Interview about my dream job

This is a translation of this blogpost, made by Sas from ‘I live for my dreams’. You can find my previous blogpost about this interview here. I have translated this blogpost/interview so all of my readers can read it. I’ve tried to translate it as literally as possible.

Dream job #17: Mel who despites a disability gets the most out of life.

You all replied to my post “I’m looking for you, tell me about your (future) dream job”. It’s amazing to read all the inspiring and different stories and see the enthusiastic emails pouring in. What is this column about? I let you have your say. Which is unique, because I only did guest blogs once before. I share a lot about myself on my personal lifestyle blog, but would like to hear about your future dream job or about the dream job you already found.

Mel graduated from HAVO despite her disability and is now doing a self-study VWO. She has a lot of interests and is trying to find or create her dream job in this way. Mel tries to adapt everything so she actually can do and accomplish things. I immediately had to think about the sentence: thinking in possibilities and not in disabilities.

 

First, tell me something about yourself. Who are you and do you have a blog?
I am Mel, 21 years old, I love animals, exercising, photography and doing other fun stuff. I have an English blog: enabilityblog.wordpress.com. I blog about things that interest me or things I come across, I actually blog about everything and nothing. I hope I can spread some awareness about different illnesses that I and other people have (amongst other things). I also like to learn things and by writing and not only reading blogs, you get more interaction, through which I can learn more from others. I live together with my boyfriend/partner who also has (physical) disabilities, which is why we can understand each other very well. Because of my disabilities I can’t just do everything, but this doesn’t stop me from trying everything and adapting everything, so that maybe I can do it after all.

Which studies did you do?
I am currently doing VWO. I’ve actually always done this, but it was increasingly difficult for me to attempt school and eventually I couldn’t go to school at all. That’s when I got my HAVO diploma a few years back, as an insurance, because my disabilities have been progressive till now and thus my health continues to decline (and secretly also because of my fear of failure).
I can’t go to school in a ‘normal’ way and actually do everything through self-study. It takes me twice as many years to complete a study and I also need other adaptations, such as adaptations for tests and special furniture. Last May I did and passed a couple VWO exams. I hope to fully complete my VWO study this school year. After that I’ll hopefully go to university. I have a lot of interests, so there probably is a study that fits me and my disabilities J

Which jobs did you have in the past?
When I was young and the disabilities weren’t (too) bad I did a lot of volunteer work and also different things. But it boils down to helping animals and helping people (including people with mental or multiple disabilities). I really enjoyed doing those things. I also had a ‘real’ job for a few months as a waitress in a restaurant. I couldn’t walk or stand anymore (amongst other things) so I had to quit.

What is your current job?
At the moment, I don’t have a job and I have been fully disqualified. I’m busy with school and I hope I will be able to work (a bit) in the future.

What is your dream job?
I don’t have a dream job right now. There are multiple things I would call a dream job, but I would also like to look realistically at what my qualities are and what I can’t do or aren’t very good at. I think I can develop a dream job this way, simply by itself. I also think there are multiple ‘types’ of dream jobs. Such as ones for which you use a lot of imagination: as in you have magic, you can do absolutely everything, what would you do. But also more realistic dream jobs: something you might actually be able to do in this world.

I, myself, am more occupied with goals and wishes than with dreams, because I found out that dreaming without boundaries makes me unhappy (because reality is simply different with my physical disabilities). But I have plenty of wishes (and you could see my wishes as dreams) and I certainly also have (high) goals.

What is the most important thing for you in your dream job?
I think the most important thing is state you enjoy it/that it makes you happy and that it gives you a meaningful feeling. Balance is also very important for my by, so the dream job has to fit in a life in which you need a lot of moments of rest (amongst other things).

What advice would you give my readers for finding their dream jobs?
Look at the things you like to do and which things you find important (such as doing something ‘meaningful’ and what does meaningful mean to you? For example helping other people). For the rest, I would advise everyone to listen carefully to your own body, to prevent overworking yourself during your search for a dream job (or if you already found it). I made that mistake and in the current society it seems to happen more often. But we all exist out of more than work and we need our body longer than that.

