Be Happy, But First, Be Sad.

DISCLAIMER: Don’t scroll to my next post or you’ll think I’m a hypocrite.

Just kidding.

This life is nothing if not an experience to learn and I’m sharing as I go. Last time I checked in I was embracing positivity with all I had. Rainbows were flying out of my ass. Life was grand.

Until it wasn’t.

And that was when I realized that all or nothing positivity can be dangerous. You see, back when I was a chain-smoking, binge-drinking Trash Cadet I was never surprised when I let myself down. I embraced it in fact! Self-loathing cynicism was funny to me. Even if I was miserable, misery was my norm! Life was grand!

But letting yourself down after you’ve drunk the Positivity Kool-Aid?  That’s a different story.

As I began to distance myself further and further from my old toxic lifestyle I began to feel a little (okay, a lot) high and mighty. I began to believe that I was this shiny, brand-spankin’ new version of myself.

Much like Taylor Swift, the old me could not come to the phone right now.

My expectations were hugely unrealistic. I’d done away with my common knowledge that life will indeed suck sometimes. The good days are good because they are so much better in comparison to all of the shit ones we’ve had.

“Look at you! You are on a steady ascent,” I told myself.

And then when I let myself down I wanted to A. Hide in denial and still shout positive messages from the rooftops or B. Return to the dark ages because I felt as if I had lost all of my progress.

Neither choice was ideal.

This one is for all of you cynical bastards who were cozy being negative, who’ve recently jumped on board the positivity movement and now need to find a balance between the two.

Although we all know deep down that we don’t have to be positive 100 percent of the time, it can be difficult in our society not to let this message that we should be the happiest, healthiest, and most successful versions of ourselves ALL THE DAMN TIME. And once we feel as if that dream version of ourselves is within our grasp? Downright addictive.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t be negative sometimes. This doesn’t mean that all progress is lost if you make a mistake. Because you’re happier and healthier doesn’t mean that you can’t let yourself down. Instead, you will only feel truly happy if you let yourself embrace the emotions that come along with feeling as if the bright side is completely out of reach.

The healthiest way to get through tough times is to let yourself feel them in the first place.

Whether your tough time is a breakup, a missed opportunity, or feelings of hopelessness due to your anxiety, it is OKAY to immerse yourself in these emotions. Sweeping them under the rug will only leave them to fester and bubble up in other areas of your life.
Write them down, vent to a friend, book an appointment with your therapist.

Allow yourself to be heartbroken, angry, uncertain, frightened.

But don’t wallow in these feelings for long.

Don’t let allowing yourself to feel be the green light to allowing yourself to drown in these negative emotions.

Accept. Find an outlet. Practice self-care. Move on.

Remember that getting all of your negative emotions out is draining. This is a time for self-care: a bubble bath and a good book, pizza and Shameless with your best friend, whatever makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Whatever it is that you’ve gone through, whatever it is that you’re currently going through, let yourself embrace it. And then get it out by whatever means you feel comfortable (you can write it in a diary, or tell a therapist. You don’t ever need to make your struggles public if that’s not something you feel comfortable with).

You don’t need to be positive all of the time to be on the road to recovery. The road to recovery is full of potholes, and sometimes the best way to pave them over is to fully understand what caused them in the first place.

This life is filled with good times and bad. Don’t let the bad break you, bitch.

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#MeToo

In lieu of the recent Harvey Weinstein sexual assault testimonials, the hashtag #MeToo has surfaced as the silver lining to a series of harassments that have taken a toll on countless aspiring actresses and household names alike. I say silver lining because it’s a beautiful thing when people can join together and start a dialogue to rise up against the bullshit. Bullshit that too many women have come to accept as the norm in their professional and personal lives. Bullshit that too many women have remained silent about for years out of fear of slander and shame. I say silver lining because there is power in numbers. I say silver lining because maybe if we’re all loud enough about our stories of sexual objectification, harassment, and assault it won’t continue to be the norm in the future.

