The Best Laid Plans…

I had it all planned. I would mail the invitations and send a polite, but firm, text message to my mother, simply stating that too many bridges have been burned and she is, therefore, not invited to my wedding. I’d find a way to subtly mention the presence of security, so she knew that if she were to show, it wouldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps I’d even blame my dad, claiming he said he wouldn’t come if she did. After all, the only reason he claimed he was joking when he did say it, was because my step-mom yelled at him. Sure, I hadn’t worked out the details. I hadn’t really told Jake or Gail that she was texting me more lately, trying to mend fences, but I figured I’d let all that be Future Belle’s problem.

I had it all planned, more or less… until she showed up at my new job, unannounced, uninvited, and unwelcome, seeing as how we’re not open and are still a construction zone. When she said my name, I genuinely thought that this could not be happening. Not even she was demented enough to think I’d want to see her at the new job I didn’t tell her about and that it was appropriate to disturb me during my first week, when we were still surrounded by construction workers. I turned, and there she was, with her kicked puppy look, the one that always reminds me of a sad Kathy Bates, the reason I can’t watch movies with Kathy Bates. She stood at the walker I knew she’d been using, despite having informed me specifically that the doctors have told her again and again that there is nothing physically wrong with her… emphasis on physically.

Me: “What are you doing here?”
Her: “I just came to see you.”
Me: “We’re not open. You can’t be here.”
Her: “Okay, I just came to say hi.”
Me: “You have to leave. This is a construction zone.”
Her Husband: “Alright, we know. We just came to say hi.”
Me: “You have to go. Now.”

The director of the system had left only hours earlier. I can only imagine what he’d have thought if he had assumed I’d invited my, apparently invalid, mother to tour an unopened library. Fortunately, she and her husband left before anyone but the construction workers noticed, leaving me shaking. I never know what I feel when I see her… anger, pity, longing? This time “ambushed” ranked pretty high, as I typed out a text message to her. It was cruel and hateful and I was angry, but even in hindsight, I can only think how she refuses to respond to any other expression of my wishes. I have asked to be left alone (particularly at work), in every other way I can fathom, so the only thing left, it seemed, was to be ugly… or reprimanded professionally. I pressed send, terrified that her husband, Victor, would return to berate me for it.

Mental illness receives the most blame for who my mother has become, of course, but I place Victor second in that column. My mother has always been… embarrassingly weak. Even when she was young, she was a chameleon through and through, adapting her personality to those who surround her. With my dad, she was convinced she wanted to live on ten acres and spend her money on boots and livestock, neither of which ever gave her any real benefit. After things went south there, she let herself be completely absorbed in having young children, both dressing and acting like a child in many ways, from oversized Tweety Bird t-shirts and fanny packs, to childish humor and  hobbies. Perhaps that was part of the cause of the divorce, not necessarily the effect, but I’ll never know. Then, she met this weird little man, who wears a conductor’s hat, lives in isolation, and makes his money from odd jobs and pyramid schemes, both of which naturally required her money, before she quit nursing to watch Netflix and self-diagnose herself on WebMD all day. This was the same man who convinced her to leave me and move in with him my senior year of high school, the reason she couldn’t “afford” my college application fees, the man who frequently tells her how horrible everyone in her life has been to her, increasing his isolation of her to only his home, where he plays into her contrived illnesses and doesn’t allow her to drive.

I think, often, about how different my mother would be, had she married someone even remotely normal. Perhaps she’d still be working, exposing herself to the outside world and the people in it. Maybe she’d share some random hobby with him, like disc golf or traveling with Renaissance Fairs. Maybe she’d still exist, period, because she is simply a shell of herself, today, and a poor one at that. Gone is the woman who insisted we wear my Gramma’s matching Christmas outfits for the family photo… who volunteered to chaperone every field trip and supplied cupcakes for every class party… who took me out of daycare just because she had the day off. I don’t even recognize her anymore, but I miss the woman she was.

In a weak moment, I called Jake and shared a touch of my mommy drama. I often joke with him that he can’t know the magnitude of it all until after we’re married and he’s trapped. I immediately regretted telling him. Despite my willingness to share everything else, I find I want to keep this particular pain from Jake. I left work just a few hours later and spent the evening ignoring his calls and crying over the horrible text I’d sent my mother, thinking that a man so respectful of his own parents was far too good for me. I thought about watching the home videos I have on a disc, but I know they would just make me long even more for someone who’s gone, and I’m not that masochistic. I thought of my wedding day, of dressing with only my Gramma and bridesmaids by my side, of the whispers from those who will never understand and I cried. I thought about having no mentor for marriage and motherhood and I cried. I thought about how I can’t do all of this without the mother I had at 7-years-old and how I’ll never see her again and I cried. I reread my text message and I cried.

Stop coming to my work. Period. I cannot talk to you. I’m working. I choose not to see you when I’m not working and forcing me to see you when I am is completely inappropriate. I didn’t tell you I switched libraries for a reason. Don’t come see me. Just assume that you are never invited to any part of my life. My wedding. The births of my children. Stay. Away. Do not respond to this message in any way other than to respect my wishes. I am not discussing this or anything with you.

The best laid plans… well, maybe not “best.”

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Shout-Out to the Children of the Mentally Ill

I’m an active Facebook user. I love seeing people grow up and be happy. That’s why, even though I knew I’d regret it, I still thumbed through all of the photos of my friends with their moms. The sentiments were all the same. She’s their best friend, their major source of support, and an amazing grandma. She’s seen them through everything and taught them everything they needed to know about life.

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Naturally, there were no shout-outs to the children of the mentally ill.

When I was nine, I found out I needed to wear deodorant when my dad snapped that I stank, assuming my mother had had that talk with me. I opened my first training bra in front of my family on Christmas, from an aunt who was trying to send my mother a hint. I came home crying, one day in middle school, because the other kids said I had a mustache. I mostly gave up on makeup in eighth grade, because I didn’t really know how to apply it and had no one to show me. My mother didn’t teach me any of the things I needed to know as a teenager and certainly not as an adult, considering she left me to live with her boyfriend two hours away, during my senior year.

I wish I could only feel anger. I know that’s not healthy, but I think it might be more bearable than this deep-set ache I’m feeling these days as I remember the good times we did have. Even though absent-minded about things like making sure there were tampons in the house, that I was wearing the right cup size, and keeping the electricity on… even when she was filling my head with lies about my dad molesting me and dosing me with 250 mg of Welbutrin so I wouldn’t leave her abuse…  there were good times with her. In my mother’s addled mind, we were only ever the Gilmore Girls, laughing over B movies and eating raw cookie dough. The mind of the mentally ill cannot be deciphered, so I don’t know how she rationalizes all of those other things, if she even acknowledges them. All I know is that she’s sitting at home on Mother’s Day, wondering what happened, why her babies don’t love her, while I’m sitting at home desperately missing the woman who hid the Easter eggs twenty times, because I had so much fun searching for them.

