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Friday, 25 October 2013

To Thine Own Self Be a True Bitch

It's a little bit astonishing how self-destructive an assertive woman can be. I don't let anyone else tear me down, but I'm really good at doing it myself. The truly amazing thing about our minds is that we are what we think. There's no escaping self-hatred when it's all that you spew at yourself.

Just think for a minute about all the messages you give yourself every day. If you can't think of any off-hand, let me fill you in on a few of mine:

  1. I trip because my prescription medications make me a little dizzy sometimes. My self-talk? "God, you're such a klutz."
  2. I miss my boyfriend when he's not around. My self-talk? "You're so pathetic. Stop being so desperate and needy."
  3. My jeans get too tight. My self-talk? "Disgusting. You're fat and hideous. You better lose the weight right now."
  4. My body isn't perfect. My self-talk? "Why the hell would anyone want you?"
  5. Everything I do is on my computer. My self-talk? "You're such an anti-social loser. You're lazy and boring. You have no life."
Now, as a feminist I look at that self-talk in sheer horror. If a person actually spoke to me that way outside of my own head, they'd be out of my life so fast his or her head would spin. However, all is not lost, because I have managed to re-train my thought patterns to auto-correct the negatives. It's not a perfect system, and it's taken me years to get to that point, but it's better than allowing the negatives to remain. For example:
  1. It's because you're medicated, and besides it's kind of funny and unique. It gives you something interesting to talk about that has livened up your day a bit. As long as you don't kill yourself, it's all good.
  2. The whole point to being in a relationship is to open yourself up to someone. There's nothing pathetic about it, and it requires a great deal of courage to open your heart after everything you've been through.
  3. Concentrate on whether or not your diet is healthy. You just spent a month having to eat every two hours because of a low blood sugar issue, and exercising isn't an option right now with your injuries. The weight will come off. Besides, anyone who loves me for myself will still love me however I look - otherwise they're the jerk.
  4.  There isn't a single person in the world who has a perfect body. Anyone who expects perfection is an asshole. Love what your body has done for you and what you've accomplished because of it. You earned all of those marks and scars, and it shows that you're stronger than everything life has thrown at you.
  5. There's nothing wrong with being yourself and doing the things you truly enjoy. Never mind the fact that your work is all online. What difference does it make that you play computer games in your off time? It's a hell of a lot better than zoning out in front of a TV. At least you're still using your mind.
Where does the bitchy self-talk come from, though? Is it everyone that's doing it deep inside, or is it women who are sexualized and conditioned by the media? Well, I know it's not just women who do it. I've known a lot of men who were just as self-conscious about their appearance, or various other aspects of themselves. I present a pretty sympathetic ear to a lot of people, and people tell me things I know they're not comfortable revealing to most people. It's one of the reasons I'm able to contradict myself when I get rolling on a self-directed mean streak. Through the confessions of others I've learned a valuable lesson, which is that not one of us is perfect.

Nobody will ever be truly self-confident about every single thing. We all have our vulnerabilities. Whether we're concerned about physical characteristics, mental disorders, habits, or personality traits, there will always be something. Most people who do anything creative will feel vulnerable about their work. As many times as a writer, artist or musician is told how wonderful they are, however many accolades they might achieve, there will always be that little voice that wonders if we really deserve the praise. Whenever something new is created, there's the fear that people will hate it.

This lack of confidence comes from somewhere, though. Whether we were told by our parents that we were lazy, or got teased for our weight in school, there's a beginning to the voices in our heads. There it lies, dormant sometimes, until something triggers it. We might already be in a bad mood and feeling down, so we revel in making ourselves feel worse. Of course, the more we hear something the more embedded it becomes, and the more likely we are to believe it. A broken record. The initial voice can be lost to history and we hear nothing but our own, or maybe we hear that other person instead.

It can be very hard to buck the voices that tell us nasty things about ourselves. The truly scary part is that a lot of the messages we absorb are flat-out lies. So many of them are things that have been flung at us by someone else in an immature rage. They go to great lengths to say the most wounding thing possible, and they succeed beyond their wildest dreams. I learned a very long time ago not to do that to someone. Once the words are spoken there's no taking them back. It doesn't matter if what you said wasn't true - they will never really believe that you didn't mean it. They will absorb it into their subconscious and then they will taunt themselves with it whenever the situation seems appropriate.

All of it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, even if it's only within our own minds. If we see ourselves as physically inadequate, it bleeds into every aspect of our physical relationships. If we see ourselves as incompetent at our jobs, suddenly we're not performing as well as we could be. We worry to point where our fears might as well be true. The only solution is to break the pattern in any way that we can. That starts with acceptance of our own reality. Sure there are things that are real flaws, and we get down on ourselves for them, but the solution there is to fix what we can. There are some that can't be fixed, and if that's the case they're not really flaws but the reality of a living, breathing human being that's unique.

I'm not much for praying, since I'm more spiritual than specifically religious, but the serenity prayer comes to mind. Accept what you can't change. Change what you can. Understand the difference. Most important, however, is to know the difference between reality and self-hatred. Step outside yourself for the moment and be honest about whether or not you would criticize someone else for the things you're beating yourself up over. If you can't think of anything nice to say to yourself, try just asking yourself if you'd say something like that to anyone else. Not saying anything at all only works if you haven't already been mean to yourself.

We become our thoughts. Everything we are is what we think. Or, cogito ergo sum,"I think, therefore I am." René Descartes was a wise soul. He may have been talking about existence, but it applies to who we become as a person, too.

As for me, well, I occasionally feel like my subconscious has taken on the role of school bully, grabbing my arm and forcing me to continuously slap myself in the face whilst saying, "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" Now that's a provocation I can't resist, and I'm forced to fight back in any way that I can, because that bully is just not going to get away with it.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Love Stops Here...No Here! Now Where the Hell am I?

When we talk about love in a new relationship we often use the term 'falling in love' and it's a bit of a misnomer. Falling implies a drastic ending to the process, possibly resulting in a gruesome death or grotesque injury. To be fair that's occasionally true, but we'll try not to dwell on that.

As I was out walking today, grinning like an idiot because my head is kind of in the clouds these days, it occurred to me that the implication of falling in love is that (somewhere along the line) we know exactly when it becomes love, and that it doesn't go past that line. Is there a switch? What's the defining moment where you say, "Eureka - I've found it," and happily begin plotting a nefarious future with your partner in crime?

The reality of love is more that you continue falling for a really long time. I'd have to say that the day you stop falling into love is the day you start falling out of it. The longer we go on with a partner, the more we learn about them. We're not always going to like everything we learn, and it would be beyond tedious if we did, but we can only hope that the things we learn keep turning us on, rather than off.

The one recognizable point might be when we realize we can't imagine a life without the other person in it. We can feel this way about friends, too, but certain differences are obvious...like sex. Still, that point of true friendship is a bit of a key, I think. I've had relationships where I wasn't friends with the person I was in love with, though, and that's probably the reason the relationship didn't work. To be honest, I'm not sure I ever had a partner where they were my best friend at the time the relationship was going on - there was too much competition and combativeness, with a power struggle thrown in to really make things entertaining. I've had friends turn into lovers where the friendship disappeared, and I've had lovers turn into friends when the romance disappeared.

Well, I want the whole package now. I might actually get it, too, considering the whole 'head in the clouds' thing, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to this post. We're not really talking specifically about my love life, but rather an idea and understanding about the true nature of loving someone. A question has arisen in my mind, and as always it must be explored and answered. I'm kind of like a terrier that way - I just can't leave things alone once I sink my teeth into them. Throw in the corpses of relationships-past and we're stuck with a pretty gross image, but I still want my answers.

