To the ex who’s stalking my blogs!

Well it’s been some time since I last posted so thought i’d update you guys on what’s the latest with me!

I can say I’ve had some fun and funny few weeks! I became a Master’s Graduate! I’ve screamed my heart out at Thorpe Park and Alton Towers! I travelled to Southport, Liverpool, Manchester and London! I have literally had the time of my life dancing and singing on the motorway!

To my ex, you think i’m here double dating? Good. You think i’m enjoying my time to the max? Good. You think my family is supporting your decision to divorce me? Good. I couldn’t care less.

The fact you have to stalk my page like a coward just speaks volumes. I mean I thought you wanted nothing to do with me? You was so quick to utter the words “divorce” when I caught you on Tinder and on TikTok chatting to other women. Please. My life has nothing to do with you anymore. Be a man.

Eventhough a narcissist like you deserves all the hate, I forgive you. I actually feel sorry for you because you can’t take accountability for your own actions. It’s sad. You have to lie your way through life for others to feel sorry for you and that’s just sad. You have to put that fake smile on your face, dance and flirt with other women but really and truely you’re miserable. You lost the best thing that ever happened to you and you’ll disagree with me right now but God works in mysterious ways.

I remember a time you said “Karma loves me” “When I fuck up, karma bites me in the ass” “If I ever hurt you what will I say to God?” “I’ve been to Islamic gatherings with my brother in law so I know not to hurt anyone’s daughter” well guess what sweetie, Karma works in ways no man can be ready for. I don’t wish bad on you, I want you to be happy with the miserable life you’ve created for yourself. Keep listening to songs and smoking that weed. Money can buy you happiness but not a clean soul and conscious.

But it’s all good though, I prefer to be the villain in our story. I was always the villain. If that’s what makes you happy and suits your stories then I accept.

P.S … I never claimed to be religious, but if I had to choose culture or Islam, I would choose Islam any day because it teaches me to have respect and morals, something you lacked. You disrespected me so much in our first 6 months of marriage, messed with my head and self-confidence because you weren’t happy with my body or my rights as a woman. You then expected me to be this person who still kissed your feet and respected you? Nah.

You fucked up your own marriage. YES YOU & I can’t blame anyone but YOU for doing that. You weren’t ready to be a husband or a man and I blame that on your parents. If only your parents taught you how to treat women, but unfortunately they didn’t. Women in your family apparently don’t deserve the respect.

Anyways, good luck to you and your pal who’s so interested in my life because you both need it.

Written by Larayb aka Layla ✌🏼

Cross Cultural Relationships and the Things Nobody Talks About

** This post is in no way meant to insult or belittle any particular group or culture. I hold no bias or hatred towards anyone and loved and appreciated many parts of my cross-cultural marriage. Every culture is different as is each family/relationship. No two relationships, regardless of culture or race will look the same. **

sunset sky over rippling sea
Thoughts from a divorcee

Cross cultural relationships are becoming so common place nowadays and it is a thing to be celebrated. Relationships outside of our own culture can be incredibly educational and really open our minds to things we never considered before. Every relationship is different and it is a beautiful thing to see people from all different cultures come together in love as society celebrates our differences.

We don’t realise that through our upbringing, we are conditioned to think certain things are normal from an early age. Therefore it is so important to learn and respect each others culture. We don’t know any different than what we are taught, so be willing to learn and embrace your cross cultures.

When you enter a cross-cultural relationship there are certain things I will warn you of. (I am by no means instigating hate towards any other culture, and every culture is different. I am merely telling my story and what I learned as a result of it!)

My experience in a cross cultural relationship

My ex-husband was a first generation American from South Asian heritage. And I am from Scotland, from what I would call a very typically Scottish family. My family are not religious, despite being raised Catholic. My ex was a self-labelled “westernised” American. He was an atheist, despite his muslim upbringing and he did not identify with his heritage much at all, other than his love of the food (which we both shared.) The fact that neither of us were religious was something important to me as I did not want to run into problems in the future.

photo of masjid during daytime

Due to our differences, our relationship ended in tears (and divorce papers). Here are some things nobody talked about before we got married in terms of crossing culture.

You will feel like the odd one out sometimes

Although more and more people are dating and marrying outside of their culture, it is still not that common. My husband was the only person in his family and friend group to marry a white girl. And the same goes for my family. Nobody had married outside of their culture and so this was a learning experience for both of us.

Although his family and friends were very accepting, sometimes I felt like the odd one out. The food I made was bland and basic in comparison to the delicious meals his family and friends wives could whip up (although I learned a few recipes!) and my wardrobe was completely different.

When we went to south asian weddings, I felt out of place. Despite wearing the traditional dress and embracing the culture, everyone stared at the white girl and I felt isolated. Most people were super welcoming and loved to see me embrace their culture, but as an introvert, sometimes I just wanted to blend into the background.

platter of foods

Societal Pressure

Although we lived in the USA without many hiccup for the first few years, when we moved nearer the South Asian community my ex husband grew up in, in Brooklyn, pressure got to us.

