We sold our house and moved to Hawaii.
We sold our house and moved to Hawaii.
I am frantic now. I want to get down the stairs and away from him. I don’t make it to them before he grabs me again. I don’t turn to him. Instead I gaze down the fourteen cement stairs, wondering where I would have gone even if I had a jump start on him.
Where are you going? To her? And you’re just going to leave your kids here? What kind of mother does that? Oh, I get it. You’re repeating history. Your mom walked out on you so you’re following in her footsteps.
He’s whisper-hissing it to me and I’m scared. He does this. He uses any memory I’ve ever shared with him against me when he wants to cut me down. He knows anything about my childhood or my children will suffice. He likes to boast that his childhood was better because his parents had money and they never divorced; he didn’t grow up in a trailer or at a restaurant booth. His mom always made him school lunch and went to his sports games. This is his go-to every time he wants to make me cry because it is easy and it is efficient.
And then the switch. The one that makes my resolve waiver. It happens suddenly and takes me by surprise.
Let’s go back inside. This got out of hand and you’re shaking. Are you cold? It’s not too cold out here but maybe you are shivering because you are always cold. Here, let me help you get inside so you can get warm. Give me your hand.
I look up, into his eyes. His pupils are relaxing, just like the lines around his eyes. None of tonight is going how I’m used to and this uncharted territory has adrenaline just pumping through my veins. I nod, because I don’t trust my voice. He guides me back inside, gingerly, like maybe I tripped and scraped my knees on accident, by not paying attention to where I was stepping. As we are nearing the front door, I hear the downstairs neighbors on their balcony, chatting quietly. Maybe they heard and they’re contemplating calling the police. I can’t decide if I like that idea or not because thoughts aren’t sticking in my mind right now. It’s unfocused and all over the place and I just want to take a nap. My eyes hurt, my head hurts, my body hurts. Something drips in my eye and I don’t know if it’s blood or sweat or tears. Lord knows I have literally put all three into this marriage. I try to be quiet because I know he is trying to be. He probably heard the neighbors, too.
This moment reminds me of this one time when we had to stay with his sister and her husband in Tijuana. They lived in this small three bedroom condo. The buildings were interesting; two condos per floor. The front doors were close to each other and one night, he and I heard the neighbor on our floor get home. He sounded loud and angry, drunk and wild. He wanted to get in to his home but his wife heard him coming, heard something that told her otherwise and she had dead-bolted her heavy metal screen door. He couldn’t get in. He pounded on it for so long, made enough racket that she finally relented and the moment he got in, he began beating her to a pulp. We could hear it. Could hear each blow landing, things falling around them, her screaming at him to stop. It was harrowing and traumatizing and I implored him to help her. When he did she ran out of there, straight into our open door. Together, her and I hid in the bathroom, where I helped clean up her face with a wet washcloth. Once the police arrived, other neighbors had come out and were standing on their balconies, unsure if they should help or not. I imagine this is my neighbors tonight. Unsure of what to do.
We get inside the apartment and he walks to the bathroom to wet a washcloth for me. A chuckle escapes my lips; now the washcloth is for me. I reach for a hoodie and sit on the couch. It isn’t very comfortable but it’s a lovely shade of eggplant. He comes out and hands me the washcloth and I just set it next to me because I don’t even know what it is for, other than to remind me that I messed up again.
I’m leaving, I croak out. I say it and instantly know this is it. This time I mean it. My voice is hoarse so I decide to repeat myself twice. I’m leaving. I’m leaving, and a large shudder goes through me; I’m uncontrollably sobbing because I’m so scared. He reaches slowly for my hand.
Can we talk about this? I didn’t do anything. Let’s not blow this out of proportion. I didn’t hit you.
You put your hands on me and pushed me with all your might down to the ground. I couldn’t breathe. That is not alright, I respond. I’m leaving. This is it. I’ve been saying enough for ten FUCKING (my voice is elevating now) years and I have to fucking mean it! I am so loud now but I can’t help it.
We sit there, for at least another hour, as he pleads to work on things and I incessantly repeat I’m done and I’m leaving. I stand up numerous times and he keeps pulling me back down and then finally he doesn’t so I head for the door. If you’re going to lord the boys over me and won’t leave yourself, then clearly it has to be me. Please tell them in the morning that I will see them soon and I love them.
He follows me out. Please let me drive you somewhere. Please don’t just walk off into the dark night. Not at this hour. Let me drive you somewhere.
Fine. I agree and he locks up the house with my three babies inside it and we drive away. I’m worried but it should only be for ten minutes. He can drop me and get back to them. There’s almost zero conversation on the drive. I ask him to take me to the Safeway closest to her house and he parks in the garage. He turns the engine off and puts his hand on my thigh.
I’m begging you to rethink this. Don’t get out of this car…, and with that he locks all the doors. I’m still crying because I never really stopped, except they’re silent tears just spilling out like a lazy fountain. Don’t do this. Nobody will ever love you like I do. Think about what you’re doing to this family.
All I do while he’s talking is shake my head and repeat that I’m leaving. I have no other words left except those.
Give me my phone back, then, he angrily says. We’ve been sitting here for half an hour and I just want him to get back to the boys because I can’t anymore. I can get to her house on foot so I slam the phone down in the console. Fine! Take the phone. Take whatever you want. I’m getting out and I’m leaving.
No, okay, you’re right. Keep the phone. Here. Please, take it back. Take it back, he exclaims because I’m saying no as my body continues to shake. You’re such a bitch, he yells at me. Take the fucking phone! I grab it and reach for the door but he starts the car in one fell move and begins reversing. He shifts into drive and begins accelerating and then I have it! I get the lock undone somehow and open the door and before I know what I’m doing, and miraculously before he can reach over and grab me, I friggin jump out of the vehicle. I take off running to the opposite side of the garage, away from him. I cut through some parked cars and across the street in front of me, fast and crouching with my footsteps matching my heartbeat. I keep running up a short hill of an apartment parking complex and duck between two cars. I have no idea if he’s behind me because I didn’t turn around once. I watched too many horror movies to know that wastes your time. I wait a few seconds and peek over the parking wall in front of me towards the store. My heart is pounding so loud; I shake my head because I can’t hear anything except that. Luckily there are no outside lights near me so I’m covered in darkness. I see him exit the parking garage as if he’s leaving and then circle the store and reenter on the opposite side. He does this two more times, driving slowly through it. When he leaves the last time, he drives down the road I had crossed. I can hear the car with its unique rattle, slowly going by and I hold my breath. I’m so scared he will find me. Why didn’t I run further?
