jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Tag: friends

The Cost of Abuse

This subject is a bit more heavy than what I usually write about, but it needs to be said. With all that has been going around in the media and social networks about Ray Rice’s video showing his assault on his then-fiancee, there has been a lot of victim-blaming. And it needs to STOP.

It is so easy for those who have no experience with any type of abuse to judge the woman and say she could have left, or that she allowed him to continue to abuse her so it’s her fault. But what many people don’t know is, it is not that easy to walk away. Lately, there has been a hashtag on social media, #WhyIStayed that has been trending. Women have been telling their stories on why they ultimately stayed in an abusive relationship.

It is easy to read these accounts of physical, mental, and financial abuse and blame the women. It is easy to stand on the outside, looking in, and wonder how weak these women must be to not walk away the first time they were mistreated. We can judge and say “I’d never be that stupid; I’d fight back or walk away the first time.” But really, without being in that situation, can you really say these things?

When I was younger, I was taught that men abusing women was NOT okay. I grew up in a home where my dad never laid a finger on my mom. My parents came from families where the men never hit the women. So I was lucky. I was shown a way of life free of physical abuse. However, many of my friends were not as lucky. They came from families where the mother was abused by the father, the sons hit their sisters, and ultimately, the girls were married to men who would hit them as well.

The first time I encountered a friend who was physically abused, I was shocked. It didn’t seem real; yet her bruises told me another story. I felt helpless; what could be done? She would run away to her family, and they would send her back to her husband. She had children; her husband threatened to take them away. He of course would buy her gifts as an apology, but just like clockwork, he would abuse her yet again. It was a vicious cycle.

Because she had no support from her family or the community, she was stuck in this circle for a while before she finally summoned up enough courage to walk away. Of course, the community saw it as defiance of her husband and blamed her. But she stayed strong, got a job, and found a place to live. Today, she is finally free from that life.

Over the years, I have seen other types of abuse. Emotional abuse can be just as scarring, since the man can strip you of your identity and self-worth. What we need to realize when blaming the victim is that if they already have low self-esteem (which men who abuse try to find from the start), then it is easy for them to be sucked into a whirlwind of emotional abuse. And since these women are afraid to speak up, the continue to let their abuser proceed with the torment.

Financial abuse occurs when a woman doesn’t work, or if she does, he money is managed and controlled by her husband. This makes sure that she always relies on him for anything she needs, and also secures the idea that she cannot leave as she will have to financial means to do so. Her husband will control where she goes, what she buys, and anything she wants to do. Along with emotional abuse, this will result in the woman feeling helpless to try and leave as she does not know how she will survive on her own, especially if she has no family or friends to stay with to get her on her feet.

I have seen all these types of abuse in my life. The one thing that I can tell you, is that women in these relationships often will hide what is happening to them for fear of humiliation. They do not want their closest friends and families to know that they are victims of these lifestyles. A lot of times, since they see the victim being blamed for not walking away, they are embarrassed to share their story. But, not anymore. It is time we stopped judging and blaming them for staying. We need more dialogue. We need conversation and understanding.

The reason women don’t walk away is not because of the power of their abuser; it is because they are afraid that when they turn for help, they will be greeted with a mob, pointing accusing fingers at them.

Let’s change that.

Friend-zoned

So lately there have been blogs and posts about how guys get friend-zoned by their gal pals. “Friend-zoned” basically means that a guy wants to be more than just friends with a girl, but the girl treats him, well….basically like her best gay friend. But no one ever talks about the girl who gets friend-zoned. I never really thought about it until last week, when I asked a guy friend of mine why he never pursued anything with me. His answer: there was never a spark. Or, actually, there WAS a spark initially, but then it faded. In his words, he “tried to make it happen” but it never did.

That got me thinking. I experience this a lot more than I should. So it made me think about all the relationships I’ve had with guys over the years, mostly friendships. All my female friends find it so weird that I know so many single, good-looking guys, and have yet to start a relationship with one. So I asked them, one by one, why they won’t date me. They all said the same thing: there is no spark, no chemistry. When I ask them what they like about me, it’s always the same: cool, chill, no drama, funny, down-to-earth. They find me cute, adorable, sexy….never beautiful or pretty. That’s when it hit me.

