Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#500wordsaday: Take Me Somewhere & Leave Me There

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: The last time you were happy for a week straight

Anyone who knows me at all, knows I am happiest while vacationing. The times I spend away from work, away from home, are always the best - whether it's a big extended vacation, a long weekend, or even a local overnight trip, I am always happiest when it's jet-setting. 

The last time I felt truly happy, for a duration of time, was the birthday trip I planned to Bend for my best friend earlier this summer. It wasn't a week, but if you count the time I put into planning it, I think it counts. Everything about the trip was fantastic - the drive, the weather, the place we stayed, and everything we did for the long weekend. 

The trip to Bend was a culmination of a travel-themed birthday week, throughout which my gifts to my bestie had all centered around a theme: had she stopped to think about it much, the obvious theme was BEND (Dechutes beer, a tasting at Naked Winery, an overnight bag) - I was banking on the fact that she'd been so busy at work, she wouldn't notice. 

And I was right. 

I think what was so great about this trip, was that it was timed perfectly for the fact that we'd been living together for six months, and she was about to be moving out. We had spent so much girl time in the prior few months, and we both knew that while it was an exciting step for her to be moving in with her boyfriend, that also always changes things between friends. We had spent six months watching Teen Mom in bed together on Monday nights, eating popcorn for dinner, popping bottles of wine with our Chinese takeout while writing our financial reports for work each month; these are things that you tend to stop doing once you don't live under the same roof. So it was really excellent timing to take a girls-only, just-us, nobody-with-a-penis allowed road trip. 

And this is why people tend to think we're lesbians.

Anyway, much like any other trip we've taken together, this one was full of fabulousness - however I'd prearranged most of it in honor of her birthday. We took a brewery tour and did a wine tasting (and by "tasting," I do mean we stayed at the tasting room for like 4 hours and then went shopping while white girl wasted, and I bought a cat headband), went shopping, and wandered through the streets of Bend, one of our absolute favorite places. We stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast type place we found on AirBnB, had our favorite eggs bennedict at our favorite restaurant in Bend, and had so much girl talk - it was fantastic.

Small trips like this one - whether it be to Bend or the coast, or even to Phoenix or Vegas - are such a great reminder for me to step back and relax; life truly isn't all about work, and I shouldn't be so stressed about finances and responsibility all the time. I think it's easy for us to get caught up in our day to day, and taking some time away from a routine, helps find balance. 

As we expected, things have been different since she moved out of the snuggle pad (again, it is clear why people think we're lesbians) and in with her boyfriend. Not bad, but definitely not the same. She lives across town, with him and his son and a puppy, and I live here, with a new roommate who I definitely have to wear pants in front of, and who doesn't come with me to the grocery store only to eat popcorn for dinner three nights a week. I watch crappy reality tv by myself now, and we have to make actual plans to hang out instead of just each flopping onto the couch in our jammies at the end of a long day. But she is by no means, any less my best friend. 

Taking a break from the day in and day out patterns to plan a long weekend or a trip away, always provides those reminders that the only real important things in life, are the people in it. As we're excitedly counting down to our next girlfriends trip out of town, I'm certain it will be equally as fun, and will certainly serve as a reminder to be happy. 

I may not feel over the top happiness every day of my life, but even just writing this blog serves as a reminder that my life is happy, and that's reason to celebrate. 

And so I will.

With another vacation. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

#500wordsaday: My Favorite 'Plus One'

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: Your most authentic moment.

Authenticity is a huge thing for me. I didn't start using the hash tag #speakyourtruth for nothing; honesty matters to me, and matters a lot. Vulnerability is hard, and it only seems to get harder as I get older, but without it, I'd really be lost. 

So, this. One of my most authentic moments, comes in the form of a blog I've already written, one I've read a hundred times myself, one I've shared every year, at least once. My most authentic moment, came on the day I finally processed exactly how I felt. The moment I was able to say, Zach wasn't the best boyfriend - he was flawed, he had faults. But he was also the first guy I ever fell in love with. I loved him hard, and he loved me hard right back. We had fun; we went on the best dates, and we had the best movie nights. We shared the most amazing, side-splitting laughs, and he did the most hilarious things whenever I was mad. We had passionaste emotions - both good and bad. When I loved him, I loved him hard, with everything I had. And when I was mad, I was MAD. And when he died, I was devastated. Sometimes I think I am still a little devastated.

I am a girl who wears my emotions on my sleeve; I am wildly passionate. I love hard, and sometimes that bites me in the ass. But I never look back negatively on any moment with Zach. He brought out the passionate little firecracker in me, and I was never anything but authentic in my relationship with him. 

I wrote this blog on July 2nd, 2012, after learning that my ex-boyfriend had been killed in a car accident. Zach died two years ago, and these words ring true just as much today as they did the day I wrote them...

When I first read the article about Zach's car wreck and that he'd died in the collision, I was shocked. Numb even. I stared at my computer for several minutes, read the short blurb over and over, and then went on with my day. I spent the next few days reading and re-reading the articles and still, just shocked. 

