Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why So Public?

I'm often questioned on why I'm so public with various aspects of my life.  The basic answer is that it's just who I am.  I've always been pretty much a 'what you see is what you get' kind of person.  As the years have gone by, the person I am has just become more and more controversial and/or non-traditional so this part of my personality has become more noticeable.

I think there are a lot of reasons why I am the way I am.  For one, I want people around me who actually enjoy my company.  I believe that we need to put our true selves forward in order to have genuine relationships.  If we're all just presenting ourselves as who we think others want to see or if we only show people the superficial aspects and nothing deeper then our relationships aren't real.  That said, there are people in my life that I know I need to be more reserved around and I accept that sometimes it's necessary, but as a general rule I do my best to avoid those people.

Second reason is that, while I'm sure most people are generally good, there are some folks who like nothing better than digging up dirt on the people around them and spreading it around.  This is why many people keep everything personal to that others can't use it against them.  I take the opposite stance.  People can't really gossip about you if it's public knowledge.  "OMG!  Did you hear that she had a mental breakdown???"  "Ummmm ya.  It's on her blog."

Another reason is the feedback I get from people around me.  It's amazing what happens when you share your own difficulties.  People come out of the woodwork with similar stories.  Often people you would never expect.  I find this particularly beneficial in two ways.  First, when I'm in the thick of the issue it's so helpful to talk to people who have been through it already.  They provide perspective, insight, tips, support, encouragement and they make me feel so much less alone.  On the other side, when I talk about past problems and hear from people who are currently going through a similar situation, I can be the one providing all of the above.  I remember once being at a specialist appointment (have had so many, can't remember which one) and I was going over my medical history and medications with the nurse prior to seeing the doctor.  She questioned one of my medications and I told her all about it.  She suddenly blurted out "Oh my god!  I have the same problem!  I didn't know anything could be done about it?!?"  We ended up talking for like 20 minutes while I filled her in completely and she intended to make an appointment with her own doctor to discuss it.

In looking at my own comment above, I see probably the biggest reason of all.  "...and they make me feel so much less alone."  We, as human beings, have a tendency to think we're the only ones who feel the way we do.  Teenagers go through high school thinking "everyone else seems fine so what's wrong with me?".  Women go through life thinking "if only I was beautiful like that woman on the magazine cover?"  Well guess what - all teenagers, even the jocks and the cheerleaders and the valedictorians, all feel anxious and inferior and depressed and scared sometimes.  And guess what - that woman on the magazine cover most likely thinks she's fat and was probably photo-shopped so thinks even less of herself.  We all go through crap in our lives on a regular basis and if we were just willing to talk openly about it, I think it would all feel a little less crappy.  We wouldn't feel alone because we wouldn't be....EVER!

So yes, I have recently been through something traumatic which has caused an emotional breakdown like nothing I have ever experienced in my life.  I'm still in the middle of it and I question my sanity daily and, quite frankly, I'm scared shitless.  But the one thing I no longer feel is alone.  I have people to talk to who understand and empathize and who know for a fact that this tunnel has an end.  No one can tell me precisely when or how I'll find it, but they assure me that it is definitely there and they support me through my journey towards it.

Mental health on its own has an unfortunate stigma attached to it.  My breakdown coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week/Month which was actually quite helpful.  There were campaigns going on all over the place which provided information and support and reminded me that this isn't anything to be ashamed of.  The brain is a complex organ and sometimes it goes a little wacky.  For some it's temporary and for others it's permanent, but there is help for everyone.  I'm doing my best to get the help I need and blogging about what I'm going through helps me focus and find support.  If openly discussing my journey encourages others to seek help for themselves, then that's an added bonus.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don't Even Blink!

There are some moments when I really wish I could believe in god or angels. It would be nice to think that there was some supernatural, omniscient, omnipotent sky-daddy looking down on me and truly caring what happened in my life.  It's a beautiful thought that he would have angelic flunkies who would roam the earth saving us from burning buildings or helping us make better choices or reminding us where we left our car keys.

I was once a deist (many many moons ago) and watched TV shows like Touched by an Angel with reverence.  At the end of every episode Monica would show herself as an angel and would tell some unfortunate soul that god loved him and didn't want him going down this path, that all he needed to do was ask for god's help and everything would be peachy-keen.  It was a lovely thought.

