#TWGsThoughts – Sometimes you need to just take a step back & breathe… #lifestyle #choices

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What IS on your mind, TWG?

I have been trying to decipher my thoughts into a logical sounding blog post for, oh I don’t know, a couple of days maybe? Am I any closer to sounding like I actually know what I’m on about? Probably not. Am I going to try my best to air my thoughts? Of course I am. This is where I am lucky that my blog is called ‘The Writing Garnet’, because I can get away with writing blog posts that aren’t necessarily related to the book world.

So…these past two weeks have been rather emotionally draining health wise. The last time it was this emotionally draining was when I was diagnosed with my most recent illness. Usually, I can just get away with having physically stressful times with the odd emotional rollercoaster thrown in for good measure. Although, during those times, the emotional rollercoaster I go on, I have learned how to calm myself down quicker. When it’s an emotionally draining time, all I want to do is scream to the world ‘STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF!!!’.

Last week I had to go for my third x-ray of the year, but this time it was for my left knee. I was already aware that the doctor was sending me for the x-ray as a formality as she couldn’t send me for another test until the x-ray was completed. Those of you who know me, know that I am absolutely petrified of hospitals and anything related to that (not ideal when you have seven chronic illnesses and think of your local GP/hospital as your second home). My GP confirmed this week that I will in fact have to go for the other test…and I have to wait six weeks for an appointment. Which if I’m honest doesn’t bother me overly. However, the other test I need to go for is an MRI….& not only am I claustrophobic, I hate being restricted without a choice. With this upcoming MRI, I have to go through both of those and I am absolutely shitting bricks. The waiting time itself doesn’t bother me as the longer I wait, the longer I don’t have to go through with it. But, on the other hand, the longer I wait, the longer I have to panic about it.

Before you say ‘distract yourself’ or ‘don’t think about it until it comes’, it’s not as easy as that when you’re absolutely shit scared of something, and your daily reminder of the upcoming event is a knee that is twice the size that it originally should be.

Yes, I am stressed out.
Yes, I am finding things extremely difficult.
Yes, I want the world to leave me alone.

With the above in mind, I made the choice to stop saying ‘yes’ as much when I get asked to do things. Granted I feel extremely guilty for saying no and not being a constant cheerleader 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but I needed to admit to myself (and everyone else) that no, I’m just not okay. What I didn’t expect from that choice was for the folk I called friends a few weeks ago, to then stop speaking to me or make digs because I’m not fluttering around like a positive little fairy. In my eyes, this basically means that if I don’t say yes, I’m no longer bothered with by people. Never mind the fact that I need my friends more than ever at the moment, but that doesn’t really come into it does it?

I class myself as an incredible selfless person; so much so that whenever I chose to do something for myself, I ended up feeling guilty for doing so. Why can other people get away with being selfish all day every day, and the one time I need to think of myself for once I get turned away by people who I considered to be friends. Tell me, how does that work again?

Despite wanting to scream at the world to ‘just shut up!!’, I realised that it was pretty vital to take a step back and just breathe. Sounds sooo simple doesn’t it? However when you’re in the moment of feeling as though you’re going to break down because you have reached your limit, thinking logically and rationally is usually the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. Not shit Sherlock! But weirdly enough, breathing is really quite important! Who would have thought it! These past two weeks though, I have most definitely reached my limit and because I decided to take that vital step backwards and breathe, I have seen multiple situations for exactly what they are. I have seen people for exactly who they are.

I can’t do the things I used to do. I can’t phone up friends when I need to chat, because honestly, I have no idea who I can. Just because I am sitting on the fence breathing, it doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. Nor does it mean ‘out of sight out of mind’. If I can still bother with those I hold dear, even when I feel as though my whole life is crashing down…once again….

I’m sorry if I need to be selfish.
I’m sorry if I need to say no.
I’m sorry if I talk to you about random shit.
I’m sorry…for simply being me.

Don’t worry, I get annoyed with myself too. It’s fine. I get it.

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A year ago today I lost my Dad for the 2nd & final time… #grief #death

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24 and a half years ago, my dad chose a new journey in life. The type of journey that meant that he would no longer be involved in watching me grow up. A journey which meant that I had, in theory, lost my dad for the first time. Do I remember how I felt about that? No, I was a mere three years old. Between the years of 1993-2003 I saw him a handful of times, yet in 1998, he chose to send me a birthday card. However, what was written in that card has stayed with me ever since;

‘Dear Kaisha. I’m not sending you anything for your birthday as you haven’t bothered to write to Nanna. Dad’

Reader; I was 8 years old. I know exactly what I did with that card (after getting upset btw). I casually ripped it into little pieces, walked outside and threw it into the black wheelie bin. Wasn’t exactly the most mature thing to do, but y’know!

In 2004 I had reached an age where I wanted to give my dad one more chance (please be aware that I’m not typing out the entire story here, a lot more went on than what I wrote above). To say that I missed my dad that year would be a lie. To say that I missed the idea of having a dad…now that would be closer to the truth. I gave him that chance, and he blew it more than once during 2014.