I would like to sincerely thank Mel for this inspiring interview. It’s beautiful to read how you’re trying to get everything out of life and find/create a realistic dream job. It’s magnificent to see how open you talk about your disability and how you handle it. You are a real persistent go-getter! I want to wish you a lot of luck with your education and your future.

#BeenRapedNeverReported: Why I blog anonymously

In 2014 this hashtag became viral on Twitter. I recently found out, because I don’t have twitter. Let me first say that I think it’s a good thing this went viral. I feel this issue doesn’t have enough attention within our governments/police etc. But it is so important that the law/procedures will change, so more rapists/abusers can get caught. I already wrote about this before. Sometimes it feels to me as if the current procedure is like an invitation for the perps. You don’t get caught, so why not do it if you’re a pervert? This hashtag can apply to both men and women.

Despite this being a good thing, it might not be suited for your situation to join in. At first glance I didn’t realize this, but if I had twitter I shouldn’t have done this. The stigma is too big. There are people who know (partially) about my history of being sexually abused. Mainly professionals. Sometimes I regret I told it, because of the way they put it in your (medical/psychological) file. Such a big secret and it is right there on the first page of my first gynaecologist consultation. But overall it helps that some people know about it. Especially that my partner knows it, because he helps me tremendously with it and overall the burden became less. It also helps when doctors know I have PTSD (they usually don’t know why), because they might understand my behaviour better and why I only want women and don’t like being touched. This does depend on the person though, not everyone can deal with it/me.

However, putting it on twitter means basically everyone can read it, google it forever, and it’s under your name. This might have negative consequences, although it shouldn’t be this way. For example: e told the best friend of my partner I was raped, since he was having contact with one of my rapists and we wanted him to know why we couldn’t attend parties. But he didn’t believe me and spread the rumour among other people, such as people at school. I’m still having negative consequences because of that, which made me cautious. This information is now on a more strict need-to-know basis.

It helps me to read the stories and advice of other people. I also have this urge to help other people. To share my story, so maybe it won’t happen to other people or maybe if it already happened it makes the burden slightly less. To make myself a bit less vulnerable I blog anonymously. It doesn’t feel anonymous to me though. I talk about everything and I don’t change facts. I’m very open. All you don’t know is my adress and my full name. If someone who knows me, finds my blog, he/she will immediately know it’s me. I hope this is a good solution, despite all the articles on blogging who state you should never do it anonymously. Just because it is anonymous, doesn’t mean it isn’t true or not personal.

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[Picture with the text: We believe you #beenrapedneverreported.]

I sincerely hope this hashtag doesn’t apply to you. If it does I hope you can find some solace in for example online communities such as blogs. Do what is best for you and your situation, general guidelines don’t have to apply to you (in my experience they usually don’t).

‘Why didn’t you (just) press charges?’

I’d like to give some attention on my blog (maybe regularly) to some ‘annoying’ statements. Or actually, statements that (maybe) shouldn’t have been made at all. Statements, that when people actually thought about it, they probably would be ashamed. For now, I’d like to start with which I think is one of the worst. I’m always shocked when someone dares to say this to a victim/survivor. In this case it’s about victims/survivors of rape and in this case it’s about the response people (including professionals) give when they know about it. I find it one of the most offensive questions someone can ask me.

‘Why didn’t you just press charges’, may also include ‘If it really happed, you would have’ or ‘it’s your fault if he attacks someone else too, because you didn’t press charges’.

