Saturday, December 13, 2014

Toys For Tots Fundraiser Year 6!

***NOTE: THIS POST WILL REMAIN AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG UNTIL I'M DONE WITH THE FUNDRAISER. Scroll down for new posts. :D ****


 
It's Toys for Tots time! For the SIXTH YEAR in a row!  :) WE HAVE ABOUT THREE WEEKS AGAIN THIS YEAR. Next year I'll be starting earlier, again, hopefully. Life needs to stop sucking so much but that's irrelevant currently. ON TO THE TOYS FOR TOTS GOODNESS!

Every year I donate some toys to Toys for Tots. I pick and choose other things to donate to as well through out the year. I don't think I can make a big dent of change in the world but I can do little things to make things a little better for other people. Be it with toys during the holidays, money for food, donating clothing, etc. I bitch about things that I wish I could fix but really, all that bitching does nothing if you're not willing to step up and do something to help make it better. So, I do what I can when I can to help out. It makes me feel good to know I've done something good and I help out with a lot of different things.

In 2009, I got an idea to do a Blogger Toys for Tots Fundraiser. I got the idea damn late it the year though so there wasn't much time to work with for Toys for Tots. I did it again in 2010 , in 2011 in 2012  and last year in 2013 as well. And now I'm doing it again this year. Don't know what that is? Let me inform you before I get on with the rest of the post.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity is the fund raising, funding and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation was created at the behest of the U. S. Marine Corps and provides support in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, who directs the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation has supported Toys for Tots since 1991.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Like I said, I donate something every year. Sometimes in toys and sometimes in money. Sometimes more and sometimes less. Sometimes I don't have much money to spare but I do a little bit anyway because I know even if I'm hurting a little, some little kid and their family is hurting more. I prefer doing toys, though. I like going in to a store and picking out toys that I know will make some little kids happy. I never see the kids who get these but I always wonder if they liked what they got or if they were just happy for something, anything.

In 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and last year in 2013, I did a Fundraiser for Toys for Tots on my blog. The results were far better than I had expected in 2009 and they were amazing in 2010 and surprised me yet again in 2011, 2012 & 2013. I was beyond touched at all of the help and support I got. I got so many people who donated little amounts and it all added up to so many toys that I went and purchased. I take plenty of pictures and get it well documented on the blog because it's important to me (and lots of you!) to get pictures to show that I was doing as I said I would. I had so much fun going to get the toys in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013. This year, I'm doing it again. :)


The final results from 2009: Here
The final results from 2010: Here

The final results from 2011: Here 
The final results from 2012: Here
The final results from 2013: Here


If you want to see more posts with more details and pictures, then just click here or go to the Toys for Tots tab at the top of the blog on the tabs section.


On the right side of this blog on the side section above my profile, you will find that there is a PayPal donation button there. There's also a Toys For Tots tab up above that.  The email address you can paypal donations to is amorousrocker [at] gmail [dot] com. Easy peasy, eh? :)



If you want to donate money to help buy toys for Toys for Tots, just use that or CLICK HERE.

I will take all the money that gets donated and go buy toys. For proof that I'm doing what I say I'll be doing with the donations, there will yet again be pictures of the toys as I buy them and pictures of all those said toys being loaded into the car and more upon being delivered to a Toys for Tots location once I'm done with the fundraiser.

I know with the economy being what it is, things are rough for a lot of people (myself and my boyfriend included) BUT if you can spare $5 that would be enough. With $5 I can buy an action figure, toy cars, Legos, a stuffed animal, various kinds of dolls, PlayDoh sets and various other things. $5 will buy a toy and in some cases more than one toy. I can get 8 or 9 Hot Wheels cars on $10 so no amount would be too small. If 15 people donate 5 dollars, I have $75 and that will buy quite a few toys to brighten a child's day. You can do something to help and leave all the work up to me.

Like I said, I know life financially sucks for a lot of people right now. If you can give just a little bit though, you'll be making someone happy and doing something good. It's not that big of a deal to let go of $3 or $5 to a great and very worthy cause.

And yes, I know Christmas isn't about the toys and other presents but imagine being 7 and not looking forward to waking up Christmas morning because Santa couldn't bring you anything this year. It's a bummer.

