Sunday, June 26, 2016

Coming Out

This time last year "gay marriage" took one BIG step toward becoming just plain old marriage. This year the Orlando massacre has inspired some people to "come out", and it has started me thinking about some things. Things that I've never spoken to anyone about. Not my best friends, not my husband, not my family. 

I truly view sexuality on a spectrum. Let's say that "preference for men" is red, "preference for women" is blue, and there is a beautiful, wide band of varying shades of purple in between. 

My first crush was a girl. Kindergarten. Her name was Mindy, but that is one of the only things that I remember about her. She had long, dark hair. She was petite, and wore dresses a lot. I was crazy about her. I wanted to be around her all of the time. It wasn't sexual in any way, but it was different than I felt about anyone else. She made me feel shy, awkward, and clumsy. 

I knew that I loved girls when I was 13. It worried me. A lot. I knew that I also loved boys though, so I pushed the confusing thoughts aside and focused on the feelings that made sense to our society. The feelings that reassured me that I was "normal". 

Throughout my life I have had, roughly, half as many "crushes" on women as I have on men.  And as vocal as I am about LGBT rights for OTHER people, I never pursued any of those feelings for those women. They were "cans of worms" best left unopened. To be clear,  I am happy with the way that things turned out for me in terms of the man that I chose to marry. If I'm honest though, I shortchanged myself by allowing society to dictate the people with whom it was acceptable to explore a relationship. 

Believe it or not, this has been VERY difficult to write. Because in order to write it, I've been forced to admit it fully and (semi) openly (let's face it, I don't have or want a huge following lol). My immediate family will not stop speaking to me over this. I won't say they wouldn't judge me, but the ones who don't necessarily support equality will just ignore it. My point is this: I am not being "brave" by sharing this with you. I have little to nothing to lose in doing so. At the MOST I will find out which of my friends (any who actually read this lol) have closed minds. 

Every day, there are millions of people out there who come out to their friends and family members. People whose families WON'T support them or, worse, will outright condemn them (ask me again why organized religion is a bad thing in my eyes).  People who literally risk their safety and their lives to just BE who they are around other people. So try your best to support them. Try your best to understand them. Most importantly, treat them with the same respect that you would give your best friend if he or she confided in you. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The "F" Word

After picking my little guy up from camp today we stopped at Aldi to buy Half & Half. We are heading to the checkout and pass a VERY large woman. I would estimate that she weighed 500 lbs. Davis says (and believe me when I say that I have been fearful of this moment since the day of his birth) "Mama, that lady is FAT!"

Now, I have serious body image issues. I grew up listening to my mother degrade her appearance and her weight. I learned a lot. I learned that she was "disgusting", that FAT was "disgusting", that her face was round and THAT was unappealing. I also learned that her value was based on these things. Every time someone said "You look so much like your mother" I cringed. I hated it. I didn't want to be "disgusting", but I must be. As a result of this upbringing I have been determined to not even USE the word Fat around Davis. I do not want to give it any sort of negative connotation. I talk about losing weight to be HEALTHIER, not smaller. I have been EXTREMELY careful to avoid painting myself as damaged just because I weigh more than I should in order to be healthy.

At first I was unsure about whether or not this woman heard him. I couldn't very well make him apologize if she hadn't heard him. Then I heard her say to the 6 or 7 year old girl with her that "Some people choose to use their manners and some do not". I brought him over to apologize to her. I said that I hadn't known whether or not she heard him, and she said that she did. She said that she wasn't criticizing my parenting, only letting her daughter know that it is up to the individual whether or not they use manners. This actually upset me, because what she was missing was the fact that six year olds, at least mine, comment on things that they see that are unfamiliar to them. If she had been seven feet tall he would have said "Mama, that lady is TALL!". If she had been a dwarf he would have said "That lady is SHORT!" and so on.

