Thought Catalog


To My Father, Before He Dies

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 07:30 PM PST

Shutterstock/altanaka
Shutterstock/altanaka

Every time I speak to you I wonder, is this it? Is the last time I will hear your voice?

But then I think again – this isn't your voice. No, not really. The last time I heard your voice, your real voice, was sometime last March. Your mother died suddenly and it brought us closer than we had been in years. Closer than we had been since I was too young to understand. Too young to understand that you had been dealt a hand that traumatized you – that tore you apart and tormented you every waking moment of your life.

You always said you would kill yourself if you were brave enough. I'm sure to anyone reading this, that thought is horrifying. That it isn't a brave act, it's selfish and unnecessary one. But they haven't met you. They haven't met someone whose life has been a series of horrific acts against their own body, intent to destroy it and escape whatever ghosts are inside you whispering in your ear. They have not met someone who will die at last, after a long battle with life.

I wish with my whole heart you had what you considered courage enough to pick up that gun and free yourself. I would understand that more than I understand this. I would understand the desperate attempt to be free immediately. I wouldn't see it as selfish. In fact, I think I would have been proud of you. Proud knowing that your last act was doing something you so desperately wanted, yet spent your life fearing. I would have understood. I don't understand this.

I don't understand you killing yourself slowly. Waiting desperately for the years of torture to catch up to you. You must be in pain. Are you in pain? Can you feel everything slipping away? Failing? Do you realize the difficulty urinating you're having is your kidneys telling you it's over? They're giving you what you want.

Can you feel your liver? What is it saying to you? Does it beg you to stop? Or does it say just a little more, we're almost there. We're almost home.

What is home to you now? Because it certainly isn't here and it certainly isn't me. Where is it?

I had a dream you were a bird. Everyone who knows you would say that was silly, that you would be a deer. But I don't think so. Just like life has shackled you to your pain and torment, those legs would shackle you to the earth. The very thing you are desperate to escape and to forget. I think you will be a bird. I want you to be a bird. I want you to leave the ground whenever you need; I want you to feel free. Freer than you have every felt. So free you can leave everything behind at a second and fly somewhere distant. So free you can see everything you were meant to but never got to see.

I promise I won't bury you. I won't bury your body. I won't leave you in the earth you hate. I won't seal you in a box and leave you to rot. I won't leave you there to spend your death just how you spent your life.

I will do what you want. I will cremate you. I will put you in the cheapest urn I can find. But I won't throw you away. I will buy the cheapest urn because I do not plan on keeping you. No, I don't want you to be kept anywhere ever again. I plan on breaking you open. I will separate you into bags. I will bring you places. I will show you the world you never got to see.

I will show you beautiful things, and I will leave you. I will scatter you. I will scatter you in the wind so your wings can gain momentum and you can fly away. Please fly away.

Don't be scared. Please don't be scared. I won't be selfish and keep you here. I won't keep you anywhere. I will tattoo myself with a bird to remember you are flying somewhere, finally free. Don't be scared. Close your eyes. You will be free soon. It won't hurt soon. Your fight will be over soon.

Don't think I will forget you. I promise I won't. I will smile when I hear the wind, or feel it in my hair. I will feel you as you whisper by me. I won't be mad you didn't stay longer. I know you have things to do and things to see. I will say hi to every passing bird just in case it's you.

I will smile on my wedding day and leave an empty seat for you. Maybe you can stop by. But if you can't, I understand. Planting your feet firmly on the ground for that long might be scary for you and might bring back some painful memories. That's okay. Maybe you can just fly overhead. I don't expect you to stick around for the dance – that's too much time on the ground. I said I wouldn't keep you anywhere ever again.

I am sorry. I am sorry life has hurt you like this. Close your eyes. It won't hurt soon. I promise it won't hurt soon.

I think, if it's okay, I will keep some of my favorite pieces of you in my heart. But I promise, you're free to come and go as you please. TC mark

After Being Terrorized For Months, I Finally Came Face-To-Face With What Left Handprints On My Porch

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 07:00 PM PST

Flickr, Becky
Flickr, Becky

You can read part one here, part two here, and part three here.

I went back to Arizona. To my dad's old place. Like I said, I've got places all over, but most of them are mine. This one was my dad's. This one was my favorite.

It took a few days to get my sleep schedule back on track. To get ready. Because after the snow, the mud, the leaves — I knew there was no escaping it. Best I could do was go back to the only place I considered home.

My dad bought the place, a modest little bungalow plopped out in the middle of the desert — remote, private, you bet — after Ma filed for divorce. She found out what he'd been up to and finally found herself a spine. I don't think my dad much cared, to be honest. He didn't fight her, didn't screw her out of what she asked for, either. Gave her a fair amount of money and jetted down to sunny Arizona. Almost like he was relieved.

I spent my teenage years bouncing back and forth between Ma's place and my dad's. It wasn't so bad. When I wasn't in school, my dad let me drink with him. He'd be in his armchair, the same bulky armchair that sits in my living room now like a dozing brown bear. "Nothin' wrong with a little Jack Daniels between men," he'd say. What he didn't say was that even though I saw what he was doing in that strange house, I never told Ma, even though he belted me good when we got home that night. I think that made him respect me.

I didn't ask questions, either, when he left for long periods of time. My dad had always been private and even though I was older I had no doubt I'd get the belt again if I went snooping. When he got drunk, he could get mean, and sometimes he'd come back stinking plastered, looking for a chore to keep him busy. No snow in Arizona, no walk to shovel, so every now and then I'd hear him out in the backyard digging. He was the kind of man who had to keep his hands busy. Couldn't fault him for that, I guess.

Once I was back to normal, feeling like maybe I could stay up pretty late, I bought myself a bottle of Jack and settled in the living room. Sank into my dad's old armchair. I turned on the television and began flipping channels. Sadly enough, I couldn't find "Overboard" on anywhere.

I drank my whiskey. Kind of a lot of whiskey.

And sure enough, after about an hour, it started.

Tap-tap-tap-tap.

I switched off the television. Finished my drink. Poured another one.

"I hear you out there," I called. "Didn't take you too long this time, did it?"

Tap-tap-tap-tap.

"What's it gonna be, huh?" I demanded. Jack had made me brave, braver than before, so I slammed another swig back and felt the warmth spread through my stomach. "Are you my dad? Are you me? Gonna yell at me for not shoveling the walk? Ha! No snow out there, asshole, and no rain neither. We don't get any rain in these parts, not that often. Just sand and sun."

Tap-tap-tap-tap. On one window, the one on the porch. Then I heard it in the kitchen, too. And towards the back of the house, in the mudroom.Tapping on all the windows. There were more this time.

And when it spoke, that's when I knew I'd made a mistake — that I'd missed the whole goddam point. That I was absolutely, utterly fucked.

Not my dad. Not me. Not even the wordless babbling. Worse. Much, much worse.

"Danny, oh Danny, Danny," it said in a sweet, feminine voice. A voice I didn't really recognize but also sort of did. "Danny, oh Danny, we're out here, Danny. We're here. You thought we couldn't find you, but we did."

No.

No.

There was no way.

I'd made sure, I'd been so careful.