I frantically turn my phone off so he can’t track me and just sit between two Lexus sedans, on the ground, in the dark, counting seconds in my head. Every so often I hear a vehicle driving by and I exhale with relief when I realize it isn’t the Jetta. After what feels like at least seven minutes, I peek up over the wall again.
The street is deserted and quiet. I wait some more time, try to relax my breathing, and then walk out from between the cars and back down the little incline toward the store. I barely feel the steps because my body is buzzing with adrenaline. I am vigilant and hyper aware of any vehicle I see but so far, so good. I decide to turn my phone on. Luckily he hasn’t texted yet but he might soon because our apartment is only 10 minutes away by car. I might have already burned that up so I dial Kulia fast. It goes to voicemail so I try again, immediately. Finally, she answers groggily; it’s already 2 am.
Can you pick me up? I ask her. Her next question is crystal clear as she asks if I’m alright. Please come pick me up, I respond, trying not to sob into the phone. My voice is desperation and she hears that. She asks where I’m at and I tell her I’ll be at the intersection by Safeway, right in front of the stop sign. Less than ten minutes later I see her pulling up and I jump in, still shaky but feeling safer. She holds my hand the whole way to her place and we collapse on her bed. I don’t say much and she doesn’t ask. She takes my phone and turns it off because the texts are starting, and we collapse on her bed. As she pulls me in she moves some hair out of my face and then maybe feels something. A knot or a bump on my head. Maybe a couple. Her hand is soft but I still wince because it hurts so bad. I fall asleep in her arms, finally calming my body down.
In the morning, when I finally turn my phone back on, I have 24 missed calls and 57 texts.
I check my phone because I have a nagging worry in the back of my mind. Physically, I’m sitting in a booth next to Kulia and across from two friends, ready to sip my wine and dig in to the appetizer that was just delivered. Mentally, I’m away, back at that tiny apartment with a dingy, rented couch. I take small, quick breaths because I shouldn’t be here. I know that. Yet I am and it frightens me.
For the past three months, I have changed. I can feel it. I’ve been exhaling with force, depleting the bad oxygen from my lungs so they can take in more fresh air. I stand taller. I’ve said yes when I never would have had the gumption to in the past decade and what I have also noticed is that the ballsier I get, the scarier I’m making my situation. I now have to walk home from work because I refuse to have him pick me up. I want the movement and the time alone so I can think about my next moves. He has noticed, too, and I see him coming to grips with the inevitable. He’s been trying to be accommodating, encouraging me to go do things that he has never allowed before. A girls night dinner with friends on a Saturday evening? I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened in the past eleven years. Three times and the previous two should be history enough for me to know better about tonight. This is why I’m nervous.
I glance down at the screen of my phone and see notifications. I’m not going to look yet at what his texts are. I can already imagine and dinner hasn’t arrived yet. I just want to enjoy dinner. I feel my pulse quickening. It’ll probably be about the boys because he knows how to leverage responses from me. Last week he allowed me to go get a pedicure and then texted me the entire time during it about how selfish I was because we could barely put food on the table. My pedicure was taking food out of their mouths. You know, it is some shit to tell your person to go get a pedicure because they deserve it (really you’re just trying to gain their favor back and are grasping) and then pull the switch after they leave and call them names for doing what you told them to. I sat in that chair shaking my head, knowing I had to shit or get off the pot soon, and not knowing how to to do it safely. Can you imagine? You need to poop or you’ll die but you’ll bleed out once you do. What do you pick?
Anyway, dinner arrives while I’m playing devil and angel in my head. I’m half here for conversations but I cannot help it. I see the screen illuminate again. Another text. Things are going to get dire. It has been about five months since he drove off before I got home and had the boys tell me goodbye on the phone while he drove them to friggin ice cream. Five months of mind games and I need to leave. I know I need to leave. Three months since I told Kulia that I loved her and meant it. Two months since he pulled Samuel into the living room and told him he had to pick who he would live with, right here and right now. One month since he told me he could tell I wanted out but I was the love of his life and I looked him dead in the face and said that was laughable. I can’t be the love of your life, because you can’t love someone you beat up. You can’t love someone you would put a hand on. You can’t love someone you would say terrible things to. I told him all of that and braced myself for his response. Which surprisingly wasn’t physical. Last week I spent every lunch break with a damn phone book in my hand, calling one divorce attorney after another. Who would have thought that zero dollars in your possession would equate to zero help? Not even one piece of advice. Every single call I made felt like the noose around my neck was getting tighter and tighter.
I want to have fun at this dinner. I want to laugh and share stories; I mean, I do a little, but I can’t fully be here. In fact, I’ve been treading water and I’m probably about to drown. I’ve been pushing him to the edge and one of us is about to tumble. Why have I been so brazen? I should have stopped myself for my boys except I feel like I’ve been trying to pull a piece of my cage off and finally have a good chunk coming up and all I feel is this desire to rip with all my might and go. Two feelings, not mutually exclusive but simultaneous. Stay but go. Breathe but suffocate.
I excused myself for a bathroom break and decide to look at the screen finally. This damn phone has been busy. There’s about fourteen texts that begin pleasant.
Enjoy your dinner.
If you have leftovers, please bring them home. I would love to try what you are eating.
The boys say they miss you. They’re going to bed soon. Maybe you can take a break from your girls night and say goodnight to them.
I guess you’re too busy to call your children. I’ll tell them that. I’m sure they’ll understand.
Abraham has a fever. Where is the medicine?
Did you see my text about Abraham? There is no medicine. Do you even give a shit?
…on and on and on. There it is. The dangerous progression that I knew was coming. As I’m sitting on the toilet, holding my hands on my head, I let a few tears escape.
Back at the booth, I tell the crew I have to cut my night short. It’s the last thing I want and I absolutely wouldn’t return if my children weren’t there, but this is life and I have to live with my choices. Kulia sees my face. She doesn’t let me chip in, gets the bill paid, and never once makes me feel bad. I ask her to drive me to a pharmacy first, so I can get Tylenol for AB. She waits as I go in, and then begins the somber ride back to my place. I say goodbye as I go to get out and she tells me to call her if I need anything. I’m shaky and if she sees it, she doesn’t mention it. Just squeezes my hand and lets me know I have her.
There are fourteen concrete stairs to the apartment that I have to climb. I take them slowly just to buy myself four seconds of piece. I reach the top, turn left and take however many steps it takes to get to the front door; it’s about twenty feet long. I see him inside and know he is angry just by his stance. He’s been waiting.
I walk in to a full blown argument that he probably began with himself the moment I closed the front door behind me two and a half hours ago. To be honest, I don’t hear most of it. I’m doing my best to prepare the dose of fever reducer for Abraham, picking up things around the living room. Anything to placate him. Its like the pressure release valve on the instantpot. I will let him release his steam and then hopefully he’ll go to bed. Except, this is different. This time, the steam keeps going.
Before I can react, he has grabbed my forearm forcefully. Are you even listening to me?
Yes, I’m listening to you.
The argument goes on and on. He wants reactions. He wants me to say something to tip him over the precarious edge he’s riding so he can blow up and hit me and feel justified in doing so. I know this so I’m mostly silent because I’ve learned my lesson years ago.
He throws me against the wall. I feel a sting and try not to react but it’s hard because these walls are made of cinder blocks. He’s now three inches from my face, saying one mean thing after another. I hear a door creek and turn to see Abraham, in his fever induced delirium creep out of his room. Mama? I move to comfort him but he slams me back against the wall. His forearm is against my throat and I’m doing my best to take short, calm breaths. He has never been physical with his boys in the room. AB is trying to hug my leg and get my attention but I can’t look down with the forearm holding me back. Since my left forearm is still being death-gripped, I use my right arm to pull him closer. He is really warm still and it’s worrying me. He can see it in my face.
Oh, you’re worried now? Your mom didn’t care you were sick when she was out with her friends so don’t expect her to care now, mijo, he hisses at Abraham. I want to tell AB to go to bed but I can’t talk. I can hardly breathe. Finally, I feel him let up. He grabs Abraham and takes him back to his room, tells him to lay down and go to sleep. While he’s in the other room, I grab my purse and put it close, put my cell phone in my pocket. He sees me moving and is pissed again.
You know what, I’m fucking over this, he tells me. He grabs my arm and begins to pull me towards the door. Get the fuck out, he says, as he’s dragging me. Stop, I plead. Don’t do this. Except, he doesn’t stop. He is using all his weight, all his force, all his anger to push me out of this house. I’m grabbing everything I can to stop him. I can’t be without my babies. I want to be rid of him, but safe in a house with them. He’s so much stronger than me that no matter my efforts, I’m almost out the door. As he gives one last shove to push me out of the door frame, I turn to him without fighting. Okay, I think, I’ll surrender. I put my hands up as if to do so but before I see it coming, he pushes me with all his strength, down the long walkway. I flew over half of it, land flat on my back, and feel my head bounce on the concrete. The wind is knocked out of me and for a second I think I’m dead. This is it, I hear my inside voice say. He killed me.
I feel my lungs trying to grab air and as I struggle to fill them, I open my eyes to him leering over my face. He’s crouched down with a wild look in his eyes that terrifies me. I hate you. You’re the biggest mistake of my life. You’re the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever met and I hate the day you were born. I hate you. I hate you. You’re a piece of shit.
I hear him but I’m somewhere else. My head is throbbing and I can’t focus. He tries to push me up a few times, kicks me and then gives up. He storms back inside the house and I just lay there on the concrete floor watching stars dance around my eyes. I’m exhausted, both mentally and physically and I don’t know what to do. My fingers feel my front pocket. Okay, my phone is still safe in there. That’s the one good thing I can think of right now.
I don’t know how much time goes by but eventually he comes back out. I see the movement from my peripheral vision and I think now, get up. Don’t stay here. So I stand and turn. I head to the stairs. Oh no you don’t, I hear behind me, dangerously close.
The only college I ever knew I wanted to go to was the University of Washington. From the beginning of time and without real reason it was on my list; the list of one. The idea of university made no sense to me, for whatever reason, except for UW. I made posters and cheered for them at the Rose Bowl growing up. I wore t-shirts and recited to everyone how I wanted to go there.
You should be crying, I tell myself internally. It’s really weird that you aren’t a mess right now. I’m standing in my small living room, where the total of five adults could barely stand shoulder to shoulder and not feel crowded, thinking about the oddness of my lack of emotion right now. I can hear my breathing in my ears and my heart in my throat. Hmm, that should be faster. Is it weird my heart isn’t racing right now? I’m trying to quiet my mind because I cannot quiet his anger.
I walked home from work today. That was my punishment for not answering his texts fast enough. Or well enough. Or loving enough? I cannot figure him out anymore. Or maybe I don’t want to. I can feel my life-force surrendering internally, more and more as the days get worse. Things will fall apart before you can rebuild them. I read that on Pinterest the other day. Has to be right, I think to myself. This is me falling apart. In front of my children and the man who has broken me. It was always bound to happen. Never even mind that our ten-year anniversary just passed, where he forced me to go out with him and pretend we were okay. He had pulled the stool out next to the one he was going to sit in and I thought, I’m onstage and this is a performance and one day I will get an Oscar from like, God or someone. There has to be someone watching this because it’s my greatest act and it is perpetual. I wake up and I’m on; I lay in bed and I’m on. I cannot stop pretending this is what life is because he will lose it and kill me, probably. Throughout the whole evening I kept thinking how it never should have come to this. Once, we were driving to visit my parents. He was holding my hand and asked me if I could go back, would I still marry him? My traitorous mouth beat my mind to the punch and told him no before I could stop it. Girl, aren’t you scared? I asked my mouth. You can’t be honest and not have it end in an almost broken nose. I remember that drive, too. Cars are dangerous.
I come back to the living room like a transition on a movie. Cut scene from the little bar with the anniversary dinner or maybe either of those car rides and pan back to hell. My little boys are in the tiny bedroom the three of them are forced to share and my oldest is standing next to his father, confused and wide-eyed. My poor baby. He doesn’t understand what is happening. See, that is why I shouldn’t have acted. I wasn’t saving them from this, I was only prolonging the inevitable. Focus!
It’s okay, I say out loud. Your dad is angry. Sometimes when we are angry, we say things that are confusing. You don’t have to make this decision, I calmly tell him.
Yes, you do, he yells back. Choose right now! Your mom says she wants to leave me so tell me RIGHT NOW who you want to live with? Tell me right now! PICK!
My son is shaking, he is so scared right now. I don’t know what to say, he squeaks out. I move to give him a safe embrace, but think twice. I saw the flash of insanity in his eyes right now when he guessed my intention. I can almost see the wheels of crazy cranking in his mind, trying to find the precise words to cut me in front of our child, except he isn’t thinking about the trauma this will cause him. His only desire right now is to make me understand what my words for the past few weeks will bring. What my declaration from this afternoon will bring. He wants me to know he won’t go without destroying me in any way he can.
Your mom is doing this to you, Sam, he hisses. This is her fault. She is the reason your life will never be the same. She is breaking this family apart and you deserve better.
I love you, I murmur to my son. I love you so much. Whatever is going on with your dad and I is between us and I’m sorry you are being forced to stand in the middle of it right now but I love you.
I know that will escalate things but I can’t stop myself from saying it either way. Somehow, after I mutter that proclamation, I feel a renewed energy in me. I stand up straighter and look him in the eyes. I hold my gaze as I tell Sam he can go to his room and play with his brothers. I’m almost daring my ex-husband to contradict me as I release my oldest from this untenable situation. I feel a fireball in my stomach, growing with each heartbeat, bigger and hotter. It rises to my mouth and I hear myself tell him that he needs to get it together, stop playing our children against me.
You love your mother, I spit at him. Why would you try to turn your children against theirs? What kind of MONSTER are you? I don’t know where this gumption is coming from but I ride the wave as I discover my strength. I have so much more to say but I leave it at that, before I become him too easily. If you think for one fucking second that THIS is going to manipulate or convince me to stay with you, think again, I assure him.
And I mean it.
It is no secret that I love Christmas. It should come as no surprise then, that when I began to see the recurring trailer for Last Christmas, featuring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, that I would do everything I could to watch it in theaters.
You know the one. It begins with Wham’s hit (do you even know how many times I googled who the other half of Wham was and still do not remember?! Ridic), sung slowly by Emilia who is forever the Mother of Dragons in my heart. You see her ice skating with Henry who is my second fave because Crazy Rich Asians (#duh). In four seconds it was the trifecta to convince me to throw money its way. It centering around some Christmas theme was extra. Literally neither here nor there. I was always going to want to see it.
I dressed up for the movie, by which I mean I donned my Christmas dress that sparked a movement (if you’re wondering what movement I mean, here it is: Christmas Dress Shenans), complete with accessories and my gingerbread house purse. It was the most justice I could do for this feature film. I was giddy excited and hardly noticed that our fellow attendees had an average age of 65 at the cinema. That is just what you get when you choose a Sunday morning matinee time. I have to add that it made for some interesting chuckles during some exciting trailers, but that’s for another day.
As the movie began, it occurred to me that I really had no idea what it was about. My best guess at the time is that it was a typical holiday RomCom that just happened to go straight to the big screen because of its clear A list of actors. Well, buckle up and let me add that no, there will be no major spoilers here. Just me listing out all the reasons why you need to go see it, even if you hate Christmas.
Here you go, without further adieu:
Within five minutes of the movie starting, you realize that Catarina (played by Emilia) is a hot mess. She works at a Christmas Wonderland, which is actually now a dream for me, perpetually wearing a green elf dress. Her accessories are now legitimate wants of mine. The boot cover-ups to make them elf shoes are the best thing ever. I need a pair like I need oxygen! She is an adorable wreck. You love her instantly, even when you are cringing as she makes continuous bad choices.
She sings. This is no spoiler, as we heard that in the trailer and when she meets Tom Webster (played by Henry), he begins to help her overcome some challenges she has in nailing auditions. And, ya know, being a better human. Suffice to say that she doesn’t want to work for Santa (she is played by Michelle Yeoh, better known as the mean, unrelenting mom on Crazy Rich Asians) (and also YAY FOR WORK REUNIONS BECAUSE I LOVE THEM even though she’s a total beezy in that film) forever, either. I mean, I personally would, but to each their own.
You see, Catarina (or Cate, as she desperately wants to be called) cannot figure out how to turn her life around or who she even really is. She is a continual screw-up. Her sister is the shining star. They can’t stand each other because they both think the other gets more attention (sounds about right, right?). She has a fledgling relationship with her mother. They are a family of immigrants. I can relate with so much of it. Well, minus the singing. I mean, I do it anyway but I don’t sound angelic like she does. Maybe I should move my eyebrows more. I digress.
Tom slowly helps her regain some confidence, reminds her how to see people (but like, really see them), and to stop taking your village for granted. He refuses to be a slave to his cell phone. He asks her to eat better. He volunteers at a homeless shelter and takes her there to see it on their “second” date. There are mental health struggles, poverty, racism, lack of accountability, struggling relationships. Even when it is being cute, the film stays pretty true to a real world out there.
As Catarina begins to find her gumption and her drive, she starts to make some selfless acts. She stops being selfish and in that process, begins to find healing, both in her, and around her. She doesn’t need someone to save her or love her. She needs to do both of those things for herself, because you are the only person you can rely on one hundred percent for those things. Tom teaches her that, too.
Is there romance in this movie? Yes.
Is there comedy? Yes.
Is there almost every single George Michaels song in it? ABSOLUTELY. Get ready to sing along.
You also walk away from it with a renewed hope. Not just on Christmas, when we are most likely to reach out and help people but, in people, in general. This movie reiterates that with kindness we can break down walls, because we never really know what people are going through. We all have battles we are fighting. And the best love story is when you begin to love yourself.
And if you have a beating heart, you will love this film.
I just know it.
In high school, I was lucky enough to be the vice-president (or was it secretary…I legitimately cannot remember) (or Treasurer, was that a thing?) of the Honor Society at my school. A close friend of mine was the President and somehow we were tasked with the very important job of putting on a school dance towards the end of the school year. This dance was called Tolo.
Our school, and maybe only schools up in our county call it that, but really it is a dance where historically, the girl asks the guy to the dance. I have recently learned that many other schools call this concept Sadie Hawkins. Or something like that. Honestly, none of that matters. It is a school dance, more commonly known as the dance where girls would look glam-awkward and the guys would look dapper-odd. I’m clearly talking about the good ole days, where young adults hadn’t learned how to contour and do amazing makeup on YouTube and Pinterest. I mean, my grandkids are going to look so great! And they will look back at all my school dance photos and cringe like I do. ACK!
