Latest Entries »

The Sex Survey Debacle

It was last July that I first attempted research for this article. I’d been seeing a lot of victim-shaming posts being passed around and it truly made me sick. Anyone who assumes that either the woman is not telling the truth or she asked for it…I guess I don’t get where it’s coming from. Sure, there are cases of girls who really did lie for whatever reason. But I think it’s a much smaller percentage than you think. Why do I think that? Because I can’t think of a single female friend or family member that has not suffered some form of sexual abuse. NONE. And in most cases, they suffer quietly. No police report, and in some cases they go decades without even discussing it with their loved ones. SO, why do you assume they are liars or “asked for it” when there is such a high percentage of these horrors happening. Are we all telling lies? Over half of the males have had some form of sexual abuse as well. This is a worse form of victim-shaming. If a male tells anyone, he will be ridiculed no matter which sex he was raped by. If he was raped by a man he will be teased about being gay. If he was raped by a woman, he’d be considered a pussy for not being able to hold her off. So instead of the stigma of being a “liar”, a man has to deal with the stigma of knowing that he’ll be ridiculed probably for life if he says a word. But a man can be raped and it is just as devastating emotionally. Please be kind. In either case, the best thing you can do instead of “innocent until proven guilty” or the opposite, how about just trying to be comforting until the truth comes out. It usually does in most cases. Abusers usually become repeat offenders and sometimes it takes the courage of one person calling them on it to get the word out and keep others safe.

And this internal discussion with myself along with my own experiences with sexual abuse was what convinced me I needed to write this article. But I wanted some stats to go along with it and I didn’t want to use some stats from some government agency that does not give us a true indicator of how things really work out in the real world. So I got to work on a little anonymous survey so I could gather a little bit of data to pepper the blog with. I put out feelers on Facebook asking for volunteers to take the survey and for people to share the request. Emails started pouring in quickly. In fact, I stopped making the request after a few days because I was overwhelmed. (Here’s the list of questions I used, for the curious.)

After reading about a dozen of them, I had to take a break. They each contained very personal stories that were an optional aside from the main questions. It was an emotional trigger for me and I was utterly puzzled by it. See, my own personal stories of abuse had become my way of coping. Telling folks had been my way of making it a separate thing from myself. Even though I have emotional issues because of what happened to me (Mainly, a strong distrust of men.), I am generally unfeeling when I tell you the story of what happened to me. There’s no emotional response to those things anymore because they are a distant story in a faraway land. Before I move on to why I think the stories were a trigger for me, I’ll just go ahead and tell you my own tales of woe.

