No Means No

I wrote this on the Moonshine Niki Facebook page a year ago today. I will never forever the event that happened the night before that made me feel so much fear for my own safety. I got myself out of that situation because I wasn’t going down without a fight, but I have no doubt that the guy that scared me so much felt he didn’t do much (if at all) wrong. 

Read it and know it, my friends.

Advertisements

God Bless This Mess

In the middle of life chaos recently, I heard this beautiful song that hit me instantly because I could relate. “Here’s to the brokens… The misfits and wannabes… The part of you that’s just like me…” The lyrics floated out of my speakers and right into my heart. Music has always been a big thing for me and I can feel intensely for songs I can’t even personally relate to. These days though, life has been….different, full, busy, emotional, so when a song comes on that I CAN relate to, then I feel even more intensely. “The wildflowers and holier than thou’s… The diamonds that are never gonna leave the rough… The rolling stones that are always stuck… The all-nighters and the lost I’ve never found…” The song continued as my very full heart started to do backflips of emotion as I heard every note. Driving to work, I let the song serenade me. “God bless this mess… If this is as good as it’s gonna get… I’m gonna hold you like I know it’s gonna be okay again… I got a hurricane in my heart… Keeps on rattling the gooder part… And honestly, I’m just an honest wreck… But I’m trying my best… God bless this mess, oh, God bless this mess.”

What hardworking single mom with a life full of mistakes couldn’t relate to this?! As of late, the struggles have been intense. I had begun to be filled with misery going to my day job every day. I was filled with dread every morning walking through the door, but also felt trapped for so many reasons. The inner struggle over what to do was strangling me. I felt like a failure for being unable to make it work, for being unable to make any of the others in the office be able to understand my heart, for beginning to resent how set apart I was. I was suffocating.

On top of the work issues, the ongoing disconnect from my family has been very difficult for me to accept and make peace with. Not only has there been zero contact for a couple months now, but social media has rubbed salt into the wound in ways I didn’t expect. I’ll take an order of insult to injury please! I miss them. I especially miss my sister whom I have felt was my only ally ever with them. It’s been painful. I have felt this alone very few times in my life.

“Here’s to the waiting… All the waiting that we have to do… The dreams we make that never come true… And all the hurting that comes without warning… Here’s to the view from the tile of the bathroom floor… Ain’t we all been there before… And the hell bent sun that’s gonna come up the next morning…”

Amidst many other stressors, hurts, and normal life issues, I have just felt burdened. I have so much on my plate and so little in the way of relief, support, and resources. Music has been one of my biggest comforts. So, listening to this song, I decided; screw it. I quit. I wrote a short and sweet email and turned in my resignation from the job that I once loved, but ended up despising. Immediate relief.

I don’t really know what happens from here, but one thing I know, I’ll keep asking for God to bless this mess.

“Most the time I forget to pray… But when I close my eyes, I just say… God bless this mess…”
God Bless This Mess

The link is below. Check it out as this post doesn’t do the beauty of the song justice. *I do not own the music, nor did I make the video*

Much love,
Moonshine Niki

Do I Deserve Love?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love. I’ve been thinking not just about romantic love, but many kinds. . . the love between family, the love a mother is supposed to have for her children, and even self-love. You see, my life has definitely lacked love in places where there should have been much, much more.

I was a child bride and had a husband that loved drugs and alcohol, he loved humiliating me and hurting me, but he didn’t love me. I have a family that isn’t close and doesn’t show love at all towards one another. Way more “fuck you’s” are thrown out between each other than “I love you’s.” Hugs don’t happen with my family and support is virtually non-existent. The biggest pain with that is that there is more love and support shown for some of us from my mother than others. Growing up feeling like I was somehow flawed, because I must be if my own mother can’t like me but clearly loves my siblings, has made me not love myself. If the easiest love to come in the world (the love of a mother for her child) isn’t there, and then my own husband couldn’t love me, then I must be truly broken and unlovable. That was my thinking for a long time anyway.

