I’m so sad today

I told her how happy I was that I wouldn’t have to sweep cigarette and cigar butts from my patio any more now that my upstairs neighbors have moved. She laughed at me – she does that a lot – and asked if I had ever gone upstairs and asked them to stop. I told her “No, I want to live quietly and unobtrusively, I’m just not confrontational.” She took offense to that, somehow assuming I was accusing her of something.

I thought the best way to diffuse the situation was to tell a story of my own. I told her about a time when I had been confrontational myself. The story is an old one, about when I heard a woman call a young Hispanic man by a racial epithet. Needless to say I caused quite a scene telling this woman what I thought of her. I was extremely confrontational that day.

But when I was finished with my story, the one I was telling her to make her feel better about her – sometimes bordering on violent – confrontational tendencies I realized that she didn’t get it. I should have known better.

The only thing she heard, the only thing she focused on was the racism in my story. She identified with that woman. With the racist woman! She said that she must have had a reason for calling that boy a filthy name and that sometimes it’s understandable if someone hates another person because of their experience with someone of that race. She tried to tell me a story to justify her feelings about a woman whose daughter was murdered by a drug addled black man. She tried to tell me that it was okay for that woman to hate all black people.

I tried just once more to make her see that one person’s actions does not condemn an entire race or religious group of people. She just kept getting more forceful and more aggressive. I tried using my old stand by “Please stop talking now?” But it didn’t work this time. She.just.kept.talking.

I asked her quietly again to change the subject and then told her this was just a topic we could not discuss. Then I apologized for telling that particular story knowing her feelings on this subject and assured her it would not happen again. I fucking apologized to a self proclaimed out and proud racist.

I had to get up and walk away. It was too hard to sit there when I was shaking with rage and frustration and just infinite sadness. My heart is broken to know that there are people like her walking around teaching their children and grandchildren this hate speech.

I’m in tears now because I know I can’t change her mind. I can’t make her see how hurtful and divisive her words and opinions are. I know I can’t change the world. I just need to believe that I can make things better from my tiny corner of it. I’m losing my faith. I’m ashamed of myself for apologizing to her.

I’m so sad tonight. Sad and sick.

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Me too…

Yesterday someone I know, not a friend, maybe an acquaintance, brought up the “me too” campaign. Her take on it was that if these women had really been injured or physically assaulted then they would’ve come forward at the time of the incident. Her very strong opinion was that in not coming forward at the time of the incident because they were too afraid, they lost their window. Her opinion is that they should have just bucked up and reported the attack immediately. Her exact words in addition were “Well I think sometimes people just do things for drama and I think that’s all this is about.” I must admit, I didn’t really hear anything else she had to say because I shut her down so fast I think she is still spiraling. I was seeing things through a haze of rage I’ll be honest but I think I might have said something like “Oh no we are NOT having this conversation – EVER. We will have to agree to disagree on this one so stop talking now.”

Here’s the thing, when I called my daughter later, in complete shock that this woman would be so hyper-critical of other women she does not know – who were victims of sexual assault, she sadly and gently told me that this is not an uncommon position for women to take. I was so surprised. I know I wear rose colored glasses and I want to see the good in everyone but I was really surprised and confused why women wouldn’t be supportive of other women in this arena if nowhere else. So first this made me confused, then it made me angry, then it made me sad.

The reason that men are still getting away with this kind of activity is because there are still so many people out there that think it’s OK. They condone this “boys will boys” behavior with their actions and with their words and with their uninformed opinions. I didn’t ask this woman if she had been sexually assaulted before but I told her that I had. I told her that when it happened to me I didn’t come forward I didn’t tell the authorities because I was afraid. I was afraid of being judged, I was afraid of a police officer looking at me and asking me “Well what were you wearing?” or telling me that this man was a pillar of the community and that nothing would happen, which might’ve been worse than not coming forward at all.

