The Case For (and Against) Abortion

Today, I saw this Tweet by Planned Parenthood in Kentucky:

PP02032018

As always when you get a Tweet from Planned Parenthood, you get your usual cries of “baby-killers” etc.

angryright

And then you get these:

angryleft

They are both narrow-minded and judgmental standpoints, and here’s why:

The idea that all abortion is “baby-killing” is ludicrous. That would be like saying that every sperm is sacred, because sperm carries the potential for millions of babies. Every egg that a woman walks around with without actively attempting to fertilise, oops! there goes another baby. And indeed, there are, and have been, people who see it that way:

 

 

The reason Monty Python mocked this standpoint is precisely because it is a stupid, ludicrous standpoint.

Likewise, the idea that babies conceived in incest, rape, or where the pregnant person is a minor, or with physical disabilities or mental disabilities that endanger them or the fetus, or with diseases or conditions that endanger them or the fetus etc…. The idea that those people should not have the right to abort is absolutely ridiculous. The idea that “saving the child” is actually saving the child is selfish and deluded. You would bring this child into a world they are not wanted, where they cannot be cared for properly, where from the get-go, they will have to fight with their every breath for joy, and a good life, and where their parent/parents face an equal struggle. The idea that there aren’t cases – plenty of cases – where abortion is the better option, is simply ridiculous, selfish, and narrow-minded. Please watch this video, and then tell me there aren’t cases:

I would also say (in my personal, non-medical opinion) there are some cases where abortion shouldn’t be an option: if the mother’s not a minor, and is of sound body and mind, and has originally wanted to keep the child, but suddenly changes her mind after week 24 (in the U.K at least, this is where they child might be able to be given a fighting chance outside the womb, with the proper medical support), then just carry that child for another 16 weeks, and give them up for adoption. You’ve already given it 24. If you really don’t want that child, and there is no medical reason for you to abort, then I think adoption is the way to go.

I have been incredibly lucky: I have never been faced with the choice. The one time I have been pregnant (that I know of) it has been through choice, and there wasn’t a second where I thought about not keeping that child. I hope to become pregnant again, and to get to keep that baby too. But not all people are so lucky. In the days after my daughter was born, we were seen by many midwives and health-visitors, to ensure the baby’s and my well-being. One of those midwives told me that she had had to abort: in week 20, they had discovered that she had cancer, which had spread to an alarming degree. Keeping the baby would have endangered her life, as she would not have been able to begin treatment. She already had a daughter at the time. The heart-break and disappointment was unimaginable, but what other choice did she have? If you tell me that she was a baby-killer and selfish, you are also telling me that our only responsibility is toward the gestating child, and once they come out, there is no responsibility. Because how could she choose her unborn child over her little girl? Risking her own life to bring another into the world, when they would both end up without a mother?

If you really care about saving children, save those that are already here, suffering from starvation, wars, trafficking, abuse, child labour and preventable diseases. Instead of fighting abortions, provide sexual education for young people, and there will be fewer abortions needed. Make sure contraceptives are freely available, and that people are educated on how to use them safely and efficiently (and how not to). Stop promoting abstinence: it just doesn’t work. “Hey, just don’t have sex!” really isn’t a solution: if it was, we would not have wide-spread STD’s, orphans, or indeed, abortions.

And to all those out there who say “no uterus, no opinion”: really? Really? So you think if we don’t have something, we don’t get to have a say? If you have no children, but you see someone hit their child in the street, you don’t get to intervene? If you have no pets, but you see someone feeding their dog chocolate, you don’t get to tell them it’s poisonous? If you don’t have a car, you don’t get to inform people about dangerous driving, or carbon emissions? I see plenty of women with strong opinions in the ongoing circumcision debate. But do I see the cry “no penis, no opinion”? No. So please stop. We are ALL entitled to opinions. You don’t have to listen. That’s what you’re entitled to. You can choose to ignore someone’s opinion based on their gender. It will make you sexist, so congrats, but you can choose to do that (men have done so for centuries, and now women are keen to reciprocate, apparently). But no, you don’t have to have a uterus to have an opinion about abortions. Aren’t roughly 50% of those fetuses male, anyway? So shouldn’t that in itself give men the go-ahead in the debate?

Abortion is difficult precisely because it isn’t a black-and-white issue. Humans appear to have big problems when there isn’t a clear line. We don’t like grey areas. But it is a grey area. I can’t at the moment see a point where it will stop being a grey area. But please try a little bit of empathy, a little bit of education, and a little bit of free speech. It will do you good.

