This Article: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/10/sexual_assault_and_drinking_teach_women_the_connection.html

People are pissed off about it. They're calling it victim blaming. I think the people who are calling it that went into it expecting it to be that. They need to turn off that part of their brains and read it again. I despise rape and rape culture as much as the next girl. I liked this article. I agreed with it.

I believe that it is 100 percent my responsibility to ensure that my life and body are as healthy and safe as possible. I believe that it is my job to be sure that body is treated the way I want it to be, and I think most of society would agree.

That is…up until the point I am passed out drunk on a couch in a frat house. Then, apparently, it’s up to the strangers at the party surrounding me to ensure that I continue through my life un-raped. This concept bothers me. I don’t depend upon my husband to make sure I go to the doctor to get my yearly lady checkups. I don’t expect my dad to ensure I go to the doctor when I have the flu. Why exactly is it that other people now have the job of keeping my sexual parts unmolested?

I know. We all should be able to be passed out on a couch and have NO one, ANYwhere, EVER think to themselves, “Oh hey, free sex.” But we’re not there yet. We’re working on it. We’re working toward it, but we’re not there yet. Regrettably, rape is still happening, in all its forms. I’m not saying that in a blasé, “Ho-hum, rape happens, move on,” sort of way, but in a more pragmatic way. Pointing out that some abhorrent, predatory, disgusting men (and women) have not gotten the memo that rape's not cool. Like, at all.

I think there’s a fine line between that pragmatism and “perpetuating rape culture” as I was accused of today. I believe myself to be on the correct side of that line.

Drinking yourself to oblivion is a dangerous behavior. It is hazardous to your health and your safety, and I'm not just talking rape here. You could, while passed out, throw up, choking to death on your own vomit. You could pass out while walking home and crack your head open and bleed to death in the street. You could pass out in your tub and drown. You could drop your cigarette and burn your house down around you before you ever regained consciousness.

Call it survival of the fittest. You are unable to make decisions or protect yourself when you are not awake. That is why we retire to, our beds, our locked doors before we go to sleep for the night; our dens, just as our animal counterparts out in the wild do. You make the decision to become vulnerable in a place safe to you. Getting WASTED (I accent this word, because it is important. Drinking casually is one thing, WASTED is an extreme) is a poor decision with potentially dangerous consequences. This is not saying that if you get raped while wasted–whether functionally blacked out, or unresponsively passed out–you were asking for it. I don't mean that at all. THAT is victim blaming, and as one of millions of victims, I would never do such a thing.

What I mean to point out is that you have taken part in an activity that is dangerous to your health. Step away from the animal instinct view of it, and realize that as an intoxicated human being, your decision making skills are impaired. These decisions we are normally expected to own, to take responsibility for–OUR health and OUR safety–are suddenly subject, unreliable, regrettable in the morning when you look back and can't remember. Even though it was OUR decision to drink that much, OUR safety is now dependent on the choices of OTHERS.

Altering dangerous behaviors in favor of safe ones, stopping yourself from getting wasted has many benefits, including the fact that you retain the cognizance to make decisions about your self and your body that are not regrettable. Decisions that your sober self would be proud of–would agree with. Making the decision to stop drinking before you're too drunk to stand is a positive in every single light you could cast upon it.

If being completely responsible for my own safety, not just in who gets to sexually intercourse me, but the determination of ALL behaviors I take part in–including those potentially debilitating to my reasoning capabilities–is considered perpetuating rape culture, then I guess that's what I'm doing, and I’ll keep doing it until they change the definition. I'm going to put my seatbelt on when I drive my car. I'm going to go to the doctor and make sure the lady down under and the twins do not develop cancer. And I'm not going to close my eyes and go to sleep–intoxicated or not–in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by unfamiliar people where I don't have any way to know what crazy shit happens when I'm not awake. These are my safe behaviors which allow me to continue claiming full responsibility, with no caveats, for my self, my actions, and my health.

Karma is not a bitch. Karma is just the consequences, GOOD AND BAD, that result from our actions and the decisions we make.