While I’ve had many slight abuses, sexual harassment, and other inappropriate happenings; I will only tell you of the two most significant incidents. 1st of which was when I was 11 years old. I knew only in the most general way about sex at all. I was a very naive and sheltered child. I had a crush on a boy who lived about a half a mile away from me. He was two years older than me. We talked on the bus some and soon he started to come over to ride bikes with me after school. I thought we were good friends. I was alone in the afternoons after school for usually about 2 hours before my father came home from work. One particular day, I wore a mini skirt. The boy and another boy that lived close by came to play after school. We rode bikes for a bit and then we sat in the grass in my front yard and talked. The offending boy brought up sex. I told them that I’d be waiting for marriage. (Even though puberty had begun, the idea was still gross to me.) They laughed. HE stated that he’d already had sex. (I thought for years that perhaps he was not being truthful, but upon further reflection, maybe he HAD but only by force.) As the conversation progressed, he kept playfully touching my legs and trying to be flirty with me, but it made me uncomfortable. I just tried to move away from him at first, but it did not deter him. I told him to stop but then it just got more aggressive. I got up and jumped on my bike. I was not trying to “get away” but hoping that he would stop and we would just ride bikes and turn this back into something innocent. He basically chased me down and grabbed me by my wrists really hard to pull me off the bike. I managed to struggle free and I made a run for it toward the house. I’m not sure why I thought I’d be safe there, but I did think that. I made it inside the door and almost got the door closed but he shoved it before I could close and lock it. I ran further into the house to escape him and hopefully to hide, but I didn’t make it far. He dragged me into my bedroom. He sat on the side of the bed and held me from behind- tightly sitting on his lap. He started to pull off my clothes while I fought with every fiber of my being. The other boy had wandered in and tried to convince the other boy to stop, but he was younger and was threatened to keep his mouth shut. He left quietly. I do not blame him for not intervening on my behalf, but I wish that he had spoken up after the fact. He basically avoided me afterwards…either out of guilt or some other reason. I am not sure. And just as I almost gave up fighting from shear exhaustion, my father pulled up in the driveway. Probably the only time I’ve been truly happy to see him! The boy leapt out my window. It was already cracked open. The problem with his escape was that my father saw him. And forever after, I was a little slut. He assumed that whatever had happened, I was a willing participant. He didn’t ask for an explanation. He just assumed. And when he came in and my clothes were disheveled, what else would he assume? I could have forced an explanation for what happened, but I didn’t even have the words. I didn’t know what rape was. I wasn’t even 100% certain of the mechanics of sex. I didn’t know how to tell him what happened. I just kept my mouth shut for months while the boy continued to harass me. He would still come to my house some afternoons and pound on my locked door while I hid in my closet. One of those times, he actually broke in through a window that was unlocked and stalked the house in search of me, yelling insults to antagonize me into showing myself. Actually, he yelled most other times too, but sometimes I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying because of my location in the closet. He didn’t find me. There happened to be a double closet in my room…two separate closets that were connected in the middle. So despite checking both closets, he didn’t see me because I was in the middle connector and covered up by clothes, barely daring to breathe above the pounding of my own heartbeat in my ears. And even still, sharing this part of the story makes my heart pound. The closet days were the worst for me. The anticipation and anxiety of being found and being on the end of his sexual aggression was traumatic and terrifying. This went on until we finally moved away, but even then, he still harassed me at school. He pinched my butt or grabbed my boob in the hallway when no one was looking. He whispered to me in passing that no one would ever believe me if I told. This went on for YEARS. And he was right. When I did tell some friends about what had happened, they didn’t buy it. I was a nerd. Why would he want me anyway, right? After this, I had playground romances, but I never let anyone close to me because of what happened. It was a very long time before I attempted a real relationship because I was scared that deep down all boys were like this. And I thought that girls would continue to judge me so I stopped talking about what happened to me. And because of that, I didn’t develop any long-term meaningful friendships in school, either.

Because that ran on too long, I’ll give you a shortened version of the other story. After the dissolution of my first marriage, I dated like crazy. I thought I finally found “the one” with a particular guy and at first everything was great. He was good to me and we had some things in common. But toward the end of our relationship, as the sex life started to dwindle off, he got me whiskey drunk (I rarely get drunk at all) while I had some friends over. He excused us so he could put me to bed. But when he shut the door and helped me to the bed, he leaned my body over the side of the bed and started to remove clothing. I protested, but he just told me to be quiet. After all, our friends were in the next room attempting to sleep. I told him I was not in the mood. I was feeling dizzy and nauseous. I just wanted to sleep it off. He just laughed it off like that was a joke and kept going. As he tried to position me on the bed to “enter” me, he I tried to fight him off, but I was in no condition. He just held my arms tightly beside me on the bed while he had his way and I just gave up. I just closed my eyes and reminded myself it’d be over soon enough. Not very many of my friends actually know this story because it embarrasses me. I stayed with him for a time after this happened and I didn’t want people to see that “weakness” in me. I didn’t like how staying portrayed me in the story. So I avoided telling that story.

Reading the stories of the others made me remember just how “real” those incidents are and how they have changed my life no matter how much I pretend they didn’t.  So I sat on those surveys all this time. And I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them, but I still wanted to write this article for my own process of catharsis.

I will just give you the basics. Out of everyone who filled out the survey (A little less than 100), only two males responded. Only one person had not experienced any of the sexual abuses listed in question 3. And it was one of the males. Most of them had experienced MORE THAN ONE of the abuses listed. It was an eye-opener. And I believe these stories because they are anonymous and also because they are mostly comprised of people I know. And it is sad. Because yet again, the majority don’t talk about it or never confronted their abuser in any form or fashion.

