28 June 2024

To the Man Who Killed My Dad

A letter I will never send.  I would not know where to send it.  I am not sure I ever would if I did.

Hello Gavin,  

Where do I start?  

You don’t know me.  I don’t know you.  We have never met.  But we are linked, forever.  

All I really know about you is that in August 1987 you were seventeen and driving a fast car when you crashed into my dad on the motorway, taking his life away from him.  Taking him away from me and my family.

The incident was your fault.  You were charged was driving without due care and attention, which sounds ridiculous when you did in fact take a man’s life away.  But I cannot change that.  It feels wrong.   Even now.

I was 8 years old the day my father died.  My childhood, my life, was unequivocally changed forever by your actions.  I hated you.  I felt that way for so many years.  Can you really blame me?

You were the demon in my dreams who took my dad away from me.  The man who loved me so much.  The man who read me stories on a Sunday morning and brought me surprises on a Friday night.  The man that I still miss so much, decades later.  In my eyes, for a long time, I thought that you should have been rotting away in prison, suffering.  As much as we suffered.  

I am in my 40s now.  I have lived through much and have come to some realisations and understandings.  One of them is that hate solves nothing.  

Strange as it sounds, when entering into working life, I went into civil litigation.  Road traffic accidents.  Helping to bring claims against people like you who had caused accidents, damage, injury and death.  It was not a conscious decision that I remember making, but it is where I ended up.

These days I work with far tougher cases.  Cases of historical abuse.  The worst you can imagine.  It has changed me in many ways.  I went through a lot because of your actions but nothing compared to those I speak to on a daily basis.  I have learned from those people about moving on.  Acceptance.  Perspective.

You were seventeen.  I know how easy it is to make a stupid mistake.  Especially at that age.  You made a very big mistake that day.  A huge one.  One that took a life.  A life that you did not intend to take.  

You did not set off that day intending for things to happen in the way that they did.  But they did.   You did “borrow” your girlfriend’s sports car.  Which you were not insured to drive.  You did drive too fast and lost control.  You did hit my dad’s car.  You did kill him.

None of us are the same people we were at seventeen, at twenty, at twenty five even.  I know I am not.  I want to think that you changed too.   That the recklessness of that day and the effects of your actions, changed you.

You will always have what you did that day over your head.  That first mistake of taking the car, that snowballed into death.

I cannot imagine what it is to know that you have done that.  All that I can imagine, all that I hope, is that the gravity of what happened taught you some lessons and you lived your life in a better way.     Probably not right away.  Because you were, no doubt, in shock too.  You were too young for something so serious.  

I don’t hate you anymore.  Hate is a hard thing to hold on to in your soul and eats away at you.   Now I can put myself in your shoes and feel sorry for you, in a way.  You made a mistake.  You have had to live with that mistake every day.  That has to be hard.  Your life altered forever, just as mine did.  

I don’t owe you anything Gavin, I certainly don’t owe you forgiveness.  But I do forgive you.  I forgive you for the mistake you made.  Because by forgiving you, I can let go of the hate.  I understand now that the stupid actions and decisions you made as a teenager do not make you a bad person.  An evil person.    You were someone who made a bad choice.  

I do hope that you were truly sorry for what you did.  You never said that you were sorry, we spoke to your insurance company, not you.  But again, you were seventeen and had just killed someone.  I get it.

You did take a life, but I hope that you managed to deal with that and make something good of the rest of your life.  

Goodbye Gavin.  I won’t think of you anymore, writing this has been helpful.  I don’t wish you happiness, but I don’t wish you sadness anymore.  I am done.


11 June 2024

Reflections and Moving On, the Right Way

It was my birthday recently.   It was not a milestone age, but is one that I am not comfortable with.  I don’t like the number.  Or any number after it to be honest.  I always tend to reflect on my life around my birthday, so I shall my reflections with you today.

If you were to ask me how old I actually feel, I would probably say 30.  30 would be the ideal age that I would like to be, given where I am in life and what I have ahead of me.  I feel 30, but with another x amount of years experience.

I would loved to have had all my ducks in row but the time I reached 30; but that was not to happen.  But does that mean that I should regret the age that I am?  Wish to reverse time back?  Thinking more, I have to say no.

I have gone through a lot in my life in terms of mental health, depression, loss and lack of self worth.  My journey therefore has been slower than most, or shall we say some, because everyone goes through something in their life and some more than others.

Everyone’s journey is different.  Everyone deals with things in differing ways.  Some go through a lot, some go through a little.  But the journey of our lives, how we have taken and survived or thrived through that journey is what is important.  It is the story of our lives.

Today, I am ridiculously in love, happy, loved, settled, safe, calm.  This the happiest I have ever been.  By a thousand miles.  I know in my heard that every step on my journey has been leading me to this destination.

So, while I wish that I was 30 again, with the knowledge and life that I have now, I do not regret the extra years that it took to get me to this place.

I had a realisation when I was speaking with my partner the other day about how we wish that we had met sooner in life.  I would not have been ready for him.

Isn’t that strange?  (But also, true).  I met him at the perfect time.  Not when I was 20 - 30 when my mental health and experiences were a mess.  Not in my early 30’s when I was healing and finding myself.  I would not have been ready for this man.  

