Three

Three years. Three long, crazy, happy, depressing, wild years. In those three years, I’ve waited and contemplated writing this piece, and, until today, decided not to. I thought I wouldn’t do it justice. I was afraid to look back days, weeks, months, after the piece was written and think, ‘you could have done better if you had waited longer and constructed your ideas more carefully.’ But, today, I thought, ‘fuck it.’

I started this blog many years ago. I carefully picked topics that I thought about on a regular basis, and I wrote with careful consideration and care, wondering how I could appeal to the masses and gain an insane amount of followers…

But, about three and a half years ago, I stopped writing. Up until that point, as my frequent readers will know, I was in a long term relationship with Matt. But, I fucked up. And, I want to write about it so that I can reflect on what I’ve learned over the last three years, and put all of my feelings out on paper to close this chapter and move to the next. This isn’t to say that I haven’t moved on. I certainly have. I just want to make sure that everything has been fully processed. And, from this piece, I hope my readers can understand that they’re not alone. People fuck up. We grow, we learn, we have each other.

To begin, as my frequent readers will remember, Matt and I dated for seven years. The first time we got together, we were in high school. Near the end of our relationship, we began living together. And, I started to doubt if would be compatible in the long run. As we lived together, I realized that we were more like roommates and less like partners. Matt had his friends and his activities, and I had the books that I liked to read, shows I liked to watch, and workouts that I liked to do. I was a homebody. I was socially awkward. I hated myself, and I over-analyzed every sentence before it came out of my mouth. And, then, after it did, I replayed the entire conversation and scolded myself for things that I said that I thought sounded stupid. Needless to say, at the end of the day, being around people was exhausting, so, I preferred to stay indoors.

When Matt would go out, it upset me. When he would spend time at home, but not around me, it would upset me. When he did anything without me, I became frustrated. That same year, I found my tribe. It just became clearer to me that Matt and I would be spending more and more time a part if we continued our relationship. I wanted someone who was going to be around more often and liked some of the same activities that I did. So, right before Christmas three years ago, I broke up with Matt.

In my own stupidity, I thought that he would understand in a way. I thought that he could see it too. It was obvious that we weren’t spending much time together and that all of his activities were starting to annoy me. I walked out, and things only headed further south. Weeks passed, and we went back and forth on getting back together. Or, should I say, Matt pleaded with me to come back and work things out, and I wouldn’t listen. Deep down, I knew that I loved him and that I didn’t want to leave him, I just needed a change. In my bones, I knew it was a change that I couldn’t get from being with him. If I wanted to grow and get back to the old me, I needed to throw myself to the sharks and do it alone. I knew that if he was there, I would rely on his help, and I wouldn’t progress. I knew that if I stayed with him, I would rely on him to fix everything. I would become even more codependent than I was. I just needed to leave.

This isn’t to say that I regretted my decision multiple times and begged for him to let me come back. Oh, yeah, there definitely was that. I poured my heart out to him in a letter, made a list of everything that I would do for him if he decided to spend the rest of his life with me, signed off on the list, and left it with him. I showed up at his doorstep multiple times with food and gifts to show him how much I cared. Nothing. He had every right to feel frustrated too, hate me even. One day, I was sitting on his couch, and he told me that he didn’t love me anymore. It was about nine months after I’d left him. I knew then and there that there was nothing more I could do. If he didn’t love me, I didn’t want to keep trying to win him back over. At least, when he loved me, I had a fighting chance. I walked out of his apartment that night only to return two months later and tell him that this was the last time I would see him unless he called asking me to come back into his life. He never asked me to come back.

Since that time, I threw myself at myself. Does that make sense? What I mean to say is that self-improvement became the only thing I focused on.  I went to therapy, I found my religion, I planned out-of –state trips to places I had never been to by myself, I started online dating, I started (and finished) my master’s degree, I gained many new friends through work and networking connections, I’ve thrived. I could have easily given up and told myself that my life had no more meaning, that I had hurt the one person I loved more than anything beyond repair, and, therefore, I shouldn’t be allowed to live my life to the fullest. I should repent every day and embrace all of the shit that comes my way because I deserved it.

But, that wasn’t my path. It took a while to stand up straight again. It took a lot of love and care from the therapists, friends, and family members around me to get me to where I am now, but I want to keep moving forward.

