On Thoughtworms and Mother Wounds

For the last few days, there is this bit of audio that keeps playing in my head. It’s a quote that’s stuck on loop. This often happens to me a lot. If for others the tendency to get songs stuck in your head is called an earworm, my head is one of those little styrofoam cups of nightcrawler for sale in gas stations and bait shops. This is not as fun as the chorus to SOS by Glorius Sons (seriously, listen to this song).

This is a quote on repeat. There is no hook, there is no musical accompaniment. Its just words. And they won’t go away.  I can hear it as clear as day, over and over no matter what I’m doing, no matter what’s going on, no matter whatever else I’m blasting in my ear canals to try to cancel it out. It’s in there, burrowed down deep inside like a parasite.

It’s my mother voice, nasal and deep fried and tainted yellow by cigarette smoke snarking

You see your Hell here on Earth.

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As I’ve said earlier, religion was never a strong point in the household I grew up in. My father was a lazy Methodist. My mother only cared about God when she could use the idea as a means of punishment. So they were Christian in nature but not knowledge. They knew what most ignorant Christians do. In the way that anything other than what they say and what they believe in is wrong. So, people of other races, religions, sexualities, nationalities, etc were wrong. Now we didn’t attend church or pray as a family, but as kids we weren’t allowed to say “bad” words (butt, suck, hate) or cut our hair. And good ole Mom used to brag that she knew more about the Bible than the Jehovah’s Witnesses that would come to my great grandma’s house.  Which is funny because growing up the family Bible was always located in the back of the trailer in the cabinet above where the washing machine was. The laundry detergent spent more time with it then she did.

The core of this is that while she may have put on airs about it, she was not a Godly woman. She was not a woman of Christ. And by that same token, she was not a learned woman either. So her view on where you found your own personal Hell was not as philosophical as it may have sounded. This phrase that she was repeating in front of baby me, enough times to burn it’s way into the core of my memory, was not a lesson in being responsible for your own actions. Or for being aware of what your actions create. It was nothing so beneficial. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

It was a trip wires laid across the field of my childhood. It was the passive-aggressive moanings of an unhappy woman who regretted the decisions she made. It was someone who didn’t want to be there and wanted those around to know that they were the reasons she still stayed. My mother had made her own Hell, and I was a part of it. And no matter how good my grades were, no matter how good my behavior was, and no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t make Hell any better. And she kept letting me know.

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My issue with the phrase is, as a mother (and trust me, I know the annoyance of using that phrase) why in the world would you use that as arsenal against your own children?i understand there is no making sense of abuse caused by untreated mental illness. I understand there are just people who shouldn’t be parents. But somehow you’d expect that sort of nihilism to be either explained or sugared if it was going to be force fed to children right?

The other thing that is troubling me is that I can not get this out of my head. I do not want to have this woman and her issues taking up any more space than needy in my already cluttered mind. Usually, the only way to rid myself of an earworm is to listen to the full song. Recently, it was “X” by Poppy. I got it stuck in my head and then listened to it a few times and boom, it was out of my head. (At least, until now cause I’m totally listening to it again.) But I can’t do that with a quote from someone I have no interest in communicating with.

Also, it’s kind of hard not to see the world as a being a little bit of Hell right now. Maybe its not coincidence that I started hearing it around the time of the Christchurch shootings. Part of me is wondering if maybe the old bag is right? Maybe we make our own Hell. Despite her own ideas about the afterlife and her facade of belief, is it true that the worst torture we can face is being alive? Is living the ultimate punishment? Is this world the worst place we can be? What’s better than here?

I don’t think I need to go into why giving thoughts like those even a second of time is dangerous. Thinking this world has gone to shit and there’s no relief coming doesn’t leave much room for growth. It doesn’t leave much room for living. It doesn’t leave much room for anything. And that’s not true.

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There is room for love. There is room for life. And there is room for all the good and bad things that come with living. Living is not a punishment. Yes, sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes there are things and people that make it worse, but being alive and being free and being HERE, is not hell.

The idea of Hell, with it’s demons and torture, has no place in our existence here on Earth. We can make decisions. Good or bad, they are all part of our story. We can make better ones and change our path. If we need to be better, we can try. We don’t have to turn our pain into poison to try to sicken those around us.

