In a few days, I will celebrate my 50th year on this planet. I haven’t done as much as I guess I hoped I would by now. I have, on the other hand, survived a lot. And that’s why it’s especially important to me to make a big deal out of this nice, round number. It reminds me that I’ve reached an age my depression and anxiety made me fear I’d never see. It is a way of giving myself some credit for making it through and not giving up—for continuing to strive for wellness and to reach for a place where I will once again feel satisfaction with the way I am using the days I have on the earth. I’m not there yet, but I know that I deserve that, so I’m celebrating the fact that I can celebrate myself. And not insignificantly, I’m celebrating the fact that two years after a major trauma, I am able to celebrate my birthday again. This time of year will likely carry some weight of grief for some years, but I am taking this day back.
My birthday wish is honestly too big for words to encompass. The only word that remotely comes close to the thing I would most like to see in this world is LOVE. I have no wish for romantic love in my life—another thing to celebrate, I suppose, since every year up until age 41, I wished for that on every star and birthday candle and dandelion seed and though it was trauma that brought me to this place, I can focus my wishes elsewhere. The love I’m talking about is a more universal thing: THE thing that so many prophets and philosophers and poets have been trying to tell us all along. The thing that is very likely our only hope.
Big, right? It feels unattainable, but I don’t think it is. I believe that if we keep this word in our minds like a mantra, then it can’t help but make bad situations better. So my wish is that everyone reading this remember that word when anger and frustration flares up, not as a reminder to love your enemies necessarily, just as a reminder of what’s inside you that needs expressing out into the world and of what’s important—really important.
This is not the post I set out to write. I came here (inspired by a friend—thanks Britni!) to tell you about a few people and organizations I care about and suggest that you consider them in your holiday giving. But I asked myself what I truly wished for and wanted to answer authentically, so here we are, as close as I could come to putting my wish in a word: LOVE. A big wish, but a small ask. Keep it in your mind and in your heart.
AND if you could show some love to these people and organizations, I would be grateful. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter, and I’ll thank you publicly. (Do let me know if you don’t want that!) Give whatever you can afford, though I do like the numbers $5 and $50, for some reason. And if you can’t give, please consider sharing this post.
Eric Garner’s family lost a father and a husband when a police officer used an illegal chokehold, killing Garner on video as he told officers again and again, “I can’t breathe.” The Garner family’s lives have been shattered. You can help ease the financial burden on the family by donating to this fundraiser (I have committed to $5 a month for 2015):
Johnetta and DeRay are Ferguson organizers, publishers of the Ferguson newsletter, and all-around badasses. You can help them stay fed and housed and support the work they do by donating to their PayPal account.
Brianna Wu is one of several women in the video games industry that has been targeted for relentless harassment by the scum that is GamerGate (all together now: “Actually, it’s about ethics in video games journalism!”). From her Patreon page:
I got into videogames to make video games – but right now the majority of my workweek is wasted on fending off BS from people harassing me.
Wu goes on to describe some of this harassment, which continues to be brutal. These people used her dead dog as a prop with which to torture her and her husband, Frank Wu. Brianna Wu is asking for help:
If you appreciate what I do, please chip in so I can hire some help with the Women in Tech advocacy I do. I need someone to help me with the medial parts of dealing with my attackers so I can focus on my work, making and shipping games.
*Trigger Warning for discussion of rape and sexual assault*
As some of you know, I’m pursuing closure in a thirty-year-old rape case. I have contacted a number of organizations that purport to help people like me, and Joyful Heart Foundation is the only one that reached out and offered to speak with me, hear my story, and provide knowledge and assistance as I navigate the legal system. I’m so grateful for that support.
“Joyful Heart began as a dream of helping sexual assault survivors heal and reclaim a sense of hope, possibility and joy in their lives. We have evolved into a national organization that is paving the way for integrating holistic approaches in treating trauma, transforming the way people think about, talk about and behave around the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and advancing public policies to ensure justice for survivors.”
Thanks for reading and helping me celebrate my 50th birthday.
Today will be a crying day. I can’t always tell when I wake up, but when I wake up and burst into tears and cry until snot runs down my face, that’s a sure sign. Last night I fell asleep acknowledging that there’s a part of me still waiting for her baby to come back, and this morning I dreamed that I followed you and your girlfriend around like K did when we were first together, trying to give you gifts and be affectionate while you mostly ignored me.
Waking up my first thought as the tears came was “But I don’t want to.” I’m still trying to work out what that means. Don’t want to be over you? Don’t want to walk away like I did at the end of my dream? None of this makes sense because what I want more than almost anything in the world is to not feel anything where you’re concerned. Anger protected me for a lot of last year but as it subsided—as my brain started forgetting to hate you—I began to remember who you used to be to me: not a villain but the man I loved.
You’ve done a lot of crappy things. First there is the original betrayal—it seems so wrong that I can sum it up in three words like that when a) it went on for so long and piled betrayal upon betrayal and b) it has left me more broken than anything that came before including rapes and beatings I wasn’t sure I’d survive. Telling me over and over again via email about your new love and your bullshit philosophical “types of love” and how I fit into this one box over here, but that one didn’t really count, and your wishes for multiple lovers in the future and your hope that she would accept that, as though that information could possibly help me heal. Then ignoring me on our anniversary after I told you how hard just the days leading up to it were and how I dreaded it. Then promising to leave me alone about the house for six months and then sic’ing your lawyers on me after only three. These are the bigger ones, but once in a while I realize that some part of me still feels that your worst crime was not loving me—not loving us—enough to stay and try to fix it. The absolute worst thing about this for me is that you don’t love me.