As girls, we are raised to fear men. We don’t have a conscious memory of when we first learned that men were a threat, but it’s something we’ve inherently known since about 2 years old. We know not to take candy from a stranger, not to believe there’s a puppy in his car, and never to let go of our bike if he pulls up beside us on our way home.

By fearing men we can actively try to avoid being harmed by them. We are taught this by our mothers, our aunts, and our grandmothers who all have horror stories of their own. If we can make it through life unscathed we will never have to feel the humiliation of remaining silent, or the shame of speaking up and being accused of lying. Our main goal is to avoid harassment, assault, rape, murder. We know from a young age if we fail to protect ourselves they will win. It will be our words against their’s and they will win.

As women, we are always supposed to be aware of our surroundings, and largely that just means the men around us. We are conditioned to meet advances and sexual suggestions with a giggle and a roll of our eyes. We are conditioned to be polite, demure, silent. We are conditioned to believe that if we raise our voice we will be labeled crazy, attention-starved, slutty.

We all have memories that we meet with dull annoyance: a man coaxing you to drink with him when you are only 13 and calling you a “fucking liar” when you tell him your age. We all have memories that leave us awake at night wondering how we too fell prey when we always knew to be cautious, protect our drinks, never take shortcuts. We are the 1 in 3. We wonder if the statistics aren’t even higher, it seems difficult to find a woman without a truth of her own. As subtle or as severe, the effect has been the same: we have been made to feel worthless.

I am anxious about new social scenarios and eating alone, but nothing makes me as anxious as men.

A man follows you out of the parking lot in his truck. Hope it’s just a coincidence, even though you watched him eye you and grotesquely lick his lips as you got into your car.
A man begins to walk closely behind you on the street. Grab out your phone, hover your fingers above the 9 and the 1. Tighten your fist around your keys. Tell yourself you can run. Tell yourself you can fight.

A man walks up to you in a store, his voice is honey-sweet as he tells you “You’re a beautiful woman, I just thought you should know”. You hate yourself as you mutter a high-pitched “Thank you” and spend longer in the store than necessary, hoping he won’t be down the next aisle, hoping he won’t be waiting for you outside.

Men pull up beside you in their car. Hold your breath. Avoid eye contact. Why is the light taking so god damn long to change? You can feel their eyes on you and you hope they won’t yell something at you. And then, when they do yell something at you and drive away you let out a sigh of relief because at least they stayed in their vehicle. Your heart is racing and you’re beginning to sweat from a mix of panic and humiliation — but you are OK.

We all know of a woman who hasn’t been okay. Perhaps you’ve been her, too. Perhaps you have first-hand knowledge of how fragile you are by the bruises he’s left on you. By the helplessness you’ve felt as he yells that he’ll kill himself if you tell. By the pride he’s stolen in a backseat only to be defended later by people you grow to hate. “He’s a good guy … You wouldn’t want to fuck up his life.”

As if your life wasn’t fucked up by him.

Perhaps you feel as if there’s nowhere to go as each day you read a story about yet another woman who’s courageously spoken up only to be squashed, demeaned by the courts who more times than not seem to stand by those pricks with their smarmy smirks. Perhaps you hate yourself a little more each day as you walk down the street nervous, even though no one is following, no one has shouted anything, no one has slowed down their car and met you with a stare that makes you despise your body. Even on days where no one has made you feel uncomfortable you still remain on edge. You don’t get your hopes up because letting your guard down is dangerous.

I am so sick of this air of threat. I want to feel strong. I want to feel safe. I want to fight. I want all of my fellow women to know that they are not alone. I hear you. I believe you. Me too.

Take A Walk On The Bright Side: Don’t Gag, Positivity Is Rad

Well, hello, long time no talk. I’ve been working on my novels, learning Mohawk, trying to make some cash money, and writing songs. Oh, and I moved to a new city (more on that in my next post!) annnd I’ve been really working on my ol’ mental health [insert double thumbs up]. To put it lightly, when I said I was going to become a positive person, I actually did it. And it’s been totally fucking worth it.

I told myself I wouldn’t blog until my second novel was completely finished, but fuck it, I miss this.

