In My Bed

I do a lot more thinking in bed than I would like to, especially lately. Last night, I was lying there wishing for sleep but experiencing some pretty intense back pain from work that left sleep elusive for a long time. This time though, while I was lying there, this blog idea came to me.

I laid there last night thinking about beds. As an adult and a parent, so much happens in bed. It’s the place that lovers make love. It’s the place that moms comfort sick children. It’s often where laundry gets folded, where we take reprieve from stress in the middle of the day, even if only for a moment, and where exhausted people fall in at night in hopes of good sleep.

A lot happens in bed as grownups, and I know that for many of us, it’s our favorite place. When I have a lover, my favorite time of day is when I get to set aside life’s stress and cuddle up to the man I love. I love those few moments of talking, winding down, and snuggling up. I love to lie my head on his chest and just listen to the heart I love beat. If I’m lucky, in those moments before sleep, I get to use my body to show him just how I feel, but even if I don’t, I’m still so happy to breathe in his scent and feel his breathing with mine as we drift off to sleep.

As a single person, I know bed is still my favorite place, just obviously for different reasons. Lately, it’s because my bed is my sanctuary. I get up every day with a determination that I’m going to give my all into making a good life for myself and my kids with just us. I’m making specific effort into not using any of my old Band-Aids to temporarily ease pain. I have a history of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms to mask hurts, and I’m hell bent on not turning to those this time. There’s no men that aren’t special to me. No slamming whiskey doubles home alone while I feel sorry for myself. No pot smoking while indulging in high calorie, high fat, high sugar foods to stuff my feelings down.  So instead, I take care of my adult responsibilities each day. I get up, I clean, I do laundry, I take care of the animals, I do all the mommy things (oh my gosh, single parenting is tough work), I keep up with my self-care (which is going to be revealed in depth in a later blog), and I go to work.

Coming home from work, I know I get to still set aside life’s stress and fall into my favorite place, bed. I may be alone in it now, but I get to relax, I get to rest my weary and aching body, I get to just be still. No more stress for the day, no more “adulting,” and no more effort into tackling the world. I get to just breathe.

I feel more peace now than I have in a quite a while. The stress can be high, but there is so much relief in doing things the right way. I’m loving this new me. I’m still the same strong, feisty, sassy woman, but I’m also the woman that for the first time in her entire life, is proudly standing tall in her choices, knowing that she couldn’t be doing any better. So, here’s to my new life, here’s to late night thinking and creativity, and here’s to my bed!

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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

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Here’s to a New Chapter

Social media is great in many ways, but man, sometimes it sucks! Going through a breakup is one of those times I hate social media, and this time was the worst.

“We can still be friends,” he says as he’s breaking my heart weeks ago and saying he wants to move out.

I cried, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be your girlfriend.”

I wanted a piece of him still, even if it meant without a romantic relationship, so I agreed to be friends. I noticed how he’d pulled away suddenly and how his actions were contradicting his words, but I was so lost and confused in the center of the storm that I didn’t consciously think much about it. During the several day period where we were in the middle, in purgatory, with him still living with me after he’d said he wanted to end it, but then changing his mind and saying he wanted to keep trying, everything he was saying was telling me between the lines that he was leaving. Deep down I knew he was gone for good and that someone else had his attention already.

“If it doesn’t work out, I know you’ll be okay. You’re a strong woman.”

“You’ll find someone new who will be your forever, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m just going to focus on me and my kids,” he says, but then one breath later, “You should get out and have fun and meet new people,” and, “Be young and wild and free.”

Why? Why do I need to get out? Why do I need to meet new people? Why are you pushing me out there and then encouraging me to go party of all things? How fast are you moving with someone else to be coming at me with this stuff when you still have belongings that haven’t even been moved out of my house yet?

I’m not stupid. I may have had some serious denial going on and even been foolish for all of my hoping, but I’m definitely not stupid, and I knew exactly what these statements meant. These statements meant there was already another girl. These statements meant he didn’t want to feel guilty and if I quickly found someone else, he wouldn’t have to. I knew this was true because it was only a matter of days before there were flirty statuses going up on Facebook from him that were clearly intended for one person, and it wasn’t me. Wanting to continue with the goal of being friends and knowing it would just take some time to not be so sensitive to that stuff, I simply unfollowed him.

I pushed forward with my life without him. I started working out, I quickly found a support system of just a few friends that I could talk to and rely on, and I started focusing on the important things in my life that had nothing to do with him.

One of my most important tasks was to find a second job. I was terrified of what that could mean for me and scared that I would have to work 7 days a week. I’m a mother and my children, even though they are teenagers, still need me. I have to take care of me to take care of them and it’s hard to take care of me if I never get a day off of work.

Well, there have been some rapid changes over the last few days. One is that I got hired and start working a second job next week. The manager was very kind when I talked with him about the hours I’m looking for and what my schedule is like for my main job. He said he intends to work me 3 evenings a week and understands that I’m still hoping to get one day off a weekend so that I have one day off from both jobs and will work with me on that too.