I actually assume I don’t have to explain you guys why this is just awful. But in case someone visits my blog, who doesn’t have experience with traumatized people, I’ll try to explain. I think this is one of the most horrible things you can say, when someone just (or even when you already knew it for a longer time) told you about what happened. It’s an insult. It shows how little you know about how weak the system is and how difficult it is for someone to go through all that. Because (at least in the Netherlands, but I assume everywhere) they treat you as if you’re the culprit. They treat you like you’re lying, that’s according to their protocol. When you say something like this, so inconsiderate, for me it shows that you 1. don’t really care/didn’t really listen. 2. don’t understand at all what’s going on and how tough this must be for the person telling you and how awful that situation must have been 3. you question if that person’s telling the truth, especially when you add the ‘if it was real, you would’ve pressed charges. Why wouldn’t you otherwise?’ And it’s never the victim/survivor’s fault, because even when you press charges the change is very big the culprit will go out free. You can’t just put your frustration on the victim/survivor and blame his/her by saying (to me it kinda feels like a threat actually) that it will be his/her fault when the culprit attacks again. We can’t control other people.
I also think a lot of people want to hold on to their illusions (I mentioned the illusion of safety in a previous blogpost). People don’t really want to think about it, don’t want to imagine it, because it’s too awful. And it could make them realise their illusion of safety isn’t completely correct, because you probably were at the wrong place at the wrong time too. You definetely didn’t plan this. So it could happen to them too, even when that has like a 1% chance, it still breaks their illusion a little bit. But when people are stubborn and just don’t accept this happened to you, don’t want to listen this results in a lot of incomprehension when they respond like this (often people will blame you, because then they have more ‘security’ it won’t happen to them).

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[Picture of a woman talking to a police officer behind a desk]

I think every person is allowed to decide for his/herself if he’s willing to go through the fuss of pressing charges. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages for both choices, but I find that there’s hardly any information on the disadvantages of pressing charges. Every website I visit will urge you to go to the police, or urge friends/family to urge the person to go to the police. I really admire it if you could press charges, but I don’t think someone who didn’t is a loser or a liar. It also depends on the situation for example, if you can press charges at all. This, because you need substantial evidence. ‘Just your word’ of people testifying you mentioned these things or even some objects or sperm for example, isn’t substantial enough. It’s incredibly difficult to prove that it was unwillingly and the culprit can talk his way out of almost everything (for example: she likes to be tied down). In the Netherlands for example, you are video-taped when you are being questioned (alone) by the police about what happened. Despite the fact that it’s awful to have to relive everything and the person you’re talking too is trying to find holes in your story, I find the video-taping very  degrading too. They do this, so they can later check your face again when you tell certain things. The party your pressing charges against, is also allowed to watch the video, so they can prepare their story and maybe find ‘weak links’ in your story as well. I find that appalling. And then I’m not talking about the risks/dangers it might involve. And maybe the culprit will spread it’s own story and then in the media or on the streets people will already call you a liar. When that’s not true, that’s such an awful thing to hear. You already didn’t ask for the crime to happen to you anyway!

I think the current system is too much in advantage of the culprits. Of course there are some people who lie this happened, but I think this is so much less than the people who are honest or don’t press charges because the whole process is so degrading and the chances are so slim that it will work. I saw some statistics a couple months ago and they said that it’s thought that 10% of all rapes are being mentioned to the police. 3% of that the police try to investigate (the others already don’t have enough substantial evidence to begin with). 2% of that 3% goes to trial. And then there was again something of 1, 2 or 3% when the culprit is punished. They also said the amount of wrongly accused culprits was 1% or something like that. Wrongly accused could also mean that a higher court said there wasn’t enough evidence, so it didn’t happen. Then, you wrongly accused the culprit (even though most of the time the person doesn’t actually wrongly accuse the culprit).

Ugh, I wanted to tell you more about this, but I can’t right now. It’s making me feel to much disgust and sadness and anger. I thought after so many years walking around thinking this, I might be ready to talk about it. Apparently I’m not (except with my partner). I just hope everyone will realise that pressing charges isn’t always the best thing to do. That’s why the police often advice against it actually. Even physical evidence can still not be enough (sperm doesn’t say if it was rape or willingly) and sometimes video also isn’t. Because you weren’t allowed to video tape it, or you could be playing etc.