If you want, please feel free to post about this on your blog with links and send people over. I would appreciate that quite a bit. If you do pimp this post out on your blog, email me after you do so with the post link so I can include you in a post that's to come later on. Also feel free to tweet about it or post it on Facebook. A few dollars from a lot of different people goes a long way. :)

This post will stay at the top of the blog for quite a while. Actually, it will be up at the top until the time I'm done with the fundraiser. The cut off date to take donations via paypal will be December 10th. I'll go shopping and deliver the toys by the 13th. I know that there isn't a lot of time for this (as I touched on previously) this year but any amount is better than nothing at all in my opinion.

There's also a tab Toys for Tots at the top of the blog if you want to go check out all the previous posts and pictures from the previous two years.



The tab just has pretty much what this post has plus links to the posts I did last year including all of the pictures as well as a donation link.



Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Toys For Tots & The Great Online Cookie Exchange!

Before I get to the cookie recipe I'm sharing today....

Just a reminder that TOMORROW is the FINAL DAY to donate to my Toys for Tots Fundraiser, if you haven't already but want to. No amount is too small, even $5 will help make a difference! :)

Now, on to my contribution to the Great Online Cookie Exchange! BIG THANKS to Jz for putting together and organizing this awesome recipe fest each year. 

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies


Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling dough)
Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until well blended, about two minutes. Add the egg and molasses and beat until light in color and well blended, another minute or so. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 1 tablespoon-size balls and roll each ball in the granulated sugar. Place the balls on cookie sheets (12 per sheet). Bake for 10 minutes – the cookies will look puffed up and have cracks, which is the way they should look; they will deflate as they cool. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then move to cooling racks. 


Don't forget to visit the other Cookie Exchange participants!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I miss her.

It's been 5 months since my friend's suicide.

Tomorrow would be her 30th birthday so I've been thinking about her a lot the last few days. There won't ever be a Whirlyball party or a super nerdy Cosplay party or any other event or conversation again. No baking her any birthday cupcakes. No card. Nothing. No goofy banter. No random talks. No weird little messages. Just nothing. The random conversations and dumb little jokes is what I miss the most.

I miss her sassy little smile and her wit and the weird things we used to joke about. I haven't been bothered by it much lately but significant dates and events of deceased loved ones are always tough. Especially the first ones you go through after they're gone. And then I think about how awful her family must feel, how much they must be hurting with her being gone and I feel terrible for them. I know how I feel and can't even fathom how they must feel. I haven't deleted my friend from my facebook yet so I've seen every time a family member posts how much they miss her. It was one of them posting something this evening about her birthday coming up tomorrow that set me off tonight.

I feel like I should be fine by now, that I should be passed the tears and the hurt. And mostly I am but there's still some part of me that hurts so much when I think about or am reminded of her. Though it doesn't happen every time. Sometimes I will see or hear something that reminds me of her and I just smile. When it hurts though, it's this raw space that feels like a wound that just won't heal. Then I go through all the emotions again. Crying because I'm sad and miss her. Angry because she would still be here if she hadn't pulled a trigger. Guilty for getting angry because I so completely understand that mental illness is a bitch. Then I'm sad again and overwhelmed because it's so much to feel and it always rushes over you quickly. Like a sucker punch that hits you hard in multiple places simultaneously.

Suicide is hard. If it's something you humor the idea of or think about at all, please reach out and get help. You might feel like no one cares but if you're gone, you'll leave behind people like me. People that will miss you more than you might think possible. People that will cry for you. People that will be left with memories and pictures. People that will wish they could hug you and laugh with you and plan with you and celebrate birthdays with you and have the dumbest most pointless conversations in the world with you. People that will wish they could say things to you that they didn't get to say because they didn't realize that last time was their last chance. People that will feel pain so raw and so deep that it will reduce them to a sobbing aching mess sometimes.

No matter how alone you feel or how much you're hurting, it can get better. Not even just for those people that you'll be leaving behind but for yourself. You're worth it and you're not beyond fixing. You aren't broken. You aren't ruined. There's no shame in not being able to overcome things on your own. We all need help sometimes and that's nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.

And as I've stated in previous posts, that's said as someone who has been there and someone that still struggles sometimes.

