Monday, March 04, 2019

My Own Private Patriarchy

Often, when I'm sad, it helps to write. Word-vomiting is weirdly cathartic and soothing for me. And I've had a whole day of this need without knowing exactly how it should fittingly be expressed. Until I remembered yesterday's book club. I frequently used my book club in Oregon as therapy, albeit not intentionally. There is just something about the words from someone else that elicit my own about my feelings. Only that hadn't happened with book club 2.0 in Nashville until yesterday. Thus, I found inspiration for this entry which may or may not be very organized and, worse, might not make total sense. But I'm trying. Because words. I have them.

We read 'The Leavers' by Lisa Ko. I'm not going to summarize it here because you can read for yourself if you want, but the central theme revolved around a young boy whose mother "left" him. I had lots of ideas to share with the ladies. Like how I've known girls and women who have been adopted and how it shaped them as people. And also how reading a book in a fairly severe depression gives you a different view of a story. Because current mood? Pretty Severe Depression.

And then one of the ladies mentioned that her own mother was adopted and hadn't been told until later in life and how the mother didn't want much, if anything, to do with her birth mother because you Don't Leave your children. Cue therapy moment for me.

While reading the book, I had considered my own experience briefly, in passing, but I didn't really relate it to myself directly until that moment. I talked about the experiences of "other" people. That is much easier to deal with. I can talk about the after-effects that adoption has on other people. But me? I wasn't affected that deeply or badly. Until I told my story and I had tears in my eyes. YEARS later.

So, here it is. Because I can't talk about my depression anymore. Because I'm sick to death over talking about who I am now and trying to prove myself worthy to potential employers. It might be easier to talk about Who I Was. What happened to the Me Before. The experience that still affects me today in surprising ways when I think I've already dealt with it.

Do we ever really deal with our past?

My parents divorced when I was four. Which is the point at which I learned to be a people-pleaser. I knew they hated each other. I sat on the steps near the kitchen nightly listening to them scream at each other while I waited for my dinner to be prepared. I told whomever I was talking to whatever I thought they wanted to hear.

"Who do I want to live with? Why, you! Of course, Mommy/Daddy."

I remember sitting outside a court room but Mom tells me that didn't happen. I do remember them each pulling an arm on either side of my body during an argument outside an apartment door. I think I cried, but maybe I stayed silent so that neither of them would feel bad. I definitely went to a court-appointed therapist and played with the wooden dollhouse that was there (an eerie premonition of what my own daughter would go through.)

My dad had custody of me first. It was the 70's, when moms were typically granted custody automatically, but my mom was a "whore" who had cheated on her marriage. So my dad got custody. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment, each of us sleeping in a twin bed, and we ate TV dinners out of foil trays. Which I couldn't stomach and I was punished regularly for not eating as I was told.

When I was halfway through first grade, my mom was finally granted custody. Only she was living in California then, so I moved there from Texas. By plane. By myself. I arrived to my own bedroom. With a four-poster canopy bed. And a desk. And a pool in the backyard. I was also reunited with our English Bulldog. Adding all of this to finally being with my mom? It was pretty much Paradise.

That summer, I turned seven. My dad drove from Texas to pick me up to take me camping for my birthday. I think we went to Colorado. Maybe. I remember mountains and hearing stories of mountain lions and being afraid I'd die in our tent by whatever mythical mountain creature roamed at night to eat small children. One day, I was left in the car parked outside a storefront. It seemed like hours and I didn't know why I couldn't go in. Finally, I lost my proverbial shit and started sobbing. Some nice old ladies (who were probably actually in their 40's) stopped at the car and waited with me until my dad came out of the store. My big reward? Some stupid coloring book. I wonder why the fuck I have abandonment issues now.

After the fabulous camping trip of abandonment, I didn't see my dad again. He called once and I didn't want to talk to him, due to my aforementioned people-pleasing skills. That was it. For years. I wondered where he was. Why he didn't want to talk to me. Did he get married again? Did he have another family? When I had the vocabulary, I called him my sperm-donor.

My step dad became my father. He was the only dad I had for years and years. My sister was born when I was seven, my brother when I was seventeen. This was my family. Most people didn't know I had any other "dad."