Although he was not connected to his culture in the traditional sense of religion, he felt the need to behave himself in the community so that people would not talk. This meant “act like everyone else.” As someone who didn’t understand what it meant to “act like everyone else”, things got difficult.

I remember going to our Pakistani friends bbq in the height of summer and my husband insisted I wore leggings under my summer dress. It was 32C outside and I protested. He told me, “what do you think everyone will say about you?” Societal pressure can be a real problem in cross cultural relationships… no matter how compatible you both are. My ex husband didn’t care if I wore a dress when we went out together as long as nobody from the community saw me.

You Will Be Ignorant

Whether or not you educate yourself and take the time to learn, there will be times you realise just how ignorant you are. It’s okay to admit where you have work still to do. And you’ll never stop learning. It’s important not to judge each other for your differences and learn to embrace them. I loved teaching my ex about my own culture and seeing him interested.

We’ve been conditioned to think a certain way and follow certain social rules. When those norms are challenged, it can feel like an attack on you personally. We like to think we were raised “the right way” or that we know what is best. But sometimes, you have to realise there is no right way and that our differences are what make us unique. It is important not to take things personally and to take the time to understand your differences rather than get defensive.

Family Expectations

a mother arranging tulips in a flower vase
What are your family values?

Let me preface this by saying, I grew up in a very tight-knit family. My mother lived with her in-laws as they grew older and sicker, as well as her own parents. She still lives with my grandmother today. I hope to do the same for my own Mother as she grows old.

Every family is different. However, in certain culture, the in-laws of a woman are the head of the household. Whether her son is married or not, his duty is to look after his mother first and foremost. No matter how demanding they are. This burden also extends to the daughter-in-law.

Now, not everyone’s experience will be like mines in a cross cultural relationship. My ex husband was the eldest sibling and only boy in a Pakistani household. All of the expectations fell on his shoulders to take care of his mother and sisters. This was something I understood before marrying him, although the boundaries were pushed to the limits. We financially supported his mother and sisters and were expected to open our home to then whenever they felt like it. Our house was, as his mother told me “our second home” and she could do as she pleased here.

Tradional Gender Roles

crop colleagues shaking hands in office
Being an educated working woman is something I am proud of

In these modern times, society is challenging gender roles, particularly in the western world. Women are finding their voices and pushing back against what is expected of them (although there is still a long way to go).

However, not all cultures will be so accepting. I worked in a male dominated field so this was not my experience. However, many women in South Asian households are expected to stay at home in a traditional housewife role. Men are more often than not, the financial providers. And they expect a woman who cooks, cleans, looks after their parents and children in return.

My ex husband thankfully did not fall into this category, however, his mother often made comments like “my son bought this home with his hard-earned money.” She knew fine well that we had split our savings to pay for our downpayment. Yet she seemed to refuse to accept, that I was also an educated, working woman who earned a good living, as well as being a good wife to her son.

Another example of ignorance towards women that I experienced was when my husbands uncle visited our new house. He was an older traditional Pakistani man but I did not expect to be completely ignored in my own home. I tried to interact with him several times and offered him food and drink. I even addressed him in his mother tongue out of respect. However, I was left red-faced when he ignored my existence and continued to address my husband as though I was not present… all because I was a woman.

My ex husbands “suck it up” attitude caused a huge argument when I voiced how I felt about they way I had been treated. If this had happened to my ex husband, I would have leapt to his defense.

Celebrations and holidays will be different

top view of a family praying before christmas dinner
Holidays become a hybrid of cultures and it’s fun!

Holidays, whether you are celebrating Christmas, Eid, Hannakah or something different entirely, will become a bit of a learning experience. My husband had never celebrated Halloween, so we wen’t all out and decorated the house. And sometimes holidays become a bit of a hybrid of both cultures. I never expected to see pakora and samosas as a starter on my Christmas menu, but that is cross culture right there!

The Second Woman In Your Husbands Life

This is probably not the norm, but was ultimately the reason for my marriage failing. My Mother-in-law was my husbands number one priority. And he made that clear. She could do no wrong and I could set no boundaries with her. That was his mother after all. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my own Mother. We talk everyday and I would never stop my partner from spending time with his loved ones. However, it’s so important to set boundaries of what you will accept. In certain cultures, saying no to your mother-in-law is cause for divorce. This was absolutely the case with my ex husband and his mother.

Now that I have given some insight into my cross cultural relationship, I would love to hear from others about their experiences. I had many positives and learned many things that I will carry with me for life, although my marriage did not work out. I always try to focus on the positives and learn lessons from my past. I’d love to hear your feedback if you have any similar experiences! Thank you as always for reading!