"Danny, oh Danny, Danny," it crooned again, and there was nothing wrong with the voice really, just sounded like a normal lady, someone I might meet on one of my nights out, someone I almost certainly did. "Danny, oh Danny, you thought we couldn't get to you but we did. We're here, come outside, say hello, oh Danny, don't you like us anymore? You liked us so much, too much, didn't you?"

I felt like my mouth had been stuffed full of leaves again. My stomach wasn't warm anymore, it lurched like I'd swallowed a gallon of cold, thick mud.

"Danny, oh Danny, you just did what your daddy taught you. We're not angry, Danny, we're not mad, those were our friends we sent before, we couldn't get to you first so we sent them along and they were the old ones, they were the angry ones, but we're fresh and new and we want to know why you left us, Danny."

I gripped the glass of whiskey so tight I thought it might shatter.

"You can't be out there," I said when I could move my tongue again. "None of you, I made sure you couldn't walk, I made sure—”

They shouldn't have been able to get out of the basement. I learned that, I learned from my dad, if you let them stay mobile they can almost get away, that lady in the house that night almost got away because I distracted him at the window, she bolted but my dad was faster and he took her down but I'm not that fast so it was always just easier to cut off their feet.

"Danny, oh Danny, we figured it out, we're smart girls, Danny, did you know if you try hard enough you can walk on your hands?" It sounded so nice, like it wasn't mad at all, not like the others, but oh god I wasn't sure it was telling the truth. "It took us longer, the lot of us, oh Danny it took us a while to try hard enough but we did, we can do it now, just like our friends. Our angry friends. Oh Danny, did you know when you're angry you try much harder?"

Yeah, that I knew. When you think your dad is the best guy in the world but really he's just a bully, he thinks he's so much better than you and hits you with the buckle end of his belt for just being a kid when it was him who was being bad, him who was in there strangling some woman who probably was gonna tell Ma about what they'd been up to. When he punishes you again and again for things you didn't mean to do, like forgetting to shovel the walk. For getting mud on the porch. For not getting all the leaves in the yard bagged just right. Yeah, you get angry. And you try much harder. To be better than him.

"I think he only did the one," I mused, finally lifting the glass to my lips with a trembling hand. "I think it was just the one, if I had to guess."

"Oh Danny," it said, and it sounded aroused, like it was getting hot or something. "Danny, oh Danny, you did so much more, didn't you?"

Tap-tap-tap-tap. At all the windows. How were they tapping? If they walked on their hands, how were they tapping, oh god as if any of this made any sense at all…

How many of them were out there? Some of them? Dear god, all of them?

"You left me in the basement, Danny," it said, sad now, pouty, a girlfriend who's not getting her way. "You came back, oh Danny, yes you did, but I was so smelly by then, and when you left I hadn't even gone yet, I was still there, still alive, and my feet, oh Danny why did you cut off my feet? It hurt, Danny, oh Danny you hurt me so! You hurt us so!"

Unbelievably, I heard more tapping — but this tapping was rain. It was fucking raining. Again.

"You were all so easy," I said, wiping a thin sheen of sweat from my upper lip with the back of my hand. "Buy you a few drinks, bring you home, knock you out. Maybe if it hadn't been so easy—”

"Oh Danny, don't lie, don't be a little liar, you did it to show your daddy, didn't you? And you showed your daddy, oh Danny, we know that now, we know what you did, your daddy is awful mad at you for what you did…"

The rain fell harder, harder, like a fucking monsoon. I couldn't hear the tapping on the windows anymore but I knew they were out there, all of them, because why not all of them?

On the porch, something began running back and forth. Back and forth. I thought I heard a little kid laugh but couldn't be sure.

I felt like I was losing my mind, thoughts were slippery and escaping from me, they were all out there.

"Are you sitting in his chair, Danny?" it said, louder now to be heard over the downpour. "Oh Danny, are you sitting in the chair where you did it? He told us about it, Danny, he's awful mad at you, oh Danny, oh Danny…"

"I had to wait 'till I got big enough," I murmured. "Strong enough. I had to do it with my own hands, just like he did."

"Danny, oh Danny, you wrapped your big strong hands around his neck and you showed your daddy, didn't you? 15 years ago, oh Danny, oh yes Danny, that's what you did, we know what you did, your daddy wants you to get what's coming to you and now it's raining and now we're done talking and now we're coming inside and now you're going to be so sorry."

The front door burst open. I heard windows, windows in other rooms, all the windows, shattering. And there they were.

The blonde I'd brought home in Texas. The redhead with the huge tits I scored in Minnesota. The mousy little brunette I'd settled for in New Orleans, the one I'd left in the basement when the whatever on the porch came through the window.

Scores of them. All of them. Had there really been that many? Crawling through the broken glass, unaware of the way their rotting skin was being shredded to ribbons. A few were dragging themselves forward by their elbows, trailing bloody stumps where their feet had once been.

Most, though, were walking on their hands. And goddam were they fast. They must've been angrier than they let on.

I dropped my drink and scrambled to the back of the house, to the kitchen where the phone was. I'd tried to handle this myself and it was out of my hands, I had to get help, I had to get someone out here to help, oh god why had I moved to this godforsaken place in the middle of nowhere?

Outside, the rain poured, buckets of it.

When I got to the kitchen, I fumbled with the phone on the cradle, nearly dropping it in my panic, and looked behind me.

They had me surrounded. My house stunk of decaying flesh. Some of the older ones, their jaws hung crookedly from their skulls. But they were just… waiting.

The ones on their elbows were crouched, tense, ready to pounce. The ones on their hands swayed with an eerie expert balance.

Slowly, unaware if they could see me now that I was still — many of them had no eyes, after all, just gaping dark holes in their heads — I punched nine-one-one. I brought the phone to my ear. As the dead women watched, I told the operator that I was being attacked and needed help. They said help was on the way. I wondered if it would be soon enough and replaced the phone on the hook.

The brunette (the mousy one from New Orleans) shifted back and forth, back and forth on her hands, like an excited little kid.

"Danny, oh Danny, you're going to be so sorry!" she squealed through decaying lips. I wasn't even sure how she could make sounds with those lips.

A tittering spread through the crowd, a slurpy sort of giggling that almost couldn't be heard over the heavy rain.

"Danny, Danny, Danny," the women said in droning unison. "Danny, Danny, Danny."

I put my hands over my ears.

"Stop! Leave me alone!" I screamed. "You were stupid sluts, you were just like the one my dad did, you got what was coming to you!"

"Oh Danny," the brunette cried as the rest of them kept saying my name. "Oh Danny, you showed your daddy, you showed us, and now you're going to be so sorry, now you're going to see your daddy again! You'll be like us, you'll get what's coming to you, yes you will, oh Danny!"

They said my name, over and over. It began to sound like a song.

I rocked back and forth, shouting nonsense at them, trying to drown out the rain and the chorus of dead women crooning my name. I backed up against the sink, hands clamped over my ears. I don't know how long I was like that but they got louder, louder, louder until —

"Ha!" I cried out, triumphant, and opened my eyes to look at the 37 rotting bodies that filled the house where I'd murdered my father. "You hear that, you dumb bitches, that's the police! They're coming, they're gonna save me!" Indeed, the women had stopped singing, and through the rain I heard the distinctive wail of a cop car's siren.

But they were smiling.

"Oh Danny," sighed the brunette from New Orleans, "look in the backyard."

My blood ran cold.

No. There was no way.

