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If she loves you, she'll f-ck you

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I Love Somebody Who Has Bipolar Disorder

(Note: this is also posted as an experience story.)

Nineteen years ago - at about this time of the year - my brother made a suicide attempt.

Thank all the gods, he had second thoughts and called 911 before it was too late.

I had called my parents just to say hello and check in - and that was how I found out.

"Steve is in the hospital," my dad said. And later - when I asked what happened: "He tried to kill himself."

I was stunned. I never would have suspected. My little brother always seemed to me to be in a disgustingly good mood - even when nobody else thought the circumstances warranted it. 

He was always the funniest guy in the room. He's super-smart, and a smart@ss as well. In my family, if you're considered a smart@ss, that's a compliment. As Steve himself once said, it's better to be a smart@ss than a dumb@ss.

So - a suicide attempt? I always thought I was the one who might end up doing that. At that time I was just out of my tempestuous 20s (preceded by my teen years, just as difficult.) I also suffered from episodes of depression from time to time.

But as I learned more about bipolar disorder, the pieces started to fit.

Symptoms of a manic episode:
(WebMD, http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/bipolar-disorder-symptoms-types)

- excessive happiness 
- excitement 
- irritability
- restlessness
- increased energy
- less need for sleep 
- racing thoughts
- high sex drive
- tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.

And from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH)
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-adults/index.shtml

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include:    

Mood Changes
- An overly long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extreme irritability.

Behavioral Changes
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being unusually distracted
- Increasing activities, such as taking on multiple new projects
- Being overly restless
- Sleeping little or not being tired
- Having an unrealistic belief in your abilities
- Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors.

Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:

Mood Changes
- An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.

Behavioral Changes
- Feeling overly tired or "slowed down"
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Yeah. It fitted with some of the things Steve did.

Staying up really late (like 3:00 AM on a weeknight) with no apparent ill effects.

Having so many cool ideas all at once that it was impossible to catch all of them - but being determined to try. Even the far-fetched ones.

Being so funny that he could have blown away the audience at a comedy club. Just off-the-cuff, high energy humor with no punches pulled.

Being crazy optimistic. Even when optimism was not realistic.

In Steve's case - running up huge debts.

That was the Steve I knew. And apparently, when he got *very* energetic and optimistic - that was probably a manic episode.

I almost never saw him on the down side of the cycle. Sure, he got in some bad moods as a teen - but don't we all? Just as I thought his energy and optimism and humor were his normal personality - I also chalked up his lows as the normal blue moods that hit everybody - but especially people in their teens and 20s. 

His story has a good sequel: he got the treatment he needed. He's now almost 45 years old, a successful professional with two master's degrees, a homeowner, and a proud dad of two.

If you know somebody whose behavior sounds like this - or if you see it in yourself - PLEASE get it checked out. Start with your primary care doctor and ask about bipolar disorder.

Steve was one of the lucky ones. I didn't lose Steve - and I don't want to lose anyone else.

Love and feelings and grace and stuff

Love and feelings and grace and stuff

JennaR asked a question - "Love never dies - true or false?" Another one that I answered where she posted it - but I feel like it deserves its own forum.

I will reply from my own experience - that's really the only source I can cite with authority.

It can take me a long time to come to love somebody - or to realize I love somebody. But once I do - I never stop loving them. Ever.

Do I get angry at people I love? All the time. I'm human, and so are they. But I get over it - usually fairly soon. I might rant, but then it's out of my system and the anger is gone. And over the years, I think I've learned to choose my words, be aware of the right times and the right places, consider the effect of my words on other people, etc.

But my anger doesn't mean I don't love you. Au contraire - if I don't care enough to get angry, then I don't love you.

And the same is true for my jealousy, my hurt feelings, my fear, and all the other not-so-nice feelings I have because I'm a human being.

My love for a person is like the ocean. It's eternal. My feelings are like storms at sea. They're temporary.

