DIRTY LAUNDRY- SHAME, SECRETS, AND LONELINESS.

Carrie. My childhood BFF. We shared a love of Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and New Kids on the Block. She staked claim to Jordan, and Jonathon was all mine. We passed notes folded into arrows and schemed about how to make our crushes fall in love with us. Sometimes she said things that shocked me, revealing private details that would embarrass most. How this 9-year-old, with barrel curled bangs held firm by hairspray, managed the confidence to publicly be unabashedly herself, is beyond me. Over time, I came to love this quality, always knowing where I stood with her, never wondering what judgments may be hidden behind a feigned smile.

During the murky waters of junior high, acid washed denim, and peg-legged pants, she left, moving away with her family, but her forthrightness remained.

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I found my typically shy self, previously mortified by the smallest of things, “tellin’ it like it was.” It wasn’t a conscious transformation, her humility was contagious and burrowed its way in. I tried it on here and there and found myself still alive afterward. It was incredibly liberating; giving less f*cks, assuming I wasn’t a lone wolf in my perceived weirdness. Acknowledging that I wasn’t particularly special or unique relieved quite a bit of pressure. So, it stuck.

There were multiple consequences.

Sometimes I pissed people off.

Sometimes I hurt people’s feelings.

Lots of times, I made people feel normal for the things they were ashamed of.

Lots of times I built relationships that allowed for complete honesty, the sharing of extremely intimate details, and a resulting unburdening.

Lots of times people felt less alone on this giant, sphere of a planet hurtling through space. Myself included.

Of course, like any learned behavior, there are extremes, and ultimately a balance must be sought.

As an adult, who has felt the power of my words and the pain they’ve often inflicted, I now seek middle ground, biting my tongue in favor of respect. I take heed of the emotional space others are in, considering what they can handle, what will help versus hinder. I’m still learning, and I still toe the line, at times crossing it.

But, when it comes to the details of my life, my private obstacles, I rarely pipe down. I have forgone my secrecy because I know my experiences, and feelings, and fears, and questions are not unique to me. I share because there is strength in numbers. I share because I don’t want to carry the weight of my inadequacies around, left to accumulate and hide behind the dark corners of my psyche, ever worried I might be found out, my human imperfection revealed. I share because it lightens me, unshackling my energies for progressive endeavors.

I share because not only does a lack of privacy make others feel connected, but it extends the invitation to be themselves with me, to speak of whatever weighs upon their souls, and I guard that honor with the utmost pride, love, and respect.

I want everyone to be reminded that we are just people; struggling, striving, loving, pressing on, and that struggle is beautiful because it is unanimous, and real.

Some are uncomfortable with honesty. Recognize that it serves as a reminder of their own buried shame they’re not yet ready to relinquish and the illusory human separation we often cling to out of a self-importance born to camouflage feelings of inadequacy.

Being authentic with one another, moving beyond shame, is courageous and freeing. It’s why the blogs that I write, with the most intimate details and raw emotion, get the most reads. We want to feel normal. We crave to be laid bare from our cloaks of shame, the chains that bind. What is privacy anyway, in a world full of people who are all born to eventually die, with the yearning for joy and fulfillment in between, but an illusion? We are more the same than different, always and forever.

So, tell it, tell that thing, tell all the things. Confide in the friend you know has your best interests at heart. When you see another struggling, make known your inner demons. Release embarrassment, embracing connection and authenticity. Do you think no one has gone bankrupt? Struggled with addiction? Worked through anxiety and depression? Been cheated on? Felt completely disconnected from their husband? Gone through unbearable loss? Even if some haven’t, they undoubtedly have a loved one who has, and you’ll never receive the sage advice, understanding, or comforting acceptance they have to offer if you disown and thereby silence your humanness.

Share all of you, even the shadows, courageously, lovingly granting others permission to step out of their own.

-Angi

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

GENDER SPLINTERS.

Photo credit to @tribedemama and @jakobland. See full Instagram post here.

