Of non-confession confessions and wedding dresses

Time for the not-confession confession because everybody knows what I’m going to say anyway.

It’s hilariously easy for me to let my life revolve around a boy.

That said, it has begun to work in my favor. A former fling showed up. We met years and years ago, then lost touch. It was the odd email on my birthday or “Hey! I saw this article and thought it was funny!”. We started talking more over the past few weeks. The possibility of a rebound started to percolate in the back of my mind. Guess what? He’s not single. However, he isn’t the kind of guy where that might slow him down, especially given the relationship status of his current lady. In the past, if he started something, I’d be like “Eh, why not? So what if he has a married…girlfriend…thing?”. No.

I don’t share my toys.

I know open relationships work great for some people. I’m not one of them. I’ve tried, but I’m not the kind of girl who is into that sort of thing. I don’t want a guy who is into that sort of thing. Said fling is a known entity. Been there, done that (teehee!), and there would be no surprises. Except that I’m not the only one and I know I’m not the only one. He may be okay with sampling a few other things from the buffet, but I’ll sit here with my same ol’ cucumbers and ranch dressing thankyouverymuch.

Yes, I do want to get married. Yes, I do want to have babies. No, I don’t want to do it right this second.

In both of my previous long term relationships, the word “marriage” has caused many a hackle to be raised. When I was in college, it was a status symbol to be engaged either right before or right after graduation. There was a small pond next to the dining hall and if you got engaged, you got tossed in it. Almost all of my friends had been tossed in the pond by the time we walked across the stage. I felt horribly left out. It happened again when I reconnected with all my friends from high school (and made a few more). The bulk of that group got married in 2009, so not too far removed from our college years. Again, I felt left out. If they didn’t get married that year, they married their partner at the time later on.

The fact that the guy I was with was pretty vehemently against getting married only made it worse. So I looked at myself, wondered what was wrong with me, and lied. I said I didn’t want to get married either. What’s the point unless you want children or joint bank accounts? The point is I want someone to stand up in front me, my friends, and my family and promise to be my best friend and love me for the rest of our lives. I really, honestly don’t think that’s too much to ask. However, I’m not going to bust my ass to find the future Mr. Emily. Ignoring the fact entirely I’m barely removed from the end of a 4+ year relationship, it’s not worth my time right now. I especially hate online dating. I’ve know people who’ve met their spouses online or seen otherwise successful relationships. I’m thrilled it worked for you. I’ll pass. The future Mr. Emily will come wandering by sooner or later.

The same goes for kids. I want kids. I don’t approach them with the same fear I did before all my friends started to have kids. Being a professional aunt has gotten me warmed up a bit. For as much as I fancy myself iconoclastic, I’m a traditionalist at heart. I’m not going to have babies until I have a husband. Ideally, I’ll have had said husband for a while. I know myself well enough to know that I don’t have the emotional capacity to raise a child. I’m far too selfish right now. I’m pissy when I get woken up at 3a because the cat stepped on my head. I’d be even worse getting woken up at 3a, then having to get out of bed, sit for god knows how long to get the small human back to sleep, then try and get back to sleep myself. Thus, also, why having a husband is damn useful. Babies also aren’t cheap. I like buying pretty outfits or spending money on my hair. I’m not ready for the kind of financial commitment that comes with one of those little buggers. I will, however, love the day where I can watch my father playing on the floor with his grandchild(ren) pulling the same shit he did with me when I was young.

Just by allowing myself to watch the bad habit start to come back, I was able to use it. I don’t want to just be another member of the harem. I don’t want to compromise my own feelings and wants because some boy is either too scared or too assheaded to take the next step. I don’t want to have to lie about any of it because I think that’s what someone else wants to hear. As my BFF has beaten me over the head with for the past month – never settle.

Now Former Boy would always throw a fit whenever I mentioned I preferred to know how a movie was going to end so I didn’t waste my time or money if I didn’t like how it ended. He said you can’t enjoy the ending unless you’ve gone through the story first. For argument’s sake, the above is how my story will end. Now how am I going to get there? I don’t know, but I intend on having a hell of a (good) time getting there. I may not even have to take up alligator wrestling or platform diving.

XOXO!

