42

Today is my birthday. I don’t much mind the birthday itself. I think 42 is going to be a fantastic age, and a grand year in almost all respects. 

A dear friend once told me his philosophy on life. He said life is like a pie. It’s cut into 6 or 8 pieces and all of those pieces represent different parts of your life. One piece is for joy & satisfaction from your children. Another is job satisfaction. Another is spiritual peace. Another is sex. And so on. One is romantic love: the satisfaction, joy, & contentment from knowing you love someone with your whole being & they unequivocally love you back. That you are their person. 

He contended that as long as most of the pieces of the pie were full or mostly full then that made up for the pieces that were only half full, or a quarter full. I think, though, there are some pieces that are WORTH more. That instead of being evenly divided the pie was lop-sided. That having only a quarter of a big piece was more impactful than a quarter of a smaller piece because then you still had more of the whole. 

How much can we affect the value of each piece? Can I tell myself that I don’t need romantic love and convince myself to make that piece smaller? What about sex? Sure, I can get sex if I really want it but do I want to waste my joy & vulnerability on someone that I don’t have a heart connection with? No, I don’t. I think those two pieces are woven together tightly. They should be, at least. 

So as I sit here on my 42nd birthday, the year that will provide me the answer to life, the universe, and everything, I wonder what I can do to fill up my pie more in the other areas while lacking in the love & sex pieces. Because I don’t want to dither anymore. I don’t want to waste my time. I don’t want to keep hoping for what isn’t there. I’m 42. I’m strong. Dammit, I’m a badass. (At least I was told that once or twice). 

I’m not going to settle for less than I deserve. I’m not going to settle. Period. 

My darling dearest, you come at me with love, respect, and an open heart and I’ll be here. Until then, I’m going to rebuild, strengthen, and increase every other piece of my life until I am surrounded by peace & love & hard-earned prosperity. And then, my friend, you will wish you had me to hold. You will wish you saw this power radiating in me through your narrow vision before it was too late. I will not let you oppress me. 

I have it all within me. I just need to believe it, own it, and focus. I will not be swayed. 

This is 42. This is me. 

Xoxo,

Stef 

Advertisements

Alone

How do we feel about being alone? Love it? Hate it? Introvert? Extrovert?


I’m sitting at a bar by myself listening to a local band I love. I am alone. I had a meal. I had drinks. I chatted briefly with a neighbor before she joined a friend. But I am alone in my enjoyment of the music. 

This isn’t new. I do this on the regular. I’ve never had much of a social life as an adult living in Idaho. I was “just a mom” for a long time. I went to work and came home. Since my divorce and as the boys have gotten older I’ve tried to develop a social life, through dating or friends. Some of those times have been better than others. I have GREAT friends but they all have tighter friends, and my BEST friends are in other states and, well, that leaves me at a bar on Saturday night alone. 

I don’t have a boyfriend. If you read my previous blog you know I have a “friend.” But my friend doesn’t want me, not in this way, and he’s curmudgeonly and would never go see live music with me at the bar. 

Sidebar: wtf am I doing with this dude? Why am I allowing him this? I don’t know. But it’s only in the absence of something I miss that actually makes me feel lonely. Lonely is not the same as alone. 

I am an introvert. I can only stand people and talking for so long. But I love talking with people I love; my little circle of trust. Where are my heart-string-pulling loves? They are away, all far away. 

And now the band plays, “how I wish, how I wish you were here. We’re just two lost souls living in a fishbowl year after year …” 

Ahhh … how I wish you were here. To hold my hand and sing along with the music with me. To thrill over it with me, and rub my back in rhythm with the music. Oh, mythical partner, how I wish you were here. 

I feel unloveable a lot. It sounds pitiful to say, I know. I don’t mean it that way. I know I have value. But I don’t know if my value is in being a loving partner. I don’t know if anybody would fall in love with me again. I feel like the only people who can love me are those who loved me when I was young, fearless, and effervescent. (Was I effervescent? I hope so). 

