Open-Minded, Non-Judgmental, Hilarious, Sex-Positive

Let’s have a chat about sex. It’s not a bad word. It’s not evil. It’s a part of life and I believe we should be open-minded about what is around us. It may not be your thing, but it’s someone else’s thing and who are we to judge. After all, there are more important things to look at in a person than their preferences in bed or their orientation or how they identify…like, how do they treat people.

I have been very open about the life I live. My family knows, my friends know, my kids don’t want to know, but, since they are adults, if they ever asked, I would be open with them. I used to be very afraid to share with others. What would people think? But I have reached a point in my life where I am all out of fucks to give.

I was outed at my weekend job by an ex. We had all made jokes about things, but that was all they were….jokes. But then he showed them pictures of a party we went to. It was pictures with the BDSM implements on the walls and he talked about what I was into. I was hurt and embarrassed and tried to use humor to let it go. The thing is, I wasn’t the only one with kinks in that relationship. I promised I wouldn’t share his secrets with our co-workers and I have not. While my co-workers joked with me about it, they never treated me any different, I was angry. That was never his to share. It was a huge breach of trust.

Then, I shared with my girlfriends. Let me tell you…they were amazing!!!! We had some fantastic laughs, but they never once made me feel judged. While I don’t shout from the rooftops that I am kinky (I only shout it from my blog, LOL), I am very open about it. I love that my friends and family that know can ask me anything, and they do. My family is very open about asking me questions also. You see, whether you are mortified by what my lifestyle is, or you think I am a slut, you are most likely a little bit curious about it. I will never say I am an expert on anything. But I am always happy to answer questions. There is so much misunderstanding with this lifestyle. There should be no place to judge unless you know.

I choose to remain sex-positive and to have a great sense of humor about it. I love when my girlfriends send me a dating profile and ask me to translate. The last profile was a Daddy Dom and Bull who was looking for a submissive or brat. My girlfriend sent, “Hey, not interested, but what does this all mean?” I have been asked what it is that draws me to pain. Is it safe? What is a sex dungeon like? Do I really call someone Sir? What the heck is a munch?

I would love to open up healthy conversation about anything you are curious about. I am not looking to convert anyone. I would just love people to have a better understanding. You see, this lifestyle is not evil, nor should it be looked down on. It is a lifestyle that preaches consent. That is filled with exit plans if something goes awry. It’s an inclusive lifestyle (gay, straight, bi, trans, furry, horsey, cuckhold)…all are welcome and accepted. I won’t lie and say there aren’t assholes in the lifestyle. I mean, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Nothing is perfect.

Ask questions. I will answer anything. I will probably throw in some jokes. I have a very crude sense of humor. But I find that laughter can make even the most uncomfortable of conversations more comfortable. Post a message here on the blog or feel free to send me an IM on Facebook if you are reading this from my Facebook post.

Thankful For Love

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I have had a love/hate relationship. Even when I was married, often, my ex-husband was away on a hunting trip. I didn’t know if he would make it home for the day or not. If he made it home, it was amazing. If not, I was disappointed all day.

When I became single, well, it felt lonely because I didn’t have someone by my side. I became one of those single people whom everyone felt sorry for. I got to spend every morning with the kids, but, for dinner, they would alternate years at their dad’s house and with me. They can never know how lonely those years without them are. It doesn’t matter how much family is around, when my kids aren’t around, it feels so lonely. This was my 5th Thanksgiving living as a single woman. And, while it was supposed to my year with the kids (even though they are no longer minors, they have stuck with every other year), I was horribly disappointed when they told me they wouldn’t be with me. My son was having dinner with his long-time girlfriend’s family. I have been anticipating they would start doing holidays together, and I am so happy for him. Sophia decided to spend the year with her dad. It was a big sting, but not a suprise. So, I spent some time preparing myself, mentally, for a second year without my kids with me for dinner. What I really needed to do was take an emotional inventory of what I had in my life. My inventory consisted of only one word.

LOVE. When I look back at the last year of my life, I realize just how full my life is. Even on weeks that I sit at home for 5 nights straight, my life has been so filled. When I am home alone, it’s because I choose to be. I choose to take the time for myself. If I am feeling down, I have so many loves in my life that I am never really alone. This place is unchartered territory for me. Even when I was married, I didn’t feel this full. Now, I am exactly where I always wanted to be. I wake up with only my dog next to me. I make breakfast and eat by myself. But I never feel alone anymore. This is what people mean by living their best lives.

The kids got to my house last Sunday. I had such an amazing visit with them. We spent a few days together and it was such great quality time with them. I missed having Thanksgiving dinner with them. But in the end, Thanksgiving is just one day. I had a few amazing days with them. And it’s the little things they do that are huge to me. The hugs. Sitting at the table together. Cooking together. Joking around together. My Thanksgiving with them was all week. What more could I ask for?

