Courage, Life Lessons, Self Love

Dear Diary, I Surrender

Sometimes, I think the little voice in my head is drunk…

“I have no husband, no children and an impulsive urge to switch things up!!! I’m a people person, I love to socialize. I need a change. This will be exciting, I can just say screw everything and start over! Clean slate, clean mind, open heart. Let’s do this!”

Cool. We’ll just start over; piece of cake. Right…

You’ve heard the old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Well, I can tell you from experience, greener does not always equal better. In fact, sometimes it’s an illusion. You want so badly for it to be better that you build it up in your mind only to be disappointed when the wake-up­ call of reality hits you… OMG what have I done?

Not in a million years did I think I’d be unemployed and struggling at 45. On May 24, 2016 I took what I believed was one step closer to discovering my place in the Universe. I felt stuck in my job. Granted, it was a very safe “comfortable” job that supported my love of dance and ensured financial security, but I wanted more… I wanted to FEEL again. I was no longer enjoying the day-to-day robotic functions of my career. The impulsive side of me was feeling restless and wanted to explore opportunities elsewhere. I was having what Oprah would call a “light bulb moment.” And I have to say, suddenly realizing you are not as happy as you wish to be and deciding to make huge life-changing decisions is quite exhilarating! The thought of living a totally different life was intoxicating, an emotional high. I can do this. I can really do this…I CAN start over! Why not? And of course, there’s no better feeling than saying “whatever I want!” to co-workers when asked what I’ll be doing for a living. I was empowered!

Empowered or naïve? Well… Good question. Moving from sunny, almost always perfect weather, peace-loving California to a much more conservative North Carolina seems like, well…let’s be honest here, a terrible idea. I mean, no offense to the South, but being a non-religious independent thinker and feminist in support of civil rights, let’s just say this is not exactly my comfort zone. That being said, I have met some truly good people here. I’ve made lasting friendships and even managed to have a relationship (using that term loosely). Short-lived as it was, I feel I’ve made yet another friend and that we’ve both learned from each other, as well as taught a thing or two.

Let me take you down a little trip I call, “my new exciting life, interrupted…”

· May — I’m free!! I’m free!! Happiness, shopping, dare I say even giddiness at the “anything is possible” prospect of my new surroundings.

· June — unexpected events, actions and reactions involving friends, family, job market and general lack of urgency exhibited by every contact I’ve made so far.

· July — savings gone, now in debt to mom, sister and three others in Cali for loans to survive. Depression takes over. Accept temp job out of panic.

· August — Speeding ticket (for which I find out in this state you have to hire a lawyer… for f’n 10 mph over, 55 in a 45 with NO visible sign posted…yes you read that correctly).

· September — Rear-ended driving home from temp job I hate. Car totaled. Neck and back fucked up, slight concussion, commence shit ton of debt due to medical bills. Hire lawyer, mostly as a way to receive medical attention.

· October — Realization that I’m now overweight, alcohol flows like water and hope has gone pretty much out the window.

· November — Physical therapy going well, feeling better. Glimmer of hope for settlement to cover debts… Glimmer short-lived as other side drags feet.

· December — PT done and feeling optimistic. Wait for it… Temp job ends five days before Christmas. Total breakdown; miss my family, feeling like a loser.

· January — Hope is back! NYC trip with my rock, my life coach and amazingly optimistic best friend to “recharge” and make a plan to turn this shit around. Begin online course, volunteer at local animal shelter, unemployment kicks in.

· February — Focus on myself. Start writing again.

· March — I’m a published author! Coauthored an amazing book with seven inspiring woman! Feeling good! Things are looking up!

· April — F***, still unemployed. Losing grip again, lease renewal due. Hello, panic.

· May — STILL unemployed, lawsuit dragging, collection letters mounting, sexually harassed at a neighborhood party, start selling stuff to pay bills… which brings us to today.

I REFUSE TO GIVE UP. I still have a roof over my head. I have love and emotional support and I am stronger than this! Choosing to move forward and embrace a “new way of being” is choosing to accept the loss of your “old life.” This is not something to mourn. It is a life lesson; a step forward into receiving your true purpose. In order to switch directions and discover your soul’s passion, you have to be willing to let go of comfort. You have to be willing to stand on the edge and scream, no, I will not give up! You have to be willing to be vulnerable and unguarded. It’s scary as hell to live paycheck to paycheck, or in my case, unemployment payment to unemployment payment, but it’s also very eye-opening. While I’ve always been grateful for the “little things,” I’ve been lucky enough to have never experienced the panic of not knowing where my next meal is coming from or how I will pay rent and still have enough for gas and food. Now I do. I am not the person I was a year ago, nor is my life anything close to what it as a year ago. I accept that, finally. And I’m ready to move forward.

I believe the Universe teaches, as well as it listens. The lessons we are taught throughout the trials and tribulations of our lives are sometimes difficult to see while in the eye of the storm. We go through emotional meltdowns. We wonder “why me?” We resist ourselves and doubt our abilities. Sometimes, we need a slap in the face. That being said, dear Universe, the slap could’ve been a tiny bit less dramatic. 😉 But got it. LOUD AND CLEAR. As I sit here filling out an application for food stamps, I am reminded of how lucky I am. I think about those who have struggled their entire lives. I feel guilty for the pity party I let take over my mind and and health. I think about cancer patients and abused children. I think about single mothers trying to make ends meet. I think about the many homeless people struggling to simply be acknowledged as part of the human race. I think about minorities and the unbearable racism and discrimination they have to endure on a daily basis. As I sit here writing this, I slap myself awake and start to cry. But I’m not crying for me. I’m sobbing for the cruelty that has become our world. I don’t want to live in that world. I want to thrive and help others thrive. I want to feel love and give love. I want to be happy. Isn’t that all any of us really want?

