Party’s Over

I don’t know how many of my readers have had the privilege of meeting my parents, but if you know Pete and Dina at all, you’re probably aware that my teenage years were pretty chill.

An accurate representation of my mom:

Ok, it wasn’t that bad– but my parents did allow me to engage in some underage drinking once we had established some ground rules and trust. Basically, as long as I told my parents where I was going, when I’d be home, and promise that I wouldn’t get in a car with someone shitfaced or make a complete ass out of myself, I was good to go. Since I was kind of weird and had a limited social circle in high school this didn’t happen super often, but when it did, I found that open and honest communication usually secured my golden ticket to party.

Please note that my parents weren’t exactly thrilled about this situation, but they were not oblivious to the realities of high school life. Don’t think that for a second they held back when it came to making fun of me when I threw up on my own bed after trying Captain Morgan for the first time. My dad was also a big fan of adding on extra outdoor chores when he knew I had a hangover.

One piece of advice that I’ve carried with me throughout my young adult life was something that my mom told me before I went to my first shitty house party.

“Just don’t be the last one left at the party,” my mom warned me. “No one ever wants to be the drunk girl that’s lingering around way too long. Know when to call it a night.”

Granted, this is basically the equivalent to the “nothing good happens after midnight” mentality, but I hadn’t heard that quote yet, so I spent many years thinking my mom was a genius. While I applied her insight to high school and college shindigs (I do not have an 100% success rate in this arena, I’ll admit), I started using it as somewhat of a mantra as I navigated the muddy waters of life as well.

It’s important to know when to wrap things up, when to close the book. Relationships, jobs, projects, what have you- they all have an expiration date, and it’s important to know when to be done. More so, when to end it on a high note, if you can. Dragging out an already so-so night/relationship isn’t going to make anyone happy.

It’s kind of like that one football player who kept “retiring” and then would be playing again a few months later and ended up sending pictures of his penis to everyone. Super similar.

The point is, I’ve decided to stop writing for this blog. It’s been over 4 years, over 100 posts, more than 1,000 followers, and countless amount of lessons learned. I started this little site to a. get over a breakup, and b. ensure that I would always be writing.

Now that said ex is engaged and a homeowner, and I’m about to dive headfirst into my career as a creative writing MFA student, I think its safe to say that the party has hit it’s peak.

I’m so proud of what I’ve made, and who I’ve become thanks to this blog. I’ve met fans, and I’ve had a few haters, and I’ve grown in ways that I never ever thought possible…all because I stayed true to myself. There are stories in here that are funny, that are sad, that are cruel, that have helped me heal…and they are all small little pieces of me. The fact that some of you have been able to see yourselves in my writing, and maybe even heal a bit too, is above and beyond anything I could ever ask for.

I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has supported me, followed this blog, enjoyed it, and encouraged me to never stop writing. Trust me, I never will. I want to spend the next 2 years of my life focusing on being a sponge in the creative writing world, and hopefully one day making something that we’ll see on a bookshelf.

And a quick message to the people who didn’t like some of my blogs and felt the need to trash me and my work: I don’t care, you’re lucky I didn’t go harder on you, and you’re stupid.

I will maintain this domain for as long as I’m able, so these words will always be available to anyone who needs them.

That’s it folks, the party’s come to an end! Thank you, thank you, thank you x a million.<3

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I Couldn’t Help But Wonder…

A really good friend of mine told me today that he considers himself a “failure” in the realm of relationships. This statement actually made me really sad, because what I think of this friend, I think of amazing times I’ve shared with both him and his partners, a warm home, hilarious get-togethers, birthdays, dinners, etc. Sure, he’s single right now, and maybe some (okay, all) of said relationships ended in a sorta messy break up, but it made me think about what makes us “failures” in the game of love.

Anyone who has ever gone through a separation or divorce will (I’m guessing) call themselves a failure. Honestly, to this day, it’s one of the only words I’ve associated with myself since my marriage didn’t work out.

I think the reason people enjoyed American Idol for so long was because Simon Cowell ripped everyone to shreds. Throughout the reality show’s success, you rarely heard anyone talk about Paula Abdul’s kind comments even when someone didn’t show up on the stage with their best work. It’s a lot harder to come up with a kind comment than a shitty one, and that tendency doubles when it comes to talking about ourselves.

