Ever the Believer. The Lover. Me.

I disappoint myself sometimes. I frustrate myself pretty much more than anyone else can. The funny thing about that, is after 30+ years of being this way, I still haven’t figured out how to turn my heart off.

Even when I know something is likely bad, I feel for it anyway. Even when that piece of me thinks that things are only going to end in heartache—I still want to take that chance. But how can I not?

Everything I’ve ever had has ended in heartache, so I have two choices. 1. I quit and believe that true love, loyalty, and teamwork doesn’t exist and will never happen, or 2. I keep believing and hoping and giving chances. And the reality is, I was built with a lover and nurturer’s soul, so turning off my heart isn’t likely to happen. Ever.

So what do I do? I endure. I fight. I continue on despite the world that reflects negativity on the daily. I somehow allow my heart to keep believing. This road of getting my heart stung might not be over yet, but I can pretty much guarantee that even if it isn’t, it won’t make me quit. It’s just who I am. I am weak. And yet, I am Oh. So. Strong.

Advertisements

I Am More Than My Cleavage

I Am More Than My Cleavage? Seriously?! What kind of world do we live in that I feel the need to write a blog with that title?

In order to truly explain my thought process and feelings behind all this, I must give you some background info. As a teenager, like many confused kids, I had attention issues. Hell, I still do (I mean, hello, I write a blog—pay attention to me! Haha). My attention issues then were different though. Yes, I was that girl that fooled around with the boys before my peers did. As a young woman with large breasts and a curvy body, developed long before I knew what to do with it, it was easy to discover how I could get the attention that I craved.

When I moved to my small town, the place I now call home, I was just beginning to really act out. I desperately wanted to fit in and be one of the Cool Kids. I wanted to be liked and paid attention to. I was a mere 13 years old, but thought of myself as a grown up. It only took a month or two to not only catch the attention of some of the popular boys, but also to make myself ostracized. I realized after it was too late that I was the girl the boys wanted, the girl the girls hated, and the girl no one wanted to be publicly associated with. I wasn’t understood and I didn’t know how to behave any differently.

I struggled with this stuff my entire youth. It was a constant fight inside myself between wanting to be paid attention to and wanting with all of my aching teenage heart to not be an outcast. I wanted to be liked for who I was inside my tender soul, but I kept searching for it with my cleavage.

Now to fast forward many years, many heartaches, many milestones, and much personal growth, I’m no longer that broken girl. But you know what? Society is. We live in this era of everything being sexual, insane beauty standards constantly in our faces, and the most casual attitude of sex that our nation has ever seen. Teenagers (along with the adults, of course) are exchanging naked selfies, even fast food commercials use sex to sell, no one bats an eye at casual sex and “friends with benefits”,  and we push birth control on 12 year olds. Along with all of this, women seem to be seen in general as sex objects and nothing more. When one is lusting after the barely dressed woman on the cover of Cosmo, he or she is not thinking about who that woman is, what matters to her, or what she has going on in her life—he or she is thinking about how great her breasts look or how amazing those thighs are, et cetera. This objectification doesn’t just go for those we see on television, on magazine covers, or in online ads. It spills over into how we see women in real life. In fact, that statement right there, “real life”, shows just how deep this goes. Those women, photoshopped, covered in makeup, and in glossy print everywhere you look—they’re still real women.  They still have feelings, goals, family, struggles, and triumphs that have nothing to do with the image you see on those screens or magazine covers.

While writing this, I decided to do some quick research about how many ads the typical American sees in a day because it’s relevant to my point on what we as Americans are seeing without even realizing it on a daily basis. There are no hard and fast numbers, but many sources estimate that the number of daily ads we see can reach into the thousands. Think about it, every time you log onto Pandora, every time you pass a city bus, check out at the grocery store, sit in front of your TV, get on Facebook, play a mobile game, flip through a magazine in a waiting room, step in front of a television in Wal-Mart, shop online, walk down the cereal aisle, drive through town, use the Internet to help your children with homework, and even getting into an elevator in bigger cities—your eyes are bombarded with advertisements. Thousands of images every day flood into your brain whether you realize it or not, and many of these are using edited images of “sexy” women. According to mediaed.org, it is thought that only around 8% of an ad’s message is consciously received into the mind. So much info is being put into our minds, and while we may not realize it, that data soaks into our brains anyway.  **If you’re curious about the info on advertisements, please check the mediaed.org link at the bottom of this. There is a ton of info in their pdf about sexual images, consumerism, and specifically women and girls and how they are used and manipulated in the media. It’s quite eye opening.**

