NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

You Can’t Change Someone

November20

(White text box with black text that reads: “You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with their actions.”

Aprox. 9 minute read
I came across the above-unattributed statement whilst scrolling my Facebook feed and whoa did it strike the nail right on the head! Whew! We need to talk about the people in our lives who abuse, shame, blame, and frame us! I would say especially this time of year, but no, these assholes are always dragging us down and we just allow it until, well, we don’t. I’m definitely of the “don’t” group more often than not, as I have learned far too many times the hard way that sooner is better than later with these jerks. Yeah, jerks! 😛
Okay, first of all, you can’t change someone else, in my opinion. You can influence, you can encourage and reinforce, but you can’t actually change another human being. Like, yes by knowing someone we all over time change, but that’s not what this is about. This is about the people in our lives we may, in fact, love, but who simply refuse to see how damaging or unreasonable their behavior is. Typically at first, it’s easy to forgive a misstep or misunderstanding. I am not an unforgiving soul, but I’m also not willing to be complicit in my own oppression. That is what this is really about!
I know it’s easier for some than others to cut someone out of your life. I have sort of become known for this trait. I don’t hold this as a positive or negative, only something that is necessary from time to time. Some may view this as heartless, cold, or unreasonable, but in most ways, for me, it’s been a matter of sanity and survival. Personally, this has been my bio-mother, friends, romantic partners/interests, and later my step-mother and finally my father. It’s never easy, or something you truly want to do. You want the other person to see how much they are hurting you or how they make you feel. I think all anyone really wants in their relationships is to be seen and understood and supported. When you look at the people in your life, do they make you feel seen, understood, and supported? Do you think you do that for them? It’s something to think about. (And Gaslighting is a real thing that happens more often than we can tell, check out this article on the topic, it was an eye-opener for me.)
I think it’s very telling (and vital) to pay attention to how you feel, that first natural feeling when someone’s name pops up on your phone (call or text). I think most of us ignore that fleeting feeling and move onto action mode, which is unfortunate. If you take a beat and a breath after that name pops up, what then? I think it’s a moment of honesty and self-reflection. If someone makes you feel gross, about anything, maybe give some space and time to that relationship and see how you feel in a few weeks. It will give you time to process your feelings and assess the relationship from a new perspective. It’s healthy! And often by doing so you can improve and strengthen that relationship! It’s not all doom and gloom! Haha! I have often advised friends who were uncertain about whether to break up with someone or end a friendship that they should change their phone contacts’ name for that person to how they make them feel. This way when they get a call or text they’ll see, “betrayal, shame, hurt” instead of Pat. Kinda forces you to think about it if it’s something you were avoiding. I have heard it helps. I’m just glad that Android and most social media settings allow for blocking certain people all together!
My step-mother lied to my entire family (had 3-4 different stories, depending on whom you asked) in order to get them to stop talking to me…for three years! What did I do? NOTHING! In fact, I went out of my way at every opportunity with her (agreed to let her legally adopt me as an adult) in order to keep peace within my family and make my dad happy. Ha! No one was fucking happy, doubt anyone is now, but I digress. No one ever told her that her incessant lying and manipulating was wrong. When my little brother asked her calmly and plainly why she lied to him as she was in the middle of the lie she would start to cry and go right into the next lie to get out of the first. Maddening! When my then-husband and I would meet up with my  family for dinner at restaurants, even when there was no present drama (she once burst into tears and threatened to make us all leave because her shrimp was spicy…she ordered the Cajun shrimp. *sigh*), I would fall into a deep depression for sometimes two weeks afterwards. Mostly due to how both parental entities interacted with my brother (telling him to shut up the moment he said a word), or outdated and offensive jokes they would later deny knowledge of. I didn’t even catch it myself, but my then-husband did. He hated seeing me suffer, and we talked about it.