In 2006 I saw my dad for the very last time, through chance, as he was walking out of Tesco as we were walking in. I didn’t want to talk to him. I had nothing to say to him. Over the years a lot of my early childhood came to light, such as how he wanted my mum to abort me when she fell pregnant, and so on. When I was older, I was able to speak for myself and form an opinion based on what he decided to spraff. I stood up for myself. I was called all the names under the sun, ridiculed beyond belief, pulled apart like I was scum. And yes, I did reply in a hateful and angry manner, I won’t lie.

In 2013, whilst I was pregnant with my daughter, it was agreed that I should contact him over Facebook and let him know that I was pregnant, same as when I gave birth. His response? He congratulated my mum on the birth of my baby..

So, whilst you’ve had a little history lesson of TWG, there is a reason why I have delved into my past. On the 25th July 2016 I received a phone call from my cousin. My dad was dead. I had to relay the news to my family, and yes, I was absolutely distraught. The next day I was contacted again by my cousin who told me that on the 23rd July (one year ago today), my dad killed himself by putting a gun to his head. Why did I find out two days after the event? Because he lived in America and, seeing as he had no contact details for his children, we weren’t notified directly…his sister was.

Despite the fact that my dad and I, had had a turbulent relationship over the years, and the fact that I despised him and didn’t want to be associated with him (I changed my surname), his death knocked me for six. I couldn’t stop crying. Even if I wanted to re-build our relationship, I no longer can. He doesn’t know his granddaughter. Hell, he didn’t even really know his 26 (at the time) year old daughter. Yet I was a mess. But then I thought to myself; ‘why are you crying? you didn’t like him?’, and quite a few times I was asked that question by other people. People couldn’t understand why I was so upset so, because of those comments, I started feeling like I shouldn’t be upset by his death. How I shouldn’t be feeling sad as we hadn’t spoken for years. How I should just get on with it and we didn’t really have a relationship. I felt guilty for being upset when I had had a step-dad for the last 8 years, why would I have needed my dad? I wouldn’t. My step-dad has been more of a father to me than my dad ever was. But I still couldn’t stop crying.

Even now, one year later, I still have moments where I can’t believe he’s dead. I wasn’t able to go to the funeral. My brother and I had to legally relinquish our next of kin rights due to cost. Even though my brother was happy to do that and wasn’t bothered by the circumstances, I didn’t want to do it, but I knew that I couldn’t afford to pay for the funeral myself, including the cost for bringing his body back to the UK. Even though he washed his hands of us many years ago, I felt extremely guilty by doing the same even though he was dead.

Regardless of my relationship with my dad, he was still that…my dad. I wouldn’t be on this planet if it wasn’t partly for him. When I look in the mirror I see him, obviously. I wish things were different. I wish we were able to have the father daughter relationship. I know I’m lucky to have my step-dad in my life, and of course my mummabear, but I guess I never expected my dad to kill himself. I am furious with him, but I do miss him. I have no idea why I miss him, but I do. He’s part of me whether I like it or not.

I never got to say goodbye to my dad the first time that he left us. I never got to say goodbye to my dad the second, and final time that he left us. I never got to say to him, ‘look at me now’. I never got to know HIM. HE never got to know me as an adult.

This is by far, the weirdest grief I have ever experienced. I guess that I just want my dad…even though I never really had him to begin with…

#TWGGetsTalking – How to tell the difference between being nasty & being constructive #reviews

Twg gets talking
You should all know by now that I like to talk, ESPECIALLY when I am passionate about something and believe that it needs to be spoken about.

Once again, opinions have been thrust into the limelight and definitions have been questioned. Before I explain further, I’m just going to paste the Oxford dictionary definitions of two words; nasty, and constructive.

Nasty: very bad, or unpleasant.
(definition of unpleasant is: Causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.)

Constructive: Having or intended to have a useful or beneficial purpose.

constructive

Two completely different word with extremely clear definitions, yet people are still getting confused by the two words.

Why?

As a reviewer, I have always been made aware that authors (or anyone who gets critiqued) tend to appreciate CONSTRUCTIVE reviews as opposed to NASTY reviews. With both types of reviews your opinion is given – that is NOT the issue. After all, every person on this Earth is entitled to their opinion. We are allowed to dislike something. We are allowed to express our dislike of something. We are allowed to jump for joy about something. What the issue is, however, is the WAY those points are put across.

Believe me, I open my trap before my brain connects sometimes, ending up with goodness knows what flying out of my mouth. But when it comes to reviews, I am extremely careful about how I voice my opinion.

For example; ‘Omg I hated that book, it was absolutely shit, the author bored me to tears.’

What’s wrong with that sentence?

Okay, so, the example above is someones opinion. They’re entitled to that. Answer me this; was it constructive, or nasty?

If you said that the example was a constructive comment: seriously? How does saying that a book was ‘shit’, come across as beneficial to the author?
It doesn’t.

