Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Please be Kind to Yourself"- my beautiful Grandmother

  It's been a fantastic relaxed few weeks.  Drew came home from his deployment Father's Day weekend, and it's been heaven since!  It's as though we were all holding our breath for 4 months, waiting for him to walk back through the door, and when he did, we finally exhaled.

  The kids have been ecstatic, but they were reserved for the first few days.  Not to mention they would freak out a little every time Drew would walk in a different room.  I'm thankful we decided to wait 3 weeks before taking a little weekend vacation with out the kiddos, they dealt with it a lot better than we anticipated.  And thank goodness we took that weekend!  It was gloriously relaxing!  We told the teens we were going to Phoenix (2 hours away) so that they wouldn't think we were immediately accessible for non-emergencies.  However, we drove 25 minutes north to the Foothills, and stayed in an Embassy Suites.  We were surrounded by mountain views, in a beautiful hotel, with a fantastic pool area, and FREE happy hour!!  Nothing beats that!  On our last night, a couple that we're friends with drove up and got a room across from us, and we swam and drank and ate dinner together, and it was so relaxing and enjoyable.  I'm looking forward to another weekend in the future, but I won't lie and say I didn't miss the kids in the meantime.

  Our typical day now consists of swimming in the kiddie pool in the driveway with the tent cover, grilling and watching Drew work on his bike while I work, or read, or write.  It's freaking glorious!!

  It's been almost 3 months since my last post, and one topic has been on my heart since I wrote about victim blaming and slut shaming, and my opinion on the harmful effects.  

  I would LOVE to tell you all I've gone above and beyond in my research on this subject...but I haven't.  In fact, I've done very little research on really anything in the last few weeks.  However, I'm coming up on the end of my lazy days, and I need to jump back in the saddle and get to work (like, actually work, not just going into the office and using the quiet time to catch up on my work.)

  What I have researched recently, and by research, what I really mean is the articles that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, has left me both heart broken, and over joyed.  I am left heart broken when I continue to see everything from slut-shaming to fat-shaming, and unfortunately there is a lot in between (and some that include fat slut shaming).  What leaves me over joyed are articles and blog posts about women who have not only decided to say "Enough! Fuck the haters!" but also just really overcoming their inseuruitoes and not giving a damn about the people who are more insecure, and continue to feel the need to hurt others with their words.

  The reason this topic has really hit home lately is because I, finally, after 25 years, learned to love myself.
 It seems so simple, the act of loving oneself.  And yet, it is probably one of THE hardest fucking things I have ever done.  And everyday is a struggle.  Everyday, I look in the mirror and think "I have no right to wear this shirt, I look fat as fuck and even in a sack I'd look disgusting."  Well, not everyday, but some.  And if I'm not careful, it could most definitely occur everyday.  

  Despite the amount of complaining I did during the 4 months that Drew was deployed, something amazing happened.  I learned to love myself, I learned to become my own best friend, and I learned to appreciate the quiet moments in my mind.  Again, I know this seems so simple, but is so not simple.  Let us go back in time again, just for a moment, in order to really comprehend why getting to where I am was so fucking difficult:

* I grew up in abusive household, with 2 people who not only did not love themselves, but had difficulties loving my siblings and I.  In all fairness, I do believe we were loved, but as a parent, I know they could have loved us more, but didn't have the capacity.
I grew up Mormon, and my opinion may be my own, but when it comes to ass-backward sexual values, Mormons are at the top of my list.  Now before you proceed to rip me a new one, hear me out:  I'll keep this short because I intend to use this exact topic for my closing statement, BUT when it comes to teaching our children about the harmful effects of sexual relationships outside of marriage, Mormons and a few other concentrated groups of Christians fail at this topic.  And the ones who are trying to be more open and actually discuss the topic are doing so in a way that makes me cringe, and leaves me feeling what I've felt since I was 12: shame. 
* To get more into why the previous point effected me so badly, if you were to go back through my blog and read some of the earliest posts, you would read all about the story of how I lost my virginity.  You would also read about how that left me feeling, and how those feelings followed me into adulthood.  After I lost (had it stolen) my virginity, I felt immense shame.  Not only had my father instilled in me the idea of purity, but so had my upbringing in the church.  In fact, I was convinced I had killed my father, given that he died a month afterwards ( I mean, c'mon, I was fucking 12!).  And to make things exponentially worse, I was made to repent by my church bishop.  If the act of having my purity stolen and my father dying, this is was the traumatic event that created a waterfall affect in my scarred mind.  At this point, I was nothing but "a chewed up piece of gum".
* This is the point I began having sex with as many individuals as possible.  I mean that quite literally.  I would seek out sexual encounters with friends, friends of friends, friends of boyfriends, and strangers.  I used to believe I did this out of a desperate need to replace the need for a male in my life (a common misperception of the public for a girl's promiscuous behavior when there is no present father figure), but I honestly believe I did it simply to recreate the trauma of losing my virginity until I no longer felt any emotional connection to the experience.  It became a craving, like a physical addiction.  It also left me feeling shameless.   I had total and complete control over who I fell into bed with.  I had control in everything from who, to where and when.  And when I didn't fulfill me anymore, I moved on, and most of the time I was cruel.  I treated men like I'd been treated, and it left me feeling void.  I felt nothing.  When my first pimp approached me, I really believed I could do what he was asking because I'd been doing it, and I'd learned to shut down.  The difference was that I had no choice anymore.
* After I was rescued from the trafficking, I found myself in a long string of abusive relationships, and when I wasn't being abused, I was the abuser.  I cheated, and treated my boyfriends like shit.  I assumed these were healthy relationship patterns because it was better than I'd experienced before the trafficking.  Plus the guys were sticking around, so that was a bonus, right? No.
* When I finally noticed the kid who'd been looking at me all along, I rushed into a marriage based solely on the fact that he loved me "despite".  He loved me "despite" me having been a professional prostitute (don't hold that against me, I recognize I was a trafficking victim, but that revelation didn't happen until 3 years ago, we've been married 7).  God knows I love this man, but I never loved him this much until now.  Because I didn't love myself until now.   