Guess what? You’re an adult! (I’m guessing, but perhaps not. No biggie! I still think you get to decide for yourself who you allow in your life.) You get to decide who you let into your life and share space with. With the exception of work, I suppose. Can we all just agree to try to nip toxic behaviors in the workplace in the bud collectively? Cool. If you’re not one for confrontation, it is perfectly okay and acceptable and grown-up to let someone know that they are making you feel uncomfortable. There’s no argument against stating your immediate feeling. I prefer to tell someone to their face that their behavior is unacceptable, but your mileage may vary. Another helpful phrase I recently heard was, “We don’t do that here.” It’s a plain and neutral statement, no need for further explanation. Solid! In a society built upon white supremacy and misogyny, we all need to work together to keep these clueless assholes from continuing their reign of violence and idiocy!!! Ahem.
Yeah, I’m going there because we all need to fucking go there!!! Because some people who find themselves with a particle of power will find a way to abuse it! More often than not, this goes unchecked, maybe forever. I say fuck that! Life is too short and too precious to put up with that bullshit! Seriously, even in small doses or minor-seeming offenses, these things add up and they can tear people and families and companies and democracies apart! Microaggressions are real and they chip away at our self-esteem and hold us back from having the lives we work so hard for. It’s important to take a moment to pause and really consider how people impact us. Sometimes it’s our own behaviors exacerbating a problem or perhaps we’re just not seeing eye to eye and a sort of relationship stalemate occurs. This is pretty common, I think. Two of my oldest friendships are definitely there. I don’t think any of us actually hate or condemn one another. It’s just that we live very different lives and kind of forgot how to relate to each other now. This is natural.
Substance abuse has a huge impact on all of our lives. Though I haven’t struggled with addiction myself, I have been very close to many who have. It is heartbreaking what it can do to otherwise brilliant humans. After spending five years as a hostage in an abusive relationship with someone addicted to many substances, I became hyper-aware of those behaviors in others. I once had to walk away, though temporarily (thank the universe), from even my oldest friendship because I felt unsafe and was at the time unable to process those feelings and associations. I felt bad about it at the time, but I see now how integral to my survival it was, too. I do think it is okay to walk away from something you just know you can’t handle. It’s extra hard when you know that the person you’re walking away from isn’t the person you truly cared about, to begin with. Substances change people and turn them into monsters, though not always. I have a lot of compassion for anyone’s life’s struggles, it’s not an easy feat for anyone to go through.
At the end of the day, you have to look out for yourself. You can’t help others if you’re suffering, too! This is a life lesson I have learned, the hard way, repeatedly. I expand and contract with each new human I allow in my life and bond with. I trust until I can’t and then I never want to again, over and over. It feels sometimes as though everyone only wants to take from everyone else or they’re out to get you. I know it’s not true, but dammit if it doesn’t feel that way at times. Especially when going through tough times, it feels as though folks would rather watch you go down flames than offering any actual compassion or support. Yeah, that’s part of the reason why I haven’t been able to write for so long. When people make you feel unsafe or gross about being yourself: RED FLAG! I worked hard to become the person I am today, hot mess that I am. It is a journey and I don’t need fuckers throwing nails on my road, dammit!
Truth is, I’ve written about this subject before, but it was centered around fatness. I think this post does a bit deeper dive into interpersonal relationships, rather than our bodies. Our bodies are not the cause of other people’s behaviors, though they will claim that it is and that it’s all our fault, every step of the way. It’s not. You and I and everyone deserves to exist in the world and live the best life that they can! There will always be fat haters, but you don’t have to allow them into your actual life! You can tell them why, or not, whatever works for you. Fat acceptance is about autonomy, plain and simple! That’s it! Live and let live, ya know? I’ve had a few people cut me out of their lives without explanation, a couple even said that they honestly didn’t know why, and then continued to not want to communicate after and I respect that. It’s not for me to decide what’s best for them. Nor is it anyone else’s to decide for me. Autonomy! Woo!
Are you struggling with certain relationships in your life? Are you dreading interacting with certain people? Are “The Holidays” giving you anxiety because of certain people you feel you can’t avoid? Have you cut someone out of your life? What other relationship struggles are you dealing with? Let’s talk, discuss, and share!