I tried to explain (I am forever an explainer) that because I used to weigh nearly 100 lbs more than I do now, I am very sensitive about the usage of the word "fat" and that we do not use it in our home. That he should apologize because it hurt her feelings, but that he really has no negative connotation associated with the word "fat". She wouldn't look me in the eye, and she didn't really seem to be listening. It made me incredibly sad. Because after we left I realized that by addressing the situation I probably made it worse for her. It likely sounded like I was making excuses for my son, which is NOT what I intended. It likely attracted attention, as I demanded that he apologize to her. I realized that forcing him to apologize was actually a selfish act. One performed to make me feel better and to teach Davis a lesson. I VERY much wanted her to feel better. I VERY much wanted to somehow repair the situation, and to show her that my son was NOT being rude. He had no IDEA that what he said could hurt her feelings. I didn't even think of how she would react. How it would feel to be confronted, publicly, with the mother of the child who had just hurt her feelings. None of that occurred to me. I wish that it had. I wish that I had let her think that my son was rude, because I think that would have been easier for her.

On the way home I explained to my innocent, confused child that it really isn't a good idea to talk about ANYONE'S appearance in public. Tall, short, pretty, ugly, big, or small... not everyone likes the things that make them different. Pointing them out can hurt their feelings, and that's not a good thing to do. I hope that he understood.

Monday, June 13, 2016

You are being "sensitive". Overreacting.

Many men do not understand this.  They cannot comprehend that many women do not appreciate the attention because THEY wouldn't mind the attention, providing that it came from another woman.  But, men, what would you think if it came from another man?  Would it freak you out? Would it make you uncomfortable? Would it flatter you, as so many men say that they are doing when they whistle at a woman, or cat call, brush up against us or grab our asses? Somehow I don't think so. 

When I was in the 8th grade, a football player laughed when he pulled my tube top (which was beneath an unbuttoned, and tied, button-up shirt) down to expose my breasts while we stood in line.  I was horrified.  I felt violated.  I WAS violated.  I reported it to a teacher.  My mother reported it to the principal.  She had to fight for the guy to be given one day of suspension.  It left me feeling like I was less of a person than he was. 

In my twenties I had a doctor, an older gentleman, who was very empathetic of my back pain due to my... over-endowment.  At every visit he would pull the table out from the wall, stand behind me, and adjust my back.  Well, the first time.  Looking back, each time he came a little closer. Lingered a little longer with his hands.  It became less of an "adjustment" and more of a back rub.  He was such a kind man that even when I became uncomfortable with it I didn't say anything because I wasn't certain that I wasn't just being "sensitive" and overreacting.  Then one day (and mind you this all took place over the course of a couple of years) I realized that he was leaning against me, from behind.  So many women, SO MANY of us, are afraid of offending a man.  Afraid of appearing "sensitive", of overreacting, of falsely accusing.  Knowing that if we confront you on your behavior we will be accused of making it up, or of "flattering ourselves".  So we are silent.  I was silent.  I struggled with the problem.  How could I get out of the situation?  How could I say "no, I don't want you to "adjust" my back, which actually so desperately needs it."  Instead I convinced myself that I was overreacting.  He was a doctor, I told myself.  I was "flattering" myself.  I actually heard my inner voice tell me that.  Then, abruptly, I received a letter in the mail.  His practice was closing.  I was sad, as he was a great doctor, but also relieved. 

Now, why didn't I simply change doctors?  Good question.  A question that I have asked myself repeatedly.  The answer is interesting.  Because I couldn't convince myself that I wasn't just overreacting.  Women have been told, for as long as we each remember, that we are "sensitive", "emotional", and that we "overreact".  Sexual misconduct, as any man will tell you (with shock in his voice) is a "serious accusation".  How many times have we all heard that, spoken in a tone that says "You better be 100% certain that you are a) right and b) able to prove it.  I know that most men who read this won't get that.  I also know that many women will. 

Many years later I began to wonder about his

Years later I looked him up on a physician rating site.  I needed to know if other women had similar experiences.  He lost his license due to sexual misconduct.  Many women, braver than I, had come together and told their stories (which were shockingly similar to mine, and sometimes far WORSE than mine) and fought so that no other women would go through it again.  I was relieved to know that I hadn't overreacted, but I was also disappointed in myself for not having had the ability to do it myself.