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It’s Finally Fabulous Wedding Season

The Supreme Court ruled, in a 5 to 4 vote, that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.  This is something I never expected to see in my lifetime and something that makes me proud of this country.  Marriage should be a union between two consenting adults; there is nothing complex or confusing about it.  I’m excited to see what this monumental ruling brings down the road.

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What doesn’t excite me is the horrible attitudes of people who still strongly oppose same-sex unions.  The reality we live in is full of all types of couples; different races and social standings and genders and religions.  No one has to agree with every union out there.  I don’t happen to agree with an 18-year-old marrying someone old enough to be their grandfather, but I’m not about to parade the streets in protest.  Consenting adults get to marry whoever those consenting adults want.

A marriage of any kind affects the two people who are married, plus any children they have, any pets they keep, and any family members who live with them.  Outside of that, if you are affected by someone’s marriage, it is because you are choosing to insert yourself somewhere that you don’t need to be.  My brother, who was married last year, lives in New York and his marriage didn’t change anything in my world.  Two friends of mine also married last year, and their marriage (which was the best wedding I’ve ever been to) also didn’t affect me past the few pounds I probably gained from their amazing cupcakes.  If you are whining about how you are negatively affected by same-sex marriages, it’s your own damn fault.

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The whole “I don’t want it thrown in my face argument” isn’t valid either.  The people who are shouting this from the rooftops are the same ones who are heavily invested in reality television, who are keeping up with the Kardashians, and who gossip heavily on social media.  You are throwing nonsense in the faces of everyone around you when you drone on about the latest garbage on E! News, discussing the most recent celebrity weddings and hook-ups.  The world isn’t going to censor itself because you’re too fragile to handle it.  If you don’t want things “thrown in your face,” remove yourself from society, stop watching Big Brother, and log off Facebook while the rest of us carry on living our lives and enjoying the little pleasures each day brings.

“But I don’t want to see rainbows everywhere, or two men making out.”  First of all, rainbows are fantastic.  They are bright and colorful and happy.  If you hate the sight of happiness, I don’t know what to tell you.  Second, I can understand not wanting to see two guys making out because, personally, I don’t want to see ANYONE making out.  Excessive displays of public affection are uncomfortable regardless of the couple.  That said, if you are getting up in arms about two women holding hands, you need to take it down a notch and quit being so damn uptight.  PG displays of love are a part of life; so long as it doesn’t cross a line, quit obsessing and leave people alone.

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“But it destroys the sanctity of marriage.”  And straight couples getting married for the 4th or 5th time doesn’t?  Shows like Arranged, The Bachelor/Bachelorette and Married At First Sight aren’t destroying it?  Photographers stalking celebrity weddings and posting photos for greedy fans to devour doesn’t destroy it?  Sorry, guys, but a woman marrying a woman she loves isn’t destroying a single thing.  It’s working to rebuild the institution of marriage by opening the door for many more loving and deserving couples that want to marry in the eyes of God and/or the law.

When it’s all said and done, everyone has the right to their own opinion.  But I have the right to keep my distance from people who are stuck in the dark ages and who refuse to evolve along with the rest of us.  I have already deleted a couple of people from my life due to their ignorant and close-minded views.  I have deleted them because they are insulting, rude, and acting quite childish, not to mention quick to place blame on the so-called cowards who have joined me in dropping them as friends.  People who oppose equality and love don’t earn any space in my life.

Maybe these people will come around, and maybe they won’t.  What matters to me is that the majority is standing tall and proud, cheering this decision along with me.  My child will grow up in a better world than I grew up in.  Things are changing and it can only get better from here.  It’s a waste of time and energy to sulk, hating on people you don’t even know.  Stop hating.  Start embracing.

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Farewell

I am absolutely horrible at dealing with death.  Having a person here one day and gone the next is something I’ll never quite get used to.  It doesn’t help that I’m slightly terrified by dead bodies and act like a royal idiot every rare instance I am in a funeral home.  When it comes to properly dealing with death, I am completely clueless.  I cry randomly when it makes no sense, but remain dry-eyed in moments I should be in tears.  I never know what to say or do or how to act.  I almost prefer to be notified via text message so I can deal with things in my own way without embarrassing myself or offending anyone.