Look, I’m just shy of my mid 30s.  I feel that I’m almost too old to keep picking at this mother wound. For what it’s worth, it’s smaller than it’s ever been. I feel like it’s got some nice scar tissue forming on it now. I got to test it’s thickness out not too long ago with a chance Wal-Mart encounter and it did just fine. But every once in a while, the damn thing itches. This must be one of those times. Hopefully, talking about it here will exorcism this thoughtworm from my brain and make it go away.

You do not see your Hell here on Earth, Dear Readers. Your existence is not hell. Please believe that. It is the wonderful, messy, beautiful, scary, amazing, thing it is. And it and you are not a bother to anyone. Don’t listen to any entity that makes you feel otherwise. 

 

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Tahlequah’s gift

If you’ve been active on social media for the last couple of weeks you’ve no doubt seen the story of the killer whale known as Tahlequah.

Tahlequah is a member of the smallest of the four residential communities of killer whales in the northeastern part of the North American Pacific Ocean. Called the Southern Resident Killer Whales (or SRKW), the group swims the waters between Vancouver and San Juan Island bordering the Pacific Northwest.

The group is unlike other residential killer whale communities. Its population, cut down by food limitations, contaminants and vessel traffic disturbances, has been slashed to just 75. That 75 is made up of only one clan that contains three pods. Tahlequah’s generation is feared to be the last of her family. The youngest of her pod mates, a 3-year-old named Scarlett, has been seen to be extremely emaciated.  Scientists are struggling to track the young whale to try to feed her antibiotic-laden fish in hopes of keeping her from starving.

To describe this group as endangered would be an understatement.

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Photo by Ghost Presenter on Pexels.com

In SRKW, 20-year-old Tahlequah was set to birth the first calf in three years. After about 17 months of gestation, on July 25th, 2018 Tahlequah gave birth.

For 30 minutes, it was a glorious occasion. Another life had been added to the diminishing pod. A new generation has begun. The struggling 75 had become a hopeful 76.

And then, the calf, small for its size but huge in it’s potential, died.

As of this writing, it’s been 17 days since the death of Tahlequah’s newborn. And in a move that’s caused the civilian and scientific worlds to both gasp in awe, it’s been 17 days of Tahlequah pushing and carrying her dead child with her.

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It has long been known that whales and their sea-dwelling neighbors, dolphins, are intelligent. Crafted in July 2012 during the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on the Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was signed by participating neuroscientists. The Declaration states:

The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

This evidence shows that not only are whales and dolphins conscious, they are also self-aware. They have complex brain structures to use on complex functions, just like us. They live in complex societies, just like us. They are capable of experiencing a range of emotions, just like us.

And, as Tahlequah’s actions have shown, they feel grief and sorrow, just like us.

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Grief is only one size fits all in the way a straight jacket is.

There is no way to compare it among people. The only similarity is an emptiness that wraps itself around you and hugs you so hard you often have trouble breathing. You become stuck in that weird space between fear and familiarity. It hurts, but you’re used to it. The pain is rooted so deep, it has become one of the cores of your foundation. You don’t want to feel it but without it, you feel empty. So with bloodied paws, you continue your march.

We are seeing now the same is true for the grief struggle in animals.

In Tahlequah’s quest, I see a reflection of myself. Since the morning of November 3rd, 2011, I have been swimming, just like her,  against the tide of child loss. Controlled not by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon but by the weight of love and loss, I have been struggling to move forward. I have often forgotten my purpose in life and just reacted on muscle memory. Like Tahlequah, I have abandoned everything that was normal about my life and turned my whole existence into carrying the memory of my child.

To see and share pain is the most honest form of connection. It is the ultimate namaskar of souls.

It’s saying “Yes, I see your pain. Yes, I feel your pain. I see you. I accept you.” And that connection, be it between humans or animals or any combination of the two, is something that is revolutionary.

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On a personal note, I think it is wonderful that the whole world has been so touched by Tahlequah’s journey. The stories, the poems, the art, and the political change her story has produced has been uplifting and heartwarming. It’s important that we see and celebrate the connection between and us (humans) and the animal kingdom. To understand how important these animals are to our shared existence is something that I think we need to feel down deep in our bones. We need to continue to realize that there are more things on this planet than us. We need to respect their feelings and do better in accepting them as the rightful heirs to this spinning hunk of rock.

