Smack.

In the beginning of a relationship it’s hard to see any of the annoying or bad attributes that your newfound beloved may possess. The ‘honeymoon’ period of each relationship has those lovely rose tinted glasses that make your partner seem like the most perfect man/woman in the world. In this short-lived period of time all you want is to be around them 24/7 and spend a lot of time in bed getting to know each other (in more than one way!)

After the few lovely rose tinted months progress, unfortunately those lovely romance goggles start to see much more clearly, and with that clear vision comes the time when you see the REAL person you fell in love with. And of course, with any long-term relationship the number of fights or fallouts do increase, but as I’ve always believed: a relationship with no arguments whatsoever isn’t a healthy relationship.

Arguments allow you to vent how you feel, and after each fight you become stronger from it and learn how to deal with conflicts in a much more controlled way. However, not all individuals can stay so controlled when in an argument and this can sometimes be the start of a slippery slope into fights that hurt in more than one way.

Petty arguments or getting annoyed if your partner doesn’t clean up or leaves wet towels on the floor (two of my main pet peeves), is just the start of how your relationship will be carved out in the future. Soon enough, those wet towels on the floor, dirty underwear and clothes thrown about your lovely bedroom and fights over what to watch on TV start to reveal the person underneath the lovely romantic exterior that once plastered a big smile on your face for the first blissful 3-5 months of the relationship.

Unfortunately, sometimes what you find underneath the beginning romance is a lot darker than what those rose tinted glasses made out to be. What I had never really encountered at all in my life was anger and violence. In some circumstances the more you get to know your significant other, the more you understand as to why they react in a certain way in arguments or when unhappy, but along with it comes the result and consequences of how they treat you when the rumble of thunderous anger storms over you.

I remember the first time I felt scared of my own partner. Scared!? To this day it still makes me so sad and even embarrassed that I let myself succumb so greatly to someone’s anger. In that moment I did not recognize the person shouting, swearing and degrading me by every second. I did not think that the person I loved, and who loved me, could treat me in such a way. To be blunt, I felt like a cowering dog that was about to get kicked.

For months afterwards I endlessly Googled or consoled in my mother whether verbal abuse was a quick step away from actual physical abuse. The internet and all the various website forums I trawled pointed to a big YES, whilst my mother said that yes, in some cases if your partner is being verbally abusive it can eventually lead to physical abuse. One thing my mother did make very clear to me was that someone’s violent childhood and turbulent upbringing was in no means an excuse for the behaviour that had recently been displayed by my ex-partner.

Every name under the swearing sun, you name it, I’ve been called it. Every word feels like a bullet hitting a weak safety vest, letting the verbal bullets cut slowly into my skin, into my blood, and into myself, disfiguring or breaking the way I see/saw myself. ‘You selfish little bitch, you’ve ruined everything… You’re a disgusting moody little shit, get out of my life…’ Sadly those words and names float around in my head to this very second. If the person who you feel knows you the better than anyone else seems to think so lowly of you (even if it is just in a heat of the moment rage) then imagine how hard it is to reassure yourself that you are not that piece of worthless crap in the gutter that you now feel like. On a few occasions I thought in my head that a bruise or cut would feel so much less painful than the words that were spat out at me

I found myself in a catch 22 – on the one hand I wanted to be there and help my partner through his anger issues and felt so sad knowing the details of the violence he grew up in, but on the other hand, I had to ask myself whether I wanted to stick around someone who was verbally abusive. I couldn’t get my head around it all, and to this day I still can’t.

The rose tint of my glasses is long gone, and now I see more clearly in front of me. I see more clearly as to how I should be treated and that abuse of any kind is not acceptable in a relationship. The names still float around in my head, and knock me off balance on a few occasions, but I know that if I believe the poisonous words in my head then I will never begin to like myself. I realised a way back when I was in a dark period of my life that if I don’t learn to like myself, I won’t learn to like other people or be liked in return. A little positivity every day will get you a long way from who you used to be, and who you used to be with.

The morning after.

After a night out, it is always a girls’ ritual to catch up and fill each other in on who got with who, how much was exactly spent on jagerbombs or tequila shots, and the occasional woe when one of us has lost our purse containing our favourite M.A.C or Barry M lipstick. However, each post-night out ritual is even more delicious when we get to discuss or find out who went home with whom, and not just went home for a ‘cuddle’ in bed.

One morning, post-night out, head still pounding and last night’s eye make up crusty and still clinging on, my housemate begins to fill me in on a girl who has “been taking random guys home every week”, and then goes on to term this girl as a “slut”. However, she then mentions that said girl has recently been dumped by a long-term boyfriend. Once I heard the word ‘dumped’, everything changed. At that moment I realized just how easy it is for us on the outside to judge and label certain girls as ‘sluts’ or ‘whores’, yet at the same time, it is so important to remember we do not always understand or know why they may have acted as promiscuously as they have.

