I Let This Ruin Us

*

I do not say anything.  I let this ruin us.  

I was turning 33, having finished my master’s degree and recently returned home to Vancouver, and he was 35, the only man I had ever loved.  We had broken up four years prior but so much had not changed.

When he asked me to come down to see him for my birthday, (or else he could come up and see me?), I had agreed.  He was the only one I wanted to spend my birthday with: reliable, loving, fun.

I had just been dumped by a 22 year old after only two dates for someone he “had a better connection with”.

*

We had Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits for dinner.  When he had asked what I wanted for dinner, he added, “Whatever you want” and I thought long and hard.  I was on a diet.  I was always on a diet.  But birthdays are automatic ‘cheat days’, those are just the rules.  It took an hour to drive there, and an hour back.  When we kissed after ordering, the girl at the counter cooed.  My cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling.

We laughed till we didn’t need to do sit ups.  He kissed my neck.  We drove home with our food and our laughter and our happiness.  He shared his fries.  He gave me his biscuit.  His love was heavy with generosity.  We watched the hobbit.

“Is it better than the first one?”

“Way better!”

And it was.

*

I don’t know how to say I think this love might be hurting me.  I don’t know how to say that I might have been wrong before, that maybe my heart isn’t big enough to hold all the caring, that maybe my heart doesn’t have room for all the men.  I am a writer who is speechless.  I can’t say that I might not want him inside me, that it’s not so simple, that I’m confused about how I feel.  I think this extended love might be fucking me up.  This fucking might be damaging my good parts.  I don’t know how to say it because I let it happen.

*

“Get on top for a bit,” he says.

I don’t want to.  It hurts my knees.  I’ve told him I don’t like to be on top.  Why can’t anyone hear me?  I say things and no one sees me.  I’m spiralling.

I get on top, but I don’t want to.  I’m not in this place anymore.  It hurts because we’ve been fucking too long.  Or because my vagina is saying what I can’t.  Or because it hurts my knees.  My mouth feels dry.  Why can’t I say anything?  Why won’t you say anything?!

*

I used to write that we had duct tape love.  That our love would fix anything, hold it all together; our love was makeshift and beautiful.  But now I have stuffed my face with gauze, put duct tape across my lips; I am silencing myself for this love.  This is not love.  This is love.  I can’t see straight anymore.  It’s not so easy.

“Get on top, it feels so good,” he says and kisses me.  “You feel so amazing.”  And he means it.  It would kill him to know he was hurting me this way.  It would kill him.  It would kill him.  It would kill him.

It probably wouldn’t kill him.  I am not so special.  Why don’t I say anything?

I smile.  I try not to cry.  It’ll be over soon.  And then I almost vomit because of how much this sounds like rape.  But I haven’t said anything to him, I am the only one who knows I don’t want this.  I am the only one who knows that I am conflicted, that this doesn’t feel right anymore.  I am the only.  I am the only one.  Only one.  I am alone. My heart is tight.

Say something I scream inside my head.  Say anything.  Say no.  Say stopJust get off him.  He’ll plead; he’ll cajole.  He’ll say, “but you feel so good, you feel so great.”  He’ll try to convince me with compliments my ego doesn’t care about.  He doesn’t know that you’re falling apart inside.  He doesn’t know that you’re shedding layers with every thrust.  He doesn’t know.  He doesn’t know.  You have to tell him.  You have to say something.  But, it’s my birthday and it’ll be okay, I think.  He already made me cum and I can’t leave him hanging and I love him.  I will always love him.

I do not say anything.  I let this ruin us.

*

Later, after he finished, and we snuggled, my head on his chest, his arms cradling me, I turned over in the darkness and cried.  At first, the tears streamed slow and quiet towards the pillow, but I am an emotional volcano, and I could not control it.

I cried because I fucked him past when I wanted to.  I cried because sometimes when I’m with him I can’t help but think of other men that I am dating, have dated, will date, and that makes everything feel so very complicated.  My mind never stops.