The accident was the Monday before last, and his memorial service was this past Friday. Up until the night before his service, I had yet to show any real emotion or feel anything other than complete surprise. I had a couple short conversations with Stacey, Juliana and Nick, and I had to email the story to a handful of our old coworkers, but nothing was really getting through. The night before the service, though, I laid in bed for hours crying, remembering awesome moments we'd shared, thinking of his family, just sobbing. 

Raphael, one of my coworkers from BWW, picked me up for the service (I didn't want to go alone), and we met Christine and Eric there (also from BWW). Zach and Eric had been pretty close, as had Christine and I, so it was great to see them all, despite the sad occasion. We sat together, cried together, and it was comforting to have the arms of old friends on my shoulders as we listened to eulogies, memories, stories, and watched several slide shows. It was very, very hard, and I left the service feeling like reality was sinking in. 

The 4 of us headed to McMenamins from the service to have a drink and some lunch before we all had to go to work. Before any of us knew the extent of Zach's problems with alcohol, we all had great times at Rialto, a dive downtown where Zach would always drink Rumplemintz (YUCK). Eric, in an attempt to pay tribute to his friend in a more "manly" way, ordered a round of Rumplemintz, and toasted Zach with that, several kind words, and more tears. We were then able to share lots of great moments of working with Zach at BWW - I loved hearing my friends tell me all the ways they knew Zach and I were sneaking around together at the beginning, and I was so happy that they all had so many fun stories to share with me. Zach had such a bad experience at BWW, and I felt really comforted that during that shitty time, he'd made a few real friends who are truly suffering his loss right along with me.

I went to work for an hour or so and was just unable to get myself together, so I left and went up to Kelso to visit LaDonna and see the baby, knowing that baby snuggles are healing. I cried the entire way there...and by cried, I mean, I could barely see the road I was bawling so hard. It was the entire 10 days worth of emotion and feeling coming out, and I just cried. I visited my family for a long time, and I really did feel so much better holding Landon, eating waffles with my family, and just feeling loved. 

I took off around 9:00pm for home, and when I got to the freeway, traffic stopped completely. They were paving the highway, so it was narrowing to one lane. There I was, after an exhausting day of saying goodbye, sitting on I-5 in one lane construction...I looked up, and right in front of me was a semi truck. I completely lost it. I cried and cried and cried, the whole 30 minutes I sat parked behind this semi, until I was physically so tired I could not wait to get into bed. I was sitting in Zach's scenario, sitting there thinking, all he'd had to do was brake harder. How many times in a week am I behind a semi truck on the freeway? About a hundred. 

My final conversations with Zach were not as pleasant as I would have liked to remembered our relationship by, and I am so thankful that I can look back on a million other, more positive, truly happy moments instead of having to focus on those last couple of jealous, insecure, sad ones. I sat on Saturday night and wrote his mom a Facebook message that was probably 3 pages of text, telling her stories, asking about him, just wanting her to know how incredibly touched my life was by her son. I then sat for hours typing a message into his Facebook page...something I hope no one has the password to and will never be seen, but it was so cathartic to say the things I should have said when I had the chance. 

On my own Facebook, the night before the memorial service, I posted my favorite photo of Zach and me, along with exactly what I was thinking: "For encouraging & supporting me. For always making me laugh my hardest & for never making me cry. For escorting me to weddings, entertaining my friends & meeting my grandparents. For taking me hiking & camping, and for lazy nights at home. For being my friend first, my boyfriend next, and never for a moment being my enemy. For your generous heart, your strong will, your carefree spirit and your kind soul. For these reasons and a hundred more, I will miss you, think of you, and appreciate the man you were. Thank you for touching my life, my heart, and my entire world..."

Zach was not a perfect man. He was not a perfect boyfriend. But he was amazing. He was fun and full of life and always laughing. He was comforting and happy and he was doting. What I wanted to do, so did he. When he took me somewhere, he acted proud to have me at his side. He bragged about me, he told his friends about me, he took me places and told me I was beautiful. He never hurt me, called me names or picked fights with me. He was a friend - a wonderful friend. He held me close, he was kind, and he had the best smile. He truly did touch my life. He taught me to have fun and take life less seriously. He calmed me down when I was mad...except when it was him I was mad at. He was the first man I ever loved, and I am so thankful to have told him so when I had the chance. 

I am sad. My heart hurts and my soul is broken. I miss him, and I want to tell him a million things. If that means I continue to write about him or to his Facebook page, maybe that's what it takes. I hope with all I have that he knew what he meant to so many people, and that he knew how immensely proud we all were of what he was doing with his life. I am grateful for the months he was mine, and I will always remember only the good things he did for my life.

#500wordsaday: Just Picture Them All Naked

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: When you really loved yourself

Women aren't really predisposed to love ourselves; society prefers we focus on our faults over our successes, the bad over the good. It took me a frightening amount of time to think of a time I could say I last really loved myself. Like, such a lengthy amount of time, I am writing this intro still unsure of the answer. 

