Falling through the Looking Glass











{August 12, 2014}   When Silence is Posionous

It’s one of the hardest things to deal with in a relationship. You want to maintain good communication, not just good things, but good quality. And sometimes your partner may be going through something that makes communication awkward or stressful. There are many ways one can try to overcome these issues, but silence is never one of them.

This is my personal hangup.

When I was in high school, I had a violent temper. I would say or do whatever I wanted, regardless of who it hurt all in the guise of honesty. True, I was being honest, but honesty to the point of cruelty is never a good thing.

This scared me about myself and was one of the first goals I set with my counselor at the time. Unfortunately, I had many other emotional issues that were clouding this so instead of being able to bring my temper down to a reasonable level, I went to the complete other extreme. I silenced myself. This combined with everything else was also a bad thing.

With more therapy and years of problems, I finally realized that I have a huge problem with confrontation. I will do anything to avoid it even if it means lying to myself or suppressing my voice. This is not an excuse, rather just a documentation of how problems can mutate without guidance. I have been in counselling on and off for a dozen years, and I can attest that it is better to stick in treatment as best you can, though take what you can get. Some care is better than no care.

Though it does come with the fact you may regress a bit.

Tonight I realized just how bad I regressed and it both hurt me and exhausted me. I had been wanting to talk to my boyfriend about some problems I was having for months now. I even made a list last Friday of wishes I wanted to work on with him. But for some reason, I just couldn’t speak to him. It was either not the time, I was nervous about upsetting him, I didn’t feel good, I made an excuse for everything.

The thing is I was making excuses because I didn’t want to rock the boat. I wanted everything to be okay and that’s a problem because sometimes, that boat needs to be rocked. And sometimes, that boat is you. I was scared because as long as those problems are in my head, they aren’t real. If I don’t speak them, I can act like everything is okay and it will just go away. But that’s not how things work.

I am a powder keg. My issues and confusion didn’t get any better, they just got more confusing and my depression got worse. Depression is a horrible thing. I could have had this conversation before my physical ailments took me, but I didn’t. And then once you’re in that emotional cage, well. Everything is extreme. What could be a small deal is a quicksand pit. It doesn’t matter if you sit still or not, you’re going down. And if you don’t ask for help you will suffocate.

I lost my barrier tonight. All the stress, all the depression, all the misery just flooded out. It’s still flowing. All the raw pain I refused to acknowledge found its way out even though I tried not to. It is hard to feel safe to speak when you don’t have a condition. But when you’re seeing the world with a fog of depression, you can’t see straight.

The important thing is to try and learn your warning signs. Learn when you’re starting to crack. If you don’t feel safe, try and get yourself reinforcements. Get a counselor, a friend, a mediator. Ask their help in helping you to talk to others if you’re concerned that the condition will speak instead of you. Try to take care of yourself. Those who love you will be glad you’re trying to be self aware. And if they have anything of concern to speak to you about, the mediator can help translate it through your blurred vision.

No one deserves to hold things in until it hurts. But if you don’t help yourself, then you can’t expect others to help you. It’s a delicate balance, but one that has to be made.

I don’t presume to know all the answers, especially when I am still very, very flawed. But the best I can think to do is to tell you what mistakes I made, what I tried to do to fix it, and hope that you won’t repeat my mistakes. So feel free to leave your suggestions or share your thoughts in the comment below. Heaven’s knows I would appreciate learning more too!

Good luck friends!

Advertisements


{July 1, 2014}   “For a White Girl”

I hear this phrase a lot at my current job. I am the only white girl in my shift, but I am far from the only white girl at our place of business and the women I am working with have a lot of interaction with other women of all colors.

But for some reason I keep getting the backhanded compliment of how smart I am for a white girl, how I have the curves of a black girl, how easy I am to get along with for a white girl…

Now don’t get me wrong, the women I work with are wonderful people who are genuinely sweet and the most amicable crew I have worked with for a long time. I am going to be sad to not see them everyday when I begin my new job next Monday. But this is something that seriously bothers me because these women are around my own age and our town and work is loaded with people of all colors, so it’s not like I am the only experience with white people they have.