And the end result is an overwhelming sadness and hurt for these and others who have experienced these things. A sadness caused by the fact that I was right in the assumptions I made that started the process of this article. I was right. This is going on right under your noses and in most cases you can’t shame them because they’ll never tell. And until we as a society allow them to feel “safe” and “un-judged” by discussing it, it will continue to be this issue that is swept under the rug or dismissed.

So, that’s why I’m making this public. The discussion line is open and needs to be there without judgement.

 

Advertisements

Breaking Into the Piggy Bank ***

***This is a sample chapter summary from my autobiography. I wrote it many years ago and have not since edited it. But I wanted to share this as an example of my toxic parents for future reference as it’s a subject I plan to detail in a later blog (or two- let’s face it, I have lots to say.)

My senior year in high school, I worked as a clerk in a grocery store.

It was not the best job in the world, but I made some money towards

getting a car and going to college. My parents were fighting a lot

during this time. My mother slept on the couch most of the time and

church was the only thing keeping her from sinking into the abyss. My

father had a serious gambling problem and was spending what little he

had on playing bingo or heading to Tunica (a casino town, only two

hours away.) My mother had been fired from her job during my junior

year and was in the midst of a legal battle with her former employers.

We were scraping by on her unemployment and then a part time job was

the only thing she found. My father got to a point where he (he’s

actually this childish…) thought that it was UNFAIR that my mom

should get to sit at home on her ass. So, he quits his job of 20+

years and puts a further hardship on the family.

 

So, at this point in my life (what is supposed to be the best of

times- SENIOR YEAR!) I was having to go to school, go to work, help

out with putting food on the table, taking care of my kid sister, and

still doing chores around the house because no one else seems to do

it! It was not much fun.

 

But despite all the added pressure, I was happy because I was in

COUNTDOWN TO GETTING OUT! I would finally be out from under my

parents’ wing. I would be away from the added responsibilities, and

far away from them. I had already applied to a college out of state,

had multiple grants & scholarships, and had been scrounging and saving

for that day when I would be free…Oh that day sounded so sweet. When

I thought of it, choirs of angels seemed to sing “Gloria in excelsis

Deo”.

 

I had a savings account swelled with money – enough that I could

outright buy a used car and also have a few months of rent and bills

covered. I was set to move one month after graduation to get my

apartment set up and get settled in before time for classes to start.

However, life happened and only a month or two before graduation I got

a bank statement that showed only a few dollars and some change in my

account. I flipped out a little at first, then calmed because I

thought there must be some bank mistake and this must just be an

INTEREST statement. I went to my mother who dodged me at first but

then admitted that she had been forced by my father to take the money

out. You see, her name was on the account since I was a minor. I still

to this day do not understand why she didn’t fight it more. Why would

you let your child’s hard earned money go to a gambler, even if he is

your husband? That’s right, folks. “Daddy Dearest” took a little trip

to Tunica with my money and spent my year or more earnings (couple of

thousand, THAT’S ALL!) in a one night gambling binge.

 

Livid doesn’t come close to describing how I felt. But, he’s an

abusive asshole and also my father and therefore there was NOTHING I

could do about it, except cry. He denied it, of course. That is his

way of dealing with things. I started keeping my money in cash and hid

it in numerous places after this. It still ruined my game plan. I had

to lean on my uncle who knew a sleazy car dealer to help me get a car.

I payed a $300 down payment and payed monthly payments on a car that

died before the payments were done.

 

Once I got to college, everything just got worse. In no time,  I ran

out of what little money I had from paying rent, bills, and car

payment on part-time money. I got student loans to help cover it.

(loans that I’m still paying on to this very day!) The car broke down

in the middle of my second semester and I had to actually walk to

classes (a couple of miles away) and ended up late or missing them a

lot of times. I started shoplifting food…I’m not proud of it, but I

was tired of having nothing to eat. I’d go stuff a steak in my purse

and eat good at least once or twice a week! By the end of the semester

I was so overwhelmed and my will was broken so I just moved away and

didn’t worry about going back.

 

To this day, my father denies that he ever took the money. He claims

that I must have imagined the whole incident. If you have a doubt in

your mind because of his denial, let me reassure you. He also denies

things in my life that I actually witnessed, as well as those I

didn’t.

hsme

Me from that time period- with an armload of puppies.