For the past 14 months I have been in a state of illness. For several weeks I could barely get off the couch. It was four months before I felt ready to move back to our bedroom and since I did, I’ve barely left it. I am unable to earn a living because depression keeps me from working more than a few hours a day for a few weeks at a time (which means I can get through a book editing project, but a full-time job feels out of the question). I am fighting a constant, uphill battle just to get back to the level of depression I occupied when you were still here. For the past six months I have been largely unable to blog. It’s like I’ve run out of things to say and confidence in my ability to say them.
J told me that you said your actions were hurtful. They weren’t just hurtful—they were harmful. Nothing in my life has ever left me this broken. She said you mourn the loss of your friend. My first thought, and what I said to her, was this:
“He killed his friend. And he killed mine. I will never, ever be the same person I was when I met him. I will never start a relationship with that trust. 8 years ago today I met the man who would murder the person I was that day.”
I know you’ve read things I’ve written before and come away thinking that I hated you. I have tried to, but I don’t. The honest truth—and the most excruciating thing I have to accept on days like this—is that I still love you. And accepting that, it takes everything I have not to hate myself. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year it’s to be gentle with me because I have been on the edge and I know what it feels like to want to slip over and lose myself. I can’t let that happen.
Now you see where I still am 14 months after you left and a year and ten days after we last spoke. I am still crying over you. I am still dreaming about you. I am still waiting for you to come back to me. And I am still agonizing over all of these things and trying not to despise myself. The best thing my anger did was to protect me from that hope and I really wish I still had it. Since I don’t, I’m just trying to get through the time it will take for the hope and love to fade away. I really thought a year would be enough.
I painted this for you back in the early days. For me it expressed what I thought was happening between us: something so big and important that it threatened to burst out of the confines of this mortal existence.
Now I realize that it was big and important, just not in the way I thought. Now I see the flaws in a painting I once thought beautiful and I look for meaning in them. Where is the line that shows you falling out of love? Where is the one that predicts your betrayal? Which lines represent not love but pain? Which ones are the signs I should have seen that would have allowed me to prevent us from falling apart?
So, this is the state of things. These are some of the things you need to know before you make any attempt at another apology. I wish I could tell you everything. I wish that I could make you experience what I have experienced this past year. I want you to know what it is to be the one left behind instead of the one always leaving and leaving destroyed lives behind you. I wish I could communicate the sadness I’ve felt watching friends and even my family members choose to remain in contact with you even when they know how much it hurts me. I want you to feel what I have felt and know the pain that your choices—and complete lack of empathy for me—have caused. And I want to understand, I think, but maybe I don’t because every time you’ve tried to explain you’ve only caused me more pain. What I really want is for things to be ok, and on days like this it’s hard to believe they ever will be again.
Someone I care about has been going through a rough time recently, and talking to her reminded me of a time not very long ago when I felt much as she has been feeling. It was one of the worst periods of my life and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy*, so seeing a friend going through it made me wish I had a magic wand to make the pain go away. But I don’t, and we have to live through these things in order to get to the other side of them, so…
I thought back to the things that helped me through the hardest weeks of that time for me, and this is what I came up with: Not a cure, but a reminder that when the world treats us cruelly, that is the time when it’s most important to treat ourselves gently.
To treat a broken heart:
- 2 cups of water (taken often—to rehydrate your powdered soul)
- 1 cup of warmth (applied constantly as long as required)
- 1 cup of family and friends (as needed)
- 6 heaping tablespoons of forgiveness (for yourself first and others second—keep the jar handy)
- 1 truckload of sleep (and another truckload as soon as you need it—repeat as necessary)
- Breathe. Even when it hurts.
Wishing you all love and joy and freedom from pain.
*Almost. I can almost say this honestly.
Tomorrow will mark six months since I learned that my best friend had betrayed me. Six months since he got caught, confessed, and ran out the door as fast as his cowardly feet could carry him. Four months since I gave up any hope that he was still capable of being a friend or even a decent human being when it came to his treatment of me and broke off all contact with him probably forever.
This has been one of the (if not the) most difficult periods of my life—a life that has included other betrayals as well as beatings and even rape. And though I’m doing much better than I was six or even four months ago, there are times when the whole thing hits me all over again and knocks me back down onto the floor where he left me back in December. A photograph, a dream, the bar where we had one of our first dates which I can’t avoid visiting because friends must support friends—these things and so many others poke holes in the armor I’ve built around myself these past months and stab me right in the heart.
Some folks tell me that all this only has as much power over me as I allow it to have–that it is my choice whether to dwell in the past or move on with my life. It’s true, I have no choice but to move on–it’s that or die. But this healing I’m doing is a process, and I don’t actually control how my body reacts to stimuli such as an image, a place, or just a vivid memory. There’s a sensation like a kick to the gut or chest, and then the tears come, and *then* I get to choose what to do next. And I have chosen life. And there have been good times. I have optimistic days. Sometimes I think I might be ok. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again and that I won’t feel agony every time—at least for a while.
