Tag Archives: Being Yourself

Hating on Marriage

Recently I have seen a lot of articles hating on marriage. More specifically, married women. Which could lead me into an entire diatribe of why society feels that when men get married it shows that they’re committed and honorable and when women get married it shows that they’re desperate and need a man to define them. But that’s a topic for another time.

Right now I want to discuss why society is hating on marriage. I mean, there’s a huge global movement fighting for the rights for marriage. Gay marriage has been a hot button issue for my entire adult life and yet, getting married is selling out or losing yourself or giving up your freedom. If that’s what marriage is for heterosexuals, then the homosexual community should turn back now! Do not enter! This marriage place is THE WORST!Tandem Love

Except that it’s actually not. And that’s why they’re fighting for it.

Obviously the real aim of these articles is to celebrate being single which I fully support. I just don’t think you have to hate on marriage to love the single life. In fact, I think if you need to hate on marriage to love the single life then you’re really not loving your single life, but rather rationalizing why it’s better than marriage. I won’t rationalize to you why being married is better than being single because I’m not trying to convince myself that being married is better than being single. My path ultimately led me to marriage. Maybe yours won’t. Both are still good paths.

I know a lot of women. I have known a lot of women. Married, single, divorced, old, young, feminists, pro-life activists, religious, atheist, gay, straight, smart, not so smart, funny, mean. A lot of women. I am a woman. I’ve been on this planet for twenty-seven years. It was bound to happen.

Some of the women I know started looking for marriage at a ripe, young age. My freshman year of college I was introduced to the “Ring Before Spring” concept. That is, the girls that go to college simply to find a husband and fully expect to be engaged before they graduate – and maybe even forego graduation in favor of marriage. Some of those women are happily married. Some are still single. Some are maybe divorced.

I know other women, like myself, who were never going to marry. That’s right, I’m writing a blog post talking about NOT hating on marriage and yet, when I was twenty-one I could have written a post on exactly the opposite. Namely, why marriage is an unfounded institution that is the work of governments to keep better track of their citizens. But you know what? I didn’t hate on married people. In fact, I used to tell my parents – who have been happily married for over 40 years despite that they married at a young, impressionable, hardly knew themselves age of 19 and 23 – that they gave their children unrealistic expectations of marriage because theirs is so wonderful. So, despite not needing marriage to find fulfillment in my own life, I recognized that marriage could be an incredibly beautiful and powerful union.

I knew myself before I met my – now – husband. And I know myself now. And they’re not the same people. Because I have had some significant life changes. I opened myself up and let myself be vulnerable. I moved to Cartagena, Colombia without much of a plan and loved/hated every minute of it. I learned more about the immigration process than anyone should ever have to know. I have had multiple real, life-altering experiences with God. I road-tripped across the United States. I picked up my home base and moved it across state lines permanently for the first time in my entire life. Oh yeah, also, I got married.

Wedding DayAnd you know what? I love being married. Not for the title – in fact, two and half years later and it still freaks me out a little bit that I’m someone’s wife – or the security, though sometimes that is nice, but because I love my husband and we both know that our marriage took work and significant commitment before we ever said any vows or signed any papers. That sounds sappy and a little ridiculous even to my own ears and I don’t know if I would feel exactly the same if I was in a committed relationship with the same man and we never signed papers. If we were just partners instead of husband and wife – because marriage really is just paperwork in many ways. But marriage was the path for us – the best path for us and I don’t regret it for a single second.

Sure, sometimes I long to buy a plane ticket and just take off. And I can’t. And, you know what, that moment sucks. And then I think about why I can’t do that and it doesn’t suck quite as much anymore. I remember how much I really love my life now and maybe taking off to a foreign country isn’t the right path or direction for my life in this moment. And when it is again – and it will be, I assure you – then everything will fall into place and we’ll come to it on our path.

The moral of this story? Being married isn’t a bad thing. A married woman isn’t a sell out and a single woman isn’t going to be a cat lady. Being single is amazing and if you are single, enjoy every second of your single life. But don’t love being single because you think I, the married woman, am miserable. Because I’m not. And you don’t need to convince yourself that I’m miserable in order for you to be happy.

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Being Up-Cycled

Garden & HerbsSeptember of 2012 found me working part-time, primarily without a car, and aimlessly searching for some unknown outcome. At times I felt like I was drowning in my marriage and at other moments I was blissfully enjoying my new surroundings. I read with an urgency and made friends with my library card when I struggled to find genuine connections with other individuals. By all accounts, it wasn’t a terribly happy time of life and yet… I don’t look back on it with sadness or remorse. It was a time of growth and perhaps a necessary passage to get to where I am now. Like a teething child who is miserable while his teeth breach the gums, but will take his teeth for granted later in life. Sometimes pain and discomfort and struggles give way to greater endings.