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This really is nothing. it’s a nothing post about a nothing annoyance, but maybe it also speaks to the whole. I don’t know. I just wanted to put it down because every time I look in my fridge I think of it.

I live in a family of canners. Both sides. My grandma’s canned corn is like eating corn off the cob, but on a spoon. Her blackberry jam? Holy hell. to die for. My dad does salsa and my anti-mommy freezes and then explodes canning jars in her freezer when she makes her special Grandpa Soup.

Canning jars are part of my existence. there’s always several in the back of my cupboard, taking on the duty of cups and glasses when we’re behind on the dishes (which doesn’t happen now, with no dishwasher. it would make us both insane). When there are too many or I get sick of them I give them back to grandma. Even if the thing that was in them was something from dad, it doesn’t matter. These canning jars circulate our family and whoever needs them has some or can trade for them or whatever…

They don’t always get returned; this past Christmas I made snow globes for my step mom and anti-mommy out of canning jars. And they were awesome. Step mom love snowmen so I found the cutest snowman ornament to put in there. Anti-mommy loves snow, so her snow globe is just full of snow.

But, for the most part, I get irritated with their presence in my cupboards and the next person I see who needs them will receive a box of canning jars with the commandment “Get these out of my house!” even now living in a house with a pear tree, apple tree, rhubarb patch and grape vine in the back yard i’m still giving canning jars back. Because, honestly, i’m gonna eat all those pears. there won’t be any left to can. when I get around to canning stuff i’ll go out and buy my first ever case of canning jars for myself and squee all over about it.

So mom made jam for Christmas. It was strawberry zucchini and apricot zucchini. they were delicious. a little thick, but I put them on my toaster waffles with some flax seed… or maybe pumpkin and sunflower seeds… yum.

But when she gave them to me the first thing she said was “I want the jars back.”

it struck me as odd. because they’re canning jars. They exist in the world the same way (I feel) books do. To be used and reused and passed around. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve “loaned” to people never really expecting to get them back. because it doesn’t matter. they’re meant to be read, and sure they can sit on my shelf until I feel like rereading them, but there are so many books to read that they might as well circulate the globe instead.

who makes a point of asking for their canning jars back before the jar has even been opened?

I don’t get it.

Today is my birthday. Yay.

Happy my birthday to my mom.

I read that in a book; The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I remember being struck with Charlie’s realization that his mother had been there too, and from then on he would remind himself of that every year and do something nice for her too.

That has always lingered in my mind.

I always thought it was the sweetest thing. And I wished that I could do it.

But I couldn’t do it.

It’s not that, if I did, I feared she would ignore/ridicule/patronize me. I couldn’t do it because the depth of the emotion that I would need to express something like that to her is just not there. It’s too grand a scale expression than what I feel.

How’s that for fucked up?

I can’t make a nice gesture on the day she birthed me because even the smallest thing is “too nice” for how if eel? But no, it’s not nice. It’s not about the emotion, really, is it? I feel that we don’t have the sort of relationship where that kind of closeness lives. i’m not ready yet.

or maybe it’s that i’m worried that she just won’t get it. that sh won’t appreciate what i’m trying to say if I did. Because I feel that a lot. I feel that any emotion I did express would be misunderstood or just simply missed; not noticed at all.

Because I feel that a lot.

She doesn’t “get” my gestures. I feel like my odd little interactiosn with the world are such a part of me that people have learned to expect them. my off-kilter not quite sensible skew on everything is so much of what I am and in interacting with her the same way I do everyone else i’m trying so hard to include her; to teach her me, to let her in.

I don’t think she gets why I wish her a Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day on her birthday instead. It’s the same reason I give my dad a fancy loaf of wheat bread and those candy orange slices every year on his Birthday/Father’s Day Extravaganza (it’s not really an extravaganza, just usually more of a low-key sitting around and talking about books) because that’s what I do.

Dad looks forward to it. I’ve never heard a peep from mom. does she like it? does she hate it? she never told me to stop but there’s not even a wink and a nudge. “Hey, that’s what you said last year, ha-ha,” to it. Silence.

