The Girl That Said No

Standing on the edge of the forest
Like my ancestors once did
And the leaves are changing colour
No more flowers and animals will sleep
Whispers in the air tell the tales
Of the year almost gone
Fearful hate, apathy awakened
What a mess we make, will we ever learn

Watching from the black mirror in hand
For the latest craze to begin
Celebrities instagraming their hashtags
With their lies for mass consumption

I will not follow the unwritten rules
I will not be placed in their boxes
I will not Photoshop or filter my life
Or worship the gods of stage and screen
Independence and individuality
Thinking aloud with no thought police
Burning the spin and lies with every step
I am the girl that said no

Standing in the middle of the town
Ignoring the autotuned grey noise
Hoping for some colourful miracle
To breakout out with the sword of truth
Whispers in the air tell the tales
Of the year almost gone
Fearful hate, apathy awakened
What a mess we make, will we ever learn

An emperor wearing his new clothes
Praised by the sheep baaing masses
Fakeness has become the new norm
Blurred lines until we all become one

I will not follow the unwritten rules
I will not be placed in their boxes
I will not Photoshop or filter my life
Or worship the gods of stage and screen
Independence and individuality
Thinking aloud with no thought police
Burning the spin and lies with every step
I am the girl that said no

I will not follow the unwritten rules
I will not be placed in their boxes
I will not Photoshop or filter my life
Or worship the gods of stage and screen
Independence and individuality
Thinking aloud with no thought police
Burning the spin and lies with every step
I am the girl that said no

© Fi S. J. Brown

Advertisements

Will you join me?

In a world that the visual image has been heavily manipulated and spun almost as much as the written word how do we know what we see is real and the people in them actually exist in the form we see them in any shape or form? Praising those that exemplify the fake a la Kim Kardashian to Cheryl (whatever her surname is right now) and putting them on pedestals of what 21st century beauty should aspire to be. In contrast calling someone brave for their attempts to step away from it as though they are being daring for to go without make up to choosing not to have Botox in their lips by the age of 22. Personally I find it ridiculous that we let someone’s manipulated image show us what we should look like and aspire to be as in reality nobody can look as they’re shown to be without deception to surgery. Some may say it is not their fault but sadly the golden carrot of money is often enough to make many follow blindly like a sheep or dance like a puppet on stage.

We do not need designer clothing but clothing that is made fairly for those making them under often horrific conditions to the consumer that will wear them. Fashion magazines and websites are built on insecurities that we all naturally feel and urge us to change with the seasons and years but as we all realise soon enough they come round again at least twice or thrice in our lifetimes! Fake tans to skin bleaching almost make us feel bad for our natural skin tone and heritage yet why should it, just look how stupid racism is and judging another based on their physical form of family history. Instagram or Snapchat filters for a bit of fun or help us hide behind masks as feel we fit in better so won’t be judged or laughed at…and even worse perhaps encourage more likes on social media. These likes that eat in to our self esteem that we must have so many likes in order to feel pretty or approved of by others; we are sugar coating our lives with unnecessary filters.

How can we learn that the imperfections we see in the mirror or talk to us in our heads are not things to air brush or filter away? Differences are seen as flaws not part of what makes us the unique person we are and the word ‘normal’ used for humans when there is no normal or average human being! There is no life Photoshop to change what we do not like about ourselves and lives, although I am sure we have all seen others try rewrite their history. Our individualism is under attack as now rather look and act like our favourite celebrities than the real us. However, as I said before these people are paid to edited to look the way they do to us, and make us feel bad over the slightest of things. Can we keep living in a world so fake and ultimately lose our individualism? I do not think so. So it is time to start the fight back, I refuse to bow down to someone’s manipulated idea of how a human being should be. Will you join me?

© Fi S. J. Brown

Therapy…!?

This week I have been considering the journey I have made the last decade with my mental health, the stigma I have encountered to the breaking point I reached and the help I got through therapy. A good friend posted a link on Facebook to a newspaper article with Kate Winslet’s negative view of therapy; she could outsmart the person giving her therapy and decided it was not for her. To me, I felt was very out of touch attitude and only added to make the stigma of mental health and addiction worse as could not look beyond what she felt was someone inferior to her.

My own experiences of therapy tell their own tale: It is almost nine years to the day since I started having counselling. I remember well the fear I had to send the email to the university counselling service, it was admitting I had a problem but could they help and did I really need to see a counsellor? I had only done so as my so called boyfriend had pushed me to do so as felt I needed the help they provided. Although it was something I had considered as far back as eight years previously, I never thought the time was right. However, I had decided if I had not moved in 2006, I would not see Christmas as my depression was strangling me so much and living with a narcissist mother that only wanted to control every iota of my life. Therefore, it was certainly the right time at almost twenty eight, to start to understand why I felt so depressed and suicidal much of my life.