My whole life I have heard (and I’m ashamed to say – perpetuated) that how a woman behaves will dictate how she is treated. Wherein I still believe that all people should be smart and cautious when making choices I cannot sit by idly while another woman negates these women’s experiences. I remember the first time I was involved in an inappropriate situation. I was maybe five or six and a man undressed to his birthday suit in a changing room in Famous Barr. He opened the curtain and watched me watch him. I was little more than a toddler and I already knew that it was wrong and felt ashamed. I didn’t tell. I’ve never told until this writing. I still struggle to remind myself that I was not complicit somehow. I should have looked away. I should have told my mom. I should have screamed because that man’s behavior was not right. I did nothing. I was ashamed.

Groping, fondling, inappropriate touching, exposing oneself, uninvited kisses or aggressive hugs. These things are never ok. No woman should ever feel afraid to go to a private meeting with a man but we have to be. We have to protect ourselves physically and emotionally and we have to be on guard because if we aren’t and something happens we not only have to overcome our own shame and degradation but we have to convince ourselves that we didn’t do or say anything to encourage it and then we have to convince others. That’s a tall order when all you can think about is getting home, slugging some Listerine and sitting in a hot shower until all the feelings go away.

“Well it’s just my opinion, and I am entitled to my opinion!” No no friend in this case I’m shutting it down. You cannot express that particular opinion to me and if I were you I wouldn’t express it to anyone else either because it makes you look bad – not those women.

This whole “I’m entitled to my opinion” thing in my mind is a form of adult bullying. You can have your fucking opinion but don’t try to force that down my throat. I know what I know and I’m not an idiot. I know that there are men and women who have lied about being assaulted before but we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Woman are sexually harassed and assaulted every day. I’m thrilled that these men are being called out for their past behaviors and that these women are gathering strength and support from other women coming forward. This has been a dirty little secret for way too long. Let them all come out and tell their truths and purge that fear and guilt and let them feel vindicated and strong and confident maybe for the first time since they were assaulted. Let the cards fall where they may. It’s time.

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I am strong

I am good. I am happy. I am positive. I am worthy. 

I am strong. 

I have been feeling this cloud of negativity beginning to descend upon me the last few weeks and today, quite by accident I discovered why.  One persons toxicity can do such damage to another’s psyche. My mood crashed after an encounter and it suddenly became so crystal clear to me how much real estate I was giving this negativity nearly every day of the week. 

Today I am committing to myself. I will no longer allow this toxicity to take up residence anywhere within me – my heart nor my head. I will stay positive and happy and cheerful and won’t waste any more of my time (or yours) re-telling shocking stories or anything else. 

Today and going forward I am going to take deep breaths, put on my music if I have to and find my equilibrium again. I love my life and I love my work and I shouldn’t have to remind myself of that. 

I am happy. I am good. I am worthy. I am positive. I am strong. 

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Cancer sucks

So I have cancer. It’s so weird to actually type that. I’ve known for a while and I’ve shared with my loved ones etc. I always start out telling people the same way. “I am okay now and I am going to be okay”. This is absolutely true. I am fine and I am going to be fine. My cancer is very beginning stages and completely treatable. Incidences of my type of cancer spreading are extraordinarily rare. 

I have been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma grade 1 uterine or endometrial cancer with endometrial hyperplasia. Currently I am taking a synthetic progestin medication to control the amount of estrogen my body produces in order to keep the cancer from growing. This will allow me time to get healthy and strong and lose weight before I have surgery. The surgery will of course mean that they will remove everything. I’m fine with that. I am 53 as of Friday and I don’t need any of that stuff!

So basically two pills a day. Weird right? 

So I’m taking the pills, dealing with improving my diet and increasing my exercise. I’m cutting back on refined sugars and putting my mental energy into getting healthy. I’m not freaked out and I’m not sad about this. As a matter of fact every once in a while I find myself saying “Oh yeah that’s right, I have cancer!” The pills are basically for three months then I have another biopsy. As long as the cancer hasn’t changed then I can stay on the medication and continue to get healthier. If the cancer cells have increased then we will have to schedule the surgery sooner. My hope is that I will drop sufficient weight to get the surgery next summer when my daughter can be home for it. I really want that time although the thought of cancer cells just sitting there inside my body is a bit intimidating. 

