Compared to What?

This is going to be a bit of a rant, but with everything that’s going on in the world, I don’t think my tiny little voice will matter much.  However, I have always found that blogging makes me feel somewhat better. As someone with mental health training, I recommend journaling to any of my clients.  Blogging, I think, is much like journaling.

In the last week or so, I have been stirred by the double-standards that I continue to see among men and women.  Politics is taking on much of the same characteristics. The middle ground is being lost while extremes on one side or the other are seen as acceptable.

This post is going to be about body image and attraction. So, if this isn’t something you want to read, then I won’t be offended. Here goes…

I am a curvy woman.  I will never be a stick figure.  Even when I was at my lowest weight, I still had curves.  So, being compared or trying to measure up to swimsuit models and everything else society throws at me is a little overwhelming at times.  Many people ask me why my appearance matters to me. Well, for obvious reasons it does. Whether you want to hear it or not, the package attracts. I tell my students this all of the time. What happens when too much emphasis is placed on outward appearance? The answer to that is you disorders like anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder, gender dysphoria, and a host of other mental health problems. Those issues have a direct effect on interpersonal relationships.

As a young girl, popular media showed me what was expected of me.  I needed to be beautiful, smart, desirable, and fit into a mold.  This perception didn’t just come from what men wanted. Rather it was driven home by women in my life; peers.  We have been told by the masses that we, as women, should hold one another up and rejoice in each other’s accomplishments. While I believe that is something we should most definitely do, we have been trained to devour each other. We have been taught to push one another down to rise to the top. Is that right? No, it isn’t. Is it reality? Unfortunately, yes.

All of my life I have tried to fit a certain standard because it was expected of me.  As a result, I was anorexic. I suffered from body image issues and low self esteem. I have had to struggle all of my life to be attractive enough, skinny enough, nice enough, smart enough, good enough.  It is exhausting!  This week it came to a head for me.  This isn’t the first time I’ve reach a boiling point on this subject, nonetheless.

On Facebook (I know.  There’s the first problem), there is a feature that allows me to like pages that others have liked. I happened to see a page of a half-naked chic who had been liked by MANY of my male mutual friends. Seriously though, who could blame them? This girl was a famous Sport Illustrated swim suit model. Tongues wagging and pants tight, of course men are going to click the “like” button. Still, it pissed me off because I thought, “Here we go. And people wonder why women feel like garbage about themselves.” Even though this situation shouldn’t have triggered me, it did. It went through me. The mantra played inside my mind: “You’ll never measure up to that. You’ll never be that. So, that means that you are unattractive and undesirable.” Those self-defeating messages have been thrown at us, both men and women, since we were children: If you don’t fall into this category, you’re worthless. I get that it’s a free country, and we are allowed to be attracted to whoever we want, but holding each other to this unrealistic standard is not helping anyone. In fact it’s damaging. It’s kind of like porn. Porn is not real. It doesn’t accurately represent healthy, sexual relationships. Nevertheless, young people who aren’t being educated otherwise will embrace the fiction of porn as truth, and they may perpetuate that onto their partner at some time or another.

Science tells us that there are certain features that we find attractive. As a species, we tend to like symmetrical features. With that said, I think that media stereotypes drive what we find attractive. For example, there are paintings from various points in history featuring women who have some meat on their bones. At that time, women who were curvy were seen as attractive. In today’s society it seems that the thinner you are, the more desirable you are. Evolutionary theorist would heartily disagree with that. Still, media seems to drive everything, taking away our ability to think for ourselves.

Another feature that has always been desirable are big breasts. Those breasts have to be perky and just right, otherwise, according to media, they are not desirable. Full, implant grade breasts are preferred over all else. Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $10,000 to get a boob job.

So, when you start to feel the insecurity settle into your mind, and bring that to someone’s attention, and you are dismissed or told, “No, that’s not what I want.” My question to that is: Then why do you idolize individuals who fit that description? That goes for both genders.

I detest body shaming. I do believe we should be seeking out health above all else, but I don’t think anyone has the right to shame someone for not fitting the universal standard of perceived excellence.

I also understand this involves unrealistic standards for both men and woman.  I know females aren’t the only ones who are impacted by it.  So what do we do when we go down the rabbit hole?  I wish I knew the answer.  I think it’s about fighting the good fight.  Some days are going to be worse than others.  I also think it’s about accepting each other without trying to set the bar so high that we are set up to fail.

When It Isn’t Okay

Everyone makes mistakes, but when do those mistakes become a pattern? Our brain is built to gravitate toward patterns, which is why we tend to see faces in everything. So, it stands to reason that we recognize patterns in human behavior. The importance of this isn’t just recognition, but taking action once the distinct pattern emerges.