At the same time, I’d like for you to remember that there are people in your circles who are carrying the same weight as Tahlequah. But they won’t be the focus of a national news story anytime soon.No website is going to run the story about how hard it is to listen to the favorite song of someone who isn’t there. A picture of a grief-stricken parent, smile tense and eyes hard because s/he has to exist in such an unfair situation isn’t going to be a viral story.

Often times we forget about those people and their struggles. It’s easy to chastise these people when they are not being their best self. It’s easy to expect them to follow your guidelines and timetables of grief. What’s hard is to acknowledge them and their pain and give them reverence. What’s hard is to accept that grief is a weight that will be forever carried and a fire that will never be extinguished.

Maybe by acknowledging and accepting the pain that Tahlequah is showing in the waters off Vancouver, we will be better able to acknowledge and accept the pain of our human friends. When we do right by the planet and our animals brother and sisters, we do right by ourselves. Expelling empathy to all of the creatures around us, from those in the oceans to those sitting beside us in traffic, is the key factor in keeping this planet and each other alive.

And in the face of tragedy, maybe that is Tahlequah’s gift.

Sources:
Time.com
Fisheries.Noaa.Gov
Washington Post
Us.Whales.Org
Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness

Happy Obligation Day

Mother’s Day 2018 is officially in the bag. Another year, another series of cards, flowers, saccharine dollops of love and clickbait headlines like What Moms REALLY Want filling up your feeds. TV and radio commercials tell you about bouquets, hearts that look like butts necklaces and weekend getaways more frequently than they bring you the news. Every store has circulars and signs explaining how best to use your money to prove your love for your mother. Instead of being inspiring, these endless suggestions make Mother’s Day seem like an obligation.

And like Victory Gin, holidays of obligation leave a bitter taste.

I should be the prime target for this Hallmark holiday. I’m a mother of four. I like flowers. Shiny things catch my eye. I’d be so down for a spa day. But something about how Mother’s Day is celebrated really crumbles my cornbread. It feels too commercial, too disingenuous, too consumeristic.

My umbrage for it all probably has something to do with my personal mother quandary. Yes, I have a mother. Yes, she’s still alive. But she’s not worth the spit on the back of a stamp. She’s the fly in my self-esteem punch bowl. I have more things to vilify her for than celebrate. If anything, Mother’s Day is a reminder that of the hole in my life that she created that keeps me on the other side of normal.

Personal feelings aside, Mother’s Day has a pretty interesting history.

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Ann Maria Jarvis

The roots of Mother’s Day start with Ann Maria Jarvis. She was an OG social activist who cultivated women’s and health groups during and after the Civil War. With only four of her possibly 17 children reaching adulthood because of the effects of childhood diseases, she became a champion for better care and fought for more sanitary conditions.

It was Ann’s daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis (Yes, Ann Maria the mother had Anne Marie the daughter. How Norman Bates is that shit?) that made Mother’s Day an event.

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Anna Marie Jarvis

Looking to find a way to honor her deceased mother, Anna held a memorial celebration at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in 1908. (In the years since the site has been renamed The International Mother’s Day Shrine. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.) In the flair of her mother, Anna made the memorial for more than just herself. She incorporated all mothers in this remembrance as she felt that maternal figures were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”. It was Anna who introduced the idea of gifting carnations to mothers. She gave the Church 500 white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to commemorate her mother’s decades long service. In sharing these flowers with the mothers in attendence, a trend was born.

But eventually, even Jarvis struggled against the river of commercialization. She wanted the purity and sacredness of the day of remembrance observed, not made into a money-making tool by the floral, jewelery, and candy industries.

She was quoted as saying:

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

Jarvis went so far as to try to rescind the day in 1943 by organizing a petition. Her efforts did not get far because later that year she was, and I swear Dear Reader I am not making this up, committed to Marshall Square Sanitarium. She would die in that sanitarium five years later, penniless.

The history and the commercialism of the holiday make it a bit complex. My personal feelings make my experience of the day a little bit more complex. But my experience is not the same for everyone. Some people love Mother’s Day. Some people very much respect the idea and the methods in which that idea is delivered. And that’s totally cool! I am not here to ruin what others care very deeply about. That would not be fair of me at all.