To this day, my big, tough, redneck dad still tears up talking about the mistakes he made. I’m the one who assures him it’s all good. There’s nothing to be done about it, not a DeLorean in sight, and we can go from here. I’ve tried that so many times with my mother and it’s ended the exact same way each and every time as I hysterically weep into the phone to either Gail or my Gramma that I wish Kitty Forman was my mom.

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The last time I initiated contact with my mother was two years ago. I say initiated, because she’s taken to showing up at my work, claiming there’s something physically wrong with her, deliberately speaking in stilted sentences and walking slowly. She’s told me herself the doctors can’t find anything and I’ve watched her become animated and drop the act as she gets engaged in conversation. My grandpa was our pediatrician and although he loved my mother, he thought she was making us sick, long before such things were used as plot twists in horror movies and Law and Order episodes. Today, either she or her husband is doing the same and I just can’t be a part of it. She refuses to get mental help and I refuse to entertain her insanity. I’m at a point in my life where I have to choose, and I choose me and my future family. So, today, as all the normal folks purchase flowers, take their mothers to lunch and movies, I think of all the future moments for which I won’t have a mom.

My mother won’t be there to help me choose a wedding dress, argue about how I have to have flowers, or even meet Jake, because I can’t invite her to the wedding. She’s burned too many bridges and too many people are uncomfortable around her, myself included. She won’t be able to guide me through my first pregnancy or answer questions about how to get the baby to stop crying. She’ll never take a three generations photograph on Mother’s Day, with me and my daughter. I won’t even have anyone to walk me through basic aging, like grey hair and menopause. I have so many good people in my life, including many who mother me, like Gail, my Gramma, Laura, Karol, my step-mom Lena, my Grandma Kay, and most certainly a mother-in-law one day. I’ll never have my mom, though… just a shell who resembles her less and less… and that hurts more than her absence. I suppose that’s just how it goes for the children of the mentally ill and you all have my sympathy.

gilmoregirls

No Wire Hangers

::Last week to Gail::
Me: I hope she’s nice to me. I’m really looking forward to it.

::text::
Me: I’m crying in my mother’s SUV now. I am perpetually 14 years old in her presence.
Me: The night got a whole lot worse. Worst birthday celebration EVER.
Gail: Where are you? Do you need a ride home? Are you okay? What happened? 

Dad: “Just quit crying and tell me what happened.”

Me: “… and then she told me I never had to speak to her again for the rest of my life.”
Dad: “I can’t believe she fucking said that. She has no business being anyone’s fucking mother.
Me: “… and… and… she bought me a present I actually liked, instead of like last year, when she yelled at me for not wearing the lipstick… and… and it was normal before that and then she… she… ruined everything!” 
Dad: “Did you call your grandma?”
Me: “I talked to her earlier, before this all happened.”
Dad: “Well, call your grandma and see if you she can help you calm down.” 

Me: “… and then she started telling me that she had a bad example as a mom and that you stole us from her. When I told her that I forgot you were an evil baby stealer, she said she’d never said that. She had literally just said that!  I hate when she starts in on you!!!! It’s like a haze of rage!!!!!”
Gramma: “Belle, don’t worry about it. She can’t upset me. I know what she thinks about me. It doesn’t even phase me anymore.”

Me: “… and then she told me my Gramma convinced me she was crazy, so I told her that the time she mooned us on the front lawn while screaming like a banshee and flipping us off did that for me and that my Gramma defends her. She insisted that I told her my Gramma said she was crazy and I explained that she must have just been distracted, because she was foaming at the mouth and with the taste of all that crazy, it must’ve been hard to concentrate.”
Gail: ::snort:: “At least it was still funny.”
Me: “Ugh. I lost it. I said all those things I joke about when I call you pissed, so I don’t say them to her. When I said that she said ‘… and what were you doing? Cutting yourself?’ My mom threw my self-mutilation in my face during my birthday celebration.
Gail: ::silence:: “I’m so sorry.”
Me: “I wish she would get help, but if I tell her that, she gets pissed and insists my Gramma told me to say it.”

::text::
Me: … and then she hurled the cookies at my front door and drove off.
Jane: Wow. All I can say is wow.

::text::
I’m so sorry I ruined your birthday. I was trying very hard to make it special. I love you always no matter what. I’m always here if you need me. I will give you space. You know my phone number & address. I hope your real birthday is very happy
.

It’s adorable how much my dad does not know how to deal with his crying daughter, when the solution isn’t money. I have such good people in my life, but I miss the mom that put birthday candles in pancakes. She’s gone though, and I don’t know why.

 

“Has she given NOT BEING CRAZY a try?!?!”

“And my mother began to go crazy. Not crazy in a let’s paint the kitchen bright red! sort of way. But crazy in a gas oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God sort of way. Gone were the days when she would stand on the deck lighting lemon-scented candles without then having to eat the wax.” – Running with Scissors

When I was little, my mom chaperoned every field trip, even though she worked. She used to make a really big deal out of birthdays. She cooked pancakes with candles before school and made sure we had a gift to go with them. Small holidays were even special. She made heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day and put green food dye in the milk on St. Patrick’s Day. She even painted little green footprints all over the bathtub, where the leprechauns had been. She then made my brother, Bo, and I clean them up while the ten-year-old in the bathroom bawled his eyes out like a little bitch with a skinned knee, screaming “I HATE LEPRECHAUNS!”

screaming dean

Seriously, Bo believed in this shit waaaay too long. We had to sit him down the night before his wedding and explain why Santa wouldn’t come that year.*

* I’m lying.

“Why does she have to be so fucking crazy?!?!?! Has she… oh, I don’t know… given not being crazy a try?!?! It’s not that fucking hard! I’m doing it right the fuck now!!!

That’s generally how the conversation starts with Gail, these days…

“… and you know that in her twisted labyrinth of a brain, that’s exactly how it happened, the fucking lunatic! Hoggle is running around with a bracelet and a peach. David Bowie is somewhere in my mother’s brain wearing a completely inappropriate outfit for a children’s movie!”

… that’s where it leads…

::tearfully:: “Why does she have to be like this? Why does she do this to people? I don’t understand.”

… and that’s where it ends up.

