Tag Archives: shame

Shame and Gifting

18 Dec

When I was in elementary school I had a birthday party. It was one of those parties you invite all the kids from your class, even though you really only wanted to invite three of them, and then parents come too for some reason or another (probably to gloat about how they are such great parents for organizing socialization for their child). I was an awkward child. Although I was aware of social norms and painfully tried to be a polite little girl, I did not always succeed at abiding by said norms or being very polite. It was time to open gifts and, as was the case at these parties (whose goal I really do believe was to make the socially awkward children even more awkward), everyone gathered around to watch me ooh and ahh at the unwrapping.
It amazes me how vividly I remember this moment. I have no idea what the gift ended up being or who it was from, but as I peeled back the fragile paper and reveled the contents I was immediately repulsed at the sight. Without a second thought I blurted out “I don’t even like [fill in the blank]!” As it turns out, the giver of said gift had only used the box from something else to encase what the actual gift ended up being. I was mortified and thoroughly scolded by my mother for my outburst.
To this day, no matter how horrid the gift, I smile and give copious amounts of thanks. However, sometimes, the gift is expensive and I know I will never use it or if I do I will do so grudgingly. I feel guilt for not informing the person they wasted their money, but shame for not being more grateful they even thought of me.
This year for Christmas Michigan sent me a Keurig coffee maker. I HATE Keurigs. The cups are wasteful, the machines are a pain in the ass to clean, and you can only make one cup at a time. What if I have guests over? What if I want to have an all night Harry Potter marathon with multiple cups of that Ethiopian blend? It is an impractical waste of space.
I stupidly Skyped with him to open the thing and he knew immediately I was under-whelmed. I blamed it on sleep deprivation from too much overtime (which was indeed a true thing) and ended the call quickly. However, it sits by my bed staring at me, the guilt and shame driving me to close to tears.
I am in turmoil. I don’t know what to do. He is supposed to be moving in with me and I can’t tell him I hate a coffeemaker? Who gives a coffeemaker as a Christmas present to their girlfriend? Why can’t he be like a normal person and just buy me the boxed book set I very clearly stated I wanted and probably would have cost less! I would have even been happy with the French Press I said I wanted to replace my old coffeemaker with. Presents are about getting people things they wouldn’t or couldn’t buy for themselves…a Keurig?
This is such a silly thing to be having such a huge existential crisis over.


12 Dec

We are human. Humans make mistakes. Some of us take responsibility for those mistakes, others do everything in their power to avoid responsibility.
Personally I don’t see the point in avoiding responsibility. It sucks, some people will judge you, you will lose some things, but in the end it is the only way to cleanse.
However, from time to time, even when you take the high road, even when you do everything in your power to be a compliant member of society, swallowing your pride and admitting your failure as a person, the world still shits on you and rubs salt into the wound. Today I crave anarchy.
Clearly today something has gone wrong, clearly I am venting, and clearly there is no where else I can do it. I have burdened those in my life enough with complaints and confusion, they may be tiring of it, or I may just be perceiving they are tired of it when truly they are not. Does it matter?
Now I am rambling.
Guilt is a hard and terrible thing. It makes the insignificant insurmountable, and weakens the strong to rubble. Shame is worse. Shame eats you from the inside out and make sink holes in your being. One day you are walking on solid ground, the next you are fifty feet under without a rope.
Maybe I should go watch some Brene Brown.

Online Dating: A better fishing pole, or just a smaller, more desperate pond?

6 Mar

I go back and forth a lot on the concept of online dating sites. I admit I have been through the gambit. Being single for 4+ years leads to moments of intense weakness where society has wriggled its tentacles into your brain and made you believe you have a tumor in your emotional quadrant which can only be fixed by huddling under the covers in your dark room frantically describing every aspect that makes you you in under 500 characters. When I reach these low points, I have thrown any glimmer of shame out the window and respond to pretty much anyone who emails me, convincing myself that they only LOOK like a creeper, and they were nervous when they typed, “…and love mutilating rabid baby chickens in my basement after a night staring down women’s shirts,” trying to be funny or something.

It often doesn’t take long to realize what I have done and yell obscenities at society for trying to brainwash me again, but really more because I’m mad at myself for tempting fate again. It really is a miracle I haven’t been murdered or sodomized yet.

We all know the people that have found their one true love on a website, gotten married, had babies, lived, for better or worse, happily ever after. Then why is it every time I get to the point I decide maybe I could be one of those people, the only guys that email me are either shy and desperate or pot smoking losers living in their mom’s basement with three kids by three different women (yeah, that ACTUALLY happened). Where is my knight in shining armor dammit!!

I do in fact prefer meeting people organically. The problem is, this is not the fad anymore. Since graduating college, the only ways I actually meet new people are through friends, or at bars. The bar scene is not ideal as drunk generally=horny and music=grinding. This equation more often than not leads to awkward make out session and/or hook ups or a phone number exchange in which the guy tries to get in my sober pants the next day (cause THAT’s gonna happen). My conclusion is that bars do not equal intimacy, reality, or sincerity.

The mutual friends equation generally hosts better results, but can also end in more awkwardness than kicking your one night stand to the curb. Friends of your friends stick around and you often end up bumping into them on occasion unexpectedly after it is decided (mutually or otherwise) that its not going to work. Then, when you cycle through all of them you have to go make new friends so you can have more options to chose from again.

What do you do then, I ponder, when you want to meet new people, avoid awkward post-break off encounters, and not get a drink spilled on you when some drunk dick builds up the semen to ask for your number? Online dating website of course.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will now admit that I recently decided to begin this arduous sojourn once again when LP told me she had had a bit of luck. Thinking of it now, I suppose she ALWAYS has a bit of luck in her back pocket that I never seem to share. Its been about a week since I started fishing and have fallen into the same rut. One or two have peeked my interest, but I’m concerned that it won’t stick for obvious reasons. The excitement has already worn off, doubt has taken root, and I’m getting that negative feeling in my gut.

