What it means to be a woman…

Right now, being a woman is a very trendy thing. There are all of these social media driven explosions about how we should be proud to be a girl, etc. It has happened here or there, over the years but Hillary’s campaign really began the process of bringing it to a head. Because he was running against a girl (and I’m not sure any man would have made it through the election without being painted as a horrible person because of the “Feminist” climate of our nation, honestly) there is no way Trump could have escaped without being labelled a sexist monster who hates women… Then again, it is really Trump himself who made our president-elect such an easy target. I am not going to venture into political waters because everyone else is doing it, and that’s just not my thing. I am here to talk about how this is a really great time to be a woman. You know, #proudtobeagirl and all of that stuff. And don’t get me wrong, I am.

But why now? Why is it so incredibly, mind blowingly awesome to be a girl now? Why isn’t this sort of enthusiasm consistently offered to young girls when they get their first period? Why isn’t it intensified to such a huge degree when a woman pushes a child from her body? Why isn’t being a woman, and all of the awesomeness it entails, being celebrated when the nurturing love of a mother breaks, and breaks, and breaks the heart it beats in because motherhood is painfully hard sometimes?

Feminism is about women having a voice, having rights, being worthy. The heart of feminism is something every single one of us should stand for. TRUE Feminism is not what we are seeing these days. Is it Feminist to have a say about what goes on with our bodies? Ok. I agree, no one should be able to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. My biggest fear, as far as abortion laws are concerned, is that the government would have complete say in regards to whether a woman could keep her pregnancy. If we have strict abortion regulations, this will give them that power and that terrifies me. BUT why has abortion become this symbol of feminism? Why does abortion represent a subculture that is supposed to be about fairness and beauty? There is nothing fair or beautiful about it. Regardless of your perspective or stance, abortion is an ugly act. Metaphorically, let’s look at Breast Cancer. In a society where great tits are invaluable, imagine the woman who learns she has to have a mastectomy and will be left with a caved in chest in place of her greatest physical asset. After her scars have healed, she may feel a sense of beauty in her scar, but the very process to get from one point to the latter will be a hellish journey, paved with varied indescribable emotions. If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, should she have the right to make the decision on how to treat it? yes. It is her body. It is her body, period, and up to her to live with the consequences of her decisions…But women should not march the streets deciding that mastectomy scars, or the right to have a mastectomy if we choose, defines us as true women. Just like an abortion. I believe that a baby is a baby from the time it is conceived. I also have a family created by the system in place to remove children from heinously abusive situations. How is abortion any worse than the situations of the 428,000 foster children in the United States. If women who were not going to want or love their babies were forced to have them, what would that number be? And it isn’t just a number, these are children. Broken, beaten, molested, bandaged, damaged, tortured and fractured (sometimes beyond repair) human beings…

Abortion is not something to be celebrated. It also isn’t some deep dark secret that women should keep buried in shame. We each have a story. Those stories are defined by choices we’ve made and choices others made for us. Let’s celebrate our individual journeys as women, and build each other up regardless of differences. Abortion should not be the focus here…

Womanhood should be, In all of its glory.

Hail the women who raise up other women to not only believe in themselves, but to empower other women. Hail to the women who do NOT belittle men as less than worthy. Two wrongs do not make a right. It was never ok for men to treat women this way and it is never going to be ok for us to do this to men. True feminism means we are equal to stand beside them. NOT the same. NOT better, but deserving of equal pay, equal rights and equal opportunity.

I love being a woman. I’d much rather have a vagina over a penis. I love scented lotions, good books, my feminine handwriting, hair products, the very special sanctity that is female friendship and great lip gloss. I love that I have nurturing relationships with my daughter, that I cry in movies and that my shoe selection is much cuter than my husband’s. I don’t want to be a man. I want to be a woman and celebrate true womanhood. True womanhood has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. True feminism, the very essence of feminism, has nothing to do (NOTHING TO DO) with abortion.

Until we can focus on the real priorities and stop getting caught up in the details that distract us along the way, we can expect for things in this country to continue to fall apart. It doesn’t matter who our president is, if we can’t get it together and stand as a diverse community who truly loves and accepts EVERYONE, we are lost. (and by everyone, I do not mean simply the homosexual and transgendered communities, but the Christian Pro-lifers too.)

December uglies…

This has been a rough week, I am not going to lie. Monday was brutal in that I just couldn’t seem to be enough. Have you ever felt that? I have been doing a seasonal part-time job that I really enjoy, but Monday was off. The holiday crazy of customers did not really help or hinder the day, it just felt rough. Towards the end of the day I completed, what I believed to be, a task and it turned out I’d done it incorrectly. This sat with me in a not-so-great way. I had to rush home, grab Gen and take her right back to the same area of town for her work shift, and I simply could not shake that awful feeling that weighs you down when you have screwed up. I offered to come in, off the clock, and do the task right but my manager said it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, it bothered me.

