It’s the little things that get you

I’ve been trying to deal and come to terms with the emotions I have stuffed down and looked away from for so long.  I really feel that is the only way to excise the demon is to face the monster.  Sometimes it manifests in such strange ways.  Like this morning- I was thirsty and grabbed a glass from the cabinet.  It was a Shrek collector’s glass from right before everything shattered.  I remembered the day I  purchased it.  My son was still small enough for a car seat.  He was 4 that summer.  Our last summer.

As I took the glass down I heard in my head that cherubic 4-year-old voice excitedly saying, “Schwek da fird, mommy!”  I can hear it clear as day in my head and even now, a tear rolls down my cheek.  Part of coming to terms with everything I’ve pushed down and looked away is that I have to feel it, and I have to turn it into something that doesn’t hurt.  So through tear-stained cheeks I drank the glass of water and gave thanks that I had that time with him; that I have that memory of me with my Puss-in-Boots plush and my son with his Donkey plush on a hot summer day. We enjoyed the air-conditioning and the movie and the experience together.

I am grateful.  I have to remind myself each time.  One day hopefully the tears won’t come along with it.

I know what I have is PTSD from the trauma of losing him at such a young age and for no reason other than to wound me.  Little things trigger it.  Like a claw machine.  The claw machine reminds me of our last afternoon together before the culmination of the nightmare.  We had court the following day, and I knew that I had not had enough money to win.  I had no money, honestly.  I knew my child had been purchased.

Even now that is a crushing feeling that I haven’t dealt with yet.

I remember I had dropped him off at school that morning, and I came to work and silently cried and cried until my boss, a very kind soul named Joe told me to take the rest of the day and go get my baby, which I did.  I took him to the park, I took him for pizza, I took him to play putt-putt, and I let him play with the claw machine until I had no more money left.

That’s why I can’t look at claw machines without a pang of sorrow.

There are many things that I avoid to not have to come across a painful memory I have stuffed away, but that isn’t serving me.  I am thankful Joe let me have that afternoon with him and wherever he is in his life right now, I wish him all the best life has to offer because he is a good soul.

I want a partner in life.  I want REAL friends.  I feel this pain and sorrow and not dealing with it; staying stagnant in a place where too many memories hang on everything- it needs to go.  It needs to be excised.  It’s going to take time.

But I am grateful for the journey and the kindnesses I have been met with along the way.  I will work harder to pay that forward.

My First Fuckboy

When I was very small, I had a big imagination. When you grow up in chaos, you develop a lot of coping skills. Pretending to be someone else in a complete fantasy world was a coping skill that I think helped me to be a better storyteller. How else are you going to play in my imaginary world if you don’t know the storyline and the boundaries, after all? And my stories were intricate.
 
I’ve always been attracted to strong female archetypes. I rarely played the damsel in distress. I would if persuaded, but that was hardly my go-to choice of made-up character. I wanted to be She-Ra, Princess of Power. I wanted to be Cheetara from Thundercats. Often times because I wasn’t the prettiest little girl in the classroom ever, I got to play the boy part. I didn’t really mind. The boys got to be the saviors. They got to be the fighters. While I had plenty of girlfriends and longed to be beautiful and a girly-girl, my mother refused to dress me in nice clothes if I was just going to conquer the playground like a boy.
 
Now, one might think perhaps there’s some kind of latent homosexual thing going on here and I assure you it’s not. I’m just very much attracted to strength, and saving things, and justice. Those are just rarely displayed in female archetypes. But Star Wars. Oh, Star Wars and their fierce Princess Leia who was both physically beautiful, sexually empowered, and a general get-the-shit-done-myself kind of princess. Now THAT I liked.
 
But, alas, while my baby sister forever dreamed of a life with Luke Skywalker, he was much too goody-two-shoes for me. I had the Han Complex Leia did- the cold and distant bad boy. Deep down Han loved Leia, right? He was an asshole with a heart of gold? Right?
 