Once I heard this poor girl had recently been dumped, I felt such compassion and anger. Unfortunately, I too have been labelled as a ‘slut’ during my post-break up days. Yet the bare truth is when you have been rejected by someone who you thought would never let you down, someone you loved and shared memories and experiences with, all you want is to feel wanted and loved in order to dull the heartache, dry the tears and reduce the intake of pint tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Regrettably, when waking the morning after a one-night fling, often the end result only fills you with guilt and regret.

However, when someone is hurting they need to deal with their pain and heartache in their own way, even if it isn’t the ‘right’ way to get over break-up. Nevertheless, this does not make them a ‘slut’, just simply a girl who is mourning the loss of a love. Ironically, a one night fling that I had last year lead to a casual relationship of over three months, and although most flings lead to nothing, there is hope for some.

I have many regrets from my heartache days but ultimately life and love is all about making mistakes and learning from them, for what (or who) lies ahead in our future.

It’s well known that girls complain if a guy sleeps around, he is deemed a ‘lad’ by his fellow gender, yet if we do the same we label each other as ‘sluts’. We girls need to stick together and quit the labeling. If our friends have one night stands, or tend to ‘get around’, then we shouldn’t be putting them down. University is one of the prime times in our lives where we can have some fun, let loose, (work – really?!), and enjoy ourselves – one night stands and flings included.

So ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your life, drop the ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ labels and all of our lives will be much happier and hopefully we will become less self-conscious of our ‘number’. A little spontaneity here and there will either add to our university memories or university regrets – either way, both are good for the body, mind and soul.

Alone.

We can spend months, years, or even our entire lives without knowing who the people we truly love are. Love blindsides us into a sense of false security where within a second the person we thought would be there forever just simply gets up and walks away. Whether they walk away from a family, wife, or partner, they leave a trail of destruction behind them which the broken-hearted then have to slowly pick up the pieces and clean up the debris of emotions and anger.

My father shunned his wife of over thirty years, my brother and myself for the one woman he could never get when he was my age. It was like a switch had flicked on in his head, yet my family, friends and relatives were all left in the dark. My Grandma went as far to convince herself that he was having ‘some kind of mental breakdown’, whilst everyone else pointed out the ‘midlife crisis’ signs.

Soon enough, the only thing that mattered in his life was his idealized life with this skeletal woman who only ‘declared her feelings for him’ when her own marriage was on the brink of divorce, unhappy with her controlling, whiskey-swigging husband who seemed to be more dull than driftwood and unable to even crack the slightest hint of a smile.

When love hits you, it’s not a nice pair of Ray-Ban’s you’re putting on, but instead a pair of dated rose-tinted sunglasses from the 70’s. All you see through these rose-tinted lenses is your one and only, yet everyone else around you thinks you look like an idiotic love-struck teenager. At the age of twenty-one, seeing your father in boot-cut jeans and ‘slim fit’ t-shirts similar to the ones your own twenty year old male friends wear is enough to make you want to scream: “GROW UP”.

Realizing that your own emotional maturity is way beyond your own fifty-three year old father’s is somewhat unsettling. More unsettling is his own inability to take responsibility for the devastation he has caused, yet ironically enough, only a few years ago it was him lecturing me about taking responsibility for my actions. Obviously the cliché line of: ‘practice what you preach’ has totally gone out the window at this point, but from all of this I can only ask: if you don’t practice what you preach, how will others respect you?

Our parents are meant to be the ones guiding us, setting the example and attempting to teach us how to tackle the world on our own. With love comes respect, but when someone breaks your heart, every drop of respect you held for them simply dies then and there on the spot. I do not recognize my father, nor hold any ounce of respect for him like I once used to. This isn’t the same man who taught me how to ride a bike without stabilizers, or swung me round the room whilst dancing to The Beatles before bedtime, because the man back then wouldn’t have had the capacity to break the hearts of the three people that made his life whole. My father is merely a stranger, about to start a new life in America to be with his ‘sweetheart’.

The only real life lesson my father has taught me is that in life, you can never really truly know anyone, no matter how long you’ve known them. Now isn’t that a depressing thought?

Depressing as the fact that my father is acting like a teenage boy ‘in love’ for the first time, ironically it is less depressing to realize that now I really am on my own. I have my mother and brother, but we are all battling our grief and anger alone.

Truthfully, being alone scares me, both the feeling and the reality of it. Feeling alone is like being in a dark tunnel. At first you stumble your way through the darkness, tripping over a few times and getting hurt, only until you get up and start to see a faint light at the end of that tunnel. Even the faintest glimmer of light gives you hope, and that is why I alone will soon reach the end of this tunnel. Cuts and bruises from my falling only make me stronger when I get back up again, and the more light I see, the stronger I feel being alone.Barnes Common