The last time I really loved myself.

Do women really do that? Love themselves?

Fast forward a day-and-a-half, and I still don't really know the answer to this question. What's scary, is that I can think of countless moments where I've taken time out of my day to hate myself. I can think of plenty of moments where I have hated on my body or on my life or on my choices; I could write a whole book on times I've hated something about myself, physically or otherwise. 

We have to fight against the thigh gap and the bikini bridge; without those things (which are impossible goals), we can't possibly love our bodies. We have to fight against rape culture, which continues to blame us or what we're wearing when we're assaulted or raped. We have to fight against sexism and wage gaps in the work place, disrespect in athletics in both high school and college. You name it, women are waging an uphill battle against it. 

And I feel like that's how most women I know, would answer this question. I am not the only one wading through times I've been negative about myself, looking for a brief fleeting moment of a time I may have had a loving moment. I honestly can't think of a time in my adult life that I have loved my body, and I make a lot of choices I'm not super lovey-dovey about either. 

I had to dig really far to find a way to write this post.

Recently, I was asked to speak for 5 minutes at a training in our corporate office. This likely seems like not such a big deal to a lot of people, but for someone who gets nervous when speaking in public for 5 seconds, 5 minutes in front of all of our company's regional managers and directors, is a big deal. 



Before I said yes, I almost passed out at the thought. But of course, I know that in order to move in the direction I want, this was a great opportunity, and one I should be proud of having, as only two of us were invited. So, it was a big deal. One I should have been (and was, once the overwhelming terror wore off), proud of. 

I had no idea what to wear, and probably tried on everything in my entire closet the night before - keep in mind, this was taking place at 8:00am the day after my birthday, so I kept dinner very tame, only had one beer, and was home in bed by 10:00pm; I was not taking any chances at this not going well. In the morning, I walked into the corporate office with my coworker, a complete ball of nerves. We'd spent the drive nervously gossiping, trying to convince each other this was no big deal, knowing full well that it kinda was. But, with all of my nerves, I did it. I got up in front of the room, talked about my team and their awesomeness, and about all of the things I was asked to speak about. 

And I didn't die or faint or anything!

I was certainly proud of myself in this moment, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I did something I was terrified to do, and I did a great job - I received several amazing follow up emails confirming that I didn't fail miserably at life, nor could anyone tell I was so nervous I was practically hyperventilating internally. I did great. And I was so proud. 

I would say that those things - pride, accomplishment, the ability to pat myself on the back - equate to self-love. I left the meeting with this sense of confidence that I don't often feel, and I think that is self-love as well. 

Starting this post, I felt like I needed to uncover a moment where I loved myself physically; for some reason "a time you loved yourself" instantly felt like I needed to dig through all of the nasty things I have ever said about my body to find a moment I liked it. But in reality, self-love doesn't have to be physical. It doesn't have to be a time I felt great in a dress or noticed myself losing weight; it doesn't have to equate to body image, because body isn't all I am. Self-love can exist in other ways, including pride for accomplishing something or overcoming a fear. 

There are a lot of things I don't love about myself, but the reality is most of those are external. And the reality is, most of them are stupid and irrational, and almost all of them are things I need to work to get over. It shouldn't take so much thought and bewilderment to come up with something I actually love about myself. 

But this exercise made me do that, which I clearly needed. 

I love that I'm ambitious, and that being afraid will never be what stops me from going for what I want. My passion and drive, both personally and professionally, are a force to be reckoned with, and while I often lack confidence, I am just as often driven forward on stubborn, hard-headed passion alone. I like that about myself. 

You could even say I love it. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

#500wordsaday: I Want Out

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: How You Started Your Day

I started every day this past week with the harsh realization that I want out. Like, tag me the fuck out please. I don't want anything to do with the nastiness taking place in this scenario, nothing to to with the insanity or the meanness or the cruelness surrounding it all.

I. Want. Out.

I. Am. Out.

People, when you have a child, you do not get to drop them on their ass because you're tired of parenting! You don't get to just toss someone on their ass. You do not get to decide not to be someone's support, not to be someone's network, not to be someone's family. Family is (supposed to be) forever, not just for the good days!! You don't get to peace out on someone when you're mad.


I woke up and started every day this week in a bad mood, after tossing and turning all night the night before. I didn't sleep, I had nightmares in the few moments I did drift to sleep, and I woke up grumpy, running late, and not at all in the mood do anything, actually. I wanted to stay in bed and be gloomy, but at the same time, I wanted to figure out why all I could process was anger. I was literally seeing red. Rage-induced blindness, for days and days, without an end in sight.

Every morning, the messages were in my inbox when I woke up, after falling asleep every night, phone in hand, Facebook messenger app open.

You have 26 new messages.

You have 43 new messages.

You have 91 new messages.

You have 64 new messages.

