the things we don’t talk about- holiday edition

The holiday season is coming up, which means a lot of happiness and posts about “holiday spirit” which is great, but this is about the things we don’t talk about.

We don’t talk about the peoples whose families don’t have enough money for Christmas presents, halloween decorations, or a turkey dinner.

We don’t talk about the kids whose families are split into two or more homes, forced painfully back together for the holidays, nor do we talk about the kids whose families are split and don’t see each other at all.

We don’t talk about the families who yearn for someone who is no longer with them or who yearn for someone who never has been with them.

We don’t talk about a lot of things, especially around the holiday season, because we want to distract ourselves with presents and lights and candy.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun, but this is for the people who’s holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. You’re not alone.

This is what the holiday season looks like to me, starting in October.

Halloween: Not very exciting and kind of awkward, as I’m old enough to not go trick-or-treating, but I still could go if I wanted to. It’s sad, because you realize it’s not as exciting as it was when you were a little kid.

Thanksgiving- Me, my mom, and step-dad sit at a fancy restaurant in Las Vegas, eating the turkey dinner on the menu. I wish I was home, with the rest of my family, like how it used to be. When grandma could still cook for us all and we could still all be ok sitting at one table. I’m definitely not as thankful as I should be on this day.

Photo credit: Nycinsiderguide.com 

Christmas- Awkward because my dad and step-dad are both at my house and it’s “rude” to pay more attention to one than the other. Normally, I do it anyway. Even more awkward because my two sisters are in the same house and they hate each other. Probably worse because my brother comes. Sucks because I’m the youngest and the people I want to pay attention to me don’t and the people I don’t want to pay attention to me pay too much.

New years Eve/ New Years day- Depressing, unless you’ve been invited to a party. Full of a lot of stupid phrases like “New year, new me” or “On the first page of a 365 page book.” Reality is, nothing ever changes.

Valentine’s Day- Cool if you’re dating someone; super lame if you’re not.

April Fool’s Day- Usually not funny. I probably end up forgetting what day it is and get pranked.

Mother’s Day- Celebrating mamas, trying really hard to make everything special, usually involves waking up earlier than my mom. Probably impossible, because I don’t think my mom ever sleeps. Normally ends up with a fight I feel terribly about.

Father’s Day- Another Mother’s Day, celebrating mom for being my mother and father. Forced to wish my step-dad a “Happy Fathers day! <3.” Normally, I don’t really mean it. I wish my sister’s dad a Happy Father’s day… I mean it.

Independence Day (AKA 4th of July)- Nothing super exciting. Missing the time I used to watch the fireworks on a big hill with my sister’s dad. Probably with my friends watching fireworks, but kinda scary because I don’t like the noise fireworks make.

REPEAT.

The point of this blog wasn’t for me to bag on the holidays. There is super fun stuff going on during the holidays and I appreciate and enjoy every single one (for the most part) for a different reason… I’m sure you hear a million things a year about why every holiday is great. This is about the things we DON’T talk about.

The point of this blog is to say: the holidays are coming up and with as much love and gratitude this brings, it can also be a rough time for some.

With that said, take care of yourself; be gentle with other people; be thankful for what you do have; focus less on what you don’t, but don’t ignore it; check up on your friends; and talk to someone if your Christmas was shitty! Some are better than others.

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The Boy That Ruined Me: #metoo

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

I was fifteen almost sixteen when I met this boy. He was great, he was everything I could have ever wanted, at least, that’s what I led myself to believe.  I had a crush on him and, lucky for me, he liked me back. We started to date, but I remember that on the day that he asked me to be his girlfriend, something felt a little off.  I first found out how pushy he was that night.

He was all over me. Like most teenage boys, he wanted more and I wasn’t ready for that.  That night, nothing more than kissing happened, but it was too much kissing for me and I tried to tell him that, but he didn’t seem to care. I tried to brush it off and think nothing of it. After all, he was my first boyfriend and I could not mess it up; I was finally cool.  

Photo Credit: victimservicecenter.org

Later on in the relationship the pushiness only got worse.  My friends even started to help him in weird ways. On my sixteenth birthday, after only being together for a month, he had my friends lay roses on my bed and light candles.  Anyone that saw that scene knew what was going to happen, but it was not something I was ready for. When I walked in, I yelled at my friends so loud that my mom came downstairs.  Luckily, he wasn’t too pushy when he came over and I did not have sex with him, but some other things happened.

Every time he would come to my house, he would force me to please him and then text his dad to pick him up. After two months, I finally couldn’t take it any longer and wanted to break up with him. But, whenever I talked to anyone about breaking up with him, they told me not to.  I know I shouldn’t have listened to other people, but I had no clue when or how to break up with him because he was bigger than me and I was scared of him. I didn’t want to find out what he would do to me.