I feel apprehensive about liking this pic. Not at first. Initially, I think it’s a woman; she is lounging back in the picture, long lean arms stretching out reveal tufts of hair in her armpits, like delicate air plants peeking down. She has a full mouth and eyes that are focused straight at the lens, daring me to glance down at the exposed nipples protruding from her tank top all askew. I look, but no boobs. Just little round flesh beads on a flat chest.

I am confused that my immediate reaction is envious. Then, like a shield, defensive. She is not a woman. She is a man feeling like a woman.

I try to retrace my steps like I have misplaced what’s important. Let me go back to solve this mystery of envy. Not having boobs? Is that it? Or, being able to carelessly free those little flesh nubbs for the world to see? Is it because nipples on a set of pecs don’t have to engage with gravity, be pulled on by the mouths of four babes and stretched to extremities upon birth as the deluge of milk fills them? To not have breasts means freedom from the hopeless struggle to maintain what my victoria's secret bra only knows; my boobs aren’t shaped like this once I’m naked, and free from the restrictions I allow to rule me, my woman body: full high breasts; being beautiful and confident as I march around the world as an ideal, and then reaching behind me as I walk through my bedroom door to unhook the restraints there, lashed around me in the form of lace, confining my bosom to not be what it is. I pull the black bra expertly out through my shirt sleeve and fling it away from me across the bed. My mammory sexobjects relax back against my rib cage. Deflated of all they were moments ago.

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Envious? Yes. Fuck yeah. If I wasn’t expected to have a rack, I could have hated myself less, could have spent the valuable time wasted on obsessing over my boobs in comparison to perfect boobs, and instead thought about what field of science I would like to someday major in. Without tits.

I could sit here shirtless in my front yard, feel the warmth on my bare skin without any of the shame or judgment or rule breaking.

Okay. So the defensive feeling is protecting me from these thoughts. This human born a boy will never know the displeasure that the expectation of breasts are. He can enjoy all the feminine posture in this picture, and not have stars hiding his societal-owned nipples on Instagram. Can I move on from this thought? Can I allow that he has struggled in ways that I cannot fathom, to experience being a woman?

How much is a man able to try on being a woman, like a silky blouse caressing softly against his skin, one that he can take off when it confines his movement?  Does he know the struggle that each girl endures to fill the form that is expected of her? Not just my body, my mind, my dreams, the pure rapturous expectations of my own that were stolen from me as I grew and admitted silently that I could never fulfill, never come to fruition, this wholeness of human form. Unattainable for me. Make it less. Hide it away. Shave it off. Conceal it. Pipe down. Stand up straight and quiet and submissive.

And the impression I make?... with my hairy legs, and my overgrown mess of armpit hair, my opinionated thoughts manifesting into words, my careless adoption for fashion and makeup? “Who does she think she is? A man?”

Can I be a woman, please? Can I be this woman? Without a campaign or a soapbox, can I just exist as a complete entity without disgusting those around me?

And now I might be starting to get it. She has asked himself this same thing. She hasn’t walked in my bare woman feet. She doesn’t know MY struggle. But she knows hers: and it is every bit as arduous and even more condemned; to be born to rule the world, to make a mythical ‘help-meet’ from the sinew of your very own rib, and still to choose to follow what is written on your heart; beating there beneath the prairie of your flat landscaped chest.

I must admit that you have something I want, person that I only know through one Instagram picture. Maybe this surprises you, or perhaps you have come across many white privileged woman complaints. But you have also helped me to understand that we both want some of the same things. And it isn’t just looking like a goddess owning the room; it’s respect: an acknowledgment, that choosing to be something other than what the world expects of you is complete bad-assery, unabashedly brave, and deserves focus by a larger majority unwilling to consider that. Maybe we are in this together, because I feel stronger knowing that others are boldly facing obstacles about their identity, and rewriting what a human can be. So, I guess what I really feel is gratitude. Thank you for helping me get there.