My first meeting with Anne was like stepping into someone else’s home with the way she lit her office to the pictures around the room, so immediately felt less like I was going to another part of campus. She had a caring face with a gentle tone of voice that like the lighting made feel at ease. Over the next few months we both realised my issues were far deeper than counselling could offer, she wrote to my GP who by that time had me on antidepressants after I had become suicidal over the Christmas holidays, but he simply asked me if it was true what Anne had written and as I said ‘yes’, the letter was crumpled and put in the bin. It felt like a metaphor for my life, crumpled up and nobody really listening to me; the lyrics to Tori Amos’ “Silent all these years” rang with crumpled paper now sat in my GP’s waste basket. Anne and I tried a new tact and a different doctor in the practice after I had self harmed when in hospital for a then undiagnosed ear infection. This time action was taken and was referred to a clinical psychologist.

To say I was apprehensive on seeing a clinical psychologist was an understatement, to me that made it sound like I genuinely was crazy or mad. Our initial appointment I had to rearrange owing to a visit from my mother that left me in a state of deep depression as felt I could never be free from her clutches or control. However, when I met Ginny I met someone that was willing to go with me on a journey to explore how I got to where I was today, psychodynamic therapy. It took me longer to warm and trust Ginny as felt like it was her not listening at times or full of questions. It was far from easy at times as felt like I was left at the edge of a cliff and then was expected to return to the world, continuing my PhD research, with all these memories and emotions going round in my head that somehow I had to leave them and focus on what I needed to. It was only after my suicide attempt eight years ago that I began to realise just what it was she was getting at. By the following autumn as we said ‘goodbye’ I felt sadness as realised she had given me stepping stones to move forward in life and most importantly was no longer afraid of my mother!

Since then I have found good friends that I know I can open up to but know I do need further help to deal with some issues still unresolved. I use creativity such as writing and photography to walking around nature as my self imposed therapy. Through it all I have grown to accept and appreciate me the person as I see my mother for the narcissistic woman she is and my brother that hurt me badly as an overgrown child that depends on her so much, neither able to see or accept how much they did and do hurt me still. I also accept why my father left my mother and my many issues I felt with him leaving, not being there when I needed to support.

In addition, I have learnt therapy is something we all need at times in our life, it is hard and dark, but with professional help we can find candles to hang that show there is light and where it hides. I would go so far it is part of healthy living to know and understand it is okay to ask for help in this way, as you would a doctor for a lump on a breast or broken ankle. I am currently deciding if this is not a path I should consider myself, to become a counsellor or psychologist, as love to help others and naturally empathetic, using my creativity and love of nature. I welcome thoughts from others on this, some I have asked say it is very me as already the empathetic ear or shoulder to rest that does not judge anyone and lets someone be themselves, allow them to grow and bloom to whatever or whoever they want to be.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Normal…a redefinition

How a dictionary defines normal can be very different to how as people we do, ask hundred people and you will get a hundred definitions. Equally, ask the same hundred people what they define as abnormal, and you will get the same result. This is because our life experiences to the people we meet adding different colours and layers to how we see the world. With the advent of social media to the cult of celebrity these too add to this perception we have of the world. Seldom do we stop and think of what is normal and/or abnormal and do not question it.

We pass judgement every day; be it how best to serve tea or coffee to how to dress ourselves and the partner we choose to have in our lives (if at all). They all serve as means of self-expression, that is to say they say “this is my way” of living life. The choice of partner you will already have opinions on, some maybe tutting or swearing at the thought anyone may want a partner of the same gender as themselves to choosing not to have a partner at all. So which is the normal way? Simply put all of them are and none of them are.

Even people that claim not to be judgemental make judgements every day, knowingly and unknowingly. So on deciding if another’s choice partner as in the above example is normal or not we are making a judgement, not on morality or ethics but based on our personal sense of normality.

In defining what is normal, we need to look at our own lives, where we make judgements and where others judge us. Whilst doing this we also need to consider not just why we think this way, but what is the root of this belief and why we have these expectations of others and equally ascribe them to ourselves.

Expectations of ourselves and/or others can be due to our families, beliefs, and cultures we grew up in to the ones we find ourselves living in now, which by breaking these can lead to estrangement and even death. Equally, we need to learn not to be hard on ourselves and/or others for failing to live up to these expectations: For example, in some areas of the world you would be expected to be married with at least two children by 21, but we have to remember that may not happen for all and trying not to be judgemental on someone that by 25 is single and a virgin. How can we ascribe the actions or personality of ourselves and/or another normal and/or abnormal just because they are different to our own?

