The Illusion of Safety

As human beings, we’re taught at an early age how to keep ourselves safe. Safe from injury. Safe from harm. There is equipment specifically designed to fulfill our need for safety. What we’re not taught is how to keep our hearts safe from harm.

The world is shifting. There is more evil and corruption than ever before. We live in a completely self-centric society where everyone is out for themselves. Chivalry is dying a slow, painful death. And the act of courtship has been put online and automated so seamlessly that deception is the most common denominator.

I thought I was finally safe. I thought I’d found something special. Being loved makes you bulletproof and I was invincible. Each day was better than the one before. My feet hardly touched the ground. He said “I love you” first. He called me “Babe” after our first phone conversation. He said I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. I believed all of it. He couldn’t wait to introduce me to all of his friends, his daughter, his Dad… I felt so cherished & adored. But most of all, he made me feel safe.

It’s difficult for me to trust after everything I’ve been through. Although I try not to carry too much of the past with me, I’ve found that my willingness to trust becomes increasingly difficult with each new suitor. Somehow, this time, I trusted way too easily.

Everything since October 4th feels like a lie. I find it difficult to imagine that someone can go from “I’m going to marry you,” and “I love you so much,” to breaking up with you via a photo text of everything left behind and the gifts you gave in a hamper. This is the kind of behavior exhibited only by someone who despises you. There was no logical reason for that.

I honestly thought I was being Punk’d.

However, that was all I got… at first. Almost an hour later, after I pressed him for answers, I received a long, rambling, extremely formal-toned text, full of excuses and finality. To say that I was in shock would be an understatement.

As luck would have it, I ran into him less than 14 hours later. He was at a bar, knocking back as much liquor as he could get his hands on, flanked by two unspeakably plain blondes.

As I approached, I made a fist. Then I remembered what a complete failure I am at making a decent fist. But as drew nearer, I noticed that instead of the adrenaline rush I thought I’d feel, I was completely calm. This alone surprised me. He looked homeless, downtrodden, out-of-place… not the person I once knew.

I grabbed a fistful of long grey hair from the back of his neck. His head went straight back as he spun to face me. “Hi!” I said. “What happened? What is wrong with you?” I said a number of other things that are now a blur of unanswered questions. I wanted answers, I needed answers and moreover, I deserved them.

He couldn’t look me in the eye. He just kept repeating “Babe, Babe, Babe” as if he was unable to form sentences. This went on for what seemed like an eternity, although it may have lasted about 6 minutes.

I’m grateful for this encounter. I was out with great friends, dressed to slay, and I’d just finished hearing a few friends play a gig right down the street that had me smiling ear to ear. I was prepared for a run-in, even though it was the furthest thing from my mind. Seeing him this way made everything easier. I saw all the lies come to life right before my eyes.

It was like giving a toddler an inquisition. There was much squirming, more lying and a little side-stepping in an attempt to get away. When I realized asking questions was pointless, I let him slither away. I may never know exactly what happened, but seeing this display made me acutely aware that I had no idea who I’d just spent the last month with.

I think ideally, you want to date someone who doesn’t leave you thinking, “What the hell just happened?”

This is what scares me the most. I let this stranger so far into my world that I began to see a future with him. I believed all of his lies. I allowed myself to get attached. He was my safe place, my ally, my comfort zone. I trusted him.

I was bamboozled to a degree I’d never known.

Maybe he’s not over his ex. Maybe he has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Maybe he knew deep down that he could never live up to the expectations he’d set for himself. I have no idea what would make someone who claimed to love me more each day cut me loose in such a cold, calculated way. Maybe I’ll never know.

Safety is a myth. Nothing is guaranteed. Even good things may be exactly the opposite of what they seem. Sociopaths, psychopaths, charmers and manipulators exist. Knowing how to spot them is half the battle.

If you feel you have a sociopath, charmer, manipulator, or psychopath in your life, go here. The site contains resources that may be helpful to you. It was started by Jackson MacKenzie, the author of Psychopath Free.

 

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The Best Advice I Can Give All My Single Friends

“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?”
– Charlotte, Sex and the City

Ever since I was a little girl, I had imagined myself married with at least one child by now. This is definitely not my reality. Although my parents chose to have me a little later in life, they married in their twenties. My twenties were spent being optimistically cautious through college while dating a cornucopia of guys who were totally wrong for me.