And yet.... I did always wonder.

When I was 12 or 13, my "dad" molested me for the first time. This is a fact that I will still hide from the majority of my family.
This is the first time I've put it down in writing. Fucking momentous occasion here.
I was in my room. He hugged me.... I don't know why.... and his hand found its way between my butt cheeks. I pulled away immediately and he grinned sheepishly. "What?..."

It continued until I moved out. I wanted DESPERATELY to be a daddy's girl. He drank, so there was a fine line between his usual grumpy, anti-social, leave-me-the-fuck-alone mood, and his friendly, loving, real "dad" self, into the drunk groper that he could become. Sometimes it was a tongue down my throat. Sometimes it was a hand on my breast. Sometimes it was sit-on-my-lap followed by one of the previous. Every. single. time. I would pull back in horror and he would shrug with innocence.
Who, me??

Many, many nights he'd come to my room at night and lie next to me in my bed. Mom always came to retrieve him. I repeatedly pretended I was asleep. Nothing happened on those nights, but there was invariably the terrifying feeling that I wasn't safe in my own space. Mom and I did not discuss these nights. I "slept" through them.

When I was 23, after I was married, Mom started getting calls from a private investigator, a woman who pretended to know me from college. Soon after, she got a call from her own parents that my dad had shown up, unannounced, at their house. I was given his phone number. I called him only to protect my mom. (Sometimes I feel like my whole life has been about protecting her.) I told him to leave my family alone. He called me "sweetie." I reacted violently.

After a couple of months of angry letters, I allowed him to visit. I asked my then-husband to take a week off so I wouldn't be alone with him. We went to the coast. We played Tourist in Central Oregon. It was weird. He had a girlfriend. I talked to her on the phone. She assured me she wouldn't hurt him but I didn't give a shit. Then, and now, he treats me like the small child that he last saw.

I have allowed him to visit several times since then. I say that I "allowed" him, because I never felt like I was inviting him. I permitted him access to my space. I accommodated him out of guilt. And I resented that guilt. Should Devon know her grandfather? Did he deserve to know her? To know me? But what if I regretted something later?

He was gone for 17 years and it took 17 years of him being back before I felt some semblance of gratitude for him being in my life. And that was a struggle. So many times I heard, "At least he's trying now." And, combatively, my teenage self would want to scream, "But he didn't teach me to drive!! He didn't see me at prom!! He wasn't at my graduation, or my college graduation, or my wedding, or, or, or.....!!!!!!!" He tried too late. He tried too little. And he still hasn't accepted me as an adult.

I continue to struggle with this relationship. He's the dad (now) that I could wrap around my little finger. But the cost is too great. It means letting him in more than I want to. I need control over the access he has to my life. I mete it out to him in bits and pieces. And we're VERY different. I didn't tell him about Devon's experimentally sexual year. I haven't told him I do burlesque. He's racist and conservative. We don't talk about feminism. To him, I am the ideal version that he's imagined. I don't use my energy to correct him. I don't care enough to do so.

He's getting older and I struggle with that. I don't want to take care of him. He wasn't there for me, so why do I owe  him anything? "BUT" I'm his only daughter. "BUT" I don't feel that level of loyalty. How different would my life had been if he was there, consistently? How much can I blame him for? And then, at what point do I have to let go and be accepting? Am I less of a person because I can't do that?

He's been back for almost 25 years now. Twenty. Five. A quarter of a century. I'm still struggling to make peace with it. Some days, it's cool. Other days I simply feel anger. He gives me very little access to my past. He hates his own dad. Tells me he was a deadbeat, left his mom to work three jobs with four kids. A couple of years ago I found my grandfather's death certificate. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A distant cousin confirmed that he had depression. My dad doesn't know about my depression, yet I have this deep connection with someone he hates because of our mutual mental illness.

And right now? He knows I'm looking for a job. He's asked if I need "emergency" money. I said no, not yet. I don't rely on him. I think, because of him, I don't rely on men in general. I want to. Parts of me desperately want to. But my female friends give me the support I need. My best friend knows things about me that he could never imagine. My dance friends offer me a space to be someone outside of myself for a while. There are friends I left back in Oregon who I know, without a doubt, are just a phone call away.

