Most people who know me would probably say I am outspoken, opinionated and sometimes pretty stubborn. I try to be kind and respectful but I’m pretty sure no one would describe me as sweet or quiet. I’m ok with that. I often end up in lengthy conversations or even arguments with people over topics that I feel are important. When “topics” become people I’m a little less…not sure the word here… patient maybe, and no less quiet. I often am asked why I bother. Why do I spend time arguing with people who will “never change”? Why do I let it consume me? Part of the answer is that it is true that I occasionally should walk away and come back or drop it but I am stubborn. The other part is because how I grew up, where I grew up, and what I have seen has given me a unique perspective. I’m not saying I am special. You see, I have a secret that I was always too ashamed to admit. Now I am realizing that this is the exact time to talk about it and instead of being ashamed, I can start to talk about what I learned and be (proud isn’t exactly the right word) better and do something with it.
I am a member of Generation X. People forget about us. You often hear about Boomers and Millennials but our smaller in between population of Generation Xers is often forgotten. We are the latchkey kids. We basically raised ourselves. Our moms joined the workforce and our parents didn’t have a ton of money (not the money we ended up having when we became adults at least) so there wasn’t a big Nanny movement. We pretty much raised ourselves. For many of us that was a huge benefit. We learned a lot and became adaptable. We basically invented everything people use today including all of the technology you’re using right now. We were problem solvers. We had to figure out how to navigate everything on our own. Children born in the 60s and 70s grew up in the 80s and 90s. Weird times. The 80s and 90s could have been 40 years apart based on the differences between them. I could keep going because it is a pretty fascinating topic but that would be a different article. Bottom line is that we were often without guidance.
I graduated high school in 1994 from a public school in the Poconos. Sounds lovely enough, right? The Poconos. The “Mountains”. Lakes….so pretty! I wasn’t born in the Poconos. My parents moved there from the Philly suburb of Upper Darby to give their kids a chance at a better life and get away from some of the things that were tearing apart our neighborhood (drugs,etc.). So I was a teenager in the Poconos in the early 90s.
Two major things happened in the early 90s.
1. The start of a giant housing and loan scam aimed to take advantage of low income people from New York and New Jersey (aka people of color) by promising a new and perfect life at a low cost in the beautiful Pocono Mountains. Look it up. It’s a real thing.
Trigger warning. This content is about sexual assault.
Edit: I keep saying this is not a political post, but it is. I should be saying this is not a partisan post. I should also say that rape should not be politicized. Unfortunately it is. So to start over… This is a post about politics but not a party post. This is a post about the completely messed up system that has given us accused rapists as presidential candidates.
Additional edit: Based on the assumption in our legal system that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, I wanted to explain what I mean when I say I believe her and all victims until what they say is proven untrue. The following explanation was written by Arwa Mahdawi, ”Reade’s story may be impossible to verify, but this is the case with the vast majority of sexual assault allegations. It is nearly always a case of “he said, she said” – and it is nearly always the “he’ that is automatically believed. The #MeToo mantra “Believe Women” doesn’t mean that women never lie; it means that our systems of power are biased towards believing men never lie. It means that it takes decades of allegations and scores of women coming forward for powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby to be brought to justice. All the mantra means is that you shouldn’t automatically disbelieve women.” In addition, with both presidential candidates being accused by multiple women of some type of assault, I would tend to believe at least one is telling the truth. It takes a lot to come forward knowing your life and reputation will be publicly drug through the mud. Joe Biden said it best regarding the Kavanaugh trial “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.” Those sentiments don’t change when you are the accused.
I don’t know if what I am feeling is anger or sadness or rage or a combination of all of them. This post started with a comment on a friend’s post and I decided I needed to write about it. It is not a political post. It is tough to see through politics and stick to topics when politicians are involved but trust me. We all have a big decision ahead and I want to crawl in a hole. I normally take time to craft my words and sometimes I still come off as a little scattered. I am sure a lot of this will read very scattered. I’m sure many of you can relate right now. Everything in the world is weird. It’a surreal. Not everything is doom and gloom. There is a lot to be thankful for and with most things I remain positive, but C’mon. Things are so freaking weird. It’s a nightmare wrapped in a Dali painting. What in the actual fuck is happening right now? We are in the middle of a pandemic. People are dying, people are scared, people are starving, jobs are lost, businesses are going under, people miss their families, can’t attend funerals and weddings and the hits just keep on coming. Murder Wasps. Tornadoes in Toms River NJ. House Fires. Shootings. I could keep going, but that is another post. I should probably write that one next.