So should the word normal in this case be left like many prejudices and stereotypes be left in the past? Just because we do not agree with, have no knowledge, expect life/another/ourselves to be a certain way, is it really abnormal? Equally, should we expect others to agree with and/or collaborate with our ideas of what is and is not normal? Have they not also got their own, just as valid, ideas and ways of expressing what is normal to them?

Let us return to defining what is normal, a friend once said “it is a function on a washing machine”. Normal in real terms is what is right for us and our journey, trying to conform to the expectations and ideals of others is like wearing our neighbour’s underwear! We also try to put labels on ourselves so can find like minded people, only do this if you must to let them explore your world but remembering not to judge them by our ideas of normal, for we are not them, have not and never will experience their journey their way.

I am currently writing a short book exploring the above themes, to find just what is normal to us, the journey to find what it is but always remembering that one size will never fit all, and finally accepting what we have found, which can be just as difficult as the prejudice we can encounter from others.

© Fi S. J. Brown

21st Century Life – Is modern life rubbish?

From the videos of current popstars and actors to the celebrities who’s ‘fame’ is from who they are in relationship with to being on a talent show are shown in the media as rich, attractive, false, shallow, and sexual. Where are the healthy role models, those who express, love, understanding, compassion, charity, health, spirituality and more of what has real value in life? The people I grew up to admire were those that had achieved something in life from Emmeline Pankhurst leading women to fight for the right to vote to Anita Roddick highlighting animal testing in the cosmetic industry and Jane Goodall for her work with chimps. Equally as a music nut, I did not fancy the musicians I listened to, despite being bullied for not knowing which of Take That I fancied. For it was their talent that I admired from John Bonham on drums, Gary Moore on guitar, John Deacon on bass, and Freddie Mercury for his vocal showmanship. This still stands today.

If we ‘hate’ something, it is said the best way to deal with it is to ignore it as nobody forces us with an imaginary gun or got us trapped in a cage torturing us to look or watch. When the real reality of escaping from the modern world’s media is far harder as social media has meant we can see the impact upon our “friends” and their opinions like never before. For me the media has become like an imaginary prison, which we cannot see the bars of our cell. In particular music, movies and TV program us to accept certain ideologies as normal as we see and hear them all the time. I look to my grandparents’ generation, for example when they married it was for love and companionship, working out their problems, now we are amazed if a couple manage to stay together while their children complete secondary education. Have relationships like everything else become so disposable with a use by date now?

Sexuality has increased in my lifetime in the media. I remember “Girls on film” by Duran Duran caused such a stir in the 1980s and now we have people blaming Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga for the downfall of morality! All three’s record labels and management have used the adage “sex sells”. What may have passed for an X rated soft porn film thirty years ago is now to be found almost acceptable in mainstream popular music video or movie at the cinema. Music videos like Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” or Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” are designed to get people watching them in their millions and discussing them not just in the street but on social media too. Makes me wonder where will the makers or puppeteer go next with their “visual art” and what are hidden in messages within them as per Katy Perry’s latest.

Finally, we have become dependent on technology from our portable phones to our computers, it seems impossible for some to leave their phone alone for as little as ten minutes. UNICEF is currently trying to encourage people to do just that. Considering I can leave mine in a different part of the house from where I am working or in my bag when outwith, I find it amazing that one friend said she only lasted five minutes without touching her phone. I was once told that technologically we did not progress from the end of the Roman Empire to the start of the Industrial Revolution, which in itself I feel belittles the achievements of people we will never hear about both before and during this time period. Equally, technology I was told as a child was 40-50 years ahead of what is made public, which I can certainly believe is true if not even greater.

So are we now living in a wondrous age as have access to all this technology? For me, no, I much prefer a good chat with someone – in person or on the telephone, or even a good old letter rather than email. Call me old fashioned but I much prefer the feel of a book over a Kindle, the tactileness to the information inside I feel I understand better as focus more than on a computer or tablet screen. We have access to almost any information we could ever dream of, as well as some made up nonsense and disinformation for good measure. Yet many take what they read on certain sites as proven fact, when many things are theories or as good as Chinese whispers. Is life in the 21st century rubbish, I would say more depressing than rubbish, as we have almost stopped achieving and creating new things that matter to humanity? I look at beautiful art and architecture from hundreds to thousands of years old wondering to myself could this or that be made today, often saying ‘no’ as we have become focused on other things, which do not matter like TV soap operas to how overpaid football players are,. Perhaps if we switched off the TV and computer, left our mobile phones at home, and let’s spend time with those we care about and/or creating from just our imagination, rather than focus on the doom and gloom that is encroaching ever closer, before it’s too late.

© Fi S. J. Brown