Back then, finding a guy to date was the easiest thing I did. What I didn’t understand was that in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of this dating party, I needed to find someone who was actually compatible with me. At the time, I think I was just looking for someone attractive to be my date for sorority functions. But time and time again, I found that their attractiveness didn’t get them very far. I would fixate on someone and then convince myself that we should be together. Then, when their third eye would appear, I put on my track shoes and bolted for the door.

It wasn’t until my thirties that I began to see I was doing this all wrong. I was laid off from MCI WorldCom, had split from ex-fiancé number 4, and was about to move to Charlotte for the first job opportunity in my field that had come up since the layoffs. The night before my big move, I was out with my friends celebrating and met someone. We dated 3.5 years even though we lived in different cities for at least a year and a half. I was crazy about him. He was charming and handsome, but he never actually saw me. As a result of being charming and handsome, he never saw anyone else for anything more than their outward appearance. When I moved home, he started to become more dominant. We fought a lot. The relationship revolved around what he wanted. He started belittling me to make himself feel larger. I ended it, thinking I’d get better results. I thought that if he lost me, he’d appreciate me more. Instead, he used the opportunity to start dating other women. A few days after our split, I ran into him… on a date. I was crushed, but eventually got over it.

At that point, the general atmosphere of dating shifted. People were dating online . This added instant gratification to the act of dating. People started not to appreciate one another. Everyone was replaceable. Pictures held a higher importance than text. No one cared what was on the inside if all your angles were flattering. Everything was superficial.

I spent years getting lost in the online dating quagmire. Then I did the best thing I could possibly have done for myself. I adopted a dog.

In this digital age, where we all swipe right to get what we want, unconditional love is a precious commodity. When you adopt a dog, you gain what most dating relationships lack. Respect, comfort and unconditional love. When I adopted Quincy, my focus shifted more toward taking care of myself, him, my parents, and my house. I didn’t need to be with anyone. I was fine all by myself. I found myself turning down dates and other social events based on this scale: If I would rather be home with my dog, my RSVP is No.

Quincy gave me back everything I’d wasted on the guys who didn’t deserve me. He’s always there for me. He makes me laugh. And he’s far and away the best at snuggling. Instead of focusing on the next guy to come along, I put my effort into my friendships, my house and my hobbies. I decided that if I were to spend another minute with a guy, he needed to add to my life, not complicate it or hold me back.

So my advice is this:

If you’re single and frustrated because so far dating has shown you all of what you don’t want and none of what you do… adopt a pet. It will change your perspective in brilliant ways. Treasure your alone time, because if you don’t like spending time with yourself, no one else will either.

 

Trial & Error

I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles wondering how my date went. Right?
Yeah, I didn’t think so, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.

That particular date, and the few that followed have gone extremely well. We met for drinks last Friday, talked non-stop, had dinner and drinks that Sunday, he cooked me a HelloFresh dinner on Wednesday, we went to the Greek Festival on Friday and we played with Baby goats at a local farm and tasted mead on Sunday. He’s very pleasant company… and extremely interesting. However, I’m just not that into him. 😦

Side Note: I read that book a long time ago when “ghosting” first became the norm. Looking back, I can’t believe I thought I needed a book to help me crack the guy code. If they were any more transparent, they’d be windows.

Looking back on the lists I gave my matchmaker (the list of desirable qualities and the list of deal-breakers) I can totally understand why this guy was selected. He’s done some stuff. He’s lived. And he’s a RockStar at his very interesting and technical job (Drone Scientist). At 39, he’s been married, lived all over the country, has 3 kids, was a “Boylesque” (think male burlesque) dancer, a roller derby racer (evidently they let guys do that too in some places), does Crossfit and is excited about his upcoming participation in the Spartan Race. This seems to only be the tip of the iceberg. When I told her I wanted to meet someone “Interesting,” she hit the nail on the head.

Problem is, I’m starting to wonder how much of this crazy narrative is actually true.

Of course there’s more. I only find myself physically attracted to him after I’ve had a few cocktails. This is probably the biggest issue. And although I owe him nothing, I feel awful about it. While he sends me texts saying “I think you are amazing” I’m on the other end, full of doubt and fear.

Last night I told him he was sweet, because he is. This was his response, “Sweet is good… but what about sexy?” I froze. For a second I thought about what I found sexy… what people I found sexy and why. It occurred to me that when a guy referred to me as sexy, he clearly wanted to have sex with me. I was so far away from that thought, I had no idea how to respond.

I had a panic attack the day we’d planned to go to the Greek Festival. I felt suffocated and couldn’t slow my heartbeat no matter how I tried. But I let him pick me up regardless, because he was so excited to go.

