Monday, March 7, 2016

About My Birthday

My birthdays always come with a certain degree of anxiety.

I've cried on most of them.

Last year, I wrote a post about 29 Things I've Learned.  Those 29 things are as true as they were a year ago when I wrote them. I was a wise woman last year.

And here we are again. Another year wiser, allegedly.

I've been struggling this week.  I've been ill for two weeks (which is always nice leading up to a big birthday).  February was a hard month.  I dealt with some online dating shenanigans that left me feeling less than enthused about the opposite sex and have highlighted the fact that I am again single on my birthday. 

I woke up this morning with the sunlight shining in my window, the cat next to me in bed and I just laid there gauging my mental status.  I finally just said, "Well, Birthday Girl, how do you feel today?  How are you going to start your day and what is your attitude about today going to be?"

In true form, I've been focusing on the wrong things again.

Here's what I've been thinking:  I'm single. I don't have a love interest in sight.  I live alone with my cat. I want a family and time is ticking away. I don't have a career. My apartment is a mess. I have chronic pain. I am overweight and I'm not happy with how I look. I don't feel like I have a lot of friends or a hugely active social life and I'm a shitty friend. I don't have enough money in the bank - hell, I'm in debt if we're being honest. I haven't traveled as much as I want to. I neglect my blog, but still talk about it as if it is a big deal and the truth is that I basically just post humiliating stories about myself, things best left to a diary or therapy and crude shit on the Internet that someday will probably haunt me. My life is not what I thought it would be at all.

I could keep going. I could keep going for days if I wanted to because I'm really good at looking at things the wrong way.  While all of the things I just said are true in the most basic and utterly pessimistic form... they aren't the whole truth.

Yes, I am single.  Sometimes that hurts and I don't understand why I can't find someone who just wants to love me and be with me in a relationship that is healthy, happy, respectful and beautiful in all of it's imperfect perfection. That's all I want... imperfect perfection. The truth is that I've had some of the most beautiful romantic moments I could have ever asked for, moments some women will never be lucky enough to have, and I've had them with men who probably never did something so beautiful again in their lives.  I danced in the street in the middle of the night before Nicholas Sparks made it a cliche. I've been sung to, spoiled and surprised.

I believe some of the men in my past loved me to the best of their ability. I've also been used and abused. I've been cheated and lied to. While I might be alone right now, at least I'm not settling. I made a decision this week to tell a man I wasn't going to stick around waiting to be his second choice.  It's been a struggle not to call and say, "I change my mind, we can still be friends".  But I know that we can't because I deserve more.  I know my worth in ways I never did before.  I am capable of love and loyalty in ways many are not and it is priceless.  I know what I bring to my relationships. I know that I not only should be, but deserve to be, a priority. I might feel a little lonely when I go to bed at night by myself.  The truth is that I'd rather be alone and lonely than feel alone and lonely next to someone who doesn't deserve me.

I live alone with my cat.  Which sounds depressing until you realize that I am an independent woman.  My apartment might be a mess, but every single thing in it is mine.  I earned it. I worked for it. I paid for it.  It's all mine and while it might not be the "best" stuff or the most expensive, I'm doing pretty well for myself and a lot better than some people.  I've lived on my own since I was 19 and I have a lot more to show for it than some people.  Not only that, but I have my shit together enough to keep not only a cat but a guinea pig and a fish alive with me.

I might not have a "career", but I have a job that I love with people who respect me and acknowledge my contributions. I have a job that allows me to pay the bills. 

I have chronic pain, but it isn't killing me.  Some days it gets me down, but I'm persevering.  I am overweight, but I am down 36 pounds from my highest recorded weight in less than a year.  36 pounds.  That's a mid-sized microwave.  I'm not always in love with me. That was a harsh realization this week. I'm 30 years old and I've never been in love with myself. It's time. I'm beautiful and I'm awesome. Three decades of living with myself is too much time to live in self-hate.  But the most important thing is that even with illness and chronic pain, I'm alive. I recently lost a family member to cancer and when I think about that, I don't have a legitimate reason to complain about anything because I am having another birthday.

My social life is not booming and thriving because I don't want it to.  I'm just not the kind of person who likes parties and big social gatherings.  I need to be more social. But, and it is a big butt, I have friends. I have people who have no obligation to me because of genetic accident who love me.  I have people that I can text in the middle of the night who answer me every single time. I have people who drink with me over the phone if that is what I need to do.  I have people who speak the truth about me to me when I forget. I have people who love me when I think I'm at my most unlovable.