I cried because I thought my heart was big enough to hold everybody, but my arms are getting tired, and I don’t know how to say that maybe I was wrong.  I don’t know how to say that I am terrified about what life will be like if I am horribly wrong about how much space there is in my heart.  I cried because I don’t know if I want him like this anymore.

Everything feels so cramped and crowded.  I am heavy with diamond problems.  It’s hard to complain at the bank.

*

I do not say anything.  I let this ruin us.

*

The next morning he made me breakfast in bed, having already gone shopping for all my favourites.  He made me coffee because the last time I had visited we fought over coffee.  He didn’t understand how it was an addiction.  He didn’t understand how it was important.  I had thought it meant he didn’t understand me.  My friends said coffee was not such a big deal.  I said that after 40 years, arguing over coffee might start to wear on you.

My friends said that I am lucky to have such love.

It was hard to complain about coffee when he had paid to fly me home from Montreal for a visit.  He had paid to fly me across the country and I was complaining about coffee.

Ungrateful.  Ungrateful.  Selfish selfish selfish little…

*

I don’t know how to extricate myself from this love.

Feminism: It’s Not All About You




I just want you to think about the place that you’re coming from when you shirk the idea that you could be a feminist.  Think about the privilege of your life.

Where you were born.  Who you were born to.  The time in which you lived.  The freedoms that you have.

Someone fought for those.  Someone stood up and said WE…WE WILL TAKE NO MORE OF THIS!  Someone stood up for you.  And now here you sit…just sitting.  Because you don’t want to claim the notion that women should be treated equally to all others.  Because you’re afraid of the backlash.  Because you don’t want to be labelled, or pigeon-holed, or put in a box.  Sitting.

If during my childhood there had come a point where my education was not on par with others, say for example I couldn’t read, I would’ve stood up and said, “someone must teach me!” because I always knew that everyone deserves to be educated.  Imagine living in a world where you didn’t know this?  How do you ask for a thing you don’t know you should have?

(now admittedly, I didn’t learn fractions in grade six or whenever you were supposed to and I didn’t mention it, really, until high school, mostly because I was still able to coast on by with what knowledge I already had.  Nonetheless, I eventually learned because I eventually knew that I was missing out, I was being given a less than education by skating by.  And so I told my father and he taught me math.  At night, after he’d get home from work, my Dad and I would sit around the kitchen table and he would teach me the math I hadn’t learned.  My father taught me math because he couldn’t imagine a world where he wouldn’t want his daughter to have every opportunity and advantage and chance at success and happiness.  My father couldn’t imagine a world where I wasn’t capable and deserving of anything and everything.)

So, what if you had been born with shitty parents, or parents’ whose religion or customs or even just their view of the world said that you were less than, that you should be docile and subservient?  What if you had been born in a country where they refused to educate you?  Or what if your parents wanted the very best for you but lacked the economic stability to open doors and possibilities?  What if you were a woman of colour, a woman outside of heteronormativity, a woman on the edge?  What if your parents were too absent, or too poor, or too judgmental, or too busy just trying to keep you and them alive?  What if your parents just honestly didn’t know better?

Who would stand up for you?

Take a step back from the luxury and freedom of your life (even on the days when it doesn’t feel that way at all) and think about all the people who risked everything for you and how little you’re currently willing to risk for others.  If you want to call yourself a humanist, fine…great.  But at the very least consider what that really means and who exactly, are these said humans, you want to help.

And honestly, that fear, that knee jerk reaction not to claim feminism, not to say that you would do everything in your power to help other struggling women is the very reason we need feminism in the first place.

[I admit my ignorance here where I’m not entirely sure how and when to say *Trigger Warning* but I have a feeling this might be the moment…so…this is me saying it…and if I’m using it wrong send me a message and let me know, please]

And if I still haven’t convinced you that you should stand up for women around the world, women who came before and those who will come after you, please know this – in North America, that’s right, in our oh so civilized and privileged little section of the globe – there is such a thing as a viral rape video.  A video of a girl(s, and this really does have to be pluralized now) being raped by, often soon to be, if not already, college educated privileged young men* is not only a thing that can happen but a thing that can go viral (*this is a statistical thing but education is obviously not a requirement…though it is terrifyingly not an across the board deterrent either).