I turned and looked out the window that oversaw the backyard. The backyard of dry, packed desert dirt. The backyard where my dad used to dig and the backyard where I eventually did my own digging, too.

He liked Arizona because it was dry. Because it never rained. But tonight, oh how it had rained. And it turns out, I was wrong. He'd done more than one.

Just like me.

In the backyard, the tightly-packed desert dirt was mostly gone — under the downpour it had become a thin murky soup. In it floated swollen, bloated carcasses. Bones stripped of flesh. A few heads that still had wispy hair on them even as the skull gleamed beneath it.

I knew they weren't all mine, not that many bones, but that didn't much matter. The siren was louder now, right outside. It didn't take long for me to put the pieces together.

They would see the bodies. They would check my other places. They would find out what I'd done with my big, strong hands. All because I couldn't wait in the car.

I turned back to the living room and was unsurprised to find it empty. No rotting women. Those were in the backyard. The interior of my house suddenly began to flash blue, red, blue, red. And I began to laugh.

What is it they say about the sins of the father? It doesn't matter.

Because I lied.

I'm not sorry. TC mark

21 Hilarious Reminders From Adam Sandler That Will Bring Light To Your Hanukkah

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 06:30 PM PST

Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live

1. "When I was a kid, this time of year always made me feel a little left out because in school there were so many Christmas songs, and all us Jewish kids had was the song 'Dreidl, Dreidl, Dreidl.'"

2. "Hanukkah is the festival of lights. Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights."

3. "Ross and Phoebe from 'Friends' say the Hanukkah blessing. So does Lenny’s pal, Squiggy, and 'Will and Grace’s' Debra Messing."

4. "So many Jews are in the show biz. Bruce Springsteen isn't Jewish, but my mother thinks he is."

5. "Paul Newman’s half Jewish, Goldie Hawn’s half, too. Put them together, what a fine lookin' Jew."

6. "Harry Potter and his magic wannikah celebrate Hanukkah."

7. "Joseph Gordon-Levitt enjoys eating kugel. So does Stanley, Jake Gyllenhaal and the two guys who founded Google."

8. "Two time Oscar winning Dustin Hoffmanakah celebrates Hanukkah."

9. "The guy in Willie Nelson’s band, who plays harmonica, celebrates Hanukkah."

10. "You don’t need 'Deck The Halls' or 'Jingle Bell Rock', 'cause you can spin a dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock."

11. "Princess Leia cuts the challah with Queen Elsa from Frozen. David Beckham is the king of soccer studs, and is also a quarter chosen."

12. "Houdini and David Blaine escape strait jackets with such precision. But the one thing they could not get out of: their painful circumcision."

13. "Some people think that Ebenezer Scrogge is. Well he’s not, but guess who is? All three stooges."

14. "Winona Ryder drinks Manischewitz wine, then spins the dreidl with Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein."

15. "There’s Lou Reed, Perry Farrel, Beck and Paula Abdul. Joey Ramone invented punk rock music, but first came Hebrew school."

16. "Bob Dylan was born a Jew. Then he wasn't, but now he's back. Mary Tyler Moore's husband is Jewish, 'cause we're pretty good in the sack."

17. "So much funakah to celebrate Hanukkah!"

18. "We've got Scarlett Johansson and talk about a Kosher crush. And if you need a higher voice to turn you on, how about Geddy Lee Bob Rush?"

19. "It's not pronounced Ch-nakah. The 'C' is silent in Hanukkah."

20. "Tom Arnold converted to Judaism but you guys can have him back."

21. "So drink your yaeger bombikah and smoke your medical prodikah, if you really really wannikah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah."

If you're on top of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah songs, and already know most of these quotes, take solace in the fact that Adam Sandler just released a new song — a hit Hanukkah single, if you will. His fourth Hanukkah song came out last week, and this one mentions Drake, so there's a decent chance it will fulfill your wildest dreams. Watch it before Saturday to kick off your Hanukkah (but not on Friday after sundown).

TC mark

Some Thoughts On Prayer After The San Bernardino Shooting

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 06:15 PM PST

Twenty20 / tomrus
Twenty20 / tomrus

Growing up, of the many phrases my parents continually repeated, "God helps those who help themselves," is right there with the best of them. This is not unusual when you grow up Catholic. Another Catholic favourite is, "Offer it up," which is, as they say, Catholic speak for "quit bitching."

My parents are daily mass attenders. I am objectively not nearly as prayerful as them but I am a Catholic by birth, faith, and practice, and adulthood hasn't changed that. I am also more religious than many of my friends, colleagues, and people who I interact with regularly. Some may identify with one religion or the other, but it is more so in inheritance and in name, than in practice or perspective.

It is no walk in the park to be a young person of faith – of any faith. The secularization of society is a real experience during this time, and especially in this part of the world. But it is not just secularization that is felt, a certain de facto agnosticism, appears to be creeping into the social culture. This is not to position me or other young Christians as marginalized. In truth, the United States is still more Christian than not. And in comparison to any other faith, being a Christian in this nation is to be in a position of privilege.

But it is not just secularization that is felt, a certain de facto agnosticism, appears to be creeping into the social culture.

As a Black, African woman I understand what the experience of societal marginalization means in lived experiences. So it would be untrue to determine that Christianity sometimes renders me to the same position of social disadvantage that my Blackness or African-ness or womanhood does in this culture. It would also be ahistorical to overlook the ways in which the Christian identity is attached to the very essence of the United States and the West. Still, it is also not untrue to observe the culture, and to determine that Christianity is scrutinized and resisted by contemporary social norms, and increasingly, the political left.

It is a good time to mention that I am neither right nor left. This may surprise people who follow my work and make assumptions about my politics. But for the very reason that I coexist in an "interesting" concosion of identities – foreign, African, Black, Nigerian, woman, Catholic, religious, academic – I find that my values simply cannot belong to one singular political ideology. I think this is actually true for many people, but they sacrifice some values for others, or at the very least prioritize their values.

I, however, find myself in a position such that I may hold two important values that are fundamental to my understanding and existence in the world – and one belongs to the left, and the other belongs to the right. But mostly, many times, with some exceptions, I find myself at the center.

beetlejuice

I have written a lot about death since I've started (publicly) writing: police brutality, terrorism, and mass shootings – the latest, the San Bernardino shooting; I have written too much about death. I don't enjoy it. You might think, "Well, nobody does." Perhaps. But some people are far more attune to reporting and analyzing the deaths of large groups of people than I. But I have often found myself in the position of having to do it. It is a self-imposed endeavor I suppose, but an endeavor nonetheless.

I write a lot about human suffering and the tragedy of the human experience for the individual, and for particular bodies and groups. But there's something about continuously writing about death that starts to feel monotonous. Was it not Stalin (of all people), who said, "One death is a tragedy but one million deaths is statistic"? That, I think, is what I don't like about writing about deaths continuously – it starts to feel like reporting on statistics. I prefer to emotionally absorb the stories even when the side effect means the possibility of personal mental and emotional investment. It would be better for that to happen than to lose sight that real people with real loved ones and livelihoods and hopes and dreams, lost their lives due to the failings of humanity.

Do you know what else I do while writing about death and tragedy? I pray. Probably not as often as I should, but I like to stay in conversation with God; often speaking, but these days I'm learning to do more listening. Why do I pray? Because I am imperfect, because I don't have all the answers, and because my spirit is often restless when I observe the fallen world. Prayer, I believe, changes things, as it is often said. But more importantly, prayer changes me.

