the difficult one.

17 Aug

“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can’t predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.”

Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

The following is an account of my life over the past year (January 2013-February 2014). I’ve finally decided it’s time to stop hiding, stop being embarrassed, and to start being strong. I’m writing this with the hope that it may help someone someday.

First, I for some reason feel the need to start with this: he is a good person. He really is. He just has a lot of demons and issues that he is not strong enough or mature enough to deal with and I decided I couldn’t help him anymore if he wasn’t willing to help himself. He is, whether he will admit it or not, an alcoholic. He has bad days. He has bad weeks. But he also has good days and good weeks, and I think the good times were what kept me hanging on so long.

The first time I remember it really being bad was on my birthday last year. We’d only been together for about two months at that point, but things were getting really serious. We were in love. He was supposed to be making a homemade dinner for me that night. I’d requested fried chicken and mashed potatoes, my favorite meal. He went out to “get a few drinks with the boys” after work. Shortly before he was supposed to be picking me up, he called. He was drunk, wandering around outside, and didn’t know where he was. I was scared and had no way of helping him. How he had gotten that drunk in such a short amount of time was baffling to me. He eventually got a hold of his roommate who found him and helped him pick up KFC for dinner. At least I got my chicken.

It was around this time that I really started to notice that everything involved drinking. Evening plans always included “grabbing a drink”. Sunday more often than not turned into Sunday Funday. A game of Mario Kart on the Wii turned into a game of drunk driver with the goal being to finish an entire beer before the end of each race. Brunch was often accompanied by mimosas, even at home. Watching a movie on TV, more often than not, could not be completed without 5 or 6 or 7 beers. Friday lunches at work involved one or two margaritas made specially for him in pint glasses so they looked like lemonade and wouldn’t tip off any co-workers who might be in the restaurant. He made friends with bartenders everywhere.

On the day of the marathon bombings, we were on a train headed into the city when we heard the news. Public transportation was shut down for a while. We were stranded and scared and ended up at a bar just to get off the street. He was already buzzed from a party we went to earlier and started drinking more because he was scared. When we finally left and decided to try to make it home, he couldn’t walk. He fell down, face first, on the sidewalk. People were staring, but no one offered to help. I tried to pick him up. I yelled at him to get up. I tried to just walk away, but I couldn’t. He finally got on his feet and I was able to drag him into our office building (luckily we were right across the street and had our keys with us) where we stayed for a few hours (him passed out, me scavenging around the office for a phone charger) until his roommate could come get us. It took two people to get him outside, into the car, and into his apartment.

Of course, there were times when everything was fine and I’d wonder if I was the one with the issue- was I too uptight? Could I not let loose and have fun? Was he really not drinking as much as I thought he was? He’d go several days without drinking. He’d decide, on his own, that he wanted to drink less or even quit drinking for a week or a month. That would never last, but I always thought “it’s the thought that counts”. It didn’t help that time spent with his friends always included drinking- at a bar, at someone’s house, at a party. I’d get frustrated because I didn’t understand why no one else could see the problem. I guess I noticed it more because I was the one living with it.  I started to withdraw from social events. I was too embarrassed or scared to take him out for fear he’d get drunk. We’d only see my friends for important things (weddings, birthdays), but those usually ended badly (which I was always embarrassed about and still am). We’d fight all the time, and that of course wouldn’t fix anything. I’d be mad that he drank too much; he’d get defensive when I tried to talk about his drinking. I’d stop drinking in an effort to get him to stop. It never worked.

His drinking was often related to stress and anxiety. He had a horribly difficult and stressful job (that he once quit via text message while drunk, and then sent an “lol, just kidding” text to unquit) for a while that made his drinking worse. I hoped that once he left that awful place, he’d get better. He didn’t. I’d sit at home after work, hoping that he’d had a good day and wouldn’t drink that evening. If he came home and started drinking, I’d walk on eggshells, hoping he’d pass out after a few beers so I wouldn’t have to take care of him or get into a fight with him or accidentally say something to make him drink more.

The bad days just started adding up. He’d call me not knowing where he was. He’d call me from a bar, asking me to come pick him up, and then refuse to come outside when I got there. He’d take a taxi home after getting kicked out of a bar and refuse to come inside, preferring to sit in the snow on the front steps.

One time he left on a Saturday to go to Home Depot and called me an hour later as he was driving to his hometown to “pick up some painting supplies” from his house. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his parents and has a relative who owns a liquor store. He saw that relative and was given free alcohol. He finally drove home and decided to back into the driveway, hitting and knocking down part of our neighbor’s retaining wall in the process. When I got outside to inspect the damage, there were open beer bottles in the car. It cost us $500 to fix the wall.

He got super wasted at a bar after work once and decided to ride his bike home…after he finally remembered where he’d locked it up. His friends couldn’t get him to change his mind. I took the bus home and waited outside, worrying, picturing him in an accident, until he came weaving up the street.

He picked my mom and me up from the airport after we’d had an exhausting day of travel. I could tell he was drunk when he arrived and I ended up driving home after being awake for 24 hours. There were open beer bottles in the car again that night.

He claimed he was ok to drive home one night after we had to leave one of my best friend’s birthday parties early because of him and almost killed us by running a red light.