I love Matt as a person and a friend. I always will. I’m not in love with him anymore, but I do pray for his happiness and success. I pray that someday, maybe further down the road, we can be real friends again. Maybe, we can support each other in our professional growth and in our personal growth. We spent a total of eleven years as friends and more. It would be stupid of me to think that he wasn’t/isn’t a huge influence on my life. However, I have long since forgiven myself for the way I ended things. Do I wish that the way we broke up would have been different? Yes. I wish that we had had long conversations regarding our feelings and what we thought we could do to help each other instead of ending things right away. I guess, ultimately, I didn’t know how he could help me. I didn’t think that he could. I thought that I would become even more codependent if I stayed. I didn’t know, at the time, how to express what I needed and wanted, so I ran. I didn’t know, truly, want I needed. I had to throw myself in the pool before learning how to swim to survive.

If I’ve learned anything about relationships from this experience, it’s that you have to wake up every day willing to work on being together. For some people, it comes more naturally than others. But, the love and respect have to be there. You have to try to get along the best you can and want to be the best version of yourself for yourself and the other person. You have to try, try, try every single day. Maybe, I wasn’t truly willing to try. In reality, I was so self-centered to the point where I thought we had been together long enough that it should just work, and he should want to be around me more often.

Truth is, it isn’t just about you. It’s about the team you’ve created. It’s work. It will always be work. And, you have to get up every day willing to get to work.

Dearest Readers – It is my hope that if you are in a relationship with someone, you can talk to that person. No matter what your feelings are, positive or negative, it’s important to connect with that other individual on a daily basis. When I was with Matt, I was afraid that if I told him any of my negative feelings, that he would leave me. I shouldn’t have been afraid to express how I felt, because, at the end of our relationship, I blew up. I blew up because I had been holding everything in for so long. That’s no way to live. If you are in love, communication is the most important tool in your relationship tool kit. Be kind to one another, be respectful, and communicate as if you don’t know the next time you will be able to.

Much Love,
GS

Dear, Self – Love, Self

Dear, Self –

Hi! How are you!? Have I told you lately how proud I am of you and how much I love you? The last three years have been so interesting and inspiring. I think it’s time to take a moment and remind yourself all that you’ve done to improve your physical and mental well being!

1 – Remember when you hated the idea of doing anything alone (traveling, eating, etc.)? Remember how you crushed that belief system by taking not one, not two, not three, but four solo trips within the last three years? You wanted to go to California, so you booked a trip to San Diego by yourself and ate alone at restaurants and explored all of the nature that the area had to offer. Then, you decided that you needed to fly out to New York to see a taping of Jimmy Fallon because of how in love with him you are. Remember when you flew there and back in one day? Phew. Crazy. Next, you decided that you had had enough of Wisconsin, so you flew out to Colorado and spent the weekend with your beautiful cousin. You partied with her friends, saw the sights, and even made out with her best guy friend! Wait, should we leave that part out? Nah, you two are still friends. Lastly, and most recently, you booked a flight out to Phoenix, Arizona because you wanted to go to the International Women’s Summit and see some of your favorite female authors speak about their lives and what they’ve done to overcome challenges. Remember how rejuvenated you felt after that conference? Hold on to that.

You didn’t only go on crazy trips by yourself, but you hang out alone in public places sometimes, and it doesn’t bother you. Remember all those concerts and movies you went to by yourself because your friends were too cheap to want to go with you? Yeah, man, they missed out!

2 – Ah, remember going back to school to receive your master’s degree? You always told yourself, “I’m never going back to school! After that bachelor’s degree, I’m done.” Well, look at you now. You finished your master’s degree in one year! You did it! Who knows, maybe, someday, you’ll find a topic that you’re all too passionate about, and you’ll want to go back for your doctorate. But, let’s just take it one step at a time. Oh, I should remind you that you got your master’s degree in one year while working full-time. You’re such a boss.

3 – I also want to commend you for asking for help with you food addiction and social anxiety. I know you didn’t know just how far down the rabbit hole you had gone, but I commend you for doing so. If you hadn’t, you could be a lot worse right now. With this, I applaud you for being open to different treatments. When you realized that hypnotherapy was the best option for you, you went with it! You put in the time, effort, and maintenance to make sure you were successful. You’re still fighting for yourself every day, and it shows. Just think about all of the friends you’ve been able to gain since seeking help. Even conversations that you have with strangers come with ease now instead of fear. And, you’ve adjusted your eating habits, and you’re healthier and happier. Go you!