God bless Gail for having been around for the past ten years and understanding, without explanation, that my mother is just abusive and crazy. We joke about being each other’s moms and raising each other from age fifteen. Gail wasn’t just the one to hear about every single high school crush, listen to me rant about my Sims characters and the latest Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode…

awesome
I interrupt this serious blog entry to say that I was a fucking awesome teenager.

… and get kicked out of a Wal-Mart with me for sword fighting in the craft section with dalrods. She was also the one to sleep in my car with me when I was too drunk to get up the stairs after I kicked my ex-husband out, taught me to put on eyeliner when I found myself 23 and single, and comfort me each and every time my mother went off the deep end.

When I was 13, I was going through a tough time, acting out because the only authority figure in the house had left. My mother wanted me to see a therapist and I refused. Through a series of events, the argument escalated and would’ve ended in a 911 call if she hadn’t grabbed me by the hair and thrown me away from the phone. It was a bad day. It was the day I started sucking my thumb again, though I hadn’t since I was 10. It was the day I threw out that dog leash and was relieved to find my toes weren’t broken.

When I was 14, my brother and I got into an argument and he stormed out, while I was painting the dining room. My mother screamed that it was my fault he left. The argument escalated and when she swung her purse at my head, she missed and hit the wet wall. She was furious, because I’d destroyed her purse and swung the step ladder next. I told everyone who asked about the scratch, that ran the length of my face, that I had a cat. It wasn’t technically a lie.

At 19, I told my mother to stop inviting people I didn’t know to my wedding. The argument escalated and she raised her hand to hit me across the face when I snapped “If you hit me, I will hit you back and then I will press charges.” She hasn’t raised a hand to me since, but she still plays her games.

Summer of 2011, Gail and I decided that a trip to New Mexico with my mother and her husband wouldn’t be a terrible idea, since we’d have a different room and drive a different car and it was on my mom’s tab. In hindsight, I’m kind of glad we went, because Gail understands my mommy issues on an entirely new level after hearing the woman scream at me for taking a quick trip to return something at Wal-Mart across the street since she was 30 minutes late… and watching me hyperventilate at Carlsbad Caverns because my mother was going to yell at me for getting separated from her and no one on this planet can make me regress to a frightened 14-year-old like my mother.

upset teen “Belle, calm down, sweetie. You’re not fifteen anymore. If she yells at you, we’ll leave, okay? We’ll go back to the hotel, we’ll get our stuff, and we’ll go home. Your Gramma will help with the gas. It’s okay.”

Those eleven days of being a psych major were far from wasted. That girl would be great at that.

All of this wouldn’t be so bad if my mother were consistent, but that’s just not how mental illness works. She’ll act crazy and yell at me about the lipgloss I told her I wouldn’t use, but she bought anyway. She’ll get upset that my background picture on my phone is of me and my Gramma. She’ll text me to tell me she doesn’t love me anymore, because she thinks I’m lying about having to work. I understand you don’t just stop being mentally ill, but she won’t even admit she has a problem or get help. She’s just certain the world is against her. Then, for six months, she’s my mom. She’s the woman who ate cookie dough with me while we watched Smallville. She’s slightly grating and has abysmal table manners, but she’s not cruel or abusive… so I let my guard down… like I have during these last six months.

Me: “It’s really going to suck when she starts eating the candle wax again.”
Gail: “Ugh. Yes… and I’m going to have to pick up the pieces. I hate your mother.”

The only other person Gail hates is the man who told her he couldn’t wait until their daughter got sexy.

free candy
I can’t believe he got the van in the divorce.

I once called my Gramma crying and referred to the fact that my mom was adopted when I said…

“Why did you even pick her?!? You could’ve chosen the baby to the left! What, were you approached by a man in a cloak? Did you make some kind of deal?!?!”

cloaked man
“I’m from the adoption agency.” Yeah… seems legit.

So, a couple of weeks ago, when I called and cried “You could’ve chosen the baby to the left!”, she responded with “Uh oh. What the hell has she done now?” My Gramma does not swear. My mother is threatened by no one as much as she is my Gramma, the woman who took me to spend the night with her the night my mother screamed at us both to fuck off and mooned my Gramma on the front lawn, when I was 15. According to my mother, she stole Bo and I away from her. So, when I was out with my mother and called my Gramma to tell her I was busy and that’s why I’d missed her calls, my mother was threatened and asked why I had to make the call when she was sitting right next to me. Not being 15 anymore, I was visibly pissed, because she hadn’t cared one bit about my constantly texting Gail. So, my mother has been texting and calling non-stop for the past week. The last text was to state that we were having Smithie’s barbecue for my Gramma’s birthday, Sunday at 11:30. I told my mother that my Gramma said she wanted Sim’s, not Smithie’s and she assured me that she’d just asked her.

Me: “Did you want Smithie’s or did mom?”
Gramma: “Well, I mentioned Sim’s and she said she thought that Smithie’s would be a better sit-down place…”

This led to a tearful rant on my part that I soon realized was only upsetting my Gramma, so I called Gail.

“Why does she have to be so fucking crazy?!?!?! Has she… oh, I don’t know… given not being crazy a try?!?! It’s not that fucking hard! I’m doing it right the fuck now!!!

There’s a cheap, sapphire necklace that came with a pancake and candle breakfast when I was eight. I put it away for safekeeping, because the woman who gave it to me is long gone… and I don’t know why.

pancakes with candles

“Divorce is the coward’s way out”: My yellow-bellied bliss.