Written by Jade @talkthirtea

Being a Pakistani Divorcee in 2021

I just want to say that not all Pakistani women and families experience whatever I have. Sometimes the stigma behind the south asian culture can cause a rift of what is and isn’t so it’s important to say that my experience is entirely my own. If you relate in any way just know you are not alone and I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

I don’t know about anyone else or if you’re able to relate, but don’t you feel like you’ve had enough of being silent & hearing others bullshit about your marriage? The marriage you tried so hard to save and make work? The marriage they so happen to have the most opinions about?

If you happen to be south asian like me then this might be a hi5 moment as I discuss my experience as a Pakistani divorcee in 2021.

My Parents

Where do I begin? I remember being told at the age of 12 years old by my mother that I needed to learn how to kneed the dough, cook curries and clean my house to please my husband and just in case I lived with my in-laws.

My mother had the privilege of being born in the UK. However, my father was born in Bahrain and raised in Pakistan. So, he was called to the UK, 3 years after being married to my mother. In this case, my mother didn’t live with in-laws, however my father was very cultural and opposed certain laws onto my mother such as not going out on her own, covering her face if she ever visited a certain part of Birmingham and being a housewife. But, soon as we grew up and my father got with the times and watched the generation change where women became more independent and were out there working hard and striving to meet their goals, my father changed.

When it came to my divorce, after me constantly trying to make my marriage work and my father watching me day and night, watching me cry and not eat, he would speak words of comfort to me. Now, not every south asian man or woman gets this treatment and till this day we are hearing and seeing people commit suicide or suffering at the hands of their husbands/wives/in-laws. But, not my parents.

All praises to God, my parents are so supportive.

The following words of comfort and encouragement are some of the things my parents said to me when I was broken and ashamed of whatever was happening:

God wanted you to be happy and that’s why he removed the one thing that wasn’t making you happy.”

Aslong as we are alive, no one can say anything to you or question you about whatever happened.

Live your life and if you want to work and travel the world go for it.”

A good man will enter your life and will support you and love you for the good woman you are.”

My Friends

My friends have been so supportive and kind. Not out of sympathy but because they’ve known me for years on end and know that I would have gone lengths to fix my marriage. ‘Fix’ was not the problem in my marriage, he is a narcissist that couldn’t get fixed.

My friends have encouraged me to start building back my confidence through skin care, getting dressed, putting on some makeup and double dates! And let me tell you, most guys don’t care if you’re a divorcee. I’ve been told my past is the past and they only care about the person I am today. It was an experience that has made me a stronger person.

Driving around the countryside, going to different cities, parks, restaurants and spending quality time with family and friends really is helping me with my mental health and well-being.

Choosing Yourself

It’s really sad that in today’s society women are being forced to stay with abusive partners and to ‘accept’ their fate because ‘daughter-in-laws’ are to take care of everyone and not have a life of their own.

I was always told from my ex that no one would look at me the same after knowing I’m a divorcee because I’m a woman. But, ever since i’ve been back and met new people, being a divorcee doesn’t affect most men’s opinions of you. This really helped my confidence.

I had to choose myself for the sake of my own mental health, to feel secure in my own skin, to be independent and have the choice of having my own bank account (I know, crazy right?) and to be loved unconditionally.

Being a Pakistani divorcee in 2021 has really shown me a different perspective of what other men actually think of you and how the community sees you and to be fair it ain’t all bad. You just have to remind yourself that you’re a bad ass bitch regardless and no one can judge you with this ‘label’ of being a divorcee.

Written by Layla

Feeling Lost After A Breakup? Here’s some tips on what you should do to find yourself again…

Breakups are the worst. They hurt like hell and if you’re anything like me, you might be feeling lost or stuck. Especially if you have tied a lot of your identity to being in a relationship. It is difficult to go from someones wife or girlfriend, to being on your own again.

If you’re feeling lost and low after a breakup, just know you are not alone. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and TalkThirtea has some tips on ways to find yourself outside of your relationship.

smiling woman with red hair
Find your smile again

Take the time to heal

Stop bottling up your emotions

If your relationship was rocky for a while, you might have been suppressing your emotions. I know I was. When things were bad, I was numb. I couldn’t cry, I just felt indifferent. Now that I am out of the environment, some days I am overwhelmed with all of the emotions I’m feeling. It’s actually a good thing and will help you heal in the long run. The longer you bottle up your emotions, the worse the inevitable breakdown will be.

Feeling lonely is normal and you have to accept it as a new emotion that might make you feel uncomfortable. It won’t always be so intense and will eventually start to ease.

It would also do you some good to take the time to be single. Don’t rush to jump into a new relationship before finding yourself first.