Thank you so much for your continued love and support! I have been truly touched by the kindness and generosity of the readers of this blog. My fat community has been such a bright light in a dark time. You have my undying gratitude and affection!

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

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Fats Hating Fats

July25

I know that I no longer really use the term Fat Acceptance anymore, but for the context of this post I will. I have been a fat activist and fat acceptance blogger/supporter for many years. Gosh, how long has it been now? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but a long ass time. For me it all started with a copy of BUST magazine and the article about the U.K. Chubsters fatty gang. I immediate hopped online to discover all I could about  them and the movement they represented and talked about.

Soon I found myself jumping from link to link to blog to blog until finally happening upon the community that would change my life for the better: LiveJournal.com’s Fatshionista community. Without that community I never would have dabbled in fashion, question my own internalized fatphobia, learned to heal my relationship with my body, taken a helicopter ride over Maui (had to buy 2 seats and feared fat shame, so glad I did it!), started my own small business or this very blog.

I longed for fat friends, solidarity and community. It took awhile, but I did find it. The key was that I refused to quit no matter how hard it got. The first few meet ups I organized were disappointing. When I had my cafe there were times when no one would show up at all. Or the clothing swap where only four people came and I was left with a car full of left over clothes to donate. Slowly but surely though I met the right people and found my community in fat acceptance.

I have met some very famous fats on my journey but only one gave me that awkward “OMZ! I have your book!” feeling and moment. What I have found is that most fats, famous or not, are awesome people. I never had fat friends growing up and the few that I did hated themselves and the world, too. I haven’t always been fat myself, but was fatter than most and then some once I hit puberty. I had a fat bff when I had the cafe, but her refusal to accept my fat body and her constant self hate was too much for me to handle.

Years of attending fat events and conferences and meet ups and dances and picnics and more and I thought I knew what my local fat community was: awesome! What I hadn’t realized until the last year or so is how it is also very fluid. It changes and reshapes itself constantly. There are the veterans and the newbies and while I thought everyone was accepting and positive and loving and all of that, I was very wrong.

Even in a community where we share the same pain, oppression and battle against a society brainwashed by marketing schemes, there are still cliques and mean girl attitudes that continue to shock me. This past weekend I heard stories of fats hating fats. Of famous fatties saying things like, “I’m fat, but not mid western fat!” or terms like “Forklift fat” and more. I’ve heard disabled fats feeling invisible or worse, that their needs were “just too much.” It seems even in a community where we bond over our mutual struggles in the world, there is still so much room to grow in just loving and accepting each other. The worst is the whole “good fatty versus bad fatty” mentality. It has got to end if we are to make any progress outside of our own community.

Racism is an especially vital subject that often isn’t addressed in the fat acceptance realm. Racism is something I have been keenly aware of, an activist and ally against and a struggle in my own life as far back as I can remember. In a space like No Lose I learned so much last year in the anti racism workshops and white allies group on Facebook. I had no idea until then what a privilege I have by having grown up in such a diverse community (the San Francisco Bay Area). I was looking forward to doing more of this type of work and learning this year and was excited to jump back into the tough dialogues and conversations necessary to make this community inclusive and safe for everybody.

What I hadn’t thought I would hear in such a space is how I and other white allies, regardless of the work we do within our community and at home, would be reduced to nothing but a skin color. I heard a story from a fellow fat that in seeking information to coordinate for a workshop they were told, “I’m not talking to white people this week.” and dismissed. Had this person given them even a moment to speak they would have thanked them for helping them through a difficult time last year, but they never had the chance. It breaks my heart to see past connections broken like this. I have no idea what caused this, nor is it my place to guess, but it was still a surprise and in an activist space I do not think that this is okay.

From the No Lose page:

NOLOSE* is a vibrant community of

fat queers and our allies,
with a shared commitment to feminist, anti-oppression ideology and action, seeking to end the oppression of fat people!  

I did not see this philosophy or attitude at the conference itself. The workshops I attended did not once mention solutions, healing, community support or even open discussion. It seemed to be more of a sharing of painful stories, anger, frustration and experiences thing and not a workshop at all. I understand and support having a safe space for connecting and bonding over shared pain and experiences. I think that it is important and vital to have this, but not alone. There needs to be more of a creative mindset, I feel. There were caucuses for this, but workshops? Nothing was “workshopped” in my eyes. At least not in the five or six workshops I attended.

No Lose may provide a more revolutionary space than the straight world has to offer, but it is not the inclusive utopia it strives so hard to be. There is work being done, don’t get me wrong. But the work and solutions versus accusations and calling people out and insisting upon accountability without making it safe to do so just isn’t happening or working. In a previous post I was put upon to hold those accountable who bullied me at the conference. If you’ve ever been bullied you know this is not an easy task, often it is impossible to feel safe to do so.

I was minutes away from a full blown panic attack when I was physically pushed aside by a smaller fat. This was moments before the talent show began. When it was time for me to hit the stage there was an issue with the mic stand on the stage (I needed it moved in order to dance) and then my music started late and I could barely hear it and I forgot all of my choreography. The moment I left the stage my panic attack hit me harder than a brick wall and I ran hysterically crying up to my hotel room. By the time I’d composed myself and calmed down enough to re-enter the conference space again, everyone was gone. The dance party was canceled and so I chose to hang out with some awesome people in the bar for an hour instead.