I’ve been friend-zoned.

Everyone thinks it’s just the guys who get pushed aside to the “friend” area; not so. Apparently my carefree, fun, happy single self is a recipe for friendship, and not much else. While all these guys find me to be a great friend, they can’t see a future with me. Is it because my single lifestyle has them guessing whether or not I’d make room for them? (See previous blog post Making Room for a Man). Or maybe I’m too much for them (and I’ve heard this before as well). Too involved, too confident, too outgoing, too social, etc….I’m just “too much” of everything that I am proud of.

What, exactly, am I doing to push these guys away, or dim that spark? Should I be more demure, more mysterious, more subdued? Is my outgoing personality and confidence such a turnoff that guys can’t see past it to build a relationship with me? What, exactly, am I doing wrong???

I’m closing in on straight hysteria at this point. I don’t play games. I’m not going to act one way to please the male species because that’s what they want. I’m not going to act shy when I meet a guy for the first time. I’m not afraid to be the first one to initiate a meeting. I don’t shy away from the tough or taboo subjects. If this makes me a “friend” then maybe the guys I’m meeting are not strong enough to handle this version of me. Maybe I need to find a guy who welcomes a bright, lively, funny girl. I would never want a guy to pretend to be something he is not to impress me. The best version of you is when you are yourself. Playing games and putting on a facade are child’s play. We are too grown up for all that.

My friends and family wonder why I never tell them when I meet a guy. It’s because I know that after a few weeks of talking, he’ll disappear. I should start my own magic show. POOF! He’s gone, ladies and gentlemen. I never know why though. They just disappear, and I am left wondering- yet again- what I did to make him vanish as quickly as he had appeared. Some may think that all this rejection might wear on my confidence, but to be honest, I don’t care. Why? Because I don’t even know what I did wrong! If they attacked my character somehow, maybe I’d hurt a little. But I don’t even know what sends them running, so all I can do is laugh, keep an open mind, and move on.

The guy for me is out there, I know he is…and if he’s too afraid of me to approach me, then maybe I should just face up to my partner-less future now. There are worse things that could happen to me than me dying alone, right?

At least I’ll have a bunch of friends at my funeral.

Age IS Just a Number

Everyone has heard the saying “age is just a number.” Usually it’s someone younger saying it to justify their actions that are deemed too adult. Or an older women uses it as a defense when dating a younger man. Or, in my case, when a guy who is ten years younger than me tries to pursue me. But this post isn’t about me; not entirely.

One of my guy friends turned 40 this past Saturday. Granted, in most people’s lives, this would be cause for celebration. You have established a career, you have a great circle of friends and family, and you are content. I was browsing Instagram and Facebook and noticed no one had wished him a happy birthday. So I text him wishing him a wonderful birthday and many more healthy years to come. His response was less than enthusiastic. And I knew it would be, because I knew he felt he was missing something he should have had by his 40th birthday: a wife and kids.

Now, my friend is handsome (despite his protests that he isn’t), he’s VERY smart, accomplished, involved in the community, and respected by many. I have know him for ten years and he has always been there for me. Seeing him upset by this upset me as well. Why? Well, because I know where he is coming from. For males, it is more accepted that they get married and start a family later. For females…not so much. But my friend feels that even he has pushed the limit. The thing is, he is SO amazing that it boggles my mind as to why no girl has snatched him up yet. Granted, he is a bit picky, but so is everyone.

After our brief text exchange, I concluded by telling him he has so much to be thankful for. His life is fulfilling and rich with purpose. If nothing else, he should be proud of those accomplishments that most people need a lifetime to achieve.

Later on in the day, I started thinking. It seems that my friend was feeling that he was missing something, but only because of his age. Had the two not been linked, I’m sure he would have been happy to celebrate his birthday. (He actually deactivated his Facebook so no one would know, and ignored all his friends’ phone calls and texts). The fact that he was 40, an age which most guys would have a family established, and was still single himself must have tugged at his heart. If there was anything I could do to convince him of his worth, I would have. What bothered me the most was the fact that he was consumed with the one thing missing in his life to appreciate all that he DID have.

