Yes We Are And This Is Why

I was apart of a very interesting conversation not too long ago which included my boyfriend and one of his good friends.  They were speaking of the best method to clean car headlights.

“Bro, all you have to do is spray your headlights with OFF bug spray and bam! They’re clean!”

“Yeah, you told me that but when I looked it up it said that it doesn’t last very long. It’s a short term fix. I’m just going to buy the special kit and clean them. I can clean yours too babe.” My boyfriend smiles, turning his attention from his friend to where I was sitting.

“Awe, I appreciate that! But don’t worry, I can just do it.” The statement spilled from my lips without a second’s thought. It has always been natural for me to do things on my own. For one thing, I’ve never liked to burden others with tedious duties, especially if it’s something I could easily just do my self. Plus, I’ve always been one to just take care of things on my own. Not so much because I want to but because I’ve been conditioned to. My boyfriend’s friend, who I just met a couple months ago, wouldn’t have a clue as to the reasoning of my reaction though and he quickly starts to lay it on thick…

“Lord.. all you women now-a-days are so independent! Can’t you girls just let us do things for you? I mean, it’s because we actually like to do things for you. It’s how we show that we care, seriously…”

He is not the only man to feel this way. I feel as though the majority of men see women as wanting to be Miss. Independent, yet to be honest, I don’t think it is so much of us wanting to be independent as it is that we have been conditioned to be this way.

My generation is the generation of the baby boomer parents. Baby boomers are the generation to have really started a new trend in parenting, instilling different values and ways of life. Whether you were married and then divorced, raising children that way, or never married to begin with and having children out of wedlock, one of the major lessons taught, be it beaten into you or subconsciously taught, was the lesson of being independent. Doing for yourself so you would never have to solely depend on others. This lesson being especially directed towards females. Men were always raised as being the “men of the house”. Families have always depended on men to bring home food, to help build and maintain shelter and order. Men were always looked as the bosses, the ones who truly ran the household. It has only been in the last 50 years or so that women have begun a new sort of revolution with what they wanted their contributions to be. More freedom to choose what, where, when, and who when it came to decisions to be made in their lives. Even women who have been in a loving marriage for decades will say that they wish a sort of different life for their daughters, one with more leeway to do what they want to do and without having to depend on anyone other than themselves.

My parents divorced when I was 4 years old. At that time, my mother had depended on my father so much that she didn’t even know to fill out a personal check on her own. She had been so utterly dependent on my father that when they split up, she felt as if she had been thrown into a world she knew nothing of. It was a struggle for her to get back on her feet and succeed as a single mother of two young girls. Her mantra always was, “Do for yourself. Depend on no man. You are all you need.” and as a kid, watching and observing, I took this in and applied it to my life. Before I knew it, it was my life.

I am no extreme feminist by any means. Yet, I do understand the thoughts behind those that are, just as I understand the frustrations plaguing men when it comes to the evolution of women and the roles men now play in their lives. But as it is a struggle for men to adapt to a woman’s newly found independence, it is also a struggle for women to find a middle ground with wanting to be independent while also allowing room for someone else to help take care of you. It is a small battle that presents itself regularly in life. One that I don’t ever see being won by either party but one that can be a bit more manageable.

For me it is a struggle to let go of the reigns a bit and allow for someone else to take on  more than what I am used to giving up. I have to remind myself that yes, although I am very independent, I also have to allow others who love me to do things for me, not because I can’t do them myself but because for them, it’s a way to show that they care. It takes effort and awareness to be able to allow for this to happen but it’s a challenge worth accepting if it means bringing a bit of joy into someone else’s life. I hope that for the women who read this post it allows for you to take a step back, however slight that step may be, in order to allow someone else to do for you. Allow them to care for you in ways that they would like to express. Give them that chance to express. I also hope that for the men who read this you may now understand that maybe it isn’t so much that we hate your help. It is that we have grown into independence and truly know nothing else.

Bottoms Up. Lights Out

It was like I had suddenly woken up from a century long slumber. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. It was like a loud mental crack back into reality. My eyes took a while to open for they felt to me as if they were swollen shut and to be quite honest my body felt like a sack of cement. My eyes roamed around but nothing to me looked at all familiar. My surroundings seemed and felt odd. I simply felt completely out of place. I slowly tried to sit up but could only prop myself up onto my elbows, I was feeling extremely groggy. I looked around the room,  a pale blue color covered the walls surrounding me. I was in some sort of hotel room it felt like. The area of the room that I was in was covered in very tacky beach decor with shells and flamingos dancing all over the place. I was on a hard couch and directly in front of me stood a balcony with its doors completely open. The white sheer curtains danced in the breeze and if it wasn’t for the fact that fear was slowly gripping me around my throat, it all would have seemed almost peaceful. I was definitely in a hotel room but who’s? I could faintly hear the ocean roaring in the distance, seagulls adding to nature’s acoustics. The sudden voices coming from behind me made me jerk around to see who and where it was coming from. 

This was my initial reaction to waking up in an unknown place with absolutely no memory of how I got there. Although I had tried to forget about this, it all came rushing back when I was watching the news today.

A good looking couple from California have made headlines after being caught drugging and raping unsuspecting women. The pair would hit the streets in search of victims, charming them, drugging them, and then leading them back to their private office to have their way with them. Over 1,000 videos were found on both of the suspect’s phones allowing authorities to believe that there are many more victims than just the two that have come forward.  The two suspects deny any such allegations and are currently out on bail.

These two were not the couple that drugged and raped me, but they might as well be.