Every morning I read them, while brushing my teeth and blending my smoothie, and every morning by the time I got to my office, I was ferociously angry again.

Why? Why am I letting this get to me? It's not about me, it's not happening to me, it's not anything I can fix or control or help or make better. It just is something that, is.

And yet, every day I woke up and like clock work, read these messages, got mad, went to work and continued to feel mad, and then went home, mad. I ate dinner mad and went to bed mad. For like six straight days. Finally on Friday, I clocked out a few hours early and found myself pacing in my living room, needing to do something, needing to just...GO.

And so I went.

I got in the car, connected my Pandora, grabbed some crackers and a bottle of water at 7-11, and sped off into the sunset. I had intended to drive until I felt better; to drive until I could take one full deep breath without the weight of someone's shoe on my chest. Until I could inhale and exhale five times without my eyes welling up with tears, I would just continue to drive.

Once on the road, things aligned a bit better, and instead of driving into thin air without destination, I found myself driving to the Dairy Queen waaaaaay out Highway 26 past Banks, where I met my favorite little kiddo and his mom for an ice cream cone. They were actually headed to the coast for the night, so I went ahead and followed them out, joined them for dinner, had a fire on the beach, and then drove home in the middle of the night - I remember when I used to make that late-night drive all summer long in my early twenties.

I found myself much calmer and far more centered when I woke up Saturday at 10am, after sleepily falling into bed when I got home at 3:00 in the morning. My bed full of sand, hair reeking of stale campfire, still a full face of makeup and my tee shirt from the night prior. I had 21 new messages in my messenger app, but I didn't rush to read them. Instead I lounged in sandy sheets for as long as Juno would wait for breakfast (about 43 seconds), then took a long hot shower, drank a smoothie, and was halfway through my day before I sat down to scroll through them. It wasn't that I no longer cared; I just didn't want to be so mad about a situation I have no control over.

I wanted to start my day level-headed, not seething with red hot anger.
I wanted to start my day calm, cool, and ready for my day, not running late to get to work while practically throwing my phone at a wall.
I wanted to start my day like I always do, not like I was this week.

I can't fix this. Truth is, no one involved can fix it. This, to me, feels like a true end, a conclusion there is no coming back from, the end of things as I know them. But I want to start my days like normal. I want to start my days waking up from a restful night, go to work, and enjoy my days. That doesn't seem that difficult, right?

I'm willing myself to start my days the way I want to - not by reading messages I'm not ready to deal with. I want to start every day on a good note. And in the times like this, where icy rage surrounds me, I want to start every day on a good note. I want my days to start with my music turned up as I shower and get ready, and with a breakfast smoothie on my way out the door to work. And on the days that can't start like that - the days where cruel recaps of awful messages flood my inbox - I just want to remember that I can't get so mad, at the things I have no control over.

Or, if that doesn't work, I just want to remember that I can end a week with a late-night drive, a loud sunny drive to the beach or the mountain with the music blaring, and a quiet, dark drive home late in the evening.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

#500wordsaday: Liar, Liar...Pants on Fire (if I even ever wore pants, which I don't)

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: A Time You Lied

I am feeling the true struggle of writer's block as I try to make sense of what to write about a time I lied...because I am clearly just so pure of heart.


Okay that's not true. I can certainly think of times I've lied about things - especially as a rebellious, headstrong teenager self-medicating in Boones Farm and Apple Pucker (fucking, YUCK) while I ran around with boys who were older than me and looking for ways to feel me up while parked at the North Clackamas Aquatic Park (you know who you are).

But who writes a blog about the shit they lied to their parents about in high school? That seems like a bit of a cop out, since literally all teenagers are dirty rotten liars who cannot be trusted. I'd never get 500 words out of, I lied to my mom about drinking in high school.

Uh. So what.

I think there have been a few points in the last year where I've lot more to myself than to anyone else in particular, and I suppose that counts. It's often easier to convince yourself you feel a certain way, than to admit that you feel betrayed, bullied, belittled, or back stabbed (that alliteration was accidental, just to clarify). It can be easier to say I'm fine, and convince yourself to believe it, than to stop and consider your true feelings about dating someone who had another girlfriend the whole time he was with you, or to embrace the reality that someone who was your very best friend, who you then came to love, treated you like crap and then secretly got married after vowing to be single for eternity.

We lie to ourselves probably more frequently - and honestly, probably on a larger scale - than we lie to anyone else. I'm sure I am guilty of that self-preserving dishonesty. I think the biggest lie I ever tell myself, is that I don't care. Whenever I say, I don't give a fuck - okay, 95% of the time - I actually give at least one fuck. Probably a lot of fucks, in reality.

Several months ago, I abandoned the fucks I gave about one of my very best friends; let's call him Goose, so in the instance he stumbles on this post, he'll know it's intended for him. Because that's how I roll. Goose and I became fast and furious friends as soon as we met, talking for hours on end, all day every day, to the point of crazy-town. Like, looking back I wonder how we ever accomplished anything outside of a Facebook chat window for approximately 60 total days. As most male-female friendships do, this one took a romantic turn at some point, and progressed from friendly to physical, then physical to mushy-gushy, and then from there, came to an obliterating end.