 

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Blog-nill Busyness

This has probably been one of the longest blackouts in my the history of my blog. Fairly certain of it. I would say that it’s not because I’ve been insanely busy, but because I have FELT extremely busy. You know how some days you feel like there couldn’t possibly be enough time for all the things you have to do, then you manage to do them all and feel so exhausted from the achievement that you plop into bed early? It hasn’t been like that either.

 

But I have felt really busy, because I am writing my BA in English Literature, and baby-sitting two wonderful children, writing poetry again, playing Skyrim and trying to use any left-over seconds and minutes on spending time with my husband, because it is what holds me together.

 

I realised yesterday that certain things just go once you’re too busy. Amazing super-hero couples who get children start slacking off in areas of their lives where they were always on top off the things before. Organised young women become less organised. OCD young men start realising that maybe their disorder wasn’t so serious, because the mess doesn’t bother them anymore.

 

Here’s a list of things I realised go when you’re “too busy”:

 

1. Blog.

Don’t think I need to say much here. Unless you are a very popular blogger, whose life it is to blog, who spends a minimum of two hours a day on their blog and commenting and networking… you’ll probably stop blogging for a while. Strangely enough, it’s when life gives you more to blog about that you don’t have the time to blog about it. (Though I very much doubt that anyone would WANT me to blog about my 25 page essay on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the various forms of critique it has been subject to. Though it’s actually really interesting. It is!)

 

2. Social life

“I would love to come, but…” becomes your new catch-phrase. Often you would love to come, but there is also a certain relief in being able to hide yourself under heaps of busyness and let the rest of the world socialise with itself for a while. They’ll be fine. They may accuse you of being a hermit and boring and that you don’t love them anymore, but they’ll come around once you’re out of the bubble again. I hope.

 

3. Cleaning

Now that you don’t have people over anymore, and you are either out of the house doing busy things, or in front of your computer doing busy things, or in your bed reading about busy things… You stop noticing what your floor and your bathroom looks like. I remember very well indeed, days and weeks when I had absolutely nothing to do, which would tend to end in someone or other coming home and me trying to subtly get them to notice how shiny the kitchen had become while they were out, or how the lamps are a bit brighter, and the toothbrushes whiter… When I am restless and bored, I clean. But when I’m busy, I clearly don’t.

 

4. Personal hygiene

Or grooming, maybe I should say. Though showering becomes one of those “did we shower yesterday or the day before? Can’t remember. Can’t be bothered. I’m probably clean” things. But plucking your eyebrows turns into this ludicrous waste of time, attempting to make your hair look a little less like a sad dog before you leave the house is a no go, and whether your clothes are matchy or just serve the purpose that is currently required of them (right now warm, waterproof and covering all my rude bits) is not really a question anymore: the matchy goes.

 

5. Sleep

This should be further up the list, probably. The busier we get, the less we see those few hours of empty brain-ness as time-wasting crap. The problem is of course that the busier you are, the more tired you are, and the less sleep you allow yourself, till you just want to cry because you’re so tired but you just have to finish writing this assignment first…

 

6. Food

First, you stop cooking anything complicated that will take too long. Then, you stop cooking all the meals you used to. Finally, you live on snacks and toast. Or snack. Singular.

 

7. Health and fitness

Let’s stop thinking of this list in chronological order, because this should really go at the top. If we have any excuse in our lives to stop working out, we usually do. But with the busy comes this feeling that we can’t allow ourselves to be ill, to have colds, headaches, muscle-aches… So out of the house you go, face imploding, because you are too busy to take a break and let your body get back to normal.

 

8. More stuff

What goes for you when you’re busy? What are the first things you give up/neglect when life comes around and starts getting you terribly involved in living it? Besides your blog, of course… say your blog… it’s not just me, say it… please…

What Would You Have Done?

Besides my new Stumbleupon fad (which I shall nurture in your little souls and hearts at the end of this post by giving you a few links to my most recent fave-stumbles), I have decided on a “frequent visitor” post: What Would You Have Done? Why? I will tell you.