And so I feel that I’ve been out of line. Not that its gonna stop me, being out of line. when has it ever? it’s not going to stop me from doing my brand of reaching-out things; these things, while strange, express the emotions I have without the discomfort of the grander things that I wish I could do… hoping that one day I will feel comfortable with those wished for exchanges…

Because i’m not going to be someone else for her to like me and accept me and finally get to know me. I’m not imaginary.

It’s been a while, as i expected. I’ve been writing in a journal to give to my mom come august. there’s been happy stuff and emotional stuff and, yes i suppose, lecture-ish stuff.

Mother’s day passed, and that’s a hard day. I can’t even express what it’s like to be on facebook to see everyone and their mom, quite literally, talking about how amazing their mom is, and sitting here not only not talking to her at the moment, but not feeling the same thing. I’m supposed to feel that same thing.

But instead i feel like thanks for birthing me but beyond that, go to hell.

I have a facebook friend who is recently divorced and she posts often about her ex-husband/son’s father. She just posted a rash of “when you’re down remember you’re mom” and “real dads are…” photos…

real dads

But there are no memes out there that say the same thing about moms. There’s nothing snarky i can post in my own frustration because real moms are just moms. They get this all encompassing forgiveness just because most of them are good. Dads get a bad rap because seemingly so many of them are bad.

My dad didn’t take care of me because the law told him he had to. My mom didn’t support us EVEN THOUGH the law told her she had to (monitarily) or because she was our god damn mother and that’s what moms do.

I feel like the only time i have a person to commiserate with is a child who lost their mother to death in their early life, and that’s simply not the same. I need a support group but, as someone on my photogroup said the other day when i used the prompt to photograph my mom’s journal “i don’t understand how a mother could let it get that far.”

yeah, me either.

and there just aren’t support groups for things that happen so infrequently that your desire for such a thing makes you an anomaly…

I’m reading this book, little by little, that my anti-mommy gave me for Christmas.  It is called Between Ourselves; Letters Between Mothers and Daughters.  And as I read these letters and these stories about the letters and the love of famous and unknown women alike I wonder why I am made to feel that writing letters is a bad thing.

“What’s wrong with a phone call?”

I could go on for hours on that topic!  I hate the telephone.  I call my dad because he lives so far away and I cannot survive without his advice.  I call my husband because we live together yet I rarely get to see him.

Thousands of years we survived and flourished without the use of the telephone.  There were missives carried on sweating, galloping horseback from one king to another.  There were vows of love hidden in secret places, known only to those amorous enough to find them.  There were entire sacks full of words transferred thousands of miles on bright, shiny-new railways, and there are those delivered by the well-known postman to someone just down the street.  There was dirt and despair of war penned back to light and worried, waiting life across the sea and there are conversations of introduction and getting-to-know-you of pen pals. 

Letters are beautiful things and I love them.  Because they are filled with my favorite things; ink and words (which are themselves made up of letters) put on paper; scrawled or dictated, typed or etched or cut from newspaper and pasted down.  Letters are eternal, yes both the good and the bad.

“What’s wrong with a phone call?”

Oh, but they’re so impersonal!  A sweaty hunk of plastic crammed against my head.  I can’t see your face and if there’s something more interesting right in front of me I can focus on that instead.  Then, when it’s over, what’s left?  Nothing, really.  All the words fade and are forgotten.

Letters take time and patience to craft.  They draw out the truths in revisions when you realized you’ve used the wrong words to say what you mean.  They draw and expel anger away in their writing, and even if some of it falls to the page you can always come back before it’s sent and append or set it to flame and start again.

Mr. Darcy explained all and made Elizabeth finally love him with a letter.  Amelie mended the broken heart of a neighbor with a well-meaning albeit forged letter lost in transit for 40 years.  Fiction, yes, but even fiction is a letter from the author’s soul to the hearts of the rest of the world. 

Writing, when I know saying it out loud will not suffice, does not make me a coward.  It does not signify disrespect or a hit-and-run approach to communication.  Writing, when a phone call could be made, simply indicates that I should have been born into a different time of simpler communication.  Because words fall out of my mouth in a tumbling, disjointed way and I always get things wrong.  When I put pen to paper and have the time to carefully organize my thoughts and the ability to cross out and resay what I’ve said then I appear fluent in my own language.