The support I have received from friends and acquaintances (and here I must acknowledge that even the ones who say and do things I don’t find particularly helpful are usually trying to be supportive) has been overwhelming. Social discomfort has mostly been due to the place (my old apartment building, the bar I mentioned above, a local convention, or just downtown Seattle, for that matter) or my state of mind. There are those times when people ask how I’m doing and then change the subject when I tell them the truth and it’s not happy, and that can be awkward and can leave me feeling like they didn’t really want the answer to that question. (I’ve never been one for small-talk anyway, so if you ask how I’m doing, you’re very likely to get an honest answer.) There are those people who I know are still friends with my ex, and that can be uncomfortable for me because he hurt me so much and they remind me of that by their very existence in my social sphere (it’s not their fault—it just is). There are those people I suspect are still his friends, but who don’t tell me so—don’t say anything at all about him (which is as it should be—as I have requested—if they are still friends). All of this can be awkward and painful, but it honestly pales in comparison to the outpouring of support from people from all areas of my life—especially from my online friends and acquaintances (some of whom are also RL friends and acquaintances).
That very much includes you, dear readers. Very much indeed. Without this place to share my stories and my personal…challenges? …this past year, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like. Without this place to vent my pain and rage in December and January, I’m afraid to think what would have happened to me. And without you showing up here, whether just to read or to comment or commiserate, this place would not be what it is for me. I know that I can talk about the things that feel important–whether they are about all of us or just about me–because you have helped me see that our stories are one of the most important ways we learn, grow, and connect with our fellow human beings.
Thank you for being a part of mine.
Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.
Really, I ought to capitalize that: Asshole. Because that’s my name for you now. Used to be, when you popped into my head, I thought words like “love” and “sweetie” and “baby” and “honey.” Now, without even thinking about it and without my permission, I think–and say out loud every single time–“Asshole.” Or “Fucking Asshole.” Or “What a Fucking Asshole.”
I can’t believe I ever thought you were one of the Good Guys. That I ever thought you were my friend. I’m so sorry that I trusted you–that I didn’t retain some modicum of protection that might allow me to see you for who and what you really are. I can’t believe I let you hurt me–that you still have the power to hurt me.
I once told you I’d forgiven you. I really wanted that to be true. But it’s not. I can’t forgive you. I don’t know how. I know how to say the words, but not how to make them true. The last time I talked to you I told you how hard the week of our anniversary was for me, and you responded by ignoring me on that very day. Ignoring every attempt at communication and then claiming paralysis, and THEN whining about the unfairness of it all when I told you what an asshole you were. You just kept piling hurt upon hurt, but really, it didn’t matter. You had already done the unforgivable by doing everything you did and then leaving me alone to deal with it all by myself.
I truly hope you get better and cease to cause pain to every woman foolish enough to become involved with you. But my experience has taught me this:
You are a narcissist. You are a serial monogamist. You are a sex addict. You are a man who pretends to be good and then lies and cheats and hurts women over and over again. You are a man who believes you are entitled to have your needs met at the expense of other people. You are a man who has learned what he needs to say after he destroys a life (or several) that will make people see him as a good guy who just makes mistakes and never meant to hurt anyone even though you set out every single day for several months fully intending to lie to me, betray my trust in you, and fuck another woman behind my back in downtown hotel rooms while wondering aloud at home where all our money went. You are a liar and a cheater and you don’t know how to be a friend or a partner or even a good human being.
You are an Asshole.
Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.
Guest post by Ro
Note: Ro transitioned several years ago. However, she lived in an isolated setting and had no access to transportation. Late last year, she moved to a village and what follows is her incredible experience. (Originally published on Facebook.)
This is perhaps the most important post I have made on Facebook. Please read.
I am blessed with the best friends ever. What follows should stun you. In November, I moved to a very small village in Wales. When I got here, I didn’t know anyone. I would go down the pub and hang out. I wanted people to get to know me. For the most part, I would just sit there and nod and smile at people. However, I did meet two of the most amazing people I have ever known.I have known this couple for only two months now. Absolutely the nicest people I’ve met in Wales. They live very close to me. It’s one of those friendships where you feel like you’ve known them for years. They have known and supported my new gender identity since the first time I met them.The wife and and another female friend went with me to the pub when I first used the woman’s loo two weeks ago. They came as my support team. How cool is that?
I went back to the pub with the wife again last Thursday when I was told by the bartender that I couldn’t use the proper loo. Even though we had just met, my friend was outraged. She walked out of the pub with me and was so very concerned about how I was feeling. She knows me better than I know myself. I was sort of in shock and it took a few days to sort out my emotions. I posted about it here and got remarkable advice and support. Thank you!
She and her husband are boycotting the pub. How cool is that?
I met her, her husband and their 2 wonderful children at a different pub on Sunday. They told me they had been talking with their families and friends about what had happened. They made an offer that totally floored me.
They, their relatives and their friends have made an incredible offer: they want to go to the pub with me again. Not only are they going there to stand up for me, they are offering to go dressed in the clothing of their opposite gender.
Not only will the men dress as women and the women as men: they will go to the loo for the gender they present.
Let me repeat that: New friends, their family and friends (who I haven’t met) will not only support me in my legal right to use the appropriate loo, they will cross dress and use the appropriate loo. Most of them have never met me.