I’m trying to take a brand new stab at this whole pursue-happiness thang—as I creep closer and closer to 26 I’m becoming increasingly aware of how fast life passes you by. And FUCK, up until 25 all I ever did was wish it away, hate myself, and make stupid, self-sabotaging decisions. I’ve got so much lost time to make up for.

Believe you me, I used to roll my eyes at the positivity movement. All of the rainbows and sunshine coming out of people’s twats made me want to puke. WHY CAN’T EVERYONE JUST ADMIT THAT THEY ARE AS MISERABLE AS I AM?

So, on I trudged. Chasing another below-par decision with a glass of wine and a dart — “This is really living,” I would coo to myself in a raspy, sexy voice that can only be brought on by chain-smoking menthol bitch sticks like they’re going to be discontinued. I was feeling it all, even more than Feist. I was allowing myself to feel the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows as only a garbage-can person can. (“It’s not garbage CAN’T!” I would yell, my friends and family truly saddened that I ever stumbled upon that meme.)

But, do you know what the stupid thing was? When I was alone, when the party was over, I hated everything. I had never felt lonelier and I couldn’t see it coming to an end. I wanted to get off of this sick carousel, but instead I kept shovelling in quarters, hoping that the ass I was riding would turn into a stallion. Or, better yet, a god damn unicorn that would fly me to a whole new planet where I could start over.

Or rather, disappear.

That’s a gross feeling, to hate your own company so much that you long to disappear. To feel as if your skin is crawling when you’re left alone with yourself in a quiet room. When you can no longer turn up the music, crack a dirty joke, and pretend that EVERYTHING IS PEACHY.

I had a tougher exterior back then, which is funny because it was false. I let everyone walk all over me. When you don’t like yourself it’s nearly impossible to stand up for yourself. Telling someone that they had hurt me was like defending grape-flavoured cough syrup—“It’s fine, I’m sorry for saying anything, I’m disgusting, I deserved it.”

My life felt like when you flush the toilet and watch your icky, brown shame rising to the surface but you don’t know what to do because you never listened to your father when he told you how to handle things. Hemingway says in order to write about life, first you must live it. I just unclogged my first toilet. I’m really livin’ now.

I think part of growing up is accepting your shit.

We are all flawed.

We all have our hangups.

We all have things that we need to work on.

We will forever be imperfect, works-in-progress, and that’s OKAY—as long as we’re making progress.

Taking the first step towards being a happier person was just that: a first step.

While working on my second novel (a memoir on overcoming mental illness, nonetheless) I realized I still had a ways to go. Too long had I been ducking my issues under the false impression of recovery. In a lot of ways I’d been “recovered” for awhile, I’d maintained a healthy BMI for years, I hadn’t purged in years, I’d given up on using sex and alcohol as a way to keep myself numb, I’d given myself countless “I love and accept YOU” pep talks. Yet my anxiety was as rampant as ever. Maybe even more so now that I’d taken away all of my vices, or shall I say crutches. I even quit smoking cigarettes last September, leaving myself stranded without a paddle. Now it was just me, feeling increasingly v u l n e r a b l e. I was no longer allowing myself to remain stuck in the same ruts that I had been in for all of my adult life—and you know what, I no longer wanted to. It was time to embrace my vulnerability.

Last year I fell in love for what felt like the first time (cue Foreigner). The way he looked at me made me realize that I wanted to be better. As nacho-cheesy as this sounds, he looked at me as if he was seeing my soul. As if he was seeing the girl I was before mental illness, and addiction, and hatred (cue messy tears). He had fallen in love with me for me, and I realized it was time that I did too.

The mysterious, collective They say that you can’t love anyone before you love yourself, and I always thought that that was god damn bullshit. I was no stranger to heartache. Amidst all of my cynical self-sabotage, being a dreamy, hopeless romantic came easily. This doesn’t happen often, so, I don’t know, you’re welcome?—but they were right. You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself.