A few minutes ago, whilst washing up, my room-mate told me and my husband a story from her work earlier today:

A woman had come into the store and told my room-mate that “My husband just died, so I need to buy…” My room-mate was stumped about how to respond, and said something along the lines of “oops” (though this whole conversation was in Swedish, so she actually said “ojdå”, which isn’t quite as funny as “oops”, but almost. When my room-mate told me this, I got a sadly hilarious image of someone just telling you their husband died because he slipped on a banana-peel while climbing a ladder and fell into a big tub of whipped cream and drowned. That is the sort of image that saying “oops” to “my husband just died” evokes in me. Yes, there is something wrong with me). When the woman left, my room-mate simply said “bye”. Because…

What do you say? We do have an equivalent of “my condolences” in Swedish, but it is so out-dated and formal as to be almost cold. You could say “I’m sorry” but you can’t really apologise because, well, it’s not like you caused their deaths. (And in Swedish, “Jag är ledsen” sounds more like an apology). You could say “that’s sad” but that is a statement, which in fact sounds rather stupid, because of course the widow knows it’s SAD that her husband died.

Once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of figuring out how to respond to “my husband just died, so…”, you get to the “what to say as a good-bye?” issue. Like my room-mate pointed out, you can’t really say “have a nice day” or “hope it gets better” or something to that effect, so you end up with a very awkward “bye”. Or…

What would you have done?

Do you get the theme of this now? So every once in a while, when something happens to me, or someone I know, or a friend of a friend… I shall write a post, because the question stumps me, and I would really like some advice in case I end up in a similar situation in the future.

So give us a comment below to let us know what you clever, sensitive people would have said in response, and here are the deliciously awesome Stumble-links for this post:

My husband found it quite hilarious and sweet how excited I got over the carrot-fact at the top of this page. You have to admit it has a certain wow-factor though. Or a no-way-factor. Some kind of factor.

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/01/10-fascinating-food-facts/

Most of these adds are either “you clever boy” chuckley or simply genius

http://www.sortrature.com/24-clever-print-ads/

Kinda pretty, and probably something I’ll try someday when I am dying with boredom.

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/976091/latte-coffee-spoons/

These blow my mind, clean and simple. I could not believe some of these were actually drawings. Still can’t.

http://twentytwowords.com/2013/06/18/pencil-sketches-that-seem-to-stand-up-off-the-page-12-pictures/

Much of this made me go “he he he” or “woooow!” I have to admit I found the Spongebob one especially hilarious. Sadistic streak in me.

http://www.mrpilgrim.co.uk/inventive-urban-art-cool-street-art/#.UiuWfNLWUr8

Usually I go “euuuargh!” when I get a paper-cut. If I got one of these, I would be very happy.

http://www.picamemag.com/a4-pepercuts/

See you soon, me hearties!

Ask why

An acquaintance of mine and her boyfriend recently broke up. I asked her why and she answered “That’s just how it is sometimes, I guess”.

This led me back to a train of thought that I’ve been stuck on of late. The relationship today, and why it has turned into what it is. The shrug and the “other fish in the sea” attitude which people often have around break-ups nowadays. The disinterest in finding out why it fell apart. The ease with which we can shut people out, because we don’t all live in the same tiny village and have to see each other every day.

Is it that simple? Because we are so many, living in massive heaps of human upon human, we can abandon our partner, a person we have shared every intimate ounce of our lives with for years, and go find someone else to do it all over with? Really?

And why would you not question, why would you say “I guess that’s just the way it is sometimes” and shrug and give up? If you have been with that person for several years, there must be a reason beyond “it was convenient” or “we had sex and then we kept dating”? No?

The hopeful romantic in me wants to shout and ask people to fight, to stop and ask themselves what they saw in that person when they first met them, whether that was a construct of wishful thinking or a real quality, and if so, is it still there? Why is that not so important anymore? Why does taking something for granted immediately make it a negative, in a sense, something which is forgotten and discarded behind all the habits that all of a sudden become so annoying and impossible to live with?

It’s as if people don’t need to think anymore because we can just run away; defriend, delete pictures, block phone-number, change lock and ask your friends if he’s going to be there before you go to the party. Oh, it’s not an easy process in the slightest, but it’s probably a hell of a lot more comfortable than having to face that person and have some form of conversation with them about the reasons it didn’t work out, and the reasons why it should have.

The hopeful romantic in me cannot believe that all the things you loved in a person have certainly magically disappeared. The hopeful romantic in me knows that if it was worth getting into in the first place, it’s worth fighting for. The hopeful romantic in me knows that unless you hate the person for some reason, or it turns out your values differ greatly in the fields of politics, religion, upbringing of children, drug-use or something equally serious, there will probably be a way to find common ground, compromise, forgive and live with each other again.