Another change is that I actually went on a date. It was wonderful. It was with a friend I’ve known for years and he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly. It was a lovely reminder that I’m still a woman and more than just a mom and employee, that I am desirable, and that I am wanted. I won’t go into details here, but I can say that I’m very much hoping we’ll get together again.

The last change is that yesterday when I was getting ready to start work, I thought to myself that I’m in a great mood and I’m getting over the old relationship and maybe I can look at his Facebook page without getting upset. I was immediately greeted with the confirmation of what I already knew to be true. There’s a new woman. I was taken aback. It’s not that there’s just someone new in general, because I already knew that was the case within days of him moving out, but to already be posting together and putting pictures up. . . I’ll spare you all my thoughts on this, but I will say that I realized in that moment, being friends is unnecessary. Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think and feel to him and that’s not what friends are. I didn’t cry when I saw it. In fact, I wasn’t filled with any intense emotion (can I get an amen for healing?!), and I was proud in that moment that I wasn’t tempted to lash out at anyone. It was time to take my next big girl step and hit the unfriend button. We weren’t friends before we dated; there’s no need to be friends now. I clicked that button and smiled. Chapter closed.

Waking up today and getting everyone ready and out the door for the first day of school, I have been in an amazing mood. I’m handling my business. I’ve got my own back. I feel happy again! Finding a job took away a ginormous amount of stress. I now know that I have a plan. I know what has to happen to get our necessities covered. I also know that the activity of working another job will help my weight loss along. All of these things will make me feel better emotionally and mentally and once again, confidence will shine through. Just as I mentioned in my post The Weak Hunt the Wounded about how broken people attract more broken people, the opposite is also true. With me feeling great and confident and happy, those are also the people I will attract in my life.

So, my friends, things are good! I’m onto a new chapter and new adventures and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Here’s to a new page turned!

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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

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The Weak Hunt The Wounded

The weak hunt the wounded–what a strong and true statement! I’d love to say I came up with it myself, but it would be a lie. You see, I have this friend that has listened to me vent, cry, and ramble for 2 weeks now. We’ve been the kind of friends to talk over Facebook and the phone for a couple years now (we know each other in real life, but we don’t live near each other anymore), but lately, he’s been one of a small handful that have been supportive, listened, and been there for me over and over and then over again during this time. He’s one of my safe people because I can trust him and there’s no pressure to be anything but me. He’s smart, honest, and witty and makes me laugh when I want to cry. We are very different people though and this allows us to talk about all kinds of life aspects and see each other’s different points of view.

Last night we were discussing dating, sex, friendship, and all other things real, adult life. We were talking about his standards for romantic relationships and mine and how they are different, but then the topic came up about people that prey on the broken. It was completely relevant and something that another friend and I were recently discussing as well. We were talking in reference to how he said that he thinks women have an easier time finding men than men have finding women. I had disagreed and said I felt it was the same for both sexes. He disagreed still and said he didn’t think women knew how hard it was for men. It was friendly banter to kill time and boredom when I had said it must be easy for anyone and how they only have to target someone below them. Then this blog post topic bloomed. He told me how that’s lazy and wrong and gave me that line “the weak hunt the wounded” in his response.

While we were talking about “casual encounters” this actually works all across the board with dating and life in general. In my most broken moments in life, I have attracted the most broken, unstable, predatory, ill-intentioned people. In my strongest, most positive life moments, I’ve attracted the strongest, most positive, stable, well-intentioned people. For whatever reason, hard times can bring the worst people into one’s life.

This is something everyone, especially women, need to be aware of. When one is going through something hard, not coping well, making poor life choices because of the pain, and is easily seen as not having his or her stuff together in life, the creeps will come out of the woodwork, I promise. The predators will come out to hunt you down and they can smell you from a mile away. So in your low moments, guard your heart, because it matters.

While I personally am not a fan of casual sex, my friend is, as are many other people in our society. That’s okay, we’re grown-ups and you’re allowed to make your own choices. But, please be aware. Make sure that you’re not making that choice to fill a broken piece of your heart, because I can assure you that afterwards, that hole you’re trying to fill will not only still not be filled, it’ll likely be bigger. If you’re seeking a partner for casual fun, that’s totally your choice, but remember, the weak hunt the wounded.

 

Stay safe, my friends.

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I Lost Him, But I Found Me

When he first told me he was leaving, I was understandably devastated. I couldn’t believe it and was in total shock. It hurt deeply and every day since has hurt. I didn’t think I could live without him. But (and it’s a really big but), I’m doing it! I’m healing a little one day at a time. Where my heart has been pained, I see it sting a little less every day. Where I once couldn’t imagine life without him, I’m getting used to the idea of it. Where I thought I couldn’t be happy without him, I woke up happy today. I wanna cheer! I want to get up and do a happy dance because I didn’t feel strong initially and it took me only a short time to be able to see that I am indeed strong.

