Thursday, September 19, 2013

Talking About It


Talking about it is hard.

Whenever you make new friends there inevitably comes that moment where you have to tell them.

Maybe not right away, maybe its like a few months in.

But eventually you have to say yeah… my childhood wasn’t actually perfect.

“they were really religious… they homeschooled me k-12.” But you seem so normal!

“yeah I have 10 siblings.. no we’re not catholic…” I could never do that! Your mum must be a saint!

“no I will never have that many kids. No I don’t plan to homeschool. No it wasn’t a good experience.”

You sit there feeling like a freak show. Everybody’s gawking because they’ve never even heard of such things. Surely you must be exaggerating?! But in reality you’re dumbing it down, polishing the edges.

And in the back of your mind is the old family mantra hissing “You are so selfish. Telling tales for attention. People are going to think bad things about the family! Where is your loyalty?!”

They all shake their heads in wonderment. Courtship? Isn’t that another word for dating? You are monopolizing the conversation now. But they won’t let you stop. They have so many questions. You’re like a space alien telling stories about your exotic and barbaric planet.

You mentally sweep the years of violence and neglect and manipulation into a neat little dustpan and name it: “It wasn’t really a healthy environment.” And people infer what they want, and you move on. And eventually someone changes the subject and you sit there feeling embarrassed.

You wonder if your cheeks have turned red. Did you say too much? “You always say too much!” You smile and engage in the rest of the conversation. And then you go home and aggressively wash the dishes, fighting back your rising anxiety.

Eventually you find yourself in bed with a pillow over your face.

Trying to slow your breathing. Trying to fall asleep.

Its been ages. It should be so hard to talk about.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pole Dancers, Irony, and Awesomness

Today was "Quad Day" at my University. The day before classes start, campus organizations set up booths along our main quad and students come out to look at what the school has to offer in extracurriculars, clubs, and organizations. I went by myself in a t-shirt and a pair of short short short short athletic shorts. That's not actually an important detail, I just wanted to say it. wearing shorts out in public is STILL a big deal to me even four years after moving out of my parent's house.


So anyway. The quad was PACKED. There had to have been over 2000 students there, milling around between tables, talking, laughing, it was insane. I wandered all over the place. There was a LARPING group hitting eachother with foam swords on an empty patch of grass. There were a bazillion demographic-specific student groups. There were glee clubs and drama clubs and dance clubs and judo clubs. There was a big stage set up where some clubs were giving demonstrations. There was one club called the Fitness Pole Dancing Club that gave a demonstration. My first reaction would be to roll my eyes and the spectacle of it all, but to my surprise, the first Dancer to demonstrate really caught my eye. She was wearing a sports bra and short short short booty shorts. She looked about 20, Latina, and she had a really big jiggly belly. What really stopped me in my tracks were her thighs. They were large and curvy but most strikingly they were covered in scars. hundreds of inch-long slices all along the outside of her upper thighs. And there she was, jiggly belly, fading scars, and a HUGE smile on her face as she rocked in on that pole. I just. I don't even know what to say I was so amazed and inspired.

So there were a bazillion organizations, but it really felt like at least 20% of them were Christian groups. Just dozens of different christian organizations that all do the same things like have pizza parties and prayer groups and go help someone rake their lawn once a year. It was weird to me that none of them seemed to have a specific mission other than... hanging out? Anyway. In the "advocacy" section of the quad, there were all the awesome causes represented. Students were there handing out flyers on how to get involved ending human trafficking, or feeding the homeless, or bettering public services, or ending AIDS. And right in the middle of all those booths was the "Pro-Life" table. Literally two feet away from a girl talking about sex trafficking victims, there's a 19-yr-old white guy shouting about ending abortion and saving the fetuses. Who classified "pro-life" as an advocacy group? I wonder if anyone else noticed the irony.

So once I'd had enough fun at the quad, I headed off to walmart to pick up some last minute school supplies and I ended up coming home with these super extremely awesome Avengers pens. I wanted Batman pens too but I figured I'd wait till I inevitably lose these. 

And yes those are my Star Wars things in the background. That's like 20% of my collection.