Psychologically, I don’t think it was that big of a deal. My manager is genuinely kind and did not seem to be upset. Whether it is a seasonal job or not, I try to give 100% at whatever I do and take pride in it. I felt like I failed. Talking to a friend, later that evening, I had to admit that this heavy feeling was being filtered through the perspective of a lot of December uglies right now. I get it… And so when Tuesday found me stiff and achy, with a migraine, I simply had grace for myself and acknowledged that the December uglies were probably affecting me and my fibromyalgia was flaring up. Wednesday became a tough day in this parental journey, coupled with still feeling stiff and achy, with a headache. There is NO COUNT to how many times I told my family yesterday, I really need to feel better because I work tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is now today, and I am bundled in yoga pants and my Boise State sweatshirt, in front of my fireplace instead of being at work. After a fitful night of sleep, I woke around 6 with a 10-ton weight on my chest, complete sinus pressure and temple/mastoid throbbing to boot. My achyness had become an almost inability to move. My husband commented on how i didn’t seem well and maybe I shouldn’t go to work. I told him that I WAS going, and he offered up coffee as an aid. Coffee and a shower (I had really banked on the shower being my saving grace) did nothing but wear me out the final bit and make me want to die. (yes, I am sure we all know that feeling.) Turned out my temp was 101.2. No wonder the hot shower depleted me…

It’s the worst timing, really. Christmas wise, work wise, travel wise. I’m going to see my mother in her nursing home tomorrow and can’t go if I’m contagious. I’m spending the weekend with Amanda’s family and hate to spread sickness to them. My fibro makes car trips painful, but coupled with whatever achy nonsense I’ve got happening, it seems a cruel twist of holiday fate. Beyond all of that though, (because why stress about the things that haven’t happened yet? I’ll either be deathly ill or I won’t) It is how I was treated upon trying to openly communicate with my employer that seems the worst. That’s the part I can’t get over. I value, above all things, genuine kindness and love for others. I have always gone out of my way to make the lives (or days, or moments) for others, just a little bit brighter. I was treated like a piece of crap, pretty much told that I was selfish and manipulative and talked down to in a way which caught me off guard. I understand the holidays are stressful, management is exhausting, underpaid, overwhelming and that frustrations are high. I also understand that people are people. When one person treats another in such a way, it is dehumanizing and arrogant.

It is 6 hours later and I am still so bothered by it. Isn’t it enough that we simply do the best we can? Thankfully my temp is down, and maybe it is just that I’m sick and it made me feel more sensitive. I don’t know. I do not know this woman outside of work and while her personal opinion of me is of no value to me, professionally it bothers me far more than I would have expected. I find myself feeling crippled regarding ever stepping foot in there again, which I have to do. Tomorrow. Nearly a year of experiences within a company, that I love and felt such happiness from, is now an issue of disgusting conflict and that makes me angry. I am angry at this woman because, who does she think she is? Perhaps it is not fear of conflict that scares me… The past year has been complete and utter hell for me. I have somehow maintained dignity, grace and attempted to stay present and grow forward. I am afraid, within this hurt, appalled and angry place, that I would not be able to hold my tongue and would take out so much on her… And that, would be exactly what she did to me, which didn’t solve anything. Kindness and love… So I will steer clear of her, and that place, other than the 2 visits I have to make. Deep breaths and realizing it was just a seasonal job that would have been over today anyway, and that I don’t have any respect for her (after this morning) and don’t care what she thinks of me.

If I do ever cross paths with her I will simply smile and move on because people are people and it is on each of our consciences the type of people we choose to be…

Goodbye, for now…

photo-1452827073306-6e6e661baf57I’m parting ways with Facebook tomorrow, at least in the personal sense… I’m still found there professionally, and honestly there is a Facebook Group that I am not wanting to lose contact with and I cannot quite figure out how to do that and quit the social media site altogether. For now, step one, I’ve deleted it from my phone.

It’s funny when you tell a cluster of friends that you were crying, or you are tired, the majority of them will quip about their own sadness or exhaustion; you tell a few people about your plans to abandon Facebook though, it’s interesting how many people feel you’ve shared some apocalyptic revelation. Facebook? Why? What did Facebook ever do to you? Are you ok? Are you dying? Are you dead? Are you ______?

