Adult of Divorce

My parents have had a pretty on-and-off relationship ever since I can remember. When I was an infant dad would leave and come back, then mom would leave and come back, and so on. Over the years not much has changed, except for the leaving part. Since I have three younger siblings, both parents have wised up and realized that might not be the best thing for their children to witness. That hasn’t stopped them from throwing the divorce word around every couple of months. I never could get away from it. Even when I was in college 4 hours away, I would get a call from my frustrated father telling me he “had it up to here with your mother” and then I would get a call from my mother detailing how the divorce was going to work and that it would be in everyone’s best interest. Things would seemingly cool down a week later and I wouldn’t hear anything else about it until they would have another big blow up. They were empty threats, something I or anyone else never took too seriously.

There was even one time a year ago where my father suddenly decided he was going to move out of the house and sell it. He began tearing through my little sibling’s rooms, hastily boxing things up for storage. It really shocked my little brother and sister, scarring them to the point that any time they see packing tape come out of the drawer they ask if dad is going to pack everything up again. After about half a day of packing, my dad went to sleep. When he woke up, he acted as if none of it had ever happened, ignoring the boxes strewn about the house.

There are still boxes piled in corners around the house, unopened.

My father likes to be a bit dramatic.

But this time feels different. This time my mother filed papers, my father has set a deadline on when he is moving out, and meanwhile he moved upstairs into the spare bedroom. He even knows who he is going to stay with. Yes, this time is different. This time, the divorce is actually happening.

It’s an odd feeling, really, being 21-years-old, the oldest child, and faced with your parent’s visibly broken relationship actually coming to a close. I think it’s different when your parents get divorced at a young age; you aren’t entirely sure what is happening or why it’s happening. I was raised in my parent’s bad relationship. I know everything that is wrong between them — every moment of distrust, every night spent in hopelessness, every thought of divorce. I was 12 when I was sitting in my father’s car listening to him tell me everything that is wrong with my mother. I was 13 when I would hear my mother lecture me to “not marry a man like your father”. And after every conversation like that, I would have to go home and watch them exchange veiled pleasantries in front of me and listen to them scream at each other when they thought I was out of earshot. Sure, I didn’t know everything that was going on at the time, but as I grew older they both thought it would be appropriate to let me know the wrongdoings one did to the other in the past when I was a child and didn’t know any better. Once I hit high school, I would be privileged to stories of how my mother felt so ashamed to ask for money from friends and family because my father failed to pay the bills and racked up debt, of how my father felt like a failure to his children for not being able to properly provide for his family. It weighted me down for a long, long time.

As the oldest, I felt it was my job to take care of my siblings. Mother would stay late at work and dad would shut himself in his room to drown his sorrows in TV shows. My grandmother was really the one keeping the house together, and I would watch after the kids. Yes, I call my siblings the kids (a fact that completely baffled my therapist). And then I went away to college, and for the longest time I felt like I had abandoned them; I had left them in a place devoid of love and affection. I was tormented by the idea that they weren’t getting a good idea of what a relationship is supposed to be like, that they didn’t know what it looked like to have two people in love. I never did, and it has shown in my relationships. I finished college in 3 years total and have rushed back home and back into the parental role. And once again, I feel responsible for them.

Not only do I feel responsible for the kids, but I also feel responsible for my parents. I don’t know why. My therapist said that I am the fixer in the family. I am the one that tries to hold things together. That might be true, and if it is I am apparently epically failing at it. Let me tell you why I feel responsible for my parents. There are several reasons, and they are in no particular order.

There are many nights that I lie awake thinking about how my father feels, and it makes me sick to my stomach and it makes me want to cry. I don’t think he has paid a bill on time in twenty years. Something is always way overdue. He is about to enter his second divorce. He can’t keep a relationship with anyone, platonic or otherwise. When he comes home, his ears fill with my mother’s disapproval and the sound of disappointment in her voice. He never hears an encouraging word from her. He has worked so hard to run away from his terrible childhood, and it seems like anything he ever does is a reflection of what he had to grow up with. My father is a good man, he just can’t escape the damage done as a child.