But I’m straying from my point here. When we are teaching those in society through this constant onslaught of images that women are to be lusted after, that deeply ingrained, unconscious act cannot be compartmentalized into just viewing women in media this way. It becomes how our youth sees their female peers. It is how grown men see their coworkers. It is how old men see younger generations of women (side note, did you know the number two most searched porn term online in America is “teen”, second only to MILF? That’s a whole different blog to be written but helps to show how much our current youth are in danger with this). It is even how us women now tend to see each other and ourselves. As human beings, our eyes take in how others look and our bodies and brains are stimulated accordingly. Without having guarded hearts and trained minds, we unconsciously objectify others based on these standards in America, and I have recently had much personal experience to remind me of this.

I have been struggling the last several months with having gone through a breakup of a serious relationship and all that goes with that. I’ve had loneliness and a desire to be accepted and wanted by others. In some ways, bits of that broken teenage girl in me crept back to the surface, and that allowed me to put my guard down without realizing it. Unlike when I was a kid though, we have this wonderful thing called social media these days. It often gives a false sense of connectedness with others, and it also gives many people the guts to say things online that wouldn’t be said face to face. I could give several examples of this, but to save face and space to this already very long post, I’m going to just give one example of how outrageous this objectification has become, and it has an impact.

The one incident that punched me in the gut emotionally and I knew would result in this very blog post with this exact title happened around two months ago. Like most, I have a Facebook account and almost 300 “friends” on it. Also like most women, I change my profile picture on it often. I use a little app on my phone to make pretty edited pictures that make the perfect size for a “pro pic”. One day, I changed my picture without thinking about the unintentional cleavage that was showing. Remember, long gone are my days of wanting to draw people in with my breasts, but because they are large, cleavage happens sometimes regardless. I was leaving work when I suddenly got an instant message from a male friend that threw me off. I wasn’t on Facebook at the moment and wasn’t even aware yet of the comments on my new profile picture, but all it took was one friend to comment about my cleavage on this picture before there were suddenly a small handful of comments about my breasts. What was worse though was the message from my “friend”. One word. Boobies.

I had no idea what it meant when the Facebook message texted my phone. I honestly thought it was an accident. I got online to inquire about it. I opened up my messages, and sure enough, it was the one word and then a selfie of him.

Me: Boobies?

Him: Yeah, I like them.

Him: *shirtless selfie*

Him: Where’s my pic now? You always show your boobs hanging out. Let ’em loose.

I was appalled and so very hurt. I had previously thought this guy was kinda cute and had known we had stuff in common, so I was actually pleased that he messaged me at first. But I was not happy that he felt it was okay to not just bring up such ugly subject matter so boldly, but to talk to me as if I wasn’t even a normal human being deserving of respect. I was ashamed even though I’d done nothing to ask for this kind of treatment. I was deeply hurt that he talked to me like this completely unsolicited and without an ounce of respect–especially when it was the first time he’d ever initiated conversation with me.

Me: There’s websites for that ya know.

Him: Yeah, but why online if it’s local?

I teared up reading his messages. I was thoroughly blown away. In an instant, I was that hurting young woman that wanted to be one of the Cool Kids so badly, but I was also the adult I am now and knew that no matter what I was feeling, I was NOT going to allow this to continue.

Me: Because I’m more than just my cleavage.

Him: Yeah, you got an ass too.

Me: *Closes Facebook*

I realized that I felt shame before I had even done anything. There was embarrassment that had lived there inside me so long. Humiliation from acts so long ago that caused me to still feel that hurt as a grown woman. But he didn’t get what he wanted, and I kept my dignity. I honestly meant what I said. I AM more than my cleavage. Whether it was intentional or accidental, cleavage did not give him permission to completely disregard the fact that I am a woman with feelings. I have lived and succeeded through major struggles, I have experienced great joys, I have beautiful children that think I’m the most important person on earth, and I have been hurt badly, loved madly, and helped others gladly. I am a woman, not an object! Even though it’s taken me a while longer in life to discover it, I am worthy of love, tenderness, and respect. I. Am. More. Than. My. Cleavage.

Resources

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2292582/Most-popular-porn-site-search-terms-revealed-Americans-favour-MILF-Syrians-like-aunt.html

https://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/241/studyguide_241.pdf

http://depts.washington.edu/thmedia/view.cgi?section=medialiteracy&page=fastfacts

I’m a Feeler. <–Sounds Creepy, Doesn’t It?