Anyway, though, I only say that to say this: I’m becoming so comfortable being alone I don’t know if I could meld my life with someone else’s at this point. Just over the last 4 years of living alone I’ve become comfortable in my new norm. 

Being alone is okay. It’s do-able. It’s not the dream but it’s the reality, and it’s not horrific. I can control the remote, cook what I want, and be naked when I want. (Except that part isn’t as fun alone. Just sayin’).

I was reading this article on strong, independent women and how they value being alone. Here are some quotes: 

Cheryl Strayed

“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” — Wild, March 2012

Chelsea Handler

“It’s not just O.K. to be single for both men and women — it’s wonderful to be single, and society needs to embrace singlehood in all its splendiferous, solitary glory. Next time you see a single woman, instead of asking her where her boyfriend, husband or eunuch is, congratulate her on her accomplished sense of self and for reaching the solitary mountaintop by herself without a ring on her finger weighing her down like a male paperweight. Without single women and their impressive sense of self, we’d be without Queen Elizabeth I, Marie-Sophie Germain, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Diane Keaton, Greta Garbo, Jane Goodall and me, myself and I. Being single is delightfully more than it’s cracked up to be … if you can stand the horror of your own company, that is.” — Time, May 2016

I’m alone, and that’s okay. I like it most of the time. I’d like it better if I knew it wasn’t endless though. 

Listen to this bit of sublimeness, will you?Brandi Carlile, Looking Out

To all my lonely Saturday night girls, I love you and you’re not alone, you sweet little hearts. 

Xoxo,

Stef 

Maybe love comes softly … or maybe not 

I hesitated to write this. I don’t share much about this and I beg my dear readers to understand that I’ve kept this close to me because at first it was nothing to talk about. But then it became dear to me and I held it close to keep it safe. Now? I don’t know. I need to write the words. It’s as safe as it can be, I think. 

But enough, Stef, wtf are you talking about? 

Real affection. Real caring. A tender heart. A longing for one. That’s what I’m talking about. But let me get there in my own fashion – 

My romantic life is becoming the only commonality among a lot of change at the moment. I actively participated in my semi-annual foray into online dating a few months ago. Boring in its predictability, I talked, texted, dated, and made some new friends but no new boyfriends. Nobody I could see myself with at family BBQ’s, or a cold Sunday night with a fire and feel-good movie. There’s either too much machismo, too much personality, too much selfishness, or too little sincerity, too little desire to be a part of something intimate, or too little maturity. Happily stopped after a month and came back to my status quo. 

I have been seeing a man off and on for quite some time. But it’s casual and he doesn’t want more. I want more. So we each, I believe, keep ourselves open to a relationship with someone else, but always come back to each other … for comfort? At first it was just fun. Exciting. Intense. Over the past couple years it has grown deeper, stronger, more intense, more comfortable. 

He says we aren’t compatible. He says he wants to be alone. He likes his loner lifestyle. I call bullshit. I think he just doesn’t want a relationship with me. 

But yet … when we’re together … I feel like the only woman on earth for him. He makes me feel that way with every caress, with every gentle shoulder kiss, and with every heartfelt, “you’re so beautiful,” as he stares into my eyes. I am transfixed. 

He’s become a regular sounding board & supporter too – in his purely unobtrusive, under the radar way. One night, laying together talking about our lives in post-coital bliss, I told him I had a big work thing coming where I had to give a presentation. Fast forward 10 days, I get this random text, the day after my presentation, “so how did it go?” He listens when I think he doesn’t. He notes it, all of it, and I think he feels more than he lets on. That’s my hope. 


Side note: why is communication so hard for men? Though I’ve dated quite a bit since my husband & I split, there have only been two men who really hit my true love & affection orbit, and neither were/are good communicators. I LOVE/LOVED THEM ANYWAY. One thoroughly broke my heart with nary an explanation (and I miss him, still, because I’m such a sad sack when I finally fall for someone), and now, this affectionate lover continues to crush the air out of me regularly … but then turns around and breathes in so much oxygen with one text, or one visit, that I’m high for days, weeks even. Nothing can touch the magic we weave when we are together. 