Letters are beautiful things.

And, as a final, snarky aside, I’d like to point out that Facebook messages are private.  If I have a letter for you in dire need of reading and my email address book contains more than five points of contact because you change your address so often then I won’t be sure where to send it.  Instead, I’ll put it in a place where I’m sure you’ll see it.  Neither my friends nor yours will be any the wiser.

 

And one last appendix, this time of self-criticism, I realize  I could write more letters more often, not just when something is wrong.  That is something I can work on when things have mended or time has passed.  But since I have only realized this fact now, as I’m writing this, I will not beat myself up over past failure.  Instead I will learn from my mistakes.  Already a plan to move forward has seeded itself in the garden of my mind…

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“Do you think you are the only one to feel pain and abandonment?”

NO!

I want to stand at the top of a mountain and scream over and over with a voice drawing strength from the very depths of my soul; No, No, No, No, NO!

No.  I don’t think that.  I am perfectly aware that there are others in the world who have experienced pain.  are some of them in more pain than me?  Yes.  Are some of them in less pain than me?  Yes.  Is their pain, no matter how large or small, no matter how real or superficial valid?

YES!

I am an empathetic person.  I have empathy coming out of my ears.  I am a cancer, it’s what we do.  And while I don’t allow astrology to dictate my life I do accept the fact that everything matters.  Nature and nurture, DNA and the stars’ alignment at the moment you were born.  Everything matters.

Speaking of pain.  it’s not just the understanding of overall, worldly pain in far-off wars, starving children, mourning families of shootings and bombings and natural disasters.  Empathy out my ears; I try not to pay too close attention to those stories, but for the bare facts, or I would sit around and cry all day.  That’s no way to live.

No, I understand pain of others on a close-up scale.

I have a friend who has been transitioning from one gender to another and I was right there with her, spiritually if not physically, during what she says now was the hardest part of her transition.  She tells me over and over how much she loves and appreciates me and what I have done for her.  My reaction is, “Me!?  I am in part responsible for the beautiful person I see before me now?  But I didn’t do anything!”  Still it fills me with joy and pride and light to know that I’ve been so important to her.

I have a friend who is searching her own soul and the confusing and often misleading government documents to find out who she is and who she should have been if not for her trans-racial adoption.  she has educated me deeply and in doing so has opened up to me with incredible amounts of emotion and information.  We have known each other for at least six years.  Only the past two, since she’s been married and I first saw her family, did I know that she was even adopted.  And those two years have meant the world to me as she has allowed me a glimpse into her soul and truth.

That’s what I do.  Part of it, yes, is these different human experiences that I will never have for myself, and I like to collect these stories and learn about people.  But people are made up of ropes of strength braided of what we dredge from the waters of pain that are home to the buoys of hope, silver darting schools of knowledge, and a bright shining sun of joy overhead lighting the way so at least if you do not feel its warmth today, you can see where you’re going for tomorrow.

I jump into those great oceans of pain belonging to other people.  I am a large, sturdy hunk of driftwood; not impervious to the waters, but still apart from them.  I float about, here and there, just waiting for these people I love to swim by and grab hold; take a few moments’ rest to unburden some of what they’re carrying and then dive back in to do some more searching.

“Do you think you are the only one to feel pain and abandonment?”

I’ve already said no, but there’s another point i’d like to make about that statement, most especially because it was the first words I saw following the exposure of my hurt.

No, i’m not the only one hurt or abandoned, but the mere fact that you know that pain as well does not justify your ignoring it in others.  It does not justify your willingness to inflict it, even unknowingly, on others.  knowing that sort of pain actually gives you a special and particular gift; the gift of helping others respond and heal from those wounds and perhaps finding your own healing.

“Do you think you are the only one to feel pain and abandonment?”

the more I look at it, the more sure I am of the abusiveness of this relationship.  Fired off without thought, without pause between this idea and the next, but still not even the first time I’ve heard it.

My emotions don’t matter because you were hurt first.  I don’t think that’s how it works.

