The Disowned Devil

Things have been crazy weird lately and I’m not really sure which end is up and which is down. I wrote about finding my biological father’s family in my blog, but on Facebook, I only had said that I met family I’d never known before from my biological father’s side and that I have older siblings. The other night, I received an intense phone call from my grandmother (my mother’s mother). I was answering a call from the high school at the same time as she was calling, so initially it went straight to voicemail. Because I detest listening to voicemails, my recorded message requests that callers hang up and text me.

The voicemail she left started off with her sternly saying, “I will NOT text you. . .” and I knew immediately that things were headed downhill.

“I am SO upset with you right now over this taking up with that puke bastard’s offspring. I wonder if all of them are legal, and if any other people out there have been raped by him. I am FURIOUS.”

Tears instantly sprang to my eyes as I felt the blood drain from my face. I knew there had to be some kind of fallout somewhere from all of this and it looked like I’d found it. I didn’t want to have any confrontation at all, but I didn’t want to disrespect my grandmother by not calling back either. I took a deep breath and redialed.

She began to yell as soon as she answered. She was upset for all that my mother has gone through. She talked about “her baby” and all the bad that she had endured. I tried to defend myself. I tried to explain that I wasn’t looking for a relationship with my father (which is impossible even if I was since he is deceased). I tried to explain how I just wanted information and I didn’t set out to have a relationship with anyone. She didn’t care what I had to say and told me that I have to choose—either them or her.

My grandmother mocked me crying, refused to listen to what I had to say, and then told me, “You know, Niki, you have to think of someone other than yourself for once in your life.”

That touched a nerve. It is very much in me to care about others around me. It is very much in my nature to bend over backwards for others, and I would give the shirt off my back to a stranger if need be. To be told I’m so selfish and need to stop thinking about myself was a slap in the face. On top of just who I am in general, I had agonized over all of this for all involved. I didn’t want to step on my mother’s toes. I haven’t wanted to step on my new siblings toes. I haven’t wanted to stir up negativity. I have spent hours thinking and worrying about it all, thinking about everyone, and thinking about everyone’s feelings.

I ended the phone call there. There was clearly going to be nothing positive from continuing to talk and I was no longer in control of my emotions either. I cried. Hard. During the conversation, my grandmother claimed that my siblings couldn’t be good—they come from the Devil. She refused to acknowledge that they had not done anything at all personally against my mom or anyone else involved. I felt defensive on their behalf, but even more, I felt stunned because if they are bad simply because of their DNA, I must be bad too. I’m his child too. Am I the Devil???

Then, things got even worse when I got on Facebook and saw that my grandmother had commented on the status about finding my siblings. My original post had said, “. . . Most people don’t know that I’ve never known my biological father and that while all the surrounding details aren’t public business, I can say that my heart is truly happy to have found that I have 2 brothers and a sister. . .”

My grandmother commented, “And if all the details were made public who would be so proud. I used to be your grandmother but you go with that new family now and leave me out of your life.”

I was so embarrassed and hurt. That comment had been there for 30 minutes before I saw and deleted it. I didn’t want to delete her from my profile because I was hoping she would just be temporarily upset and would calm down. I’m also not a fan of social media drama and deleting and re-adding people. Less than an hour later though, another comment appeared, “You can go with that my granddaughter but cross me off the list of your family. You know why.”

Again, I deleted the comment and cried some more. I then shared a poem I’d written about being a strong woman, and she then commented beneath that saying, “Bull.”

What was I supposed to do? My own flesh and blood was angry at me. I never in my life thought I could do anything to make my family disown me. Isn’t a parent’s (and grandparent’s) love supposed to be unconditional?

When I was finally feeling like I was starting to recover from the crazy emotional roller coaster of all of this, this event set me reeling again.

I don’t know what is going to happen from here. I don’t know that my grandmother will ever forgive me (even though I feel I’ve done nothing wrong). What I do know though is that I’m going to just continue on with my life. I’ll keep going to work every day, parenting my children every day, and just living life every day with some faith and hope that everything will be just fine. I also will continue on knowing that I am indeed a strong woman, and all of this will be all right.

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*Update: A few months ago, I received a call from my grandmother. She had apparently started to worry that some health problems were maybe going to take her life, and she feared that she could suddenly die with my thinking she hated me. She called to tell me she loves me and that nothing I could ever do would make her not love me. We’ve only talked once since and my heart still feels like it is recovering from this event, but I am grateful to know that she is not standing by her original “we’re no longer family” stance.*

Him <3

I’m feeling pretty good today. I’ve had a lot of up and down lately which has been pretty chaotic inside for me. Raising teenagers, man, let me tell ya…it is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And of course, money stress is always…well…stressful. But all of that aside, I’ve had some really big blessings lately and I feel pretty damn lucky to be where I’m at.