A few weeks ago, a woman who was unaware that she was speaking to a once 23-year-old divorcée, told me that “divorce is the coward’s way out.” Fine. She was a coworker, because I am broken and no one I work with knows I’m divorced. Happy, Gail?!? Of course, this isn’t the first I’ve heard of statements such as the above. I’ve ranted about them here, here, and here. I didn’t even comment this time. Now that I think about it, though, that was an inappropriate time to burst out laughing. Once I caught my breath, I started to really consider the implications of this statement. What about leaving my marriage to a sociopath makes me a coward? Then I realized… holy shit, it did take bravery to stay with the man that long. He was terrifying and I was terrified of him. For the last year of my marriage I slept with my wallet in my pillowcase and drove around with my Gramma’s jewelry hidden in my car. I spent my few free hours, between jobs and grad school, chatting and crocheting with Gail in a Taco Mayo, because I could buy a .99 soda and get refills all night and not be home. When I did get home, I drank to take my mind off my misery and would even play the “let’s see how fast can I write this essay before the Everclear kicks in” game. Both drunk and sober, I created entire fantasy worlds where my ex-husband died (through no fault of my own) and just was not in my life. I secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) wished he’d finally give into all of those suicide threats, because then it would be over. To this day, I sleep with a revolver next to me in a gun sock, occasionally cuddling it like a stuffed animal when I have nightmares about still being married. So yeah. It took bravery to stay and perhaps, by extension, cowardice to leave. If that’s the case, though, my cowardice has reaped some fantastic rewards. In the last two years, I’ve made amazing friends, had some hilarious dates, taken several epic day trips, gussied up and gone on too many dates with me-and-only-me to count, reconnected with God, chosen a new career path, lost nearly 100 pounds, taken up a dozen hobbies (only one of which sprung from my fear of my ex-husband)… … and oh, yeah… today, I have officially earned my Master’s degree. That’s right. Despite that sociopathic son-of-a-bitch doing his damnedest to drag me down into the gutter with him, I did everything I ever said I would and am going on to live my life with a bright future. I’ll never again eat free movie theater popcorn all summer or shoplift bags of frozen chicken under the dog food, because that one hundred dollar bill went missing from my wallet. I’ll never find myself pregnant and praying for a miscarriage more than freaking Rosemary, because that baby would have a father without a soul and then weeping with shame when said request was granted. I’ll never miss another holiday just to avoid lying to my family about whether or not my husband has a job and I’ll never again wipe blood from the dog’s paws. I don’t live under constant fear of eviction, since he not only hasn’t paid the rent, but faked having a job. Because I am such a fucking cowardmy life is filled with absolute yellow-bellied bliss and he doesn’t get a single minuscule piece of something for which he did not work. I’ll gladly take this over the scars of bravery any day.


Bravery

Cowardice

“Why did you marry that?!?! I mean… um…”

In hindsight, I often feel a great deal of sympathy for those who love me and had to watch me marry my ex-husband, regardless. Of course sometimes that sympathy is replaced with resentment in the form of: how could you let me do something so fucking stupid when I was just a child?!?!?

wedding day portrait
My wedding day portrait.

Sidenote: Googling “child bride” will totally put your bitching into perspective.

Most of the time, however, I feel terrible that my dad had to watch for four years while I struggled to keep my head above water as my ex-husband abused me. He couldn’t say anything, because I wouldn’t have listened. It would have driven a wedge between us and we were already struggling with our relationship. Similarly, pretty much every other person in my life felt the same way. As much as they may have wanted to sit me down and say “Listen. This guy doesn’t work. He lies. He’s stealing from you… a lot. Also, that fire was super suspicious” they couldn’t. I’d have turned away and clung to him out of loyalty, because that’s what marriage is.

Sadly, I got a taste of how they felt when Gail was married to Shane. One afternoon, Gail called to tell me that she was bringing by my copy of the movie Elf, which I didn’t recall lending her. I legitimately thought that this was a cover to get out of the house without Shane forbidding her to hang out with me and was shocked when I opened the door and saw her holding Elf on DVD. It turned out that she’d just borrowed the movie a couple of years earlier and never returned it, because she’s a cotton-headed ninny muggins who hates me and wants me to die. The fact that this was my assumption, though… well, it explains why I once told her that the movie The Waitress perfectly depicted her relationship (and mine, though I ingored that part).

the waitress
Ugh. How did we not notice we married the same fucking man?

This, however, was the only time I gave Gail any truly negative opinion of her marriage… because she immediately shut down and told me that she needed to stop telling me things, since I was getting the wrong idea. It didn’t happen, of course. Gail and I can’t not tell each other everything. But I didn’t insult Shane again… until he shook her baby. Then it was a free for all.

Luckily, Gail finally met a nice guy I don’t secretly hate… or openly hate ::cough:: musician ::cough:: after a series of asshats. Terry is good to her, works, pays his own way… and he doesn’t get pissed when I make inappropriate jokes about Gail cheating on him, which translates into him not being threatened by me like all the men before him.

zombie crowd
You see, the horse is Gail’s vagina.

Me: “So Terry, how do you feel about cheating?”
Terry: “Um… what?”
Me: “Well, since we were kids, I’ve always said that if my husband cheats on me and wants to fix our marriage, then he needs to keep his pants on and his mouth shut. I don’t want to know, just so he can ease his conscience. What’s your opinion?”
Terry: “Um…”
Me: “C’mon. Should Gail tell you her secret or not?”

I wasn’t actually telling the guy that his girlfriend was cheating on him over dessert in a Chili’s while Gail sat beside him grinng… fucking obviously. Kudos to Terry, though, because he just laughed, whereas every other guy she’s dated has been oddly sensitive about that kind of joke. Her ex-boyfriend, Cam, whom I actually liked (despite the fact that he was 12 years old forever), even got defensive about the way I teased her, though he did the same thing. Look, dude, she’s been my Gail for ten fucking years. This is what we do and it goes both ways. Just because you’ve been fucking her for six months, does not give you the right to an opinion on the way we interact. It’s not like that even makes you special. You’re not exactly goin’ where no man’s gone before’s, all I’m sayin’.

smilingdog1Terry, though, just laughs and occasionally throws in his own joke, which works in his favor, because Gail likes to fancy herself the sweet one anyway. Even if he doesn’t get our humor, he gets that he doesn’t have to get it. Despite my affection for the man, I did make it clear that said approval was conditional.

Me: “If you hurt her, I’ll cut off your ears… and no one wants to fuck a man with no ears.

van gogh
The man wasn’t exactly rollin’ in the pussy.

I am nothing if not eloquent.

Gail is the person I’m closest to, along with my Gramma, so I’m elated that she’s over her all-the-douche-bags-in-the-city phase. However, there are still multiple people in my life who have married into the ninth circle of Hell and I’m not allowed to fix whatever the fuck is wrong with them. I can’t even talk to these people without a running log of questions I’m not supposed to ask flitting through my head. Do you have any idea how much effort it takes for a person like me to filter this shit?!?!

Doesn’t it bother you that she spends all of your money?
“How’s the new house?”

How can you stand the way your children are being treated?
“How are the kids?”

What the hell is wrong with you that you would let someone treat your family like that?
“We miss you. You don’t come around enough.”

Do you think your parents might hate him for a reason?
“Are he and your mom getting along better?”

Statistically speaking, you are going to get a divorce. What are your waiting for, exactly?
“You’ve been married for how long, now?”

If he’s not there for you over this little stuff, do you really think he’s going to give a shit when you get cancer one day?
“That must be hard, living so far apart.”

He’s cheating on you. There is no way he is not cheating on you.
“Does he work out of town a lot?”

You know that the divorce is only going to be harder on the kids when they’re going through puberty, right? You’re holding out for nothing.
“The kids have really grown.”

You should be logging the abuse by date and incident, because you will need to use this in court one day.
“How’s (spouse) doing?”