But no. No say the people of today. We are many, we are young, we have a friend-list of 1000 people to pick from, because hey, we can be bi if we want to. We have longer life-expentancy, so more time to screw up and keep screwing up.

Fine. You do that. I am going to keep loving the man I am with madly, for all the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place, and never let myself forget. Because when you have found something and someone worth fighting for, you do not let go. Under any circumstances. You do not shrug and turn away. You ask why.

Bureaucracy is hard to spell

After yet another black-out, I return. Countless events have transpired since I last saw this tired page. Mostly a battle with the Migration Office and the Tax Office in Sweden, to get my husband-to-be a personal number. Sweden, the land of democracy, justice, acceptance… not too democratic, just or accepting. Even now, riots and burning cars crowd the suburbs of this ‘fair’ capital. Apparently it is to protest youth unemployment and immigration. Too much of the first and of the latter, too much discrimination. Oh, we may rant and rave about the U.S and the difficulties to enter those states, but strangely enough, the fact that my fiancé is an EU citizen makes it more difficult for him to get in… and the fact that we are getting married in two months makes absolutely no difference. The backward thinking of the bureaucracy of this country is astounding.

Yet, it does appear as if we’ll be able to get married, processing of certificates willing. Mind you, first we have to pay a visit to the British Embassy and then wait for 21 days, and oh, pay £130 for a notification of marriage and a certificate of no impediment. But hey. Getting married was never supposed to be easy. I often joke and say we can skip the “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health” bit, because we have been through so much already, there’s no need to promise what we already know.

However, on the 27th of July, there should be a glorious beach-wedding, with a ludicrously low budget, and I will be sure to blog about the decorations, menu, dress, venue, suit, preparations and so forth… once they are under way. What with the two of us studying up till now, and having not a penny to our names, this wedding will have to be fairly last minute, in the ‘purchasing’ and ‘preparing’ department.

I would just ask my native country one thing: do not make things any harder than they already are. Let my husband stay here with me. Don’t rain on our parade, or our wedding-day. Give me a job with an income. Any income. And don’t you dare give me anything but A’s on my grades this semester.

Till next time, me hearties.

One Wedding and No Funeral

Yes. It has been almost a year. I know. I’m shocked to see that there are occasionally people still checking in here, almost every day! I do not have a long, elaborate explanation as for why I haven’t written. Life happened.

 

Last time I wrote, my oldest brother and his fiance had just had a little boy. He is now about 8 months old, and a proper person, but a lot smaller than most of us. It’s my job to talk English to him, so he grows up knowing several languages. I have no problem with that. Well, not just my job, mine and my fiance’s.

 

Oh yeah. Remember that amazing person I mentioned frequently back when I was still blogging, last year? We’re engaged to be married this summer. It’s rare, not only in it being my first, last and only marriage to anyone, but also in it being a full-blown WordPress wedding. Oh yeah. Do you remember how he was a blogger and we met through WordPress? Well, he’s still a blogger, he’s been a lot more active than me over the last year, and right now he’s working on some exciting updates to his page. It just so happens that his 2 year bloggoversary falls on the 17th this month, so give him a wordpressent by visiting him a lot! It will be fun, because the changes are happening gradually.

 

What else? Last time I wrote, I was still finishing up courses to get into university. Well, I did a summer course on “Visual and Material Objects”. Does it sound complicated, pretentious, weird? It probably was all of those things, but I enjoyed it immensely. My – occasionally – overly analytical brain thoroughly enjoyed picking apart and decoding images and various forms of art. I feel like I have had good use for it in my current field of study; English. I did English all of last fall, and now all of this spring, and then I will spend all of this summer planning our wedding.

 

So the one wedding should be fairly obvious by now. Best get to the second part before you claw my eyes out.

 

A wonderful, beautiful person in this world has died. Sierra, a girl that I have known since I was 16, and whose blog I actually linked to once or twice, chose not to live any longer, and I have to deal with that over Christmas. I was not angry with her – though I have the feeling that her relatives were, because they did not have a funeral –  I was just sad that she was so sad that she could not carry on anymore. Sierra had a wonderful sense of humour, was very caring, hated conflict, drank like a champion, rocked short hair, gave the best of hugs, doted on Audrey Hepburn and could not stop smoking. I love her to bits and pieces. I still feel tears welling up when I think of her “too closely”, but at the same time I am grateful for having known her, and happy for her that she doesn’t have to be as unhappy as she was anymore. Ironically, her last blogpost is titled “the queen is dead”, and the last thing she wrote in a book we sent back and forth, like a letter, was “BUMMER!”

