Frogs, Penguins and Bears, oh my!

When my sister was a toddler, before I was on the scene at all, she would talk in different voices. My parents worried that something might be wrong with her, and thought briefly about getting her tested. But before they did, someone gave her a stuffed bear. An adorable little panda named Pammy.

Suddenly, Pammy started talking in one of the voices. Dr. Cuddly, a brown bear, started talking in another. There wasn’t anything wrong with her, (clearly I hadn’t been born yet, or I would’ve told them that) she just needed an outlet.

By the time I was old enough to talk in at least one squeaky voice of my own, I had quite the collection of stuffed animals. They all had names, and I was mother to the whole lot. They called my sister Aunt, as hers called me, and all of ours called our brother Dad (we were children. It made sense at the time). They slept on our beds, went on camping trips with us, watched movies, and occasionally became ammunition to huck at each other from behind our furniture bunkers. (They shrieked with joy the whole time, they loved flying.)

And, they were our voices.

Our animals (we hardly ever included the word “stuffed”. It seemed harsh.) said things we could not. They took risks that seemed too scary for our tiny bodies. My sister learned at a young age to steel herself from the world, to keep herself safe. Sometimes this was seen by other people as a poor attitude or general uncaring. But if you were worried about something, Pammy would always come out and cheer you up. Her pal Newberry would give you a hug. And Booberry, the third amigo, would come scare away whatever was troubling you. If that didn’t work, they’d send in Dr. Cuddly for a follow up.

My brother has been a giant most of his life. He reached 6′ before he got to middle school. And he’s the gentlest, kindest person I know. At a time when boys were told that becoming men meant being louder, meaner and tougher, he quietly disagreed. He often let people say what they wanted without arguing, because it made them happy. When I dreamed of having a big, scary brother that would threaten jerky ex-boyfriends, reality would set in and remind me that my big brother was much more likely to buy them food and ask about their family. But his gaggle of penguins, (usually Pengywinwin and Tacky) always came to check on us, pat us on the shoulder with a soft wing, and check the perimeter for threats before reminding us that we were loved, and to-bellying back to their room (it’s like tobagganing. But on your belly, because you’re a silly penguin).

My animals were brave. Goofy, like I was, but they said what they thought. They didn’t back down. And they loved everyone, boldly and without hesitation.

As we got older and moved apart, we talked to each other’s animals less and less. But we never got rid of them. When I visit my sister, three panda bears come out, shouting “Aunt Kris!!!” and give me hugs. The ringbearer in my brother’s wedding was a small penguin named Cookie. Sometimes I get texts that a lion (or a kidnapped turtle…) sends their regards. But mine don’t talk much anymore.

My favorites sat on my shelf in my room, but the other 500 or so stayed in plastic bags in my son’s room. They’d been cooped up in there for over 5 years. Part of it was that my second husband wouldn’t allow me to take them out. I refused to give them away, but they had to stay contained, and in the garage. Part of it was that I finally found my own voice.

When I realized earlier this year that these little animals had very literally saved each of us at some point, I shared this epiphany with my sister. “Sissa!” I said, “did you know that we used our animals to express the parts of us that we otherwise couldn’t have let the world see?” “Yes, of course I know”, she replied in her usual fashion. “Once, someone asked me when I was going to get rid of them, because I’m an adult. I told them never, because they are the only source of unconditional love I’ve ever known.” My heart broke right then. For the little girls we were, that were so scared. For the big brother that didn’t know how to keep us safe. And for these worn, faded, sweet wee animals who took on such an enormous job.

Last weekend I finally opened the bags and let mine out. I intended to give most of them away, but as I sorted through, I was overwhelmed by how much comfort they still give. What my sister had said came rushing back, and there was no way I could let them go. They had never let me down, I had to return the favor. I kept probably 200 of my original crew. And I talked to all of them.

I know my family is weird as shit. I know we were barely normal as kids, and just get stranger as adults. I know that now I’m the single chick who has a 3 foot tall stack of stuffed animals in the corner of her room, all looking at her, which doesn’t help the chances of finding someone to sleep in that room with me. People think it’s creepy. People still think we should get tested. And I give precisely zero fucks.

Rattles, Clodhopper and I don’t have time for judgement. We’ve got letters to write, to panda bears and penguins.