For some reason, I convinced myself (liar, liar, pants on fire) that I could stay friends with him after he broke up with me. But not just that; I convinced myself that I didn't care (there is is again) that he broke up with me without reason, with no explanation, in a Facebook chat window, as though we were in 8th grade and he was uninviting me to a school dance. My inner dialogue did an awful lot of justifying his crappy behavior, a lot of defending his honor, which - looking back - was certainly unwarranted. Truth is, he acted callously, and even after facing reality in a more sober light over the next year, never apologized to me...his supposed "friend." Even when I straight up told him why I was upset, why I was hurt, he offered no apology. Instead he stopped speaking to me.

In my stubbornness, I said, well fine, I give no fucks. If you don't need me, I don't need you. If you can't open your mind to why I might still be hurting, fuck you then. I don't need to wait around for you to understand why it wasn't okay to abandon our relationship in a moment's notice, without ever sitting me down and explaining it. #nope.

I gave (and still give) almost every single fuck.

He was someone who truly got me, and genuinely embraced me; he understood why I was stubborn and hard-headed, sensed when I was exceptionally needy, and passionately connected the dots that put me together; for my great days and shitty ones, he was the first person I reached out to vulnerably, every damn time. As my friend, we talked about books and writing and people and life and goals and problems and booze and sex. And then as my boyfriend we talked about love and passion and life and running away and change and growth. And then as exes-who-were-trying-unsuccessfully-to-be-friends-while-still-sometimes-fucking we talked about sobriety and work and hopes and romance and relationships and sharing space. He understood every nook and cranny of who I am, and until I had to convince myself to stop giving a fuck, I was certain I would forever give all of the fucks.

The lie I tell myself: I give no fucks.
The truth: I still care a lot. About him, and about what he did.

I no longer care about him romantically, so don't get it twisted; we were clearly not cut out for each other, and that's fine. I'm glad he's happy, and I'm happily moving on, boyfriend-wise. But this person is someone I truly did love, on several levels, and it is a challenge to continue to try not to care, when I in fact care very much. I care how he's doing, what he's got going on, whether or not he's drinking, how his family is. I care about him, period. However, I also know we're never going to be friends if he cannot accept, understand, and apologize for the way he treated me when we broke up. Because it was childish and mean, and it bothered me a lot, and he knows on what levels.

We lie to ourselves in an effort for self-preservation, and in an attempt to move forward faster than we're really ready to. All of the I'm fine convincing allows us to put onto the back burner, what we should really be addressing full attack mode. But instead of allowing time to be upset, to be sad-mad-transparent-vulnerable, we push it all down as far as we can and claim to not care.

I don't care.

I don't care is how baggage is picked up.

I don't care is a lie.

I don't care will do nothing to help you, and will only weigh heavy on you later, when you least expect it. When you're starting to build something with someone new, and you find yourself doubting them, doubting yourself. When that someone else says to you, I think we have the same baggage.

It requires honesty. It requires internal honesty, more than anything. It requires that you admit, Goose, you hurt my feelings, and you made me feel irrelevant and unimportant and invisible, and when you didn't apologize for breaking my heart so ruthlessly, it made me feel like the dirt under your shoe. What someone else chooses to do with your honesty, is not relevant. It matters only what you do, how you process your own honesty.

Admitting that you give at least, like one half of a fuck, is probably the first step.

I'm done saying I'm fine.

I give 75% of one fuck today, actually.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#500wordsaday: I'm Not Afraid Anymore (spoken like Kevin McAllister)

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: When You Were Scared

A time I was scared?? I don't know...I can't think...

**fast forward 3 hours**

According to one of my girlfriends, I have writer's block on this subject because I don't scare easily. Which is true; aside from monkeys and outhouses, of which I have real fears, I just don't find myself all that afraid, all that often. Plus, I have written several blogs about facing my fears, overcoming fears, and the I felt that to make this a different post, I really needed to think of a specific moment of being afraid, not a general fear.

But I still can't think of one. Because I have writer's block, hence why I needed this blog challenge to get my wheels turning.

**fast forward another hour**

It's no secret that several years ago, I found myself smack dab in the middle of an abusive relationship. After he smacked me in the face with a Tupperware plate only a few weeks into dating, somehow I was moving into this guy's apartment, then buying a house with him, cooking all of his meals, raising his daughter, and living in a shadow of what I used to think was my life. It was weird.

It's still weird, after a lot of time and a lot of therapy. I'm the opposite of the "type" of woman who gets abused by a guy. I'm tough. I'm strong, confident, and stubborn. And at that time in my life, I was also controlled, manipulated, and bullied. I made decisions out of fear, constantly on edge and trying to avoid starting a fight. I was certainly not myself.

There was a summer when we were together, that two of my cousins were getting married, just a couple weeks apart. Of course, being the typical abuser, my boyfriend hated my family and didn't want to attend either event. We compromised though, and he agreed to attend the first as my date, and that the second - in which I was the Maid of Honor - he'd skip.

Clearly, I actually think not attending a wedding with your girlfriend makes you an absolute douche bag, BUT at the time, and in my state of mind, this seemed fair enough.

So the day of Wedding #1 arrives, and I am really excited; I borrowed this sexy vintage wrap dress of my mom's that I worked out tirelessly to fit into, and I am so excited that he's finally coming to something with me. I spend an embarrassing amount of time getting ready, curling every one of my individual ringlets so they're perfect - even though I have natural, bouncy curls - and perfect my makeup. I come bouncing out of the bedroom, ready to go, expecting that he's ready and waiting for me - as any decent man would be.

He's in basketball shorts on the couch, watching basketball.

"Are you going to get ready? We need to get going in a few."
"Nah, I'm not going...there's a Lakers game on."
" said you'd go with me to this wedding."
"I don't want to."

My obvious disappointment is showing on my face, and I get upset; I find myself practically begging him to take me - my family was waiting, I was really excited for him to come (who the fuck knows why). And now 10 minutes from go-time, he literally is like, nah.

Angrily, he throws on slacks and a shirt and walks to the car, as if I have somehow done something wrong. I blindly follow and get in the car, and am already pulling up the directions to the church in my GPS before he's even out of the driveway.

We've not quite made our way from the house to the freeway, when my gut signals my brain in a way that I can't quite explain. You know the feeling you get when someone is following you in a dark alley? It's like that. A sort of light-headed, uneasy feeling, like all I want to do is dive head first out of the car. I don't say a word, just sit patiently and still, letting the GPS in my phone direct us from the southbound freeway, over the Fremont Bridge into downtown Portland. He's been yelling since the freeway on-ramp. I'm ruining his life by expecting him to miss this basketball game. I clearly hate him and want him to be miserable. He hates me, his daughter hates me. I'm fat and ugly, and I disgust him, and maybe if I didn't have these horrible tattoos he wouldn't be so embarrassed to take me out on a date or to a wedding.

And while he's yelling at me, I'm just sitting in the car, listening to the GPS, trying to keep myself composed. No reason to cry, no reason to yell back - that will only make it worse.

"You need to turn right at the end of the bridge."

And in a second, he went from yelling at me, to a white-knuckled, brow-furrowed silence. Because you know, repeating GPS directions is a clear no-no. As he aggressively flipped his blinker, I flinched, and with that, he snatched my phone out of my hand, and from less than a foot away, threw it - full steam - at the side of my head.

From the second the hard plastic hit my temple, I didn't move an inch. He didn't say anything else, nor did I. I picked my phone up from the floorboard, and we sat in dead silence, with the exception of Siri's voice, directing him to the church. My heart was racing, my lower lip trembling, my eyes staring straight ahead; I don't think I even blinked. My throat was dry, and my thighs were trembling, until finally he pulled up at the curb about a block from the wedding venue.

I don't know exactly what came over me, but I practically leaped from the car. The second his foot laid on the brake, I had my purse and cell phone in my hand, and slammed the passenger door in his face, and was halfway up the block before I exhaled the breath I'd been holding for what felt like an hour. I didn't turn around, didn't look back, just walked as quickly as my inappropriately high heels would carry me towards the church, as he drove towards Vancouver, probably seething.

This was a turning point in our relationship, as I could no longer deny what was happening. I was being abused. I had just had a cell phone thrown in my face, and had then been left on the side of the road in downtown Portland, by my boyfriend, who I had been scared to get into a car with. This was a moment of true domestic violence, of which I was an obvious victim. I knew, walking into the church, that my family knew something was wrong. But I still didn't say a word. And I still had a great time at the wedding, danced all night with the groomsmen at the wedding (and considered going home with any one of them, if just to prove a point), and got incredibly drunk before getting a ride home at the very end of the party, in the wee hours of the night.

While the fight we had when I got home was far more heated, far louder, an far more physical, it was nothing like the part of the evening where I was stuck in the car being verbally assaulted by someone who was supposed to love me. I wasn't scared at home, fighting, being slammed against the front door. I wasn't scared of that, because that was routine in our house. It was far scarier being stuck in a vehicle with him, while part of me wondered if he was considering driving it off the side of the Fremont, just to avoid me getting to spend time with my family.

This would sadly not be the defining moment in our relationship, where I would realize I could never make it better and needed to leave; that moment was still more than a year in the future; but this was a defining moment in which I realized I lived with someone I was afraid of, and whom I deeply hated. I would never ask him again to attend an event or party with me; we lived essentially separate lives from that night forward, two people in the same house, who rarely even made eye contact unless we were fighting.

Ideally, I would never have met this guy, and would never have fallen victim to a manipulative narcissist, but several years later I can at least look back confidently. I know I suffered a lot, tolerated a lot, and was bullied a lot - but I did learn to always stand up to what I'm scared of. It's easy to think of things that scare you, or moments you were afraid of something - but what really matters, is that you are able to overcome it all.

And that you don't allow your fear to keep you from forging ahead. #nofear

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#500wordsaday: Maybe Next Time I'll Wear a Dress

1) A time you lied
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice

500 Words a Day: Family.

Oh boy.

It has taken me a long time to learn the lesson that genetics, does not mean family - that just because someone is related to you, does not make them family. And even more, that that's okay. I have only recently been able to accept that not everyone in my genetic family will always love or protect me, and that not everyone who loves and protects me, will be genetically related to me. 

And that's fine. 

I thought for a long time about how to approach this prompt - do I talk about who my family is, where we came from, what we've been through over the past 10 years? Do I vent about my frustrations or feelings of abandonment, or perhaps talk about who has become my family in the absence of my 'real' family? 

But, to what recourse? At what point does being upset by these things become useless. It won't change. My fate is sealed. I'm different; I stand up and speak out, and because of this, I "can't let things go." So why continue the uphill battle?

No. Instead I focus on what's great about my family; I focus on the moments that fill me with joy to be a Whitmore. I focus on the parts of me that are wholeheartedly Whitmore - the stubbornness, the passion, the dramatic emotion (both good and bad ), the deep-seeded feelings, and the ability to express them passionately. These are things that I possess, just like my grandma, just like my aunts and uncles, just like my cousins; these are things that we all possess that make us who we are, and that's fine. It's fine that we scream at the TV because our team is losing. It's fine that we laugh loudly and that we gesture expressively while telling a story.

It's all just fine (mostly). 

So instead of groaning at the family prompt, I am choosing to focus on a positive family moment. While they may not be as common as the negative ones anymore, they do still come around, and I do still have them. And I think they are often overshadowed by all of the negative. 

Last month, I took my grandma to mass at her church. 

I should preface this with, I hate going to church. I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in most of what the Catholic church preaches. Going to mass makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and in my jeans and tee shirt I certainly stuck out like an awkward non-believing sore thumb in the middle of the building. For 2 hours I was fidgety in my seat, unsure of when to stand or sit or kneel or do cartwheels (those Catholics, man, they really keep up the cardio during all those prayers). 

Anyway, I wanted to spend some more quality time with my grandma, so I called her and told her I was coming to get her for mass. She was surprised, but pleasantly. I have made a commitment to spending more time with her, and I don't always want to just chill down in her apartment to do so - taking her to mass was a nice way to get her out of the house.

By the way...things no one told me before I picked her up, that would have been nice to know: Grandma is a greeter, so she gets to mass an hour early! 


So here I am, in jeans and flip flops, standing next to my grandma in the front door of a church, greeting every Catholic in Milwaukie as they come through the door. It was hilarious on every level, as she introduced me to everyone as "one of my many lovely granddaughters," as I awkwardly shifted in my sandals, saying hi and being introduced to all of them. 

The best part was, she was IN. HER. ELEMENT. I have never seen my grandma so in the zone, so happy, so excited, or smiling so big. I've never felt so loved or valued by her, as I did as she proudly exclaimed to all of her church ladies that I had called to tell her I wanted to go with her to mass. It has been many years since I've seen her thriving like she was that Sunday morning. 

Side note: The old, single men at St. Johns, are all about my grandma. She's their queen, and they adore her.

I tell you what, she was called beautiful by so many old men, I about died. All of them with their hugs and cheek smooches, and then the you're just as lovely as your grandmother hand shakes. My oh my, was she the prom queen of the 10am mass or what?! Every one of them asked about her son, who was dying of cancer, every one of them asked who my mom and dad were, every one of them offered her a hug, a kiss, a prayer, a million dollars. It was amazing. 

It is really easy with family - and especially with mine - to focus on the negative, to get caught up in fights and drama, to let the bad overshadow the good. But for me, the resolve is that my grandma will know, until the day she dies, that I love her, value her, and appreciate her. I have never claimed to be the perfect grandchild, but I have made a promise to myself that no matter anything else going on, I will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my grandma - wherever that may be - until she's no longer with us. In my family, that may require some uncomfortable conversations and some moments at a dinner table that feel similar to sitting in a Catholic Mass, but I don't care. None of that matters as much as having a positive and memorable relationship with my grandma. And I'm prepared to make any necessary amends in order to maintain that with her. 

Family isn't always easy; in fact more often than not, it's really challenging. It's a lot of people with like personalities, trying to coexist with all of their feelings; with my family, that means a lot of highly passionate people who all believe they're right all the time. That's hard. 

But for the grin on my grandma's face when I dropped her off after church and taught her how to take a selfie, it was (and continues to be) worth every challenging speed bump along the way. 