I know what you’re thinking- Daddy Issues. You have no. idea.
 
But my daddy issues only played out fully once and that was with my ex-husband and honestly, that felt more like a hostage take-over or being swept away by the tide than an actual decision I was making. However, I accept responsibility for it and where it has led me, and I offer up my gratitude for the journey.
 
I told you all of that to finally tell you about my first fuckboy. Aren’t you glad you stuck around?
 
When I first separated from my ex-husband, I was literally out on my proverbial ass. I had a job and a child, but not nearly enough to cover everything and I had never had to cover ANYTHING ever in the marriage. I was completely kept and powerless and I willingly gave that over to him. I look back now and I see how it was a good thing to toss me in the water and see if I sank or if I swam, but at the time I was terrified.
 
TERRIFIED.
 
I had also been a “we” so long, I didn’t know how to be a “me” anymore. I hadn’t been me in 12 years or so. No, all that time I had been trying to stuff who I was into a Soccer Mom life and it just wasn’t me. And that is in by no means a reflection or detraction of those who enjoy being soccer moms. I just realized real quick, that wasn’t me. but oh my god I tried so hard, but I was meant for something else; whatever that is.
 
So, there I was in my first apartment dealing with the deafening sound of silence all newly divorced or separated people who have children have to deal with in the beginning- the QUIET. Nowadays, I revel in the quiet and meditate and offer up my gratitude, but in the beginning, the Quiet felt like daggers. I hated being alone.
 
For the first year, my son and I lived in an apartment not far from his father, and it was a nightmarish year. 10 years ago exactly, and I swear to you it turned my hair gray. There is no fair way to divide a child, and the times when he was with his father were the darkest for me.
 
This is when I first found internet dating. Mind you, this was 2008. They had JUST come out with the iPhone and only techies really had them. Blackberries were where it was at. However, suddenly you could peruse through internet websites of people looking to date.
 
And that is where I met my first fuckboy. SURPRISE! The fucking internet.
 
Now, maybe it’s not fair to call him my FIRST fuckboy, because I had dated previously before my ex-husband and I’m positive I had encountered many fuckboys along the way, but for the first time in my experience Fuckboys had gone digital. That’s where I met “Chris”.
 
“Chris” said all the right things right away, and being lonely and broken and my self-esteem so low (Plus- did I mention I was FAT- like big fat.) And I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. He would draw me in, and push me away. It was always drama. ALWAYS DRAMA. In fact, if a man puts on his dating profile (which I no longer use them, but just a general FYI- red flag- he causes a LOT of drama.)
 
“Chris” would say things like I was the, “biggest girl he had ever been with, but the one he wanted the most,” and then gaslight me for being offended. He broke up with me on my 30th birthday to be with another girl, and every single time he tried to weasel his way back in, I let him.
 
I had discovered Breaking Benjamin back then, and each time “Chris” would break things off, I would tearfully listen to the lyrics of “Dance with the Devil” over and over. I was attracted to the dance with the devil–the ones who don’t see or value you. The song starts out “Here I stand helpless and left for dead…” and that’s how I felt back then. My ass had been kicked. I had been pummeled with life. I was attracted to the devil; the bad boy.
 
Then, I went a long time of consciously not seeing him or anyone for that matter. I was completely self-indulgent. I got to know me. I learned to enjoy the silence. I learned to watch what I wanted to watch and be content with that and thankful that I could do those things even though there were other things I would like to do and be
 
One day he reached out again. and I told him to never disrespect me again- because I am someone’s dream girl.
 
I am. Everyone is someone’s ideal.
 
It’s been 10 years since my first fuckboy, trust that I have encountered literally THOUSANDS more. However, I’m much more adept at seeing the signs. I’m at a precipice in my life. I want to use my life experience to help others. The song “Dance with the Devil” came on the iPod in the car the other day and I was reminded of my tears that flowed at the time. I remembered how uncertain I was and frightened. I think back to who that woman was, and I don’t recognize her. I’ve come so far since then.
 