Still, God helps those who help themselves, right?

beetlejuice

When it comes to the mass shootings, the terrorism, the police brutality, the violence in the world, I think it's fair to say that thoughts and prayers are not, per se, enough. I have said this. I have said this because I do not believe that God is a magical genie who I can call on at any time and – poof – I get what I want. (If He were, prayer and religious devotion would not be declining in these parts.) But I insist on the importance of more than just the verbose of prayer, because I inherently believe that with prayer, comes works; the Good Book says it too. And that is what my parents raised us to believe with that slightly indignant insistence, that we help ourselves too even while asking God to intervene in our conversations with Him.

When it comes to the mass shootings, the terrorism, the police brutality, the violence in the world, I think it's fair to say that thoughts and prayers are not, per se, enough.

But what do you do when you cannot act? What do you do when you are not in a position to act? What do you do when you are at a distance from the hurt or the pain or the violence that you are witnessing or experiencing as a third party? What do you do to show solidarity with men and women and children around the world who are at the very moment in need of help? What if, at best, all you can provide is monetary support? And what if, at worst, the only thing you do is sit by a screen digesting news and more news?

For many people, like myself, prayer is something we can do. Prayer is something we offer, and in the moment, it is how we show love and compassion to the world. Indeed, there may be actions to follow beyond that. But for the moment, prayer is the gift we are able to give.

This is of course foolishness to anyone who does not believe in God. That is fine. I accept the foolishness of my faith regularly, even as a Catholic who was raised to look for intellectualism and reason in faith. Still, I accept that I cannot bring to any person who demands it, scientific proof of God's existence, or the rational explanation for a faith that is based on The Holy Trinity, or confirmation that my prayers are reliable and verifiable. I grew up in an academic household and I am in the same path; I know how those arguments go – with little if any respect or constructiveness or understanding among individuals and groups on multiple sides who are hell bent, no pun intended, on proving their position rather than learning about someone else's.

I don't try to "prove" faith to anyone, and most certainly not in the scientific sense. God is not a scientific hypothesis. What I can tell people is that in the darkness of the world, in the loneliness of being human, when I have fallen and failed and been defeated; when I have seen the destruction that human beings are capable of, and the suffering that the most vulnerable and innocent have endured, even then, and especially then, I have experienced the presence of God. Because the world is fallen, and humanity is broken, and we do hurt each other in so many ways. And still I see goodness and righteousness and hope and love – which always reminds me that God is there; God is here. I do not need all the answers.

beetlejuice

By all means, demand that those in power, those with voices, those with privilege, speak for the vulnerable. Demand that people rise up and challenge the status quo to lessen the environments which make possible the different forms of violence in the world. Demand that people act and demand that leaders act; demand change and work for it. Because the people deserve better – humanity deserves better.

But it is not courageous to believe that prayer is an affront against acting. It is not valiant to say that God doesn't change things. It is not heroic to determine that one must act beyond prayer. And it is not accurate to claim that this was only said about those in power. As a young Christian, I can tell you that these things are said every day in multiple ways. The message was loud and clear about the increasing social dissent on prayer, long before "prayer shaming" entered into our new contemporary vocabulary.

In the end, whatever you think about prayer and politics, we still have a problem: we're still killing each other. Shootings, terrorism, police brutality, and all the rest.

On some days, some of us head to our local city councils and demand our politicians hear us, and on some days we protest and resist. On some days we volunteer for and with the most vulnerable, and on some days we put our money where our mouth is, and vote with our dollars. Indeed, on some days we participate in hashtags and we talk and we enlighten and we educate, and on some days we sit and watch and wonder why. On some days, some of us also write. And we should because we must be allowed to give comfort to the world the best way we know how and can.

Thus, some of us take a moment of silence, a moment to kneel or sit or stand, and engage in conversation with something much bigger than us – some of us also pray. TC mark

“Compersion” — A Polyamorous Principle That Can Strengthen Any Relationship

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 06:00 PM PST

CoffeeAndMilk
CoffeeAndMilk

I vividly remember the first time I felt it. My husband and I were in the backyard, lazing in the sun, sipping drinks as he described the previous evening. As he talked, his face looked brighter, his eyes clearer. In a flash of déjà vu, I remembered that same vibrant and enraptured look from 25 years earlier, when we first met. It was a sudden reemergence of his vitality that I hadn’t fully seen in our domestic nest for many years. But now, in his detailed (and scintillating) descriptions, that fire in his eyes was beaming.

“Baby,” I told him genuinely, “I am so happy for you!”

What brought on these feelings of joy in both of us? To be honest, he’d just had sex — with another woman. And, yep, I was stoked for him.

There’s actually a word for the joyful feeling that a polyamorous person has when his or her lover or spouse walks through the door after spending the afternoon making love to his or her new girlfriend or boyfriend: compersion. Compersion is such a novel concept that you won’t even find the word in the dictionary (unless you look in the Urban dictionary).

Feeling all warm and gooey because your spouse had a great time banging someone else is not something we’re socialized to feel. We can be thrilled for our partner if they get a raise or promotion or receive some kind of unexpected windfall, but why can’t we be happy for our partners who find joy in bed with someone else?

In that moment in the backyard when my husband was describing a spontaneous make out session, I felt slightly freakish that I was exuberantly happy for him. But it was at a point in our marriage when romance in the bedroom was at an all-time low. Between financial stressors, raising kids and working like crazy, there wasn’t a lot of fun to be had. Quite frankly, I was happy to see that my husband was still sexual. But it also felt scary. Not because it wasn’t a great way to love someone, but because of the anticipated judgment from the marriage police, those traditionalists descended from our Puritan ancestors who feel put on this earth to defend and enforce the status quo. These are people I run into at PTA meetings, school sporting events and at my suburban grocery store. They would resoundingly disapprove of my husband having a lover and would heap even more disapproval on me for being happy for him!

But this was the beginning of a new way of thinking for me — why did my husband and I have to maintain the status quo if it wasn’t working for us? Whose business was it if we wanted to be sexual with other people? And why wouldn’t we want to do something that was going to make our marriage work better? Most of our relationship worked, so why not fix the part that didn’t? Why couldn’t we discuss it honestly and be happy for each other?

Compersion fascinates me because it sanctions the idea of our partner deriving pleasure separate from us and from another source. In this way, compersion is antithetical to how we view relationships and expect to operate in them. We are raised to believe that when we are one half of a couple, we should derive all our happiness and pleasure from that single partner and only experience it together with that partner. Compersion challenges this ideology. It supports the idea that you are individual beings with perhaps divergent desires or needs. Having separate sexual and love experiences doesn’t mean your relationship is a failure; to the contrary, it can actually strengthen your connection.

In my research (which consists of Socratic-style questioning of hundreds of friends, acquaintances, coworkers, clients and strangers) I’ve seen how the whole relationship lockdown breeds an almost viral tendency to take the other person for granted, to have huge expectations and to deliver this all from a sense of duty and obligation — without even a thank-you! This stifling setup can prohibit the joyful feeling of compersion.