I don't know what my life would have been had he been a constant. I hope it would have been better. Given the animosity between him and my mom, it likely would have been worse. At least there would have been a very contentious piece for me to deal with and mediate.

In the end, what I know is that I have valid reasons for the way that I am. For who I am. I also know that I have the freedom of choice to be who I really want to be. Somehow, that seems to be ever evolving. I don't have those answers yet. I'm still discovering that. Still analyzing the nightmares. Still learning who I am to this person and, by extension, the other people that I meet. Like everything else, it's a process. A lifelong process.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Getting Some Words Out

I've been trying for days now to come up with something to say about depression. Something that will help people to "get it." Something to stop some of the negative comments I have seen. Something that makes more sense than anything I've said before.

I just don't know that any magic words exist.

Yesterday, I was told by a well-meaning friend that I should have a plan in place for the next time I'm feeling depressed. It sounds great in theory. Only "if-then" statements are based on logic and depression doesn't follow logic. I could have a pile of books to read or an up-beat music playlist to pull out or designated friends to call when then the edges start to dull. The thing is that I don't care about any of that during an episode. I don't want to feel better. I don't want to feel anything.

When D was suicidal we did have plans in place. But it was a daily team effort developed to keep her from spiraling out of control. She could go from a 6 to a 2 in an hour. Her plans ranged from simply taking a walk to calling a friend to calling her therapist. But again, she had an outside monitor. She had me. So I'm not saying it doesn't work for everyone and if it works for you, wonderful. Do it.

That's the thing about depression. It isn't the same for everyone. We don't all experience it with the same severity. For some of us it's situational and never happens again and for others it's a lifelong struggle. Some people can take medication on a temporary basis, some take it daily for long periods of time, and the really unfortunate need to be hospitalized. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

I was trying to come up with an analogy for how I'm affected. Women will get this and I'm sorry to be exclusionary, but it's the best I have right now. It's also further explanation of why making plans doesn't work for me. When ladies get their periods, we know it's coming. We get bloated, we feel a twinge of a cramp, we crave anything and everything. And it's almost always an "Oh, shit!" moment. Not this again! But it can't be stopped, so ice cream is bought, sad movies are turned on, and we rage inappropriately at anyone who crosses our path.

Now, I personally think that all periods are bad, but they also range in severity. Some women have a light flow. Some can pop an Advil and feel fine. Some experience debilitating, time-stopping cramps. They can't all be treated the same.

How is this like depression? Because I know it's coming. I can feel it lurking at the edges. And, oh shit! there isn't anything I can do to stop it. In fact, trying to stop it only makes it worse. Succumbing to it for the time it lasts is the best that I can do.

And how does this look to the world outside? Like I'm being selfish, like I've stopped caring. How many people (including me many, many years ago) have declared how really selfish suicide is? It's so selfish. How can you not care about the people you leave behind? What about your children? Or, when it's "just" depression and you're only canceling plans and ignoring the phone, you're being selfish. Uncaring. Anti-social. Sometimes just rude.

Here's the thing though. Depression is a big, fat, fucking liar and tells me that I'm a piece of shit. It's REALLY hard to care about anything outside of myself when all the noise inside my body tells me I'm not worth it. And when I'm just trying to tread water, I don't have the stamina to amuse people at a party or even participate in a meaningless conversation. Because at that point, it's all meaningless.

Depression is isolating in other ways. The mere fact that it's considered a mental illness sets its victims apart from the general public, but its intangible quality is what makes disbelievers of even those that are closest to us. When my mom visited last week, she asked D why she gets depressed and D replied, "Because I have depression." I tried to explain to her how I can be in a roomful of people I like, having a GREAT time when, without warning, my heart will bottom out, leaving me feeling completely alone in the world. "You really feel that way?" She asked incredulously. I do. And I hate it.

So here's the part where I should tell you how to help. Probably. But I don't think I can. When I'm in an episode, I usually want to be left the fuck alone because I don't want anyone even looking at me. Except for the times I want to be rolled like a burrito and told how loved I am while I ugly cry. Staring at the wall is a favorite activity a lot of times. When it's really bad, it physically hurts. It's like my body turns to lead and then I have to drag it around all over the place, knowing that people are staring at me because they can see that something is Very Wrong with me. And the staring can break me like glass.