I can’t bring myself to leave you on such a sad note. Think about all the wondrous and joyous things I will share with you this summer! I am sure to blog about the wedding and the wedding-plans, because apparently everyone does that, and I have noticed that women become absolutely obsessed with that date as it draws nigh, so I’m sure I won’t be an exception. Also, with the permission of my brother and his lovely lady, I will post a picture of the most adorable – to me, and yet – baby ever born!

One thing my English course has taught me – so far – is – besides quite a few things that I know happen to be incorrect, because my fiance is not only English, but good AT English, and most Englishmen would cry if they knew what they teach us at this university – how to write a very boring, overly complex, fancy, abstract, and to most good writers, unacceptable, text, which needs a conclusion that repeats everything you have just told people. To that end (clears throat): In short, I have studied a lot, I have a wonderful little nephew, my friend is dead and I will get married this summer to the most wonderful person I have ever met and then get to spend the rest of my life with him.

 

Write you soon.

Headache and Euphoria

I’m currently sitting here, looking for words that won’t come to me. Oh make no mistake, they are in my head, but they just keep swirling around and become impossible to grip from the sheer force of gravitational pull in the centrifuge that my grey matter has turned into. My life has been a mess of busy, busy, busy, tired, in love, busy, in love, tired, busy, busy, tired, in love, busy… for the past two months or so. I’ve been catching up with my high school grades so I could get into university (it’s a complicated story of how I have grades but they’re not from the country where I want to go to school now, so processing and translation slowed everything down and I had to read up while waiting for a result), so 3 courses in the space of 9 weeks kept me rather busy. Yet there was still time to spend with the man in my life. Did you notice how when you love people a lot making time for them isn’t that difficult? So time there was. And all that time has been an adventure. When even having a conversation with someone feels like you’re riding a roller-coaster life just becomes kind of amazing. To top it off, a close relative of mine had a new and very tiny arrival just today, and this has finally pressed me to return to the blogging world. Because when someone shares such a joy with you, and you feel their joy, you just want to spread that joy throughout the world, and make everyone see the little miracle that has come to live with us. I can’t tell you the elation and happiness I feel right this moment, at the existence of a brand-new little life that will forever be part of mine. So after jumping around for a few hours and screaming with glee, and after many phone-conversations and text-messages with relatives and my love, I’m here, writing as I’m listening to a little playlist I named “joy” on Spotify. If you feel like listening to it and seeing if it makes you feel the joy I’m feeling, here are the songs and artists.

You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

New Shoes – Paolo Nutini

Don’t You Evah – Spoon

Fidelity – Regina Spektor (playing in my ears right this moment)

I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

A New Day Has Come – Céline Dion

Do You Remember – Jack Johnson

Love You Madly – Cake

How Sweet It Is – Marvin Gaye

I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl – Nina Simone

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

On The Sunny Side Of The Street – Billie Holiday

Yes, it is a weird mix, but so am I. You find me sitting here through heavy eyelids, headache, euphoria and this deep, all encompassing joy. I hope you will find me here a lot more often during the next few months, but don’t count on it, because I’m doing a summer-course at university. I just wanted to say hi to you all. Hi.

How happy some o’er other some can be

Upon my return from the longest blackout yet in the history of this blog, I feel no remorse. My life has been busy and a blur of school, spending time with my boyfriend and friends and trying to sleep somewhere in-between the two. I do not have enough readers that there’s a riot or a global crisis when I take a break from writing, but mayhap enough that there’s a tiny spark of joy on seeing that I’ve finally posted something again.

This post shall be about happiness. Ever since I first read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence I’ve never quite been able to get over the wording “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The pursuit of happiness. See, every human has the right to try to make themselves happy. This should give people a clue. It’s not like we’re born little bundles of joy. Sure, babies smile a lot, but they also cry at the top of their lungs a lot of the time. And sometimes there’s no telling why. Are we maybe born depressed and live our lives in the pursuit of happiness?