It’s rude and it’s nasty. Imagine if you cooked a meal for a group of people and someone came up to you afterwards and said that they thought your cooking was absolutely vile, would you benefit from that?

To turn the above example into a constructive opinion, here’s an example:
‘Personally, this book wasn’t really my cup of tea as I couldn’t quite gel with the storyline. I felt that it came across as quite over the top and unrealistic, which in turn made me switch off.’

The different between the two examples is substantial. The example above still highlights your dislike, yet it also explains WHY you felt that way. It’s also not personally attacking the person who wrote the book, whilst still keeping your opinion entitlement intact.

Whilst authors are painfully aware that their books could end up with negative reviews and their book babies critiqued, it doesn’t mean that just because they have put something in the public eye, that they should expect nasty comments or personal attacks.

YES, they have written something which will get critiqued.
YES, everyones opinion does differ.
YES, readers are entitled to dislike their book.

Just DON’T be nasty about it!

In book clubs, you’re going to have the perfect opportunity to talk about various books whether it’s an online or offline. But, do you think that it’s respectful to openly blast and author and their book, in an online book club which they could be a member of?
Yes or no?

No it’s not!!! Go ahead and state your opinion about a book, but if you’re going to sit there and say that a book is so bad and how you wanted to ‘light a match under it’; that’s not stating your opinion, it’s called being nasty.

As we hear all the time, not everyone will like the same book. Well duh! I fully admit that I have read a book and disliked it. But instead of reviewing it nastily, I gave it a constructive review as there will always be something in a book that you’ll like. I explained what I didn’t like about the book, I also explained WHY I didn’t like those parts, how it made me feel, and so on. I also explained what I DID like about the book. I still managed to express my opinion on the book, without insulting a human being with feelings in the process.

So, if you’re ever in an online book group where the admin have asked you to talk about books in a constructive manner; respectfully do it. They aren’t taking away your freedom of speech. They aren’t banishing you from stating your opinion. They are just asking you to express your opinion respectfully and constructively. Authors have feelings too.

It really isn’t that difficult to do..

#TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – To pay for a review or not to pay? Erm, seriously? #reviews

OnlineReviews(pic credit – Design Extensions)

It’s Wednesday, which means TWG is back with another ‘Wondering Wednesday’! Last week saw the first instalment of the brand new feature, where I was discussing honest reviews. In case you missed it, you can check it out here: #TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – How far is TOO FAR when reviewing ‘honestly’? #review

Decided on a topic for this weeks post wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. No, really! All I had to do was look on social media, and, thanks to one of the book groups I am in on Facebook, I was able to get some inspiration for today’s discussion. So, I am fully aware that this topic could be deemed a little controversial. My bad.

Today I am asking you:

Should authors pay for book reviews?
&
Should bloggers ask for payment for writing a book review?

Without getting too personal, last week this topic was brought to light in a book group on Facebook. BOTH authors and bloggers said their piece, however, it’s one of those topics that will always be remembered as unfortunately, a lot of bloggers could be tarred with the same brush as the ‘culprit’. Let me just clarify one thing before I begin ranting; if you’re an author who wishes to pay for book reviews, that is your choice and I’m not going to stand in judgement of that at all. After all it’s your money, your book; your decision. Also, please remember that I am not talking about reviews written by people whose day job is to actually write reviews and publish them in magazines etc. That is completely different as it is their job and no doubt it would have been a marketing strategy decided by the authors publisher.

However, this post is aimed at Amazon reviews/Goodreads reviews/supermarket or bookshops reviews, written by bloggers. Not bloggers who get paid to blog; people who blog as their hobby which sidelines any existing external job. -breathes-.

As a blogger myself, I would never in a million years contact an author or a publisher and go; ‘Hi! I will review your books for you, but it’s going to cost you £££’. Don’t get me wrong, I am confident in my review writing abilities, but to ask someone to pay me for writing my opinion on Amazon? Where’s your conscience?! If any of my reviews prompted people to click the ‘to buy’ link at the end, and go and purchase the book in question; great! But asking for money for writing a book review, is pretty much guaranteeing the author sales. Yes? How can you guarantee an author sales? Well, unless you go cold calling and sit by strangers whilst they log onto their Amazon account, click on the book and purchase it right in front of your very eyes; I don’t see how sales can be guaranteed for paid reviews.

When I write reviews, as much as people seem to think that bloggers give glowing reviews ALL the time on blog tours, I write my honest opinion in a respectful manner. Of course there will be times where I dislike a book! If I loved every single book, I would be extremely poor. Therefore, my reviews aren’t always going to be 100% positive. They will be 100% constructive where necessary, but I cannot guarantee a fully glowing review. I also don’t charge authors for my reviews. If a blogger charges for their book reviews, how can they guarantee a certain type of review that is going to make someone buy the book? You might be sitting there thinking ‘but no-one said that they can guarantee sales’, which is true. They haven’t. BUT, if you’re paying someone for something, you are in theory paying for a service. You’re paying for results. You’re paying that person to write reviews for you, to generate a higher amount of sales as opposed to bloggers who don’t charge.