4 – Remember when finding friends and dates online scared the crap out of you? I’m so proud that you decided to give the online world a firm handshake and a ‘can do’ attitude. You went on multiple dates and even found some new friends from creating profiles and putting yourself out there into the online world. Yes!

5 – Five has always been your favorite number. And number five on this list has been your favorite discovery thus far. I’m so glad that you took your cousin’s advice and conduct regular sessions with psychics and spiritual healers. Think about how much you’ve learned about yourself and the world around your from doing so! You now have a general outlook on your future and have practiced caring for your spiritual self through prayer. These sessions give you that piece of mind you’ve always searched for but couldn’t find on your own. They’ve also given you that confidence to just go out and be you knowing that everything will be ok. I’m just so in love with you for doing this!

6 – I know that the topic of religion has frightened you for so long because you thought you weren’t good enough to find your tribe, and I know you were afraid to talk about it because of how scarce it was in your life growing up. I’m so proud of you for taking a pause in your life and realizing that you want to do research on this topic and figure out for yourself where you stand. God has always been in your life, and now you know just how He fits in! I’m proud of you for continuing to pray and meditate every day and for asking the universe for help when you feel like you could use an extra boost! You have awakened the beliefs that have always been there and studied so many beautiful passages that have enhanced how you look at the world. Yes, life is beautiful.

7 – Oh, sweet, sweet social media. It’s enhanced our lives, but it’s also taken away some of the true connection that everyone craves. Remember when you used to refresh your Facebook feed all of the time because you wanted to take everything in that everyone was doing? You haven’t even logged in in the last week! There could be comments sitting there waiting for you, and you don’t even care! You’ve started to read more, workout for longer periods of time, and be fully engaged with your friends outside of your phone. I know this one was hard for you, but you’ve come so far. I’m so happy that you’ve started to disconnect and make more time for the things that really matter.

Self – Look at you and how far you’ve come! There’s so much exploring left to do! I’m so excited to see what you’re future will hold. Keep writing and sharing because your sole purpose is to make others feel less alone and to help create a community that you’re proud of. I love you so much. Keep going!

Love,
Self

Get Loud!

As a child, my parents threw me into every sport available on the planet. Soccer, baseball, volleyball, you name it; I’ve taken a crack at it. Throwing me into sports that I wasn’t any good at helped me in my, what seemed lifelong at the time, commitment to not exercising. I told myself that I didn’t need it and that gaining weight was a natural thing. However, there’s some point in all of our lives where the number on the scale needs to stop getting larger.

For those of you who’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’ve been through a weight loss journey, and that even though I could barley jog 5 steps in high school, I turned to running to help me lose weight as an adult. This isn’t the story that I want to retell. This is a summary of a new “triumph” that has taken place in my life recently that I think we can all learn from.

This past weekend, I ran a half marathon that I didn’t intend to run. I’ve ran half marathons before, but I trained for those races. This year, when my cousins asked me to run this particular half marathon, I told them, “no.” There really wasn’t a chance in hell that this would end well. For the past several months, I have been so preoccupied with other life happenings that I’ve let myself backslide into some unhealthy habits and limited exercise. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m not as motivated anymore.

A few days before the half marathon, I told my cousins, “you know, even though I’m not running, I’d still like to come and cheer you on the morning of.” One of my cousins, Samantha, mentioned that along with the half marathon course there was a 10K (6 mile) course happening at the same time. I thought to myself, well, maybe I am strong enough for the 6 mile course. Sure, I haven’t ran in 6 months, but I’ve done Pilates and a few strength training exercises, I think I’ll be fine.

Even though I had plenty of lead time, race day came sooner than expected. I was scheduled to pick Samantha up at her apartment the morning of. And, of course, she was running late. After she was finally ready, I looked down at the clock when we climbed into the car and realized that we wouldn’t make the start time. “Its fine,” she said, “we’ll just start our 10K race when the half marathon starts. We’ll still run the right course.”

The gun went off for the half marathon, and there we went. “I’ll stick with you so that we both don’t miss the 10K exit,” she exclaimed. Perfect, this chick, who is one of the fastest people I’ve ever ran with, has decided to move her run time to sloth pace, instead of the preferred gazelle, just to make sure poor little me doesn’t get left behind. Wow, how helpless am I?