Learn to listen to your gut

When you have been in a relationship, particularly if you are a bit of a people pleaser, you often ignore your intuition. It’s easy to change yourself to be more compatible with your other half and compromise. However, this can leave you ignoring your gut. The old saying goes “trust your gut”. If you are newly single, it might take some getting used to. Personally, I have had a hard time making major decisions since my divorce. But I am working on this! Following your intuition can help guide you back to your true self. In the wrong career? Hanging around the wrong crowd? Self-sabotaging when it comes to your goals? Listen to your gut…

food healthy nature fashion
Focus on the things that make you happy

What makes you happy?

This is a simple question, but one we often ignore. What truly makes you happy? And how often are you doing those things? If you’re feeling lost after a breakup, it might be because you are not connecting with the things that bring you joy in your life. Writing is something that I find somewhat therapeutic, so I made a point of doing it most days. Yoga relaxes me, so I put time aside most mornings to practice. The days I skip these little things are the days my anxiety feels at its worst and I feel the most lost.

Set Goals

So you’re single now. Chances are, the goals you already had set, no longer make sense without your ex. So it’s no wonder you are a feeling a bit lost. Time to find yourself… now is the time to reset those goals. What are some of the things you always dreamed of? Maybe its a holiday to Santorini. It might be owning a house by the sea. Or going to University to study. However lavish the goal might seem, set it and write out a plan on how to get there. When I have nothing to work towards, I feel stuck. Setting short-term and long-term personal goals is a good way to commit to yourself and know that you are working towards something for you.

fit athlete during training on running track
Do it for your future self

Hold Yourself Accountable

This is the difficult part. Anyone can set goals. But what are you going to do to do reach them? It is easy to lie in bed and say “I’ll start tomorrow” but it won’t get you any closer to your goals. Show up everyday for yourself and work towards being the person you want to be. If you want to be in shape, you’re going to have to get up and put the gym shoes on whether you feel like it or not. If you want to become a business owner, you’re going to have to work your ass off to get there. And nobody can hold you accountable but yourself, now that you are single! Do it for your future self.

Cut out the bad habits and toxic people

It’s time to be honest with yourself. If you are feeling lost, you might be self-sabotaging. We are a reflection of our daily habits and if we are not where we want to be, it might be time to look at what we are doing everyday. Too much sugar in your diet? Time to cut back. Spending too much time on social media? Time for a social media detox. And it might be time to take a look at your social circle and reflect. “If you want to soar like an eagle, you can’t hang around turkeys” The company you keep can have a huge impact on how you feel. If you are feeling lost, maybe you are surrounded by people who don’t align with you. You want to be surrounded by people who love you, inspire you and challenge you to be a better version of yourself.

Ultimately though, sometimes feeling lost in life can actually be a great thing. You might be amazed at the transformation you go through and the person you ultimately become.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves”

Signs you’re dating a narcissist

woman holding her head
Photo by David Garrison on Pexels.com

Whether you have entered a new relationship, marriage or just dating, this blog post might help you read the signs that you’re dating a narcissist. This is a personality type that can be difficult to spot. So here are some things to look out for.

What is a narcissist?

A narcissist or someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is normally defined as someone who seeks attention, has an inflated sense of self and who lacks basic empathy for others and/or enjoys exploiting others for their gain. There are a few different types and some are more difficult to spot than others. Overt narcissists are the extroverted, attention-seeking type, while covert are introverted and often fly under the radar.

Dealing with someone with NPD can be extremely challenging and mentally draining. They are very resistant to changing their behaviour. They tend to blame others for their problems, in particular their other half. Setting boundaries with a narcissist is not something they respond well to. And this is especially true if you are in a relationship with one.

mirror fragments on gray surface with the reflection of a person s arm
Photo by Thiago Matos on Pexels.com

Overt Narcissist vs Covert Narcissist

If you are dating an overt narcissist, the likelihood is that they are the loud one in the room. They demand attention and praise from others due to their inflated self worth. They believe they are more important than others, more intelligent, better looking. Therefore, they see no issue with being the loud and obnoxious person in the room who holds court. The signs can be a little more obvious with this type of narcissist.

If you are dealing with a covert narcissist (sometimes known as vulnerable narcissism), the signs may be less obvious. These people can be introverted and do not possess the same grandiosity and inflated sense of self outwardly. They may even appear modest and reserved. However, long term, their narcissistic traits will become obvious. Particularly to those in relationships with them.

Both of these types of NPD still display the same traits however.

Our Experiences

We believe we have dealt with partners who display traits of NPD, one being overt and the other covert. Here are some traits we found in both men to help you see the signs you are dating a narcissist:

  1. Lack of empathy
  2. They hate boundaries and they won’t respect them
  3. A need to be in control
  4. Rarely admits when they are wrong
  5. Never apologises
  6. Manipulative
  7. Hatred of being called out/confronted

Layla’s experience:

My ex is definitely an overt narcissist. There were times where I would be sitting and eating with his family or friends and he would make sarcastic remarks about the amount I was eating or that I was always finishing the food from my plate. He would laugh and say he was only joking and that he loved me to reassure the people around him but behind closed doors I was being screamed at to “do something about your insecurities!”