I don't have money in the bank. While I might sleep a little easier at night if I had a little bit more, not only do I have everything I need but I have more.  Sometimes, I don't have more money in the bank is because I've spent money making sure people I care about have things that they need and make them happy. Somehow, that makes it ok.

I haven't traveled as much as I would like, but I've seen things and experienced things some people will never see or do in their lifetime.  I'm not well-traveled, but I am still more rich in experience than some people will ever be.

My blog. This blog. June will mark three years since starting this journey.  I set out to be a foodie blogger.  I set out to write about trying to live a healthier life.  I set out on this journey thinking I wasn't going to get personal.  Since then, I've written about my Dad. Then I talked about my struggles about being a stepmother and shared my Confessions of a Childless Wonder. I've spoken in depth about my experiences Online Dating, I talked about my issues with my weight and my eating disorder.  I've talked about self harm and being in abusive relationship.  One of my most read posts was about when personal insecurities lead to taco farts.  At this moment, I have 4,694 people following me on Facebook, 167 followers on Instagram, and 478 Twitter Followers. This blog has 235,330 pageviews, has been accessed in over 10 different countries and has been used as a tool to teach English as a second language in Brazil.  As much as I get down on myself about what I'm putting out there, apparently I'm doing something right because the people who follow me are some of the most genuine, caring and amazing people out there.  I've been supported, indulged in my whining, and praised for my honesty.  I've been told that something I said made a difference to someone, and somehow that makes it all worth it.

My life is absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be.  Hell, when I stop and really think about it... I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting.  When I stop complaining about the things I don't have, and let's be honest it isn't much, I realize I have a lot of things so many people wish they had.  If turning 30 has taught me anything, it's that I'm an ungrateful and entitled jackass.  For all the things I think I don't have, I might have two other things that are better.  I'm dedicating my 30th year on this Earth to being grateful.  I'm going to strive to be joyful, to appreciate the amazing life I have and just love myself, because damnit I deserve it.

Thanks for being here.  Thanks for celebrating with me.  Thanks for keeping me awesome.  Thank you for humbling me. Thank you for reading my words and laughing at them and identifying with them and understanding them.  Thank you for helping make this year special. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

More Than A Fat Bitch

Someone called me a "fat bitch" the other day.

Being called a bitch isn't a new thing. There are always going to be people who don't like you and people who will call you names for not doing what they want. That's life. 

I wish I could say that after being fat for a long time it eventually stops hurting when someone else points it out, but that's a lie. The truth is, I know I'm fat. 

I knew I was fat when I started gaining the weight in high school.

I knew I was fat when I reunited with an old boyfriend after not seeing each other for 5 years and he told me that I was perfect in every way, except for my "physique".

I knew I was fat when I started shopping in the plus size section.

I knew I was fat when I needed plus size stores, and not just a section.

I knew I was fat when I saw a doctor, two dietitians and a therapist for my binge eating disorder.

I knew I was fat when I realized I felt safer and less likely to be victimized in a body I felt was less accepted and considered attractive by society.

Being fat doesn't make me stupid. I know what being fat does to my body. I know that some of my physical ailments would be eased with the loss of some weight. I also know what being fat will do to my body in the future.

I know I'm fat, and you're not hurting my feelings by telling me something everyone can see. What hurts my feelings is when people can't see past it.

I once worked for a large, well-known company as a contract employee. I started during what was supposed to be the slowest time of the year, but for the first three months on the job I was working full-time with overtime (in addition to working a seasonal job). Things were going well, my coworkers seemed to like me, my supervisors seemed to appreciate me and I was often complimented on my hard work.

I enjoyed my job until one day I went into the break room where one of my coworkers (who would later become my supervisor) was sitting. I jokingly suggested we run away because I was tired of working that day.

His response? "Well, you could get a sugar daddy and you wouldn't have to work anymore, but you'd have to lose some weight first."

I could've laughed off the inappropriate sugar daddy joke, but the weight comment stung because I thought we were friendly and he himself was morbidly obese. He regularly told me what a hard worker I was, I thought he saw me as a hard worker and not just a fat person.

I should have reported him for sexual harassment. At the very least, I should have told him to go kick rocks, but I was too shocked. I'd busted my butt to make sure deadlines were met. I'd worked more overtime than anyone in addition to working another job and he had complimented me on my work ethic countless times.

That isn't the first time I've encountered that in the workplace. It isn't the first time I've encountered that in public or anywhere.

I am fat.  I might even be a bitch.  I am also more than a fat bitch.

