The Good Guy

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He’s going to be the greatest guy…until he isn’t.

Your friends will love the way he makes you laugh…until he won’t allow you to be their friend anymore.

They’ll think it’s just you being in love. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your family will adore the way he holds you close…until they see the look on your face.

They’ll believe the lie you tell them… again. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m really happy. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your neighbors will think he’s the greatest guy, always working on things around the house… until they hear the shouts and cries late one night.

They’ll believe it was just a lover’s quarrel, and no one really wants to get involved anyway. So, they don’t think much of it.

On first glance, no one would believe the guy who carries the conversation like him, always offers a helping hand, talks about protecting you, and generally looks like a normal, clean cut guy would be who he is.

But when the shadows fall and you’re all alone,

You’ll believe the words he says when he tells you if you could just be trusted he’d give your debit card.

You’ll just know he’s right when he says it’s your fault he can’t trust you.

You’ll absolutely believe he just gets so angry because he loves you.

As you dry your tears, he’ll comfort you with a quiet

I’m sorry I had to yell like that

You just make me crazy when other men look at you

I love you too much to not make sure you love me too.

I wish you’d remember when I tell you not to say certain things.

I wish you’d just put dinner on when it’s time.

I wish you’d not hide things from me.

Then, while you’re driving to work careful not to make an extra turn, in your mind you hope,

Today is finally the time he’ll believe you

Today is the last time you have to send him pictures of where you are, show him receipts, and let him check your phone

Today will be the last time he writes down the mileage on your car.

And it could be

Because today could be the day he finally snaps.

Today could be the day his “love” makes him tighten the grip around your neck a little too much, a little too long.

Today could be the day he finally pulls the trigger.

But you don’t leave because no one will ever believe a guy like him in the daylight, a guy who wears a suit and washes his car twice a week, could be the monster he becomes in the dark when no one is looking.

Who would you tell anyway?

Emotional abuse isn’t a crime

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, there is help. Please call -1-800-799-7233. Please know computers and cell phones can be easily monitored and never wiped completely clean. Call the number. Get help now. If you witness abuse, don’t dismiss it. Victims will often make excuses for their abusers, especially when confronted in front of them. EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS ABUSE, TOO! Just because there are no bruises or police reports doesn’t mean there is no abuse. Get Help Before It’s Too Late. Over 10 million people are the victims of domestic violence each year in the US alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

An Open Letter to His New Ex-Wife

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Remember when I was the bad guy? Yeah. So do I. I always knew you had the wrong idea about me. “She’ll learn,” I told myself. His empty words, hollow promises, and blatant lies had reeled you in. But the truth, just like the dirt, always comes out in the wash, so they say. His wash water must look pretty filthy right about now.

It was never me keeping his kids from him as he said it was. He simply never made the effort to see them. He’d show up once in a great while, hang out for 15 minutes, and then his phone would go off and he’d be out the door. Visiting his kids was his cover, I’m sure, but as they can tell you, they only saw him maybe 10 times over the last few years. They’re adults now, but it still hurts them more than his cheating hurts you.

See, they’re his blood. He created them. He has a cosmic obligation to treat them with love, dignity, and respect. Being cheated on hurts, for sure. Now imagine if it was your father who betrayed you. So yeah. I stood up for them. That doesn’t make me the bad guy, though. That just makes me my children’s’ protector.

What you never thought would happen came true. He treated you just like he treated me. I know you’ve been telling yourself all these years that you were so much better than me—that marriage was “forever,” and you wouldn’t just walk away like I did. I thought that once, too. I thought I’d made a vow to live with this man for all my life, and I did everything within my power to make our marriage work. It was only when the lying, cheating, and abuse became so toxic our own children couldn’t live in it anymore that I made him leave. You’re no better than me just because you tried harder than me; I was with him much longer than you. I think I tried plenty hard.  You’re no worse than me, either. All of his actions had absolutely nothing to do with either of us, and everything to do with the fact he is a narcissist who uses and abuses people until they break.

I hate that you’re going through the heartbreak. I feel terrible that another person has suffered like I did. It makes me sick that another child will pay the price for his lack of ability to be a caring human being. I know just exactly how you feel. I’ve been in your shoes, so trust me when I say don’t let him pull you back in. Don’t let his tears and threats of suicide change what you know is true. If he comes back, things will be better for a few days or weeks, but then he’ll go back to his same harmful ways. This man is only capable of caring about himself. You will never be his No. 1. His child won’t be, either. Try and remember that it’s not him you miss. It’s not him you cry for. Who would miss a liar, cheater, and abuser? What you cry for is the loss of the dream your relationship could work. Your tears are you hopes of “forever” falling from your reality, and that’s okay. Mourn them. Just make sure you don’t let mourning lead to more than a little sorrow because none of this is your fault.Don’t let his mistakes and bad choices make you become despondent and depressed. Don’t let more of his lies make you lose who you are, ruin your self-esteem.  Even though they say “It takes two,” in reality it can take only one to ruin a good thing, and babe, the “one” wasn’t you any more than it was me.