Eventually, I broke up with him. I made sure it was in a very public place and it was actually okay. But, an easy breakup doesn’t mean I left without baggage.  He sexually abused me. Him being my first boyfriend made it so I had no clue how relationships were truly supposed to be. He took my innocence away from me.  Everyone talks about how one’s first relationship is full of love and innocence, but I never got that. 

I hated myself for months after everything happened.  I used to cry myself to sleep because I would think of him and what he did to me.  At first, I was scared to tell people everything that happened. No one believed me and that made talking about it harder.  I wanted to get him in trouble for what he did to me, because what he did to me is something I will carry the rest of my life; but, there was no way to get him in trouble.  I wanted him to hurt as much as he hurt me. But, I was never able to do that, so I grew more mad as time went on.  Pretty soon, I no longer saw myself as a person; I saw myself as an object for people to use.

About ten months after everything happened, I went to church camp.  While I was there, my youth leader talked about how in Christianity one is supposed to forgive everyone as God has.  Hearing that was very hard for me, so I talked to my leader more and he helped me work through everything that happened and cried with me.  He was the first person to cry with me. I felt like he truly cared about me and, from that week, I learned to forgive my ex. It wasn’t easy; some days, I still get mad at him for the things he did to me, but I want to be a better Christian, so I am working as hard as I can to forgive him.  

I have not fully overcome the conflict, but I have learned to deal with it and have started to forgive.  One day, I hope I can say will full certainty that I forgive him, but until that day comes, I will be looking to God to get me there.

seventeen

it’s hard to know how you feel when you’re only seventeen years old.

it’s hard to know what you want. in the past, i’ve wanted you, but not in the same way i do now.

now, i want to call you my friend, my best friend. well, one of them at least.

i want you to be my confidant. i want to tell you (and only you) whenever something arises. i’d call you and we’d think of solutions or laugh it off. 

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

i want to binge scary movies with you, staying up until 3 am because we’re too afraid to fall asleep.

i don’t want you like i used to. i used to want to hold you, to run my hands through your hair.

but, i don’t anymore.

at least, i think i don’t i do. 

i don’t want to dance in the rain with you; i don’t want to trace the lines in your hands.

i want to know everything about you, but not know all of you. i don’t need that anymore.

if you read this, which i’m sure you won’t, you’ll definitely won’t think it’s you that i’m talking about and that’s okay.

i just know now, as i’m lying in bed writing this, that i don’t need you anymore. at least, not in the way i did when i was sixteen.

Because I’m a Woman

I watch a channel on YouTube called Yes Theory.

Their entire philosophy is based on the premise that when we start to say yes to things, we open ourselves to experiences that would never have been possible if we had said no. It encourages its followers to be spontaneous and preaches the idea that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

To live out this philosophy, the main people involved are three 20-something, friendly, and fit guys who travel around the world and complete challenges based on the spontaneity and kindness of strangers.

In their latest video, one of the guys is abandoned alone in Slovakia with no money and no phone, where he must attempt to return to his friends in Budapest.

I love everything about this channel and I hope someday I can live my life in a similar fashion.

But, I know this isn’t as realistic for me. Simply, because I’m a woman.

The thought of being dropped off in and exploring a random country sounds like a dream. The thought of being dropped off alone in a random country sounds terrifying.

I hate that just by being female, doing anything becomes more dangerous. I am a strong believer that a woman can do anything a man can. While that is true, it’s also true that women have to take a lot more precautions than men do.

I read a study that asked groups of men and women about the things they do in their everyday life to avoid being assaulted. The responses from women went on for pages. For men, there was one answer: “Nothing. I don’t think about it.”

Photo Credit: twitter.com

Words cannot express how much I wish this weren’t the case, how much I wish men and women were really, truly equal when it comes to things like this.

I wish that my mom didn’t have to worry about me going to the beach with my girl friends at 5 PM, even though she is fine with my older brother going to the same place with his guy friends at one in the morning.

I wish that women weren’t twice as likely as men to experience sexual assault or violent crimes.

I wish it weren’t like this, but it is. And let me tell you, it sucks.

To any men who are reading this, appreciate the fact that you don’t have to make sure you have your keys in your hand when you’re walking to your car at night. Be grateful that when you’re running by yourself and a truck drives behind you, you don’t have to stop to let it pass so that you can see what it is doing. Remember that there is a reason why girls always go to the bathroom in groups.

Tell this to your sons. Make them understand what it’s like. Teach them how to make women feel safer.

Maybe someday we’ll live in a world where a young woman can walk through a city alone, the only thing on her mind being how grateful she is to be there, and her biggest concern being what she will eat for dinner.

That’s all we want.

 

A Vulnerable Rant

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

The only time I ever rated my pain a 10 was for the two weeks after my back surgery.

At least, until now.

Back in April, I fell off my horse and fractured my lower back. The pain was so intolerable that I ended up taking a sick day from school, which I have never done in my entire life.

When I got an x-ray back in June, the doctors told me that my back would heal itself over time, but no one told me the consequences of that process.

