Thursday, October 19, 2017

#metoo

Today I sat with a woman, forty-some-odd years my elder, and heard her story.  A story even her late husband never knew. A story rooted in immense shame carried both deep within her and on her sleeve.  With tears laying low in her eyes she begins by telling me how touched she has been by the media stories of #metoo.  Then, almost abruptly, she laughed a bit, adding that 'it's about time'. Continuing, she dryly explained to me how no woman up spoke "in her day".
Silence sits between us for a minute as she wrangles with what, and how much of her story she should tell.  As her friend, I listen to her silence. Then I hear her words, words about a man, the president of a large company she worked for, abusing her repeatedly, forcefully kissing her in an elevator, the brief descent dominated by his agenda and her fear.
Stories began to piggy back each other. The next, of Christmas gifts given to female workers year after year, but given only to the ones who kissed the boss.  An instance she witnessed a co-worker being yanked behind the door of his office, and the "of course" scoff she received from the other co-worker whom she asked "has he ever come on to you?"  That was the reaction of the only person she ever dared to ask, and until now the only person she dared to tell.  Another scene was set on the street corner where an artist asked her to lunch.  A lunch where The Artist used all of his persuasion, aside from brute force, to take her back to his hotel.  I watched her as I listened, seeing her mull over all the other times, one leading to another in her head, as she combed through them all.
Then, a tear fell.  Only one, quickly wiped away, and immediately followed by; "I was so dumb.  So young."
After saying the only response I knew to say: "I am so sorry you had to go through all of that", she explained that "that's just the way it was, we were all afraid to talk, we were afraid they would take everything away from us."
I hugged her.
I hugged the most independent, outspoken, and self reliant woman I've ever known, and she let me.

When so many brave people posted #metoo, I didn't.
I felt undeserving.  Although I hadn't yet heard her story, I felt that I was undeserving of #metoo because I never had it 'as bad as she did'. After all, she deserves to say that statement, to feel the connection and community of all the others that deserved the same, the ones who also had it 'that bad.'
Not me.
But, that's not true.  That is simply a perpetuation of the cultural and world wide problem of sexism and abuse that exists.  I, because of my conditioning, don't immediately see the truth that was sexual harassment for me.  That 'friend' who reached his hand up my skirt uninvited, the young man that forced himself inside my car and inches from my face demanding I kiss him, the countless lewd comments thrown my way in countless situations, the seemingly unintended advances, all of those things deserve my #metoo, because they are all wrong, and demeaning, and discriminatory, and vulgar, hurtful, egotistical, and belittling. I am so very thankful that I didn't 'have it worse', but I was indeed missing the point.  The point is that there is such a deep injustice against women, and one that so deeply needs a voice, many voices from all stories, to speak up and out against it. 
My generation; two removed from hers, has made progress.  Progress because of the brave women who stood and spoke and fought before me.  I am so thankful for those women and for the women now who are moving forward and outward. And to all of the women, and minorities, and bullied, and abused, lets keep speaking up and out.  Lets see what we can do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

words

my husband and i joke about my exorbitant knowledge of song lyrics.  in all honesty, i do often catch myself off guard with my accurate sing-a-long ability.
 'how do i know these words'?
 'where did that come from'?

 i have spent the last few years discovering things about myself which have always made up my being yet have never been acknowledged, by me.  and... let me just say how liberating it is.  my process has been little by little, and the overwhelming feelings that the word liberating evokes isn't necessarily what i have experienced but, little by little, i am being freed.  i am becoming me.  i am acknowledging my love of words.  the written word. the verbalized word.  the words so beautifully interpreted in song.
here is a song that resonates within me.  it is a song in which the lyrics have repeated in my mind regularly for a while now.
i recently shared it with a friend.  not only to have her hear it but to remind her that she too isn't alone.
it is beauty, and truth, for me.
and thank God for words.  the words that connect us.  the one's that touch us and shed light on what we can't yet see.

https://youtu.be/Wl_eNu4NUVI


It really breaks my heart
To see a dear old friend
Go down in the worn old place again

Do you know the sound
Of a closing door?
Have you heard that sound somewhere before?

Do you wonder if she knows you anymore?

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

Where did you learn to walk?
Where did you learn to run?
Away from everything you love

Did you think the bottle
Would ever ease your pain?
Did you think that love’s a foolish game?

Did you find someone else to take the blame?