So, allow me to clear things up… Nope, not dying, dead or the facing any other tragedies… I am a little tired of being inundated with so much opinion and so little personal interaction. I am a little weary of cute video after cute video but little to no relational substance. Even so, those reasons aren’t really enough (for me) to leave the platform all together. My husband has Facebook relationships I’m not in agreement with and he has (multiple times) insisted that my Facebook page is justification for the lies and rumors spread by others… STILL not necessarily reason enough. To put it simply, I’m tired. I’m tired of the two sides of people who appear in the wake of every controversial issue or tragedy, and how behind the confines of social media they find “courage” to attack one another, thus provoking more senselessness… And on a more personal level, I’m tired of a lack of intentional interaction between “friends”. What has happened to relationships? What has happened to intentional, sacrificial and sometimes uncomfortable effort and presence in each other’s lives?

I will not change anything by no longer showing up in people’s feeds… But for the life I live, and the relationships I have, I can change the world. That’s all I’m after… Today is all I’ve got, and I don’t want precious moments-turned-hours to be sucked up in a life less “social” experience chalk full of short videos and political rants.

I once felt like I had to have a personal Facebook to maintain relationships I didn’t really have outside of that platform any longer, but today I’m thinking that I’d rather pour my effort into the relationships I value most.

Be grateful and glad in all things, and when all else fails… rant?

tvA long time ago I truly grasped the lesson & importance of being grateful and glad in all things… Then something got lost, along my journey. I sunk deep into a terrifying depression, which I couldn’t truly understand while drowning in it, but strangely and intricately do now. Within that depression, a great many things changed. I had lost, along the way, the importance of being grateful and glad in all things. Truthfully, I felt like I was barely surviving. My perspective of all things, from my parenting to my marriage, my education to my skills and talents, was all seen through a filter so far from reality. In the end of that chapter, I partook in a very time sensitive decision, going in a direction where I believed I would actually be needed, valued and wanted. The truth, outside of that sludgy despair however is that I was far too emotionally sick to really know what any of that looked like. Depression is a beast… Sometimes it can lay at bay, on the surface, and it feels like you’re out of the sea. That’s the best I can explain it.

I wonder what would have looked different if I’d been able to hold on to my sense of being grateful and glad in all things? In all things would mean in the sea of depression or other illnesses as well. In isolation from the very people you live with and love. In abandonment from relationships which fed your life. In the joy and celebration that comes with great blessings… In all things.

I lost this sense. My sense. And over the past many days I’ve been reminded and validated upon the path of reclaiming it. I am someone who needs relationship with people. This is not a character defect. This is not a deep, emotional flaw. This is how I am designed. I am crafted to thrive on connection with others. Our society promotes surface connections, declaring that true friendship is talks of sex, meeting for drinks and Facebook collections. None of these are friendship. Sure, friends CAN talk about sex, share a drink and be connected on social media, but when one, two or all three of these things make up the bulk of your “support system”, there is no support. We have a need to be entertained in all things, and have had this need for independence shoved down our throats. There is this weird parasite in our thoughts that we mustn’t allow ourselves to be too vulnerable, too needy, too dependent upon someone else. What is wrong with us? And we can go through a season in our lives when we form a real, true and deep connection with someone but that tapeworm of ridiculous garbage will live again and try to destroy it. While I suspect we all have the same need, but different life circumstances have left us scarred and unable to heal it, I at least know for sure that I do have this need. In the core of connecting with others, conversation and interactions I thrive. Without that, in any form of isolation, I wither. I can be grateful and glad in all things… In all times. In all seasons. That is my choice, and one I must make and work to retain. Whether it is times of togetherness or isolation. But the intentional connection thing is something I am going to have to be sure to do, as well. In all things… It is the cure to my depression, the cure to that childhood lie stitched upon my soul that I am unloveable. We were created for community, and within a community I must live…

I was already thinking these things, relearning and newly realizing these things, and at this very place in my journey when my pastor, Sunday, spoke on this very idea. I can’t take credit for it at all, as I am merely recycling other people’s wisdom with my own commentary. One thing he said Sunday which hasn’t left the forefront of my brain since then was that a study conducted in 1984 polled people to see how many close friends they had. The average number among the majority was 3. The same poll was taken within the last year or two and the majority answered 0. ZERO. NONE. The majority of people have no one whom they can trust, confide in, rely on… And the very best part of friendship is also being trusted by someone, listening to someone and knowing you are reliable. What has changed in those 22 years? The internet, the mass web of social media, the rise and growth of video games and our 700 television channels waiting for us. Beyond technology, not much has changed. This is sad to me. There was a time when lunch with friends, long distance phone calls and actually, truly knowing someone, were normal. Now, they are occasional treats. We say we are busy, but we aren’t. We are programmed to be “busy” with tv shows, video games and our cell phone obsessions. I remember paying steep long distance bills and buying phone cards to talk to friends for hours. Now? Now I could go a week without a single conversation and NO ONE PAYS LONG DISTANCE anymore!