I am a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. I'm fairly intelligent (at least intelligent enough to know that being fat doesn't make someone stupid). I'm good at my job. I read up on current events. I strive to eat healthy. I'm a pretty good speller. I'm sexy and there are people who are attracted to ME just as I am. I'm kind. I am a yogi. I am an animal lover. I am all these things and so much more.

But most importantly, I am a person.

At 29 years old, I struggle with accepting my body the way it is. I would love to be able to say"Fuck your Beauty Standards" and feel beautiful in my skin, but I can't because I feel like so much of who I am as a physical person is proof that I am failing by falling victim to the things that have happened to me. That doesn't change the fact that I am still a person. I am still a person with feelings and thoughts and I am part of this human experience whether or not anyone likes it.

Absolutely no one is perfect.  No one.  If "fat" is the worst thing someone can think of to call me, then I am not failing too horribly at being a decent human being, and that's why I think using "fat" as a means to insult me is such a low blow.

This has been a Sunday Confession.  The topic was "Low".

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Social Anxiety Wins

"Hi! My name is Ashley and I have social anxiety."

Just kidding.  If Social Anxiety Sufferers Anonymous were ever to become a thing, it would crash and burn because maybe 1/3 of the participants would force themselves to attend meetings.  The rest would feign illness or show up and hide in the bathroom.

I wish I knew when social interaction began causing anxiety for me. I think it was middle school.

Growing up I had a lot of female friends, but the older I got and the more hormones started cruising through my body and the body of all the little girls around me the more we seemed to despise each other. Puberty seemed to make the glittering world of sisterhood and tie-dyed girl power a war zone of jealousy.

I don't have a large group of friends.  I don't even have a large social network.  About twice a year something comes over me and I remove people from my Facebook "Friends" because one of my greatest fears is that I will die and people who haven't had a conversation with me in over a decade will show up at my funeral.  Seeing people show up at a funeral with big emotional outbursts and flashy grieving is what I consider to be the highest forms of insult to both the deceased and the people who actually had a close relationship with them.  When I die, I hope only the people who actually gave a shit while I was alive show up (if anyone bothers, that is).

The last time I forced myself to attend a social function, I made the mistake of going alone when I only knew the hosts.  I ended up standing next to the pool, eating mashed potatoes from a plastic martini glass and fighting back lonely, awkward tears.

I'm not usually lonely.  I enjoy my own company.  It's only when I attempt to be social in ways other people deem acceptable that I find myself feeling awkward and lonely.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Please Share Food

I'm avoiding social media right now.

It's sounds like such a passive aggressive thing to do, except I'm really just being polite.  I just can't take the widespread ICK that is the Internet right now. 

Inspirational memes make me want to throw up lately.  I keep seeing the same sentiments posted over and over.  The most irritating being the one that denies all responsibility for your own life.  The message, in summary, being: "If you're facing challenges, it's because you're being made better.  If people are leaving your life, it's because they're the wrong people.  If bad things are happening, it's not because anything in life is actually a consequence of your's because there is a higher purpose".  Sometimes when you're struggling, you need to believe there is reason behind it.  But sometimes in life, you face challenges, people leave you, and bad things happen because you're being a dick as a direct result of your actions. 

I've started unfriending people who made nasty comments on my status updates.  It isn't that I don't think we can disagree, have differences of opinion, or share our own thoughts without staying friends.  I've simply run out of excuses or patience for people who want to use the things I share on social media as an excuse to take a dig at me for something they're unhappy about in their own life or in "retaliation" for being unhappy with me for some reason.

I've run out of patience for people who misrepresent themselves.  There have been people I've met that I thought I could really love.  People who I invited into my life whose lives I tried to be a part of as well.  People who I messaged and had conversations with late at night.  People I thought cared.  It turns out I simply fell for the social media facade.  They wax poetic about their lives in public, but if you watch and wait long enough eventually you'll see that you can roll a piece of crap in powdered sugar, but that doesn't make it a jelly donut. 

I've grown weary of the kind of people who want to blather on aimlessly about eating healthy, avoiding processed food, gluten/corn syrup/GMO free food because they care so much about what goes IN their mouth but not so much about what comes OUT of it.  What is the point in making sure you get the best, organic, most healthy fuel if what comes out of you is toxicity?  What higher purpose do you serve if in all of your crunchy, organic goodness... you're a really mean-spirited, ugly person hiding behind status symbols of someone who is about goodness?

I'm over it.  I really just want everyone to go back to sharing photos of their food. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Broken Compass

My mom once told me that as a child I had a very strong sense of right and wrong.

I think that child died.

We live in a society where sharing intimate photos of a woman without her permission isn't illegal, but we'll shame her to the bitter end for taking them in the first place.