All in all, I’d rather have my non-communicator, part-time man, my sincere, mature, smart & clever man, my partner in secrecy, my half broken/half oxygen-high roller coaster man, than a full-time player who can’t take the time to learn & capture my heart. 

Ideally, though, I want him at my family BBQ. I want him by my side at the company party. I want him on a cold Sunday night with a fire and a feel-good movie (which I think he’d either bitch about or walk away, or both, but I’d like to know for certain). I want a try at something real with him. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. 

Oh but my goodness … his kisses could melt the biggest glacier in all the land and I’m nothing but smitten by his touch. You can’t  easily walk away from that kind of fire. 


I’ve written about him a fair bit. I admit it’s been influenced by how I’m weathering the roller coaster at any given moment so it is decidedly indecisive: 

Addiction

I need you now, love

Dearest, give me what I crave

Hold me as I fly 

Taken, a haiku 

I’m the most single 

As single can be, taken

In my heart of hearts 


Stumbling 

Stumbling in drunken waves down the hall 

Flowing with sinewy grace, united 

I’m burning, a tinder igniting at your call

Longing, forever, but keeping it hidden

But you could love me, she said

Why would I do that? I’m a loner

Down, down the hall she lead 

Come, be with me, sweet lover

***

Ahhhhh, so raw, so bare … to you all. Please be gentle with me; sharing this is so hard. I am almost 42 and I have to say this feeling is as real now as when I was 17. The excitement, the flush of happiness … when I’m going to see him I’m fairly jumping out of my skin like I’m about to board Space Mountain. But he is my own private, personal roller coaster and I don’t want anyone else on this ride. 

Yours in resigned confusion and ecstatic excitement, xoxo

Stef 

Big changes are coming – part 1

Where to start, my darling dears? Where indeed! It’s been awhile. 

I left you on a dark note back in May. I came back from London disheartened. I walked back into a work environment in disarray. So many changes are happening. At this point they aren’t largely impacting me too terribly, but there’s a chance they will. 

Last week I spoke in front of our North America Sales org and it went well. I’m praying for positive momentum at work! 

There are home changes too. Literally I’m going to be changing homes! I’m about to put my home of 12 years up for sale. It was not an easy decision, however it is necessary for a multitude of reasons I won’t get into here. The boys are somewhere between excited/sad/anxious/curious. They don’t remember our previous home. Don’t worry, my sweet little men, I’ll find a good home for our future. 

Where will we land??? That is a huge question. I’ve never bought a house without my husband. We bought two together. Will I know myself well enough to figure out the right house for us? 

This is an adventure. It’s part of the journey, right? We have one life. Every day gets us closer to the end (not trying to be morbid) so why waste time treading water? 

If you’ve been around my blog long then you’ll know I started writing to get myself back. I felt I had lost myself in my marriage. I didn’t even know what I wanted or liked anymore; it was about what they wanted, what they liked. 

This is (almost) 42, and I am going to *ducking OWN IT:


Every step along the way has opened a window onto my adult soul. It allows me to figure out what fuels my fire, drives my passion. I am unapologetic as I figure out who I am; it’s a journey and I try to traverse it with as much kindness & self-awareness as I can. There will be mistakes/mishaps/errors in judgement along the way. I’m guilty. I’m not apologetic though. 


My arms hurts today from a lot of manual labor yesterday. I’m tired. But I will press on. There will be joy after this trial. 

Sometimes it’s so hard but, I have to admit, I really love my life. I love being able to determine what I’m going to do, when, and with whom. 

(These guys are always my first choice).

So much love,

Stef 

* oh auto-correct. Don’t you know me by now? I hardly ever say “ducking.”

Love yourself 

Hello, my friends. It’s a hard topic today, I’m afraid.  

I’m in London on business and I had an unfortunate conversation yesterday. I stewed on it a few hours then took it to a powerful support group: my friends at my friendly neighborhood fitness studio. This is what I wrote, and thank goodness for their positivity & support. 