I will never forget the duo who charmed me into inviting them to hang out with my co-workers and I one evening after work. It was about 10 pm and I had just finished my night shift at the restaurant. I had decided to wait for my co-workers at a local bar right in between our place of employment and where I lived. I sat alone at a table for six. The bar was busy with tourists. By this time most seemed drunk and those that weren’t yet would be soon getting there. The live band playing had a crowd on the dance floor and I was soaking up the good vibes while I waited. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a pretty girl and her boyfriend. They were visiting from Ohio, a quick getaway for the couple who wanted a break from their hectic family life. They were both beautiful people. She had shoulder length  shiny, black hair and ice blue eyes. He reminded me of a golden boy, with a gorgeous sun kissed tan, light brown eyes, and short golden locks that framed his face. When she approached me initially she asked if I mined if the two  could sit down at the table with me until my friends arrived and of course, me not wanting to be rude, said yes.

From that point on the entire night was anything but normal. Looking back on it, I should have suspected that something was about to go terribly wrong because of the fact that things weren’t panning out as they normally would have. Back then though, a switch of scene and people added a much needed excitement to my life. I, however, was not prepared for, nor wanted, the kind of excitement that was getting ready to present itself.

As we waited for my friends to get out of work, this girl and I were chatting away. She asked me what it was like living in a touristy spot and about my tattoos. I asked her what sort of hectic life her and her boyfriend were trying to vacation away from. We chatted and it seemed natural. I was pleased to have found company while I waited. Her boyfriend offered to buy us a round of beers. I ordered a Miller Light but for some reason I was not in the mood for too much drinking, so I babysat that bottle until my co-worker’s arrival. Introductions were barely made when the couple asked if there was a strip club in the area. They were looking to spice up their last night out on the beach,

“What a more perfect way to end our vacation than with some ass and titties!” He shouted, overly excited. She seemed a bit embarrassed by his question but there was a slight flicker in her eyes that gave way to her also wanting in on this type of fun. One of my co-workers mentioned the low quality strip joint located right before the bridge before heading out on the island and offered to drive us all if the couple paid for his beers, and just like that, we all ended up piling into his SUV driving out to Fantasy’s.

At this point, I was only one beer in and not really wanting to head to the strip joint. I had been there a coupe times with friends before and it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was small and dingy. The girls are a reminder of sadness and instead of enticing a good time all they stir up in you in an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and pity. I wasn’t motivated but I also didn’t want to go home. I wanted a night out with friends and if that meant heading to Fantasy’s for  bit then I would suck it up and go.  It wasn’t more than 15 mins after arriving at the strip joint that things took a turn, which would then land me in this couple’s hotel room, naked, vulnerable, and with no sense of what had happened to me.

We arrived and immediately everyone headed towards the bar to get their first drink, everyone but me that is. I still wasn’t in the mood to have a drink, which for everyone who knows me that’s not in my normal character. I am not sure why I wasn’t in the mood to drink that night. I’d like to think that maybe my subconscious knew that there was something dangerous lurking right around the corner. No matter the reason, I didn’t heed the warning. My friends questioned why I wasn’t drinking and I remember telling them, “Not yet. In a bit I’ll order something..” I felt like I just wanted to be alert for a little longer. I really wish I would have stood my ground when the couple approached me with a shot.

“Cheers! To the three of us! Here’s is to unexpected new friends and a wild night!” That was his speech and although I found it a bit out there, I took my glass and clinked it with theirs.

“Bottoms up!” She said and from that point on, my night a blur, then ended with lights out.

The rest of the evening I can only recall in small bits and pieces. I do not remember leaving the strip club although I was told that we stayed there for about 45 mins. A co-worker informed me that I didn’t want to leave and had even given a wad of cash to one of the dancing girls after she told me a story about her and her kid “just trying to survive.” My memory only holds a picture of the club and then all of the sudden, we are back at the same bar we had all previously met up at. I vaguely remember feeling extremely tired and wanting to go home. I was told that at this point I had told the others that I was going to the bathroom and that I had gotten up to leave stumbling on my way out and never returning. For my friends, it was not unusual for me to disappear like that. I have always hated good-byes and so when I am ready to go home I make my way out using one excuse or another and simply disappearing. What was unusual for them was the fact that I seemed overly intoxicated even though I had only had a beer and a shot. That was not normal for me. I’ve always been known to handle my alcohol so that did raise  few eyebrows, but not enough for anyone to assume that something was wrong.

A couple minuets after me leaving for the “bathroom” the new couple said their good-byes and disappeared into the night.

I have no idea how things transpired from here on out. Considering I have no memory of even leaving my friends behind at the bar, I for sure have no clue how it was that I ran into this couple while on my journey home. My next snapshot of the night is of me in their hotel room standing out on the balcony but barely able to hold myself up. The next snapshot is of me sitting on the bed and the girl playing with my hair. After that? Nothing.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a semi-truck. It took me a few seconds to muster up the energy to sit up and look around and that’s when I discovered the severity of my situation. I was completely naked  barely wrapped up in only a thin bed sheet. I was laying on the couch and when I looked around the room that’s when I saw the couple, each laying on the bed sprawled out and also naked. At that very moment I was overwhelmed with many emotions, embarrassment, violated, bewilderment, sadness, guilt. But before being able to fully ingest all that I was feeling, all I wanted to do was to get out.  I quickly got up and quietly gathered my things. I grabbed my purse, my clothes, my phone and snuck into their bathroom to get dressed. It wasn’t until I put  my shoes on that I felt dread. My work shoes were severely scuffed, the soles of both shoes peeling away  the tops as if I had been dragged.

