Thursday, 27 September 2012

It's My Party And I Will Cry If I Want To...

Every birthday I am reminded of the most important relationship that each of has, and that is the relationship with ourselves.  For almost longer than I care to admit I did not like myself.  Birthdays have always been that time of year where I could not seem to escape that realization, so I cried.  I have cried on my birthday every year of my life, well up until quite recently.  I remember my mom asking me year after year why I was crying and I always said that I did not know, to which she would just hug me and say that maybe I just needed a good cry and to join the party when I was ready.  When I first heard the song “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”, I was so excited to use that line with my mom on my next birthday.  And sure enough on my 9th birthday I exclaimed those very lyrics through tears.  I felt that it bothered my mom when I cried so I made great efforts to hide it.

I was very afraid of people wishing me happy birthday all throughout my childhood in fear that I would suddenly burst into tears.  Soon I began to plan all my parties on a day other than the 28th, and to any one significant in my life I would ask that we just stayed home on that day and have a nice home cooked meal or something very low key.  I know just writing this makes me sound a little crazy, I mean who in their right mind actually avoids people on their birthday because they are afraid of crying in public?  Well I sure did, and I had no clue that I was doing this up until the birthday that I did not shed a tear.  I remember waking up the day after in shock that I made it through that whole day without even a sniffle or painful eye burning sensation as the tears well up and you try not to blink a single one out.

It has only been a few years of tear free birthdays, but it is a real victory for me to be able to look back on the previous year and know that I am happy with myself, that I am happy with the decisions made in the previous year and that I can look in the mirror with a tear free smile.  I look forward to many more years of the same mentality and I wish the same to all my readers.  

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Reflection: My 20’s

This month I will turn 29, which will mark the last year of my 20’s.  It is really astounding to think about all that can happen in a decade and the growth and development that has occurred.  I entered into my 20’s with the mentality of a monogamist, hardened atheist, with absolutely no inclination to have children and with very few female close friends.  I worked retail, rented an apartment and lived paycheck to paycheck, eating almost nothing but cream of wheat cereal and mac and cheese.  I suppose it is a typical place that many of us have found ourselves in.  I was stubborn and asked for little help from family or friends, learning independence and survival skills.  I found I could live for days on soda crackers, and pop and if I desperately needed a night out, I quickly figured out how to ensure that strangers paid for my bar tab.  Somehow or another I always paid my rent, car insurance, every year I bought the X-mas and birthday presents for both mine and my boyfriend at the time’s family and bought food for my hamster Dorby.  I am almost chuckling right now at just how little I had and how unknowingly bleak life actually was.

But that is the rub I suppose, I just had no idea that things were as bad as they were.  I lived day to day and survived.  I went to work every day, and did all those little things that you need to do.  I found what I thought would be my lifelong partner quite young and although there was a lot of great times, I feel that I went through the motions.  I was not actually thinking about my wants or needs, I was instead so consumed by the idea that I needed to make this relationship work, I was stuck in survival mode.  Whatever the reasons behind this were, I still find it very special that I was with my first everything basically for such a long time.  To me it mattered that there was longevity in my first.  I did not ever ask my friends about their relationships or question what worked or what did not work.  Instead I was put in an unearned position of stability.  What I mean by that is friends would compare their relationships and staying power or lack thereof to what D and I had.  The only rational for doing this was that we had been together for such a long time it seemed that we must have been doing something right.

In actuality it was more dumb luck and timing that allowed us to stay together for so long and I do not mean that in a negative way.  I think our relationship really went through 3 or so major changes and periods of growth and change.  Instead of the two of us finding different people to explore our relationship wants and needs with, we ended up really growing together and apart side by side.  We experienced the very first puppy love together, followed by a fairly consistent party phase whereby I think we only went home each night with each other for fear of STD and STI’s, and of course the last phase we experienced which was playing house and pretending that we were all grown up. 