Here it is: 

Hi ladies. I had an emotionally hard evening earlier and I’m still bothered by it so I felt I should write it out. 

It’s my last day in London and at an after work cocktail party I was having a conversation with 3 other women. Two are vice presidents within the company, 46 & 48 years old, and the other is a manager like me, and she’s 40. All three are about a size 6. The manager also teaches body pump and is fairly muscular. The VPs started talking about how they’ve gained weight. How they have “ballooned” since last year due to stress & travel & dining out a lot & drinking a lot – as is often expected at these work things. They both started sharing horror stories about clothes not fitting, bathing suits where they have back fat where they didn’t used to. One referred to herself as having become “a fat whale.” It went on like this for several minutes. 
I was so offended. I felt it was such a distasteful, nasty, mean-spirited conversation on two counts: 

1. How dare they speak so horribly about themselves! And their wonderful bodies! I wanted to shake them and say don’t you understand the beauty & glory & honor it is to be uniquely you? Just as you are? 

2. I was standing there in my size 18 body, in the conversation, while one called her own body a fat whale. If she thinks that of herself then what does she think of me? Is she judging the size of my thigh? The jiggle of my upper arm? Does she think I am less capable than I am because I’m not slim & trim? 

I am sick of women who feel they have to tear themselves down. In doing so they tear down the other women around them. These are strong, amazing, successful women who just absolutely tore apart their bodies in a 5 min conversation, and, I felt, tore mine apart too.

The other manager and I both were silent. I think she has a healthy, realistic body image, as she should – she’s worked hard for it. 

I felt so uncomfortable, so awkward. Like I was, literally, the elephant in the room. 
I just wonder if women like them can hate their own bodies so much then am I stupid to be okay with mine? I mean, I’m *not* okay with it but I’m also doing something about it! And in the meantime I don’t have to hate it. I can celebrate it and the strength and amazing things it’s done for me over these last 5 months at the studio – plus the last 41 years of my life! But this conversation implied that I should hate my body unless it’s perfectly perfect and it made me so sad. It made me feel shame. Like how dare I love my body when these women don’t even like theirs! 

That’s not okay. 

It also made me wonder if I have to to be like them to promote further within my company? If so, then maybe I need a new company. 

I’m coming home tomorrow and I cannot wait to come back to my life. This got long so bless you if you read through it. See you all soon.

* * * 

That kind of talk is foreign to me anymore. I love my body and how hard it works, how it moves, how it keeps me alive. I think we need to change how we talk about ourselves. We need to love ourselves no matter our size. We work hard. We love others and we want to be loved so why is this so hard. 

LOVE YOURSELF. 

Xoxo,

Stef

P.S. Stop reading women’s magazines & celebrity magazines. It’s bad for your health. 

P.S.S. The pic is of me on stage speaking in front of 200 people earlier this week. Do you have any idea how hard that is for me? How self-conscious I feel? But I fake it. Hide the nerves. Put on my Spanx & a dress and just fucking do it. Because I’m smart, capable, and I know my shit. Nobody is going to dim my light. Afterward someone said they were in awe of my confidence and that I obviously really know what I’m talking about. I’m cute, I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m loving, and, oh yeah, I’m also fat. But it’s only a feature of my whole. 

Imma be me

You’re not my type

From the moment we met 
I knew it wasn’t you
No way, not even on a bet
But what’s a good girl to do?

You see, the odd thing with me is
I’m not just what you see
Not just white & blue, but reds too
Not beige, or silly taupe, imma be me

Raised right, moral fiber strong
I know very well right from wrong 

Wild streak? Not that brave
But my precious wants crave
For the challenge of your metal
I want every bite; I won’t settle 

I don’t maim, kick, or ridicule 
My heart bleeds … but imma be me

You’re my Mount Everest, baby
I gotta climb; hit that peak
Oh honey, I’ll be your lady
Come, give me what I seek

Be my right now, my today
But not tomorrow, okay? 