  I spent 25 years not loving me.  And while it seems so simple, it so wasn't.  And it took being by myself for 4 months to do it.  I had to actually look in the mirror every morning instead of asking Drew's opinion on my appearance.  I got to read books, watch TV, go places, and they were all on my time and desire.  BTDubs, none of this is to say I liked when he was gone, because I absolutely did not, but I did have to learn to enjoy my time alone.  I had all the time (you know, when I wasn't working and being a mom ;) ) to think, to talk to myself (yes, I talk to myself) and to make my own decisions.  I haven't been alone...ever.  I've always been with  someone.  So to be alone was a very new and scary thing for me.  But I made it work...fuck it, I worked that shit.  And I did so beautifully.

  I get up everyday, look at myself in the mirror and think "You are beautiful, and you can wear that dress if you want.  In fact, go ahead and put on that 2 piece...just make sure you shave first."  Am I condoning obesity?  No, and I'm not condemning it either.  I love my body, and even when I don't, it's a temporary feeling.  When I get to the point of wanting to do something about it, it'll because I want to be healthy, not because I want to be fit and beautiful.  All the years since I started having children, all I've wanted is to be thin.  The truth is, I'll never be thin again.  Well, if I stop eating all but berries and nuts, and shoving chemical powdered shakes down my throat, and working out 6 hours a day I will be, but let's be honest here, life is so much more, and I want to enjoy it, not the backside of the guy at the gym.  I'll walk, and I'll watch my portions, and I'll buy 51% organic and non-GMO's, but I'll never be thin, and that's fine by me.  My kids prefer the pillow of my soft belly, and my husband loves my curves, so fuck being thin.  I can dress myself to flatter my existing body, and I can look at my naked, tiger striped self and appreciate the soft curves and valleys and hills that have become me.

  And if I could tell my 16 year old self anything it would be:

 "Stop worrying about how you look in that bikini, and enjoy it, it's the last time you'll ever look like that.  Break up with that dickhead, he treats you like shit, and after everything you've been through, you deserve the fucking world.  And when you do drop him, be alone! It won't be the end of the world, and you'll save yourself from a lot of scars and heartbreak if you just don't hook up with that next asshole.  

  Give yourself a break and stop worrying about the next 10 years.  I promise it gets better than this.  Find resources for homeless youth and stay the hell in school, because getting your GED is HARD!  Listen to the music, like really listen, dance in the rain and smell it and feel it and remember it. And for fucks sake, quit smoking!

 Lastly, that number of men you've had sex with? Lose it. Now.  It serves no purpose other than to remind you everyday of how little value you feel you have left.  Some of them fed you lies and told you were special, or that they'd stick around, or worst of all, that they loved you.  They were liars, and therefore, they mean nothing.  You are NOT worthless.  You are NOT a chewed piece of gum.  You are not any less human just because you've been violated, or believed in the wrong guy.  The things that you do with (or the things that have been done to) your body do not determine WHO you are.  What determines your worth and value are how much you love and appreciate yourself.  I wish I could save you 10 more years of pain and heartbreak, but when you DO realize these things, your life will be exponentially more beautiful.  You are beautiful sweet girl.  You are worth everything in the world and universe.  You have to be your own best friend and love yourself before you'll truly love anyone else, and accept the love being given to you.  This journey will be worth every single moment."

Here are some quotes from some amazing women who have messages for their 16 year old selves:

*Christan (32): "There's SO much ahead, have hope.  One day you'll love yourself, and appreciate the lessons in your journey."
*Christina (22): "Never count on someone else to love you, or to determine your self worth. Don't let the actions and opinions of others affect your confidence. You need to love and value yourself first. If you don't, then whoever your with isn't going to really love or value you either. But if you love yourself, and have confidence in yourself, everything else will fall into place."
*Amber (33): " STOP being scared. You are so much stronger & better than you give yourself credit for - you CAN do whatever you put your mind to. Don't let your fear control what you want.....if you do, you will always regret it. Believe in yourself and your dreams and just jump after ALL of them....not just the "attainable" ones."
*Adrienne: " Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you might not succeed. This doesn't mean you're a failure, this doesn't mean the effort wasn't worth it. The best thing you can do for yourself is to appreciate yourself, through success and failure."
*Carolyn: "Don't be lazy. Don't take the easy way because you're scared to fail. Knowing that you didn't even try is so much worse than failing. Also? That dude? Bad news."
*Christina: "I know you're going through so much bad right now, keep your head up. You're beautiful, smart, and have a wonderful head on your shoulders. Don't let what anybody says about your appearance, attitude, or self worth bother you because you will one day learn the none of it is true. 
One day the love of your life will be that one person who will believe what you were telling your family instead of shaming you for it."
*Crystal (who shared the best lyrics ever!): "You've got so much up ahead
You'll make new friends
You should see your kids and husband
And I'd end up saying have no fear
These are nowhere near the best years of your life."

I leave this here to show that everyone has their regrets, and wishes for how their lives should have turned out, but they've all grown and matured and loved and lost. Each of them are beautiful and amazing. Everyone is, they just don't know it yet.