The End of Lent

Today, as Easter, marks the end of Lent. This year, like most other years, I was did not make it the 40+ days without doing the thing I said I wouldn’t. It is funny to say that I just couldn’t go without dating, though. As if I just had this insatiable need to sit awkwardly at a restaurant and ask someone mundane questions about their siblings. But that wasn’t quite it. It just turned out to be the right time for things, and I had to decide if I wanted to go with that, or if I wanted to wait. Waiting just isn’t my thing, really. It was more than just my own shortcoming, though. Waiting for a bagel to toast is one thing. Waiting to start your life because you’re scared is another. I’m real tired of being scared.

I didn’t give up on the real goal though, and that was to really figure out what I bring to the table. What kind of partner I am. And also, be able to tell people where I want to fucking eat. (WHICH I DID! HA!) Now I get to put that into practice, and so far, it’s going well. There will be times it won’t. That doesn’t mean I’m failing, or I’m the worst, or whatever else, it just means I’m human. I always envision myself on this journey, with a clear beginning and end. At the end, everything is perfect. Everything is fixed, I’m whole, all that. But that’s not how this works. Nothing is ever perfect. And I’ve been whole this entire time.

Today is also April 1st, which marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Once again, I will be donning red lipstick all month in support. I still hate it. It’s still uncomfortable, it still brings me attention I’m not comfortable with, it still feels weird. But that’s why I keep doing it. This shit IS uncomfortable. It still needs attention brought to it, though. The #metoo movement was huge, and I’m so grateful. But there is still so far to go, which can’t be done if things are just shoved back under the rug where they’ve stayed for so long. I see those who are rolling their eyes and claiming this is just a trend. To them, I say, “do kindly fuck off”. It’s not a fad. It’s not the Newest Thing. It’s a real problem, and has been for… well basically since people started existing. Maybe we should change this shit up.

That’s pretty much it, just a little update. Still around, still ridiculous, still swearing profusely.

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Lent the good times roll

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. As a Methodist, we don’t really observe it the same way Catholics do. It’s not “required”, and if we do observe it, we can choose what to give up. Once I gave up Taco Bell, another year soda, and I even tried giving up swearing. I never made it a whole day. But I did try, for each of the 40 that are in the lenten season.

This year, I’m giving up dating.

There are many reasons why. First, it just isn’t going well. 2017 was not the year of the Mr. Kristina (that’s what I like to refer to my hypothetical future partner as. Because whoever they are, them finding that as hilarious as I do is key). My one official boyfriend for the year tried to cheat on me and suffocate me with a pillow in the same evening. Then dumped me because that was easier than dealing with his alcoholism. I then got ghosted by a grown-ass man in his 40s after dating for 2 1/2 months (if you don’t know what ghosting is, you’re probably a decent human! Or just fortunate. Either way, it’s when you just disappear, with no explanation, as if you’ve become a ghost and have blown away with the wind. Or something like that. It’s acceptable, not great but kind of understandable, after a date or two. More than that, and it’s just plain cowardice). I also went out with a whole bucket of creeps, from dudes who wrote sonnets about my left eye to those who felt like decidedly not raping someone was worth bragging about. There was also The Date I Don’t Talk About. Sometimes referred to as The Real, Real Bad Date. But I’ve said too much already. There were a few good dates in there, too, but most of those ended up in just a weird state of limbo, and after a while of having no idea what was going on, we just wandered away.

Also, I’ve lost focus on my own self. Personal growth is exhausting, just like regular growth. I rest a lot. When I’m not resting (or, ya know, working and doing normal adulty mom things) I distract myself from the hard stuff by scouring dating sites and attempting to use my wit and charm to lure Mr. Kristina in via text. I haven’t taken interest in my own hobbies for quite some time. I’d like to remedy that.

I also need to figure out what type of partner I am, as well as what I want in one. Since I have the tendency to just morph into what I think the other person wants me to be, I need to do that without outside influence for a bit.

I chose to do this during Lent because my faith has also taken a hit lately. It’s something I keep to myself for the most part, but it’s an important piece of who I am. I need to regain my balance there.

When I brought this all up to my therapist yesterday (have you found a good therapist yet? I hope so!) she was intrigued by the idea. Then, she suddenly shouted (alright, spoke at a normal volume. She never shouts. She’s like a small, insightful, caring cloud.) “I’m seeing something here! You WILL be dating… you will be in a committed, monogamous relationship… with yourself!”. It was brilliant. The plan I was looking for, to get from my decision to my goal. I need plans. Things like “Trials make you stronger” and “You need to go through this to grow” make good posters and such, but I need to know exactly how. I need a map. This was it.

Now, I’m spending the next 40 days wining and dining my damn self. I’m gonna show me a real good time. Who knows what kind of adventures await myself and I! It’s kind of exciting.

So that’s where I’m at right now. No dating people that aren’t me, no online profiles involving pictures of people with fish, no sex, no stalking the Missed Connections page on Craigslist, no flirting. In the event that I learn how. None of it. Cold turkey. It sounds tough, perhaps, but I think I will be ok.