A while ago, fresh from diagnosis, I burned my hand pretty badly and ended up at urgent care. They were writing my info for me on the form because my hand was immersed in ice water. He asked “anything else you can think of?” I said “Hm no not really I’m pretty healthy.” “Oh wait do you need to know I have cancer?” Now yeah it was a maybe stupid question in hindsight but come on what does my uterus have to do with second degree burns on my hand? 

Work is amazing. “Whatever you need” ” Just let me know when you have to be off” etc. My family is phenomenal. They ask good questions, give sound articulate advice, keep me grounded and remind me that this sucks but it’s not the end of the world. My friends are amazing. They remind me not to shut myself in and not communicate. They call me, text me, invite me places and remind me that they are there if I need anything. 

I have shut myself away a little bit. Well a lot actually. It’s the fatigue and the frustration with myself and my body. I am fine physically overall. The fatigue is a bitch but I do what the doctor says. “Eat right, get moving, rest when you’re tired”. It is also partially because of my dietary limitations. I’m retraining myself to eat clean and healthy and I’m not quite ready to get out there and try eating out. My house is straight but it needs some deep cleaning. I do what I can on the weekends but weeknights I’m tired. I know my friends don’t care what my house looks like but I do. 

I hate asking for help. I am strong, independent, capable of doing anything and self sufficient. I am the fixer, the doer, the helper. I am who people reach out to, I don’t ever need anyone. Believe that? I do. I did. No, I do. It’s very very hard for me to ask for help or even accept it when offered. It upsets people and I don’t mean to hurt my friends and family but it is who I am. I’m working on it though. It’s a flaw. 

I come by it honestly. Recently I was with my family. I asked for help with something. The next fifteen minutes was spent telling me all the different ways I could do it all by myself. I capitulated and will now do it by myself because now if I wait for help then I will look like a failure. Incapable. 

I know that wasn’t the intention of anyone there. Well maybe one of the people there but I know he doesn’t completely understand the ramifications of his words. Like he says things like “People who buy iPhones are idiots” and nearly every single person sitting in the room is literally holding a newish iPhone in his or her hands. 

So anyway, back to me. I have cancer. Fuck – that’s just surreal.

I think it needs to be said that I caused the cancer. I mean yeah my oncologist won’t say that but it’s a reality. I am obese, I am over fifty, I have history of breast cancer in my immediate family and I’ve had endometrial hyperplasia. I’m like a textbook case. Because I’m obese my body produces an excess of estrogen and as a result I have developed an estrogen driven cancer. So, I caused it. So there’s that. Now I can just put that away and focus on what I can control. Diet (nailed), exercise (still working on it), appropriate weight loss (20 pounds since I was diagnosed seven weeks ago). I mean I could starve myself but that’s no good for my body. I need to lose weight slowly and properly. 
So I cook and I chop and I eat clean beautifully made foods full of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats. I eat lots of vegetables and fruits and chicken breasts. I’ve renewed my relationship with ground turkey and huge gorgeous rainbow salads. I’ve begun grilling chicken for snacks and eggs any way I can get them. I love good clean food and I love to cook so this part is not difficult. The hardest part is getting my butt up and into the kitchen to do weekly food prep because that my friends is my superpower. When I can go into my kitchen before work and pull out ingredients for a quick omelet, chopped portioned ingredients for lunch and crunchy raw veggies for snacks I succeed. When I can come home at 6:30 or 7:00 from work and throw a meal together in ten minutes because I have pre-portioned meals already in the fridge or freezer I am golden. 

My birthday was Friday. On Saturday I had dinner with my family. My mom and my sister planned and fixed an amazing healthy menu. My sister made these granola Berry bars that were so so good and only like 200 calories which is entirely doable. 

My daughter is in New York. That’s a long way away. She’s so busy with her very demanding job and her hectic life but she still is making the time to call or text me much more than we used to. I appreciate her so much. She is really such a wonderful person. She is just beautiful inside and out. She also helps me to keep things in perspective and is my biggest supporter in my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. 