Can you pursue compersion in a monogamous relationship? Yes. It’s a quality that can help enliven any relationship. By giving it a go, you could open your heart to many happy and interesting possibilities. TC mark

The Rise Of Politically Correct Culture And The Fall Of The Original American Bro

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 05:45 PM PST

Twenty20 / callme_B
Twenty20 / callme_B

Once king of the animal kingdom and the archetypical 80's movie-villain, the classic college bro is now all but extinct. It's hard to imagine, but way back when, when listening to Flock Of Seagulls wasn’t considered a bitch-move and dousing yourself in makeup and black leather was considered downright sexy, every man wanted to be a bro and every woman wanted to have a bro.

The seeds of the bros' demise were first planted by a bitter, hoodie-loving, nerd, when he created Facebook, to get back at his ex-girlfriend. Or at least that's what Aaron Sorkin would have us think. Quick maintenance note: please don't believe everything that Aaron Sorkin tells you. Aaron Sorkin is also the guy who wrote the movie where the part of Nerd-Jesus and turtle-neck enthusiast, Steve Jobs, is played by sex-symbol, Michael Fassbender. So it's probably safe to assume that the plot of Social Network is slightly dramatized.

America's cults of personality aside, all Mark Zuckerberg really did was create a social media site with an interface that didn’t resemble R2-D2's ass. That being said, Facebook did eventually change a lot of things, but those changes happened concurrently with other great technological developments such as YouTube, smartphones, and tamagotchis.

In all seriousness though, you know that people weren’t always able to find a video of literally whatever they wanted on the internet, right? You do realize, that it's not actually a forgone conclusion that a homemade video of a cat playing the piano will be seen by an entire nation, either….right? Before Facebook and YouTube, only moments of real cultural significance, like Slick Willy lying or The Challenger Disaster, were worthy of going "viral".

However, I digress. Kids were shaping the internet, the internet was shaping the culture, and as the youth digitally gathered its voice, Tom Cruise lost his mind, and two wars later-we were 8 years into the new millenia. Hungover from a night spent drinking too much Bush and snorting too much Cheney, America unexpectedly elects a young, black, Harvard-educated politician. He was the son of a Kenyan immigrant and a handsome idealist with a squeaky-clean record. However, more importantly, he was also a faithful husband and a dedicated father. Save for their race, the Obamas really were the epitome of the American dream that old, white, politicians loved to talk about during their speeches.

Save for their race, the Obamas really were the epitome of the American dream that old, white, politicians loved to talk about during their speeches.

Like those relatives who you didn’t know were extremely racist until they're watching a Miami Heat game with you, American culture immediately began to react to President Obama. The mere presence of a man like him, in a position like his, exposed parts of the American culture that people were content with never acknowledging. Barack Obama agitated both the bigots and the grandmas too old to wrap their heads around the idea of a black man on TV. He also inspired silent minorities to demand their place at the table of American society, and ignited a severely overdue case of white-guilt.

People were finally having real conversations about the American conceptualizations of power in accordance with race, class, and gender. However, in addition to Barack Obama's election, there were also other cultural benchmarks signifying a changing society. For instance, the entrance of Hip-Hop into mainstream culture. Concurrently, smartphones could now record anything, and people were sharing everything on the internet. Which eventually lead to the now common phenomena of something going "viral".

What would've simply been a slip of the tongue or nipple 20 years ago, could now ruin a career. Knowledge of this massive, 165 pound, Janet Jackson-sized elephant in the room has altered the way people act in public. Being "21st century literate" means being aware of what you say and where you say it. Now, in 2015, everyone is pretty much aware that it isn’t cool to be outwardly racist, homophobic, and/or sexist. However, like that security guard who won't stop following you around the mall, people are still racist, homophobic, and sexist – they've just learned to be more covert about it.

However, like that security guard who won't stop following you around the mall, people are still racist, homophobic, and sexist – they've just learned to be more covert about it.

Bear with me – the reason for that tragic attempt at a history lesson: one institution that had to learn this the hard way was the (Greek) fraternity system. There was a point last year when you couldn’t go online without seeing a new story about a fraternity drugging, hazing, or offending someone. Only now are the effects of all that bad press finally being seen.

A bunch of men, hanging out with other men, doing a bunch of men stuff, used to be the epitome of manliness. However in 2015, the Greek system simply looks out of place. What was once a “harmless bro culture,” has now been relabeled as rape culture. What was once a "treasured initiation ritual," has now been relabeled as hazing. What was once "the best Cinco De Mayo party on the row", has now been relabeled as racist. And what was once a "proud brotherhood," has now been relabeled as a collection of over-privileged, alcoholic, douchebags.

Proponents of feminist and racial justice have ravaged the bro population, forcing the remaining bros to adopt new survival techniques to brave the modern social ecosystem. The 21st century bro is camouflaged and very cautious of his surroundings, however, if you watch him closely, you'll see that he's thankfully still the same old bro as before.

While he's still proudly masculine, he's also unabashedly sensitive. Even though he's still hypercompetitive and overly confident, he understands that there are times when the bravado has to be toned down because it's not the 80's anymore, and USC isn't the Helms Deep of "fraterdom" it once was. While everything is still made attainable to him because he was born into a life of insurmountable privilege – he has a new-found appreciation for the plights of others.

Proponents of feminist and racial justice have ravaged the bro population, forcing the remaining bros to adopt new survival techniques to brave the modern social eco-system.

Yes, he can be distant during the week, but if you catch him on game-day, in his beer spotted button down, in-between posing for blurry Instagram pictures and handle-pulling Tito's, he'll pat you on the back like a long-lost friend while loudly exclaiming, "Why don't we ever hang out!?" This is before he ditches you for the next pregame.

He watches football because he's a good American and a goddamn patriot. However, he also loves the spine-shattering and helmet-cracking hits. That being said, he strictly asserts that there's no place in the piously charitable NFL for players that hit women, break the law, or have aggression issues of any kind.

While, he also follows the USA women's soccer team, he think's that women's basketball is a fucking jokeYeah, he'd love to wear Alex Morgan's thighs as earrings, but he also respects her as an athlete.

What can you say? He's a modern man with modern tastes. He loves old-school hip-hop and think's Kanye's a total genius – but he's not really sure why. You can find him at a party either shyly bobbing his head to a Macklemore song, or spraying spittle in some girl's face, as he yells the lyrics to "Shout" by the Isley Brothers.

Despite his appreciation of the arts, he's still a business major because he wouldn’t want to waste his parents' money on an education that he "couldn’t use". So it's suffice to say that he's more statistically or mathematically inclined. Specifically, he's a big fan of ratios-and his all-time favorite ratio is the 10–1 girl to guy ratio at his frat's parties.

However, that doesn’t mean that he's not socially conscientious. Even though he's going to Law School, he fantasizes about the Facebook-adoration that he would receive if he joined the peace corp. He's like Henry Kissinger, but with abs. He sees himself as "socially liberal, but fiscally conservative," just don't ask him what that the fuck that means.

His love for the literary works of Ayn Rand is only matched by his passion for shitty-sports blogs that exclusively deal in creepy videos of Jessica Alba and anything, I mean anything, celebrating Rob Gronkowski.

Trust me though, he has a serious intellectual streak. It's just that debating politics isn’t that chill. He saves his inner-fire for things that really matter, like rush week and drunken-yelling matches over the theme for next year's register (party).