We are all familiar with what Nietzsche said:

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Applying that thought to Mother’s Day is wise. Not every mother is Kitty Foreman or Clair Huxtable. That also means that not every mother is the cold cream faced Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. Somewhere between is where most mothers, just like people, land.

Celebrating or not celebrating is an individual choice.  Whatever your decision is, make sure it’s one made out of compassion and not out of obligation.obligationday

 

 

C’mon Get Happy…Or Else

In the Seventies, musical sitcoms were a thing. Singing, dancing, canned laughter, and tissue-thin plot lines, as corny as it sounds to us, it was a total hit. It seemed that at any given point, there were a handful of shows featuring singing families on TV. I can only take one musical episode a season at best. I don’t know how people in the 70s dealt with it.

There was one such musical sitcom that featured the story of a family who becomes a band and traveled around the country spreading music, bell bottoms, shitty haircuts and happiness. It was called The Partridge Family. (Get it, because partridges are birds and birds sing? *cue the canned laughter*)

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I personally never watched this show. My childhood was about 20 years too late to be into that mess. But the theme song for that show would become one of those sickly sweet diddies that refuse to die in obscurity. It’s been used in a commercial sense since the damn series ended. You’ve heard, you know it, now everybody sing along!

 

“Hello world, here’s a song that we’re singin’

Come on, get happy

A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’

We’ll make you happy”

 

Doesn’t that feel a little insistent? Like “Hey, your life might be shit and all but C’MON BE HAPPY!! WE ARE GOING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY!” The goal is happiness and The Partridge Family doesn’t care if you don’t want it or how much it hurts to get there. They’re going to make you happy, goddamnit.

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Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash

 

And that’s where we are in society currently. “Happiness’ is the ultimate goal. Optimism is the only vehicle to get us there. Why did I put quotes around happiness? Because our quest is not one for true happiness. The thing we long for, lust for, and wear ourselves to the bone for is for the illusion of happiness. We want others to think we are happy. We want them to think we’ve made it, that we have all our shit in together. These illusions of perfection and enjoyment have replaced our internal need for positivity. The validation from likes and shares has replaced the feeling we get when we generally enjoy something.

Our lives have become little more than pay per minute striptease for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Why would it matter if we are crumbling apart on a spiritual level if our selfies look fly? If those friend request from people we wouldn’t speak to in passing don’t keep rolling in, are we even valuable? If you can’t describe it with a hashtagged word, did it even happen?

Somewhere along the way, we’ve stopped chronicling our adventures in life for our own memories and started curating them based on others.

 

No thumbs up on the pictures of you and grandpa before he died? DELETE!

No one liked the poem you shared that you ripped out from your soul? DELETE!

That tagged picture that showed your real smile, double chin and all? DELETE!

 

Before long we’re augmenting not only our memories but the presentation of ourselves. Our ultimate internet form ends up being one of enduring optimism, polished success, and eternal happiness. And it’s as fake as it is beautiful.

That fakeness is what we are expected to obtain. The real part of us, the part that we are still stitching together, is not welcome. No one wants to see that struggle. There is no celebration of our going through hardships. We are not rewarded for the unflattering things that make us individuals. The gritty nasty parts of us remind others too much of the gritty nasty parts of them. Adding our lives to the collective consciousness of online profiles, special groups, and social coteries often means we enter this unspoken popularity contest. Before we can mentally put together what we’ve gotten ourselves into, it’s too late. Like the frog who doesn’t realize the water is getting warmer until it starts to boil, we waste away until we become one with the system. And then we yell the same rally cry as the people around us, but we do it louder and prouder because we are happier than them, after all:

“C’mon get happy!!”

Happiness and optimism are not feelings you can strongarm someone into experiencing. Forcing them to pretend that life is the emotional equivalent of a teen idol number one song isn’t only foolish, it’s dangerous. It betrays the concept of valid feelings and cheapens the power of the true experience. We need strife, we need struggle, we need unhappiness and pessimism to complete the cycle of life. So while the rest of the world might taking advice from a singing 70s sitcom family, I prefer to take guidance from a 90s-00s band out of L.A. who never wore bell bottoms or tried to spread happiness :

 

“Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”

 

 

featured image:Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Resting Rose Face

If you’ve been around for a quick minute, you are well aware of RBF or resting bitch face. It’s the unintentional facial expression that makes a person look like they are annoyed, angry, standoffish,  or just bitchy as shit. You know that face both Grumpy Cat and Kanye West make? That’s Resting Bitch Face.