I think the most important thing I can tell you is to just be nicer. Make connections with people. Strengthen those connections. Listen. Understand that the world is harder for some people and make it easier in small ways. Know that what's on the outside seldom matches what is on the inside. Act personally, don't take things personally. Be gentle.

Mostly, just be fucking kind.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Goodest Boy That Ever Was

It's been 17 days and my immediate, desperate grief has lessened enough that I can talk about it without my eyes blurring over. This might be long, because our relationship was, and because there was a lot of love and adventure in that little 25-pound body.

We met in April of 2005. He was seven weeks old. Tiny. Snuggly. Bug-eyed. We spent his first weekend with us at the Oregon coast where he was immediately spoiled. He didn't want to sleep alone in his crate. He wanted to sleep next to me under the bed covers. I let him so his tiny yelping wouldn't bother our neighbors in the hotel rooms next door. He never slept anywhere else. The men in my life quickly adapted.

He followed me everywhere. It was instant love for both of us. He curled up on my feet while I washed dishes. Sat in my lap wherever I sat. Begged to be carried when the walk was too long and slept on my shoulder.

He wasn't named for a couple of weeks. It felt like such a responsibility, naming a personality. He was Bugsy for a few days, but that wasn't quite right and I finally settled on Rembrandt. Remy. AKA Rembo, Duck-pig-frog-dog.

When we added Ruby to the family, he was the best big brother. He took his toys to her and laid them in front of her. He sat quietly in his jealousy as she shoved hers at us, insisting on being the center of attention. He took the back seat without complaint, gratefully accepting what attention was left over for him. When they first curled up together in front of the fireplace, my heart burst with love for them both.

I had two shadows. Yin and Yang. Where she was temperamental and jealous, he was calm and accepting. Where she hated anything else on four legs, he was the one I could trust. He could go anywhere. He humped, but never harmed.

The adventures we had! He ran along the coast, digging and rolling in loose, warm sand. He rolled in a dead fish in Leavenworth while traveling with my parents. We went on countless walks up the butte and along the river trail, checking pee-mail and leaving return messages. He had a girlfriend, a white boxer as goofy as him. He walked in the 4th of July Pet Parade, rolled in the grass during Sunday concerts in the summer. He was born to captain a boat and floated gently down the river on lazy weekends.He won a pair of goggles at the Puppy Poker day and was a hit at every Halloween event he attended. He was a spider, a shark, a rock star...

He was my rock. He was the love of my life. I lost other loves, one that hurt more than I could imagine living through. But he was always there. Always my constant. His banal routine of eating, peeing, pooping, eating, pooping kept me moving on days I pulled myself through molasses. He never cared how red or swollen my eyes were or how long it had been since I showered. He didn't judge my depression, he simply sat next to me quietly, rubbing his nose into my hand to remind me that he loved me. Always.

I say he was the goodest dog because he wasn't the best. He was neurotic. He hated hugs, they suffocated him. It wasn't until the last year that he would allow me to wrap my arms around him. In his old age, he was a real asshole. He'd pee right on the carpet, looking me defiantly and directly in the eyes. He opened the garbage can in the bathroom to help himself to tasty morsels and fought me for them. He pooped q-tips regularly. He slept right on my shins and my feet and dared to act rejected when I tried to kick him off. I couldn't suffocate him, but he was okay with cutting off my circulation.

When his lump first showed up, I dismissed it as the same kind of fatty nothing he had a few years back. When it grew, and he started losing weight, we went to the vet. It was the first of many over the last few months. He was x-rayed and ultra-sounded and finally diagnosed with Cushing's, not cancer. Because he was 12, I didn't want to put  him through unnecessary surgery so I waited. While I waited, Stanley Dwight grew. And grew. I waited until after vacation so my poor petsitter wouldn't have to deal with his aftercare. I didn't expect that it would be a near emergency when I got back.

He made it through that surgery. He wore the Cone of Shame, which we renamed the Cone of Sadness because it depressed him greatly to have to sleep on the floor with his messy butt rather than the cozy bed where he could crush my shins. There was a small setback, but then he was healing beautifully. He had shiny, new pink skin and his hair was coming back. He seemed to be putting on weight. Our vet was so impressed she released us from weekly check-in visits.