As well as getting to go out and not having to worry about something being slipped in my drink by my date (I’d never do that to me. Or anyone), there are actually other things I’m looking forward to.

First, I have a creative new excuse for turning someone down. “Can I get your number?” “Uhhhhh, I gave up dating for Lent.” *awkward exit stage left* It’s brilliant. And it’s the truth!! Even better.

Also, I don’t have to shave my legs for over a month. I should’ve done this years ago.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I was at Christmas dinner with my family, and we were talking about how my parents think my older brother claims to be a half inch shorter than our father out of respect, as they appear to be the same height. “I raised my kids to be respectful,” my dad said. For just a moment, Tiny Me brightened with the possibility that a rare and secretly longed for compliment could be coming our way. Then, nodding to me he said to his brother, “so I’m pretty sure that one is yours.”

We were, in fact, raised to be respectful. It was probably the number one thing our parents taught us. A blind respect, for anyone older than or related to us. A respect that overrode our own feelings and needs. Is the crazy aunt calling you ugly again? Well just deal with it, she’s your elder and deserves your respect. Did that old man you’ve never met demand a hug? Better give him one (and stop that crying in the meantime!) because he’s lived longer than you have. Is everyone in the family not-so-subtly calling you a slut because you’ve been divorced and have the audacity to bring a date to a family function in the hopes of not dying alone? You probably are one, and it’s their right as esteemed family members of the older generation to tell you so. Appreciate it.

My dad isn’t completely wrong, though. Not about me really being my uncle’s (though insinuating that your wife slept with your brother when he was 16, in front of her, is another sweet holiday gem for another time.) but about me being disrespectful to him. I am. I roll my eyes at his stories. I call him an idiot. I don’t make my son hug him. I even do the unthinkable and stand up for my kid when my dad makes fun of him. That’s like two of us disrespecting him at once. I’m surprised we haven’t been banished.

I just got real tired of him molesting me, really. When I was young and he used his power over me to sneak his hand into my nightgown, or to make comments on my lack of noticeable breasts while trying to open my shirt, I stayed quiet. I had to. I was terrified. But then, little by little, I started fighting back. It didn’t work right away, but at least I had a voice. A scared, tiny voice that people still ignored, but it was there. Over the years, it got louder. One day, I even called him a piece of fucking shit. To his face. Because, lets be honest, that’s what child molesters are. He tackled and beat me, but it was worth it.

I don’t talk about my dad in a lot of detail, out of respect for someone that doesn’t actually exist. I don’t have a dad that loves me, and I don’t see that I ever will. But just in case he should appear, I’d like him to see that I’ve done my best to spare his feelings. Ever trying to be the good daughter, still convinced deep down that it was my fault, because I’m too sassy and weird.

I don’t talk about it with my mom much, out of respect for her. She chose him, over and over, and what’s the point of making her feel bad about it? Will my childhood change? Nope. Will my siblings come back for holidays so its not just me, trying for an unknown reason to repair a family that won’t even admit it’s broken? Probably not. Best to just leave it in the past, right?

I don’t tell many people in my family about this, out of respect for an image they hold onto. He’s their brother that fixes the roof. He’s their uncle that tells weird jokes and farts a lot. Even if I thought they’d believe me, why ruin this man they think he is over something that happened decades ago?

But then. I remember her. This tiny girl, who loved to dance. She wanted to be a ballerina. She lived to feel the music in her tiny body, twirling and leaping until she was out of breath. She thought the world was magic, and that she could be part of its beauty. Until they told her she was wrong. She had to do what they wanted, how and when they wanted it. That what she felt didn’t matter, it was only their convenience that did. So she stopped. Now I do things out of respect for her. She’s not older, she’s not an esteemed member of society, but she’s important.

For most of my life, I’ve tried to avoid confrontation and the mere possibility of hurt feelings by going along with whatever everyone else wanted. I don’t pick places to eat, movies to see, or adventures to go on, because someone might disagree, and it would be uncomfortable. When you’re constantly afraid of being disrespectful, everything becomes that way, even when it’s not. Having an opinion isn’t rude. Wanting Taco Bell isn’t a slight against someone else’s character. (An affront to your taste buds, perhaps, but not actually a personal insult.)

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s the one day a year I make all my own decisions, without a thought to anyone else’s feelings. I eat where I want, dress ridiculously, laugh loudly, hug strangers, and do whatever I think of in that moment that makes me happy. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

I’ve been striving to live like every day is my birthday. Maybe not complete with dress-up karaoke every night, but more the idea that I am important enough to weigh in on discussions the other 364 days a year. Everyone deserves that respect.

 

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.

 

Slutiversary

The Thought Slut was born 2 years ago today. So let’s take a look back, shall we? If this were a sitcom, this would be the Clip Show Episode.

The idea came from venting that being single meant I had no one to share all the useless trivia that was cluttering my brain. Really, even “trivia” seemed too fancy for what was going on. I was finding it hard to focus on work, personal conversations, taking care of my house, because OH MY GOD I HAD THE BEST TURKEY SANDWICH, and there was nobody to tell.