-Emily

EMILY

Becoming a human-vessel made me a mother, but it also taught me who I am as a woman; literally, I didn’t know that I had a uterus or that it was super bad-ass, until after I picked up my first Bradley Method book. Four home births later, my husband and I have maintained a sense of humor while maneuvering the daily failures, lessons and bonds, that parenting provides.

      My brighter moments are spent homeschooling outside in the Sierra National Forest with other wild families, and pursuing a slow and steady education towards attaining my BS (I will never not think that is funny). Other days you can find me: eating pineapple even though I am painfully allergic, actually running out of gas, and crying in public when strangers show empathy with one another.

     

 

ARE YOU JUDGING ME? HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN GOSSIP AND CONCERN.

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I remember it well, the first time the word judgmental was used in reference to me. It was a boyfriend who uttered it as we sat in a booth at Denny’s, eating post-hangover scrambles. He shattered my self-perception while I choked down a hash brown, and so began an unraveling akin to the slow picking at the edge of a band-aid, with an awareness that pain will ensue if you go any further. It would take years for me to press forward, but in that moment, part of me awoke.

I didn’t accept his classification, arguing that I was instead analytical, intrigued by human nature. But it was too late, his words grabbed hold and the label of “judgmental” was mentally filed away, causing me to question my motivations thereafter. It was a subtle pondering. I wasn’t ready to wholly own such a lofty and derogatory quality but at the ripe old age of 21, who is?

And, it is true that I’m intrigued by human nature, so I had that to hide behind. But, I’ve used judgment as a means of self-protection for as long as I can recall, and it’s more than possible that it birthed my interest in others. When you’re nitpicking the actions of those around you, curiosity surrounding intention builds.

I rationalized through other means as well. “How was I supposed to connect with friends if we didn’t talk about other friends?” “ We’re just expressing our love and concern through discussion.” “What else are we going to talk about, if not each other???” “I’ll be so lonely if I rise above judgment.” I really didn’t know how to differentiate between discussion and judgment, connection and gossip.

My girlfriend suggested I read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Yeesh. Can you say game changer? My brain exploded when I associated that what I said about others was a reflection of how I felt about myself. It was a liberating notion, while simultaneously rendering me overwhelmed at my perceived shortcomings. The first stab at taking responsibility for your emotions often leaves you feeling somewhat stymied instead of empowered. It’s so much easier to pass that power off to those we judge... those who judge us, a learned habit most of us form early on. Introspection, after all, isn’t always pleasant, and we’re a society notorious for avoidance of all that breeds discomfort.

One of the agreements is to “Be Impeccable With Your Word.” I finished the book with excellent intentions on this front. Then said girlfriend and I met up for drinks, and while walking to the bar with our red Solo cups full of pre-cocktail cocktails, struggled to find anything to talk about that wasn’t infringing upon our ode to impeccability. We decided that we’d instead focus on the other Three Agreements because this one was a lost cause, completely unrealistic unless you’re Buddhist Monk status.

For the next decade or so, I continued to ignore that Agreement, using all manners of justification that had previously proven effective. After all, I was a hairstylist, and there’s nothing women like to talk to their hair girl about more than other women. Still a losing battle. And, I was growing increasingly more uncomfortable with my deficiency, feeling robbed of precious energy and joy. My introspection, willingness to accept personal responsibility, and therefore my emotional intellect, had grown significantly, and I was now acutely aware of the judgment being imparted with each word I spoke.

How to clean up this seemingly innate behavior? I knew with certainty that I used it to leverage myself into a false sense of superiority when feeling insecure, to feign connection, or when my self-defined identity seemed threatened. It kinda worked, for like a sec. And then I felt like shit. You know, that mild sense of ick accompanying behaviors that aren’t in line with your highest self. If you pay attention, it’s there. When you shoot your husband a snippy jab for not helping around the house enough… ick. When you don’t pay attention to your son’s extremely detailed and pride filled story about his Minecraft creation because you wanna lose yourself in your phone … ick. When you talk to one friend about another friend’s lack of parenting effort (right after ignoring the Minecraft story)... ick.