 

If I had only known then…

20 years ago today, I married my high school sweetheart.

oldwedding

This sounds like the beginning of a lovely story, and it is, but not the one you think. We split in 2011 and divorce came soon after. So why am I writing about it? I felt compelled to write about it because the date had me reminiscing both the good and bad, but I finally feel that I have a truly honest opinion about the relationship and I’m past it. I can look back with fondness or I can tell you what went wrong, but I don’t feel it holding me back or bringing me down. I feel peace.

First off, I don’t hate him. That’s usually a shocker to people who have known us for many years. They don’t understand how I can walk away from those years together and feel positive about it. But we both made mistakes. We married at 18 and we had no idea what we were getting into. There are things I fault him for and there are things I fault myself for (mostly jealousy and distrust). Regardless of the issues with each other, I think we are both at heart good people. We were poison when put together in a romantic sense, but always good friends no matter what happened. I regret that we weren’t able to maintain that, but I feel it was necessary for closure. We do keep in touch vaguely because we are in the same creative circles.

I remarried in 2013. My ex-husband was actually the photographer for our wedding which some people found hilarious and some people found awkward. But it wasn’t awkward for me. (Not sure about for him.)

I’m happier and I hope he’s happier. If I had known then what I know now, would I still have married him? I don’t know, honestly. I think we would at least have split sooner, but truthfully, I’d be scared that changing any of it would change the outcome of what I have now. I have a loving husband that I probably wouldn’t appreciate if it weren’t for the things I experienced the first time around. I also have the confidence to make it on my own no matter what happens.  Because no matter what, I know I will be okay.

So…thank you, Daniel. I know you may never read this, but thank you. Thank you for the life we had and for the wisdom to know when to let go and move on.

And we lived happily ever after…just not together.

My Best Relationship Advice (In a Nutshell)

I thought I had it all figured out…until the disintegration of my first marriage. After 16 years of marriage, I thought we were built to last. But, as it turns out, no one ever has it figured out…at least not 100%. The divorce almost broke me.

I dated. I did some things and people that I deeply regret. Until, one day, a new man  came along that swept me off my feet. He made me eat the words that I’d been telling everyone. “I’ll never get married again.” We were so close and even though we’d only been together a brief amount of time, it just felt right. And I justified it by telling myself, “Ah well, if it doesn’t work out, I know now I can make it so I’ll just take the gamble.” Though I don’t regret the marriage, I don’t recommend that being the basis for getting married!

We were crazy in love and reckless…and we threw caution to the wind and married after only meeting 6 months prior. And what I found very quickly is that we didn’t know each other at all. We had tons in common and we loved each other. We genuinely enjoyed spending time together, but we didn’t understand the personalities that we’d just saddled ourselves with and I think that’s a common mistake. I’m extremely jealous and riddled with depression and self-doubt. He didn’t see a lot of that up-front because we were in the “honeymoon” of our relationship. It wasn’t that I was trying to mislead him but that I was genuinely happy when he was around. He had warned me on our very first date that he was “an asshole”, but I laughed it off. I never saw any example of that.  It wasn’t until our first few fights that these and other negative personality traits came out to play.

Every time we fought, he’d get defensive. He didn’t understand why I was angry or upset and honestly couldn’t even tell the difference between the two. So if I got my feelings hurt, he lashed out at me because he didn’t think he had done anything wrong and then I’d end up angry because of his reaction and it would snowball into a huge avalanche.  No matter what we fought about, this was always how the chain of events happened. I’ve found this happens a lot because men claim they do not understand a woman or her emotions. You do not need to know great detail about what is bothering her. All you need to know is that she is ruled by her emotions. You have committed some offense that has caused a knee-jerk emotional reaction that she can not help. So fix it. That’s all. You don’t have to admit wrong or even feel that you are in the wrong. In a relationship there are two sides to every story. She feels a certain way. You make it better. This is not a battle or a war. Just love the person you are with enough to make them feel better.  And I think after a dozen or more of the same fight, I did sit down and rationally explain this to him. (After my emotional outburst had calmed.) And surprisingly, he got it. This is not to say we never fought again. That’s just silly. And sometimes he forgets because his own knee-jerk reaction gets in the way. But when he steps back from the situation, he remembers. And it’s made us stronger.