Of Letters and Our Former Selves (25th Edition)

Dear 25 Year Old Emily,

I know you’re angry. You’re angry because you don’t understand what’s going on. Just take this chance to listen to me and I’ll do my best to explain it all.

As I told 19 year old us, he called. Right? You agreed to see him to prove a point to yourself. All that happened is you listened to him go over his life since you broke up. He bought a condo. He finally got a car. That made you angry. After all those years driving his ass around, he finally got his own car. You have a right to be angry. He’s told you all about his new girlfriend. You don’t catch her name, but you do catch the fact that he goes out of his way to point out she has red hair. Red hair just like you have red hair. You don’t miss the fact he says he came with her for her Teach for America training. You don’t really say anything because you aren’t sure what to say. This will be, as they say, the beginning of the end.

You’ll meet more boys. You’ll get more tattoos. You’ll drink like there’s no tomorrow. All that time, you’ll be angry. You’ll hate yourself because you won’t know how to stop it. I understand. There are few worse feelings than not being able to understand what’s going on in your own head. Then you’ll meet a boy. He’ll be just another one in the line. Another stamp in the passport. After you have a fight with him and find yourself drinking, once again, alone in a bar, you’ll have a thought. You’ll realize you don’t want to give up on yourself. You’ll try AA for the first time. You’ll get one of your friends to go with you. She had been angry with you before, but she agrees to help you. You’ll be grateful you have friends like her. You don’t particularly like AA, but you’re not sure what else to do. It won’t end up helping you at all, but that’s another story for another one of us.

As you get to know the boy better, he’ll start slowly pawning you off on his roommate. You’re not sure why. When you ask him to do something to help you at your new apartment or even just to hang out, there’s always an excuse. He tells you to talk to his roommate. Then, one night after the boy has gone to bed, you’ll stay up all night talking to the roommate. You’ll be more honest with him than you’ve been with anyone in a long time. You’ll find out later that you were the first one he’d been that honest with in a long time. Then, in 24 hours, things really go to hell. You’ll be fired for what you think, and I totally agree, is an unjust reason. That night will be the first night you consider killing yourself. You’ll call your sponsor. No answer. You’ll call the boy. No answer. Finally, you’ll call the roommate. You’ll ask him to come over. You won’t tell him why, just that you don’t want to be alone. He’ll come over and stay with you for most of the night. He’ll tell you no. He’s the first one to tell you no. That will stick with you. He’ll be the one to ask the right question.

He’ll walk with you to your first appointment. He’ll sit and wait for you. You’ll meet a woman who I still see today. You’ll see he’s the polar opposite of Will and that’s what you’ll love about him. He won’t force you, guilt you, or bully you into something you aren’t comfortable with. He definitely wouldn’t invite anyone to watch. He’ll be patient with you. You’ll learn to be more patient with yourself. I admit, I haven’t gotten to the point I want to be either. Patience is not our strong suit. What is our strong suit is bouncing back.

After you’re fired, you’ll look for any job. You’ll find them. It’s nothing fancy, just some seasonal work. The house you’re living in will be sold. You’ll have to move back in with our parents. You’ll be resentful and angry again. Anger is the common thread through all of this. I suppose it makes sense. Our 19 year old self was so deep in denial, it stands to reason that you would end up the angry one. You refuse to give up, though. In your mind, giving up means he won. You’ll refuse to let him win. Of all the times to care about winning and losing, this will work to your advantage. Our greatest strength may also be our greatest weakness, but right now, being stubborn is what you need right now.

I don’t hate you, even if you hate yourself right now. You’ll get better. I promise.

XOXO,
30 Year Old Emily

Of spelunking and old bad habits

Today is the final move out day. I ended up not having any help. It’s all on me. In the end, I think that will be good. I don’t have a lot of stuff really. I’m not taking any furniture. If I start crying, which I probably will, I can do it in peace. He agreed to not be there while I’m moving. That would make it about 50 million times harder. He’d insist on helping me and it would just feel weird overall. I’d rather him leave with my stuff there and come back with it gone. I’m not really much of a ninja, but this is about as close as I’m going to get. Though I suppose ninjas don’t warn you they’re coming so you have time to leave.