For years I had been telling myself that I was always putting others first, but that only happened when the mood struck. I flip-flopped between doormat and selfish-tyrant surprisingly seamlessly, one second sad that I wasn’t being treated properly, the next second hurting others before they got the chance to hurt me. My “Love Stories” could’ve worked as brochures for “What Not To Do In Relationships”. I didn’t want this shiny, new love to be the next one added to the heaping pile of shit better known as my dating track record.

It was time for a change. A more serious change than just attempting to be more positive. I needed to fully immerse myself in the rainbow.

So, I tried what I’d never tried before: I genuinely began to accept myself.
At first, it felt uncomfortable.

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: It’s much easier to remain a garbage-person. When you’re trash no one can expect too much from you, nor can you expect too much from yourself. How blissful.

Accepting yourself means analyzing your reactions.

It’s communicating how something is making you feel.

It’s separating what’s in your head with what’s ACTUALLY true.

It’s nurturing your body and mind.

It’s baring your soul and not caring if people don’t like it, because you approve of yourself all on your own.

It’s realizing that jealousy comes from a place of insecurity. Running other people down won’t get you anywhere.

It’s standing up for yourself when someone says something that’s triggering or disrespectful.

It’s cutting people out of your life who bring you down.

It’s wholeheartedly believing that you are capable of all of the goals you want to accomplish.

It’s believing that you are worthy of love, and that your partner is lucky to have you.

It’s CRYING. That was probably the trickiest part for me, now when I’m upset I immediately begin to cry. The reaction makes me feel out of control, which is frighteningly refreshing. I was so accustomed to burying my emotions, rebelling against them in whatever degrading way I chose. Now, I cry. IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. SOBER. I address what I’m upset about right away, and as embarrassing as it is, afterwards I feel free. I don’t have to add this new hurt onto the list of lies I use to trick myself into believing that I am worthless.

Now, I address my anxieties. I will openly say that I struggle. And the amazing thing is instead of people shutting me out the way I always feared they would, they open up too. That’s not to say that my issues are melting away by means of acknowledgment. My palms are still sweaty and my voice is still strangely high when I’m talking to strangers.  My body dysmorphia still snickers to me during the most inoppurtune moments, startling me as if someone has just punched me in the stomach. I still have to remind myself to breathe. But, I’m putting myself out there more than ever and it’s paying off.

We are all anxious. We all fear that we will not be accepted. We are in this together.

Not only am I addressing my anxieties, I am attacking them with all of my force. I realize that for my entire life, the only person holding me back was myself. I’m not prepared to waste any more time being afraid, isolated, or resentful. I am excited to try new things. To make a fool of myself. To LIVE.

I am grateful every day for all of the wonderful people in my life, for all of the lessons I have learned both good and bad, and for all of the opportunities that I am no longer afraid to grasp. If you’re ever having a horrible day write down all of the things that make you smile or all of the people/animals/places/things that you are thankful for. It helps, I promise.

Every day is a new chance for you to become the person that you want to be. Don’t believe that your yesterdays dictate your tomorrows. And dang, there are a lot worse problems to have than rainbows and sunshine bursting from your nether regions.

Don’t Be So Negative, You Fucking Twat: A New Year’s Story

Who else feels like this year has been a joke? Who else told themselves last December that 2016 would be THEIR year and have been approaching New Years Eve with more and more discouragement?

Hey! You’re not alone!

This time of the year can be hard on a lot of people; not only has Christmas become a stressful spending-frenzy, it seems as if you can’t go anywhere without hearing how you can be a better You. I turned 25 this year and younger-me thought I’d have my life on track by now. You know, amazing career, husband, a baby on the way, a smokin’ hot haircut, tons of money in the bank? A lot of fucking bullshit. And frankly, my 10-year-old self would be pretty ashamed of my life. But, I’m beginning to feel like that’s OK. Most of us feel like that, don’t we? That we haven’t accomplished enough? Don’t belittle yourself if your year wasn’t as glitzy as you promised it would be when you took that sip of champagne (er, chug from your wine bottle) at midnight, look at it for what you’ve learned.