I’ve written several times about how women are harsh to judge and judge ourselves more than anyone else. We have constant media in our faces telling us we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, slim enough. It makes self-love incredibly difficult. Then, when you add in abusive people, absent or hurtful parents, or other issues and incidences that cause pain, self-love becomes even harder.

For me, I had the lack of bonding with my mother as my foundation in life. Then, I got married as a teen and had 4 children back to back with an abusive man. I didn’t take good care of myself through those hard times in my life (thank you, depression), and so of course, I gained a ton of baby weight and didn’t lose it. I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t have any family there for me, and I was living through an abusive marriage with no idea that I deserved any better. I did not love me. In fact, I didn’t just not love myself, I downright hated myself.

Now, we can fast forward several years where I have been away from that man for a long, have lost some of that weight, have made many achievements and advancements in life, and had much personal growth. I’ve struggled still with self-love though. I’ve struggled feeling worthy, and as I’ve recently had a falling out with my family and have endured some other tough events, I’ve been thinking even more about love.

I realized recently that I’ve spent a long time hating myself. I’ve hated my tender heart, I’ve hated my body and the weight I’ve struggled with since I started having children almost 18 years ago, I’ve hated how easily I cry, I’ve hated my lack of self-control in so many areas, and the list goes on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked my face in the mirror and told myself ugly, hateful things because I felt I deserved it. If I exercised, I would think those horrible things to myself out of frustration that I ever let my body get this out of control. I just have been truly disgusted and so I punished myself with hate.

Well, several days ago, I suddenly had an epiphany. I’ve battled my weight for a long time. I’ve also battled many emotional issues for a long time. While I have continued to try to fight against these issues, I’ve tried using the same methods and with the same self-loathing I have always had. What’s that saying about insanity…trying the same way over and over again while expecting different results? That’s what I have been doing. I have decided that no matter what is going on with my family, no matter what man I do or don’t have in my life, and no matter how my body looks, I need to love myself anyway. No matter what, I am deserving of self-love. So now, as I do my daily squats, I’m telling myself in my head, “Look at you go! One. Good job getting active! Two. You are beautiful! Three. You deserve love! Four. Look at you empowering yourself! Five. . .” You get the idea.

If hating myself has gotten me nowhere, then there’s an entire world of possibilities if I love myself instead. It’s been easy to be negative for a long time, so I’m not going to assume that it’s suddenly going to be much easier to be kind to myself, but I can promise that I’m going to keep trying. I am worthy of that much.

This new journey of self-love is important because it’s not only for me, it’s for my children, for my friends, for my coworkers, and for everyone else around me. The better I feel inside, the better mom, friend, and employee I can be. It’s a win for everyone. So, here’s to my new journey. . .

Signing off with a smile and love,
Moonshine Niki

18835831_897616160387392_6527045419453836426_n

Slut Shaming

I’m about to get real with y’all, and here’s your fair warning that I’m going to say some dirty words. I’m hoping you’ll keep reading though because this stuff needs to be said and understood by so many out there.

“Slut shaming.” Have you heard of it? It’s become a catchphrase in our current times that describes the act of putting a woman down for her real or assumed sexual activity. I think most of us are aware of this, but are we aware of how often we are actually doing it? Are we aware of how often we’re hurting someone through comments, looks, and judgments?

A few weeks ago, I saw a meme on Facebook a friend of mine shared that said something about how when a lonely woman goes out to the bar alone and then still goes home to bed alone, how she has standards and self-control, or something similar to that. The meme struck a nerve with me for a variety of reasons, but because I try to avoid arguing on Facebook over anything these days, I didn’t say anything. It has stayed with me since though.

When I saw that meme, it was kind of a punch to the gut. I can tell you that there are many, many times I’ve gone out lonely and still come home to bed by myself. I can also say there are times I’ve gone home to someone else’s bed. But, I’ll get back to this part in a moment.