I wonder if there's a nerd club at my University?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Longing


I am intimately familiar with the feeling called longing
Intense, sharp, caustic need
the kind that chews a hole inside your chest
like a shot of novocain, a burn and a sting

I only ever longed for freedom
burning my hands over a steaming pot
the future stretching out before me
strangled by the sameness and monotony

longing like bile in my throat
gagging, choking, my stomach in knots
fight or flight, but i could do neither
twelve years old and living in my own coffin

need is dangerous
if you acknowledge it, it demands to be satisfied
and when you can’t deliver
longing will tear.you.apart.

with sharp, curved claws
longing tore it’s way through my lungs
i stopped breathing for 6 years
those talons tore divots in my baby skin

I chased after freedom even as my lips were turning blue
flat on my belly, crawling with my fingernails
this longing is brutal
it will kill you before it will be ignored

every year i long for Fall
every fall i’d turn one year closer to freedom
it was fall when I broke away and started running
fall is a clean cold slate against fevered skin

the longing for freedom is part of being human
it’s right beneath your skin
a hungry monster you will never escape
I’d advise you to embrace it before it eats you alive


(originally published on my Tumblr)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Progress: As Seen In My Morning Routine

I wake up.

My room is a little bit messy.
I have learned that there is no need to berate myself for not folding my socks before they go into the drawer. Skipping laundry day does not make me a bad person.

I stumble into the bathroom wearing boxers and a star wars t-shirt.
I am not obligated to wear sexy lingerie and nightgowns to bed. I am not obligated to wear underwear designed for women. I am only obligated to wear what makes me feel comfortable.

I brush my teeth and wash my face and I DON’T weigh myself.
There is no scale in my bathroom. I have learned that my health is measured by how I feel, and my worth isn’t measured at all.

I rub styling paste into my short, boyish hair and stand it straight up.
My hair is not my crown of glory. My hair is not a symbol of my relationship with a deity. My hair does not hide the roundness of my face or accentuate my femininity. My hair is just hair. And it makes me feel free and powerful and I think its sexy as hell. And that’s all that matters.

I slap on a swatch of winged eyeliner.
I don’t care what it “says” about me. I just like how it makes my eyes look greener. It’s not for you. It’s for me.
I get dressed.
Dress pants from the men’s section of Banana republic. A flattening sports bra. A button up, tucked in. A grey cardigan. Wide, flat stud earrings. My clothes make me feel confident, and they reflect me very accurately. I am masculine and feminine rolled into one. I am me. I am different. And that’s okay.

I eat breakfast.
Fruit and toast with almond spread. I am a vegan. Respecting nature is important to me. This is a personal moral decision, and it doesn’t mean that I am foolish, or arrogant like I was taught. Living vegan makes me feel honest and compassionate, and that’s a good enough reason.

I kiss my Hunnie goodbye on my way out the door.
I’m off to work an 8 hour day. I bring home the bacon, and that doesn’t make me less of a woman any more than it makes him less of a man.

On the way to work, I call to make an appointment with my Doctor.
I’m getting a  hormonal birth control implant in my arm, because I don’t want to get pregnant. Not now, maybe never, and that’s okay. My value is not defined by my willingness or ability to give birth. My family is not defined by how many children we have.


Feminist, queer person, agnostic, vegan, student, nerd, employee, blogger, singer, activist; these labels fit me, but they don’t define me. I am Sarah, and I am more than the sum of my parts. I am free, and I am finally learning what it means to be happy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Journey: An Update

I have been neglecting my blog.

But I promise, the reasons are mostly good. I have been getting better. So much better. The suffocating blanket of uncertainty has almost completely disappeared. So many of my fears have been replaced with confidence and peace. I don’t feel so raw all the time anymore. I don’t always feel the need to pour my emotions out on “paper” to get them out of my system. I think I know who I am now. As an individual. And most days that means I feel peaceful, and happy.

None of things happened over night. And I’m sure I’ll change and have new questions all over again. But for once, I am not afraid of the future, because I finally trust myself to navigate it with authenticity. If I change, I change, and that’s okay. Because human beings are fluid. We are meant to change and grow, and rejecting that fact is unhealthy. P/QF folks will tell you that there’s a solid, biblical answer for every question, and if you don’t get it you need to try harder. But that kind of mindset removes us from our consciences, and from the opportunity to change and grow, which is what makes us human to begin with.

Letting go of belief in “right answers” is scary.
Letting go of the walls that you were always told would protect you is terrifying.
Letting go of the personality pajamas your parents swaddled you in at birth leaves you feeling naked and without identity.
Waking up in your twenties with no sense of self seems unbearable.

But I let go. And I started from scratch. And I trusted my conscience, and as cheesy as it sounds, I trusted my heart. It’s been over 2 years now, of slowly putting myself together, piece by piece. This is not the end of my journey. But I am happy to say that I know who I am today. I know what I want today. And that is more than enough for me.