That’s how I’m approaching it anyways. It started as a way to hold onto a shred of sanity, but now I’m feeling more convinced. The year is only a waste if you have nothing to take away from it. With that being said, no one’s year was a total waste, because there are lessons to be learned from everything. Let’s stop focussing on the shit-sandwiches for a second, and think of the good that’s come. Maybe you’re like me and you have to dig a little deeper, aka right into the shit to find the shard of knowledge, the lesson-nugget if you will. Do that.

First off, I want to apologize for missing in action from the blogosphere for the last few months. I’ve been writing a novel on mental illness—to keep it short and sweet, it’s a personal story of my own struggles since I was 10 years old—and although wildly cathartic, it’s been majorly draining. It’s also tough because although I’m pouring my very soul into it there isn’t something huge to show each day. It’s a work in progress, I chip away while eating chips and sobbing.

Anyways, as 2016 is coming to a close I felt it was as good of a time as ever for word-vomit. As I get older I have begun to understand what the “adults” meant when they said “time flies”. This year has been a whirlwind. Actually, each passing year seems a little shorter than the last. Gulp. There are only 11 days of 2016 left and yet I still find myself scrawling 2015 when I write the date. Yet, as fast as this year has gone, I feel as if it is one of the most important years of my life. Other than 2003 and the onset of my anorexia, there has never been a year where I have felt so utterly changed. But, unlike 2003 which altered me for the worse, 2016 has altered me for the better. Yet, I don’t have a lot to show for it because most of the changes have happened within.

A big shoutout goes to my prefrontal cortex. I don’t think the same as I did around this time last year, and that lends me to believe that it must be getting closer to a fully-developed state. I have heard people say “your frontal lobes aren’t completely formed until 25” and I wanted to believe that my brain would flip from emotionally-impulsive to rationally-stable, but I had some serious doubts. The very idea that I would become more logical than ever seemed like another one of my pipe dreams. I never imagined that I would feel this different.

Brain maturation aside, 2016 has been rich with life experiences. I feel like when I hear “life experiences” I initially think of positive things: backpacking through Europe, landing your dream job, having a baby. My year lacked all of those, but it’s taught me that even negative experiences can change you for the better.

I am not proud of the person I was at the beginning of this year. I didn’t like myself much and it manifested itself as cowardice, selfishness, and a desperation for the love of people who treated me poorly. I was in a vicious cycle and had been for years, it was one of self-loathing followed by impulsive actions that would spike my adrenaline, but also leave me feeling remorseful. I hopelessly clung to the idea of love. I liked the thought of loving and being loved, and I kept my sights on the mirage instead of the red flags. When I look back at some of the mistakes I’ve made it feels as if I’m looking at someone else’s life, the thought process behind my actions was so inadequately executed that it was as if I was not thinking at all.

And yet, I was exhausted from over-thinking. Over-analyzing. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too, I wanted to be in love, and also keep my options open. I was afraid that leaving someone would hurt him so I stayed and undoubtedly hurt him even more. I was cold, ruthless and then sweet, loving whenever it best suited me. I was a liar. I supported this idea of almost-love because it felt better than loneliness. I made excuses for my then-boyfriend’s outbursts of anger, threats of suicide, manipulative abuse because of my own guilt. I was not holding up my end of the bargain in our relationship and in my twisted psyche that gave permission to his behaviour, when in reality we would have both been happier if we would have just thrown in the towel.

I drove myself absolutely insane over thoughts of an ex, and the hopeless romanticism of it kept me from looking at the relationship (or non-relationship, I suppose) clearly. I told myself that he loved me, when in reality I was little more than a stroke to his ego. I would jump whenever he said jump. I convinced myself that our love would prevail, that things would work out when he had given himself enough time to free his head of confusion. And while I impatiently waited for him to wake up and realize that he couldn’t live without me, I strung someone else along. This someone-new was a cushion for my broken heart while using his heart as a punching bag.