Nor did they tell me that the pain in my back would be everywhere but the location I had my injury.

Now, the pain is a 10/10 and I would not do it again.

Photo Credit:drrichardchiropractic.com.

But, it’s just not muscle pain, it’s nerve pain. Aches at the top of my back that feel like burning needles prickling all over my skin. The pain only comes every two months, for five days to a week, but, when the pain comes, it makes every moment of my day-to-day life absolute hell to live through.

I used to have such a high pain tolerance, at least for everything else, but, when it comes to my back, I’m so vulnerable. I can’t even sit through a class without being on the verge of tears because of the pain.

Thankfully, it doesn’t last. In a couple days, the pain will completely vanish and I can’t wait.

But, in just a couple months, the pain will sneak back up on me and I will dread it when it does.

Powder to the People

Snowflake after snowflake is tumbling down on my shoulders, my gloves, my helmet, down my neck where it slowly melts and stains my skin pink. The air in my lungs is so much warmer than the air around me, but I can’t see my breath within all the white and grey falling through the space here.

Photo Credit: Mason Mashon Photo

I can’t see my skis, the snow is now all the way up to my knees. I try and dig a hole down my legs to tighten my boots one more time. I look around, look up to my siblings that are beside me, the only spots of color within my vision. One more time, my brother throws a snowball at me. I laugh and get a little mad internally, but now is not the time. Now is the time to be happy.

We all get out the handles for our ABS avalanche backpacks and connect them to the left shoulder strap. Our guide looks at us, and says “Geht schon!”, meaning “Okay, let’s go!”. We all push our poles into the snow in front of us and hop out of the deep powder as if it was nothing.

Here it goes.

The first second is nothing but exhilarating. I feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins as I float down the mountain, constantly fighting the curves and dips in the snow in order to not face plant. Stay away from the trees, stay away from the edge, don’t cross here, you might set off an avalanche. Just go, you love this.

The powder is fresh; we are the only ones here. This was definitely worth the long hike.

I am cold, but I can feel myself starting to sweat. My boots are too loose, don’t lose focus or you’ll twist your ankle. The snow is melting on my mask; the cold air is freezing it into solid ice. My braid is now white and covered in snow crystals. My breath is now in sync with my dashes, it’s cold and hard through my mouth and it hurts to breathe in; my nose is nearly closed up with ice. Just keep going. You don’t get to do this every day.

There is a steep part ahead. Look at your guide, your siblings, follow their lead. They’re better than you. It’s okay, you’re still doing it. The path is narrow, don’t hit the trees, watch out for the branches, the snow on top of them. Focus, use your legs, stay strong. We haven’t stopped this entire time and my feet and thighs are hurting. It’s good. Look ahead, there’s a lip. Jump, try not to fall, think of how hard it would be to get back up. You don’t want to make everyone else stop for you.

There it is, the bottom of the hill. From now on, it’s flat. There are some bumps, we try and jump and push each other over, race each other, spin around and go backwards. We did it.

We have to cross a stream; there’s a fallen tree trunk to walk on. The stomped-down snow on it makes it slippery and, with tired knees, we all make our way across. Now, all that’s left is a long way back to the town, an hour of walking and pushing through the trees in the valley. I’m really getting hot now; I have to open my jacket, unzip the sides of my pants, but it’s good. I feel good.

We get back to the ski lift and catch one of the last rides. Looking out through the slowly darkening alps around me, I see the mountain we had hiked up this morning in the distance. I feel tired, I feel hungry and sore, but the feeling of victory and accomplishment you get when you finally get to take off your heavy  boots and cold, wet gloves makes up for everything that has been aching for the past few hours.

I feel done; I feel tired; I feel good.

biracial

Until this past summer, I have always self-identified as fully white. If someone asked me what my ethnicity was, I would automatically say white. Sometimes, when people would try to pry, further questioning my response, I would almost yell,”I’M WHITE. I’M JUST TAN.”

This past summer I have come to terms with myself in a lot of more ways than one. A huge step for me was that, I have begun self-identifying as half-black and half-white.

I think there were two main reasons I did not associate myself with being African-American.

No, it is not because I’m embarrassed or ANYTHING along those lines.

The first being: the classic dead-beat dad story.  Up until very recently, I have given myself the power to not have to identify as the daughter of a black man who does not identify as a father.

The second reason being, well, racism, discrimination, and oppression, are all still alive and well.

On Father’s Day of last year, I posted something similar to this on a small instagram account I have only for close friends. Someone told me that “no one really cares” and “I don’t see why that’s a big deal.”

It’s a huge deal. Once you’re fifteen years into your life and you finally feel comfortable enough to accept and express the half of your identity that’s made you feel empty for years, it’s a huge deal.

Yes, I am half-black; yes, I am identify with the 17.9 other African-Americans in the U.S; yes, my dad is black; yes, that’s my real mom; and, yes, I’m proud.

 

Photo credit: Theodysseyonline.com