Where do we draw the line at when a relationship is best for our wellbeing versus what looks better- AKA what we “should do”. History, our grandparents, social media…they all tell us to “work on things”, to “see the best” in others. Still, after all this time, we’re all still secretly searching for that perfect person to complete us, but more often than not, the people we meet along the way just don’t help us shine to our fullest potential.

As my move to a new state draws closer and closer, I can’t help but think about how much seemingly easier this transition would be if I still had a husband (or at least a boyfriend). The world becomes a lot less scarier when you have someone facing it with you. But the truth is, there are no guarantees, whether you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, slam piece, what have you. Things change, and people do change too. I don’t think I’d be at the stage I’m at right now if I would have stayed in my comfort zone. I could have rolled around like a pig in its own shit for years in my relationship, never changing, never growing, never struggling or trying. This isn’t a diss to my former partner, or really myself, because I do think I would have been supported in any choice I made. But I think I got to a stage where I was like…why rock the boat? And I was only married for a year!

As humans, we seek to evolve and grow and expand our world, but we still yearn for the simplest of comforts: a home to live in, food to eat, a place to rest our heads. As time goes by, these basic wants turn into needs, ones we’re not sure how to function without. The thought of giving them up becomes scarier than opening a brand new door and beginning again, even if our biggest dreams are within reach.

I don’t know what it’s like to be in someone else’s relationship. I can’t speak for a person who has been in a 7 year relationship with someone who didn’t treat them the way they deserved, but they stayed because they just had that a special connection. I haven’t the slightest idea what it’s like to stay with someone for 20 years and create a family, then go in a different direction. I don’t know what it’s like to be my grandmother- someone who never really had the same opportunities as myself to work, get an education, etc. What would she do without a husband at this point, realistically? Start adding kids or a mortgage into the picture, and the chains of comfort grow tighter and tighter.

What I can say, with confidence, is that the end of a relationship is not a failure. The fallout of 6 more relationships afterwards isn’t a failure either. Quite the opposite, I think that putting yourself out there and being open to love again is really brave. Being vulnerable is no easy feat. Sitting down across from a new lover after your heart has been ripped to pieces is heroic. Packing up your shit from a home you’ve built for so long and trusting that maybe, one day, things will be okay again…is epic.

If you think a wedding, or a cute couple-y Instagram picture is a sign of success, try watching your bank account reach zero as you work your ass off to pursue the only career goal you’ve had for 10 years. See what it feels like to tell your friends about your broken heart, and watch how they rally around you. The love you create for yourself when the chips are down is much grander and award worthy than anything any significant other can give you.

I like Disney movies and romantic endings as much as the next person, but I want to create this one for myself. And for my friend, who may not feel like a “winner” right now- you are. You’re so much brighter and worthy than you think you are. I have a trophy waiting for you.

 

Crazy Cat Lady

I’ve never been a huge fan of the term “Cat Lady”. It immediately brings up images of sad, matronly looking women pouring ridiculous amounts of food into a living room flooded with greedy cats. I picture myself in a muumuu, rollers in my hair, loudly proclaiming that there was just never a man that was good enough for me, and that my cats are my true children. Despite all of my misgivings, I added a second cat to my small family nearly a year ago.

Today, my little tuxedo cat PJ turned one. I celebrated her birth with some cat-friendly cupcakes and a little can of tuna. Last June, I walked to the PetsMart by my house and ended up taking PJ home on a whim. Now, I get made fun of pretty routinely for how much I focus on her, how obsessed with her I am, and that I’ve completely turned into the “Cat Lady” persona I so fearfully dreaded.

While I still dress and act the same, the truth is, my reasoning behind my adoration for this tiny cat is grander than anyone really understands.

The morning of the day I ended up adopting PJ, I had planned to kill myself. I had been thinking about this decision for a few months; I had my reasons, and I was all but ready to go. I woke up and wrote a letter, making sure everyone in my life close to me knew that they were not to blame, and should feel no guilt for the actions that would later take place.

After I had set up everything that I needed to end my life, I remembered that a good friend from high school wanted to go out for a belated birthday lunch that day. I figured my plan wouldn’t be foiled even if it was few hours delayed, so I went, and I ended up having a good time. When I got home, I returned to my letter and my process, but my cat Mia was meowing incessantly, and I noticed that her food dish was completely empty. Not wanting to leave my only pet without an owner and food, I rushed over to the pet store to grab her a bag of cat food. After this, I thought, I will carry out my plan.