That ick is the Universe nudging you back to center, a reminder that you’re better than that. If aligned with your highest self, you should feel love and joy during and after an interaction. The ick was overtaking me, on so many levels. I was angry at myself for succumbing to judgment, even in the presence of this less than gratifying sensation.

Something had to give. All of my judgment, my venting, my complaining, my shit talking, wasn’t accomplishing anything except the magnification of negative emotion and the multiplication of those perceived infractions. The more I judged the people and situations in my life, the more those things compounded. Like attracts like, and I was putting out some serious muck. The only way out of this was to renounce judgment completely.

My husband and I made a pact. With the assumption that our thoughts are creative, we vowed to keep our combined energies pristine. If we caught the other muddying things up, we were swift to remind of the transgression and literally breathe off the negativity that had been initiated.

It was a wild success. We both felt as though we were walking on air… in control, inspired, purpose-driven, as if we’d rejected our egos in favor of joy.

We lived on cloud nine for approximately two weeks. Then little things started going awry, like sick kids and/or a lack of sleep, and judgment, as it often does, slyly crept in. The vibe in the house became noticeably heavier, we weren’t as accomplished, even our relationship felt more distant.

Grateful for the reminder given to us by the disparity in our moods from one week to the next, we made the choice to again mentally tidy. Judgment has been part of my life for so long. I use it as one would cigarettes or sugar. It’s my go-to fix when I’m feeling inadequate. It’s always going to be a choice for me to mentally tidy, to reject the ick. The struggle is real Y'all.

So, how do you know the difference between judgment and discussion, connection and gossip. Check in with yourself, take note of the emotional sensations surrounding what you're doing or saying, find the highest version of you and choose to connect on that level. Make that decision over and over again. That is your inner guidance communicating with you. Talking with a friend about another friend (technical name: gossip) accomplishes absolutely nothing. The best thing we can do for others is silently wish them well and believe in their powers to progress. Pray for them, send loving energy. Know that they have spiritual guidance available to them and will work through discord in their own way and time. For some, that process may test the patience of everyone around them, but it is not our journey to judge.

We don't live in a cocoon, negativity will inevitably find us, but we can surround ourselves with people that fill us up and grow us. While not always possible, it’s still conceivable to do your damndest to hover above less than stellar conversations, not engaging in gossip. This is equally, if not more important, in the realm of thoughts. Just because you didn’t go so far as to give judgment voice, a thought is still transformative. It’s your job to protect your energies because they dictate the state of your life. This necessitates mindfulness and conscious effort. Your band-aid may be covering up an entirely different wound. The methodology remains the same. Have grace with the pace at which you heal but choose to peel back that corner and begin. The best version of you is waiting on the other side of pain.

-Angi

A little insight from The Four Agreements, by Don MIguel Ruiz:

“Go inside and listen to your body, because your body will never lie to you. Your mind will play tricks, but the way you feel in your heart, in your guts, is the truth.”

“We judge others according to our image of
perfection as well, and naturally they fall short of our expectations.”

“Imagine living your life without judging others. You can easily forgive others and let go of any judgments that you have. You don’t have the need to be right, and you don’t need to make anyone else wrong. You respect yourself and everyone else, and they respect you in return.”

"Gossiping has become the main form of communication in human society. It has become the way we feel close to each other, because it makes us feel better to see someone else feel as badly as we do.”

“THE FIRST AGREEMENT Be Impeccable with Your Word THE FIRST AGREEMENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE and also the most difficult one to honor. It is so important that with just this first agreement you will be able to transcend to the level of existence I call heaven on earth. The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. It sounds very simple, but it is very, very powerful. Why your word? Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from God. The Gospel of John in the Bible, speaking of the creation of the universe, says, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word is God.” Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything. Regardless of what language you speak, your intent manifests through the word. What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word.” 

“Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.”

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” 

“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds. Their point of view comes from all the programming they received during domestication.” 

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

DIGGING UP WHITE ROOTS- HOW HISTORY GREW MY MIND.

I would like to propose that we create for the American people a month dedicated to white history. I know... Morgan Freeman says history is history, but I can’t help but feel that white people need some special emphasis, like a dedicated 30 days out of an already white year of history, to explore the inception of what a white race is.

Our eyes come into focus as we sift through the very familiar stories of a collective past. We unveil those tarnished gems that many have not heard. The revived luster of this forgotten history could illuminate the dark corners of those bleached hearts; ones that may beat even as this sentence is written, or as it is read; stories responsible for stripping the common, pink color once present in all of our collective chests.

Let’s start with the impressive narrative of our nation; it is an account claimed predominately by the pale hands of Englishmen. Our history was written by European colonists. They documented the stamina required to create a country, ensuring that future Americans would always be aware of the labor involved in tinkering and thinking; lofty hobbies when one isn’t confined to toil and starve.

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The great ideas of the past are enshrined by god-like descriptions of Christian men. Valiantly our forefathers wrote rules to a game that they could win. While writing our constitution they determined that a future America could perhaps live without slavery; but the idea of abolishing it would not even be open for discussion before twenty more years of free profits had been extracted from the lives of their current enslaved people. The framers conspired and compromised and created a country, while the most severe foundational work was achieved by nameless humans called servants and slaves.

 Black History is American history. Deeply entrenched in this too often unexamined story is the birth of an institution that we continue to  brush off as a long begone belief; that “white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate” (first definition given for ‘white supremacy’ with a Google search). This measly definition sets the stage for any half decent human in our society to shun the very idea. ‘I don’t “feel” that way, therefore my conscience is absolved from giving any further thought to the matter.’ But what unresolved issues surface when we read a complete definition of white supremacy?

“...an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege” (Sharon Martinas 1995 CWS Workshop)

This definition is packed full. Without history, we can never get all of its contents out of the bag. What nations were exploited? What historical figures were oppressors? Who were the beneficiaries of this privilege? What have we internalized from our history?

At first I asked myself, what wealth and power did I have while my mother was waiting for the food stamps to arrive? We were car-less and often homeless. I couldn’t wrap my head around any extra that my whiteness had given me.

I remember vividly what the stereotype towards twentieth-century, ragged white, welfare kid, felt like. I was poor, but I could get my dad’s side of the family to buy me an authentic Stussy T-shirt, and during recess, when that well-to-do kid reached in my collar and flipped out my tag, I could have a victorious moment basking in what it felt like to be a whole person. Not being poor was an attainable dream  It was something I could work hard to change and prevent that stereotype from attacking me in the future.

Now imagine that I can’t alter my poverty. Let’s pretend that poverty is a skin color and no matter what I do; the clothes I wear, the goals I obtain; a whole society only sees the poverty of my skin. Generations of children grew up with this stereotype called racism. It hacked into who they were, and who they could become.

But let’s get back to being white. This “Institutional racism” that you hear about has been around since the beginning of our great nation. It is credited with taking a motley crew of immigrants and renaming them “white”.  In this way, our ancestors who struggled (but chose) to sail to a land not native to them; who lived by the skin of their teeth, and died to give birth to new ways of thinking; were promised a monetary gain in the form of a thought:

‘You may be poor as your lawmakers grow rich on your labor; you may toil so relentlessly that you and your children and your children’s children will be unable to attain an education; you may not have the means to afford a voice in determining the laws of the nation you die for, but as consolation, you can be white.’