If you're struggling in any way, talk to someone. That first step, that decision to reach out for help and making yourself do it is the scariest part. Talk to a teacher, a friend, a coworker, a parent, a sibling, an aunt, your partner, a professional, anyone you feel safe and comfortable talking to. You can email me if you can't or don't want to talk to someone you know. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and talk to them. If you'd rather chat online, 7 Cups Of Tea is a free, confidential online one-on-one or group chat with a real people there to listen and help you.

It can get better.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Much to her surprise. I'm not a lesbian.

One of my new coworkers was surprised to find out I have a boyfriend. Not because I'm hideous looking or because I'm a horrible person. She assumed I'm a lesbian. The logic (and I use that word incredibly loosely) behind her theory was very special.

Her: "You like sports, like a lot. Like you seem to know baseball and hockey better than the guys here do. And plus you drink scotch and that's a total man thing. Plus you listen to metal music and like muscle cars and you're into shooting archery. And you dislike shopping and don't like chick flicks. And you don't seem feminine really very much. Plus your Nike's look like they're men's Nike's. I mean not like you're manly but you're not girly at all and seem pretty tomboyish like you'd be better off being like in a guy's body, you know? So I really thought you were a lesbian." 

Just.... really? A person's interests, dislikes and personality in general does NOT indicate what they're sexuality is. Also, I did at length explain why her assumption was stupid, offensive and horribly problematic. I'm pretty sure she hates me now but I think I'll be able to live with myself. Also, quite happy in my current womanly body and definitely do not wish I were a man. Getting erections at random times and no longer having boobs anymore? No thanks, I'm fine here because this works for me and I'm good with who I am. I'm a big fan of doing what works for you, what makes you comfortable and what makes you happy. As long as you're not hurting yourself, hurting others or doing something that could cause potential harm. 

I have never understood why things have to be sectioned off as "boy things" and "girls things." I think that's partly because I grew up as a girl that had little interest in the "girl things" I was supposed to like and much more interest in the "boy things" that weren't for me. Gender binary can go die in a fire now, thanks.

Growing up, I liked LEGO's and Ghostbusters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman were idols of mine. I liked sports. I liked music. I liked painting. I had an obsession the trains (that still exists to this day.) I loved books. I liked building things with my hands and science sets were rad, too. I liked the color purple. I loved art. I loved monster trucks. I liked playing outside and getting dirty. I liked hanging out on the garage floor with my grandpa while he worked on cars. I liked doing crafts. I was fascinated with pirates and dragons instead of the princesses I was supposed to be interested in. I pretended to be a Ghostbuster, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or Batman in whatever made up fantasy game I was playing with siblings or friends. I loved stuffed animals. It's not like I didn't like "girl things" just on some kind of principle because there were things considered as "girl things" I did like. I remember being a kid and wondering why it was weird for girls to want to play with Tonka trucks or why boys weren't supposed to want an Easy Bake Oven. It always made sense to me that you should like what you like as long as it makes you happy but that's not what society told you back then. It's largely still not what it tells you today, sadly. 

Bless my parents, they didn't try to push stuff off on me that I didn't care for. They stopped buying me dolls and other "girl things" and just let me have the things I was interested in instead of the things I was supposed to be interested in. Sometimes those were "girls things" and sometimes they were "boy things." I called them toys and hobbies. I know, weird.

So hearing my cw explain to me why she just assumed I was a lesbian brought me back to that. I do love sports and have since I was a little kid. I was also an athlete growing up and happened to play all of my favorite sports at one time or another. I'd hope I'd have a pretty good understanding of the games given the time spent playing and the even longer amount of time spent watching. Girls like sports, too. I swear it's not some trick and no, we're not all trying to impress the mens by liking sports and showing off our sports knowledge. Some of us (and there are a lot of us, I can direct you to tons of avid sports fans on Twitter that identify as female) just really enjoy sports, k.

I get that because of movies and television there are things considered as "man drinks." Men drink beer. Men drink scotch. Men drink whiskey. If it's a brown liquor, men put that in a glass and knock that right back. SO DO WOMEN. I'm not the only woman I know who can enjoy a nice glass of whiskey. 

And yes, I wear men's Nike's because it's really fucking hard to find women's running shoes I like that aren't doused in colors I hate. If I'm paying $70+ for some shoes, I'm going to LOVE the way they look as much as I love the way they feel on my feet. 

I'm not listing out why every example she used to come to a conclusion about my sexuality because no matter what else was used as an example, it's not indicative to how I identify my sexual orientation. 

I'm bisexual so don't think I'm ranting because she assumed I was a lesbian and OHMYGOSH HOW DARE SHE. But really, how dare she drop her jaw and let her eyes fly open in surprise at the mention of my boyfriend that she assumed I didn't have because I'm like a totally masculine tomboy brochick who obviously wishes she were a guy so obviously I like girls? Because every dude on the planet only wants women and if you're not a heterosexual female it's apparently because you wish you were a man but you're in deep denial or some such bullshit. I digress. I'm mainly irritated this way of thinking is STILL so prevalent in today's society. I know I'm not alone in thinking you should like what you like, as long as you're not doing harm to yourself or others, as long as it makes you happy.

 Aside from assigning things as appropriate based on your gender, another issue I have is assuming because a person's personality doesn't fit the mold here then they obviously belong there. I'm not girly enough so obviously I'm not heterosexual. I'm not but that's not an indicator to make a judgement off of. Being an "ultra feminine" woman  is not a sign of being heterosexual anymore than being a woman who is "tomboyish" is a sign of a women being gay. 

All of these silly preconceived notions about how people should be this way or should be that way or vice versa are really insane. You really can feel like there's something wrong with you when so many people and so much of what you see around you is telling you the way you are isn't right. That can be horribly confusing and quite damaging to a person.

There's no set way to be. There are no guidelines that say if you like these things and act this way then you go here in this box. But if you act this way and like these things, please go here instead. If everyone were meant to be the same way, we would be. We're not, so it shouldn't be so difficult of a concept for people to grasp or accept.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It Can Get Better....

**Trigger warning: suicide**

My mom's birthday was yesterday. I realized last night that I had several more people to get birthday cards for in the next few months. My sister's birthday is next month, my dad's is in December, my youngest brother's is in January and I have a small handful of friends and a couple coworkers all with birthdays coming up in the next few months. I got the clever idea that I should make a quick list so as not to forget anyone and then go buy all the cards I need for the next few months all at once so I don't have to run to the store in the name of birthday cards nine times over the next few months. I also wouldn't have to worry about having to run out last minute in case I ended up losing track of the days and then remembering, "hey I need to send so-and-so a card because they're birthday is two days away!"

So I got my list together, double checked to make sure I wasn't forgetting anyone I planned on sending one to and then set off to get what I needed.

I love sending cards and letters. I'm one of those weird people that still enjoys hand writing out letters and thank you notes and sending them off in the mail. I almost always write an extra little note inside of cards I send because there's almost always something missing that I want said in whatever card I find. 

Sometimes, I hate looking through cards, though. Sometimes, I'm looking through cards looking for a specific one. In this instance, the birthday card for my sister. Then it springs to mind that, hey, Amanda's birthday is the same day as my sisters is! I think for a second I need to get her one too and then I remember that no, no I don't need to get her one because she's been dead since she killed herself this passed June. And then I'm standing in Hallmark with tears rushing down my face while I stand in front of a row of cards that I can't really see anymore. I'm sad and I'm crying and I'm trying to stop and I feel so grateful I have on a hat that covers half of my face and relieved the ladies in that store leave you alone unless you need their help and angry at myself for breaking down in public and sad again all because I can't buy my friend a birthday card because she's gone. 

So I leave without getting anything because I can't stop crying and I don't like to cry in public. I don't like to cry in front of people I know. Mostly I don't want to make a scene and don't want to explain to strangers why I'm standing in Hallmark with tears rushing down my face and I needed quiet and solitude to get myself calmed down again. So I sit in my car for 10 minutes. I think about just driving the four minutes back to my apartment but I'm stubborn and want to get what I came out for. I feel like I'm letting myself down if I go home, letting my emotions and anxieties chase me back home without completing a task. I don't want to let these things rule me, so I don't. I'm fine. So, I let myself finish crying until it doesn't feel like there's a gaping hole in the my stomach. I open my door and splash my face with water from a bottled water I had with me. I turn on some loud rock music and I take some long, deep, calming breaths and then I'm fine again. I go back in, get an odd look from the lady at the counter and I smile and she does a strange little head bow and smiles at me as I get back to buying cards. 

Suicide is hard. Death is hard enough on it's own but suicide makes something hard and makes it even harder to cope with. You're in denial because no, no, no, my friend/loved one is fine and would never do that. Even if they weren't fine, this can't be right because they wouldn't kill themselves. They have friends, they have families, they seem happy and content with life. Or they're struggling but they have family and friends and people that care about them, people that love them, people that would do anything within their power to move the whole fucking Earth to make things better or at least more bearable. There's no way they would do that. You'd know, you'd be able to tell, right? Right? Wrong. 

You wonder why they would've done this. You don't understand. Amanda didn't leave any kind of note explaining anything. From what I've come to understand, most whom commit suicide don't leave any kind of thought out note explaining or saying goodbye. The hardest part with reaching acceptance of their death is accepting that you'll just have to accept that they're gone without understanding why they took their life.

I cried a lot in June after Amanda's death. News of her suicide came just a few hours after I'd gotten home from celebrating my birthday and Father's Day with my family and boyfriend. I was having a party the following weekend that she was going to attend. I struggled a lot the first few weeks. Then I cried less. Then I didn't cry at all. Then the realization I wouldn't need to buy her a birthday card and wouldn't have to worry about getting her a gift for the awesome birthday party that was planned months in advance was the first time I'd cried over her death since the first week in September.

I don't know if she thought death would be easier. I don't know if she couldn't bear the thought of living life anymore after the events that lead up to her taking her life. I don't know if she was thinking her kids would be better off. I don't know if she just panicked. I don't know if thought and planning went into it. I don't know if she was just that depressed. I don't know if any of the things that I've turned over in my head after her death were thoughts she had or not. 

I do know that suicide isn't the answer. I'm not just speaking as someone that has lost someone to suicide, or someone that has lost two people she cared deeply for to suicide but also as someone who has thought about it and fought through depression more than once. 

I stood on a bridge once when I was 17 and thought about climbing the rails and jumping. I stood there, running my hands over the cold metal and looking down into the waters below me and thought I could just climb over, jump and nothing would hurt anymore. I've always loved bodies of water; they're calming to me. I leaned over the railing, listening to waves crashing and water churning and I felt like pushing myself over it and letting myself drown would be the most fitting way for me to go. I remember thinking it like it was the most logical thing in the world because at the time, I was a mess and just didn't want to live anymore. I was about to climb the rail when a cop car pulled up and the officer got out slowly, calling out to me. I remember how slowly he approached me, how soothing he sounded and how angry I instantly became because I knew he was ruining everything for me. It was late at night and he was curious why a young girl was out so late, by herself, hanging out on the bridge. I knew he knew what I was thinking of doing and he stood there with me, asking me if my family knew where I was at this hour. He made a few jokes and told me I needed to get on home. He followed me as I left. He followed me and made sure I actually went back home. I cried myself to sleep that night because I was so angry and sad and hurt. I cried until I couldn't breath anymore, my face buried in a pillow, my fists clenched and punching the mattress. 

I decided then I couldn't commit suicide. Not because I suddenly wanted to live but because I couldn't do that to my family. I couldn't hurt them that way and I resented them for that. So, my depression got worse, I started drinking more and doing drugs a lot more. I smoked weed and took Xanax I got from a coworker as often as I could. I moved out and moved in with a friend who was a drug addict himself. We had neighbors who were big partiers. I did more drugs. I drank way more. I didn't want to kill myself anymore because I spent so much time high so I wouldn't hurt anymore. Until I came down, felt worse and wanted to die all over again. It was the worst cycle in the world.