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

I am a sturdy soul
And there ain't no shame 
In lying down in the bed you've made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay 

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye 
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye


you can dance in a hurricane but only if you're standing in the eye.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dear Diceman

Dear Diceman,
There are many things, and many someones that "saved" me during my "darkest hour."  Least of which is you.
Diceman house, if you only knew.
The walls you provided for me gave me more than a home.  You, my friend, were my safe place. Within your walls I learned to be a mother.  I learned to be a mother on my own. Within your walls I experienced loneliness like I've never imagined.  Yet, those same walls provided me peace, and joy and independence I never thought was possible.
I can remember those first nights we had together.
Those nights I will never forget.
I would venture, as far as my baby monitor would allow, and sit myself  in the middle of your yard, searching for my independence, watching stars, finding my place. I was trying to gain some sense of clarity within my chaos. Then after hours out there alone, I would collapse within your walls, and slide myself under the covers in her room, not mine.
But, those sessions grew shorter, my room became my haven, and I found myself busy creating a home.
Addy and I grew up. By trial and error we learned.  The greatest and worst of times were captured within you.  But, I will choose to remember the good; the good I learned from the greatest and the worst of times, within your walls.
Dear Diceman, I thank you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

unjustified

I've been waiting for the bottom to fall out.
No, to say that I've been thinking that all was going to 'hell in a hand basket' any day now is false.  In fact, I know things are good for me right now.  Things are great for us right now.  But I've realized that somewhere in my mind I've been anticipating the fall.  The destruction.  As backwards as it may sound, I entered into a relationship with the mentality that "if all does go to hell then I will survive."  So, as much as I've denied it, to myself, I've been anticipating the destruction of all that is good, for me.

Here's what I've learned:
I got married far to young, for me.  I had no idea who I was or what my purpose was on this earth. But, I loved.  And, I loved hard.  That is what I knew how to do, and that's what I was good at.  I married a man who would seemingly move mountains for me, and I was as guilty as anyone of believing that.  We had our troubles. Many of them.  Hell, we dated 5 years before we were married, and  I "knew" him inside and out, but didn't.
Then, there was this one day.
And, everything changed.
I will never forget that day.
To be completely honest, in hindsight, it wasn't that one day, it was many days  before.
But there was this one day that I discovered the unthinkable.
He had lied.
He had been continuously lying to my family.
He had been continuously lying to me.
He was an addict.
He was a thief.
One day.
Never did I know he was taking pills.  Never did I know he was sneaking into my parents house to slowly steal, one by one, every piece of my mother's jewelry.  Never did I know that he was leaving the office and landing at the pawn shop with yet another of our family business' piece of equipment.

I believed him.
I believed what he said.
The excuses he made were my normal.  They were what I believed.

I said vows to this man, before God and everyone that could hear me.
I meant them.
I tried to hold them true.
And, I was defeated.
I don't think I've let myself realize the destruction that he caused, in it's full magnitude.  I have been more prideful in the survival than realizing the damage.
But, I did survive.  As many people do.  I kept on going, and by God, I was rewarded.
I have the most amazing daughter that I get the privilege of spending every day, and every tantrum, with.
A man has come into my life and given me the space to discover myself while supporting my every move.  A man that has shown me what love can be.
And, I have my family who have shown, by example, what it means to be a family.  They have shown me what it means to love, and what it means to be a parent, and sister, and brother in law, and grandparent, and aunt and uncle.
Because of that I survived.
And, because of her, and them, and my effort, I will continue to survive, and grow, and learn.
I was a fool to think that his actions would be forgotten.  They will always be in the fabric that makes me, and the fabric that makes my daughter.
But, I am a fool to think that that fabric will define me, or her.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

motherhood : loneliness


I recently read an article published by the huffington post titled "The Bittersweet Loneliness of Motherhood".  It was one of those reads in which I didn't totally connect to at the time, yet words from it keep resonating in my mind frequently. 
Motherhood is lonely.
Kate Rope describes it like this:  "It is great, and wonderful, and fulfilling, but it is also lonely.
I feel alone because by deciding to have a child I took on ultimate responsibility for another human being, and that means I no longer have the luxury (or was it the illusion?) of letting somebody else be in charge -- my parents, my husband, a group of good friends on a girls' weekend away." 
Personally, I have experienced those twinges of jealousy as my friends, most of which haven't had children yet, post pictures of Thursday night happy hours or Friday night get togethers.  There is a second, or 15, where I think 'man I wish I could go' or 'no one invited me'.  But then she beckons my attention and all is forgotten, and ultimately I am reminded that my place is here, with her. 
Kate goes on to write: "At the end of every day, when I crawl into bed next to my husband, there is a part of me that stays alert, a little part I save just for my daughters in case they need it -- a tiny, stoic sentry who never sleeps and guards her post alone."  And how true her words.  I am a single mother, who does not crawl in bed next to a husband every night, and feels every bit, if not more, of that responsibility and loneliness.  I often feel like I need to explain to others how hard this job is.  I catch myself holding back from attempting to verbalize the rollercoaster of emotions, and stress, and concern, and joy, and relief I feel every single day.  And I do so because, quite frankly, no one would understand, and my words would not do any of it justice. 
There is the loneliness. 
Strangely, I know other (or all other) moms understand what I go through, but I don't hear them talk about it so my mouth says shut too. I even catch myself wondering if I have become a different sort of un-relatable breed, as crazy as that may sound.
And, there is an element of single motherhood in my loneliness as well.  I feel guilty even saying that, as I have an amazing family and caring boyfriend that help me more than I can say, but I do believe that there is a separate loneliness to not crawling in bed next to a husband every night. And although I do have a partner, and a great one; she is two. There must be some comfort in knowing that one other adult human being's main concern is supporting you and your child in some way, everyday.  In my opinion, there is another layer to it all when you are the one who goes to bed with the days events and worry, alone.  That being said, I can't not acknowledge how great my two year old partner is, and how I couldn't, nor wouldn't want to, imagine my life without her.