And the rest is white history, written through each decade with a firm grasp on the so called prize of superiority; while the majority of white Americans were poor, disenfranchised and uneducated, twenty percent of the American population was considered ⅗ of a person; the white American owned his squalor, whether it be in the north or the south, while at the same time black Americans were coerced into “the largest and most rapid mass internal movement in history” (Nicholas Leeman, 1991).  A thirsty White American, poor as she may be, could still drink from the same fountain that her wealthy lawmaker drank from. While each class shared the common watering hole of the rich, segregation ripped across the hearts of black men and women and children.

Our own Supreme Court denied any discrimination with ‘separate but equal’ policies, in Plessy v. Ferguson. This was the precedent for the next 60 years. Finally Brown v. Board of Education declared, “To separate [children]... solely because of their race, [causes] a feeling of inferiority...that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone…”

These are the words from our own Judiciary system, recognizing that the damage done to black Americans would be insurmountable to mend; that the unwillingness to embrace the history of a people who built a nation, would not be undone, even 60 years later with the exultant election of a president whose skin was brown.

White supremacy lives like a silent floating cell, passed down through generations to each person who has never known better and as such, cannot do better. To me, February is a moment to focus on learning and teaching a history that hasn’t become mainstream. I don’t agree that to end racism we need to stop talking about it. Sorry Morgan Freeman.

Talking about race is scary. I hope that by celebrating black history with emphasis this month, and with passionate interest for the rest of my life, that my kids won’t feel that fear. I live in a society where no one has ever judged me for my skin color. I don’t have to fear that my children will be detained (or worse) by the law based on their skin. When I drive by 3 consecutive streets in the town of Oakhurst named: Black, Spook, and Hangtree, I can identify that if I had black skin I would be tormented by this. There was a time where those streets meant nothing to me. But I know better now.

-Emily

 


 

EMILY

Becoming a human-vessel made me a mother, but it also taught me who I am as a woman; literally, I didn’t know that I had a uterus or that it was super bad-ass, until after I picked up my first Bradley Method book. Four home births later, my husband and I have maintained a sense of humor while maneuvering the daily failures, lessons and bonds, that parenting provides.

      My brighter moments are spent homeschooling outside in the Sierra National Forest with other wild families, and pursuing a slow and steady education towards attaining my BS (I will never not think that is funny). Other days you can find me: eating pineapple even though I am painfully allergic, actually running out of gas, and crying in public when strangers show empathy with one another.

     

 

SEXUAL PRESSURE. WOMEN DO IT TOO.

He’s laying on his side. I inch over to him and push my body up against his, hands wandering and groping, as I graze my cheek gently along his back. He doesn’t move, whispering something about having eaten too much at dinner. It’s a line I’ve heard many a time before. Sometimes I push harder, verbally chastising him for not being “normal,” in an attempt to scrape what remains of my ego up from the floor. But, it’s been nine years of rebuttals, and I’ve gradually given up. Tonight, I roll over, hugging my knees to my chest, trying to create closeness from within, and silently weep into my pillow, feeling the cotton beneath saturate with tears, the rest of my face dampening as the moisture spreads. I’ve committed forever to this man, I struggle with how to serve a life sentence devoid of the physical intimacy that sex extends.

But, I chose to marry him, already acutely aware of this deficit. We were “normal” in the beginning, and in my youthful naivety, I told myself things would eventually remedy. He says it’s not me. He says he thinks I’m beautiful, sexy even. Maybe I believed him years ago, but I’ve lost my emotional footing by now. I’m lonely, and I doubt myself. We’ve got other problems, and I wonder if he’s lost interest because of the tension and mounting contempt, or maybe I suck in bed, or maybe his hormones are whacky, or maybe…. I could go on forever.

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I pressure him consistently, laying guilt whenever I can, undoubtedly making it worse, but I’m desperate and feel physically abandoned, so I justify it. We’re incredibly affectionate in every other way, always touching, to a point of excess, which only adds to my confusion. I crave affirmation that nothing is wrong with me, more than anything else. It never comes. And, eventually our marriage ends, problems snowballing year after year. I’m left only able to speculate where things went wrong and how much I had to do with the unfolding.