Maybe you wonder what triggered these strange thoughts. Well. I go to school in my decently sized but scarcely populated country’s capital city, and the other day I was making my way back from the school-grounds to the subway. I was dressed in a very plain black coat, black pants, black boots, colourful scarf. My hair a complete mess as always, but that specific day, a fashionable mess. A latte in one hand, a cigarette in the other, I cruised with my shoulder bag through the crowds. I felt at one with the city. I stopped dead in my tracks next to the subway entrance. There in my head stood the strangest question ever, bent over laughing at me in a very annoying manner: right this moment, you are the person you’ve wanted to be since you were quite the young lass. You look like you could be anyone in a crowd of thousands of other Stockholm girls like you, with slight variations. You flow through the crowds and move with the beating of this city’s rather unrythmic heart. You are she, the woman that you looked at years and years ago and somehow decided you wanted to become one day. But are you happy?

The answer was of course yes and no. Though there are times in our lives when we are absolutely over the moon, and others where we are way low, for the most part we’re pretty content, and if someone asks we can give people a list of the things that are good in our lives right next to the things that are bad. A lot of the time we put quite a big focus on the things that are not good, or not as we wish them to be rather. I bet you that if you start keeping track of how your friends respond to “how was your day?” or “what is happening in your life right now?” many of them will either start off, or quickly fall into, a long list of complaints regarding their health, co-workers, work-load, family, out-of-date cellphone, few too many pounds around the waist, too small kitchen, horrible weather… and it never ends. There will always be a million and thousand things that could be improved in our lives, and for some reason we’re really good at noticing them and then pointing them out to others. No end.

But then when you’re there, whining and bitching in your head about something really frustrating or annoying or how tired and stressed you are… you can just stop for a split second and ask yourself the classic question: What about if this is as good as it gets? Say that you, right now, are at the high point of your life. Then shouldn’t you be overjoyed over all the amazing things you have at the moment? How about the fact that you don’t have a blister on your heel, that the coffee wasn’t a dollar more expensive than it was, your mother didn’t call you a whore today, and yes, it’s raining, but it’s not hailing! For lots of people the reverse psychology of thinking about how much worse things could have been doesn’t work, but just consider, we really notice the bad things when they are present, wouldn’t it put us in a better mood if we noticed how un-present they were?

And if you’re depressed, if you find yourself constantly bitching and moaning and making the people around you cringe when you walk into a room because they know their mood is about to drop by about 30 degrees… so what? What is so wrong with not being happy all the time? It’s a bloody fact that we can’t maintain the same happiness for an extended amount of time – actual study showed that people, after having won a really big, like huge, sum from the lottery were right back at the same level of “happiness” a week after the win as they had been at before the win. This is true! -, and every single person, be they life-coach or millionaire or rock star or preschool-teacher, every single human on this earth has had, or is about to have, a bad day. But no, when there’s misery on the horizon, people run. When did sadness, anger and frustration turn into the Black Death of our time?

So kids, happiness cannot be maintained as a constant. Happiness is a bit of a rollercoaster and if you don’t like it that’s tough shit. P.S Doing E won’t help, I’m sorry. I don’t know this from personal experience but I have noticed from hours of observation that drugs wear off once you run out of them. Sorry. And if you’re feeling down, don’t be so afraid to show it. Please don’t go all emo and start cutting yourself and your bangs, because a) it looks bad on most people and b) the bathroom zink becomes a mess and you’re probably going to be too depressed to care about cleaning up yourself, so someone else will have to do it. But don’t go around trying to hide your sadness thinking people will run from you if you don’t. There is nothing wrong with not being the most energetic flying squirrel on a sugar-high around, 24/7/365,25. Because nobody is. It’s OK not to be OK.

O brave new world. That has such people in’t!

Good evening/morning/midday/midnight my dears! I have once again managed to be absent for an indecent period of time, and have come back with some new perspectives.

Exactly. Perspective. That’s what my brain has been mulling over in the very slow and painful process of thinking these past few days. So allow me to just as slowly and painfully take you through the reasons why, and what is has finally come up with. Oh, and don’t expect anything grand.

A few days ago my lovely boyfriend came for a very enjoyable visit; we went out to a great restaurant, set out on a midnight hunt for chocolate in dangerous territory, went dress-hunting but found only pizza and Zippo lighters and most glorious of all, talked. We discussed little things and big big things, and somewhere in there, I gained new perspective. The realisation that some things you just cannot understand until you have actually experienced them yourself! “Huh. Well that’s fairly obvious” you might say. But just stop to think for a second.