You’re not him, I don’t think
You’re fire to this kindling 
It shouldn’t be, there’s no link
Except this flame is not dwindling 

You’re not my type 
Never gonna be
But come kiss me
’cause imma be me 

—————————–

Proffered without comment. *sigh* 

-Stef

It’s all about the lyrics, baby 

I’m such a lyrics person. But of course, right? I write poetry. I was an English Lit major. Words speak to me. I love a clever turn of phrase. I love repeating it and twisting it around my brain. 

A few weeks ago I turned the car on and when the radio turned on I heard this, “is she not more than the curve of her hips? Is she not more than the shine on her lips?” And before I knew it the song was over but I was hooked. Downloaded it and listen to it daily. 

If you don’t know this song you absolutely should: 

True Sadness by the Avett Brothers

Listen to it more than once. Let the words settle into your bones. We all have it within us. 

Have a gorgeous Saturday, dear friends. 

Xoxo,

Stef

I went to hell last week (and lived to tell about it)

It’s 12:50 am on Wednesday, March 1. I went to bed 45 minutes ago but my brain is churnin’ & burnin’ and can’t be contained. I’m happy! Why?? Because I feel 90% normal again. Normal!! I never thought normal would be my ideal, but last week I thought I’d never get back here. We really take our health for granted, don’t we? But let me go back …

Several months ago I started attending a holiday survival fitness camp. It was one night a week of high intensity interval training (hiit) in a small neighborhood studio plus we could attend the other scheduled classes during the 5 week session. I did, I got hooked, and I joined. Attending these classes have made me feel stronger, body & soul, and helped me in confidence and just general fearlessness! It’s been so great. 

So two weeks ago today I started to feel a little pain in my left flank. We had recently worked out our obliques so I naturally thought I was just sore. I popped a few ibuprofen Wed-Fri as the pain came on, usually in the afternoons. But Friday night it wouldn’t go away. It woke me up 3 times in the night. I went to class Saturday morning and told my trainer. We took it easy on my obliques that day. Several hours later the pain came on with a ferocity that had me writhing on my bed, and the ibuprofen & acetaminophen I was alternating wasn’t touching the pain. I called my health insurance’s ask a nurse line and she was like get thee to the hospital. So I did. 

Alone. My boys stayed home because what could they do with me at the hospital? They’re young teenagers. Better off to make frozen pizza, play video games & wait for my call. So I drove myself because I hate inconveniencing others. Stupid trait. 

As you may have suspected by now, my pee indicated an infection of some sort and I was hooked up to all kinds of things to take blood, measure heart rate (fast), and blood pressure (high), but thankfully I was given an painkiller as well and, oh Lord almighty, was I happy. Four prescriptions later and I was allowed to leave to go wait at the 24 hour pharmacy for my lifeline of drugs. 

Sunday the vomiting started. The pain was merciless. The Norco took the edge off but there was no doubt the pain was horrific. 

Monday was a holiday. Tuesday I called my doc & was asked to come in, and ordered to have a ct scan. Meds switch on the antibiotic & a stronger pain killer – Percocet. Oh yeah, baby!! I remember Percocet from my c-sections and that’s the good stuff. But, no, it STILL just took the edge off. 

The next day the doc’s office confirmed: a kidney stone currently in my left ureter and almost to my bladder. 

I don’t remember Monday-Friday very well. It was a pain fog cycle. Sleep, lamaze breathing, take meds, eat jello, vomit, have sweaty fever-induced hot flash, sleep. I was also mothering my kids in there as well. They were mothering me more than a little. I still helped them get out the door every morning but then I collapsed and cried/slept/vomited the rest of the day. They made their own dinners. They brought me water & meds & hugs on demand. My goodness, I love my sons. 

Friday I went back to the doc. Blood draw. Some things don’t add up. The kidney stone was in my bladder now so why am I still in pain? Why can’t I keep anything down? Why do I feel like my body has betrayed me? 

Friday I stopped all meds except the antibiotic. I’d had enough of this pain fog/vomit/sleep cycle. I suffered through residual pain over the weekend. Slept. Rest. And started to feel better. 