I stand here before you today more aware of my own power than ever before and yet still somewhat overwhelmed by what I can accomplish. I know what I’m made of and I know my worth. I would like a partner in life, but I will settle for nothing less than a thunderbolt because I know either way- I’m good.
 
I may be a complete hot mess. I may not know how I’m going to pay my power bill this month or how I’m going to get to my sister’s wedding in a few weeks, but I’m not worried. I’m resourceful.
 
So, if any Devils want to dance with me–bring ya A game, brotha.

From My Father’s Table

Any time that I feel extremely stressed out or am unsure of my next step, I withhold food from myself.  It’s something I picked up in middle school and have never quite shaken.  Some people might see my food restriction as some sort of vanity, but for me, it’s about lessening the pressure.  I want to be smaller.  If I could just make myself smaller and in a way invisible, this will all blow over eventually.

My weight over the years because of this cycle has fluctuated drastically.  I’ve been very heavy and very thin at times.   Right now, I’m about 25lbs heavier than I would like to be, but overall I’m comfortable with how I look.

Still, any little stressor and the alarm bell goes off to make myself smaller; less visible.

When I was in high school, I could go for very long periods of withholding food or eating the minimum possible to maintain consciousness.  My father at the time was a chaotic and raging alcoholic.  I often fought with him because it made me want to claw my eyes out and tear my eardrums to hear my mother cry.  So at night, I would fight with him, and at school the next day I would drink a small sweet tea and maybe eat a chicken patty.  Maybe.

I wanted to be thin, but I also just wanted there to be less of me.  I wanted to be less noticeable; more invisible.  I wanted to disappear at times.  Sometimes I still do.

However, these things within us; these things we hold onto–or withhold from ourselves–they hold us back.  I’ve recently been meditating on removing any blocks I have that are keeping me from moving to the next part of my life.   All the old has fallen away.  False friends have left.  Ex-boyfriends have finally disappeared completely.  I am at peace with all of that.  Yet, just like the story of the Mengele Twins I mentioned in an earlier post- she didn’t need to forgive the Nazis- she needed to forgive Mengele.

My father is my Mengele.  My divine spirit who always knew this was my journey forgives him for all of his transgressions since they have made me who I am today and brought me to where I am in life.  However, the human side wants to see right and wrong, black and white; forgive/don’t forgive…eat…don’t eat.

The human side of me needs to purge this pain.  Avoiding it has not helped to heal it, just as avoiding food does not help me to function as a person.  I need to come to terms with the fact it was awful, it was at times terrifying, and now it’s over and there is nothing more that can be done to change it.  It has made me who I am.  It has taught me to fight things that feel bigger than myself for the greater good.  It has taught me persistence.  It has steeled me.  It also made me a warm and loving mother who could never say “I love you” enough or kiss or praise or hug in a way that felt like it sufficiently said how much my child means to me.  Being raised by a bad parent made me a better one.

I invited my father to my Master’s commencement.  It was the first time I had seen or spoken to him in more years than I can remember.  He’s a quiet man by nature, and never been one to be overly affectionate.  I imagine that’s all he’s known, and I think he loves me the best he knows how.  He came and watched me graduate.  He said he was proud.  He kept his distance out of respect.

I once said I would never forgive him for the things he’s done and hurt he’s caused; the things he’s said.  My father is a damaged fallible person and hurt people hurt people.  I don’t want to be like that.  Holding onto that may hurt him some, but it’s my burden to carry around and to be quite honest I’m tired.

I forgive my father.  I actually love my father.  I just need to work on liking him.

No, You Don’t NEED to Tell Someone

I recently wrote about a male mutual friend of me and my ex-husband “confessing” to me that from what he says my ex-husband never was faithful to me the entire time of our relationship.  I’ve been divorced longer than I was married, and have long made peace with the end of the relationship itself.  However, in as much as we fought like demons toward the end and we simply HAD to divorce for the sake of both our sanities the idea that he had never been faithful to me from the moment we met shook me to my core in a way that was unexpected.