I left their bathroom and headed towards the door not once looking back. It was as if I just couldn’t bring myself to see the reality of my situation. I exited the room and soon realized I was only two blocks away from my home. I walked the two blocks in a fog. I felt bruised all over. My arms had bruises running from underneath my armpits all the way down to my wrists. My legs felt like lead. I felt soreness on both sides of my rib cage.

Once I arrived at my apartment, completely drained, I collapsed on my bed and slept for hours. It wasn’t until I woke up at almost 5 pm that I really was able to dissect the situation and try to understand what had happened to me. My body felt like a sack of bruised potatoes and that immediately brought tears to my eyes because with how I felt, how could I not remember what had happened to me? I immediately headed to my local walk-in clinic and after explaining what I had gone through got tested on any possible STD out there. The sorrow in the physician’s eyes should have been comforting but instead it made me feel ten times worse. It was at this point, when sitting on the medical table getting swabbed and blood work done, that I looked down and saw on my left wrist a beaded pink bracelet. It was the same bracelet that the girl had on the night before and here I was wearing it, undeniable proof as to what transpired the night before. I still have the bracelet to this day. I’m not sure why I kept it but it is put away in a jewelry box, a small reminder to always stay on alert.

Once I arrived back home from the clinic I messaged my sister and told her somewhat of what happened. I kept out the part of me waking up naked and seeing the couple sprawled out on the bed, also bare. My mother still doesn’t know. I’m sure that soon she will read this and her heart will be broken into a billion little pieces. I was also seriously dating someone at the time and although I did tell him what happened, I also left out the details of how I woke up and what I believed really happened. Do I think they would have negatively judged me? Not really, but I do believe that in their mind I maybe asked for it by putting myself in the situation when befriending the strange couple.

Now that this incident is over a year old, I am ready to talk honestly about the situation and what happened to me where as before I had no strength to do so. The level of guilt and embarrassment one feels when something like this happens to you is something no one is really prepared to talk about. It is almost as if one would rather sew up the lips than to ever utter a detail, and the feeling of reliving it all over again through speech is terrifying.

When I came across the news headline of the couple in California who were going around doing what was done to me to others, ice ran through my veins. All of the emotions I had bottled up and stored away came rushing back and my heart truly went out to the women affected by such trauma.

Sadly, our cases aren’t unique or seldom. What happened to us happens everyday to countless women and men alike. I feel as though one of the biggest mistakes we commit as a society is to cover up any situation that doesn’t seem ideal. We don’t really talk about the dangers that lurk around every corner and if we do, we speak of it as though it could never happen to us, making it that much more difficult to speak about when it does. One shouldn’t feel embarrassed or guilty after going through something like this and it is society that makes us feel this way. Being honest and speaking up over such monumental occurrences is what will allow for healing as well as encouraging awareness. We as a society need to become more aware. We need to start standing up for one another in being protective not only of ourselves but of those around you. Together we are a single unit. When will we start to realize that if one of us hurts, society as a whole hurts? It’s time we become more available to those who need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, without the judgment and give only support needed to overcome the unpleasantries that life sometimes has in store for us.

 

 

Love. It Doesn’t Force.

I had to kick a boyfriend in the nuts once. It was the second time I had ever done that to someone. I mean, I hadn’t kicked him hard. Now looking back, maybe I should have.

Before you go on feeling bad for him and end up taking his side, I’d like to just mention that the asshole wasn’t taking “No” for an answer and had forced himself upon me. The way his hands pinned me down by my shoulders while making sure to spread my legs with his knees sent me back to a time in my life that I never wanted to revisit again. He was full of laughter of course. To him, I wasn’t seriously saying no, was I? How could his girlfriend, or any woman for that matter resist and say ‘no” to him?

It happened in what felt like a blink of an eye. I was 13 again and being pinned up against the wall by my abuser. I was too weak at the time to get away from this ex-marine’s grip and so there I hurt until I remembered to do what I had been taught to do in a situation such as this. Kick and Run.

No matter how fast I ran then, or how fast I had continued running even after all those years, the damage had been done because trauma has a funny way of keeping up with you no matter how fast you run. Here I was with my guy, and within seconds he is now my new abuser. After struggling against him, panic rising up within my chest, after not being able to take his heavy breaths and laughter landing upon my face, I brought my feet up towards his chest and propelled him off of me. He was a big guy so I hadn’t thrown him far. He quickly regained his balance and was again on top of me before I  was able to wiggle away.

“Why are you fighting me..you know you want..” and as he goes to unbuckle his belt, I swung my foot back and landed a strike on his most prized possession.  He quickly went down, “What the fuck, Nat!!..” and as he caught his breath I roll off the bed and told him to get the fuck out. I hadn’t cared if he was in pain. I wanted him out of my sight.. and to be honest I wanted him out of my life.

How is it possible that someone be so selfish? Most of you are probably thinking, “How was he supposed to know that he would trigger such a feeling?” Well simple, because we had talked about what had happened to me. Although within our relationship it was I that would mainly listen to him rant on about his problems, his demons, his life…I had once been given the split second chance to share this moment of my life with him. Not in full detail, his attention span was like that of a chimpanzee, but in enough detail that he knew what I had gone through and the pain that it had caused in my life.

SHOULD IT EVEN MATTER??

Does one ever really need a “good” reason to say no to someone’s sexual advances? Should it be one’s job or duty in a relationship to continuously feed a person’s insatiable sexual appetite with disregard of one’s own feelings?

There is more to the story. Steroid use and drug abuse definitely played a big role in this person’s actions, and once reminded of why I instinctively reacted the way I did, his anger had subsided. Mine had not, yet still I stayed.

Sadly, this incident hadn’t been the only time, just the first. The later times had never ended with a swift kick to the balls. I had just given up fighting but with every incident the anger within me ferociously grew until a fire began to burn and slowly incinerated any love for him I had to give.

