Monday, April 20, 2015

Kindred Spirits

Do you ever see someone and instantly know you will hit it off? That this person and you have this amazing potential to become close friends? This has happened to me a few times, an instantaneous moment when I see someone new that I just have to meet. I find it a really neat thing when not only do I find this person I know I want to learn about but they also want to be my friend as well!

I have encountered these rare people a few times, and it is so odd how I know we will get along before I have actually spoke to them. People say not to judge a book by its cover, but I am remarkably good at it. I can usually tell if I will like you from my first impression of you, and even more than that, I can ussually tell if we could be great friends.

One regret I have is no knowing the appropriate way to bridge the gap and make the connection. I worry a lot about making a fool of myself or else construing the wrong message. How do you hide your borderline rabid excitement at meeting someone who is so like you? I have failed to master that as of yet, ha ha! I need to take a class on how to begin a friendship in this modern age so I won't embarrass myself.

On that subject, why isn't fervent pursuit of friendship desirable? I feel like it would be shunned and looked down upon to show my hand of how deeply I hope for a friend. Maybe it stems from how I see "fangirling" as being viewed. Being overtly immersed in something is seen as obsessive, and therefore my search for an equally devoted friend is a hard sell. It scares people off, or if would if they knew about it. I've become pretty good at hiding my admiration for my friends, until this post that is. Well let us hope you aren't going to run away now that the cat is out of the bag, ha ha!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Non-Bestfriend Zone

I have this track-record of having friends who I grow close to and would like to call them my "bestfriend" but there is this catch... they never seem to return the favor. I must have something about me that evermore places me in the "not bestfriend material" category. I do realize that the "ideal" friendship seen in movies where to women are super close, talk/test/see each other daily is not as prevalent as Hollywood would have you think. I still yearn deeply for it though, as I always have for as long as I can remember. From day one I have wanted someone who knows me, gets my humor, understands my moods, and has similar passions and want to put as much effort into the relationship as me. Silly, and probably never going to happen sadly.

Every time in the past 10 years that I get close to someone one of two things inevitably occurs: One, they either don't feel that way about me or they already have that one designated bestfriend or two, they move within 6 months of us getting close. I am not exaggerating, this happens EVERY SINGLE TIME. I am the "Good Luck Chuck" of my friend-group. If you want to get out of Dodge be friends with this lady! I do have amazing friends who have moved far away, and I adore them, but they aren't here, and we talk even less with the distance, as much as that makes me sad and I do try to stay in contact. I realize that this is our 20s, it is just what happens after high school and college. People grow up, get a better job and move away. But seriously, everyone?!

I also understand "you can have more than one bestfriend" and yes, you can, but that would be hard to put all that effort into so many baskets. I suppose if you juggle, taking a friend at a time and rotating them, it could be done. But I still am left out of the nametag, I don't get the title even when I put in an inordinate amount of effort. I am all give, and many times my friends are all take. It is disheartening and discouraging.

So here is an open invitation, please be my bestie! I'm in sore need of one.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Self-Esteem and Societal Norms

Why does it seem to be a "radical" idea to be at peace with yourself? To have good self-esteem and love who you are as a person, and not care what others think of you? It is the media, this society we live in that has spread the nonsense that we need things to like ourselves, or worse, that we are not good enough and should refrain from liking ourselves in the first place. I do not like that we are constantly bombarded with the notion that we are not, nor cannot be, whole on our own. I love who I am, I feel you are damn lucky to know me, and for that I open myself up to criticism on a large scale. Women are not allowed within society to take a complement, it is considered rude. At the same time we are expected to be a doormat and respond to men who catcall us*. Women are expected to be not bold and fearless, but timid and shy, acquiescing to others' desires and never speaking up for their own or else they are being a b-word.

Why is it threatening to some people to have a woman be strong? What is so scary about a female having all the abilities and strength (which are considered the domain of a man)? How is that a threat to anyone? On that point, why is equality in any form a threat?  How is my making the same amount of money as a male in a job that that I am equally as qualified for a bad thing? Do people fear women making money, because that makes us less dependent upon men? Surely that is not the case, surely that is an archaic idea!