Everyone deals with death in a different way, and lately I’ve had front row tickets to all the different ways we try to process the loss of life.  Some people blame themselves, even though in just about every instance, there was nothing they could have done to prevent whatever happened.  Some people blame the deceased, wondering why they couldn’t have done things differently so they could still be here.  Anger is a big one; we get angry at the family, at friends or coworkers, at ourselves, or at anything we perceive as not right or proper.  Others just withdraw into themselves, as if hiding will make the death something that was all a bad dream.

People have a funny way of coming together in times of tragedy.  Estranged family members are suddenly best of friends, hugging and crying and laughing together as they work through each day and try to heal.  Sometimes the change is a long lasting one, but more often than not, everyone goes back to ignoring each other within a month or two.  It’s a shame that the effects never seem to be long lasting ones, but I suppose it’s better than nothing at all.

Right now, I am dealing by avoiding as much as I possibly can.  From the get-go, people have been horrendously ugly with each other, even going as far as saying certain family members did not have the right to attend a viewing.  Some people seem concerned with who gets what, totally driven by money and objects while completely ignoring the fact that someone is gone from this world forever.  There are plots and theories and things being said that are better suited for an episode of CSI.  I simply cannot deal with it anymore.

Call me selfish if you will, but I decided to skip a memorial service earlier today.  I declined to go because I did not want to deal with someone who planned to block the door and not allow certain people inside (even though it’s a public service, so it wouldn’t have worked in the end).  I declined because I can’t listen to one more theory about what REALLY happened and who is REALLY responsible.  I declined because I find it disgusting how certain people are behaving when we should all be honoring someone’s life and remembering them fondly in death.

I am terrible at dealing with death.  But I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who deal with it a hundred times worse than I ever have.  I’ve learned that in the end, the way you deal is not important.  What is important is that the memory of the one we lost is honored somehow.  Differences are put aside and we all treat each other like human beings for a while.  Death is a reminder of how short and fragile life is.  When someone dies, we shouldn’t waste time hating each other and acting like self-absorbed strangers.  That’s no way to live.  If I’ve learned one thing this past week, it is that I waste too much time on negativity.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  And when I die, I want the people I’ve left behind to get along, not argue over who gets what or blame each other for my passing.  Life is too short to be wasted on bullshit.

Catfish

I confess, I am addicted to MTV’s reality show, Catfish.  I recently read that before hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph are able to read a single word from the victim of a potential Catfish, the production staff does extensive homework on all involved parties, which includes verification of the story, obtaining signed releases, and often requesting that the person being Catfished write a letter to Nev and Max asking for their help.  This is done because the majority of the people who contact MTV are the Catfish themselves, likely looking to finally come clean, which explains why their first words are almost always an apology.  Almost always.

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Catfish has gotten quite heavy in its third season.  While Nev has always been the calm voice of reason with Max occasionally losing patience and having to take a breather, we have seen Nev become seriously heated and angry at the people who have been hiding behind a false persona.  On the episode featuring Kidd Cole, who has scammed thousands of dollars out of who knows how many people, Nev became so angry at Cole’s lack of empathy with his latest victim that he threw Cole’s phone into a river.  Producers on-site have had to step in multiple times to calm Nev and Max down because, in their words, they are in danger of sabotaging their own show unless they get their emotions in check.  But honestly, who can blame them?

To my knowledge, I have never been Catfished, but I feel very confident that it has happened to me at least once during my life online.  Like most people nowadays, I’ve formed numerous friendships with people I’ve met online but never been able to see in person or video chat with.  I even met my husband online, although he was thankfully very real and never once hid behind any online falsehood.  I have friendships with people on Twitter that I still have yet to meet in person.  I’ve had brief interactions with people I assume are celebrities on a verified account that could in fact be just a random employee of that public figure.  Every single day, I find myself in some sort of contact with a person that could be someone very different from who I assume they are.