I would love to talk more about my journey. I know how helpful it was to hear stories like mine when I was first beginning my journey. The tips and tricks and encouragements of others were invaluable to me. Please feel free to email me, or leave a comment about what you need to hear about. What will help you on your journey? If I get any responses I will write on those subjects.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Self

I am a member of the family
I am a member of the housework crew
I am my parent’s possession
I am their trophy
I am a representative for Christ
I am a future mother in a future family preparing to serve a future husband
I am not an individual.
Feelings are superfluous, needs are selfishness, I do not know the vocabulary of self.
I am depressed overly dramatic
I am hungry gluttonous
I am tired and overworked lazy
I am sick weak
I have anxiety lack faith
I need affirmation whine too much
I need privacy am selfish
I need to be respected punished
I do not deserve to have needs.
So I take tweezers and tear a blade out of my father’s razor. And I keep the razor in a tiny jewelry box that my grandma gave me, under the cotton, because nobody can see it, because using it is selfish, and I am ashamed. But nothing compares to the relief of sliding the blade across the soft parts of my thighs, my calves, my ankles, my wrists.
Simultaneously punishing myself and expressing my hurt.
People deserve love
people deserve support
people deserve respect
But I don’t know these things

 Because I am not an individual
I am not a person
I do not know the vocabulary of self.



(I wrote this post as an entry for the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog. You can see the Original Post here)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jerry Lewis Doesn't Want Women Debasing Themselves With Humor

Renowned comedian and asshole Jerry Lewis recently reiterated his “distaste” for female comedians.  In case you missed it last time, Jerry famously said that it “bothers” him to “sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator.” Most people take this to mean that Jerry is somehow blind to all the funny ladies in the world.

I was listening to Chicago AM radio on my way to work this morning and the talk show hosts were discussing how senile Jerry must be to not notice all the good female comedians. They started listing all their favorites and repeated again and again how strange it is that Jerry doesn’t think women are funny.

Everybody is missing the point. Jerry never said that women are not funny; he said that women shouldn’t be trying to be funny in the first place. You see, Jerry still thinks that women should be seen and not hears. Jerry thinks women should be the butt of the joke, not the person telling it. Jerry doesn’t want to live in a world where women are free to speak openly, or be who they want to be. He doesn’t want to see us ladies “diminishing our qualities” by displaying personality and autonomy.

Jerry isn’t some sweet, doddering old man who’s just not paying attention to modern comedians. He is deliberately boycotting female comedians because he is ignorant and sexist. Poor Jerry, he misses the days when “quality” women were sweet and silent arm-candy that dreamed only of motherhood and marriage. It must be so hard for him to see women behaving like… oh I don’t know… human beings.

Monday, April 29, 2013

College


Things I have learned from the 3 years I’ve spent in college:
  •  Pulling an all-nighter is never worth it.
  • Nobody cares what you wear to class.
  • If you don’t get enough nutrition you grades will suffer.
  • Getting a B is okay.
  • The key to making a professor like you is to keep a low profile at first and then gradually become more engaged in class as the semester goes on. Your professor will feel like they drew you out of your shell. They’ll be really proud of themselves and totally love you for the rest of the year.
  • It’s okay to procrastinate, just make sure you read all the instructions for a project way ahead of time so you arent suprised by how much there is to do the night before
  • Don’t sit by fun, social people in class, they’ll get you in trouble
  • Keep a constant list of assignments on your phone so you never forget stuff
  • Never ever ever share your homework with classmates
  • Always sell your textbooks at the end of the semester
  • Never start a new show on Netflix close to finals or midterms
  • Limit drinking to one night a week, if you dont you WILL get fat
  • Try to have some fun. You won’t be this young forever

Things i still dont have answers for after 3 years in college:
  • When you pass sombody in the hallway or on the sidewalk, is it weirder to make eye contact and smile or just completely ignore them?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Feminists Hate Men: The Ultimate Response


