They all do it.

I wrote this, drunk, on a subway back from a fancy restaurant in SoHo one night. I was on my way home after following a saddening conversation with my dearest and closest sister. I hope it sheds some sort of insight into the perils of marital distress and the anxiety that relational rifts can truly have on those close to you.

” I once foolishly believed that marriages could work out. That they could be happy and joy-filled, and I don’t know… purposeful.

I’m not sure where my belief sprouted from. I certainly never got a healthy picture of marriage from my parents. They stayed together, God knows why. My emotionally abusive alcoholic father controlled the dynamic of the household. If he was angry, it was like walking on eggshells. His temper flared at the slightest thing – talking about college, for instance. Or anything, really – even down to the milk he put on his morning cereal.

None of my siblings ended up in happy marriages, either. My oldest sister married an abusive alcoholic as well, my brother ended up divorced at the ripe age of 35, and my three other sisters carried their own share of grievances – from affairs and infidelity to heartbreak in vast religious and philosophical differences.

But when my sister, my beautiful sister, sat on the floor of my college dorm room and started crying, I’ll never forget the feeling of panic that washed over me. Sobbing she cried claims of having never loved her husband, of not knowing why she married him, and feeling trapped now that they had a child together.

“I always wanted to have a way out” she said, “because Mom never left.”

And then because I didn’t know what to say – couldn’t know, really, I didn’t have the experience to give advice to a married woman – she blew her nose, wiped her tears and said “I’m fine.” and got into a cab.

Her marriage had been so much stronger than the others. Little did I know, as the youngest sibling, that they had their own share of heartache. And when I looked into her eyes, I saw such grief and disparity. It was one of many times I swore to myself I’d never get married.

She promised me that not all marriages were like that. That there were lasting, good, and strong marriages out there. But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to believe her. How could I? There wasn’t a single one I had witnessed. “

Suck it.

Dear M-,

I’m not “worth more than that”.

I’m not cheapened because I express my sexuality in a way that does not live up to your standards. Which is funny, because I express myself in the same way as you and your partner, just outside of a marriage. That makes me worthless?

This isn’t a question of sexual orientation, really, but rather one of sexual exploration. I have spent countless years of my life being convinced that I was only worth how pure I was on my wedding night. They told me that I would be the perfect blushing bride when that “one” man decided to love me enough to make me his bride. That blushing bride would be pure, virginal, and clean.

Those years had me convinced that I was only worth how each man viewed me. The countless groups, studies, and sermons had me convinced that any side-step from the purity track would have me thrown in Hell and worse – a trampled rose that no man would deem as “worthy” of his possession.

That was wrong.

That IS wrong.

This is why:

Human beings are not, nor should they ever be property. Human nature may be propagating horrendous, demeaning and dehumanizing acts such as the sex slave trade, and in a terrifying way, propaganda and doctrine are furthering similar principles. That means, that my identity as a female should not subject me to a lifestyle in which I’m immediately considered to be less than equal with my sexual partner.

When I choose to express my sexuality, I choose to do so under a construct that should not ever live up to the expectations of society or organized groups of homogenous beliefs.

I am a woman. That makes me wrong about 70% of the time according to a lot of the male populace, who believe that we’re irrational, emotionally unstable beings who make rash decisions based off our menstrual cycles.

I am a woman. That makes me wrong about 40% of the time according to the “anti-feminist” woman populace who believe that we’ve already achieved equal rights, equal pay, and equal standing with men. When I earn the right to express my honest opinions within my career field without being called a “bitch” because I’m merely outspoken, come talk to me.

So no, M-. I’m not “worth more” than giving head, having sex, or anything that lies on the sexual spectrum that both my partner and I enjoy, together, regardless of our “relationship status”. I’m worth every single second of it. Because my inherent value does not lie within the precious (dare I say “white, American, middle-class POST MODERN”) constructs of traditionalism and Christian purity. My value lies within myself, and living truthfully as best as humanly possible.

That’s why I like giving head. Suck one. But really.

This one’s for you, Dad.

I will never forget early morning coffee runs with my father. When I was in middle school, we would stop by the “Flying J” gas station on my way to school. Every morning I’d get a french vanilla coffee out of their cheap cappuccino machine.  I often forget those coffee runs. But I was so proud of that gas station convenience store coffee, because I was sharing it with my dad.

The other day, I bought one of those coffees.

I hold so much resentment against my upbringing and his emotional abuse, that I often forget the redeeming qualities of his character. It’s easy to blame, much more difficult to forgive. That coffee in hand, my thoughts flashed back to a family Christmas when we discussed what would go in our parents’ will. My parents, siblings and I were all gathered around the kitchen table. The reality of death was so tangible in that moment, all of us were on edge. My dad was sitting in the middle of all of us. He felt compelled to tell us something, he said. He said that he knew he hadn’t been a good dad. He said, in the best way he could, that he wished he could have given all of us a better childhood. A better life.

And then, quietly, with tears in his eyes, he said, “I’m sorry.”

When we realize our mortality, the reality of our existence becomes more honest. We see who we are, objectively. That was the first day I began forgiving him. Forgiveness is a long term project – a journey.

With that cheap cappuccino machine coffee, I smiled as I walked down the street. The smell of it reminds me of home, of my childhood – of my dad. And each coffee brings me one step closer to forgiveness.

Are you a feminist, too?

I had a friend forward me this the other day. Image

I appreciate flow charts more than the average person. I giggle with glee when I see them. But this one is so apt surrounding feminist conversations today. I continually hear people claiming that feminism is so “outdated” or that men and women “practically have the same rights anyway”. And I don’t want to be just another voice in the crowd echoing that we don’t. We really don’t. I want to posit something to the conversation, and therein lies the challenge.

For what it’s worth, stats don’t turn me on. I don’t jump for joy when I see numbers as support. I think that anything that’s worth arguing well is deserving of words – substantial, opinionated words.

Hence the substantially opinionated flow chart. Enjoy.

Cheers.

MC

Best friends.

I knew there were two friends I could truly call my “best”, but they share two very different, yet equally amazing, relationships with me. I refer to both of them as my best friend, so much so, that as I talk about them in conversation, people who don’t know them can never tell which one I’m talking about. It can be confusing, seeing as one is married with a child and the other is as single as could be and loving it.

In fact, they’re almost like polar opposites. One of them has tattoos, gauged ears and at one point sported some amazing dread locks. The other looks like Taylor Swift. (I don’t lie) I met one of them in nursery and the other one in high school. But they both have had such an amazing impact on my life.

The problem I have is that I don’t think the word “best” does any justice to their level of commitment to our friendship – to me. Best is the absolute superlative of ‘good’, which somehow makes it sound like their friendship is somewhat performance based. But that’s the farthest thing from this relationship. Yet I hesitate to settle for “closest” friends, because a lot of people know me fairly well,

But when they were holding me, letting me cry with a bottle of wine because the man I thought I would marry introduced me to his fiancee, I realized two things.

Somehow, somewhere, I grew up.

And my best friends grew up with me.

 

It was beautiful, you know. It was one of those moments captured in a novel that rarely plays out in real life. It was the triumph of friendship, of ultimate companionship and camaraderie, and it was truly beautiful.