I have mostly good days emotionally. Today is a bad day but that’s nothing to do with cancer. It’s more to do with my turning another year older I think. I think I’m having some hormonal responses to things. I’ve done some research and I don’t see much about that with the medication or cancer I have. I will ask my oncologist in October when I get my first biopsy. I don’t really have a lot of bad days but occasionally I do get a bit testy or teary or both. Even with that I know I can bitch to a friend or cry on someone’s shoulder if I need to. That’s pretty nice to know. 

Work is good. Work is great actually. They are appreciative of my efforts and energy, they respect my input and they provide intelligent feedback. I am learning so much and in less than a year had taken on two other departments. I’m a really good Credit Manager and I am rocking this so hard! My boss is the nicest guy!

Life is good overall. I moved into a really wonderful place a year ago and recently I bought my first brand new car. I am surrounded by amazing inspiring people. I am so lucky. My world is solid and I am content with what I have. Cancer doesn’t change any of that. It’s a stubbed toe, a skinned knee in the bigger scheme of things. I’m okay now and I am going to be okay. To quote e a slightly overused phrase “I’m going to kick cancers ass!” For today though I’m just going to go throw in a load of laundry and mop my kitchen floor. 


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What has happened to me?

When did I stop fighting back? When did I give up on standing up for my rights or others? When did I become afraid? Is it age? Am I getting soft? Am I more fearful? Is it the times we live in? Maybe a combination of all of the above. 

We were in line at an auto car wash. I pulled my car in behind his in line. I didn’t know he wasn’t lined up right. I didn’t know he was going to have to back up and realign his huge truck so he could get through the door. I didn’t know it until he nearly backed into me and then, throwing it into park, he jumped out and agressively approached the drivers side of my car yelling about what an idiot I was. I apologized profusely and repeatedly while simultaneously holding out my hands in supplication and putting the car into reverse so he could back up and reapproach. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m so sorry sir” I yelled through my windshield as my car and the cars behind me all backed up. 

Then as I sat, well back from the truck bed and waited for him to enter the wash I began to tear up. Real tears. Lip shaking. 

What the hell? Forty year old me would have jumped out of my car and demanded to know how he dared to yell at me because he didn’t know how to drive his own fucking truck. Even had I initially not confronted him, I certainly would have when I had regained my composure and might have asked him what kind of man yells at a woman old enough to be his mother like that. I know I wouldn’t have cried and I’m fairly certain the first words that came out of my mouth would not have been desperately uttered words of apology in a shaky old lady voice. 

I think I was a little afraid, I don’t handle outright aggression  very well. But I’ve been afraid before in my life and my reaction was not to tuck and run. 

I’m disgusted. First and foremost I’m disgusted in that asshole for acting like a four year old and blaming someone else for his ineptitude but I’m equally or even more disgusted or maybe disappointed with myself. What have I become? When did it happen? What happened to self assured and somewhat fearless single mom who wanted to conquer the world and all of its inequities? Can I get her back or is she gone forever? I didn’t always like that woman but I respected her. She didn’t take shit from anyone, certainly not some two bit thirty year old with his dick in his hand and a Natural Light beer in his cup holder. 

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Today it has been four years since we lost Dad. I don’t really have a lot to say about it.

I have a lot of stuff going around in my head. Some good memories and some bad. I hope he was proud of me. I hope he forgave me for being such a shitty daughter way too often. I’m sad. I love him. I miss him.



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Get over it!

Why is it that in this day and age we can’t allow ourselves even a moment of self pity without someone jumping in to tell us to stop whining or worse, telling us what we should do about it? Why if I’m having a bad day or I’ve just had a lousy thing happen – no matter how trivial – I’m not allowed to feel the feelings that come along with that until I’m ready to not feel them any longer? Why do I have to “buck up” just because someone says I must.