Here’s another question for you; what if a blogger who reviews due to their passion for books, creates more of a buzz about a book and generates more sales? Would you say that was luck? Or would you still prefer to pay your hard-earned money, for a book review, just because it’s ‘paid for’?

I just don’t get it. If you’re a blogger who writes reviews for payment and you’re reading this now; each to their own. But, why pay for something when there are tons of reputable bloggers out there, who review with their hearts and not their wallets? Personally, I would trust passion, heart and dedication over the size of someones wallet.

Up until recently, I had no idea that people were charging for their book reviews, nor did I have any idea that not all of those bloggers are upfront about the costs. Sneaky sneaky. What realllyyyyyyyy irks me about the whole situation is how the underhandedness of those types of people tars passionate bloggers with the same brush. Just because Joe Bloggs from BooksRUS* decides to be underhanded, charge for their reviews, not alert the author or make it clear on their blog about the costs, it doesn’t mean that ALL bloggers are like that. We aren’t. We are out there wanting to review your book because WE LOVE BOOKS, you just need to find us.
(*note: blog name was made up to serve a purpose and not to put a blogger in the firing line).

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Authors, what are YOUR reviews about paid book reviews? Have you ever paid for a book review? If you have and are willing to share, please do! If you have; how much did it cost? Did it generate a lot of sales? Positive/negative points. Plus, would you ever pay for a book review?

Bloggers, do YOU charge for your book reviews? What are your thoughts on the whole situation? Could you ever see yourself asking for money for the reviews you write?

I don’t think I will ever get my read around all of this. To me it just doesn’t make any sense, although this quote from Litreactor.com made me laugh: ‘One theory is the moral issue, that paying for reviews is like paying for sex. The perception being that, if you’re a good person with a good…product, you should be able to find sex/reviews without paying, and that this is the morally superior way of doing things.’

I dunno about you but if I’m not selling sex, I sure as hell won’t be selling my reviews!

Let me know your thoughts, I can’t wait to hear what your feelings are on this subject! If you have a topic that you would like me to wonder about next Wednesday, give me a shout!

A little heads up on why I ‘disappeared’ for a week, as well as special thanks to a few folk.

noteI have a lot to say in this blog post, but I will aim to condense and attempt to ramble much less than usual. However, if I fail miserably, please accept my apology now and know that I tried my hardest, but I’m a rambler!

Little over a week ago I decided to take a take a step back from social media whilst I went to visit a very good friend of mine, after 14 years. You’re probably thinking ‘ooo big deal’, BUT, there was a reason why I decided to coincide my social media break with my break away. Well, if I’m being honest, the decision was only half mine. You see, for the last four or so months I have been on the receiving end of cyber bullying and my tolerance level had been smashed to smithereens. Not only that, it brought back horrendous memories of the bullying I endured as a child. Memories that I already hold the scars for to this day and really didn’t want to have surfaced once again. But they did. After weeks of constant bad news from the doctors and issues with my house, a break away could not have come at a better time, it was just a shame about social media.

Before I went away I scheduled all of my book reviews to go live whilst I was away which probably made it look like I was still about. I need to say a MASSIVE thank you to every single one of you who shared, liked, commented, tweeted and so on, my blog posts whilst I was away. The response to each review posted was incredible and it means a lot that you were all willing to keep sharing them for me. I also want to say sorry to all of you as I haven’t done any blog post sharing, but rest assured I will be playing catch up so if you find your notifications creeping up, you know it’s me.

As I mentioned above, I have been on the receiving end of cyber bullying and it started to make me resent everything I had worked my butt off for. The belittling comments, snidey posts, immature posts from people who should know better and a lot more that only a selected few know. It hurt, and it still does hurt, I’m not going to lie. No-one should be bullied whether it’s in person or online, it really is diabolical.

Whilst I was MIA I had one, very special lady message me to ensure that I was okay as I hadn’t been active online. That gesture itself made me well up as nobody has ever really done that for me, and it meant a lot that my presence was missed. Lucie Wheeler, you are a truly wonderful, inspirational and kind-hearted lady, and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for being there for me this week and every time before. You were (and are) the person I knew I could trust to message when I was feeling concerned, knowing full well you wouldn’t judge and just be the friend and support network you obviously knew that I needed. You truly are worth your weight in gold and I love you lots, thank you <3.

So yes, I am back. I received over 1,500 e-mails in the last week so if you have sent me an e-mail and I haven’t replied yet, sit tight and I will get to you. Thank you all again for the shares and fingers crossed the bully leaves me alone. Much love to you all <3.

New year, New..? No! #TWGTalks

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Seeing as we are in a brand new year, I thought that I would revamp a feature from 2016 that seemed to be quite popular! If you’ve been following my blog since day one, you might remember ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’ where I took controversial book related subjects, and spoke about them. As you do. However, seeing as I am aiming to become a freelance writer (or thereabouts), I thought that it would be good to showcase my writing in the only way I know how: talking. I am called the WRITING Garnet after all!