I am not thrilled with any of this. I allowed myself to wallow in indecision, a confusion so sweet that I no longer felt accountable for my actions. I greeted my then-boyfriend’s screaming with a sly chuckle. I continued making excuses for him well after he hit me because I convinced myself that I deserved it. I was a cheater after all, right? A cheater who felt no guilt other than guilt over not feeling any guilt at all. Red flags, red flags, red flags covered up with happy-go-lucky day trips and adorable Facebook posts. Red flags, red flags, red flags suffocated by cigarette after cigarette. Months trudged on and I shut a lot of people out. I told myself that my mistakes made me a bad person. I became addicted to the toxicity of my life. I convinced myself I deserved unhappiness because of my faults—I had never felt more trapped. I accomplished very little because of constant stress. I had no fucking clue what I was doing with my life, and maybe part of me liked that. There is freedom in being a self-titled Piece Of Trash. No one can expect too much from you when you admittedly say that you’re Garbage.

2016 taught me that you can turn things around.

Halfway through this year I was at a standstill. The way I had been living just wasn’t working anymore. I needed to remove myself from the cycle. It wasn’t easy, and I was pathetic for a bit (okay, maybe a little longer than a “bit”). It was not as if I snapped my fingers and felt better. I had carved tracks into my heart and mind, crevices filled with Feels for people who probably didn’t deserve them in the first place. My self-esteem was more damaged than imaginable, if I had trust-issues in 2014 and 2015 I added a capital T and an I in 2016.

This was the year where I realized that my judgement of character is not always spot-on. As depressing as that was—having my very instincts questioned, the image in my head and heart of these men that I loved absolutely destroyed—it was 100 per cent necessary in my need for change. Love is often sold as this magical thing, but sometimes you can fall in love for the wrong reasons. This was a good lesson to learn, but it made me skeptical. To put it lightly, once the chips were all down I was terrified of ever falling in love again. For you are only truly vulnerable when you’re in love. That vulnerability terrified me on multiple spectrums, on one hand I had fallen for someone who only wanted me when he couldn’t have me, who filled my every waking thought with the hope that he’d waltz back into my life, as romantic as before, but in reality, treated me like a leper on the rare mornings after I’d wound up in his bed. And then, on the other hand, I had allowed someone to fall in love with me when I knew I wasn’t fully available, I was still pining, I was uninvested. Once it was all over I hoped that my karma would work itself out, but I had my doubts. I had been a fool.

Days past and the drama of my life fizzled. Each day I felt more and more removed from the situation. It took a couple months, but eventually I realized I was better off. Sure, love is work, but love should not be a struggle everyday. Love should not leave your throat raw, eyes swollen, lungs exhausted from smoking and yelling and smoking some more. Love should not make you want to run away, escape in the night without a trace. Love should not make you question your self-worth.

Suddenly it all sunk in and the very thought of the love-triangle that I had led made my stomach ache. It was all such a waste of time, I thought. But, it wasn’t. No, not really. Because it taught me what I won’t stand for from other people, and more importantly, it taught me what I won’t stand for from myself. 2016 taught me that you CAN change your life if you want to. 2016 taught me that the only person holding you in toxic relationships is yourself. I used to make so many excuses, excuses upon excuses that removed my own agency. No more. If you’re unhappy, get out. It’s that simple. Things work until they don’t. People make mistakes. Apologize and move on. There is nothing wrong with that. I wish I could have had this conversation with myself last year, that I could grab her by the shoulders and give her a shake. I would tell her that making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, instead it is your actions after those mistakes that determines your character. For a long time I wallowed, behaving increasingly carelessly because I felt as if I had already shown that I was a bad person. I felt like a lost cause.

But, 2016 truly taught me the wonders of Letting Go.

It’s in the Letting Go where you make room for the good stuff.

Forgive yourself.

Forgive others.

But don’t keep yourself in a situation just because you feel you should.

Be malleable.

Be resilient.

Feeling stuck is the biggest sign that you need to make a change. This world is filled with too many opportunities to settle for anything less than happiness. Me last year would want to ash a cigarette on my current-self’s forehead. And of course there’s a part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to be filled with negativity, cynicism, distrust, but I think that’s just an aftereffect from how I was living. I will take it for what it is, I will cry it out. I cry more than ever, which sounds really strange and IS pretty strange to me. I used to feel unhinged and let my decisions be fuelled by emotion, now I live with more of a level-head yet cry more? What in the fuck?