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For some people, RBF has become a badge of honor. A visual representation of their lack of fucks to give. A private celebration of the fact that they do not have to play the part of ‘happy to see you’ to anyone.

For others, RBF is survival tactic to counter unwanted attention, solicitations, and catcalls. We live in a society with individuals who missed the call up to evolve from Neanderthals. Armour is not as stylish as a look that perpetuates the belief that you know how to maim someone with their own appendages.

And for some, like Grumpy Cat, it’s just the way their face looks. It’s a natural thing. Would Aubrey Plaza be as completely amazing as she is if her face was all sunshine and rainbows? No, probably not.

Some critics believe RBF is something that can be cured with a splashing of  tonic made of equal parts “You’d be prettier with a smile.” and “Smile, baby girl.” My stance on them is easy to understand. They’re full of it. Smiles and happiness are not things that are owed to society. Being and appearing pleasant is not something a person is required to do to take up space. We do not have to be nice to be here.

On the other side of Resting Bitch Face is my struggle. I have Resting Rose Face.

What’s Resting Rose Face, you ask?

Well, let me introduce you to Rose Nylund from one of the greatest shows of the 80s,  The Golden Girls.

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The Golden Girls is a situational comedy about four older single ladies sharing a house in Florida. Blanche, the stylish, attractive, man-eater Southern Belle, is the owner of the house. She is joined by Dorothy, a smart, sarcastic, often intimidating divorcee, Dorothy’s mother brash, brazen Sicilian mother Sophia, and my personal favorite, Rose.

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Rose Nylund is the character that just might have cemented Betty White’s fame. Rose was the adorably upbeat, naive, and often trampled upon sweetheart lady from St. Olaf, Minnesota. She was quirky and kind, and often the butt of serious burns from the other ladies. She was the sweet to Dorothy’s salt. And in that, I relate so hard it hurts.


If I had a dime for every time I’ve been called “sweet” I could afford the swanky place in which the Golden Girls lived in a modern day market. Maybe its the shape of my face, maybe it’s my obligation to listen to people who speak to me, maybe its the fact that I smile when I’m nervous. Whatever it is, I have always been tagged as the nice one. I offer Jehovah Witnesses drinks on hot days.. I’ve actually stood around and listened to the people at the kiosk in the mall trying to sell me face cream. I’ve had complete strangers tell me their life stories in public. Weirder still, I stood there and listened!

I have the sort of face that makes people believe I care. Because generally, I do. In my early 20s, I thought being a strong woman meant you had to be an asshole to everyone. I confused independence with selfishness. I thought the only way to be successful and “right” was to be a bitch. It was my mid to late 20s that I learned how fucking wrong that was. Maybe I am a natural pushover. Maybe I’m a natural people pleaser. Maybe I spend too much time with my head in the clouds and take a little too much enjoyment out of the simple things. That’s all okay! I am who I am.

What’s not okay is when this is taken for granted. And it happens, a lot.When people see me or register that I am there, it’s like I’m the human equivalent of a nice cup of tea. They relax and their troubles spill forth. It also leads me to get passed over a lot. While looking kind and friendly is not a bad way to spend your life (and really helps with traffic tickets), it usually makes you seem like the least interesting person of a group. So while the proud extroverts are the ones taking part in all the fun, I’m the type holding purses and talking to old people about their grandkids.

The struggle is real for those of us who have Resting Rose Face. The struggle is also real for those who have Resting Bitch Face. Life is hard. Having expressive faces is hard. The only thing we can do is to just be who we are. And try to thrive, no matter what face we have on.

The Problem With Purity Rings

After days of conversation and hours of introspection, my husband and I have decided that on our son’s thirteenth birthday we’re giving him a necklace. Unlike the “chains” that so many others boast about this necklace will be a locket. Inside that locket will be a picture of me.