While I waited in line with the heavy bag in my hands, I saw that the windows in the adoption center each had tiny little black cats playfully frolicking behind them, with a notice informing curious cat parents that black cats are rarely adopted because of their color (and potential for bad luck, I assumed).

“Do you want to come inside and meet the kittens?” a sweet looking Humane Society volunteer asked me.

I shifted in place with my bag of food. “Um, I kind of have something to do.” I answered.

“Ok, well they’re all very sweet and up for adoption,” he shrugged.

“Fine, but just for a minute.” I decided. I set my cat food down by the door and walked inside the adoption area. An elderly woman was cradling a tiny black cat and I had literally never seen a happier person in my life.

I awkwardly stood by the door, wondering what the fuck I was doing.

A little black kitten jumped on top of my sneaker, attacking my shoelace and purring contently. I liked her. I stroked the little cat’s head and she looked up at me, hugging tightly to my Converse laces.

“Can I have this one?” I asked the volunteer.

He said yes, and informed me that today, all adoption fees were waived, so I was welcome to take her home right away. He handed me a bag of cat food and a cardboard crate. He told me congratulations. The elderly woman smiled and waved.

As if I was a robot who was slowly learning human functions, I swiped my debit card for Mia’s food, carried my crate home, and welcomed this small black cat into my home. She strutted around like she had been living there her whole life.

I aimlessly leafed through her background, which had been provided in a cute folder. Her paperwork stated that she and her sister had been found abandoned under an old shed, covered in mud and riddled with diseases, basically left for dead. As I looked at the playful kitten bravely exploring my home, she didn’t look like an animal that had ever experienced anything so terrible. Even though she’d been alive just two months, she had figured out a way to forgive and forget, to be happy and playful, to even let me be her new mom, though I was clearly unqualified.

I tucked myself into bed a few hours later, and as I started to doze off it occurred to me that I had forgotten to kill myself that day. My letter was still intact, my pills ready to go. My new pet crawled into bed and settled herself right next to my heart. She fell asleep easily, a gentle purr came shortly after her eyes closed.

I never did anything after that. I threw the letter and the pills away. I named her PJ (short for Princess Jasmine, one of my favorite Disney characters). I bought her some toys and a little bed. I held her when I was sad, and I played with her when I was happy. She’s still here, and I am too. She’s asleep at my feet right now.

I don’t know if we were supposed to find each other, or even if I made the right choice. But she makes me feel like I did. If this is what it’s like to be a Cat Lady, I’m ok with it.

Spiritual AF

Working in the yoga community has been an interesting experience for me. I din’t grow up religious; I wasn’t raised with any kind of background of belief. My parents’ instructions were simple: be nice, don’t get hurt. All the way through my teens and adulthood, I had a hard time comprehending how anyone could grow a connection to anything, especially a random figure in the heavens.

I’ve never been personally drawn to pretty colored rocks, to the sounds of people chanting, to beads around my neck, or to a book that claims to know every answer. This isn’t an attack on anyone or anything- it’s just the way I feel. I often wonder what it would it would be like to have blind faith, or to even have a more open heart. As a result of my direct work in a more spiritual atmosphere, I am often confronted with seemingly easily solutions to my day-to-day struggles. Eat vegan. Do more yoga. Focus harder. Visualize. Meditate. Breathe. I don’t see any strong dissimilarities to the religious rituals I found myself shuddering from at a young age: Pray. Believe. Repent. Read the Bible. Get baptized. Etc, etc.

I’ve never been one to say that something isn’t real, or doesn’t work, because I don’t know, and frankly, neither do you. I actually have an extensively nerdy belief in aliens. It’s an area where I’ve done the most research, read the most books, and where my belief system could primarily lie, if you needed to give it a direction.

Working and existing amongst spiritual people has it’s own set of challenges. Per example, if you are experiencing a difficulty or a frustration in your life, it is likely that it is of your own making. You didn’t visualize the outcome you wanted hard enough. You didn’t move your favorite furniture into the right corner of your house. You didn’t love yourself the right way. There are a billion reasons why your life, right now, sucks, and it’s probably because of you.