Some nights he would have hallucinations. You’d be talking to him, having as cohesive a conversation as you can have with someone who is drunk, and he’d look at you and, out of the blue, ask when you got there and where he’d just been. He’d get frustrated when you’d say “We’ve been here all night” and he’d insist that he’d been walking out on the street or had just been abducted by aliens. One night he told me there were three aliens inside of him trying to get out. I did not sleep well that night.

He lost multiple phones during drunken taxi rides. One night he decided to dig my car out of a snowbank after a storm and when he couldn’t re-park it in the cleaned out spot, he took off speeding down the road. I heard a crash. When he got back, I asked him what had happened. He said nothing. I walked down the street to find that he had hit a car and broken the tail light. The damage to my car was worse.  He told me he thought the car had been a snowbank. He fell down on several more occasions after the first time, one night on a sidewalk full of people. He then started banging his head on a street sign.

On nights when he was really depressed, he’d threaten to kill himself. I’d threaten to call the cops or an ambulance. I never did, but I probably should have.

Every morning after one of these incidents, he either didn’t remember anything that happened or he’d apologize profusely or he’d turn it around on me. He once told me that he’d never stop drinking because I’d made him change so many things about himself that drinking was the only thing he had left. I don’t remember “making him change” anything besides asking, begging, pleading him to stop drinking.

I never thought I’d be one of those girls who stays in an emotionally and mentally, but never physically, abusive relationship, but I loved him. Well, more specifically, I loved who he was when he wasn’t drinking. He was thoughtful. He was funny and could always make me laugh. He’s the kind of person who can make friends anywhere. He’s very smart.  We had fun together. I thought we were going to spend our lives together.

We’d have constructive conversations sometimes when he was sober. We’d talk about the fact that his drinking worried him. We’d discuss him stopping. We’d talk about rehab. Nothing ever panned out.

On Thanksgiving, he was bored and decided getting drunk would fix that. He started saying embarrassing things in front of my parents and we had a huge fight. That was when I started to reach out to my mom for help. She was the first person I told about our problems. I was so sick of hiding.

Things were OK for a while after that- not great, but OK. Then I started suspecting that he was drinking after work before coming home and not telling me. I found a few empty liquor bottles hidden in his closet and he found a backpack full of beer that he didn’t remember putting there. I found an empty bottle in his work bag. And then came the last straw. He was supposed to be coming home for dinner and instead texted me that he was staying late to get work done. I called him in his office and he didn’t answer. I texted him and he called back. Oh, no, he wasn’t staying at work. He was “working” in a bar. Great. He got super drunk at the bar because he’d had a stressful day, had to have the manager call me from his phone because he was too drunk to figure it out. The manager put him in a cab, but he got out of the cab at some point and called me wandering around. I went to find him and he refused to come home, so I left him, in the cold and snow, sitting in a doorway of a hardware store. He eventually came home and then got irrationally angry at me when I asked him if he wanted leftover pizza heated up or cold.

I guess I finally got fed up enough to end it. I got sick of being yelled at. I got sick of being worried about him constantly.  I finally realized that things were not going to get better. I finally realized that I was alienating myself from my friends, and life in general. I was stressed out all the time and gained 25-30 pounds in less than a year.  I’d also gotten myself into a fair amount of debt trying to help him get his life organized, which I know is not my responsibility. I was always just trying to help him. I do love him and I care about his well being, but our relationship was unhealthy. He would never admit that alcohol is the problem- he always thought he had it under control and it was other parts of his life (sometimes me) that were making him drink. I want him to get well, but he has to admit to his problem and he has to do it on his own.

The hardest part right now is trying to figure out how to disentangle our lives. Neither of us can afford to live alone, so he’s sleeping in his office. It’s not an ideal situation. I don’t think he’d ever hurt me, but I’m scared he’ll come home drunk and angry one night and barge into my room or something. I’ve had offers from friends to stay with them, but I don’t want to be in a different environment right now, you know? I want my stuff. I also don’t want to leave him alone in the apartment and have him get belligerent and just start breaking things. I don’t know that he would, but it’s a possibility if he got angry enough, I guess.

So, that’s where I am. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m feeling lost. But I also know I’ve made the right choice. And I know why I’ve been anti-social for the past year and why I was stressed out and depressed all the time. I’m embarrassed for having been “that girl”- the girl in a bad relationship who won’t get out of it. The girl who makes excuses for her boyfriend. The girl who just keeps thinking it will get better.

The first time he left the apartment after I ended it- went out of town for the night; wasn’t going to stumble in at 2 am- I felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest. I could fill my lungs up with air, really expand them, for the first time in months.

Part of me, the vain part, wants to know what he’s telling people. I want to know if he’s saying bad things, blaming me for the break-up, or if he’s telling the truth. I know I don’t really have a right to that information- his friends are HIS friends and he can tell them what he wants. But another part of me wants to know what his friends know so they can help him and be supportive. I, physically and mentally, cannot help him anymore, but I hope someone can. I hope he can get past his embarrassment and frustration and reach out for help.

I’m crying less lately which is good. It’s still sad. It still sucks.  I’m taking it one day at a time, which is all I can really do, I guess. I’m getting stronger.

The above was written in March and April of 2014 with a few recent additions before posting. He moved out in May of 2014. I have been much healthier and happier since then. I wouldn’t say that we are friends, nor do we see each other often, but we are cordial. We still share a phone plan, which is difficult.  Since everything ended, he has been diagnosed with a mental disorder that, while explaining a lot of his behavior, does not excuse any of it and does not change how I feel.  