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The idea of Catfishing someone is hardly a new concept though, just one that has only recently been thrown into a spotlight.  Back when I was eleven and my AOL access was limited to an hour of glorious dial-up per week, I can recall spending the majority of that hour in various chat rooms made for my age group.  I quickly noticed that unlike the real world, each chat room would have a huge number of tall blond cheerleaders and ruggedly handsome football players.  The older I got, the bigger the lies became.  A slight exaggeration on physical appearance became outright lies that took hundreds of pounds off of bodies, changed genders and orientations, shaved off decades from a person’s age, and allowed anyone to have whatever career and financial status they wanted.  The joke became that any and all lesbian chat rooms were actually nothing but 30 – 50 year old men talking dirty to one another.

You would think that the more we see liars and cheats exposed online, and the more we see how easily one person can become someone else entirely via the internet, the more cautious we would all become.  Nev and Max’s investigations on Catfish are reduced from hours into minutes, but their work gives us more than a few tricks that can easily be used to verify someone’s identity.  The last episode of Catfish featured a tech-savvy guy who didn’t do his homework out of respect for the girl he thought he was talking to, but surely our own safety is more important that an imagined slight against a stranger.  I just popped my photo into a Google image search and scared myself a bit at how accurate the results were.  Lying is easy, but exposing those lies is easier.

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In addition to being cautious, we need to be smart.  Giving some random stranger online your full trust is beyond stupid.  People who wouldn’t trust some of their own family will put all of their faith into a person from Facebook that they’ve never met.  It’s mind-boggling.  Stopping for a moment and being rational rather than emotional could work to save a lot of people from a lot of heartache.  In the case of recent Catfish, Kidd Cole, it could have saved people a lot of money had they not taken the word of someone simply because he had a shiny cover story and amazing empty promises.  Every single person who puts themselves on the internet immediately makes themselves vulnerable to some extent.  How vulnerable you allow yourself to be, however, is something every one of us can closely control.

Who We Love

Week after week, month after month, the post that consistently gets the most views on here is one I wrote about the pros and cons of same sex marriage.  It was written sarcastically, with the cons being silly things that people either speculate will happen (the sanctity of marriage will be destroyed) or things that are actually pros (same sex couples would earn the same rights and privileges as heterosexual married couples).  “Pros and cons of gay marriage” is the search term that directs the most people to my page as well, beating out every other topic I’ve ever covered.  While I’m happy that it’s on the minds of many, I have begun to worry a bit that there is a need to do research on the good and the bad that could come from legalizing same sex marriage across the board.

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Whenever I think about my own marriage, one thing that never comes to mind is the way other marriages are affecting my own.  The simple truth is that my marriage and everyone else’s are two separate and independent things.  Not once have I ever been positively or negatively affected by another person’s union.  My marriage becomes no less real when someone gets divorced for the 5th time or when two women say their vows under the moonlight.  My marriage is no less real when two loving men get married, nor is it less real when a woman marries a man for the sole purpose of getting her hands on his bank account.  I don’t care why two people choose to get married because not only is it none of my business, it just doesn’t affect my life, family, or personal happiness.

What does affect me is the sad fact that same sex marriage isn’t legal in this country as a whole, nor it is legal in many places around the world.  It affects me because unless things change, I will not be able to see some of my friends have weddings they deserve in the future.  They won’t be able to do so many things that I can easily do with my husband.  They are barred from these things because their union makes people uncomfortable.  It’s immoral in the eyes of many because the bible says so.  It’s feared because of outdated notions on what love and marriage are.  It’s wrong to so many people for reasons they don’t even understand.