For the first time in a very long time, I mourned that relationship.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love him and we have both very much moved on from the start of our romance more than 20 years ago.  I was a child, really.  However, even as bad as things got, I honestly believed that he loved me.

This “friend” has confessed his own love for me, however with this revelation out of the blue he said, “I HAD to finally tell you.  You HAD to know.”

No.  No, I didn’t have to know.  I needed to know 20 years ago when despite what he says if this is true an opportunity could have been found to tell me- if you really love someone.  That’s not what he chose to do.  Instead, he chose to sit on it for 20 years, and spring it on me out of the blue,  My marriage was bad, but it wasn’t ALWAYS bad.  My ex-husband and I had our loving moments.  We had our fun moments.  We had a few good memories.  I was at peace with the fact the marriage just fell apart due to incompatibility and age difference.  I didn’t NEED to know, 20 years later, that it may have all been complete and utter bullshit.

This friend took from me the good memories I had, and there were so so very few to remember by now.  It’s been so long.  My memory is not the greatest.  However, I remember some fun times with my ex-husband and I felt he loved me.  So how fucking dare you take that from me.  There was no need.  There was no just cause.  It was a selfish move to garner favor with me.  Instead, it’s made me question everything I thought I knew about my marriage and my family.

I called my ex last night and asked to speak with him privately.  I told him I didn’t want to fight, but I wanted to know if he ever did love me.  He assured me he did and was in love with me when we were married.  Even if it’s a lie, let me have it.  It doesn’t hurt anyone for me to think that for a period of my life I was loved by someone.

My ex-husband called me again this morning and assured me I had been loved.

I don’t know what to believe honestly, but at this point does it matter if its true or not?  If it’s untrue then let it be untrue.  I don’t NEED to know.

Just let me believe.  The truth at this point only has sharp edges.

How I Became an Accidental Instamodel

I don’t feel that I can speak to you authentically unless I am completely authentically me. To be authentically me, I’m going to have to reveal the things I fear others will judge me for feeling or doing.  I know not everyone is going to like or agree with me, and that’s ok.  But, the little story I’m about to tell you is the inspiration for this very blog you are reading.  It’s a story about accidentally finding yourself somewhere you didn’t quite know you were going.

It’s a story about accidentally finding yourself.

I had a former friend once tell me that I should tell my story and that I should start it out with, “Yes, it fucked me up.”  Truthfully, though, it didn’t.  It woke me up.

About a year ago, I asked to join a suggested group that a Facebook friend was also a member.  I thought perhaps there would be some funny or cool memes in there to post in our mutual group.  So I requested to join.  I didn’t read the description, although the title should have given something away (no I will not give them any publicity here as they have exploitative practices.)  At any rate, I clicked request to join and was apparently approved.  Later that day my newsfeed was suddenly flooded with poorly constructed and poorly censored racy photos of women.  Having been somewhat into photography at one point myself, I was mesmerized by how easily these men were pleased by what I found to be somewhat sleazy poorly lit soft porn.

The images posted didn’t seem to have any real focus (other than “here’s my boobs!” or “look at my ass!’)  So I wondered If I could create a seductive image, that gave nothing away–how much would men enjoy that?  So, I threw up a selfie for approval.  Once approved, I had around 3K likes in an hour.  People were suddenly tagging me in other posts and asking for more photos. So I made and posted a few more. Within 5 days of being in the group, I was being voted as one of the top 5 “hotties” that should be in some makeshift calendar they wanted to produce.

It was madness.  People were messaging me.  People were harassing me in the comments.  I soon befriended several moderators to tag, but whatever was happening was like a tidal wave that just took over me.  I suddenly had this alter ego.  I suddenly had “fans” and people wanting to know where else they could follow me?   Was I a professional model?  Was I a dancer?  The male moderators liked me for the most part and my wit in handling many trolls on my own until I tagged one of them, but I was mostly just fascinated by the entire thing.  I had recently come out of a bad relationship where the guy had really just wrecked my self-confidence, so yes- it was really nice to get all this validation, but it was also weird how some people connected to me on a parasocial level.