Kate sums up her article saying: 
"Already I have failed in some ways and excelled in others. And doing both has taught me that I can learn, get better, and survive the trials. I now know that what seems like a crisis today may be something I laugh at next week, that being perfect is impossible and that even my parents, who made my world feel so safe growing up, were winging it themselves much of the time.
And I have discovered that feeling alone at times is a small price to pay for the experience of bringing another person into your life and growing up together.
I wouldn't trade it. It feels like a transition my mind and body were meant to make, a threshold we were evolutionarily destined to cross. I wouldn't step back across it to the carefree, cared-for times before. OK, maybe I would for a day or a week. But I wouldn't stay."
And with that she said exactly what motherhood is to me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Speak

He called tonight.
I shut the door without seeing him to the car as I do every other night, and because of that he called. He makes me speak.  No, he asks me to speak.  My nature, my past, has taught me, rather groomed me, not to speak.  Upon my own accord, or lack of, I never gave voice to my feelings, nor my independence. My past encouraged silence: to shut a door.  He acknoldges that and gives room for that.  Frustrated, he left, with the door closed abruptly behind him. He thought about it, attempted to put himself in my shoes, and called.  He talked.  I talked.  He loves me.  I love him. 
I have never before felt able or welcomed to talk. 'Tough or uncomfortable situations are made for fixing, not talking about.'  I have always stifled feelings to accommodate others, or to fix others.
It is crazy, but true: I have someone in my life that is by my side, all the while pushing me forward and letting me grow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the compliment

The other day I received the greatest compliment I've ever received. 
I was told that "I look taller".
Laugh if you must,
I did.
Being a staggering 5'2", with good shoes, there are bound to be countless other adjectives that can be used to describe me at any given time.
So, let me tell you the story.
I was running late, as I usually am.  Got on the elevator, pressed 5.  Entered suite 520 and immediately offered my "sorry I'm late" apology.  She knows, asked me in and we sat, as we have week after week for more than a year and a half now.  I on a dated and neutral couch, tissues on one side and a curled up pup on the other.  She across from me in her rolling desk chair, shoes removed, holding her Tupperware and eating the lunch she's presumably tried to finish multiple times before my arrival.  Although this set up is very routine, the past few weeks have seemed different; more causal; more comfortable; more at ease.  We've laughed more.  That is what I'd noticed.  I didn't pay much mind to the decrease in tears, as they are still present, but I had been noticing the laughter.  I sat, and smiled.  She asked me how I was.  I responded, as I always do, with I'm good. Then, following a moment of silence, she said I looked taller.  I furrowed my brow and laughed. 
"What?"
"I've noticed lately that you seem taller." 
"What?"
'I've just noticed lately that you have come in with a presence, and peace, and confidence, that I haven't seen in you before, and it is something I've wanted for you.  You should be proud."

I started going to counseling shortly after I realized my marriage was over.  I can distinctly remember the phone call I made to my sister, it was a text actually, and it was a difficult one.  My mind was reeling, my emotions were reeling, my family was falling apart, and the absolute only thing I was sure of was that I need help; professional help.  My sisters recommendation, from her friend, was a Godsend. 
Talking to a therapist has been such a bizarre, and amazing experience.  Looking back, I am pretty sure the first six months of talking to her consisted of silence between sobbing. But, she let me experience it.  In fact, I can't tell you what she did, what psychological tactics she used, nor any grand words of wisdom that made everything better for me.  I can, however, tell you that I look taller.  More importantly, I feel taller. 
I do not, nor will not, discredit myself, because I have put in a lot of work to better what is me, but I am so very grateful for her.  I am so very grateful for the overwhelming feeling God bestowed on me to get help. 
I am still such a work in progress, but I have made such progress...and because of that I stand a little taller.