I want to wind you back to December 2016. I was on holiday in Norfolk with my husband and Molly. Dreading coming back to my lovely home.
All that year I’d been doing battle with a bullying boss after a big shake up at work. This senior manager had issues, I have no idea what. On day two I was told I was a rubbish writer, she failed to communicate essential details and endless jibes. I can only assume she was concerned I was academically better qualified than her not that this means much for we’re all worth way more than a degree. At every possible moment she put me down, privately and publically. When you have a name like mine, your hair is naturally ginger, you’re not great with sports and prefer to read a book, you grow up either being bullied or like me, fighting back.
I had a reputation for being a gentle soul until pushed, I right hooked the school bully after she beat up my brother. So it was that I was pushed too far by this boss. So I fought back. But when I looked for support I found I was largely alone. I only survived because she left the department to make someone else’s life hellish and my fighting may only have resulted in a warning had it continued. Despite the Masters degree, all my years of experience and that we’d pretty much begged to differ by her leaving, my confidence nosedived.
I felt that my worth was tied to my childlessness. This odious person didn’t have children and I suspect child free by choice judging by her comments on little ones. I was in part thankful she wasn’t a parent. Yet also rilled by her ill judged behaviour at putting me down. My life experiences were far, far more than hers. How dare she do that? I still regret that I never had the chance to tell her what a bitch she was before she let the company for good sadly a promotion not a sacking proving that karma only goes so far.
During this awful year, I was ill. We had three holidays and on each one I was struck down with a cold. That Christmas I was in mental torment, chronically sick, wondering about changing my job (I’d written a letter of resignation already) and I’d fallen out of love with a support group. I wrote a letter to get advice which was heavily edited (I do not have autism and it was 6 rounds not eight but the details are otherwise correct). I am going to bravely share this here because I’m almost embarrassed to do so. I was desperate. By the time it was published I had pulled through with the support of my very sensible husband, my good friend Sue and four dear friends - Liz, Lindsay, Miranda and Elizabeth. I hope they read this because they are gold and have no words to repay them for their kindness.
I will talk more about this in my Facebook Live tomorrow but I’m lucky. Friends pull me through when family forget to drop in and I have, I confess, not dropped into see them for fear of being hurt. These friends, along with Michael, Jody Lucy and Steph, are the best tonic against feeling unworthy and it’s that medicine that makes World Childless Week work so well. If you came up to me after Fertility Fest to say you read Walk In Our Shoes, you’ve written for the site or you’ve liked any of the Facebook Lives, then you’ve done a lot to make me happy. You truly did.
I am almost loath to use a hashtag, we’re our own heroes for being here but then I have had a lifetime of labels. Patient, sister, wife, daughter, cousin, niece, granddaughter, victim, ex-girlfriend, dyspraxic, synaesthesic, almost a mum, not a mum, artist, designer, even childless. I’ve also fought against my name and used my middle name which is less interesting and appeals more to my introvert nature. But it’s time to reclaim it. No labels, they make us categories, sides and gangs and those are dangerous when the wrong people use them.
Thank you for reading this, that makes you amazing to me.