Last night, also on Facebook, I had a friend post a meme that asked something about, “Does your mom know you’re a whore?” I made a joking comment on it, but again, it stayed with me. This morning, when there were several more comments on it, I commented again, “But is being a “whore” really the worst thing one can do? Like, I’m an amazing, caring, generous, kind person and my life goal is to help others. But I could also be sleeping with half of our little town right now. Does that trump everything and make me a bad person?”

I want you to think about this for a moment. How often have you said words like whore, slut, skank, hoochie, tramp, etc.? How many times have you given a dirty look to someone because of what she was wearing or because you’d heard. . .*insert “slutty” accusation here*? How many times have you dismissed everything human and good about a woman because of slut shaming judgement? Now, before you get too defensive and feel like I’m picking on you, let me tell ya, I’m just as guilty (if not more so) than the next person. I will be the first to tell you, I have been wrong here. The craziest part about that too though, is *gasp* I have also been the “slut.”

I have had broken moments in my life. I talked about this in I Am More Than My Cleavage. I’ve had moments where I’ve used my body to get the attention my heart needed. Sadly, many women have done this, especially if they had a rough childhood. Some of us that have been through really hard times have turned to physical affection as a source of comfort and fulfillment in our own brokenness. We try to fill a void in our hearts through physical contact as if being desired magically fixes everything.

While this is kind of a hard subject to talk about, it’s even harder to bare one’s own “secrets” and stories. But I’m going to do it anyway. So let me tell you a story.

I had a best friend years ago that I’m no longer friends with. She’s a pretty amazing person and much of her is all the great things I am not. We were instantly close when we met and she was the first person I ever used the term “bestie” with. We were also very alike in several ways. While we both battled our own hard stuff in life, there started to become a wedge between us. Honestly, I can’t even remember what started it or why, but it got worse. We then both did things that hurt each other. We both said things that were vile and ugly. One of my biggest regrets as far as her and my friendship is concerned was ever using the dirty words mentioned before about her, a woman I truly loved (and still do). She had been by my side when I was making some really poor choices as far as men and sex goes, and yet, once I was in a monogamous relationship, it was like I forgot my own transgressions and no longer had an issue with slinging out those awful words about her choices. Our friendship came to an end, and I still think about her almost every day since. In the couple of years since we went separate ways, I’ve had lots of time to think about my own actions. I’ve tried to reach out to her since, but she has never responded. I can only think that my hurtful words are unforgiveable. I’m so embarrassed that I ever insulted her in ways that I’ve been insulted myself. I’m no better than her or anyone else, which brings me to my next and biggest point. . .

The comment that I put on my friends status about “What if…?” is a really good question. How did we get to a point in society where we felt it was okay to judge and mistreat someone we feel is promiscuous? Sadly, a woman doesn’t even have to truly be that way, we can all just be going off of rumors, and yet, most people feel no shame in throwing out those words. Why is it acceptable to make those remarks and joke about it? What makes us feel that someone’s character, goodness, and humanity doesn’t matter and that we can verbally shred a woman over her sexual choices?

I’ll use myself as an example because who better is there to throw under the bus than me? I’m a good person. I have a huge heart, a tender spirit, and I love helping others in any way I can. I would literally give the shirt off my back to someone that was in need of it. I volunteer in my community, have given people in need items out of my own home, taken people into my home that had nowhere to go, and put my own safety at risk to help others. I also have made many questionable decisions in life. If you knew that I’ve slept with someone I’ve met off of Craigslist before, does that change your opinion of me? If you knew that I’ve slept with 2 different men in 2 days, does that change your opinion of me? If you knew that I’ve had sex on first dates, slept with someone else during a breakup to numb my heartache, or that there was a time in my past that I slept with people that I couldn’t tell you their names now, does that change your opinion of me? If all of these things are true, am I a “whore?” By most people’s definition, the answer to that would yes. So now, let’s say that by society’s definition, I’m a whore. Now what? Under that label, am I less deserving or respect? Affection? Love? Am I a bad person? The answer to each of those is no. I am not less deserving, and I am not a bad person. So then why is it okay for you to call me names? Why is it okay for you to look at me and judge who I am as a person based off of a few choices? Read this and understand this carefully please; it is NOT okay for you to treat anyone with less respect, no matter what their sexual choices are with other consenting adults.