There are also many nights where I lie awake thinking about my mother. About the hole my father put her in. About how she feels like a failed parent because she can’t do things to help us children out due to my father’s debt he built in her name. My mother doesn’t trust anyone anymore because for so long she heard my father whisper in her ear that it would be okay, that he would get things paid off, that they would be debt free. And that has yet to happen. My mother looks at me with tears in her eyes and tells me she is fine, that she will figure it all out.

My parents are drowning in each other’s sorrow. And I feel like I have to help them out of it. Because of their failures, I have chosen to be overly successful. Because of their mistakes, I pushed myself through 3 years of undergrad and now 2 years of graduate school so I can earn money to help them pay everything off and ease their minds.

Perhaps it would have been better for them to divorce when I was a child and didn’t know any better. But it doesn’t matter, because they are divorcing now, when I’m 21-years-old. And I’m still here trying to fix whatever is left over.

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Oh, It’s You Again.

Oh, hey there. You’ve popped up again. I haven’t thought about you in a while, but here you are taking up space in my head. Your face floated into my thoughts like a delicate butterfly after I heard someone who sounded like you. It’s good to see you.

You were in my dream again last night. You do that every few weeks. It was so vivid and real to me that I woke up happy, thinking the dream had transcended into reality. In my dream you burst into my house, picked me up, and began passionately kissing me. Gross, I know. I remember being so confused but I wasn’t going to question what was happening. And then you left me, and I stood there stunned and hurt. And then the dream skipped time as it does, and I found myself opening the door with you standing there. I remember I couldn’t breathe with your green eyes piercing into me. You told me you were sorry for leaving, that you freaked out. You told me your feelings scared you, but that we should try a relationship because why the hell not? You said we spent the majority of our friendship in high school missing our chance, so now is as good of a time as any. I looked at you very seriously, not believing this was actually happening. Not believing you were in front of me, admitting your feelings, something both of us were too scared to do before. But there you were, doing just that. And then I woke up. I woke up happy. And then I realized it was a dream.

I suppose all of these random dreams and thoughts of you is my subconscious telling me to contact you somehow, either over Facebook or text or whatever, even though it’s been 2 years since we last spoke. But that won’t happen. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear from me, and I wouldn’t know what to say.

There was one time a few years ago where you told me you liked to read my blog to keep up with me. I wonder if you still do. I wrote another blog post about you 2 years ago, and I remember you messaging me and asking me if it was about you. I lied and said no. But I guess telling the truth doesn’t really matter anymore, so here I am telling you the truth in case you still read this silly thing.

I suppose for now I’ll just hope that you decide to contact me one day and I’ll keep working on the same thing I have been doing for 4 years: getting over you.

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Last night I was sexually assaulted. I stayed the night at a male friend’s house, let’s call him John, because my roommate was having a secret sorority meeting early the next morning and I wasn’t allowed in the house. John and I went out with some friends and had a really good time. We went back to his place where I was going to sleep on the couch, but the dog had peed on it. John said I could bunk with him. I told him nothing was going to happen and that I just wanted to sleep, which he said was just fine. Apparently, however, he thought I was joking or something.

The next thing I know, he is lying behind me, his arms around my neck and waist, and he is biting my neck. I kept telling him to stop, and I kept trying to push him away. He eventually let go and called me a “buzzkill” and “no fun”. He told me that he knew I liked it, I was just being difficult. I tried to get up and leave, but he pulled me back and wouldn’t let go. He kept biting and biting and I thought, maybe if I just stop struggling he will stop.

So I did. I stopped struggling, and he eventually stopped, calling me “boring”. I tried to get up a few more times and leave, but he kept pulling me back, biting me and trying to put his hands down my pants. Eventually, he fell asleep and I managed to slip out.

The funny thing is the sexual assault from someone I trusted isn’t the thing that is really shaking me up right now. What is getting to me is the fact that I am blaming myself.