This year marked the 35th year of the annual football game at my parents’ house. The game has evolved so much. It started as two families at a campground in Haymarket. When we moved to the country in 1986, it became a tradition. The game has changed a lot. I was a teenager when the tradition started. The game has seen some amazing gains…marriages, new babies, new friends, babies that have grown into young adults, their significant others. Some years there are 10 people that play. Other years, there are 25. But no matter what, we have a blast. The game has seen some significant losses too. Friends have moved away, one time players can no longer play, divorce, and mostly, the loss of someone who was like a second mother to me. One of the original players. She passed away right before Thanksgiving 16 years ago. Every year, we think about her. Her famous onion dip is always at the table, and my family will stand by the dip and talk about our wonderful memories of her. Our tradition runs strong, and so does her memory.

Dinner, just like for many others, is a tradition. The table has gotten bigger and bigger. It got smaller for a while, with the famous “kids’ table,” but they are no longer kids. So we have moved back to one table. What makes our dinners so special. Well, our dinner conversation. The things we say would make many people blush. We are rude and crude and sometimes we laugh until we pee ourselves. This year, as I sat at the table, surrounded by the family that I have so often taken for granted, I took in every ounce of love they had to offer. I didn’t feel alone at any point in the day. I felt surrounded and I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.

My love life…well, it’s definitely existent. It’s a bit unorthodox, but with that, it has allowed me to grow so much in learning how to have a relationship, yet still be independent and enjoy all the family and girl time I want. Until now, relationships have always been a way for me to go from being someone strong, to becoming needy and/or unhappy and giving up everything for someone. That causes resentment and unhappiness. This go round, I have learned to communicate, that I don’t have to step away from friends and family, and that I am very lovable as a strong and independent woman. What’s awesome is that we do not complete each other. But we enhance each other, we understand each other, and we are there for each other. I have noticed, in the last 9 months, that when something amazing happens, or something bad happens, we want to share with each other. When my baggage gets to heavy, I can talk to him. I have to be honest though, I used to go to friends first, who would listen and encourge me to open up to him. He accepts my baggage and my insecurities and has never made me feel bad for having them. We work through them. And, that baggage has become significantly lighter. I still get insecurities, but it’s rare now. Very rare. But I never feel bad for having them. We face them together. He shares his struggle with me. I listen. We talk a lot. We have found a happy place together. A place of calm and comfort. And I don’t mean that complacent comfort where things fall by the wayside. It’s a comfort that we can be ourselves and know that we will accept and love each other. Yes, I said it. The “L” word. That scares me, when it comes to an intimate relationship. For a while, I couldn’t admit it. What if I lost myself again? But I have learned that I am strong enough to have that emotion now. I am strong enough to accept that feeling and know that I am surrounded by enough love everywhere else, that no matter what happens, I will always be okay. Vulnerability like this is actually a superpower, not a weakness. When I give love, it creates more love for me to give away.

I have let so much love into my life this past year that I am completely overwhelmed sometimes…in a very good way. And, by letting that love in, I have found that the love I can give has increased infinitely. It gives me more patience with others around me. I have been told by clients I work with that my smile has made their day brighter. A co-worker told me I was like a walking love emoji. My friends see it, my family sees it. And my gosh, I feel it. So, this year, my emotional inventory is all love. I am so grateful for all the love I have in my life. Love heals, it strengthens, and love pours out of you when you have the right kind. In the words of Roald Dahl, “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family, to all my loves, to all the ones who were lessons in my life. May you all feel the love that I feel, throughout the holiday season and throughout the entire year.

Solid Walls Protect…But Do They Strengthen

I spent a long time being one of those “projects” I was needy, always needed to be reassured and couldn’t live my life alone. The last several years have forced me to find my strength. And finding my strength has had a huge learning curve. Strength comes in many forms. And each strength serves a different purpose. If I took inventory, it would provaly look like the entire inventory on Amazon. Very overwhelming.

My first strength was bricks. Bricks seem so solid. And, well, when you feel like you’re fighting the Big Bad Wolf, the bricks only seemed logical. After all, I had already been spit out by the wolf. I couldn’t let him completely destroy my life. Bricks are strong, but I had to figure out what to do with them. Have you ever bought bricks? You buy them in bulk and they don’t come with instructions. So, I felt the first step was throwing the bricks. I threw bricks at the wolf. I threw bricks at his family. The anger. I let the anger out. I screamed and I cried. I threw bricks at my family. They had no idea what I was going through. I needed to throw bricks and keep everyone at arms length. Words can be harsh and hurtful just like bricks. I used them and became proficient. I needed to be angry. My entire world was turned upside down.