Feminists do not want you to lose custody of your children. The assumption that women are naturally better caregivers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not like commercials in which bumbling dads mess up the laundry and competent wives have to bustle in and fix it. The assumption that women are naturally better housekeepers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to make alimony payments. Alimony is set up to combat the fact that women have been historically expected to prioritize domestic duties over professional goals, thus minimizing their earning potential if their "traditional" marriages end. The assumption that wives should make babies instead of money is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to get raped in prison. Permissiveness and jokes about prison rape are part of rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to be falsely accused of rape. False rape accusations discredit rape victims, which reinforces rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be lonely and we do not hate "nice guys." The idea that certain people are inherently more valuable than other people because of superficial physical attributes is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to pay for dinner. We want the opportunity to achieve financial success on par with men in any field we choose (and are qualified for), and the fact that we currently don't is part of patriarchy. The idea that men should coddle and provide for women, and/or purchase their affections in romantic contexts, is condescending and damaging and part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be maimed or killed in industrial accidents, or toil in coal mines while we do cushy secretarial work and various yarn-themed activities. The fact that women have long been shut out of dangerous industrial jobs (by men, by the way) is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to commit suicide. Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of any gender are part of patriarchy. The fact that depression is characterized as an effeminate weakness, making men less likely to seek treatment, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be viewed with suspicion when you take your child to the park (men frequently insist that this is a serious issue, so I will take them at their word). The assumption that men are insatiable sexual animals, combined with the idea that it's unnatural for men to care for children, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be drafted and then die in a war while we stay home and iron stuff. The idea that women are too weak to fight or too delicate to function in a military setting is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want women to escape prosecution on legitimate domestic violence charges, nor do we want men to be ridiculed for being raped or abused. The idea that women are naturally gentle and compliant and that victimhood is inherently feminine is part of patriarchy.
Feminists hate patriarchy. We do not hate you.
Lindy West for Jezabel

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Do Not Belong To You

I am a teenager. He is a stranger waiting next to me for the train. When he calls me “sexy” and tells me to smile, I blush as red as his baseball cap. “aww are you blushing, baby?” My stomach churns. I do not want his attention, but I cannot say no. I smile for him, hoping I look more bashful than scared. On the train I seek out a seat next to very large older woman and bite my lip to hold back the tears brought on by adrenaline and embarrassment.
My smile does not belong to me.
 You taught me this when you ordered me to smile for your friend who was over for dinner. I was 5. I didn’t like him, but you took me aside and told me to “smile and be nice” or I would have to sit alone in the other room.
I am 14 years old. He is my sparring partner in Martial Arts class. “I’m gonna punch you in the boob!” He laughs like it’s the funniest joke he ever heard. I am uncomfortable, but I don’t know what to say. He jabs at my right breast, like it’s a target, and pain blossoms across my chest. He laughs, his buddies laugh, and I laugh with them. I don’t want to be rude. “Do you need me to kiss it and make it better?” More laughter. I tell myself we’re all just kidding around, it’s just fine… everything is fine.
My body does not belong to me and I do not have the right to decide what I think is funny.
You taught me this when you let my cousin tickle me without my consent. I was 7 and he was 19. I screamed through the involuntary laughter and everybody just smiled and laughed along. When I finally got away I was angry. Hot tears sprung up in my eyes and shouted at him, at all of you, “I told you to stop!” You gripped my arm and pulled me aside. “Your cousin was just joking with you and you were very rude to him. Go apologize and give him a hug!”
I am 19. He is my sexually aggressive co-worker. He traps me against the wall and whispers explicit things to me, hot breath against my neck. Sometimes he sneaks up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist, purposely pressing his body against mine. He grows bolder each day, and he never listens when I insist that he leave me alone. I never tell anyone, just befriend an older man who works with us, and hide near him when I’m feeling afraid.
My sexuality belongs to the most powerful male-bodied person available.
You taught me this when you bought me a purity ring at age 16 and made me promise that I would never let anyone touch me until you gave me away to a man on my wedding day. And all the times you ordered my brother to protect me, instead of teaching me to defend myself.

You just wanted me to behave. You wanted me to obey the rules as children should. You didn’t known that children are just tiny adults. You couldn’t have foreseen that your words would shape the woman I would become. You never thought that I would carry the lessons meant for a five year old with me for the rest of my life.
But I know now. And if I ever have a child I will remember that she does not belong to me. I will never force her to talk to my dinner guest, because I do not own her voice, or her smile, or her body, or her heart.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Anxiety