As we reached the two mile mark, we realized that the exits for the 10K were blocked off. There was no way we were going to be able to do the 10K course. Fuck. At the five mile mark, Samantha ditched me. We both realized at that point that we were going to have to run the half marathon whether we wanted to or not, and she was not about to sloth pace through the rest of it.

***

Mile 7, about half way finished. I could smell the gasoline as I past the local Mobile station. And, I could smell the breakfast menu from the restaurant down the street. I felt disgusted. A man on the sidelines cheered, “Way to go, you’re half way there!” and I wanted to slap him. I couldn’t possibly continue. I felt like I could barely breathe.

As cops and paramedics whizzed by me on their bikes and in their golf carts, it took every ounce of resistance I had not to yell, “Officer, help! I’m on the wrong course. Can I get a lift to the finish line? I don’t feel well.”

***

I’ve made it to mile 8…after walking a majority of mile 7. I notice a pile of vomit on the course. Whoever did that, I get you. We are one in the same.

***

I’m on mile 10 and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. And then, I realize that I have another 5K left to run before I cross home plate. There is a man running next to me. He’s probably in his late 60’s. He’s decided that he’s fed up too, so he begins to power walk. I have slowed my jog to a crawl…that is apparently as fast as this man’s power walking speed. What’s the point of life?

***

Finally! We’re in the home stretch! There’s a man in front of me who is clearly having issues with his calf. He’s jogging with a limp, and I still can’t seem to pass him with my run/walk/jog routine.

***

Here we are, the finish line. The man with the calf issue is now skipping and limping, but he finishes strong…at the same time I do.

***

I surprisingly crossed the finish line and was only 12 minutes worse than the time I had the year before. I felt so low and disgusted with myself. How could I let all these people pass me? Why did I stop to walk? I never stop to walk! But, with “tragedy” comes a bit of clarity. I realized why I kept up with running when I started a few years ago. Throughout my younger years, I hated running because I always wanted to be faster than the people around me. It wasn’t until I realized that the only person you truly need to compete with while you run is yourself. Push yourself to finish, take it at your own pace. You don’t have to be better than the others around you, you just need to be louder than the negative voices in your head telling you to stop or that you can’t do it. There are so many people out there who don’t run because they think they’ll look stupid, or that you have to be an all-star athlete to run a mile. I’m living proof that you don’t have to. You just have to take it slow, and push yourself to be better than what you were yesterday.

It’s time to start getting louder than the voices in your head, because you’re worth it.

Granny Smith – over and out

Moving Out; Moving On

For the past two years, I’ve slept in my room at my childhood home, with my parents and sibling only a few feet away. We were a family again, a team.

Recently, I joined a new team. I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend of nearly seven years. It’s strange because the last time we lived in the same zip code was eight years ago. We’ve gone from living most of our time together apart to sharing the same space and belongings.

My parents helped us move in, and we got most of our items in order fairly quickly. But that first night is when it hit me; just like the day they dropped me off at college. I was almost as sad as they were. Even though I knew I would see them that upcoming weekend, it felt strange not living with them.

And on that first night in our new place, I started shedding a few tears. His head was on my chest, and I quickly wiped them away. But, as the evening wore on, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my family was doing, and how, at this moment, I should be with them. So, more tears started falling, until I eventually couldn’t take it and ran into the bathroom, slammed the door, and sobbed.

My boyfriend, Matt, then opened the door and took a seat on the floor next to me. He tried to wipe away the tears and get me to confess what had made ounces of water stream down my face. I just can’t tell him, I thought, it’s so stupid. I miss my family? Seriously!? We’d been waiting for ages to be able to live together, and now that we’ve finally gotten the chance to, I miss my old living situation?

Instead of asking more questions, he took me into his chest and cradled me like a child. He told me jokes, and I looked up at his face and laughed at each one.

More than two months have gone by, and I’m happy to report that my first night in the apartment was the only night I thought about my family and cried. Thank goodness that didn’t stay consistent, and, neither has other aspects of our relationship.

We argue now more than we ever have in the past. I can’t stand it when clothes and other belongings are left lying around in the open, or when things like toothpaste and other bottles aren’t put back in their original cabinets, yet, these situations occur all the time. We go back-and-forth about what to do for dinner, what’s happening this weekend, upcoming vacations, friends, when we should see our families again; everything is a one, big discussion. Decisions used to be easy for us; maybe it was because we had a while to plan it out before we saw one another.