Song of the Day: Between the Bars by Elliott Smith

 

The Bittersweetness of Looking Young

10 Jul 224787_770951929180_2485893_n

I am very fortunate to still look like I am in my early twenties. This has been something I have enjoyed immensely as I am almost certain any woman would. Normally, this is pretty fantastic especially when lately the number ’31’ gets stuck in my throat when people ask how old I am. However, recently, it has become an incredible pain in my ass.

I never minded getting carded when buying alcohol or even at rated R movies (which still happens by the way). It was something I had gotten used to: going to the store and showing my I.D. and having the cashier smiled and make a comment such as “Wow, I would have never guessed that.” I always thank them. It’s meant to be kind and as I mentioned, it never really bothered me. It’s never been an issue of someone not believing me; my I.D. has never been fake. It’s almost a reflex at this point to have that reaction so I go into auto pilot of a polite response and go on my way. It’s never affected me past taking a few extra seconds to get the bottle of wine or get into the bar.

avril-lavigne-forever-young

                         Avril gets it.

It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I started to want to be treated as such. I want to be treated as an adult when I’m at my job, whatever it may be at the time. I want to be treated like I have knowledge, am educated and experienced. It sounds odd to say because EVERYONE should be treated like that but when others think you are younger, they treat you like you’re stupid. As if you’re going to burn the building down if they leave you alone for five minutes. I am sure I am guilty of it. Aging people by saying things like “Oh, you don’t get it, you’re too young.” Occasionally, that may be true and said properly, it isn’t insulting because hey, a younger individual may not know because they haven’t experienced something age appropriate like renting a car. However, most of the time, it comes out as a real shit thing to say. It’s belittling and makes one feel inadequate. As a kid, it wasn’t so bad because you’re a kid and you had to accept the fact you were younger. When you are 31 and everyone treats you like you’re 21, it’s harder to accept and brush off because you’ve been 21. You’ve been through the pain and torture of your twenties. I want my experience and the life I’ve lived to matter. It sounds dramatic when put that way but it’s what I’ve been feeling in the past few years.

When my husband and I were at Disney World a few years ago, we had “Happy Anniversary” pins on. We weren’t married yet but we were celebrating our dating anniversary. A kind cast member congratulated us but then took a second glance and asked us how long we had been married. We fibbed and just said how long we had been dating which was about four years. He commented that we must have gotten married when I was 12. We laughed it off but it stung a little. I knew I was going to married this man and I worried “Is this going to be our life? Where everyone thinks Lincoln has robbed the cradle?” What about when we have kids? Are people going to think I am the babysitter?

224787_770951929180_2485893_n

                        2011. I was 27.

We just moved to Vermont and applying for jobs, several places looked at me like my resume was a lie. They never said anything, but it was clear they were surprised by all my experience considering I appeared to be 22, MAYBE 23 years old. If I don’t wear makeup, it’s even worse. I am spoken to like I don’t understand simple tasks. My new job has a lot of moving parts but I picked them up fairly quickly and a lot of my fellow employees have been shocked like I shouldn’t be so on point yet or understand how Microsoft Office works because I’m far ‘too young’ to grasp the concept of working in a customer service setting. I have a coworker talks to me as though I am a kid. She didn’t understand how I could be married and asked once if I remembered what CDs were. Yes, lady, I remember when THE INTERNET BECAME AVAILABLE IN HOMES not to mention my Walkman so yeah, I remember CDs, you know, when they became a thing for the first time. If I hear her say, “Well, you kids these days…” one more time, I will slap her. Ok, maybe not but it’s getting a little ridiculous when she asks me if I know how to check a voicemail. And she can’t be more than 10-15 years old than me at the most.

At our grocery store with my parents a few weeks after we moved in, we got some wine. At Hannafords, they need a supervisor to come and check I.D.s which is totally understandable. This manager was taking a long time to arrive at our register and the cashier…was really weird. Just a weird dude, long story. My dad finally said “You know, we are her parents. She’s of age. Can we just buy it?” The supervisor finally arrived and made the same confused face when checking my I.D. everyone does. But also I was with three other people who clearly are over 21 so I’m not sure why the extreme precaution. It happens every time my husband and I go buy beer together. They still ask for my I.D. even if he’s the one buying it like he’s buying for me for my high school rager I plan on having when my parents are out of town. When I’m out with my family, they always ask for my I.D. and occasionally the server will ask for everyone else’s I think just so I don’t know they were specifically targeting me, assuming I was the youngest. Obviously I know they are asking for only me. I think I hang out with too many people who have beards. Beards equal age. My brother never gets carded and he’s three years younger. I should grow a beard.

cover-princess-beards

                  Pulling. It. Off.

It may seem like a foolish thing to complain about but much like my past blog about being tiny, everyone has complaints that may seem controversial. There are women who look older than they are and I am certain they have a similar reaction when people age them. I accepted being carded every since I turned 21 but being treated like I don’t know what I am doing because I look like a kid has started to upset me. And the faces I get when I say how old I am sometimes aren’t pleasant surprise. It’s shock. Shock that isn’t masked in any way much like when I told people how much I weighed when they kept asking. It’s an odd feeling now that I’m older. For the first time, I want to be an adult.