As soon as I was alone, I had a good type of cry. How do I deserve friends like this?
Again, I live in a sleepy little village where everyone knows everyone. A couple I only recently met, their friends and family (again, who I haven’t yet met) are willing to do this wonderful, amazing and brave thing.
I told them that I want to meet with the pub landlord first and discuss the issue. If he doesn’t agree to do the legal thing, I don’t know if I will take them up on their offer.
But, regardless, I stand taller and more confident that these amazing people are willing to stand with me.
I am blessed. I am amazed. I am lucky.
This is why we’re here people: to stand up for each other. I never thought I would meet such wonderful people.
I am grateful to them beyond words. And I am grateful to each of you who support me here on FB.
If others stand tall for me, I must stand tall as well.
Life has never been better. How cool is that?
Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.
Today my friend Anne is on the receiving end of all sorts of criticism for the post I shared with you yesterday in which she bravely considered a future when her son might cross a line despite her best efforts. You see, Anne realizes that even though her little boy is two years old now and loves his mother more than anything, one day he will experience–as we all do–a need to go his own way and take his cues from sources that do not love him with all their hearts and want him to be and have the absolute best.
I have known Anne less than a year, but in that time (in addition to getting to know her personally and coming to call her a friend) I have read many of her posts on The Belle Jar and have been at turns moved to tears, anger, nostalgia, a strong sense of simpatico, and fits of giggles. Her ability to bring herself–her personal stories–to her constant struggle to contribute to the greater good means that her work (on TBJ and elsewhere) reaches more and more people every day. And that means that in addition to the thousands of people who need her stories and words–either because they weren’t quite awake and she splashed their faces or because, like me, they’re out here fighting the same fight and desperately need the solidarity and ideas and perspectives and common vocabulary to do what we do–there are those who will tear her down.
Some of these people just don’t get it. Others are on a crusade to expose the evils of feminism. As for the former, I can only hope that some seed has been planted and germinates even now in the depths of their brains. But the latter? Allow me to submit that they are the true measure of the impact Anne is making. I don’t envy her the negative attention, the stress, the bad feels that I know even now are making it hard for her to do the important work she’s doing. But I, for one, want to say that I’m counting on Anne to take what strength she can from all of us who love her, love what she does, love her stories and her strength and her courage, and remember that what all of this means is that she’s doing something right.
And I’ve known that all along. <3
Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.
As always, The Belle Jar explores the questions facing us all with courage and strength. I learn so much from my fellow bloggers, and I’m so grateful. Each of our stories and voices are unique, and as long as we write from the heart like Anne does, I believe we’ll reach the people who need to hear them and encourage others to do the same.
When the two returned home to their houses in the same town, in the same neighborhood, on the same street, four houses apart, neither could stop thinking about the other. The girl barely slept and couldn’t eat. When she awoke in the morning, she looked the man up and sent him an email–something short and sweet and hopeful. In her mailbox, she found a painting from the man of a purple snail. Her heart sang and she sent another email admonishing him for causing her to make undignified girly noises. She immediately sculpted a matching snail for him in blue. Into it she poured everything she was feeling–all the joy and hope and dare she even think it? Yes: Love. And she brought it to him that very day and they sat across from one another at a small table and tasted every beer on tap as they talked, and talked, and talked.
Later that night they went back to the office from which he ran his “mighty publishing empire” and he played music for her and they resisted so many temptations as they listened and talked, their brains awash in love chemicals.
Over the next several weeks, the two met tentatively, as friends, as the man sorted out the life he’d neglected for far too long. And when the two were apart, the girl marveled at the string of coincidences and the seeming serendipity that had brought them together and kept reaffirming for them every step of the way that this was good and right and expected and deserved.
He moved house within a week and still kept the promise he’d made himself that until he was sure he was doing the right thing, the girl and the man would be just friends. Just friends who were falling ever more desperately in love by the day. They talked for hours at a time, stared into one another’s eyes, wondered whether the whole thing was some cosmic joke on them. They longed for their first kiss, and when the man finally gave in, they melted together in that kiss. They waited much longer to be together unclothed, but when that happened, the fireworks were spectacular.
And they loved, and they loved, and they loved.
[To be continued.]
Over the course of the evening the girl and the man continued the dance, spiraling in and away, engaging for a moment and then disengaging because the intensity was almost too much to bear. The girl found herself grinning like a fool, and saw that he was, too. She said his name to herself quietly, trying it on for size–not to wear it, but to learn what it might be like for that name to become familiar to her, cherished, like a comfortable sweater or a favorite book or the name of her true love.
As they moved together and apart, the girl and the man learned that though they were both away from home, they lived in the same town. That they lived in the same neighborhood. On the same street. Within four houses of one another. The sparred with words and glances and jibes and wondered at the magic of it all. Each one felt as though the Universe had reached down and shaken their little snow-globe into utter, ecstatic chaos. In the wee hours they said goodnight, embracing for the first time, him mumbling, “I hope to see you soon,” into her hair, her whispering, “Just try to avoid me,” into his neck.
The girl barely slept that night, and the next day the two sat down to their first meal together. The girl was nervous and giddy. The man ordered a salad and the girl ordered a hummus plate, but neither ate much. They talked about their favorite things (his favorite color: blue) and hobbies (she sculpted snails, among other things) and interests and how strange it was, this thing that seemed to be happening between them.