But where was my head? Not in a good place. I felt demoralized. Weak. Diseased. Incapable. I felt I would never feel like myself again. I got winded walking around Winco & almost had a panic attack. Driving was hard. Standing. Walking. Impossible. I was broken. 

Monday I vomited my breakfast. I attempted to go to work. It was hard. I cried. My doc called & said my bloodwork showed several abnormalities and they wanted me to continue to rest & push fluids. I was ordered to work from home as I recover. 

And then today came. The pain in my belly is gone. I feel like I can get up & down without pain, or fear of pain. Oh good Lord am I happy to feel almost normal again! I was still careful with my food today, and my tummy is still a little unsettled, but the pain is entirely gone and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! 

And yes there may be other things going on but I think they are improving too. I can’t help but feel positively about this. 

I have to say, the psychology behind pain & demoralizing depression is not familiar to me, but I felt it last week. I felt like I was no longer myself. All my positivity about life was gone and there was only pain. I’m thanking God, my doc, and my lucky stars tonight for the relief I feel today. 

Yours, in pain & understanding,

Xoxo,

Stef

Mourning & Marching

On Friday I mourned. 

On Saturday I marched! 


With my two sons by my side, in a crazy snowstorm. 

The boys & I talked about the election a lot that day. Why we were marching. Why we *needed* to march. 

We watched the news together Saturday evening and saw the new press secretary insist this inauguration was the largest in history (easily disproven) and watched the new president lie & awkwardly, unsuccessfully try to manipulate members of the CIA in front of their memorial wall. With nary a glance at it. Instinctively I feel like President Obama would have looked at it, referenced it, and felt the full gravity of it. Bygones. 

After the news my oldest said, “mom, turn it off! And don’t get on Facebook anymore! I don’t want to see you cry.” But I didn’t, then. I kept reading. Facebook, Twitter, CNN (because they all up in his bizness now!) and I saw the magnificent march, the largest protest in U.S. History! And I knew it had fallen on deaf ears. He doesn’t care WHY we marched. He only cares that we got a bigger turnout. 

And I saw the ridicule. The jokes, from lawmakers even, about how ridiculous it was, how useless. 

So then I wrote this note below, posted it on Facebook and then deleted the app from my phone. Poof!

* * *

My friends – I’ve heard a variation of this several times today: 

“Whiny libtards protesting because they didn’t win. We didn’t react like this when Obama won.”

Words matter. 

The Women’s March was to remind the new president that women’s rights, and minority rights, are all human rights. There should be no distinction by gender or skin color, or other distinguishing factor. Fundamental human rights for all humans. This was not a protest of hate but a show of solidarity and strength, to remind those who may harm our rights that we are here and won’t be silent. 

By the way, some of you did protest when Obama was elected – with fake lynchings, don’t you recall? And still to this day call the Obamas monkeys because of their skin color. Oh? You don’t like being lumped in and generalized with your neo-nazi, white supremacist brothers? Well neither do I like being lumped in with far-left violent protesters. I’m just a 41 year old single full-time working mom with two sons and I want the same rights and autonomy with my body, and the same pay rate, as the white males I work with everyday. Why is that so hard? 

Give the new president a chance, you say? How many? I heard more lies and hate spill from his very mouth today, his first full day in office. He has said nothing to unite; only further encourage the divide. At what point is it enough? 

Christians, Jesus lovers, is this the president that you wanted? He couldn’t be more unlike Jesus if he tried. Constitutionalists, if you allow him to disregard multiple amendments then how can you continue to argue that the 2nd should be followed without exception? Why are you holding on to this incredible double-standard, allowing a multitude of sins, conflicts of interests, & ethical dilemmas, from him that would never, ever normally be forgiven? 

I will not encourage hate or disrespectful rants about him (though it’s his favorite mode of communication, I will go high) but neither will I sit quietly while our rights are flagrantly dismantled in front of us. As U.S. citizens, and patriots, it’s our charter to hold our government accountable. My children’s futures are at stake and what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t advocate for them? 