Have you considered a secret savings account in someone else’s name?
“How’s work?”

But no… the Shane situation taught me an important lesson. You’re never allowed to ask “Why did you marry that?” as long as they’re still married… and it fucking sucks. I don’t care how your spouse is, because I’m tired of watching them treat you and your loved ones like a means to an end. I hope yours is the next divorce I hear about, because the heartbreak of that will be much shorter lived than being mistreated, disrespected, and taken advantage of for another ten years. Now that I’m out of my abusive relationship, the only thing comparable to the pure terror I feel after a nightmare where I’m still married is watching someone I love go through their own unique torture. This isn’t going to get better and you need to plan a fucking exit strategy, because everyone you love misses who you were before the light left your eyes and your children will never know that person. Wake. The. Fuck. Up.

“So you guys just celebrated another anniversary, right? That’s exciting.”

pulling hair out

“I’m the real one!”, I shouted to the spoon.

spoon

Mkay, y’all. Prepare yourselves. I’m gonna do something completely unheard of in this blog. I am going to cover issues so serious they should be the topic of a therapy session… only I’m not going to take them seriously in the slightest, because emotions freak me out.

Get it? It’s funny, because I do that all the time.

female soldiers

One hundred years ago, I met Gail at the Battle of Bud Bagsak*… wait. No. It was ten years ago at the Hometown Mid-High and we were in the ninth grade. It just feels like a hundred years ago, because… well, stay tuned.

* Yeah. I looked that up.

At 15, Gail wore the same grey sweatpants and oversized blue t-shirt with flip-flops every single day, rain or shine, and it was around this time I had begun my “overall phase.” Gail had fake teeth that she nervously clicked and neither of us wore make-up. We were social outcasts with smart mouths and rocky home lives. We met in Yearbook class, stereotypically enough.

carrie
Most days of high school…

Awkward 15-year-old Me: “What the hell happened to your teeth?!?”
Awkward 15-year-old Gail: “Well, I was at this party… and this guy had these piercings.”

We were fast friends.

As kids, our pastimes included telling Gail’s parents we were at Key Club meetings and taking photos in the middle of nowhere. We sat in her bedroom floor making collages of scantily clad women, because we thought it would be funny to convince her parents we were lesbians. I used to alter her report cards to raise the low grades and lower the high ones so her parents would never expect more than average and ground their strong B student for getting a low A. My mother never even asked to look at my 4.0 report card. We wrote blogs and did crafts. We fantasized about how we’d both meet country boys, get married early, and have babies. We’d escape our toxic parent/child relationships and our lives would be perfect. No matter what, though, we were always each other’s shelter from the storm and there was nothing we couldn’t tell the other.

Then things got… weird.

Neither Gail nor I had ever been kissed when we got our first boyfriends at 17… within months of each other. For realz, our first real dates were the same movie. Logically, we each lost our virginity around the same time, though Gail much sooner, due to the opposing magnets in her kneecaps.

smilingdog1
I’m so funny. Fo sho.

We each got very serious very quickly in these relationships, so boys and sex were a brand new thing for us at the same time. Then came our second semester of senior year. You see, while most of our white middle-class classmates were excited for graduation day and the cliché Felicity college years, Gail and I were both just… uniquely lost. Her parents had made it clear that she was to move out if she wasn’t attending college and that they were neither going to pay for her college nor give her the information she needed to receive loans, because they didn’t want her taking on that kind of debt. My mother had… well, she was gone. She’d moved to a town about two hours away to live with her boyfriend and my ex-husband was living with me in her house. She brought by gas and grocery money, screamed about how messy the house was when she left a child alone for months, and then she’d be off. Gail and I both had zero guidance… no clear plans. So, instead of feeling elated when we threw our caps in the air, we were just terrified.

felicity
Who needs this…

lord of the flies
… when you could have this?

As summer took hold, Gail and I drifted. Gail was my maid-of-honor, but we both got so busy, we didn’t have time to maintain that high school relationship. About a year and a half later, though, I randomly called her and we chatted like we were 15 and stringing our own necklaces in the floor. It was then that we started to catch up… and realized the odd similarities in our lives.

Just a year after I married my ex, Gail married Shane, the rebound after her first boyfriend. She’d clung to him when her parents had made it clear she had to leave.

I’d clung to and married my ex-husband when my mother had left.

Gail and I struggled to pay the bills on our own as our husbands refused to work. Oddly enough, neither of us ever discussed our near identical marriages at the time. As close as we were, we still hoped that the next morning, they’d magically become good and competent men, get out of bed, go to work, and help support their families. In the meantime, if they could stop abusing the pets (mine) and looking at child porn (Gail’s), that would be super, too. Gail once told me that she didn’t mind that Shane was only working at Blockbuster, because at least he was working. I once told her that it didn’t matter if I didn’t trust my ex. You get different things from different people and there are other people I trust. I just needed him to work. Our best case scenarios involved minimum wage jobs they’d actually keep and no trust or security… ever. Once they grew up and stopped mistreating their wives, though, we couldn’t very well have our best friends and families hating them, could we? Besides, at this point we wouldn’t have to worry about money anymore, because we’d be pulling in millions harvesting fairy dust from a rainbow!

rainbow_magic_land_003
Remember that time we took a group trip to Candy Land with our wizard husbands?

So, as we’d done when we were kids, Gail and I clung to each other, sharing the occasional breakdown. Then Gail got pregnant.

Me: “So are things better with Shane now, or…”
Gail: “I don’t want to talk about my marriage. I want to talk about my baby.”

Okey dokey.

Then I got pregnant.

Me: “I’m not ready for this.”
Gail: “It’s good that you know that, because raising this little girl is the hardest thing I’ll ever do.”

Then I lost my baby in my late-first/early-second trimester.

Then Gail filed for divorce.

Then Gail lost Grace at eight months old.

It was at this point that we’d begun to think our life parallels were… startling.

Then Gail was raped at a party.

Then I woke up one morning, unsure why I was naked and the sheets were clean.

Man taking washing out of washing machine
Jeez… he was just trying to do something nice. Must I complain about everything?!?

Then I filed for divorce.

Gail ended her first relationship since her divorce.

We both took up dating again… navigated the treacherous waters of online romance, of boys who don’t call back…

Then we got jobs in our desired fields within months of each other.

What the fuck?

At this point, I could pretty much be attacked by a polka dot pink kangaroo and Gail would know to be on the lookout.

kangaroo attack

So, we decided some time back, that these similarities were just too bizarre. One of us has to be fake while the other is left rocking in the corner of a psych ward, eating her own lips, and mumbling about the other. The debate has now turned into exactly who is the real one.

becca convo without name

Every time we say something in unison, we’ll try to beat each other to the punch with “I’m the real one!”

