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.

My my my my my sensi-shoes.

Yesterday I talked about being brave, and how it took me quite a while to realize it’s actually part of who I am. In contrast, I have always known I was sensitive. Despite my love of colorful language and screaming along with power ballads, I’m just a little baby duckling in women’s clothing (alright, angsty teenage nerd clothing. Whatever.). I was in high school before I mastered being able to read aloud without crying. The word “retard” causes me physical pain. (I WANT TO DELETE THAT SENTENCE SO BAD.) I lose my shizz over The Notebook every single time I watch it.

Even if I hadn’t caught on myself, I’ve been told numerous times. I’m pretty sure it’s come up at least once with everyone I’ve dated. Sometimes it’s in an, “awww, the poor wittle duckwing” kind of way. But usually, it’s accompanied by a speech on how this makes me a useless human.

That’s the thing about being strong AND sensitive, though. I know when to do which, how to be comfortable in my own skin, and when to just tell people to go fuck themselves. My sensitivity is one of my greatest strengths. It allows me to connect to people. Feeling someone’s pain is a great motivator. It keeps me fighting when I want to give up. Because whatever is hurting me, is hurting someone else, too. Though I try not to cross over into full blown martyrdom, I’ll do whatever I can not to see someone hurt.

It also helps me find something to relate to, even with people I disagree with. Remember that they’re human, too. While I do have my limits and will indeed tell someone to kiss my shiny metal ass, it’s not right off the bat (usually. These fucking Trump supporters are testing me, though.). For the most part, I can have reasonable, respectful conversations with people on opposite sides of the topic.

However, there was a brief time that I wasn’t this way. My “freeze” instinct had fully taken over, and for months, nothing bothered me. Nothing made me happy, either. I was completely numb. Not like “Oh, I’m just a little off today”. More like, “I’m not completely convinced I’m actually a real person anymore, and should probably be put on a watch list.” I cannot describe to you how incredibly terrifying that was. Partly because I’ve blocked a lot of it out. But I can tell you for 100% certainty that given the choice, (which I was! So… really. 100%) I will take being a sensi-shoe wearing crybaby any day of the week.

There’s a lot of talk of the world becoming too sensitive nowadays. We’re not. We’re becoming more human. More empathetic. More compassionate. Microaggressions are a thing. Casual racism is a thing. Rape culture, victim blaming, white privilege, rampant misogyny… all things. They all need paid attention to, and stopped. Because we’re all people deserving of respect. Even if you don’t get offended by the same things, it’s not unreasonable to ask that you understand that someone else does. Then, take it a step further and stop whatever it is. Prevent it from happening again. Stand up against it. Care for one another. We’re all in this together, end of story.

If you need any pointers, I’m happy to help. Or to watch The Notebook with you. I can’t help it (nor would I want to), I just fucking love that shit.

 

I’m only brave when I have to be.

The first time someone told me they admired my strength, I was 15. It was after the communion service at church camp, which was always a moving ceremony. This year, the planning team had us stand silently on a hill, with our arms spread wide, eyes closed, as they wandered around “spitting” on us (they really just flicked water on our foreheads and made the noise simultaneously) and calling us names. The point was to get a new perspective on the crucifixion, and it had quite the impact on me. One of the planning crew, an upperclassman, came up to me afterwards and told me that she was moved by how I stood there, perfectly still, tears running down my face. “You weren’t ashamed,” she said. “You didn’t try to hide that you were crying, and you never made a sound. You just stood there, head held high. You’re so strong.” I was still trying to overcome my shock that she knew my name, finally managed to smile and thank her quickly before scurrying away.

When other people told me as I got older, I usually assumed they were talking about someone else. I didn’t correct them, I just smiled appreciatively while trying to remember who I was next to in whatever situation they were citing that they might have me confused with. I’m not strong. I don’t save the day, I’m not a hero, I’ve never pulled a car off someone or saved them from an oncoming train. I don’t stand up for myself often, I don’t have unwavering morals that I will die defending, I can’t even tell you where I want to fucking eat most of the time. I’m just… me.