 

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Body of lies

Once, a few years ago, a friend posed a general question about what we identify as. Who we are. Moms? Professionals? Friends? Artists? What group did we belong in?

I still haven’t come up with an answer. Even with things I KNOW I am (like a mom. I have some pretty solid evidence that’s a part of my identity) I never feel right saying it, I feel like an imposter. There are better moms, more knowledgeable professionals, friendlier friends, and I’m just not an artist in any light. While Imposter Syndrome isn’t a completely new idea, I recently made some ground in figuring out where mine comes from.

Who I am is tied into this physical body. And this body has never been mine.

I don’t remember a time when men didn’t make a comment about my body, in some way. Under the guise of harmless, crazy old men, they’d pat and pinch and I’d be told to give them hugs because they were my family. Family I didn’t really know, but someone knew them, probably, and I was taught I couldn’t say “no”. Ever.

My early childhood is now a collection of fun memories with my cousins and siblings coupled with images of being loomed over, yanked around, and screamed at. I suppose that’s normal for a lot of kids. But the standing in line at my dad’s recliner every night, waiting to receive our daily spankings, just in case we’d been bad… that’s not.

A husband of a family acquaintance told me how when I grew up, a man would stare longingly into my beautiful eyes and tell me how pretty I was, just like he was doing then. I was 11. He was in his 60s. I’d never met him before. But I had to be polite, so I didn’t tell anyone how uncomfortable it made me.

As the younger one, I got a lot of people asking me when I was going to “fill out” like my sister. We were 14 and 10. They were adults. They thought it was funny, so I laughed along with them, not understanding why this should matter to them. I still don’t, actually.

I got beat for putting the knives in the dishwasher upside down. I was also running my mouth, so it was just accepted that it was deserved. It’s still bragged about at family dinners, the time a giant man put me in my place. I was 17.

Finding out I was pregnant at 18 meant I had even less control of my own body. I was much more okay with the life inside changing the shape of it than I was the people I didn’t know feeling the need to preach to me about my choices. I didn’t say anything though, because I thought they were right. As much as I love my son, I thought I was wrong for having him, because that’s what the adults told me.

After my first divorce, I started hanging out with a bunch of friends from school, and their families. One night, all of us were standing around drinking, and I went up to hug my buddy’s dad. He put his arm around me, and then stuck his hand down the back of my pants, where it stayed for the next 10 minutes. I had danced at homecoming with his son. He was the same age as my dad. He was huge, though, and everyone loved him, so I just held very still until he wandered off.

When I was married the second time, my husband insisted that I fully belonged to him, and as well as being able to grab any part of me at any time, his advances in the bedroom were never to be rejected. I obliged, because it was easier than listening to him lecture and belittle me. He licked my fucking armpits. I hated it, but I never said a word. Criticism was not an accepted part of my wifely duties.

I went on a date with a guy last year, and he said, “I’m surprised you didn’t wear a shirt that shows a little more cleavage.” At first, I felt like I had done something wrong. Because I’m just here to be accommodating, right? Then, I realized I don’t have any shirts that show cleavage. They embarrass me, and I don’t feel right in them. Because of my dad. Not because he is protective of me, because he stares. He hugs extra when I wear them. He finds reasons to reach across the table to grab something on the other side of me. It was worse when I lived with him. But nobody believed me, because he remodels bathrooms for free and always works on our cars without complaining. So I stopped telling them.

There’s more. Too many more. They vary in severity, but they all share a common thread of men saying and doing what they want without any thought to the fact that this body is mine, and not theirs. Sometimes I said it, but they didn’t listen. Sometimes I waited, silently, until they went away. The only thing I could do to protect whatever I had left, was to detach myself.

I hate this body. It’s only pain for me. I don’t see it as strong, or attractive. It is too much and too little all at once. Too noticeable to be safe in, not good enough to not be passed over for the next one that comes along. But, being detached has kept me safe, in a way. Although I don’t really take care of it (because if I make it better, won’t that make it worse?) I won’t hurt it, either. Even on my worst day. Because it’s not really mine to hurt.

But tomorrow. Tomorrow.