Take just a tiny moment to think of all the steps that make that possible.

1.  A girl is raped.

2.  More than one person is present for the rape (unless the rapist is filming it himself which seems rare)

3.  One or more of those people then uploads the video to the internet or sends it via their phone or email to someone else.  Think about the thought process that this entails.  Not only does this mean two disgusting horrible humans exist that would rape someone but they are the kind of garbage that believe others will take pleasure in seeing this terrible act.

4.  They are right.  Take a moment with that one.  No, seriously.  This scum of the fucking earth believes that others want to view the torture they inflict…and they are right. 

5.  Because after all, without number 4…there can be no viral nature to this horror.

6.  Whoever they send the video to, or whoever gains access to it, feels the same as the rapists and the sharing continues and continues from person to person to person until the video can be deemed to have gone viral.

7.  Beyond the absolute human garbage that is the rapists and their propagators, it’s worth noting that all this sharing goes on without any real fear of repercussions.  The rapists are not afraid to be caught (or they wouldn’t share, and presumably wouldn’t rape).  The people who view and share the video are not afraid to be witnessing said crime and doing nothing.  There is no fear present at all (except of course for the victim whose life has not only been traumatized) and presumably every woman everywhere (since the likelihood that something similar will happen in her lifetime is DEVASTATINGLY HIGH!).

8.  If the rapist(s) and his/their filmography companions are ever caught, the punishment is often surprisingly small.  And more often than not it only follows after a hard fought battle which usually involves a ton of victim blaming, excuse making, and all out insanity.

Now, ask yourself again if you can really bear to stay seated when there is a world of women who need you?

The next time you are certain that women have equality, maybe just consider for a moment that we live in a country(ies) where a video of a girl being raped can become so popular that it goes viral.

It matters that you stand up.  And if you’re not strong enough to stand up on your own, come stand by me, and I will help to brace you.

Fat Like Me

Cotton Candy



Fat, I say.  In public.  Online.  Can you even believe the fucking audacity of giving myself an accurate description??

What follows is always so predictable.  A flood of misguided compliments, and you aggressively imposing yourself onto me.

Stop it,” you say.  ”You’re beautiful.”

Hush now,” you say.  ”You’re amazing and wonderful.”

No more of this,” you say, trying to sew my lips closed.  ”We love you.”

And I can’t help but think:  Yeah…no shit…I’m adorable as fuck!  I never said I wasn’t.  I never said anything about beauty or likeability or whatever else it is that you think you’re saving me from.

All I said was that I was fat (the definition, if I’m not mistaken, means that I’m full of fat, that I’m with the fatness, that this body or its parts contain fat, likely a larger volume than average).

When I say that my hair is brown, nobody freaks the fuck out like I just discovered I was a horrible human being.  So when I note my bulging belly, my fat frame, why do you feel the need to shush and stop me?

Does my voice scare you as much as my thighs?  Which btw ARE fat.  Fatty fatty fat fat.  But, and here’s the point I think that you’re missing, fat doesn’t mean ugly.  That’s all in your head (and in the media, etc.).

And look, I’m sorry that you see things that way; I’m sorry that you’re probably terrified of it; I’m sorry that you fear a body that could disgust you.  But that’s not me, and it’d be real swell if you could stop imposing your shit on me every time I give an accurate description of myself.

Because when you respond to “I’m fat” like I just said I was worthless, you are essentially saying that because I’m fat, you think I’m worthless.

The truth is I just want to live in a world of honesty.  And the honest truth is that I am fat.  I’m beautiful.  I’m talented.  I’m hardworking and well loved.  I’m kind and funny and highly educated (this sentence structure style to the contrary).  Sometimes, I’m also an asshole.  I can be a real dick.  I pout and I cry and I’m a hypochondriac (though I recently diagnosed myself correctly on WebMD so assuming I don’t die immediately I’ll start seeing patients next week).  I’m a human being: good, bad, and everything in between.  And I just want to be able to talk about myself, exactly as I am, without you trying toquiet down my experience, my reality, because of the issues that you have with the words I use.