For me Anxiety comes in spurts. I'll be fine for a year and suddenly have the worst month of my life. I found this post here on Tumblr describing and explaining anxiety. It's perfect and amazing and sooo accurate. I just had to share it with all of you.
things we (people with anxiety) are trying to do all the time:
  • 1. be safe
things we can’t help but do all the time:
  • 1. second-guess ourselves
  • 2. behave impulsively and reactively
  • 3. take everything personally
  • 4. worry
  • 5. worry
  • 6. worry
  • 7. have difficulty accepting compliments
  • 8. have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
  • 9. have difficulty finding the courage to respond
  • 10.  have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
  • 11.  make a huge deal out of the smallest thing
things you should keep in mind:
  • 1. we’re scared of everything
  • 2. pretty much all of the time
  • 3. it’s an actual disorder
  • 4. it manifests as impulsive behavior
  • 5. you can’t fix us with words
  • 6. telling us “worrying is silly” won’t make us stop worrying
  • 7. it’ll only make us feel silly
  • 8. and then we’ll worry even more
  • 9. “oh god, am i worrying too much? what if she calls me silly again?”
  • 10.  like that
  • 11.  also, we wear a lot of armor
  • 12.  cold, heavy, affection-proof armor with spikes
  • 13.  we constructed this armor as children
  • 14.  we’re fairly certain you will never be able to pry it apart
  • 15.  but there is a nice person under there, we promise

things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:
  • 1. stick around
  • 2. ask him/her if they’re comfortable in a place or situation
  • 3. be willing to change the place or situation if not
  • 4. activities that help them take their mind off of things are good!
  • 5. talk to them even when they might not talk back
  • 6. (they’re probably too afraid to say the wrong thing)
  • 7. try not to take they’re reactions (or lack thereof) personally
  • 8. (the way they expresses themselves are distorted and bent because of their constant fear)
  • 9. (and they knows this)
  • 10.  give her time to respond to you
  • 11.  they will obsess over how she is being interpreted
  • 12.  they will anticipate being judged
  • 13.  it took me four hours just to type this much
  • 14.  even though i sound casual
  • 15.  that’s because i have an anxiety disorder
things you shouldn’t do:
  • 1. tell us not to worry
  • 2. tell us we’ll be fine
  • 3. mistake praise for comfort
  • 4. ask us if we are “getting help”
  • 5. force us to be social
  • 6. force us to do things that trigger us
  • 7. “face your fears” doesn’t always work
  • 8. because—remember—scared of everything
  • 9. in fact, it would be more accurate to say we are scared of the fear itself
emergency action procedure for panic attacks:
  • 1. be calm
  • 2. be patient
  • 3. don’t be condescending
  • 4. remind us that we’re not crazy
  • 5. sit with us
  • 6. ask us to tighten and relax our muscles one by one
  • 7. remind us that we are breathing
  • 8. engage us in a discussion (if we can talk, then we can breathe)
  • 9. if we are having trouble breathing, try getting us to exhale slowly
  • 10.  or breathe through our nose
  • 11.  or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
  • 12.  ask us what needs to change in our environment in order for us to feel safe
  • 13.  help us change it
  • 14.  usually, just knowing that we have someone on our side willing to fight our scary monsters with us is enough to calm us down
if you have an anxiety disorder:
  • 1. it’s okay.
  • 2. even if you worry that it’s not okay.
  • 3. it’s still okay. it’s okay to be scared. it’s okay to be scared of being scared.
  • 4. you are not crazy. you are not a freak.
  • 5. i know there’s a person under all that armor.
  • 6. and i know you feel isolated because of it.
  • 7. i won’t make you take it off.
  • 8. but know that you are not alone.

Seriously, if you know sombody with anxiety, follow these guidlines. If you have anxiety "I know there's a person under all that armor... I won't make you take it off, but know that you are not alone."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rape Culture

This just popped up on my Facebook news feed. It's just so ironic when someone proves the existence of rape culture while trying to claim that it doesn't exist...


Friday, March 15, 2013

Skirts Make Me Uncomfortable

I work at a tax firm, so I'm basically way too busy this time of year to be blogging. But I've been feeling very fashionable this week and I wanted to share pictures with somebody. Photo posts are so lazy, but I don't really have time for much else!

This is my outfit from Wednesday of this week. Just ignore the fact that I'm clearly standing in the bathroom at work, and also ignore the fact that I'm taking pictures of myself in the mirror. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable and traumatized all day, and I'm positive it was because of the skirt.

This is me on Thursday, suddenly feeling confident and comfortable in a pair of dress pants and a cardigan. It's amazing how much better I felt that day. 

Anybody from a Fundy background like me knows how frustrating clothes can be. I feel like I never had a chance to discover my style, and I have all these random insecurities and paranoia when it comes to getting dressed.

 "OMG what will happen if I lift my arms up? Someone might see my midrif!"
"Relax"
"Can't wear this, you can see a bra strap"
"Is it acceptable to wear pants this tight?"
"What is normal?"
"Forget it. I give up. I'll just stay in the house all day. Better yet, I'll stay in bed all day."