Do you believe women are as smart as men? Do you like that you have the right to vote? Do you like not being legally your husband's property? Do you like owning your own property as a woman? Do you enjoy having any rights at all? Do you believe men should be allowed to cry and not feel as if they are "less manly"? Do you believe men should be allowed to pursue their dreams, no matter if they do not fit gender stereotypes? If you answered yes to any of those questions you ARE in fact a FEMINIST. #sorrynotsorry I really rebel against injustice and being told I am inferior to anyone. If that makes me combative at times, than it is for the greater good. I will not apologize for striving to make others' lives and my own better by pursuing equality.

On the topic of femininity, that does not have to clash with strength. You can be a bold strong person and rock a lot of polka dots, lace, ruffles and bows. Being a feminist means allowing women and men the choice to be whoever they want to be and not judging them for their choice. It means allowing men the room to cry and feel emotions, because they have them and it should be fine to express them. It is all about the options, the choices we have, or perceive we have. The saying "Don't be such a girl" is demeaning to women, and I hear women say it to their sons! How, as a woman, can you say that?! Do you not hear yourself? You are putting yourself down as you demean and dismiss your son's valid emotions.

The message is to be who you want to be, be the person who makes you happy regardless of what anyone else thinks or says as long as you are not harming others'. Be true, be you and help those less fortunate.

It amazes me how blind people can be when they do not want to see something. How so many people believe that the issues women (and men) face all the time are not a reality. Just because you've been fortunate and have not encountered the prejudices that others have does not mean that they do not happen. Just because you haven't been discriminated against due to your religion, gender, sexual preference, or the color of your skin doesn't mean others have been so blessed. It is like saying that there is no racism because you have not seen it or experienced it yourself. It is like you ignore that portion of the population that has been judged or treated unfairly because it does not apply directly to you. How will you feel when someone someday treats you like you are worthless because of some part of you you have no control over? How will you feel when your daughter is beaten up by her boyfriend and accepts it because you never told her she was worth something as a woman? Protecting our girls should be something we can do by building them up, letting them be who they are and supporting their self-esteem and standing up for women's rights. The time is now, what are you doing about it?

*A catcall is demeaning and is not a complement, it is a bogus show of dominance over a woman and it is frankly quite frightening.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Condensed Autobiography

