Short answer? I'm the girl in the photo. I like purple.
Who am I?
Okay, I totally have the song from Les Mis in my head now, so I guess I can say I'm a musical theatre geek. But really, who am I?
I ask the question, because on Thursday night, I had a little rant on Facebook about people who post photos of their Valentines presents/cards or worse dates online (yes, that happens!!). In short, my thought was - and, for the record after yesterday, still is - that I can see little purpose in posting pictures of your flowers, chocolates or cuddly teddy bears besides showing off and that posting those photos also detracts from the romantic sentiment of the gifts being from your loved one to you (i.e. between the two of you, rather than being displayed to the world). There are exceptions, I grant you - an engagement ring is obviously a Valentines gift you might want to show to the world in order to announce that you're getting married and I'm fine with that. I may do the same, some day. And if you're given something that's funny or especially spectacular, I guess I can understand wanting everyone to see. But your average gift/card? And your date? Why not just keep that between you and your partner? What's the point in posting it online? It's something I've never understood, because it's something I've never even considered doing, so I decided to express my take on things.
Anyway, I digress... The thing is, as is always the case when you express an opinion, I eventually encountered the opposite view and a debate began. That's fine; those who know me know I love debating. I'm a feisty so and so and I can hold my own when it comes to arguing my point! But for some reason, perhaps because someone made a joke about trigger warnings, I found myself briefly questioning whether I only felt so strongly about those Valentines photos because I have experienced an abusive relationship. I started to question whether I was bitter or jealous (partly because someone implied I might be), or whether I just couldn't handle seeing happy relationships, when my last one was such a total train wreck.
And then I gave myself a metaphorical slap around the face with a wet fish. Because what the HELL am I doing, thinking that way? Reducing myself to one, negative life experience?! Sure, my history does shape me and probably influences some of my thoughts or actions, but it doesn't inform each and every opinion I have and the day it does is the day I will seriously worry about myself.
I mean... MORE than I already do...
I am a huge amalgamation of different things. Different loves, hates and experiences. I'm a Manics fan, a Blur fan and also a lover of cheesy pop music. I'm a Whovian. A musical theatre geek. A passionate anti-abuse campaigner. I'm a clumsy idiot who is liable to drop things. I'm a nursery nurse and a published author. I'm a little bit Greek and I love to cook. I'm a soppy, oversensitive so and so, who's prone to letting things get to me way too much, but I'm also a bloody good listener and a supportive friend to anyone who needs me. I'm an old-fashioned romantic with a tendency to develop massive crushes at an alarmingly fast rate, but I'm also quite shy. I am a zillion different things. And guess what? I was every single one of those things before I ever experienced an abusive relationship. It affects me, yes. It does NOT define me.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was angry with myself when I started to question whether my opinions were being coloured by what I've been through in the past (as it happens, I felt that way about Valentines photos long before I even met my ex). I need to stop doubting myself and wondering whether I feel or think certain things as a result of my experiences and start having faith in the fact that I'm a fully grown adult, capable of thinking things through independently and reaching her own conclusions. They might sometimes be conclusions that other people don't understand - just like sometimes I hear someone else express a view and think "WHAT?!" - but they're the result of of my own thought processes and they mean something to me.
And as a general rule, we don't need to make apologies for our opinions (I mean, unless they're really vile, scuzzy opinions; racist, sexist or homophobic etc, in which case we bloody should be apologising for them). That's the beauty of the world; we have our views, we share them, we listen to the opposing side and sometimes we change our minds. Sometimes we stick with our original opinion, but we understand the opposite view a little better as a result of talking it through with someone. And sometimes, we keep our original opinion and we think that those who disagree are idiots, because we've convinced ourselves that we're absolutely 100% right and we simply refuse to budge. That's humans for you. And even more beautiful is the fact that if a relationship is strong enough, we can vehemently disagree with one another and still be friends who respect one another. Because agreeing on everything isn't the sole basis of human relationships.
I suppose, in a weird way, I learnt something by being annoyed with myself. I learnt not to excuse myself unless I've genuinely hurt someone's feelings, because my views are mine. And I learnt a little something about who I am.
I'm someone who had a horrible experience. But that's just one, tiny part of a much bigger whole.
Yes, my experience will always colour some of my opinions. But it doesn't colour me.