The first week I was 30 I wasn’t carded. I was shocked and kept joking that now that I was 30, my streak was over and I finally looked my age. It was a welcomed change. Then it started creeping back. I started going new places, shopping new stores. It still just blows my mind that people think I am 21, ten years younger than I actually. Again, it is AWESOME in many ways. It’s great to feel good about my face. I joke I moisturize and that’s what gives me my youthful looks. It’s just good genetics truthfully. But when it interferes with my integrity, it hurts, it stings, it sucks.

I never want to grow up but sometimes, it’s nice to be treated like I am one when I am doing adult type things. I’m grateful I look young enough to still play a lot of my dream roles. I know a lot of actors play young way into their 30’s (hello, the entire cast of Dawson’s Creek).

Rachel McAdams was 26 when she made 'Mean Girls'

Rachel McAdams was 26 when she made ‘Mean Girls’

It’s a good feature to have. But when I’m applying for jobs outside my chosen field, when I’m working in an office or a restaurant, being treated like I don’t know what I am doing when clearly I do makes working difficult. It shuts down my confidence. It has made me realize that I need to pay attention how I speak to people that are younger. I’m probably not smarter than them. I may have more life experience in some ways but I’m not any better than they are. I shouldn’t be condescending. I shouldn’t mock them when they haven’t ever watched “Saved by the Bell” or think Leo DiCaprio is old and gross with his dad bod (they didn’t know the good days!) I should be polite and explain the wonders of what I know and listen to the wonders that they know because I still have to Google what half those abbreviations in text messages mean though I am fully on board with the Zac Efron train (he’s the new Leo!).

Leo2

You’re killing me, bro.

Someday I will look my age. It’s inevitable. Or maybe not if I start using toner. I’m thankful, I’m #blessed, but I’m also fed up. This doesn’t mean I want wrinkles however so don’t go getting any ideas, Universe.

Just for funsies though…

april showers…oh, wait, it’s may…

29 May

Guys, I need to come clean about something:

I hate taking showers.

See what I did there? [insert winky face emoji here]

Most people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that, as it is a normal part of many people’s daily routines and they don’t even think twice about it. I know that many people need a shower to wake up or who can’t go to sleep without a thorough rinsing. I even know some people who shower at night and again in the morning. I understand all that. I just don’t subscribe to any of it, because:

  1. I hate having wet hair and then having to blow dry said wet hair, which is a necessity for me. Air dried hair = no bueno. Not that I wash my hair every time I shower….oh, no no. Lately, I’ve been going 2 to 3 to mayyyyyybe 4 days in between washes. I’m sure my mother is cringing right now. Dry shampoo is my new BFF and I buy it in bulk. I also have an awesome rubber duckie shower cap to prevent any hairs from catching an errant spray of water.
  2. I hate having to put on lotion (which unfortunately is another necessity- albeit a recent one – for me after a shower). Lotion makes me feel sticky and sweaty, even if I’m not sweating, and I HATE IT….especially when it’s hot outside. It always seems to take hours and hours to absorb and it makes putting on clothes and walking around very difficult.
  3. I dislike hot water. It makes me nauseous and makes breathing hard for me. I do realize that showers don’t need to be hot…so, I take lukewarm showers in the winter and then end up freezing when I get out of the shower. This is really just a winter complaint. I take cold showers in the summer. Those are tolerable.
  4. I find the whole process  of showering, in general, very tedious and I’d much rather get the extra sleep than get up early/stay up late to shower (or both- I went to bed at 8:15 the other night and didn’t get up until 7:20 am- I like my sleep).

Now, before you get totally grossed out and start to feel bad for everyone I ride the bus with- I obviously shower when it is called for! If I’ve worked out and am really sweaty (that happens like twice a year; let’s be honest), I will shower . If I’m physically dirty, I will shower. If I’ve gone to the beach and had to wear sunscreen and went into the ocean or a lake, I will shower. But, if all I did was sit at my desk all day…I’ll skip my shower the next morning.

I used to wonder if I actually was gross…and then my favorite news source, BuzzFeed, published this article. It made me feel so much better about myself- it’s actually good for my skin to not shower every day! And, obvi, I wash my face (twice daily!) and wear clean underwear every day…you know, when I’m actually wearing underwear

Sometimes I get to Sunday night at the end of a lazy weekend and have to think long and hard about the last time I showered (Thursday morning) and decide if I should really shower before bed or if I should just let myself go and wait until Monday morning.

I’m really good at just letting myself go (written whilst shoveling peanut M&Ms into my face).

Song of the Day: Coming Clean by Hilary Duff. Yeah, I went there.

Flashlight Tag: The Greatest Game of All Time

27 Mar

I remember the squeals of excitement and joy (followed by intense focus and discipline) when we would walk into our scheduled gym class and see mats strategically placed about the gymnasium. Some of them standing up, creating nooks and crannies, some of the folded on the ground creating tunnels. Some of the lights would already be turned off. This could only mean one thing. Today was a day we were going to play Flashlight Tag.

Flashlight Tag was my favorite game growing up. It was Hide and Seek plus the super scary factor of running around in pitch black darkness and trying not to run into each other as you ran for your life to the next hiding spot. And I mean ran for your life. Flashlight Tag is extremely serious and you need your wits about you at all time.