You see, I felt like when I was losing him, I was losing me too. Who am I without him? Who am I as just Niki, and not B’s girlfriend? How and what is my life by myself? You know what though? I’m still losing him, but I’m actually finding me! I can’t emphasize this point enough, but keep reading because I’m going to tell y’all how.

So since this all started, I’ve been talking to a few friends about my heartache. One day, one said, “You know what helps? Running.”

I laughed it off and said, “Have you ever seen a picture of me? I’m not going running.”

He assured me, anyone can do it. He gave me the name of an app that even beginners can do. I downloaded the app but then left it for days without doing anything about it. I was being swallowed up by my hurts and just didn’t care about starting. That was on top of my normal issues that get in the way of exercise (especially something hard on my joints). I struggle with chronic pain, I have a busy life, and let’s face it, I’m just really good at making excuses. The idea stayed in the back of my mind though. I even mentioned it to one of my dearest girlfriends (who happens to LOVE fitness and exercise). So on Saturday morning, when I texted her about the anxiety that seems to come in waves right now, she immediately followed up with telling me to get my tennis shoes on and get my booty outside. She told me to use it as fuel, to go until I can’t breathe, and put all of that negative energy to use. So you know what I did? I put on my tennis shoes! She offered to put her kids in a jogging stroller and go with me, so that’s what we did. It may not seem like much, and I definitely didn’t start with jogging, but we power walked 2 miles with much of it being uphill. When we got back, I literally had sweat running. Wanna know something else? It felt so good!!

I kept myself fairly busy the rest of the day and tried to focus on anything other than letting my brain go into overdrive about what I can’t change. I had a planned date on Saturday night with another girlfriend and was happy to get out and do that. Unfortunately, that meant not getting much sleep, and the sleep I did get was poor. But you know what I did when I woke up Sunday morning and could feel sadness and loneliness seeping in? Yep, you guessed it! I put on my tennis shoes! Without my friend this time, I took the dogs around the block, dropped them back off at home, and then did that same 2 mile loop. I pushed myself hard. I got home again covered in sweat and feeling on top of the world.

I went inside and went to get in the shower and paused to look in the mirror. I looked at how red my face was and how my hair was wet from sweat. I looked at my deflating belly that is already noticeably smaller with my breakup weight loss. I stood there and appreciated myself for the first time in I can’t even tell y’all how long. I saw beauty in my face where I’d forgotten it was once there. I saw attractiveness in my body where for several months I’d just been able to see fat. Where my self-esteem had once plummeted dangerously low, I saw and felt my worth for the first time looking in the mirror that day.

In this recent heartache, I’ve had more time on my hands. I’m not rushing anything to spend time with a partner, so I have time to focus. I’ve started lovingly taken care of myself. I take great care in the little things that I’ve previously not done as often or done hastily. I’m taking the time to shave my legs with care, to take good care of my feet, brushing my teeth, washing my body, moisturizing my face, lotioning my skin. Most of these things are obviously things I was doing, but doing them now is different. It’s with love and affection for myself. It’s done slowly and well. All of this is with new exercise and good water intake. I’m not consuming soda (okay, well except for that night out drinking hehe). I’m not consuming junk food. My initial weight loss was from stress, but hey, since it’s started, now I’m going to take it and run with it (literally as I haven’t yet started to actually jog, but I promise, I’m getting there). I deserve to be well cared for and there’s no one better to do it than me.

I lost him, but it’s giving me the chance to find me and make the changes that should have been made a long time ago. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m dedicated to this new self-care thing. It’s about time that I seek no love but my own. So hello, me, I’ve missed you.

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I Am Strong

Every day is hard right now. There’s nothing to fix it except to just keep feeling it all until it stings less and to develop a new routine and norm. I’m so used to my days starting with his kiss, to coming home to his goofy grin and humor, to sleeping cuddled close. Now I wake alone, I sleep alone, I live life alone. I love my children to pieces, but they can’t fulfill the “need” of having an adult in my life. I know with all that I am that I will get through this without crumbling, but I also know it’s not easy. I have no idea when I’ll stop feeling extreme anxiety in the afternoons. I have no idea when I’ll stop aching for his touch at night. I have no idea when it will stop being uncomfortable to be at home. I just know that eventually all those things will happen. There’s peace in that knowledge too. This is not the first time in my life I’ve experienced heartache. It’s not even the worst heartache I’ve ever endured (though it’s the worst in a really long time). I know I’m going to be okay though because I’m already experiencing moments where I feel at peace and have less moments filled with sorrow. At this point, the scariest part is the finances and not being sure if my employer is going to be able to help (which miraculously is a possibility) or if I’ll have to get a second job. Whatever that solution is, there will still be so much more peace once I have it figured out. Knowing that the financial aspect is the most worrisome part is also a giver of peace. I’ve grown to start disliking the phrase about being a strong woman, but it’s totally true. I am strong.  And at some point, my strong, cute ass will look back on all this and smile at the lessons learned and where this will take me. This doesn’t break me. I am not broken. No one has that power. I. Am. Strong.

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