I could go into this long spheel about why this is so and the history of segregation. But I don’t think I need to. I am not judging these women and I am very grateful to have their affection, friendship, and respect. I know they do not mean anything other than a sincere compliment towards me. 

My issue is trying to decide how to bring up my discomfort with some always calling me “the white girl” or “for a white girl” without giving the wrong idea. I am normally pretty good about choosing words, but when it comes to something as sensitive as race, it is very easy to accidentally eat your own foot instead of addressing a problem.

To be fair, self segregation is a huge problem where I live here in the south. I hate it. We have an ugly history that will take more than a few generations to retrain and repair from. I don’t blame these women for having little to no white friends. And it could be that at our work being a good employee is so rare I am being accorded something as a part of my racial construct when it has more to do with my personal integrity. 

What I am annoyed with is that anytime I try to bring up these issues is as a white person, sometimes I am treated as if my opinion doesn’t matter or that I have no right to get my feelings hurt because of being “the white girl”. I don’t think that is fair, especially when that is completely against my intentions. 

I am an Irish American who grew up in poverty, became a single mother against my wishes, put myself through college, and continue to struggle with health issues on top of even more poverty. I have some experience in the very issues that many women of all colors have to deal with. I am not some crazy other who lived in an isolated bubble. The child starving in the projects has more in common with the child starving in the trailer park than they realize.

What I would like to see is more communication and freedom to question between people of various ethnic groups. No, I don’t know what it is to be black. But I do know what it is like to be working three jobs and still can’t make daycare. I know what it is like to deal with baby daddy drama and the pain of being abandoned. I know what it is like to deal with racism and being harassed and even beat up because I wouldn’t cater to the whims of idiots.

So no. I cannot and will not presume to understand what it is to be a minority woman who is also facing these challenges. I acknowledge that statistically, being white is supposed to give me certain social mobility and privileges, and maybe if I were in a better location I could take advantage of these statistics more. (I am not ashamed to say that after all I have survived and still not getting me anywhere I would gladly cash in any privilege check if I had the chance.) But I don’t have these magic chips to cash. I am the minority of white people. Because of certain aspects of who I am, such as being a single mother, society has decided I don’t have as many white cards to pay as say a richer, more connected woman that doesn’t have any children. The life I have and have survived to live mirrors closer to the minority women of my location than the other white women. 

I relate to these women better because we have more shared experiences. This is the important part. I would love it if we as a society could improve communications between ethnic groups so more people could see a fellow instead of an amicable other. Imagine what could be accomplished if the kid from the trailer park and the kid from the projects realized they understood each other better than they would think. I firmly believe that those that have the oppressive economic and cultural holds on our society want us to keep thinking we are so alien and incomprehensible to each other, that “it’s a black thing, you wouldn’t get it” or “it’s a white problem” is actually true, and that we are incapable of working together to fight back.

I am not a black woman. I am simply an understanding cheerleader who wishes to throw her support and enthusiasm behind positive and progressive minority leadership. But for this to happen more effectively, all I ask is to be seen first as Gabrael.



{June 20, 2014}   The All Encompassing “Ex”

Ex, without, un, former, etc.

If something is an ex-smoker, they are someone who once had the experience of being a smoker, but has since discontinued that behavior.

If someone is an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, they are without you. Formerly of you. Discontinued of you. They no longer hold that role with you. They have done something that has made them incapable of holding and sustaining that role.

So what does that mean for you?

They are exs. They are without you. That means you have to let them go. 

Even if they are your amicable ex and you two get along just fine, you are still having to redefine your relationship with them and restructure your view to build something new. That means you still have to stop seeing them as your ex.

Hanging on to past relationships can range from being downright annoying to dangerously unhealthy. If you find yourself constantly thinking, talking, or bringing up your ex, the biggest question you need to be asking yourself is why? What need is being sustained or fulfilled by interjecting this former person into your life? Are you wanting validation, attention, justification?

If so, I am willing to bet that whatever need it is, your ex is not fulfilling it properly or healthy. They’re your ex. They were a square peg in a round hole so you had to reject them.