Am I simplifying an open-minded, loving belief system to it’s core? Certainly. But because I am who I am, and I live with the realities that I do, I am frequently challenged to accept the forces of the universe at work.

Due to my personal background and my experiences, it has been more simple for me to accept that the world is random. Things happen for no reason, there is likely no God or greater power looking over us, and nothing means nothing means nothing.

However, I would be a liar if things didn’t occur in my life that I didn’t take notice of. I’d be dishonest if I said I didn’t walk into an aquarium and stare in awe at the beauty of every single fish, wondering if someone hand painted them to be that beautiful. Humans are weird as fuck. We kill and we destroy and ruin great things. But we’ve made some amazing works of art too. As an artist, I’m continuously conflicted by the idea that something greater could be at play.

Here’s the thing: my life has been basically shit for the past year. I lost everything I’ve ever cared about, and I’ve failed on my own scale of measure. Over and over and over again I cried and begged for something to make sense, but things just kept getting stripped away.

Two weeks ago, I got my first acceptance letter into an MFA program. This is something I’ve worked for endlessly. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. But two days later, I lost my job. I lost my security, my income, my sense of self…everything that kept me grounded to my hometown until the inevitable move.

It is much easier for me to see this as a random occurrance. Lay offs and job troubles happen everyday. But why, WHY, am I being so viciously forced out of a role just 30 hours after the opportunity of a lifetime. WHY did my car fall apart and then become totaled after I fled from the home I shared with my ex-husband. WHY did two completely qualified teachers just happen to miss their shifts after I debated for months to audition for the space at the yoga studio I now call home? Is everything coincidence? Is everything that random?

Or…is it possible that this big, beautiful universe is catching on to my doubt and realizing that if I’m not physically forced into my own future, I might never take the chance? I will ignore a million red flags if it means I can receive love. I will do anything to prove that the world is random, and that I am a floating, replaceable speck on this earth. But then my friend said something to me that I couldn’t shake: “What if this is what you’re here to do?”

“What if every ounce of pain, every missed connection, every challenge, every failure, was so that you could do this?”

If I’m not writing I literally don’t know who I am. Perhaps every single moment of my confusing, scary, painful, and sometimes beautiful life is all accumulating to the moment where I become everything I’ve ever wanted to be…and maybe it will all make sense. And maybe it won’t. Maybe it’s just as random as expected.

Stranger things have happened. I’m still going to read alien abduction books- so why not take a chance on magic? I believe in myself…do you?

My Biggest Fear

Want to know a secret? I loved being married. I loved everything about it. The words “my husband” rolled so easily off my tongue it’s like they were the only two words I’d ever known. Setting into our little apartment every night, getting comfy, lounging around drinking Moscow mules and watching our favorite shows…waking up every morning and having someone to talk to, some who (I thought) loved me. The idea that I could text someone whenever I wanted, about anything at all, and never have to worry about being annoying. We didn’t have a lot of anything, really, but I felt so loved and safe in my home. I wouldn’t have changed it if you paid me a million dollars.

As a last ditch effort to “make it work”, my ex and I went to couple’s counseling. During one of our sessions, he (my ex) said that all he hoped from whatever outcome would present itself was that I wasn’t damaged beyond repair. He said he was worried that my heart would close off, and that he would hate it if I never opened myself to love again. His words terrified me. Was he right? Would I be like this forever? Would I constantly want to dig through his (or someone else’s) phone logs and feel prickly from the inside out?

During the fallout of our relationship and the months (year) that continued, his words weighed heavy on me. It felt like he was right. I hated pretty much everyone I met, I was angry, cold, and anything- I mean anything- could make me cry at the drop of a dime. I hated the new me, and I began to grow scared that I’d never go back to normal.

About a month ago, I found myself in somewhat of a relationship. I know guys my age don’t like to commit to words like ‘dating’ or ‘relationship’, or, God forbid, ‘boyfriend’, which is strange as it nearly felt like yesterday I was placing the ring on a finger of a man the same age.

But whatever, I was in a “thing” that was challenging me, a lot. There were confusing feelings, conflicting declarations of adoration (and the opposite), and I found myself going from very high highs, to extremely low lows. While this is part of life, and it happens all the time, I was so pleased beyond anything else because I was able to return to joy. I found myself getting nervously excited at the prospect of seeing this person again. I felt warm and comforted in his embrace. I felt inspired to create an environment of safety and communication. I even bought a birthday gift!