The following morning was my volunteer shift bright and early and then the Sunday Salon where I read my controversial piece “Fatty Dancer” and things would never be the same again. Not once did I feel safe enough to report or hold accountable the people that bullied me (physically or emotionally, there was way more than the pushing incident). There was so much going on, and in the end, what would it have accomplished? All I have ever wanted to be is myself. I fight for the right to be me and to live the life I want to live everyday in the straight world. I didn’t have it in me to fight for that at No Lose. Perhaps that is on me, so be it.

Since no one is willing to tell me exactly what I have done wrong, what specifically in my piece hurt people or is racist, I cannot see that anything with it or me is wrong. I was held accountable, I got up in front of the entire conference and acknowledged the pain I’d caused without knowing how or what caused it. In an activist space I expected more information, compassion and discussion. There was no discussion that I was allowed into. Many superfats felt invisible in a conference where the social currency was fuckability and always the smaller fats deemed more popular/accepted.

I wanted to quit being an activist due to how I and other fats were treated. But fuck that! I am an activist. I have always been and always will be an activist! I may not always have the spoons to speak up for myself but I almost always want to help and stand up for the underdog. I know the work I have done and continue to do can speak for itself. My events are inclusive to all. There is talk and sharing of pain and struggle, but always with a message of healing and connecting and community. No one is an island, but we all know what that feels like.

Living in a fat body in western society is hard enough. We are the embodiment of many people’s worst nightmares. Those on either end of the spectrum of oppression get it worst of all and that doesn’t take or give to anyone else. We have to stay connected and work with each other and for each other in order to make things right. Hating people you do not personally know is continuing the oppression you claim, as a fat activist, to want to end. What the fuck is that about?! We can do better! So stop spouting hate about who is or isn’t in your cool fatty club and realize that you’re harming all of us by doing so. There are so many great minds and vibrant voices being silenced and shut out. I refuse to sit idly while this happens. I will not be silenced and I will not stop working towards something better. Please join me.

Rad Fatty Love to you ALL!
<3
S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TMI Tuesday!!!

December13

This TMI Tuesday post is about life skills! This one is totally safe for work as there is no images or even explicit descriptions…but I may swear. If this doesn’t interest you, do come back tomorrow for your regularly scheduled random fatty talk right here on my blog-a-ma-thing. Thanks! <3

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Sometimes things from your childhood hit you from out of nowhere in adulthood. I don’t really like when this happens, but what can ya do? I do find that once I have addressed or acknowledged it that it can help me process/self-work and move on. Yes, our childhoods shape us in ways we can’t truly know the depth of, but I also think that acknowledging this can help us move ahead and develop better futures for ourselves. I can only speak of my own experiences, of course. It amazes me how people we know, even if they grew up similarly, how very different their experiences can be from my own.

I was having lunch with two good friends the other day when we started to talk about housekeeping. Some of us are neat freaks, others are tidy with a side of clutter and then there is me: clueless! Seriously! Talking to these ladies made me realize, though I’d had an inkling for awhile, that I grew up with few actual normal life skills. Specifically when it comes to cleaning one’s home. No one showed me or taught me how to do such things growing up and I have suffered from this ignorance.

You see, I grew up in a very messy house. Well, that’s not quite it. Hmm…I grew up in a disgusting and filthy home. We lived in the same duplex for ten years. We moved there a few months before my fourth birthday…or was it my fifth? Anyway, my dad worked retail and thus his hours were always in flux. My mom stayed home in bed, literally. She pretty much just sat in bed and read books all day. She would occasionally bake and almost always burn whatever it was she was baking. I see now that she was most likely suffering from severe depression if not undiagnosed bi-polar. But she wouldn’t clean the house or do dishes and only ever did laundry when it was an absolute necessity. Though the first couple of years we lived there we didn’t have a dryer and I do remember “helping” her hang the laundry on a line in our miniscule backyard.

It is difficult to describe the state of our home. Basically, there was a pathway to walk from room to room, but outside of that there was clothing, trash-mostly paper, random things like toys or shoes and all sorts of other nonsense. It’s still not quite what I remember, but you get the gist I hope. My room was a disaster, always. Laundry never went into drawers or closets and I don’t recall where clean stuff even went…just that I would often grab from whatever was on the top layer of the mass pile that was my room, basically. It is with some lingering shame that I admit to having to wear socks and even underwear more than once or twice in a row. I know that I was little and didn’t know any better and my parents weren’t exactly aware of it, but I learned very young to stop asking for things, so I probably just didn’t want a fuss. Boy how this way of thinking still fucks with me to this very day. I work on it constantly, but I have a very hard time asking for anything, especially help.