Anyway, all the other dances were put on by very reputable groups. I know you’re probably thinking that the FRIGGIN HONOR SOCIETY must be the most trustworthy group, but you would be wrong. Children that are all-knowing should be supervised. I’ll say that forever and ever, because I was that child. Anyway, I digress. The all-esteemed president and I convened, which is what I call the planning party where I convinced her we make the theme Hawaiian Luau (I KNOW) and she listened to all my crazy ideas that were very pineapple-centric. I should add that I recently took the Strenghthfinders test, where they determine your top five strengths. I think my number two was Woo. I thought that referred to my very common WOO I will yell at random occasions. No. It is my power of persuasion. Awesome. It was in full force on this senior year night.
So I got what I wanted here. A Hawaiian party where we could make a ton of decorations and not have to wear a dress and still have fun. Definitely win-win.
I asked a friend to go with me, but not as my date. I had zero interest in him and told him I would take him to McDonalds for dinner. I was that serious.
We arrived at the party and the prezzy and I went off to handle a lot of logistical, background tasks. At least, that is what I told my friend. Really, I could see he had some hopes up and I wasn’t about to encourage that. Besides, we did have some actual duties, like reminding attendees to vote for the dance royalty. I was dreading this part.
Now, yes, I recognize that our spring Sadie Hawkins dance, or whatever you want to call it, pales in comparison to football homecoming. There isn’t a float parade or special assembly for it. There is, however, still a high school hierarchy that decides the winners. You know the one I’m referring to, if you’ve ever been in high school. The pretty and cool (those are not independent of each other) kids in the fun clique all vote for whoever is next on their list. I was never in this clique so I especially saw it and the effects it had on the very large population of students who continually feel left out or unseen.
We did our announcement, reminding everyone one last time to come over and get their votes in. As we waited anxiously for the time to run out, we chatted about who our money was on to win King & Queen. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t the preppy group. I mean, they are always good looking kids! We just knew the possibilities were a small group of people. When it was finally time we grabbed the box from the rando that had been manning that table and headed back into a private room to “count them.”
Now, you’re probably wondering why that was in quotations. It is because this wasn’t the most popular dance, and even with a pretty decent number of students there, not everyone voted. The whole process could have taken us less than five minutes and we could deliver our hula girl prizes (I might not be remembering that correctly, but this was in a recent dream so let’s go with it) to the winning couples. It felt sort of exhilarating, to know the outcome before announcing the winner to a group. I can only imagine how the committee who knows Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winners first feel. We decide (it was her, the president, because she’s a math wizard) to make piles first and then count, in the event a count was needed. You know, in case that group couldn’t pick one clear winning couple.
As we started creating the piles, I got this sudden urge to rip them all up. I didn’t, but I recognized it was there. I was seeing popular after popular and realized this was probably my only chance ever to be a part of something revolutionary at this school. I mean, if you didn’t count the recent stint of suspended days I had recently served because I had “caused too much of a scene when a fellow classmate had made racist comments to a friend.” After I continued to cause said scene I also yelled for justice. How could I be suspended for defending her and he not be defended for making the racist remarks? Right? Right. End story? We both got suspended and I was 100% fine with that.
“You know,” I said to my friend, “do we really have to count these? Who would it hurt if we picked our own winners?”
She turned to me and smiled. “Did you have anyone in mind?”
I sure did. This dance was the first time, in my high school years, that I had seen a same-sex couple attend. Two ladies, looking super cute and semi-uncomfortable, had bought their tickets and shown up. There had been whisperings for the two weeks leading up to it because it was scandalous and amazing and unheard of. I was a big fan. I wanted to tip the scales and announce them Queen and Queen.
There is something to be said about growing up in farm country. You see, over and over, the normalcy of hetero relationships was prevalent. You are raised with this confusing rhetoric that you will grow up and marry a man, but not before you get some sort of post-secondary education’ you will have children but not before you buy a house, etc. Not everyone follows the rules and they suffer harsh judgement from it, however short-lived that may be. Seeing these two ladies take each other to this dance was so brave and encouraging. It also showed that our little corner of the county had more diversity than just ethnic differences.
My co-conspirator was in my corner and it made me so happy. Not that we had to help these ladies too much. If I’m being completely honest, we only “helped” them with less than ten votes. That was what helped me push my integrity aside so fast! I wasn’t the only one who wanted so desperately to see this change! My president just had one request, that I gladly accepted.
As we took the stage to announce all the winning couples, including prince and princess, my heart began to race. I was sure everyone could hear it through the microphone, that familiar boom-boom of not following a rule. The agreement had been that I would announce the two lesser royalty and she would announce the queens. And queens they were! Amidst the looks of shock were many of happiness. They came up so gracefully and danced so beautifully right after, It was amazing and we very non-discreetly high fived as we walked off the stage.
I will forever call this my greatest achievement of high school, very equivalent to fighting against racism. The thing is, nothing ever changes unless you break some rules, I suppose.
The lunchroom of the bank I’m working at is small and cold. It feels clinical but smells like a dirty sponge. You know that smell. It’s fetid and rank. My cup-o-noodles is sitting in front of me growing cold but I hardly notice. I’m in full-on triage mode, as I call it, frantically texting whatever I can think of to keep him from entering rage mode. Except, he is already in rage mode. Lately, it is his only mode.
Things have been more volatile lately. We have only been in Hawaii for three months and it has been a constant struggle. I work out of necessity even though my take-home is only $200 after I pay daycare. It seems ridiculous but we need every single one of those dollars to almost make ends meet. As I send another scared response, a colleague walks in to the lunchroom with a meal from some restaurant nearby and a Starbucks in hand. It looks so lucrative in her hands and I’m full of jealousy but not food. My stomach grumbles, reminding me to finish my noodles. I smile at her and make small talk, all while thinking about this stupid fight we are having, where I’ve once again messed up. It’s like I’m Matilda and Danny DeVito is yelling at me how he’s big and I’m small, he’s smart and I’m dumb, he’s right and I’m wrong. That’s what he means. He’s everything and I’m nothing. I’ve always been nothing.
I don’t remember the rest of the workday. It’s the same as every other day there, I’m sure. What I do recall is seeing a text as I packed up my stuff to head home. “I picked up the boys.” It is odd to me. They are always at the sitter’s house, which is really close to the branch I’m a teller at. I usually walk to get them and ride the bus home. This is out of the ordinary. Anything out of the ordinary in regards to him is worrisome, so naturally, now I’m worried. I reply back that I’m on my way home and head out the door, fingers crossed I’m not walking in to a warzone in front of my babies again.
I miss the bus by four minutes. Two hundred and forty lousy seconds that now equate to waiting twenty for the next one. Great. I can feel my anxiety growing, making my legs and my heart tremble. Something in my gut just doesn’t feel right. I feel my cellphone vibrate in my pocket. It is a photo of the boys in the car. Are you home? I ask him.
The phone rings and I jump because I’m fully on-edge now. I shake my head to get some of the jitters out and answer cheerily, just trying so hard to not show how scared I am.
Tell your Mom goodbye, boys! His voice is eerie because he matched my fake cheer.
Bye, Mom! They all shout at me in unison. I’m so confused. Why are they telling me goodbye? I say something like that, barely get it out, actually. I don’t know what is going on but it’s unsettling and now I’m really scared. He is unstable. But how unstable, really?
I can tell he takes me off speaker phone and I hear the nervousness in my voice as I ask him what is going on. I just bought the three of us plane tickets and we are headed to the airport. You are never going to see us again. Just remember you did this to yourself. Good luck in your life. He says all of this with a calm, terrifying tone and then hangs up. I am staring at my phone, trying so hard to process. I try calling back three times but they just go straight to voicemail. I’m pretty sure he shut his phone off. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I have no idea what is happening. All I can do is start running home. I’m about a mile and a half away, which feels like five because I’m not a runner. I don’t workout. I have no endurance or stamina, so I run with adrenaline and fear, straight to the apartment we live in. It takes me a long thirty minutes because I keep stopping to catch my breath and dial his number again. None of the calls go through. I’ve never hated my body so much as I do in this moment. I just want to be there to stop whatever he is doing.
When I arrive at the apartment I see that sure as shit the car we share is missing. I shakily climb the fourteen stairs. They take all the rest of my energy and the last bit of hope I had. If he isn’t here, neither are they. Whatever is happening right now is a new level of terror and I cannot fathom what triggered it. Yes, I made him angry but this is out of the norm. I don’t have a key to the apartment so I lean up against the door, my forehead pressed against it, and emotionally breakdown. I have no one to call, no one to turn to so I just sob. I have been trying so hard to think Hawaii was a fresh new start but every day it is feeling more and more like I’m in solitary confinement. I keep trying his phone. My call continues to go straight to voicemail. I am utterly defeated.
An eternity goes by and then I hear it. The familiar rattle of the engine of our car and I wearily look over the balcony. There they are. The four of them getting out of the vehicle and my two oldest are so excited, holding ice cream cones in their hands. Dad took us for a treat! they yell up the stairs. They are smiling and unaware of anything going on between us. I am speechless. I watch them walk up the stairs and I cannot think of one damn thing to say.
And that was the beginning of the end.
The sky is dark and ominous as I pull into my driveway. I got off work late today but maybe that’s not entirely true. Really, I stayed late, took my time shutting down and closing up shop. As I flipped the light switch to off, I looked at everything with tired eyes and tried to memorize where it all was. I drove home slowly, deep in my thoughts. Things have been so terrible, almost extra terrible, if that’s even possible, lately. My children are home and probably asleep. I think it and even say it out loud. I do that most drives. I talk out loud. I want to kiss their sweet faces when I pull in but should not. Waking them would be selfish on my part but I toy with the idea, mostly because everyone else in that house makes me cringe.
It’s July and I’m over all of it, already. Over summer. Over the heat. I can really only handle so much sun. Maybe that’s because I feel like one most days. Shining bright to cheer everyone else up, keep everyone else happy. It’s gawd damn exhausting. The thing is, if you are the sun then there are no rays left for you. I just give them and unabashedly too much. This cancer in my home is caused by me for shining without cessation. For not trying hard enough to dull it. Nobody asked for it but there I am, anyway. He repeatedly tells me not to talk to everyone who initiates conversation. It makes him blind with jealousy and I try not to. I really do. Then suddenly I’m in my driveway so I just sit there a moment. Slowly, but with purpose, I turn the key to cease the motor. I wish I had keys for my mind, too, especially right now because I know what I have to walk in to. That house is dangerous with its perpetual lava floor. There is nowhere safe for me to tiptoe in it.
Earlier, when I was making breakfast, I opened the utensils drawer. Muscle memory knows where the butter knives are to spread jam on my dry morning toast yet my eyes are drawn to the back of the tray. We have lived already in over ten places, dirt-poor gypsies outrunning his lies, and no matter where we have found ourselves, the utensil tray, this exact one, has survived just like me. Always the same, beginning with spoons. First the big spoons and then the teaspoons. Small forks and then dinner forks. Butter knives last and the spot above, laying perpendicular, is always where the steak knives live.
This is where I notice that I’m back to a weird mental spot. I recognize that it manifests first by how anal I get with where things go in the kitchen. Usually I am passive about it all. Not today. I just spent ten minutes rearranging all the canned foods to look like they do in the supermarket and moving the toaster back to the exact spot on the counter where I want to always find it. I get crazy when I feel crazy. I get crazier when I’m feeling defeated. On this particular morning, when waking was hard and showering was dreadful, I noticed that someone placed a slotted spoon in the steak knife tray. The rage beats straight through me and before I can blink, it is in my hand. I’ve seized the spoon but I don’t see it because all I see is red right now. I toss it angrily further back, behind the utensil tray that follows me like a shadow. I want it out of my view to force it out of my thoughts and I’m muttering incessantly about how it isn’t that friggin hard to just put shit where it goes. It isn’t falling on deaf ears but the in-laws ignore me. They don’t care.
All day my mind kept returning to that slotted spoon and I’m too mentally exhausted to think about why. Something else was off but I must have missed it in my anger-fueled moment. I can’t ever let my guard down there, especially right now because things were good for a shorter period this time. The bickering has increased ten-fold and his patience is nonexistent. He keeps trying to force me to take his side over my parents and frankly, I don’t want to. He’s a liar and I’m done having his back because it makes me a liar too, by proxy. Defending him is at the top of his list for how I can show him my love but piss on all that noise. I won’t do it this time.
I take the steps to the front door one at a time to buy me some aversion but there’s only three. That was a waste of energy. I put my key in the door and gingerly turn it, hearing the familiar clicks as I hold my breath. I can’t hear the tv; I make a silent wish that everyone be asleep. The door creeps open and I see the yellow glow of the screen. Damn it all.
“Good evening,” I try to whisper to my mother-in-law. She’s a witch and I physically can’t whisper and so we dance this diddy again where she shooshes me and waves her hand angrily, as if she’s batting my words away. She hates being the designated babysitter and I hate being her verbal punching bag. She responds with a pursed-lip goodnight something-or-other back at me that she probably equally dreaded but I barely hear it. I’m already in the hallway, moving towards the boys’ room. I hear her call out something about it taking forever for the three of them to fall asleep so please don’t undo all my hard work. I don’t acknowledge that she even spoke because I can’t physically choke out any more words to her so I just ninja-creep into their room instead.
They are sleeping pretty deeply, which makes me happy and sad. While I listen to their rhythmic breaths I feel a tinge in my stomach. The thing about gut feelings is that they are there for a reason and I always try to ignore them. Tonight is different, though. There is a weird vibe in the air. I hear the footsteps of the witch in the hallway. Does anyone else call their mother-in-law a witch, I wonder. Her immediate departure from the living room just confirms to me that she only stayed up to notate what time I would walk in at. They’re a team, those two. Her and her son. She reports back dutifully, all the time, on my shortcomings. I turn to the closed bedroom door behind me and mouth, “good NIGHT, bitch!” I extra scrunched my face as I silently said it. It feels good. It feels like it’s against all the rules and rebellious. I needed it, especially right now because I’m in full panic mode and I can’t hug my boys. They always help me stay grounded. They help me stay here. My heart is in my throat and I realize I can’t stay in this room forever. I tiptoe back to the hallway, gently close their door behind me. My mind is against this but my body is spent. I can’t find any more courage in me right now.
I see him on the bed when I walk in. A touch of moonlight is seeping through the blinds and I marvel at the beauty before I turn towards the beast. He’s not happy. I see that immediately, even though he never is. My mouth is somehow conversing with him but I can’t remember what I said. Small-full-of-shit-talk that I forget as soon as they leave my lips. Then I’m brushing my teeth and putting some pajamas on. This is the best bedroom we have had so far, compared to all the others. It is set up pretty efficiently, long as opposed to wide. I tenderly sit on the bed and plug my phone in and while I’m following my nighttime routine, I don’t see him get up and walk to the closet area. Or is it his dresser?
There’s a folder in his hand when I look up. They match, him and the folder. Both plain, boring and deceiving of what is inside. My eyes dart from his hands to his eyes. He is speaking but I’m in a bowl. It’s like the Peanuts cartoon where the teacher is lecturing and nobody understands anything going on. Blah, blah, blah, blah, divorce papers. Blah, blah, blah, blah, I signed them already. Blah, blah, custody. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you won’t win 50/50. Blah, blah, you don’t make enough to support them. Blah, blah, blah, sign them now, blah, blah, or I’ll, blah, blah, blah. I am not listening but I hear it all. This is typical but he’s changed it up a bit. It’s just enough out-of-the-ordinary that I am terrified. The words seeped in like my cell signal was weak and I’m trying hard to fill in the blanks.
I won’t leave without my boys and so he argues with me about it. I go into the hallway after some unpleasant words hurled at me with every intention of walking into their room and packing a bag and walking out. My parent’s house is close. I’ll go there. They’ll take us in, of this I’m certain. But he’s behind me, closer than I anticipated. He pulls me back into the bedroom and shuts the door.
“Sign these right now. I’m not joking or playing around. Sign these or you’ll regret it.”
I’m angry and a smartass so I grab the pen out of his hand and walk over to the dresser where his stupid, plain-face-folder is sitting and I skip straight to the last page and find my name. I sign FUCK YOU, with my back to him. I slam the whole thing shut and I shove it in his chest. He doesn’t open it to check like I expected, just mutters some lame thank you or whatever. I walk around him and exit, turn right in the hallway, away from the kid’s room. The one stupid thing about this duplex is that the hallway is a giant circle, with a bathroom and laundry room in the middle. I turn left now and walk straight out the front door, barefoot with my heartbeat pounding in my ears. My heart is literally in my throat because now I’m scared that he’ll see what I signed so beautifully, in perfect cursive. Why didn’t I scribble it, at least? Make it unreadable? I could have put anything and told myself it was fuck you in Klingon. Why didn’t I do that? Why couldn’t I put my sun away for just one minute?
The grass is burnt and hurts my feet with its sharp blades. He stops me halfway through it and asks where I think I’m going. I already signed, albeit it not my name, on his stupid forms and I feel some bravery find its way to my mouth. I say a lot of things I’ve wanted to but I’m careful because I’m not trying to have the whole cul-de-sac see the shit beaten out of me. He’s starting to yell and grabs my arm, gripping tighter and tighter as I instinctively try to free it.
I’m furious. There is a fire growing in the pit of my stomach. This happens every time. I begin to get really angry at how he is treating me and this time, I feel it behind my eyes. I’m so over this. I cannot take one more day of it. I somehow break free of his death grip and run back inside, through the kitchen and to the utensil drawer. I hoped I was fast enough because I know I can’t waste any time looking behind me like this in scary movie. I rip the drawer open and my hand automatically goes to the steak knives. I blindly grab one and in two fell swoops I throw my left arm out and turn it wrist up. I run the knife hard down it, starting at my fleshy, fatty forearm and ending at my bony wrist. I want it to be deep, straight to the bone. Irreparable. Unforgivable. Hard. Quick.
Except, it wasn’t a steak knife. It was a fucking butter knife and now it’s too late because he’s there, wrestling it out of my hands. Tears begin to violently work their way from my toes up. Uncontrollable sobs are escaping my mouth silently and I crumple to the floor. My one chance thwarted, I have no energy to stand. He throws the butter knife in the sink, leans down, and hoists me back up to standing position. Drags me to the bedroom and lovingly places me in the bed we share, all while quietly saying whatever he wants to me.
“You stupid bitch. You thought you would get away that easy? You thought you could pull some shit like that when your kids are less than fifteen feet away? This is why you’ll never have custody of them. Just try to take them from me. I’ll tell any judge about this bullshit stint you just tried to pull. You aren’t safe. You are crazy because only crazy people try to kill themselves. Just remember that when you start to think you can pull some stupid shit again. You idiot,” he menacingly says as he caresses an errant hair from my face. Tender and threatening, gentle yet vile.
I mutely watch him walk over to the folder, remove the ten or so pages from it and rip them into shreds. As he finishes, my heart sinks to my stomach as I acknowledge that he will never lay eyes on my signed masterpiece.
**If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and don’t know where to find help, click any of the following links for help:
Whatcom County Residents: DVSAS
Outside of Whatcom County: National Domestic Violence Hotline and Website
Oh gosh. You did it. You clicked on this post to read my ideas on how to change something in your life, for whatever reason, because either you wanted to read this saying, “YOU DAMN HYPOCRITE,” and madly hit the X in whatever upper hand corner it appears in. Or because you think I deserve to give advice to anyone. Or maybe you’re just bored and it’s midnight on a Tuesday and you’re desperately crossing your fingers that this will be boring enough to put you to sleep.
Eek. No pressure.
All I’m doing is making a list of actual shit I’ve at least acknowledged as negatively affecting me and maybe that is the second step to fixing a problem. Or going to rehab. You never know!
Yeah, yeah. I don’t even need to explain it. You’re not continuing reading this thinking I’m going to give you some outrageous statistic that bitch-slaps you into realizing that by holding your phone, you’re holding hands with the devil. No wonder it’s called Apple.
I’m just saying, consciously recognize where your time goes. And if you’re one of those friends who thinks you don’t have a phone addiction, go ahead and pause your reading, go to screen time in your settings, and then think about whatever number of literal hours you see listed there. We can do better.
But don’t put it down yet. I’ve got more gems to share. And this is not permission to never respond to people’s texts or phone calls. FIND THE BALANCE!
Side note: my wife tells me to put my phone down a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I like to share our daily funsies but I think I’m getting better at choosing what and when and deciding when to put it away. With that said, nobody else tells me when to put my phone away and gets away with it. Not even my mother. So don’t even.
Yeah, it’s tough. I see it everyday. You ever feel like you’re talking to someone who just is not.hearing.you and you are getting frustrated? Well, brace yourself. Chances are, you have done it, too. I participated in an activity at a seminar once that I’d like to share. It’s pretty easy. Fairly eye-opening. You just need a counterpart. This helps you practice being engaged and active as a listener, which is essential for having real conversations. <– you know you’ve been a part of conversations that were really just someone else soliloquizing to you. Don’t front. Anyway, here is how it goes:
And if you don’t have anyone to practice with or are scared to ask because this is your first time and you get nervous, reach out to me. I’ll practice with you.
I know plenty of people who did or want to rid themselves of the social medias. Now, if you really want to, by all means. If you prefer one over the other, nobody says they’re beanie babies that you need to have a whole set of to matter. But if you’re just wanting to delete them because everything you’re seeing is negative, depressing, mean, etc, then it is time to evaluate who and what pages you are following. You are in control. I want to add that I also think it’s worthy to leave one or two sources of contention on your page so you aren’t oblivious to the stupid shit people say and do, but that’s just me. You do you.
Here is what I mean by this. I recently saw a quote (I know, they probably aren’t actually called memes. I’m just referring to the photo you can save that has inspirational ish on it, funny photos and odd captions that make you LOL, etc. I can call it what I want. You call it what you want), that said something to the effect of, I want to sit at tables that I’m not the topic of conversation of when I get up.
Dang. Can I get a HELLLLLLL YEAAAAAAH. Shitballs. That hit me like my fourth shot of tequila! I legitimately fist-pumped the air and felt instantly fired up! Who doesn’t want that? I mean, I was about to throw on my power hoops and my fave lipstick like it was a damn lava flower! You know, the one Super Mario eats? Watch out, lava balls coming your way!
Except, I also took a moment to think about the flip side, because being 37 can do that to you. Here you are aging, and also maturing! It’s the tits. When I reflected, I realized I’ve talked about people who have gotten up and left the table. Now, maybe my table is shorter and not full of directors. Yet. That doesn’t matter. I’ve still been guilty of this.
You hate excessive meetings? Don’t hold one after the initial one is over. You don’t like gossip? Don’t engage. Or better yet, say that. Literally say, “This conversation feels gossipy and I’m working on not doing that. I’m going to step away.” And I know that is awkward. I know it calls some people out. But damn it, I’m done tiptoeing around the boundaries I need to establish to make myself feel healthy. I empower you to do the same. And if you’re sitting there about to pop out of your damn chair because I’ve done this exact thing with you, just know this.I KNOW. I AM A HYPOCRITE WHO HAS DECIDED TO BE BETTER. Alright? Good.
There’s one thing about connecting with someone, which is empathetic. There’s another thing about making everything about you. And maybe you’re feeling called out right now. Well, lace that sneaker up and get close because I mean what I am about to say. This is important. And I don’t say this maliciously. I’m bringing awareness to it because you are still reading and maybe this might help. Chew this over. Think about it. And ask yourself the following:
It might sound something like this…
Person A: I feel crappy today. I haven’t pooped in a couple days. **Oh shit, no pun intended! Twice!**
Person B: I am so regular. I poop every morning.
Side note: Yes, I am always person B here. I KNOW!
Or it might sound like this…
Person A: I can’t believe Carol got that promotion over me.
Person B: I get skipped all the time because I refuse to play the politics, too.
Or like this…
Person A: I cooked some amazing fish and chips last night! I am so proud of them!
Person B: Oh, we make fish and chips all the time. They’re so easy.
See? What I’m saying is, sometimes, let up on you and be about them. Don’t be a B. I’ve practiced this a lot and let me tell you, it now stands out to me like a sore thumb (who came up with that? I’ve never really noticed anyone’s sore thumbs before), and I almost want to apologize (in fact, I think I have) on behalf of person B to person A before. It isn’t pretty.
This is one piece of advice that sounds easy to me but isn’t, in fact, easy to me. I love to say yes to the fun stuff. The wifey likes to plan ahead. Turns out me wildly agreeing to shenans all the time is probably giving her high blood pressure. When you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. That’s is what Shonda Rhimes taught me and while I still haven’t forgiven her for killing off Derrick, I see what she is saying. I AM WORKING ON IT, so you go work on it, too.
I’ll forever say this. If you know something makes you an ugly person or someone impossible to deal with, be it alcohol, video games, the political shit-show that is our country, instagramming your life, having your phone out all damn day, etc then MAKE.A.CHANGE.
Never let anything hold more power over you than you yourself hold. You’re too beautiful for that.
And last but not least…
When you can, be there. For the rallies. For those who need backup. For the hard fucking conversations. For when people are fighting for their life or saying goodbye to it. For when moms need their damn village. For when we need someone to show up and just sit uncomfortably with us without judgement. Show up for who is important to you.
And when you need someone, tell someone. <–That’s the hardest thing for me so if that sentence alone makes your throat squeeze shut tightly, I feel you. Let’s figure out how to ask for help also be willing to accept it. And let’s also figure out what isn’t working. Not for just those around us. For us, too.
Let’s do it together.