I didn’t end up chopping off all my hair, getting a new body modification, or changing my style this past week. I did get my hair recolored and got bangs. I haven’t had bangs since I was in middle school. I hated them because my mom made me get them because she has bangs & my hair mimicked hers (Dear God, don’t ever let me do that to my possible future daughters). These actually look cute. Now that my hair is long enough, I wear it in a ponytail pretty much every day. Bangs are more interesting than just “hello forehead!”. If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the end result. My dad said I look like Anne Hathaway. I’ll take it.

What I did do this past week was catch myself trying to fall back into a bad habit. It was still in the formative stages, so it was easy to back out of it. Eventually there will have to be some hard and, likely pretty painful, truth telling. At least I’m capable of sharing it with someone else because I’ve already admitted it to myself. Because of this realization, I found myself trying to figure out what “focus on me” really means. I solicited many an opinion, if nothing else to find a place to start. The best I came up with was, as always, an image. I imagine myself staring down into a cave. I know there are really shiny, pretty crystals down there. They’re all kinds of colors and shapes. I’m just not sure where to stick my foot to take that first step down. My BFF preferred the hallway analogy with a bunch of doors. I chose to stick with my cave analogy because the word “spelunking” is just cooler than “walking”. I digress. My therapist suggested I look at things I want to work toward or things I’ve stopped doing because I was in a relationship.

*cricket cricket*

I have no idea. I tried to think of what I tell people when they ask me what my hobbies are. I still self identify as a dancer. Can’t remember the last time I went to a dance class. I like to write, which is accurate. I’ve been writing steadily every day for about a month now. I like to read. I think I’ve finished maybe 4 books in the past 6 months. There are a dozen others I’ve started, put down for some reason or another, and never picked up again. I know there’s no rush to figuring any of this out. I have nothing but time. I don’t need to take up alligator wrestling or platform diving to make myself more interesting at parties I never go to. I have spent a lot of time questioning what sort of path I’m on and if I’m really happy with it. When I went out with my friend last weekend, he asked something along the lines of ‘do you want to get married?’. I did that shake my head and smile thing when someone asks a question that you either think is stupid or you don’t want to answer. I fall into the latter category. I told him I’m not sure. He seemed a little surprised, then went back to making fun of our fellow patrons in the suburban Starbucks.

So I’m still staring down into the cave, trying to figure out where to put my foot. Maybe it’s like trying to find your keys. You give it the rage quit and all of a sudden realize they were in your purse the entire time. While I don’t think “rage quit” is an accurate term, it’s close enough. I’ll get tired of staring, wander off, then proverbially find the first step in my purse. I have the support I need. I have people who are willing to sit with me next to the entrance while I try and figure it out. They may even offer suggestions, but leave it up to me whether I go that way or not. That’s what friends are for.

XOXO!

Of Letters and Our Former Selves

Dear 19 Year Old Emily,

Firstly, please don’t blame yourself for what I’m going to tell you. It’s not your fault. You were doing the best you could with what you had. There’s no fault in that.

He’ll be your first. You’ll be his first. He’ll be the first one to tell you that he loves you. You’ll tell him that you love him back.That’s how these things go. You’ll slowly lose everything you care about because that’s what Good Girlfriends do. Theater will be gone. Dance will be gone. Before you know it, your life will revolve around him. Then you’ll take a step back and think maybe you should end it with him. You’ll choose not to because all of your friends are dating all of his friends. You don’t want to lose your friends, so you decide to stick around. All of his friends will marry all of your friends, so you’ll lose them anyway. You’ll just lose them later than you thought. You’ll find yourself doing things you don’t want to, like drinking, because that’s what Good Girlfriends do. Good Girlfriends go along with their boyfriends because, somehow, their boyfriends know better than they do. They don’t. You’ll want to say something, but choose not to. It’s easier to not speak up. You’ll just take the drink. It’s easier to keep doing things and slowly getting used to them. You’ll forget that you didn’t really want to do them in the first place.