There were times when I would be awake from 8am and working till 5pm (remotely). I was also cooking and cleaning but was always getting told by him that I wasn’t doing enough and that I just sit on my ass all day long doing nothing.

When my ex would decide to spend a Sunday with me (we both worked full time jobs and he worked a second job at night so we barely saw each other during the week) even that was thrown in my face and he would FaceTime my father and say things like:

“Look what I’m doing for your daughter” and “Even you couldn’t take your daughter where I am taking her” and “Look your daughter is happy here with me so don’t tell her to come back to the UK”.

This would obviously really upset me because it was disrespectful to my parents. Personally I didn’t like showing off and I missed my family dearly. But my ex would get a kick out of it by rubbing things in my family’s face.

My ex was heavily involved with his culture and always wanted me to be on the phone to his mother every day or to be present in her house every day which I found very weird. But when I tried setting boundaries he would always voice how I was changing his personality and that I didn’t love him enough to take care of his mother.

Jade’s experience:

I believe my ex is a covert narcissist for a number of reasons. It took me a very long time to be able to understand that I was not crazy and that I was the victim of extensive manipulation for years.

He was quite reserved and from the outside seemed very charming. His nasty side always came out when we were alone. However, he was extremely controlling throughout our relationship. For instance, if I wore something that he did not like, he would insist that I change it. If i protested, he would cause a huge argument and guilt-trip me.

He definitely lacked empathy too. When I was taking job interviews and was very nervous, he would tell me to get a grip and “what the f*ck was wrong with me?” He actually told me once “I don’t look at you and think, wow that is my wife” to let me know he was no longer attracted to me.

Whenever I set boundaries with him (e.g. his mother and sisters could not come to stay with us every 2 weeks for 4 nights and take over our home) he would completely transform into a different person. He would scream and shout and tell me to leave… that he didn’t care about me until we got married anyway (we dated for 4 years before marriage).

My ex could never apologise. He joined a dating app while we were married and I found out about it. When I confronted him he got mad at the person who told me. He never apologised or took any responsibility for that and said the other person was trying to break us up…

These are just our experiences in toxic relationships. We are not experts but have seen the consequences of staying in mentally abusive relationships. If you believe you are dating someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or some of the traits we have described, we recommend cutting ties. Relationships with narcissists are notoriously difficult and they may promise you all the changes in the world, but it is very unlikely that they will change. It is better to disassociate yourself from them before you are too invested.

Written by Layla & Jade

“You learn a lot about people, when they don’t get what they want”

My PCOS Journey: Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, this is my PCOS journey and story. Before I begin, I just want to praise and acknowledge anyone who gets up everyday feeling optimistic and accepting their PCOS journey. Even though you may question why this has happened to you or feel you may not be worthy of being a mother, know that God or whatever you may believe in has a better plan for you.

Below I explain PCOS and some symptoms I face:

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects women and how the ovaries function. Nowadays it is thought that about 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer with PCOS. It is a hormonal condition and it is not known what causes this. Living with PCOS can be very difficult.

Common Symptoms or Signs of PCOS?

  • Excessive hair growth (face, chest, back)
  • Irregular periods or no period
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Hair loss or hair thinning from the head
  • Increased risk of getting type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • High Blood Pressure

My PCOS consists of all these common signs and symptoms except type 2 diabetes (all praises to God). However, when I was seen by a gyno 8 months ago, she told me I was borderline type 2 diabetic. I was in the middle of my emotionally abusive marriage which I know was not helping my condition either!

Anyway, I only ever started my period naturally maximum 3 times in my whole life! Once when I was 11 years old and my period lasted 1 day, again at 15 years old and my period lasted 2/3 days and lastly at 27 when my marriage broke down. But my gynocologist mentioned I may have miscarried due to stress during my marriage breakdown. As you can imagine, living with PCOS and in an abusive marriage was extremely taxing on my mental health.

At the age of 21, having no period was obviously very abnormal. PCOS can run in the family and my cousin had been diagnosed with PCOS so I was pretty sure I had the same condition. However, I was neglected by the NHS when being checked by doctors at the age of 16 and was ruled out as having a “hormonal imbalance”. At 21 I had the same scan again and was finally told I had PCOS. I cried my eyes out because the thought of not being able to have children was daunting.

Toxic Relationship and PCOS

For me personally, I now see my PCOS as a gift. Why you may ask? Without a doubt it has saved me from my biggest regret. My marriage. I know if children were involved my life would have been over because he would have used my kids against me. Being in a narcissistic relationship didn’t help me or my health when I was trying to get pregnant. And thanks to my PCOS, I was saved from an abusive relationship longterm.