As a former RA, I was trained on how to handle sexual assaults. I was trained on women’s right and how “no” means “no”. But I can’t help but think to myself, “This is on me. I put myself in that situation.” Maybe I could have been no forceful with my “no”s. Maybe I could have avoided the situation by sleeping in my car. Maybe if I was more clear with my lack of desire. He kept calling be boring and a buzzkill and no fun, and I honestly felt bad for ruining his time.

My friends want me to go to the police, but I won’t. I know I should, but what will they say? Will they believe me? I wasn’t even raped, and the only thing I have to show is bite marks and hickeys. What if I am being over dramatic or remembering it wrong? And I don’t want to ruin someone’s life over this. But on the other hand, I don’t want him to ruin someone else’s life if he does this again.

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The Comments Section

“They should create a $9 bill and put a woman on it. That way the bill would be a perfect representation of what most feminists are, illogical and pretty much useless.”

“Not enough dishes are washed, nor are the Subways around the country adequately staffed. Too soon for women to run the world. “

A group of women are hoping to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 with either Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, or Wilma Mankiller. This sounds like a fantastic idea seeing as Jackson was not the best president and, ironically, vehemently opposed paper money.

However, apparently many people in the comments section disagree. They claim that by replacing Jackson we would be “ignoring American heritage” and say that these women “have done nothing to deserve any type of honor”. Some even claim “It is long past time for a woman to have done something to earn such a recognition… and when one does, we will eagerly honor her”. Apparently, no woman in the history of America has “done something worth putting her on the $20”.

The male commenters are even going so far as to say “And women wonder why they earn less than men. They should not have time for stuff like this”. They also complain about how only one of the women are white and that “sitting at the back of a bus did nothing for society”.

This is the problem America has: blatant ignorance, racism, and sexism. Anyone who says differently is clearly very wrong. It’s comments like this that makes me understand why we as a society are very slow to progress.

The thing is I didn’t even have to dig for these comments. They were right there, the first ones. And these kinds of comments went on for pages with no opposite opinion in sight. People hide behind a computer with these comments because they know their opinion is wrong in so many ways — the most disturbing thing is that these are real thoughts. What people say in the real world many times is a lie. It is only when anonymity is present people feel like they can reveal their true selves. And if these kinds of comments are indicative of people’s true self, America has not progressed one bit. It has only succeeded in hiding racism and sexism, not getting rid of it.

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And So It Goes

Three years ago, I dated a boy named Brandon. Our breakup is the reason I started this blog. I was very young, about to turn 19, and he was 23. Yes, I was very young, and I was also very naive and childish. It has taken me three years of reflection to realize just how childish I really was. I had always thought about how much more mature I was than other people my age, but that just wasn’t the case. I was swept up in this relationship, my first serious relationship, to the point where I was willing to change my entire life to be with him. Perhaps that how all young girls are at my age: we put the importance of love and romance above everything else. As long as we have love, nothing else matters. Nothing else is needed.

In any case, that relationship, like most, came to an end. It wasn’t a pretty end — the breakup effectively took two months, and neither of us handled it very well. I broke up with him first, and that night he went on the worst drinking binge he had ever experienced. Two weeks later we talked about getting back together slowly, so our relationship was in a bit of a limbo. Three weeks after that, he informed me that he was bringing a date to a wedding we were both attending, effectively meaning he was done with me. Two days after the wedding, he called me up and I spent the night with him. The next day he left, and I never saw him again.

We talked, though. He would call me, string me along, check to see how I was doing. I told him I never wanted to talk to him again, but he was persistent. He would call, and I would answer and tell him about how horrible I was doing in hopes of guilt-tripping him back into dating me (that is the immature, childish part). I would always answer his phone calls, until one day I just didn’t. I looked at my phone, and I shut it off. How could I possibly try to get over the man I thought I loved when he was constantly in my face, reminding me of our broken relationship? He begged me to be friends with him, to keep in contact with him, but I just couldn’t. It hurt too much.

