did have hopes of my blog one day having some sort of professional use, maybe involving advertising, or using it as a portfolio of my work as a writer/journalist to send to prospective jobs. As I started to write more and more, and enjoy the act of writing itself, I realised that in order to make money blogging, or have a serious journalism blog, one needs to focus in on a niche (e.g. travel, fashion) and that means you end up writing publicity, or at the very least, narrowing your field of topics.

Writing gives me a weird sense of satisfaction. Some people describe it as an addiction, but for me it’s more like medicine or physiotherapy. I need it to manage an illness, and that illness could be described as “the fear of not being heard”. I often silence myself, and the process of writing and redrafting are good ways to listen to myself and clarify my own thoughts on whatever I fancy.

People (and I must admit I have been guilty of this) often suggest the pretentious nature of having a blog. “Why do you think your thoughts are so important?”, that nasty little voice in my head asks me. I love the saying: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”. By having a go at writing myself, which I enjoy, I feel like I improve my skills. Also, living abroad and teaching my language, it helps me to remember how to write in English, which is something I would be in danger of losing articulacy in (if it hasn’t already happened).

Having morals in an immoral blogging world

My mother always told me I could be whatever I wanted “but just never, ever, EVER be a struggling artist“.

20 years later, and I’ve finally started my own blog, after working with some great people on joint/group ventures. I have to say I think it’s going well, mainly because I enjoy it, and not because I want to make money. I’m kind of indifferent to whether “people” read it or not, because I’ve never been “popular”. For me, the important thing is that I have a space to organize my thoughts, because that is what I like about writing my posts. I get to talk/write myself through a topic, and then I happen to post it online. I’m often quite shocked when someone actually takes the time to contact me and say “Wow. You wrote about something that is happening to me at the moment”. It makes me suspect I’m not the only malcontent out there.

The problem is, I’ve never been good at “selling”, and the amount of enthusiasm/lying I think that that entails, and I don’t seem to want to do anything that “makes money”. At this point in my life, I have no interest in compromising my beliefs, and I’m resigning myself to the fact that I will probably never have the income necessary in order to obtain a mortgage and keep my hypothetical baby in reusable environmentally friendly nappies. I believe in consuming (buying) less, trying to gain confidence without accessories like clothes and make up (#holygrail), paying farmers a decent wage, supporting local businesses (as opposed to chains), as well as trying to take care of the environment through eating food that can be efficiently produced (e.g. not meat, especially not beef).

The people I know who make money through blogging sell stuff. They advertise food, or holidays. And the rest of us? We pay WordPress to share photos on a pretty little page, or rant online like I am now. We pay for domains, or we buy themes (usually designed and sold by partner companies), so we’re the consumers. We are the serpent eating it’s own tail. The first person to *like* my blog was someone who (if you can judge a person by THEIR blog) I imagine would call Fundamentalist Christians “fluffy liberals”, so I assume that the person only *followed* me because they wanted more people to *follow* them, not because they had read my articles. I wonder if there are more writers than there are readers. Seems likely.

Magazines are produced by the delicate balance between reader and advertiser, allowing the company to put out product, but that’s also a tricky area, as shown by the image below:

advert

If you haven’t come across Feministing before, I would recommend you take a look. However, as you can see from the above screen dump (hate that term. Fugly), their top story is Kristen Schaal on The Daily Show and her mocking “Sexy Halloween”, yet the advertising banner is for Halloween costumes and depicts a woman wearing a skin tight cat suit. A feminist magazine sells advertising space to a company that sells things it rails against; the juxtaposition speaks volumes.

Recently, I read an NPR article about college majors correlated to graduate earnings. If you read the article, you can see that the most lucrative profession is Petroleum Engineer, which to some people is kind of placed into the same brackets as Arms Dealer or Colonialist, as the US’s policy towards South American countries and their natural resources is nothing short of robbery. In many countries in South America, Hugo Chavez is seen as a hero for overthrowing the oppression and tyranny of how the US conducts it’s petroleum related affairs.

So, in conclusion, I want to be part of the solution and not a part of the problem. I want to make people smile but make them think too. I want to be a force for good and not of evil. I can only sell things that I believe in, like books, volunteering in the community, and ethical consumption. I want my blog to bring me into contact with people from backgrounds different to mine and help me learn a new perspective on things that I thought I already knew about. Every day is a school day!

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