Among the MANY life lessons I’ve learned over the past year, most importantly I’ve learned this. Do what feels right. Let yourself be vulnerable. Be open to love. And stop listening to that discouraging voice in your head. She’s full of shit. In short, follow your heart and be willing to become that person the Universe always knew you were.

Resist, Uncategorized

This is NOT okay

“I’ll be right back,” I told my friend, walking into the house. “I’m just going to use the restroom before we leave.”

What the f…?! Lights go out; door shuts. I hear the knob click, it’s locked.

Immediately realizing I’m not alone, my body goes into a sort of shock but at the same time I am having a conversation with myself. What did I do to bring this on? Hey says to me, “I haven’t had sex with my wife in 12 years. You are so attractive. I want you so bad I can’t stand it. Nobody needs to know, we can do this right now.” What the hell?! At what point during the last few hours of having just met me makes you think this is okay?

Other things were said but quite honestly are irrelevant. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this was even happening. I am NOT that girl. Why did he think I was? What did I do? These are all questions that unfortunately MILLIONS of women ask themselves every day. Simply put, this is NOT okay.

No, asshole. I am not going to submit to your advances.

No, I am not “down with this.”

No, I don’t feel sympathy that your wife is repulsed by you.

No, this is NOT okay.

Question — If some stranger did this to you on the street, a person who hadn’t just been introduced to you by friends at a neighborhood party, if you hadn’t just been talking and socializing with this person, his wife and several friends, what would you do? Situations like this occur more often than anyone would like to admit. They get swept under the rug so as not to ruffle feathers. This type of abuse is not talked about because we, as females, have been conditioned to feel shame. Abuse is not limited to acts of obvious, angry physical occurrences. Abuse is about control. It is about having the upper hand. It is unwanted force upon another human being. Sadly, it is also common and often looked upon as normal.

How many times have you heard this? “Oh, he didn’t mean anything by it. He’s just being a guy.” For years, and especially now in this “alternative world” we find ourselves living in, where groping women at will and brushing it off as harmless is accepted, we have succumbed to a “rape culture,” in which the victim is blamed and/or questioned instead of the attacker. It is a mentality that makes it somehow okay or not that bad. A rape victim has to recount every horrible detail in front of strangers before accountability and punishment is given for such behavior, IF they decide to believe her. Women and young girls are asked about their attire and how short their hemlines were. What did WE do to entice him? You’ve all heard it. “Oh it’s not that big a deal. You should be flattered. Can he help it if he finds you attractive?” YES, he CAN. Or “well when you dress like that…” This one REALLY pisses me off! As females, we are already self‑conscious because of the unrealistic standards to which society holds us. Now on top of worrying about our waistline, we also must worry about how our clothes may be perceived by strangers? And it doesn’t stop there. I could be wearing a damn turtleneck, covered head to toe, showing no skin other than my face and STILL incur unwanted advances. Did I do something to make him think this was okay? Am I dressed too provocatively? Oh my god I did smile and laugh while we were talking; was it too much? Did I unknowingly give him the wrong idea? I HATE this conversation. I hate that I try to justify what happened. I hate that when I saw a bruise appear two days later from the grip he had on my arm I tried to justify it. I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt me. I probably just bruise easily. I HATE that voice. And I know where it comes from…society. We must teach our children better. We must teach common decency and respect for everyone, no matter gender, race, whatever.

I am sharing my story because no one deserves to be unknowingly followed into the bathroom at a party. No one deserves to be backed into a corner, or in my case, a sink. No one deserves to sport bruises from being forcefully grabbed. And NO ONE deserves to feel like less of a person because someone took advantage of them. So in conclusion, men, these types of advances are NOT flattering. They are insulting, annoying and in some cases outright terrifying. The situation I found myself in, while extremely wrong, was a far cry from the types of abuse that goes unreported every single day. This behavior is UNACCEPTABLE.

I am also aware that some women reading this will perceive it as dramatic and overanalyzed. To those women, I say this: be grateful you have never been through such an ordeal. Be grateful you are lucky enough to have always been in control of your surroundings and have never once felt threatened or helpless. Be grateful you have never felt fear mixed with so much anger that your mind and body quite literally “shut down” for a few seconds, sometimes even minutes. Be grateful that you’ve never had to second-guess yourself because of someone else’s actions toward you. Be grateful you’ve never had this conversation with yourself — I shouldn’t have hugged him when we were introduced. Was I flirting? I didn’t mean to, I was just being myself. Oh my God what if I did? I’m a terrible person…

Be grateful. But please, do not judge. And please do not brush it off as guys being guys.

At the beginning of the evening, he asked, “have you met the pig,” referring to the one sprawled out on the grill and being served as the main entree. Little did I know, I WOULD have an encounter with a pig that evening, just not the one on the grill.