I’m tired of having to tone myself down for you.

I’m tired of having to refer to myself as a “curvy” girl.  (I do that.  Throw in words like curvy because that’s what they call it.  That’s how they like to describe it but it’s not my word.  I would say fat.  Big and fat.  But they don’t like that).

I’m tired of changing for you.

My fatness isn’t yours to control.  My words aren’t yours to soften.  My frame isn’t yours to contain.

The No-Makeup Selfie: What Are You REALLY Saying?

Makeup

 

Maybe I’m missing something but isn’t the whole “no makeup selfie thing” just as bad as every other bullshit-judging-women-in-an-effort-to-keep-them-weak-and-controllable practice out there?

(and to be clear, I’m all for being proven wrong.  For example, I used to think the whole “nails of the day” trend was super fucking ridiculous and stupid…that is until I heard someone explain it in a different way.  I was listening to a podcast and one of the guests talked about how the “nails of the day” was a way for anyone to express their creativity.  She highlighted the fact that it was almost completely limitless, that truly anyone could do it, for the small price of a few dollars for a bottle or two of nail polish and a couple of toothpicks, anyone could be an artist.  And that changed my mind completely.)

But here’s the thing:  isn’t it damaging to our psyche(s) to think that going make-up less is brave and courageous?

Are we, as women, so fucking hideous that exposing our natural selves is this act of noble defiance?

Can’t we just stop judging ourselves, and each other, for a goddamn second, just long enough to feel a bit of love and appreciation for our own flesh.

Isn’t the act of daring to expose ourselves au naturel just another way of trying to one up other women?

 

Look look look at me, a woman better than all the others, a make-up less woman, I’m basically a fucking hero.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for posting selfies (if you want) and seeking attention (if you want) but what if we just cut out all the judgmental shaming nonsense?  And even more so, what if we stopped rewarding women for the way they conform or don’t conform to whatever beauty standards you subscribe to, and just let them develop into super interesting people.

Because, by the way, even if you could get past the whole look at me I’m so brave for being willing to show you my hideous face without the guise of make-up, can we be honest about what those MUL Selfies are really about?

The no-makeup selfie is just another stab at attention seeking to validate that you, in fact, were born more naturally beautiful than all the other girls.  And you know what, THAT WAS FUCKING BLIND LUCK.  If you happen to be lucky enough to be drop dead gorgeous without make-up, well congratulations.  You managed to be arbitrarily selected by a gene pool of beauty.  You didn’t earn it.  You don’t deserve it.  You didn’t work hard for it.  And fyi, it’s value is entirely relative.   So what do you say you stop trying to make other women feel incomplete or less than and just be fucking amazing in your own right.  Be interesting.  Be amazing.  Contribute something to the betterment of society.  Or at the very least, please, think about how the things you do affect those around you.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t post selfies (go right ahead, go on with your bad self!).  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t seek validation (I mean, I would caution against relying on it to feel good as its a fickle fickle thing).  I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t wear make-up.  What I am saying is that it’s hard enough being a girl/woman and trying to live up to some bullshit standard (to impress men?) and why on earth would you want to make it harder for your fellow com-madres.

Think of all the amazing things women could be doing if they weren’t so busy feeling badly about themselves?

 

Disagree?  Want to change my mind?  Give me your best argument in the comments!

Bullying: Who Is Really Responsible?

Teen girl commits suicide to escape bullying.  This is the headline; over and over and over again.  Sometimes it involves a rape.  Sometimes it involves nudity on the internet.  Sometimes it involves nothing but a story.  Always though, it involves is a girl pushed so far beyond her emotional limits that she breaks.

We, of course, look to the bullies.  Who harassed the girl?  Who showed the video?  Who spread the words?  Who shared the pictures and made it all go viral?  Where were the authorities?  The school officials?  The parents?  Who is responsible?