I am a feeler. Just like the title says. I’m not just intensely emotional, but I’m emotional to the point of wearing my heart on my sleeve and incapable of hiding it. Sounds like it sucks, doesn’t it? Well, often it does.

You know those times you blow someone off, and just hope they get the point? Well, I’m that person that has convinced herself that there could be a million legitimate reasons for why you’re not texting back, and I just continue to believe. I will believe that your dog is lost and your kid is sick and your car broke down. I will believe that your phone has died, that you have no reception, and that you didn’t hear your phone for six hours in a row. In desperate circumstances, I’ll believe that your long lost great uncle is suddenly calling, that your phone got destroyed in a crazy toilet accident, and that you’re suddenly sick with food poisoning (like that makes your phone sick too).

Do you get the point? With people like me, you just have to be honest. People like me will have forever faith in others because we feel so intensely that we couldn’t string someone else along knowing his or her heart is involved, so we assume others can’t either.

With others, I put myself in their shoes far too often. I think of how they are thinking. I think of how they might be feeling. And largely, I think of how they are perceiving me. People like me think that all of you are also people like us too. We are mistaken far too often. We are taken advantage of. We are used for the big hearts we have to offer. We are pained by the little things that you give little thought to. We hurt big. Cry big. Smile big. And feel happy big.

Welcome to a tiny peek into my world, folks. There’s so more much here than your first glance would know I have to offer. But it definitely starts with how much I feel.

I Live my Life in Song Lyrics

I sit here at my newly delivered dining room table—with its beautiful finish, bar height, 8 chairs, and gorgeous 7 feet in length to write this blog. This impressive, brand new lovely wood warmth feels great to sit at, but that’s as good as the feelings get tonight. I sit here with a heavy heart. I sit here with a mind going a million miles an hour with hurt. I sit here ready to purge.

It’s funny how blogs give way to brutal honesty. Anonymity is incredibly freeing. It’s often truth telling honesty, poured freely from anonymous bleeders like myself because of its freedom. This freedom from pressure to constantly look, perform, and sound like I have my shit together 100% gives me the allowance to unashamedly tell my story. So here goes…

It was at this brand new table that my family was able to comfortably sit for a dinner together in this house for the first time. I was so excited coming home, knowing we were able to pay off our 90 day layaway just in the nick of time, to know we were going to have actual conversation over dinner together tonight. I was in high spirits. For a moment, life felt good. But it didn’t take long for it to be destroyed.

The entire mood of the house soured quickly in the instant Mr. Man decided he was going to throw a tantrum—something that happens with about as much regularity as I need to change my clothes. The tantrums have gotten old and so frequent that the mood of the entire house dims once it starts.

I move away out of sight from all to allow my face a moment to adjust to my frustration (to not look as annoyed as I feel). I swallow hard, take a few deep breaths, and intentionally relax the tale telling muscles in my face. But it doesn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed. Feeling like I’m walking through cement and am tired because I’ve done this same stretch of trudging for I don’t even know how many days in a row.

The TV gets turned off and some light 80’s and 90’s country plays on Pandora as we gather at the new table set for dinner. The kids are talking but I feel the tension. I feel tired. Am I really going through this again? Am I watching my relationship unravel before my eyes? Am I continuing to fight for something that is crumbling away despite my efforts?

I quietly eat my food as Faith Hill’s voice begins over the speakers, ♪“Baby, tell me where’d you ever learn to fight without sayin’ a word…”♪ I feel tears sting my eyes. ♪“Then waltz back into my life like it’s all gonna be alright, don’t you know how much it hurts?” ♪

I focus on relaxing my facial expressions. ♪ “When we don’t talk, when we don’t touch, when it doesn’t feel like we’re even in love…it matters to me.”♪ I blink back hot tears as I see the disconnect between me and Mr. Man. I see it in this moment. I see it every day. ♪“When I don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do, don’t know if it really even matters to you.”♪ He doesn’t even look my direction as I sit there in silence, choking down the food that my stomach has no desire to take in. ♪“Maybe I still don’t understand the distance between a woman and a man. So tell me how far it is, and how you can love like this, ‘cause I’m not sure I can…”♪ I am barely in control of my emotions and the song seemingly speaks about my life.