I noticed that after I got in the car, when I said anything, he would either try to finish my sentences or talk over me. It was like he was so nervous around me that he needed Ritalin. It was exhausting and I’d already had a tiring week. I tried to explain what was going on in my head, but all that came out was, “Sometimes, you’re a bit much.” I immediately beat myself up internally for being such a bitch.

He sends me a thank you text after every date and wants to spend more time with me than I have. It isn’t long after one date ends that he starts asking for another. Then the panic sets in. It struck me that if I was as enthusiastic about him as he was about me, this wouldn’t be problematic.

It hasn’t been long, but after the first weekend, I began to question myself. I think it’s important when you’re uncomfortable in any situation to ask yourself why… and what you can do about it.

That first weekend, he texted me NON-STOP… so much so that everything I did was interrupted, if not spoiled by the constant messaging. I started to feel the walls closing in. By that Monday, I didn’t want to be around people at all. I told him “the constant texting is problematic.” He slowed it to a crawl. It was a few days before I felt comforable again.

I couldn’t sleep last night and today I’m having another panic attack. I’m finally hearing what my body is telling me. It always sucks when you know you’re going to hurt someone, but it’s always better to rip off the band-aid quickly and just be honest. Even though the message is unpleasant, the receiver will respect you more for being forthcoming.

In this process I asked myself the toughest question of all, “Is it me?” “Is there something wrong with me?” I’m sure the list is long, but most likely a lot shorter than most. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with me, and I think that’s the crux of it. I don’t need a guy. If I meet someone who complements or adds to my life, THAT‘s when I’ll know it’s right. It’s not selfish to do what you need to do for yourself.

So I will.

(to be continued)

Another Journey Around the Sun

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends old and new. Luckily, having so much going on, I had no time to think about myself actually growing older (and closer to my scary age… yes, everyone has one…)

Friday night I had a date. In an earlier post, I’d mentioned flinging myself back into the dating pool by way of matchmaker. It had been so long since I’d hired her, I’d begun to think she’d given up on finding anyone suitable in my area for me. Ironically, on the day she called to tell me she’d scheduled a date, I had just begun to look around online. It was mostly out of curiosity… and entertainment. But I also wanted to get a preview of what was out there. I found myself mostly swiping left, with very few exceptions.

The original matchmaker date never happened. She explained that as the time drew near, he began acting shady, so she canceled it. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t take it too personally since he had no idea who I was.

In the meantime, I had this new app. And it was full off possibilities. (Yes, that was sarcasm) After a few conversations, I realized that the chances of meeting any of these guys in real life were slim. When one canceled our date almost immediately after scheduling it, I was beginning to get a complex. His excuse was that his father (who was 4 hours away) had an accident. I never heard from him again.

A few days later I opened the app to find several guys missing. One disappeared after I mentioned meeting in person. Another deleted his profile completely. One I’d spoken with the first day was gone. Lastly, one (who had been messaging constantly) told me that he was going to see things through with someone else. This honesty was refreshing.

One guy HAD to talk to me on the phone right away. He told me right off the bat that he preferred talking instead of text. I just figured he was old school. We met on Friday and had a great date. The next day he made a point of telling me that he had originally made a date with someone else for Sunday, but was going to cancel since he was so interested in me. The gravity of that gesture didn’t register right away.

He called me when he got home from our date. He called me the next morning when I was getting ready for goat yoga with my friends. He texted to see if I could talk when I was on my way home from brunch. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a person want to talk to me this much. I was starting to feel panicked and claustrophobic.

Contractors were in and out of my house working the entire weekend, which meant that a nap or alone time wasn’t going to happen. A friend brought me lunch. A few other friends asked where I’d be that night since they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. There were people around or communicating with me most of the day and on into the evening. Was there time for multiple phone calls just to talk? No way! Yet I found myself talking to him at least 4 times before going out that evening. I even missed one of his calls.

Although all the red flags, bells and alerts were flashing in my head, I found myself taking calls and making apologies. There I was again, making myself miserable in order to make someone else happy. At least this time I recognized it.

Sunday, I tried with zero success to relax as my house full of contractors sawed and hammered. That evening, my friend JD came by and helped me automate my home with a gift of smart bulbs. It took a while to get everything set up and working, so I ran out and got dinner for us. While we were eating, “first date guy” sent a “Sleep Well” text that buzzed on my Apple watch. My phone was charging in the back room and I was having dinner with JD, so I didn’t respond. ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER I received the following:

Patrick

I’m not sure why this surprised me. He had spent the entire weekend showing me who he was. It was my birthday. I was busy and surrounded by people the entire weekend, yet this asshat felt that there was nothing and no one more important than him. After no response from me, the next day, he texted an apology. I have no plans to respond.

