Today’s F’in Topic: Slut-Shaming

Friday is a special day for me–let’s call it Fucking Friday. Because it’s the freakin weekend, baby–and i’m not having fun.

I couldn’t sleep last night (surprise) so I trolled the internet because that’s one of the things I do best. At the 5am golden hour, I received a text message from the guy I was supposed to be going on a date with tonight. He informed me that he had some bad allergic reaction and could not make the date. My gut reaction was to attempt a joke at my being allergic to bullshit, but I held my tongue.

He and I spent the better part of this week furiously messaging each other with “let’s get to know each other” questions, comments and jokes. We got along famously. I actually found myself excited, particularly after I re-read the article Fuck Yes or No by Mark Manson. Was my would-be date a fuck yes? Not exactly. But my willingness and desire to get to know him fell under that category for sure.

So he backs out of the date. Red flag. After this occurs, we begin to talk in depth about random things, one of them being former dating partners. This may seem too soon to some, but keep in mind he and I had talked non-stop for a week. He told his parents about me. He “showed off” my picture to co-workers and friends. We exchanged vulnerabilities in order to move the process along–at least, I did. Something clicked, though, 10 minutes into this early-morning chat. I all of a sudden began to get really honest about my past. About recovery. About where I’ve been and how I was. About my proclivity for fucking. This did not go over well. In fact, my honesty caused him to take a “pause.” He explains–over text–that I should feel “sympathy” for him to “process” this information. My exact words he processed: “The number of men I’ve had sex with would make you gasp, but I still don’t know shit about men. I said it because I have a considerably dark past and I am not ashamed of that. I did things drunk that I would never in my right mind do sober. <<silence>> I would understand if this gives you pause.” His response: “It does. I won’t pretend I’m not upset by this verbiage. I’m processing. I am more upset that you won’t let me process this.” The exchange continues with more awkward silences and gaps in conversation. He then asks if he can call me. When he does, he says that he is “Still willing to work on things–‘on us'”–that he’s “Conservative, you know. Catholic. I was raised with a certain set of principles…” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’ve bedded plenty of Catholics who would readily disagree.

To that end, it got uglier. I did not say anything mean, but I picked up what he was putting down. He did not like my sordid past. This made me furious. Then I paused (ok, I cried a little) because I felt shame. I felt ashamed that this person who thought I was “amazing” and “perfect” and “gorgeous” for my tattoos and foul mouth–this person who put me on a pedestal–did not hesitate to knock me down.

My fall from Madonna grace to low-level Whore was a quick one. It appears this man had no issue with my hotness-via-intelligence: “Good. you’re a writer, that means you’re smart.” He fell especially hard for the tattoos: “When [anonymous friend] told me you had tattoos, I said, ‘go on…'” He loved that I was in recovery, that I could be so honest. It seems he had no problem fetishizing my bad-girl-goes-good rap–that is, until it got too real.

I’m upset by this because I feel like I got trapped in a classic Fuck-22. I’m an interesting person with a past, which is what makes me that much cooler now. At the same time, I have been on the wrong side of the tracks, after all. I should be ashamed of myself. Who do I think I am? And then it hit me–this kind of shame is the biggest reason I drank.

The subtext of his responses was clear: I am a red flag. I am in recovery, so I should be recovered, right? How dare I have so many partners. I couldn’t possibly be relationship material.

The anger I feel is not directed toward him. I am the one who is the slut-shamer here. Why am I apologizing–albeit, indirectly–for my former predilections for casual sex? What do I have to be ashamed of? Even if I hadn’t been in a blackout for most of those encounters, would I still have a reason to regret any of it? Didn’t I kind of like it some of the time? Yes. Yes I did. Sure, there are some amends that will rightfully be made to those I have hurt, even in recovery. Sexual liberation does not mean I get a pass to harm anyone. Sex comes with responsibility. Responsibility, not validation.

This is a sensitive topic. I get that. But I don’t care. The media coverage for women musicians compared to men, for example, shows the parity in biased coverage. Women fall from grace; men are the martyrs.

It’s sexist and unrealistic. People are entitled to their opinions. I respect that. I also respect people like Lady Gaga who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. She doesn’t identify as a feminist, so to speak, but she is honest about sex and her own sexuality. She lets her music speak for itself. She says, “I’m not scared. I’ve got three number one records and I’ve sold almost four million records worldwide. You see, if I was a guy and I was sitting here with a cigarette in my hand grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music because I like fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. But when I do it in my music and in my videos–because I’m a female, because I make pop music–you’re judgmental and you say that it is distracting. I’m just a rock star.”

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. No apologies. No subtext. We all have opinions. And I don’t have to date opinions.

I’m just a rock star.

The Meteor Shower Principle

At 3:30am on August 13th, I dragged my mother outside to watch the Perseid meteor shower at one of its peak shower hours. I hadn’t yet put in my contacts, so squinting only upped my anticipation. I ran back into the house to grab my Dodgers hoody (compliments of one of my besties in Boston–an Irish, beautiful Boston Red Sox-lover at heart) and my seeing eyes. I came back outside just in time to witness some action. I was so excited when I immediately saw a bright meteor shoot across the sky. A couple of minutes later, I saw a second, less bright, meteor make a dash on the night. It didn’t take long before my neck ached from looking up for 10 minutes straight. I stood there willing the meteors to show themselves, waiting impatiently in the dark. I kept my gaze fixed on the north-eastern part of the clear Petersburg skies. It had just rained a couple of days before, providing a crystalline backdrop for stargazing and Perseids-hunting. I wanted to see more, then I realized how fucking cool it was I saw any action at all. I smiled with the thought of two close friends in LA who made the trip to Joshua Tree to watch the Perseids under desert skies. We star-gazed in solidarity–together–in different time zones under the same stars.

I had insomnia that night, so I took to watching my favorite bedtime standby, 30 Rock, on Netflix. The episode I saw featured Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) schooling Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on The Shower Principle. Lemon gets bummed when she meets with her accountant, who tells her that she does and says the same thing every year. She starts a meditation practice to find clarity; she finds a journal she kept the year before to trace her problem-solving steps. Jack explains to her that the brain needs distraction in order to figure things out. He opines that the best place to have ideas that come without effort is in the shower, when the brain is distracted by nothing but relaxation. He credits Lemon with distracting him enough to problem-solve for his company, Kabletown.

This show is my kind of ridiculous. I want to be like Tiny Fey one day. I’d like to have Alec Baldwin-as-Jack Donaghy’s confidence, too. But this episode made me think even more than it made me laugh. Standing there, under the meteor shower, I started to try too hard to will something into existence. I wanted the perfectly beautiful and natural fireworks show to give me more than it already had. After I watched 30 Rock, having mediated and journaled myself, I realized that I was experiencing The Meteor Shower Principle: peace coming to me when I least expected it.

I can’t will shooting stars into falling, just like I can’t will time to move faster. I am a tiny person under a behemoth sky, watching particles of dust burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. The meteors I saw happened in my periphery–when I least expected to see them. When I try too hard, I tend to miss things that happen in the present. I like the idea of truth coming to me unexpectedly, when I am open and willing to see it.   

I am 17 months sober today, August 17th. I got here by living a program of action rather than will power. I surrendered my attempts at controlling alcoholism by yielding to a power greater than myself. I never expected that I could live my life without using alcohol to comfort me. I never would have come up with that idea if I had been trying too hard to find a solution. Recovery came to me because I stopped looking for myself in other people and things. I’ve had to work every day to do my part in staying sober. The rest has come through grace. I have an abundance of love and support today because I adhere to The Meteor Shower Principle–love given is love received.


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Bottomless (M)emotions

I’m a moody bird. I laugh pretty loudly most of the time. I tear up sometimes, though I’m still not fond of crying. I flip flop on my decisions with a perverse dedication to the truth as I see it, albeit on a moment’s notice. I’m consistent about my inconsistencies as a person. And I’m ok with that. I guess.

An alcoholic (maybe?) friend of mine coined the term “bottomless memotions” while we discussed what I like to call “past naughties.” He (or she, I can’t remember) reminisced about the times bottomless mimosas were his fuckin scene back in the day. I remember going to brunch solely for the purpose of drinking orange-flavored champagne. Nothing else would have motivated me to get out of bed on the weekends before 4pm, certainly not eggs benedict. I traded in my no-need-to-count-them mimosas for an endless supply of “catch me if you can” emotions. Like I’ve said before, I have a lot of feelings–all of which seem to surface simultaneously. As it turns out, there was a bottom to those mimosas and I hit it, hard. Or it hit me, with feeling this time.

Ten years worth of drinking my moody blues caught up to me when I got sober. I’m not saying officially that I was a train wreck, but I’ve been prettier. However, I was a sight for my own sore eyes. I was finally able to look at myself in the mirror without wanting to take off running. I saw myself in ruins, ready to get recovered. One of my sober buddies warned me that I would experience certain withdrawal symptoms, including erratic displays of emotion. I was relieved to hear this, due to the fact that I was convinced I had become a sociopath when I was still active in my alcoholism. I stopped caring about what my behavior was doing to me or anyone else in my life. Then the drinking stopped and I suddenly checked in. Once sobriety showed up, I experienced what is known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). According to the world wide web, PAWS symptoms–like anxiety and sudden mood swings–last up to two years. Looks like I’ll be a pseudo-hot mess for another seven months or so. Buckle up, betches.

And so it goes. I have more precision with how I feel at others 16.64 months into recovery. I practice letting my initial reactions pass before I worry about what the fuck is wrong with me. I’ve stopped expecting people to understand why I feel how I do, including myself. My sponsor reminds me that I am human. It turns out that humans are capable of feeling all sorts of things. While I wish this weren’t the case most of the time, I am also grateful I have the capacity to feel compassion for myself and for others, particularly those I don’t understand. For me, the goal is always to achieve and maintain neutrality. I inch closer to emotional homeostasis every time I pause while agitated. The good news is, I am not all that agitated anymore. Except when I run out of seltzer water or coffee–that just cannot fly.

As for those recovery memotions–keep ’em comin.

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