I’m going to take the first step in reclaiming it. Telling my story helps, too. Neither one is going to be overruled by someone else anymore. I’m terrified. I’m sure it’s not going to go the way it should. But, either way, I know who I am. I’m a fierce and protective mom, a loyal friend, and I have a great amount of compassion for almost everyone. Also, when nobody is pissing me off and grabbing my ass without my permission, I’m kinda hilarious. And above all, I deserve respect. My own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side note, I will never hurt my body intentionally in any way, in case you’re worried. I hope you don’t either. But if you feel like you could, or are having other harmful thoughts, please talk to someone. Me, a friend, or the people at this number: 1-800-273-8255

 

 

The laundry is definitely not getting put away this week.

I’ve started watching a new show. I’d call it my guilty pleasure, but fuck that. I’m tired of feeling guilty about everything. I enjoy Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, and I don’t care who knows it. I don’t watch it for anyone else, I watch it for me.

This has brought to light, among other things, how little I do simply because I want to. Whether it’s because I don’t know how others will react, or my anxiety is too much to handle, I just don’t. Or I didn’t, I guess. I’m getting much better at it.

Anyway, this show is not overly relateable to me at first glance. I’m not a rich author, living in California, sending my kids to a progressive charter school alongside Gwyneth Paltrow’s. I have zero housekeepers, and my friends and I don’t air kiss every time we see each other at the overly hipsterish coffee shop. Which is sort of part of the appeal, really. I’m not invested enough that watching is exhausting, but I can still find them amusing, and even empathize every once in a while.

Tonight, I felt restless. This happens a lot when I’m feeling a whole host of emotions, and my usual reaction is to do nothing. Pace, perhaps. Get angry at myself for doing nothing. Tell myself all the ways I’m failing, while I eat gluten-filled cookies straight out of the bag. Which is how I started off this evening. I then decided to drown it in socialite divorcee mom drama.

The last episode I watched involved the much younger boyfriend of the main character fully realizing he didn’t deserve her lying, cowardly ways and telling her so. He calls her out for choosing to go back to suffocating (in her marriage) than risking something that was in fact real with him. This was the moment where I leapt into the show, and became a part of the story. This, I know about.

And I’m over it.

What hurt me most about this recent breakup was that I was maybe more vulnerable than I ever have been. I was ready. I was open. I loved the person he first showed me, the person I thought he could be, without holding back. And I was wrong.

But I risked it. It was beautiful, for a moment, and it was real. He was too scared, and went back to what he knew. There was a time when I would’ve done anything for him, and I don’t regret that. It’s a testament to who I am, and what happened is not what I deserve.

I wasn’t wrong to be open, to be vulnerable, or to love. I’m still ready, in a big picture type of way. I know what I want, and I’m even more sure I’m capable of handling it when I find it.

This life is mine. I’m not going to feel guilty about it, let people shame me into being who they want me to be instead, or go along with things I don’t truly want to do just to keep the peace. That’s not living, and I want to live.

Maybe sometimes that looks like sitting on my couch, watching catty women with boob jobs gossip about who is cheating on who. I’ll be having the time of my fucking life.

 

 

Gonzo is the coolest, anyway

I have had the fear that I am too much for one person to love for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid. I come from a weird ass family, but even compared to them, I was different. I was louder, more emotional, goofier, and more openly defiant. There are numerous family pictures where everyone is looking like an oil painting, and I’m doing jazz hands. I was a Gonzo in a whole room of Sam the Eagles. Eventually, it wore on people. They got annoyed, and some of them left.

Being told that I’m a lot to handle in this last breakup wasn’t shocking. I expected it, probably from the moment we got together, really. It still hurt, though.

But only for a minute.

I know who I am. I’m still loud. I’m still emotional. I’m still a big ol’ fuckin weirdo. And I love it. I’m also so much more than that. I’m a good friend, great partner, and a wonderful mom. I’m a decent cook, adequate crafter, and great singer. I have no problem dorking about to make someone laugh, and despite not being able to talk to most strangers, I don’t actually embarrass very easily. I get super into shows and movies, and I make weird faces when I watch them. Actually, I make weird faces most all the time. I get all worked up about politics, and religion, and any sort of abuse. I use a lot of pretty creative swear words when discussing these topics, but will always listen to other points of view (well, except maybe with abuse. Fuck that.) I have trouble asking questions, or admitting that I need help. I’m super jumpy, and it makes me angry. I hate being tickled. But mostly, I love like crazy. When I care about you, I show it. I tell you. And I don’t give up on you.

