I get to use the phrase "Back in my day" a lot. I probably use it a lot more than I should but isn't that the perks of age? We gather all the things we learned throughout our lives and share that knowledge with the younger folk only to be ignored just like we ignored our own elders. Sure, it's a rite of passage. As I was laying in bed today, still recovering from the nasty crud that has been going around, I turned on NetFlix and found myself land on the show Cheers. It was a show that even my own kid who I've tried to educate her in the older shows would still look at sideways. I enjoyed this show as a kid. I was an avid viewer but here's the thing that I understood today in my cough induced lethargic state. I didn't understand a damn thing about that show until that moment. I found myself laughing at things I would've never laughed at as a kid. Not because they weren't funny back then but because I had no idea what they were talking about. It sent me into a state where I started questioning all the old shows I once watched. Did I just not get any of them back then? And then I started thinking about the quality of the shows, comparing the shows back then to the shows that are on now. The line "Back in my day" rang through my head and I couldn't stop laughing at myself. What have I become? I checked my memory to see if somewhere along the line did I walk barefoot in the snow on a bike with square wheels going up hill, too, like my father? If my daughter had been home at the time, I was tempted to go upstairs and start lecturing her just for the fun of it I was so tickled with myself.
I remember watching the very last episode of Cheers just like I remember watching the very last episode of Growing Pains and Who's The Boss. I remember when Zack and Kelly got married, why I loved Jessie Spano so much. I can tell you exactly how Punky got lost in that cave but you know what I remember most about these shows? I remember there was always a lesson to be learned. Sure, life doesn't work itself out in thirty minutes but what a lovely concept to believe when you're a kid? I cheered for Kevin and Winnie. I always thought Angela was the boss no matter what. It broke my heart when Carol's fiance died. These things I remember. Joe and Tootie and Blair and Natalie taught me about friendship. Corkie taught me how to accept all kinds of people. I could go on and on and on because that era of television (yes, back in my day) meant something. These silly family comedies taught the silly lessons but then they taught some pretty harsh ones, too. Sam said to Diane in one the episodes last night about how she taught him about honor and integrity and the interaction sparked this blog really. I guess I didn't realize as a kid that is what those family shows were trying to teach. I just didn't hear that lesson until now. To me as a kid, they were just people working at a bar being funny. Coach would say something silly. Carla would say something mean. Diane would say something clever. And Sam, well, Sam would look good. I got excited when they all screamed Norm and thought Cliff was a nutty old man. And perhaps I am making it more than it was but there was something charming about the way those shows were written back then. There was something charming about the humor. It made me miss being being excited like that. Sadly, as you get older, the excitement is just not the same. Don't get me wrong. I love my Dead and my Ghost Hunters but it isn't quite the same. Because as a kid, you can just be in the moment and laugh with that taped laughter and not think about what happens after the thirty minutes is over. Because as an adult, when Sam looks at Diane and thanks her for making him a better human being there's a lot more meat there.
There's a show that I used to watch as a kid that I certainly didn't understand. It was Thirty Something and it's one of those shows that I want to watch again. I remember what the characters looked like, their family dynamics but the stories I just didn't understand. Was it because I was an elementary aged kid? Sure but for some strange reason I thoroughly enjoyed that show. My mom has told me that I have an old soul and maybe that's why I enjoyed those older shows back then even if I couldn't really understand them. I've gone back and watched so much of my stuff from when I was younger recently. Is it because I am longing to go back to my youth? No. Not really. I just miss good content. I remember when my daughter was small she watched all the Disney channels. You can't blame her. She was a little kid and Disney did what it does best. It grabbed her attention. Most of the shows I could tolerate but there were certain ones that I couldn't bare to sit through. The kids in those shows all treated their parents like they were idiots but in their defense most of those shows the parents were portrayed as idiots. I mean honestly I could not see Maggie Seiver ever tolerating Miley's behavior. Parents seemed to have a more prominent role in the sitcoms of my day. They were a force. The show wasn't just about these rotten children, running around scheming. The sitcoms I seem to enjoy today don't seem to last long unfortunately. Community was a brilliant show that never had a chance sadly. BFF came from two phenomenal female comedians that should have been given way more of a chance. Happy Endings for the love of green worms was hilarious! but it didn't take flight. As I was watching Cheers last night, I realized that even though I didn't realize it, it was shows like that inspired my humor. I had a moment of appreciation for all those things I didn't understand then because Diane somehow made me a better person, too.