I would be a piece of driftwood in your ocean but that body of water has been put away in a tight mason jar and forgotten.  to suggest I do the same is to suggest that I tear apart the very fiber of my being I have spent a life time creating.

“Do you think you are the only one to feel pain and abandonment?”

For the final time, no.  We are all the same and we are all unique.  Every thought, action, word, feeling, voice and expression is valid no matter what the age, gender, race, creed, relationship or opinion of the person its being expressed to thinks.  Everything matters.

 

“feel all this, because it’s real, and it really hurts, but remain true to the most part of it, and the most part of it is that this is not your fault … and you are then to continue on, in your open, loving and brutally honest way of living (and learning) … do not dwell, beyond feeling these initial emotions and processing them. this will all lead somewhere, my lovely one …” my anti-mommy

I would like to say six things.  three about me, and three about her.

Tis an exercise, of sorts.  to prove to myself that i’m not being selfish and it’s not just her I find fault in, but also in myself…

1. I hate that she does not understand me.

2. I hate that I am unable to make her understand.

3. I hate that she tells me to repress and walk away from my feelings.

4. I hate that I can’t ignore my emotions, they rule me; moon and tide.

5. I hate that she turns everything back on me, so i’m the bad guy; that she turns everything back on her, so she’s the victim.

6. I hate that I don’t know that much about her own pain and I won’t make excuses about that, but I’ve never felt that I was welcome to ask those sorts of things.

 

This blog may go quiet for a while, because the line between she and I will be quiet for a while.  I just started another blog.  that’s right, now I have three.  Me, mom of a toddler with a hopeful, new monkey on the way soon, moving to a new house and trying to keep up with two jobs.  I have started a third blog.  Is it insanity that keeps me running?  Probably, but insanity can only get you so far.  The rest must come from diet coke…

 But, then again, I have really loved the other things I’ve posted here.  I like writing about the parenting part, because that is all new and fresh and exciting and fun.  I like writing about my crazy, zany, cuddly, independent, smart, silly, gorgeous croc.  I adore her love of outside and dancing, her tomboyish love of cars and blocks over dolls and kitchen play.  And I want to continue to look at her, as she is.  I do not want some imaginary daughter in my mind forcing me to not see who I really have in front of me.

My original plan for this post headed in a different direction than we’re going today. The longer I mentally composed it, the more things occurred to me to force me to realize what it really was I wanted to say. In the beginning I wanted it to be a story of what it’s like to grow up without a female presence. in the end perhaps it’s what it’s like to grow up with a strong male presence instead. The moment it changed the most drastically was when, at our Easter family gathering my sister-cousin told me to close my eyes and then commented, “You don’t even wear makeup and you know how to put it on. I always feel like mine is the scrawling of a 4 year old.”

That’s one of those things I had to teach myself because I had no one to do it. But I realize that the other deficiencies are minor and few. but the benefit of a fatherly run household are immense. This I realized because of Barbie.

I cannot align myself with the women’s groups who throw a huge fit over the fact that Barbie sets unrealistic standards for little girls. I wonder, does she really? or is it we adults who want to be Barbie and we project our wants on our daughters? Because I never wanted to be Barbie. Did I know subconsciously even as a child that Barbie is not a real representation of a woman? I don’t know. I do know who I wanted to be. Samantha Parkington, my American Girl Doll. I wanted to be her, with her round arms, chubby hands with dimpled knuckles, her soft and squishy middle and charming back story.

I do not have unreal expectations about my body or appearance. Yes, I am currently in the middle of a weight loss event; 16 pounds down 24 to go. But this is croc weight and my goal is neither unattainable nor set in stone. If I find comfort and happiness 10 or 15 or 20 pounds from now, fine. I only want to be at a healthy weight before I start my next pregnancy and have a healthy lifestyle that means I won’t gain as much as last time. I only want to feel good and not uncomfortable, constrained in my clothes. That’s really not actually a hard thing to do; yoga pants and stretchy tank tops are my very best friends.