I think my dad cooked dinner more often than not, unless he was working late. Each parent, I think, did only the dishes required for that particular meal and it’s consumption. Our sink was always full of dirty dishes and our counters, well, I don’t know that I ever saw our counters as they, too were full and covered always. The few times we did a big cleaning bonanza it was always because of something bad. The landlord was coming over or a threat of eviction or whatever. Never a good reason, ever ! Because of this I struggle with bouts of high anxiety anytime my husband wants to spring clean or move furniture around…which is often. It is only recently that I figured out why that is. It helps to know, but the anxiety is still there and quite heavy.

Growing up I was never allowed to have friends over and honestly wouldn’t want to eventually as I soon saw how different everyone else’s houses were. My best friend from K-6th grade, Riana, never even saw the inside of my home all of those years. I spent nearly every day at her house a few blocks away. I would never say why, just that my mom didn’t want anyone over or a million other excuses. I see how sad that is now, how much shame I’ve carried with me all of these years. Ugh! When we did do a massive cleaning one time, due to an eviction threat no doubt, I did have my friend Summer over to spend the night once. This was shortly before we moved out of that house and I’d just gotten a kitten…well, found a kitten, long story. But I remember the house being pretty clean, though not to my current standards.

When we moved to a new house that my dad was trying to actually buy, we kept the place pretty nice. We had smaller stashes of clutter, but the floors were open and clean because the house was also being shown to possible buyers. That was a nightmare, actually. I finally had my own room though and I kept it pretty damned tidy. The only clutter was in my closet and we got rid of most of what would have been clutter during the move. I had friends over all of the time and I loved that. I actually felt a sense of pride in my room and home. It was a new feeling, but a good one! And I snuck boys in my room…but don’t tell my dad! Ha-ha!!!

So, you can imagine that when I moved out with my abusive boyfriend later that these life skills, such as cleaning/cooking/laundry, were basically non-existent. I was depressed most of the time and though working full time at 16, everything else sort of fell to the wayside. I did my own laundry…but not much else. That time of my life was sort of a limbo anyway. Living in one room and all, it wasn’t like there was much to clean anyhow. Work was a refuge from the abuse and depression and I spent a good chunk of my paycheck on clothes and accessories there anyway.

When my husband and I moved in together, well, I didn’t tell him about how I grew up. Or it never came up? I don’t really know. I know that we had next to nothing and I went to what is now Big Lots every week to buy more necessities. I learned to do dishes, though we still do them differently from one another. I still put all of my laundry, yes mixed, into a cold wash and a hot dryer. I don’t iron. I dusted for the first time in my life about two months ago when I discovered a Swiffer Duster unopened in our closet. It was like magic! We do vacuum at least once a week if not more due to the Puggyman and his double coat of fur love.

We’re neither neat-nicks nor slobs. I’m the queen of clutter, but it’s manageable. Right now my biggest issue is clothes as one of my dresser drawers in broken and thus a pile has been placed beside it. I am working on folding laundry rather than shoving it. It’s still a struggle. My childhood still haunts me when I least expect it. I know now that my parents should never have had children…in my opinion! They got married because of me and well, they should have sought the unpopular solution at the time. My dad worked and worked and had neither the time nor the energy for much more. Though his weekend-ish days off were fab as he would take us to parks. I don’t have a terrible childhood, just a different one than most. While my school chums would worry about their mom “killing them” for scuffed shoes or stained shirts, I never felt such pressures. For the most part my parents let me do as I want in some ways. I sought a life outside of my home out of necessity. I hardly regret that. But it is a different thing entirely when one was never shown or taught how to clean a bathroom or carpet.

These simple life skills we all take for granted I have struggled with my entire life to catch up in some way. It always seemed an unimportant thing when I’d rather be at a concert or kissing boys. I am far from a domestic goddess. I enjoy cooking and baking now, but I fought that for years, too. I almost wore my ignorance in these things as a badge of honor for awhile. No longer! With every new skill I toss out such old ways of thinking and press onward and hopefully upward and beyond the shame and guilt of old. It may be worth mentioning that my little brother and sister, now in their twenties, didn’t grow up quite the same way as I did. They had chores to tend to and were made to do homework. I was asked if I did my homework and my only chore was taking out the garbage. Though I suffered through catechism while they did not. It was just very different, though we lived together. I don’t know that I will ever know why.

But I know that I can’t be the only one. And it is because of this that I bare my soul here for you to read. Thank you.

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I am taking submissions from anyone who wants to participate in the fats in winter wear posts! Email your pics here: notblueatall@notblueatall.com, please include the name you’d like in the post, a blog or etsy shop you wanna plug and  your fatty philosophies. Have fun with it!