We live in a world where we look at someone for a reason they were victimized instead of looking at the perpetrator and asking them, "what the fuck is wrong with you?"

We don't take the CEOs, the other corporate whores and the Government to task for the raises and the handouts they get while food stamp recipients are torn to shreds for not being able to afford groceries.  Because a single parent who can't do it alone and can't get child support from someone who won't get a job or fled the state to avoid paying child support deserves to be demonized, right?

I see how people work a 40 hour work week, make good financial choices, and still can't pay the bills.  I see how people strive to make changes to succeed and only really achieve hitting the same roadblocks at a higher speed.

I look and I see people doing desperate things just trying to survive, and I can't bring myself to judge anymore.  I don't understand how anyone can expect people to maintain a moral compass when they're fighting to survive a system that is morally bankrupt to begin with.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Calling in Sick and Anal Glaucoma

I have never called in sick to work because I was hungover.  
Somehow, it felt extra dishonest to call in sick when I'd made myself sick.  Those times when I made a poor decision on a weeknight, I drank my Gatorade and went to work the next day because no one else deserved to suffer a bad day for my poor decision making. 
I've called in sick for food poisoning.  I've called in sick with migraines I could find no relief from.  I've called in when I was suffering from the common cold because I needed the healing power of a day spent cat napping, eating chicken soup and watching crappy daytime television.
But I am ashamed of the days in my past when I feigned illness to avoid my workplace.  Days where I almost called in to say I had anal glaucoma and I just couldn't see my ass coming into work.
People need time away from their place of employment. An employer who wants happy employees will encourage them to enjoy time away from the workplace. I believe employees should take those days and enjoy them.  I believe in mental health days: days spent doing whatever needs doing, time to just breath.  
I used that as justification to call in sick when I wasn't.  And I wasn't using my mental health days to just breathe.  
I once found myself in an employment situation where every morning I prayed for a car accident to derail my day.  There were days when I called in sick just because I couldn't face a day dealing with my abusive coworkers.  My manager not only ignored, but fostered a hostile work environment.  It wasn't unusual to experience yelling, name calling, threats, or feeling physically threatened weekly, sometimes daily. 
I hated calling in sick because I didn't want to experience verbal abuse for a day. I looked forward to flu season and strep throat because I could call in sick without the liars' guilt that came with feigning illness. I felt solace when I experienced illness I could get a doctor's note for. 
It was a hell I lived in for more than 3 years.  I should have left sooner.  But I spent a lot of time telling myself that work wasn't meant to be a cakewalk.  I told myself that no one loved their job.  I struggled to find alternative employment that would pay me what I was getting.  I wrote off the abuse as something that came with employment in a high stress environment and that's why I was paid so well.
When I left that job, I found myself in a relationship I took mental health days from. I called in sick and didn't tell my significant other just so I could sit at home in peace by myself.  
Looking back, I learned a life lesson.  Mental Health Days should be days you take to do things to take care of yourself.  They should be days spent doing things you don't always have time to do.  They should be days spent pampering yourself with things like sleeping in late, brunch, and drinking coffee in 10 a.m sunshine.  Mental Health Days shouldn't be days spent recovering abuse.  Mental Health Days shouldn't be hours spent preparing yourself for what will happen tomorrow.  Mental Health Days should be something planned and relished, not something obtained by leaving a hoarse, throaty message that you're too sick to work. 
If something in your life makes you feign illness, there's a good chance it is actually making you sick.  If something makes you want to call in with anal glaucoma because you just don't see your ass dealing with it, there's a good chance you need to tell it to kiss your ass and move on. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Fine Line

I'm just a girl in the world. 
Isn't that how the songs goes?  
It never ceases to amaze me how our society refers to women as the weaker sex.  We are to be emotional, gentle, sweet, always somehow "lesser".  I'm supposed to be just a girl.  Dainty.  Feminine.  Weak.  Full of love and maternal instinct and sisterhood (as long as no man finds it threatening).   
Yet, I get up every morning and get dressed, sliding on one pant leg at a time.  I know that in spite of all the things I'm supposed to be, I'm still expected to walk out the door and rule the world.   I'm confused by this every morning.  I'm supposed to change the world, rule the world, take care of the world... yet, I'm supposed to be the weaker sex.

This has been a short Sunday Confession. The prompt this week was: Pant.  I hope you'll take the time to read the contributions from all of the great writers who have chosen to participate.  If the prompt inspires you, feel free to link up your own post below or share an anonymous confession in the comments below by clicking the blue linkup button.   Thanks for joining us.
An InLinkz Link-up