When I'm having troubles, which I'm currently in the thick of, it would be wonderful to be able to ask someone all knowing and all powerful for help.  Someone who loves me and can make everything all better.

But it's all just bunk.  Tess and Monica won't be appearing out of nowhere with golden auras to lead the way.  And Jonathan Smith won't be strolling into town just to push me in the right direction.  In reality the only ones watching out for us are ourselves and the people (all human beings) who care about us.   Only you can prevent fires (forest or otherwise) and if you can't, you need to install smoke detectors and keep fire extinguishers handy to help protect you.  We are all accountable for our own decisions and the consequences thereof no matter what off the wall choices we've made.  And I would suggest finding a special spot to put your car keys so you'll always know where they are. 

When it comes right down to it, even if you could prove to me that this sky-daddy existed, there's no way I could even consider praising him. 

If your god in all his wonder exists AND this still exists:
There is no reasonable explanation other than your god is a dick!

 So through my troubles, instead of the invisible man in the sky, I will turn to my husband and friends and doctors and therapists and medicine.  I will turn to reality.  I will even turn to my dogs who give me unconditional love and affection.

Given my luck, if I did have a guardian angel she would most likely be weeping and trying to kill me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Deja Vu

Almost 24 years ago my first 'real' boyfriend dumped me.  I put 'real' in quotations because we were fourteen and I don't believe he ever really cared about me.  What he thought he saw in me was an easy mark.  He was determined that he wouldn't be a virgin by the time he turned fifteen in November - such noble aspirations!  We were together for less than three months and in that time he pressured me constantly to have sex with him.  Thankfully I was strong enough, both emotionally and physically, to refuse.  He broke up with me after his birthday, but let's be clear....on his fifteenth birthday he was no longer a virgin, but I still was.  That's right, first fourteen year old boyfriend....had sex with another girl while we were still together and then he blew me off.

I was devastated.  I was hurt.  I was heartbroken.  I was depressed.  I started hurting myself.  I would find a stray staple on the floor at school or a rusty nail on the ground and I would start to scrape it across my skin.  I don't think I would describe myself as an actual 'cutter'.  I didn't do it to feel the pain.  I didn't really want to hurt myself.  Most of the time I didn't really even notice that I was doing it.....but my friends did!!!  My friends would see it and they would stop me and tell me to snap out of it and that I was worth more than that and that he was just a jerk and I was better off without him.....  They would say all the things I needed to hear and all the things that I would eventually come to understand.

But that's not all I did.  One day I walked out in front of a car.  I knew that it was far enough away and going at such a speed that if the driver saw me, he would be able to stop in time.  I actually mentally calculated that and then consciously made the decision to step out in front of him.  He did manage to stop and then he got out of his car to yell out me.  I walked on pretending to be oblivious to the entire situation.  Inside a part of me was shocked that I would do something so dangerous and stupid, but another part of me was just wishing that he had hit me.  I didn't want to die, but I did want to stop feeling all the hurt.

The last straw was the morning that I stood in the shower, crying and staring at the blade of my pink lady razor.  I was watching how the light reflected off it and wondering how much it would hurt to slice into my wrists.  It was in that moment that I truly snapped myself out of it.  It was like my own stupidity had slapped me right across the face.  That was the moment that I did understand that I was worth more than that.  In that moment I became strong and confident.  In that moment I became me and I never looked back.

I feel a need to write about this now, because 24 years later I'm going through it again.  I had a traumatic event in my life that triggered all those same fourteen year old little girl feelings.  This time I saw a doctor and got help.  It's called Acute Situational Crisis.  I wish I had known that then.  I caught myself a few weeks ago with a staple in my hand, using it to pry away the skin on my finger.  I managed to stop myself before I went deep enough to hit blood.  I've also had a few moments driving where I've taken bigger risks than I normally would or I've simply wished that a transport truck would come out of nowhere and hit me.  Just like 24 years ago, I don't want to die.  I just want the hurt to stop.  But also just like then, I know deep down that I have to do this the hard way....through time and by talking things through and listening to the people who love me.  I haven't forgotten who I am or what I'm worth, but that doesn't really help with emotional pain.  Only time will heal me, so I will wait.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Taming of the Bush

The Telegraph - Like it or not, we need to break the pubic hair taboo

This article annoyed me so much that I had to take to the blog!

The article is all about women's pubic hair and the reasons why some women choose to remove or 'tame' it, that some men prefer that and pretty much that all women should stop.....wait....what???  I was with them until that point. 