I’m heartily sick and tired of people telling me how I should feel about something. I’m not okay with another individual, I do not care who that person is to me, setting limits on my emotional responses. If I want to be sad about something that makes me sad then why shouldn’t I? If I want to throw a mini temper tantrum because something didn’t go my way then who are you to tell me how to behave? How is me lamenting this thing that has just happened to me impacting your life in a negative way? If you don’t like it then hang up or change the subject but don’t tell me how to feel and for all that is holy do NOT tell me how to fix it.

Now, if I ask your advice, which I will if I need said advice, then by all means fix away but until then don’t … just don’t. Now don’t get all huffy and “I never” right now, if we are having a conversation about something and you want to share your opinion or your position on this I’m not unreasonable and I will listen and often it will help me to change my perspective on something, this is not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is uncomplicated, simple, basic human response. If I tell you something has happened to make me sad then what sense does it do for you to tell me “Don’t be sad.” Of COURSE I’m going to be sad or angry or frustrated or whatever and *NEWSFLASH* I HAVE THAT RIGHT! I’m a grown ass woman in a grown ass world and sometimes stuff happens in that world that are going to elicit a response. Sometimes … wait for it …. it won’t even be a big deal but right here right now it is a big deal so just be a friend and let it run it’s course.

I am a pretty happy person in general. I’m a hippy by nature and all about living a very simple existence. Sometimes though things get in the way of that pursuit and “harsh my mellow”. Am I not allowed to have an emotional response? Why does it bother you so much that I am having a bad day or a bad moment? You have them all the time and I’m there to be supportive and encouraging and give advice when asked (okay sometimes when not asked but I’m working on that I promise) and it’s okay for you but not for me? Think about that for a minute. If this thing that has happened has put me in an emotional state – anger, disappointment, sadness or whatever – do you really think, knowing me as you do, saying “well have you tried ………..?” is the way to go? I mean yeah it is a way to go but don’t you see how that is going to feel to me? Don’t you know me well enough to know that this is the OPPOSITE of what I need?

Yeah yeah I know you were just trying to help. Here’s the thing though. It is the exact wrong thing.

What has happened to empathy? What has happened to saying “Oh no I’m so sorry this has happened to you, what can I do?” When have we become a society that expects no emotion? Does my emotional response make you uncomfortable? Well that’s too bad because it’s not your decision how I respond to something.

Here is what I want … what I need. I need to be supported, not laughed at or lectured to or belittled or told what to do. Just be there. Just.be.there. How hard is that? Am I not there for you when you are suffering or struggling with something? I don’t need that kind of support often and it’s not your place to determine if my response to the issue is appropriate or not. Just let me feel the feelings and express the emotion and when I’m done I’m done. I don’t dwell and I don’t drag it out and I don’t pull you into my drama, I just feel the emotional response, address the issue if I’m able and I move on. Is it any wonder I don’t trust you to protect my emotions? Is it any wonder when I’m feeling down or sad or angry I don’t reach out for comfort? Why would I when I know what I will be met with? I just feel it’s safer for me and everyone around me to just pull the welcome mat in and lock the door.

Have you ever seen a six year old collapse into a pile on the floor in hysterics because you just told him his shoe was untied? What do you do? Do you say to yourself “oh he’s just having a bad day” or “oh poor kiddo is tired” and then gather him up in a hug? Or do you say – in that moment while this kid is buried in your arms in obvious distress – “Well if you double knotted your shoe laces like I told you this wouldn’t happen?” Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be a time and place for that conversation but why on God’s green earth would anyone in their right mind think that the appropriate response while you’re mopping the snot off this child’s face should be to tell him what he already knows? Then you expect him to stop crying, stand up and brush himself off and say “Oh you’re so right mother, why didn’t I think of that? My crying was silly so thank you for making me see the error of my ways”? No ladies and gentlemen that is not going to be what happens. He IS going to cry harder and longer because what he really wants is for you to hold him and tell him it’s okay and to let him cry for a minute until he’s done because maybe it’s about the shoelaces but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s about something else, bigger and stronger and more upsetting than you are able to fathom or he is able to express but he knows when you hug him and you listen to him that it’s going to be okay.

Just tell me that it’s going to be okay.

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