Sometimes, we come home and go our separate ways. This part is still weird for me because prior to living together, every moment we got to spend around each other was sacred. Now, we’ve become so used to seeing each other all the time that it’s as if we think, eh, we’ll hang out later. And, maybe because it’s summer, we seem to have our own schedules and activities on the weekends. Recently, I booked a dinner cruise for the two of us, just so that we could get the chance to reconnect. The cruise lasted two hours, but it felt like we barely got a, “how you doin?’” in there.

If I’m making it sound like everything has just been awful, it hasn’t! I feel more connected to Matt than I have in the last seven years. I like that we can start making bigger decisions together about bills, home décor, how we spend our time, and more. I also love the fact that I get to sleep next to him every night, even though we’re both bed hogs. And, yes, we can have sex every day if we feel like it! Our neighbor upstairs may not like it, but we can do it if we want!!

More than anything, I just love the fact that he’s here, and that I can feel his presence…even if we’re not in the same room together…like right now. Currently, he’s just a shout away, instead of a phone call and 45 minutes…ah, priceless.

Granny Smith – over and out

Stage One: Find Man, Stage Two: Live Happily Ever After

As a woman who is constantly thinking about her future and planning ahead, some people are surprised when I tell them that stories and moments from my past tend to replay themselves over and over again in my mind. For example, the other day, I started to think about what the topic of this blog post would be, and then proceeded to strike up a one hour conversation with myself, replaying my relationships from the past ten years and remembering what went wrong. Looking back, it’s weird to say, but I’m happy that I’ve aged. I enjoy remembering the good times of the last decade, but I definitely wouldn’t want to live them out again.

However, I can’t help but think about the relationship that I have with my boyfriend Matt and how it’s evolved. Matt and I met ten years ago, and were good friends for two years before we started dating. We broke up after our first three years together, and then reconciled after 18 months. We’ve been back together for over three years, and I’ve noticed a lot of changes over the course of our time together. Thus, prompting me to write about the different stages of a relationship. What you had, what you wanted, what you might miss, what you have now, and what you hope is in store for the future. Take the journey with me!

  1. The strong, emotional bond of young love: Depending on your age, this stage can be a bit different for everyone, however, there is one, common denominator: passion. This can be physical, emotional, you name it. I remember when we first started dating, we would be together all day, then go to our separate homes, and call each other three hours later. Looking back, I wonder, what the hell was there to talk about? We had just spent 8 plus hours together? Then, I remembered, we were just beginning to figure each other out, digging deeper into one another’s likes, dislikes, etc. There was also a stronger, romantic, emotional connection. There were a lot of “I love you’s” exchanged, talk of how wonderful the other person was, planning the future together, etc. To me, the best way to describe it was being in a Disney princess movie. You’re Ariel, he’s Prince Eric. He’s ready to hurdle himself into the ocean for you, and your mind is clouded with thoughts of the other person. You never want to let go of their warm embrace, and then some.
  2. The Intellectual Stage: Next, comes the intellectual, deeper meaning stage. You’ve already figured each other out (for the most part), so there’s not a lot left to talk about on that front. So, you start discussing ideas, world news, politics, the hard stuff. It’s your time to really gage what the other person believes in, and if you can see your relationship going all the way. You’ve come to realize that looks won’t last for forever, so, you have to see if the conversation will. This is also the time when you figure out how the other person responds to shit that life throws their way. Do they come up with solutions? Do they get mad?
  3. The Mature/Grown Up Phase: Shit. Gets. Serious. You start talking about living together, and you essentially are working towards compromising all of your assets. Sometimes, this phase can make or break couples. Unfortunately, you have to put on your big girl/boy pants and deal with real life problems. Will we have enough to feed ourselves this month if we buy that new television? Finances are never a fun thing to talk about. But, it’s important to try and keep the mood light and realize this person is your best friend. You should be able to bring open and honest communication to the table. And, when all else fails, laugh.

