And just like that another year is nearly done.
It's been a mixed bag hasn't it? I mean for all time sad and low ways to begin a year, you would be hard pressed to beat Trump being voted in as President, wouldn't you?
But sometimes, when the balance tips so far into the red ('The Donald' has the nuclear codes!) only something incredibly powerful can help restore the world's equilibrium, and for me, the sound of women breaking their silence and saying #metoo, is doing its part to help bring back that balance.
It takes incredible courage to speak out about abuse and sexual assault. The kind of courage I am yet to find within myself. I posted a #metoo on Facebook when the call went out. But I didn't have what it took to add a story. I am working on that.
Men hope that men learn to listen to these stories better. To listen, not so they can respond, but to truly hear what is being said. To listen and not jump in with 'not all men are like that'. To listen unconditionally and to know the irrelevance of what a woman's outfit was, what she was drinking or what her reputation was. Men need to listen with one aim, to believe what they hear.
I remember once telling Foie Gras (my ex husband) about something that had happened to me. His expression stayed blank and at the end he gave a little shrug. "You don't believe me?" I asked. He said "I do, but I've heard similar stories before". I wish I had had the guts to say to him 'So you know other women who have been through something similar, and that makes my story LESS valid?' But at the time, his response fed into something I had always feared, that my story was not about how I had been hurt or how my trust had been abused; but instead that it was about how I had invited something in, and then, finding myself hurt, had regretted extending the invitation. That is was, in short, my fault.
Other women need to listen better too. We need to stop feeding the idea that it's about how we dress or where we go or who we hang out with. We need to stop saying 'It's never happened to me because......" We need to accept that it hasn't happened to us because we were lucky, not because of anything we did to avoid it. The same horror that has been perpetrated against the tipsy woman wearing a mini skirt in a bar, has been faced by the little girl in dungarees, the teenager in hijab, the old lady asleep in her bed and the faithful wife of a dozen years. There is nothing a victim has 'done' to invite assault.
From a purely personal point of view, one of the biggest challenges this year was dealing with my heart broken teenage son. Post an unceremonious dumping by his first girlfriend, Trou had been moody, distant and grumpy and I finally found myself cast in the role I had heard so much about from friends – that of the unpopular parent. Nothing I did was right, attempt to engage and I was interfering and a nag, leave him to his own devices and I was uncaring and negligent. It was driving me insane.
Then, a couple of months ago, I began to see distinct signs of life - the occasional smile, a very welcome interest in personal hygiene and grooming, and a general buoyancy of mood and step. I was much relieved; until he brought the reason for this positive change home in the form of a new girlfriend. While in the same physical mode as his previous love, this new girl is completely different in terms of personality. Loud, confident, chatty and with a distinct devil may care attitude about PDA, she has succeeded in pressing all my buttons - the nuclear ones. I don't like her, and I consider myself incredibly petty because of it. I also obviously wasn't incredible discreet about my disapproval because Trou complained to his father who proceeded to call me and attempt to smoothen my ruffled feathers (life is full of ironies)
Foie Gras: Let it be Bouche. Just play it cool. This scenario is a lot better than him moping around and snapping like a twig every five minutes
Me: Agreed. But these rebound relationships can get really serious and I don't think....
FG: I really wouldn't worry about it. The girl isn't even remotely excited about Infinity War.
FG: Yup. He was talking to her about the trailer and she said she 'can't be bothered' watching so many movies just so she can understand 'some story that nerds made up a 100 years ago'. Now, the girl is cute, but if she isn't going to watch that movie with him and discuss it for three hours afterwards then she isn't a keeper. Trust me.
You can wrap me up in tin foil and tattoo the words 'petty betty' on my forehead, but I am hoping like heck my ex husband is right about this one.
The cherry on the cake of a rather emotional year came when The Man announced that he wouldn't be around over the season because his parents had asked him to spend Christmas with them - in New York. This was of course a masterstroke by his mother, who no doubt considers my continued presence in his life to be utterly de trop.
Naturally, I responded to his impending departure with typical maturity and restraint. (Warning: Mild 'The Last Jedi' spoilers ahead)
Me: I wish we had that Kylo Ren and Rey force connection. Then I could see you and talk to you whenever.
The Man: I think that aspect of the Force is now known as Skype. Or Facetime if you would only consider a change to Apple...
Me: I know...but it would be nicer to just feel this tingle down my spine and turn around and see you there
The Man: Now tell the truth - you just want to catch me with my shirt off.
Me: This is true.
Nerd romance. Gotta love it. Gotta understand why Christmas just wasn't the same without it.
But it was joyful nonetheless, largely due to the latest addition to the family – Macaron's (my younger sister) son who I shall happily (and appropriately) christen Profiterole for the future purpose of these writings. With my nephew at the centre of every group, every photograph and as many hugs as he could handle, he was and is a plump and amiably smiling reminder that there is more to love and hope for in the world than not (so cliche, so true)
2018 is almost here. Here's to a New Year of listening, learning, empathy and courage. And here's to hope, because as sure as life takes loved ones away, it sends us new loves, and as often as our faith is tested, it is also renewed.
Happy New Year