This totally turned into a rant, which wasn’t my intention… Be grateful and glad in all things… I am grateful to realize this, and glad to know that this epidemic is easily solvable. It just takes altering our priorities and intentionally connecting with someone. Engage in a conversation, get together over a cup of coffee or dinner and talk. Listen. Love. It’s easier than we think. Maybe not as easy as turning on the tv or gazing at our iPhones, but it is so much more rewarding… We idolize our electronics, but the truth is that they don’t give a damn about is.

I’ll say it once…

Sometimes we may wake up in the morning and painfully remember, (and realize again) all at once that this actually is your life and these things actually are happening right now. If you’re anything like me, this happens when waking up from an unpleasant night of roughly ninety minutes of collected sleep moments- For the eighth night in a row. It has also been that many days since you emotionally fell apart, into a blubbering puddle, upon the departure of your husband and daughter, while you were babysitting your friend’s kids…

As abundantly pathetic as the above image may seem, these days I am realizing that it is alright… I mean, it’s kind of not ok that I can’t sleep, or that I spent 4 days vomiting uncontrollably while simultaneously laying in bed in a deep, dark depression. It IS ok that I acknowledge where I am at and then authentically plant my ass there. Is it pretty? No. Does it hurt? Immeasurably. If I’m really there though, may as well be present and honest about it.

Towards the late middle of last year I found myself overwhelmed and dealing with family issues, as well as completely separate friend issues. Both involved tremendously deep-rooted pain, abandonment and other multi-layered junk that I’d successfully buried and ignored for twenty plus years. My therapist accompanied me on my tailspin, often saying such reassuring Gems as “wow, I’m speechless. This is too much for one person to sift through.” The moral of this confession is that for the better part of my life, I haven’t been present long enough to grieve, mourn or deal with anything at all necessary so that I didn’t have some volumes of pain festering deep inside of me. I inched closer and closer, during this dark and overwhelming time, to needing to run. I escaped for a weekend, but it was absolutely the opposite of cathartic. And then, the day after returning home I had my escape plan handed to me by the immediate needs of a friend and my husband- who’d been patiently waiting for an excuse to walk me to the door. Maybe it could go without saying, but I didn’t quite process any of that either, until about the time they left for the plane, here two thousand miles from where our life and marriage lived, just last week.

When we began hashing through the “what the hell happened” scenario I was shocked to find his portrayal of a flat-out evil version of me. I acknowledged as I packed my bag that I’d be the bad guy. I’d be the abandoner of my child, I would be the evil wife who left her husband to pick up the pieces of what was left. Was I emotionally prepared to accept such responsibility? No way. It was my gift anyway. My gift to him, my gift to the world and apparently my gift to me- someone to blame. We love someone to blame… And no one wants to blame him for giving up on me, out of the blue, nearly three years ago. No one wants to blame him for growing complacent despite my pleading and pleading and pleading for something. No one has the right to an opinion but he, myself and our amazing kids- yet the world is full of opinion. I’ve been called a cheating whore by people who don’t know the first thing about anything. I have been unfriended on Facebook. I have been messaged a reprimand and called a harlot. Was I a perfect wife? No. Newsflash: no one is. The truth? I was a great wife. I faithfully loved and supported my husband through all of his bits of life that shut me out, until the day I left. When he decided I was not worth loving, I stood by him, hoping he’d change his mind. When I grew weary of that, I still went through the motions of loving, supporting and lifting him up. I was never unfaithful to my husband, and honestly I cannot fathom ever being in a relationship with another man. When this known as kind man unleashed my shortcomings on me, I held my own. I shed a light on the truth, that I was not perfect but I was not the one who turned my back on my spouse. I may have gotten in my car on November 23rd, but that man left a long time before that.

I also had a really good reason for coming west… Not that it’s anyone’s business. When my kids understand and are beyond supportive, I have to consider that all of the haters are just consumed with their own selfish misconceptions and it has nothing to do with me. Hate on, if you must. Have fun with that, and take a second to notice you’re the only one who is miserable because every day I’m getting a bit better. I have a dream, I have a plan, I have a purpose. All three of these involve becoming someone my kids can be proud of. All three of these involve being someone who touches the lives of others and makes the world a better place. None of them involve a man, unless my husband wakes up one day and decides to fight for something that actually matters…

This is about as publicly personal as I’ll get. It’s a little raw, true, but it’s as personal as I’m going to get. If your opinion actually matters, you’re already in the know… I wrote it maybe because it’s late, I’m tired and I need somewhere to send the ridiculous naysayers when they start spewing ignorant nonsense.