Call me every derogatory name in the book if you like, but I’m just like you – I have a belief system I refuse to deny. I’m genuinely terrified for our country in a way I haven’t been since 9/11 – except this time we unbelievably did it to ourselves. 

My son asked me tonight to stop reading the comments on Facebook and to turn off the news. He doesn’t like to see me upset. We’ve had a lot of frank conversations lately and, honestly, the kid recognizes right from wrong before I even have to say a word. Thank goodness for his love & compassion. 

So for everyone here I respect & love, I wanted to just put my thoughts on this out there – because I do prefer civility over name-calling, and I don’t like being ridiculed for standing up for fundamental human rights as if that’s somehow a bad thing. 

-Stef

* * * 

This week has progressed into even more of a nightmare. I can’t even articulate it, it would take too long, too many pages – but it’s even worse than I think we imagined it would be. The thin-skinned narcissism is even more apparent. This dictatorial style is right on point. Executive orders right & left reversing hard fought, much needed legislation. Gag orders. Media shutout & vilified. I have logged onto Facebook (via a browser) once or twice a day but it’s overwhelming. 

I am bereft. Scared. In shock & disbelief. I have felt paralyzed. What do I do? There’s no point in shouting it on Facebook. Everyone has become either numb or desensitized. We cannot be silent though. Our silence normalizes the actions of a mentally unhinged tyrant. 

Today I wrote my representatives. My senators and congressmen. All middle-aged or old white men, of course, because I live in Idaho. (God forbid we have a woman helping make decisions on female reproductive rights!) 

At least I did something. I contributed. It probably won’t help but I was as articulate as I could be, as patriotic as I could be, and appealed to their sense of duty & pride in our American culture, the tenets our country was founded on and the humanitarian and compassionate societal mores we have nurtured since we claimed our independence. 

Then I googled the best countries for Americans to easily move to – Canada, Mexico, the UAE, Sweden, and an island that is part of Norway call Svalbard, in case you were wondering. 

Heavenly creator, please unshackle our new president’s angel on his shoulder. Encourage just & right actions in our new leadership. Guide their decisions with our population as a whole in mind. Please help us to heal this rift and do better by all our people, all Americans, but also the global community who rely on America for strength and a steady heart. We can’t turn our backs on refugees. We can’t turn our backs on social justice, humanitarian causes, and compassion. Help our new president to learn humility, faith, how to employ the power of good. Amen. 

Good night, dear friends. We shall slog through this horror movie together and, hopefully, come out even stronger and more fierce on the other side. 

Love & light,

Stef

I just can’t talk to you right now 

I’ve been dodging texts. I’ve been scrolling through Facebook quickly. I’ve been avoiding certain friends and even some family. Because I can’t take one more thing. 
I’m struggling to explain it. It feels like a form of PTSD. And not just because I’m a whiny bleeding heart liberal. It’s because my hope is broken, and it feels like a gaping open wound. 

Smug, mocking words from gloating friends who don’t understand this pain is like salt in the wound. They aren’t trying to hurt me, I understand that, but what hurts is that they don’t see it. They don’t feel it. That they aren’t empathetic to what seems so obvious a problem to me. 

I’m going to try to make this connection. I don’t know how to articulate it very well though so please bear with me. 

Over the last 2 years I’ve been treated pretty roughly, pretty indelicately, and disrespectfully, by men. 

I’ve dated. I’ve been on dating sites. There was even a very short period where I was a little self-destructive or just less cautious, I let down my guard, and some bad things happened. I learned my lesson, but at what cost? 

I have met some very lovely, friendly men – but I have also met many, many who don’t care two shits about me, my life, my sons, or my story. 

“Show me your tits, babe!” 

“We’ll go out sometime – why don’t I just come over tonight so we can get to know each other?” 

“What’s your favorite position?” 

“Wanna see my big cock? I can’t wait to see your pretty little mouth on it.”

“Don’t worry, I like big girls.” 

That last one from the worst of them. A predator who doesn’t see himself that way. 