So, the title of this post; ‘New Year, New..? No!’, it is pretty vague eh? We are now into a brand new year (well, 15 days into it, who’s counting?) and usually that comes with the ‘new year, new me’ and 134542473773 resolutions that are usually broken within 12 hours (I’m being generous). If you are one of the rare few that do actually keep their new years resolutions then that is excellent! However, do we really need to pile on the pressure every single year with the whole ‘new me’ fiasco? If you wanted to change part of your lifestyle or try something new, you could do that any day of the year and own it. Why is the nod from the New Year so important?

‘When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what would I be, will I be pretty, will I be rich, here’s what she said to me’……

Go and be yourself and don’t give a fudgewallop what anybody else thinks!

You thought I was going to break into a bit of ‘Que sera sera’-ing didn’t you? My mum has actually said that line above by the way! Maybe not with those EXACT words, cough fudgewallop cough, but I am sure you get the gist. Did I listen to her though? Let’s just say that some human beans that I had the displeasure of being acquainted with, had other ideas for my confidence and self-worth. So yes, I did give a fudgewallop what everyone else thought of me and if I’m honest, I still do (to an extent). Recently I got betrayed by a person that I thought was a really good friend. They took my vulnerability and shredded it whilst trying to mould me into the person that THEY could ‘cope’ with. My illnesses, my struggles, my down days, the way I organised things in my home, everything – they all became problematic to that person. ‘What did you do?’ I hear you ask, I took a step back, removed their toxic asshat from my bubble and reviewed my life. Well, after bonding with tissues and coming to terms with the bullying & betrayal that is.

You’re probably wondering what my little story has to do with the new year, right? Fear not, I will explain…eventually. It dawned on me that I had spent most of my life changing myself to fit in with those around me, or making myself out to be something that I am quite clearly not. I lost sight of me, Kaisha. I didn’t know who I was, all I knew was what everyone else wanted me to be. But you know what? Nah, no more.

If you know me, you probably know my story (if not, it’s on a previous blog post, somewhere). You’ll know that my whole life is controlled by my body and things that I cannot see and cannot do anything about. Why the monkeybum would I want to then mould myself around other folk? I never knew that I was Play Doh!

Personally, New Year isn’t about creating a brand new you. By all means, if you want to do daring things, lose weight or have different aims in life, then go for it! You don’t need to become a brand new you to do that though, do you? If we stood in front of a mirror, it wouldn’t take us long to pick out all of the things that we dislike about ourselves. We have all done it, and we most probably will continue to do it. As Izzy from ‘A Year Of Saying Yes’ (part 1&2 are out now) by Hannah Doyle says; we don’t take the time to appreciate our lines, our beauty.

Don’t change yourself because we have entered a new year. Don’t change yourself because someone has a chip on their shoulder and your addition of salty sass ruins their vinegar. Make aims. Say YES to things (only if you want to though). Aim to become a better you, not a brand new you.

If it turns out that people cannot handle you, handle yourself and OWN IT. If you are having a asshat of a day and can’t stop crying; DON’T! It’s your life.

It’s YOUR song so YOU choose the dance.
New Year, I’m still me, and you’re still you.

Influenced by a book, TWG lets loose with her thoughts.. #honestpost #awareness #bullying

I need to type. I need to try and free my mind from whatever seems to be constricting it right now. I have no idea what that may be. All I know is that my mind feels trapped..
I have just finished reading a book that reopened many of my wounds, although to be honest, I’m not too sure that they were even fully closed. Throughout this post, the book title, author and overall information of it will remain anonymous. No, it’s not because I thought the book was rubbish, or any other negative views at all. The book was brilliant yet incredibly harrowing; yet I need to keep my thoughts of the book in my head for now.

I have been through many, many things in my life already. Most of which I have pretty much glazed over, acted like things are ‘fine’ and believed that my feelings and experiences aren’t worthy of peoples time…because others believe them not to be. How do you ever come back from that though? Being stuck in a place you have been made to feel as though it is the right place to be, yet all along it is wrong, and you have now lost the chance of breaking free.

When I was a little girl I used to be so afraid of growing up, yet I would dream of wearing sparkly clothes, having long, flawless hair and walking with such swagger and confidence. From the time I was a little girl to the time I became an adult, a lot of things changed. Innocence was lost and my dream of wearing sparkly clothes and walked with swagger, became no more. Instead, I just saw…black. There was no sparkle and no swagger. Instead, there was fear and trying to find my own way of surviving through the black times. Some people may use that moment to try and shine or to fight back, yet others may decide to think of everything as….FINE.
‘Are you okay?’ Yeah, I’m FINE.
‘Nothing on your mind?’ No, I’m FINE.
‘You look grumpy…’ I’m not, i’m just…FINE.

Instantly, you’ve lured yourself into a sense of false security. You know deep down that you’re not fine, but seeing as ‘fine’ seems to be your most favourable word, you tend to believe it.