And there are so many kinds of love. I love my parents. I love my pets. I love my best female friends. I have loved some men.

If you dump me, I'll still love you. But after I'm through being angry, jealous, hurt, etc., my love will turn into a different kind of love.

When I was in my early 20s, the guy I thought I would marry dumped me. And my emotions about the whole thing felt horrible.

But I did get over it. (Being out of contact with him for a few years helped. I needed that distance to help me heal.) I got over it, met other men, fell in love again, married someone else, got divorced, etc.

And when I heard my former fiancé had gotten married, I was able to wish him well.

Then, a couple of months ago, he told me via Facebook that he was getting divorced. And I was able to be honestly sad for him.

And when he sounded like he was trying to rekindle things with me, I was able to kindly and gracefully discourage him.

I still love him, but not at all in the same way I used to. And that's okay.

That love is still in the ocean - time has just shifted it into a different current now.

Your Reality Check for Monday - A Rant

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Used to fending for myself: good, or bad?

I'm accustomed to people not telling me much, and/or disappearing periodically. I don't really like it - but I'm used to it. And when people try to let me know every single minute of their day - or expect that from me - I feel stifled. What is a happy medium?

I guess I'm still trying to figure out for myself - what is an appropriate amount of attention to give and receive? How much detail should I give people who want to know where I am and what I'm doing - for legitimate reasons, like deciding when to have dinner? How often should I pop in to say, "Hello, I haven't forgotten you"? How often should somebody else do that for me?

This is another thing that I think goes back to my family. We're USAian, of northern European descent - our ancestors had stiff upper lips and cool Nordic minds. We've always been nearly fanatical about respecting each other's privacy and not stepping on toes. We love each other, but we hold on very loosely. 

Since 2010, my parents and brother have lived about 650 miles away from me. I talk to my parents on the phone about once a month, and I've seen them in person about once a year since they moved. I have even less contact with my brother.

It does sound odd, maybe even cold, compared to a lot of other families I know. But for my family, that's normal - it's always been that way. Due to circumstances in my family when I was a child - things were difficult - I was loved, but I had to fend for myself a lot. There just wasn't enough time and attention to go around. 

It's interesting to put this into writing - I have thought about it before - but writing it down helps me see how this might have affected me for other relationships, once I was no longer a child. 

I've always felt that I maintain more distance with friends than other people do. And yet, I *need* interaction with other people. It's like coming into a room with a warm fire in the fireplace, from being outside in the snow in the evening.

But let them want to tell me every single detail of their life - or ask for mine - and I find myself feeling like a wild horse that's been herded into the corral.

And if finding the right balance of closeness and independence has been a bit perplexing in friendships - you can imagine that it's been crazy in my love life.

I'm a very good girlfriend for busy men. Guys who travel for work, guys who just have a busy life....long distance relationships. That whole push-pull dynamic is there. My high school boyfriend started talking about getting married someday - this was when we'd been dating about 8 months, and we were both college-bound - we both knew that he meant "get married after college." But I think that was the beginning of the end for me. I felt my options narrowing down to a thin little trickle, and I was only 17 years old. 

But the guys who acted hot for a couple of days, then cold for a couple of days, then came back? I would fall hook, line, and sinker.

My first husband worked full time and ran a business on the side that ate up most of his other time. I remember decorating the Xmas tree by myself every year, because he was never there to do it with me. 

Soon after the divorce, I became involved with my now-boyfriend. That was a long-distance relationship for two years. Our weekends were full of paying attention to each other. Then the week was full of missing and longing. 

Then we moved in together - and for about the first week, I really, really felt the loss of privacy and free time. And to this day - 10 years later - I have trouble asking him to do favors for me - like driving me to outpatient surgery because I'll be too drugged up to do it myself. Or changing a light bulb in a ceiling fixture, when I'm 5'2", and he's 5'11".