The man mentioned how, when one is away from home for a weekend, it can be a simple thing to get lost in a fantasy. The girl felt a little sad because she knew it was true–the odds were against this being anything as earth-shattering as it felt at that moment. Then the man said, “I sense reality here,” and the girl thought, “Who is this man who isn’t afraid to talk to me about feelings? Where has he been all these years? Can he be real?”
Then, “Please, let him be real.”
[To be continued.]
Once upon a time there was a girl–a woman on the outside, but on the inside, just a girl–and she was sad. Her life–like everyone’s–had been a series of ups and downs, and this was decidedly a down period. Unemployed, depressed, and unable to see a happy future for herself, she read self-help books, gave herself tarot readings, read her horoscope and the I Ching, tentatively started a blog, filed her unemployment paperwork–reminded each time that for the first time ever she’d been fired from what she’d only a month previously referred to as her “dream job.” Boys and girls, our heroine was in a funk.
One day she read somewhere that in order to get what she wanted, she needed to know what she wanted. Sounds simple enough, but it wasn’t. So she created a sort of electronic totem and poured into it everything she could imagine that her life could be. For Home, Work, Love, Health…for every aspect of her life, she created a place with words and images describing her perfect life and tied it all together and left it there to do its work.
Within a month or so, things began to change. Small changes at first, hints of changes. Coincidences. Portents. The Universe seemed to be telling her “Something BIG is about to happen. Get ready.”
She didn’t feel ready. But she went out into the world and one night she met a man and knew when she saw the back of his head (though she’d only met him in passing once before) who he was and that she would now go and introduce herself to him.
It was his eyes struck her first, or maybe his wide, joyful smile as she shook his hand. Or maybe it was sheer chemistry. But while they talked only briefly, she went to bed that night thinking of him, wondering. Telling herself to stop being a silly girl. But she looked for him the next day, saw him across a hotel lobby, and felt a twinge of something like hope. And felt silly all over again.
The next night she met him again, and when they spoke, her heart vibrated in her chest. They moved among dozens of people as if in a dance, each always aware of the other’s presence in the room. She knew his exact location every second and when they came together to share a toast or a joke, their eyes met and she saw fire there–a fire meant for her. It was clear to them both and anyone else who was paying attention:
Something BIG was happening.
[To be continued.]
I never thought the world would be destroyed in a fiery apocalypse at the end of this year. Boy was I wrong. For me, it was the end of the world as I knew it.
Today marks a major milestone: It’s exactly two weeks since B left, and he will be moving his stuff out this afternoon. Yesterday his cousin came to take one of our little dogs–the one who has not been himself since B went away. In the past two weeks, now and then, between days of nothing but crying or staring out the window, I’ve gotten off the couch for a few hours at a time in fits of rage and adrenaline to pack another layer of his stuff, move his furniture and miscellaneous items into one room where I don’t have to look at them, and change as much as I can about my living space so that it looks nothing like our home.
In 2012 I started this blog and found my voice. But I lost my joy and everything I thought my life was. Every night I remember in my sleep that he’s not next to me. Every morning I remember all over again that he doesn’t live here anymore. It feels to me very much like a world ended.
I am grateful for the community I have found here, the support you’ve all shown since I started this thing, and the outpouring of love and empathy over the past two weeks. I can’t see a future for myself right now, but I’m hopeful that next year brings healing for me, for B, and for everyone out there who thinks 2012 did a pretty good job of living up to the hype.
2013, it’s on you, now. Don’t fuck it up.
Yes, my friends, I fully admit it: I am not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I suffer from depression and anxiety, for one thing, which means I’m in a constant battle with my brain chemistry. When I take my meds, I have very little sex drive, and when I don’t take them I’m miserable. I’ve tried switching meds several times, but never with good results. And I’m not the neatest person. I smoke pot, and I probably drink too much. And I have a bad habit of acquiring pets in need. The list goes on and on…I’m sure if you talked to my ex, he’d have a number of items to add. And he’s got flaws, too. Many of them are becoming more apparent to me with perspective, as I realize how long ago he must have checked out and stopped giving a shit. But here’s the thing: even after all he’s done, even knowing all I know about him, I still love him.
That’s the difference between us, I think: he loved who he thought I was going to turn out to be, and tolerated who I am. I love who he is, warts and all.
Of course, I have no real way of knowing who he’d be in a real, grown-up relationship because we haven’t had one. I don’t know what it would be like for him to sit down with me and say, “This is really, really bugging me and we have to do something about it,” and then to have us work together to fix it. Most of that kind of stuff came from my side, and we always did fix it. If something bothered him he either stuffed it or made light of it and assured me when I asked him that nothing was really wrong. (And apparently became resentful enough to make snide comments to others, but by then he’d already written us off, I guess, so why bother telling me?) He knew for a long time that he wasn’t happy, but claimed it was himself he wasn’t happy with. He promised again and again to seek help. And finally, he did. It just turned out to be the wrong kind of help.