Another issue that we had was in regards to having the same fight. What I discussed before was how we approached a fight. This bit of advice is geared more towards understanding how we accept love. And how not giving the other person the kind of love they accept will just cause misery.

Someone recommended the 5 Love Languages to me. I was skeptical, but at the time I was working a job as a route driver. I listened to audio books to pass the time. So, I added it to my list. What shocked me when I actually got around to listening was that it made sense! Everything clicked!

Here’s a brief explanation…Everyone receives love in different ways…the main 5 ways are Words of Affirmation (Spoken appreciation and praise), Acts of Service (Anything from a shoulder massage to taking out the trash),  Receiving Gifts (not necessarily expensive- poems  or hand-picked flowers count), Quality Time (actually giving your partner your undivided attention), and Physical Touch (anything from holding hands to intercourse).  We need all these things to sustain a relationship, but EVERYONE has a PRIMARY love language. There is ONE of these languages that is the one that is most important to you, and more than likely your partner’s is different. A lot of times we try to use what WE perceive as love to try and make them happy, but theirs isn’t the same so it doesn’t quite work.

I’ll (reluctantly) use our relationship as an example. I read love through physical aspects of a relationship. And because of that I often have been accused of only wanting one thing. But it’s not just that. I need to feel wanted. And when I got pushed away, the sense of rejection in me was something terrible. It rolled on down that hill created that avalanche that I spoke of earlier. And even if every logical part of my being says, “I know he loves me…” there is still this horrible rejection hanging over my head that whispers doubts in my ear.

His way of receiving love is Acts of Service. (Which I honestly believe is somehow related to him being a spoiled only child. LOL!) Most of the time I hold up my part of this…UNTIL I start feeling those doubts and rejections and then I withdraw from doing things for him because in my head that makes sense. And then he senses something is wrong. I guess subconsciously that is my goal but surely there is a better way. And there is.

The very same day I came home and played a clip from the audio book that used an example of another couple where the person with the “Physical Touch” primary love language wasn’t getting what they needed. It was almost like a light bulb dinged above my husband’s head! I explained all of them and even told him that I’d guessed his was acts of service and he agreed. And since then, he is much more sensitive. If he’s not in the mood or isn’t feeling cuddly, he is much more attentive to my needs and understanding of the reaction when he doesn’t give me those things.  And I’m trying to understand that he isn’t rejecting me every single time, but sometimes that emotional knee-jerk reaction comes into play. But once I calm, everything is fine and dandy.It’s made us grow in our relationship in a way I would have never believed possible.

Anyway, I hope this helped you or at least made you feel that you weren’t the only one with these problems. If you still don’t understand the love languages, I recommend either reading more about it online or seeking out the book yourself.

***I am in no way saying our relationship is perfect. As with any relationship, it’s a work-in-progress.

 

 

 

 

When your best friend dies…

A year ago today, my best friend died.

I have spoken about it with others who knew him and posted brief Facebook posts about it. I’ve flipped back through old pictures. I’ve visited his grave with another friend and we had a few smokes and talked about how much he would have loved that. I’ve reread old conversations. I’ve even looked up his YouTube videos a few times.  I’ve gone back and forth from anger to sadness to denial. I still have days where I expect a text from him. It has seemed this past year that almost everyone else has gained acceptance, but I haven’t. Because I feel like if I accept it; he will really be gone. I am finally seeing a future where I can accept it, but I’m not quite there.

I know a lot of people are grieving for him. He was such an original. And he cared so much. He was there for a lot of people…not just me. But I can’t help myself from wrapping up in this hurt cocoon and not letting anyone else in.  I don’t know if it’s normal, but this is what I got. This is who I am.

We both suffered from depression and self doubt on a daily basis. And we were life preservers for each other. We were both drowning more often than not, but together we were able to give each other reasons to keep going and that is a hard thing to lose. I have major depressive disorder. And now my life preserver is gone. But sometimes the words he left me with are enough. At times I think there will never be another person who understands me like he did. He saved me so many times and I can only hope he knows how much he helped me.

From here forward, I am going to try to remember the GOOD. And not dwell on my selfish loss any longer. Because it was a loss for all who knew him. And an even bigger loss for those who didn’t. 

 

I will miss you always.

I will always be waiting for that text.