When my kid grows up and has her own children, she will have her own conversations, talking about how back in her day everything was better. The shows were funnier. The shoes were more comfortable. People had to walk around with phones in their hands rather than them inserted into their brains. She will talk about how Hannah Montana taught her how to wear a wig. She will joke about how she wanted to be a wizard like Selena Gomez. She will sing songs sung by the Naked Brothers Band and she will smile at the memory of how they made her feel. Much like how my parents once talked to me about My Three Sons and BeWitched and Green Acres. Just like how I made her watch Saved By The Bell and Perfect Strangers and Full House. These shows that we grow up with mean something to us then. What I find beautiful is how they mean something different as we get older. I didn't understand why my mother loved Roseanne or Married with Children until I was old enough to understand her as a person. These shows, to me, were about two families that made me laugh but to my mother? To my mother they were shows that she could relate to whether it was Roseanne's constant struggle or Peg's sometimes babbling husband. They were shows that spoke to her station in life during that time. I laid in bed and I watched this group of people who worked in a bar, who were just trying to get by. I found comfort in Diane as a grown woman that I never saw in her as a young child. She was a Poet just doing a job until she could find her wings, just trying to make the world better the only way she knew how. And then I fast forwarded to the very last episode, to Sam's very last words, "Sorry, we're closed." I found a new respect for the show as an adult but those words still made me feel as sad as they did back then. Back in my day I didn't get what they were really saying but I get it now. There's a lesson in everything. And even if you don't hear it, it sticks with you until you do.
I write these blogs out of inspiration from my life, from the events that take place, and from the people around me. Sometimes the inspiration is one of peace and sometimes it comes out of a place of sadness and anger. I was joking with my husband last night about the person I used to be, this angry girl who thought the world owed her something. Then, as time does, it went by and I grew tired of being angry. I started to observe not just other people's behavior but my own as well. I realized that the anger I put out was just coming right back at me. I finally understood this idea of Karma and how important it was to only project what I wanted to receive. I've had an interesting couple of weeks. And in my cold medicine induced state right now, I got the bug to write down my thoughts. Perhaps by the end of this entry I will regret opening up this laptop but we'll see. I've always enjoyed the idea of Karma. I like thinking that somehow it makes the world fair when in reality it's probably just a comforting thought, something to help you sleep at night. That doesn't mean I don't try to live an honest, peaceful life even when it feels like I'm getting the raw end of the deal. Lately if I'm honest that's kind of how it has been feeling but there is a reality in the hurt feelings. There is a truth in the things that I don't want to admit about people. And there is a hard fact that I must face when I'm met with adversary. The truth is that angry girl that I used to be never really went away. I am just as aggressive when met with disrespect as I ever was because no matter how peaceful my heart may be I still cannot tolerate that kind of behavior... but I'm wise enough now to know how to apologize when I lash out even if my lashing out is justified.
These days I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I want them to be better than I think they are. Admittedly my faith in people is tested more than it should be when working in the industry I do but I know that not all people are intolerable. In fact, most are a pleasure to be around. I try to be pleasant and welcoming but the core of me is very introverted. I've never been a cheerleader. I've never been that bubbly person that's going to jump around your feet like a puppy who is excited to see you, drooling on your recognition. I don't do things to get approval from anyone. I was not the kid that jumped off that bridge just to be like everyone else. I'm not that grown woman that is going to bend over backwards for anyone to like me. I realized a long time ago that people are going to like me exactly the way that I am or they aren't and I won't rearrange my pieces to fit in. I understand for some that part of my personality is not kosher but I have always been perfectly all right to be the odd man out. A few weeks ago, I had a run in with a person. There's a million versions of this person out there. Sometimes people work in different ways. We don't always ride on the same wave. That day our waves didn't mesh and I was disrespected. That angry part of me roared and I lashed out because as nice as I am even I have a line you don't cross... but it was. At the end of the day, I apologized but not because I felt like I did anything wrong. I apologized because I am a good person who understands that other people have feelings. I don't want to be the reason someone's are hurt. In return, I expected that person to take responsibility for their own actions... but they did not. And I walked away even more frustrated because the Karma that I just put out did not come back to me. I walked away seeing very clearly the writing on the wall. I am, as always, still the odd man out.