Too Many Possibilities?

October17

I used to write poetry, like all of the time…but only when I was depressed, which was all of the time. I felt that depression gave me something to write about. It fueled my writing and me and gave me something to do. I think too much as a default, so writing things out helps anyway. But just now while trying to figure out what to write about today I realized it’s been such a struggle lately because I’ve been depressed. What? I know! Funny how things can switch on you without notice like that, eh? But it’s true. What was once a constant source of inspiration has been left in the dust.

I was a very depressed person in my teens and early 20’s. Specifically, the most concentrated bit at least, when I was 19 transitioning into 20. My friend Steph could tell you all about it, poor thing, she was right there with me everyday almost, back then. We lived on Lean Cuisines and Jose Cuervo. We did a lot of stupid shit and had a great time doing it. But I would always go home in a pit of despair, she always seemed able to keep the spice of life at hand and ready for  more. I was such a sad thing that I got a very regrettable tattoo. I have it to this day and while I want to cover it, part of me feels like it represents a time of my life that I shouldn’t want to forget. And I don’t think I want to forget it anymore.

Now I find that if I’m down or fully depressed, I can’t write for my wonderful readers. It’s not fair to them. It’s not giving them my truest me or the goodness that they give me back. Basically, I’ve suddenly lost my inspiration for writing. It bums me out even more, but I know this isn’t productive so I’m trying to lift myself out of this. I mean, we’re all struggling right now. I don’t  know anyone who isn’t. And while I am mega-struggling financially, emotionally I need to make myself a priority. We all should do this, yo!  Self-care is so vital, I say it all of the damned time. Ha-ha!

But then I was thinking the other day of doing a video series or a photo series of some sort. It was late at night and when I woke up I couldn’t remember what the subject/goal was supposed to be. Ack!  I hate when you get great ideas when you’re just trying to go to sleep. I always feel like if I get up to write it down I won’t ever fall asleep and so I never do.  Oh well. I guess if it’s that awesome it’ll come back to me. Fingers crossed!

What would you like to read/watch/see? I feel like I’m in this huge transitional phase and can do whatever the hell I want with my life and this blog and so why not dive in…but the endless possibilities are stifling. I need your input. You have all been so there for me, through all of my crazy-cafe years and beyond. I will write or record or photograph whatever you wish, my lovelies. You mean so much to me, I just need a little push in the right direction. I’m very open to guest posts, too!  Just hit me up! My email: notblueatall@notblueatall.com

And here is me today, raw and natural and without any alteration, fresh from the shower, the real and true me:

Thank you all for being your authentic selves with me, too. You mean the world to me. Thank you!