So, I came here. I took 30 whole seconds to pick some colors and a terribly unfocused picture for the header, and that was that. It was one of those things I said I was going to go back and redo later, but as you can see… I didn’t. I’ve changed a lot over the last 2 years, but not that much. Procrastinating is still my main skill. Right before self-depreciation.

But really, a lot has happened in my little Slut Bubble since 2015. (That one just popped into my head. Get it? Popped? Bubble?! I’m ON FIRE!) I’ve grown a lot. Though I still have more to do, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. It would be easier to see if I wrote more regularly, but trust me, it’s leaps and bounds.

Today, I’m still single (though I have made some jumps into not-singlehood here and there) and much more comfortable with it. I’m still figuring out what I want, and how to identify it. I am getting much better at knowing when something isn’t what I want, and walking away (I once dated a guy I couldn’t stand for over a year because he didn’t do anything terribly wrong. I haaaaated him, but he wasn’t abusive or unfaithful, so I stuck it out. FOR OVER A YEAR. Again. Leaps and bounds.) Sometimes, it makes for entertaining stories.

This brings us to the New Story Line segment of our Clip Show Episode, where I get to introduce you to a new character. Let’s call him Douchey McToolface. Because I’m a grownup.

So… Douchey and I met online (don’t roll your eyes at me!) He sent me a message that was a list of reasons he thought we’d get along. I’m a sucker for lists, and it beat the guy whose opener was “Damn sexy! Come sit on my face and I’ll eat my way to your heart? ;)” (alright, you can roll your eyes now.) I responded, it lead to actual conversation, he spelled things correctly and used multi-syllabic words, and I was cautiously hopeful. We arranged a meet up about a week out. He specifically told me this was not a date, this was simply a meeting to see if we had chemistry and should pursue dating from there. Great! I liked this idea, as well as all the talks we had about establishing a good friendship first, and not rushing into things. Cue the happy strut.

Meeting happens, things go well, but ultimately he is not actually down for taking it slow as originally stated, and tries to tell me after 1.5 dates (we hung out twice in the same day. I don’t know what that means, or what is and isn’t a date, apparently, so let’s just go with that.) that I need to “stop holding back” and just give in to whatever urges he has imagined I have. Because he can read me so well. Yeah. I say no. I’m REALLY FUCKING PROUD of myself for this. Baby Slut would’ve assumed he knew more than me, and gone along with it anyway.  But not anymore! I firmly told him I was taking things slow… and he told me I was wrong. Yep. Wrong. It completely dumbfounded me. So, I ended things. Amicably. Perhaps too much so, as he text me a day later asking if we could still be friends. Well sure, who doesn’t need more friends?

My new bff then began texting me passive-aggressive complaints about how hard being single was, and how he wished he could just find someone that could “make a decision and stick with it”. (Now I’m rolling my eyes right along with you) Then… he sent me an excerpt from an erotic novel he is writing (which he apparently started after we went out, as he told me then he no longer writes… ) The context was that the protagonist, based on him, was facing the woman that had transformed him from wanting meaningless sex to looking for an actual connection. Booky McToolface says this, “I want to taste every inch of you… and not just your skin. When I say that I want you, it is not some purely physical concept. Your eroticism to me stems from the very core of who you are. While your shell is appealing, it is what lies beneath that has me yearning to taste you.”. My response? “Uh, nobody says ‘eroticism’ to another person in real life.” The part I didn’t text him involved a lot of near-vomiting.

I was hoping my disinterest would be enough to make him wander away, but receiving a text message poem at 5:30am three days later told me I was wrong. And, because you’re already on this ride, here’s that, too:

I don’t know you,
I know your face because I see it when I close my eyes.
I know the small curve of your lips when you smile.
I know the gleam in the corner of your left eye
Only the left one
That pops up when something brings you joy.
See I don’t know you
But I know the value you place in words
The way you long to have someone value you
Someone who sees the pretty face, yes, but sees the beauty BEHIND it too.
I don’t know you,
But I know that there is something missing
A piece of you
A real piece of you not fulfilled.
I don’t know you
But I do know that I want you
I want to be that piece to make you whole
I want to be your beacon as the night encroaches in
I want to hold you safe as the winds bear down
I want to protect you…
See I don’t know you
But I want to.

Pretty much all this did for me is cause me to question what the hell is wrong with my left eye?? I’m hoping it was just that I was constantly giving him the “What the fuck crazy ass shit did you just let loose out of your mouth?!?” look and he mistook that for the face of the newly joyful. I have no fucking idea.

I’d like to say that after this I told His Mighty Doucheness to leave me alone. But nope. Took me another two days, and multiple texts about how dating was the worst. Then, I finally hit my limit. I did not avoid confrontation, was not passive, I was full on aggressive. He, of course, countered that the fault was mine, and I was simply taking it all wrong.

But a little over two years ago, I dealt with another douchebag extraordinaire. One with a lot more experience. I learned a thing or two, including that I am, in fact, whole. I am not missing any pieces, I am not in need of protection, and I can damn sure save my self. So his gaslighting and blame shifting were no match for this slut right here. Our heroine emerged victorious once again.

Who knows where I’ll be in another two years. But whatever my appealing shell and I are doing, I’ll be doing it my way. And maybe if I remember, I’ll even write about it.