Can We Really Change A Christian?

Just like millions of other women across the world, I have lusted after Christian Grey. I have booked tickets for the Fifty Shades of Grey films and anxiously waited for his strong presence to grace the screen before getting lost in the fantasy. However, upon deeper thought, what exactly is it we are lusting after – His body, his bedroom or his bank account? Cut (the clearly beautiful and utterly fab) Jamie Dornan out of the equation for a second and look at the character of Christian himself, would the story be half as sensual and romantic if he wasn’t worth billions of dollars? Would we really want to be that vulnerable and intimate with a man who is abusive and emotionally unavailable? A lot of the story is about trying to change Christian, but should we be romanticising the fact that we should work to change a man? Should Anastasia really be expected to put that much effort into their relationship when she clearly has so many other men who would jump at the chance to be with her?

I do agree that Fifty Shades of Grey is a love story, a love story that I thoroughly enjoy, but I don’t necessarily think it’s going to land in the pile of classics like Titanic and The Notebook. Could you really grow old with a Christian Grey over a Noah Calhoun, or is Christian just an erotic fantasy that brings out temptation and a darker side in all of us because we know we’ll probably never end up with a Christian? Although it is important to remember, the unimaginable wealth and sex side is unlikely, but the abusive side happens to people every single day. So many women are living with Christian Greys but there is nothing sexy or romantic about it. He is a man who needs control in every way, he knows he is not the man for her and warns her about it but he also knows how to turn on the charm, romance and promise to change when he senses the control slipping out of his grip.

It is very easy for us to read the unfolding story in a book or watch as the actors undress on a screen, but in reality, do we really want to be in the red room with a man who is as controlling outside as he is inside? Take away the lavish apartment, helicopter, fancy masquerade balls, and the seductive soundtrack lingering in the background as you get lost in the idea of being Anastasia herself, would you really settle for the Christian Grey lifestyle in a rural village with an ordinary, everyday man? Perhaps, that comes down to the person, but I know I am much more struck by the fantasy of Christian than the reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the franchise and the idea of Anastasia and Christian, but she is too much of a strong and independent young woman to be caught up with a man like that. He is extremely overpowering by nature and being with a woman who is so focused on her own goals and independence, could this really end well? Should young women like me who are waiting for the perfect love really be watching this film and waiting for the happy ending where Anastasia changes Christian and they live happily ever after? No, because I don’t think she could really change him nor should she need to. She shouldn’t have to fight for the parts of him that are physically or emotionally untouchable. Christian refuses to give Anastasia access to the most important parts of him but he still wants power over all of her, is this fair? No, this is abuse. The way he controls her is also abuse – Purchasing her work place, telling her who she can and can’t spend time with and deciding what food she can eat. Ana is very much trapped by Christian, so maybe just like the rest of us she is caught up with the idea of the fantasy. Maybe she can’t see the extent of the toxicity because she’s too invested in the relationship.

Why are we so captivated by this story? Forbidden love perhaps? The thrill of something different? The break away from our own ordinary lives? Do they even really love each other? Maybe they do and that’s what the story is teaching us, falling in love isn’t always perfect, falling in love can often be falling flat on your face and realising that just because you love somebody it doesn’t mean they’re healthy for you. Or maybe Anastasia thinks she loves Christian because she is so young and new to all of it, maybe she hasn’t discovered real love yet and maybe Christian loves the control and power he has over this innocence and naivety rather than actually loving her… maybe Christian is incapable of loving anybody.

Fifty Shades of Grey is extreme – A story of power, control, love, sex, romance and red rooms set in a very wealthy environment. This fantasy is all well and good but when this fantasy becomes a reality do we all realise we shouldn’t keep writing the story? As Ana’s character continues to grow and develop as we have already started to see, shouldn’t we be hoping she walks away from Christian for good rather than succeeding in changing his nature?

Let’s take things down a notch for a second, lets take away the wealth and the power of Christian in society and let’s turn him into the men we meet and fall for every single day. Should we ever need to change a man? And if we try changing one shade of him, won’t it eventually shine back through?

A Thought Of A Tuesday

I don’t live in a city, it’s just a town like any other. I don’t feel surrounded by masses of people or feel inferior or lost because it is in no way a concrete jungle, but saying that, it’s still easy to get lost in your own thoughts when you’re flying around doing a few things by yourself. Today was one of those days, like any other dull day in January. The weather was gloomy and the pavements were wet but I had a few things to pick up and was completely in a world of my own as I ran in and out of shops, passing dozens of faces I honestly couldn’t remember now because I was probably too absorbed in my phone, panicking about the state my new boots would be in when I got back to the car, and fixing my hair which I scrunch dried yesterday. To be honest, I was being completely self-involved and ignorant about everything else around me.