I've had to force myself to put aside my fears and focus on what I want and what makes me feel good. Those are both major no-no's for a Fundie girl, but those days are behind me now. This last year has been an adventure in self discover and self acceptance, and I think I'm finally starting to enjoy it.

This is me today. We do casual Friday at my office. I'm feeling awesome in my sweater from the men's section of H & M. I painted my nails green and I'm wearing neon orange socks under my boots, because they make me happy and remind me that it's okay to be me. Today is a good day. :)


Has anyone else experienced skirt-PTSD? Have you guys struggled to find your style or accept your body? What is your version of "Neon Orange Socks?"

Friday, March 8, 2013

Still Crying: The Opposite of What You Meant To Teach Me

This post is from an anoymous author. 
       

     Even when I wasn’t the child being spanked, I searched for a place of solitude where I could cry without being caught. Hearing my brother’s screams through the closed doors of my father’s study was more traumatizing than getting spanked myself.

      Now, 10 years later, if I even hear my dad start to get angry with one of my siblings I immediately find a way to take care of the situation before he does.  i just take over or yell at him for scaring a kids. I'm not scared of him for me. Just scared that the babies will be scared of him. I have to shield them from the cause of the fear that was embedded into my life.

Why did my brother have to get hurt so badly though? I knew he didn’t do anything wrong on purpose! Eventually, I ran out of excuses to hide. Now, I can’t cry. I just deal with it.
When I dragged the wooden spanking stick to one of my parents in total shame? Well, that was alright because I knew I had done something wrong. Did it matter what I had done? They knew better than me and loved me so obviously it was my fault. Now, I am a perfectionist. I am constantly told to “relax” and “it doesn’t have to be perfect…” But doesn’t it?
 For as long as I can remember, I have been able to wiggle my way out of trouble. Mostly by lying, sometimes barely manipulating the truth. You got spanked for lying, but it was better to risk getting caught in a lie than be punished no matter what the truth was. Now, it has taken years of struggling with my natural instinct to lie. Only my hard work has made me the honest person I am.
The only fixed standard in my childhood was that whatever Dad says goes.  If I had any other ideas I had better not voice them. Now, I have to force myself to share my opinions no matter who I am talking to.
It has taken me years to overcome my struggles and will be many more before I am through with them. One thing I can say for sure, however, is that I have only learned the very opposite of what spanking was supposed to have “taught” me.

(Please show your support and leave comments for the authors if you can. Remember, this is an open ended series! Please consider writing something yourself, or sharing the project with your friends and followers. The guidelines are listed here, but feel free to write in whatever format is easiest for you.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Still Crying: "Spanking Time"

This peice is from an anonymous author.
______________________________________________________________________


Its funny how a child can turn anything into a game. 

My brother and i wrote  a song called Spanking Time. 

We usually played a game called court; where the whole point was catching the evildoer in their crime and then punishing them. 

The most exciting part of playing "house" was being the mommy or daddy, because then you had the power to beat the "kids". My siblings and I came up with a game where you would take turns "spanking" each-other and whoever quit or cried first lost.

It's sickening that this was how we reacted. 

The feeling of power was so rare to us kids that we had to become the only source of power we knew to feel in control of our lives.

(Please show your support and leave comments for the authors if you can. Remember, this is an open ended series! Please consider writing something yourself, or sharing the project with your friends and followers. The guidelines are listed here, but feel free to write in whatever format is easiest for you.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Magical Third Strand

When I got married two and a half years ago, I had a lot of pre-conceived opinions. I knew marriage wasn’t going to be easy, but I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were going to make it. My confidence came from the belief that my fiancĂ© and I had a special secret weapon against the trials of marriage: we had God. God was the third strand that would keep our marriage together, no matter what. I believed that my marriage was inherently stronger than those of non-believers. After all, God gave us superior insight and patience. God had gifted us with stronger and more powerful feelings of commitment. God had promised us that our cord of three strands would not be easily broken. I knew that my marriage was better than your marriage because God was supernaturally holding us together.

Imagine my surprise when I faced reality for the first time. We had been married for about 6 months. I was deep in post-patriarchy depression and I cried myself to sleep almost every night. My husband and I prayed together every day, but still I could see the toll my struggles were taking our marriage. I didn’t know how to feel better, and he didn’t know how to help me. I often thought of how much better off he would be without me. As I began facing my childhood for the first time, I developed a visceral reaction to anything that felt restrictive to me. I remember the exact moment when I first realized the magnitude of my “till death do us part” commitment.