The book that has influenced my thoughts tonight, has given me a real kick up the booty. It has made me realise that I need to learn to talk. I need to learn to talk about MY deepest and darkest feelings without feeling guilty. I need to realise that my feelings are just as important as JimBob’s across the road, or Phoebe’s in Central Perk…

Whilst it is extremely easy to realise those things, it is even harder to put them into practice, especially when you’re surrounded by people that seem to think that is okay to downplay your feelings and take away YOUR moment to express what you feel is important. Nobody has the right to do that, EVER. It is NOT theirs to take. Jodi Picoult made an extremely valid point (one of many) at her event recently. She was talking about what you should and shouldn’t say to a person of colour, and I also believe that those things should be taken into consideration with multiple other situations too. Jodi said that when you’re in a conversation with another person who is talking about their concerns, what you do NOT say is ‘ah I know someone with X Y & Z too’, or ‘that happened to me too’. Why? Because you then downplay their moment and cast it aside like it is of no importance, all because Clementine over the road is the same.

Whilst typing this waffle, it has made me realise even more so that I need to say F………….YOU to a lot of things and a lot of people, and say HIYAAAAAAAA to myself and my daughter. I can do it for her, I just don’t know how to do it for myself.

Maybe one day I will find the confidence to talk about situations that haunt me to this day, one that is even more important after reading that book. I will never rid myself of that situation completely, well, hardly a situation as such. All I know is, my experience of it may help others. If I can’t do it for myself, I will do it for them….whoever they are…it may even be you.

Over and out.
TWG.

How @Lesley_Allen_ & Biddy Weir gave me courage to tell my own story – #BullyingAwarenessWeek

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It isn’t often that you can come across a book which you feel was written about you, for you. A book that is written with such poignancy and devotion to the storyline and its true meaning; one that you can relate to in more ways than one. Unfortunately, when the book in question contains a storyline which in an ideal world, nobody SHOULD EVER relate to, you start to feel ashamed for feeling relieved that you DO relate to it.

Not long ago, author Lesley Allen released a novel titled; ‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’, which has just been released in paperback to coincide with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.
(#Review! The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir – (@Lesley_Allen_) @BonnierZaffre #antibullyingmonth)
Thank you to Lesley Allen and Biddy Weir, I was able to muster up enough courage to finally tell my own personal story about being a victim of bullying.

This is my story….

Imagine this; you’re five years old, in Year 1 of Primary School and incredibly shy. You keep yourself to yourself and never get in anyone’s way, pretty much getting on with daily life at age five. Still imagining? Good. Keep going…
Now imagine being the five-year old that got picked on for sitting on the playground floor reading Noddy magazine on their own. Imagine being the five year old that got shoved, pushed and laughed at for being a quiet child (or in their world, a loner). Now, imagine being a five year old that has just been pushed into a brick wall and was called ‘fat’. I’m sure a few of you are probably shaking your heads in disbelief thinking it’s not possible at age five. It is. It was. Want to know why? Because I was that five year old that you have just been imagining for the last paragraph.

Back in 1995 if you were getting picked on, people used to come out and say ‘it’s only a bit of name calling, you’ll get over it’. No. Just NO. We wouldn’t stand for people calling us names now, as adults, why should we stick up with it as children?
From the very first moment of being called fat, my life turned upside down. ‘Fat’ didn’t just appear once, or twice, it used to be a daily occurrence. A FIVE years old. In school I was never considered popular and to be honest, given the nature of the ‘popular gang’, I didn’t even want to be. I was very happy sitting reading my Noddy magazine, waiting for the school bell to ring for home time so that I could see my mum. My protector.

As I got older, I felt like I was constantly looking over my shoulder, trying not to act in a way that people would bully me for. But no matter how hard I tried NOT to get bullied by trying to be someone else, I was still their target. Their meat if you will. Those fat comments did a little more to me than just upset me as no matter what I did, I couldn’t shift the comments from my mind and believed them. I believed them so much, I started attacking myself; I began to play up with my food. I hid it, I dropped it, I threw it away. You name it, I did it, as long as I didn’t have to eat it. At such a young age, I saw food as a poison instead of a necessity. Due to that, my weight plummeted and anorexia & bulimia took over. It was an extremely unhappy time for my family, especially my mum as she couldn’t understand it the way that I understood it as she wasn’t in my head. I mean, if you’re not going through it, how CAN you understand it? Outsiders assume that anorexia is a choice. It really isn’t, it’s an illness, a mental illness.

When I went to Middle School at age 10, I naively thought that the bullying may stop due to everyone being split into different classes with a lot of new students. Don’t get me wrong, it did stop…for a couple of months whilst everyone adjusted. I should have felt elated that I wasn’t getting bullied for a little while, but I wasn’t. Why? Because up until that point, I had already been badly affected by bullies and I wasn’t going to magically feel better and happier overnight. It doesn’t work like that. It cannot work like that. My eating habits were steady, I ate the bare minimum, but at least I ate.