While the 21st century bro hates police brutality and thinks Donald Sterling is a total dick, he doesn't see the point of affirmative action. Yes, he's aware that some demographics are better off than others-he just simply doesn't believe in handouts. He firmly believes that college entry should be based on merit and hard-work alone – but between us– he's actually just traumatized about being the only one in his family who was rejected from Stanford.

While the 21st century bro takes his studies very seriously, he still knows how to chill. He's so cool that he even named his 300 dollar bong "The Professor". He and his fellow bros love using it to chill, get high, and talk about all of the other times they've gotten high.

While the 21st century bro hates police brutality and thinks Donald Sterling is a total dick, he doesn't see the point of affirmative action.

The 21st century bro simply loves life. He exudes passion in all areas of it-be it intramural basketball or beer-pong. Indifference is a useless sentiment that he reserves only for wearing protection and graduating on time. Don't worry, that blotchy hickey on his neck clearly demonstrates that he still pulls bitches. Now he's just more aware of his use of gender-specific pronouns. He loves sorority girls. He loves snapa. But fucking hates patriarchy.

That being said, when it comes to love, the 21st century bro is a hopeless romantic. He enjoys listening to his pop-pop tell the story about how he and his nana first met. He's a sucker for those old love stories because they remind him of a simpler, better time, when being white and male meant you had all the power instead of most of it. He loves his mom and he loved Bridesmaids, but sometimes he gets caught up in the confusing pressures of "hook-up culture,"meaning that he'll probably end up treating that girl he's hooking up with like his 3 day-old orange chicken from Panda Express; he'll forget about it until he's drunk one night and he'll lie about eating it in the morning.

All he wants-more than anything, is a cool girl. You know, that totally existing, all-American girl who loves eating pizza, drinking beer, and fellating him while he plays COD. She's not too sluty, not too clingy, but always a 3:00 AM drunken-text message away.

So if you know a bro, give him a hug, because he's trying his best to adapt to a new culture that won't put up with his fuckery anymore. Empathize with him. Because going from being allowed to do whatever you want, whenever you want, to simply being "equal" would be a tough transition for anyone. TC mark

Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History Of Violence

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 05:30 PM PST

Liat
Liat

1.

I am in the second grade. Our classroom has a weird open-concept thing going on, and the fourth wall is actually the hallway to the gym. All day long, we surreptitiously watch the other grades file past our class on the way to and from the gym. We are supposed to ignore most of them. The only class we are not supposed to ignore is Monsieur Pierre’s grade six class.

Every time Monsieur Pierre walks by, we are supposed to chorus “Bonjour, Monsieur Sexiste.” We are instructed to do this by our impossibly beautiful young teacher, Madame Lemieux. She tells us that Monsieur Pierre, a dapper man with grey hair and a moustache, is sexist because he won’t let the girls in his class play hockey. She looks at us intently and says, “Girls can play hockey. Girls can do anything that boys do.”

We don’t really believe her. For one thing, girls don’t play hockey. Everyone in the NHL – including our hero Mario Lemieux, who we sometimes whisper might be our teacher’s brother or cousin or even husband – is a boy. But we accept that maybe sixth grade girls can play hockey in gym class, so we do what she asks.

Mostly what I remember is the smile that spreads across Monsieur Pierre’s face whenever we call him a sexist. It is not the smile of someone who is ashamed; it is the smile of someone who finds us adorable in our outrage.

2.

Later that same year a man walks into Montreal’s École Polytechnique and kills fourteen women. He kills them because he hates feminists. He kills them because they are going to be engineers, because they go to school, because they take up space. He kills them because he they have stolen something that is rightfully his. He kills them because they were women.

Everything about the day is grey: the sky, the rain, the street, the concrete side of the École Polytechnique, the pictures of the fourteen girls that they print in the newspaper. My mother’s face is grey. It’s winter, and the air tastes like water drunk out of a tin cup.

Madame Lemieux doesn’t tell us to call Monsieur Pierre a sexist anymore. Maybe he lets the girls play hockey now. Or maybe she is afraid.

Girls can do anything that boys do but it turns out that sometimes they get killed for it.

3.

When I am 14 my classmate’s mother is killed by her boyfriend. He stabs her to death. In the newspaper they call it a crime of passion. When she comes back to school, she doesn’t talk about it. When she does mention her mother it’s always in the present tense – “my mom says” or “my mom thinks” – as if she is still alive. She transfers to another school the next year because her father lives in a different school district.

Passion. As if murder is the same thing as spreading rose petals on your bed or eating dinner by candlelight or kissing through the credits of a movie.

4.

Men start to say things to me on the street, sometimes loudly enough that everyone around us can hear, but not always. Sometimes they mutter quietly, so that I’m the only one who knows. So that if I react, I’ll seem like I’m blowing things out of proportion or flat-out making them up. These whispers make me feel complicit in something, although I don’t quite know what.

I want to say something, but I don’t know which of these men might be volatile, so instead I smile weakly. Sometimes I duck my head and whisper thank you. I quicken my steps and hurry away except then one time a man yells at me for doing this and starts to follow me. After that I always try to keep my pace even, my breath slow. Like how they tell you that if you ever see a bear you shouldn’t run, you should just slowly back away until he can’t see you.

I think that these men, like dogs, can smell my fear.

5.

On my eighteenth birthday my cousin takes me out dancing and a man comes up behind me and pulls down the straps on my my little black dress and people laugh as I scramble to cover my chest.

At a concert a man comes up behind me and slides his hand around me and up to my chest and starts kissing my neck. By the time I’ve got enough wiggle room to turn around, he’s gone.

At my friend’s birthday party a gay man grabs my breasts and tells everyone that he’s allowed to do it because he’s not into girls. I laugh because everyone else laughs because what else are you supposed to do?

Men press up against me on the subway, on the bus, once even in a crowd at a protest. Their hands dangle casually, sometimes brushing up against my crotch or my ass. One time it’s so bad that I complain to the bus driver and he makes the man get off the bus but then he tells me that if I don’t like attention then I shouldn’t wear such short skirts.

6.

I get a job as a patient-sitter, someone who sits with hospital patients who are in danger of pulling out their IVs or hurting themselves or even running away. The shifts are twelve hours and there is no real training, but the pay is good.

Lots of male patients masturbate in front of me. Some of them are obvious, which is actually kind of better because then I can call a nurse. Some of them are less obvious, and then the nurses don’t really care. When that happens, I just bury my head in a book and pretend I don’t know what they’re doing.

One time an elderly man asks me to fix his pillow and when I bend over him to do that he grabs my hand and puts it on his dick.

When I call my supervisor to complain she says that I shouldn’t be upset because he didn’t know what he was doing.

7.

A man walks into a Mennonite school, tells all the little girls to line up against the chalkboard, and then shoots them.

A man walks into a sorority house and starts shooting.

A man walks into a theatre because he’s angry about feminists and starts shooting.

A man walks into Planned Parenthood and starts shooting.

A man walks into.

8.

I start writing about feminism on the internet, and within a few months I start getting angry comments from men. Not death threats, exactly, but still scary.

I get to a point where the comments – and even the occasional violent threat – become routine. I joke about them. I think of them as a strange badge of honour, like I’m in some kind of club. The club for women who get threats from men.

It’s not really funny.

9.

Someone makes a death threat against my son.

I don’t tell anyone right away because I feel like it is my fault – my fault for being too loud, too outspoken, too obviously a parent.