I'd say we don't really fall in love, but maybe drift into it and sometimes through it. The further we go toward the middle, the denser it gets, but if we're just passing through a portion of it we never really get the whole effect. It would be nice if we could always travel the longest distance through it, because it would be enough to keep a relationship going for a lifetime. Then there are the relationships that aren't on a linear projection at all, and veer sharply in one direction or another - like when a person cheats on a partner. They might have been swimming along nicely when suddenly one of them needs an ego boost that collides with a pretty, flirtatious face, or a handsomely formed bicep.

Let's go back to the part with the infatuation stuff. When we're young, and sometimes we never rid ourselves of this behaviour, we often cherish our rose-coloured glasses to the point of idiocy. The person you're mad about slammed their car into another one because the other driver ticked them off? Hey, no problem! They were just having an off day. Your crush is someone you met at the bar and they're considered a regular there? Oh, that's okay. Once they settle down all that will change. [Please note that I am holding up a very large sarcasm sign with flashing neon and a strobe light.] Apparently we all look pretty through pink lenses.

Often that infatuation stage is what we call 'falling in love' and it does imply that we haven't reach the love part yet. How true that is! You don't actually know the other person beyond your own perception of them. You haven't been slapped out of your delusions yet. It's very easy to pretend everything is perfect, because that's how we really want it to be. On the other hand some of us prefer a cold shower of reality as soon as humanly possible. It's a lot less painful in the end. We don't necessarily decide to end a relationship because of the reality, but at least we know what we're getting into.

Maybe you're wondering why this is important to me, which is a fair question. It's not simply that I'm facing these things at the moment, but also that I'd really like to make sure I don't screw things up in the future. I've made plenty of mistakes, and certainly have no trouble owning up to that, but if I don't look for my own answers as to why that happened...well...like history I am doomed to repeat it.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sexual Choices and the Numbers Game

I finally got a little bit more serious about dating recently. It only took me nearly six years, but I got around to it in the end. I know I've talked about dating, expressing my personal take on a whole list of shenanigans, but it's only been within the last week or so that I really put any kind of effort into it. When you stop to consider that I went on a total of 5 dates in just over 5 years, none of which resulted in a second date, I wasn't exactly tearing through them at the speed of light. I guess it's no surprise then, that I'm not the type to date more than one guy at the same time. In fact, I won't even talk to other potential dates if I'm already talking to someone in that capacity. I'm just not built that way.

So many people treat dating as a numbers game, and it's incredibly easy to do that when you go the route of online dating. After all, you set up a profile that's relatively anonymous, and you aren't forced to date people that live close to you where you might run into someone else you happen to be dating. Plus, you're able to carry on multiple conversations at once and then set up a dating schedule accordingly. Many people do it this way, which is fine for them I suppose but it's just too much work for me. Partly that's an honesty thing. You see, it's not really tactful to tell someone you're meeting three other potential partners that same night (or that week), and that you'll get back to them if there's 'still an opening' (tongue in cheek) when you've picked everyone over.

The alternative is to not say anything at all. While there really isn't an obligation to tell all your secrets to a person you've only had one date with, however, it still feels dishonest to me. It's just far less complicated to my way of thinking, to not have three other dates lined up. Maybe it sounds arrogant, but I'm considered fairly good dating material, so setting up three dates at a time falls under the heading of easy-peasy. To be fair, most women find dates pretty easily. The difficulty has more to do with the quality of dates.

Dating the way I do means that it can take a lot longer to find someone that's okay with waiting more than 24 hours before knocking boots. Whenever I've run into the less than patient ones I've gotten rather discouraged at the state of dating these days and thumbed my nose at it - for a while anyway. I don't consider myself a coward, or a person that gives up easily. Ergo, the dating horse gets ridden again - no, I'm not seeing a horse, though I do have them on my mind these days. You'll have to wait for an explanation on that one, as I do like to keep a few cards close to the vest.

Along with not wanting to treat dating as a numbers game, I have other conflicts. Call me complicated. To start with I'm a feminist who believes in sexual freedom. I feel everyone should have the choice to have sex at whatever point they want to, without being labeled for it. After all, if you want to wait you get labeled a prude usually. If you want to bang on the first date, woah...the word 'slut' rears its ugly head. Now, I'm not all that concerned with the opinions of others when it comes to any of my choices, sexual or otherwise, and if a man doesn't like the choice I make they're not the man for me anyway.

It's interesting to me that I might be labeled a prude because I like to get to know someone first, when I'm rather open-minded when it comes to actually doing the deed. I'm a feisty one. I just don't burn up the sheets with anyone and everyone who gives me an hour of their time. Admittedly there are reasons for that beyond shyness and simply learning to be comfortable with a person. I've got a past that has built certain kinds of walls around me, and those of you who have been reading my blog for some time already know about that past so I won't bore you with a new iteration.

So, if I were to be labeled a prude for waiting to have sex, what do we call a person who jumps into bed with someone and doesn't put any effort or interest into it? Doesn't sound like a hot tamale to me, so I'm not sure why that would be a sought-after prize. Sure, if someone is merely looking to gouge another notch in the bed post that might be adequate. Instant gratification for our desires, however, tends to fall flat. Sometimes anticipation is a far greater aphrodisiac than people can imagine. Not to mention the fact that the anticipation can be heightened by conversations about sex beforehand. If you're at all liberated you can discuss some of the things you enjoy and take out a bit of the awkwardness when you finally do get down to it.

Luckily my own version of the numbers game, wherein I talk to and see one person at a time, seems to have worked out for me. No guarantees, of course, but many hours of phone conversations combined with spending a bit of time together, has so far resulted in a fair bit of intrigue on my part. Guess we're off to the races.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Canadian Plot Thickens - U.S. Takeover Imminent

It has recently been discovered that there is a new game afoot within the Canadian population. Jealous and malcontent, the almost 35 million citizens of Canada have been scheming for the last five years to make a few changes to North America. Canadians are tired of their free healthcare and personal freedoms, and they want what the Americans enjoy on a daily basis. The constant refrain of, "Who are you to tell me I deserve basic medical care," echoes loudly in the streets, Canadians being the militant people that they are.

What exactly have they done to ensure this takeover? Well, they started with demanding Ted Cruz fulfill his patriotic duty to the country where he was born, and they gave him a list of things he needed to accomplish. The results of these tasks were readily seen as of October 1st, 2013, when the United States government was shut down. The delay of Obamacare was just a bonus. Affordable healthcare rather defeats a lot of the purpose in taking over America, after all.

When questioned (with a great deal of incredulity on the part of the interviewer) why on earth Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, would instigate these measures, he calmly responded by saying, "Well, we messed up, and quite frankly they have what we want." The reporter went on the ask if perhaps oil might be an issue, he replied, "No, no. We have plenty of our own."

"What about forestry or mining?" Harper shook his head in exasperation at her naivete, "Nope. We keep stripping the trees and the damn things just keep growing back - what would we want with more of them? As for mining, have you seen our diamonds? I mean, they're ranked as the best in the world. Cruelty-free don'tcha know. What it all comes down to is this; no Canadian citizen wants to be taken care of by their government. It's makes us feel like babies. We're a tough lot. We'd rather be left to fend for ourselves. Not one citizen wants health care or the freedom to marry whomever they choose. They certainly don't want the freedom to make personal decisions about their bodies. Imagine! Women actually wanting access to birth control? Puh-lease. Religious freedom is a thing of the past, too.

"No, the whole thing has to come down, and the only way to do that is to take control of the American government. We'll oust every one of them damn liberals trying to help out the other 98%. That nonsense has got to stop. They can have the sex, they can make the babies, and then the babies can go to work, too. Then we can bring back the manufacturing plants from overseas. We'll have all the cheap labour we want - no more outsourcing, and better for the economy all around."

By this point in the interview the reporter was starting to understand, her head nodding in unconscious agreement.

"So, basically, now that the government is shut down you're just going to waltz in there and take over, I guess. What about the queen, though? Won't she have something to say about all this?" Harper chuckled.

"Have you seen the mess they've got over there with their National Health Service?"