My ex husband was adamant that we would have children, despite knowing about my PCOS before we married. I stopped taking my contraception pills and began to see a gynocologist to help me conceive naturally. Unfortunately after some scans and blood tests I was told I would need to go through IVF. IVF is a procedure where the sperm and egg are fertilised outside the body by scientists and then inserted back into the female. This comes with some risks and is very expensive, however, many have been successful.

I would have mental breakdowns due to my ex’s comments on my weight as well as me not being able to conceive. He would embarrass me in front of other people. I had never hid my condition from him but he made me feel like less of a woman due to my infertility. Due to this I became suicidal, and had constant panic attacks. Thanks to good friends and supportive family members (who lived in the UK whilst I was in the US) I managed to escape my marriage.

Also, the pressure of his mother always complaining about me not being pregnant was constantly on my mind. She would make remarks about if me and my ex were using protection and would discuss this with her friends in front of me. I would be so embarrassed and my ex was okay with it. He would defend his mother and tell me she can say and do what she wants.

How to Cope with PCOS

So what do I do, while living with PCOS to cope? I remind myself every day that I’m beautiful in any shape or size as PCOS does make losing weight difficult. My weight fluctuates but I don’t let it bring me down. Yes, I do experience bad days but I try to eat healthily but never starve or deprive myself. PCOS is a mental challenge more than anything so it is very important to keep and have an optimistic mindset.

PCOS does not rule out having children for me. It just makes the journey to become a mother more difficult but I know that God has a plan for me. I surround myself with people who will always love and support me.

It really does affect my mental health and I always try my best to support charities who help orphaned children and women struggling with fertility. This gesture gives my mind comfort that I’m helping those less fortunate than me and I begin to show more gratitude.

I have started to try and drink green juices every morning, I avoid dairy products as much as I can as I become bloated! I was also advised to eat gluten and dairy free products to avoid diabetes and increase in weight. So you might want to look more into that!

For excessive hair growth I have had laser treatment done and it has really helped with my confidence and self-esteem. Laser has many benefits as it also clears up your skin and any hyperpigmentation caused by PCOS.

Remember ladies, having a supportive partner is so crucial when facing difficulties in life especially involving fertility. I wasn’t as lucky BUT not being able to have children doesn’t define who I am as a person or a woman. Just remember after hardship comes ease and if we are not blessed to have children, we will be blessed in other ways.

Written by Layla

Why 2021 should be the year we step outside our comfort zone

If you are feeling stuck, bored or frustrated with the direction your life is going, you might be spending too much time in your comfort zone. Today’s blog post is all about why 2021 should be the year we push ourselves to step outside our comfort zone.

What exactly is a comfort zone? Well, it’s defined as a psychological state when things feel familiar. We are at ease and in control of their environment. We tend to get used to the routine and humdrum of daily life. There is nothing that will set off our anxiety, nothing to make us uncomfortable and so we stick with what we know whether we are happy or not. There is no incentive to change because we feel safe. However, as most of us know, nothing grows in the comfort zone.

Your desires and dreams are normally outside your comfort zone. Dreaming of a career change? Trying to learn a new language? Got fitness goals you want to achieve? Want to travel to that dream destination? These are completely achievable. But they’re not inside your comfort zone.

Here’s 7 reasons why you should make 2021 the year you push your boundaries are get out of the

Tackle Your Fears

Our mind is a funny thing. Sometimes we allow ourselves to build things up in our head that are rarely as bad as we think they are. And the fears we refuse to face, will become our limits in the longterm.

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Nobody Cares As Much As You Think

People do not care. When you are nervous and putting yourself out there, you feel like everyone is judging you. Most people are too self-absorbed to notice. And if they do, they’ll likely think “Good for you!”

People With Less Talent Are Achieving Your Goals

You’ve probably seen other people do things that you want and thought, “what do they have, that I don’t?” The answer is probably balls. They’re willing to put themselves out there and make a fool of themselves to get where they want to be. Are you?

Imagine How You’ll Feel When You Do What You Want

We’ve all been stuck in a place we don’t want to be. A dead end job, a toxic relationship, out of shape. Imagine how good it will feel when you actually escape that life and are doing the exact things you want to do in life. Being brave is what will get you there!

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You Won’t Be Scared of Failure

Failure teaches us and it breaks our ego. Once you have failed, you have learned a lesson. You won’t be so scared of rejection or “failure” in the future. What lessons can you use from this failure to get to where you want to be?

You Pull Down Other Mental Barriers

When you have achieved one of your goals, you start breaking down the boundaries you had set for yourself but things that once seemed unattainable start looking like options. And your life goals become bigger.

You’ll Become More Confident

Who doesn’t love smashing their goals? It’s an amazing feeling to achieve something you once dreamt of. Pushing yourself will boost your confidence and you’ll feel on top of the world!