Now, please know that I’m not saying that these are healthy behaviors. That’s an entirely different blog topic, and I have caused my own heart a lot of damage with bad choices. However, it’s not ANYONE’S place to decide what is good for another person. It is not my place, nor yours, to judge another human being’s sexual activity with consenting partners. When you take away everything else about a woman and label her regarding her sexual choices only, even if you are just sharing a meme on social media that doesn’t call anyone out specifically, you are telling women that we are nothing more than what our vaginas do. I am more than what happens to my vagina. You are more than what happens to yours. So let’s put some conscious effort into not shaming women for what they choose to do with their own body parts. STOP THE SLUT SHAMING. It’s important.

And as always, stay safe, my friends.

Love,
Moonshine Niki

large

A Different Kind of Love Story

I have recently mentioned a few times about the importance of friendship between women, and I can’t express enough how true that need is. As a woman, women are the ones that know you’re heart deeply. Your female friends are the ones that will understand what you’re not actually saying, will truly get what you are saying, and will be the most knowledgeable about how to best be there for you.

I personally have not had many long-term friendships. In fact, I’ve had only one. My friend and I met through church the summer before we started high school. We were both rowdy, feisty, and rebellious in our own ways. It was not a love at first sight friendship, but by the time we talked, we were hooked and instant “besties” from that first night.

We were young and wild and thick as thieves. We had fun together and rode the waves of high school and teenagerhood together. We had each other’s backs as we navigated that awkward stage of life where you’re no longer a child, but you’re not yet an adult. We got into trouble and ditched class together for no good reason during the week, and then we were angels in church as we soaked up the Word on Sundays. We were busy figuring out life and who we were, but we did it all together. We were an intense duo.

We were close, but these were the days before cell phones and social media, so when I “ditched” her to go to an alternative high school after acting up at our school, she felt abandoned (and rightfully so), and we drifted apart. We ended up stopping talking and put our friendship on pause. Neither of us knew just how close we would be again and just how much we would have an impact on each other’s lives in the future, but it would be revealed years later.

A few years went by after high school and we both led very different lives. I was going through the end of a failed marriage with elementary-aged children, and she was newly married with a baby when we were reconnecting. I was going through a disaster in my life and she was a sudden ray of sunshine to burst through the clouds in the middle of my storm. My entire life had fallen apart and I’d lost everything—my marriage, my house, my vehicle, 95% of belongings, and more. I was dealing with being a first time single mom in my early 20’s, divorce, overcoming drugs and their multiple impacts on my life, grief from the loss of my child, and then some.

MySpace was where she tracked me down, and I immediately clung to her like my life depended on it. I can’t remember how soon it was after she messaged me, but I dreamed about her. To this day I remember how in the dream she was standing in front of me with her child on her hip (I can still even remember her posture in the dream) and the message was that I needed her and she was going to help me. Almost 10 years later now and I can’t even begin to explain how true that has been.

She has been my support as I pulled my life out of the gutter. She has been my backbone as I have gone through being homeless, going through breakups, going through the loss of jobs, going through ongoing grief, going through heartache, and all of life’s toughest moments. She has watched me doing the ugliest of ugly cries. She has watched me rejoice in positive life changes. She has shared in my grief and hurts and my joys and happiness. She’s been there for everything. I’ve told her the things I can’t bring myself to tell anyone else. We’ve cried together over the worries of the world that hurt us both. She knows me better than anyone else on earth, including my family. Her and I, we are soul sisters.

When I talk to any woman about women needing a close girlfriend, this beautiful gift from God is who I picture in my mind. Everyone needs one of her. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the colors to my book, and the soul to my mate. It’s totally a love story, just a different kind than the movies are made about.