Joe Biden was just publicly accused of sexual assault. Yep. That happened. This wasn’t the first time he was accused but he was just publicly accused again. I have been struggling with all of this. When I say struggling, I am a rape survivor. I was raped in my own home over 10 years ago. I do not think someone needs to be raped to understand just how upsetting this all is but I do think it gives some perspective when reading my opinion. I was talking to a friend the other day and she said we are now basically forced to choose the “lesser of two rapists”. I keep repeating that in my head. Is this really where we live? Is this really what it comes down to? The post I commented on today was similar to many going around right now. It was accusing Democrats of being hypocrites for stating they will still vote for Biden even though he was just accused of assault. I keep seeing these posts. They are spun from the perspective of either party depending on who is making the point.
Finally realizing this was the one of the toughest things I have ever had to face. It was also the most healing.
When you think you are so strong. When you think you have it all together. When you think you are happy. When you think these things and find out you were none of those things, it sucks. It really sucks.
I wasn’t ok until about 5 years ago. I became more me and more happy over the last 5 years. It seems like every day I get closer and closer to me. Closer to who I really am and it feels amazing.
Sometimes I need to just say that out loud and let it hang in the air for a little bit. Those words are so strange coming out of my mouth. Even sitting here getting ready to type out my story I keep stopping and staring off and thinking back to what it was like to be in that space, that life. Then I try to refocus and get back to writing.
How much of this story do I share? How deep do I go? Do I share this moment or that moment? And then I stare again at nothing and think back to this or that moment…
What the hell happened? That is not me. How did I let those things happen to me?
I don’t exactly know how it happened. I have some ideas and I know some of the ridiculous feelings I had when I knew deep down I needed to get out but chose to stay. I know what those ridiculous thoughts were but I still don’t know why or how I let myself get there. I might not ever really know. I do know that at some point I stopped loving myself. I had to have stopped loving myself. I had to have stopped understanding my worth. And that is so crazy. How did THAT happen?
Derek and I get asked (often) how we met. Most people ask then look at us in hopeful anticipation of a fairytale story that led two cool (if I do say so myself) people to each other. In many ways our story is pretty perfect (if I again say so myself). There is one detail that throws people off. We met through Tinder.
We tell people this right away when they ask. There is no need to hide it. And there is a reason why it worked. And (Sorry, Tinder) it wasn’t because Tinder is this amazing dating app. Sure, we give them credit for meeting. Sure, their platform is super easy to use. And sure, the stereotype of why people are on Tinder was kind of the only thing we were looking for at that point (insert dramatic gasp). But really it was our attitude about where we were in life and an honest, healthy approach to meeting people (notice I did not say “dating”) that allowed us to talk, have a little fun communicating, meet and fall in love.
I dated for 8 years following the break-up of an 11 year relationship (really a common law marriage). I was 33 years old. I had never had to date before. I was 22 when I met my ex. Funny side note: A good friend of ours refers to his ex as “The former administration”. Anyway, I was 22 years old when we met. We met through friends and hung out and then we were a couple. Continue reading →
My husband and I met 3 years and 2 months ago. We found out on our first date that we had an interesting connection. He is a heart transplant recipient and I am part of a donor family.
My stepsister, Lorraine, suffered from a horrible disease. Addiction. This illness took her on June 23, 2010. She was 24 years old. While she was on life support, my stepfather, John, was able to understand what the local OPO (organ procurement organization, Gift of Life from Philly) was asking the family. She was brain dead. She was hooked up to machines that were keeping her body alive but she was already gone. We were waiting to say goodbye. They were asking if her organs could be used to save the lives of others. John told the family that this is what Lorraine would have wanted. So John and Lorraine’s mother said yes. Lorraine was given rest and another chance. A legacy.
After many health struggles that are another story, my husband, Derek, was in heart failure for 7 years. He received a new heart, someone else’s heart, on the same day that his doctors thought he might not live another 24 hours. He was given another chance. While his family celebrated this miracle at his bedside, Derek’s mind wandered to another place. Somewhere there was a family gathered around their lost loved one. They were crying and saying goodbye. And they had decided to make their loved one a hero. Give them a legacy. Save a life.
I believe I am going to live until at least my late 80s or longer. I don’t know if it’s true but I believe I will. And I will sit in my bright turquoise rocking chair. And even though I will be healthy and will take lots of walks, still hike, ride my bike, probably play bingo with friends while wearing a color coordinated track suit, my favorite thing to do will be to sit in this rocking chair.
That chair is where I will look back on everything and everyone in my life.Continue reading →