I don’t know whether or not this…”thing”…will last, or go anywhere, or how he truly feels about me for that matter. But I do know one thing: I am not damaged beyond repair. I am not broken. The part of me that was open to love, that was brave and trusting and willing to give my heart away has not been taken from me. Sure, this me might not be as bright and shiny as before, but all the fears that my ex and myself instilled in me have been silenced by my very own patience and kindness.

Honestly, if I can do it- so can you. There is always room for more.

My Pain and I

I remember when I first began to realize I was crazy. There were thoughts in my head that scared me, feelings that were simply too big to explain or contain in such a small body. I recall laying on the cold tile floor alongside my childhood dog attempting to process the crippling anxiety that was taking place inside me when I thought about the concept of heaven. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old.

It took years of therapy and white noise tapes and concentrated breathing practices to teach a young Kalee to stop pacing the halls of my home night after night instead of sleeping. For reasons I still can’t really explain, the sounds of crickets chirping in the dark would send me into a deep frenzy; I assumed that they were all sitting outside my window, carefully plotting all the ways to kill me, or at least ruin my sleep.

As I got older, I developed ways to conceal my disturbing thoughts. Sure I kept journals, wrote poems, even carved obscure phrases and lyrics into my desk tops in school- who didn’t? Though I pretended to be an active participant in my life, I’d roam the pathways of my high school in a daze, thinking not about assignments, not about making friends or the upcoming dance, but instead about how deers felt when they were being chased, what it’s like to be tied up in a basement, and crying in solitude at the idea of one of my less popular teachers dining alone.

I never really had a boyfriend until I was in college. Even then, we were only allowed to hang out on Sundays and I wasn’t supposed to refer to him as my boyfriend in front of people. I showed him a piece of my own writing once, and he looked at it like a weird bug who had happened upon his salad. The first time he saw me cry, he awkwardly patted me on the shoulder and sent me home on the 38 bus. He’s now married to a girl who smiles very easily and has nice straight hair.

I’ve read and re-read Girl, Interrupted enough times to lose count, and while books that speak of crazy women usually warm my heart and help me drift into an easy slumber, I remember realizing upon my last read that I am simply not crazy enough to be cared for. Nor am I regular enough to be loved.

For years, it was evident to friends, family, and acquaintances that I was no doubt odd, but that I would always be alright. I didn’t need to be studied, to be kept away from sharp objects or impressionable children. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was deemed an appropriate babysitter, a hirable candidate for virtually any customer service job, and an extremely capable student.

While my prickly disposition has (so far) kept me from being mugged, I’m arguably far less approachable than most girls my age.

If it ever seemed like I was going to fall apart, especially in front of people, my dad would usually tell me to wash my face and regroup with everyone in a few minutes. Potential lovers would backtrack out of any room or conversation if I showed signs of weakness, usually blaming the weird mood on my menstrual cycle or an off day. When things became too much to handle, I was brushed aside or left for good. “She’s fine” is probably the most common phrase that has ever been sent in my direction. Boyfriends would quickly replace me after months of emotional turmoil with a simpler model, one that usually looked similar to me, but seemed softer and less complicated.

As my 30s now seem like a short jog from the horizon, I don’t know if there will ever be a person- friend, lover, family, or otherwise- who will completely accept all of me. There are so many contradictions and frustrations that bubble beneath the surface of this 5 foot frame. There are days where I am completely in control of myself, my humor and my joy, and there are months where I feel like an open, walking organ without any skin to protect me- all my wounds and scars available to the naked eye. Neither seem appealing to anyone in close radius.

Being loved really isn’t all that big of a deal, especially if you’re not a sucker for Nicholas Sparks novels [movies]. It’s not that hard to fall for someone with big eyes and a cute smile. I can attract love with my words, the way I move my hands, the gifts I give, the way I laugh. For me at least, it is profoundly deeper and more meaningful to be understood.

The moments where I have felt safe and just allowed to be have been few and far between. I am simply not crazy enough for the passionate, yearning, toxic love, and not simple and gentle enough to bring home to the parents. My assumption is that I will always float around in this strange purgatory of living with a not-believable-enough mental illness. I will make my way through life with an easy assumption of strength. For years to come, my parents will tell everyone that I am “fine” and that I can “handle it”, while I’ll actually be sitting in a weird corner panicking about the next social event I might be invited to, or wondering if everyone is staring at my left eye because it’s smaller than the other.