I now fully believe my ex–whom I still love with all my heart though I am angry as hell at what he’s done–is a sex addict and a serial monogamist. I’m not even sure those are two different things. I think he loves falling in love, loves the hot, passionate, effortless sex that comes along with it, but can’t get himself to deal with the real-life, day-to-day stuff that makes a relationship work. So he sat here for I don’t know how many years wasting both our time ignoring our sex life and enjoying porn by himself instead until he got bored enough with porn that he had to escalate to sex chat, then escalate to sex, then escalate to full-on chemical infatuation. This is a cycle he has repeated again and again. And that means no woman is safe around him unless and until he recognizes his problem and truly decides to get better. I know he’s not doing that now, because he refuses to give up his addiction. I do not envy her the heartbreak she has coming when he moves on again. But hey, maybe she’ll get seven years of illusion like I did.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote this:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
I’m not sure I agree. As much joy as loving him brought me, the pain of losing him is worse than anything I’ve experienced. I don’t want to go through this again for anyone.
So here I am, up at 5am sobbing and packing the last of his stuff, saying goodbye to one of my little dogs who is going to live with his dad who he loves more than life itself. I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest over and over again.
Sometimes I don’t know if I can do this. This is one of those times.
A friend once said to me that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die. But who among us can experience injury at the hands of another (or two others) and not feel resentment, anger, spite, even hate if the injury runs deep enough?
Out there somewhere is a woman (a sex addict, I assume, like my ex-boyfriend) who believes that she is entitled to joy and happiness at the expense of another person. I have been her. I am not proud to admit it, but I was her seven years ago when my ex decided he loved me and left his wife for me. As I have explained previously, he was miserable in the relationship, but now I’m certain he told his current addiction the same stories about me that he told me about his ex wife. He “loves” me, but he doesn’t “belong” with me because he doesn’t have the “passion” with me that he does with her.
Now, you and I, reader, understand that he’s got a problem with grown-up relationships. He wants to have GREAT SEX all the time without having to work at it. He wants his woman to scream in ecstasy at his every move because if he’s not the World’s Greatest Lover, then sex is not satisfying to him. And if he can go out and find someone new every time the passion wanes, then why on earth should he make any effort in a relationship? Why should he work with someone who has been raped and abused and figure out how to help her feel the things she wants/needs/ought to during sex when he can go out and find someone who fulfills all his fantasies RIGHT NOW without ANY EFFORT on his part? When you put it like that, it seems so simple, doesn’t it?
And as much as the rational part of me understands that to dwell on them rather than myself–to expend any energy at all on this fucking rerun of the worst syndicated cliché the world has ever dreamed up–is to keep myself from healing, to poison myself, to kill myself, there is a part of me that can’t stop doing it. Can’t stop hating him for loving me so little. Can’t stop hating her for believing she’s entitled to joy and ecstasy and this sick thing the two of them are calling LOVE at the expense of anyone and everyone who might get in her way. Can’t stop hating myself for being just like her, and for being me–the person he left for her.
Fuck him. Fuck her. And Fuck all this hate.
As the days go by, I realize over and over that my boyfriend’s betrayal has gone (and continues to go) beyond just having sex with someone else behind my back. He used me, friends, and even my own insecurities and personal struggles to give himself peace while he created a fantasy world for himself in which he wasn’t accountable.
[**Warning: You may be witnessing the decline and fall of Rosie’s sanity–please wear a hard-hat.**]
The man I love and devoted my heart to did the following (that I know of):
- Claimed to love me, that we were “in it together,” and pledged that he would “pay attention.”
- Became sexually unsatisfied with our relationship and claimed it was his lack of libido. Made multiple promises that he’d get help, but I was ok with being with him regardless. (In fact, as he knew, my libido was affected by my anti-depressants.) If he’d become paralyzed, I would have happily been his partner for life.
- Ignored my attempts to address our declining intimacy.
- Sought sex outside the relationship (i.e., this wasn’t an accident) and rationalized that a) what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me, and b) that he was entitled to have his needs met, regardless of mine.
- Woke me with a kiss every morning, went to work, rented hotels in the afternoon (while wondering aloud at home where all our money was going) and carried on his sexual relationship, which he rationalized was not about me. Was generally home in time for dinner, though now I doubt his every move from cello lessons to drinks with friends.
- Took his lover on a business trip to San Francisco–one of the ones I did not go on, but you can be certain he texted me the whole time updating me about his accommodations, meals, etc. without a trace of irony.
- Used at least one of OUR FRIENDS as a decoy for his rendezvous. Said friend has confirmed this deception.
- Woke me with a kiss one Saturday morning and said he was off to shop for a “surprise” for me. Remained occupied for the entire day making vague excuses about not finding what he was looking for until I texted him in a panic because my drug-addicted brother showed up, at which time he dressed, I assume, and “rushed home in a panic cursing traffic.” He showed up looking guilty as fuck, and of course bearing no “surprise” for me. (Surprise! I was fucking someone else today!)
- Said he wanted to work on our intimacy and fix our relationship while fully (and later, admittedly) intending to continue a sexual relationship with his lover.
- Refused, after I discovered his infidelity, to break off contact with his lover, choosing instead to break off contact with me. (This is the part where I packed his shit.)