We ended badly as I’m sure you all have now assumed. He was discarded in to the pile of ex’s long ago. I take with me from this experience that no matter the role someone can play in your life, if selfishly they behave, you must selfishly leave.  The red flags had always been there. I chose to push them off to the side in hopes that what I was experiencing and feeling maybe wasn’t true. A figment of my traumatized imagination but, no, it wasn’t.

When it comes to people like me who have dealt with certain tragedies of life, handle with care. Selflessly listen and try to understand. No person should ever have to be placed in a situation in which they are taken back to the darkened corners of their minds. Do not try to force something into existence that just isn’t meant to be because to force it will instead repel and always remember,

“That who loves will in turn be loved.”

 

Respectfully Ours

“I find his advances so irritating but there isn’t much I can say, let alone do.”

“His timing couldn’t be worse. He wakes me up in the middle of the night after a long day and I am just not up for it but I give in anyways.”

“I keep telling him that I’m not interested in dinner, but he just won’t let up.”

“I just found out that they don’t pay me as much as him even though I have been here longer. I’m scared to even say anything because if I do. they’ll find a  way to fire me.”

There are moments when to be a woman feels like more of a chore than anything else. Almost like a burden placed on us by our ancestral society. Not only do we carry the weight of our children, but we also carry the pleasure of men. To be a woman, for those who are free, it is a delight. For those who are chained down to the expectations of another, the burden weighs heavy. Yet, the burden weighs on us for simply allowing it. It is about to be 2018 and it is only now that we are slowly starting to demand a right that is respectfully ours.

After being silenced for so long, it is time that we loudly begin to use our voices, and confidently take steps towards changing how the world as a whole view and treat women. There are those who argue that we are far more progressive than women in other countries but I counter them with the thought that just because others are struggling more than we are, does not mean we still don’t deserve to be treated as the beautiful souls that we are.

We once used to be the country that everyone looked towards for instruction or example. I want to be that for the women in other countries. I want us to represent and symbolize what it should be like for women of all over the world. After being silenced for so long, we must loudly begin to use our voices. After many years of being looked as a “lesser than” rather than an “equal to”, we must now demand it. Ladies, the view of ourselves has to change before anything else. That new view point will inevitability get the ball rolling. Our expectations for ourselves must be heightened not simply because we must, but more so because we can and we don’t. We matter and if we don’t believe so, then how will we change society and its distorted view of one of the most precious beings on this planet? Because remember ladies, we are Goddesses and without us, there is no life, no?

We must speak because if we don’t, who will do it for us?

We must fight and stand up for ourselves because if we don’t…who will?

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A Mental “Feel Better”

When you’re having a hard time in life, boy does it fucking suck.

It did for me anyways. Big time.

I was looking at unemployment, residential displacement, feeling lonely, and ridiculous amounts of internal conflict over external bullshit. The gears in my mind, lubricated in anxiety, were continuously winding and that’s never any help. I am a thinker, it’s what I do. My overthinking at times is beneficial but most times it hinders my journey towards a more peaceful state of mind. During a depressed phase, over thinking can easily creep in and before you know it you’re caught up in a web of misery and the less you talk about it the greater that misery becomes. You drown in these dark feelings and for just a split second, if you allow it to happen, you give into the drowning, letting yourself sink just a little bit. That was me. For a split second, or more like an entire morning, I allowed myself to sink. I felt myself exhausted and quickly began to question even my very existence.

For may people, reaching this moment is almost like washing up onto the shores of the island of No Return. They lose hope and cling onto the sadness for so long that they only feel comfortable there. But that is only because most people do not know of the tools life has supplied us with in order to survive periods such as these. I am one of the fortunate few to have learned of these internal tools that we were given. I am one of the few who believes in these tools and that is the difference between some of those people and myself.

So how did I snap out of this depression that I was experiencing? I didn’t. One doesn’t just “snap” out of these emotions. You don’t just snap your fingers and wala you’re out of the darkness, nor is it a like a light switch you can just flick on and off. No. It’s a process and for everyone it is a slightly different one considering we are all so unique. Our healing process should be customized to our individual needs as well as to every given situation.

On this particular day my process began with a little rage cleaning. It was early in the morning when I woke up to feces all over my living room floor. My dog had apparently gotten a horrible case of diarrhea during the night and had shitted all over the place. I found the smears within minuets of me waking up and it quickly sent me into a tizzy. I frantically began cleaning like a mad woman (I was a mad woman) swearing under my breath as if releasing the “f” bomb was somehow helping me scrub just that much harder. Before I knew it, the living room, the dining room, and kitchen were pristine and once I was satisfied off I went for a deep cleaning of my own.

My shower is my safe haven. I imagine the water rinsing away my worries even though deep inside I know that it’ll only be for the time being. The steam relaxes my tense muscles and I float away..

It’s only once I’m finished and in the mirror getting ready that I begin to remember all my troubles and at this point is when I actually let myself fall away into the depths of my despair. I wail like a child, sobbing from the center of my soul, cries pouring out of me and invading the silent air. Within my normal life, I hardly ever cry, so as I do now, I stare at myself in the mirror. I stare fiercely into my water eyes. I allow to see myself like this. I allow myself to feel all the emotions that run through me, vibrant and strong like an electrical current and shocking my senses. I’m  allowing myself to feel everything that I had been clearly feeling for quite some time but was always trying to hide.

Instinctively I turn and reach for a notebook and begin writing. I do what is called a “Brain Dump” and write everything that comes to mind. Whether it made sense or not in the notebook it went. All my feelings, thoughts, concerns, everything was written down in the pages of my journal, some of it gibberish, most of it not. I purged everything that I was feeling and by the end of it, five pages later to be exact, my soul was feeling lighter. I wanted to keep this going. I wanted (needed) this mental feel better and so taking advantage of the fact that I was home alone I decided to then get myself into total zen mode.

I lay out my yoga mat strategically in front of my bedroom window so I get some of that natural sunlight hitting my skin. The only electronic device that is powered at this moment is my phone which plays nature meditation music, specifically downloaded for moments such as these. I sit Indian style, facing the sun, eyes closed, and focus deeply on my breathing. I sit there like this for whats seems several mins and then slowly begin to stretch my body. Section by section I stretch and while doing so, I speak to each body part, showing love and gratitude. I connect with this vessel my soul is encapsulated in and not only thank it, but also reiterate to it how it is enough. I begin my affirmations and soon all negative thoughts that once thrived, circling around in my mind, dispersed. They became nothing. In its place stood me and all the good that I had temporarily forgotten.

“I am healthy. I am loved. I am in love with everything around me. Money flows freely into my life which helps promote spiritual growth. I am happy. I radiate positivity. I am enough. I am exactly where I need to be. The universe is conspiring in my favor.”

I recite these and more within in my mind letting it penetrate every cell within my body and it does. I begin to feel strong once again. I begin to feel empowered. Before I knew it I was running on a natural high. No, all of my problems hadn’t just disappeared, but I had the strength and the courage to face them without any self doubt. I had replenished my internal oil lamp and it was radiating so much light, no darkness could invade. Suddenly, there was no problem without a solution.

After my mini mental break down and rebuild, it took me a couple days to really feel 100% me again. I made sure to get good sleep and to actually eat at least somewhat healthier. I also spent a lot of time listening to motivational videos and webinars whenever I could. I would play them as I did my cleaning around the house or as I went for my runs. I’d let them play as background noise, trying to soak it as much as I could and it worked.

To many, this all may seem like a lot of hippy hoopla  but in actuality it takes work to be happy and if happy is what we want to be then effort is what we have to put in. To really feel the pain that you’re going through builds your inner strength. It gives what you’re feeling a voice and it helps you to move on. Merely hiding your issues may get you over it for a second but doesn’t allow for you to get through it permanently. Addressing your inner dialogue is highly important as well. It is true when they say, “You become what you think.” Our minds hold much more power than most of us know and it is imperative to our well being to keep our thoughts positive and motivating. We can be our own worst enemy and it begins with our minds so be mindful of your inner dialogue with yourself and stop being so darn hard on yourself! Meditation can help with this. Silencing your mind for just a couple mins a day can help tremendously and allows for you to regain control of your mind when it does begin to wander off into darker territories.

As I previously stated, everyone is uniquely different and so the process of getting back to feeling like oneself after a moment of gloom will be equally as different. I know that this time, this is what worked for me. In sharing this, I hope to help others who are maybe having a rough day find a way to replenish their internal oil lamp and stop them from being overcome by the darkness that threatens their happiness. Whether it’s meditation, writing, dancing around your apartment like a goober, whatever the method may be, find what works for you. Life is too short to be stranded on the island of No Return for any given amount of time, and remember happiness is a choice.

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Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

#Metoo: The New Face of Resistance

In the last few months, sexual harassment has been such a hot topic of conversation for just about everyone. Whether it’s online on FB posts and Twitter feeds, or a discussion being had at the dinner table with guests or family, where before to speak of such a thing was considered taboo, now people like Weinstein, Bill Cosby, former FOX news chief Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, L.A Reid, David Mueller, and even comments by our president Donald Trump (“Grab them by the pussy!”) have opened up the lines of communication for accusers all over the world. Women from all economic class levels, cultures, ages, have been coming together to speak of their stories that for up until now have been kept buried in the farthest corner of their minds. Almost as if it were a story that wasn’t wanting to be told until now.

My story is not very different when comparing it to the others that have been told. It seems to always start off with a man who feels in power. Whether it is the situation at hand that makes them feel powerful or something else in life that makes them feel empowered, they almost always seem to have the upper hand like an illusion produced by an intimidating magician. I can personally tell you about three separate occasions that single handily happened to me where I was alone and an unsuspecting victim. I can then also give you a list of “minor” instances that fall longer than a roll of toilet paper where I have fallen victim to the cat calls, the groping, the unwanted advances. Even an incident as recent as last weekend in which I was at a concert with my boyfriend and I was touched multiple times, obviously unwillingly, by a shadow in the crowd. How did we get to be a society in which the norm is for women to be fondled or fall prey to these heartless cowards. Cowards because they hide in the shadows, cowards because they hide behind their titles and their roles in society.

With the #metoo movement, not only have people who have fallen victim to sexual assault found a group of comfort and support, but we also have been seeing a change in the attitude of men, some who are self admitting to committing such advances.

Right now we are living in a time in which many voices who have been silenced have been given a mic. Some may think that this is our “five mins of fame” or that we are presently standing on our “soap boxes” in hopes to make a small wave in what recently has been seen as the “norm” in society. Yet for us, it’s not about making a wave. It’s about starting a movement. We want to be able to move towards change in order to allow for a better future. We will no longer stand for allowing the mistreatment of people no matter the age, race, heritage, nor gender. We may not have been able to always stand up against those we accuse, but at least now we can stand together for the cause. I may not have children of my own but children are our future.

To all of my friend’s who have children, those kids are our future and we must make this a better place for them to grow, live, and evolve. We must break this unacceptable cycle of sexual assault whether it’s on our campuses, work place, or simply at home. It is not Ok for those in power to feel as though those who aren’t have no say, have no voice.

To all of you who are just like me, although together we stand united and strong, we must never forget that to stand strong as a whole means that we hold a little piece inside of us that is strong too. Feel empowered because you are. We are the face of resistance.

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Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Fort Myers Beach, FL

 

Directionless

There was a time where I had this amazing blueprint of how my life would go.

I would move away from home, go to college, and finish with a degree in Forensic Psychology. I wanted to be Clarice from Silence of the Lambs. During this time that I would be making something out of myself, I would casually meet the man of my dreams. We would fall madly in love with one another, get married, and start a life together. Sprinkle a little travel time on top of that and there was my perfect life… and this was all to be done before the age of 26.

This is when I had some direction in life and somewhere along the road I veered off the beaten path I had cleared off for myself. I one day realized that this direction I was headed in was not a true blue print of what I wanted my own life to be. It was starting to seem more like the life that I knew society and its norms needed me to be. I slowly became aware that this was going to be a life that was chosen for me simply because I felt like it was what I had to do to please the world.

I’m not more than halfway through my first year of being in my 30’s. I have no kids, no husband, and never graduated from college. I haven’t decided to settle yet when it comes to the family life. I refuse to settle down with just anyone in order  to please everyone else. After deciding that forensic psychology, although very interesting, would just in the long run ruin my cheery personality, I quit what I was studying, walking away from an institution that I felt no longer was serving me. Removing the goal from the sacrifice and what are you left with? Nothing other than a lot of sacrificing. Not knowing what I truly wanted to do when it came to furthering my education I decided against finishing the last two years I had left to go. I felt that it was pointless to add to a debt for a mere sheet of paper that would do me no good unless it would have been put to use, and it wouldn’t have been.

So here I am, no kids to keep me busy. No husband to keep me grounded. No career to keep me focused. Do I fear where I am in life? Not one bit. The way I see it, the world is my oyster and at this point in time anything is truly possible. I compare my state of being now to what I was back then when I had some direction and the difference is night and day. The stress level is low and happiness is abundant. I am hardly every cranky anymore, and even though I may question more where I may be in three years, it is not a question that scares me, instead it fills me with excitement.

I am happy to be living, and even though life may not be going according to plan, I am totally alright with that. For me, happiness, much like the wind, flows freely into my life, directionless.

A Wish On A Bad Day

Getting out of bed can be a feat.

It takes every ounce of energy to even whip off the covers.

To look in the mirror is almost cruel and unusual punishment. Who is that that stares right back at me? A familiar face with distraught features. A shell with nothing in it.

Sometimes feeling utterly alone, all I want to do is yell loud at the top of my smokey lungs, simply to be heard. I want to scream so loud, “I’M HERE!” that I burst !POOF! into a trillion little, itty bitty particles, dissipating  into a different dimension. Slowly float away, every piece moving into a different direction, never getting back together again. This is me me on a bad day.

On a bad day there is no me getting out of bed to conquer the day, no. If I get out of bed on a bad day, you’d be lucky if it’s to shower. On a bad day I eat ice cream for breakfast and straight out of the carton. I watch sad movies and t.v shows, listen to sad songs, and ignore any and all responsibilities.

There isn’t a phone call I will answer. There isn’t a text I quickly respond to. On a bad day no communication matters. Not even the one I have between pen and paper. On a bad day I have no friends. I have no family. On a bad day it is me against the world. Even the sunniest day on a bad day is doom and gloom.

No books of fantasy and make believe can snap me out of  having a bad day.  To read word after word takes too much energy. It’s energy I rather save for the fits of rage that will later come and go. Energy I rather save for my pillow that will be soon fluffed to death by punches of sorrow.

I hardly have these bad days but when I do, world prepare, because these are dark dark days. I am a glass half full that has been knocked over. On a bad day I am damaged like a rotten apple that has fallen from its branch and left sadly on the ground. On the grass I lay, dying,  as I stare up into the sky. My wishes of better days to come float up into the heavens only to be ignored by the angels of the white light. Saints of darkness, instead, breath them in and cough them out.

Wishes of better days go on to die… and again, I’m left totally behind.

A dying wish alone on a bad day.

Long Distance Love

Relationships can be difficult and lord knows I’ve had my fair share of tough relationships. I’ve dated them all.. The boring old man trapped in a young man’s body, the starving artist, the substance abuser, the witty business guy… I’ve dated different races, different social classes, men who’ve had completely different political views from mine. Obviously none of these relationships ever got really far, and now looking back although they were difficult relationships, none were the type of difficult as the kind my current love and I are in right now. This relationship is the “Long Distance Relationship” kind or as I will continue to refer to as L.D.R.

No one ever goes out looking for a L.D.R. A romance from afar? How fun could that be? A L.D.R isn’t something you set out to find, it just ends up finding you. I mean it’s like you’re  out one night, minding your own business, and having a good ol’ time, when all the sudden in walks that person, straight into your life. The one who makes your soul smile. How do you say no to that?? I couldn’t just walk away from what could possibly be my shot at true love, right? That’s what love is all about, taking that risk, going for that chance. In trying to decide (which didn’t take me long at all) whether or not this was something I really wanted to invest my heart in, I though to myself, when does love ever arrive all wrapped up in an ideal situation? Never.  So I went for it. I decided I had found love, and although it wasn’t the most ideal situation, I believed we could make it work. Deterred I was not.

We’ve just recently passed the 6mos mark, which in “real relationship” time isn’t very long at all, yet for me it feels like quite the accomplishment. I am crazy in love with my bf don’t get me wrong, but I’d be lying by saying that the journey hasn’t been tough for the both of us.