(Amusing anecdote: I was in the supermarket a few days ago, and I couldn't reach something I wanted. Did I ask any of the nearby tall people for help? No. I climbed the shelves.)
---------------------

This post was stimulated by a private PM conversation, and I think this friend hit on a big issue for me. 

Why am I a good girlfriend for busy men? Why am I so eager to reassure people that I won't be a bother? Why do I feel crowded sometimes and neglected other times? 

If I was to go to therapy (as Mettamomma has suggested) this might be THE central thing for me to work on.

It's not the worst thing in the world - busy guys need girlfriends too; and I'm very good at keeping myself entertained when my family, my boyfriends, or my friends are busy. I can change my own light bulbs, kill my own bugs, and climb to reach things that tall people have thoughtlessly put out of reach.

But it's very, very hard for me to ask for help or attention when I need it. And I can't do everything for myself.

Message to the man I want

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Bah humbug on Valentines Day

F,uc,k Valentines Day up the as,s with a splintery flagpole.


Those of you who have known me a while might remember that V Day last year was my tipping point. It was the incident (well, non-incident) that made me realize how unhappy I am in my low-sex/no-sex relationship.


What happened last year on V Day? Nothing happened. Well, we ate out, and that was nice - but we eat out a lot. I suspect he's trying to substitute dinners out and occasional presents for wanting me.



I was really crushed - I spent the whole day crying on Feb. 15.


This year, I don't expect anything better. I'm feeling kind of angry and resentful at him right now, and I'm pretty sure it's because I know our V Day will be totally G rated.


I bought him a card, but that's it. And it's not even a romantic or sexy card. Why should I give him what he doesn't want to give me ?


In my fantasies, a handsome, intelligent, se,xy man will take me to a nice hotel for V Day.


Probably in his fantasies, he and some non-se,xual woman will sit together on the couch in front of the TV.


Bah humbug on Valentines Day!

A new appreciation for poetry

I'm not normally much of a one for poetry.  I read a lot of fiction (most of it mystery and thrillers) - and I've tried my hand at writing fiction, but I feel I do better with essays and non-fiction articles. 

But there are a few poems that really hit me - such as this one:
 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
(Dylan Thomas)
 

Thomas wrote this while his father was dying - which has to be one of the most painful situations a human being can find himself in.  But I believe the words of the poem can be applied to other situations.  To me, it says, don't let go of the good parts of life so easily. Don't say, "This is okay, I accept it" - if the truth is that it's NOT okay and it's going to take a long time to accept it.

Sometimes life sucks and we have to accept things.  But even if we put a good face on it for the benefit of others - it's okay to admit it to yourself when something really sucks and you're not happy about it.
 

The trouble with Amy - NOTE: No advice please! I'm just venting, OK?

The trouble with "Amy" (not her real name)

Last night, I got treated to a lecture from the one person IRL in whom I've confided about my SM. The message I got out of this was:

• I'm expecting too much because I want more than 10 minutes twice a month. After all, other parts of the relationship are SO much more important than sex.
• I'm just being immature because I liked the sexy, romantic part of the relationship better than I like the mature, stable partnership (i.e., the chores-and-boredom part);
• But - although nobody gets to keep the really good, sexy part of the relationship - most couples don't morph into "just friends;" the average according to her is sex twice a week.

Well, gee. Twice a week is what I'm asking for and not getting. I feel like, after telling me these "facts", she should at least admit that according to her very own quoted information, I have a problem that doesn't normally occur.

• It's okay for him to decide he doesn't want me for sex anymore, break my heart, and tear down my confidence. But even though he has broken his end of the deal, I'm still supposed to love him, stay monogamous, and - most importantly - not object to the fact that he's changed the relationship. If I don't, then I'm just being immature, expecting too much, etc.

IOW, he's allowed to cheat me out of the love and sex I thought we agreed to, but still keep the relationship. He doesn't have to risk the emotional security he gets from the relationship by being "honest" and admitting he doesn't love me in a sexual way any more. He doesn't have to be the bad guy by breaking up with me.