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There is no reasons for a pros and cons debate when it comes to same sex marriage because there are no cons.  What, it makes you uncomfortable?  The woman popping her gum in the hallway at work this morning made me uncomfortable, so can we legally ban her from chewing gum in public?  It goes against your religious beliefs?  No one is forcing you to marry someone of the same gender or attend a gay wedding, so I’m unsure of how your beliefs are being affected.  Gay marriage will destroy the country?  Legal or not, women are loving women and men are loving men.  Nothing has been destroyed yet by that and it sure as hell won’t be destroyed if we just bite the bullet and let everyone get married.

While I do worry that the pros and cons are searched so often, I do hope that it’s being done because people are slowly coming to accept the fact that the right thing to do is to make marriage legal for all consenting adults, regardless of gender or preference.  Interracial marriage was once looked at as critically as same sex marriage is.  With the exception of a small group of idiots, we now look at the idea of making interracial unions illegal as silly.  In the future, the idea of same sex marriage being illegal will also be a ridiculous notion.  But how long do we have to wait to get to that point?  How long do we have to make couples wait before they are no longer made to feel as if their love is wrong?

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If you don’t support it, that’s your right.  Don’t go to certain weddings, alienate certain people, and do whatever makes you happy.  Post Facebook updates expressing your displeasure, write angry blogs, and leave comments on news sites.  But don’t think you have the right to control what others do with their lives.  Don’t think it’s okay for you to control who someone else marries and loves.  Don’t selfishly wonder how it’ll affect you if two men say their vows and the state recognizes that union.  The rights that leave you free to believe what you want, worship who you will, and say what you wish are the same rights that should allow any same sex adult couple to get married.  Stop wasting time searching for an easy reference pros and cons list and just let people live their lives.

Six Years

Six years ago today, I stood in a church in the office of a priest, silently hoping my white skirt was appropriate for the occasion.  My little boy played on the floor with toy airplanes that were graciously loaned to him by the priest who stood before me.  To my side was the man who would very soon become my husband.  Our rings were blessed before being placed on our fingers, our vows were recited, and our lips met.  We became man and wife on that chilly Friday afternoon, nearly two months after obtaining our marriage certificate and only slightly over two months after I had moved 1000 miles to be with him.  To say we moved quickly would be quite the understatement.

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I’d be lying if I said that things were pure bliss for us from the start.  Love as strong as ours still can’t manage to conquer all.  We’ve been through some rough patches and we drive each other crazy at times.  The thing is, my worst moments with him are still better than my best moments with anyone else.  I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who loves me with such passion and I’m happy to say that I can match that passion and then some when it comes to my feelings for him.  He is my world and I don’t ever want to be without him.

In the past few days, I feel as if he and I have been rediscovering each other.  We are nearing the time in our marriage where statistically, we’re meant to have a wandering eye and in danger of falling victim to the so-called “seven year itch.”  He and I have found the opposite of that.  I’m more into him now than I was during the puppy dog love/honeymoon phase where everything is new and shiny and exciting.  I’ll spare you the details, but I can honestly say that we’ve been acting like high school students whose parents are out of town.  Getting a break from being parents definitely helps as well (the boy is visiting family over Spring Break) and we’ve been taking advantage and giving each other the attention and affection we both deserve.

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I’m so in love and finally realizing exactly how lucky we both are.  True, it’s only been six years, but some marriages don’t even last for half of that time.  Some marriages are sexless, emotionless arrangements that people are just too comfortable with to leave.  My marriage is flawed just like everything else in life, but it’s also pretty perfect.  I look at my husband and see beauty.  He accepts me both when I’m beautiful and sexy and when I’m a crazy crying mess of a human.  We complete each other and thrive together.  I’m over the moon that we’ve made it to six years and I see so much for us in the future.  My heart is fully and completely in the hands of Jamie Curtis Baker, the only man in this world who knows exactly how to handle it.

 

Who Are You Again?

It takes a lot for me to truly trust a person.  Other than my husband, I can’t think of anyone that I trust 100% with everything, which is something I’m perfectly okay with.  As far as my friends and family go, I’m satisfied if I can trust them with 75% of myself.  Even if I’m dealing with someone who only gets a small piece of me, I take that trust seriously and I’ll admit I’m probably too sensitive if that trust is broken somehow.  Mainly, I don’t appreciate being lied to about things that are so stupid and so insignificant that there is no point whatsoever in lying about them at all.