I have no regrets at all living this way or experiencing these phases of life with him, especially knowing that we were different people at each phase.  My 18 year old self and ideals would be unrecognizable to the 26 year old who ended things, and yet with each phase of growth, change and new experiences the personality differences seemed smoother and more incremental.  I am not sure I would have ever been comfortable opening that relationship with D up, as I put so much value on us being each other’s first and only’s for a large amount of time.  My focuses in my early 20’s were very pinpointed and direct, the little things mattered to me so much more than looking at the grand scheme of things.

When I reached my mid 20’s I really started to open up my mind to see the bigger picture.  I bought my first house and started taking larger risks for my life.  I decided that I really did want children in the future and made some decisions to help me get out of debt to allow that to be a real possibility.  I also really started changing my perspective on what made a good mate.  I found myself yearning for a more goal oriented individual who could make plans and stick with them.  As well I started seeking someone who knew who they were as a person.  Someone who was established in and of themselves, and did not need me to define them or to complete them. 

It suddenly occurred to me that I had a choice in who I wanted to be with, and that I did not need to work so hard to make things succeed.  I know for a fact that I would have been able to continue with D for the rest of my life if I wanted to.  We had both been through so many changes together that there is very little doubt we could have made it through more, but the bottom line was that I no longer wanted to work that hard at love.  I decided to be selfish and take a chance on finding something new out there.  I needed something fun and easy.  And I needed to explore those options prior to raising a family of my own.  And now here I am writing about the openness of relationships and questioning the norms that I spent the majority of my 20's clutching.  Hopefully on my last 10 year reflection I am a little more recognizable from start to finish.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

There is No Place For a Woman’s Body in Politics

I am reading a book right now on Warrior Queens in which the author celebrates the most powerful female warriors in our history who also were in positions of great power or royalty.  There is a point that keeps getting repeated throughout the book, and that is the dichotomy that each female warrior is playing with, specifically that of her sexuality.  On the one hand the majority of historians describe these woman with an insatiable sexual appetite, however, in order for them to maintain power which was commonly achieved through church connections the woman must have the virtue of chastity. To quote Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ Evita, “A fantasy of the bedroom and a saint” (a common quote for me I know). 

This duality of female sexuality has been written about in hundreds of books, and achieved by thousands of woman throughout our history.  The dynamics are constantly changing as the societies we are a part of constantly try and change the rules to suit their own means.  The sexuality of the female is a political bargaining chip.  Woman’s bodies become a player in a massive political game for control, which is obviously a big problem.  The issues of birth control and abortion are political platforms, whereas I am not aware of any platform that has been created around a vasectomy. 

I recently wrote a post called Something About  Ducks, where I shared my knowledge of how female ducks were able to evolve to prevent fertilization due to male duck rape.  Imagine my surprise to hear that in the US a politician named Akin actually believed that human females could not get pregnant if they were raped.  I can honestly say that up until a few years ago I knew very little about my body and the hormonal wonders it goes through each month.  I now use an ovulation calendar to really stay in tune with my ever changing hormones (of course a little skewed due to the pill).  I say this with humility, in that I barely know my body, how can politicians have any say in what we can or cannot do with something that they too obviously know so little about.  Why are woman allowing any sort of conversation or platform to be developed around our bodies?

I guess I bring this up, not necessarily to try and sway people’s opinions one way or the other regarding what should and should not be allowed when it comes to woman’s bodies.  But more so to question why woman have not united together to find a way to just end all discussion on the matter.  Vasectomies do not make the news, so why should birth control pills?  What is constantly fueling debates of this objectifying nature?  Ultimately individuals are going to find a way to do what they want or need to do, and woman need to stop rising to the challenge by not even discussing or debate these ‘issues’. 