I just think it’s nobody’s business why someone does or doesn’t press charges. If you’d like to help someone make up his/her mind, by making a list of the pros and cons for that particular situation, that might be helpful (but you should ask the person first). However, you never do that by saying the quotes I mentioned before. That’s just really insulting and can break each other’s trust.

I find it brave when you press charges, but also when you don’t. But really, it shouldn’t matter what other people think about it.

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3 ‘normal’ kitchen appliances/utensils that really help me

Everyone needs to eat and for a lot of people cooking is a necessity, but not always one that fits in the rest of your schedule. For me, that’s the same, although I also have a few other hurdles I need to find a creative solution for. I know I’m not the only one with these hurdles, so I’d like to share some tools that might help.

These 3 things aren’t special equipment, although you might need to do some searching to find cheap ones if you don’t have a lot of money (or like to find a bargain). But that’s possible. Be careful with secondhand buying the airfryer, since that’s how we got swindled (for the first time in our lives). Apparently those are very popular… Despite pressing charges of internet fraud, the police never did anything and we never saw our money (or the seller) again.

Note: the photos are of comparable products, not the ones we own.

Airfryer

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[Image of a black Airfryer with in its frying basket fresh fries]

I already mentioned this one. I think this is a product you either love or hate. We love it and use it a lot, but I’ve also heard of people hardly ever using it. It might be something for you, if you’re looking for healthier ways of eating food (healthier, I’m not saying that eating fries from the airfryer is incredibly healthy, but it’s better and I think it tastes well) and you can prepare food easily. I personally don’t like microwave snacks, but in this one we put normal ones. You need to figure out some things of preheating time and stuff, but when you figured out what you like best, I think it’s a great product. There are multiple airfyer like appliances on the market. We have the Philips airfryer, because we thought that one was the best (in some airfryers you can only put round things for example, but we want everything). Make sure you look at all the pros and cons of all products and choose which one suits you best.
We don’t use any oil and the crust of bread-crumbed products might not taste as good as from the normal fryer, but it’s still lovely when you but it on a roll. I also think it’s a lot faster than a normal fryer, a lot healthier, cheaper and it doesn’t stink. We both can handle these products a lot better, since they aren’t as fatty. I also want to try other things with it than potatoes (all sorts of fries) and snacks, but so far we haven’t. But I’ve seen some interesting recipes on the internet, especially for groceries (my fellow Hippo isn’t into groceries so…)

Large freezer

1928_aeg-electrolux-arctis-52000-gnw0-vriezer

[Image of a large vertical freezer]

I can’t cook without a lot of help. My fellow Hippo can only cook when he doesn’t have anything else to do that day, just like me. Getting meals delivered is too expensive and I can’t eat those meals from the supermarket due to IBS (and they’re expensive). So a large freezer really saved our ass a lot of times. Buying a large freezer is actually cheaper than a couple small ones. Again, there are a lot of options, so think of what is important for you (for example: do you want a fast freezer box or are you not going to use that?). We wanted a lot of drawers, but not a very expensive one (because we wouldn’t be able to afford that). We found ours on the internet, but from a shop which didn’t have a record of internet fraud (for as far as the police website could tell us).
We cook once a week, with help and then we make a lot of extra portions. We freeze those in and eat those during other times. The taste is a bit less, but we have some tricks to make it still tasty 😉 My parents also cook extra portions for us and give those to us when I visit them. So, we don’t have to go hungry despite our disabilities and can still live on ourselves 🙂

Ceramic pans

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[Image of four colourful ceramic frying pans].

Buying pans really is troubling, especially when you have trouble with your hands. For me, ceramic pans really are the best solution (I haven’t found anything better at least). They are light-weighted, easy to clean and the cooking is healthier (less fat, so less IBS troubles for us). We found these during a sale on a website and we discovered this sale returns every couple… month? So that’s great. We gave my parents a set too for Sinterklaas and they are really happy with it as well. No oil or butter. You need to get used to it of course. Ingredients look differently when you don’t bake them in oil, but they still taste lovely (I don’t like a fatty taste anyway and now it tastes more pure). Make sure you don’t put the temperature of the stove too high, because it seems to be done earlier than in normal pans.