I guess I’ll update when necessary…I just wanted to analyze a bit. I feel like I have not been given proper choices, so I guess I wanted to bitch a little too.

LP and I were talking about this a minute ago and her response: “You can’t win if you don’t play the game…its like the lottery!”

Sexuality…what’s in a label?

13 Nov

The conversation of sexuality is s hot button topic, at least where I come from. I grew up in the Protestant church where intimate sexual experiences were sacred and intended for a marriage between a man and a woman. When I was a teenager and beginning to feel the tingling sensations between my legs when a cute boy walked by, I bought in, practiced self-restraint, made vows to stay a virgin until that ring was on my finger. Of course, I never dated in high school. I said it was because I didn’t know what real love was and didn’t want to run the gambit of failed relationships before my heart could handle it, but lets be honest, I was the shy, awkward girl who no one wanted to date anyway.

College was a different story. I went to a smallish Christian school north of Boston. Freshman year I became the bright, bubbly, outspoken, and at times obnoxious girl I never had been but always knew I could be. My vow of celibacy, however, remained intact, even after I met Mr. Wrong towards the end of my first semester. Mr. Wrong, despite many shortcomings in our relationship, taught me the meaning of love. My heart felt alive and I wanted to sing from the mountaintops and all that jazz. We toyed with the boundaries of intimacy and pushed against the lines we said we wouldn’t cross. Seven months later on the fourth of July, my desire for a closer bond with my companion ousted my vows of purity and we had perfectly boring and awkward sex. [On a side note, I’m convinced two virgins doing this together for the first time is both extremely smart and extremely dumb. Smart in that both of you feel the same amount of awkward. Dumb in that neither of you know what the hell you are doing.]

Since this sexual awakening, I have been through the whole realm of emotions around it. While I was with him, I was convinced I was going to marry him, which made the act, if not justified, excusable. We felt a closer connection and so what if we went a little ahead of schedule. After the break up, the shame I had been taught to feel kicked in. I beat myself up about it for a couple months, until I kicked myself in the hiney and decided it was time to stop moping. I started rebelling against all of it, starting with my guy friends. I don’t know why, but sleeping with guys I had no romantic feelings for, but knew I could trust was a stepping stone I was ok with jumping on, literally. Liquor helped, but that is a whole other story.

I was numb from the relationship still at this point and men were toys. I felt some guilt, but the more it happened, the less I felt. It was a coping strategy and an unhealthy on at that. My male friends didn’t mind so much, but it became a game to them too. It wasn’t until my first one night stand that I started to see how out of control I was getting. I wish I could say that was my wake up call, but it wasn’t that easy. A few more mistakes later and then a morning after where I had to drive a guy home I had picked up in Cambridge [to this day I still do not remember his name and he is dubbed “Clay Aiken” because that is who my roomy swears he looked like] it finally hit me.

I always say I live my life without regrets, but by that point there were a couple things I wished I could take back. Sex had become a toy, a way to feel connected to someone without actually putting in any effort. It became meaningless and easily exchangeable for love. I was not and still am not at the point where I believe sex has to be a sacred act saved for the bonds of marriage, I’m not even positive I want to get married, but sex is also more than what I had turned it into and I wanted to get back some of that magic that made it so special on the fourth of July so long ago. I have come to understand sex in a way I was not raised to understand it, but there is some validation in the things I was taught. As a society we have minimized its importance and meaning, made it something to be thrown around and abused. Even now, I am still culpable in this, and continue to get drunk and horny and make bad choices. It’s a learning curve.

I have veered off my initial subject, however. I wanted you to understand my sexual journey, and that is all the pertinent information, but it did not end there. In the church, we were also taught that man and woman were made for one another. Sex was not only designated specifically for marriage, but specifically for man and woman to experience with one another, and one another alone. In my sexual awakening, as I like to call it, despite how cheesy it sounds, I not only pushed the boundaries of sex outside of love, but sex outside of the designated genders as well. A drunken kiss at a bar with a girl led to full on same-sex make out sessions. My first sexual encounter with a girl was with my roommate and her boyfriend, maybe it felt better having a buffer. Since then, it hasn’t been an issue. I have the unique ability to not really feel shame about my actions these days. I am a pro at just going with the flow. And sometimes the flow leads me into a woman’s pants.

Straight, gay, bi-sexual, bi-curious…labels, for what? Sexual preference? “Hi, my name is ‘Lesbian’, what’s yours?” Does it matter? What if some of us are just sexual? I envision myself, if I ever get there, married to a man in a brownstone apartment in Boston, but right now, I like to have sex, and sometimes I like to have sex with girls. I don’t feel the need to shout this from the mountaintops. “Coming out” has never crossed my mind because I don’t feel there is anywhere for me to come out of. Sex is sex…but I could legitimately date a girl and feel the same way. My parents may never know, but they don’t even know that I smoke, or when I’m dating a new guy. There are things they would not understand about my life because they are of a different generation, a different school of thought, and our relationship does not suffer because there are things I choose not to fight about. I choose not to have a label. I don’t need the bonds of camaraderie that come with sharing in a community of a certain sexual preference. I don’t feel the need to push my values on any other person by the automatic straight/gay debate that is necessary for some people. I am who I am, and I am happy with who that is. I do not feel oppressed or forced into any mold. My friends accept me for who I am and don’t care what gender I bring home from the bar. The ones who do judge me are not my friends and I feel no need to associate with them.

So what is in a label? Why do we feel the need to tack on extras to our name and validate our choices? Are we that uncomfortable just being who we are?

PS I liked this post a lot on a similar subject