When I do finally start telling people, most of them are sympathetic. But a few women say stuff like “this is why I don’t share anything about my children online,” or “this is why I don’t post any pictures.”

Even when a man makes a choice to threaten a small child it is still, somehow, a woman’s fault.

10.

I try not to be afraid.

I am still afraid. TC mark

16 Things You Should Say Goodbye To In 2016

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 05:00 PM PST

Twenty20.com manuela.ullup
Twenty20.com manuela.ullup

1.

Say goodbye to the voices in your head that tell you that you are incapable of doing something or being someone. They lie a lot, and you should know that by now.

beetlejuice

2.

Say goodbye to the need for validation. We all need validation from time to time, but you also don't have to constantly pursue it. As long as you see your utmost potential or how far you've come, you don't need to seek after anyone to affirm that for you.

beetlejuice

3.

Say goodbye to all the moments you were not so proud of; forget them and remember that you are a human being who is still learning how to live.

beetlejuice

4.

Say goodbye to the promises you didn't keep, know that timing is everything, and good things take time.

beetlejuice

5.

Say goodbye to the self-doubt and the negativity last year brought. It might not be the happy ending you wanted, but it could possibly be the happy beginning you didn't see coming.

beetlejuice

6.

Say goodbye to the times you cried and the times you were in so much pain, and give yourself a pat on the back for getting through yet another obstacle. Sooner or later, you will get to the finish line.

beetlejuice

7.

Say goodbye to the people who don't want anything to do with you; they are not meant to be in your life for one reason or another. Focus on the ones who do and the ones who care.

beetlejuice

8.

Say goodbye to the memory you keep replaying in your head, whether good or bad, the one that is keeping you up at night wondering where it went and whether or not it will happen again. You rewinded them and paused them way too many times; now it is time to find something else to watch.

beetlejuice

9.

Say goodbye to the addiction you had for your phone, or your laptop, or social media, or anything you were voraciously obsessed with. Spend more time with nature, and teach yourself that too much of anything will eventually suffocate you.

beetlejuice

10.

Say goodbye to the expectations you had for yourself that by now you should have done this or done that. Life can be messy, and the last thing you need is getting attached to its chaos.

beetlejuice

11.

Say goodbye to all the words people told you about yourself, the ones that made you love yourself a little less. Think of how little these people know about you and your story or why you are the way you are. Think of how some people like to belittle others to feel good about themselves, and while you are it, say goodbye to these people.

beetlejuice

12.

Say goodbye to the times you were immature, or out of line, or had no common sense. Remember that these are the moments that remind you that you are not perfect and that you are a work in progress. Take it as a humbling experience and move on.

beetlejuice

13.

Say goodbye to the times you missed someone who didn't miss you back. Eventually you will not miss them anymore, and you will learn that other people miss you more than you know.

beetlejuice

14.

Say goodbye to the trip you didn't take, or the city you never went to, or the wedding you missed, or the opportunities that passed you by. Not everything will go as planned and you don't have to carry the guilt with you everywhere you go. Let that be a reminder that no matter how hard we try, we will not always be in control.

beetlejuice

15.

Say goodbye to the all the flaws you keep pointing out in the mirror and the times you really didn't like who you were looking at. Buy a new mirror if you have to, but more importantly, start liking who you see and change the way you look at yourself.

beetlejuice

16.

Finally, say goodbye to the thought that next year will be the same and that nothing will ever change, and start saying hello to all the wonderful possibilities, dreams, and opportunities that are waiting to manifest themselves to you. TC mark

Getting Married, Getting Pregnant, Getting Cheated On, And Getting Back Together – Before Age 21

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 04:45 PM PST

StockSnap / https://stocksnap.io/photo/NXWR1651E3
StockSnap / Bogdan

Before I met my husband, I was an independent workaholic who loved to journal. My plans for success down the road were mapped out, with the expectation that every goal on the list would be checked off. I had capital, a pure heart, and deadlines to meet – until I met my husband.

He recognized my desire to be successful and my affinity for hard work. Despite my work ethic, he saw a unique beauty and felt a sense of pureness in my love towards him. He told me that my love made him feel whole, and that made the difference: our love wasn't like his past relationships – toxic.

He changed my life because he helped me recognize the importance of opening up. I could be vulnerable with someone; I could trust someone. My husband always had this young, hip sense of style to him that attracted him to me. But what stood out the most was his heart. Every day, I felt his gentleness and sincerity. Being with him made me feel like an entire new person: it made me feel beautiful and invincible before the world. What we didn't have didn't mattered; what mattered was him, I, and our love.

beetlejuice

Following the shocking news of my pregnancy, we had a brief hiccup in our relationship: he was afraid and excited, and I was afraid and not as excited. I didn't want to be anyone's parent but he made me feel like I wasn't going to be alone in any of the process; we shared the pregnancy, just as we did our relationship and friendship. We became closer.

It soon sort of felt like I was living my life as if I were in my thirties, with kids to take care of – there was no time for the love and laughter of youthfulness. But with my husband, I was able to discover my new identity, selflessness, and true love.

beetlejuice

Things started to change for us when we started to lose grasp of our reality. We began to face financial issues; he started drinking a lot, and I was crying almost everyday. One event led to another and before I knew it we were fighting every day. Our love was on the edge of being lost, and this was the worst feeling in the world.

I was devastated because I valued love more than anything being with him. This wasn't what I had planned for; things weren't going as planned.

The final straw for me happened when my husband and I were out to dinner one night. What seemed like the perfect night, quickly turned into an awkward outing of investigations and interrogation. After an evening of great sex, when it was all over, he had left his phone in the room with me to go to the restroom – there was a text from a girl.

This wasn't what I had planned for; things weren't going as planned.

It wouldn't leave my conscience alone because something didn't feel right after that point on. When I asked about the annoying girl who kept texting while we were out, he said she was just a friend. She had given him some "covers and pillows," after my father's wife had kicked him out of the house when he had stayed with them for a bit during. (That's another story for another day.)

But the truth about the annoying girl came out.

beetlejuice

He would tell me that he had told the girl – his mistress – that he didn't want this marriage. He told her that he felt like he was in prison being married to me. My husband made it clear that he didn't care about the damage he was doing to his family. One night I retrieved the plates from the car – they were mine after all – and I didn't want him to go anywhere until we resolved our issues. I thought it'd keep him from hurting me but it only made things worse.

He got a hold of me, and put his hands were on me. I was in shock. This was out of character for him. He had always respected me and loved me as a woman should be loved. Yes, we were already going through marital issues prior to the infidelity but not this.

The last thing I remember about that night is crying myself to sleep, and suffering a severe headache with minor neck pains. I didn't call the police right away because I was afraid of what had just happened. The guy who put his hands on me didn't look familiar at all. I didn't know this guy.

The next day I called the police and filed a report. Before I knew what was happening, I was petitioning an injunction against my own husband. After our court date, I left to Massachusetts for time away and some healing. It was the saddest thing I ever had to do. He didn't know that I was taking our daughter and leaving. He didn't know anything about my plans.

I didn't know how to feel about everything so I turned my attention to his mistress. I felt like she was trying so hard to be me: she cooked for him, slept with him, traveled with him, and tried to be something to him that she could never be – his wife. To me, the only reason she wanted my husband was because he was a married man. And she believed that my husband was going to leave behind his family for her.