The oddest part about that whole situation is the way I adjusted my behavior afterwards. I should have been angry and expressed how angry I was especially when I was spoken to about it days later but I didn't react at all. I put my head down and said very little because it was clear to me that the situation was not worth my time. We try to change things, people but sometimes they are not to be changed. So, I gave up trying to change the things around me. I gave up trying to prove something to people that really didn't care to see what I was truly capable of because what I realized is that it didn't matter. I realized that I mattered more. Can I handle a great amount of things? Absolutely. Do people treat me more often than not like I am incapable at times? More then I like to admit. The incident with this person and the days to follow showed me that I wasn't an important piece to her wheel. And when it was clear that I got the hint, this person still tried to pull me down. I won't always smile and giggle and wave when you walk by. It's not that I hate you. I'm probably lost in thought or on my way to do something or just not in the mood to be social. There is not a malicious bone in my body, at least not anymore. In the days to follow I found a sort of peace. I guess knowing where one stands gives some sort of comfort. And where I stand is just fine even if it's not on the popular side of life.
In my younger years I would have put this situation and a million others on full blast. I would have started a petition, made posters, gone all out to make sure that the world knew of the injustice that was happening. But now? Now it just doesn't seem worth it. What would it do to better the world? Nothing because honestly there are a million places and things and people out there who are exactly the same. And in comparison, these things are tiny and inconsequential. I can change my scenery. I don't know at what point in my life I realized that the only person I was truly responsible for was myself but once I did it made life a little bit easier. I can't control what you are going to do. I can't tell you what to think. I can't order you to treat people with respect, with real respect because we all make our own choices however wonderful or shitty they may be. I can apologize to you for my actions and be genuine but I can't expect the same in return although that would be wonderful. It says a lot about a person who takes the blame and puts it all on you but the upside of that is at least you know what kind of person that is. In my younger days I would go out in blazes of glory when I was done wrong. How dare they, right? I would have made sure my point was made but it's exhausting to live like that. After awhile it wasn't just being the odd man out because I was fine with it. I had put baby in the corner all on my own. So as I grew, I found a balance. I learned how to draw a line, to let people know that I am not to be trifled with while still being understanding and compassionate. I learned how to be firm yet flexible. I learned how to keep my embers lit without putting out my fire. It is important to be strong and it is delightful to find peace. I may not always smile. Sometimes I may cry. There will be times when I want to throw in the towel because someone spoke to me in the wrong way. I have accepted the fact that Karma may not always come back to me in the way I imagine but I do know that regardless of Karma I always want to be the best version of me. Despite what I get in return, I will always choose to offer kindness even when I'm met with defeat.
I don't think I understood clearly how important being around people who love you, who respect you, who ask the simple question of "How are you?" were until recently. Over the last year so much of my life has changed. I've lost important people, things in my life that I didn't realize the gravity of the loss until I was force to face the hole they left behind. I've sat and thought a lot lately about the place where my feet have landed, the environment I have found myself in, and it's funny. I look back at my life, at all the places I have been but it's the people who I remember. It's the holes of the ones that are no longer here that I sit with. It's the smile that comes across my face when I think of the people that today still welcome me with open arms. It's the faces I know will still be shining for me tomorrow. Places are places. Things are things. Even the people, the places, the things that are no longer with me still come sit with me on a random afternoon because though I can' t physically touch them, I can still feel them in my heart. That's how I know that my father is always close by because in my heart he lives. That's how I know my sweet pup is still sitting by my feet because she is still very much alive in my soul. I know that all the people in this world that I mean something to and who mean something to me I will never really be without no matter how disheartened I may get at times. Love is strong enough to keep our bonds through whatever comes our way, at least for the ones who matter the most. And isn't love all that matters?
The other night I sat with a friend who had become very disheartened by the environment he had found herself in. He sat there with this defeated look on his face, ready to throw in the towel, feeling like he was an unlikable person. It broke my heart and yet I knew exactly how he felt. There are times in our lives where we feel disconnected, where we feel like no one in this world cares about us. Someone looks at us wrong and we think we did something wrong even though we put our best foot forward. You don't see the people who love you in those moments. All you feel is the people who make you feel demoralized. Sometimes it is easier to see all that is wrong and forget all that is right. I didn't know quite what to say to him but I wanted to say something brilliant to make him shine again. I know in those dark moments you can't always accept the light. So, I sat down beside him and I held his hand and I felt his sadness with him so that he could feel he wasn't alone. It broke my heart to see this beautiful, kind man feel so down. For a moment, I became angry at the people who had brought him so low. It was unfair and bothersome because if these people had ever given him a chance they would know the lovely in his kind blue eyes... but I knew the place where these feelings were coming from and I, too, struggled with the same. I told him that anyone who didn't see how beautiful he was, how kind he was, how passionate he was wasn't worth his time but those are words hard to swallow when you feel alone. Those are words hard to accept when you feel like everything you do is met with resistance and hate. I had a hard couple of weeks, feeling like I am unwelcome where I am and trying to figure how to still be who I am without being ostracized. I wish there was an easy solution to this complicated equation. While I know I am a good, kind, talented woman, like my friend, it's hard to keep that in mind when everything I try to do to make where I am better is met with judgement. Like I said last week, I can't change who I am because who I am has taken me years to figure out. I won't throw out years of my life to fit into a mold that's only for right now. Sometimes the reality of your situation is demoralizing but the reality of the situation is that this reality shall pass.
My husband and I are currently in this point in life where we want the absolute best for us, for our family, for us as individuals. One day my daughter will move onto her next great adventure, leaving my husband and I starting our own new chapter as just two adults. We want to experience the nicer things in life. We want to be able to travel together and pursue our own personal interests without the financial burden we currently drown in sometimes. The last couple of weeks have been very hard on us. While we know where we want to go, sometimes it's hard to figure out how we are going to get there. Then situations have happened where it is clear where we are is not where we should be. It makes me sad that as a middle aged woman I still feel like I'm standing on sand. And it's hard to when the place where I am couldn't give two shits if I sink. I went back to an old place the other night, a place where I have moved on from but a place that still tugs on my heart strings. I walked in and smiles met me. I walked in and my dear sweet friend started to cry which made me tear up. I sat with these people that even though I don't see every day anymore still mean the world to me. I sat with my beautiful Ninja Sprite and laughed and felt the joy that we shared because there was an honest love and respect. I sat among them and for the first time in a long time I felt like I could breathe again. I felt like no matter what I did these beautiful souls were going to love me and I was going to love them. Then this moment happened when someone gave me a hug and she gave me peace. She gave me peace and comfort, two things I didn't know I needed from her. I walked to my car that night in tears but not sad ones. I sat in my car and cried because I was reminded that there are people in this world that no matter our differences, where we go, how long it is between speaking will always open their arms to each other. I think about my daughter going off into the world. I think about my husband finding his own path. I think about all the places I will go. I will always question if the choices I make today will be right tomorrow. Lord knows recently I've questioned myself but the other night reminded me that no matter where I go, I will always have love waiting for me with open arms even when I make a mistake.
The people in this world won't always accept you even if you have the best intentions. Intentions are easily muddled unfortunately especially if people think you are trying to change them, even if the change is for their own good. People will resist you and bring you down and make you feel as if you aren't good enough. Their intentions are easily confused but what the last couple of weeks have taught me have been eye opening. I can't go backwards but what I can do is figure out how to move forward despite the negative that tries to drag me down. I think about my friend and the sadness he felt when he thought that no one understood him. And it's a pretty low feeling when you are trying to do everything you can to make other people's lives easier. It's tiring to hit your head against a brick wall after awhile. It's frustrating when you're doing your best and it's met with unnecessary criticism. But what do you do? You pick yourself up. You brush yourself up and you remember that there is love in this world just waiting to comfort you, to encourage you, to help you up. When I sat on that patio among these people that looked at me with such love, it completely erased the energy I had wasted on people who will never appreciate me. I think about the movie The Outsiders and I realize there is a reason I love it as much as I do. In my life, I have felt like an outsider more then I ever felt like I belonged. Circumstances kept me away from people. My personality, damaged and bitter at times, kept me away from truly living my life. My heart, shattered and put back together again, forced me to be more careful with who I allowed in. Through out my life, through the people who have come and gone, among the rejection both now and then, the line, "Stay golden, Pony Boy," has always stuck in my head. I know no matter where I find myself, who I find myself sitting beside, I will always try to have open arms for those who need them. The other night reminded me that no matter where I go or how low I may feel I always have open arms waiting to take me in, to love me exactly the way that I am. It reminded me to stay just as golden as I am.
I have sat on this idea for a few days now because I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to word it. I'm still not quite sure but I've always done well enough when I just write from the heart in the moment with complete honesty. I know that I have talked about this idea of change, how important it is to embrace it but sometimes the change that we try to bring doesn't always work. So what do you do when the things around you won't change no matter how hard you try? Do you then change yourself? And if changing yourself becomes detrimental to your well being, do you still change to try to fit into the mold you couldn't break? Is it worth it? Or do you simply let it go, you do you, and whatever happens happens? In my younger years, I hated the thought of change. I liked the things the way I liked them. Once I got used to something or someone being a certain way, that's the way I wanted it to stay. As I got older, I've understood the value of change, the reasons things cannot stay the same. You don't stay the same. The people around you don't stay the same. I have come to understand and respect these differences that life has brought to my doorstep. Lately, however, I've come to understand that some things are not for me to change. And how does that make me feel? In this moment, I don't know.
It's like dating that bad boy (or girl) that you think you can change. What you see in them is this beautiful, stunning person that has so much potential. You truly believe that you can be the reason that this person becomes a better version of themselves, You believe that you can pull out that wonderful that they hide underneath all the resistance they put up, behind all the anger and ugliness they show the world. You have patience for when they mistreat you. You have love when they beat you down. You pick up the pieces of your heart that they continuously shatter... but they never change. They never change because they don't want to change. You are never enough reason for them to become decent human beings. I married a man once (previous to my current husband of course) who I thought had potential. I thought inside him somewhere there was a kind, gentle soul. It took me years to understand that I was just a doormat for him, enabling him to continue his behavior. At times I changed parts of me to help him because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Well, if the situation won't change, then I guess I can, right? And here is where I learned the difference between changing for the betterment of myself and changing for my own demise. It is healthy to change yourself if it makes you better, if it makes you happier. It is good to change your diet and eat healthier so that you can live longer. It is healthy to change how open your heart is to accept people into your life so that you can truly have the support you deserve. It is not healthy to change the core of who you are to be someone you are not.
Over the last week, I suppose I've been thinking a lot about where I am (as usual), knowing that there are things that I must change to become a better me... but there are things that I refuse to change just the same. Both are perfectly acceptable. The things that I need to change are my own betterment. The things that I won't change are for other people's benefit. I have worked so hard throughout my life to become the person I am today. I won't apologize for the standards I have for people or the expectations that I know will continue to break my heart when they don't live up to them. I won't lower what I expect out of myself just to appease someone else either. We are all capable of great things and we can all achieve them but we can't allow "bad boyfriends" to pull us down either. This week showed me that sometimes I can't change the world. All I can really do is be accountable for myself, my actions, my words. If something doesn't want to change, nothing I can do will be able to tip the tide on that one. And I have to be all right with that. Here's the tricky part though. How do you accept the bad without still hoping for the good? How do you still have passion for something that really at the end of the day has no pay off? Do you change yourself to just not care either way? And how productive can that be?
There are things in this life that won't ever change. There will always be people out there who choose to be rotten. There will always be places out there who will never be what you want them to be. I suppose we just have to accept that we can't be the reason. We can change the things in us that aren't our perfection. We can choose to treat each other with kindness to change humanity but sometimes that's all we can do. Sometimes adjusting means letting go but you can still hold onto who you are. You don't have to change who you are to fit into something you are not. So how do I feel about it? I guess I just answered my own question.
Just as I was about to go to sleep last night I started watching the CNN documentary about the decades. Last night's documentary was on the Seventies, the Women's Liberation. I started thinking about my mother who grew up during that time and what her life must've been like as a woman during all those changes. Then I started thinking about my own path as a woman, both single and with a partner. I thought about all the roads I took that didn't lead anywhere, all the men I had engaged my time with that just didn't pan out. Then I started to think about my daughter, this beautiful and smart young lady who never knew the stereotypes my mother had to fight to find her own feet. I realized that this was the beginning of her journey to figure who she really is, what she really wants both on her own and in the future when dating starts to become a bigger part of her life. She doesn't like when I get too personal with her on her so I will keep it vague out of respect for her. I understand that there are things yet to be experienced for her. As much as I want to protect from each broken heart this world will give her, I know that there are some that she will shatter her regardless of me. My mother grew up a time in history where a woman's role was in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. It was something that was instilled in her but I have always wondered what my mother would have been like if the doors were as open for her as they are for me, as they will be for my daughter. At the ripe age of seventeen, my mother married. By the time she was twenty-eight, she had four children living that housewife life while my father supported us like he was told to. I've always been an astute observer. My mother, to me, was incredibly strong and I always saw this silent drive in her that she could never put in gear. Don't get me wrong. My mother loves her children, her family, and I know she gladly sacrificed so many dreams for each one of us, for my father but now that she's older and on her own I see what I once saw as a child, this incredibly lovely free spirit that she never got a chance to be when she was younger. I think of myself when I was my daughter's age, full of spit and vinegar. The world wasn't going to tell me what to do. I was who I was and I had no beef with giving the finger to anyone who tried to tell me otherwise. And, now, I see that same spirit in my offspring. It's both a proud and terrifying feeling. She's got a world wide open for her with so many more options than my mother, than I had.
Obviously the world has yet to be perfect. Women are still fighting for Equal Pay. We're still fighting for our own reproductive rights but the fact that these things are talked about has been a vast improvement from where we been. Yes, as a woman, I should get paid just as much for doing the same job as a man. I just happen to be a woman should not determine my worth. We're getting there (unless we elect a monster like Trump). And, yes, I should have every right to say what happens to my own body. Other people should never dictate what I do with it. I won't stand on this soap box too long but I do believe that abortion should be an option. It should be an option especially for women who became pregnant out of rape, molestation, out of extreme circumstances that they did not consent to. Should it be a form of casual contraception? That's a matter of opinion but a woman should never be without the option. Could I? After having my daughter, I don't think I could but I don't know what I would have done twenty years ago. I don't know and that's the most honest answer I can give. As women, we carry so much on our shoulders. We fight so many strange battles. We are told what to look like, what to say, how clean our house must be. In some ways, we're still put in the same corner we've always been but now we can speak. If my husband looked at me and told me I couldn't do something, I'd laugh at him in the same way I hope he would if I told him the same thing. At the end of the day we are equal partners in this life we are creating. I know though my mother wasn't always given that same freedom of thought. She never goes into it and I never want to make her talk about it but from what I understand from a young age she was told who she had to be. She was taught that her husband would take care of the bills. His duty would be the finances and going to work while she stayed at home and kept his house clean. I broke the mold when I got pregnant by a man who wasn't my husband at twenty. I broke the mold when I chose to raise my daughter alone rather than with a man who didn't love me, who didn't love our child. It was a big deal to my parents because it was not the plan that they raised me with. Life doesn't always go by a plan. It most certainly doesn't play by gender roles either.
One part of the documentary was discussing the sexual awakening. Again I thought about my mother who never got to really figure out all that stuff while I was very open about experiencing all sorts of things. And really all I can hope for my daughter is that she lands somewhere in the middle. I was a bit dysfunctional when it came to sex as a teenager, as a young adult. Even now I do think I struggle with some leftover residue but I have come to a point in my life where I can own who I have been with and not feel guilty about the choices I made. It was interesting to watch this documentary, the footage of men talking to women trying to figure out what it was all about. It was inspiring to watch these women stand their ground and understand that they have every right to figure out who they were sexually just as much as these men. I had a conversation with my daughter not too long ago about men and women. She said to me that a girl who messes around is seen as a slut and that a man gets praised for it. I told her that has been the case for years. For as far as we've come, we've gone nowhere at all. I've always been very open with her about my life. She asks and I answer. There is very little in this world that I don't share with her because I think it is important to keep an open line of communication with her. So, yes, I've told her about my escapades. Obviously there were men before my husband came into the picture. If there hadn't been, she would not be sitting there. I told her that for a minute in my life when I felt worthless I sowed my oats with whatever horse I could ride (more eloquently than that of course) but this is what I realized. I realized that I was worth ten times more than those men who I used. I admitted to her that I didn't care a thing about most of them. They were a means to an end. She looked at me and asked if that made me a slut. I laughed and I told her no. It made me educated. It was my body and I could do with it what I wanted to. I was using these men just as much as they were using me. And these men and I had an open dialogue about it. He knew what I did not want and I knew what he did not want. No hard feelings. As a woman, as a human, I had every right to explore. Did I encourage her to go out there and jump in bed with every man she meets? No, not at all. She had a boy over a few months ago. I looked at her and said, "Keep it classy," I want her to understand there is nothing wrong with being intimate with someone but she should always have standards and respect for herself. It should always be her choice. Her life, her body should always be her choice.