I often wonder if I’m one personal crisis away from lining my bedroom walls with jars of pee, or if I’m going to become the greatest written voice every millennial has ever asked for.

Stay tuned.

Alright Already!

Next month, I will be celebrating the 4 year anniversary of beginning this blog. It’s weird to think that a broken heart and a lot of boredom after undergrad prompted me to shell out $12 a year for my own domain and a space to complain. This blog has taken so many directions over the past 4 years. It’s been funny, it’s been super sad, romantic, vicious, cathartic…

I met my first fan last year while I was drunk in a bar, and it was probably the single greatest thing that has happened to me in my 27 of life. That was until I received my first acceptance letter from a Creative Writing program last Monday. I knew that I had been slacking on my blog, so stupid me, wine drunk and giddy at 2 in the afternoon (don’t judge) already started working on all the perfect little witty, yet inspirational quips about never giving up on your writing dreams and persevering through a joke of a writer’s salary while maintaining your lingering alcoholism.

Cut to yesterday afternoon when my employer informed me that our company was tanking and I could “take a break” on writing for now. Oh, cool. I can take a break on my main source of income? Sick.

So basically, I got to enjoy my “go me, I’m smart” moment for barely 2 days! What kind of horse shit is that?

Isn’t that the way it goes though? Isn’t the universe constantly testing us, trying our patience? Last May, I remember driving my friend Danny to his hair appointment before binge drinking and I said, “I feel like things are finally turning around for me!”

Mind you, this is following a marital separation, a car break in, $3,000 worth of car repairs, 10 instances of over-drafting my bank account, online harassment, and a public meltdown at Cabo Cantina. I feel like I’m leaving something out. Anyway, about 5 seconds later I slammed into another driver and totaled my little Beetle. Danny missed his hair appointment too.

A big part of me wants to be so pissed. I just want everyone who reads this to feel like they can do great things, that they can pick themselves up after the biggest of shitstorms, and maybe even feel empowered to be a writer. I realize, though, that sitting here gushing about my successes and my dreams isn’t what brought me a following in the first place. I got dumped by a cute Iranian guy and lived with my mom and her cats to create this. I went through terrible relationships and weird job shit and a fucked up president and being a semi-functional human being to write this.

Even though my bank account is stressing me out and I kind of feel like a weird loser, there is so much validation is every post view, and even one little letter from a school in Chicago. I’ve done it, I’ve done everything I’ve sought out to do. Where there some set backs? Fuck yeah. Are you going to experience some too? Definitely.

I hope that there is no roadblock too big that stops you from being who you are, or from finding an outlet that serves you creatively.

I know this isn’t my best work, but I’m still doing my best to hold on to this part of me, this blog. I’m still around, taking 2 steps forward and 10 steps back every time. But at least I’m walking right?

And There It Is

I had a really weird experience the other day.

It happens occasionally, but not frequently, that I speak with my parents about their divorce. After 20 years of marriage, my mom and dad decided to part ways. I was in another city obtaining my degree at the time, and it wasn’t a decision that bothered me then, and it isn’t something that bothers me now. However, it was a bit crazy to me that after two children, multiple homes, vacations, mortgages, pets…a whole life basically, these two people basically just said “eh, I’m over it.” I know that there’s more to the story- there always is. But their discontinued love never hung over my head like a dreary cloud. It was just something that happened.

Fairly recently, though, I was speaking to my own mother about my pending divorce, and she said something that truly shocked me. Despite all of the work, and time, and heartache, and labor, and love she put into nearly half of her life with my father, she said that my divorce seemed more painful than hers.

For the past year, I’ve worked diligently to remind myself how lucky I am. My divorce mental cues have become a daily mantra: you didn’t have kids, you didn’t have a home, you didn’t share property or assets, it could have been so much worse. When I feel down, or like a failure, or just like a human being, I say these things to myself over and over and over again. I remind myself of those who have had brutal divorces, whose choices have affected other people, and honestly, to keep myself from being pitiful.

It was crazy to me, the night that my own mother said that, because for years, I had pictured her dissolved marriage as a pain I was lucky enough to never access. I was the stupid 25 year old who just took a pretty pink eraser to a mixed up equation and called it a day. I didn’t have a last name to change; I didn’t have children to explain anything to. I got to walk away.

But what my mother realized on the night that I said I was leaving my husband, and what I realize right now, is that my failed marriage is “sadder” because it really is a failure. My wedding vows were said aloud with plans I intended on keeping. I placed each plate and glass in our cupboards with a vision of a family. I held my husband’s hand and looked into his eyes and saw a partner. I envisioned a life and a future and whole world full of shared memories. I went to bed every night feeling like I’d do the same thing forever, and I was happy about it.

Despite the fact that my mom and dad didn’t make it for the long haul, they had a life. They grew up together. They had careers, they experienced loss, they experienced major successes, they watched their children learn to walk and talk and grow.

Maybe things aren’t the way they were before, but a life happened. When my mother sees me, she sees the outline of a body- someone who had potential, someone who had dreams, and a future. It’s much harder, in a way, to accept that the life you pictured for yourself, the world you created, the heart that you let open up, just won’t be.

If I had to explain what it feels like to realize that the person you loved and trusted more than anything has engaged in an affair, I would guess it’s like having someone cut all of your skin off, yank your heart out from your rib cage, squeeze the shit out of said heart, and throw it on the floor.

When you accept that your marriage has ended in such an early stage, you create a coffin in your mind. You fill it with your wedding dress, your ring, your dream home, your unborn children, your hopes and your fears, your self esteem. You lower it into the ground, you cover it with dirt, you place the black veil over your eyes and you walk back to your car and drive home. You move on. That’s the way it goes.

Somedays I feel really lucky that I walked away from my coffin so young. People probably look at me and don’t see a divorced person; they see a young girl with so much potential, so much time.

I was reminded, though, that there is a whole snow globe of hurt that I didn’t even let myself access yet. The dreams of my life, the person that I believed I could be, that we could be. But it’s ok, because you can shake up a snow globe and create a storm, and everything will still sit there peacefully, waiting for a story to unfold.

If you’re ever wondering why I don’t want to start over, why I don’t want to just “take a walk”, or “go on a date”, or “open up”- this is why. There is a life out there that I believed I would have that I didn’t. There is a universe that I’m mourning, and I can see it…I can almost touch it.

Every day I take about 3 steps closer to a better me, and I take 100 steps back right after. Good things take time. I am still learning, I’m still getting there. I am the steady house inside the snow globe waiting to be shaken awake.

Pervs, Forced Affection, & Why I Haven’t Posted “Me Too” Yet

As someone who has for all accounts, never struggled to put my feelings into print, I’ve been battling with what to say during this outpouring of support for women in the midst of so much appalling abusive and sexually driven behavior. It’s not because I don’t stand in solidarity with every female that has been so bold as to even type the two words and/or share their stories of mistreatment. And it isn’t even because it hasn’t happened to me, because of course I’ve been cat called, touched in a way I didn’t approve of, or felt uncomfortable around someone in a position of power over me. But isn’t that the problem right there? That it’s so easy for me to access multiple accounts of behavior driven by a physical force that I can’t pinpoint one that stands out above the rest?

I think- and I’ve discussed this with people I trust on multiple accounts- that a major contributor to this problem is the concept of forced affection. It’s a pretentious sounding term that is often met with confusion, and that is where we start. Forced affection, in the quickest way I can describe it, is the method of conditioning, typically from a young age, that your body is not something that belongs to you, or something you have control over. It isn’t specific to men or women, and it usually happens at a very young age. It’s rarely even done consciously. We laugh at photos of young children falling apart on the lap of a mall Santa Claus or Easter Bunny, and we all have vivid memories of a parent encouraging us to hug or kiss a relative we may not know all that well for the sake of being not being “rude”. Affection becomes something we are made to give not by choice, but by circumstance, for politeness, for status quo.

I believe, in part, that this is why I struggle to identify with where I stand and my position in the macro sense of sexual harassment. For as long as I can remember, I’ve tensed at the thought of hugs, of handholding, of finding an embrace, even with someone I truly care about. I don’t know why, I don’t know when it started, and I don’t feel that it is something I should have to articulate again and again.