 

And every single time we miss the point.

 

We are looking at the surface, concerned only about the symptoms, instead of looking at the underlying cause.  We are living in a world that believes it has a say over the bodies of women, of girls.

A young girl gets on a webcam.  Her sexuality is barely blooming.  Her understanding of sex takes place in words not yet through senses.  Maybe she’s kissed a boy, maybe she hasn’t.  But she knows lust and experimentation and joy.  She gets excited about things, she gets carried away, she is not yet sure of herself.  And suddenly, there is a boy or a man or a fiction of either on the internet.  He thinks she’s special, you’re so pretty he says, and a relationship forms.  She is ecstatic.  One day, she feels daring, and pulls up her shirt exposing her breasts.  Maybe she feels proud.  Maybe she feels quirky.  Maybe she thought it through.  Maybe she didn’t.  And here’s where it all gets so tricky.  Or not, really.

Her breasts are her breasts.  Tits.  Boobs.  Juggs.  They are hers and hers alone.  To do whatever she wants with.  Should I repeat that?  Her breasts are hers, the very moment that she had them, to do whatever she wants to do with them.  And if she felt that way, if society felt that way, the story would end there.  No matter what happened after.  If she regretted it, it would be a mistake, one of many in a lifetime, which she will inevitably make; but, the mistake would be hers and hers alone.  But that’s not how the story goes for these teen suicide victims.  And that’s what they are, victims (and we, the perpetrators).  Breasts become a tool to chastise, to control, to mock, to humiliate.  And for what?  For being human?  For having desires and needs?  For seeking attention and comfort and excitement?  What are we teaching children that make these things so wrong?  And why does it feel like so few people see the slippery slope that is our social-sexual attempts to control.

But you say, I’m not shaming her.  We’re not shaming her.  I would never, could never…

But whose children do you think are saying these things?  I know, I know, it’s always someone else’s kid, someone else’s problem.  Only, it’s not.  We are a society, a whole, indivisible by the very bounds of geography and similarity.  We are in this together, whether we want to be or not.

Whore.  Slut.  Promiscuous.  Easy.  No standards.  See how slippery the slope is?  One minute it’s whore and the next it’s just called “standards” and you’re still missing the point which is that you’re judging a thing you have no right to judge.  Her body is not public.  Her sexuality is not public.

I would never call a girl a whore, you say, but what about when you so proudly announce that you have standards; are you not aware of the insinuation that you are better than someone else, better than someone who doesn’t have standards?  And then you have to ask yourself, doesn’t everyone have some kind of standards?  And so what you’re really saying is that your standards are better than theirs, that you are better than her.  And suddenly you’re sliding down the slippery slope that is judging the sexuality of women and I wonder if your daughter hears every little thing you say.  Insidious.  It grips her, holds her, and becomes a part of who she is and how she sees the world (and the same holds true for your son).  And before you adopt that shitty stance that is, well better their kid than mine, ask yourself what if it’s your kid who is perceived as lacking these undefinable standards that are being used to control your child.  Can you see, can you understand the very possibility that it is you, as a part of a society that continues to allow the judgment of female sexuality like it is a public commodity, who permits the bullying of your child, their child, any child, all children?  Simply, because one day you weren’t so careful with your words and you let your bullshit judgment spill out because, because, because why exactly?

Why is society so afraid of women?  Why does it push us towards  less  pleasure,  less  joy, less freedom?

But, but, you say, I would never call a girl a whore.  You can blame the words all you want but it will still mean that you’re stopping short of discovering the source of the fire.  The words, while violent and harmful, are not the source of the epidemic.  The problem lies in why the words are used.  They are used to stifle female pleasure, to reappropriate feminine control; they say that the body is public and available for judgment, they say that our bodies are not our own.

The truth is mind-numbingly simple:  If our bodies weren’t shameful, if sexuality was allowed to be ours and ours alone, the bullying would end.  You cannot mock without shame.  You cannot shame without judgment.  You cannot control, that which you cannot make feel less than.