 

(cover image via:https://www.google.com/search?q=an+open+letter+to&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBmo79zMDKAhWKJiYKHbsnATcQ_AUICCgD#imgrc=Mwpz6YOIcIOy6M%3A)

Small Town Life: Growing Up “Other”

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One undeniable thing about small-town life is if you weren’t born there, you’ll never really belong. People will always look at you funny. They’re raised from the cradle to give side eye to anyone who doesn’t quite fit their mold. This experience of rural life increases exponentially when one attends parochial school.

Watching my grandson in his very first year of public grammar school, I look on as he forms new friendships—boys running down the sidewalk, conquering invisible villains with their first-finger laser beam guns.  None of the boys question if he was born here. They don’t care if he is Lutheran or Methodist, or who his daddy or grandpa are. All they care about is if he knows the details of the latest Batman game. I sleep a little easier hoping he’ll never know what it means to be an outsider.

I was in second grade when we moved to my tiny town. Diversity was defined only by the crops grown in any given season. Skin color only differed during the summer when migrant workers moved in. Thinking about it, I don’t think we ever really spoke of them. They were our invisible population—not quite slaves, but not even close to our equals. One might suppose I was lucky. I was a transplant, too, but my skin and language matched. At least I had that going for me.

Although my grandparents were farmers, my first seven years found me living far from them, so I never really knew the ins and outs of agriculture. Sure, I knew what cows were, and I knew about home grown vegetables, or at least I knew about eating them. It took some time before I warmed up to farming.

I was a city girl—a business man’s daughter. I cut my teeth in the press room of a print shop, interacting with customers more than kids, and maintaining the appearance of an entrepreneur’s child. I learned, though.

My first trip to the dairy farm owned by my friends’ and classmates’ family was in 2nd grade. I loved animals, so I loved the vibe of the farm. Being an only child, the interaction with the other kids was challenging.

During an innocent game of hide and seek in their grandparents’ farm house, they hid and I was supposed to seek. When I realized I’d have to explore rooms beyond the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, I panicked. I couldn’t go into the bedrooms. That just wouldn’t be polite. Surely they must know these things, right? My friends had abandoned me. I was just sure of it.

I cried to call my parents. I was terrified. These girls didn’t like me. I knew that as sure as I knew if I went into their grandparents’ bedroom I’d be chided by their elders. Worse, my parents would find out, and I’d be grounded for not having decorum attributable to a young lady.

As it turns, everything would have been fine. They were playing. I overreacted—a trait that would follow me into adulthood. What also followed me, rearing its ugly head about 9th grade was the fact I did not, in fact, belong in that house.

There was no Deutsch blood coursing through my veins. I was not Lutheran by birth. My parents weren’t farmers. What my best friends and I had in common was youth and our school desks. Nothing more. Once we no longer shared the tiny rooms in our protected bubble of a school, and once we blossomed into young women, I was out.

It’s questionable if my 3 best buddies abandoned me by their own choices, or if it was filial piety that forced our break. I became pregnant at 15—something I’m sure struck terror in their parents, especially when one of the other girls-a fellow towny, but still blood related,  followed suit shortly thereafter.

She was accepted, embraced even. I was not.

I became Patient Zero; The bringer of all things evil on their whitewashed, puritanical town. Even the tan-skinned souls working the fields that summer were held in higher regard. They couldn’t “contaminate” their daughters. They’d never be allowed close enough. But me? I’d been in their homes. I’d laughed and played Barbies and Four-Square with those girls. I could ruin them all. I was an alien being in small-town USA, and was thusly cast aside like the rotten melons that would be left lying in the field after the harvest.

All we learned in our morning devotions about loving one another, and letting our Triune God hold all the stones to be cast went flying out the window. I wasn’t fit to be a scarecrow in their fields. Not because I’d committed a sin worse than what their own daughters had committed behind their backs, but because I’d been caught.

My pregnant belly would give me away. Their self-appointed court could condemn me with the only evidence of my “sin” they needed, just as they sat in judgment over the people who were here to make an honest man’s dollar working in their fields.

If I’d have had any sense, I would’ve left back then with the caravan of “others” when fall became winter.

I didn’t. To this day I live in this small town. I’m not sure why other than leaving is easier said than done when you’re responsible for more than yourself.

With the advent of social media and with my children having attended the same high school as my former friends and I, I’ve had occasion to reconnect with the girls who used to jump Double Dutch with me. We only connect in pleasantries, though.

“How are you? The kids? You parents?”