I’m eager, upon our split, to confirm that I’m not unattractive or broken. Friends agree I should go out and “get some” as soon as possible. That’s all I need to hear. A short-lived relationship ensues that serves every purpose it needs to. Purely physical in nature, it lays the foundation for me rediscovering myself as a woman. Maybe I do know what I’m doing? Maybe there isn’t something wrong with me after all? But, I’m still terribly insecure. It wouldn’t take much to reduce me back to the pile of flesh and doubt that I was a mere month before.

I meet my current husband while in this space, feigning confidence via short hipster sundresses, a killer tan, and long, flowy hair. He’s unaware of any self-doubt on my behalf because I’ve mustered up an attitude, born of self-protection, that reflects a woman who gives no fucks. Of course, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

He doesn’t fit the mold of “stereotypical guy”, a fact of which I am still unaware. He’s not looking to put out. I’m crushed in every way when he denies my advances to go further, painful emotions reminiscent of my marriage flooding in. I’m that lonely, less-than girl all over again, unloved and unworthy, searching for acceptance the only way I know how. It was never about sex, just a feeble attempt at reclaiming confidence. I can’t let myself go there, the wounds still too raw. My ego steps in to do the dirty work. I admonish him for not being manly. That doesn’t work. I guilt trip him for hurting my feelings. Nope. I try to be as hot as hot can be. Uh-uh. I’m rude, inappropriate, disrespectful, and I don’t take no for an answer, a total asshole. Nuthin. We eventually part ways, and I swear him off. “Who the fuck does he think he is?”

But the truth is that I do like him, more than I’m willing to admit. He’s smart. He has values. He knows how to communicate. He knows who he is. He’s interesting. He’s stubborn. And, he can’t be manipulated (by boobs or otherwise). So, a couple weeks later, when he seeks me out (Who even knows why? Maybe it was the killer tan, or maybe (for sure) my hard ass act was completely transparent), I relent from my anger and reconnect with him. He’s decided to lend me the Flight of the Conchords DVD’s that I’d previously been denied, for fear of them never making it back home, an obvious ploy to see me again. His version of this story doesn’t cast me as a total jerk. In fact, he hardly remembers these moments I refer to. My insecurities colored my perceptions into an individual tale, riddled with pain and rejection. Spoiler alert: He put out, but he did it on his own terms, when he was ready. Unbeknownst to me, I required that momentary pause (whether I wanted it or not) to stew in my feelings, to recognize that my value to him, to myself, wasn’t just in what my body could do. Years of being rebuffed had skewed my worth. He was in it for more. Although, we’ve never grappled with sexual issues or disparities in desire, recovering my self-esteem has been a long road, because I came in with lots o’ baggage, but here we are, and I feel very loved. I have a marriage with connection, on all fronts. My trust wasn’t built in a day. It took a lot of demonstration on his behalf, to create safety, and emotional vulnerability on my own. None of it came naturally. It’s a daily choice to be present and naked (emotionally, this time).

I share this because life is tricky, life is grey, love is complicated, ego is a force to be reckoned with, and sexual pressure isn’t exclusive to the male variety. There’s a story behind every heart and every reaction, sometimes even every asshole.

Now, let's read this story with he and she interchanged. I encourage you to take note of your difference in interpretation and shifts in sentiment. The revised version follows.

She’s laying on her side. I inch over to her and push my body up against hers, hands wandering and groping, as I graze my cheek gently along her back. She doesn’t move, whispering something about having eaten too much at dinner. It’s a line I’ve heard many a time before. Sometimes I push harder, verbally chastising her for not being “normal,” in an attempt to scrape what remains of my ego up from the floor. But, it’s been nine years of rebuttals, and I’ve gradually given up. Tonight, I roll over, feeling dejected and alone. I’ve committed forever to this woman, I struggle with how to serve a life sentence devoid of the physical intimacy that sex extends.