#500wordsaday: They Say Time Heals All Wounds

#500WordsADay...that should not be so hard, right??

I have been failing miserably at blogging this year. I think in part, it's because I have had a lot of family shit hit the fan, and that's what I want to write about...but I don't want to be disrespectful to my dad, or fuel the fires, so I haven't posted any of it. Instead, I journal it, and then discuss at length with my therapist, who continues to be mind blown by it all.

That said, I miss the public forum of this blog, so when this 10 day challenge was presented to me, I jumped on it. Because really, if I can't write 500 words in a day, I am pretty much failing at my life.

So here are the prompts. Take them or leave them. I highly recommend leaving them and writing whatever is on your heart and mind but consider these the little minnows that might lead you to the big kahuna.
1) A time you lied :)
2) A time you were hurt
3) The last time you were happy for a week straight
4) Family
5) How you wish you started your day (and then why you aren’t doing that already)
6) Your most authentic moment
7) When you really loved yourself
8) When you were scared
9) Why you long for love
10) Something about you that you’re hoping people don’t notice   / Something about you that you’re hoping people do notice
So here goes...
Day 1: A Time You Were Hurt
Several months ago, I met someone who was totally my type. Young, fun, and with that dirty rugged look I find so attractive. We hit it off right away - I remember feeling like, even in a room of a hundred people, even in a booth cramped with 7 of us, he was looking at me like the rest of the room didn't exist. I had his undivided attention from the moment I shook his hand, and he had mine from the moment he smiled that half-cocked grin.

There were beers, shots, and shuffleboard that night, and the obvious connection continued well into the evening - and late into the night, until at some point hours after falling asleep, I opened my eyes long enough to say good morning as he tip-toed out of my apartment. 
What surely should have been a one-time thing (we hadn't even exchanged phone numbers) did not stay that way, as the mutual friends between us made sure contact information was received, and that we were both aware that we each wanted to see each other again. I can thank said mutual friends at least, for getting my number into his hands; though it would seem that said mutual friends' loyalty may have stopped there. 
As quickly as things began, they came to an abrupt halt when this fella with whom I had shared several meals, a few movies, and some late nights, all but disappeared. Almost mid-conversation, the rug was yanked from under me, and he stopped texting me. Being the independent and somewhat stubborn girl that I am, I said fuck it then, and convinced myself he was a dick - even though it really didn't make sense, and I was more confused than confident in that conclusion. I have been buffaloed in the past, but this one just really didn't make sense; but again I am also not one to waste time on someone who isn't invested in me, so, that seemed to be the end of it. 
Until it wasn't the end of it.
Fast forward to about a month ago, when I get a call from the above-mentioned handsome fella, asking if we can have a drink. Whether it was curiosity or insanity, I'm not sure, but I agreed to hang out - I certainly wanted to ask if he'd had some sort of mental breakdown of if he'd been kidnapped, abducted by aliens, or if perhaps he'd had all of his fingers cut off. So there we are, sitting at a bar stool, and he's telling me these awful things that my friends had told him about dating me - that I was crazy, that I was in a hurry to get married, that I wanted to find someone to take care of me - you name it, they said it. And in the midst of this conversation was this very transparent moment of an apology for the fact that he let someone else sway the way he clearly thought of me. 

I'm not really sure which part was more hurtful at the time; the fact that he'd let his feelings be pushed aside by the opinions of someone else, or the fact that someone else would say such shitty things about me - especially someone who claims to be one of my good friends. At the time, I wasn't sure. However now, I'm certain - there is nothing quite as shitty hurtful, as having someone you trust, someone you have always been there for, someone you thought you mattered to, talk shit about you to someone who expresses legit interest in you.
Especially when it is categorically as untrue as it gets! 
Anyone who knows me well, knows that a rushed, intense, crazy romantic relationship is the furthest thing from what I want. A rush to get married? Yea right! I didn't have a boyfriend refer to me as a Unicorn for nothing - he (and his buddies) called me that because I am over 30, single with no kids, have no drama, and just want to chill, go slow, and take care of myself, dammit.

It's not easy to reflect on who your friends are and have to come to a conclusion that they're not always who you believe them to be. And this has proven to be one of those circumstances. This guy has continued to call and text since the night at the bar, and not in the hookup fashion - quite the opposite actually, in a very gentlemanly manner. Where things are going, I have no idea. Nor am I worried about it, because despite what my frenemies said, I am NOT a crazy chick! I am enjoying things moving slowly, asking tons of questions and getting them answered, and continuing to take care of myself in the meantime. 
As much as it sucks to be rejected by a guy with no explanation, it really hurts to be stabbed in the back by your friends. It hurts to discover your friends are not looking out for you, and worse, that they're the ones talking about you behind your back. It hurts to realize that not all of your friends are the trustworthy confidants you believed they were. But, as much as it does hurt, it hurts even more to let it happen continuously. So best believe these two have been booted from my friends list. The last thing I need is to have people who don't love me, in my circle. #hardpass #girlbye