Then, a line in a song* broke through my stubborn wall of self-depreciating thoughts. “Tell me how do broken hearts get strong?” The first time I heard it, I immediately thought, “You just go on.” Wait… I know an answer to this? But… so that means… I am… strong?

Holy fuckballs.

Maybe being strong isn’t about how much you can carry, or being the bravest. Maybe it’s about continuing, when you really don’t want to. Or recognizing when it’s better to scrap it and try a new path, even when that thought is more terrifying than staying. It’s just… going. Slowly, sometimes, and usually with a bit of fear. But still. Going. Doing. Carrying on.

It doesn’t mean suffering in silence, either. Though that image is what started this whole bit of self-discovery, I’ve since learned that it’s even tougher to ask for help than it is to silently bear my crosses. In this lesson, tougher usually seems to equate to more worthwhile. Though it’s true that I’m hardly ever silent, I’m not always saying things that have a lot of meaning. That opens a person up to being vulnerable. As it turns out though, I already was. When I stand up and say what I mean, no matter the consequences, I have more control over just how vulnerable.

My son was having an issue with school a couple weeks ago. When we began talking about what he needed to do to fix it, he started shutting down and I could see him telling himself he couldn’t do this, that he wasn’t capable.

“Hey,” I told him, “this is going to suck, probably, but you can do it. Know how I know? Because you’re strong. Even when you don’t want to, you keep going. You do what has to be done, and you always come through the other side. Know why I can see it? Because I’m strong, too. This is who we are.”

I might not rush into a burning building anytime soon. I can’t lift things over 9 pounds over my head. I’m not heading up any committees to actively change the world, and I probably won’t be giving any noteworthy speeches in a town square in the near future. But I will keep going. I know I’ll make it. Because this once broken heart has made it through every single thing life has thrown so far, and there’s no way we’re stopping now.

 

 

 

 

 

*For anyone wondering, the song is “Drink You Gone” off Ingrid Michaelson’s newest album, It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense. It’s a lovely song… other than the line “… just like you ate my heart out.” which makes me slightly uncomfortable. But that’s a me thing. Contextually, the line makes perfect sense.

Week One of Red-Lipped Activism

I wasn’t always this person. In fact, last year I wasn’t even this person. Speaking up, especially on topics that run the risk of making anyone anywhere the slightest bit uncomfortable, is not my thing. Or wasn’t, anyway. It seems it just might be, now.

I can’t say exactly what the straw was that broke this little camel’s back was, but I know there were quite a few of them piled on there. Until one day, I said, “Fuck this shit.” and did something about it. It wasn’t instant leadership skills and activism know-how from there, I still feel like I do very little. But it’s better than nothing. It’s not just scared silence, as I had been previously excelling at. (Just on touchy subjects, that is. Still thought-sluttin’ it up about everyday bullshit on the regular.)

That unwillingness to remain silent and bear my shame, paired with a hatred for controlling, manipulative, narcissistic douchebaggery is how I came to find myself toting around no less than 4 tubes of lipstick for the past week. I have remembered to wear it every day, and try to make sure it’s fresh and fiery before going out into public. I mean, I wear it around the house too, but as far as that whole conversation starter aspect goes, it’s far less successful there.

My son and I did discuss why I was wearing it the first day, however. He was telling me how they were watching a video in class about a guy who had been bullied and tormented in school because he was gay. The principal had told him he should’ve expected it, because he acted so flamboyantly. My tiny little optimist was shocked that this would be something one human says to another. I told him this also happens to sexual assault victims frequently. They are blamed for bringing it on themselves because of what they were wearing, where they were, or how many drinks they’d had. After a bit of stunned silence, he said, “Mom. If I ever hear anyone say something that stupid to someone that’s been hurt, I will punch them right in the face.” I told him we don’t use violence if at all possible, but inside, deep in my little Mom heart that’s only concern is the well-being of my precious little homespun star, I danced around like nobody’s business. Then I told him I’d break my own rule if he ever violated anyone’s personal boundaries in such a way. Dude, I’m doing the best I can, consistency isn’t something I’ve started advocating for yet. Gimme a minute.

