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Mean Girls and Motherhood

Posted in awakening, blended families, dealing with ex's, Mothers, Parenting, parenting after divorce, raising daughters, single moms, single parenting with tags , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Tonight I got cyber-slapped and it stung.

Noticing my blog views were crazy, off-the-charts high, I wondered what was going on. So I opened up my app and looked at some of the referring websites. One in particular seemed strange to me, so I followed it. What I found was a nasty surprise.

Mean girl syndrome can, apparently, last into middle age. I won’t go into a lot of detail about what I found there, except to say that it was a nasty critique of my blog and even worse, what they perceived as my failings as a human being and as a mother. Followed by lots of others jumping on the bandwagon. The person who began this has a slanted, peripheral, yet weirdly connected view of my life. They also clearly have a lot of issues with me personally.

Ironically, you might even say I got the ball rolling in the mean girl cyber world. Approximately 4 years ago, I posted something in my blog that reflected my most petty thoughts. They definitely weren’t a reflection of my best self, nor the person I wanted to be. However, despite removing them as soon as I found out the subject of the blog had read it, the damage was done. The hurt could not be apologized away.

Today, I’m the recipient of petty thoughts and meanness and it feels bad. Yet…hard to cast stones when I had to learn that lesson myself. I can wish all day long it was different and that the individual hadn’t chosen to perpetuate the cycle. But in the end, the words we put out into the world move in ways we can’t always control and can sometimes have ramifications we can’t predict.

So today, rather than continue on with the she said/she said drama game, I would like to offer an apology again. That thinking my blog, years ago, was anonymous enough that she wouldn’t find out and it allowed me to post things I’m not proud of. N0 excuse for putting it out there, but it was a powerful lesson to relearn. Once we put it out there, we can’t control it anymore. I’m sorry for the pain it caused and for the ways in which it is still living today, despite removing it from cyberspace years ago. I’m not proud of it and I wish I hadn’t done it.

The truth is, I’m flawed and I’m continually trying to battle those flaws. As anyone who’s read this blog will clearly know. Those who know me and read it see such a fuller picture and so my flaws are forgiven by them.

They see a mom who has been honest about her struggles with depression and the ways in which heartbreak has sometimes triggered that. They also see a mom who never lets it prevent her from taking care of her kids. They see kids that can witness a mother struggle with depression and sadness, a mom who cries sometimes, and realize that it’s okay to struggle. The victory is in the ability to continue doing your best, day after day, and getting up to face the world. They’ll see a mother who never gives up, who is always there for them and who works through her feelings rather than stuffing them. Do I lean on my kids too much? Perhaps if you only know me through my blog, you might read about my wise twelve year old who says something profound about love and life and think she has to constantly care-take me. If you know ME and my children, you’ll absolutely know that I’m teaching them that empathy and compassion are vital in human relationships and that sometimes we need people and sometimes we are needed. Is my child giving me a hug or telling me I just haven’t found the right person wrong if she finds out a relationship ended? Is she care-taking and having to be the adult? Have I overshared if she knows I’ve been involved with someone and that it’s ended? As I found out tonight, clearly there are some who think so. That’s ok-they get to make those decisions for themselves and their kids. Or maybe they’ve not been single, with kids. Who knows?

I know I’ve never dragged men in and out of my children’s lives. I know that in eight years of being single, they’ve met one of my significant others that I was involved with for two years. My children are sacred and so is my time with them. When I have them, it’s their time. When I don’t, they have known that I date.

And yes, I perhaps talk about my feelings a lot in this blog. That’s sort of why I started it. 🙂 It was a place for me to process and be vulnerable about things I struggle with. Clearly, the problem with vulnerability is that it leave you…well…vulnerable.. That’s ok too. There’s been plenty of times when I read something vulnerable someone posted and felt so soothed, because I could say “Hey! We’re all human beings. We all go through shit sometimes.”

As a single mom, I don’t have all the answers. There are days that I feel like my girls and I could take the world by storm, because I feel like as a mother-daughter team, we’re invincible. There are other days I sit and cry at the end of it, because I’m scared I’m screwing it all up and I just wish I had some support.