It took me almost two and a half years to get over him. It was a tough road. I started this blog because I was thrown into a dark spot by him while I was already on the edge of darkness. How could he leave me when I was already depressed? How could he be so heartless to make me even worse?

I am now finding myself in Brandon’s shoes, and it is eye-opening. My relationship with Tom is ending, and it has been ending for a while. I just haven’t wanted to admit it until recently. There has been so much happening in my life recently that having a relationship was becoming difficult. Having a relationship with someone who experiences chronic pain and depression made it too much to bear. My emotions have shut down, and I have stopped loving him. I’ve tried to break up with him a few times in the past, but they have always been half-hearted attempts because my love for him would get in the way of my head saying it wasn’t a healthy relationship — because it just wasn’t. Tom needs someone with so much more patience than I have, someone who is willing to take care of him and his pain, someone who depends on him as much as he depends on her.

Last night, I broke up with a boy in his first ever relationship with the first girl he has ever loved. He was ready to change his entire life for me, just as I was ready to with Brandon. We sat there, outside the house sitting on the back porch steps in darkness, listening to the rain pour down. He cried while I tried to explain to him as best as I could why I couldn’t be in the relationship anymore. I thought that if we had that conversation, a conversation I was never able to have with any of my past exes, that it would help him and that he would understand. I told him that I if I am in a relationship I want to give it my all, and right now I can’t do that. I told him I’m stressed and miserable right now, and that isn’t good for a relationship. I told him I need to put my emotional wellbeing first before anyone else’s because how can I possibly love someone if I don’t love myself? I told him I absolutely know what he is going through and I understand his feelings because I’ve experienced what he is experiencing right now. I told him I still want him in my life, whenever he is ready to have me back in his. I told him all of these things and so much more.

But he doesn’t understand, or he doesn’t want to understand just yet. He wants to guilt-trip me back into a relationship. He said “why make both of us miserable? Why can’t you just be miserable but in a relationship to make me happy?” He said he can’t ever look at me again because just seeing me breaks his heart. He said he is never going to get over me. He said he is going to stop going to classes, that he had a dream we broke up and he killed himself, that there is no point in anything anymore. This is his moment to be naive, immature, childish.

I sat there, listening to him choose to give up, remembering how I felt three years ago. I know all of the things he is saying are not true, because three years ago I was saying the same thing. It took every inch of me to remember that I am not responsible for his emotions and feelings. I tried to let him down easy, but I suppose there is no such thing as easy when it comes to the first person you love.

I’m going to be that girl for him, just as Brandon was that boy for me. It’s funny how much clarity you gain when the shoe is on the other foot.

Like the tattoo on my foot says: And so it goes.

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Vagina

It sounds like a medical instrument. “Nurse, hurry! Bring me the vagina!” Vagina. Vagina. VAGINA. – The Vagina Monologues

Why does a word that is used to label the female sex part sound so abhorrently gross to the females it belongs to? Shouldn’t that word be spoken with pride, not disgust?

I was recently cast in my university’s production of The Vagina Monologues, and it was definitely an eye opening experience. It was eye opening in two ways: one way makes me feel liberated and unashamed of something that is a part of me, that belongs to be, that symbolizes everything I am. The other way makes me feel defensive and shameful. Two very contrasting feelings, I know. It is confusing for me too.

The Vagina Monologues gave me the opportunity to sit in a room with a bunch of women who weren’t afraid to talk about everything that encompasses our vaginas. We openly talked about sex, lady doctor visits, tampons, underwear, misogyny… anything we wanted to talk about, we talked about. If someone had sex recently, they would tell us and we would all applaud. If someone was on a dry spell, we would mourn with them. If someone was on their period, we would all sympathize. If someone had finished their period, we would do a dance for them. It was a room full of a group of people who truly understood each other. I honestly learned things about these girls that my best friend of three years and I haven’t learned about each other. And I had known these women for a few days.