You won’t remember the exact date and neither do I. You will remember what happened. As usual, by that point, you’ll be mostly drunk. He’ll decide, for whatever reason, he wants one of his friends to come watch you two. At first you agree because that’s what drunk Good Girlfriends do. Then you’ll change your mind. You’ll tell him no. He doesn’t listen. He lets his friend keep watching. Instead of fighting back, you’ll just lie there. It’s easier. Don’t blame yourself for always taking the easy way out. You don’t know any better. That’s okay. You’ll fake it, just to get him off you and get his friend out of the room. To add insult to injury, his friend will tell you both that it didn’t really do anything for him. You’ll feel humiliated for no reason. There’s a word for what happens that night.

Rape.

You said stop and he refused to listen. As time goes on, you’ll start to hurt yourself. You’d gotten a few piercings here and there, but nothing terribly exotic. You figured you were in college so why not get your belly button pierced (that’s what all girls do, right?) and more piercings in your ears. The piercings will get more extreme. You’ll get your nipples pierced just out of spite. He said he didn’t like girls who had their nipples pierced. I can see now what you were trying to do, even if you can’t. You want to break up with him, but you don’t want to be the one to pull the plug. So you start doing little things like that to push him into doing it for you. Then, one morning your senior year, you’ll wake up and decide to get a tattoo. Before that day is over, you’ll have your first tattoo. Then you’ll get another. And another. And another. You’ll graduate. He’ll move back home. He doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend any more, but he still wants you to visit so that he can still prove to himself that you’re at his beck and call. Eventually, it will end. Your pain won’t. You’ll just keep hurting yourself. You’ll drink too much. You’ll sleep with anyone. You’ll get more tattoos. A part of you will know something is wrong, but you won’t be able to quite put your finger on it. Then he’ll call you.

He’ll ask you to go to lunch with him. He’s in town with his new girlfriend and wants to see if you were free. You’ll agree to go just to prove you’re “over him”. It won’t work. He’ll just tell you how great his life is now. He’ll tell you all about his new girlfriend. He’ll point out that’s she’s a redhead just like you are. He’s got the upper hand and he knows it. It will end up making things worse rather than better. I don’t blame you for trying. Again, you don’t know what else to do.

You’ll kick yourself for not having your shit together. For what it’s worth, I don’t have my shit together. I’m not perfect. I’m not who you think you’ll be when you’re my age. You think you’ll be married, just like all your friends are doing. You’ll wish you had been thrown in the pond, too. Trust me when I say that had you gone through with what you thought you wanted, you’d be divorced. I want you to know, in the end, you made the right choice. It won’t feel like it at the time. You’ll feel left out. You’ll feel like you screwed up along the way. There are days I still feel left out. Then there are the days where I question if what I’m supposed to do is what I really want to do. You scoff at me, but you’ll get there. Again, a little tiny part of you has always questioned if what is supposed to happen is really the best thing for you. You’ll do the right thing for the wrong reasons and the wrong thing for the right reasons. You and I are the same. We like to remind ourselves, even in a tiny way, that we aren’t the kind of girl (woman) who does what’s expected of us. You just take it to a little more of an extreme than I do. That’s okay. You’re still a teenager. Though there are days I still feel like a teenager, too.

I know what I’ve said is upsetting. I know what I’ve told you is more than a little hard to swallow. You’ll get through it. I promise you will. You’re smart. You’re tenacious. While what I’ve told you mostly about what you’ve lost, I want you to see what you’ve gained. I don’t want to spoil the surprises and the breakthroughs you’ll have. I know you hate surprises, but these are worth the wait.

I love you, even if you don’t.

XOXO,

30 Year Old Emily

Of watches ending and phoenixes rising

Might as well not beat around the bush:

Boy and I broke up on Friday (the 13th of all days).

The 2 weeks of being at my parents’ house was the beginning of the end. We decided to take a break, step back, and assess what was really going on. As of Friday, the decision was made to end it. We both knew it was coming. In all honesty, it should have happened sooner. I can’t speak for him, but I would get frustrated, work up the courage to do it, then talk myself out of it again. What makes it difficult is we don’t hate each other. It wasn’t a matter of slamming the door, yelling “Fuck you!” on the way down the stairs, and having someone else go pick up my stuff because I can’t stand the sight of him. I really do love him, he’s a great person, and once I’ve cooled off a little bit, I’ll help him where I can in the future.