I hate to “Yadda Yadda Yadda” through some of this, but let’s just say eventually there was a lot of drama, and the group’s “management” split off into various sub-groups none of which ever attained the level of membership as the first.  So, I looked for other groups to post my photos.  By that time I had made an Instagram account and I really just wanted to practice growing it.  My typical M.O. was to drop a pic, babysit the post liking the comments to drive affinity, and stick to myself.  I would participate in a group request post (where they request a specific kind of photo), but other than that, I kept to watching my own posts.

And group after group after group it NEVER failed.  WOMEN would demand for my removal.  Women I didn’t even know.  Women who had pretended to be friendly with me.  They would say the most vicious and hurtful things, all because of some “attitude” they ascribed to a photo.  Every group I’ve ever posted in I’ve been one of the top posters in the group, and in every single one some shitstorm blew up over one of my photos with women coming for me with proverbial pitchforks and I would get tossed out.

It was very emotionally upsetting.  It was upsetting not because of what they said about my looks or who they thought I was as a person, it was the fact they said those things and all they knew about me was a photo that got more “likes” than theirs.  Each time I was tossed from a group for that or for trying to defend myself against that, It would send me into the worst funk.  I have always championed women to learn to be comfortable in their own skin; that another woman’s beauty is not the absence of their own- yet here I was reviled by some to the point they reported my Instagram account (then at 21k followers) to the point Instagram took it down.

I’m not a model.  I’m not the most beautiful woman in the room.  I have a flabby stomach because of having had a C-Section and the last year of grad school I packed on a few extra pounds.  I really want them gone, but let me tell you-

Men don’t seem to care.  They don’t.  My being 25lbs heavier since I started the initial social experiment has not done one thing in regard to my ability to gain followers. Since the initial account was removed in April, I believe, I’ve already grown it back to almost 7K followers.  I was relieved when the large account was gone.  The large account overwhelmed me.   I’m now building the account the way I always wanted it to be-  more nouveau pinup-noire with a mix of new bohemiam.

I’ve realized from all of this how much we as women pick ourselves and each other apart, and then I look at these men who call me a goddess even though I look nothing like one.  I want women to stop being so competitive with each other and see the beauty and sexuality that we still have even after kids and divorces and being knocked on our asses by life.  Owning your sexiness is not a bad thing. I want women to stop worrying about eating the chips at the Mexican restaurant or missing out on the cheesecake when everyone else is enjoying it. Stop hating ladies.  Let’s start celebrating.  This is our time.  We can own our sexuality  AND demand equal pay.  You can have it all that way.  You can have your cake and eat it with joy.

People have often asked me what the end game is for the pin-up style Instagram.  I honestly don’t know.  It was an accident and social experiment that got away from me.  However, I love to express myself through visual art whether the medium is photography or paint, and I truly enjoy making the images.  Where some accounts are about sex, mine is more about creating the art of seduction.

So, that’s how we got here-  an almost 40 (now 40) hot mess of a human being who literally just spilled her sausage biscuit down the front of her work clothes and can NEVER find her shoes is the embodiment of sex appeal for around 20K followers and growing (I have several platforms I use just to learn how to use the media.)

Here I am, Aphrodite in Real Life- I have no clue where I’m going, and what a long strange trip it’s been.

Release

I had a long time friend of mine whom I met through my ex-husband recently revealed to me that my ex-husband cheated on me the entire time of our relationship and marriage.  As he described to me how my ex-husband was able to hide his indiscretions I felt everything that I thought I knew about myself and my life fall blow away like ashes.

I thought I had been loved once, even if it was ever so briefly.  Even if it was just for that moment he lifted my veil to see my face on the mountainside we chose to marry: I loved him in that moment as much as I knew what love was at 20.  I had my misgivings, but I remember feeling joyful and happy and loving him in that moment.

