A couple of weeks ago, I started work on this. In case there's the tiniest chance you haven't seen one of the million times I've mentioned it on Instagram and Twitter, this is something Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said on Woman's Hour last year, in response to the question, "What is the most important thing we can teach our daughters?" Adichie replied:
Obviously, this struck a bit of a chord with me at the time. Well, more of a direct radio punch, actually. Especially when she said that women must "reject the idea of likeability... you have girls who are abused, but they're thinking about the feelings of their abuser." You can hear this bit of the interview here and also watch Adichie's brilliant "We Should All Be Feminists" TED talk, here.
It came to mind again, recently, when I was thinking of ways to raise more money for Refuge, alongside my London Marathon attempt! So, I'm selling prints and postcards of the finished artwork (still a work in progress, but almost done!), with all the profits going to Refuge. Buy yours by 3pm on WEDNESDAY 29th MARCH, and you might even win the original artwork! In a frame and everything! All the proceeds will go to Refuge with the rest of my London Marathon fundraising. Please visit my shop to have your very own bit of Adichie inspiration on your wall and support this amazing charity.
The best thing about creating this particular piece of art is that, somehow, I think Adichie's words have finally sunk in; really deep in, to my heart or gut or subconscious, or wherever it is that you have to keep things so you just know them. As though in carving out letters from paper, they've marked themselves on my bones, too.
And finally, I watched this video last week. More than anything I've heard or read, this best describes my experience of how it feels. I think because it's non-specific, it doesn't make me think, "well, of course it wasn't as bad as that", which I used to think all the time. A friend nailed it when she said to me, "no one wins any prizes for being in the most abusive relationship. It's either abusive, or it's not." So, if you're reading this and thinking, "well, my relationship isn't that bad..." from personal experience, that's already quite bad enough. There's a list here, if it helps; just ONE of these, or something similar, is bad enough. Please tell someone what you're going through. You are worth so much more.
BE YOUR FULLEST SELF. It's taken me a long time to find out who my fullest self is, but I finally feel like me again. It's the most wonderful thing.
Remember, one in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, Refuge is running an amazing campaign with Avon at the moment, all about what you can do to help a friend suffering abuse. It's really worth checking out, here. That could be you in the video, holding out the umbrella for your friend.