There have been multiple occasions where I had to ask fellow coworkers not to touch me when talking to me, and some incidents have actually been met with the question of whether or not I was sexually abused. While I battle with the notion that this is an inappropriate questions to ask, I think it’s missing the larger point. If, let’s say, I had been sexually abused, isn’t is possible that years of forced affection and uncomfortable situations for the sake of others may have skewed my view of what is abuse and what isn’t? Of course I can acknowledge that someone yelling something obscene at me from their car window, or a high school boy sticking his hand up my cheer skirt is wrong, but where do the lines begin to blur?

As we are realizing now more than ever, our words and our actions have serious consequences. It doesn’t take long for a misplaced joke to go viral, for a lapse in judgement to cost someone their job and their reputation. Every time we say ‘fag’, or ‘slut’ or the like, we are normalizing some form of shame, abuse, or hate. Much is the same with the way we touch others, the way we make people feel like they’re “weird” for preferring not to be touched, even innocently. This isn’t an attempt to blame my parents for wanting me to hug my grandparents, or saying that someone who was unaware of the slightest indicators of sexual harassment are the ultimate problem. Because, we all are, in some way, part of the problem.

I thoroughly enjoyed objectifying the half-naked men in the popular Australian all-male strip show, but I grimace at the thought of a man commenting on my appearance even if I’m in a tank top. I see and I know, now more clearly than ever, that women are changing the world. Standing together, lifting each other up, and using our voices not just to speak for ourselves- but for others, is so inherently in opposition to what our gender has done for years. It’s incredible and it’s beautiful and it’s so inspiring.

I guess all I’m looking for in this post is to remind all of us- women, men, gay, straight, trans, POC, that all of our words and actions matter. What are you using your voice to do? What kind of statement do we want to make, and more so, what do we want to see change?

I don’t really think that my stories of sexual harassment and abuse are ones that I want to share, not right now. I’ve seen the effects that my vocal disdain for men and women alike telling me to smile has had on those older than me, people who have shrugged off the idea that it could be taken as harassment for years.

It’s not just the big moments in our lives that matter, but the little ones too. The times an unwanted hand was placed on my shoulder, when a comment was made about my clothes, my makeup, my body type. These situations have not only been conducted by men.

If this piece was in anyway taken as me not agreeing, wholeheartedly and believing in the “me too” movement, I encourage you to reread, and I promise you that is not the case. We have to start somewhere, and I’m happy we’re starting with women whose voices have been silenced for far too long. I’m simply suggesting that oftentimes, those who have been quiet, may have also been confused. Realizing what is and what is not ok when it comes to all of our bodies starts with the notion that it’s ok to say what you do and don’t want, even if you may not know why just yet.

It’s our job not only to be vocal, but to listen, have patience and respect for those who are finding their voices in a scary world, and strive to make our time here together a little less shitty.

Ya feel me?

A Brief Amendment to “What the Fuck is Happening”

Hi there. Yesterday I wrote an aggressive blog about being ghosted and how terrible it is. While I in no way, shape or form have changed my opinions about ghosting, I noticed that in my potential list of reasons for why ghosting can occur, I only blamed myself. Women do this a lot, I’ve found. “What’s was wrong with me? Why didn’t he like me? What did do?”

It’s rare, especially in our younger years, to take the time to even think about whether or not we like the guy that’s giving us attention. We’re too consumed with the idea of him liking us, and what that all means.

The other day I asked my roommate if she actually liked the guy she was hanging out with or if she just wanted free food. It took her like 5 MINUTES to answer. It’s the plight of the female, right? We’re so used to validating ourselves through the eyes of men. Don’t beat yourself up about it, we ALL do it.

I read all kind of female empowerment blogs and books and I spend most of my time with some of the dopest women I know but we all. Still. Do. It. I feel like it’s a huge reason women get married! “Look I’m LIKED!!!!!”

So I guess the amendment I wanted to make was that, you know, maybe it’s his fault. Maybe he sucks. Maybe he doesn’t even like women! Sometimes guys are afraid or they have a shitty dad or have a shitty job and they don’t know how to deal with life. It’s no real excuse to not communicate with someone or not give them closure or make them feel fucking weird, but it happens. We all suck in our own special ways. I’m not going to make a list of things that could have been wrong with this guy (though I really want to), but I’m going to entertain the idea that I’m not the problem.

I’m still trying to find that balance between self reflection towards improvement, and self-deprecation for the sake of humor and, honestly, not getting hurt again.

The message remains the same: don’t ghost, assholes.