When I was a scared 17 year old kid walking down the aisle to say “I do,” I knew it was a mistake. When I was immediately upset afterwards and didn’t want to leave with my new husband, I knew I’d made a bad choice. With all that I endured in the years after, I totally understood the joke about why divorce is so expensive (because it’s worth it, duh!).

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I had many ups and downs in the years following and endured a few bad relationships that left me with little hope about finding “the one.” I thought that I would never get the amazing relationship I’d always hoped for.

When thinking of relationships, I always dreamed of feeling like a princess. I had dreamed of being with a man that said sweet things to me, a man that didn’t raise his voice to me (or worse), a man that connected with my children in ways that made them feel the broken inside of them was being healed, a man that would hold me tight and scare away my demons, a man that made me feel that no matter how I look, I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, a man that would show me I was worthy of being loved, a man that would make me feel safe in every way. This seemed like the impossible, but I still kept trying… And then something truly amazing happened—I met Him.

*Please know that everything I say after this point may sound like a bunch of clichés strewn together, but I truly mean every word.*

Never before had I clicked so instantly and so well and on so many levels as I did with Him. He made me feel amazing from the start. His sense of humor stood out immediately upon meeting him. He clearly marches to the beat of his own drum and I’ve always loved that. He’s not afraid to be goofy and silly and for me, being the kind of person that is mostly serious and takes everything at face value, it was the total opposite of who I am. You know how they say opposites attract? That is us. There are so many things about us where we are extremely alike and there are others where we are total opposites. We complement each other well.

He also was the first to be so tender with me physically and with my heart. Of course being a man, he brought up typical flirty “man-like” topics, but he did so in a way that never made me feel belittled or like he was just hoping to hop straight into bed. On our first date, he very sweetly took my hand as we talked. He didn’t rush me, he listened to me, and at just the right moment, he leaned over and sweetly kissed me. I felt like a school girl with a crush; I was all full of butterflies inside. It was a great date, and from that night on, we were inseparable.

Let’s face it though, all relationships are good in the beginning or they wouldn’t start at all. Even for the beginning though, things with him were better than any other beginning I’d ever had. But you know what is even more awesome? Now that the honeymoon phase is fading and real life is setting in, things are still amazing.

In a relationship, you have to learn about the other person, and I don’t mean their favorite food or movie. I mean the things that you learn a little later on, like what makes him or her tick. When he or she is angry or upset, what does he or she need most? Close comfort? Space? Time? These are the things one starts to really learn once the honeymoon phase is over. This is where he and I are at right now. He is busy learning that if we have had a disagreement, I don’t care how upset either of us are, I still want kissed and hugged and told “I love you” and “goodnight” before we go to sleep. I’m busy learning what upsets him about the way I talk during a disagreement and that he needs space when frustrated and that it’s nothing personal against me. These things are important. And while no one likes to argue or have uncomfortable moments, I find much comfort in knowing that we have been together long enough that there are no facades. We are well aware that we each are not perfect. He knows that I get overwhelmed by noise and can’t even fake being okay when I’m overstimulated. I know that he gets overwhelmed sometimes by my constant desire to be “mushy” and intimate and needs a break from my emotional intensity. He knows that I need quiet time in my room to destress often and I know that he needs time to visit his family frequently. We are learning each other in ways that only time together can teach.

While living busy lives, both working, both having children, and both being exhausted regularly, we truly enjoy and appreciate each other. This is also a new concept for me. Never before have I felt in the middle of real life, after the honeymoon has ended, that I have been so connected to another. His smile, his eyes, his humor, his tender touch, his goofy dancing, and so much more—I can’t get enough. For the first time in my entire dating life, there are no red flags, no little nagging feelings of “is this really right?” going on in my heart and head that I’m choosing to ignore. For the first time ever, I don’t want anyone else in any way, shape, or fashion. He is everything. Everything I need, everything I want, everything I intend to keep. Forever. It’s all about Him.

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 a terribly sad casual attitude about sexual activity in our society. 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 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. 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.

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. The list goes on… 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, 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 post with this exact title happened around two months ago. Like most, I have a Facebook account and around 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 inappropriate 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.