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

Breaking Up is Hard to do

Recently, one of my very best friends went through a terrible, unexpected breakup with her boyfriend of 2 years. The situation left her damaged and with more questions and emotions than a toddler.

Now, I’ve gone through breakups myself, and I know that the majority of others have as well. But, I’ve always wondered how other individuals deal with them. I remember reading in an article somewhere that some men are ok in the beginning and tend to get a bit crazy, and then reality sinks in and they become lonely and miss the other person. On the other hand, I’ve heard that most women tend to cry about it, get really upset for a certain period of time, and then they move on and get crazy.

I’m not saying this is the case for every male and female because breakups happen in plenty of different ways and for plenty of different reasons, but it’s just what I’ve heard.

But, no matter how harsh of a breakup you have, you need to figure out how you’re going to pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

So, what have I done for you? I’ve searched the internet to find the best ways to deal with a breakup!

You’re welcome:

  • Don’t fight your feelings – It’s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It’s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.
  • Talk about how you’re feeling – Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Journaling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
  • Remember that moving on is the end goal – Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyze the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.
  • Remind yourself that you still have a future – When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
  • Know the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression – Grief can be paralyzing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you don’t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression.

If you’re currently going through a breakup, or know someone who is, I hope this article helped!

Granny Smith – over and out

Love and Loss

Lea Michele

So, if you’re a pop culture junkie like I am, you’ve obviously heard about the tragic death of Glee star, Cory Monteith…and you’ve probably watched the speech that his girlfriend, Lea Michele, gave at the Teen Choice Awards on August 11th.

Now, I may come off as a person who has a heart made of stone, but in all honesty, I’m very emotional, and nothing gets me more emotional than the passing of a loved one. So, when I first heard that Cory had passed, I immediately thought of Lea, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was going through. And, when I watched the speech that she gave at the Teen Choice Awards, I admittedly started tearing up.

As someone who is currently in a relationship, Lea’s loss made me think, what would I do if I lost him? How would I go on? Unfortunately, my thought process regarding this topic isn’t new. My uncle lost his wife about three years ago in a tragic car accident, and it took such a toll on him that my family members began to wonder if he was contemplating suicide.

So, what do you do to help yourself move on after the love of your life, your best friend, has passed away?

Below are 10 suggestions:

1)      Before you move on, fulfill any request that your significant other said before passing away.  If there was no time as with a sudden death for a final request, explore ideas to gift or honor your late partner. This will give you a peace of mind, and will ensure that you will not have any mental obstacles in your new life.

2)      Know that it will take time before you can begin to feel a sense of normal again. It will not just disappear, and it will not heal itself. Be patient with yourself as you work through the process of grief. Grief is a journey that lasts as long as it takes to reconcile all issues pertaining to death, your loved one, yourself, your relationship (good/bad) to bring peace and understanding.

3)      Understand that there are stages you will go through and they are not linear. You will experience denial, anger, resentment, yearning, suffering, sadness, and eventually an acceptance. However, you may not do them in this order and you may, much like a roller coaster ride, go over these stages repeatedly over the course of your grief journey with regard to the same loss.

4)      Do not pay attention to those who try to tell you that you are not grieving properly. Instead, thank s/he for their concern allow them to know everyone grieves differently. Grief is as individual as you are, as your partner was, and as your relationship was. Specifically, you will likely deal with some who thinks you are healing “too fast” and those who think you have become “stuck in your grief”. If you have concerns about either, talk to a grief counselor or therapist, s/he has training and experience to help you navigate through your grief as well as help you build self esteem.

5)      Realize that you have choices. There is a time when you need to cry and go through the suffering to get to the other side. There will come a time when you are ready to actively participate in grief work to bring healing to have a new life.

6)      Do not worry that you will forget your significant other.

7)      Ask yourself what it was that you have always wanted to do but something you never had time to do because of family obligationsNow is the time to do it! Be anything you want to be. Become an artist, a pilot, or a scuba diver. Take a ride in a hot air balloon. Most of all, strive to be happy and fulfilled. Your dreams can become a reality and help fill the void in your life. You will meet new people and realize that life can be satisfying and exciting even if you are alone.

8)      Be patient because this change may not come quickly or easily

9)      Adopt a pet. If you don’t have the energy to give a great amount of attention to a pet, consider a cat. They make great companions. They are clean and do not have to be walked. They give you love and affection. They give you someone to care for and care about. They will greet you when you come home, and lie on your lap while you watch TV. If you are not a cat person get a dog, or whatever pet makes you happiest. Understand that the pet will not replace your love, nor is it meant to, but animals can make you smile.

10)   Volunteer. When you are ready or have energy, volunteer your time to a cause or something that you feel strongly about. Helping others can have a wonderful effect on ourselves. Join the library and read. Most libraries have library buses that bring books to your neighborhood. Or you can rent a DVD, or watch movies on the TV. Write letters, or become a phone companion, a group that is backed by the Police Community Service. They make daily calls to shut-ins, to make sure that they are safe. Talk to them to keep them company and they will be keeping you company as well.

If you have recently lost a significant other, I hope that these tips have been helpful, and may you find peace.

Granny Smith- over and out