I think I make a pretty strong case for why I’m real, though a good portion of that case is “I’m me” and that has yet to convince Gail. But I’m always first damn it. I had the boyfriend first, the abusive marriage, the miscarriage. I just inflicted these things on my imaginary friend Gail, so I would have someone who could relate to me. As I vomited on the side of the road on Thanksgiving night of 2010, weeping about my ex-husband leaving the dog tied up so long he dug a hole through the floor until his feet bled, Gail held my hair… in my imagination. I was really just projectile vomiting in a padded room, because the new medication didn’t sit well.

padded-room
This is a party.

In the last two years, my life has completely lit up. It’s been wonderful. I have great friends and can financially support myself. I didn’t eat free popcorn from my job at the movie theater all through last summer. I know why the mattress is bare. Soooo… after I found a job with the library system, Gail got her job, which she fully intends to turn into a career. After I got an apartment that my ex-husband wasn’t breaking into to steal from me nightly (after the divorce was finalized), Gail moved out of her parents’ home, where she’d been living since Grace’s death. I’m not sold on the idea that having a man in my life will improve it, so I’ve inflicted one on Gail, in the form of Terry, to test it out. I’ve even sent us running in completely opposite directions in regards to gender roles, so I can experiment with both. I regularly say “the boy does that” while Gail changes a tire or pees standing up.

I actually did have an imaginary friend once. The Jolly Green Giant lived in my parents’ ceiling light and only visited me.

jolly green giant
Pictured: Gail.

I make a pretty convincing case here. I’d bet even Gail is starting to believe. In the meantime…

crazy buffy
See what I did there? See how I totally referenced Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this blog again?

I WISH I had married Lord Voldemort.

“If I had been a better wife, he’d have been a better husband.”

I wept that sentence so many times. Even after I stopped saying it, a part of me truly still believed it. Then, one day, I was cleaning out my hard drive and I found the conversations online. I only read a few lines. I didn’t need to read more. I thought of the time he had to go “work” out of town for one of the jobs that wouldn’t pay him. I thought of his indignation if I even touched his phone. I told Gail via text message and she responded with…

“And how do you feel about that?”

shrink

Emotions freak me out, y’all. A tenderhearted moment by text was not going to help the raw humiliation coursing through me. I’ve never been a fan of therapy and called it witchcraft through the several college courses Gail had taken. It was a mutual joke, but her asking me such a Black Couch question made me feel like a case study. Defensively, I responded with…

Me: “Oh, don’t try that voodoo crap on me. Go shake your rat bones at someone else.”
Gail: “Well, fuck you. I was just trying to help.”
Me: “Did they teach you that in your Intro to Psych class? I’m glad you changed your major if you’re going to tell your patients to fuck off.”

I can count on one hand how many times Gail and I have fought in ten years and this would be one of them. It didn’t even escalate. We stopped texting each other about it and spoke in person. Calmly, I explained that she’d made me feel like Test Subject 9. She apologized and clarified that that wasn’t how it was meant. I apologized for being a bitch. End of fight.

cat fight
Just like this… only halfway through, we lose steam and it turns into an awkward hug.

I remember setting his clothes out for him the rare times he had work, so he’d have no excuse not to go. I remember telling him how proud I was that he was providing for his family so he’d keep it up. He never did… even when he wasn’t lying about having a job in the first place.

“If I’d been a better wife, he’d have been a better husband.”

I told Gail that day that I didn’t believe that anymore, but I was lying to us both. The conversations I found were dated from the last year of our relationship. A part of me still thought that if I’d motivated him properly, he’d have gotten a job early on in our marriage and would have become someone else, someone faithful.

dumbledore
Hmm… it may also take the greatest sorcerer that ever lived.

Then, one day, I was lying in my living room floor. I wasn’t upset at all and was just trying to ease the pain in my back by resting my legs on the couch. I let my mind wander. I thought of all the times I’d left candles burning, forgotten to turn the stove off, microwaved a fork, left my Chi plugged in… and nothing happened. Fires don’t just start themselves. On July 12, 2007, my ex-husband lost his job… and I came home from work after less than an hour and everything was gone. What could be salvaged still smells of smoke and sometimes, just opening the right DVD case is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

The skill in my ex’s deception lay within his conviction, not his storytelling. He was always too innocent. He was the only one home, but claimed he’d never even turned on the stove. There was no insurance and therefore no thorough investigation, but there was still cash. The Red Cross and our landlord combined gave us around $1,000. That doesn’t include what we got from family. The devastation took everyone’s mind off the fact that he’d lost his job. The rent for the next month had been handled. The fire report stated that the cause was unknown, there were no wiring problems, and that the fire had started in the kitchen. The firemen speculated someone must have left the stove on.

My pets lay on the lawn with a blackened sheet over them. They looked like they were sleeping. The firemen said the cats hid from the flames. The stray puppy we’d just taken in was crated. They died of smoke inhalation… scared and confused. We acquired the kitten and the stray together, but the black cat had been mine since I was 13. I brought him into her life when I was the one who was supposed to protect her. I still hate myself for that. She must have been so terrified… and I wasn’t there.

Gail and I had drifted after high school. We hadn’t been close since my wedding, seven months earlier. We had both been so busy being miserably married that we hadn’t had much time for each other. She was still Gail, though. So when my heart was broken, I called her. She says the worst way I’ve ever opened a conversation was with “They’re all dead.” Hearing the story, she knew then that my ex had started the fire. She also knew better than to tell me that, because I’d feel I had to show loyalty toward him and defend him. It wasn’t until I lay in my living room floor a year and half ago, crying with the kind of sobs that shake your whole body and make you look uglier than a crying Anna Paquin, that I put the pieces together. When I relayed it all to Gail, she just said sadly “I know.”

sookie crying
Really… they should just make her stop doing that.

He wasn’t sad the pets had died. He didn’t cry. He even told me he was relieved not to have them anymore. He tried to get me to spend the Red Cross money on a new XBOX. He swore he’d never used the stove.

He swore he’d never used the stove.

He swore he’d never used the stove.

Fires don’t just start themselves.

I slept next to that man for three more years.

Our junior year of high school, there was a man in a nearby town who had killed a little girl and contemplated eating her. I remember discussing with Gail how awful it would be to be the woman who lost her virginity to that man. I was right. I want to scrub my skin off thinking I ever let such a monster touch me… that he’s the only one who has.

I don’t know if my ex-husband ever loved me or if I was just his meal ticket. I tend to think he did at one time, but that he truly and thoroughly lost his soul that day, at 19 years old. I realize now that it doesn’t matter. He made his choices and I made mine. He used and abused me and I took it… for years. He honed his skills with me and he’ll only get better. Regardless, I’m waiting for the day he ends up in federal prison for targeting the wrong person. Nothing gives a gal peace of mind like knowing her psychotic ex-husband has a warrant out for his arrest in her home state. He’s not my problem anymore, though. Thank you, Jesus.

If I’d have been a better wife… he’d have just had a sweeter deal.

Thank God I lost the baby.

The Top Five Ways He Broke Me: A Valentine’s Day Tribute

I was never huge on Valentine’s Day. I always thought it an excuse to either exclude single people or make your spouse (usually the husband) try to top whatever romantic thing he did last year. You can’t do something nice for your love just any ol’ time, such as when the restaurants and movie theaters aren’t packed? But, I used to participate anyway. It was just harmless fun.

Then Gail’s daughter died the day before Valentine’s Day, right around the time I had begun to suspect my ex-husband was cheating on me.

Then, three days after the following Valentine’s Day, my divorce was finalized.

Fuck Valentine’s Day.

There’s nothing to make you apprecieate being single like your Divorciversary and looking back. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I post the top five ways he broke me. Keep in mind these are only the top five. The other day I almost threw out my only glass baking dish… because he once touched it.

i hate you sweet heart

1. I am a food hoarder.
It’s true. After spending the summer of 2010 eating free movie theater popcorn and explaining to the neighbors that I didn’t know why my dog’s ribs were showing, I will never go to bed hungry and neither will my beagle. I’ll never know for a fact that there is literally nothing to eat in my home. I have a framed receipt for corndogs on my bedroom wall, because corndogs were $4.95 for a box of 16 and it was the most food I could get for $5. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come. It’s symbolic. Duh. My ex-husband constantly complained that it’s all we had, though he still wouldn’t get a job. I had to start carrying unperishables around in my car, so he wouldn’t eat them, leaving me nothing. I will never go back to that. As a result, my kitchen looks like that of a mom of three… or a doomsday prepper. I take care to buy canned and frozen items, because they won’t go bad before I get the chance to eat them and throw out anything that does. At the time of writing this, though, I had:

3 pounds of chicken
2 pounds of turkey franks
2 pounds of ground turkey
1 pound of breakfast sausage
3 pounds of turkey lil’ smokies
1 pound of ham, two pounds of cheese
2 dozen eggs
8 bags of frozen vegetables
1 container of fresh spinach
2 onions
2 avocados
4 cans of soup
4 cans of spaghetti O’s
4 boxes of cereal
2 loaves of bread
2 bags of frozen fries
1 bag of oranges
1 pound of grapes
5 pears
5 cans of fruit
4 cans of tuna
2 cans of beans

I. Live. Alone.

2. I panic whenever someone is at the door.
From the time I graduated high school in 2006 until I moved to this apartment in 2011, I moved 10 times. Literally. Nine of them were in only three years. Once, I just came home to a housefire and his suspicious lack of tears. Though he swore he was paying the rent, I had an anxiety attack every time the doorbell rang and would have my ex-husband answer. Ocassionally, it was someone telling us to get the hell out… now. I never knew where we’d go. Once, it was his mother’s house, for several months. Then, it was a motel room for a month and a half. We lived below a registered sex offender, who’d committed offenses against children. I was far away from my Gramma and Gail. I cried myself to sleep at night or drowned myself in fiction and alcohol. It was bad. Though I’ve been settled and able to pay my rent for about two years now, my heart still jumps into my throat whenever I hear a knock at the door. A part of me will always be unsettled.

3. I can’t even masturbate without crying.
Psh. I won’t even tell my therapist the details of this one. I’m kidding, of course. I don’t believe in that voodoo crap. Feelings and animal entrails gross me out equally. I just talk to Gail, who majored in that Black Magic for 9 days.* Regardless of the cause, however, the result is the same. I can’t do anything sexual without crying most of the time. I’ve yet to try it with a man, but explaining that sexual hang-up should be haaaaawt.

*I believe in therapy plenty, which is the precise reason I’m not letting anyone crack my head open and take a shit inside.

4. I cannot sleep without my wallet.
During the last year of my marriage, a lot of things went missing, such as my iPod, that cherished bracelet my Gramma bought me, the video camera I bought my senior year, my guitar, $600 in cash, a jar of pickles from my car. Incidentally, the XBOX never disappeared. On the night of my four year anniversary, the car even vanished, just before I sliced my hand open on a broken candle. I was alone and bleeding and had no way to get to the E.R. He didn’t return until morning. I began stuffing my keys in my pillowcase at night and leaving any valuables in the car. I forgot once and noticed my wallet wasn’t in my bag, where I left it, and realized the last $15 I had for gas and food had disappeared. I called my Gramma screaming and crying as if someone had died. She couldn’t even understand me and immediately promised to give me $25 once I “quit yelling.” Then I threw up from crying so hard. It was glorious. Soooo, after that, I began keeping the keys and the wallet in my pillowcase every night and to this day cannot sleep without my wallet in reach.

5. Sometimes, I sleep with my gun.
I was defenseless when I was married. I never will be again. Some nights, I wake in a panic or in tears. The next night, I sleep with Cecile, my guard issued Smith and Wesson 681 revolver in its bright pink gun sock, with home defense bullets in the side pocket, which were personally reloaded by my daddy. The gun’s not loaded. But if anyone ever threatens me or my puppy again, it will be. I’m damned accurate with Cecile and with .357 home defense rounds, it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t.

Time may heal most wounds, but in some ways, I will always be the frightened 23-year-old driving around with her Gramma’s jewlery in the car. The perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a giant Reese heart, an equally disproportionate box of ammo, and respect for the fact that I don’t fucking do Valentine’s Day.

In defense of E.L. James… from an unlikely source.

So, if you follow my blog, you know it’s no secret that I, like many bloggers, enjoy a good Fifty Shades roast… and by that I mean:

roast

/rōst/
Verb

Cook (food, esp. meat) by prolonged exposure to heat in an oven or over a fire.

burning books

If you follow my blog religiously, you are awesome. You are also aware that I was abused for a good portion of my life; so, I fully recognize the abusive relationship chronicled in this swill. I recognize that it triggers  survivors and it’s painful for them, because the “murcurial” moments of Christian Grey stressed me the fuck out and that whole belt scene was just damned hard to read for personal reasons. I seriously almost stopped reading the first book, despite my curiosity, because it was making me physically sick and giving me nightmares. So I get it.