Are you feeling inspired now to take a leap of faith? Make 2021 the year we face our fears and achieve our goals. Let’s step out of our comfort zone and get to where we want to be!

Written by Jade

Marital Expectations for Women in South Asia

When you think of the South Asian culture, you think food, colours, Bollywood, etc. It is all that and much more but when it narrows down to marriage expectations it’s a different ball game.

You might be wondering, “It can’t be that bad Layla, you’re exaggerating” but as someone who has first hand experience as a South Asian woman and who married a South Asian man, I pretty much felt like I had been thrown back into the 18th century.

Firstly, I didn’t think that being married within my own culture was going to be a bad experience for me as I’ve seen my parents grow beautifully together and my father always treating my mother with the upmost respect. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me and isn’t for many South Asian women.

Even though this may be the case for many women, it’s not always true for some as their families and in-laws are more modern and westernised. However, the ones who value the South Asian culture in terms of expectations within a marriage can be daunting and damaging to ones mental and physical health.

The next few points will discuss what can be expected within a South Asian cultural marriage.

  1. Living with your In-Laws: This can be quite controversial as not everyone prefers to share their privacy and space with their In-laws. Also, when you want to grow with your partner, you may not be able to as their will always be opinions and comments from x,y and z that can cause a rift in your relationship. However, this may be a condition set before-hand and if you are a South Asian woman, you may feel obliged to accept as you feel you don’t have a choice and not to disrespect your parents honour.
  2. Calling your Mother In-Law everyday (if you’re not living with your In-Laws): This expectation was beyond me as I thought it was so weird to call someone you barely know everyday and to ask if they need help with cooking/cleaning when they have children who are of age to be carrying out these duties? But since you are the daughter in-law it automatically becomes your duty to fulfill.
  3. Cooking and cleaning for your In-Laws: Since you are now the daughter In-law, whether you are living with your In-laws or not, this is “obligitory” and is seen as a right for you to carry out. You are seen as this individual who didn’t get married for a companionship but to be responsible for chores and to take care of other people. No matter how old your brother or sister in-laws are, it is your duty to fulfill.
  4. You can only wear what is suitable in the eyes of your Father and Mother In-Law: Whatever you wore when you were living with your parents or on your own may now not be acceptable in their eyes. You are expected to dress ‘respectfully’ so other South Asian families within the community won’t comment on what you are wearing. ‘Respectful’ clothing for me included covering my chest area, my rear, making sure my outfits were not complimenting my body shape and a headscarf around the men or when visiting my In-Laws or any relatives.
  5. You have to sacrifice and compromise your happiness in order for your husband and In-Laws to be happy: If you think your happiness matters, you have another thing coming. You are expected to behave as your marriage has given you a new family and you need to forget about your family. No matter the situation, you can’t speak against your husband as he is always seen as ‘right’ and higher status than you.

The above points are just some issues I have highlighted as expectations in some South Asian marriages. My experience taught me that I deserve to be treated as an equal and my happiness matters more. This is why my marriage broke down as my ex could not handle me defending myself.

Don’t ever feel ashamed to stand up for what is right and express your feelings! No one is obliged to live like a maid when married! Marriage is about two people who are meant to be happy with each other and not to please other people and expectations.

Written by Layla

Pets and Breakups: Grieving the loss of your pet

Grieving the loss of your pet. Phew… this is going to be tough to talk about. As I type this, I have a huge lump in my throat and an all-consuming guilt. As I have previously written about, The Mental Health Battle After a Breakup, my divorce was not just the end of my 8 year relationship.

I was living in the United States without my family or friends and it meant I would be packing up my things and leaving to head back to Scotland. We had no children yet so our assets could be divided fairly easily… apart from Alfie. I am currently grieving the loss of my dog, who didn’t die… but I lost during my divorce.

Unconditional Love

My sweet Alfie, my four legged child, my beautiful chocolate Labrador and the apple of my eye. I didn’t grow up with dogs and when my ex had suggested we get a puppy, I was sceptical. However, I soon changed my tune when I met him. I trained him morning, noon and night and completely fell in love with him. He was my companion when I felt homesick and he gave me comfort when my marriage started to fall apart. I never expected to own a pet and then breakup. And now I live with that feeling that I abandoned him.

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The Guilt of Leaving a Pet

Unlike my ex, Alfie could not understand what was going on. He didn’t understand when I kissed him and told him I’d miss him. He didn’t know when I walked out of our front door for the last time. And for that I carry massive guilt. He showed me unconditional love when I felt so alone. When my anxiety was debilitating, he would curl up at my feet and lick them. How could I just walk out on him, when I had been his everything fo the past 4 years?