I posted something on Facebook today, and I really feel like writing about it may help someone. If nothing else, it may help me through the healing that I am trying to achieve.

Sometimes we care about someone so much that we want to tell ourselves that their actions are simply a result of ignorance. “They hurt me, but they didn’t mean it. They couldn’t have.” Or “Surely they wouldn’t hurt me like that.” Be careful! People will show you who they are if you are just open enough to see and hear them. There is always a pattern. We just have to find it. One of the hardest things to do is accept when someone you care about is hurting you intentionally.

As a PTSD survivor, I’ve learned that there are many things that trigger me. In fact, I can’t even keep it all straight most of the time. Someone who is supposed to care about me actually told me that it was hard for them to keep track of everything that triggers me. I know that’s true. I can’t imagine trying to be supportive of me when I’m at my worst. With that said, I think it is important to understand the triggers of someone you love. I also think that work needs to go into avoiding them. Sometimes there’s no winning, and I realize that. With that said, if you decide to have a heart-felt conversation with someone about a trigger and the person chooses to make a decision that provokes that trigger, do they really care about you? Did they hear you? Did they listen? The quick answer to that would seem to be no. I am a firm believer that actions and words have to line up. If someone is nodding their head in agreement or understanding and turns around an engages in an action that is linked to your trigger it would stand to reason that one of two things have happened. They either didn’t listen or they didn’t care.

So let’s take the first one. They didn’t listen. In any relationship, whether it is familial or otherwise, listening is key component to communication. The sad part is that most people communicate to be heard. They don’t actively listen to what’s being said. They are waiting for their turn to speak. In the process of all of that, what you say gets lost. So, nothing gets internalized.

The second possibility is that they didn’t care. Unfortunately, I know too many people who allow their ego to get the better of them. Sadly, most of them are men. I am not beating up the male gender by any means, but nine times out of ten a man, especially young men, allow their ego to make some pretty irrational decisions. That’s not to say that women are any better. I know some pretty terrible females who simply do not care who they hurt in the course of their conquests.

Back to the, “they didn’t care.” This is where you have to dig deeper for a pattern. Has their bad behavior been consistent? Have you told them that it hurts you? Does the behavior continue even after you have voiced your hurt? Have they tried to blame YOU for their poor behavior?  If the answer to these is “yes,” it’s time to do some soul searching and decide if the person has a place in your life.

Everyone hurts. Everyone gets hurt. Everyone hurts someone else. That is just human nature. Nevertheless, when someone repeatedly hurts you, that is not okay. You have to learn what is best for your mental health and move toward healing, even if it means cutting certain people out of your life.  This isn’t something that is simple nor easy. It’s hard. It’s terrible. It makes us feel as if we are constantly losing at this game called life. Someday, however, we will be able to accept the situation for what it is, call it by its right name, and move on. Until that day comes, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Mental abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse have a way of rewiring the brain, which will change everything down to your core personality. Stop beating yourself up for things you didn’t have anything to do with, and don’t let anyone blame you for your abuse.  Don’t allow someone to use your abuse as a scapegoat so they can be blameless.  That is another form of emotional abuse.  Furthermore, stop allowing others to have a go at you.  Stand your ground.  Be true to you.  Call people out.  Take back your power.  Just because someone hurt you doesn’t mean you have to continue to be a punching bag for their poor decisions, their ego, and their lack of empathy. Always be true to you.

I am in the process of trying to believe the aforementioned paragraph.  It’s easy for me to tell you these things; what actions to take and how to do it.  Still, it isn’t so easy to execute that plan in my life.  It is difficult to heal.  It takes strength, and sometimes you won’t feel all that strong.  It’s okay to say, “I need space.”  It’s okay to say, “What you did to me was wrong, and I am angry with you.”  It’s okay to say, “The way you’re treating me isn’t fair.”  It is okay to acknowledge your feelings.  From what I understand as a practitioner and a patient, those are the first steps to trying to put your life back together.  It is an uphill battle every single day.  The important thing is to never give up.  When you see a pattern, recognize it for what it is and act accordingly.  Take that lesson with you so that you will be able to avoid it in the future.


Nothing personal

Hi gang. I did a huge “friend list” clean up on my personal Facebook account. If you were deleted, please do not take it personally. I have an active author page reserved for my work, the work of other authors, and all things writing, but my personal profile is now reserved for close friends and family.

Thanks for understanding. Must keep my real life and my writing life separate.  Have a good night!

Bumps In the Night: Part 5–My Own Tales of the Paranormal

It was 2004.  My life took a drastic turn when I got divorced.  I lost hope in my faith.  I lost hope in many things.  I was now a single mother, on welfare, depending on my parents once more, and felt lower than low.  I tried to find peace and acceptance in church, but that didn’t happen.  I was working full time still barely able to make ends meet so I didn’t have a lot of extra time to much else.