We need to take a lesson from our history books, where there are many woman who had the skills to be damn near sexual deviants and still be virgins in the church’s eyes, and they never discussed a thing either way, rather they just lived.  Many have skillfully pulled off this dichotomy in the past, and it is time to look there for the education to overcome the obstacles we face now.  Instead of forcing our vaginas onto the faces of politics, I think we would be a lot better off by just shutting down any more nonsense about even debating this.  Life will find a way, and if we want to make a choice about whether or not to live our lives a certain way, no amount of government intervention is going to hold us down, at least not for any length of time.  By taking our bodies off the platform of discussion we will take control back of our bodies.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Illegitimate- An Outdated Term for Children

I am now officially in the demographic where over 33 percent of my friends on facebook are pregnant or already have children.  Not to out anyone in particular, but a significant number of those people discovered that they were pregnant prior to being married.  Many of these couples did subscribe to the necessity of a shotgun wedding.  My only conclusion for this is that underneath everything, it was to claim some sort of legitimacy for their child.  There are a few more liberal definitions of legitimate child floating around that include an amendment which states that if the marriage happens shortly after the birth they may still be considered within this term, but the legal definition is that the wedding must have occurred prior to the child's birth.

With divorce rates so high and couples choosing happiness over marriage and lasting commitments of unhappiness this term should naturally decline in use.  I was born in to a happily married young couple,  who divorced just shortly after I was 18 months old.  I was not technically born as a bastard, but my mother was for all intents and purposes a single mother until I turned 10 when she met my step dad.  The technicality of why I was a legitimate baby just does not make any sense to me.  The spark to this was the other day I was having a conversation whereby a few of us were guessing which sibling would produce the first grandchild.  Almost instantly the game was amended to include the parameter that the child had to be legitimate. 

Does this mean that the child born in wedlock would receive an increased amount of love and privilege?  Should this honestly affect the child’s status?  Did the level of love I received decrease because my mom was single when she raised me?  As well, what if a triad was raising a baby, or a poly family?  Are certain members granted more legitimacy than others if all parties are equal?  This is just a new set of challenges that our society needs to face head on and start thinking more clearly about the terms that we throw around.  I know exactly what it felt like when I was first called a bastard growing up, and I staunchly denied it on the basis that my parents were married when I was born.  Somehow as a young child I was raised to learn that that made all the difference in the world.  But there is no way anyone could tell me that I would be loved any less had my mom given birth to me out of wedlock.  And I felt no less love from my family and extended family being raised by just one parent. 

Illegitimate should be taken out of our legal vocabulary.  It is a definition with no gains to be made, and is outdated.  I should add though, that some of you may view this post as a hypocrisy on my part when it comes to marriage.  I have written that I would like my children to grow up in a household where everyone has the same last name, and that is most definitely a want on my part.  But whether that is a reality or not, there will be zero impact on the unconditional love that will be present and always surrounding that child.  I want a unity of last names and legally that can occur with or without wedlock.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dating Is Different When You Are 20

I was talking to a girl in her young twenties a few weekends ago with whom I went camping with.  We were wistfully wishing for a shower and other fine luxuries that we were without during our three night stint in tent.  She mentioned how badly she wanted to wash her hair and I wished I could shave my legs.  She laughed at this and said that even with shaving as an option she rarely shaves her legs although her boyfriend wishes that she would more often.  My man hugged me and commented on how I am almost always silky smooth and said he realized hearing that just how grateful he is about that extra effort I go through.

Here is the thing about this, when I really reflected on the whole scenario I realized that I used to be this girl.  In my first long term relationship, that was in my early 20’s I did not get dressed up, did not shave regularly or paint my toe nails.  I had this, take me as I am kinda mentality, that evolved into, a love me even though I put absolutely no effort into my appearance take on things.  After having this conversation with this young woman it really made me realize that these are some of the trappings of youth and relationships.  I can clearly see now how some woman who marry young and perhaps even having their children young lose sight of all those little things.  Couples become complacent and too easily stop putting effort into their appearances.