I was born in Oregon to my biological mother, who I was told, gave me up for adoption to her mother, my biological maternal grandmother. I knew my biological mother, saw her from time to time, but I identified her as my older sister even though I knew she was my biological mother. I viewed her as “the cereal box that the prize came in” for me, as the prize. I was always treated as older, smarter and on-par with adults as a child. My mother would take me to fancy restaurants, to plays, to museums and other places that are typically not for young children. I feel it helped me behave better and learn social skills.
As a child we lived in Provo, Utah and I had a very charmed existence. My mom he let me have my way basically all the time, I was taken out of school just to spend the day with my mom. We had several foreign exchange students and one invited us to come visit her in Germany. We took a trip to Germany and while there we traveled all over Europe and were spoiled by our hosts. I was maybe 5 or 6 at the time, and I only remember fragments of it now. My mother spoiled me, I remember specifically my 5th birthday party I had a pony for my invitees to ride. I remember at 12 I got $100 to spend at Toys’R’Us.  During my childhood I wanted a sister badly and prayed often for one, and when I was 7 my biological mom had another daughter, who my biological grandmother adopted at birth.
The kids I went to school with were all from perfect nuclear families, not one was from a divorced family.  It was a surreal experience looking back, that no one but me was from a single parent household in my elementary class. I suppose a great part of the reason I was in that situation was because we lived in “Mormonville, USA”, and family is #1 priority among the Latter-Day Saint population. I was raised in the Mormon church, and it influenced a lot of the guilt and shame I felt as a teenager. I bloomed in Utah, I had many friends, I felt secure. I felt safe there, I would walk alone to my friends’ houses and to and from school. It was a bubble of safety and security there. One oddity was that I was absolutely boy crazy from birth, but in Utah and among Mormon culture, dating is exclusively for 16-year-olds and older. I felt shunned by the boys in my class early on, but looking back, it may have been that the boys and girls did not associate due to our ages in elementary school and typically children choose members of their own sex to associate with. Still, a classmate or two I recall as having friends of both genders, I was just not among that number. I was hopelessly awkward around boys and doomed to have a crush on any boy who gave me the time of day. Towards age 12 and on, boys and girls matured a little and a crush of mine was returned (finally in my eyes). I got a “boyfriend” in 6th grade, which meant we talked and wrote notes to one another, but more than spending time together, we did not ever even touch.
As I matured and went to Middle School I made even more friends and felt even as if I were “popular”, not as in being part of the in-crowd, that was never my goal, but that I was friends with a very diverse population at school, I accepted everyone as a friend if they wanted or needed a friend I was that friend.
I was in “Drama Camp” the summer before 7th grade, I took it with a friend from my elementary class. We had a lot of fun and I met several girls that I became friends with. In 7th Grade I took several “artsy” classes including drama, art, chorale, guitar and I participated in every school play there was and a talent show (where a friend and I sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” while I played guitar). I submersed myself in cultural and artistic things, just like I was raised to do apparently. My mother instilled in me a great love of the arts, performing and theatrics. 
My entire 7th Grade experience was a pleasant one, and then we had to choose where to move. My mom gave me the choice, I got to pick where we lived from that point forward. The choices were to stay in Provo but find a new home, move to Illinois where my mother was from, or move to Clovis, NM where my biological uncle and his wife and kids lived. I do not remember how long I took to decide, but my cousins drew me here. I wanted them to grow up knowing me and my family so the summer before 8th Grade we took a U-Haul truck and moved to Clovis without a backup plan and without a somewhere to live in place.
Upon arrival in Clovis, we stayed with my brother (biological uncle) and his family one night, and then I left to church camp. One nice thing about the LDS church is that it is everywhere. I went to camp, not knowing anyone, and feeling very much like a fish out of water. I had been popular, I could make friends easily before, but I had always had some other friend there too. I had no experience being alone and having to have no common experiences to share in order to make friends. I did not have a good time at camp, I felt different, and out of place to say the least. My church experience with those set of girls went much that same way ever after. I was always the outsider, they were always the close-knit click. My struggle to attend church before Clovis was nonexistent, but once here I did not want to go, even though I did for a long while.
At school I gravitated to the arts again, I took art and choir, but was not allowed to take drama because it was a class only for 9th graders I was told. In choir I had a church friend, so I became friends by default with all of her friends.  Boys and girls associated even more here in Clovis than I had ever dealt with before this, it was new but I welcomed it. I was so in love with boys that the chance to talk to them was terrific fun! I had attempted to make male friends in Provo, and I chatted with several boys during my classes but I inevitably had feelings for every single one.
I had my second “boyfriend” in 8th Grade for about a month (my first boyfriend and I broke up over the phone sometime previous, after at least a year of supposedly dating). My new guy was just like me, very academic, was in choir and full of yearning to love and be loved, we were kindred spirits. His family made him break up with me because of religious differences, and it broke my heart. It was the first time I had been judged for my religion in my entire life. He and I wanted at least to remain friends, but he went into homeschool after that year, and we did not stay in contact.
In 9th Grade I met a new beau, in choir once again. My first boyfriend was also teased and socially inept, I became a sucker for the downtrodden. This boyfriend was the first “real” relationship, which involved holding hands and I even got my first kiss from him. We stayed together for 1 ½ years but my eye wandered when I moved up to high school and he was still in junior high. I broke it off with him even though he was pretty much the perfect standard of what girls dream of having in a suitor. I was young and naïve, I thought all men would treat me this well. Boy was I in for a shock!