But then, I learned about mortar. With a little mortar you can put the bricks together. Succumb to the fact that the wolf is going to come at you, as well as the other bad stuff. So with mortar, you can make a big wall. A strong wall. What’s amazing about brick walls is that big bad wolves can huff and puff and the wall will remain standing. So there I stood, behind my brick wall, keeping all the bad stuff out. It feels amazing. Huffing and puffing and I am safe. Safe and sound and, well, I am alone. That wall, it keeps everyone out, an it has no windows and no doors. But that was okay. I had learned that it’s not just the big bad wolf I needed to be protected from. It was the entire pack of wolves. So I waited it out. Waited for everyone that was going to hurt me to take their shot. I waited and waited until the huffing and puffing stopped. When it did, I was still stuck behind this wall, and I couldn’t see beyond it. I was alone. There was an emptiness. For someone who has so much emotion, so much love in her heart, emptiness is not a good place to be. Are solid walls really good?

So, I built a window. Just one. I could open it and let my family in. So they would come visit and they had a key to my window and could visit any time they wanted. But my kids, they were little baby wolf cubs and tended to stay close to the big bad wolf. So, they didn’t have a key to that window. I would only let them in sometimes. So, letting family in was wonderful, but being without my immediate family was still making me lonely. We have built an amazing relationship and I love my family so much. But, honestly speaking, it was also a reminder that my immediate family didn’t exist anymore. I needed another window.

So, I built another window. I wasn’t quite sure who I was building it for. Who I was thinking I would let in. But I built it. I joined a group on Facebook thinking I could find some sense of community and just watch it through that window. Not really let anyone in, but see it. But then one of them invited me to dinner, and she and I talked for a few hours. I opened the window a little. The funny thing is, she started working on events, which required me to climb out of that window and go out from behind my wall. I met more people each time I went out. That window seemed to be opening wider and wider.

During that time, I opened another window. I let someone in. I felt like I had to start looking for a man in my life. I needed someone to define me. A need like that will blind you and you won’t see that what you are letting in, is actually a sly fox. But I didn’t see him close that window, and all the other windows behind him, keeping everyone out. I could see my friends and family on the outside, but they are once again, at an arm’s distance. I try to open the windows, but I am being smothered. The windows aren’t enough. I forgot doors. Doors are much easier. But also more dangerous. What if the wolves can work their way in. Doesn’t matter. I take inventory. Strong family, strong friends…we can take on a wolf pack together. They have my back.

So I build a door. Not just any door. I build a huge, sliding glass door. The first thing I did with that door, was sent that fox straight through it, with his tail between his legs. And all my friends and family guarded that door with me. They didn’t have to guard it too long. I became stronger because of my family and friends. I saw how, with their help, I could fight off anything. And I looked out the window and realized, I had been stuck behind this wall for way too long. So, with a lot of help from the people around me, I destroyed the wall. I prefer to be free. I don’t want to be held back by my fear of what’s out there. I want to face those fears and know that I can conquer them because I am not alone anymore. The walls were only letting people trickle in when I allowed it.

There is a vulnerability in knocking that wall down. Sometimes, someone unexpected makes their way to you. I learned that I had everything I needed to be safe from all the bad stuff out there. So, when someone new made his way into my space, I had no walls to protect me, only my tribe of friends and family. I am vulnerable, but not in a bad way. I am open to new feelings, new experiences, because the walls are not there. I can let myself be vulnerable to someone new because the strength I have found with no walls, is like nothing I have ever known before. It doesn’t mean I won’t get it hurt by anything. But I will always have people around me that love me so much. Who are there for me. I won’t have to start from scratch, with bricks and walls with no windows. So I will bask in all my vulnerability and know that my vulnerabilty is really not a weakness. It’s this amazing strength to allow people into my heart, into my life, and reap the benefits of that love. Not because I need it to survive, but because they truly earned a place there. And if they are no longer there, my life will not come to a screetching halt. The strenght I have found will get me through so much…friends who aren’t really friends, difficult work days, money stress, job stress and a broken heart.

So, while solid walls may protect us, they also keep things out that may help protect us even more. Walls create an atmosphere of getting by alone. Bringing those walls down and opening ourselves up, can bring in much more strength than the strongest wall in the world. Because family and friends, well, they are much stronger than any brick you can find.

Living in the Moment

Call me unorganized. Call me a hot mess. Call me whatever you want. I don’t like to plan my life in advance. Of course, I have goals and I plan ahead for things that should be planned ahead. But I don’t make lists (or if I do, I don’t look at them anyway). I pack for trips the day I leave. The idea of an impromptu road trip is so completely exciting to me. But it’s also important to have goals. I have them. But I don’t necessarily have an outline to follow on how to get there. I’ve learned that if I have step-by-step instructions, I typically veer from them and am so disappointed in myself.