Through all of these stages, I have learned that as people grow older and change, so do relationships. The two biggest issues with couples are expectations and communication. For example, say that during the beginning of your relationship, your significant other called you every night before bed just to say, “I love you.” But, now that you’re living together, your partner doesn’t even say, “I love you” before bed at all. You miss this, and start to wonder why he/she doesn’t do it anymore. Every night you go to bed, wishing the other person a “goodnight,” and hoping, silently expecting them to say, “I love you.” I mean, it would be nice to throw in there every once in awhile. But, it never happens. Months go by; you sit at night with this silent frustration. You may even start becoming passive aggressive, etc.

Some people hold on to that anger, and over time, little things that have changed start to piss you off. As you grow together, you may take out your frustrations on the other person instead of simply stating, “why don’t you tell me you love me before bed every night?” Your relationship becomes the question, “Why don’t you?” You forget about all of the things that he/she does for you, and you only focus on what’s slipped through the cracks.

Some of you might be like me. You might be too nervous to bring up your questions or concerns. If you’re like me, you always feel that people have enough on their minds, and you really need to pick and choose your battles. Sometimes, when I get frustrated, I ask myself, Am I going to turn this into one of those battles? I’m trying so hard to “let it go” that I’m sacrificing my opinion.

I’ve made a promise to myself over the past few weeks to start becoming more honest with Matt. If I’m upset about something, it’s time to raise my voice. If I wonder why he hasn’t done something, it’s time for me to say, “you used to do xyz for me. I miss that. I would really appreciate it if every once in awhile, we could make xyz a thing again.” It’s doesn’t pay to get mad at the other person for not meeting your “silent expectations.” If you want something, ask politely, and go after it. Men and women cannot read each other’s minds. It’s hard enough to figure out the language of the opposite sex as it is, and now we have to silently figure it out? I don’t think so.

If none of what I’ve said has made sense, or you think you’ve just wasted your precious time reading this article, I’m going to sum it up right here. “If you never ask for doggy style, all you’ll get is missionary.”

Granny Smith – over and out

The Fall of Man

They found him. Gunshot wound to the chest on his birthday. Although, it makes sense, his heart was what hurt the most. His wife passed away four years ago in a car accident. He was the one driving the car… He had sold his house two weeks before he took his life. He wanted to move out of the city and on with his life. But, with no job prospects and no real friends anywhere else, he must have lost all hope. Deep down, we all knew this day would come; we just thought it would have happened shortly after she died, not now.

My uncle Steve is was an introverted, angry man. He didn’t like the outside world. When he met and married my aunt, his second wife, new life was pumped into his veins. He turned himself around, started going to parties, meeting people, and he even thought about having children! He said and did things he, and we, never thought he would do. But, when he accidently hit the other car that caused her death; he also died. The spark she implanted in him was gone; he went back to his old ways, hating the world and everyone in it. Each year that he remained alive, we considered ourselves lucky.

The last time I saw him was the day before his birthday. We were at a family gathering at my grandmothers. It was to celebrate her birthday, as well as his. He retreated to the living room for most of his time there, and when he was in the kitchen, he wouldn’t talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. When my grandmother talked to him, he answered her with a strong tongue and boiling anger in his eyes. No one could say or do anything to please him at this point.

I didn’t even bother trying to talk to him for fear that he would lash out at me. In fact, in all the years that we’ve been family, I’ve never said more than a few sentences to him. He wasn’t the type of uncle to show up at your high school play, take you out for ice cream, or make small talk. He was a man who just wanted to be left alone.

Sure, I could cry my heart out, take off of work for a few weeks, and preach to everyone about how you need to, “hold you loved ones close.” But, I can’t. I’ve never loved this man. To me, this isn’t a heartbreaking loss.

In fact, this isn’t a loss at all. My uncle did not die; he’s very much alive. Today he turns another year older…and colder, that is true. And, as I sat near him the other day, not speaking a word, I was reminded of how awful of a person I truly am. I realized in that moment that the man sitting near me is a man I’ve known my whole life; but he’s been nothing but a stranger. I realized that if he died tomorrow, even from suicide, it would not have a major impact on me. Sure, I would feel awful. No one deserves to die, no matter what the cause! And, no one deserves to feel alone. But, to me, it wouldn’t feel like a major loss. I can honestly say that it would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away.

Four years ago, this was where my family found themselves; on suicide watch for my uncle. It’s awful to admit that someone who is supposed to be such a huge part of your life doesn’t matter to you. Writing those words, “It would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away” makes me feel like a terrible person, but I know deep down that I’m being true to myself. Although, sometimes, we have to admit that even those people in our lives who are supposed to be family and the closest humans to us, mean zilch. That is why we all must create our own “families.” “Families” that are made up of blood relations, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, etc. “Plant your own seeds and grown your own garden because you have the power to choose who you become and who is allowed to influence you along the way.”