I even had one guy, who provides Christian-based therapy to families by the way, yell at me, try to manipulate me by telling me I was throwing my life away, losing a fantastic opportunity, making a horrible life-altering decision (and thus I’m a stupid, terrible person) because I wouldn’t let him come to my house at 9 pm at night, with my sons at home, on a school night, during the very first conversation I had with him ever. He was personally affronted that I wouldn’t bend to his will. Men feeling like they can bully women, whether subtly or less so, is pervasive & it’s utter bullshit. I said no. I SAID NO. Why do you think that doesn’t apply to you? 

I have been used & abused. I have been insulted. I have been made to feel that there are no good, loving men out there – or at least none who could possibly care for me. 

So here I stand at the beginning of 2017. We are inaugurating a new President in less than 2 weeks. A man who, from my point of view, hates women except for what they can do for him visually or sexually. A man who has condoned reprehensible behavior and disrespect towards women. A man who, when I see him, I see the face of every man who has ever said, “hey baby, want to come sit on this? I got something for you and it’s really good. You’ll love it. You’ll be screaming for more.” 

He’s a host of other things too, of course. He’s not *just* a sexual predator. 

He’s not a real conservative; I’m sorry to all you hardcore conservatives who got saddled with this guy. I wish more of you had the balls to vote differently. He’s only in it for himself. He’s not a real patriot. He condones racism, xenophobia, and, this is the kicker for all you real conservatives, he’s dismissive of cultural & ethical mores that are inherent to our American history – including our reverence for the constitution. All you 2nd amendment diehards can’t fly that flag anymore when the president you elected is planning legislation that blatantly violates other amendments. 

He’s going to ban Muslims – well, I work with a bunch of Muslims and they are the kindest, most loving souls. Some were born in America. Muslim is their religion. This is their home. 

Every gay friend I have feels like their lives are a little more in jeopardy. 

The farmers from my hometown who voted for him so heartily because he’ll bring more water to the valley, they think – but should we calculate what the new tax burden will be for middle-class farmers? And building that Great Wall on the border to Mexico & deporting the illegals will be a double whammy to those farmers. Higher taxes to build the wall & they’ll lose a lot of their field workers. Poof! But maybe you’ll have water. I hope you have people there to harvest that crop. 

It’s like a never-ending series of blows. All of these things hurt. Grab them by the pussy. The media are idiots. Sore losers, he says. It’s not just because he won, you see, it’s not losing the battle itself, but it’s the fear of what he will do! He’s a bully on a big playground with thin skin and a penchant for beautiful women, and in his life he’s publicly enjoyed nearly all of the 7 deadly sins. Literally in public. He flaunted his skeletons and you judgemental, sanctimonious sheep all blindly normalized every one! Or passively turned a blind eye. 

And he hates women, and don’t we have it hard enough? Haven’t I experienced enough without all these imbeciles feeling like they are validated in their creepy, predatory behavior now? 

So though I mourn for all my minority friends who feel imperiled right now, I have to say this fear everyday is for myself as much as them. Will rapes go up? Maybe but how will we know since most aren’t reported and even fewer prosecuted? Our society doesn’t trust women. 

I am in fear that I will hear someone I like or love, praise him. That someone I trust will think he will do good in our world. I don’t want to lose respect for my family & friends any more than I already have. This election is tied to my heart, my physical well-being, in a way I can’t explain or even fully understand. I am scared. All the normalization of him as our next president is bothering me so much I can’t stand to think of it. 

My hope is broken. So I avoid certain friends who maybe want to good-naturedly tease me, but they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the pain they have caused simply allowing such a man to be elected. I feel personally offended, outraged, and resentful of every single person who voted for him. I feel abused, again. I feel like every vote for him was a vote against protecting women from sexual assault, from independence, from equality. 

So when I say to you, “please, not one word about the election, please!” It’s because I want to still like you. I want to still trust you. I want to still think that you have my back. There’s a reason I’m making this request. Please respect it. 

Xoxo,

Stef