@

Living Lives Part Two

July8
*TW for mention of abuse & suicide*

While currently feeling like I’m living very separate lives, I also feel as though I have lived a few lives or lifetimes already. I will say up front that I do suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, though I’ve never been formally diagnosed. I have also heard that we sort of start anew every 7-10 years and this can feel like a different “chapter” in our lives, or as I see it, a new life all together. It is this that I think I am speaking about today. I obvisouly have not died and been reborn, but I do think that with each phase of my life I have left a part of myself behind, perhaps as a marker or landmark to return to in the old memory banks? Not sure, but that’s how it seems to me (and I have been told that this is classic PTSD symptoms).
My “first” life, if you will, was my childhood. I have described my childhood here before, but doing so made me realize that it was much worse than I’d previously considered. Somehow describing it in words and getting responses from “outsiders” (though I consider most of you friends if not family at this point) sort of gave me a new perspective and I’m still unpacking those feelings I have about that. I would say that my first life was from age 4-10. During this time I went to the same elementary school, had the same best friend and generally was happy. Yes, I grew up poor and in squalor, but those two things are not mutually exclusive, at least in my case. I know now that my mother was/is mentally ill and without access to proper medical and mental health care she went undiagnosed and untreated for many many years. I became extremely independant out of necessity and terribly protective of my brother (and later my sister), too. I saw my best friend, Riana, nearly everyday. It was at her house (as I could never have friend over due to the squalor that was the state of our house) that I felt free of the “poor kid” title and restraints. I envied her more than I knew at the time, but am just now sorting those feelings out.
Early on I struggled to find friends or to fit in, but I met Riana in Kindergarten and immediately felt I’d found my place in the world. We were nearly inseparable. And kids in general had a lot more freedom then. We rode our bikes all over town and made up dance routines to every song on the radio or in Riana’s cassette collection. The kids who lived on my block were a bunch of assholes (I promise I’m being as nice as I can on this). They were very typical 80’s rich-kid brats, though looking back they were working-middle class. They treated me like a freak of nature. My first day in the neighborhood it seemed they went out of their way to deem me uncool/unwanted/gross/weird/etc. I was an awkward redheaded and freckled little girl. I was painfully shy around adults, but quite friendly with most kids. When my mom would take me to the park, before I started elementary school, I would always make fast friends. In preschool I even got “married” to my friend Kelly. He and I made wedding cakes in the sand. Funny thing, we dated in Jr. High years later. Ha-ha!
Problems started to arise as I entered puberty before my BFF. I got my period at age 9 and while our attention to boys was already top priority, I think we began to grow apart at this time, too. I did have other friends. And I began shoplifting. Then I got caught with my friend Sonia (another poor kid, we got along so well) and we weren’t allowed to see each other anymore. In the 6th grade, I grew so envious/jealous of Riana that I stole her brand new white Keds! I then had the fucking nerve to come over to her house the next day in those same Keds. I insisted my Grandma had bought them for me. Parents were called, many heated discussions had and in the end I wasn’t allowed to hang out with Riana again either. It was a strange end to a long friendship. Riana and I had been through everything together. We were molested by a friend of her family, but we remained friends long after that. So it’s strange to me that it was the Keds that were the final straw. That was pretty much the end of that part of my life. I had a few friends in 6th grade, but without Riana there was always a giant hole in my life. It might still be there, actually.
When I entered the 7th grade everything changed. Just everything! Not sure if there was an eviction threat or what but suddenly my parents had a few friends and went out and did stuff (they’d never done that before) and one of those friends helped us clean our whole house. I still felt weird about having friends over though. I had a new BFF Erica and was reunited with a friend from 2nd grade, Summer. I quickly found my place at the “Homo Tree” and also soon found that to many I was still the freak/weirdo and was bullied every single day at Brunch/Lunch. I got my first boyfriend only a month into the school year and had my first kiss that Halloween. Boys consumed my every thought and wish. Erica and I would watch the movie Beaches and felt we were those characters in the film (with my red hair and pop star dreams and she the classier/calmer brunette and more college oriented dreams). We crushed on everything that moved, though she liked the older and more “bad” boys at our school. Almost all we talked about was boys and sex and NKOTB (of course I hearted Jordan, she Jonathon…Ha-ha!). We spent many days at the mall and shopped all day long on about $10 between us. Summer would come sometimes or she and I would go together. Just about every single weekend, on a Saturday, we’d be at the mall. Walking and talking and checking out boys and hitting up the record store and just being silly teenagers and enjoying every minute of it.
The 8th grade was fantastic! My bullies had gone on to high school (well most), I was able to just be me and ended up dating the cutest boy in our school (and a “sevy” too). Summer dated his BFF and we would have double date make outs after school behind one of the portable classrooms. It was magical! Ha-ha!  I had my first real heartbreak when the cute boyfriend dumped me after dating for four months (forever). Turns out he was just grounded and didn’t bother to tell me until a year later when we dated again for a minute, but then I dumped him out of spite. I was very immature, I know. I soon met two gals that I would go on to be friends with to this very day (that’s over 20 years, chi’ren). Steph & I met in P.E. class (1st period, ugh!) when I’d gotten my ears pierced and was trying to swap out the studs for hoops way before I should have. She offered to help and we’ve been friends every since. Alena I met a few months later when I gave her and her friend the combination to a shared frienemy’s locker. We were later punished together and bonded over singing Salt ‘N Pepa songs while cleaning the girl’s bathrooms. I crushed on my first gay guy at the end of the year and was heartbroken at the dance after gradutation when he didn’t even notice I was alive (no hard feelings “Tink”).