I talked to her on the phone. I put her in her place, and made her understand that at the end of the day, my husband is not getting divorced – I just needed time to think. I don't tolerate home wreckers, and that, she definitely was.

It took about six months for my husband to figure out that he didn't want to be with her. Offering pussy to a man for six months does not mean he will throw away everything good in his life for you. And I would never allow an outsider to tear my family apart.

To me, the only reason she wanted my husband was because he was a married man. And she believed that my husband was going to leave behind his family for her.

But my disappointment in my husband was larger than life. He had let me down. Before all this, we were best friends and we knew everything about each other, and there were no secrets between us. What hurt me the most was that all the things we had asked of each other, we both fell through on them. When the storm hit us so bad, we let go of each other's hands, and held on for dear life to our individualism; we held on to ourselves rather than each other.

beetlejuice

When I left to Massachusetts, I could barely compose myself, and the emotions that were swallowing me up. Leaving my husband behind without family in Florida was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but it was the only way he'd learn. I felt defeated. With my time away from my husband, I was offered a new job outside of retail. I wanted to get back on my feet for myself, and that's what I did.

I suppressed a lot of anger and had many random breakdowns. The hardest part about leaving to get myself together for my child, was re-communicating with my husband again. He finally started to understand that I was good for him. In hindsight, it wasn't that I didn't know my own worth when our relationship started to falter because I valued myself more than diamonds and rubies. But I also learned that I ran from pain, and running wasn't going to make anything better for our love.

I realized he still loved me and I still loved him. We realized we wanted to make a better marriage and home for each other. I decided to give my husband another chance, because no matter how much I was hurting, I still loved him. I didn't want to take revenge on him, instead I wanted to forgive and see the positives in our experiences. My heart of mercy and grace is what made me forgive him.

But it took five months for him and I to get back together, and in those months I took the time to grow. I did know then, just like I know now, that we won't ever love another person the way that we love each other.

beetlejuice

We have agreed to go to counseling and to be vulnerable with each other – it's a new vow. Maybe this time, we'll focus on what matters most and move forward. I forgive him and I forgive myself for everything that lead up to our parting. We realized that in love, we all have choices, and those choices say a lot about who we are and who we want to become. Him and I chose to love and forgive each other seventy times seven times, as that biblical instruction goes.

What I've learned about being young and in love is that every relationship goes through stuff. But if you love someone, don't waste time being petty. One slip-up can cause damage for a lifetime. But it's true that you can learn from a slip-up, which should only allow young people to love harder.

We all have choices, but I think we make mistakes by not letting go of our own individualism when we love someone else, especially when things get bad. Instead of thinking selfishly about one's self, realize that you are a part of your significant other. When you can put each other first, you'll be taken care of by the other. It's about forgiving, renewing, and figuring it out together.

These days, we wish to love each other much harder than we did before; much harder than when we met. Everybody doesn't need to agree with our choices but we take our vows seriously. And we made those vows because we fell in love, and our hope is that nothing will ever change that. TC mark

23 Women On How Often They Fantasize About Having Sex With Strangers They See In Public

Posted: 06 Dec 2015 04:30 PM PST

Shutterstock / Mayer George
Shutterstock / Mayer George

1.

"All. The. Time…This morning I was watching the guy across from me as I pumped gas wondering what his orgasm face was and if he liked to pull hair."

beetlejuice

2.

"I don’t think about having sex with them. I wonder what their dick looks like."

beetlejuice

3.

"Thirty-eight-year-old woman here. I have a certain time of the month that my sex drive spikes for about a week and I’m eye-fucking everybody. The rest of the month just occasionally."

beetlejuice

4.

"Occasionally, but it’s not daily and it’s more of a passing thought than anything. Casually checking a guy out is daily."

beetlejuice

5.

"Several times a day…is that not normal, or is this a case of men thinking girls aren’t into sex?"

beetlejuice

6.

"I guess I’m weird then—I do. On the road, if I see an attractive man I think about how he would be in bed, what he looks like naked, etc. Not every guy obviously but if he’s attractive, funny or said something clever then yeah, I thought about how he’d look holding me up against a wall. Really—other girls don’t do this???"

beetlejuice

7.

"I don’t. I don’t necessarily need some deep connection to want to sleep with somebody, but I need some kind of connection. I mean, a conversation at least. I can think somebody is gorgeous, but the physical alone is not going to make me fantasize about somebody."

beetlejuice

8.

"Never, I will check people out but I'm never imagining having sex with them. It’s more like appreciating a work of art."

beetlejuice

9.

"I don’t. I have no desire to have sex with a stranger."

beetlejuice

10.

"Never. I need to be emotionally invested first."

beetlejuice

11.

"Going off birth control has made my sex drive go off the wall. I want it more and more often, and I think about it all day. It makes me wonder how much it has affected society in that way. I know it allows women to enjoy a better sex life with less pregnancy worry, but the hormonal change is very real."

beetlejuice

12.

"Never. Sex is usually about emotion, for me. I’m also super into fantasy, so if I’m going to think about having sex with anyone I’m not emotional with, it’s going to be a book character or something like that."

beetlejuice

13.

"Basically never. I have a pretty high sex drive, and I would much rather imagine my boyfriend, or even a fictional character. Not some rando off the street that I know nothing about."

beetlejuice

14.

"Not always, but sure, it crosses my mind. I mean, I’ll see someone smile or hear them laugh and then look at their hand and wonder what it would be like against my skin. And yeah, I’ve shot “I would so fuck you” looks toward random strangers because, for whatever reason, I would. Emotional sex is great. But if you have never had sex just for the sake of having sex you’re totally missing out."

beetlejuice

15.

"If I see a really cute guy I’m more likely to imagine us meeting and then dating 'cause I’m a hopeless romantic."

beetlejuice

16.

"Hardly ever. Even if he is really hot or handsome, I need more than that to fantasize about the person—e.g., conversation, a friend telling me a few things about the guy, etc. Well, except when he has a beard or really nice arms…"

beetlejuice

17.

"Every man I see on the street goes through a quick scan of yes or no."

beetlejuice

18.

"Interesting. I always want to have sex, but I never think about it with strangers. I only actively think about it if I’m with someone that I am sleeping with. But I’m always down for sex. Huh. Weird. My mom called me a prude when I said I didn’t think about jumping random people’s bones."

beetlejuice

19.

"Never. Which is strange since I love sex. When I see someone who is attractive, I just 'check' them out. Never does my mind wonder about having sex with them or how it’d be like. The only times I ever thought of having sex with a stranger was if I had a strong crush on them or if we were in the dating process or in a real relationship."

beetlejuice

20.

"Never. I occasionally wonder what a person would look like naked, but even that isn’t in a sexual kind of way. More just mild interest and I usually don’t usually go so far as to actually visualize it, even. Imagining having sex with random people, though? Not at all."

beetlejuice

21.

"Creating a whole sex scene with a stranger I see in public in my head? Sounds like a lot of work. So…I guess rarely."

beetlejuice

22.

"I occasionally think about it. It’s more curiosity than anything though. I don’t actually lust for them, I just think 'hmm I wonder what he’s like.'"

beetlejuice

23.

"I try to avoid it, but I do it pretty often. Two or three times in a day usually." TC mark