My BFF put it the best. She, like I, believes everything happens for a reason. He came into my life at a time where I needed him. I was a blank slate for him. He was the one who asked the question that allowed me to put into words what Will did to me. That was Halloween night of 2010. He showed me that not all men take advantage of women for sport. He supported me through some truly horrible times. And now his watch has ended. I’m grateful for all he did for me and I’ll never forget any of it. There should be more men like him in the world.

All that being said, it allows me a certain amount of freedom. I haven’t been single and not looking (for anything be it a relationship or a quick fuck) since I was 19. That’s a long damn time. It’s a long time to put developing myself on the back burner. Any self improvement was done so with the undertone of “Will he like this more?”. It wasn’t done just because I wanted to fucking do it. Because that’s a completely healthy and rational way to approach life. No wonder my brain chemistry was so out of whack. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m not sure where I’m going right now. That’s okay. I can allow myself to not have all the answers. Of course, does anyone ever have all the answers? For the first time since I graduated college, I don’t feel the least bit ashamed of living with my parents. They have a big house. They don’t charge me rent. They like having another person around. Why should I move out only pay rent (therefore not saving anything) and live alone (which I absolutely hate)? I have proven to myself that I am capable of paying bills, buying groceries, and keeping a pet alive. I’m not going to be parading a different guy through here every night (or week, or month, or year…). My 30 year old self is seeing all the benefits that my 23 year old self missed. Of course, as we’ve established, she was sick and didn’t know it.

Laugh it up, but I see the whole thing as an omen. I genuinely started feeling better last Sunday when the time changed. Sure, the internal clocks were a bit wonky, but it signified the artificial change from one season to another. The relationship ended on Friday the 13th, a traditional day of bad luck. What’s to come is unknown, but there’s plenty to mark the beginning. If I want to chop off all my hair, I can. If I want to get another tattoo or piercing, I can. If I want to completely change up my whole style again, I can. I’m not going to do any of that, but I like having the option and not having to worry how a significant other would react. It’s time for me to be selfish. It’s not a negative thing. It’s me focusing on me for the sake of my own improvement. Though I’m still not sharing my Tagalongs. Get your own box, bitch.

Yet another shout out to all my friends who have listened to me cry in their ear or on their shirt, sent me funny videos or cat pictures, or just texted me back when I needed a few words of wisdom. I love you all and could not have gotten this far without you.

Watch what happens.

XOXO!

Of my beautiful scars and the ashes from which they rose

Captain’s Log: Day 13 (Guess who can’t count. Surprise!)

I’m still feeling good. My moods are relatively even. I haven’t had any wild reactions, positive or negative, to anything. I’ve been sticking with my to do’s and reporting regularly. To all of my stable ponies, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re sick of my texts. Thank you all, nonetheless. I’ve gotten a bunch of silly little things done that I’d been putting off. I see my neurologist on Tuesday. I’m still planning on discussing what happened, if nothing else to make sure she’s aware of it. The possibility of needed medication won’t be a complete surprise if it does turn out that I need it.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, things are starting to warm up. Instead of posting my annual “dos and don’ts” for tattoos, I wanted to share a story. When I got out of the shower last night, I took the time to study all of my tattoos. I paid special attention to the ones I don’t see every day, one on the back of my left arm right above my elbow [a stylized rose], the little one on my back [it reads “danse avec la vie” which roughly translates to “dance with life” in English], the one on the top of my left thigh [a cardinal sitting on cherry blossoms, a homage to my childhood state of Virginia], and the bottom part of my phoenix which wraps around my right elbow.

There’s also a quill and dagger in black and red on the bottom of my left bicep. I can only see it when I raise my arm over my head while looking in a mirror. I got that tattoo the day I met Boy. The tattoo shop I frequented had an event called “Man Day”. They would do discounted tattoos, then have a party at one of the local bars in the afternoon and evening. The picture of me attached to this profile was taken that day as well. August 14, 2010.

As I was taking the time to examine them all, outwardly, they’re a random collection of artwork. Inwardly, it’s a record of the toughest 4 years of my life. Just like someone who cuts, the more confident (for lack of a better term) I got, the bigger and more visible they became. My retirement piece, which I know I’ve mentioned, is my phoenix. At the time, I hadn’t anticipated that would be my grand finale. Part of me figured I’d just keep going until I ran out of skin. I had plans for the back of my left calf and more work on my actual back. Then as I started to get my shit together, it ended. I finished the phoenix in on my 26th birthday. I had my successes and my failures over the next 3 years, but I never went back under the needle.