Do you have some favourite kitchen utensils/appliances that help you a lot?

I actually forgot one, but it’s considered so normal: an exhaust (hood). Without it, I wouldn’t be able to breath, because I have some lung/breathing issues. So, I’m very happy about this invention!

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Surviving New Year’s Eve

I already talked about Sinterklaas and Christmas in this post. By making it your own holiday, you can enjoy it a lot more. We try to get rid of the things we don’t like (by not doing them for example) and have some fun anyway. Of course you can’t do this with everything and a lot of people have trouble with Christmas and the obligations that come from them. For example the forced ‘spending time together in a (big) group’ or ‘eating together’ can be a huge problem for people who are a bit afraid of social interaction and groups (such as me and my fellow Hippo) or for people with eating disorders or other eating problems.

Another thing I often see is that around December the feeling of loneliness becomes a lot more. The contrast becomes bigger between the ‘happy families’ and ‘popular people’ and the people with hardly any social contacts, for example due to disabilities or illnesses (think of depression, PTSD, physical problems, old age etc.). So for me, December used to feel more about ‘loneliness and misery’ than ‘enjoying holidays and spending quality time together’. This has improved drastically, but one holiday remains a huge problem for me: New Year’s Eve.

I have no idea if more people have trouble with New Year’s Eve. It’s the holiday of December in which I can’t participate the most. Mainly because of my (extreme) fear of fireworks, but also because I don’t have a lot of social contacts. My fellow Hippo and I decided to try something different this year. We’re going to spend it together, just the two of us. Not going to my parents’. That way we have full control over what we’re going to do (New Year’s Eve is often so dull) and what we’re going to eat (which is rather tricky because of the IBS). We also think that there will be less fireworks here.

A lot of people I encounter, don’t understand why I’m so afraid of fireworks. This makes me feel extra lonely and sad, because I can’t do things and others can’t. People often just left me alone in the house and decided to have fun outside or at someone else’s house, because I was just weird and had ‘unjust fears’. I’ve never been able to celebrate it with peers, because they would go out clubbing and visit the fireworks show.
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[Image of a lot of firework clouds in a dark sky]

I think fireworks are very dangerous, a big polluter and they gave me major headaches (and upset a lot of animals and other people too). I have to lock myself up a few days before and after New Year’s Eve, because people are always ingniting those things longer than is allowed. I’ve always been afraid of fireworks (mainly because of the major bangs and the fact that they are extremely hot, you can’t control them fully and they can damage a lot), but I’ve also had a minor fireworks accident. That was the only time I went outside during New Year’s Eve, because people were trying to ‘stimulate’ me to act normal (as most of them do with this problem). I was still very young and going to primary school. I went outside for like two minutes, standing at our driveway, next to the door, behind two cars. I was farthest away. My neighbours ignited a flare at the street, using all the safety measures. The bottle fell, the flare went below both cars and came in my hand. I only had some bleeding blisters (and other minor burn wounds), but damn that hurts. People didn’t really help me with it either (I couldn’t open the front door to get inside again) and I needed to put it in water and stuff like that, while I was still a young child who didn’t know what to do, in a lot of pain and in panic. That day made sure I would never try standing outside ever again.
Before and after that accident I’ve also encountered a lot of people who enjoy throwing ignited fireworks at you, the days around New Year’s Eve. That’s why I can’t go outside the days before/after as well. But I don’t really mind, I can see fireworks on the TV or internet if I’d like 😉

Despite the fact that I can’t do whatever I want, I’m not really bothered with it. I never liked fireworks, sure the colours are nice but if those were flickering lamps or lasers they wouldn’t cause so much headaches, noise and waste.
Since I’ve encountered my soulmate and life partner I don’t feel so alone either. We’re also trying not to ‘flashback’ on the past year, because we both can’t look positively to the past or coming year on New Year’s Eve. Normally I can, but that day I can’t.
I’m positive about this New Year’s Eve. We’ll have a nice, quiet (and some quality) time together. We’re going to eat and do what we like and the only rule is that we stay inside. My fellow Hippo isn’t really about going outside anyway so we won’t have any trouble with that. Only thing I’m concerned about is my parents’ dog (you can read something about him here). He’s even more afraid of fireworks than I am and now I can’t be there for him.

