This week in many ways has been horrendous. It literally has been one thing after another, stress and bad news, moving houses, a migraine, Incompetent people, broken friendships and backstabbing bitches. It is now sunday and I don’t feel at all prepared for the new week tomorrow! I realised at the weekend during the unfolding drama that I am lucky to have such a wonderful little group of friends. Without them, this move back to norwich would have been impossible. They have gone above and beyond, and I am SO grateful to them. It also made me realise the amount of ‘poisonous friends’ I have in my life. The takers. The ones who leech. Who only want to be my friend because its beneficial to them. To those people, I say goodbye because I’ve had enough. This week I received some devastating news from home, something that has the potential to take someone I love away from me…and I’m finding that hard to deal with. We won’t find out until some more scans and tests are done but it’s not looking very good at all and I’m finding it very very hard to cope with this amongst everything else. It feels horrible.I usually deal with things on my own but couldn’t this time and really needed a friend and someone I trusted to talk to. I realised that there are some people you can reach out to, and others you thought you could but can’t. Theres no blame in that, just a huge fucking realisation. I found when my friend was here, I couldn’t find the words to say what was happening. Telling someone something so huge is so hard, and words failed me…words still fail me. I need to put on my monday face and find a way to do this!
When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.
Trent Bell , an architectural photographer, was inspired after a friend got into trouble and ended up sentenced to 36 years in prison. Scroll down to see a video of how he made the series.
This year I am strangely excited for my birthday?? I shall be turning 25 in roughly three weeks on the 15th of March and for once I’m looking forward to it :) I just realised that this will also be my 5th birthday spent in Norwich! I don’t yet know what I will do to celebrate but I don’t really feel like a big night out or anything like that. Although that is subject to change :p
I wrote this a long, long time ago when I wasn’t feeling great and everything seemed so uncertain. I feel like slowly, little by little, the questions I had have answers. I feel like my life is coming together now, when for a long time I felt so lost and sad. I believe in making your own luck…I certainly wasn’t born lucky and there are reasons for everything. I feel a lot happier now. Albeit a little unsettled as I currently write this from Elisa’s sofa :) I will be moving into my house on Tuesday and after a bumpy month I will finally have my own space, bed and room! I am most looking forward to having my bed put up, my new covers put on, laying on my new bed in my new room,making some art! For a long time my inspiration had left me and I wasn’t creating, and when I don’t create I’m miserable. My inspiration has come back to stay with me and I cannot wait to have some fun! I still can’t believe that I am back living in Norwich! I adore this place and I’m so happy to be here. Even though I left so much I loved in kent, it’s not been left behind really. Love lives in your heart and with you and that’s never going to go away no matter where in the world you go. I have so many big plans for the next few years…this is only the beginning!
I’m feeling nostalgic tonight grandad, and when I wake up in the morning I know you’re going to be the first thing on my mind. It’s your birthday tomorrow and if you were here I would normally have spent the evening with you celebrating and buying you as always a box of fudge and a scratch card amongst your gifts :) I can’t put into words properly how I feel because at the moment my feelings are all over the place with one thing and another. I hope that you’re happy and will celebrate some how in your own way. I hope that you are looking over nana and keeping her safe because she isn’t very well at the moment. I hope that you will be with mum and bill when they have their operations.. I’m terrified something is going to go wrong and mum will be with you :(
Thank you for always encouraging me,believing in me and giving me the confidence to believe in myself because without you behind me and the love you gave, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’m sure everyone says that but I made you a promise and I kept it, as you knew I would…and even though you haven’t been here physically I know that you have been there behind me every step of the way, no matter how treacherous it has been. Happy birthday grandad, the best grandad in the whole entire world. I love you.
A very short, but very sweet weekend spent together amongst the packing and sorting and finallllllly got round to watching this film together :)