I had a good high school experience, it was filled with me hitting my stride once again. I was better at making friends, I accepted everyone once more. I floated between stereotypes and groups within school, I did not fit any category and I had friends from a myriad of groups. I met my future ex-husband during my sophomore year, he was great friends with my best friend (who had stalked me all the summer before until we were inseparable). Of course, a love triangle ensued, as it had to in our situation. Our trio broke when my ex-husband chose me over my best friend. I was self-absorbed and I failed to notice her feelings, I failed to see how much it hurt that I was chosen. I simultaneously spent more and more time with my future ex-husband and drifted away from my best friend. I was blissfully unaware I was doing so, I was so wrapped up in the new relationship. I regret my selfishness immensely.
So my new guy was a wreck, the biggest project I have undertaken to date. He had a bad family situation where everyone blamed him for everything bad. He was very reactive as well, and I see that he brought on a lot of the criticism himself due to his lazy habits and his selfish behavior as well as being combative. I was blind, as one inevitably is when falling in love, and I ignored all his bad behavior and was staunchly on his side about everything. We were together a little over a year and a half when we more or less eloped. Well, we married in my mom’s living room with my family and our mutual best friend there, but none of his family was told nor invited. That was a mess, for sure. I made so many mistakes in regards to everything about him. I should have been solely friends with this poor broken soul, I should have supported from a distance, and not entangled myself in his wreck of a life. I should have not married him at 18 in the middle of our senior year of high school, let alone at all. I should have learned to be single, but I was not single more than a month at any point from age 12-20, and even after my divorce I did not stay single long, I jumped into a new relationship not 6 months after it imploded.
I married him as much because I loved him as because I held a great deal of guilt over having pre-marital sex with him. I cannot even begin to tell how much I cried, how I kept it a tainted secret from everyone I knew. I felt horrible and filthy. My religious background made me have incredible remorse and shame over this fact. I had the silly thought that marrying him would make me feel okay about the decision to sleep with him. I practically forced him into it just to alleviate my guilt. He was not good for me and tried to deter me from going to church and school (college). We were not happily married for long before I discovered his pornography addiction. I was young and naïve, I had had no idea that he harbored such a secret. I did not have experience handling conflict let alone something he saw as fine for the most part, and something I saw as 500% wrong and disgusting. I could not abide that he would have it in our home, and numerous times he or I would throw out his smut, but it did nothing. He always brought back more.
Perhaps my hatred of it drove a wedge between us, he may see it that way, but to me, it will be his disrespect for me and my feelings. I do believe he had a genuine addiction from the reactions we both experienced through our troubled marriage. He could not stop himself, and I had no way to help him. It was a sad situation but I would have died for him, and I dug my heels in and would not have let him go for anything in the world. He spent more and more time outside of the house, he did not have a cell phone and there were many days a week I had no idea where he was and he was unable to be located. He did no respect me or how I felt, he did not want to spend much time with me. I was torn up by how he played with my feelings, but he did not seem to care how I felt because it only served to make him feel guilty.
My ex-husband and I stayed married a year and nine months before he cheated and left me for her. Long story short his cheating was a deal-breaker, but I did toy with the notion of forgiving him because I loved him so immensely. I was firm about getting a divorce within 2-4 weeks and I filled for divorce on his birthday, and it was final in under a week. I threw myself deeply into church, and it filled the void. It made me feel whole and happy, but I was there, at least partially, for the wrong reasons. I wanted a new man, that has been my never-ceasing goal all my life. I do not feel it has anything to do with not having a father because I have never really felt I was missing one. I have always felt this void that could only be filled with a companion. I longed for a twin sister all of my life as well, I have ached for a consort always (starting with my deep hope for a sister), regardless of gender, though it seems I usually sought a male.
So I went to church fervently and found not one date, and I still enjoyed going nonetheless, but my hope was “someday” I would find a mate again. My current husband came along fairly quickly, and as much as I was definitively only looking for a friend a long last, he wanted a relationship. I acquiesced quickly, I am not great with willpower.
My husband and I had a blissful relationship for a year, and after that it had our share of super high highs and very dramatic lows. We had a surprise pregnancy after over a year and a half together. She brought us back together when we surely would have been at an end of our relationship. It was not planned, but she made the world of difference in our relationship. I definitely would not recommend having a baby to try to salvage a relationship, it only worked in our case because it was a good relationship that only failed because we gave up. We got engaged when she was 8 months old and married when she was 20 months old. It all happened backwards, it was at times a complete whirlwind and others it was dreadfully slow going. We are happy together, we laugh often, have two little daughters and it ended up working out, but it was a complete learning experience. If I had not been hurt like I had, I would not have appreciated what I have now. Not only that, but my clinginess in my past relationships would have worn out my present husband if I had not learned to rein them in.
I have learned to rein in the suffocating need to be needed to a great degree, but under it all, it is there still. I can also see that in my family we need to be accepted, we bend over backward for others to be liked. It strikes a hard blow to be rejected and we take it harshly.
My mom instilled in my sister and me that the world is a scary place full of dangerous and untruthful people. I feel that impact strongly, I do feel afraid of ever being on my own in public, that I am in constant danger, but at the same time I think it is the only truly rational way to think. To believe that you are safe, or feel like nothing bad can happen to you is naïve and irresponsible. My poor daughters have to deal with me telling them we cannot go to the park, the store, or any place that is not behind a locked door unless I have my mother and sister or my husband with us. I would always rather be prudent than reckless so we all suffer for it.