I hope you’ll have nice plans for New Year’s Eve too! Do you have any ‘special way’ to celebrate (or survive) it?

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Adapted tradition: sending Christmas cards

I’ve talked about adapting holidays to your needs and what you’d like, before. I can’t ‘preach’ without doing it myself, because then I would find myself a hypocrit. One of the things I changed this year is the sending cards tradition. I always send a lot of cards, even though I hardly get any, but I can hardly write. I also (used to) send them to people I didn’t spoke to in a couple years. So I would be busy for days and my hand would hurt even more days. Same problem with birthdays. Despite that, it’s also something we can’t actually afford and goin shopping is quite a hustle. But I think sending cards is nice, a kind gesture without having to sit with someone for many hours. And I already am not fond of shaking hands, so I’m glad I found a ‘manner’ I don’t mind.

For a couple of years I sometimes send people an e-card. These are free. I use them from the hallmark site, because they have a big collection and you can pick the date. But I’ve also seen those where you add a few pictures to a movie and those are really funny, but take more work.
I don’t know why I never thought of replacing this with everything, I’ve send e-cards sometimes but not entirely. This year I started to fully do this for birthdays (unless I’m invited and go to a party, then I’ll bring a card too) and now also for Christmas. I still like to find a card that I think suits the person and you can type a personal message. Oh and I make them in advance, because my method still takes a lot of time. For Christmas I had to be more efficient, so I figured out that you can add more than one e-mailadress, so you can send one e-card to more people. This way, I picked a few and made a less personal message. I hope they’ll still appreciate it. I think it’s more about the idea that I thought of them anyway, since I don’t do it ‘because you have to’.
And my fellow Hippo will make a good impression too, because I sign them all with both our names.

Just one problem: I don’t have everyone’s e-mailaddres and my grandparents don’t have a computer. Oh well, my parents still send cards too (not as thoroughly and ‘unique’ as I used to do – I wanted a different message on every single one of them, otherwise it felt fake – , so that saves them a lot of time and they don’t have trouble with their hands or with writing) and add our names to some of them ^^ Oh and of course they keep a list of who send them one too, which is quite a good idea actually. And maybe I shouldn’t care as much when I don’t even have someone’s e-mailadress.

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[Drawing of santa putting a present in a mailbox in front of a decorated house. Above it is the text: Wishing that his year Santa delivers you fun, laughter and happiness that stays with you forever! Merry Christmas!]

Do you have special ‘adapted traditions’ this year? Oh and I have another question: do you send cards to people you work with or teachers or something like that? And would you send them to everyone or just a few (with the risk of the other colleagues finding out)? I used to write Christmas cards for some teachers or even therapists which I appreciated more, but so far I haven’t had any plans to do that. I’m afraid they’ll think it’s ass kissing :/ And I shouldn’t think about what other people (such as other students) think about it, but maybe I should think about what the person receiving it might think?

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December fuss?

December is the month of holidays, amongst other things. It’s also the month my fellow Hippo dislikest the most, because of all the social obligations. And it’s the month in which I used to have to nag my mother to set up the Christmas tree (and if I could decorate it). Now she has some decorations that take less work (and less space), but do look nice.