I was sitting on my bed in our tiny apartment folding clothes. I started to think about the rest of my life. I was 19, and already the biggest decisions of my life were behind me. I would be folding these same socks and underwear every week for the rest. Of. My. Life.  I suddenly felt trapped, claustrophobic in my own life. I had committed to this marriage before God, and now I couldn’t leave. Ever. My chest constricted and my breath came faster. “I can’t do this.” I thought. “I can’t do this.”  

I imagined packing my things and leaving right then. My heart swelled with hope at the idea of being truly free for the first time in my life. Those thoughts terrified me, and in that moment I felt betrayed by God. “You promised that I wouldn’t have to feel this way!” I prayed through the tears. “You promised you would hold us together!” I felt cold and naked as I realized that there was no supernatural power keeping me here in this apartment with this man. There was no safety net protecting our marriage. There was nothing but our own desires, and I didn’t even know what I wanted.

What first felt like betrayal, turned out to be the most freeing realization of my married life. I examined my heart and gave myself permission to think about what I wanted. I gave myself permission to pursue the things that made me happy. I made a lot of changes in my life, like going back to school and moving to a new state. The biggest breakthrough of all was realizing that I wanted to be with my spouse. He makes me laugh, his personality compliments mine. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. He does not “complete me,” but I cannot imagine my life without him. The life that I have is the life that I want.

The love we have for each other, and the commitment we made to each other is stronger and more profound than it has ever been. Many people question the strength and validity of our marriage because we are “unequally yoked” or too egalitarian. I used to do the same thing. The idea of stepping into a lifelong commitment is substantially less terrifying when you think you have a supernatural shield around you and your spouse. But how much more beautiful is a wedding where two flawed humans commit to one another, fully aware of the challenges they will face? How much more powerful is a marriage where two people stay together because they want to?

There is no magical third strand holding my marriage together, it’s just us. We promised each other that no matter what happens, we will never stop working on our marriage. We promised that no matter how our feelings change, we will never give up on our love. I mean it, and know that he does too. And that’s good enough for me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Self Hatred and the Morning Person

I got up this morning at the usual time and rushed through my weekday morning routine. I’ve been doing the same thing every day for the last 3 years: shower, hair, makeup, clothes, and shoes, fly out the door just in time to make it to the office by 8. 
Getting ready in the morning has always been like a nightmare for me, ever since I was a kid. I’ve always hated my body, and squeezing into clothes makes me self conscious. Staring myself in the face without makeup makes me uncomfortable. Putting on my hand-me-down jewelry that isn’t quite fashionable embarrasses me. Leaving the house with all these insecurities makes me anxious and nervous. Maybe it’s the anticipation that makes me wake up nauseas and sore every morning, feeling like I’ve caught the flue overnight. Depression hits me the hardest in the morning.
Up until recently, if you asked me if I’m a “morning person” I would always say NO. Mornings are awful. Mornings mean facing overwhelming self-hatred. Mornings mean another long day of adversity. Waking up means the disappointment of knowing that I’m still alive. I’d rather just stay buried under the blankets where no one will know I exist.
There are a number of factors that led to my self-hatred. The Patriarchal society I grew up in demonized a woman’s body and sexuality while simultaneously glorifying the concept of the sweet, childlike virgin bride that I knew I would never emulate. I was never encouraged to express my emotions, so all my confusing feelings stayed trapped inside me. Being bisexual (and being taught that such things were abominable) also caused me to vilify a woman’s body in general. It was easier to hate it than admit to forbidden attraction. When paired with depression and lack of education, my natural bodily development became a waking nightmare. The hatred I had for myself and my body was not just a passing teenage phase; it was a devastating condition that colored my entire world in a muddy shade of black.
 For most of my life I sincerely believed that I was stupid, worthless, ugly, lazy, gluttonous, and sloppy. Self hatred is painful, debilitating, and dangerous. Lucky for me, I have people in my life who understand that. I am here today, I am healthy today, because my Hunnie, my sister, and a few close friends chose to take my struggles seriously. They insisted again and again that the opinions I had of myself were false.  They were there for me day or night to talk me though my anxiety.  It took countless long talks and years of hard work to get me to the place I am today. 
This is actually me wearing my fave brown dress pants