My attempts to reach out to them beyond that have been denied. I’m still not up to par, I suppose. Sometimes that bothers me. Most of the time I don’t think of it.

Until, that is, I see those laughing little faces playing make believe laser tag on the sidewalk as they wait for the bus. Then my mind transports me back to four little girls giggling about everything imaginable whilst camping out in someone’s living room, watching scary movies, and eating rubbish.

I miss those little girls, including myself. We were so innocent and untouched by the cruel judgmental world that would encompass our lives so few years later.

None of my school mates followed me into adulthood fully. A couple high school friends remained friends with me until I married. Then they were gone.

Sometimes I cry for the little girl I was who knew she didn’t fit in, who was alone and afraid. Then I ask myself “Jesus, did anything really change?”

Being In Charge Of Your Sexuality: Yes and No at 43

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When you’re a 43 year old single woman, the first thing people talk about is how you’re probably having sex with everything that isn’t tied down. People assume there is some string of lovers aged legal to retired, and ranging from truly single to married who are keeping the cell phone burning up with booty calls. Maybe that’s true for some people. Probably mostly true for women on reality shows and tabloids, but certainly not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally hip with being in charge of my own sexuality and enjoying a healthy sex life, but part of being in charge means I also get to decline if I wish. Right now I find myself in the midst of a mindset where being alone just seems more desirable than tending to the sexual needs of a partner.

Folks call me crazy for that because these periods of chosen sexual solitude often extend more than a few days or even a few weeks. They can last months, but keep in mind, it’s by choice. This is what I want, so no pity necessary.

Once when I had just turned 40, I had a partner tell me I was in my sexual prime; that I couldn’t possibly be faithful because my hormones, paired with my angst of aging, wouldn’t allow monogamy. His words. Not mine.

I get it, though. That’s the stereotype about women of a certain age. It’s no different from women assuming men this age have a midlife crisis. Thing is, it just doesn’t happen to everyone.

Even though I’m not at all dealing with that hormonal onslaught in my life, I do feel like I’m certainly at the prime of my life emotionally.

I’ve finally reached a point where I’m in complete control of my emotions and what I want from life. That control allows me to have more sexual freedom than ever before. I realize I do not need to be in the context of a relationship to have really great sex. I’ve also finally figured out that being up front with someone doesn’t make me a “whore” or a “slut”. I can just simply say “I want to be friends with benefits,” or “I don’t want any more than sex,” and more importantly, I’m not afraid to say “I’m not at all interested”.

To me, having the power to choose is the most freeing part of being my age. I’m no longer stuck in the confines of what I think relationships should be, but rather, I realize what they really are. I know that as long as everyone is up front about their involvement in a relationship, sexual or otherwise, no one gets hurt, no judgement is necessary, and everyone can go home happy.

All that being said, I’m an introvert. Isolation is like vacation to me. Too much social interaction throws me into a state of anxiety I’m only just learning to deal with. Anxiety is a new thing I’ve started being honest with myself and others about, and it, too, is often judged. I just no longer care if I’m judged, but I digress.

I’m learning to nurture myself, protect myself a little, and make sure I’m able to keep out of the muck of depression too much anxiety can throw me into. So, sometimes I just stay home alone.

I love sex. It’s a very important part of life, but I’ve learned that for all the judgement people will throw you either for having or not having sex (people always have a damn opinion), few people really know how to handle their own sex lives. Many people have sex out of obligation. Some are doing it to feel loved, but few are really in enough control of their sex lives to realize whether they partake or decline is no one else’s business—providing no one is getting hurt, that is.

So here I sit in what many would call a “dry spell,” but what I call my “realignment period”. I’m happy. I’m comforted. I’m recharging my battery so I can be the best me possible.

If there’s anything being in my 40s has taught me, it’s that I own me. No one’s opinion about me or my sex life should be as important as my own. No one else owns my body or my sexuality. I thank feminism for helping me come to that realization.

It has been said (by Woody Allen-pardon, but he did have a point) that masturbation is “with someone you love.” It should be. You should be the sexual partner you love the most, and when you need a moment to collect your sanity, you can enjoy some time with the one person you can never break up with: yourself.

Shit My Sisters Taught Me

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I don’t have sisters, technically. Somewhere, in my family lineage, are two step-sisters, but we don’t talk. I don’t have brothers, either, but that’s another anecdote for another time.

Blood or marital connections are not the only thing that can make folks feel like family. I know this, because 90% of the people I have strong connections with are not related to me in any sense of the word. They are closer to me than my technical extended family, and I’m grateful for them every day.

Growing up without sisters was okay, I guess. I mean, I don’t have any point of reference other than observation of others’ lives with siblings, but I don’t think I missed out too much. Can fighting over make-up or boys be all that great?