And then, not even a week later, Stanley Dwight was back. With a fucking vengeance. When we talked to Dr. Fox, the conversation turned to chemo and Choices. I went home, pulled my boy on the couch with me, and curled into a ball. The next night, I tried draining the growing, liquid-filled lump. He didn't cry, because he was the Goodest Boy, but he was clearly uncomfortable. I hated myself for doing what felt like torture to him and making him so miserable. I couldn't let that be our relationship. That night he paced the floor. We didn't sleep. He was constantly jumping off the bed to drink water and I had to stay awake to help him back up each time. The next morning he was the saddest I'd ever seen him. He was telling me that it was Time.

I went that afternoon to get him pain meds. I changed his check-in appointment the following Monday to the worst kind of appointment. I didn't just cry in the car. I wailed. It was the beginning of the deepest grief that I always knew would come but could never be ready for.

I canceled everything I had scheduled for the weekend. I spent every minute I could with him. I second-guessed, thinking it was Too Soon. And then his back leg slipped out from under him on Saturday. On Sunday, he showed obvious internal bleeding. He couldn't get on the furniture so I put down blankets and pillows and we laid next to him watching tv, Ruby curled around his dog bed. We fed him pizza and stuffed cheesy bread. He wasn't very snuggly because of his discomfort, but Sunday night he acquiesced and little spooned, with his head on my arm. I told him I loved him countless times through my tears.

On Monday, December 11th, Devon and I loaded him into the car and went to McDonald's. He had a cheeseburger, fries, chicken nuggets, and a chocolate shake. He snarfed it all down like he thought we would change our minds and realize that we were making a huge mistake.

We then drove to our vet's office where Jen met us. His favorite vet tech came in and I will be eternally grateful for that. She cried while I was still trying to hold it in, and told me that I had done more than most people would have. I insisted that she look at his internal bruising and bleeding, at the cankle where liquid was now pooling into his little stick leg. Asking until the very end that I was doing the Right Thing. She assured me that I was. That it was okay and right to say goodbye.

They gave us a small button so that we could call them back for each step of the process, giving us what time we needed. I kept asking Devon if she was ready because I wasn't. He woofed down a treat as the needle went in. I pulled him to my lap before it really took effect and cradled his little bony head with those big ears. In true Boston fashion, he snored and farted to the very end, which had us laughing through our tears. And there were so many tears. I told him over and over that I loved him, that he was the goodest boy, that I was so grateful for him. I don't know what he heard or what he understood, but I hope he felt how loved he was. Because he was. Even when he was being an ass, I loved him more than I could express but less than he loved me back.

As gravely heartbroken as I was, I was filled with gratitude. He was loved by everyone he made friends with. I had messages and texts from those who cared about him. I was lucky enough to be there with him, to know that he transitioned peacefully. And god, was I lucky to share my life with him! He might have been an asshole, but I will never, ever be as good at heart as he was. No person can. The only thing he ever wanted from me was love and everything I have wouldn't have been enough of what he deserved. 

I'm finding what a complicated beast my grief is. It isn't as deep and simple as I thought it would be. There are so many times I feel perfectly fine and I wonder what is wrong with me. I feel guilty that I don't feel worse. All the time. I hope he's not watching so that he doesn't think I don't care. But then I was caught off guard going to Petsmart for gifts for Dobby, Ruby, and her cousins. It was my last chore before Christmas and the Santa Stew and pie looked so cute and made the perfect Christmas dinner for them and then I realized that Remy wouldn't get any and I cried. I cried until I saw the thickest, most gorgeous boy bulldog and went to pet him and had the thought that Remy sent him to me. At just that moment because he knew what would cheer me up. I laughed too loud and too long at a corny moment in a Hallmark movie. I cried at the studio when Freya had us bent over and laced through a chair. Being over the chair had me feeling claustrophobic, but talking about how that exercise is good for opening up and being vulnerable pushed me into child's pose so that I could hide my tears.