Granny Smith – over and out

Luck to be a Lady

I open my eyes and I’m greeted with a stabbing pain. My head is throbbing, and I feel like someone is sitting on my belly button. I think my pelvis was shattered. They said I lost a lot of blood, but they’re doing what they can to make me comfortable: heating pads, chocolate, soft pillows. I’m an emotional wreck. Everything seems to be triggering some form of anger, sadness, and confused complication in my body. They tell me that this too shall pass…

Unfortunately, being a woman is not a phase, and I’ve struggled with it my entire life; the monthly gift (as described in the example above), weight gain, societal pressure, family pressure, unworthy pressure that I’ve put on myself, all of it. Today is International Women’s Day, and I can’t think of a better day to talk about what it’s like being one.

When you’re a girl, you see images of Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel, and you think to yourself, I want to be them, I want their life. I want to look like them, have their problems, and their happy endings. I remember being really little and standing on my bed, looking at the moon and dreaming of a life like Cinderella’s (the ending of course). I even dug around in my mother’s beauty drawer for a thick, black hair tie, just like the one Cinderella had, so that I could pull my hair back, just like she did in the movie.

As I grew, I wore dresses, painted my nails, applied makeup; I had a field day trying to look like a lady. But, still, when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a girl with pale skin, nasty zits, glasses, and frizzy hair who was gaining weight by the minute. Boys NEVER looked at me…especially when I was going through my ugly phase…which was from 2nd grade to about my sophomore year of high school. I noticed all the girls in classes around me finding guys in middle school, and I was looked at as an ugly freak. I thought, how can I change?

As time went on, like any other woman, I saw images of Hollywood celebrities, their hair, makeup, weight, and tried to imitate them. I bought their clothes, went and got my hair done, researched how to tone my muscles while sitting at my desk, and the best brands of makeup for my skin. Still, I never looked like those women in Hollywood. Hell, there are celebrity women in their 50s that look better and are healthier than I will ever be!

And, not only did I feel pressure in regards to my looks, but sex. As a woman, you’re expected to be this sweet and innocent girl in public, but once you lock your bedroom door, men want you to turn into this wild animal! I remember the first few times I had sex, I didn’t know what to do with my hands, what to say, anything. I thought that I was supposed to sit back and let him take control of my body. It’s his for the taking; right?

Looks, the bedroom, and even the work force seem to control society’s perception of women. I remember when I entered my first job and realized that I wasn’t making as much as the man (who was doing the same work and at the same level of experience) sitting next to me because I had a vagina. Really? But, I suppose women are an awful investment. If they’re not engaged to be married when they start working for your company, they probably will be in no time. So, if they get married and their husband wants to move away because of a promotion, poof, they’re gone. Then, if he wants to have children, of course, someone might have to stay home. But, how can he stay home? He just got that promotion? He’s top dog! And, companies hate maternity leave. You might as well ask to go part-time, or just save the company some time and never come back. Why invest in a woman, they’ll just leave! Ugh…

But, when you think about it, I don’t know if I’d want to be a man either. Society tells them that they can’t cry or show emotion when they feel it. They can’t be the runt of any sports team, otherwise they’ll get picked on. They have to be tall, have six pack abs, and watch ESPN. They have to make others feel like they’ve earned the penis God’s given them. And, if they want a female partner, they better make sure they’re able to provide. They’re the one who’s going to have to work long hours, make connections, and do everything in their power to make sure that at the end of the day he still has gas left in the tank to have sex with his wife. And, what about that wife? Is she pretty? Does she do meaningful work? How many women did he have sex with before he married her? How much action does he receive on a regular basis now that he’s married? It’s all important. It all counts toward their “manhood points.”

I don’t know if I’d want that specific pressure that comes with being a man. I couldn’t tell you what’s worse. But, what I can tell you, is that pressure to be anything other than who you truly are is awful. If you’re a woman, but like being a “tom boy,” who gives a shit? If you’re a man, but enjoy The Notebook, I’m not going to judge you. Shouldn’t the message we spread to one another be, “Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You,” Instead of, “be a man,” or “act like a lady”…?

Granny Smith – over and out