That’s the thing: I don’t have all the answers. I don’t expect other mothers, birth or step, to have all the answers either. We’re in this because we have been granted the amazing, terrifying, exciting and sometimes heartbreaking privilege of guiding amazing human beings into adulthood. The most beautiful and difficult challenge one could ever take on. Whether you carried the child in your body for nine months or you fell in love with the child’s father and the child and became part of their lives later.

What would it be like if we actually supported each other? Instead of cutting each other down with petty criticisms designed to make one person superior and the other inferior. Everyone needs to vent sometimes. But maybe…just maybe…if you tried to see that person as a human being who is doing their best, instead of as an adversary you need to have others rally around you to tear down, we could do an even better job parenting these amazing kids we’ve managed to have brought into our lives.

So…I’m going to keep writing my blog. Which is scary, because I’m making myself vulnerable. By doing that, I know you may use the opportunity to try make me appear small or one-dimensional to others. You may use the chance to pick apart my flaws–trust me, you’ll find them. You may mock me and use it against me. I’m still going to keep writing my blog. I hope you don’t. I hope that perhaps we can just band together to work on behalf of the human beings in our lives, who love us both.

However, that is up to you. It’s up to all of you. Be the light or be the darkness…which, yes, one of my flaws is a tendency toward the melodramatic when I write. Sue me. 🙂 I was part of the cycle and I’m really hoping the cycle ends with me. Mothering is hard, whether the babies came from your body or not. Amazing…and hard. Why don’t we try building each other up?

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Sisterhood and Bravery

Posted in intuition, love, Relationships, self-esteem with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2016 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

This week has been so different from how I’d planned it. After all, a week with no children and no work is a rare occurrence, so I was imagining between my plans and the plans with my lover, it would be a week of relaxation and bliss.

Instead, it’s been a week of processing and grieving. The silver lining is it was a week free from my usual responsibilities, so I was able to attend to my own emotional and physical needs.

That punched-in-the-stomach shock and grief has softened to an ache, although the anger is still strong. I’ve had time to look back over 15 months and place conversations and interactions into context and it makes me want to smash things. I’ve also realized that beneath all of that there is a thread of shame…how did I not see the truth? Why did I believe excuses and misdirection? How could he not love me? Was I not worthy of love? Did I not inspire love? The trigger effect of finding out the truth shook me. All the insecurities and fears I’ve struggled with for over a decade reared their ugly heads and I immediately called a therapist and made an appointment, because I had brief thoughts of “I can’t do this again. I can’t deal with this pain. I’m not strong enough.”

Fuck. That.

I CAN do this. I have to get through the heartbreak and anger and to the other side, but I refuse to let this leave me emotionally devastated and feeling like I did something wrong by falling in love with someone.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I can take away from this. It’s the same basic message–trust my instincts. Don’t allow red flags to be explained away, rationalized or covered up. Speak my truth, even if it means giving up something I desire.

I’m brave and strong. It takes courage to love someone and not everyone is capable of it. I loved and I expressed that love, bravely and honestly. Instead of feeling shame that I loved someone and it didn’t work out (again), at least I took the risk of loving. I took the risk of being vulnerable. I opened myself up and I WILL NOT take on the guilt of his actions by thinking they somehow reflect on my worth. That’s on him.

I know he cared for me. I wish he hadn’t made the choices he did. But those are about him, not me. I will miss him like hell, no matter how angry I am, but one of the things that I believed about our relationship, that it was honest and open, wasn’t true. Trust is broken and trust was very much something that was required to make things work the way they did. This is the first time, ever, that a relationship has ended and I feel no compulsion to go back to him or try to make it work. Not because I don’t still love him. Not because I don’t think about him or miss him. But because the discovery crumbled the foundation and broke what was special.