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It was brought to my attention recently that an acquaintance (I’m going to call her Helga, as that is an ugly name and she’s become an ugly person) has been telling these wild stories about all these guys she’s been sleeping with.  Thinking about Helga’s sex life is not something I have done or plan to do, so don’t focus too much on the subject of her tales.  What irked me is that the stories are about people she’s confided in me about and who are supposedly people who are either just friends or people she finds attractive but wouldn’t dare mess with due to the fact that they are MARRIED.  Half of Helga’s “conquests” are married men.  The other half probably wouldn’t touch her with someone else’s body.  And her next targets…. I don’t even know what to say.

I don’t care what (or who) Helga does or doesn’t do, as that’s her business.  What I don’t appreciate is being told a fairy tale about her life because that’s what she thinks I want to hear or because that’s the image she wants to present to me specifically.  We’re both adults and I have a hard time comprehending this high school mentality of “people will think I’m desirable and popular if I say I slept with X, Y, and Z.”  It makes me think that nothing that comes out of Helga’s mouth is true, which is unfortunate because I’m not in a position where I can avoid her 100% and make the problem go away.

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I’m not sure what people like Helga want out of life.  I don’t know how they keep their stories straight.  I don’t know who they are.  I cannot wrap my head around why a grown person who can obviously function in the real world would act like an insecure teenager when it comes to love, sex, relationships, or any other areas of life that are primarily ruled by emotions.  I’m one of the most emotionally crazy people I know and I’ve never thought to resort to telling real or imagined stories about my sexual conquests in order to impress others.  Hell, the last time I felt pressured to have sex was when I was 13, sitting around with my girl friends, trying to decide which one of us would lose our virginity first.  (Spoiler alert; it was not me)

Sex is an amazing thing.  Whether you’re happy with one partner or you’re playing around with many, sex is fantastic and I don’t judge a person based on their sexual activity.  Most of us have a phase where we bone irresponsibly, and some people never grow out of that phase.  I don’t care.  It doesn’t affect me.  Unless you’re trying to get into my husband’s pants or my own, my life is not altered by who you show your naughty bits to.  Except for the homophobic crowd and the prudes in the world, I imagine that most people think like me and simply aren’t bothered by your sexual behaviors.  There is no reason to create a fictional sex story to share with the world because, I promise you, the world doesn’t care all that much.

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The thing that Helga likely isn’t taking into consideration is how her nonsense could potentially affect the people she’s flapping her jaw about.  One of the guys she’s bragging about (I’ll call him Frank, as I don’t know anyone by that name and also because I had hot dogs last night) is married with children.  If Frank’s wife gets wind of this sexual escapade with Helga, what happens?  True or not, that is pretty devastating news for a wife to hear.  Even if the story is ridiculous and unbelievable, it’s never fun for someone to hear that their partner cheated on them.  It triggers the imagination, even if only for a split second, and has the potential to deeply hurt.

Unfortunately for me, since I can’t get rid of Helga, I’m going to have to do my best to pretend she doesn’t exist and hope I can do so in a way that doesn’t make it obvious that I now find her revolting.  Unfortunately for her next targets, I don’t have a good way of warning them that doesn’t make me sound like a teenage idiot, so I just have to hope they wise up and create some distance before they become the next tall tale floating around here.  I feel somewhat naive for assuming that people like this don’t exist anymore in the late 20s, early 30s world I’m living in, but now that it’s been made painfully obvious that they’re indeed everywhere, I suppose I have to again become a little jaded and keep more people at arm’s length.  Live and learn though, right?

Openness and Honesty in Relationships

One of the benefits of being in a committed, long-term relationship is the comfort that comes with being accepted and loved for who you truly are. Having a partner who listens to and tries to understand and empathize with you is key to a successful relationship.

According to eHarmony.com, “intimacy is developed through each person’s ability to be open about how they are feeling and what they want.” Typically, being emotionally open comes more naturally to women, simply because of cultural expectations that women talk more, develop bonds more easily, and are encouraged to show their feelings more frequently than men. It is important for both members of a relationship, however, to feel safe when having conversations that involve sharing feelings, desires, and concerns.

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Opening up and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a scary thing. Partly, this is because you are setting yourself up for potential heartbreak. If you reveal yourself fully to someone, you are giving that person the power to hurt you. Furthermore, a breakup with someone with whom you felt a deep bond, with someone who knew you well, hurts much more than a breakup with someone you didn’t reveal the deepest parts of yourself to. But there’s the rub: in order to have a successful, long-lasting relationship, vulnerability is key. As pointed out by PsychCentral.com, “a willingness to be vulnerable is a significant feature of lasting relationships—ones in which partners are allies, not foes.”

Here are some tips to help encourage honesty and openness in your relationship:

Set Aside Time for Talking
Sometimes, couples fully intend and want to talk about their feelings and open up the lines of communication with one another, but they lead such busy lives that it can be hard to find the time. Choose one night a month to not watch TV, to make a nice dinner, split a bottle of wine, and just give time to one another. Be sure to address any issues you’ve noticed and really talk about how you’re feeling on these mini date nights.

Listen
Listening is just as important as sharing. Make it clear to your partner that you want to hear how he or she is feelings. Also, you should be alert for signs of emotional distress so that you’re ready to ask how he or she is feeling, and then really listen to the response.

Explore and Share in the Bedroom
Sex and sexual intimacy are as important as emotional intimacy in relationships. Talking about fantasies, being communicative during and about sex, and being willing to try new things in bed are key features of a healthy sex life. To keep things fresh, why not try role-playing? If not that, how about bringing a toy into the bedroom? In terms of the latter, one reviewer at Adameve.com writes of a couples’ toy, “This was great! My husband and I love this…”. Being open and honest about sex is not only important for the health of your relationship; it’s fun, too!

Though it can be difficult or scary at times, really opening up and being vulnerable with your partner can take your relationship to a whole new level. And if you’ve been together for a long time already, keeping those lines of communication open is key for the maintenance of your already-strong relationship.

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Author bio:
Kristin Armstrong is a school teacher and writer who majored in psychology in college. One of her favorite topics to write or talk about is relationships. She has a wonderful husband and a dachshund named Jerry.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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I don’t do this holiday, but I do enjoy a good laugh.  Here are a few things that made me giggle.  

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To my wonderful husband, I love you to pieces!  I’m looking forward to a fantastic dinner at home tonight and a kick ass weekend with you.  You are my heart.

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Have a fantastic Valentine’s Day!!

Rape

Last week, my husband and I stumbled upon a segment on the radio that hit a nerve.  The two hosts were discussing a woman who I’ll call Stacy, as they did not reveal her name.  The hosts were contacted by Stacy’s friend, Candy, who was seeking advice about a possible legal issue.  According to Candy, Stacy and her boyfriend went to a bar one night where the boyfriend was “feeding her Long Islands.”  Stacy became incredibly intoxicated and the next thing she knows, she is waking up naked in her boyfriend’s apartment with absolutely no recollection of how she arrived there.

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Candy went on to say that Stacy then asked her boyfriend what had happened.  He was not only unconcerned, he raved about how wonderful and amazing the night had been.  Stacy was horrified that she could not recall any details of this amazing sex she apparently had, which is why she confided in Candy.  Let me also add that Candy did confirm that Stacy and her boyfriend had in fact been intimate before; they appeared to be living together and this was hardly the first time that the two had engaged in intercourse or any other type of sexual activity.  Candy decided that Stacy needed to report this night to the police because it was clear that she was raped.