One thing I was always envious of was the tight relationships my sister having friends had with their girl siblings. Luckily, I’ve met some gals throughout my life who’ve embraced me enough that we can interact like sisters, and so, what I missed in my youth, I’ve made up for in adulthood.

What I’ve learned from these ladies is sisters aren’t just shopping partners, or people who come for dinner. Sisters smack our hands when need be. They teach us lessons—sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently, but always with our best interest in mind.

Here are some things my adopted sisterhood has taught me:

Stand Up For Yourself-

I know how menial this sounds, but my gals really did teach me to quit being such a pushover. Probably born from them being sick of hearing me complain, they finally just said “Make a stand for yourself or no one will”.

Shut the Fuck Up Sometimes

Look, we all get lost in the spiral that is social media sometimes, and before we know it, we’re just saying stuff without thought. I thank the universe I have women in my life who love me enough to jerk me out of the spiral, and tell me to sit down and shut up. They say it because they know I’m a better person than that. They say it out of pure love.

It’s Okay to Put Yourself First

So, so many women live their lives only catering to the wants and needs of others. We’ve been programmed for generations to live this way. Having women like I do, who tell me that I’m no good to anyone if I’m not good to myself, is important. They know what it means to have a sense of self-worth, and they’ve passed that on to me.

You Own Yourself

Whether it’s a decision regarding work, or my sexuality, the women I call sisters have let me know never to sell myself to someone else. I keep control of my life, and then no one has so much power over me as to abuse me. My independence is worth more than anything else if I want to be happy.

You Will Be Accepted

This only applies to when I am interacting with these gals, but no matter what, I have a place to come where people love me enough to tell me the truth, yet not judge or harm me. It’s my soft place. It’s the place where I can fuck up royally, and it will all still be okay. They may kick my ass and tell me something isn’t acceptable, but they’ll also help me figure out how to make it right. That’s real acceptance. That’s saying “We love you enough to help you not fuck up,” which is so much better than fake acceptance or utter rejection.

Sisters have a way, man. We come together. We bond. We make life tolerable with hugs, coffee, and maybe even shrimp (Inside joke. Play along, please.). Together, we help each other traverse the chasms life tries to divide us with, so that we’ll all succeed.

Success of the Group—Not Just One

That’s what sisterhood is really about. Everyone succeeds. Everyone cries, laughs, and rejoices. So while the rest of the world couldn’t care less, we couldn’t care more for one another.

It’s the way humanity is supposed to function: Caring, loving, supporting.

Thank the stars, the Goddess, whomever or whatever sent my sisters my way. I can’t imagine life without them.

sisters

(Image source:https://www.pinterest.com/floridastateph/sisterhood/)

A Fat Girl’s Aside

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While you’re busy judging me by the size of my behind, I thought I’d make your job easier. You see, I’m real honest about who I am.

I’m short and fat. I have gray hair popping through if you could see beneath the artificial color.

My face shows the wrinkles of 43 years. My eyes a small—squinty they’ve been called. My feet are closer to those of Fred Flintstone than a super model’s.

I have cellulite and dimples, and love handles make my hips wide.

Sometimes I laugh too loud, and my voice is big if I’m excited.

I’ll never be a showpiece, not that I care. I know none of what I’ve said matters if you can be real, too.

If you look into my squinty eyes, deep down beyond the surface, you will see the outside is like the façade of an old curiosity shop housing what you’ve really come for.

Looking deep within, the shelves are lined with me. They house who I really am. There are books for each wrinkle, like the time I lost my job, or the when my son fell from the tree.

Laugh lines around my mouth have their stories, too. The births of my children, and the day I first held my grandchild are accounted for somewhere up front so all can see.

There are the symbols representing all which I hold sacred.

Pictures of my family—they sit right there at eye level.

My pen and paper are displayed on an antique desk.

Somewhere in there you’ll see a man holding me as a child in a print shop, the smell of printing ink defines my childhood.

You’ll see the time I decided it was better to live in a small home than sacrifice my time raising my children, and all over the floor you’ll find paw prints of the furbabies who have given us joy.

There aren’t curtains or closets. Everything is open for you to see, for there is nothing to hide.

You’ll see the good and the bad.

My divorce, my stupid choices, my successes, and the things of which I’m proud.

Here and there you’ll see my shortcomings—my hang-ups and pet peeves, but if you can look past those, you’ll see my sacrifices—the times I gave so much to so many.

If you look close enough, you will see a kind, intelligent, strong, loyal, independent soul who is mature enough to know that what I take with me into the beyond is not beauty, but my connections with others.

So while you’re busy counting numbers on my scales, you haven’t begun to see what lies beneath—the person you will overlook for someone who gives your arm some bling.

That’s okay, though, because whether you like me or not, I still love me.

(image source:http://www.celebquote.com/5733)