All Real Talk
Joe Bartholomew  

Celebrating Women

Warning – reading this might make you uncomfortable…

For my life, yesterday was a stunning example of why we should celebrate women, not just yearly but every bloomin day. I’ve seen lots of social media posts today about outstanding women in history, business and sports… but none yet for the women who aren’t often seen by many, but are there making a difference in the world. Hence my thoughts now going out there.

I’m known for my honesty, bluntness, and lack of shielding myself when it comes to being vulnerable, and today will be no different.

I’ve had an incredibly challenging, life-changing, three weeks of which only a handful of people are aware.  To add to this I’ve had a particularly bad week due to a cold walloping me and every time I think it’s gone it sneaks up like a troll and comes back with a vengeance.  What’s the point of revealing this?  I wouldn’t have, were it not for the responses to my post yesterday. 

I posted a picture of me to go alongside a post expressing how glad I was that I have no more ulcers on my tongue and my cold had gone… actually, it was only in hiding, it came back with a vengeance around 3am, but I digress… As the picture was in black and white a lot of the usual flaws were hidden so it made me look better than the reality… And?

And… as my BFF will tell you (yes I call her BFF, and no I don’t care that I sound like an 11-year-old) yesterday I was suffering from severe low self-esteem. She will kill me if I list all the things that I was focussing on yesterday, as much as I’d like to bullet point them here, but I assure you, my spirit was in a deep hole, filled with faeces, burning coal on top, smouldering and smoking, the stench was overwhelming. I eventually took her advice and played some loud music, decluttered a room in my house, and sat on the deck breathing in the peace of the lake… then posted on social media.

The women who commented on my post haven’t seen me in forever, two aren’t even in this country, and yet they took the time to write something sweet about my picture and personality.  My love language is sending TikToks and Memes, definitely not words of affirmation, but these comments made me feel seen, at a time when I admit I’ve been feeling invisible.  Social media can bring me down as well as up, I’m addicted to TikTok, but the reaction to my post has helped me remember that I’m part of a tribe of women who have the power to encourage each other… and, therefore, change lives.  Sounds dramatic?  Yup, because it is.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to start sending me helpline numbers – if I felt like that I do have people around me who I can call (if you don’t have that person, DM me and I’ll give you my mobile).

So back to these women.  As much as I’m a writer (not that you’d know it unless you are reading one of my novels – I don’t try to be ‘writery’ in any other arena), I don’t often express myself well.  I tend to think that people who know me know my heart so therefore know my feelings, and I often give posts a little thumbs up after reading and move on.  Why do I do that?  Because I have low self-esteem… yup, it really is true… down to the point where I think ‘Oh blimey, no one wants to read your nonsense Joe’ so I give a thumbs up and wander off.  Not anymore. 

This is actually a siren call to warn you if you don’t want to hear more from me going forward, you can turn off notifications, or unfriend me if you prefer, I won’t know thankfully so do feel free. Wherever possible I’m going to try to do more than a thumbs up on my friend’s posts… notice I did say ‘try’. The ’try’ is for me, not anyone reading. I need to remember that we never know what is going on behind a seemingly happy post and that words can have a dramatic effect. Not derogatory comments of course – I’ve had enough of those to last a lifetime thanks to The Sun newspaper, but that’s another story for another time – but reminding my female, male, non-binary friends, that they are seen and that I care.

At some point I am likely to write my story, I already know the first line…

It was difficult being the labrador of the family…

But not yet. I think this challenging season I’m in has to resolve to something wonderful or what kind of miserable book would that be to write, never mind read!

In summary, for those of you who are still reading this waffle, thank you. Thank you for taking time to listen/read/watch comment. Your words have power. Even if you are overseas and haven’t seen someone for years, just one thoughtful comment can have an impact, a dramatic impact, and you will likely never know this. I’m an introvert with ADHD, rejection sensitivity, low self-worth, a potty mouth, with a level of honesty that doesn’t seem to diminish, regardless of whether it’s appropriate, who may sometimes say ‘stuff’ that others wish they could. Well, today is no exception. If I could line you all up I would take my time hugging you until you started to squirm, kissing your cheeks and telling you how much you have impacted my life and how much the world is a better place with you in it. As well as my many flaws, I do have a huge, soft, vulnerable, unprotected heart, and I hope you can feel that I’m sharing it via these words to you today.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You are loved x

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