The rules of Flashlight Tag are simple. You can play on teams or have a person who is “It”. The “It” person gets a flashlight and everyone else hides. After counting down from a determined number (usually 60), It goes to seek out the hiders with a flashlight. If It catches you in the light, It has to call out your name. If It gets your name right, you become It. You could also play it where you were out if tagged by the light and identified so the game had a definite ending once all hiders were found. There are many different versions of this game as there are in any childhood game but this is how we normally played.

I had a lot of strategies when it came to Flashlight Tag. It was extremely competitive between my classmates or neighborhood friends. When we played it in gym, I would find a mat standing up and folded. I would find my way into one of the folds and squat down so if It came by and shined the light in the mat, they wouldn’t automatically dip it down onto the floor. Another plan was I would wait to see It check out a mat and then run to that mat because clearly It wasn’t coming back for a few minutes because they had to check the entire perimeter. I also would run faster than I ever did when we had to run a mile and even if the light hit me, I would be such a blur I couldn’t be identified properly. Occasionally I would hide in the corners of the gym not covered by a mat because who thinks to look there and it’s usually the darkest part of the room. I made the mistake often of running with a group or a friend. Never do this. You are a selfish soldier and you must survive on your own. You can’t risk having Tommy not being able to fit in the mat beside you and Betty and having the entire mat collapse and expose you all.

Injuries were abound when playing in gym. I can’t tell you how many times I ran into one of my classmates but we never stopped, not for a second. You bumped shoulders or hips and you recovered and YOU KEPT GOING. You had to get to that darkened corner and that scuffle made too much noise on the hard floor and you had no time to waste. That light was coming for you.

In neighborhoods, there were other rules. A play area had to be determined and committed to. You couldn’t go outside the boundaries otherwise you would be automatically out. Obviously everyone did this any way. We had trees, sheds, swing sets, and bushes to crouch behind. I would climb up into trees or lay as flat as possible behind bushes. Being tiny has its benefits when it comes to hiding games. My coworker, as I said I was writing this, said they called it Spotlight Tag and she used to hide in the shadows of trees so that no matter where the light fell, she was in darkness. Absolutely brilliant.

I think back on Flashlight Tag and how dedicated I was to the game. My brain would be on fire and my senses incredibly alert. I would be focused and determined. My body would be alive with adrenaline and I would be thinking three steps ahead at all times. Why don’t I apply this passion to my everyday life? Why was I more concentrated on a simple childhood game than I am today in anything I do? I can barely get myself together to do a full workout because I’ve gone down a black hole of puppy surprise videos after work. Even my career of acting I love can be a struggle to get my shit together and sit down and memorize lines or a new monologue. However, if you said “Let’s Play Flashlight Tag” I would leap up off the couch and already have 18 spots of where to hide and how to maneuver between them. I basically become Monica Gellar.

Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up. And maybe that’s the whole point. We play these games to learn how to play the game of Adulting. I wish there was as much pride in achieving a small Adult goal as there was in being the last man standing in Flashlight Tag, but the stakes are comparable not as high. Ok, they actually are but the glory isn’t the same. Here’s a visual. This is how I felt when I would be the last one found in Flashlight Tag:

And here is how I feel when I file my taxes:

Yeah. Not the same.

I will continue to work to achieve the same childlike resolution to my everyday Adult activities as I did to Flashlight Tag. Until then, who can come out after dinner to play?

 

Adulting Is Hard.

25 Mar

I recently participated in a program where I needed to submit a semi-professional sounding bio. Guys, I struggled with this. S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E.D. The one sentence I could get down went something like: “Bethany is from Vermont, but now she lives in Boston.” So exciting and descriptive! I recently turned 31. I should have things in my life to write about that sound important and make me seem like a responsible adult!

B-y049eWkAAI8CI.jpg large

So, my mom ended up writing one for me that was truthful, not boring, and highlighted some of my better accomplishments in life. I was very grateful for that, because if I had continued writing mine, it would have gone something like this:

“Bethany is from Vermont, but now she lives in Boston. Don’t ask her how to get anywhere in Boston or where any landmarks are located because she won’t know. She once had to use GPS to figure out where she was while out for a leisurely stroll in her neighborhood.  She drives home to Vermont a gazillion times a year and should probably just move back there already. She enjoys binge watching television shows on Netflix, eating toast, and doing jigsaw puzzles. She generally dislikes watching movies unless there is popcorn, Diet Coke, and peanut M&Ms involved. She recently started taking fiber supplements, and it was life altering.

Bethany often involuntarily takes 3 hour long naps sometime during the hours of 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm. She was recently prescribed reading glasses and her next pair of regular glasses will be bifocals. She often dreams about dinosaurs and/or giving birth. She has never seen Lost, Breaking Bad, or Frozen and refuses to change that situation, although she’ll probably give in someday just like she did with reading Fifty Shades of Grey. She is currently in between hair colors.