I don't know that it's getting easier because it's still too soon and I'm finding there are small reminders that nearly bring me to my knees when I least expect it. I know that I will miss him dearly for all the rest of my days. I've been told that he's playing happily now with Candy and Mila and Maria and Tank and Lulu and anyone else he met. And I know he is, and that's okay. But I also take great comfort in knowing that he will be waiting for me, that my own mortality is so much less scary because I will see my boy again. I have friends and relatives that have passed, but only my boy makes death seem comforting. It's a relationship that just can't be matched by anything or anyone.

Dear god or whatever or whoever he's with now, I am so fucking grateful that I got 12+ years with the Goodest Boy. The most handsome boy. Please love him for me until I can feel his puppy kisses again.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Like many of you, I'm still sifting through my emotions over what happened this weekend in Virginia. I am angry and sad and confused and lost. Looking for some sort of hope to latch onto, I posted on Facebook that the driver of the car was arrested and denied bail and that one of the "protesters" lost his job. I know my friends are sad and I wanted to offer something encouraging. I've seen others do the same, especially during our TN session of congress. There were posts about hate bill and health care bills that were killed or voted against. It helped us to feel like we were making a difference.

What I didn't expect at all, and what completely blindsided me, was for a member of the burlesque community to call me out on it. What the fuck?? I can't offer some sliver of hope?? She is a woman of color and insisted that I was spreading dangerous rhetoric, that my intention and attitude was wrong. So, immediately, I was defensive. I was told to do some research. And it all totally confused me. I've read books, I've watched films, I've been to and participated in discussions with women of color. Last year I attended a BLM vigil and studied up on how I should behave to be supportive while letting it be about black people and not white allies. I thought, what else can I do??

In my anger and frustration, I allowed the incident to escalate. My friends stepped in to try to defend me. My white ally friends chastised me, at least in my eyes at the time. I thought why even try when nothing I do is good enough??

For two days I felt a rock in my stomach. I questioned why I felt so bad and so angry if I hadn't done anything wrong. I reread comments and posts. On the second day I apologized for half of what I said. I sent a message to the woman who had called me out, trying to explain my viewpoint, my history, how I cared. And I apologized. I thought, okay, that should do it. Because I'm a good person. I do care. If someone can't see that, what else can I do?

And the rock remained in the pit of my stomach. Something was still bothering me. There was a shame I couldn't get past and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

Last night I watched this video. I watched a black woman scream from terror and disbelief and emotional pain and distress. I saw a black man insisting that they didn't want that group in their town, in his town, in his home. I saw waves of white people filled with hate, claiming they were fulfilling their rightful part of history.

And I got it. And fuck, it hurt.

Posting that bills are voted down is not equivalent to trying to find anything good from this past weekend. Hey, one KKK was arrested. Yippee!!! Hey, look how all of those white men can push against a line of police and nothing happens to them!! Look how those men are allowed to carry torches and firearms and how our fucking president excuses it all. Gee, that's progress.

No, I was wrong. I didn't want to be. But this wasn't the time to rally and talk about  how things are going to get better. Not when, right now, they are getting so much worse. People of color are truly terrified by what is happening. Because it isn't new. It never has been for them. And now we have a "leader" who all but endorses it. I try to understand, but I can't really fathom what it feels like to walk through life being hated by such a large group of one's own country.

I don't know how this will end. I know how I want it to end. I thought we were better than all of this. I didn't really think we would elect a misogynistic, racist, completely ignorant buffoon for a president. But we did. I didn't think KKK and neo-Nazi groups would organize. Or militarize themselves. But they have. I keep thinking it will stop. This nightmare will end. But it doesn't. I think, okay, we've reached the tipping point. And another wave hits us.

I don't have any answers. I think I have suggestions, but at this point, I'm not even sure about that. But here they are, for whatever they're worth.

White people - don't include POC in your frustrations. They're not here to make you feel better. They don't have to explain their history. Talk to your white friends. Tell them how you feel sad that you try and you feel misunderstood and then try again. It's okay to be angry, we're all angry. But be appropriately angry.