Easter 2005

My son wasn’t even two when I decided to leave my ex-husband.  I had to share him throughout his early childhood which made me very bitter.  My baby had to leave me every other weekend and on important holidays.  As a mother and a person, I can tell you that takes a toll on you.  So, the hopelessness didn’t get any better.

I moved into an apartment across from my parents.  My paranormal experiences all but disappeared.  The only significant things I remember from 2004 to 2005 was one incident.  I was in bed in the upstairs portion of my little place.  My son was with me and sleeping right beside me.  I heard my name on the stairs.  It sounded like my dad.  He had a key to my place so I assumed he needed something.  I answered him and said, “What?”  There was no answer back.

I got up and walked downstairs fully prepared to find my dad.  No one was there.  When I talked to him the next day he said he hadn’t been to the house.  Honestly, I shrugged it off to my instability and didn’t give it another thought.

I moved out of my apartment and bought a place up the street in February 2005.  I finally had a stable job paying good money for my area.  I always felt like someone else lived in that house with me, but I didn’t feel threatened in any way.  I knew that the woman I’d bought the house from was widowed and her husband passed away in the house.

I met my current husband in 2006 (April). My house had a large glass screen door opening up to the living room of the house. One day I pulled into the driveway and out of the corner of my eye I saw him standing in the doorway.  I figured something must be up.  When I got out of the car, he wasn’t standing in the doorway anymore.  I walked in and walked to the basement where he kept his office.  I asked him what he needed.  He looked confused.  I told him that I saw him standing in the doorway when I pulled in.  He said he’d been in the basement and hadn’t been upstairs for the last hour.  It wasn’t my son because he was still at my mom and dad’s.  I realized then that I saw the man who’d passed away in the house.  As I said, however, I never felt threatened by him.  I actually felt comforted that he was there.  I knew he took to my son because my son mentioned seeing an old man in the house, but that it didn’t scare him.  I should clarify that, he said he had dreams about an old man; he never actually saw him.



In 2007 I moved back to Southwestern Ohio.  My son desperately needed his father on a more full-time basis and after two years, we were getting along better than we ever did while we were married.  So, I transferred to a county agency there and began working in May 2007.  No paranormal incidents occurred again for the next four years.

To be blunt, I moved from having some faith to having very little to having none at all.  In my mind I began questioning the existence of God, heaven, hell, a higher power; you name it, I didn’t believe in it.  I thought of myself of an agnostic but in reality I was an atheist.

In 2008 we lived in a home that had been build during the Civil War.  Across the street stood a majestic historical home.  It was actually on the Ohio registry.  Southwestern Ohio got some pretty hellish storms. Lightening hit a tree in their yard.  They hadn’t discovered it, so my husband (boyfriend at that time) and I walked across the street and told them.  They invited us into the house.  I fell in love.  The layout; the decor.  It was beautiful.

It was then that the idea for The Fine Line was born.  That house inspired Pikeview Manor in my book.  Because of my own paranormal experiences, I wanted to share them through the characters of a book.  Iron Man inspired the character of Matthew Gregory.  And there it was.  The Fine Line was born.  However, I started back to school for my master’s degree in 2009 and writing for pleasure was put on the back burner again.

I wrote while I was married to my son’s father, but there was always so much turmoil, I never took it seriously.  I was happy to get back to it in 2008 but realized my education needed to take center stage.

Going back to school made me further question anything outside of this life.  In 2010 my life changed as far as health was concerned.  I grew tired of being overweight and my diabetes being completely out of control.  I joined a medically monitored weight loss program as everyone else around got gastric bypass and the lap band.  I wanted to do it on my own, so not only did I set educational goals, but I set physical goals also.  Because I felt more on my own than ever, I figured, the only way to do anything was to do it myself.  I never felt more alone, but I’d never felt more accomplished in my life up to that point.  Strange huh?  Feeling alone in this world motivated me.  Looking back on it, I don’t see it as a loss or a mistake.


2011, Graduating from the University of North Dakota with a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Sometimes the Creator knows how to get a hold of you even when you’re not listening.  My Creator used so many things to help me and I didn’t even know He was the driving force behind all of it.  Now that I’m where I should be spiritually, I can see it.  It wasn’t me who did anything.  He was pushing me to be better.  He was behind my motivation to become more educated and to become healthier.

My writing would take off again in 2011 when I graduated with my master’s and it was at that time I really sought out to get published.  However, the story line of The Fine Line underwent change upon change as my spirituality started changing.

More to come next Saturday!