- Followed that act by posting on Facebook how awful he felt about what he’d done to me and how he is dedicating the next year to figuring out how to be the person he wants to be (and got lots of sympathy for his pain and loss, of course), while offline telling his lover that I’d tracked her down on the very same website (yeah, couldn’t help myself) at which time she blocked me and he became HER FACEBOOK FRIEND. Oh, and while I changed my status to “single” he changed his to “separated.” Was that meant to give me a tiny spark of hope, followed by a full-on slap in the face? “We’re only separated, but I’m going to go ahead and publicly friend my lover on Facebook.” I don’t even…
What will I discover next?
Yes, I’ve done obsessive, stalkery things, but the book I’m reading says that’s perfectly normal and GUESS WHAT? I’m still not as stalkery as his ex-wife who I DON’T EVEN BLAME ANYMORE. (Yes, this is a pattern. I didn’t recognize it because he had one foot out the door when he met me, moved out immediately, and we didn’t have sex for over two months–she got way better treatment than I did.) I told him I would fight for him, but I can’t if he’s not fighting for me. I’m not going to show up where he’s having dinner with his lover or at his office or church. I’m not going to chase her in my car or insist on meeting her so I can tell her what she’s done to me. Yeah, she’s an asshole, and somebody probably ought to tell her so, but it won’t be me. She didn’t do this to me. He did. This is a man who will apparently stop at nothing to have his sexual and emotional needs met at the expense of everyone in his blast radius. He needs help. He’s a serial monogamist and very possibly a Narcissist. And, God help me, I still love him. Or who I thought he was, anyway.
Some may think it’s wrong of me to be so public with this. But I have no desire to protect him from the truth and the consequences of the choices he made and is continuing to make. And I’m entitled to heal in my own way. If he had chosen to be here working on things, that would have been a completely different path to healing. But this is the one I’m on now and I have to find my own way through this, and the fact that my dog is dying, and everything else life throws at me during this dark and fucked up time in my life.
How can I have spent seven years of my life with someone I loved, but didn’t know? How do I move forward knowing that I can’t truly know anyone? Readers, I know you know these are rhetorical questions that can only be answered with, “That’s just the way it happened.” and “You’ll find a way.” But right now the confusion in my head can be summed up in four little words I find myself repeating often:
“I don’t get it.”
Today I saw this and wanted to share it with you.
The war on men through the degradation of woman.
How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only. The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.
I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection. There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer. He doesn’t recognize that the create of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize. He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.
Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.
May we all find our way.
Text is originally rom Jada’s Facebook page. What do you think?
This piece is partly based on a comment I left over at Assorted Mundanities and also inspired by posts from dynamic (r)evolution and Martina Reisz-Newberry. Thanks to all of them for their thoughtful pieces on this topic.
When a friend bad-mouths herself, we jump to her defense, assuring her that she’s beautiful, that her ass doesn’t look too big in those jeans, that she shouldn’t beat herself up because she had a croissant for breakfast. We’re always quick tell our friends not to be so hard on themselves, but when it comes to our own failings, be they real or imagined, we cut ourselves no slack. This is especially true when it comes to body-hate. It’s just too easy to look in the mirror and hate what we see because we simply can’t live up to the standards global media has set for us. And yet we try, and we fail, and we look in the mirror, and we hate.
A recent study by Glamour magazine found that 97% of women who participated had at least one hateful thought about their bodies over the course of one day. That’s…let me do the math…yep, very nearly all of them. Another recent statistic showed that 3 of 4 teen girls felt depressed, guilty and shameful after three minutes with a fashion magazine. And many also learn body-hate from their mothers, who learned it from theirs.
Today I learned from dynamic (r)evolution that a website/magazine called SheLoves is promoting what they call a “synchroblog,” i.e., multiple bloggers writing on the same topic, which in this case, is a Love Letter to My Body. I think this is a lovely idea, and you’ll find two great examples in the links above. I also tripped over a post in which author Martina Reisz-Newberry has an unexpected talk with herself in the mirror and walks away with a new friend.
I’m all about the idea of self-love, but like many people, I’m not that good at it. However, this convergence of body love-hate bloggery today inspires me to jump on the bandwagon and, briefly, talk to myself a bit about how things have been and how I want them to be. So here goes:
You and I have been through some serious shit together, and you’ve suffered a lot of abuse, not least at my own hands. I started out taking pretty good care of you, but really you have to credit my mom for that. I didn’t appreciate the whole-grain bread, the sugar-free cereals, the no-soda/kool-aid/crap rule, but I know it gave you a better start than some people have. That’s probably why you held up like such a trooper for the past 40 years while I filled you with toxins, subjected you to decades of inactivity, and generally treated you like you weren’t the only thing standing between me and the sweet hereafter. And all the while I really never liked you. At times I hated you because you were me, and I wasn’t good enough. I said terrible things about you, and I used my anger at you and at me as an excuse to continue to treat you badly. And I’m here to tell you things are going to change. In fact, they already are.
This year I started a garden. That means I’m outside every day moving around in the sun and the air and the dirt and eating whole, live foods that go directly from the dirt to our belly. And when I look at you in the mirror, I see someone who is living the life she wants to live, and though sometimes I see things I want to change about you, I don’t hate the fact that you are what you are. You have changed and changed again and you will change and change some more and we’re in this together, so I’m going to strive to be ok with that.
There’s also the subject of the abuse others have perpetrated against you. This has resulted in a subtler hate that I’ve only recently come to realize has been seething within me. It’s less a mirror thing than just a constant gut belief that you are dirty, bad, toxic…maybe because you’re tainted, maybe just because you’re female. This is the hate I want most of all to overcome because I know it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. We are ok. I promise to keep that in mind when I think about you and try to turn that hate into love.