And this week…thank god for the women in my life. My mother, who talked me through some of the pain and has continued to be there for me all week. My best friend, who listened to me stumble through the story, spilling out my sadness and rage without ever once saying “I told you so” and who made me laugh at the ludicrousness of the situation. My dear sister-in-law who said all the right things.  Other female friends who were angry along with me and muttered curses on aspects of his physical being that made me laugh through my tears. All of the women in my life who had my back and were a support to me this week as I struggled my way through the worst of it, who wrapped the mantle of sisterhood around me and helped to prop me up. They knew the things to say that none of the guys in my life–father, brother, friends–would know to say.

Thank you for being my sisters. Thank you for being part of my life.

Tonight my children come home and tomorrow I go back to work. This week of crying as I needed to and being able to take care of myself will allow me to put on a brave face and face life as I return to my normal schedule and responsibilities. I know in time this pain will continue to ease. I know eventually I’ll be able to forgive him and move on, hopefully finding someone new when I’m ready.

Because I’m brave enough and strong enough to be willing to love and risk and be vulnerable, even after heartbreak.

 

 

 

 

I Am Not Responsible For Your Penis (An Angry, Long and Possibly Disjointed Rant)

Posted in Dating, online dating, women's bodies, women's liberation with tags , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I’ve read a bunch of stuff about relationships over the last few years and included in that is a lot of research on understanding the minds of men. One book even contained a complicated system for attracting a man that involved specific eye patterns and subtle hand gestures that were supposed to mesmerize him into attraction. I laughed quite a lot, then threw the book in the garbage.

There is one “dating/relationship guru” that I’ve read quite a few articles by: Eric Charles of A New Mode. He has some interesting things to say and doesn’t seem highly gimmicky, which I like. I became a fan on Facebook and see his posts come across my newsfeed fairly frequently. After reading his articles, his posts, etc., I’ve come to some conclusions.

  • I think it is valuable to be given insight into a man’s mind, because women think so differently. In terms of sheer honesty, he lays it all out there. The good, the bad and the ugly. Forewarned is forearmed, right? So he’s doing women a service, isn’t he? However…
  • I always wind up feeling like he gives men a free pass to be assholes. Now, I’m sure he would fall back on the “forewarned is forearmed”, but there is a particular segment that finally sort of gelled why I found several of his posts off-putting….

Mr. Charles has been very outspoken about the fact that men who say they don’t want a relationship, for whatever reasons, really just don’t want to be in a relationship with you. That if he’s continuing to date you/sleep with you and yet won’t commit because of ANY cited reasons (My life is a mess, I need to focus on my career, I’m just not ready to commit, etc.), that what he’s really saying is that he’s happy to continue hanging out/having sex until the woman he wants to be with long-term comes along (the woman who, clearly, isn’t you).

Here’s my problem with this: Doesn’t that mean these men are liars? If they’re willing to string a woman along for sex, knowing they don’t really want to be with her (and most of these men know the woman wants a relationship), doesn’t that mean they are users? Doesn’t this put the responsibility on the woman in a weird and unfair way? Instead of constantly having to arm women to recognize men who lie and use, shouldn’t there be more information teaching men to not be douchebags?

So many of the questions I see being answered on this site (and with good reason) involve: How can I tell if he’s really interested in me? How can I know if he considers me his girlfriend? What can I do to get him? What can I do to keep him? Some of the messages are fantastic and I applaud Eric Charles and his professional partner Sabrina Alexis for trying to empower women with some of their statements. Be the attraction, instead of the attracted. Live your own life and stop waiting for a man. Be happy with who and what you are, instead of seeking that in a relationship. Bravo! However, there seems to be this pervasive undercurrent that makes women feel like they’ve always somehow erred in the dating/relationship world. They’ve probably been too needy, clingy, dramatic, too uptight, promiscuous…they must have been either too much or not enough of SOMETHING. So much of the dating advice for women feels blaming; If we had done more or done less, it all would have worked out! What about the men??