Bethany sometimes spends extended periods of time having deep conversations with her fish, Mac, while also trying to pet him. She’s clearly forgotten about the time her other fish bit her. She often thinks about going for a run or doing some yoga, but then eats a cupcake instead. She found out at the age of 18 that she had been tying her shoelaces incorrectly her whole life. That information was a game changer for her. She holds a respectable full-time job at a respectable institution, but she worries daily that her uncontrollable facial expressions will give away her extreme dislike for meetings whilst in a meeting and that she will be reprimanded.  She has no fuzzy pets of her own, but will gladly watch yours for you, anytime. She promises not to kidnap it. She reads approximately 17.5 blogs daily, but seldom updates her own. She has never done her own taxes (thanks, Mom!). She always enjoys oversharing and a good game of Cards Against Humanity. She is often in need of a lint roller. ”

Song of the Day: Ain’t It Fun by Paramore

Snow. Snow. Snow.

13 Feb

So, yeah. I live in Boston. In case you haven’t heard, we’ve gotten a lot of snow recently…like, over 6 feet of snow fell in 17 days or something ridiculous like that. My neighborhood is basically a maze of snow tunnels and the snowbanks are taller than me. Multiple lane roads are down at least half a lane, many sidewalks are just wide enough for one person, and don’t even get me started on the bus stops. There’s a crap ton of snow on the ground and literally nowhere to put it. Oh, and we’re getting another storm this weekend. Joy.

Today I’m going back to a time when snow was not a burden. It could be dangerous, yes, but it was generally just fun and left you with mostly fond memories and funny stories. It really seems like the only way to get through this.

From third grade to seventh grade, I lived in a house with an amazing sledding hill in the back yard, which backed up to a large wooded area. I spent many an hour out there, alone or with friends, sledding during the winter months. I mainly utilized the bottom part of the hill that was tree-free, but if you really wanted an extra thrill, you could trek up into the woods to this rock that jutted out a bit over the start of the hill (it was more of a rock ledge, really). If you perched your sled on the edge of the rock, balanced yourself in the sled, and then slowly leaned forward until the sled tipped over the edge and started down the hill, you could pick up enough speed to make it down the hill, through the back yard, past the house into the front yard, over the retaining wall at the front edge of the yard, down onto the sidewalk and out into the road. I’m super bad at judging distances, so I don’t know how far it was….but to a kid, it was really far!

The thing about starting up on this rock was that it was surrounded by trees. There was a straight path down the hill, but if you happened to veer off course you were in trouble. The rock itself had a small tree growing up out of, off to the left. It was really a baby tree and didn’t look like much of a threat, but it was still a tree.

One evening, Rachel and I were outside sledding during the early evening. I’m guessing we were 9 years old at the time. The dusk was turning to dark and it was likely almost time for both of us to be heading in for dinner. Given that it was dark, we probably shouldn’t have been in the woods, but we were feeling daring that night. We decided to start from higher up in the woods than we had ever started before. We climbed up the hill and got situated in our sled, Rachel in the back and me in the front. We pushed off with all our 9 year old strength and picked up a considerable amount of speed right away. It was great….until it very much wasn’t. My memory is fuzzy, but I remember going straight and then suddenly not going straight anymore. We crashed right into the baby tree. Upon impact, the sled stopped moving forward but I, sadly, did not.

I bet you’re thinking “Oh, no, she smashed her head into the tree! Concussion! Stitches! Profuse bleeding because head wounds always bleed profusely! Did she knock out some teeth?!??” but you are wrong. My right leg went to the right side of the tree; my left leg to the left; and my genital region crashed into the tree. Hard.

Yup, my genital region. I was violated by a tree. Or, depending on how you look at it, I violated a tree. Either way, it was not pleasant. I imagine it would be like falling with both of your legs on either side of a balance beam, but with more force.

I thought I broke my vagina. I was sure I was bleeding. It hurt so bad that I saw stars….and just to reiterate, my head was fine. I made Rachel come inside with me so I could see if I was bleeding or broken in some way, which involved taking off her boots and snow clothes and then having to put them all back on again to walk home, since our sledding adventure for the day was obviously over.

I was totally fine and the only lasting damage was psychological.

So, if you have to be out shoveling snow (again) this weekend, just be glad that you’re not crashing your genitals into things. Unless you have an unfortunate mishap with a shovel. Or if that’s just what you’re into.

Song of the Day: Benson Hedges by Fun.

 

Mean Girls: How I Was Bullied

30 Dec

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a long time. Truly ever since I discovered The Kind Campaign. If you don’t know about The Kind Campaign, please visit their site http://www.kindcampaign.com and follow them on the social media and learn about how these incredible women are helping to teach the young girls of this world that bullying each other is wrong and unnecessary. I wish this organization had been around when I was growing up.

*Please note that all names have been changed. Fifth grade was a single year of bullying and I am friends with all those wonderful people now. College…is another story.

I was tiny, into music that wasn’t popular yet, loved shirts too big for me, acting, and I was alone in my class. My middle school always shuffled us around into different classes every year and in fifth grade, I was separated from the majority of the friends I had made in third and fourth grade. They were all in another class, a cooler class, that Bethany was also in. I was alone and among kids who had been friends prior to fifth grade. I was an outcast of sorts. I was smart but not too smart and cool but not cool enough. I was an easy target because I was trusting and tried hard to make friends. These kids could smell my desperation. And that’s when they started what I still consider one of the worst school years of my life.