I have learned that outlines tend to be a straight line to a goal. They’re neatly laid out. That’s just not me. Remember the spirographs we used to use when we were kids? That’s sort of how I get to the end of something. I will go in circles and seem like I am getting nowhere. But I will meet my goal and have some amazing experiences along the way. For example: hiking…I love it and would love to do it more. I would love to do weekend section hikes on the Appalachian Trail. Seems easy enough. Get the gear and just do it. Well, not so easy. I don’t have the money for the gear. I don’t really have anyone that has the ability and/or interest in doing a section hike right now. And I don’t want to do it by myself. But, I will go around in circles getting there. Start with shorter hikes. Go camping. Really, just anything outside.

Being happy in life. What a huge goal. And not always easy to achieve. Defintely not a straight line. You know, throw in a failed married, some failed relationships, work hardships, heartbreak, money issues and you definitely don’t have a direct route to that goal. It can be frustrating, but when you stop to think about it, those curly paths are how we grow. How we strengthen ourselves to face other challenges. How we learn to be humble. Without the twists and turns, I would have missed out on so many things that are contributing to my happiness. A failed marriage led me back to a better relationship with my family. heartbreak of lost friendships led me to my tribe. Lack of money led me to enjoying and appreciating the simple things in life.

So, a straight line doesn’t necessarily lead to the happiness that is your goal. If I followed a straight line, I would still be married. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t be happy. So, why plan. I try to learn from each experience I have. I don’t want to look too far ahead. And I won’t be too hard on myself when I don’t follow the path that makes the most sense. I will enjoy the adventure I am living. I will live in the moment, even if it means going in a circles like a spirograph. After all, when you look at the final product of the spirograph designs, they are pretty beautiful. When I look back at the life I have led so far, even with the stuff that hurt like crazy, it has been a beautiful life. And it gets more beautiful each day.

What Do We Lose Throughout the Years

The other night, I was relaxing and watching TV. It’s gotten to be a pretty common evening practice for me. Sometimes I’ll color. Sometimes I will knit (I have been working on a baby blanket for 1 1/2 years). But it’s not often I do anything different…well, other than bills (insert eye roll). The only time I deviate from that is when there’s an awesome thunderstorm and I curl up with a book and listen to the storm roll by. I think I have written about that. But, why wait for a storm. Why do I wait for storms to get back to things I love?

You see, it’s not just reading. I wait for snow storms to pull out a good jigsaw puzzle. I haven’t worked on my photo albums in years, but when I did it, I would usually wait for a rainy day to work on pages of family memories. Sometimes I get so caught up in going out with my friends and family that I forget to stop and enjoy my hobbies. And I can’t help but wonder who else feels the same way. What did you used to love doing that you just haven’t made time for? I have skeins and skeins of yarn in my basement just waiting to be turned into something beautiful. I must have at least 5000 sheets of scrapbooking paper and stickers and die cuts to much the thousands of pictures waiting for me to tell their story. Scrapbooking was a tough one. I stopped working on albums when I got separated. I was working on the most amazing family vacation, spanning the entire length of Rt. 66 (from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier). I couldn’t bear to look at the pictures. It was too painful. But now, well I recognize how awesome that trip was and am hoping to complete it one day. What a keepsake for the kids.

I hardly read anymore. I love books…real books. And I love to curl up with a good book. I tend to doze as I read, but it’s so relaxing.

Why? Why, when I decided to get back to the old me, did I give up things the old me loved? I know time is a factor. But it’s important to not give up things either. Especially when I find myself sometimes wishing I could sit down and throw a scrapbook page together.

But could the solution be do the old things you love with the old and new people in your lives? My mom loves jigsaw puzzles. I think I see some jigsaw nights in our future. I have a girlfriend that used to love to scrapbook too. Why not encourage each other to work on some albums or fun paper crafts. You know who you are. And I think most of the people in my life love to read…and they love wine. Doesn’t that mean book club? We can scramble to read the book, get together, not talk about the book, and drink wine. So you see, I don’t need to wait for a storm to come along to realize what is good in my life and what I should keep in it. I choose to keep all that amazingness in my life through the sunny days too.

I’m curious to hear from my readers. Leave a comment about what you miss doing that you used to love. How can you bring it back?

What’s Your Halloween Costume?

I love Halloween. The idea of dressing up always sounds like fun. However, I don’t usually have much to dress up for. I haven’t been to a Halloween party in years. I get some trick or treaters, but not very many. It’s a shame all this Halloween spirit goes to waste.

When I started working at the distillery, I was pleasantly surprised to get to dress up for Halloween. I went as a voodoo doll. It was a blast. Last year, I ordered a costume, but just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t dress up last year. This year, I made a bold Halloween decision. I have always wanted to dress up in a sexy costume. I have thought about it many times, but never had the confidence to pull it off.