My theory is that now I’m letting it out as soon as those doubts, fears, guilts hit. I am no longer burying them until they control my life, I’m crying them out as soon as they begin to torment me. They are useless tenants. The pain will come, and the pain will go, and each time it will come with a little less force and leave a bigger slice of peace in its place. I sound so fucking lame without my cheeky cynicism. But, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with accepting that I control my thoughts, that I control what festers inside of me and what doesn’t. The idea that I am in Control is very freeing.

2016 taught me that I need to be the driver of my life, because life will drive you regardless, and believe me, you don’t want to wake up lost one day and wonder how in the fuck you got where you are.

Happy New Years, folks. Cheers to 2017!

Single with a Small Side of Mingle

This might turn out like a mini-rant, and I apologize in advance. Actually, scratch that, I’m writing this because I’m done apologizing. I’m done feeling guilty.
We’re living in an age of confusion. We’re in a rampant hookup culture, and yet a happy marriage with 2.5 kiddos is still an extremely prominent end-goal. We want earth-shattering love and yet we fuck before we think. Or, at least that’s what I’ve done in the past. An overwhelming feeling of “Shit. Maaaybe I should have waited.” And now, at 24, I’ve finally decided that I deserve to wait if I want to. I’ve spent too much of my life feeling guilty. Those with guilt-complexes will probably understand, those without I just want to say: I’m happy for you (and a little jealous, too). My guilt strikes multiple times a day and ranges from “I bet that comment hurt her feelings” to “I wonder if he’s sad because I’m not accepting his advances?” to “Even though I was busy, I shouldn’t have bailed on that plan” to “I didn’t do enough today”. For my entire life I’ve struggled with pleasing everyone. There are not enough hours in the day and I’ve lost myself along the way. Someone’s always displeased, and too often the one who’s the most letdown is me.
Guilt, coupled with low self-esteem, has turned my sexual prowess into a minefield. Each time I’m hanging out with someone and I feel that tension in the air, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, but I call it the “Are-We-Going-To-Fuck? Tension”, my mind begins to run rampant. It’s a battle between my loins, my brain, and my heart. My loins say that it shouldn’t matter, sleeping with you won’t lessen the respect that I deserve. I am a strong-independent woman (sup, Beyoncé?) and men are my playthings. My brain says that although I may view men as my playthings, society will portray me as theirs. And my heart, my wee, tender heart is already having its doubts. It’s asking why you want me in your life in the first place, it’s beginning to pound with the fear that I am merely a conquest. I am the one that responded to your text. It’s beginning to tell me that you have a specific agenda. It’s beginning to whisper that I was silly to expect anything more.
For starters, I know I don’t owe anybody a goddamn thing. But, sometimes that’s beside the point. It’s the nagging voice that says that I should have known, that deep-down I did know what this was all about. I used to always come to the conclusion that “Well, I’m here. I love sex. Let’s get it on.” But somewhere in the last little while that’s been blurred. Maybe it was having someone win over my heart, shit all over my heart, and then say that everything they ever said was booze-induced sweet talk. Maybe it’s the fact that I broke the heart of someone I really loved because I couldn’t stop thinking about my own conquests. Maybe it’s the lingering sting of being called a “slut” by one of my best friends. Or, maybe, it’s the boiling-over effect of believing that I was less-than since the ripe age of 17 when I realized that being a sexual tyrant was my kind of party.
That’s an issue in and of itself, the idea that a sexual woman is a slut, and a sexual man is, well, just a man. I’ve been trying to battle that since before my first kiss. But, I realize now that I’ve went about it the wrong way. I’ve lost some of my power in the battlefield. I’ve fucked before thinking. I’ve thought with the wrong hood.