I still had my friends down the hall who I would see at lunch or recess or after school. I had friends in my theater group. I wasn’t entirely alone like some kids being bullied are. But still, it was the confusion and the hurt that broke me down when these few kids didn’t like me. It’s so hard when you’re that age to understand why this is happening to you and you can’t stop it. I had thoughts of suicide for the first time at that age. That’s horrible to think about but when you’re young and you’ve become aware of what suicide is without realizing the finalness of it, you view it as a way out. I used to visualize how I would do it and how those kids would feel so badly for picking on me and cry at my funeral. I never thought about my family and real friends and what ending my life would be like. My brain was so focused on escaping the everyday onslaught of cruelty I faced with every alarm clock, I didn’t think anything through.

I didn’t have any boobs when I was in fifth grade. I mean, I still don’t really. Several boys announced loudly in the cafeteria that I was a carpenter’s dream one day. When I asked what that meant, they shouted “Flat as a board!”

After this, I insisted that I get a training bra. I probably didn’t need one just yet but everyone else had them and I felt left out. I was invited to a birthday sleepover. I was usually invited to places and activities because they wanted to pick on me in a group setting. I wore my bra. I took off my bra. It was taken from my bag, soaked in water, and put in the freezer. The next morning when I couldn’t find it, some of the girls brought it out, frozen solid, in front of everyone, including some boys that had been invited over. I shoved it in my bag and tried to laugh with them as they mocked how small it was and asked why I even needed it. This was after they also tried to make me pee by putting my hand in warm water when i was awake. I fake slept through it so I wouldn’t have to face them.

I Googled ‘frozen bra’ and this is what I got. I couldn’t be more pleased.

I invited one of the girls of the group to go to the mall with me. My mom said to kill them with kindness and this girl, we will call her Lisa, was always kind to me in spite of her friends. We went and had a great time. She was ruthlessly picked on for the week following for hanging out with me because I was such a loser.

At one of these parties I was invited to, there were boys. Spin the Bottle was the best game in the world to many of us at that age and the boy I had a crush on was at this party. I had stupidly told the girls I liked him because still at this point, I thought we were kind of friends. They told him, in front of everyone, and purposely tried to get the bottle to land on him whenever it was my turn. It was humiliating.

But not as bad as when we had a teaching assistant and I mentioned I liked him. Not as a crush. I just liked him and he liked me in that teacher understands a student. They told him I had a crush on him. They gave me his name as a nickname. I turned red every time I was called on by him in class because they would whisper and taunt me. *To this day, a few of them still call me that name and it has become a form of affection, fortunately but this is origin of it.

I was teased, humiliated, mocked, embarrassed, and used. It was abusive. But at the time, it was ‘kids being kids’. We were young and they were dominate in that class. The next year, sixth grade, I was back with my close friends and I wasn’t bullied. I slowly became friends with the group that had hated me that one year. We are friends to this day. In eighth grade, I did the unthinkable. I bullied a girl with a group of my friends. We had a horrid nickname for her and did the same thing that was done to me. She would invite us over her house and we went because we liked making fun of her and her house and her clothes. I regret it all because she moved soon after this all happened and I was never able to become her friend and apologize.

However, it isn’t always kids. Unless you count college freshman as kids which I suppose you can. But I feel they should know better by that age.

Freshman year at college was going smashingly. I made a ton of friends, I had a cute boy who liked me, I was doing great in my classes and my roommates and I got along. It was fun to meet people from all over and to also find out several of my new friends had friends in college that my old friends went to. Alia was friends with Trish at school in Maine, who was one of my friend’s Jenny’s best friends. Trish and I finally met at Alia’s wedding. There was one connection in particular that led to my second dose of bullying. A connection that meant nothing to me but backfired as badly as something can.

A girl in my class, let’s call her Ann, was still with her high school boyfriend. That boyfriend went to school with one of my high school friends. One day, I was on the lovely AIM messenger we all miss dearly (not), and my friend messaged me.

He said he had a few questions for me regarding Ann and this guy she was hanging out with a lot. Now Ann and this guy, let’s call him Sam, had been hanging out a lot and it seemed they liked each other more than friends but that wasn’t something I knew for sure or cared to know because Sam had just dumped me a few weeks prior. I said that they hung out a lot and seemed to be good friends. Well, the boyfriend took this as Ann was cheating on him and they fought and ended their relationship. He told her I told him she was cheating. I did no such thing. At the time, I don’t think you could review your AIM messages, maybe you could. But that rumor spread like wildfire.

First, Sam took it upon himself to reveal a lot of personal information he had learned about me in the brief two weeks we ‘dated’. Most of it was not kind. Then Ann told everyone that I had ended her relationship. My suitemate, let’s name her Carol, chose the side of Ann and started to make my life a living hell. She would lock me out of the dorm. She would take my stuff. She and my roommate put salt in my bed which was the dumbest thing of all time because the prank is you put the salt on white sheets and the person can’t figure out why their bed is so grainy. My sheets were navy blue. I had also told them this prank. Way to go.

The friends I had made stopped speaking to me. They ignored me in class and made fun of me on AIM and shared their jokes as away messages. They spread rumors. Cruel rumors of me being a slut or ugly or anything I was insecure about that I had entrusted to them, the campus would hear about it. They would whisper about me at parties. They, again, would tell boys I had crushes on them, especially this older boy I really liked for a while. WHY IS THIS A THING? THIS IS SO MEAN! I felt alone, outcasted from the people I had to work with in class everyday. I was one of them and then, like a light switch, I wasn’t. They abandoned me fast and furious all because Ann and Sam were the dominant two of this group we had formed. And yes, they started dating pretty soon after the incident and dated for over four years so really, I didn’t make any different whatsoever and had no reason to be punished for the inevitable.