But no.  He didn’t.   Apparently, the one who took the photos claimed to be the one who loved me that day.

I don’t think he loves me either.  I think he loves the idea of me.  He loves the memory of a naive girl who was well-spoken and had read a lot of books.

I confronted my ex, who of course denied it.  I cried fresh, deep, heaving, salty tears over a love that never happened.  In the course of life, things that happen to you become a part of who you are as a person.  For so long now, I thought I had been truly loved once, even if he couldn’t love me the way I needed to be loved.  I thought I had been loved romantically at one time.  Now, at 40 I’m finding out, no, I’ve never been loved by anyone.

It’s so easy to be bitter about that.  It’s so easy to sink into the despair of the hollowness the lack of love an companionship can sometimes bring with it.  Those are very heavy things for me to carry, so I’m going to put those down and forgive him for not being able to give me what I needed: Love and Faithfulness.  As hard as it hurts to now know, I must find gratitude that I am birthed anew.  I have the opportunity to be truly loved for the first time ever and, friends, that’s something to look forward to and be grateful.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I learn from people I meet in life.  I learn from each experience good and bad, but I realized the other day how self-centered that was for me to only think about what I have to learn from others.  We are here to help each other, but we have to have something worthy to give.  Your pain could be another person’s saving grace.   We each are being molded, and I have often found the ones who have been under the most pressure and fire have the most beauty to give to others.

It’s ok to feel sad, or angry- do not live there.  Feel it, come to terms with what you cannot change and release it.

Release it, my friends.  Release it.

The Bending

One of my favorite authors is Khalil Gibran who wrote: “The Prophet” among other books of prose.  You would probably recognize some of his works as many excerpts of this book are read at weddings.  However, my favorite poem by him is “The Prophet Speaks of Children”:

“Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; 
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

It is the last two lines that often echo in my head.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; 
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

I got Mimi around 2 weeks after my ex-husband refused to drop our son off to me for the court-ordered schedule.  As sad as this may seem to sound, it had just been me and the cat, Duchess, ambling through our lives living for the moments when my baby would return.  Now my baby wasn’t returning.  I never dealt with that and how extremely painful that sorrow was (is).  I rescued a breeder dog Shih-Tzu.  I rescued another forgotten mother thrown away when she was no longer considered useful.  I poured all that sorrow into love for her.

That season of my life was around 10 years ago.  She was with me, as was Duchess.  As relations improved with my ex-husband and I saw my son again, I still had them both.  I had a family of sorts to take care of again.  Through the years I had to learn to live in two worlds.  One world, I was a single woman on my own, career, education, and a group of single friends to hang around.  I’ve dated…A LOT.   I’ve dated enough to know I don’t want to date anyone, at least right now.  The other world I was a mother trying to raise a good kind human being. I compartmentalized a lot.

When change comes about, it shakes things up.  It knocks you off your stance a little.  Sometimes people clear out.  Those aren’t your people.  It’s been a tough season for me lately, and people I thought would be forever-friends have cleared out.  I am at peace with that.

I am also at peace with the fact that my beloved little Mimi is gone, too.  I think she brought me to where I am supposed to be because I can do this by myself now.

I looked around my apartment yesterday in the silence of the waning afternoon sun and thought of the day I brought her home.  I had a little run-down musty apartment that we almost froze to death in that first winter.  I had a hodge-podge of furniture people had given me.  It looked like the home of someone who had never taken care of herself even though I was around 30.  When my son was gone, many nights I sat curled up weeping.

My apartment now is warm and comfortable and inviting and is filled with reflections of me and my personality and I love to come home now.  My son and I have fun-filled weekends of quality time where we talk and laugh.  She helped bring me so far.

He’s almost grown now.  She is gone now.  Our lives are changing now; again.  It’s time to come to peace with the fact I can’t change how things went.  It makes me sad, yes, but maybe he got more quality for the smaller quantity of time with me.

It’s ok to feel it.  It’s ok to feel.  It’s ok to bend.