Just like in most relationships, an L.D.R starts off flaming hot. The chemistry is not only strong but the flame that burns is inextinguishable. Because of the very fact that you don’t see each other as often as “normal” couples do, the “honeymoon” phase seems to last much longer. You get to see one other’s “good” side for a little longer than most normal couples do due to the fact that you see one another a lot less. You often feel that longing for the person, you miss them and so when you do see each other you tend to make every moment count.  A plus when it comes to not seeing each other often is the fact that you can gradually incorporate this other person into your life. You slowly introduce them to your world as you slowly discover theirs. Remember, it’s not easy for two completely different strangers to come together all of the sudden and try to build a life together. You must think, these are two completely different individuals that were raised differently and have been conditioned by life differently. To be in a L.D.R gives you that breathing room to still have time for yourself. It’s much easier to get locked into a situation of suffocating one another when you have the opportunity to see each other all the time. We see it everyday. Couples meet each other and it seems like the first two months they are inseparable. They can’t go a day without seeing each other until one day one of them realizes that maybe they miss their friends, or they miss their hobbies. This is now when the fights commence because one person needs some “me” time and the other person begins to question why all the sudden need for “me” time. Well everyone needs a little “me” time and I get that it’s difficult to remember that when you’ve just met someone you really jive with and the access to this new found love is just a call and a drive away.  In a L.D.R you don’t have the luxury of having your love just a phone call away. Visits need to be planned and when you don’t get to see each other often all you can do is distract yourself with your “me” time. That’s when you do all the things you want to do that maybe the other half wouldn’t be too interested in. This is the time you take for yourself to do the things that make your soul smile, the things you should never ever give up because to do so would be closing away a part of you, and that would no longer make you you. This is often the root to many issues within relationships but that’s for a later post.

Eventually the honeymoon phase does run out and then that is when you become blindsided by all the conflicts and hurdles a L.D.R posses.

Maybe the word “blindsided” is a bit of an exaggeration. We all know what we’re walking into when we decide to date long distance. You’re already aware of the frustrating moments you’ll endure when you, for example, need your date to accompany you on an outing but between your different schedules and living so far from each other it makes it impossible for them to be there. There are holidays that you won’t be able to see one another for, or even just those long days you’ve had at work, when all you want is for your certain someone to pamper you and listen to you,but they’re not there because they live hundreds, or for some even thousands, of miles away. This is the part of a L.D.R that we do know. To go through it fully aware that is was coming sucks. All of that shit is tough, but the really tough part are all the other minor details we don’t think about.

Not seeing each other has its perks, but it too has its huge set backs. There is now a delay added to trying to get to know your other half. It takes twice as long to get to know the other person as it would take in a normal relationship because of the fact that you’re not around the other person as often. This means it takes longer to understand the other person’s likes and dislikes, their boundaries,  their weird corks and their humanly flaws. And because you were so elevated for much longer than usual during the honeymoon phase, the drop back down to reality is hard. You begin to realize that you, them, the relationship, none of it is perfect. You remember about things like compatibility and begin to question everything that is no longer blurred with sugar plums and rainbows.

One thing I  must say that my relationship doesn’t suffer from like most other L.D.Rs do is the fact that jealousy doesn’t apply to us. I have always said that one thing that would bother me most about trying to attempt a long distance relationship would be trusting them to be faithful. Yet not one time throughout the time that my love and I have been seeing each other have I felt a tug of jealousy. Come to think of it, I really don’t find it all that crazy that I don’t worry or doubt his loyalty. I have always held honesty and loyalty in high regard and I would have never entered a L.D.R if I felt at all that I didn’t trust this person. That for me is a serious plus. I also cannot say that he has shown me one ounce of jealousy. He never asks to go through my phone. He doesn’t trace my social media steps. He’s never asking where I am every 20 mins. It’s obvious that the trust is there which aids in allowing for our situation to be just a tee bit easier. One less thing to worry about in an already tough situation.

So if a L.D.R is so hard to maintain, how do you do it? What are some Must Do’s in order to allow for your relationship to grow its full potential? Believe it or not, it is what to do for ANY relationship…

*Communication is paramount. Even if you’re wanting to discuss something small, if it means something to you no matter how big or small the issue is, talk about it. Speak until the issue is no longer there. Resolve it because the last thing you want is to carry resentment with you long distance.  Resentment is a heavy load to carry and all it will do is slow down the progress of your relationship.

*Listen to one another. And I mean like actually listen to what the person is expressing to you. People can always tell when you’re merely hearing them out instead of actually listening to them. When people begin to feel unheard not only does that too build resentment and makes them feel misunderstood, but it also sends a message to the individual that what they have to say doesn’t matter. That later turns into the person shutting down. They’ll no longer want to share, or communicate things with you. Once the communication begins to shut down, you can kiss the relationship good-bye.  When you don’t listen you also tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. To listen allows you to understand and better learn your other half. The more understanding and learning that you do, the less arguing and fighting that will be a part of your daily lives.

*Patience. Patience is important. To blend two lives together isn’t easy. There will be things that need talked about and issues to be worked on. That in any relationship is a given, but remember that it takes time, and time in a L.D.R takes twice as long because you’re hardly ever around one other.  People can’t better their flaws overnight and the fact that you’re not often around one another to see the small steps that are taken towards improving makes it difficult to think that progress is being made. This is why you have to be patient. Give things time to be shown. Give the person time to work on themselves while you take the time to work on yourself. The point is to be patient and supportive of one another. Remember you’re both on the same team so cheer each other on when you do see progress. Communicate to one another as to how much that means. If your relationship lacks any of these three basic fundamentals, you’re relationship will not last very long.