I think I gained this ability to accept myself as-is because I did not have an example of a woman questing for the unattainable when I was young and impressionable. instead I had my dad; long hair, tattoos, ear piercings, wearing whatever tshirt was on top of the pile; looking the way he looked and not taking shit for it. yes, I wear make up, but it’s eye shadow and mascara, when I feel like it. Yes, I like to dress nicely in bright colors and newer styles, but it’s Old Navy that’s the store eating up all of my clothing budget. And it may be headed in the wrong direction to say this, feminism-wise, but I like causing my husband to think i’m attractive. I don’t want him to think of me as the frumpy hobo who watches his kid.

In the end I hope most that this is what the croc learns from me when she’s looking for a role model in loving of self and finding of beauty in flaws and the confidence to take it all in stride. I hope her eyes land on me and not some silly piece of plastic. I can be her good example and I don’t even have to temper my own actions; watch what I do or say. this is already the way I am; who my dad raised me to be.

And so, as a mom with a daughter, I stand behind Barbie. She is a vet and a doctor, a teacher and a flight attendant, a homemaker, best friend, big sister and mom. And if you can find nothing else positive about that silly piece of plastic, she teaches hella fine motor skills; those tiny velcroed outfits are a bitch to get on and off!

I’ve had this other post formation swirling about in my head, but I haven’t finished it yet.  This one has come first…

I think it was pretty awesome of me, and the way I feel, when I told my mom that she could text or message me at any time if she wanted to Skype with the croc, knowing that for the most part i’d have to do a lot of the talking… croc likes to wave and point and touch the screen, but she doesn’t really get it yet.

And maybe that’d open up a little more between us… that could be a good thing.

so the other day she asked “What about tomorrow?” and we set a time for after her nap; “after three” were the exact words.

Well, tomorrow came and croc’s nap came a little late.  It was just past four when she was awake enough to be alert and not her post-nap-snuggly self and she’d crammed some spaghetti-os down her throat and she was ready to play.  And I texted mom.  And I sent her a FB message to let her know we were ready.

And then I sat at the computer with my phone at my side for half an hour, waiting.

trying to keep croc occupied while we waited for grandma to acknowledge that we were at that time where we’d plan to have a video chat.

waited, waited, waited.

finally, croc looked at me, pointed at the door and declared “side!?”

yes, croc, we’ll go outside.  So I turned to the computer, clicked on the window for my mom’s chat, which i’d never closed, and typed “well, I guess you’re not around.  We’re going outside.  If you are around later send me a text or a message and we can do it tonight.”

to which she immediately responded “okay”

we went outside.  we played for 40 minutes with a little boy neighbor and in a pile of muddy rocks, moving them from one section of the driveway to the other.  Then we came inside and did inside things.  Eventually we went to bed.  And that entire time I remained online.  I checked my phone repeatedly.  I never heard a word from her.

I don’t know why i’m actually surprised.  her inability to follow through on shit like this is her one consistent quality… well, that and showing up an hour later than she promised…

Mom’s on her way here for a visit. I’m straightening my hair, doing the dishes and watering the plants. Those are not things that are being done because i am expecting my mother. Those are things done because it’s Sunday (well, not the hair straightening part, that comes simply when the mood descends).

This is actually the second visit in a short amount of time. Late last month we finally made it to her house for Christmas… I had planned to be there much earlier, but she had decided to go back to school. Again. Our original plans fell through as my husband and my days off are weekdays for the most part.

I don’t remember what the conversation was about at “Christmas” something about “if i ever turn into that sort of person, shoot me”

to which she added.

“Because lord knows you’d shoot me without provocation anyway.”

No. no, that’s not it at all. not without provocation. That. that right there. that’s provocation for me to shoot you. the provocation of consistantly, repeatedly, wantonly ignoring the fact that you say horrible things to me and then expect me to be your best friend afterwards.

alright, that wasn’t so horrible. that was an offhand comment. She’s said worse.

but then again, they are all offhand comments. every single one of them hurts. and what cuts even deeper is the fact that when i try to express it i get rebuffed. dragged back into the past and told to get over it. but i’ve said all this before.

Anyway, the dishes are done soaking. I’m totally gonna ruin my St Patty’s Day day-glo orange nails, but whatevs.