If society doesn’t place an emphasis on age in regards to anything we accomplish, then no one would ever feel inadequate. People expect you to graduate college by 22, get married at 24, and have a child shortly after. When you don’t follow this timeline you are now viewed as a pariah. When I quit school 8 years ago to pursue my work in sales, everyone gave me the “that’s so sad” look when they heard I didn’t graduate college. But what we all need to remember is that life isn’t so perfect all the time. Sometimes the career comes before the degree. Sometimes marriage comes after 30. Sometimes kids come after 40. To me, whatever makes YOU happy should determine when you do things.

Right now I’m 31, bordering on 32. When I turned 30, I was single. I was working my hourly sales job after stepping down as a manager. As much as I wanted to sulk, I didn’t. Because at 30, I had been afforded opportunities most hadn’t experienced yet. I was loved. I had a wonderful family and group of friends supporting me. So what if I was 30 and didn’t have a husband or kids?

Am I the only one who sees no importance in being married? To be so accomplished across the board and then be missing just that last puzzle piece should not make you feel incomplete. Focus on what you DO have going for you. Don’t dwell on the one thing that is taking a little longer to make its way to you. If you do, you’re going to miss out on all the great things life has handed you. Enjoy your life now.

Communication Amongst the Sexes

I have a friend who is an Actor in LA, and he also hosts a radio program every week on LA Talk Radio called Imperfect Gentlemen. He took a lifestyle and made it a brand, in that through his radio show and the products he sells, he has changed the way men and women interact. The show is basically an advice column on air, where listeners can send in topics and he and his co-host will answer it from a guy’s perspective. The aim is to allow women who tune in to know what guys think, and for the men it is a lifestyle rulebook to follow in order to be a true gentleman.

Last week on the show, the topic was “Does no mean no?” Meaning, when a woman says nothing is wrong, or that she isn’t interested in dating a guy is that truly what she thinks or is she playing a game? We all know that ever since junior high, guys and girls were taught that it’s “all a game” and that you shouldn’t answer the first call, or you should let the phone ring 4 times before answering, or you should say you are busy the first time a guy asks you out. Guys shouldn’t call a girl for 3 days after a date, they should show no emotional connection, and they should casually mention other girls to ignite jealousy to see if the girl really likes them. But come on! Why all the charades? Why can’t men and women just communicate?

On the radio show, one of the hosts said that girls don’t tell the truth, and they are always playing games and he wishes they would just say what’s on their mind. Yet he also admitted that even if a girl claims to be telling the truth, he wouldn’t necessarily believe her! So what I’m understanding is that guys want girls to tell the truth, but even when we do, you think we are playing the game still. Ok, that makes a lot of sense (not).

It was funny that this topic was chosen for that show because a few days before that I had a conversation with a guy friend of mine. I asked him why a guy would be turned off a girl after expressing interest in her, as I meet many guys and they find me intelligent and likable, but after a few conversations they are never to be seen again. He asked me what I tell them and what we talk about, and I told him normal, getting-to-know-you topics. He then asked me if I tell the truth about everything, and that perplexed me. I said of course I do, why wouldn’t I? He suggested that I hold some stuff back at first and- in his words, not mine- “play the game a little.”

Woah! So this guy is telling me girls SHOULD play the game to create some mystery. And yet other guys say they want the exact opposite. So, which one is it guys? If we hold stuff back, we are playing games. If we are forthcoming and honest, we’re pushy or you just don’t believe us. Call me crazy, but seems like you are the ones with issues to resolve. Make a decision and stick with it. It’s unfair to say that women don’t know how to communicate when guys give mixed signals all the time.

I’ve always been an honest, open person, and I never played games. It’s childish and a waste of time. Even when I was younger, I just didn’t get the point of it. I used to tell all my friends who would date compulsively to just be themselves. A girl would come and tell me she wants to call or text the guy she’s seeing but doesn’t want to see pushy, and I would tell her to just DO IT. Seriously, why the anxiety and stress over a phone call? If your instinct is to surprise someone at work with lunch, DO IT. Don’t turn it over and over again in your mind until you talk yourself out of it. It always amazed me how much time girls spent stressing over such mundane things.

So the deal is that as a guy, if you want open communication, you have to be able to take it. And when a girl does open up to you, take it as true honesty. Don’t always assume that girls play games. And if they do….well, you really don’t have anyone to blame but yourself.