This past year, I have spent a lot of time building up my confidence. I have been very successful. With the help of my friends and family, I have finally started believing that people like me for who I am. They like me no matter what weight I am. They like me no matter how crass my sense of humor is. They like me even when I am feeling down…in fact, they lift me up. They check in on me when I am feeling down. When my crown is crooked, they straighten it.

So, with some amazing friends and a confidence that continues to grow, I decided to be bold. I’m hot! I decided to wear my hot costume and own it.

So, I went as a Hooters Girl. I would never have done this before. I know what my body looks like. But I have learned to own what I have got and be proud of all of it. And guess what, I’ve got the Hooters to pull this one off. I had a blast at the distillery and at the end of my day, I was so proud of myself for having the confidence. You see, it’s still very new to me to have this kind of confidence. But I loved it. How did I do at work you ask?

I’d say I did pretty well. You see, we all have body types that may not fit the “mold”, but that mold is in our heads and haven’t you heard…mold is toxic. So be confident and break out that outfit or costume you have always wanted to wear and own it. Happy Halloween.

Meet the Real Me

Yes, my story is real, and the strength I have gained from my experiences in life is very real. But, my story…my trauma, my anxiety…they don’t define me. I DON’T HAVE anxiety, I live my life despite it. I am NOT a victim, I have survived through trauma. There is a huge difference, and for a long time, I let both define me. What I learned is that you get stuck in those definitions and it becomes who you are. It was incredibly freeing when I learned that I didn’t have to be defined by these labels.

Growing up I was a bit of a trouble maker. Just ask my parents or my sister, especially my dad. Boy did I know how to push his buttons. I was a happy kid. I had friends in the neighborhood. We were usually bouncing from playground to playground. I loved spinning on the tire swing, at the playground behind our house, and looking up at the sky as we spun really fast. And the regular swings. Remember trying to swing so high you went all the way around the top bar? We tried, but never succeeded. I used to ride my bike down big hills with my hands to the side, feeling the wind rip through my hair. And I would steal kitchen spoons so I could dig to China in the backyard. I never quite made it. I would have always preferred bare feet to my tennis shoes. But my parents always caught me. And dancing, oh how I loved to dance. I enjoyed the feel of the bass as it ran through my body.

My sister and I would build blanket forts. They were always amazing. We would build forts with separate rooms in them. We used so many blankets. But the minute my sister made me mad, I would yank that fort down. When we went to the local elementary school to play tennis, I would pound my racket on the ground if I wasn’t winning. In elementary school, my friends and I would walk to school. But we usually walked the way our parents told us not to. In school, there were many times I was removed from the classroom because I was causing trouble.

On the weekends, my friends and I would watch scary movies. My hands would be in front of my face and I would be plugging my ears at the same time. But we loved scary movies. I was me and I never apologized for that. I always wanted to be outside and, in the summers, I would stay out as late as I could, until my mom put the front lights on. I was a free spirit. It had a way of getting me in trouble. I didn’t like rules. But, when I look back, I really like who I was.

I let my fear of what others thought of me get in the way for a very long time. I let my anxiety define me. I let myself play the role of the victim and expected others to nurture me and take care of me. I thought that was who I was. I let my experiences define me. I stopped watching horror films because they increased my anxiety. I stopped trying to dig to China and I stopped trying to make that swing flip over the bar. And…I stopped dancing. Oh how I missed dancing.

When I started living on my own, I realized, who the hell cares what others think of me. I liked the kid I was growing up. Maybe not everything was perfect about her, but she was actually pretty awesome, and she was a force to be reckoned with. I started taking yoga. While I was no longer trying to flip that swing over the bar, I was doing some incredible poses that I thought I would be way too old to do. And, I got to be barefoot while doing it. Growing up, I knew exactly how to push people’s buttons. I believe some of that was because I could read people pretty well. I do not try to push buttons anymore. Instead, I use my ability to read people to support them and put a smile on their faces. I don’t try to dig to China, but I feel very excited about my new love for travel and hope I get to take a ton of trips. I enjoy watching scary movies again (just not by myself). And dancing…I love to dance again. I go out and dance, I stay home and dance, I cook dinner and I dance. I am the person that I am and I make absolutely no apologies. If I offend someone, it’s okay. They don’t have to like me. But I won’t apologize.

This is the real me. Not my trauma, not my anxiety. I returned to the person I used to be, only, more grown up. I like who I am now. I am more than happy to share my story with others, but I realized it was important for you all to know who I really am. I do understand that a lot of my strength comes from my experiences and I don’t discount them. I live with anxiety and I am a survivor, but really, I am so much more than that.

What’s Your Story…An Update

Early September I shared my story of trauma and anxiety, strength and empowerment. I shared my story with the hopes that I can reach out to others. I can’t lie. It’s therapeutic for me too. Blogging has made me look deep inside myself to really figure out me. It’s a work in progress, but we are all evolving. The goal is to be happy with where you are headed.