A question that our director would ask us every time we met for rehearsal was, “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” or “How is your vagina feeling today?” The girls in the room would answer things like:

“My vagina would say that I need to go to sleep.”
“My vagina is saying good job for getting through last week!”
“My vagina is feeling ready for some loving’.”
“My vagina is tell me to push through and keep going.”

You see, what is so remarkable about those answers is that the women were responding with things they were feeling, but they included their vagina in the feeling, too. Their vagina and themselves were one — they were not separate entities. It made me remember that I have a vagina and whatever I’m feeling, my whole body is feeling. Including my vagina.

That was the liberated and unashamed feeling. It didn’t last very long. When it came time to advertise for The Vagina Monologues, we witnessed confusion and shyness and discomfort from both sexes. We would meet for rehearsal with stories of telling friends or family members about the show, only to be met with:

“Oh, I’m sorry, I must have misheard you. I thought you said vagina?”
Yes, yes I did.
“…Why would you say that?” “Why would you be in something that has that word?”

followed by:

“Is it really about vaginas?”
“Is it just a bunch of women bitching about men?”
“Do you actually say the word vagina?”
“Why isn’t there a Penis Monologues?” Because a guy hasn’t taken the initiative to write a Penis Monologues. “I bet every woman would be totally against a Penis Monologues.” No?

When it came time for the show, the audience was about what you would expect on a 20,000 student university campus. There were about 20-30 audience members each night. Most were family members or friends of the cast. After the show, comments from the audience were generally the same:

“Wow, it really wasn’t bad at all!”
“Hey, it was actually pretty funny!”
“There was, like, hardly any man-hating.”
“I expected it to be a lot worse than it actually was. And it wasn’t even bad.”

Here is how the ensuing conversation with the audience critic would go:

“Why did you think it was going to be like that?”
Their faces would get a little twisted, and all they could sputter out was, “Well, because it was about vaginas.”
“If there was a show called the Penis Monologues, would you go? And why?”
“Yeah I would go, because guys are funny and not as serious about their man parts.”
“So having a vagina means I’m not funny and that I can’t be humorous about my lady parts?”
“Well, it’s different.”
“Did you feel uncomfortable at our show?”
“Of course I did.”
“Do you think you would feel uncomfortable at The Penis Monologues?”
“Probably not.”

The double standard I was hearing made me think that I should be ashamed of having a vagina. That it is something serious and not playful, something uncomfortable to talk about and acknowledge its existence. I even have friends who refuse to say the word “vagina” and who refuse to talk about the fact that they have one. Now why would a woman be ashamed of something that is a part of her? If you are religious, why would a woman be ashamed of having something God gave her?

These questions still plague my mind, and they most likely will for weeks to come. I think this is the kind of conversation that needs to be happening between females and between the sexes. If women ever hope to be and feel on an equal playing field with their male counterparts, we need to first start acknowledging what is fundamentally different from them: we have a vagina. They do not. And vaginas are nothing to be ashamed of. They are to be embraced and loved, both inside and outside the bedroom.

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Definitions

LOVE

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
: attraction that includes sexual desire
: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
: a person you love in a romantic way

That tingly feeling in your nose.
Feeling so hot you melt away.
Glances.
Gazes.
Pulling you our of your thoughts.
Getting up just to grab you a water.
Comfortable silence.
Listening to music you hate but they love.
Happiness on a rainy day.
Comfort.
A goodbye kiss.
A hello kiss.
Holding their tears in your palm.
Pain that you want again and again.

ROMANCE

: to have or try to have a romantic relationship with (someone)
: to give special attention to (someone) in order to get something that you want from that person
: to talk about something in a way that makes it seem better than it really is

A candle lit dinner.
Cuddling with a movie.
Bringing home some wine.
Surprises.
An unexpected kiss.
Christmas lights above the bed.
Waking up to a smile.
Noticing details.
Little notes hidden between words.

PASSION

: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
: a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way
: a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone

Melting into your body.
Fire.
A soft body in song arms.
A hurricane.
Intensity.
Wanting to stop time.
Fingers lost in each other.
A Craving.
The moment between a glance and a kiss.
Drowning in you.

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