The summer before high school was fab and terrible. I was dating all kinds of boys and was making out all of the damned time, but my mom left my dad a month before school began and that did dampen the mood a bit. We had moved into a house, but my dad couldn’t get a loan approved to buy it (even with my grandma’s house on offer as colateral) so we ended up moving again. It was in this new place that the next chapter of my life began. I had a new BFF Joyce, and still hung out with Summer, Steph & Alena constantly. Joyce got me into sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll…and into much older guys. *headdesk* I also was hanging out with my friend Marc alot as he was the coolest and funniest and most sincere guy around. No romantic feelings there, but he was just a rad friend and someone I trusted and could rely on. He truly cared about me and I him. Joyce moved in with us when her dad beat her up. It was so cool! I suddenly had a psuedo-sister. Instead of make-up and stuff, we’d drop acid and get stoned and make out with boys (I was still a virgin at this point). The stupid shit we did, well, I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand it, but it was awesome at the time. I soon met a French guy who would later break my heart and take my virginity (in that order and a few weeks in between). I started hating school so much I would get queasy every day before 1st period. I was in a lot of classes that were over my head or under it. One of my teachers had like a personal vendetta against me and would make cutting that class a cinch later.
Then out of the blue and for no aparent reason I got a phone call from a frienemy, Kim B. I hadn’t spoken to her in months and pretty much hated her guts. So when she called to set me up with some guy she knew, to this day, I have no fucking idea why I even listened to her talk let alone went along with it. I agreed to meet the guy and fell for him a bit at first. He was 21 I was 14. Red flags anyone? He drank so much, but never drove so I didn’t give it much thought. I was cutting so many classes, even whole days, that school didn’t mean much to me anymore. I still saw most of my friends and my dad wasn’t able to be around much to do anything about it. That summer this guy started to beat me up. At first it was the typical beating and then remorse and gifts bullshit. Then it became a regular everyday thing, almost. I soon shut out my friends and became very introspective and quiet (very unlike me prior to that time). My dad was going through a divorce and caring for his father (who was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease) while taking care of two little ones and working full time. So when I threatened to run away if he didn’t let my 21 year old boyfriend move in with us…he had little choice.
I spent the next five years feeling like a hostage in my own home. I no longer saw or talked to friends. Every action and moment of my life was controlled by my abuser. I fantasized about escaping or an ex-boyfriend saving me like some stupid knight in shining armour and all of that garbage. I soon had a very zen-like reaction to his beatings and even begged him to just kill me. Yes, it was that bad. When he choked me so badly that I passed out one time (not the last, sadly), I was devastated when I woke up. I had wanted to die and was almost pissed off that he hadn’t succeeded in killing me this time. Towards the end I began to fight back. He hadn’t realized that I’d had it in me all along and neither did I. We’d moved out of my family’s house and into a roommate situation. He began to deal drugs and later started doing them, too. I discovered Ann Rice and retreated into her books for about a year. When the little brother of that fantasy-knight ex-boyfriend showed up on my 19th birthday and mentioned to me in private that he had an extra room I could  use for free, I realized that it was my only way out. Somehow he saw what no one else had for five years: that I was being abused and that I was stuck. I hadn’t even heard of the town I would be moving to twenty miles away until that night, but he helped me find a way to make it work and in the end I did escape the abuser for good. I never could have done it without him and I am trying to find him to thank him for saving my life that night.
It was when I got a job at the local mall music store that I began a new chapter in my life. I made new friends, I was rid of the abuser for good and I started my life all over again. I didn’t know who I was or where I fit in the world. I just worked and went home at first. I would go to my grandma’s house a few times a week for dinner and to email Alena (my dad had recently gotten the internet, a new invention for home users that would eventually change civilization as we knew it). I had a Prodigy account that allowed me to make friends with people all over the world. This also lead to a lot of crazy-stupid blind date meet ups that a girl my age should not have been fucking doing on her own. Luckily nothing bad ever happened and I came out of that phase unscathed. I started to hang out with Summer, Steph and Alena again and it was like this golden era for me. We were all single and happily dating. We would party our asses off every weekend. We would just have the best times, man. It was great!
But then it all fell apart for me again, as it seemed to a lot back then, when I met a guy at a gig I had at a local club I was working for a music industry magazine promoting new bands. It was like out of a movie! I fell for him so hard that when he dumped me on my 20th birthday it was like a ton of bricks and anvils falling on my head. I was beyond devastated, I was suicidal. I don’t think I fully recovered from that relationship when I let a boy from Texas move in with me. *headdesk* He sold his belongings to come live with me, I thought I loved him, but once he arrived I knew it was all wrong. It was company at least, but none of my friends or family liked him and after two weeks I didn’t either. He was just mooching off of me. So when the roommates got us all evicted, I was relieved. Bye moocher, go on back to TX now. KThnxbye. Ha-ha! But I’d already met B by then and it was all over after that.
B & I were friends at first, I’d hired him as part time seasonal help at the music store, but we soon developed feelings for one another and when I moved back home after a financial mishap it became clear that we were supposed to be together. And we have, ever since. 13 years later, I think I did just fine with this one. Ha-ha!
Stay tuned for the next part of this three part series. Thanks for reading. <3 S
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