I’ll only get better. This setback was a reminder that I’ve still got work to do here and there. Rather than whining about it, hoping my flaws fix themselves one day and/or sabotaging relationships because I’m too afraid to change, I’m just going to jump in there and do it.

I’m not too much. I’m different, but that doesn’t make me wrong. If a person doesn’t want to be part of that, it’s perfectly okay. I’m done wasting my time on people that can’t handle me. Because as it turns out, I don’t need handled at all. Loving me would’ve been just fine.

 

‘Cause I don’t want to fall in love, if you don’t want to try.

The previously referenced adorable boyfriend and I parted ways.

I thought I was going to make it through the day without crying. I felt strong, I hung out with people who love me… but nope. Made it to 3pm and randomly started blubbering about a dream I had. Yesterday I cried 3 times during The Muppets (that’s really only one time more than usual, though). It’s been 5 days of this. Anywhere from silently sobbing in the privacy of my own home, to sitting in the middle of a restaurant, wearing a crown and bawling. I have zero shame.

And really, that’s fine. It’s the mourning period. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to remind myself it’s all a part of the process, and I’m not crazy. Everyone cries during “The Rainbow Connection”, right?

I have to constantly be distracted, or I sit and go over every word, every gesture, wondering what I could’ve done differently. There were a few things. I didn’t trust him enough to be able to deal with all of me. So I crammed away anything that was less than supportive and agreeable, and tried to be this weird, fake thing I thought he wanted. Turns out he wanted a real person, and I’m not good at fake anyway. It was just frustrating and uncomfortable at times.

Not all the time, though. Usually, it was fun and cute. He was my friend. My go-to. My person.

But more than anything I did or didn’t do, his addiction won out. He chose it over me. And that hurts. I never tried to fix him, change him, or give him any ultimatums. I was just (genuinely) there for support. However, after coming to a point where the pain he caused meant he simply had to change for us to stay together, he chose not to.

There’s very little solace in the fact that he chose the addiction over himself, as well. I don’t want him to hurt. I don’t want him to self-destruct. I want him to be alright, to see the amazingness in himself that I saw. But it’s not up to me, and my opinion really doesn’t matter anymore.

People keep saying I dodged a bullet, I deserve better, that he was doing me a favor. At this moment, it just doesn’t feel that way. I didn’t dodge anything, I’m fucking crying over everything over here. And saying that he did me a favor ever-so-lightly implies that he was doing something other that just being a selfish coward. He doesn’t win any awards, he didn’t set me free, he chose shitty beer over a real live person who loved him, even when I saw the real, crappy parts.

I know, in the logical and rarely used part of my brain, that I deserve better. I deserve someone who fights for me the way I do for them. Who is just as supportive, and who I can be myself around without the constant fear of losing them (oh the irony). I get it. But I don’t want better, right now. I just want my fucking friend back.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll make it. If not, that’s fine too. I’ll keep trying.

I don’t even know what rhymes with “ukulele”.

Here we are, once again, in the midst of The Week of Awesome Decisions. Deciding things isn’t really my specialty, this is pretty known in my circle of friends. But once I decided to get married. That was May 22nd. That didn’t work out. Years later, I got proposed to, and I decided to say “yes”. That was on May 24th. The wedding was on May 26th. And look at me now, not married. See? Not my thing. (Also, to be clear, I’m not mad about the no longer married part. I’m just saying I have a shitty track record.)

I originally chose to try to celebrate this week by focusing on the good decisions I make. Or making small ones and taking a moment to bask in that glow (don’t judge me, you people that always know where you want to eat. Some of us need these tiny victories).

A while ago, I decided to actually deal with things, rather than continuing to cram them into a smaller-than-comfy space, and pretend they didn’t exist. While this sounds like a hoot, it means that while I do (and it takes a fucking long time) this shit is right on the surface. So there I am, minding my own business, when someone says something that sounds like “ukulele” and OH MY GOD THAT REMINDS ME OF THAT DOUCHEBAG I MARRIED. HE HAD ONE OF THOSE. I BOUGHT IT FOR HIM. HE WROTE ME A SONG WITH IT AND PLAYED IT WHILE HE PROPOSED. THAT WAS 4 YEARS AGO TODAY. GOD FUCKING DAMMIT WHY AM I ON THE FLOOR IN A BALL NOW? Except I’m really not in a ball on the floor (what a twist!) I’m sitting on the couch next to my adorable boyfriend, who has already suffered through too many “hey I was married to a psychopath once” stories. I want to pretend it doesn’t bother me, but that’s not who I am, and I don’t think that’s who we are, so I’m confused, and I just stare at him. Saying nothing.