As soon as the bullying started up again I felt more frightened as the bullies were now older and much scarier. I was only a small child, short and very slim build so if anyone towered above me it scared the living scherzy out of me. Getting pinched seemed to be the daily occurrence, as did getting chairs pulled from under me when I’m sitting down. Teachers didn’t believe me, instead, they blamed it on me by saying that I must have done something to antagonise them. I started to dread having to stay in a lunch times due to the bad weather as too many of the nasties were stuck in one room with me. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. I remember one day I tried to stick up for myself and ended up getting a huge sellotape holder bashed onto my hand. Ouch.

I absolutely dreaded going to school and it made me ill. The worry about what would be facing you when you walked through the school gates. Feeling unsure as to whether you’ll go home at the end of the day with all of your possessions. Oh sorry, I didn’t mention that did I? My possessions got stolen at school. Sometimes I was lucky enough to find them still there at the end of the day, even if they were outside in a puddle or covered in mud. Looking back on my school years, it is absolutely ridiculous thinking about what I was bullied for! Horrible names for having hair on my arms, my surname, my weight, my hair colour, my freckles, my dimples; you name it, I was bullied for it.

When I left school, the bullying stopped. I felt free! I could be ME, or could I? Sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is by that age, I had no idea who I was. I had spent so many years trying to make people like me, blaming myself for what the bullies did, or wondering what was wrong with me that I lost sight of who I truly was. All I was certain of by the age of 17 was that I was a very timid, unconfident teenager with a big heart. Regardless of how broken I was, I gave my heart and soul to other people. Why love myself when for over 8 years, I was attacked for who I was. Does that make sense?

I got my very first job when I was 17; made my wish come true by becoming a checkout girl so I could sit down all day. Ahem. I seemed to follow the family by working in Tesco, and I worked really hard. I wasn’t work shy at all, I did what I had to do and more, without complaining. For a while I was loving it but then overnight, that got robbed of me and I had no idea what I had done. Walking into the canteen or past a group of people you had grown to really like, only to overhear nasty comments about yourself felt like a kick in the stomach. I was the new girl in town and soon enough, those nasty comments seemed to go everywhere and the friends I thought I had, bar one, became no more. Thankfully, that friend has been stuck with me for ten years!

This is harder than I thought, wow. I am tearing up writing this because it is extremely hard to see just a small part of what you went through in black and white in front of you. I feel ashamed. I feel as though there is something wrong with me for people to constantly find fault with me in such nasty ways. I don’t understand it, and to be honest, I don’t think that I ever will.

Bullying is a subject that gets spoken about a lot, but barely anything gets down about it. Not only do people get bullied face to face, people can get bullied online too. Cyber bullying. It’s horrendous and unfortunately I have been on the receiving end of that too. It is quite known that there is a huge stigma attached to bullying because assumptions are often made about the severity. ANY form of bullying is severe and should not be tolerated. Constant name calling etc can leave scars on your emotional well-being and even affect you for many, many years after the event. Physical bullying is often seen as worse because people can physically see it rather than take the victims word for it. Physical bullying can leave scars in the same way as name calling etc can, unfortunately, both types of bullying can result in such devastating endings. Suicide.

It can take an awful lot of courage to be able to speak to a person that you trust, about any forms of bullying that you are going through. It’s far too easy for an outsider to go ‘you need to tell someone’, whereas the victim is probably sitting in fear wondering what would happen if they told anyone. I know I did, I was petrified that the bullying would escalate even more. I couldn’t handle it at the level that it was at, how would I be able to handle it any worse? Luckily for me, my mum believed me. She also was one of the two people to believe me when I was getting bullied at work when I was pregnant.

It’s probably sad to say that my story isn’t much different to millions of others out there. The scars are still evident deep within, I’m not a confident girl and I struggle to trust people due to what the bullies did, and everything else that has happened in my life. I don’t feel worthy of people’s love or attention, and every time I’m being treated rubbishly by people these days, it brings me back to moments I wish to forget. But I can’t. I’m trying to, don’t get me wrong. I will never be like anyone else, never. I am truly thankful to the people who have stood by me and have had my back over the years. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

Over the years I have told my stop in dribs and drabs, never have I ever told it like this. What you have read is only a summary of what I went through, there is far more to it than that as I am sure you understand. Reading Lesley Allen’s book shook me to the core, but, without Lesley writing such a safe haven of a storyline, I don’t think that I would have found the courage to speak out properly. Thank you Lesley and Biddy Weir.

Bullying needs to stop. We need to stop feeling ashamed for being bullied, but we need to have the safety net to do so.

This was my story, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading it.
If you have been affected by anything in my post, or are getting bullied yourself and have no idea where to go from here, you can find contact numbers and support details right here:
Bullying UK

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Day 4 of TWG’s tour for Lucy Scala (@LucreziaScala)’Someone To Love’ (@Aria_Fiction)TWG&Love?

twgtol(Picture credit to WallpaperCave)

-sniffs- It’s the fourth and final day of TWG’s solo blog tour for ‘Someone To Love’ by Lucy Scala. So far on the tour we have had Lucy Scala tell us what love means to her, TWG’s review of the book AND an interview with the lady herself. I’m sure you’re probably thinking what else can I bring you on this tour? Well my little gems, I will be rounding off this tour with TWG’s take on love!