The kicker is sometimes you were their square peg and they needed to reject you. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but as I spoke about in my last post,  that doesn’t mean you are absolved from considering your role in the breakup and where you may need to rebuild yourself.

The key is to let the ex go and move on with yourself. Learn what you can but then continuing learning and growing. Don’t dwell. A past relationship is a step. It may take you higher but only if you keep walking.



No one likes to be told they’re wrong. It’s a human thing. But sometimes just because you may technically be in the right doesn’t mean you are without responsibility.

Responsibility is a weird thing. Everyone wants to think they are capable of it while holding others to carrying it out. It is one of the hardest things to self evaluate and even harder to try and cultivate when it needs pruning. Even the most moral and astute person will have problems with maintaining and discerning responsible choices. This does not make you a bad person. This just means you have a weak spot in your foundation that needs a little mending. Calling someone out on their irresponsibility is one of the best ways to get a knee jerk defense but it is necessary beyond a shadow of a doubt.

AGAIN: Just because you were irresponsible in a situation doesn’t mean that you are morally wrong or to blame for that situation. This isn’t about pointing fingers. This is about taking control of your life and what happens to you.

Here are a few examples from my life that hopefully you can relate to:

 

1) I had a string of just crappy boyfriends/dates. They were horrible. They were abusive in some form and to varying degrees. They were on the surface very different: some had college experience, other’s didn’t, varying home lives, even varying ages. Now any abuse I suffered in these relationships were not my fault. I didn’t deserve that treatment. I was a faithful and devoted girlfriend. I didn’t deserve to be harmed, cheated on, mistreated, or taken advantage of. But somehow, these things kept happening to me. So I had to take responsibility not for the abuse, that was on the abusers, but for my responsibility to pick better partners and to evaluate is there anything I’m doing that is accidentally encouraging these kinda guys to approach me. And here is what I figured out:

My shitty self esteem was like a giant target around my neck. I was so wrapped up in my own issues that the quality people who were trying to get to know me couldn’t. They either saw how damaged I was and realized I was in no state for a relationship and left me alone. Or they didn’t want to deal with the baggage I wasn’t ready to let go of. Either way I was scaring off good people who respected me enough not to start something with me.

This left the vultures. The smooth talkers. The losers. The charismatic vampires who know just what to say and how to front long enough to make someone feel special. Every guy at least to some degree offered to help me with something. They actually kept the front half of their promises. Some took me out and made me feel pretty. They remembered my birthday and kept up with my studies. Then things changed sometimes, sometimes slowly sometimes not. Hindsight gives off all these wonderful red flags doesn’t it? (I will go into those in another post, don’t worry.)

So it was not my fault I was hurt. But I did have to take responsibility for the fact I was putting myself in the situation for these people to take advantage of me and I fell for it. My responsibility here I failed on was to value myself and work on healing myself. I was trying to find help for my problems in unhealthy sources instead of other options. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was trying to let someone else take care of me. 

The only time that is is safe for someone to take care of you when you’re incapable is only after they have proven themselves to be a true friend. Having someone offer immediately, even if they are a good person, isn’t healthy for you. It really is true you have to love yourself before others can love you.

 

2) I was in a job…a horrible job…well. It wouldn’t have been horrible if I wasn’t treated very well. I wasn’t the best judge at this point over who was my friend and who wasn’t. I had a coworker who I thought was a friend spread horrible rumors about me loosely based on some truths I had told them in confidence. There was a professional inquiry at work over the matter. I had a chance to throw everyone who screwed me under the bus and I didn’t. I said only that I had told that coworker something in confidence and they betrayed me. I ended up having to transfer out of that place because the hostility of that environment got so bad. One boss called me a snitch, the other just let it go and I was written up for causing “disruptive work conditions”. 

My responsibility in this: follow through with chain of command. Don’t let people use a policy to hurt you. I could have gone above my boss’s head and I didn’t. Also while some may think me not baring all was honorable because I held integrity, I was defending people who obviously didn’t care how bad I was hurt. That “friend” wasn’t written up. They were a hero. I was the problem. If you know you are in the right then follow through and feel free to crucify anyone who wasn’t. They won’t hesitate to leave you to rot.