It’s too much. I don’t know where to begin. Mostly because I don’t want to begin this fucking story again. It’s over. I want it to be done. But this week, man. This fucking week. How do I look at it and not feel like I’m unlovable? How do I not see that I am the common denominator in all of these failures? How do I not tell this sweet, loving, hilarious man on the couch to run far, far away?

I decide to just breathe. To give myself space to be hurt in. To remember that there was abuse, and that doesn’t just go away magically. That my story is mine, and if others are tired of hearing it, that’s fine, but I’m not going to be shamed into silence with myself, again.

I wanted to make this fun and upbeat. I wanted to stand tall and declare myself victorious over those decisions that previously haunted me. Maybe tomorrow. For now, I’m just going to sit on this couch, now by myself, wrapped in a scarf the adorable man left for me, and watch a sappy movie. And remember that I’m not just lovable, I’m already quite loved.

 

 

Rehashagram

I joined Instagram. I had held off for a long time, because I don’t want pictures of my food to be the sum of who I am. But my bestie recommended it (that’s a nice way of putting being told I had to get it right that second. But she’s my boo. That’s how we roll.) as a way to balance out all the terribleness happening in the world. Follow a bunch of adorable cat pages, and when the world seems hopeless, just hop over and gaze at their ridiculous floof until you can breathe again.

I’m happy to say that it works! I added a few hilarious meme generators to my followed list, and I find it’s a great mood changer! Kittens and sarcasm. Perfect.

I also follow a page dedicated to narcissistic sociopath awareness. I came across something they posted, was comforted by the relate-ability, and decided to add them to my feed. It’s not so much a comforting distraction, but it does help in a weird and uncomfortable way. Sometimes, I scroll past their posts without reading, because I just don’t feel like it, or they don’t particularly apply. But the last few days, every single one has been spot fucking on.

My take away from this is that the Anal-Dwelling Butt Ferret isn’t special. I mean, I knew this, but one of the things he prides himself most on is how unique he is. He’s eclectic and unexpected. Something to be in awe of. Except… nope. He’s just like every other douchecanoe on the the Bullshit River. Like they all graduated from the same course in Asshattery. It’s eerie.

The first one that really got me was this:

flirting

This happened constantly. If I wasn’t hearing stories about women from the past that had hit on him because they just couldn’t help themselves, I was hearing about the women he worked with, or my friends, or coworkers… they all wanted him. At least that’s the way he tells it. If I did think on my own that someone was flirting with him, he’d confirm it. He’d tell me how lewd they were being, how disrespectful to me, how angry I should get. Then, when I did, he’d tell me I was being insecure and dramatic. Also, no one was ever flirting with me. Because they could tell I belonged to him, and I was dressed frumpily.

Then, there was this one:

Hearts

Well really, it makes total sense. If all these dickwads are the same, it would reason that they all go for the same type of person. But again. He’s just so unoriginal!

Today, there was this:

3 years

We split up a month before our 3rd anniversary. And in the comments, there were a good amount of people who spent 3 years with the person of their nightmares. I’m sure there is some sort of formula at work that hasn’t been discovered yet, but it’s just weird.

It helps, though. There is comfort in knowing that I’m not alone, sure. But there’s really quite a bit in knowing he’s not, either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting a larger assclown population in the world, or in any way saying their abusive ways are helpful. I’m saying that knowing he’s so very unoriginal is… nice. He isn’t clever. He isn’t special. He’s a cookie-cutter, bitch ass little ferret.

As you can see, following this page also means I deal with thinking about him often, as well. But really, I already was. Stuff comes up all the time. It’s much easier to brush off nowadays. It doesn’t knock me down nearly as often. But sometimes it will. And that’s alright. Because there was also this one:

Not a victim

 

 

Also, in case you were wondering, I’ve posted zero pictures of my food. It’s all nerdy t-shirts and fancy socks.