For a couple years I haven’t been living fulltime with my parents (I regularly stay overnight in the weekends). I’ve lived in a few group homes, for physcially disabled people and many years ago I’ve even been in a psychiatric hospital.  Sometimes the therapy groups would do stuff around December too. Usually for the Dutch holiday ‘Sinterklaas’ we had to give ach other gifts and make poems and have such a great time eating together. I never liked those moments. It made me feel even more alone than usual. It was fake, since I’ve never felt comfortable at those groups or was actually welcome there, I was always this ‘outsider’ for people. However, I do like celebrating ‘Sinterklaas’ with people I like. I don’t have a big family and for a long time it wouldn’t go well, but now the last couple years (especially since my fellow Hippo is a part of my family) it’s going a lot better. So we can actually enjoy spending time together and I like that. I also like to have a gift you know they’ll be really happy about. I don’t mind that my brother forgot to but a gift too and that I don’t like the T-shirt they gave me. I’ll wear it anyways, because that makes them happy and I appreciate it that they tried to find something for me. And this one isn’t that bad either.

I thought I always was a bit ‘anti-social’ (not on purpose), but my fellow Hippo really hates it. He doesn’t want to celebrate anything, if it’s something you ‘normally do’. Such as celebrating your birthday, spending Christmas together. We both aren’t really capable of giving a lot of parties, but he might do that sometime, but not if it’s for something. Because then you’re socially obligated.

I understand where that’s coming from. He was always forced – even though he wasn’t physically able – to celebrate all these kinds of things in ways he didn’t want or could do, because of his ‘family’, mainly his ‘mom’. Now, he hasn’t have contact with them for a long time (they don’t contact him since he was forced to move out). I don’t want to talk too much about our relationships with his ‘family’ right now, but I can tell you that they don’t accept disabled people.
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[Drawing of a reindeer with a red nose, santa, a christmas tree and a cookie holding the word December]

With Christmas I always felt alone too. My family (parents, brother and my 3 grandpartents) would have a nice time, but I would have to sit alone somewhere. For example because I can’t eat dinner (such a soup) on a couch, because that’s too heavy for my hands and wrists. Instead of joining me, they would sit together having fun and I would have to sit in another room. And of course the period before, the relationship wasn’t well with my family and I was depressed, so I didn’t enjoy it back then either. However, now it’s different and I’m really grateful about that. I want to celebrate it with my fellow Hippo and even with my family. They’ve loosened up, although they were never really strict. Of course visiting the grandparents (or they visiting us) and we would have a 3-course meal as dinner, but we wouldn’t have to wear certain clothes or hang aroung downstairs all day. This year they told me they don’t even know if they’re going to visit the grandparents. And I can choose if I’m capable of tagging along.

Even though I’m often too sick or it’s too hard for my body to come along for a couple hours, I do feel like I should. I have a very strong conscience and I couldn’t forigve myself if I haven’t visited my parents for, let’s say a month or so, and then they are suddenly dead. Luckily my parents took them to our house last week, so I’ve seen them for ‘Sinterklaas’. I actually wanted to celebrate it with them, but my dad thought that was too much trouble for him (he can never think of presents to give). I’m happy we never had to make a special package (‘surprise’) or a poem though, but if you feel creative, you’re allowed too.
I’ll write about New Year’s Eve some other time, since I always have some trouble with that holiday, even though there are no obligations.

So, no December fuss for us Hippos. Although I would actually like to decorate a Christmas tree, my fellow Hippo doesn’t want that and we agreed to not do that (we don’t have the stuff for it anyway). I just want to spend some nice time with my fellow Hippo in particular and that’s possible without all the fuss. He’s much more relaxed that way and I start to like it too (even though he’s a bit more strict in it than I am). You can’t force joy anyway and now I’ve got a chance of it to occur spontanously. This way we also have a better balance and can take our illnesses and disabilities into account.

And he does like celebrating our anniversary – the only exception, we have to go to our favourite restaurant around that time (not the exact date) for our anniversary. All other things are optional. You can find more about our special day here – and that is for me the most important one. So, I’m happy and he’s happy and that’s all we should care about 🙂 Lukcily, my (grand)parents seem fine with it too. I also see more and more people unhappy with all the ‘have to’ during the holidays and people start to relax more, let go a little of traditions and do more what they like (and what their bodies and minds can handle). I think that’s a good development!

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