To me (and I’m about to go out on a fragile limb, because this is controversial), this conjures up all the discussion about rape and how women can prevent rape, another situation where the onus is placed on the woman. Because if you get raped, obviously you simply didn’t take enough preventative measures, right? You wore the wrong clothes, or were in the wrong place. You were too flirty, sexual and didn’t take enough safety measures. We are constantly, as women, inundated with information on how to protect ourselves from physical attack. (Thank God for some stirring in the media by organizations who aim to put the responsibility of preventing rape back on the place it belongs: Men who rape and a society that creates men who rape. (Men Can Stop Rape Organization).)

Yet women are also constantly being inundated with ways to protect themselves from emotional violations.

Yes, men and women are different and it’s crucial to work at understanding the differences if you want to have a great relationship. I realize that little girls are trained from birth on to play into a culture that is screwed up about sex and relationships and it isn’t ONLY men who create this environment. This blog, today, isn’t about the women. 🙂 Why can’t we start teaching boys from an early age to respect women? Why don’t we start training them early about women’s needs? How women respond? How about teaching them that it’s not okay to lie to or mislead a women to keep sleeping with her, just because they want to put their penis somewhere? That using a woman’s desire for a relationship and her emotions just to get laid is not okay? Impress upon boys from an early age that women have value beyond the decorative and sexual. Teach boys to be men of integrity.

I realize there are lots of men who DO have integrity; this is simply a rant because I’m tired of feeling like men frequently get a free pass for bad behavior. I’m exhausted by the daily conflicting messages women get about everything from looks to careers to relationships. I’m sick of the sly insinuations and subtle to overt criticisms, often conflicting, that still exist and break a woman down. I recently received a disrespectful email from a man on a dating site, stating that my hair was pretty and looking at it made his dick hard. I responded VERY negatively and then relayed the exchange to a dear family member, whom I love and respect. His response? “Good god, what kind of pictures do you have up?” When I wear a cute dress on a first date that shows some cleavage and my date attacks me in the parking lot, is it my fault? Can he not help himself, because he’s a man and wants to have sex? There are many who would say yes.

Bluntly put: Women should not have the constant responsibility of helping men control their dicks.

Whether we are talking about emotionally misleading women in relationships just to get some nookie, disrespecting them with your words and actions, or forcing yourself upon them physically. Do all men do this? No, definitely not. However, I do think there is still a cultural trend to be more forgiving of men who behave badly concerning sex and relationships. Instead of outrage, there’s still a rueful “boys will be boys” headshaking that goes on;  to the women who have been left with the consequences of WHATEVER the behavior was, there’s almost a “well, you should have known better” attitude. Or, what did you do to deserve it?

And yes, I know that to a certain extent, this is just the way it is. I know that Mr. Charles’s forewarned-is-forearmed approach is to help women deal with the reality of how many men approach dating and relationships and I mostly respect and like his advice. I can see that some things I might rail against are built-in, biological imperatives. Men are probably always going to be more sexually-oriented, while women are more relationship-geared, but there’s more going on with our dating/sex/relationship culture than just biology. I also recognize I am living in a world in which women are still second-class citizens, bound in part to the rules that are created by a society that does not respect them. On some days, like today, I just need to acknowledge that it sucks.

Still, I will continue to monitor my physical and emotional safety. I will try to apply my garnered “wisdom” to all my dating adventures and relationships, to ensure I’m not being misled or lied to. I’ll still closely watch what I do and say around men, in the hopes that they don’t get the wrong idea about me. I’ll look over my shoulder in dimly lit places, to make sure that I’m not about to be prey and hope that my dates manage to control themselves at the end of the night, so it’s not awkward or dangerous. I’ll still always think about birth control and disease prevention, because it’s my body and life most affected if I don’t. I’ll continue to watch for the verbal and non-verbal cues with men I’m dating, to try to find out if I’m being played or used.

And I’ll hope that perhaps we get to a place one day where women don’t have to feel so vulnerable, emotionally or physically. There are a lot of things that would need to be different in order to make that change in the world. Because it’s easy to say “Well, that’s just the way it is.” Yet for any significant change ever created, it had to start with someone who said: No, this is not acceptable.

So, let me state it clearly: NO. This is not acceptable. Where to go from here, I’m not certain…