She will figure out in time that rebelling against someone that you love makes things difficult.  If your partner asks you to shave your legs, you do it because you love them and it makes them happy.  But you always ask for something in return.  Never just give in and become that doormat who lives to please, but rather share your turn ons and turn offs with your partner.  It makes it so much easier to get along and communicate.  As well it can even be a mutual benefit as turning on your partner can make you turned on, starting a pleasure cycle. 

The things I now do for my partners that I was just plain lazy and stubborn about with my first love just really proves to me the juvenile nature of dating when we are younger.  These are lessons that should be learned, and I am very happy I grew out of this childish tendency.  And I would hazard a guess that my partners appreciate these little things two.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Grandparents Expectations on Commitment

In my family I have been raised to love and respect my grandparents above all.  They are the wisdom and the glue of my little family and are respected by many inside and out of it.  I feel incredibly grateful to have them in my life.  They have always been my foundation and safe place, the people I can turn to without fail to listen first and pass their advice with calmness and conviction.  This is the relationship bond that I have mentioned before is the only bond I have ever felt unconditional love from.  I can screw up beyond badly and I know they will welcome me back with loving arms and work with me to fix the past or situations that have arisen. 

They truly are a couple with whom I can very safely say have made each other better people for staying together throughout all the hardships of married life.  This year they celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.  Which leads me into the reason for this post; today I was talking to them and my grandmother mentioned that her eldest sister and her husband will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next month and that this was something I will never get to experience.  I laughed and said there is still time if I live into my hundreds, which got a giggle out of us both.  But I could tell there was a lament in her voice when making the comment. 

My grandfather and grandmother, were raised to work through all of life’s difficulties together, as a couple.  I know there were times that they were not sure they could make it through, but here today, as both are in great health in their 70’s they are a testament to that way of thinking.  I rarely seek advice from just one of them, it is usually together that I get the most important lessons, guidance and perspective, with everything but relationships.  The lament in my grandmothers voice is not solely focused on me, as each one of their offspring and their offspring's offspring have faced challenges when it comes to relationships.  I know it must be hard to comprehend that it is a generational change of mentality that leads to divorce and breakups, especially knowing a lot of the battles that the two of them had and persevered through.  You would never even think to see either of them give up on anything or anyone. 

I recognize that there are a lot of lessons to be learned from such a strong and unbreakable union.  I often wonder if having an open union can ever hope to be this strong or even possibly stronger.  I am confident that whatever choice and lifestyle I make there will be love and support from them.  In saying that though I am going to maintain my stance of don’t ask don’t tell with regards to relationships and religion.  I am an open book when it comes to these two subjects, but I have a funny feeling that as these two areas are so far outside of the box and their ways of thinking it may never get asked.

For them, strength of a relationship is determined by sticking through thick and thin with your partner.  I would argue that today's standards have changed to put the priority on the individuals happiness.  If the thick and thin is too much to bare then it is now reasonable to go it alone, seeking inner strength versus that of your partner.  We have evolved to this mentality for a reason, whatever that may be, so exploration of inner strength and individuality is taking the front seat to the aforementioned long and lasting marriages. In saying that though we must recognize the strengths and reasoning behind the previous generations rational that we may learn with education.  I love my grandparents dearly and am so happy to have such a stable example of long term commitment with which to grow and learn from in my own exploration.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Our Dating World is Constantly Changing

As sex becomes more common place in the media and in various discussions its impact to dating is really starting to be felt.  Decades ago sex was never talked about in the presence of mixed company, whereas today we laugh and joke about the subject with much more freedom.  My girlfriend and I were recently discussing the increased frequency with which guys whom we have not even met will begin to discuss sex.  I wrote about the guy who crossed the line with me in my saying no post, and although that is an extreme example it is becoming a bit of an issue. 

On the one hand the desire to be sex positive and open is a strong one.  If I so choose I should be free to share my sexual orientation and expectations with the company of my choosing.  I am free to write and to share my thoughts and feelings on the subject without fear of negative responses.  I am grateful for these freedoms and I love writing.  What I am noticing with more frequency though is the lack of timing and appropriateness for these discussions.  If you were to online date today I guarantee that at least half if not more of these seemingly amazing guys would bring up sex and dirty talk/text prior to meeting face to face with the person they are interested in pursuing.