I’ve had a few more opportunities to say my piece. It gets a little easier every time, but it’s still difficult. I still hate making people uncomfortable.

Just judging from the looks I’ve received alone (it’s noticeable when most anyone wears bright red lipstick. I have rather full lips, so it’s even harder to miss.) it seems to make women far more uneasy than men. They don’t often comment, but they do glare, shake their heads, cringe, look me up and down with raised eyebrows, and make little “tsk” noises if my son is with me. I try to smile back. A genuine, real smile. Because I get it. There was a time, when I was lugging around my straws in silence, that I did the same. “What is she trying to prove?” I’d think. “Poor little slut, just needs attention from wherever she can get it.” Why? Because I was angry. The few times I’d tried to find my voice and speak up about the terrible things that had happened, nobody had listened. The adults, the people I trusted most, had ignored me, or turned it back on me. And I believed them.

I’m the adult now, and I’ve learned a thing or two getting here. I won’t be ignored. I’ll be here, red lips blazing, eyes straight ahead, fighting for all of us to have our voices heard. Because seriously. Fuck this shit.

 

 

Red My Lips, take two.

Tomorrow is the first day of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I know you just inwardly groaned, it’s ok. This is uncomfortable. But that’s why it’s a thing, it has to be talked about. Has to.

I participated in the Red My Lips campaign for the last week of the month last year, and I’m excited to do so for the entire month this year. Here’s how it works: you wear red lipstick every day for the whole month. That’s it. Well, almost, anyway. Then, when someone mentions it, you use that moment to tell them you’re wearing it both as a show of solidarity to those who have been victims of abuse, and to get the word out that we have to change the way we look at these things in general.

When I did this last year, a woman I work with commented on it. I told her I was raising awareness, and after a bit of talking, she told me to make sure “not to wear a short skirt with it or anything like that”. This is the EXACT thing that needs to change. This woman isn’t a violent monster, nor is she completely uneducated. But she is part of this society that would rather not talk about this issue at all, and uncomfortably shift blame onto those already suffering when they do. It’s become the norm to question a victim’s story, to make them justify every action they took, and to then tell them how they somehow brought this on themselves.

That. It has to end.

There is nothing a person wears  (or doesn’t wear) that makes it alright for anyone else to touch them without their consent. There is not an hour after which all women walking alone are up for grabs. There is not a number of drinks past which the person drinking them cannot blame anyone else for taking advantage of them in their inebriated state. Victims of sexual assault are never asking for it. Ever.

Last year, excited as I was to stand up and fight for something I believe in so much, I hated almost every minute of it. I didn’t wear lipstick ever, then. Especially not red. It’s seen as sexual, racy, flamboyant… all those things I try to minimize in my own self (which is the exact reason it’s the symbol of this campaign). Though I’m not trying to be invisible by any means, being seen in that particular light is not something I’m comfortable with. I’m good with being the funny one. The awkward one. I’m not the sexy one. It’s probably not a huge mystery as to why; I once believed being assaulted was my fault, too. Even once I accepted that there is no “asking for it” (unless you’re literally saying the fucking words) I still thought if I kept from prettying myself up too much, I would be safer. I knew in the logical part of my brain that was complete crap, but that part isn’t always in use. The first day I wore it last year, I spent most of it looking over my shoulder, jumping at loud noises, and on the verge of tears. Because of lipstick.

I refuse to live my life that way. I refuse to let anyone else, if there’s a way I can help it. So I’ll bring up the uncomfortable, I’ll believe you when you tell me your story, and I’ll do everything I can to change the stigma that rape and assault are just things that happen to sluts who aren’t careful. Also, I talk to my son frequently, about boundaries, consent and choices. That might be the most uncomfortable part of all, but it’s also the most important. As men are most often the abusers, I’ll be fucking damned if my child is going to grow up thinking another person’s body is something he’s entitled to.

If you’d like to read more on this, by someone who explains it much better, you definitely should.

Spread the word, and get that lipstick ready.