On the other hand, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while what you don’t want. But it’s way more awesome to be reminded each year how much the people in your life love you.

Saturday when I was out catching a friend’s band perform, my ex boyfriend from the late 1990’s dropped in to wish me a happy birthday. He makes a point of remembering me every year.

I spent the evening with Erika (who incidentally has the exact same birthday) and Kat, listening to music, being complete goofballs, and running into half the population of our city. We ended the night at a gay bar, where Kat promptly stole my phone and left me with these little gems.

We ran into Bill, who instantly became our bodyguard and bouncer. Then we found the prettiest and most fabulous drag queen in the cabaret show.

Told ya.

The next day I received a text from my friend whose band we’d seen the previous night. He told me he was writing a duet for us. He’s a BRILLIANT singer and songwriter, so I’m over the moon that he’s so psyched to work with me. A few minutes later, my friend Allison (who lives 3 hours away) called and sang me Happy Birthday. Ending the evening nerding out with JD was exactly what I needed. I’m not sure he realizes exactly how much I appreciated the visit.

All things considered, it was a good birthday. I was surrounded by people who love me, look after me, and let me be me.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Dream A Little Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Maybe it was just a bad dream, but unlike most of my dreams, I actually remembered this one and woke up believing it was real.

First I have to give you a little backstory…

A long time ago in the MySpace days, I was asked to do restaurant reviews for a local publication. At the time, I had just finished reading The Between Boyfriends Book by former SATC writer Cindy Chupack and had pitched an idea to the editor of the Dating & Love section. In the last chapter, Chupack discusses the BAD/GOOD date ratio: how many bad dates a girl must endure in order to get to a good one. My idea was to pick an eligible bachelor at random from MySpace and have him accompany me on each restaurant review meal. I would write about my experiences using aliases. By the second date, I had decided to focus my attention solely on the guy I’d chosen and table the article.

I’d been peeking at this guy’s MySpace profile for a while, so I wrote him. I realized that the head shot on his profile was done by a photographer friend of mine who’d hired me to do the makeup and hair for that corporate website session. The guy was shy and I remembered talking him into letting me put a little product in his beautiful, thick hair to give it a little texture. (To be honest, I didn’t recall this detail until I’d been on a few dates with him, but it was a better story than the whole truth, so I told it whenever people asked how we met. Not that I’m encouraging half-truths, but since online dating was terribly taboo at the time, I rolled with it.)

I was tasked with doing a review for a local sushi restaurant. Knowing myself, and my fear of eating strange things, I knew that I had to find a more adventurous, more culunarily-cultured counterpart. This guy just happened to have a photo posted of him eating something strange and raw with chopsticks, so I used it as part of my opener. I sent him a message asking if he would like to accompany me on my reviewing adventure. He accepted. Soon after, we were seen all over town enjoying dinners, drinks and the occasional hockey game.

He was the first guy in a long time that I looked up to. He was smart and enterprising… owning, running and selling several companies and one restaurant. And he was the first guy I’d ever met who could tell me that he was an “Entrepreneur” without making me cringe and immediately think he was selling Amway. I respected him. He had an interesting life of his own and we never had a boring interaction.

Flash forward to present day.

We’re still in touch. We’ve both been through our share of failed relationships. The last for both of us ended last year. I still see him occasionally, as friends… Friends with a history.

I have no idea what spawned my subconscious to create the images it did last night, but they’re still vivid in my mind and I’m still a little shaken up by them.

Years ago when we were in the heat of our off-again on-again relationship, I never asked him to define what we were to each other. He’s one of those people who isn’t fond of PDA or discussing feelings of any type. When he took me to Puerto Rico, he spoke of a long relationship that recently ended. It was the first time I heard any sort of emotion in his voice, so although I really wanted to, I didn’t pry. He was a bit of a conundrum. I loved and hated it at the same time.

Because we never defined “US,” we found each other getting into other relationships, then coming back to each other. Although I kept looking for signs that I would be the next bona fide relationship, I never was. Instead, I was just the person he sought to fill the space in between. Evidently, this has affected me more than I thought.

Last night I dreamed that we’d been seeing each other just like we used to when one day he decided to tell me that he was in a new relationship, so we couldn’t continue. I was crushed. After all this time, I let it happen again. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I held back tears while trying to communicate. This time was different. He actually told me face to face instead of just ghosting me. Everything was the same, yet so different. And I was different. I finally found the words that I needed to say.