I’ve given you some key elements on things to do to keep the relationship a float, so how about I tell you some key things NOT to do when attempting a L.D.R,

Don’ts:

*Don’t allow for the relationship to go stale. Once monotony and predictability set in it’ll be hard to hold the attention (and for some the heart) of their partner. Remember that you already don’t see each other often so make each time a little special. There’s no need to go over the top each and every time you see each other but little gestures to enhance the moment together go a long way. That goes for you too ladies 😉

*Never stop doing the things that in the beginning captivated the mind and the heart of your significant other. Those are all beautiful moments and gestures that will bring sweet joy to the heart of your love. Even during the dark times of a relationship, it’ll be these moments that they’ll look back on and it could mean the difference as to whether they hold on or let go.

*Never quit getting to know each other, and that means in every aspect. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually. You will one day die and still not know every single little thing about your other half, but the point isn’t to know everything about them. The point is the journey there. It’s what will bond you, fuse you together until death does you part.

*Don’t ever get too comfortable. To get comfortable leads to many negatives like, taking the person and the relationship for granted. It leads to you letting yourself go, so maybe not taking care of your health like you once did, or not worrying about your appearance anymore. It can lead to one not doing the cute stuff you once did for one another, and these are all things that keep a relationship fresh and exciting. When you get comfortable, you lose all of that, and the relationship grows old.

In a few short months my relationship will no longer be a L.D.R. I’ll be taking steps to begin my relocation process in a couple weeks and by the end of July I will be closer to by beau. No.. I won’t be moving in with him right away. I’ve lived and learned and so my comfortability only allows me to take baby steps for the moment. For me, I’m happy to be taking things slow so maybe that’s why the whole L.D.R things has worked so well for me. But I will not lie, closing up the distance between us will make things much easier. Not only that but it’ll allow for us to really see how well this relationship will work. Living closer to one another will give this relationship the chance it needs to either prove that this is love and this is it, that all the hurdles and the stress was to leading up to something greater, or will it be just another infatuation, another fling, just another lesson learned? It will either be one way or the other. It isn’t a pessimistic way of viewing the situation, it’s a realistic way of viewing it. With that said, hope is a flame that forever burns within my heart and even though it’s been a little tough, I’m still happily holding on strong. The most precious things in life are the ones worth fighting the hardest for, no?

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Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: California Yoga Fest 2015

 

 

 

 

Threaded With Beauty

In the past few weeks women of all ages and stages have been reaching out to me for some friendly advice. In speaking with these girls, young ladies, women, some whom I know, some whom I never met before in my life, I have discovered a common thread so beautiful that it leaves me breathless. This common thread is in our want to find our way through life, that need to find our place within our journey, no matter where we come from, who we are, or what our “status” is in this lifetime.  We each question what our purpose is and if we’re on the “proper” path. We roam around aimlessly at times, with the only knowledge or feeling that all we want to do is to help.

“I’m so lost… Am I on the right path?…I’m torn between doing the things I love and the things that are expected of me….. Most times I don’t know what I’m doing…I truly just don’t know what it is that I’d like to do with the rest of my life…”

These are some of the reoccurring questions and statements that I hear throughout my conversations with these ladies. They are feelings that most of us have but no one is truly willing to be honest with themselves nor willing to share. We all want to make it seem to the world that we know what we’re doing. We want to make believe it is all ok and that we have control of  all our doubts and fears when in reality, it is those very same doubts and fears that control us.

Society, the media, the tangibilities of life all around us, it has all thrown people into a vicious cycle. It’s the cycle of comparison webbed with the feeling of inferiority. We are constantly comparing ourselves to our friends, our family, and even to strangers. What do they have? What do they look like? What’s their status? Am I close to them??? For men I believe it’s more a friendly form of competition and bonding among themselves. For women I believe it to be something more  fierce.

As women, we are always on the forefront when it comes to the gossip. We are catty and unlike guys, we are constantly caught up in a non-friendly competition with one another. T.v shows like Bad Girls Club, Housewives of (insert city here), or America’s Next Top Model, we have infused into the eyes of society that it’s Ok to mistreat each other. We are reinforcing the belief that it is Ok to call each other bitches and whores. That instead of helping each other succeed, we try to knock each other down and use that body as a stepping stone to rise to the top, always trying to one-up one another. Even if we catch our significant other cheating on us, most tend to forgive the cheater and end up going for the throat of the other women, even if she had no idea that cheater was in a relationship to begin with! It’s straight up madness and I don’t understand how it that we got to this point. Yet although I may not know how exactly we got here, I do see how it is that we can crawl out of this well of negativity.

The first step we should take is towards realizing that we are all in this together. The game of life is a tough game to play and not because life is complicated but more so because we humans are. Realize that the woman next to you, no matter what she looks like, no matter her social status or where she may have originally come from, she too has moments of wonderment and at times feelings of inadequacy. It could be in her personal life or maybe her career, but doubt has lingered there even if only for a moment’s time. We don’t always know what we’re doing or where we’re going, and that is totally ok. For those women who have most things figured out, why not help the ones that don’t. A little advice, guidance, and empathy could change the world for the girl standing next to you. It could later on spark the big changes this planet needs if we’re to prevail as a human race.

Behind every strong man there is an even stronger and more powerful woman for we are the ones who behind the daily scenes help shape society through our children and we try to make better of our men. But what good is that woman if she feels alone and lost? No good at all so instead of shutting each other down at the first sign of insecurity, let’s be there for one another. Let’s help reshape society one woman at a time and we will literally see this ugly world morph from this blinding cocoon we have made for ourselves, and watch it turn it into a beautiful butterfly soaring on the wings of change.

10369553_1429684363967982_1987139479_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan