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Love Yourself

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“You are special. Accept that about yourself, and you will begin to understand there is true power in your uniqueness.”- from Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

I am creating a page called Love Yourself. And right now, that is all that it is.

Except for buttons. I may have designed and commissioned the creation of buttons.

I was actually looking for a way to create a resource to stop bullying, any sort of technique or process that I thought could work. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is sadly kind of the natural order of things. Link to my previous post, Bullied.

I started to look around to see if there were any techniques to stop bullying. But after decades, the same worn advice seems to be what everyone is doling out: “Tell an adult.” “If you see something, say something.”

Oh wait, that second one is from Homeland Security.

And telling an adult won’t PREVENT it, which would be the total ultimate awesome solution to the pain of so many crying out in the night. (I have been there. I have written the bad poetry to prove it.)

But what if we could make it irrelevant? What if it didn’t matter what others said about you, because you had confidence in yourself, so that you could be the best person you could be?

Just imagine!

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

That is kind of how I barnstormed (wait, brainstormed) into this whole “Love Yourself” idea. What if we stopped worrying so much about external factors* and instead worked on our insides? What if we stopped trying to paint our faces to look perfect on the outside when we are crying on the inside? What if we stopped using our credit card at Lowe’s to build the perfect house that we don’t even like, just to keep up appearances for the outside world?

What I’m getting at is that bad stuff will always happen, lots of it, in many different ways, shapes, and forms.

But we could be better prepared for all of it, bullying included, if our insides were healed first.

I have to think that there would be less war and more peace if people loved themselves more than their money or land or resources.

There would be less celebrities too. Why worship a Kim Kardashian or a Tom Brady when you can worship YOURSELF?

And you probably assume that money or fame will lead you to happiness. But rich, seemingly successful individuals commit suicide every single day. And it is heartbreaking.

There are a million ways what I am saying could be misinterpreted. But if you wake up in the morning and hate yourself, (you will know that feeling if you do) that is what needs to change.

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.”
– Johnny Depp

You might think of this as being cocky or vain, vain being one of the seven deadly sins (I Googled it). But if we are supposed to be made in God’s image, shouldn’t we be happy with the self we live in? Our body, inside and out, our spirit, our gifts?

I am talking very vaguely here. But that is because it could be referred to as many different things. “Love Yourself” means to know who you truly are and what makes you happy. Yes, sometimes we all have to go to a job we aren’t happy about. But if it truly makes you “I-can’t-sleep-at-night, I-can’t-eat, I-can’t-remember-happiness” sick, then that is you not listening to that special spot inside  of you.

Do you call it your heart?

Your common sense?

Your conscience?

Your spirit?

Your life force?

Your guts?

I don’t care what you call it. But you need to learn that it is there and how to listen to it. Some of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make in life are easier when you listen to it.

I know it is hard. I didn’t even realize how badly I needed this concept until I was like, 38 years old. But maybe if we started young, taught this to our children, it could become a movement.

I want anyone who wants pink hair TO HAVE IT.

I want anyone who wants a nose piercing TO HAVE IT.

I want EVERYONE to STOP WANTING and START BEING.

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I know many people (myself included) who walk around with bad attitudes about absolutely everything because they are not being who they really need to be. There is a voice inside you that yearns to speak. There is a spirit in you that is trying to bust out.

Heck, I had this Love Yourself cause burning inside of me on Monday. What did I do? I chose to go to work. I should have stayed home. I think I could have gotten more out of expressing my thoughts while they were fresh than what little I can buy with my paycheck. But, I went the road of least resistance. WE ALL DO.

Am I saying we should all quit our jobs? Well, no. But we do need to be conscious of where our destinies are pointing us.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
– Bob Moawad

Maybe it is just me that has trouble listening to my inner voice. Maybe other people get there by meditation or whatever.

But I have to retrain EVERY THOUGHT to be more positive, more loving, less judgmental—of myself AND others. It is a lot of work, but I think, in the end, it may be worth it. I hope maybe you will too.

The awesome Heather Hildenbrand gave a speech at Utopia Con 2016 called “The Audacity of Self-Love”. I wish it was on YouTube, or that I had taken better notes. But, well, I was too moved to jot down anything more than an outline. I was already pondering such ideas, and she just reinforced that.

Some of Heather’s statements: “Judgement is the consequence of trying to break out of the mold… Liking yourself is a rebellious act… Be audacious enough at loving yourself that other people see it.”

LOVE YOURSELF

Then in July 2016, I drew this. Out of thin air, for no reason. I was at a public chalk art event and I asked myself, “What message do I want to send to everyone around me?”

I don’t know what this may grow into, but I am excited to find out. More excited than I have been about anything since I decided to write a book. Or when I decided to publish said book. But to be honest, neither of those were really a decision, just as this wasn’t. I am listening to my gut. And it feels damn good.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Washington Thurman

If you keep sitting around waiting for someone else to understand you and support you, you could be waiting a very long time. It has to begin with you. Then it does not matter if anyone else jumps on board.

But, a great side effect of self love is that they will sense your confidence, and be more likely to.

I LOVE THIS. This is what I am trying to do, in one sentence.

I am weird. I am awkward. I don’t see the world as other people do. I try and use that to my advantage.

Everyone, at their core, WANTS to be normal. The blind man wants to be able to see. The physically disabled woman desires to walk. It is only when we let go of this unattainable goal of “normal” that we are then free to be who we were actually born to be.

And that is the best gift of all. You only get one life. Stop trying to live by others standards, only by your own.

* I know this is impossible to stop completely, but it should count toward less weight on the scale of importance in our lives.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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EXCERPT: Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom – The Beginning

I am so thrilled to share the beginning of my new release Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom with you. Enjoy!

cover-reveal-troll-gurl-and-the-cursed-kingdom

Long ago, in a time before we confined our magic to fiber optic cables and microchips, there was a beautiful kingdom nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains. The ebony mountains only brightened when the sun shone directly upon them, the peaks frosted with snow nine months out of the year. Rolling hills led up to the mountains, carpeted in thick, green grass on which white cows with black spots grazed. The fields of grain and beans created a patchwork in the countryside. In between the patchwork fields were modest wooden cabins that housed families, smoke from the fireplaces curling up towards the sky, the scent of the burned wood ingraining itself with the scent of the cows and dewy grass.

To the north stood a stone castle where the king for the whole valley lived. It wasn’t as large as the castles on the other side of the mountains, but that was fine. Everyone knows what they say about kings with big castles; they must be compensating for their small family jewels.

The people of the kingdom of Inniskellin were happy, for the most part. Sure, there was the occasional brawl at the pub or a land dispute. But everyone got up at the crack of dawn, worked hard, and slept well at night. Inniskellin was growing, little by little, every year.

King Talbot was not the brightest king that had ever existed. But he wasn’t particularly cruel either, so the villagers let his reign continue with no motion to remove him from the throne. He was young, still only twenty when his father died unexpectedly and he took over the ruling duties. That was going on five years ago.

King Talbot was single and a ladies man. He always had a beautiful woman on his arm. At royal balls, his dance card was perpetually full. Coming to power as he entered adulthood may have contributed to his hard-partying ways. He had dark hair and rather plain looks while being slightly overweight and not particularly athletic. But the lasses were all over him, because they all dreamed of one day becoming queen. And the king liked it that way.

The people who lived in the villages directly around the castle were known as living “in the shadow of the castle.” They perceived themselves to be better than the rest of the villages in Inniskellin, because they saw the king more frequently as he traveled in and out of the castle. This caused the people of those close villages to put on airs. The faraway villagers thought of them as snooty for assigning themselves an honor that really only existed in their big heads. Even those within the castle walls did not like the villages in the shadow of the castle, although the king loved the attention they showered upon him.

One day, he was at a faire in a village in the shadow of the castle. All the beautiful ladies were hanging on him, trying to get a dance as the band played a raucous tune. An older woman with a long nose and crooked, umber teeth wearing ragged clothes approached him.

“May I have a dance, sonny?” she screeched.

“Oh, definitely not” those who were witness say he replied.

“What? Well, why not? I just want some face time with my king,” she responded.

“No. What you need is a new face!” the king yelled too loudly to his hangers-on. He guffawed, his belly bouncing with the exertion. He was eating too many treats baked for him by the wannabee queens, and it was showing.

“Excuse me?” the old woman replied in disbelief.

“Wow. Not only is she ugly, she is deaf and dumb too!”

More laughter erupted.

“My ears better be deceiving me. I would hate to have to punish you for disrespecting an old woman.”

“Oh, right, like you could punish me. My royal guards would have you subdued in no time. And I wonder if you even are a woman anymore. You are probably all shrunken, like a dried fruit,” the king snickered. The crowd doting on him hooted and hollered their agreement.

“You best find some respect for your citizens fast, or they will all pay for what you have done here today.”

“No one can harm me. I am the king! Now get out of my sight, you ugly old witch.” The king even made a gesture with his hands, as if he were sweeping her away and out of his sight.

“Oh, you have no idea how right you are, sonny!” The unknown woman cackled loudly. She raised her arms to the sky and magenta smoke began to billow around her.

“I am a witch! And I don’t appreciate being talked to that way. And neither do these greedy whores around you, but they won’t tell you that. You think that your precious guards can protect you from a curse? I think not. I will spread a curse across your land. Death will surround you. As the years pass, it will only get worse, until your whole kingdom and everything in it shall perish.”

Half the people gathered chuckled, thinking this was a joke or an illusion, including the king. The other half trembled in their boots, knowing this could be the end of the pretty charmed existence they had enjoyed up until now.

“But I feel sorry for your kingdom, all those who will die innocently because of your incivility. So, I will give you the key to breaking the curse. Your first born son must kiss the girl in the land who has the truest beauty, through and through. You better hope that he is blessed with the gift of knowing true beauty that you yourself lack.”

And she cackled, disappearing into her purple cloud, and was gone.

All the villagers stared at the king, waiting to see his reaction. They looked to him to know how to respond to this horrific event.

And he laughed.

The king laughed off the curse.

A few others did too. They were suck-ups who would agree with the king on anything. If he said the sky was green, they would agree with him.

The others simply looked at one another. And when their eyes met each other’s, they all reflected the same uncertainty. And this spread like wildfire as they told what had happened between the king and the witch, over and over again, to their families, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

At the same instant the angry witch’s curse spread across the land, a baby girl was born. The parents were horrified. The newborn came out as the ugliest baby they had ever seen. When the baby was placed in the mother’s arms, the mother screamed. The mother was so revolted by her baby’s appearance that she opened her arms and the infant fell to the floor hard, and began to cry. Not wanting to kill it, but also not wanting to keep the child, the midwife took it to an orphanage in the next village. It was run by a lady named Miss Peters. She accepted the deformed, mutant-looking pale infant. The baby girl had a giant, bulbous nose. One eyelid drooped lower over the right eye than the left. Her eyes did not contain a bright circle of color, but rather a milky glaze that hid whatever true color may lay behind it. She would tell the girl that she had been found on the doorstep with no one around, to prevent her from ever hoping to reunite with her parents who would never accept her. Miss Peters gave her a beautiful name, hoping it would make up some for her gruesome appearance. She prayed it would improve with age. She named her Guinevere, the name of legend, and often understood to mean “white phantom.”

*****

They all felt the same worry that had not before hung over Inniskellin. Generations of villagers had experienced good fortune. There was still the divide between the rich and the poor. But the people had enough to eat, they were all happy and healthy. No war had come to them. But they could all feel the shift now. As the days passed, an anxiety permeated them as they had never experienced before. It hung on their clothes like campfire smoke. They always were just a little on edge. It was as though a gloomy cloud hung over each of their heads, even though the sun still shined.

But they began to notice subtle changes. The leaves of all the plants started to always be black on the tips. The fruit and vegetables were still grown and harvested. But it made everyone nervous. The cattle stopped getting quite as fat as they used to. Some chalked it up to the people’s paranoia. But when weighed year to year at market, the numbers proved their suspicions right.

In other noteworthy news, shortly after the witch’s curse, King Talbot abruptly married. Some said that he had to.

Seven months later, all the mysterious happenings were momentarily forgotten with the birth of the prince. The bouncing baby boy was chubby and beautiful, with eyes like molasses and curls to match.

The girl named Guinevere grew to be obedient and hard-working, helping Miss Peters with the chores whilst the other children played. Early on they would invite Ginny to play with them, only to be cruel to her. A girl with long, golden hair named Lydia was always the ring leader. She had been at the orphanage since she was a toddler, and was roughly the same age as Ginny. She would have been pretty, had her face not wore a pinched expression at all times as if she smelled something rotten.

The other orphans would play hide-and-seek with her, then forget to seek her, heading off to play another game that did not include her. Sometimes the girls would play knights and robbers and make Ginny be a robber, so that they could tie her up. Once they bound her to a tree in the woods and left her there. Miss Peters did not come looking for Ginny till morning, commenting that she herself was too afraid of the dark to enter the forest at night. Ginny would continue to have nightmares about that incident in the woods for the rest of her life.

Miss Peters told Ginny, “Do not let anyone see that you are weak. Do not let them see that they hurt you. Do not let them see you cry. They will exploit it until you are completely broken.” Ginny felt that Miss Peters should make the other girls stop their behavior. But Miss Peters’s words had told her that it was Ginny’s burden to bear. Ginny was the one who needed to change, not the other girls. She needed to grow a tougher skin against all the teasing and torture. But Ginny could not find that inner strength inside. She always broke down. And that was when the others would tear her apart.

Once a fellow orphan girl named Bridget, who was very fair but so dim she sometimes forgot her own name, happened to touch Ginny’s hair during a game of tag. It was not hard to catch Ginny, as her extra-large feet and short legs gave her a speed and agility disadvantage. It was probably the only reason they let her join in at all. She was always the first one out.

“Your hair is soft,” Bridget remarked in surprise.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I just assumed it would be nasty and stiff like the cow’s hide.” It did not escape Ginny’s cloudy vision that Bridget always escaped milking duties. Or that Bridget was comparing her to a cow’s ass.

“I wash it with the same soap as you do yours. You assumed it would be unpleasant because I am ugly?” Ginny meant for it to come out incredulous, but instead her words were feeble.

“Of course.” Satisfied that their non-conversation was over and Ginny was safely eliminated, Bridget ran back to the game with her band of make-shift sisters.

Ginny knew that is how they all thought of each other. And even at this young age, she knew that that sorority would never include her. She always thought that they teased her all the time only because she looked different. But Bridget’s comment had upset her more than usual. Ginny now knew that they didn’t just think she was different on the outside, they thought she was on the inside as well. She had hoped she would one day grow to be more beautiful and they would accept her. But this new development made Ginny lose all but the tiniest hope of that happening. They made up a jump rope chant, in her honor, that they sang over and over again all day long as each girl took their turn:

 

I smell the roses

I jump with my feet

All that is beautiful

Can’t be beat

I see a monster

The troll gurl

Watch out!

She will eat you

faster, faster

You better watch out

She’ll eat me too.

 

After Miss Peters turned down the lanterns and ordered all the orphans to silence and sleep, she always returned to her nearby cabin with the thatch-covered roof for the duration of the night. The girls would then prattle on endlessly about one silly topic or another, sometimes for hours, until exhaustion finally overtook them. Ginny did much of the work that had to be done on the farm and in the kitchen as the others chose not to. She was always exhausted when she hit her pillow, and wished they would all be quiet and go to sleep. But she had to stay awake until the last one was unconscious. She had learned her lesson the hard way. Many nights they had gotten together, coordinated and executed tactile assaults on her while she was in slumber.

Tonight they were supposing on the existence of magic.

“I think magic is real. It has to be,” Marta declared, always the dreamer.

Ginny often had strong opinions on these topics, but she knew better than to speak up. Last time that happened they had cut all her hair off. It was only just now growing out.

“Real things are rain and mud and cow shit—all the things we are surrounded by every day in this hellhole,” Lydia sneered into the darkness.

“So Lydia, you don’t believe that if you kiss enough frogs, one will turn into a prince?” Natalie asked.

“Never.”

“But what about this curse? Without magic, there would be no curse,” Angie inquired.

Although it was dark, Angie’s face popped into Ginny’s mind at the sound of her ragged voice. She had hair that was only one shade shy of being orange, and hung long and loose, though Angie never bothered to brush it.

“There’s no curse. It is all just stories the crazy old folks tell to scare us,” Lydia replied.

“No, it’s real!” Angie protested.

“Oh really? Then how come we are still here? How come the kingdom hasn’t disappeared like cotton candy on your tongue?”

“Now that sounds like magic,” Marta whispered.

“You’ve never had cotton candy,” Angie retorted.

“Have too.” Lydia always had to have the last word. It didn’t matter if it was a lie.

There was silence for a few moments.

“So you think when I wish on a falling star, it means nothing?” Marta asked.

“Nothing. Life, death. None of it means anything,” Lydia responded.

“That is a horrible way to be,” Marta said.

“It’s real,” Lydia stated.

“The king is smart. He wouldn’t fight a curse by collecting more taxes and drafting more knights if no such thing existed.”

“The king isn’t smart at all.”

Ginny could agree with that, from fragments of what she heard the adults say.

“Maybe it is all a lie. Maybe it is just a way for the prince to be the talk of the kingdom. Some day he will pick out the best kisser to be his queen.”

“Nobody said that he would have to marry the girl whose kiss breaks the curse.”

“But why wouldn’t he?”

“Because maybe he won’t love her.”

“Maybe love is the real magic,” Marta offered.

A hush fell over all the girls then. They were all here, stuck in the care of Miss Peters. None of them had known a mother or father’s love. But the others had hope of one day marrying a dashing stranger. Ginny had no such preconceived notions. There would always be only herself, and whatever self-reliance she could muster. When all their breathing fell even in the room, she crept outside into the pitch black night to look at the sky.

Ginny could not shut her mind down. Was there really a curse? And if so, why wasn’t the kingdom destroyed yet? Most of all, why had Ginny ever been born to look this way, instead of normal? She felt normal inside, she thought. How had the outside gone so wrong?

Ginny yearned to know what it was like to be beautiful. She wished one day that she would wake up and could peel the ugly off of her face. She was so tired of how everyone looked at her. They saw her glazed eyes, her droopy eyelid, her giant nose, and assumed she was also feeble-minded. But she had millions of ideas run through her head every day. Brilliant ideas! She had feelings! If you threw rocks at her, did she not hurt? If you cut her, did she not bleed? There were just as many deep thoughts going on inside her brain as anyone else. Probably more than some of the air-brained girls she was forced to share a bedroom with.

She looked up at the stars then. They seemed so bright tonight. Then she saw it: her first ever shooting star. Hadn’t Marta, so small and impressionable with her big round eyes and short black hair, said you should wish on it? So Ginny wished her deepest, most heartfelt wish. She wished to be pretty.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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There’s Definitely [Not] Something Wrong with Me.

My (wrinkly) shirt purchased from Media Play many centuries ago.

I bought this shirt years ago. I bought it at Media Play. They went out of business in 2006.

 

I saw this T-shirt in one of those clear plastic squares up on the wall. I searched and searched the rack below, but they did not have anymore. The last one was pressed into that display box. So, I did something very uncharacteristic of me. I actually went and ASKED AN ASSOCIATE to get it out so that I could buy it. It was a size way too big when I was actually beginning to eliminate some of my too large 80s shirts from my wardrobe. But I didn’t care. I HAD TO HAVE THAT SHIRT.

It may have been the first shirt I had that I didn’t want my mom to see me wear. (There are many more now. Not slutty, just advertising my writing or tattoos or the church I sometimes hang out at, all things she would have issue with.) I figured she would try to point out that there wasn’t something wrong with me. Which, how would she know, because she never has known the real me.

I wore it quite a bit over the years. More recently, I relegated it to being a sleep shirt mostly because it was such a large size that it was hard to layer under a long-sleeved shirt and a hoodie in the winter months. I count winter as September through May. (Yes, three layers, minimum. I will need to retire somewhere warmer and sunnier than Michigan.)

I intended to write a blog post about this shirt for a long time. The date of June 9, 2014 is on this photo in my computer. Although, for all I know, that could just be the last time I replaced my hard drive. I initially intended to write about how made-for-me it was, how true the statement was.

But something has happened to me recently. I don’t always think the same way I used to. And, well, I can’t write that post anymore.

Last year, about this time, a saying popped up in my head:

EMBRACE YOUR WEIRDNESS

And while I contemplated getting that tattooed on my wrist for a short time, I don’t think it is entirely accurate either.

Because while others think I’m weird, weirdness IS my normal.

Maybe it is everyone else (those who judge me) who have something wrong with them.

So now, I have moved on to:

Don't write me nasty comments. This is just a pen & ink illustration, NOT an actual tattoo.

Don’t write me nasty comments. This is just a pen & ink illustration, NOT an actual tattoo.

The symbols of a heart and an arrow, which to me represent “Love Yourself.” You may have even seen me use such a picture with the saying on a previous edition of my blog or a tweet. This is the latest tattoo I am contemplating, this time for the inside of my forearm. I would love it to be a daily reminder to do just that. But, alas, life is a very mental game and outside stimuli are very bad at reminding me of who I need to strive to be.

Being positive remains a daily battle.

I just have to remind myself that if I lose today, maybe I can still win tomorrow.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

Always Be Yourself

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TRUE SELF-hell

Yes, I am once again using my blog as a form of personal therapy.

One of my friends has a daughter who is only ten years old. She is a very normal, beautiful, smart, outgoing girl to look at her. But she is already beginning to struggle with feelings of not dressing cool enough or being cool enough. She is already starting to believe when she looks in the mirror that the person who looks back at her needs to be changed in some way. She thinks the person deep down inside of her isn’t “enough”.

That is how it all starts.

And if she lets it eat at her, then she will start to dislike herself. And once that stone of self identity is etched, it is very hard to grind it off again.

Then she will be 39 and having conversations like this:

M: Do you like me, mommy?
ME: Of course I like you. And I like Daddy, and Dave…Maybe someday I will even like myself.
M: Why you say that?

This seemed to confuse him. He isn’t ten yet.

The next few examples are GLBT related. I don’t have that experience, personally. But I still find it relatable. I only have personal experience knowing what a middle school girl with low-self esteem struggles with. Someone having to struggle with revealing a sexual preference must have the same anxiety x 1000.

I watched Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer a few weeks ago. I thought he did a really good job of conveying how hard it was for him all these years to hide something very basic about himself: he is actually a transgender woman. Over the years, family members found out about pieces of his struggle, but he still was not able to reveal the full picture until recently.

I watch the ABC drama Nashville. For three seasons, Chris Carmack has played the character of Will Lexington, a country singer trying to hide from everyone, including his wife, that he is actually gay. He finally announced that he was gay publicly to the press in the Season 3 finale. The writers did a good job; I could actually FEEL his relief of removing his hetero mask, even though it is going to create many more issues for him.

TRUE SELF-glad I dont

I realized after 39 years, that I should live my life by being “the real me”, and not a fake me.

I found myself in job interviews, telling the interviewer what they wanted to hear.

“What comes first, your job or your family?”

I gave them what I thought they would want to hear, not what was in my heart. If my sweet boy is sick, he needs me to stay home with him.

I don’t even feel like they should be allowed to ask that question.

I love Dolly. I hope I get to meey her someday.

I love Dolly. I hope I get to meet her someday.

In being exposed to the first four scenarios above recently, the Universe has been trying to remind me to be true to myself.

Who is the real me?

I am still working on that. I probably shouldn’t take life advice from Internet memes, but I do.

The real me wants to be positive. She doesn’t want to have to have a fake personality for the world. Other people let their true selves hang out, warts and all. I want to be that person. I want to stop worrying about if the guy behind me in traffic is mad that I am not breaking the basic speed law. I want to stop worrying if I am standing too close or too far away to someone else in the check out line at the grocery store. I want to realize that I take up a space in this world and deserve my square foot as much as the person standing next to me.

TRUE SELF-rules

I am trying to live this now. To everyone except my mother, that is.

Anytime in my life I have ever revealed my true self to her, she has reacted badly. Such as when I once put a knife to my wrist as a teenager or got my ear pierced a second time or colored my hair an unnatural color or told her I had gone to church with my friend or told her I was pregnant or that I was not planning on doing her laundry for her the week after getting out of the hospital from having a C-section.

So, it is just easier if I keep my blog and book and tattoos and my grandma’s gold cross that I wear around my neck (not because I am religious, but because it was hers) a secret from her.

It has seemed easier until recently. Now it weighs me down a little more everyday. And she wonders why I get mad when I am in her presence. Because I am so tired of the act. I want to just reveal it all to her. But then I have to hear her opinion of it, and I don’t want to.

Because the only opinion that should matter, in the end, is mine.

Always be yourself. Nothing good ever comes from denying it.

TRUE SELF-taken

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Holding A Grudge

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*NOTE:  This blog post is going to suck.  I am using my blog to do a little deep psychological cleansing.  If you have a weak stomach (or just don’t give a sh*t about things that happened to me over 25 years ago), skip this one.  I will understand.  Actually, I won’t know the difference.  This is just some sh*t I had to get off my chest.  It has been weighing me down for a while.

A long while…

I am working on it...

I am working on it…

I can hold a grudge.  I was bullied in school, and I am still bitter about it.  It is something I still can’t let go of.

Today I noticed that the documentary “Bully” was available to watch on streaming Netflix.  I told my husband, “Oh, throw that in the cue.  I want to watch it.”

One beat of time passed.

“You know what, nevermind.  I lived that.  I don’t want to watch it again.”

Bully is the documentary that the Weinstein Company argued with the MPAA over the final rating of the film.  The MPAA originally rated it “R” for language.  You know, the language kids hear and use every day at school.  You know, the whole point of the documentary.  (The film was slightly altered to eventually earn a PG-13 rating.)

And that is about all I know about the documentary.

Once I hit middle school, my life was hell.

Sixth grade.  All of these cliques formed.  I didn’t even know that that word existed until that year.  I never had many friends in school.  But suddenly that became a terrible curse, instead of just an inconvenience.

I was teased.  That is how it was referred to around 25 years ago.

Yes, I can hold a grudge.

I will not discuss what I was teased about, because, well, I am not there yet.  It wasn’t anything that deserved all the attention that it got.

I had my own nickname.

The other assholes kids would say it to me in class.  In the halls.  On the bus.

Oh, don’t get me started on the bus.  It was its own particular brand of HELL.

There are several openings in my county for school bus drivers.  Why are they not being filled?  Maybe everyone has memories of bad experiences on the bus like I had.

Imagine getting on the bus in the morning, and all the kids visibly slide to the edges of the seats, closest to the aisle.  Most of the seats have just one student in them.  You walk toward the back of the bus.  When you are brave enough to ask if you can sit by someone, they all respond with “This seat is saved”.  By this time, the bus driver has already put the bus into motion again.  You have to hold on to the edges of the seats to not be dumped on the floor by the sway of the bus.  The bus driver starts barking at you to “Sit down”.  But you can’t.  You can only stand there, holding on to the seats.  You can’t even manage to be thankful that there is only one more stop before you get to school.

In that moment, you just want to die.

There is one particular girl I always thought was the ring leader of that.  Although, she wasn’t really smart enough for that.  Maybe I just blamed her because she had an ugly f*cking face.

I broke down every morning before school and begged my mom to not make me go to school.  She always made me go.  There are several photos she took during that time, of me before school in some outfit she wanted a picture of.  In all of them I had red rings around my eyes from crying.

I won’t scan them in and display them here.  Too depressing to display how much they all got to me visually, even though I am writing about it.

If only they had had Internet home school then.  I would have been an ideal candidate.

My nickname, in part (the part that didn’t specifically include my name) was published in the school newspaper.  No one seemed to find this disturbing.  Except for me.

Two boys in my class had to do a skit in English class.  They did it as Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live (yes, that was popular then).  They used my nickname in the skit.  To her credit, the teacher did actually ask me if that one bothered me.  But that was actually so funny that I couldn’t complain.  And they were two guys who usually didn’t bother me too much.

Others’ were worse.

There were more events in middle school.  So traumatic that I have blocked them from memory.  The few above are the ones that stick with me.

Once I got to high school, almost everyone had given up that sh*t, unless they were particularly juvenile.

And there was one boy, who never gave up teasing me.  I hated him.  I wanted him dead.  It’s a good thing at the time that I didn’t realize that high school kids actually could do such things to each other.  He said terrible things to me in class.  Obscene things.  It wasn’t fair.

Why couldn’t one of the cute boys I ACTUALLY LIKED say obscene things to me in class!

When I found out years later that he had died in a car accident, I shed no tears for him.  I was actually a little happy about it.

I know.  That makes me a truly terrible person.  But in his death, I knew I would never have to look upon his evil face again.

Now he has a skateboard park named after him.

If I had killed my self due to all his tormenting, I am sure I would not have received such an honor.

And sometimes I did contemplate that.

And my mom will remind me of things I said or did at that time, things I have blocked out.  Like one time when she was doing the dishes and I apparently threatened to cut my wrist with a knife.

Which begs the next question: If your kid does that, why wouldn’t you get them some help?

And another question: Teacher, if a kid in your class choses to do a report for your class on suicide, shouldn’t you take them aside and make sure they are OK? (It may have been for Psychology class, but still…)

Have you ever seen the movie “Never Been Kissed”?  I find the high school flashbacks in that movie really relatable.  My not-so-secret crush never invited me to prom and threw eggs at me, as happens in the movie.  But when it was time to vote for who would ride on the Homecoming float, sometimes they would vote for unpopular people, just so they could ride it and be laughed at.  Obviously it was meant to be an honor for the most popular girls.  One year they did vote two sisters in who were not popular.  They wisely declined from riding.  One year I heard that I ranked quite high in votes as well.  Thank you, assholes.

We were all stuck inside those walls together, sharing experiences.  We all knew so much about each other. Why couldn’t we have embraced that?  Why did we have to use that to cut each other down?

I had a dream, years after I was out of college.  I dreamed I was in the Waldenbooks store at my local mall.  (FYI—at the time I worked for a company connected to Waldenbooks.)  In the dream, there were lots of people in there from high school.  Some of the people I hated the most.

I began yelling at them, and telling them off.  Telling them what I thought of them.  I pushed bookshelves over on top of them, to hurt them physically as they had hurt me emotionally.  And when I woke up…

I felt good.  I felt like a little of the weight had lifted.

A little while later, I had a similar dream, where I was in the local grocery store.  I was face-to-face with one of the guys I hated the most.  A guy that my asbestos friend did hate the most.  I yelled at him and told him off.

I also felt better after that dream.  But, eventually, that relief passed.  And now I write this post.  To try and achieve some of that relief.  To try to wash away some of the extreme hatred I have had for these people for decades.  People who, I am sure, don’t remember me at all.  They don’t remember they teased me.  They don’t remember that I existed.

Some of these people have tried to be my friend on Facebook.  I laugh at them and ignore their friend requests.

I will admit that I am not even sure I remember all of these events accurately, because time and hate have most likely warped them in my head.

I have SO MUCH HATE for these people.  The ones who were the worst.

I still struggle with self-esteem issues to this day because of their name calling.  Because of them snatching my stuff because it seemed amusing to them.

Will I be going to my 20 year reunion next year?

I not be thinkin’ so.

I definitely need to still work in it...

I definitely need to still work on it…

And all the bullying laws around today aren’t going to keep these things from happening.  I was a quiet person (Oh, don’t ever call me “shy”. UGH!  What is with adults and their mother f*cking labels!).  I would never have reported that stuff to anyone.

Hell, at my job I had a girl make fun of a physical attribute I have, and I didn’t report her to Human Resources.  But I totally wish I had.  To this day.  Ten years later.

God, I can’t imagine what kids today go through…

With cell phones and social media, they can’t even get away from bullying when they get home!  At least after school I could nap on my couch to Ducktales and hide from it all.

Do I feel better after all this?  Can I move on?

Meh.  Probably not.

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