I told him “I was good enough to have fun with, but not good enough to be your girlfriend? That’s what hurts.” In fact, that has been an issue all along. I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and see me differently, but he never did. Perhaps he never will.

And although I know how much I have to offer, there’s a chance that some people will always blind to it. I was beating a dead horse, and although it’s my horse to beat, I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I’ve had dreams that were premonitions. I’ve also had dreams that made no sense at all. But this one, although it was difficult, taught me a valuable lesson. My worth has nothing to do with how people treat me. I was tolerating behavior that made me feel less than, and I needed to move on. And just like that, the pedestal I put him on for so long is gone and I’ve finally found my voice.

Voice

MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

Limitless (and the Pitfalls of Private School)

It’s natural to have doubts. We don’t start out that way. In fact, we start out trusting everyone. We talk to strangers, reach for the hot burner, don’t look both ways before crossing the street, attempt to stick our fingers in the light socket… (okay well perhaps not all of us, but we get the warnings regardless) We are born fearless and without prejudice. We know no strangers. We have no issues of weight or body image. We don’t doubt ourselves. Why should we? The world is a great big mystery to be solved and it’s all out there for us! And then… we’re thrust out into the real world.

I remember my first bitter taste of reality. My parents sent me off to Junior Kindergarten at a private school that required all students to wear uniforms. We couldn’t even wear our winter coats on the playground at recess because our school emblems needed to be visible at all times. That first day Mom also sent me off with a few toy cars in my pocket. As soon as I pulled them out at recess, they were quickly stolen by a girl named Mary Alice Askew. I asked for them back, she refused. I asked again to no avail. Recess ended and we were ushered back inside.

Class started, but I was still distraught over the injustice that had just occurred. I whispered to Mary Alice while the teacher’s back was turned, “Give me back my cars!” She snickered. Overhearing this, the teacher called me to the front of the class and asked what was going on. “Mary Alice stole my cars!” I said. The teacher then promptly collected the cars from Mary Alice, put them in her desk drawer and gave me a spanking in front of the entire class! I returned to my seat, car-less and mortified. This was the exact moment I learned that life was not fair.

I spent 10 years at that odd little school with its strange rules and stringent dress code. My Mother was under the impression that if I attended a private school, I would meet people of a higher social standing than those in public schools. What she didn’t realize was that many of the students at this school were sent there because they were kicked out of everywhere else. She also didn’t realize how badly I was being treated by my peers. I was never taught to stick up for myself, so I was bullied and talked down to probably more often than I even noticed.

Mom used to arrange after-school play-dates with girls in my grade who she assumed I was friends with. I wasn’t, and I was usually surprised when they told me they were supposed to come home with me. They were nice to me one-on-one, but when we got back to school nothing changed. Mom kept arranging these hangouts and I kept wanting real friends. I may have been young, but at least I knew the difference.

My teen years were painfully awkward. I was too ugly, too skinny, I’d never kissed a boy and I didn’t know what all the sex slang terms meant. If I wanted a guy to pay attention to me, I had to grab the new transfer student before he started hanging out with the cool kids and making fun of me as well. I wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination, so I just did my best to get through.

I found an escape through the world of musical theater and collected a handful of quirky theater nerd friends along the way. There was a great theater camp during the summer and I had started getting a few lead roles here and there. (All the while, my parents were hoping I’d switch gears and tell them I secretly wanted to become a Doctor or Rocket Scientist) One year, right before school started, I landed the role of Baby Louise in Gypsy, which required me to dye my hair a deep, dark brown color. The bullies at school didn’t miss a beat on that one. The prank calls about my hair looking like “excrement” started a few weeks before the show opened. Luckily that was about the extent of it.

But all of that never broke me. Sure, I had plenty of teenage “sequester yourself in your room-listen to loud music and cry” moments, but doesn’t everyone? And I finally found my voice. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to stick up for myself, but I finally have. My friend JD used to say that I had a habit of going from zero to bitch in 60 seconds. This was because I wouldn’t say anything until I was past my breaking point. I put up with all sorts of things that I should have nixed from the start. This comes from a history of self-doubt. When you experience so much unpleasantness, you start to question yourself and wonder if you’ve done something to deserve it. Then in later life, it takes a while to realize that it was never you at all. It takes a skilled eye to see through people.

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So I’ll leave you with this…

be-kind