TWG’s take on love…interesting concept. Think I’ve thrown myself into the deep end with this one! For those who know me well, you’re probably wondering how I am going to write this post. Afterall, I’ve been single for 3 years and I don’t exactly have guys standing outside my house like paparazzi , trying to catch a glimpse. -looks outside- No, I actually don’t. My idea of love is sitting on the sofa with a good book, cuppa, chocolate and watching my favourite programs (outside of being a mum). I know my daughter loves me, she is three, but that is a different love.

People’s own take on love can get a bit cloudy due to the Prince/Princess charming scenarios that we come across in films, or even books. Is that even realistic? If you’re a bit of a love cynic then you’ll probably be saying no to that question. But, if you’re a hopeless romantic, of course you’ll think it is. Where do I fit in with those? Honestly? I have no idea. I used to think that love was cringy, slushy and just not for me. Granted, I was at the age where I didn’t know true love if it came and bit me on my bottom, but, relationships I entered didn’t do much to change my personal views.

I see people completely loved up, being loved for who they are and what they do and of course I would love that. I would love to be loved for who I am. The thing is, I have too much against me as a person to have someone love me like that. Due to my past, I can’t let my guard down. That said, I haven’t found the right person that I feel comfortable to do that with….yet. For a long time I told myself that it would never happen and try to get used to that fact, force of habit. However, as I have gotten older and opened my eyes and heart to the possibility of love, I would like to think that maybe one day that will change.

Will I actively go seeking for love? No, I won’t, not from another person. I need to actively seek love from myself. I need to learn to love myself before anyone else can fall in love with me. I have opened my heart to the possibility of finding true love or ‘the one’, but I am in no rush to. If it happens, it happens. Maybe one day I will find the guy that I click with, or maybe I will be sitting on the sofa in my Minnie mouse pj’s, watching other people fall in love. Who knows what the future will bring. Even if I don’t find my someone to be IN love with, I know that I will always have my someone to love in a different sense, with my daughter. Unconditional.

Thank you for all of the support, shares and RT’s over the last four days. It truly means a lot as I was really nervous about doing this solo tour. I hope you have enjoyed it, thank you for staying with me and tuning in! I hope you all find your someone to love!

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What’s on your mind #TWG? Can storylines ever be ‘too real’? #Discussion.

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I know, I know, I’m sorry! There has been plenty on TWG’s mind since we last took a trip there, but I haven’t been able to extract my thoughts just for you, until now! Honoured? Should be!

I have a feeling that this weeks topic might cause a large discussion as I believe that a lot of you will have an opinion about it. Please don’t shy away, get involved in this discussion, as well as any others, by commenting on this post! Let me know what YOU think!

TWG is talking about storylines this week. Can a storyline ever be TOO real? I know that people often read for amusement or to escape their personal struggles and reading a book mirroring those struggles, might be distressing. Do those types of books put you off? Do you prefer reading books that have storylines that are completely different from your own life and what you have been through or are going through? Or, do you find those storylines refreshing?

Tough one really, isn’t it? Personally, I read for amusement and I aim for books that are hilariously different. For example; Kitty French – Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency or Carol Wyer – Life Swap. There are many, many more that take me away from my struggles for the time it takes to read that particular book. However, I find it extremely refreshing to read a book that has a character with an illness the same, or similar to one of mine, or a storyline based on something that I have been through. Whilst reading about those topics can be quite emotional and often gut wrenching, I think that tough situations need to get highlighted within books. Sometimes, if an illness or event gets brought up in the media, there is a higher chance of a negative spin on it because people are uneducated about it. But, put that into a book where the reader is absorbing the information in their own way, the topic is seen in a completely different light. It’s as though the fictional book is educating the reader.

Several months ago I read a book that highlighted an illness that a lot of people know OF, but they don’t know IT; The Years Of Loving You by Ella Harper. For me, seeing my symptoms in black  and white, but really being the characters symptoms, was emotionally refreshing. It gave me hope that maybe just ONE person will read it and be able to approach the situation completely differently to help a loved one. I do think that books that are close to the reader’s life, often take away the ‘taboo’ heading for that particular topic. Even though they are fictional characters, it as though you have an ally, someone who knows what you’re going through. Either that makes me sound extremely odd now, or it’s widely agreed with. Someone please say yes…

Don’t get me wrong, I can see that reading a book that reminds you of a time you’d rather forget, isn’t good and that’s where the ‘too real’ factor might come in.

It really is a tough one to gauge, especially when every reader has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to books, as well as having their own troubles to contend with. I am really intrigued to hear your thoughts on this one so please do comment on the post, or tweet me @kaishajayneh and let me know if there is such a thing as being too real, where books are concerned!