I’m thinking clearly now. Whether my frontal lobes are coming together to finally help me out, or I’ve just experienced enough to finally catch a clue, it’s a freeing feeling, this sense that I am ENOUGH. I don’t need anyone to validate me. I don’t need anyone to make me feel wanted, needed, loved. I am. Once you put the fear of being alone aside you finally have the time to focus on what really matters. You finally have the time to focus on who you want to be. And once you’ve taken the steps toward becoming who you want to be the rest will follow. But, in all honesty, how do we even know who will fit into our lives when we’re not even taking proactive steps to create the lives we want to lead? Why are we numbing ourselves out with love and sex and not spending the proper amount of time smashing our goals? Why am I spending time staring at my phone instead of chasing my dreams? Why am I allowing myself to drown in self-doubt instead of becoming someone that I love, admire, and respect? It’s all so fucking simple that I don’t even understand what I’ve been thinking. Or, wait, I suppose I haven’t been thinking.
I’ve been a serial dater and now my hands are empty, my heart is full of precious memories but also a lot of pain and a lot of resentment over wasted time. I’ve never given myself any time to heal, to process, to just BE. I need to take that time now.
We’re caught in a limbo of casual hookups or serious commitments. Where has the in-between gone? If I agree to dinner I am not agreeing to blow you in the car, nor am I agreeing to update my Facebook status to “in a relationship” when I get home. We’ve lost the appreciation of getting to know each other without expectation. We’ve lost the appreciation of going into something without a game-plan and just seeing where things go. We’ve lost the joys of falling in love.
Since 17 I have never went more than a few months without being in a serious relationship. The loneliness has always struck and I’ve hopped into things without any sort of critical thinking, only to be left feeling trapped, overwhelmed, and somehow even lonelier because I know deep down that I’m not being true to myself. I’m not in love for the right reasons. I owe it to myself to go it alone and to realize that I will be OK. I owe it to myself to FIND myself in order to truly understand myself, love myself, and figure out what I want down the road.
I’m not being distant. I’m not being rude. I’m keeping it casual, because it’s what I have to do. It doesn’t feel natural because I’ve never done it before, but I know in my gut that it’s something I should have done years ago.
And when I do get back into the dating game, I’m dating around. I’m going to enjoy your company, I’m going to actually get to know you. I’m not going to put ultimatums on you or the pressure of “WHERE IS THIS GOING TO GO?”—because if it’s right we’ll both know where we want it to go. Although there’s nothing wrong with sleeping around and god knows I’ve had my fair share of pants-less parties, I won’t be. If I say yes to a date, I’m only saying yes to the date. I won’t be pressured or charmed. Our society has made it that we’re hooking up without any real bond or we’re exclusively dating someone. It’s a recipe for disaster and I think it’s what’s created a lot of issues when it comes to love and forming meaningful connections. We haven’t tested the waters and before we know it we’re drowning. Even if monogamy is your end-game, there is nothing wrong with having relationships with a number of people until you find someone that you don’t want to be without. The stars will align!
I’m a bold lady. When I want something more, I’ll have no problems expressing it. I am not afraid of rejection. But, for now, and for the first time in my life, I need some time to myself. Respect that, or don’t. I’m respecting myself and at the end of the day that is what matters most.

Notch

Just like this smoke poisons my lungs,

you poison my mind with each bittersweet lie, truth

It’s all the same to you

Notch in your belt, your soulmate

You give me the runaround

to test my stamina, my sanity

to keep me on my toes, you’re running late

You’re running away

And, one day,

we’ll look back at the strangers we were, the strangers we are

Life leaves you with scars

You’ll be the one who left a scratch on my heart

you changed its sound each time you turned around, each time you changed your mind,

each time I pretended to be fine, each time I called you kind-but-confused,

You’d leave me used

You’d turn away a cold, blue eye,

you’d give me a sigh, and a laugh,

you’d say you’re too tired for that

And exhausted I’d stay, so frustrated with your day-by-day

that the moment when you had me hand in hand

when you put me in your plans,

and looked up at me with bright-sky blues

“Baby, baby, I love you”

honey kisses on my promising finger,

a bittersweet memory is all that will linger