I have not blogged as much as I would have liked this year. Maybe by taking my own advice, I’ll be well enough to blog more next year. Thank you for following, your shares, and your comments. The song Reality by Lost Frequencies very much influenced the tone of this blog. You can listen here. 

With love and light,

Jess xx


“Nothing is wrong- whatever is happening is just ‘real life'”

 -Tara Brach 

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I don’t know about you, but I made some pretty bad fucking decisions this year. I say that as though it’s in stark contrast to all twenty two years before me. But the truth is, I’ve lived in a state of varying degrees of clusterfuck since I exited the womb. It’s a genetic requirement of being a Marshall. We are the Griswalds, the National Lampoons, and a politically incorrect sitcom, all rolled into one. My Mum greets people into our home with a beaming ‘Welcome to the Madhouse’ and #marshallmadness has been a trending hashtag more times than I care to admit.

Of course, it would be easy to blame my mistakes on my heritage, my genetic material. But to do so would be to ignore the fact that I am a highly intelligent woman, raised to make clever choices independent of my clan.

What were my biggest mistakes of 2015?

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I am spoiled for choice. Perhaps it was enrolling for full time study, whilst sharing full time care of my Mum, and all the while the signs smouldering from my bones until I realised all too late that where there is smoke, there will surely be a raging inferno behind it.

Maybe it was dating the man who felt it his right as a man, and as a doctor, to tell all his friend’s about my syndrome before I’d even chance to introduce myself. And then smugly shrugging when they used medical license to tell him to walk, not run. And still, I was surprised when he deemed it his right to tell them more intimate details, until I stood with red hot cheeks as he recounted our bedroom liaisons.

It could have been trusting wolves disguised as friend’s with my heart, or believing that I could juggle three volunteer positions with the greater mess that was my life, or truly believing my body would never again land my in a wheelchair.

You could argue, that my biggest mistake was simply hoping that 2015 would be a better one.

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But chances are, you made the same mistake too. New Years Eve brings with it two things. The first, is the realisation that my Golden Retriever is better company than drunks in heels and thongs. The second is a flood of Facebook statuses hoping, praying, begging, bargaining, or outright demanding, a better twelve months than what the last calendar provided. And I know that you understand, because your Facebook, your Twitter, your Instagram, and your conversations in the middle of the supermarket aisle echo of the same sentiments.

This is not to say that we are not justified in our hopes for a kinder year ahead. I’ve got friend’s who have endured truly horrific circumstances over the past year. Loss of parents, the end of long term relationships, devastating diagnoses and complications, natural disasters, deaths of close loved ones, and everything in-between. The very fact that they have been able to continue placing one foot in front of the other to reach this New Years Eve has left me staggered at their strength.

But for most of us, we have not had to endure horrific tragedies. We’ve just been through shit, and pain, and adversity, loss, and grief.

We’ve been through life.

And yet, this year, just as last’s, and the one before, we have hoped for a kinder year. Maybe we are incredibly unfortunate people. Or maybe we just need a new approach.

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Our current society demands great things of us, at all times. You only need to look to Instagram and Lifestyle Blogs to know that you’re getting it wrong. You cannot walk along the beach, but rather you must frolic in a white cotton dress, arms outstretched into the sunset. You cannot go for a run, but rather you must document your mileage, your time, your improvement. And don’t even think about going on holiday without reminding everyone you are #blessed.

Our narrative is missing one small little detail; life is equal parts mundane or outright shit, as it is exciting and enjoyable. For every snapchat with a coconut, there is an unsent one of you picking up the dog shit in the backyard. So long as we allow our narrative to be devoid of reality, we in turn expect too much of our year, and in doing so, expect infinitely too much of ourselves.

My greatest mistake of 2015 was not undertaking too many study units, nor was it dating a man at the beginning of the year, with the emotional depth of Donald Trump. Neither was it placing my trust in places I should never have dared.

It was because my own narrative was devoid of three little words.

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I. Need. Help. 

I cannot do it all, and nor can you. We cannot have it all, we cannot overcome it all, and we cannot be grateful for it all (#blessed). More importantly, we are not expected to do it all, or at the very least, not on our own.

When you get dumped at three in the morning, the Facebook and Instagram likers will not be there. They will not even be interested. Why? Because your pain, your adversity, and your disappointment does not fit their narrative; the narrative that we have created.

I fucked up many times this year. But no mistakes were so great as me not asking for help. I did not ask for help for my Dad and I in caring full-time for my Mum. And so instead I tried to write essays in Intensive Care waiting rooms and tried to submit lab reports in between showering her and realising I didn’t have the energy to shower myself.

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I did not ask for help when my heart was broken by boys, friends, and family alike, and instead I cried in the shower, so that my parents wouldn’t be able to ask me why I had been crying. Instead, I left the thoughts to fester into a relapse of disordered eating and even more disordered thought patterns.

I did not ask for help when my body was so broken that I was unable to wipe my own ass, let alone work out how the fuck I was meant to care for my Mum at the same time. Instead, I let my health deteriorate to the point that I am now facing the potential of Chemotherapy next year, a desperate effort to get my body to stop attacking its own flesh.

I did not ask.

Why? I’ve not the time to list them all if I have any intention of making it to my New Years party. On the surface there was shame, fear, outright stubbornness, and a healthy dose of self sabotage. But mostly, it was because I understood that I was meant to be able to do it by myself.

2016 is going to be a better year.

My body is still going to twist and warp, I am still going to misplace my trust with the wrong people, and I am still going to hurt, to fail, to be disappointed, to be afraid, and to be broken.

And you are too.

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A better 2016 does not mean that the year will be devoid of such pain and challenges. That pain and loss creates a huge portion of our lives, regardless of the fact that we wish it didn’t, or that our social narrative tells us that it shouldn’t. These are not the qualifying conditions of a bad year, nor enough reason to wish for a better one. You can still wish for a better one of course, but you will be disappointed. No matter what Instagram filter you choose, life is still going to happen.

Despite this, I still know that it will be a better year. Not because I will not hurt, but rather because my narrative has changed.

Because my narrative has changed. I have learnt how to speak three little words.

I need help. 

And that’s enough to know that somehow, I’ll get through okay.

Instead of shouting Happy New Year at midnight, perhaps try these three new words out.

They might just make your year.



One thought on “Reality

  1. Jess, i am so glad you have discovered a few very important words for 2016. I’m sorry 2015 held so much torment. I wish you smoother seas this year. And please post a picture or two of the picking up of dogshit. It’s good to counterbalance all the fancy shit. You’ve made me think (again!). Thank you. I carry these words going into our New Year. It’s a new day of moody skies and rain here. I hope it means something good about the year ahead!

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