While coming out of the last shop I was going to, an elderly lady was blocking the door, looking a bit lost. ‘Sorry, excuse me!’ I said before squeezing past her. I began to walk away back to the car when I was stopped by her quiet, timid voice – ‘Excuse me, can you please help me cross?’ I walked back over to her and asked her what she wanted my help with ‘Would you like me to help you cross the road?’ I questioned. ‘Yes please, I need to get over there.’ she replied, pointing across the road. I agreed to help her cross the road and she linked my arm. A few moments later when we arrived, after a short discussion about the weather, I asked where she was going and she told me she was fine from now on. She then proceeded to thank me and continued on her way, as I did the same, walking in opposite directions across town, leaving each others lives after a short lived, yet refreshing encounter.

This story isn’t anything overly dramatic, it won’t make it into my children’s school history books and it will happen over and over again with different people in different locations, but the reason I’m writing about it is because while I was stressing about exams I have to study for, worrying about the condition of my hair, contemplating my next Instagram post and getting lost in my general life dramas that really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things, there was a lady among the many I passed today that just needed two minutes out of somebody’s day to make it to the other side of the road, and if that’s not a reason to start opening up our eyes to the little things in life then I don’t know what is.

Where Is The Love?

This morning I woke up in my warm double bed. I got up and looked through my masses of clothes, I then rooted through all the food in the cupboards trying to decide what I fancied for breakfast. I said goodbye to my brother, father and mother as they happily went off to school and work, I then drove to my nan’s house (equally as warm and full of clothes and food) with my sister and her boyfriend and rooted through the cupboards there too before filling the kettle and using the toilet. We spent an hour chatting and complained about all the minor things we had to do that were stressing us out. I then went shopping, strolling down the street texting all my friends who are off doing things similarly to me. Life passed me by just like any other day.

I’m not saying I’m particularly well off, in fact I’m far from it. My family struggle just like millions of other families do, and I have learned to appreciate the value of money. However, every night I have a roof over my head and every morning there is food in my kitchen. I had an upbringing full of magical stories and instead of my ears being filled by the sounds of bombs and gunfire I listened to wind chimes twisting in the wind excitedly guessing that it could only be fairies. The only dust that covered my face would have been flour from baking with my nan and cuts and bruises would have been from the hundreds of adventures I went on with my brother and sister. These adventures were always fun, and at the end of the day we would always come home to cuddles, warmth and someone to kiss the cuts better. Whenever we waved goodbye to our mum, we did so with smiles on our faces because in a matter of hours when the sun went down we would be back to her again.

However, somewhere on the other side of the world, miles and miles away from my safety net, are places that the sun is always set on. The days are constantly dark and frightening, sirens drown out the screams and terrified cries and saying goodbye to mum and dad doesn’t mean to be reunited in a few hours, it means fleeing – sometimes alone or with dozens of people you don’t know. Complete isolation from what you know as home as you all climb into a boat that could flip at any moment or duck down in a car, desperately trying to escape before anyone sees you.

Refugees cannot help where they come from and I am saying this as a girl who was born in Britain, had an Irish Grandfather and moved over to Ireland when she was young. I have faced racism in my own life which includes many small minded comments that fill my heart with sadness and fill the air with hate. Of course the difference here being that I can take it. Even though it shouldn’t be happening in this day and age, I can go home and back to safety… but what if your home isn’t there anymore? What if that safety is completely gone? What if all of your belongings have been strewn around the rubble filled streets, hidden underneath other people’s belongings and other people’s families? It is the small minded comments that are making world the way it is today – a world full of hatred and war, but for what?

In a world full of billions of people, who are we to close our doors on those who need us the most? What makes us so privileged that our hearts cannot ache for the millions of people suffering every single second? The world is more advanced than it has ever been, we cannot turn our backs on the hatred that is happening just oceans away. We cannot let geographical borders stop us from helping people over to our side. And when I say people, I mean people. Innocent people who were unlucky enough to be born into war torn civilisations. People just like you and me. People who laugh, cry, make friends, fall in love. People who are facing despair and escape similar to that which the Irish population faced during the Great Famine in the 1800’s. We cannot forget the times when we ourselves have suffered and reached out to other nations for help, and we cannot harden our hearts to the point where we turn a blind eye to death, destruction and pure horror.

The most frightening thing I remember about my childhood are the days when I didn’t want to go to school because I was anxious and frightened. I was afraid to sit in a room with 20 other children and play games at lunchtime while a smiling teacher made a fuss of us all day. Now if I thought that was fear, imagine the fear facing those poor refugees. I cannot imagine saying goodbye to my parents forever, I cannot imagine staring at explosions and I cannot imagine trying to find shelter with my siblings. That is fear. Children in particular cannot help it. Children do not understand what is going on. They cannot understand why everything is in pieces or how politics work. Their imaginations run too wild to form proper opinions. Wake up, we all saw the photos. We all saw that tiny lifeless body face down in the sand and we all saw the utter bewilderment on the face of the confused little boy pulled from the rubble. These two photos that pulled on heart strings and set tears flowing worldwide are just two of the millions of children just like them. Sadly, it is only when these things hit the media that it has a real impact on us, but by this stage it is in the media so much that we should no longer have one person wanting to turn them away, let alone thousands.