But, I chose to marry her, already acutely aware of this deficit. We were “normal” in the beginning, and in my youthful naivety, I told myself things would eventually remedy. She says it’s not me. She says she thinks I’m handsome, sexy even. Maybe I believed her years ago, but I’ve lost my emotional footing by now. I’m lonely, and I doubt myself. We’ve got other problems, and I wonder if she’s lost interest because of the tension and mounting contempt, or maybe I suck in bed, or maybe her hormones are whacky, or maybe…. I could go on forever.

I pressure her consistently, laying guilt whenever I can, undoubtedly making it worse, but I’m desperate and feel physically abandoned, so I justify it. We’re incredibly affectionate in every other way, always touching, to a point of excess, which only adds to my confusion. I crave affirmation that nothing is wrong with me, more than anything else. It never comes. And, eventually our marriage ends, problems snowballing year after year. I’m left only able to speculate where things went wrong and how much I had to do with the unfolding.

I’m eager, upon our split, to confirm that I’m not unattractive or broken. Friends agree I should go out and “get some” as soon as possible. That’s all I need to hear. A short-lived relationship ensues that serves every purpose it needs to. Purely physical in nature, it lays the foundation for me rediscovering myself as a man. Maybe I do know what I’m doing? Maybe there isn’t something wrong with me after all? But, I’m still terribly insecure. It wouldn’t take much to reduce me back to the pile of flesh and doubt that I was a mere month before.

I meet my current wife while in this space, feigning confidence. She’s unaware of any self-doubt on my behalf because I’ve mustered up an attitude, born of self-protection, that reflects a man who gives no fucks. Of course, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

She fits the mold of “stereotypical woman”, a fact of which I am still unaware. She’s not looking to put out. I’m crushed in every way when she denies my advances to go further, painful emotions reminiscent of my marriage flooding in. I’m that lonely, less-than man all over again, unloved and unworthy, searching for acceptance the only way I know how. I can’t let myself go there, the wounds still too raw. My ego steps in to do the dirty work. I admonish her for not being sexual. That doesn’t work. I guilt trip her for hurting my feelings. Nope. I try to be as hot as hot can be. Uh-uh. I’m rude, inappropriate, disrespectful, and I don’t take no for an answer, a total asshole. Nuthin. We eventually part ways, and I swear her off. “Who the fuck does she think she is?”

But the truth is that I do like her, more than I’m willing to admit. She’s smart. She has values. She knows how to communicate. She knows who she is. She’s interesting. She’s stubborn. And, she can’t be manipulated. So, a couple weeks later, when she seeks me out (Who even knows why? Maybe (for sure) my hard ass act was completely transparent), I relent from my anger and reconnect with her. She’s decided to lend me the Flight of the Conchords DVD’s that I’d previously been denied, for fear of them never making it back home, an obvious ploy to see me again. Her version of this story doesn’t cast me as a total jerk. In fact, she hardly remembers these moments I refer to. My insecurities colored my perceptions into an individual tale, riddled with pain and rejection. Spoiler alert: She put out, but she did it on her own terms, when she was ready. Unbeknownst to me, I required that momentary pause (whether I wanted it or not) to stew in my feelings, to recognize that my value to her, and hers to me, wasn’t just in what our bodies could do for each other. Years of being rebuffed had skewed my worth. She was in it for more. Although, we’ve never grappled with sexual issues or disparities in desire, recovering my self-esteem has been a long road, because I came in with lots o’ baggage, but here we are, and I feel very loved. I have a marriage with connection, on all fronts. My trust wasn’t built in a day. It took a lot of demonstration on her behalf, to create safety, and emotional vulnerability on my own. None of it came naturally. It’s a daily choice to be present and naked (emotionally, this time).

I share this because life is tricky, life is grey, love is complicated, ego is a force to be reckoned with, and sexual pressure isn’t exclusive to the male variety. There’s a story behind every heart and every reaction, sometimes even every asshole.

-Angi





 




 

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis.