Archive for the ‘Self-esteem, self-respect’ Category

I had a very interesting conversation the other day with a male colleague of mine. He’s a very wonderful man and the same age as me, which is 62. So that puts us in the age of when things were much different at work than they are now.

Actually, not different just at work but just about every place we women exist in. What I mean by that is I have seen many changes over these 6 plus decades and we are definitely heading in the right direction. But we all know we have a long ways to go.

He thought it was very sad that all of these things were happening and it was making it unsafe for men in the workplace.

My response was dripping with sarcasm (that probably burned holes in the floor as it dripped off my teeth) “Oh how sad for you and all the men. It breaks my heart that you now feel a bit unsafe in the workplace. Must be terrible.”

This stopped him in his tracks for about half a second and then he continued to explain his point to me. I actually did understand what he was saying but the problem was, he was not understanding what I was saying.

And there we have it. I looked at him and asked “Have you ever told a man that he was acting inappropriately towards a woman?”

He sort of looked around and mumbled a few things while I sat back with my legs crossed and just looked at him with a bit of a smirk on my face. I couldn’t help it.

For that is the point. It’s not that we will get rid of men who act badly towards women. They will probably always exist. Always have and always will.

What we need are more men stepping up and putting those bad men in their place. You do that enough times and hopefully they will learn that they can’t get away with it anymore.

We don’t need any more talk about this. I’m sick and tired of having to hear this shit as it hits the fans. Yeah, I’m glad this is in the headlines and people are talking about it, but the question is, what are you willing to do about it?

I’ve survived, as many women have, endless times of being sexually harassed and assaulted. We women know all about this. I’m just sick and tired of good men looking at us with a blank stare and asking “What are you talking about?”

I’m sorry but they know damn well what we’re talking about. This is not something new to them and I think their objection is that they’re being held somewhat accountable now for the actions of others.

As well they should be.

Weinstein had a whole shitload of people that helped him with his abuse for decades. Believe it or not, it’s not so much his abuse and being a predator that pisses me off. It does, but it’s all of those people that helped him with it for so many years. He could have been stopped dead in his tracks if just one person had stood up to him. Okay maybe not one. Maybe it would have taken hundreds. I don’t know.

And maybe there were people that did and we haven’t heard about it. If so, I would like to hear from them and find out what happened.

Evil and badness exist simply because we let it.

So to all my male friends and colleagues that understand, I thank you.

Now you guys need to get the show on the road and get this shit to stop. We’re sick and tired of it.

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I know this statement to be true from personal experience. The details aren’t important except suffice to say, if you value your life, don’t ever tickle me.

The interesting part of the above statement are the number of people, once learning of my loathing and aversion to being tickled, take it upon themselves to tickle me. I’ve had it happen so many times that I never tell anyone unless they try to tickle me. If they respect my wishes, no harm and no foul.

If they don’t, they usually try it again.

That is usually the last time I talk to them.

One person at work, years ago, came up behind me and poked me in the ribs. I jumped and swung around. He was a friend and was just doing that rather than tap me on the shoulder.

I told him I hated to be tickled and please not to do it ever again. He said he was sorry and that was that until about a week later.

He did it again, but this time, he laughed. Yeah, he thought it was funny and that I was being dramatic. I once again swung around but this time I was angry.

“Don’t do that!” I said. He smiled and apologized again. He said he forgot. Uh huh….

About 3 weeks later, he did it again, but this time when I turned around, I made a fist and used the full power of my arm and torso to slam it into his sternum.

The look on his face was priceless. I watched him try to breathe. I helped him to sit down in a chair and stood there and waited.

Once he could breathe, I leaned over and put my face up close to his and said “I warned you. You decided not to listen. If you ever do that to me again, I will bring you up on assault charges and the next time, you won’t be able to stand back up.”

I then went to HR and reported what had happened.

He quit a few weeks later.

Predators are patient and calculating. They take their time. They move in, slowly and intelligently. They are aware of everything around them and they know exactly what they are doing. I suppose some of them are bold, but maybe not all. I can’t say for sure, but it would not surprise me to learn that it’s true.

It’s not natural for an adult to want to tickle and play with children exclusively. It’s not right that they always want the child around, to sit on their lap, to always be rough housing with them. This is about extremes. This is about just a bit too much interest in your child. Trust me, as a person who doesn’t have children, unless we’re closely related, I don’t want your kid around if we’re hanging out. Shit, I don’t even want my relative’s children around too long. I love kids and I love having them around, but not the entire time.

I was fortunate that my parents didn’t care for this particular adult very much, so my exposure to him was limited but the one time he was alone with me, he pulled that shit. The tickling was torture AND HE KNEW IT. He knew damn well why I started to cry and would…not…stop. The more hysterical I became, the more he tickled. He only stopped when someone walked in.

Years later, his crimes and perversions were found out. I recall hearing of his death and I smiled.

I am far from an alarmist. I don’t go looking for problems where there aren’t any but I do pay attention to those around me. When I see children, I always make sure they are OK and someone is with them. But I always look to make sure. I look at them for a moment.

Of all the women I worked with in jail, the greatest number had been abused/molested as children and young adults. Many got into drugs. I can’t say that the reason is solely the abuse, but I can say that many of them resorted to drugs to escape and ironically, many became prostitutes to earn the money for the drugs and because they were “taught” at a young age that their only value was to sexually please men. That’s a tough one to “let go” and “walk away from.”

No one has the right to touch me unless I tell them they can.

No one has the right to determine what my emotions should be.

No one has the right to decide how I should look, act, or dress.

My point of view is this:

If you violate my physical body, one of two things will happen:

1) I’ll lay you out and you won’t be able to get up.
2) I’ll die in the attempt.

There are no other options.

“What do you mean I can’t be here?” I asked. All I wanted to do was take a class in auto mechanics. I had gotten my first car and figured it would be a good idea to learn how a car worked.

The High School teacher rolled his eyes and walked me to the door. “No, this class is only for boys. Besides, you’ll just be a distraction to them. Now run along and go to your Home Ed class,” he said and walked away and closed the door in my face.

I went to my school counselor and said I wanted to add a class to my schedule. When I told her which one, she laughed and shook her head.

“No, only boys can take that class,” she said and looked at my schedule. “You already have enough credits to graduate, so don’t worry about it. Now, aren’t you supposed to be in Home Ed? Hmmm? Now run along before you get in trouble,” she said and picked-up her phone and started dialing.

I walked to my Home Ed class and sat down. The teacher gave me a disapproving look. I didn’t care. She was right in the middle of teaching us how to make cookies. Cookies. What the hell did I care about cookies? I sat at a table with 3 other girls. They were giggling and talking about boys while they added the exact right amount of butter to the batter. I watched them for a while.

“Susan, what are you doing this weekend? Anything exciting?” one of them asked me.

I perked-up. “Yes. Jeff is going to show me how the brakes work on my car. Then he’s going to show me how to replace them…”

All 3 of them laughed. “What kind of a date is that? Good grief, why would you want to learn that? That’s for boys! Besides, there are mechanics for that,” one of the girls said.

Their giggling increased. I took the 2 raw eggs and threw them into the batter without cracking them open. They gasped and one grabbed the eggs and took them out. She held onto them protectively in case I decided to do it again. The girl stirring the batter moved the bowl closer to her and put her arm around it and sneered at me.

“You know what your problem is, Susan? You don’t understand how things work. You don’t accept your place. You’re not supposed to know how cars work because it doesn’t matter if you know or not. And if you’re going to date someone, do fun things instead of working on his car. Boys like feminine girls and getting all dirty and greasy is not feminine!” she said.

I took a handful of batter and threw it at her. It hit the bowl and she shoved her seat back and gasped.

I was soon back at my counselor’s office. Later, I was put with another group of girls in Home Ed. I graduated knowing how to bake cookies, how to keep brown sugar moist and a bunch of casseroles.

That summer, I applied for a job at a gas station. I still wanted to learn about cars and figured maybe I could while I pumped gas and cleaned windshields. This was in the day when we still had full service gas stations.

The manager laughed when I asked for an application. I felt my face turn red, but I didn’t budge. He looked me up and down and smiled.

“Nah, I don’t think so. I can’t have you pressing your titties against the windshield while you clean them.  You’ll only cause trouble for me. Go home and bake something instead,” he said.

“Give me the God damn application! You have to! It’s the law,” I said. I had no idea if it was the law or not. I was only 17 but it sure sounded good.

“Fine!,” he said and handed it to me. I sat down and began to fill it out. I knew he wasn’t going to hire me, but I felt like annoying him.

The application asked me about my periods and required intimate details. I sat back and thought. Since I wasn’t going to get the job, I decided to write down the most disgusting and gory details that I could. I finished it and handed it back to him.

I watched him read it.

I watched him cringe.

I smiled and walked out.

In college, my Sociology teacher told sexist jokes throughout each class. Most people laughed. I tried to be a good sport but I couldn’t do it any longer.

One day I raised my hand and waited for him to call on me.

“Yes?” he asked while he still laughed about the rape joke he had just told.

“What do these jokes have to do with the subject?” I asked. My voice shook a bit.

“You obviously don’t have a sense of humor,” he said and proceeded to carry-on with the subject.

“And you obviously are an asshole,” I said.

I, once again, was asked to leave class.

After the 3rd time he kicked me out, I dropped the class.

Over the years, so many have told me:

“You need to do something about your hair.”

“You need to lose/gain weight.”

“What’s wrong with you that you don’t have children?”

“You should do as your husband tells you.” This one always made me laugh.

“You should play hard to get. Don’t ever let a man know what you’re thinking.”

“Aren’t you just a bit too young/old to wear that? You should dress and act your age.”

“You can’t write, so don’t even try.”

“It’s up to you to keep a man. You know how they are…”

“You need to behave yourself and stop being so loud and vocal. It’s not ladylike.”

The list is endless.

Just because people say things, it doesn’t make it true.

It’s only true if you say so.

So, disagree…completely and go live your life.

Not theirs.

“Here’s to all of us!” Cheryl said and raised her glass to toast us.

Us. The four of us women who had somehow formed a friendship over the years. As our glasses clinked and as we continued to laugh, I felt happy. For a moment, all was right with the world.

I had known Cheryl for a long time. We had met at a business convention many years before. We each worked for a small business and began networking with each other. Soon we were helping each other and a friendship had formed over respect, hard work and a similar sick and twisted sense of humor.

I was there when she got divorced. I was there when she had to fight for child custody. I was there when she began to date again and I was there when it would all fall apart.

Kim was a woman I had met via Cheryl. She was her administrative assistant, but I always called her “Cheryl’s secretary” or “Cheryl’s bitch” just to annoy her and get her to laugh. She was younger than the two of us, single with two toddlers and worked as hard as Cheryl and I. I was often her comic relief for the day.

I had just recently met Lindsay a few months earlier. She had applied for a job at our office but we weren’t hiring at the time. She looked scared and desperate. I took her application and talked with her for a while and found out Cheryl had sent her our way. I felt bad that we didn’t have anything for her, but she accepted the rejection gracefully.

We were celebrating tonight. As hard as our lives had become, we decided it was time to get away from everyone and have some fun. We were all overdue for a girl’s night out and I felt my spirits lift as soon as I sat down to dinner with them. I had been the last one to arrive, so I sat back and sipped my wine while they all got me caught-up on the latest gossip and shenanigans.

When it was time to leave, we all regretted having to go back to our lives but knew it was a necessary evil. But being able to step off the planet for a few hours had done us all a world of good.

As we were walking down the street towards the parking lot, two young men were walking towards us. We were still talking and laughing. I wasn’t paying any attention until Cheryl stopped.

They were blocking our way. I looked up and stopped. I thought maybe Cheryl knew them.

“You!” said the man on the left as he pointed to Cheryl. “You, I’d do in a hear beat,” he said. His friend laughed.

He looked at the rest of us. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but before I could figure it out, he pointed to me and said “You’re the second one I’d do, so you’re passable. You’re totally fuckable.”

We were confused and looked at each other. I felt my face turn red and my hackles rise. I pulled on Cheryl’s arm and motioned for the other two to follow.

As we walked past, he pointed to Kim and said “You’re not very pretty, but if I was drunk enough, I don’t think I’d mind.”

Kim stopped for a moment. I reached over and grabbed her hand and pulled her away. It was late and the street was dark and deserted. We had a block to walk before getting to the parking lot.

As Lindsay walked past, he stopped her. His friend just chuckled the entire time, nodding his head up and down in agreement.

“You’d I’d throw back. You’re fat, ugly and I bet you haven’t gotten laid in years,” he said and laughed harder.

That did it. Both Cheryl and I looked at each other. For a brief nano-second, we understood each other. We both walked over to Lindsay. I grabbed her hand and pulled her away. I saw the tears in her eyes. As I was walking away, Cheryl pulled her pepper spray out of her purse and sprayed it on the man’s face.

The screaming was a pleasant sound. So was the sound of his friend running down the street.

Cheryl calmly put her pepper spray back in her purse and walked away. We followed.

When we got to our cars, we weren’t sure whether or not to laugh or cry. I was shaking and decided if anyone asked me about it, I would play dumb. “I don’t know nuthin ’bout no pepper spray” was going to be my story if anyone asked.

Lindsay was crying. His words hurt her badly. She was sensitive about her weight.

But we were celebrating the weight she had gained because she had survived cancer. She was well again, eating and for the first time in a year, not only had she stopped losing weight, she was putting it back on.

We tried to lift each others spirits, attributed the cruelty to the meanness of some people, but no matter how hard we tried to talk ourselves out of it, the severe judgement of one mans opinion of our looks and sexual appeal cut deep.

Yes, I admit it cut deep for a moment and that pissed me off. Who was this stranger, this nobody, that thought he had the right to arrogantly decide that our value was based on our sex appeal?

He was nobody, that’s what he was.

There are plenty of nobody’s around. Every article that tells you how to be. Every ad that shows you what else you need do or buy to be more appealing. Every TV show that shoves “the ideal woman” in your face. Every movie that has the beautiful woman in high heels, saving the planet and still able to keep her make-up smudge free.

These are all written by nobody’s and as long as you say they are correct….they are.

I disagree completely.

We are all good enough just as we are.

I started carrying pepper spray after that…

This morning I stopped by the neighborhood convenience store to get some coffee. Over the years of doing this, I’ve gotten to know the owner and the people who work there. As soon as I walk in, they start ringing up my purchase. We usually spend a minute or two, chatting and laughing.

The last few days have been unbearably hot. Temperatures in the high 90’s to low 100’s. It is very unusual for the area. I don’t have air conditioning and was feeling tired from the lack of sleep. It was already warm at 8:00 this morning. I put on a summer dress, pulled my hair back and slipped on a pair of sandals for work.

Not that what I was wearing was important to me, but apparently it was to the men in the parking lot.

I have had a few people approach me when walking into the store. Panhandlers for the most part. Usually a quick “Sorry, I can’t help you” is sufficient. One time, someone called me a bitch when I said no. I ignored him and walked into the store. I mentioned it to the owner and before I knew what had happened, he rushed outside and yelled at the man. “Don’t you EVER talk to her like that! Go away! Get off my property!”

The man cursed under his breath, but he left. The owner didn’t come back inside until the man had gone around the corner.

I was surprised and pleased by what he had done and told him so. He blushed and apologized. He liked to run a clean and hassle-free store.

I fell a little in love with him that day.

So this morning when I pulled up and saw all the city workers in the parking lot, I gave them almost no attention. The city was digging up water lines and the workers were everywhere.

I parked and got out of my car. As I was walking into the store, I heard a bunch of cat calls.

“Whoa! Hey there! What’s your name?”

“Where you going, sugar?” someone said. All 5 of them laughed.

I had the door open.

I turned around to see who they were talking to.

They were all staring at me, laughing and slapping each other on the back.

I let go of the door.

I turned around and walked towards them.

They quickly stopped laughing as I got closer.

When I was a few feet away from them, I stopped.

Suddenly, they weren’t so brave. Suddenly things weren’t so funny anymore.

“What did you say to me?” I asked. I was calm but my heart was racing.

“Oh, nothing…” one of them said. The pavement had all of their attention.

“No, really…what did you say to me?” I asked. “I didn’t quite hear it.”

No one would answer me. I looked at their trucks. They worked for the city.

“Those your trucks?” I asked.

“Oh, hey now, we didn’t mean anything by it. It’s just that you look…”

“How do I look? Huh? You think it’s OK to talk to women like that? You think it’s OK to scare us or make us feel unsafe TO WALK INTO A STORE? Is that it? Can I get my brothers to talk to your Mom’s or daughters or wives that way? Would that be alright with you?” I asked and waited.

“Don’t be so sensitive,” one said. The other 4 looked at him and cringed.

“What’s your name? All of your names?” I asked. I reached into my purse and took out my notebook and pen and waited. It didn’t matter if they told me or not. I wrote down the license plate numbers.

They protested and rambled about how sorry they were.

“So, you guys work for the city. I pay taxes so that means you work for me. Now, since you work for me, you have to put up with me being ‘sensitive’ because you know what? I can now get all of you fired. You might want to think about that the next time a woman, ANY woman, walks by. We have every right to live our lives without being harassed,” I said and walked away.

I didn’t hear one word as I walked away, nor did I when I came out of the store and got into my car. They had driven off in their trucks that I paid for.

I called the city as soon as I got into work and gave them all the information I had. The woman who took my call apologized several times. She was upset and shocked and thanked me for reporting it.

For what it’s worth, I’m 58 years old and haven’t cared what a man thought about me or my looks since I was 16 and tried to get a boyfriend. And even then, he had to reach my mind before he got anywhere near me.

Now, anyone else wanna mess with me?

Didn’t think so….

I read the words on my monitor and all I could think of was that it wasn’t real. I must have nodded off on the couch this Sunday afternoon and was dreaming. I just needed to wake-up and the horror would be gone and the memory would only be that of a nightmare.

I blinked several times and knew that I was awake. Of course I knew that, but when betrayal hits, you can’t fathom it. It doesn’t make sense. You have no warning. Being a native of California, I was quite familiar with earthquakes. One moment everything is as it should be; the next moment, everything was moving. It always takes a few seconds to figure out why you are suddenly dizzy and why a book jumped off the shelf.

But the words were real. I had written them. I had sent them privately to a friend whom I had known for years and years. I had been troubled for a long time. She was my confidant and was one of the few people who I could let my guard down with, talk things out and know all would be better once I did.

The email was written to repair a transgression I had committed months before. This was not uncommon for me to admit when I was wrong and had erred. I had not harmed her but I needed help and advice, so I told her all about it.

Everything I had done, felt and thought was in that email. I had revealed my sins in great detail and was seeking forgiveness and comfort.

Instead she copied and posted my email on her blog.

For 7 billion people to read and comment.

The trolls arrived in full force. I was ridiculed, trashed, mocked and dragged through the mud from people who didn’t even know me. People flocked to it and then began to email me.

I was judged for being human who had made a mistake and was trying to rectify it. I had committed a reprehensible and unforgivable sin – I had been honest.

She had also given them my email and then sent another one to everyone I knew. It was 3 pages long and she trashed me once again. Hundreds of my friends received it.

My friend had done this to me and to this day, I do not know why.

And then an amazing thing happened before I could even think about what was going on.

My friends circled the wagons around me. They did it quietly and quickly.

Not one of them mentioned it to me or brought it up. Not one word was written or spoken, but random text messages came with smiles, goofy faces and funny jokes.

Wherever I went, I was given random hugs and kisses on my forehead with no words spoken.

Just a deep understanding and acceptance of who I am and who I am NOT.

Out of the madness, grace and beauty arrived in the form of smiles and laughter. I had the wonderful and exhilarating freedom of the entire planet knowing my deepest and darkest secrets and I didn’t care.

I realized I didn’t care what people knew about me or what they thought.

The betrayal had set me free and to this day, I’m glad it happened because I was lucky enough to find out who my friends are and who has my back.

And I refused to stop trusting people because that is who I am. The only one that can hurt me is me. No one else has that power over me.

Those that bash, mock and betray others are in their own prison that they made for themselves.

Let them stay there and should you walk by them once in a while, throw them a piece of raw meat. It’s fun to watch them scamper for it and stomp over each other to get it.

And as you walk away, smile and be grateful that you know who you are and who your friends are.

And never stop being you. Don’t let it change you in a negative way, for that is the true loss you shall suffer. Not the betrayal but the giving up of yourself because of it. You are the only one that can give away your integrity. No one can take it from you.

No. Hold your head up high and say “Yep, I did that and that and that. So what?”

Because what people accuse you of tells you what they have been up to.

You need not look further.

It’s on them and let them have it with a great big smile on your face.

“No they’re not,” Josh said and laughed.

“Yes they are,” I said. “In fact, you’re dating one right now. She’s a Day Walker, so she is harder to spot. Plus she doesn’t sparkle in the sun.”

“Sparkle? What the hell are you talking about now?” he asked and dipped another buffalo wing in the bowl of sauce.

“Never mind about the sparkling. Bit of an inside joke,” I said.

Josh chewed on his food and thought for a moment. I waited. He had asked me for my advice. I at first refused. It’s usually a waste of time and energy to give anyone advice. They never listen.

But I made an exception for him. He has been a good friend for years and sincerely wanted my 2 cents. I had time to spare and since he was buying me lunch, I relented.

“You do know, don’t you, what a vampire is, right?” I asked.

“Yes of course I do but they aren’t real. That’s just fiction.”

“Are you sure? How do you know?” I asked. I was starting to have fun. “Just because you’ve never seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Like Big Foot.”

“Oh, you believe in Big Foot now? What the hell have you been smoking?”

I leaned forward and tucked my legs underneath me. “Marlboro Lights. What I mean is, I don’t know if Big Foot exists but it’s fine with me either way. But I do know vampires exist. I’ve seen them, I’ve met them and I’ve even dated one or two of them before. They are the people who suck the life out of you and still want more. They are dead inside but still walk around. Some vote and procreate and drive. Makes life more difficult than it needs to be.”

“But why are you saying that about Karen? We’ve been dating for months and it’s been good…for the most part,” he said and took a huge bite out of his hamburger.

“Well, let’s see here. What was it she said to you the other day about the flowers you brought her?”

He cringed for half a second, but I saw it.

“She said she was tired of getting roses from me, but..”

“But what?” I asked.

“But I should have known that.”

“Oh, so now you’re supposed to be a mind reader? How about the time she asked you to be honest and when you were, she threw a tantrum, hung-up on you and wouldn’t talk to you for three days?”

“That was my fault because…” he said and stopped.

I dipped a buffalo wing in the sauce and waited.

“Then there was the time you took her to her favorite restaurant and she complained about the service the whole time. And let’s not forget when she said she didn’t like you talking to me. Remember that time? Huh?”

He nodded his head and looked down at his lap.

“In fact, I bet she will get very upset today when she finds out you and I had lunch.”

“No she won’t,” he said.

“Oh really? Why not?”

He looked out the window and then at me. “Because I’m not going to tell her.”

I stopped eating and looked at him. He was serious.

“Right there is your first clue that something isn’t right. Josh, you’re one of the most honest people I know! The fact that she doesn’t like your friends is the second clue. The other red flags are her slight and subtle criticisms about what you wear, where you work, what kind of car you drive…”

He raised up his hand.

“I just want her to be happy,” he said.

I threw the buffalo wing at him. It hit him on the chest and left a stain. He would now have to do some laundry that weekend.

He picked it up from his lap and tossed it on the table. He glared at me as he wiped his shirt with a napkin.

“Her happiness is not your problem. It’s her problem. That’s why she’s a vampire and you are a willing donor. She looks to others to make her happy. She feeds on them and is never happy. You ever known a vampire to sit back after a feeding and say they have had enough and light up a cigar and smile?”

A slight grin crossed over his face. “No, I can’t say that I have. I get your point.”

He thought he did, but he didn’t. He was on the wrong side of the equation. He was trying to make someone happy which is impossible to do. Plus vampires are only happy when they’ve sucked you dry and you die a slow and painful death. Watching all the good emotions leave and the negative ones show up is what they feed on.

And they never stop.

“Well, do what you want but I have to warn you of something,” I said.

“Oh, and what’s that?”

“If she ever pulls that pouting routine around me again, I will put a stake through her heart.”

“I believe you,” he said.

He made sure she and I never saw each other again.

He was at least smart on that point.