I was totally unprepared for the healing that I had no idea I still needed. Not that I thought I was completely healed. I thought it was a part of me I would carry. It would always be there but not take over my life. I have been in a great place for quite some time now. So imagine my surprise when I got a message from a friend that I have not talked to in over 30 years. She lived right down the block from me when we were growing up. After I posted my blog, I went to dinner with my parents. As I’m having dinner I get a very long facebook message from my friend apologizing to me. She has a memory of me sharing with her about the abuse. At 6, she didn’t know how to process that information and never said anything to anyone.

I cannot explain the waves of emotions that followed. There was always the smallest piece of me that wondered if what had happened was a nightmare. I think that was because I was asked if I was sure it wasn’t a dream. I was positive, but there was a seed of doubt planted in my brain. Maybe the question was asked because my disclosure was years after the trauma. Either way, the question has always left me with the smallest sliver of doubt. So, when my friend reached out to me, it was like putting the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. I didn’t realize how much that doubt weighed on me. But reading those words…”you and I”…”in your parents’ basement”…”and you talking about it.” Any doubt I had was completely erased. It had happened. I had told someone. I remembered that, but again, was that maybe a dream? Everything I was certain to be true was completely validated.

I got home from dinner and I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. Not one part of me was sad. Those tears, they were cleansing tears. The tears from a ton of weight being lifted off my shoulders. I should never have doubted myself. So, while my friend is apologizing for not understanding my plea, words cannot describe the healing she gave to me earlier this month. How has my life changed in the last month? Well, there were times that my mind would take me back to those moments at 7 years old. That little voice in my head would start to whisper, “was it real?” I struggled to get past that. To trust my memories. I can honestly say, since she and I messaged, I have not revisited those moments again. I don’t look back and wonder if I said or did something wrong. So, while I will never forget what happened, I do not need to look back anymore and question. My past experiences helped create who I am today, but they do not define me.

So, I set out to share my story to reach others and make a difference. To my friend who reached out, Thank You!!!!! I will never be able to put into words what you gave to me by reaching out. I believe you were not meant to do anything with my disclosure when you were 6. It was always now. You were meant to tuck it away for that moment, earlier this month. That was when I needed it. Thank you for turning me straight ahead on my path so I can move forward and stop backtracking periodically.

New Friends,Old Friends, Girl Friends, Boy Friends

I have learned that being in love doesn’t necessarily make us stronger, or even happier, but having love does. I don’t mean the kind you have from a significant other. I am talking about the love you have from true friendships. The kind that last a lifetime. The kind of friends that include family or feel like family. I didn’t realize I had some of these friends until a few years ago. Friends I grew up with that I still connect with. Friends I may not see or talk to every day, for whom I would drop everything for if they were in need. And they would do the same for me.

I recently had dinner with one of my best friends we have been together since she was born, three days after me. we see each other two or three times a year. and, get this, we live three or four miles away from each other. The truth is, life can get in the way. At dinner, she aplogized for being out of touch. My first thought was, “no need to apologize because I am just as guilty.” We are at different places in life. She is married and has kids at home. I am single and live alone. But that does not make me value our friendship any less. We do less things together, but the love has not changed. And when asked about my best friends growing up, her name always comes up. And my response following that is, “and she is till one of my very best friends.” She is one of those friends that when we get together, we pick right up where we left off. I have a few friends like that, whom I can pick right up with.

I just went camping with another of those friends. We went camping together last weekend. Not glamping, not with an air matress or portable gourmet kitchen. But good old fashioned camping. Sleeping on the ground, cooking on the fire, peeing in the woods and no shower. Yeah, didn’t shower for a day and a half. We played games by the fire, we saw a bear near the campsite, and we fought off yellow jackets. But the weekend was fun anyway. Well, except that I shared my sleeping bag with my 68 pound dog. I think I need to invest in a double sleeping bag so I can share with Marshall. It was amazing to spend the weekend with a friend that I talk to on almost a daily basis, but hardly get to see. We talked about our kids and life. He is one of those friends I have known since high school, but didn’t realize how important he would be in my life until a few years ago. We have seen each other through some tough break ups, tough times raising kids, and exciting times raising kids. We have cried a lot together. I am so grateful that we were able to really reconnect and grow such an amazing friendship.