We cannot even begin to imagine what their everyday lives are like and I can assure you, if they asked us to fly over there, none of us would go. So why should we be forcing them to stay put? If the thought of going there fills every part of our bodies with fear, why are we sitting back and letting them suffer alone? If you needed safety in the morning, if you awoke to find that the four walls around you had been bombed, if you awoke to find your family facing death, if everything you have ever known just completely shattered around you and it was a matter of risking your life on a journey to a better life or risking your life staying in such war torn conditions, are you telling me you wouldn’t reach out for help? Are you telling me you wouldn’t want your baby to fall into the hands of a family who cared? Are you telling me you would make your children stay where they are simply because they’re not wanted elsewhere?  I’m not even a mother and I can see why we all need to open our arms to these people because when we do this we are opening our arms to love and by doing so hate is no longer winning.

So many people will say that it is their own problem, but I can tell you now that it was not their choice. The innocent civilians didn’t choose this life, they shouldn’t have to be living it. We’re all the same, we don’t deserve any better than them and if you have the mentality that it is their own problem then I hope I am not a part of your friends group. The problem is our lives are too sugar coated to see the bigger picture. These images and stories are not make believe, they are so very real. The pure ignorance surrounding major world problems like these are the reason the world is so full of hate today. Too many people are turning their backs on the horrors of reality simply because it is not directly affecting them. Tomorrow morning we could all wake up and be facing the same problems, we don’t know what the passing days will bring so in the meantime we need to extend a helping hand and sympathise with the people who’s lives have been turned completely upside down.

As I am writing this I am tearing up and to be honest I hope you are too because those two tears you are now shedding are nothing compared to the tears filling the eyes of the millions of refugees who just have no other choice. If you cannot open your heart and your eyes to the hatred that is constantly growing then we will never be able to come together and stop it. We all have voices, and that is our power. I may not be able to change the world but I hope this piece of writing has made at least one hardened heart wake up and break at the thought of what is going on in the world right now. Not next week, not next month, right now as you are drinking your cup of tea by the cosy fire, watching the news on your working television in your home that is still standing while ranting about your ridiculous reasons for not wanting to let the most desperate and helpless people have a tiny glimmer of hope back in their lives.

Open your eyes and most importantly, open your heart, because it could be any one of us. Compassion costs nothing.

Shout Out To My Best Friend’s Ex

Let’s face it, when your best friend’s heart breaks, yours does too. When it ended badly or on a messy note, there are just too many things you want to say to the guy who hurt her, even though you probably, maybe, REALLY REALLY shouldn’t. She’s crying, you’re crying, he’s off doing his own thing, ignoring her texts, leaving her hanging there and all you want to do is fire a shoe at the lad for doing this to one of your favourite humans.

As a girl who is one of these psychotic/loyal best friends to many girls, I have decided to put together a list of the things we really want to say to him. I know you might be a nice guy deep down and I know she wants to text you herself, but there are just so many things I have to say. SO MANY.

1. I put so much into this relationship!
Do you know how hard it is to read ninety screenshots of your arguments that didn’t even send in the correct order? Do you know how many empowering playlists I made that girl so she could get over you? Do you know how many important moments of my life she missed because she was with you while you were being a pain in the ass? DO YOU??

2. Your entire social media presence is now a huge inconvenience to me
To be honest, I couldn’t care less about your lads nights, your new girlfriend, your new car or what you had for breakfast, but I also won’t delete you because I want you to see her slaying on a regular basis and spend the odd night crying yourself to sleep. Harsh or loyal friendship? You decide…

3. I know wayyyyy more about you than you think
Just don’t be TOO cocky, that’s all I’m saying…

4. Yes, I will probably 100% be shouting at you on Saturday night 
Look, I knew it was coming, you knew it was coming, the third shot of tequila knew it was coming… we all knew it was coming and couldn’t be avoided. Fight for your gals to the end or don’t fight at all, go hard or go home.

5. You were a total waste of her razor
Like honestly, what was the point?

6. Ignore her text on Saturday night, she wasn’t allowed to send that
Look, I’ll have words with the girl, but I am telling you that the vodka-filled blubbering mess she is at 2am isn’t the real her, she’s just extra volatile and aggressive when I try to take her phone. Text her back the next day when I’ve kicked her ass all the way back into Beyonce mode and you’ll know where you really stand! Cyaaaaaa xx

7. We no longer dislike your ex (apologies for all the previous hassle)
We feel you girl, WE FEEL YOU.

8. She has no idea what your new girl looks like so don’t bother rubbing it in 
I took it upon myself to block you on every form of her social media. If it isn’t on her own newsfeed, it isn’t actually happening!

9. This breakup has made me gain weight too you know
You think I can go over to her house and pick up the pieces of this break up without sharing the ice cream with her, bringing her chocolate to shut her up for five minutes or drinking gallons of wine at the weekend? These carb queens are now badly wounded victims, we just need time to heal and de-bloat, okay?

10. If you guys get back together please forget/ignore all of the above
I mean YOU can forget it for the sake of awkwardness between us, although I most definitely will not forget it. I’m watching you.