Grieving Your Pet

In many ways, I have grieved the loss of my dog, more than the loss of my marriage. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but my relationship with my ex husband had become very toxic and many hurtful things had happened that made walking away that bit easier. But not with Alfie. He had never shown me anything but unconditional love. And that makes it all the more difficult to walk away from him. He was not sick nor was I. It should not have been the end of our journey together, but it was.

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How I Am Coping

Now, long after I have left, I still look through my photos and videos of my dog and depending on the day, I can cry or I can smile. There is no timeline when it comes to grief, it is complicated and I have found there is little support. I have found a few helpful sites online with some advice:

You are mourning the loss of your animal while they are still alive and you may feel bitter that you miss out on all those years together. You know that your pet is also grieving you. I wonder if he got depressed when I left, if he wonders where I’ve gone and that breaks my heart.

So how am I dealing with the grief of my pet? I have found that going to the park and seeing other dogs has helped bring me a little bit of joy. I take walks outside and listen to podcasts to replicate my daily walks with Alfie. One of these days, I’ll go to a shelter and rescue a dog, for now I have my memories that I’ll cherish forever of the relationship I had with him, and thankfully I know he is well looked after. I have even thought about volunteering at an animal shelter, although I am not sure I am ready just yet.

If any of our readers have ever experienced losing a pet, whether through a breakup or through the death of a pet, please let us know how you have dealt with or are dealing with it in the comments below!

Written by Jade

Subtle Signs Your Partner is Controlling You

What are some of the more subtle signs your partner is controlling you? Most of us like to think we could spot a controlling partner… verbal abuse, controlling where you go, isolating you from family and friends. Obvious, right? However it can actually be extremely difficult to realise you are in a controlling relationship until you are out of it. Or it is spelled out to you by a relative or friend. These types of toxic behaviours are not always so in your face…

Controlling partners are often very manipulative in the way that they behave. Oftentimes we don’t see the signs until we are in the thick of it.

So let’s talk about some subtle signs you may be in a controlling or emotionally abusive relationship.

You Are Confused and Second Guessing Yourself

If you find yourself asking “Should I do this?” “Maybe I should ask him first” or you are confused about decisions that you would have made easily before you met your partner, this can be a signal that you are second guessing yourself because he/she has been undermining your past decisions.

This might sound like “I wish you wouldn’t do that” or “I like it better when you do this” or “I hate that you don’t do what I ask.” These subtle little statements, after a while will have us questioning if we should seek his/her approval first so that we won’t leave them feeling disappointed.

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They Criticise You For Minor Things Constantly

It is not enough for a controlling partner to have you seeking their validation. They also want to mold you into the type of person they want you to be. To do this, they will pick apart and nitpick on the simplest and stupidest of things.

“Do you have to chew so loudly?”

“You shouldn’t cut your hair like that, it makes your face look fatter.”

“Don’t wash the surfaces like this, do it like that. It’s better this way.”

These comments may seem harmless, sometimes you won’t even notice them. But what often happens is they become more and more frequent or disrespectful. And you will begin to pick up on things that they don’t like and doing things their way, hoping for praise (that rarely comes) or at least, less criticism.

You’re Walking On Eggshells

This one is a big red flag.. “I won’t mention it, I don’t want to rock the boat.” “He’s in a good mood, I won’t bother bringing up that comment he made that hurt me.” If you find yourself feeling anxious about mentioning certain things to your partner for fear of their reaction or if you let things slide, that previously you would have brought up without hesitation, this can be a big sign that you have begun to succumb to their way of life, whether it suits you or not.

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You Avoid Telling Your Family/Friends

This one can be difficult because lots of people prefer that things remain private and “behind closed doors” and that is totally respectful. Not many people like to air their dirty laundry to the world. However, if you find yourself “forgetting” to mention some of the arguments you have had or maybe a hurtful comment was made that you would have previously told your mum or best friend, you could subconsciously be trying to protect their image of the “perfect partner.” especially if they are well liked amongst your loved ones.

My ex would actually make a point of saying “I hate people who talk about their drama to other people, it’s so disrespectful to involve other people.” I went along with this sentiment for years, until I realised that all I was doing was hiding his true character from everyone around me and suffering in silence.

Your Confidence Is In The Gutter

When you first met, I bet you felt on top of the world. He/she made you feel special and beautiful but now you just don’t feel like yourself. You are having a hard time making decisions and you don’t like how your body looks. You might even stop socialising with other people because you just feel off. This might be because of the constant criticisms and undermining the way you do things. It could also be due to a lack of affection. Controlling partners will rarely, if ever compliment you or boost your self-esteem, even though it is the thing you crave most in the world.

woman holding mirror against her head in the middle of forest
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These are just SOME of the subtle signs that you may be in a controlling and abusive relationship. There are plenty more that you can search for online if you suspect you are the victim of an abuser. However, if you do I would highly recommend ending the relationship if it is not dangerous to do so. I would also encourage you to speak to a loved one or even a professional for further advice.

Written by Jade