During that season of my life there was a thrift store about a mile from my home – I could walk there – of which I was a frequent wanderer. There were also signs of a fair trade coffee shop that, sadly, had taken its leave before my arrival. I have only ever purchased one thing from this thrift store despite my many visits, but I just enjoyed looking. Seeing. Exploring. And maybe, in retrospect, it was an escape.

You see, this thrift store isn’t really thrifty, it’s more artsy. They sell a lot of up-cycled pieces. So they intend to have items that please the eye and inspire the mind. They do not simply sell second-hand items and that is what I loved about them. They took items that were old and worn and turned them into something worth seeing again. They brought back the beauty lost in a broken table or a dented hubcap or a broken canoe. Where the world saw destruction and waste, they saw a new creation, a piece of art, a new beginning and it’s because of their vision that when I walked into that thrift store, I saw beauty too. I saw innovation and revitalization and a renewal. And, in turn, it renewed me.

Canoe RenewedI was reminded with each newly upholstered chair and each broken record player converted into a side table that there was never going to be a time in my life when God couldn’t work with what I gave him. A truly great chef can make a meal out of anything and a truly great artist can see beauty in the simplest object. And a true visionary, like my God, can literally make something out of nothing.

So, inspired by a thrift store, I threw myself into my faith head first. I spent more time in prayer than ever before. I was diligent with my prayer journal and was fervently seeking the Word. And life got better. Not instantly. Not overnight. It took time. It took patience. It took devotion. It took change – a change in me. The up-cycle artist needed to make a change to the broken canoe to bring out its beauty and likewise my creator needed to make a change in me.

Months later I wrote a post on this very blog absolutely gushing about the degree to which I loved my life. And it hasn’t been the last of its kind. And once I started truly loving my life and feeling joyful from the inside out, life started loving me back. Relationships manifested. Finances improved. Resolutions stuck. And love became this flowing current going and coming in all directions. I still seek him daily for he is my renewal. Because just as the silver needs polished to keep its shine, I too need to be washed to keep my luster.

#DPChallenge

I am afraid of you.

For most of my life I have been pretty confident about who I am. About the fact that I know myself. Sure, some of what I thought I knew was me projecting what I wanted to be. And part of it was me projecting what I thought you wanted me to be. But nonetheless, the core was pretty legitimate. The me I know now is not the same me I knew when I was eight or eighteen, but that’s because I have changed and evolved as humans are wont to do. But one fact still remains.

I am afraid of you. I was afraid of you when I was eight and when I was eighteen and now, just under twenty-eight, I’m still afraid of you. The “you” I’m referring to isn’t someone specific. I don’t have nightmares about the killers in horror movies (mostly because I haven’t watched a horror movie in years) or of someone chasing me, it’s nothing like that. The “you” I’m referring to is the general you, as in everyone. Like, you, person reading this, I am afraid of you. And the person sitting next to you in the library and your next door neighbor and your boss and the barista that made your coffee this morning.

Before you reconsider the crazy lady typing this post, hear me out. When I’m trying to make a left hand turn and there are cars behind me, I worry that I’m making them angry when my cautious nature doesn’t take the turn when they might have. I picture them pounding their fist on their steering wheel and cursing. I second guess my actions based on the theoretical anger of a person in a car behind me that I will probably never see.

So, sometimes you do see them and they’re angry. That has happened. Not to me directly, but to someone I was with. Said crazy other driver followed us into Wal-Mart and threatened to cut my friend’s throat if he ever took his parking spot again. Perhaps this experience scarred me.

Sometimes if I go through the drive-thru I wonder if the employees are judging me for being too lazy to actually walk inside. And when I have specific requests about what should go in my latte, I just generally assume that the barista hopes that I never visit during her shift again. I know very little about pop culture and haven’t seen very many movies. But if someone’s trying to talk to me about something and on reference three I still don’t understand, I just pretend I do so they won’t think I have literally been living under a rock.

I have friends with very different political and religious beliefs. They’re all mashed up on my Facebook Stalker Feed which suffers from severe bi-polar disorder. And I try to walk this line with my own Facebook posts as to not overtly offend anyone. I’m not afraid of my opinions, but I never wish to hurt the heart of someone else with intention.

I guess, what it boils down to, is that I try to figure out what you’re thinking. Why you’re thinking it. What I did to cause you to think it. Because I guess, what I’m really afraid of isn’t you, per se, but your approval or lack thereof. I think we all want approval. We want someone to acknowledge that what we’re doing, saying, wearing, thinking is okay. And I want you to think that me being cautious before I make that left hand turn is responsible rather than thinking I’m the worst driver ever.

There are some people who are extremely self-assured or extremely oblivious. And maybe you’re reading this thinking I must be extremely insecure or neurotic or paranoid or a total narcissist for thinking other people even notice me that much. Fair enough, maybe I’m all of those things. But I’m also honest and you have to take the good with the bad, right?

But if, perhaps, you’re reading this and relating a bit, you should know that I approve of you. I approve of your fear. Not that I think we shouldn’t try to conquer it. We should. Screw that driver behind you, you’re protecting your life and possibly one of the most expensive things you own – your car. That driver can wait. But know that you’re not alone thinking all those things you think. I think most of them too.

Bathroom Blues

I was reading an article recently on marriage. It was written by a man who had been divorced twice and, fair enough, he was writing an article on what NOT to do to keep a happy marriage. Or, at least, some of the things he’s sure went wrong in both of his own. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

I found one of the things he mentioned really interesting. It’s not the first time I’ve heard someone mention it in relation to their marriage, but it’s the first time I’ve heard a man mention it. And it’s in a category that many marital fights have started over – bathroom etiquette.

If you have ever shared a bathroom with anyone – ever – you have had fights or at least repressed anger about how they used it. Maybe they didn’t clean up after themselves well enough. Maybe they hogged it in the mornings leaving you barely enough time to brush your teeth. Maybe you shared toothpaste and they left the cap off or – and I personally hate this – left some paste on the top of the tube so it gets all gummy and disgusting! This man was not against any of these things. Well, he might be, but he didn’t mention them. What he did mention was defecating with the door open.

For those uncomfortable discussing bathroom behavior, you should stop readingPhoto credit: thejbird / Foter / CC BY now.

Honestly, my views on sharing bathroom time have been all over the place. I was raised in a house with three sisters. For a few years we had a foster-sister as well – so that’s six women in one house. (You can go ahead and feel sorry for my father and one brother – even our dog was a girl!) It was nothing to be brushing your teeth while someone was using the toilet. When we visited my cousins in Mississippi where there were seven cousins in the same family and they had one bathroom in their house – you peed with anyone in the room. I thought nothing of it.

I hit an awkward stage around puberty. (Did anyone not hit an awkward stage around puberty?) And I became friends with girls who didn’t seem as comfortable sharing their potty space. Be it that they were only children, had no sisters or were just raised in a more modest household, I don’t know. All I know is I suddenly deemed bathroom time as private time. I have a very distinct memory of locking the main bathroom door at my cousin’s house and a female cousin knocking on the door asking why in the world I locked the door?!

My first semester of college I lived in a dorm with a communal bathroom for the hall. There’s just no way around it, you had to do all your business in full ear shot of everyone else in the bathroom, even if they couldn’t see you. I got more comfortable with sharing the bathroom. I later lived in a house with two female roommates, one bathroom, you get over it. Well, I got over it. And then it’s just a matter of time once you get over it with your own sex that you stop caring with the opposite sex. Whether it’s a close friend or a partner. In the end, does it really matter? If you’re comfortable with them seeing you naked or sharing bodily fluids, who cares?! Everyone does it. Literally, everyone. Obama does it. The Queen of England does it. Jesus Christ even did it. It’s natural. It’s normal. We’re human.

The gentleman warning couples against it wasn’t putting the blame on either of his ex-wives, but mostly on himself. I’ve heard women say that they would never let their husbands even hear them go to the bathroom – have to keep the magic alive. After my sister and her – now – husband started living together they remodeled and were without a bathroom door. It wasn’t uncommon for her to drive to my parents’ house to use the restroom.

And I guess I’m curious, do you really care? Am I the abnormal one?

 

One Month of Happiness

My birthday is next week. And since I knew it wouldn’t be a particularly remarkable birthday with my husband away and only just starting to really develop close friendships here, I thought I would amp up the special-ness by doing a little something special every day of the month.

It sounds great, right? Almost lavish and extravagant. And completely narcissistic to celebrate the day of my birth for an entire thirty days. But it’s not as though I went out broadcasting my plan (until now) and I didn’t try to convince anyone to gift me anything. Some of them were simple, like taking a long, hot bath. Or leaving early enough for work to get coffee. Simple, right? And yet, not so simple.

This may sound strange, but I found that I had to force myself sometimes to do things that make me happy. Like, buying a new pair of jeans – I had to force myself to do this. Even though having jeans with a working zipper and no holes in the inner thighs would make me happy, trying jeans on in a dressing room in front of a full length mirror did not sound like a good time.

Or taking time out to write an actual blog post. Writing them makes me happy. Posting them makes me happy. But there’s the television and endless amounts of crap on-line to fill idle time. Mind you, sometimes shutting down in front of the TV or spending an hour scouring Pinterest can make me happy.

Do Fun Things!And so, I have been thinking about other things that make me happy – genuinely. But that I don’t do for one reason or another. Like, having a clean apartment makes me happy. But I don’t really like cleaning, so it’s usually messy. Buying new clothes that fit and look good and make me feel confident makes me happy. Trying things on and really, just spending money, does not. Cooking. I really enjoy it. But the grocery shopping before and the clean up after – meh.

So, in conclusion, I have all these simple things that make me happy and would improve my overall daily life, but I don’t do them. Why don’t I do them? Because they take a little bit of extra work, time, effort, money or planning. That just seems so… defeatist.

I am happy. I can be happier. And I’m going to start being it.