I contemplated suicide occasionally still but then I'd just get high or take a few drinks from a bottle and I'd feel "better" again and then I wouldn't think about how I wanted to die anymore. Then one day, I met this guy. He was waiting in an office with me to do a job interview and I remember we were sitting there together, not saying much at all, then he suddenly looked at me and asked, "so why are you so sad?" I remember blinking at this guy a half dozen times trying to figure out what his deal was. He shrugged and said, "I'm a mess, I guess I recognize it in others." I just shrugged. Then this guy starts telling me that he applied for this job because he was starting over. He told me he had been really depressed and had tried to kill himself. He told me he had tried to jump off of a bridge but had figured it wrong and ended up landing wrong, breaking both of his legs instead. He was recovered and it would be the first job he'd had in a while because of that. He waited for me to talk. I just stared at him, goosebumps on my skin, not really capable of saying anything even if I had wanted to. This kid jumped from the same bridge I had only months ago contemplated hurling myself over. I've never believed in coincidences but I couldn't figure this out. We both ended up getting hired and we started working together a week later. He only worked there for six weeks but in that six weeks, he talked to me a lot about suicide and depression. It took me about a month to realize I didn't really want to die anymore. Not just because I didn't want to hurt my family but for a ton of other reasons. I don't even remember his name. I wish I could because I wish I could tell him thank you for saving me from myself. It sounds cliche but I was planning on trying again. I was trying to figure out ways I could do something to where it seemed like an accident and not suicide. My family would still be hurt but it wouldn't be as bad as losing someone to suicide. In the weeks I worked with that guy, he spent a lot of time talking at me, even though I often didn't say anything back to him at all. Then one night, I remember getting high with my then boyfriend and then sobbing into his shirt because I didn't want to die. I remember telling him everything and all he did was hold me while I ugly sobbed and came undone. I stopped thinking I'd be better off dead. Unfortunately it took quite a while longer to stop using drugs to get me through the day. It took years before I stopped abusing substances to make myself feel "better" but I got there, eventually. 

That was the first period of my life where I very seriously considered suicide a viable option and unfortunately, it wasn't the last. However, I'm still here and suicide is not something I entertain the idea of anymore. Currently, I'm struggling with issues that I'm not really ready to openly talk about here yet. I'm not ashamed of them and I'm not too scared to discuss them. I'm just not ready to put it all out there. I feel like when I understand it all better, I'll be more willing to discuss it in a more open venue.

Some days I think about the periods in my life where I thought I should just kill myself and I'd like to punch that silly girl. I'd also like to hug her and let her know how much strength she really had despite how pathetic and weak she thought she was. 

It can get better. Some days, it will suck. Some days, it feels like everything is wrong. Like nothing you do is right. Like nothing is moving forward in a better direction. Those days happen and you can't beat yourself up over them. You can't get stuck in those days.

No matter how alone you feel or how much you feel like absolutely no one in the world could possibly care or understand what you're going through, you are not alone. There are people out there who will understand or at least try to understand. There are people out there who will offer you empathy and support because they genuinely want you to feel better. Those people could be friends, family members, professional health care workers, a trusted co-worker, someone in an online support group or a stranger on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Hell, you can email me and I'll talk to you. Just talk to someone. Suffering in silence doesn't help. You deserve better than that. You're worth more than that. 

Getting help doesn't make you weak. You don't have to be ashamed or afraid. You're not wrong. You're not broken. You're not beyond repair. Your mental illness and issues do not define who you are as a person. Whatever you're facing, it can get better.

Friday, October 24, 2014

You are not entitled to your partner's body.

Recently, a discussion occurred between myself, another female and two males. I decided I wanted to blog about it and they were all fine with it as long as I didn't use their real names or give any specific details about where we were and such. I can easily do that.

Trigger warning for rape and assault.

The four of us were hanging out together and Britney* was pretty out of it and obviously either very tired or not feeling well. Thomas* asked her what was wrong and she Britney replied that she had barely gotten any sleep last night. She has a minor addiction to binge watching Netflix, even on nights where she has to be up early the next day. Eric* and I gave her a hard time about not getting enough sleep and made jokes about her binge watching. She exclaimed, "Oh my gosh guys, I wasn't binge watching any shows last night! Damian* (her boyfriend) kept me up late last night because he wanted sex. Twice."

Eric shook his head and told her she should say no once in a while when she knows she needs to get more than a few hours of sleep.

Britney rolled her eyes and said, "well, telling him no doesn't work. I do that a lot but he just does what he wants anyway."

Before I could even get my mouth open, Thomas was already speaking.

"Britney, that's not cool. That's wrong. He needs to listen when you tell him no."

Britney: "No, it's fine. I mean I say no and try to push him away but he keeps trying and will start kissing on me and touching me so I give in and do it anyway."

Thomas: "Nope. That's wrong. He shouldn't do that."

Britney: *rolls her eyes* "Like you've never done something like that before."

Thomas: "No. Never. When my wife says no or indicates that she doesn't want sex, that's it. The end. Stopped and done. Right then and there."

Britney: *rolls eyes* "Well, aren't you the saint. But I'm sure Eric knows what I mean."

Eric: "No, I don't rape women and that's what your boyfriend is doing to you. Every time he doesn't stop when you tell him to, he's doing something wrong. I stop when I'm told to stop. It sucks sometimes and obviously it can get frustrating but no means no. No doesn't mean you get to do it anyway because you're in a relationship with someone."

At this point, I want to hug both of them for being fantastic. Although I realized at her next eye roll that it wasn't setting in with her that what her boyfriend does IS wrong.

Britney: "You guys don't get it. Ashly, I'm sure you've had this happen before?"

Me: "My boyfriend understands no. He never pushes or whines or gets angry when I say no. He understands no means no. And other guys I've seriously dated haven't ever forced themselves on me either. I've had a couple guys that tried to push once I said no but I always managed to fend them off, get myself away from them and then never saw them again. If you say no and then someone forces themselves on you anyway, that's rape."

Britney: "It's not rape. He's my boyfriend."

Me: "It IS rape. He needs to stop when you say no. It doesn't matter why you say no. It doesn't matter why you're declining sex. No is no is no. It's that simple. As soon as he starts kissing and touching you after you've said no and tried to push him away, he's in the wrong. He's not respecting you and doesn't care about what you want."

Thomas: "Exactly. He cares about what he wants over what you want. He sees you as a thing that belongs to him to do with what he wants when he wants with no regard to what you want. That's wrong. That's abuse."

Me: "Being in a relationship with someone does NOT entitle them to your body any and every time they want access. It doesn't entitle you access to their body any and every time you want it. You can say no to someone you're dating and they should be able to stop and respect your wishes. It doesn't matter how bad he wants it, if you say no, it means no."

Eric: "Exactly. He isn't allowed to pressure you into doing something you don't want to do. He shouldn't take it personally. It's not like you don't want him, you just don't want sex sometimes and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not going to tell you to break up with him but you need to explain this to him. You need to tell him he doesn't have that power over you. And if he can't respect that and learn to stop when you say stop without pressuring you, pushing you, or doing what he wants anyway, you need to get the hell out of that relationship."

Britney sat there quietly, staring at us all. Then she was crying which led to sobbing. She said she didn't understand because she was always taught that if men wanted sex, you gave it to them, even if you didn't feel like it. That people still have this mentality is infuriating to me. 

YOU ARE NEVER ENTITLED TO SEX. NEVER.

You did something nice? Cool. 

You purchased a gift for no reason? Cool. 

You helped them out of a jam? Cool.

You remembered to take out the trash every time it needed to go for a month? Cool.

You planned an elaborate night out? Cool.

YOU'RE STILL NOT ENTITLED TO ANOTHER PERSON'S BODY. 

Spending money, buying things, doing chores, being in a relationship? None of that means you're guaranteed sex whenever you want it. If your partner says no, it means no. 

You don't get to pout, whine, pressure, guilt, manipulate, threaten or force them into sex anyway. That's abuse and that's wrong wrong wrong.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Words.

You can turn the same words over in your head a hundred times, repeating them like a mantra, hoping one more time will make them sink in. If you say them to yourself enough times, you'll adjust to them, accept their truth and begin digesting what they really mean.

But sometimes, it takes speaking those words out loud to make them glow bright and real.

Even though the biggest part of you understands the reality of the situations you find yourself in, there's always some part holding on to hope, holding on to the idea that it's not real. Maybe you're just having a nightmare that feels like it has gone on forever but then you'll wake up and order is restored and everything is alright again. Not perfect because life never is.

Words are rarely ever "just words" without meaning. They're representative of thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories and events. Even words said without thought aren't entirely without meaning.

No matter how many times you've said these words over to yourself, trying to force them to stick, sometimes it takes saying them to another person to make the realization sink in. To make it real. It takes hearing the noise leaving your lips for that blow to come followed by that wave of clarity that lets you know you're not just stuck in a nightmare.