Now please tell me, am I clueless, insensitive, or simply stupid?  Because I cannot look at this situation and see it as rape, not even a little bit.  First of all, no one “feeds” you drink after drink; you choose to drink and choose to get drunk.  You can’t sneak drinks into people.  It would be different if Stacy was drugged in some fashion, but she wasn’t.  She chose to get drunk with a man she seemed to trust.  Second, a blurry night with your significant other is something that has happened to a lot of us.  I get drunk with my husband.  I’ve never lost an entire evening, but I have experienced tidbits of memory failure here and there where I won’t recall how we got from one point to the next.  If you drink and drink heavily for an evening, it is bound to happen.  If it happens frequently, you should not be drinking.

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Stacy couldn’t remember stopping for snacks at Taco Bell, couldn’t recall how she got home, and couldn’t remember the great sex she had with her boyfriend.  This does not equal a rape.  Candy was convinced that Stacy was in fact blacked out and her boyfriend forced himself on her.  If so, then I would agree that it was rape since she was unable to consent whatsoever and was obviously unaware of the activities.  But if Stacy was simply blitzed and having a blast with her equally drunk boyfriend, then this was just two people who had an intimate relationship and decided to drink way too much and end the night with sex.  That IS NOT RAPE.

Candy eventually admitted that she had been raped in the past, something she is obviously still traumatized from.  Perhaps she looked at Stacy’s situation, saw her own experience in it, and now desires her friend to seek out the justice that she never received.  Candy didn’t go to the police, but Stacy still can.  But is it even justified?  Maybe the boyfriend is a real dirtbag and maybe he did try to persuade Stacy to drink too much so she’d loosen up and be more fun in the bedroom.  But maybe not.  There is nothing here that suggests rape and it is an insult to women who do get raped to throw around the word like it’s nothing.

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I’m not going to throw a personal rape story in here for you now because it’s simply none of your business.  I will say that rape comes in many forms and sometimes, you have to leave it up to the victim when it comes to reporting the crime or staying silent.  Imagine what the police would do with Stacy.  There is no proof.  No trauma.  No bruising or cuts or evidence of violence.  No drugs.  Nothing illegal outside of driving while intoxicated.  What can they do with her, other than hit her with a barrage of questions, prod away at her life, and possibly traumatize her for real with the circus that is reporting a sex crime?  If she woke up with a black eye and torn clothing, it’d be one thing, but that was not the case here.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that rapes should be reported as quickly as possible both so the victim can be cared for and so the perpetrator can be arrested.  No one on this Earth should get away with violating another person in such a manner.  But it’s a dangerous thing to do what Candy has done and automatically assume rape in situations where it does not exist.  It’s dangerous to assume that every female who claims they can’t remember the night before has been raped.  It’s unfair to automatically make men into evil sex-crazed monsters when they’re honestly not doing anything wrong.

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Rape should be taken seriously, of course.  Part of taking it seriously means not seeing rape where it doesn’t exist.  You can’t claim rape because you regret a decision to sleep with another and want to feel guilt-free about it, and you can’t assume your friends have been raped simply because their situation vaguely reminds you of your own.  Rape is a heavy word and the accusation hits hard.  I cannot begin to imagine how terrible it would be if I was accused of such a crime when all I did was have sex with the person I loved (or lusted).

We also need to be responsible ourselves.  When rape happens, it is not the fault of the victim; there is no “she was asking for it” BS that the assailant gets to claim.  That said, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take steps to keep ourselves safe.  Maybe that means not drinking to excess.  Maybe it means having a wingman/woman around you to ensure you make it home safely and alone.  Maybe it means avoiding certain areas or people.  Just because rape isn’t the fault of the victim doesn’t mean that we have to act like victims.  If Stacy had just quit drinking after two or three Long Islands, she would have remembered the trip to Taco Bell, the drive home, and the maybe not-so-hot sex in the bedroom.  Or on the flipside, she would have remembered her boyfriend being far too pushy, holding her down, and ignoring her pleas.  Either way, the question of Was It or Wasn’t It wouldn’t exist, and she wouldn’t currently be struggling to find the truth.