For a long time I believed, and was told, that I was damaged. I’d ruined my body because of them. I would always be looked at and judged as a freak. Even the people who cared about me the most silently judged me. That didn’t even hold a candle to my damaged heart. I’m not damaged. I’m not broken. I can allow others to judge me and not feel obligated to defend myself. While the truth would definitely silence even the harshest of critic, I would be telling them out of sheer spite rather than because I genuinely wanted them to know the story behind them. I could get them removed, but the scars it would leave behind would be even more obvious. At this point, most of them are just part of the landscape. I’ll forget about them until someone points them out. I can’t forget the story behind them, but I don’t have to let it keep writing more chapters in my life. That chapter is over. Time to get on with the rest of the book.

Also, happy (early) Friday the 13th. I’ll have plenty of black cats crossing my path, but that happens every other day of the year. Here kitty, kitty.

XOXO!

Of mood swings and keeping your hands to yourself

There was an incident at work last week which could have resulted in disciplinary action against myself and one of my employees. It was a completely bullshit issue and didn’t result in anything other than getting us both pissed. When I was letting her vent, I had an epiphany. She said something about people in other areas violating the dress code & not getting written up. This had no relation to the issue we were supposedly getting written up for. It hit me.

Defend yourself, but don’t change the subject.

I’m very guilty of this. I’ll get in trouble for something & immediately try to find something worse that someone else is guilty of, then point to them. “Well, I did this, but she came in with her boobs hanging out and nothing happened to her!”. What did that accomplish? Nothing. If you didn’t fuck up, defend yourself, but don’t make an example of someone else. The same applies for when you do fuck up. Dragging someone else into it, especially someone who is completely irrelevant to the situation at hand, doesn’t help your case.

Last fall, I was dealing with a royal fuck up. I was prepared to stand in front of the board of directors and explain what happened. It didn’t end up coming to that, but I was willing to explain myself without pointing fingers. It wasn’t entirely my fault, but I had a heavy hand in it. As much as it sucks being a grown up and admitting our mistakes, it looks worse to try and shift the blame. In this case, the accusation was unfounded and flat out unfair. I was given the chance to defend us and simply stated the facts. I didn’t blame anyone else. I didn’t drag other areas into it. The facts of the matter outweighed the small error that turned into the threat of something that would be in our HR files for all eternity. I also had a little help from my friends. :D

On my mental health front, it comes and goes. I’ve been largely keeping up with my “to do” list. My knee has started acting up, so exercise has been difficult. I have been showering or taking a bath daily, brushing my teeth, putting on makeup, and keeping myself groomed. I’m either writing or blogging every day. If I’m watching TV, I’ll have my knitting with me. Still keeping plans with friends on a somewhat regular basis.My sleeping is hit or miss. I try to listen to my body as best I can. I was asleep at 945 on Thursday night. The night before, I kept having nightmares and waking up every few hours. When I would start to move, that would wake up the kitten & she would keep me awake until she settled down again. I’m still having mood swings, but my therapist said that was normal. I tracked my moods just in the course of one day and I hit 5 or 6 different emotions. I do the best I can with what I have. I’ve found that going to work has helped. If I just sit around or lie in bed all day, I stew. Stewing is only beneficial for tough meat. I would like to remain tough, thank you.

I have my people I check in with daily. I have a very good friend keeping an eye on me at work. I really can’t express how grateful I am for all the people who love me, put up with me, or just can’t figure out how to get rid of me yet. When I’m angry or upset, I remind myself of where I was 5 years ago. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t even cry. I was constantly having seizures (though I didn’t know they were seizures at the time). I was doing dangerous things because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. When I’m sobbing over a broken nail or spilling my coffee, it’s hard to remember that. Then I can look down at my arms and remember how far I’ve come. At least I can cry over a broken nail or spilled coffee. I’m not staring at a bloody stump and thinking “Hrm, maybe I should do something about that bleeding.”. Sometimes it’s not about what you can do, but what you can’t do.

XOXO!