There are things about raising a teenage girl I don't quite know how to do right yet. When I finally figure it out, she'll be a grown woman and we'll look back and laugh at all the dumb fights we've had. My mother never talked to me about boys. The conversation I got about my period was about two sentences long. Don't have sex or I'd go to hell. Don't do drugs or I'd go to hell. Don't do anything or else I was going to hell. We tend to either follow exactly in our parents footsteps or we go the complete opposite direction. It's why I've always been very open with my daughter about all sorts of things. She learned about a period when she was four. She came into the bathroom while I was changing a pad and asked me if I was dying. I laughed and told her quite honestly what it was, why I had it, and that one day she would to. I wasn't shy about it or scared of talking to her about it. I've always wanted her to be prepared for the waiting world. I never wanted her to find out the hard parts of this life like I did. I often joke around with her that every time she brings a boy home I will be wearing my wife beater with all my tattoos hanging out and a gun on my lap. I will only ask questions about pooping while never cracking a smile. Have I done that? Not yet (sadly). I do want her to understand that she has so much time to figure out what kind of partner suits her best or if she would prefer to have none at all. There is nothing in this world that requires us either way. I went through so many toads before I found my husband. I had such a huge distrust for every man until I fell in love with my husband. Here is the thing that I've come to understand. I understand that all those men before were lessons I needed to learn. I needed to be treated like shit to realize I deserve to be treated with respect. I had to have my heart broken into a million shattered pieces to help me understand how incredibly fragile my heart really was, to truly comprehend how precious I really am. I married my first husband out of desperation because I didn't think I deserved a happily ever after. He left because I realized I did. I chose to be alone for a long time, too. I chose to raise my kid, to take care of myself, to love my sweet pup all on my own because of all these things I finally accepted a man couldn't give me. My daughter once told me her life plan a few years ago. It's changed since. Then she would go to college, meet a man, move in with him, and then they would live their happily ever after. I looked at her and smiled. I told her I hope she lived a life on her own for a little bit. She didn't understand that I was hoping she would never find someone. I was hoping that she would truly find her own feet, stand her own ground, take care of her own needs first before having a family because it's important to know who you are to truly love someone else. Since then her plan has changed as it should. At fifteen you shouldn't have your life planned out.
Often people look my husband and I, not understanding how we work so well. We're that couple that gives others hope that love does exist. Don't get us wrong. We have our moments when we drive the other one bonkers but no matter how crazy we make each other we always come back to us. I wan't looking for him when we found each other. I had no interest in another pointless relationship. I've told him this, too. I was going to raise my kid, raise my pup, maybe get a couple of cats, and ride into old age happily alone. I had been with enough men to know what I was looking for was always inside me. I thought about my mom and my dad and saw what I saw. I realized that I would rather be happy and alone then with someone and miserable. It was a choice my mother didn't have but I did. So for seven years it was just me, my kid, and my pup, struggling to get by but by I got. All the relationships I had been in before, all the interludes I tangled with all taught me that I was a strong, capable, independent woman who was more than able to take care of my dysfunctional, tiny family. That's why I hope my daughter understands the importance of exploring her options whatever they may be. We don't know really know who we are until we see what we're not. In every relationship I had previously I learned the qualities that were important. I accepted that I was worthy of love not just from someone else but from myself most importantly. When my husband and I met, we were two people who knew how to take care of ourselves. I had my daughter. He had his father. We were two people already on our own solid ground. We knew how to pay our own bills. We knew how to take care of two other people who completely depended on us. We didn't need kitchen appliances or starter things for a house because we were already two well functioning houses. I remember my husband pumped my gas when we first started dating. I was both shocked and offended. One, I could pump my own gas. And secondly no one else ever even offered to pump my gas. There were things about love that he taught me. There were things about kindness that he showed me. There rough edges about me that he softened. I know I would've never found him if I hadn't been down those other roads. I know I would've never appreciated him if I had not found my own two feet. Watching that documentary last night made me appreciate that I am a woman during this time. While we still fight the good fight, so many battles have already been won. I thought about my mother and it makes me smile that now in her older age she has become that free spirit I once saw in her as a child. I think about the place where I stand and it makes me proud of where I have landed, somewhere between that fiery red head girl and the one quietly sitting in the corner who has always found inspiration along the way. I think about my daughter who has so much more to figure out. I hope she understands what being a woman really is, what being a human being truly means. And I hope she truly embraces living her life on her own terms.