I cried every night in my dorm or in the library or other corners of campus. Usually the bathroom downstairs in the student center. I talked on AIM constantly to Bethany and Alia and any of my friends back home who were around. I was broken into pieces and my work was suffering. I wanted to leave school. i looked into transferring to another college nearby. I had a professor ask me what was wrong one day after class and I lied to her face and said I was just tired. I could have told her. I know she saw what was happening in class when no one would speak to me or include in group activities or sit by me.

But…I made new friends. A lot of new friends. Great friends. And I had kept a few of the group who had abandoned me. Matt for one. Matt never left me, has never left me. He’s my Peter Pan who clapped to bring me back to life. Him and Ricky and Drummey. Those three boys were my salvation and never once faltered in their friendship to me because they didn’t care who was dating who and who said what. They were able to be friends with me and the group and that helped saved me and made me stay.

293710168aIoluk_fs

Eventually, I was able to exist near the group. The older members warmed back up to me after a short while because again, they realized it didn’t matter and wasn’t their business. Sam and I became good friends towards the end of college and remain so today. He even apologized for everything he said which was brave and admirable. It wasn’t necessary but he did it any way. He’s a good man. Ann and Carol never did came back to liking me and still haven’t. Well, Ann sort of has. When I’ve seen her, we have been friendly and I wish her the best in all things because I know it was a time and place and once you bully someone enough, it’s hard to go back and apologize and be friends. We probably won’t ever be friends, Ann and I, because that time has probably passed and that’s ok, but we successfully played them in a scene once and we both were pretty proud of that. Carol…will never like me again I think. We were close once. I went to her house several times and we got along immediately when we had met. But to this day, she speaks ill of me and that’s just how it goes. She went the Regina George path and never looked back. Those girls were not shy about their cruelness and were relentless even when I became friends with basically everyone in the drama department, including their good friends, they never came around.

As much as it seems silly, it still bothers me. I still want to reach out and be their friend because I am still that fifth grade girl trying to get everyone to like her and not understanding why they don’t, why they are so cruel. I’m tempted every day to send Ann a Facebook request or reach out to Carol because I did like them both. They are funny and sarcastic and loyal as fuck to the people in their lives. But I know it’s ok that I haven’t and I don’t need to. There are people in the world you have to accept don’t like you or you just don’t get along with. And that has to be ok. The bullying is what is not acceptable and needs to stop being the norm and replaced with communicating and getting to the root of the issue. Ann never really confronted me except for one day in the student center right after her and her boyfriend broke up. She sat down and asked what I had said and if it all was true. I told her the truth. She seemed to believe me and then the shit hit the fan. Had she just had patience and talked more to me, trusted me, maybe we would be friends today. If my differences were accepted instead of judged, maybe fifth grade would have been a great year. It’s easier to go the Mean Girls route It’s easier to gain power with gossip and push others down to feel better about yourself. People take the easy way and I so wish that wasn’t our first inclination.

Most recently, I was touched by bullying as an adult. I had a huge misunderstanding and tense relationship explode with my husband’s ex who I had tried to be friendly with. Her friends took it upon themselves to blast me on Twitter and say nasty things behind my back. Some of these girls I had never met. Some of them I had been friends with before I had met and started dating my husband. They turned they back on me and got involved with something that wasn’t even their business. It brought all the memories flooding back and sent me spiraling into a dark place for a few weeks. I felt trapped and nervous. Everywhere I looked I saw or heard something else they had said. I was a slut. I was crazy. I was a heartless bitch. And worse, when I tried to speak to them politely and maturely, I was treated even worse or just plain ignored and then Tweeted about. I couldn’t believe that women acted this way in their late twenties. I blamed myself because this seemed to keep happening to me. Was it my fault? Was I an easy target? Was I actually crazy? Am I a bitch?

When I discovered The Kind Campaign, it was by accident and a touch of that mean girlness I try to avoid. I had seen Aaron Paul’s wedding pictures on People magazine and his beautiful bride, Lauren. Being a Breaking Bad fan and having the typical rabid crush on Jesse, I was curious who this girl was. Upon looking at her, I judged her. I thought she would be dumb and a super model because damn, that girl is gorgeous. When I found basic information on her, I couldn’t believe I had judged her by her appearance. I was so very off about Lauren Paul, who is smart, witty, determined talented, and kind. I fell in love with the concept of The Kind Campaign and now follow both her and Molly Thompson, who founded the organization alongside her, on the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They are both inspiring women who love this world fiercely and have been through bullying themselves and have risen above it. They created this project for girls like themselves and me and girls who have had it much worse. I would love to help them out in an assembly that they do in New York or any where just to see first hand these girls apologizing to each other and learning about how to support one another (Lauren, can you hear me?). How do we not do this as kids? How do we not see we are all learning and growing and figuring out who we are? We should be stand together, not tear each other apart.

I got through my bullying and yes, still to this day, sometimes I judge people on the surface or by how they dress or what they like. When I catch myself doing this, I always apologize to the universe and take it back because no one deserves that. Please check out The Kind Campaign and give kind. Be a little nicer to your classmate, roommate, or neighbor. You never know when they could turn out to be just as lost and scared as you.