White friends - be patient with each other. Daily conversations of racism haven't been a regular daily activity for a lot of us. I lived in a town for 22 years where I literally went MONTHS without seeing a black person. There were hispanics and latinos, but it was much less diverse than Nashville. If someone isn't getting it, it's helpful to offer different reasoning rather than getting defensive yourself. And if you're not capable of that in the moment, if you don't have the mental or emotional energy, save it for later. We need each other and we need understanding. Am I full of shit on that one? I could be. Like I said, I don't know anymore.

If you have an interaction that leaves you feeling less than okay, explore that feeling. Dig down. Your gut and your heart know what's off, so listen to them. Be humble.

I want to say that hate won't win, but damn. It's got a really fucking good lead right now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Death of Dating

Last night I had drinks with someone I met online. At first I appreciated that he wanted to skip the formalities and small talk and meet right away. He seemed to have a sense of humor. I think the road to hell should now be paved with seems.

To start, he was 20 minutes late. But, Nashville traffic being what it is, I went with it. He sent an odd message about panhandlers, thinking he was making a joke. It was off-putting but I hoped I just misunderstood it.

He has a dog. We had a nice conversation about dogs and how great they are. It's charming when a man really loves his dog.

And then it went downhill. I specifically have a comment in my profile to not contact me if you voted for Trump. I foolishly expect that this will be respected. When he asked me if I don't like Trump, he said he could tell because of "all the woman stuff." Um... woman stuff??

He then proceeded to tell me a 30-minute story about how his wife left  him. For a black man. When you say, "I'm not racist but..." and then follow that with a terribly insulting imitation of a black man, then yes. Yes, you are a racist. A big one. I don't blame the woman for leaving.

Because he kept insisting he wasn't racist, I pressed him on his vote. He didn't want to answer, which made his choice obvious. What's worse is that he voted on a single issue. Gun rights. His collection of 20 guns was more important than women's health or right to choose, more important than the environment or the economy or foreign relations. I asked if the protection of his second amendment right was worth what happened in Virginia. If it was worth a woman dying for. He didn't have an answer.

Now I'm left with feeling like I can't trust anyone. That there isn't someone who can be just basically respectful and kind. So I think I'm done. I'm definitely done wasting my time on men who completely disregard my feelings as a person, let alone as a woman.

I have dogs. I have a daughter and a best friend. I have a business and a hobby that I love. It's a good life. I'm okay with it being a single life. Right now it's better than the alternative.

Monday, August 07, 2017

How It All Makes Sense Now

Like many of us, my world seemed to fall apart November 9th. After I spent a few days being deeply depressed, I decided to take action. I took all the action and went to all of the things and I got really involved. I wanted to Be Effective and Make a Difference and Have My Voice Heard. I protested, I joined groups, I went to meetings, I signed up for nearly anything that was put in front of me. I wanted to find the one thing that would be My Purpose.

And then I was overwhelmed. I couldn't focus on one thing because I was trying to do everything. I was close to burnout. The other goals I made for myself this year seemed less important and I was spread too thinly everywhere.

This last week I went to National Training for Pure Romance. Thursday night I was sitting in Aronoff Center in Cincinnati for opening session. Pure Romance will be celebrating 25 years of business in 2018 and, during the opening video, our founder Patty Brisben reflected on the beginnings and on the changes she has seen in the business and what it was like starting out. Her husband left her and their children because he wanted a wife who was more successful. (And all I can think is, "How you like me NOW?") She was broke. She was scared. She got involved in a business where she was shunned by mothers and other women. And she kept going. She kept going and she now heads a $200 million empire.

That piece was inspiration in itself, but she continued. She said how thankful she is that, as consultants, we are changing the lives of women every day. We empower them. We teach them about sexual health. We encourage them to do all of the things that our current administration is against. She got emotional and I did too.

Because it hit me. I am exactly where I need to be to Make a Difference. I don't necessarily need to protest, although I'm sure I will at times. I don't have to sign up for every single event involved with my political party. I can just focus on the parties I have with women. The conversations I have with them. The education I provide that so many hundreds of them have been lacking. We talk about consent and communicating what we want and how to get it. If women can do that in the bedroom, which is one of the hardest places to use one's voice, then they can learn to do it outside the bedroom too. They speak up not just for themselves, but for other women as well. I can affect change one conversation, one sale, one party at a time. This is it!!!