I’ll see you in Old Zealand, someday.

The Gathering of the Drowning Caribou

 

An oscillating fan turns and turns.

And I wait for the breeze to come back to me.

But it’s never enough to dry the sweat.

I’m suffocating but I work diligently.

I decorate my room with red plastic gas cans.

I won’t give up waiting for you…

To pick me up in the shed…

for the gathering of the drowning caribou.

 

 

People Don’t Change.

It should be common knowledge. While people profess that they understand, their actions speak otherwise.

In most intimate relationships (marriage/long-term specifically),  there’s usually a member who is trying to change the other.  Sadly, ladies, it’s us most of the time!

I spent the first few years of my marriage trying desperately to change aspects of my husband. I thought I was supposed to make him perfect or “right.” I was young and didn’t know any better, so don’t fault me for it. There are certain things they can change like bad habits or other small things, if they wish to change them. You can’t usually correct personality traits or behavior that’s been programmed during their upbringing. They may even try for you, but they will slip back into their norm in a short amount of time.

So, whether you come to this realization by reading this or you’ve reached that point sometime before; what you have to do is  either get over it or move on.  It’s as simple as that. I got to that crossroads in my relationship. We were having the same fights over and over again. Our relationship was chaotic at best, and I thought it was done. I felt like my whole world was falling apart. I couldn’t even get him to spend a few minutes with me per day to work on things.  I couldn’t understand how he could say he loved me, but give up. Finally, I did leave. But I couldn’t see him in a negative light no matter how hard I tried. I realized he really did try to change, but he just couldn’t. Once I got that through my thick skull, I started to weigh everything. I considered…well since he can’t change, can I deal with him the way he is? I spent a few weeks away from him, before I came back. I missed him, and aside from that I realized that the flaws that he had were much easier to deal with  than I thought. When you hold their flaws up to other relationship problems (of your own past or of those around you), you might just see the answer right in front of your face. Either he’s worse or better than the others! I realized mine was much better than being with some abusive asshole! He took care of me (which is his own way of showing me he cared) and we were (and still are) best friends. From that point, our fights lessened because I started to be more understanding of who he was and why things went a certain way.

The biggest fight we had: that he didn’t spend enough time with me. How did we fix this? We didn’t. I do my own thing and he does his. He perceived me as being clingy because I was nagging him about it.

Me- “Why don’t you spend some time with me?”

What we mean- “Please take 5 minutes a day to let me know you care.”

What he hears- “I NEED YOU TO SPEND EVERY WAKING MINUTE CUDDLING WITH ME AND WATCHING CHICK FLICKS!”

Oh yes, that’s what he’s thinking when you say that. So you might want to be careful how you approach things like that. You might think you’re being subtle, but he’s thinking “My GOD, she never leaves me alone.”  My husband actually told me that he thought I wanted to spend 24 hours a day with him. I found that a bit insulting. Do you really want to be viewed that way? I started focusing more on hobbies, and now sometimes he actually comes to ME to spend time. It’s refreshing and it makes me feel more valued!

It isn’t the same fight with everyone, but it’s a common one. This is just an example to show you how different you look at things, and how the solution may seem to lie with him, but sometimes it doesn’t.

This also applies to other relationships in your life (family & friends), but only you can make the decision to deal or move on. It’s harder with family. For example, my father is a person that I don’t get along with. I don’t spend much time with him, but I keep in touch because he’s family.  However, I’m quicker to drop friends if they have certain personality issues that I don’t like.

Stop Dieting

Don’t go on a diet. (if you follow a fad diet, you will probably deprive yourself of the things you love to eat, and therefore FAIL, and then binge! Learn to treat yourself and learn MODERATION!)

You have to educate yourself on what’s healthy and what isn’t. You’re not stupid. (or maybe you are…I don’t know.) For the most part, you already have some basic knowledge on the subject, but here are a few, just in case:

You should eat more vegetables and fruit.

You shouldn’t eat too many carbs. (Use whole wheat pastas and breads when you do!)

Avoid fried foods.

Avoid  ALL SODAS. Do not fool yourself into thinking that diet sodas are good for you. Sodas in general are chemical crap that you should not put into your body. I recommend tea, juice, or water. (Personally I mostly drink sweet tea since I’m southern, but I use significantly less sugar than most people.)