I have written about my tribe before, but I have been truly blessed to have them in my life. These women came into my life in the last year or two and it’s as if they were always there. When FaceBook pops up and says, “It’s your Friendiversary” I am surprised when it says 1 year, or 2 years. How is that possible? I can’t picture my life withouth these women. There are very few days when we don’t talk. These are the women I turn to when something happens with dating, being a divorced mom or dealing with an ex. I turn to them for so much more, however, they are the ones that completely understand the trials and tribulations of being divorced and single again. We straighten each others’ crowns and speak the truth, even if it hurts sometimes. We do game nights and girls’ weekends. An impromptu text to have a quick lunch during the work day. People always say that the challenges in life are not a sprint, they are like running a marathon. You have to go slow and steady to maintain strength for the full run. These women, they help me sustain my strength. They give me strength. I hope I return that for them. When one of us needs strength, those of us that have it, give it willingly.

I cannot write about friends and people that give you strength without writing about my family. There is absolutely no way I would have gotten through all the things in my life without family. I am, without a doubt, loved beyond belief. I may not always deserve it, I may take it for granted, but I know it’s there and I do know just how blessed I am. My parents have helped me through a divorce, buying a new home, totalling a car, getting a new job, helping me with my dogs and thousands of little things around the house that add up to tons and tons of love. And let’s not forget two surgeries. My mom slept on a little chair after my last surgery so I wasn’t home alone. She helped me shower and had to help me take care of my incisions. Not a pretty job at all. While I may not always show how appreciative I am, I do know exactly how much they do for me and there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for them and that I don’t think about how much I love them. And my sister…She has no clue how strong she is. She has been this incredible rock for her family. At the same time as she was being so strong for her family at home, she was helping me through a divorce. She would come to my house late at night and soothe me as I cried myself to sleep. She and I have gone through very different challenges in our lives. I don’t pretend to understand what she has gone through. But I have seen how she has handled it. The grace with which she has handled it all. She has not been through the same challenges as me. But what she offers me is a listening ear. Not suggestions, not a knowledge of what I feel, but someone who accepts me for my challenges and supports me and just hears me. She is too humble to even see the impact she has had on so many lives. Girl, I know you’re reading this. The strength I have found, the strength your family has, it’s you.

I can’t talk about family without talking about my kiddos. So here’s the thing, when I realized divorce was the only option, I knew I wasn’t the only one that would go through it. My kids were going to have to go through it too. Their challenges were going to be very different from mine. I also knew I wouldn’t understand what they were going through. My parents are still together. What I did know, was that they were not going to be burdened with the challenges I faced from the divorce. I was not going to burden them with having to take sides. They should be able to love both me and their dad equally, without having to feel guilty or like they are hurting us. I never wanted them to feel as though they would need to be my rock through this difficult time. I needed to be their mom and love them and get them through their challenges. The kids didn’t talk much about the divorce. I didn’t force it and I tried to always make it clear that I was there for them no matter what. It took me a long time to really be able to look at my relationship with them and appreciate what I have. You see, teenagers are tough. Whether they are part of an intact family, a blended family, or with single parents, they present challenges because they are going through their own challenges, that they are not quite mature enough to handle all the time. I had to learn to not take everything personally. Now, I can gain strength from them too, and they don’t even realize it. When I get a first day of classes picture it melts my heart that they thought of me. When I get a surprise that one of them is home and wants to spend time with me. When they ask me to come to a college game to get that experience, I feel like a million bucks. The phone calls and text exchanges I have with my kids are becoming something I look forward to. I used to walk on eggshells being afraid to say the wrong thing. Now, I can let most things roll right off and not take it personally. I will say, my kids expressed to me a little over a year ago, that they wished I had opened up more to them about the divorce. I don’t know if it is because there dad was very open with them about his feelings, that they needed my “side” to balance it out so they didn’t feel pulled in one direction. I have stood by my choice to not share that with them. That is their dad. I will not say bad things about him to make me feel better. They are welcome to vent to me about him just as they should be able to vent to him about me. However, I will not join in and perpetuate the frustration for my personal gain. It doesn’t help them. I will support them and protect them and be their strength, but I will not talk bad about him to them. In sticking with my morals, I have found such a happiness, and the kids seem truly happy for me. And when I see them enjoying school, I am thrilled for them. Seeing them happy brings me so much joy.

This, this is what I have been craving my entire life. To have such amazing friendships. Everyone is so completely important to me and I am truly blessed to have them all in my life. I can only hope that I bring them even half the joy and strength that they give me. Because of them, I can live my life free from anxiety, free from fear of being hurt by an intimate relationship, without putting up walls. I can be my true self with anyone and I don’t have to give a flying fuck if someone doesn’t like it. I’m surrounded by people who love me and do like me, so others are free to walk away. People may come into my life that make me very happy. And I will not put up walls and I will let them into my life. And I can go into that without fear of getting hurt. Because I know if that happens, I’m surrounded by love, and my entire tribe will pick me up and I will be okay. Having friends is powerful. Probably one of the most powerful super powers. You don’t have to have a lot of friends. You just need to have the ones that will let you be unapologetically you.