My Past Is Not My Future

I have been DVRing the current season of VH1’s Couples Therapy (quit judging me) after hearing that Whitney and Sara from The Real L Word would be one of the featured celebrity couples.  I was sad to hear that The Real L Word would not be continuing on Showtime, but I’ll take seeing the pair on Vh1 over not seeing them at all.  This season features Jon Gosselin and Liz Jannetta, Ghostface Killah and Kelsey Nykole, Taylor Armstrong and John Bluher, and Farrah Abraham all by her lonesome.  But this isn’t about the couples.  It’s about one question that was posed to the couples that struck a nerve with me.

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In the second episode of this fourth season, the couples were asked to discuss their darkest moment(s) in their past or current relationships and reflect on how that relationship impacts them in the present day.  One of the key points that the therapists tried to drive home was that the past does not dictate the future, and that the past must be dealt with in order to ensure a positive and happy future.  The question got me thinking about the darkest moment I’ve had in a relationship.  I was engaged to my middle school sweetheart, J, after tracking him down and writing him a letter that resulted in me taking a week-long vacation so we could reconnect and him leaving his life behind in one state to start over with me in another.

J stole my identity, racking up thousands in credit card debt after he learned to perfectly forge my signature.  He once threw all my blankets and pillows out onto the damp lawn because he thought another man had been in the bed.  He beat on me repeatedly, once blacking my eye so badly that I couldn’t leave the house.  He was verbally abusive on top of the physical abuse, making me feel worthless.  He kicked down doors when I tried to hide from him.  He wasted all his money on car parts and alcohol, leaving me to pay rent and all the bills.  He cheated on me, no doubt more times than I’m aware of.  He isolated me.  After I finally grew a pair and left him, he continued this streak with other women (financial, verbal, and physical abuse, landing himself in jail on various felony charges, and likely still getting in trouble to this day).

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I’m not bitter about J whatsoever, and I no longer wish him a slow and painful death.  I don’t wish him well either; he’s a blip in my past and I don’t care what happens to him.  What I didn’t realize until watching that one episode was how that relationship still affects me to this day.  I wrongly assumed that getting over the jumpiness around my husband and not wanting to throw things against the wall during arguments meant that I was over the pain of my time with J.  I thought that getting to the point where I was past loving him, past hating him, and simply nothinged him meant that I was healed.  Damn, was I wrong.

I drive my husband crazy with my financial worries.  I stress about how much money I have left, what I have to pay, and I’ll extend that stress months out to things that haven’t even happened yet.  I do this when not once in the six years we’ve been together have we ever been in a place where we’ve been in a financial crisis.  I do it because of J.  I never stopped to think that even though he’s not on my mind, the damage still lingers and is the reason I never relax when it comes to cash.  It’s horribly unfair to my husband and our relationship and something I hope I can work on now that I’ve pinpointed the real problem.

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The most important thing that I realized after thinking about that relationship question was that, if I’m being 100% honest with myself, I really only have one legitimate complaint about my current relationship with my husband.  Minor annoyances (like his socks being left in random places) aside, the single thing I have an issue with that is a legit complaint is that my husband isn’t as emotional as I want him to be.  That’s it.  That one, tiny little thing, is the only real thing I have to complain about in my marriage.  Imagine how stupid I feel as I write this, knowing that I married someone so close to perfect that it hurts, and knowing that 95% of the trouble we face is because I am still damaged deep down and I have yet to fully let it go.

As far as exactly how to let it all go, I have no idea.  I think recognizing it is a fantastic first step though.  Acknowledging that it exists, telling myself that it doesn’t have to exist, and finding a way to make it exist no more.  Realizing that I’m in a safe place and don’t have to be on guard so much is a great feeling.  Even though I feel foolish for allowing things buried in the past to still affect my present, I know I’m not alone and I know it’s a common problem people have whether they know it or not.  I never thought that there were so many steps to let go of a past experience, but I’m thrilled to finally be able to take the last few.

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