Eat slower. Your stomach takes about 15-20 minutes to let you know that it’s full. So that “last bite” was way beyond what you should have actually eaten!

Stop thinking of exercise as a chore. I go for a nice walk with my headphones on and the rest of the world melts away for a short amount of time. It’s more like meditation. I’ve started thinking of it as “ME” time.

Find substitutes for the things you crave. If you have a sweet-tooth, try different types of fruits. If that doesn’t do the trick, try fat-free pudding or yogurt. If you still feel that’s not working, get yourself so sugar-free or fat-free candies to keep on you. Those aren’t exactly good for you, but it’ll help keep the cravings at bay. For the folks like me who love salty & sour, pickles are the obvious way to go. If you still can’t resist chips, then try some healthy alternatives like baked chips, fat-free pretzels,  or low-fat crackers.  Celery is loaded with natural salt. Make a whole tray of fresh veggies to dip in fat-free ranch. I’m salivating while writing this!

Stop ignoring your own bad habits. I groan to myself every time I’m at Subway and see someone choosing the healthiest sandwich on the menu and slathering it with mayo and cheese. Or I see someone get a salad and just DROWN it in ranch dressing with bacon and cheese on top. You know better, but that stuff tastes sooooooo good. I love mayo, cheese, and ranch as much as the next person but either find a low-fat or no-fat version or find an alternative. (My favorite sub is the roasted chicken on wheat, no cheese, all the veggies except the jalapeno & banana peppers, and a thin line of honey mustard. )

Don’t deprive yourself of your favorites. Yet again, I reiterate that you do NOT have to  stop eating the foods you love, but you have to use moderation and a little restraint. Treat yourself to a bit of chocolate now and then. Have a slice of pizza occasionally.  Just don’t do it daily!

I’m no food expert or doctor, but I truly believe these are things you should listen to NOT JUST TO LOSE WEIGHT, but to be healthy.

The Fairy-Tale Romance Myth

When I was a little girl, various forms of media bombarded me with the idea that someday I would grow up to get married and live happily ever after. Along the way, I got the real scoop.

My “Prince Charming” and I married a bit too young. We did the courthouse wedding (ie. no wedding at all.) I was bitter for many years about not having my “dream wedding”. Many girls get so hung up on the “dream wedding” that they don’t even care what schmuck they get stuck with as long as they have the debt-inducing, fairy-tale wedding. Let me tell you something right here and now; that wedding isn’t going to make the man live up to your fantasy. I gave up that ghost.  I found out that the wedding (and sometimes even the vows) mean very little.

No matter how many chick-flicks (or romantic comedies) you watch, you aren’t going to learn some magical way to make or meet the perfect man. Most men just don’t have the thought capacity for being romantic. They might be romantic while that “new-car smell” is still on the relationship, but it wears off eventually! He’s never going to sweep you off your feet. He’s never going to be your Richard Gere. (And hey, you’re no hooker, either.) He’s never going to live up to that standard. If you put that kind of expectation and pressure on ANY man, eventually it will drive them away. He might be a good one you’re letting get away because you are waiting for a man who doesn’t exist.

Don’t give up hope on love. I’ve been with the same man for *cough cough* years. We’ve grown up together. We may not have  much romance, but we have an overdose of friendship, respect, and love. Don’t underestimate those things.

The biggest word to remember is TOLERANCE. I’m sure you’ll see this word again in future posts, but it’s an important one! You have to find someone you can TOLERATE on a daily basis…for a lifetime. That sounds easy, but it isn’t! Those cute little annoying things he does aren’t going to be cute 10 years down the road.

You must be friends…and you must be open about whatever is bothering you. There’s no such thing as sharing TOO MUCH in a relationship. Tell him what you’re thinking and feeling; and encourage the same from him.

You must have at least SOME common interests, but you need to have time apart too. You both need alone time and friend time! Co-dependence never works out!

Don’t feel pressured (or do the pressuring) to get married. Take your time. Be sure that it’s right. It’s not “fate” you’re dealing with. It’s common sense.

If you stop looking for the fairy tale and start looking for the real thing; maybe you’ll be like me and find your contentment…instead of the non-existent “happily-ever-after”.