I’ve also read reports of E.L. James’s response to the claims that this book romanticizes abuse, which pretty much amount to “Nuh huh!” before she blocks them. This and… oh, I don’t know… her writing… are proof that she’s an insensitve moronic twat. I am intensely enjoying this hilariously spot on, chapter by chapter analysis over the entire series. So… maybe I just made a really good case for the execution of E.L. James. All that being said, however:

All she did was write a book…
I’m certain I’m not the first to say that E.L. James did not create domestic violence. Sure, it’s super disturbing that she thinks it’s sexy, but apparently, so do a lot of women. I did read the trilogy, from the library’s e-media collection, because I didn’t want to touch the paperback. I didn’t purchase the book or any of its paraphenalia (I saw that display in the sex store), because I didn’t want to further support E.L. James in her degradation of women, but I was curious. I pretty much came to the conclusion that Fifty is just sexy to people who’ve never been abused or manipulated ever, because I didn’t get the appeal… at all.

Where’s the personal responsibility in the Fifty Shades of Domestic Violence discussion, though? I am absolutely not referring to the idea that women need to be more vigilant about not-getting-hit. I’m referring to the fact that we’re grown ass women. We schedule our yearly gynecological visits, report the broken faucet to maintenance, pay our bills, make sure there’s food in the kitchen and the oil gets changed, do something-with-children if we’re moms, and oh, I don’t know… hold full-time fucking jobs, but we’re not capable of putting poorly written erotica into perspective and realizing that it’s only good in a fantasy? It’s like when you fantasize about something that would make your grandma cry while you masturbate, but in actuality, you know you’d feel disgusting and degraded if you did that in real life. Fifty Shades of Grey is exactly that… unless you’re stupid and irresponsible.

How is it the fault of a woman who couldn’t come up with another word for “crap” with a gun to her head that our teenagers are secretly reading what has always been dubbed “erotica” cough:: porn:: cough on their Kindles? How is it the fault of a shitty fan-fic writer if we fail to further research the whole dom/sub thing before giving it a go with that guy off Craigslist? If the concern is that this is “normalizing” domestic abuse, then we need to be talking more about what constitutes abuse in society, so people can differentiate fantasy from reality and realize that this book is not a fucking how-to guide. It’s been advertised as one, but again, we’re at fault if we don’t understand how advertising works.  We need to monitor our children’s media better and sit down with them and ask what they’re getting out of Twilight and explain what’s wrong about it. However, we also need to let adults take responsibility for what they’re reading and the ideas they’re getting from it, because they’re fucking adults.

“So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant, and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!”

I don’t even kind of fucking get what’s so hot about that, even in a fantasy, but in an actual restaurant, it’s a reason to blow that rape whistle. I think the majority of women who read Fifty do get that.

… that’s been written a hundred times…
This is my biggest defense of E.L James. Sure, it’s been a few years since we heard the whole dom/sub thing, but the Alpha Male shit is prevalent across most romance novels and every other media. It’s not new. From Darrin Stevens to Edward Cullen, this shit is hold fucking hat. Samantha Stevens literally gave up the power to provide for herself so Darrin could feel needed. That’s from an actual damned episode where she conjures herself a fur coat and he’s livid. Edward Cullen regularly told Bella what she was and was not allowed to do and she swooned. E.L. James adding some handcuffs to the mix, doesn’t create a new genre. Men have been abusing women to cheering crowds since caveman days. Does that make it right? Fuck no. It also doesn’t make E.L. James any worse than all of those other authors of books, spanning all genres, where men overpower women who secretly want it. Such as in:

Twilight – young adult
Club Dead – mystery: Bill fucking rapes Sookie in this book and it slips her gee dee mind.
A Hunger Like No Other – paranormal romance
Dark Lover – paranormal romance
Bared to You – erotica (to be fair, this one came after Fifty)

Those are just off the top of my head, but let’s see… how about every single book on this Good Reads list titled “Alpha Male“?

The fact that this book is BDSM related isn’t what makes it abusive. It’s the way he talks to her and treats her and threatens and belittles her. Sadly, though, E.L. James is still no trailblazer in this.

… and that no one was forced to read.
Fuck yeah, it gave me nightmares and made me want to vomit… because I chose to read it. I saw the movie The Collection with the guys not too long ago. It was absolutely disgusting, but I sat through the whole thing, because they were watching it and I wanted to know what totally anatomically implausible thing would happen next and couldn’t stop wondering what the popularity of this gore said about society. That right there is exactly why I read Fifty Shades of Grey. It was offensive and upsetting and I’ll admit, it was a trigger for me in a lot of ways. I could’ve put it down. I didn’t. That is not the fault of E.L. James. That’s the fault of the moron who started it in the first place, knowing what it was after Googling it and loudly asking a coworker “What does BDSM mean?” even though she’s twenty-fucking-five. I swear, I may as well be a virgin.

Ultimately…

Fifty Shades is one of my favorite things to hate, as you can tell, since I said so here, here, here, and here. This post, however, was brought on by reading some blogs trashing E.L. James. Don’t get me wrong. I read what she said about domestic violence and her book…

James says she “freaks out when she hears people say that her book encourages domestic violence. “Nothing freaks me out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse,” she says. “Bringing up my book in this context trivializes the issues, doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice. It also demonizes loads of women who enjoy this lifestyle, and ignores the many, many women who tell me they’ve found the books sexually empowering.”

… and I’ve read reports of her just refusing to discuss this issue with the people who’ve basically said “Um… I don’t feel trivialized by those people. I feel like you’re high-fiving me in the black eye.” I find her horribly inconsiderate. I’ve also been convinced for a while now that she sold her fucking soul to make these books popular, because they’re not even good porn. There is no plot, which is standard for erotica, but even the sex is redundant and awkward. As someone who’s been there, I can admit that yes, it’s upsetting when people call abuse sexy. However, E.L. James is not responsible for domestic abuse and has never actually compared the battered wives shelter to a brothel. Sure, it might be nice for her to come out and say “This book is not a how-to guide. It is meant for your enjoyment, not your replication,” but credit should be given where credit is due.

It’s not the porn industry’s fault that your marriage collapsed. It’s your ex-husband and his chafing dick that resulted from all of those downloads.

It’s not Alpha Male erotica that punched you in the kidneys. It’s a husband with anger problems who needs professional help.

Teenagers are not misinformed about sex because of an inaccurate erotic novel. They’re misinformed because their parents let them read it at 13.

It’s not the fault of a poorly written and irresponsibly advertised novel that someone ended up in the E.R. after misusing a spreader bar. It’s their fault for not taking advantage of the wealth of instantaneous information to research possibly unsafe bedroom activities.