When we hear about women's health, we often think of abortion or breast cancer, but it's much more than that. One of my teammates went to a class on menopause. Yucky topic, I know. It doesn't feel good. Hot flashes aren't comfortable. While some women look forward to it, others feel like they're less womanly. There is a gamut of emotions and physical symptoms and very little research being done or treatments being offered, considering how complicated this transition can be. The Patty Brisben Foundation is the only one of its kind to focus on this issue, as well as cancer treatment and its effects and research on these and other reproductive issues.

What I need and what I want has been in front of me this whole time. It's usually that simple, isn't it? If we just open our eyes. I went to classes about leadership, sponsoring, common sexual problems, sexual health information, motivation, time management, money management, and a future leader training. And yet this was the biggest lesson that I learned. It's so freeing to now have this direction and this focus.

If this is something that you want to do, I can help you with that. I'd be overjoyed to welcome you into this community where I have gained so much. I'm going to do all that I can to give that back.

If there is no part of you that wants to use your voice this way, I understand completely. Like Patty said, it isn't easy with so many naysayers. However, I still encourage you to Do Something. We have a long way to go to undo a lot of the damage that has been done and we need each other out there in may other areas and forums. I can direct you to those areas as well. Just please be involved because it's too important not to be.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How Andrew McCarthy Relates to Being the Dildo Lady

I met Andrew Fucking McCarthy tonight. You know, Blane (That's not a name, it's a major appliance!!). He's still adorable and wonderful and totally unassuming and a REAL WRITER. He was completely candid and sweet and didn't mind me being an awkward, crazy, author-fan-girl.

I almost didn't go because I do SO MUCH. Because I thought I should spend the whole evening working my business and the booking blitz. Because, most of the time, I feel guilty doing one thing when I should be doing another. But, when I offered my bestie an out, she didn't take it. So I went.

And I smiled the Whole Damn Time. I was connected and In the Moment. And what he said didn't detract from my goals but added to them, added value to them. And he said that escape isn't running from something, but running TO something. To discovery. So I wasn't running from my obligations, I was running to inspiration and motivation and fulfillment.

He spoke a bit about Pretty in Pink and what it meant at the time and what it meant to be that age. How it became an Important Film for our generation and why and how we relate to and cherish that time in our lives. How it's about a girl who feels unappreciated and misunderstood and how she has to make the dress to go to the dance anyway. And how we still, as adults, feel that way but we're able to parent ourselves through it because we know it gets better. We know that you come through the other side.

And that's how life just is. I get lonely. I get discouraged. I think nobody has ever felt the way that I do at times. But then I remind myself that I can get through it because I have done it before and even when it's exhausting, there really isn't an alternative because this is who I am and this is what I do and, damn it, I have something to prove even if it's only to myself.

So, yeah. It was meaningful. Significantly so. More than meeting a cute actor/writer who charmed an entire room and graciously wiped off my drool while putting his arm around me and taking bad pictures because he kept talking.

When I got home and checked on my team and their progress, I was in awe. In just four short days, they accomplished more than I dreamt of. With minimal coaching from me because I'm pre-occupied. They motivated themselves and worked their little buns off and I was so proud I nearly broke down into a pile of sobbing mushiness. I had felt enormous guilt taking the evening off to do something I wanted to do. It felt selfish because I knew, earlier in the day, how hard they are working.

In the end, they were fine. They were more than fine. And I wasn't running from them or from the work I think I need to do. I was running towards the motivation and the recharging of my batteries that I need to continue on. Andy (we're familiar like that now) explained transitions in his life with the phrase, "There I am." Over and over, "There I am." He found acting. "There I am." He found writing. "There I am." And so There I Was. Hearing what I need to hear when I need to hear it. And Here I Am. Motivated, inspired, soul re-filled.

There are times when I drag myself to a party. When I'm tired and not in the mood to be "on." But then I find myself. I find my groove and I find my connections with other women. I find my purpose. There I am. Tonight, in the accomplishment of my team, There I Am.

I didn't make my goal. Far, far from it. But the inspiration is still there. It waited until I came back. And There I Am.

All I need now is for Blane to walk me to my car and tell me he believes in me. And that he will love me.. always.
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