We are the centre of our universe. From within our heads, we observe, think, smell, sense, calculate, remember and react to everything that happens around us. From within our heads, we imagine what it feels like to be someone else, or to be in a different situation, one so very foreign to you that your brain has to conjure images from movies long ago seen, stories long ago read and cat pee long ago smelled. Yet there’s a funny part of our brain that tells us that we understand exactly what the other person is talking about. A part we’d like to think of as not only imaginative and creative but also very empathic.

Dead wrong. Assuming that you understand someone else perfectly is the exact opposite of empathy. Empathy is to attempt to relate to what someone else is feeling, knowing that their situation is unique and you can only try to imagine what it feels like. But for some curious reason, this part of our brain – let’s call it the “I’m awesome because I can relate perfectly to everyone” part. Or maybe imo for short. – tells us that we in fact know what they feel, know what they think and so in some strange sense are connected to them and can not only offer kind advice and solace, but give instructions, and tell them that they are wrong.

Well, let’s just for a second try to tell that part of our brains to go screw themselves. I know that right now you’ll have to stop yourself from thinking either “I know exactly what she’s talking about, I feel like this all the time!” or “Whoa, she’s gone batty, she must be this and this kind of a person to talk like this, I have her pegged” but whichever one it is, that’s the part of our brains that we somehow can’t seem to switch off in the interactions we have with other human beings. Just try though.

From this place where we are standing now, isn’t it somehow easier to understand others? Because when someone says something, instead of our brain instantly jumping to five thousand conclusions about how they feel, what they must be thinking and what would make them feel better/what they ought to do about it, we can just sit back, watch, listen and actually hear what they are saying, and not what we think about what they are saying. I know it gets eerily quiet in there when you do this, but it’s also kind of fun, and a relief.

Maybe people would sometimes just like to be heard, to be listened to, and not to always get a pat on the back or a “The sun will come up tomorrow!”/”There are other fish in the sea!”/”Get off your high horses!”/”You’re doing it wrong!” etc. Maybe if we take the little imo in our heads and bundle it up in a roll of duct-tape and tuck it away in a dark corner for a few hours each day, we could honestly see what is going on around us, and not just what we think and feel about it all the time.

Studies (can’t remember where I read this now, was some kind of medical or psychological journal) made with 3 and 4-year-olds has shown that it’s around that age when, if put in front of a model of say, a small mountain, it’s around that age that children develop their ability to see the mountain from someone else’s perspective, and not just the side that they see. So we obviously have that ability somewhere. Unless we grew up and lost it. But are we really the people with “different-coloured lenses on our glasses” (thank you Fynn and Mr. God, This Is Anna. Still one of the best books ever) or do we have it in us to take those lenses off from time to time, open our eyes and see things as they truly are?

For he that hath, to him shall be given

Congrats to my boyfriend for guessing the previous post’s quote (are we surprised? Not me!). As promised, the person who guessed correctly also got to pick my theme for this weeks post. I got a few options and eventually settled for the one that I was most unwilling to write about, because generally when you’re hesitant to write about something, it’s because you have a lot of questions/emotions regarding this thing, and so if you write about it, it will inevitably become very interesting.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

No, but seriously. Knowing me as well as he does, he said “Maybe you should write about the problem you have with people doing things for you, and them giving you things”. What does he mean, you may ask? Well. For the longest time, since my early teens, I cringe inside whenever someone does something nice for me, or gives me something. I get this instant rush of guilt, of “Why are you doing this for me? Do you want something from me? Or do you honestly think I deserve this?”, and as soon as I’ve – less than gracefully – accepted the gift – less than gratefully = either saying “Thank you!” a hundred times, as if the person gave me something absolutely wonderful, or grumbling about why they would do something like that for me, and could I please refuse to accept? – my mind starts racing towards options that would help me somehow repay the person for the favour/present.

Through the years I’ve had lots of theories as to why I do this. One is that I have this need to be one step ahead. I need the other person to know that I love them more, that they mean more to me than I do to them, and unless it’s either in perfect balance or I’m ahead of them in this “game”, then I panick and sit in a dark corner staring at the gaping void which is my debt to this person.

OK, that’s a little over dramatic, but you get the point.