I do not believe that the discovery of yourself ever really stops. I also believe that healing comes from within and there is much work that you can do on yourself and for yourself.  That work and help for me, has always been writing.  My feelings and thoughts make sense more to me when I write than when I sit and think.

I said earlier that I am ridiculously happy now in my life, and that is true.  I have everything I ever wanted.  I am happy, secure and loved by a man I adore. 

What I came to realise recently is that with that happiness, comes a responsibility.

Whilst I have worked so much on myself, there are still ghosts in my life that haunt me.  Occasionally those memories and feelings surface which can result in sadness or worse, self-sabotage.  During those moments I do not believe that I am worth the happiness I have, or the man that I have, and this can lead to my unconsciously trying to sabotage that happiness.

In those moments I am my own worst enemy and I refuse to comply with hurting myself any more.

My reflections have led me to today, searching for a local counsellor to speak to.  Counselling has never been “my thing”.  I never wanted to talk with strangers.  When I really needed to, such an option was not really a thing, suggested or known about to me.  I know it sounds strange, especially to those who have undertaken counselling; but I was not strong enough before.

Just like I always knew that my perfect partner in life was out there, and I found him, I also knew that I had to be ready for counselling.  Ready to finally, once and for all, face my old demons and win that battle.  From a place of strength.

I know that I will achieve my goal.  How long or little it will take; I do not know.  But I do know that I have overcome so much and have improved my life beyond what I ever thought possible, so I know that I now have the strength to tackle the shadows that linger and burn.

I go on holiday in a few weeks and after that, my dance with my demons will commence. 

I am scared, I admit.  None of this will be easy.  But I am ready.

18 April 2024

Be a Lady They Said, But What Do They Mean?

Be A Lady They Said, But What Do They Mean?

A few years ago now there was a viral video of Cynthia Nixon reading a poem from Camille Rainville “Be A Lady They Said”.

For me, and for many women, it struck the perfect chord about the impossible and every changing standards that women face. Society it seems, some men in particular (not all men yada yada), seem to have no idea not only what they want from women; but also what label to put on us. Something that they desperately want to do. Why are labels so important? Because labels put you in a box. It is an element of control. The 21st century's version of the Scold's Bridle.

Only a few decades ago, in the Western world, it was easy to put women in a box. Child, wife, mother, spinster, fallen woman, whore. Fallen woman, what does that even mean? A search on Wikipedia tells us that a fallen woman is someone who has lost her “innocence”. What is never mentioned, is who took it.

In countries like Saudia Arabia, Iran and Iraq, women are still firmly in the boxes men want them to be. A woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. If a woman is raped, it takes two male witnesses for her to be believed.

Male rights activists love to point out to feminists that women have it so much worse in those countries and of course, this is true. They say that we should be grateful. Such a strange word, grateful. What it is, is a silent threat. “We did it to you once, be grateful that we don't do this now”.

Yet, in the case of Harvey Weinstein, it took over 100 women for just 2 to be believed. With every single woman who went public being called a whore in the press, someone who gained from the “casting couch”, a gold digger. An attention seeker. Same with the conviction of Bill Cosby.

CPS figures in September 2021 showed that only 3.3% of all reported rapes ended in a conviction. Therefore, according to the stats published, out of 57882 rapes reported, only 1910 were believed and their rapists convicted. According to the readers of the Daily Mail, that makes nearly 56000 women liars. Whores. The highest rated comment was “too many false claims by bitter women”.

That so many think that women would put themselves through so much, going to the police, being examined, relieving and retelling the rape over and over, giving evidence in front of their rapist in Court for supposed “financial gain” or “bitterness” speaks volumes of what women are thought of in society.

A society that still lets a woman's underwear be paraded in open Court as as example of her intention to have sex that night.

Be a lady they said. But what does that even mean any more?

“ A lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets” was something I started to hear in the 1990s. The best of both worlds it was called. A “good girl” in public and your whore in the bedroom. This was in my teenage years and was treated as a joke in the most part. Teenage boys did not in general expect sex. Now, thanks to porn culture, the expectation on teenage girls is far different.

The case of the girl in Cyprus with the up to 12 men who raped her is a prime example. Time and time again I saw the same things said. She wanted it. It was regret sex. Women are whores. See the word that is used time and again?

What made men and boys think that a woman would ever want, court and enjoy a gang bang? Porn.

So what is wanted from women today? Simultaneously a virgin and a slut. Enjoy sex, but not too much you slag. Be more adventurous, but where did you learn that from you whore? Don't be promiscuous, but don't be frigid. Be a good girl, but do anal. You know you want it.

So how do women respond to this? How do we combat this? We fight back. We band together, as so many women did in support of the girl in Cyprus. We say our truth. We call out the cultures and generational beliefs that men have the right to give us the labels they choose. We don't stay silent.

We be the lady, or not, that we CHOOSE to be. We reject the labels. We ridicule those that would label us. We teach our daughters that our self worth is nothing that can be given or taken away from us. We teach them that our bodies belong to ourselves.

We reject the labels and choose our own. Or reject all labels. We are women. Our choices are our own and the ONLY person who can judge us for our choices.

Be whatever you want to be and do not let anyone influence that or change that. This is how we fight.

They cannot change those that refuse to change. They cannot label those who refuse to be labelled.