 

I have a motto: Make sure it’s not your fault. Do everything in your power to make sure you are giving yourself the best leg forward on accomplishing your goals. This is how I hold myself responsible. I can’t control other people. I can’t control if I don’t get that job I deserve or another turn of fate that I have earned. It takes exhausting all of your options, double checking yourself, and constantly seeing what you can do better. I promise, even if you’re not getting where you want to be, you’ll be closer to who you want to be.



It happened. You didn’t think about it, and it happened. The person you’re crushing on happens to be a single parent.

This doesn’t mean that it is an automatic deal breaker, unless you don’t want or hate children, then by all means go away and leave them alone at least in a romantic sense.

But if you do want kids or at least don’t mind them, there raises the question of what happens now? Single parents do have special considerations all their own.

 

What are your boundaries, investments, and expectations?

Do you want to be involved with the children immediately, after a certain point, or never? Are you willing to be friendly or share your family with the other parent should that happen? Are the kid(s) going to be yours or are they just going to be little roommates?

These may seem like silly questions to ask but they are important questions. When it comes to anyone with children, especially children not of adult age yet, the key is to not start something you cannot finish. Again, if you don’t want kids or do not want to be a parental figure, then you need to leave the single parent alone. Parents are package deals. You can’t just change the wrapping and expect the contents to magically change too. If you don’t clearly establish what you want before you initiate a relationship, then you’re not going to be compatible and it can hurt more than just the two of you.

 

What is the relationship between the family and the other parent?

When you get involved with a single parent, you’re adopting the kids as well as the other parent regardless if you like it or not. Even in the case of an absent parent you still have the baggage and the issues that come with parental abandonment and that takes a long time to acclimate to. The age of the children are very important with this. A six month old isn’t going to be as invested in having a replacement parent as what a sixteen year old may have.

If the other parent is really involved and active with the kid(s) then that means you will have to build a relationship with them eventually even if it is just practical civility. If you cannot handle that or don’t want to share with someone else, then you need to say thanks but no thanks to the crush and move on.

 

Are you ready to be a parent?

If the answer is no, turn around, walk away, have a nice day.

Look, if you’re not ready to at least try and love their kid(s) you cannot really love the single parent.  A  parent has obligations and responsibilities that a single person doesn’t. They can’t just drop money on something or go off on a vacation at a whim unless their gifted as wealthy. They have to keep up with doctor’s appointments, school assignments, custody transfers and everything else that may come in the way of what you want to do or what you’re capable of. A good parent will fulfill that responsibility before being a partner.

Now notice I didn’t say they should always choose their child(ren) over you. On the contrary, sometimes fulfilling their responsibility to their children can mean that they stand up for their right to be an adult and have an adult source of happiness separate of their child(ren): you. But if they’re blowing off their kid’s dance recital because they rather go to a party with you, don’t believe for a second that a decision like that won’t come back and bite you and your relationship on the butt.

 

How is the person you are crushing on dealing with being a single parent?

Are they always stressed trying to make bills or deadlines? Are they always complaining about baby-drama? Do they have a good support structure around them already or are you all they got?

If they are not capable and content with their role, you need to wait and watch before you throw your bid in. Being a parent is incredibly stressful even in the best of situations. You throw in legal matters, financial issues, or hateful family and that person doesn’t need a relationship, they need a friend. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be their friend and allow that friendship to naturally progress, but trying to start a relationship out of a tumultuous time is a horrible foundation.

If their becoming a single parent came from less than ideal circumstances like death, abandonment, or rape, then that person may need a lot of time to process their feelings and regain their identity and adapt to their new responsibilities. They deserve their moment to heal at their pace. And your chances with them will be much greater if you wait for that process to stabilize.

 

Will your family and friends support your decision if you start dating?

I’m not saying you should be paranoid before beginning  a relationship, nor do I expect you to know everything. But knowing if your mother is going to turn into an impossible nag or your best friend will be pissed that playdates will be in your future is important so you can have a plan to deal with it. Are you going to wait until the relationship is serious to tell people? Are you going to be strong enough to stand up to their criticism? Will holidays or family gatherings turn into an ordeal? A responsible single parent will offer you their expectations and issues from the beginning for your consideration, you should be able to do the same. Again, being a single parent is hard enough without Christmas turning into a bitchfest because the partner’s child was ignored in favor of all the “real” grandkids.

This doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker for you two, but again, knowing where the mines are keeps you from blowing off your leg before you make it to the finish line.

 

Single parents often get a lot of negative social perceptions. They are trying to do the role of at least two people in one body. Some single parents are complete deadbeats and those should be avoided like the plague. But for the quality one that has caught your eye, just do a little extra soul searching before you approach them. Make sure that you’re ready for that kind of investment because it is tough, but the returns can be awesome. As I said, single parents are a package deal. And who doesn’t love a bonus feature?



1) Don’t try to make them jealous.

Do not try to make it seem you are so better off without them. If you were better off without them, you wouldn’t be trying to get back with them.

 

2) Don’t beg.

Emotionally healthy people do not want supplicants, they want partners.This is not only personally demeaning, it’s not very impressive upon the former partner.

 

3) Don’t lie.

Seriously, they will find out. And it’s never healthy to try and rebuild a relationship on a falsehood.

 

4) Don’t tell them how much they missed out on.

Similar to number one, but at the same time it is condescending and hurtful in a very unique way. Don’t insult or disrespect people like this.

 

5) Don’t come without a game plan.

There is a reason why your relationship ended. Obviously something was not going the way it’s supposed to. So don’t come back unless you have productive and engaging ideas on how to not just rebuild the relationship, but surpassing it with something better. Why settle for something that obviously didn’t work before?

 

6) Don’t ask if they are seeing other people.

It’s none of your business. It’s not going to help anything. And it’s only a way to fish drama, not progress and rebuild into something new.

 

7) Don’t promise to change.

They probably won’t believe you. You probably don’t believe you. If you feel compelled to say this, you’re not really in a healthy recovery point yet.

 

8) Don’t try to bring up how the relationship was.

Something was done that started a breakup. Obviously while there must have been some positive things or else you wouldn’t want to reconnect with them, but there were also problems too. If you try to bring up something good, that leaves the door open to bring up the bad. Keep to your plan and work forward, not backward.

 

9) Don’t offer to fulfill past promises.

If it was a priority, then it should have been done then. Move on, move forward, It shouldn’t take loosing someone to try and work on something your should have done anyway.

 

10) Don’t resort to bribery.

Attempts to use offers or gifts to get someone back only trivializes your attempts to work on the relationship, unless the offer is for couple’s therapy or something like that. The former partner can’t help but judge the merit of the gift in comparison to how you value the relationship. This can also create false expectations for both of you.

 

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY!

 

11) Don’t forget that there are 7,000,000,000 people on this earth.

You will find someone else.

I promise.

Just don’t try and find that other person while trying to work things out with your ex. Just. Don’t.



{November 11, 2012}   What a Woman Wants?

I  am by far, not the most feminine girl. In fact, I am very odd in my expressions of femininity  But when it comes to romance, I find myself very odd and out of place with both genders. However, being outside of this range also lets me see romance different and hopefully more constructively.

One issue I am having is with these silly lists one can find in a vastly forwarded email or posted in some forum of how to be the perfect man. We’ve all seen at least one and I am here to say that these are pathetic ways to attract or hold a woman. Doing these items are more likely to end in tears and restraining orders than actual fulfilling moments in a relationship.

Allow me to demonstrate:

 

1) When she walks away from you mad, follow her.

  • If I am mad and walking away, it is because I am so upset I have passed rational thinking and need to calm down. If a girl is that emotional she needs to walk away, chances are this is your chance to take a breather and calm it down. Maybe it’s best for her to walk away. Maybe it’s best for you to let her go. But take the time to calm down and figure that out.

2) When she stares at your mouth, kiss her!

  • Did you ever consider you have something in your teeth?

3) When she pushes you or hits you, grab her and don’t let her go.

  • NO! When a woman hits you, pushes you, swings on you in any way that is domestic abuse and you do not deserve to be treated like that! Get away from her and call the cops. Abuse is never the way to handle anger or frustration.