Consent… Because it’s not just about saying “No”

I found an amazing page with a great definition and guidelines for consent. http://teenhealthsource.com/sex/sexual-consent/

It doesn’t matter what your age, race, gender identity, political affiliation, religion, etc. Consent isn’t just about saying no. It’s about saying yes and enthusiasm. A good example: My daughter has Lyme. She is often in pain and hugs can be miserable for her. I never hug her without consent. And sometimes, I get the teenage response “sure.” You know the one…sure, I will do that but I’m not happy about it. So, while she doesn’t tell me no, and her words say okay, it’s not enthusiastic. It’s not genuine but she doesn’t want to say no because she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. I opt to not get that hug from her. I can wait for when she is ready for it.

You see, I use that example because consent is not just about sexual touch. That’s a big piece, but any touch can be unwanted and we should respect everyone’s personal space. I am a huge hugger. I am a touchy feely person. But, if I feel the urge to give someone a hug, or just provide a calming touch to the arm, I ask, and read the response.

The other night, my nephew sent me a text all about consent. He found it in the following link: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/698733 . It discusses the fact that consent just isn’t really enough. Consent should include negotiations. These negotiations should not just include whether or not to have sex, but also how to exit sex. Yes, exit. Because many things can happen between consent and the end of sex that could change one party’s mind. There must be an exit plan also. Dare I say it…Vanilla relationships should also have a safeword. And the inbetween should be negotiated too. What do you like? What woulld you like to explore? What are your hard limits, things you expect to never be asked to do because you have already set that limit?

I grew up in a pretty sex positive environment. But I still didn’t feel comfortable sharing my fantasies. I didn’t want anyone thinking I was a freak. I am so far beyond that. I really don’t care what people think. If you can accept me for exactly who I am, you probably don’t belong in my life. If not, be with people you can accept. I’m not everyone’s taste. But, when I figured that out, I was able to talk with potential partners and share what I like and what I don’t.

Going into a power dynamic, consent MUST be negotiated. When I look for a partner, I absolutely look for compatibility. But there is so much more that I look at, that I never thought about in a “vanilla” relationship. Safewords are always discussed. Not just how to exit the moment, but how to slow it down or redirect it. “Yellow” – Sir knows if I call yellow, I am starting to not enjoy something. It’s a way to redirect the scene to something that is pleasurable for both of us. “Purple” – well, that means I can’t take anymore and the scene is done immediately. I have talked with my Dominant about my limits and what I don’t want to and won’t do. Yes, we negotiated all of that. But, what’s more amazing, is when you have found a partner that will not just listen for the safewords, but continue to ask if you need to use them. For instance, when I have had a particularly emotional day, I like to be hit very hard. And, I cry. I can’t help it. This is such an emotional release for me. The pain of the belt brings all my emotional pain to the surface and let’s it all out at once. But imagine how that feels to my partner. I am not using my safewords, yet I am crying. He does not just listen for my safewords. He understands that is not good enough. This is about pleasure for both of us, not just him. When tears start, he stops, soothes me, asks if I want to stop…. Think about that for a moment. I have an exit plan in place already…no questions asked…just “purple.” My partner does not wait for “purple.” And he is constantly checking in. No matter how wild or crazy, the check in is a moment of gentleness and kindness. It’s a moment of such intense caring, when he stops and gently rubs my back and whispers “are you okay” or “Let’s stop for a bit and see how you are.” It is one of the sexiest things I can think of.

Vanilla relationships are the same. Shouldn’t we tell our partners in the very beginning what we are willing to offer and what we are not willing to offer? We should ask the same of our partner. Most people enjoy talking about what they like. It can be amazing foreplay. Negotiations will happen throughout the relationship. Limits change all the time. But when you start a relationship with consent in mind, it’s a great way to open up communication, and that’s the biggest part of a relationship.

As I said in the beginning, consent is not just about sex. It’s about personal space. It starts at a young age. If your child does not want to be hugged, respect the personal space. Ask permission before touching someone. Each time someone is asked permission, it empowers that person more to command respect of their body. But here is the thing. None of this will stop all the consent violations out there. Remember, consent is not just about saying No. If you felt unsafe to say no, if you felt you were in a position of not being able to consent, please remember there are resources out there. And never minimize how you feel when you don’t give consent. Rape is not the only consent violation. I have heard people minimize what they went through if it wasn’t rape. Any unwanted touch is a violation. If you’re married, your spouse still needs consent. If you need help, look to your local resources. Most local sexual assault agencies have hotlines. And many have advocates who will respect your decision to report or not. They can help you make the report. And they will believe you. If you find you need medical care, most agencies have advocates who can be there for you through that process too. If you are not sure of a local program, call RAINN at 800-656-HOPE (4673). This is a national hotline and they will connect you with a local provider.