Another possible reason is I really do not feel like I’ve earned anyone’s kindness, that I don’t deserve anyone going out of their way for me. That I have not made myself worthy their love and their displays of affection, so the little person in my head that goes “dude, you are a really crappy person, it’s a fact” has a great big party whenever someone does something really nice for me. “Look!” he says. “Here’s this really awesome person doing something really nice for you. We both know you don’t deserve it, in fact you barely deserve being acquainted with someone this awesome, so I think you should feel really, really bad about yourself now. OK. You work on that and I’m just going to go make some tea.”

Either way, it’s something I can scarcely get past, no matter how hard I try. If someone gives me a compliment about how I’m a great person or how gorgeous I look, it takes a whole lot of willpower to just say “thank you” instead of “Uhm, is there a person standing behind me that I don’t know about?” or “You are mistaken, you just need to get to know me a little better”. If someone offers me a ride, I need to be able to give them gas money, or supper, or coffee, and if all else fails, a really big hug and an “I owe you one! Next time we have lunch it’s on me!”

The number of times I’ve snuck money into people’s bags and coats, the backseat of their car, dropped a bill on the floor so they’d have to pick it up or dashed to the cash so I can pay for the meal first are too many to count. The problem goes further where it takes quite a bit of effort to ask someone to do me a favour. To ask someone for a ride for instance, I first need to make sure it wouldn’t be a bother to them, and that I can give them something in return. To ask someone to pick something up for me from the store, I need to make sure I’m cooking them dinner later. If I want someone to look at something I’ve written, I need to at least do that for them in return, or maybe send them a “thank you!” card. When I lived in Canada, our aforementioned crazy downstairs neighbours turned out to be a hopeless case and there was never peace between our two households, but here’s a little story as an example for what I’m talking about.

One Christmas, I worked long hours at both my jobs, so I was never at home and when I was it was more or less to sleep or eat. I had no energy to get the house nice for Christmas, especially when I’d be spending so little time in it. So there were two or three decorations kicking around in the living-room, but no lights, no tree, no nothing like that. I really didn’t think much of it till the neighbours left a rather acrid note, where among other things, they said “Tell Amki to stop being such a grinch and put up some lights and have a swig of wine and maybe she’ll enjoy Christmas better”. This note made me cry. Sobbing I explained to my boyfriend at the time that I was as far as one could be from a grinch, that I in fact owned not one but TWO Santa-hats, and that on both my jobs I spread the most Christmas-cheer out of anyone. So first I wrote this really elaborate poem, that went something like this;

There once was a girl, who lived on your roof.
She thought that for Christmas, she needed no proof,
That she loved it so dearly, with a glee and a joy,
That only was seen in a wee girl or boy.

Her neighbours they said “we think you’re quite bad,
yes, like a mean grinch!” and it made her right sad.
For Christmas she’d wanted some glimmering lights
to put on her house, and spark in the night.

But she’d had no time in between Christmas-shopping,
Between present-wrapping and all the corn-popping.

She hoped everyone knew, that in her heart beamed,
A love for the season that practically gleamed!
And that no-one would doubt it, so bright and so strong,
That it lit up her Christmas and all the year long.

But then as I was about to put that on their door-step, I realised it was just too spiteful, and unless it left them completely unphased, I’d just make them feel guilty. So instead, I found some time to get Christmas-lights, put them up on Christmas-eve, and left a little basket of chocolates with a note and a drawing of the Grinch on it which said; “Look up! Merry Christmas!” This resulted in the crazy neighbour-lady bundling up the stairs with a hastily wrapped box of chocolates and an offer to have some of their Christmas-dinner the next day. Everything was back to normal a few days later when they found some other strange thing to complain about. But yes, that is how I tried to resolve a situation that had started with a rather nasty insult.

This trait of mine must be really annoying to most people. Mainly because I do so love giving people things, and doing stuff for others. Now, that’s not in general. I’m not a good Samaritan. Though I get a little burst of happiness every time I manage to help a perfect stranger in whatever little way I can. But that’s just the self-righteousness getting to my head. No. I just absolutely love giving things to the people I love, anything I can do to make their lives better, anything at all to make them understand how important they are to me. So when someone loves giving and doing things for you, but turns into this little cringing, pale, wide-eyed creature every time you try to do the same for them, it tends to get annoying in the long run.

So, does anyone else have this problem? Have you had this problem but managed to work through it to the other side, where you can accept things like a normal person and not feel a twinge of guilt? Do you have any suggestions? Would you simply like to say “Oh my, first world problems, poor you. Over dramatic nutcase”? Anyway, comments of any kind would be welcome.

Oh. And the same thing goes for this post’s quote as for previous one!