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No Fxxking Apologies!

No more apologies for the actions of others.

No more apologies for things I haven’t done.

No more apologies for my writing.

No more apologies for my work.

No more apologies for taking up space.

No more apologies for having a voice.

No more apologies for being me.

No fucking apologies.

Sat at the midpoint between 40 and 50 I reflect – I am reflecting – which I seem to have been doing for a long time. Years have gone by where I have felt discomfort – Betty Friedan 1963 book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ talks about the ‘problem with no name’ that women have in the home, society and life. This is the problem I have – not an unhappiness but an unease – a discomfort that something isn’t quite right but can’t identify it.

I seem to have forgotten things about myself – the simplest of things – my favourite colour, things I like to wear, things I like to eat, things I like to do.

I hear myself apologising – I see myself apologising – like some crazy out of body experience – apologising for having an opinion – apologising for being in the way – apologising for not doing something exactly the way someone wants it done. I see myself apologising for being me.

I have consumed for all of my life by the need to please – to make others happy before me – to the detriment of me. I didn’t realise this, of course, I thought I knew who I was – I had an identity.

A wife, a mother, a good daughter, a generally okay sister, if a bit irreverent at times, and the person at work who would problem solve when the shit hit the fan. I was the problem solver – I based my identity on that.

I lived for others and how I could serve them and make their lives better. If you asked me my favourite biscuit I would say a rich tea – the world’s most dull biscuit – but I was a rich tea – no identity other than a vessel to hold the shit of others – I held down my own thoughts but something has shifted and I cannot stop it, even if I want to.

Sitting outside my studio, which is full of work, I take my shoes off and rub my feet in the cool grass of the shade – and I remember – I remember that I love walking on grass. I love the way each blade slips effortlessly between each toe and the coolness of the ground soothing my rough skinned feet. I think why do I not do this more – why do I never do this – why do I never give into the things that I enjoy – always putting the shit of others before my likes.

Rubbing my feet in the grass, I let my mind wander to the other things that I have forgotten I like. Going to the beach – no one ever wants to go – so I don’t go – I feel like a beach trip is too frivolous for me and a petrol waste on just one person – me. I love the breeze – the air- the isolation – the solitude – the space as I look into the horizon. I love a flask – a can of really cold diet coke – I love the sand sticking to my sun cream lathered skin.

I love to swim – I really love to swim – I like the water holding me as I move through the water – I love an empty pool in the early morning and I get out as it just starts to get busy. I had forgotten that – it seemed too frivolous to pay to go swimming when other things needed paying for and other things needed doing.

I love to write – I have a book – a memoir that needs to be typed up – the words not feeling important to be shared – they would laugh at me – nobody would get it – feeling that I would bore people with my words. I didn’t know I loved to write until I started – but I do – I had felt too stupid to write – too dyslexic to carve the story of my life into the words on a page.

I love to travel – I never have but when I have I love it. The freedom the newness – the warm air brushing my skin in the evening - I love the early mornings in a new place – so full of hope – so full of promise but without expectation – an experience to be drunk in with a whole heart. I love coffee in a piazza – with sugar – watching life – watching others as they breathe into their own lives.

I love the stillness of the early, early morning, I get up early but I don’t go out into it – fearful I will be needed for something – a shirt – a pair of trousers that have not been washed because they have been missing in action for days – I give up the stillness as I carry the weight of responsibility of others – this weight – this binding – these feelings have made me loose myself.

Something has changed – I don’t know what but it has – I want to remember who I am – or I want to be who I am now.

I want to write, I want to swim, I want to go to the beach, I want to travel, I want to absorb myself into the early mornings – I want to step into my life as I head towards 50 – not apologising for me – explaining away my art – apologising for having an opinion – apologising for talking in a crowd – I want to make a decision about what I want to do above others – rather than jumping into the slip stream of others.

Sat in my studio – my work on my walls – I can see me – the writing beside each piece really explaining what it is about. It is there for reading – it may be rewritten at some point – my words may develop – my thoughts may change – but I will not apologise.

This is working progress – this is the start of a long process to shake off the need to apologise – to begin to do the things that I love again – to find out my favourite colour – to be inquisitive but never to apologise to taking up space – never apologise for being me.

Hannah x

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