More than just a lovely picture of his forever smiling mother, this locket will be a promise between my son and I. It will be a promise that from the day he receives it to the day he says “I do”, he will love no other woman as much as he loves me. This necklace will be a physical representation of the connection between us. And it will always remind him that no matter what, Mother knows what’s best for him. Every time he wants to make a decision on what to do, he’ll feel the necklace around his neck and will think of me and consider what I’d say in the matter.

*record scratch*

What? Is that too Norman Bates for you?

If the concept of that Mommy Dearest necklace makes your skin crawl, then so should the idea of a daddy-daughter purity ring.

 

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Photo by Jacob Rank on Unsplash

 

Purity rings, also known as promise or chastity rings, are typically given to a young girl in the Evangelical community as a commitment to chastity. A fashionable part of the abstinence-only sex education club, the purity ring is like a wedding ring but in a creepy incestual sort of way. Typically silver and simple, some of the rings have witty little mottos stamped into the metal while some feature a cross wrapped in a lazy sort of swoop way around the finger. Diamonds or their lower cost alternatives are also frequently used.

Instead of being between two consenting adults starting their lives as a wedded couple, the purity ring is typically between father and daughter. It signifies that the daughter will remain chaste until she marries. Since “purity” is all that is clean and beautiful in their world, the ring will help keep the girl on the straight and narrow. It’s a giant bubble of Godliness that protects her from the filth of premarital sex and the temptations of the secular world. Because of course, a young woman’s worth is totally dependant on how “pure” she is. Who needs brains, talent, or personality when you can say you’re morally unsullied?

Two of the high profile organizations responsible for the popularization of the purity ring in America are the True Love Waits* movement and Silver Ring Thing* movement. The mission’s statement on the Silver Ring Thing  (abbreviated as SRT, cause abbreviated are cool) reads:

“To inspire sexual wholeness in this generation through the power of the Gospel.”

It goes on to explain a little bit more:

Silver Ring Thing is a radical response to culture’s view of love and relationships.  Our events inspire teens to defy the meet-up, hook-up, break-up culture of today and discover true life found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This goes way beyond just ‘purity’ to embrace our identity and pursue a lifestyle that brings honor and glory to God.”

Sounds like some party people right? Part of the allure of groups like this is that they make their message seem hip. Most utilize a concert like atmosphere that rivals most rock bands. Some use comedians and celebrity testimonials to influence their audience.  More than that, they understand how the teenage brain works.

 

 

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Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

 

Peer acceptance is a key element to a young person’s development. If you’ve known a young person for any amount of time, you’re well aware of how important being accepted is to them. So for this movement to prey upon youths desire to fit in is as genius as it is disturbing.

While young people who make pacts to lose their virginity is a topic for countless exposes, tv shows, and movies, the reverse is not true. The market for hive minded purity was largely untapped. That was until these movements began their “Purity is cool! God is rad!” message. Based on the way young people work, the message went viral. Not because it was actually believed but because it was believed in mass.

The creepiness factor of a father, mother, or organization stomping on a child’s bodily integrity is huge. Forcing a child to take a vow on what they do with their body is troublingly archaic. It’s a practice of eliminating the sovereignty of a child before they can fully understand the meaning. While the common joke is to call followers of religions sheep, that’s exactly what this causes. The children grow up not understanding that their body is their own. This causes a dependence upon a hierarchy that puts the child on the bottom with parents and the church standing tall above them.

In Conclusion

The practice of purity rings is troublesome. It’s a restrictive, oppressive act that teaches children they are not in control of the only thing they truly have, their bodies. It is no wonder that we struggle with body autonomy in this country if this practice is so commonplace. So much time was spent wondering how to control what children do with their bodies, no one thought if they should.

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* Call it shitty writing, but I’m not linking to the organizations mentioned in the text above. You’re welcome to Google them on your own. I don’t want to support them by sending any traffic their way. After cruising their pages for information, I feel mighty dirty.

  

 

Dear Toxic Friend, This Is Goodbye.

I don’t know how to start this. Perhaps my hesitation is from this not being easy or enjoyable to write. So here goes.

This is my goodbye.

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This fragile relationship of ours is no longer good for me. You are no longer good for me. Your passive aggression taints every conversation we have, like second-hand smoke in a sweater.  Somehow, no matter what our conversation is about, you warp and bend it until it reflects light onto that one time, more than a decade ago, when I fell short in your eyes. Our friendship does not make me feel good about myself. If anything, it makes me feel like a scapegoat. I’ve worked really hard to grow as a person and to cast off the shame, guilt, and self-hatred that I carried from my childhood. I can not allow you to undo what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve tried to be a good friend. I’ve tried to honor your feelings and allow you to hold them. But you used your feelings as a weapon. It’s obvious that you still hold on to the anger and pain that befell you in the past. It’s obvious that this hot coal burned its way inside your body and took residence in your heart. While I am not one to tell someone to let go and move on, I feel that for us to have worked, you needed to calm that burn. I supplied apologies as a salve, but they never seemed to soothe enough for you.

You throw shade (as the kids say these days) and make remarks that seem to have no other point than to paint me as a villain and you my victim. They seem to suggest that all your hardships are because of the perceived slight you think I performed. Just to put it to bed, my actions back then were never malicious. You know this. I acted on what my soul called me to do. It was what I personally wanted for once, instead of what was wanted for me. I explain this to you so you understand, I was just trying to live my life. No one should be kept from that OR be made feel bad because of that. Its exhausting explaining time and time again that my actions were not personal attacks. I just wanted sovereignty.

I understand your life has had ups and downs. So has mine. Everyone’s has. I will not say that anyone has had it easier or harder than anyone else. We’ve all made choices and we all deal with their consequences. That being said, you really seem set on winning some imaginary Misery Olympics. I do not support and will not take part in such games. We should be celebrating each other’s successes, not trying to impress others with who hurts the most. Pain is not something that is measurable like that. While I am sorry that your experiences haven’t all been positive ones, I don’t feel that they should be things you wave at me in an attempt to make me feel bad for or to discredit my own.

For my own mental health, I can not allow you lay your sins on me and send me out into the wild any longer. I do not hate you. I do not dislike you. I would very, very much like for us to be close again. I would like for us to have the relationship we assumed we would. But I simply can not with things in their current state. I’m sorry we can’t be the friends we imagined we would always be.

Please have a good life. I wish nothing but the best for you. But I can accept nothing but the best for me.

BBBBBB

 

Selfishness VS Self Care

She was crying.

She was yelling.

She was stomping her feet.

Her hands were fists, shaking with rage.

She was a middle-aged woman. And her day was ruined.

But the thing is, it wasn’t just her day. It was a family day. And not just any random Sunday dinner type family day, but a day that was primarily planned for the children. Those children stood, silently defeated, behind the legs of their mother. Even an outsider could see that this event would be charred into not only their memory, but their future behavioral patterns. It was a lesson on how its perfectly okay to throw a fit when you are not happy. They will carry this event , and all the others like it from her, into every relationship they form as they age.

When having multiple events like the one above in your personal experience tank, it’s hard to distinguish between the ideas of selfishness and self-care. The word selfish ,according to Merriam Webster, is when one is “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, seeking or concentration on one’s own advantage,pleasure,or well being without regard for others.”

For people who grow up around abusive individuals , self-care often has the same definition. There becomes this idea that time spent taking care of one’s own self is time that could be better allocated to the care of someone else. This idea is planted in the person’s mind until sacrificial acts blossom into their modus operandi. Enjoyment is permanently set aside in hope of pleasing others. And this spreads to every single relationship. Significant others, children, friends, strangers, EVERYONE gets a slice first, until there’s nothing left  but crumbs.

We’ll never get full on crumbs. And we’ll run on those crumbs until there’s nothing left to sustain us. Then the whole ship goes down. This is why self care is important. If we are the foundation upon which we build others, we have to take care of that foundation. If we crumble, they all do. In order to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves. To do this, we must change our understanding of what being selfish is.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish.

Working to feel better, physically and mentally, is not selfish.

Enjoying your favorite foods/movies/music is not selfish.

Napping is not selfish.

Doing your make-up,nails, hair, etc is not selfish.

Wanting alone time is not selfish.

Relaxing is not selfish.

Pampering yourself the same way you pamper others is not selfish.

A castle is only as good as its foundation. Remember to treat yourself with care.

Love others but also, love yourself.

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