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point this last year the heavy fog of depression, anxiety, and self hatred started to dissipate. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized how far I have come. I found myself singing in the shower at 6:00am (sorry neighbor). I winked at myself in the mirror while rubbing product into my super short hair. I put on my favorite checkered socks and walked around the house in my underwear without cringing every time I passed a mirror. And when my grey dress pants were too small to button, I switched to the bigger brown pair and it didn’t even bother me. Really.
This is ME we’re talking about here. The same girl who, at 8 years old, covered her whole body with washcloths in the bathtub because she didn’t want to have to see how “fat” she was. The same girl who refused to look in the mirror for much of her teenage life.. The same girl who stopped eating because a friend mentioned that she had a “little pooch.” And there I was this morning, smiling at my curves and meaning it. I just thought “welp, guess I’m not a size 8 after all.” Those grey pants were milestone for me.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who’s hurting. You don’t have to say much. Simply tell them the truth:
You are beautiful.
                                 You are smart.
                                                           You are strong.
                                                                                         You can be anything you want to be.
And don’t stop saying it until they start to believe.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Imaginary Friend

I sometimes hear my non-religious friends making jokes about Christians and mocking them for their “imaginary friend,” god. The implication is that Christians are foolish, weak, or childish for their beliefs.
I do not call myself a Christian. The idea of a Deity that human beings can understand seems impossible to me. But my spouse is a Christian, many of my close friends are Christians. To them, faith means the security of knowing they are loved and accepted by someone, even when their lives and their hearts are in chaos. Their faith isn't about politics or perfection, it's about purpose and inner peace.

Everybody needs to be loved.
So why should we mock somebody who chooses to believe that they are unconditionally and eternally loved by a higher power?
I am lucky enough to have a loving and supportive spouse, family, and community, but that doesn’t make it okay for me to ridicule those who choose to seek out love and support from a god and a church.
We live in a world full of questions; let’s not mock each other’s answers.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Through The Eyes of the Privileged

Like most Americans, I spent Sunday night watching the NFL Super Bowl. I was not surprised by the blatant and gratuitous sexism (and occasional racism) in the infamous Super Bowl commercials. I was expecting to see some breasts selling Budweiser and some pole dancing to advertise a show. Women were exploited, marginalized, and objectified in almost every commercial, just as I expected. Sexism is alive and well. I joined many others on twitter by calling out the sexism with the Miss Representation tag of #NotBuyingIt. We used social media to call on companies to end their sexist campaigns and stop perpetuating the obvious issue.
I honestly don’t know why I was so surprised by what happened next.
I was attacked. My inboxes and my cell phone lit up with snarky, sarcastic, and downright hateful messages. All of them were from middle class, white, cisgendered, heterosexual males. “You’re a hypocrite for not calling out the commercials that make men look dumb!”
“Women have more privileges than men, feminism is just reverse sexism!”
“Why are you always complaining about women having it rough? You can do whatever you want in America if you just work hard enough!”
“What, no comment about the taco bell commercial making old people look bad?” “Everybody’s life is rough, you people need get over it!”
I could go on.
I have gone from disbelief, to fury, to bewilderment. Maybe I’ve been out of the Fundie bubble for too long, but are there really still this many people who don’t believe that sexism and racism exist? I mean there are FACTS out there, people. 37% of African American children and 34% of Hispanic children live below the poverty limit, compared to 12% of white children. Women are still making only 75% of what a man makes in the same job. Despite major growth in minority college enrollment, Hispanic and African American highschool seniors are still significantly less likely to be able to attend college than their white peers. The list goes on and on. You do not have to look far to see the glaringly obvious inequalities in our society. And yet so many people choose willful ignorance.
As a cisgendered, white woman married to a man, I am well aware of my privilege. Because I happened to fall in love with a man, I was able to get married without any problem. This allowed me to get enough financial aid to attend college.  Unemployment statistics, evidence of workplace racism, and stories like this one would suggest that my skin color made me more likely to be hired. I am also less likely to be the target of hate crimes than say, a trans woman or an African American teenager. I know this. I do everything I can to educate myself on the difficulties faced by my fellow human beings, and I stand up against inequalities wherever I see them with passion and empathy.
This is why I don’t understand the garbage in my inbox. Are all of these guys just completely uneducated on the issues of racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc? Do I need to lend them a few biographies written by someone in a minority demographic? Did they fall asleep in history class and miss the parts where we wouldn’t let women vote? Where we trafficked in human flesh for over 50 years after the civil war? Where we displaced, raped, and murdered thousands of Native Americans? 
 Are they sincerely ignorant like I and my fellow former-fundies used to be? Or are these guys so high on their cloud of privilege that they can’t see destructive inequalities and discrimination that define the reality of so many millions of people?