Apparently porn is the cause for women choosing to lose 'the bush' because all men watch porn and all men agree that 'the bush' is disgusting and that makes all women have low self-esteem so they torture themselves in order to be submissive to these horrible porn watching men. 

First off - I am a porn watching woman.  Within the plethora of porn available there are women of all shapes, sizes, body types and an especially large variety of bush styles.  Some are wild, some are tamed, some are barely there and some are non-existent.  The one thing porn is not is consistently anything.

Porn has opened my mind to a variety of things.  Some things I've tried, some things I am considering and some things where I have immediately said 'absolutely not!' and moved on.  This isn't just contained to the sexual acts themselves.  It also includes costumes, surgical alterations, piercings and yes pubic hair styling.

Before watching porn, I never even knew that altering my pubic hair was an option.  Since seeing some different 'styles', I've tested a few out.  What I discovered was that I love the outcome for a variety of reasons - the feel, the look, the hygiene...etc.  What I don't like are the methods of achieving the outcome.  Shaving is difficult and I really don't like the idea of a sharp blade anywhere near my most precious areas...even if it is pretty and pink or has an awesome name like Venus.  Depilatories are dangerous in such an area.  I tried waxing and couldn't make it through the whole event.  The pain was so severe I wanted someone to bash my skull in with a cast iron frying pan just to end the misery.  I'm still considering laser, but until I find the money (and suitable pain meds), I'll have to be satisfied with just a regular pruning.

My second problem with the article was the suggestion that pubic hair removal is bad for us because of another article suggesting that it may increase the transmission of a certain type of wart. It refers to these warts as STIs (sexually transmitted infection).  I think this is a misnomer.  If you read the other article it clearly states that these warts are very common in children.  This suggests that it isn't so much a 'sexually' transmitted infection so much as it probably just requires skin to skin contact which happens to occur during sex and is more likely to occur in skin which has been 'traumatized'.   So if I shave or wax my legs (with which the author seems to have no issue), then I would probably be just as likely to get these warts.

My next problem is this:
"Several MPs declined the opportunity to comment on the politics of female body hair for this article, with one saying they did not want to become a “pubes pundit”."

Well I should hope not!  It's none of their damn business!!  Is this group actually looking for a governmental stance on pubic hair????

"She points to John Carr of the Council on Child Internet Safety’s suggestion that households should have to opt-in to viewing pornography online"

What???  First, can we say censorship?  Two, one person's pornography is another person's art.  Three, I shouldn't have to go out of my way to contact some 'agency' to let them know that I would like to look at porn.  Will I have to tell them which genres I'd like to be available to me as well?

"Whatever one thinks about porn - and whether an opt-in system is feasible - Object's Bennett points out that it has had an unmistakable impact on young women’s self esteem."

I can agree with that.  Everything in life has an unmistakable impact on self esteem, but not necessarily a negative impact.  For me, porn removed all the taboos that I had placed on sex and from that point on I blossomed.  I became more open and confident and strong.  And part of that was knowing that I could make my own choices about my body.

"As for me? When someone recently asked me what I think the biggest challenge is for young women today my on-the-spot answer wasn't about equality in the workplace or combating misogyny, but what do to with their pubes."

At this point I actually decided that the author was, in fact, a lunatic!

And the closing paragraph:
"Angst about pubic hair comes down to one thing; women changing themselves because of what they believe is expected of them sexually instead of what they want (ask any 24-year-old on their way to a bikini wax if it's how they really want to spend 20 minutes and see what they say). That's the thing about sex and your body it took me a while to realise – you're actually supposed to enjoy them."

I change all sorts of things about my appearance.  Yesterday I got a hair cut and I dyed my hair red.  I wear high heels and short skirts and low cut tops.  I do this all not because society expects it of me, but because I like it. 
And of course people don't enjoy the waxing experience (well some might), what they do enjoy is the weeks after where their body is the way they want it to be.  Having foils in my hair was not how I wanted to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon either, but I'll now have fun with my hair for the next 2 months.

I encourage everyone - all genders - to do whatever they want with their bodies, but it pisses me off when someone else tries to tell anyone that they're doing it wrong simply because they would do it differently or they question their motives.  If you want to turn your pubic hair into dreadlocks that hang down to your knees...more power to you.  But do not ever tell me that I am wrong or have low self esteem because I would prefer that mine just disappear.