The online world has made it too easy to go for it right up front and really push the boundaries as far as they can.  These are strangers with whom they have not yet met so no harm, no foul, and if they get a bad reaction they can quickly move onto the next target.  The natural tendency to objectify that with which you have had no actual contact with is surprisingly easy.  Men and woman do this alike, gay and straight, and everything in between and outside. 

So where does this leave the recipient?  In a position that they have to speak up clearly and concisely and state where there boundaries are.  Almost every time I have stated that I will not discuss sex or anything related to that prior to meeting a person I have been thanked for being honest and the relationship progressed smoothly.  But until I figured this out I was frustrated and upset at being objectified like this by strangers.  Men wanting giving me the first impression that all they wanted was to get into the females skirts (or pants whatever your preference) throughout the centuries, which I do not think has ever changed.  What is changing though is the timing and the technology with which to broach these subjects.  People are becoming more forward and spending less time with the flirtation and romance.  And that can be incredibly uncomfortable for those of us who are newly dating.  The old norms of dinner then first kiss, second date and hitting 3rd base, and the third date home run are completely unused now. 

Online dating has taken a lot of the seduction out of the game, and it is going to be a hard push to get that back.  The recipient has to find a voice to lay out the game plan of what will and will not happen, and that is a real game changer, especially for a girl who loves to flirt and get flirted with in return.  It will be very interesting to see how this current climate plays out, and if the seducers will again stand out in time for their rarity, or be swept up and ignored for the flashy is better mentality.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dating Rules Can Do More Damage Than Good

There are a lot of dating and relationship rules that our western society likes to make.  These predictors in theory prove that you have a long lasting relationship or broke up for a solid reason.  Some examples are that you need to take a vacation together to ensure that you can be happy together and spend isolated time without getting on each others nerves.  The idea that you must break up or go through a loss together will prove that you really do miss each other and want to work to be with that person or that you are a solid support system.  You know little things like that where your parents will sigh and say that if you can get through that you can get through anything.  I recently read a book which I have talked about, “why men love bitches  which added a rule that if you sleep with the guy on the first date that you give him all the cards and he has no reason to pursue you.  I understand the temptation to make generic statements like these and to even believe in their validity.  In a perfect world rules like this would work.

But we are not in a perfect world.  Rules go out the window when you have two people who are trying to make a relationship work.  There is no steadfast, works for all type of lock and key system that ensures lifetime happiness.  If a formula existed we would all follow it and live happily ever after.  So in my opinion these clich├ęd turn of phrases have no place being said.  For me personally I can attest that whenever I hear these things they do exactly what they are designed to, make you feel better for the moment.  For example, if you break up and are heartbroken, hearing that the best relationships need to go through a breakup to prove just how strong they can be really lifts you up.  The problem is that this sentiment is just that, a wishy washy build you up moment that has absolutely no factual basis behind it. 

I personally will never subscribe to the idea that a female cannot sleep with a guy on the first date.  If the mood is right and it happens well great, it is bound to at some point.  And I would be devastated if I let myself fall for somebody only to discover after the fact that there was no sexual chemistry or that he was just plain bad in bed.  That is just not a sacrifice that I am willing to make.  I would rather know sooner than later as to what goods I have to work with, rather than discovering a surprise when I had to include feelings into the equation. 

Our society seems to believe in sugar coating every aspect of socialization and very rarely do we run into that brutally honest soul.  That person that we can count on to say what they mean and mean what they say.  And sugar coating has turned us into a society littered with pussy’s.  It gets easier to be honest with practice, and we should start practicing every day.  Pretend hope only shifts the pain from today to tomorrow.  No one has a perfect relationship or partnership with all the answers but honesty and sharing what works and what does not is how we learn and grow as individuals and a society.