4) When she cusses at you, don’t cuss back and make her feel worse, just deal with it for the time being.

  • NO! Verbal abuse does not ever need to be “dealt with”.

5) When she’s quiet, ask her what’s wrong.

  • Why must something be wrong?

6) When she ignores you, give her your attention.

  • Why give attention to someone’s who ignoring you? Tell her that when she’s ready to talk you’ll be there, then get back to your life. That’s not worth it.

7) When she pulls away, pull her back.

  • No, let her go. Just let her go. You don’t want her to have problems with her accusing you with something wrong. Let her go.

8) When you see her at her worse, tell her she’s beautiful.

  • Guys, this is a set up. If you tell her she’s beautiful and she believes you-there’s a change that she’s keep looking like a slob because she thinks you like it. Then when her girlfriends tell her that you’re full of crap and she’s letting herself go then you’ll be blamed.
  • Another problem with telling her she’s beautiful is she just might get even more emo on you because she knows you’re just telling her to try and make her feel better and you don’t mean it.

Here is the proper solution, why does she look her worst? Did she fall in mud? Is it a bad bridesmaid’s dress? Is she in the hospital? Did her cat just die? Based on the reason for her looking bad depends on your reaction. None of which means layering a compliment. Better to ask her how she’s feeling and be supportive there then tell her she’s beautiful.

9) When you see her crying, just hold her and don’t say a word.

  • This is half true. When your girl is crying and you’re not sure how to handle it, go sit beside her and gently stroke her hair or touch her hand. If she wants you there, most likely she will move to hold you, give you some reassurance back, talk to you, or something productive. If she doesn’t want you, she’ll say “Not now” or gently move your hand. That’s fine, just tell her when she’s ready you guys can talk and go about your business.

10) When you see her walking, sneak up behind her and hug her waist from behind.

  • If this was done to me, you’d get a hit to the balls. So before you do something like this, make sure first that it’s your girl and not a random stranger and second that she would actually find this cute.

11) When she is scared, protect her.

  • I recommend a Hello Kitty nightlight.

12) When she steals your favorite shirt, let her keep it ans sleep in it for the night.

  • I highly doubt if you took something of hers, especially clothing, it would be called romantic or cute. Girls need to ask. If a guy doesn’t care, so be it. But I find this awkward.

13) When she doesn’t answer for a really long time, reassure her that everything is going to be fine.

  • Or that just means the call was dropped. Never make a promise that you can’t keep. All you can do is tell her your best options at the moment. No one ever knows if it’s going to be fine or not.

14) When she looks at you with doubt, back yourself up.

  • Or she can stand by you like you stand by her. Depending on what is being called to doubt and the context before hand, what’s the point? If you’re in a relationship with this person, you should be safe to express doubts with each other and communicate a plan to work with this.

15) When she says she likes you, she really does far more than you can understand.

  • Meh, no. And again no. Take her words for what they are. Do not assume. If you’re uncertain, just ask. There is no problems with that. And if there is a problem with that, then your relationship needs a communication overhaul.

16) When she tells you a secret, keep it safe and untold.

  • Unless it’s terrorist activities or something else that is pretty dangerous, then I thought this was a given?

17) When she misses you, she’s hurting inside.

  • This sounds like the girl this list keeps describing has dependency issues and major emotional insecurities. It’s okay to miss someone. But unless they are dead, it shouldn’t cause hurt or pain.

18) When you break her heart, the pain never really goes away.

  • Meh, I don’t like how people think that. You can heal from heartache. Men feel heartache too. But this fatalist attitude isn’t healthy and will hurt far more than it will help.

19) When she says it’s over, she still wants you.

  • No, no and again no. I don’t care if this is true. If you are not emotionally responsible to communicate what you need, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship.How are you supposed to trust men at their word if you don’t even say what you mean?

 

 

And what did we learn here? Communication is the key to building a great relationship. And if you are afraid of talking, well, you need to work on that, both as a couple and an individual. There are not ways around it. And if you or your partner has some sort of emotional or mental issue, then by all means work out a plan together so that both of you can support each other and build each other up.

And the first step to that? Throw out these silly lists and have some quality time!



et cetera