That was utterly off-the-cuff, because if I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this I won’t do it at all. I’ll close with the final part of my comment to Assorted Mundanities:
When you look in the mirror, try pretending you’re talking to a friend. Give her a pep talk. Tell her she’s ok. Because she really is.
It was 1988 and I was working at a small computer game company–one of the first of its kind–in a small mountain town. I don’t remember exactly how it happened that the Internet came to us, but we certainly didn’t know it by that name. It appeared on my desktop computer in the form of Prodigy, a portal to another universe. I don’t remember anything about Prodigy except that it connected me to people I’d never meet any other way. One of them was K.
It may have been a Weird Al group or “board” or whatever Prodigy called it. K, who lived on the opposite coast, was a huge Al fan, and after a brief email friendship he sent me a couple of tapes I wish I still had. One was the standard mix-tape, the precursor to what kids these days know as the shared playlist, I guess. I dunno, I almost typed “mix CD,” so that shows you where my head’s at (also it’s “early” and I’m just having my coffee). It was my first experience with what would later become a familiar ritual: that of hearing songs for the first time among familiar ones in an order that came to almost be sacred. The other tape was a bunch of K’s songs, which had the Weird All silly factor, but also a certain heart that was K’s alone–at least, I thought so. And we talked on the phone, and mailed stuff back and forth. And we fell out of touch, and got back in touch, and repeated the cycle. It’s now been 10 years since I’ve talked to K, but I know when I track him down again it will be like that decade never passed. And we’ve never once met in the flesh.
Of course, after the Internet really came to town, there were dozens of ways to make contact with people all over the world. Now we have Facebook and Twitter and our blogs, and I talk to more people I don’t “know” every day than ones I do. I talk to more people virtually than I do in person, but I talk to far more people than I’d ever be able to in person. I recently discovered that I’m an introvert. I don’t know whether you can be an extrovert and then become an introvert, but that feels like it’s what happened to me. I don’t have the energy to engage with people for long periods of time. I need time away. On the Internet, I can interact with dozens of people at a time, have scintillating conversations and fiery debates, and then I can get up and walk out of my office and go outside into my garden and dig my toes in the soil and none of those people can follow me out there because they’re safe and sound in a little box on my desk. I love that.
Not that I don’t love being with people, because I do. In smaller doses. In some ways the Internet (and the people on it) is sometimes frustrating as hell, but in a very real way, it requires less energy and places fewer demands on my psyche because ultimately, I’m in my own space and in control of where I place my attention. (My mom the Jedi Master would say that’s true in any situation, and she’s right, but I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot easier to shut the lid on a laptop than to escape a crowd of well-meaning people who want to make small-talk or ask you how your writing is going or…)
So now I have dozens, even hundreds, of acquaintances with whom I spend the hours of my choosing sharing ideas and news and supporting projects and watching children grow I’d never have seen any other way, and once in a while a real friendship grows out of that. You never know when it’s going to happen or with whom. Sometimes it’s a whole group of people coming together around a common interest. Sometimes it’s just two people connecting across the miles through the ether (and even, as you’ll see, across parallel universes) and creating a new entity where it didn’t exist. A collaboration of spirit.
One such in my life is my very good friend Elsie Snuffin. In a universe very like our own, and one I sometimes wish I inhabited or could at least visit through one of Walter’s gadgets, Elsie works in the White House. She runs the speechwriting department (Toby Ziegler’s old job) for the Santos administration. A year and a half ago or so she and her colleagues (along with members and cohorts of the Bartlet administration such as Toby, Leo McGarry, Donna Moss, Danny Concanon, CJ Cregg, and even the President Hisownself) appeared on Twitter, and I followed every single one of them. (Josh Lyman keeps a current list for your convenience.) Being a huge We–ahem, White House fan, I was in heaven. It was like getting together with a group of old friends.
And it wasn’t long before Elsie and I hit it off. She tweeted something sort of despairing one day, and I told her a nice story, and she felt better, and the rest is really history. For over a year now we’ve been tweeting, emailing, chatting, even collaborating on projects. And most importantly we each know the other is there when something difficult happens and we just need to talk. Elsie is funny and sweet, kind and thoughtful, and fully as smart as they say she is. She has a heart the size of Texas, and an ego modern science has yet to detect. She is a talented writer (duh) with a passion for finding common ground among people who disagree. She would rather build a bridge than be right, and that’s a trait that all of us would do well to strive for, as difficult as it sounds (and is). To Elsie, it comes naturally. She inspires me to be a bridge-builder, too.
Unless I perfect my variation on Walter’s door, I may never meet Elsie in the flesh, and sometimes (after too much wine flying to DC where she lives but I can’t reach her) that has made me feel a little sad. It makes me feel sad right now with only coffee to blame. But who knows–one day I may meet a mutual friend. Either way, I’m fine. We may be “virtual friends,” but Elsie is as real to me as any other friend, and more real to me than a lot of people. I wouldn’t trade our friendship for any number of “in-the-flesh” encounters in any number of universes. It turns out friendship is something that happens without regard to time, space, or even reality.
I think that’s a beautiful thing.