(I’m not sure how I feel about the “unravelling” part these days, tbh)

You see, I would quite like it all, that’s the overriding thing about me — I really would quite like to have it all, as all the ball-busting ceiling-smashing shoulder-padded business women of the 1980s promised me I could; I’d like to trip-trap-trip between glossy offices in my patent heels and pencil skirts, making deals and being very important. But then I’d also like to be a yoga-lean, raw-vegetable-nibbling, patchouli-scented earth mother type, wandering barefoot between my homegrown raspberry canes with my eyes on a higher purpose. I want both of those things. And all the selves in between.

It…


Mainly, I learned never to try to predict my own feelings

We’d been married for two years and we were away on a mini-break, which was a rare thing in those days because we had very little money. Also, we’d taken our children with us, because they were very small, so it wasn’t exactly a romantic mini-break. But still. We were on holiday. It was a treat.

The deal was this: we would meet some friends for lunch and have a day at the aquarium with the children, and then we would put the children to bed in the hotel and I would stay with them while my husband would go…


There is no way to tell an abusive man from his looks alone

Over the past couple of weeks, it has become fairly clear that the Armie Hammer abuse rumors — which include screenshots of his talk of cannibalism fantasies and details of him carving his initials into a woman’s genitalia with a knife — are going absolutely nowhere. (For more on those, see this fab piece by Carrie Wynn).

Hammer has already been dropped like a stone by both his agent and his publicist, and most of us are cynical enough to understand that when that happens to a previously highly bankable star, it’s usually a hand-washing exercise ahead of confirmed, or…


Can’t think clearly? That’s exactly what they want

When I was living alone for the summer in which I left my husband (after my messy, all-consuming, entirely regrettable affair), I remained in touch — at first — with my extramarital lover.

This is how that went.

On the night that our affair was discovered, he held my hands tightly and he said to me, looking into my eyes, “Listen to me. This is the horrendous bit. This bit is going to be awful. But we have to stay strong. We win, at the end of this. We WIN. We get each other.”

I sat in front of him…


And here’s what I’ve learned, and earned, from the experience

It was in April 2020 that I first clicked “publish” on any form of Internet writing in any location at all. I’d been meaning for months, for years, to try to make sense in words of the strange untethered feeling I’d developed in my 30s and the way I’d felt my underlying self slip into something unrecognizable, even as I watched it go and wondered at my own decisions.

Then, in 2020 Covid-19 forced us all indoors, and I thought: right. You’ve got time, now, if nothing else. No excuses.

I started a blog. I then started to promote that…


And her reaction has shocked me deeply

I’ve known Elanor for decades. We were at school together: she dark, confident, and sassy, me blonde and guileless and always ever so slightly on the outside of things, laughing slightly too late at every joke, picking up on even obvious conversational subtext only later, with a rush of foolish embarrassment.

Like me, she married young. James was older: 27 to her 16 when they met, but none of us questioned that, because it was the 1990s, and words like “consent” and “coercion” were not used in the way that we use them now. Anyway, they were happy. They looked…


What makes us so content with so little?

In the months that I spent on my own, after cheating on my husband and leaving our home, I could actually feel my personality begin to change by slow degrees.

I was very lonely: that was part of it. I’d thoroughly destroyed all the good stuff in my life, and I barely knew who I was in the wake of that destruction. I did believe, though, that I loved the man with whom I had cheated on my husband. I also believed, like a cliche of a fool, that he loved me. And more to the point, I believe that…


Turns out, all transitions as a mother are difficult — including this one

I just got back from visiting my eldest daughter for a couple of days. She lives in the city, and pandemic restrictions have only just lifted enough for me to go and stay, so it was exciting. I took my youngest daughter with me, as the girls are close and I knew it would be fun for them.

My youngest daughter is a teenager, but I am still very much a “mother” to her in the way that I always was. I supervise her homework, cook her meals, drive her to meet her friends, comfort her when she has a…


Research shows that lots of women reach out to their abusers

Demi Lovato — former child actress, teen star, drug addict, and now a recovering alcoholic — revealed recently in her YouTube docuseries (“Dancing with the Devil”) that after her near-fatal overdose in 2018, after recovering and returning to her life, she got back in touch with the dealer who had sold her the drugs that night.

It’s a shocking revelation, and more so because she explains that he had not only sold her the drugs but also taken advantage of her sexually on the night of her overdose, when she had been incapacitated and unable to resist.

And yet after…


Can I still be a feminist when I’m out of step with the lockdown mood?

One of the first “pandemic life changes” for women I read about last year was the concept of “binning our bras”. From the very first moment that we all started working from home, I read article after piece after tweet extolling the joys of a bra-free existence. Everywhere I turned, it seemed, I found cartoons shouting about the relief of ditching the breast scaffolding.

It wasn’t just my news feed, either. TikTok users (I don’t number among them because I’m over 30) began doing “no bra challenge” dances. A YouGov poll revealed that a fifth of British women began to…

Em Unravelling

Lover of words, books, hiking, nature and big skies. Running is my favourite thing (after the words & the books). As feisty as I need to be. theunravelling.net

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store