For women, we have to lift each other up. We have to carry each other’s burdens. We have to look each other’s hard moments, greatest fears, and heartaches in the face and say, “We are getting through this TOGETHER.” We ALL need and deserve this kind of love in our lives. So ladies, be there for each other during the good and bad life moments. If you don’t have a friend like this, then be it for someone else. You’ll find it in return. And always love each other and yourselves. It’s important.

Be blessed, my friends.
Moonshine Niki

d4b2b69260dbf3071b86e96353f3f0e1

STOP! Stop Comparing Yourself to Her.

Anyone on my Facebook knows that I feel there is great importance in lifting others up, especially women. While that sounds great in theory, it seems to be something that is difficult for us. Why is that?

Think about this, ladies; when you see an attractive woman walk by, what are your first thoughts and feelings? As you stand next to each other in line at your favorite coffee shop or at the grocery store checkout, can you easily throw out a “Hey girl, cute shoes/shirt/purse/hair/lipstick!” at her? Or do you quietly judge her in your head because you are automatically comparing yourself to her. Or better yet, comparing her great parts to your flaws? In my experience as a woman, the latter is much easier, but why?

In my post, I Am More Than My Cleavage, I talk about media, advertising, and the objectification of women. In that post, I was talking about the sexualization of women/girls and all the problems that causes. This post is similar because again, the media plays a HUGE part in this. It is in our faces constantly that we are supposed to be pretty, thin, curvy, confident, have perfect hair, have perfect teeth, have clear skin, be perfect mommies, be fashionable, be a sex goddess, be perfect wives/relatives/friends, and a million other unattainable perfections. This constant “in your face” media makes it damn hard to just be happy with ourselves and happy with the woman we walk by on the street.

One area I personally struggle in is being a mom. For a ton of reasons (none of which I will list here) I often feel a pang of jealousy when I see another mom doing something great. It used to really cause negative feelings in me. I would see something posted on Facebook and I immediately would think to myself about how that mom was just being boastful. Over the years though, I have grown a lot. In that growth, I can now recognize that my negative feelings for other women are so very often a reflection of my own feelings of failure. It had nothing to do with them, I just didn’t realize it. In fact, none of that was even a conscious thought until I’d reconnected with someone I used to be friends with. She is an amazing wife and mother of 5 children, and it clearly shows on her Facebook account. On Sunday, just as I was getting ready to make pancakes, eggs, and bacon for my family for breakfast, my friend’s status showed, “Drinking mint tea and my morning smoothie! Breakfast: Fried potatoes with garlic, pepper, red and green bell peppers and onion, cinnamon rolls I made last night, bacon, sausage, English muffins and I have these fruits ready to there liking: Cantaloupe, cherries, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, sliced up pink lady apples, green and red grapes, sliced oranges, peaches, cherry tomatoes and bananas. Veggie choices: Spinach leaves, celery and carrot sticks, red and green bell pepper, sliced raw broccoli, cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, green beans, snow peas, sliced cauliflower, cubed squash, buttered asparagus and raspberries. Three different yogurts, six cheeses, coconut milk or whole dairy milk and nuts galore to choose from! Now for these people to wake up, anytime now, serious!” For a split second, I thought oh my goodness, why can’t I be like that?! I immediately redirected my thinking and remembered that she is just that freaking awesome and it’s okay that she is amazing. It is also okay that my kids were “just” getting pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We were both feeding our families out of love and that is what matters.

Advertising works hard at making us hate ourselves. It does this because they want to sell products. Buy this teeth whitener, that brand of clothing, this brand of makeup, this diet supplement, and that bra. . . The list is endless because it is effective.  It’s mentally exhausting worrying about it and how we compare to others, and it requires conscious effort to remind ourselves that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Ladies, it is not easy to remember with all that is in our faces every single day that we are all worthy and we do not need to compare ourselves, but it is worth the effort. There will always be someone else that is more pretty, has better hair, has a more flattering figure, etc., but those other women DO NOT affect you. Embrace the differences, lift each other up, compliment what you like in others, and go to sleep at night knowing that those around you don’t make you any less of the amazing woman you are. 

flower