My children start in with going around the table and asking what the best part of everyone’s day was. This is a game I started when they were little just to get them to communicate with me and show them that I am interested in their days. My daughter’s big brown eyes look up at me as it’s my turn. “Mommy, what was the best part of your day?” I ponder for a moment and tell her, the best part of my day was when I was coming home. I was excited to be off work. I was thrilled that the new table was coming and that we could finally eat together as a family. I was excited to know my new country CD had arrived and was looking forward to just relaxing and being with my loves. I left out how my happiness and good spirits came to a screeching halt when the grown up tantrums began. My answers pleased her though and I was relieved when the focus was off of me and on to the next person at the table. My heart was being squeezed. It is hard to hide my pain from my children. It’s hard to feel that pain period.

I feel intense pressure to make everything okay all the time. I fear letting down my babies after I’ve already put them through so much in life. My bright, caring, beautiful children are depending on me for their stability and yet I can’t seem to keep it all together. It is the weight of the entire world on my shoulders as I smile through the hurt at them.

I sat there contemplating all that is my life currently. Are we going to end? Are we going to survive? Am I fighting the inevitable? It’s the pong that goes on in my mind daily lately. When is it worth fighting for? When is it worth giving up? Am I lying to myself?

The country music continues with George Strait and I feel some relief when the mood relaxes at the table and the kids talk happily amongst themselves. I think it’s going to be okay, I tell myself. ♪”…And if you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.”♪

Back to Where I Began From

I’ve had a love of writing for almost as long as I’ve know how to. Journaling, poetry, and essays have kept me sane. It only makes sense for me to start my first blog. Whether anyone reads it or not, I feel an overwhelming need to purge my soul by putting my written words out into the universe.

But where do I begin? How do I choose what to write about? What is currently on my heart…..?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl. I always knew I would have children. What I did not know was how I would have so many, so young.

In 1999, at 15 years old, I struggled with my self-esteem. I struggled with knowing who I was and what my place was in the world. I was lonely, hurting, and confused. Of course, I knew a baby would just fix all of that for me. Even with that insane desire, I was shocked when the woman entered the Planned Parenting office room at the end of that September day and said my test was positive. She must have thought I was crazy because I have a face that cannot lie and my emotions are always clearly written in my expressions. She must have known I was happy about this result.

I left with some pamphlets and booklets and proof of pregnancy in hand. I’m sure I was beaming. I didn’t think about how I didn’t even live at home (since I’d been kicked out several weeks prior). I didn’t think about how my teacher that I was living with would react. I didn’t think about how in that one instant, my entire life, my path, my future, my everything was suddenly altered. All I thought about was the little life growing inside of me and how more than anything, I wanted to be a good mommy to my baby. I just didn’t know yet how hard that would be.

So two weeks before my 16th birthday, I announced to those around me that I was with child and that no matter what anyone said or did, I was keeping it. I dreamed of baby names, cute baby clothes, and snuggling a delicious smelling newborn that was all mine. What I did NOT think about was everything beyond that. I didn’t think about school struggles. I didn’t think about puberty. I didn’t think about teenage attitude and defiance. I didn’t think about those things, but I am now living smack dab in the middle of them anyway.

I worry about my son. I worry that I set my child (and other children) up for hard lives of their own because of my own choices. They have lived through poverty and very young parents that didn’t know what they were doing. They have seen their father abuse their mother, and they have seen their father under the influence of a variety of drugs and alcohol. They have endured horrific circumstances that I’m not yet ready to write about. They have endured their parents’ divorce, moving, and starting life over from scratch.

Until now, we made do with what we had and my children have been fairly well adjusted and happy souls. Then enters puberty and extreme hormones. My son, C, has made troubles for himself. Failing in school, becoming violent at home, ending up court involved, and taking off after school and doing who knows what for hours on end when he’s supposed to be home. It’s hard to deal with as a parent. I cry. I try to talk to him about his choices now can affect his entire life. I continue to push him to follow the rules and to do his school work, but ultimately, I have no control over his choices. So I worry, I stress, and I grieve. I feel extreme guilt over how my choices impacted his life. I fear for where he is headed. I hurt for what I learned too little too late and cannot fix. I cry hot tears into my pillow and lay awake for hours at night thinking of where I have gone wrong and how badly I wish I could go back in time and change it.

For those that say they wouldn’t change anything in the past in life because it makes one who he or she is today, I call bullshit. There is so much that I would change if I could. Because now, my heart aches Every. Single. Day.