BUT - If I decide I want to have a sex life (with someone other than him), but still keep the relationship - THAT'S bad, evil, immoral, wrong, etc. I'M supposed to give up the emotional security I get from the relationship, be "honest," admit I want the sex we agreed to, and be the bad guy by breaking up with him. How come I don't get to cheat him and still keep the relationship?

Why am I the only one who has to be good? Why doesn't anybody expect HIM to do the right thing?

Why the double standard? He's allowed to cheat me out of sex and love - and still keep me - and because we get along pretty well and he's not abusive, or stupid about money, he's still considered a good partner. But if I cheated him out of monogamy, but still wanted to keep him, the whole universe would overlook all my other good qualities (I'm not abusive, or stupid about money) - and think I'm terrible.

According to Amy (and a lot of the more self-righteous types in ILIASM) I have only two choices:

1. Put up with him cheating me out of love and sex.
2. Be "good" and "honest" and end the relationship - giving up my home and security.

But my refuser isn't forced to make any choices.

Well, fuck that. And fuck all refusers up the ass with a splintery flagpole. IMHO, since they cheat us - they have NO right to complain if we outsource. NONE.


The trouble with Amy (part 2):

And, incidentally - why should I take relationship advice from a person who:

• has been unhappily married for at least 4 years and *still* hasn't gotten divorced;
• has an unrequited love for a married man she knows only via Facebook, who has no idea how she feels about him;
• due to her religious convictions, is unwilling to take the situation with this man further - she's just hoping a miracle will occur and they will both get divorced and remarry each other;
• seems to be totally unable to cope with most workplaces - and needs to get over that if she really wants a divorce, because she won't have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom if they split up?

Avis, self-image, and the search for steampunk

My very first EP avi was my real self - at least, part of myself [g].  Some people would question the wisdom of putting photos of that portion of my anatomy online - but I had my reasons, mostly connected to feeling neglected and low self-esteem.

After I got tired of dealing with all the pervs, I took that avi down and tried another one.  My rules were:

1 - It couldn't show my face (because you never know who might turn up on EP);
2 - It could be sexy, but classy-sexy, not sleazy-sexy;
3 - If it wasn't actually a picture of me, it had to look at least a little like the real me.

I kept the same avi for months - an Alphonse Mucha illustration (Ete, from his Seasons series), which I think looks a bit like me. The woman has a very similar body type and similar coloring.

Then I began to fear that my EPeeps were getting bored with me, so I decided to change it up.

Now I'm running into the same question that's plagued me all along:  How sexy can I be without being tacky and getting a really bad reputation?  OTOH, how clean and decent is TOO clean and decent?

I don't want to be popular only for showing skin.  At the same time....I want people to know I've got skin worth looking at.

One thing that I just love is the steampunk look.  So I've scoured the net for pictures of women in steampunk costumes...women who are sexy but not sleazy, who do look somewhat like the real me.

And I have to say - what's with all the goddamned tall skinny blondes?!

No, I don't hate blondes. My very own mother was blonde, before she went gray.  There are some blondes that I really like.  But for the love of all that's holy - I need some photos of women with MY hair color. That would be kind of a light reddish-brown.

And no supermodels, please.  I'm short and curvy - think Marilyn Monroe's body, not Kate Moss.  My problem is that I was born too late.  In the 1940s and 50s, bodies like mine were considered sexy - as shown by the pinup girls of that era.

All is not lost, however.  There's always illustrations, as opposed to photographs.

I have power? I never knew.

I just realized something today.

Many times in my life, I've been told to shut up.

Not always directly - and frequently with subtle threats.

But I'm used to thinking of myself as a person without power.

It occurred to me to wonder, then: if I'm so powerless, if I really couldn't be much of a threat to anybody - why am I being told to shut up? If I'm so wrong, why would anybody listen to what I say? Wouldn't they just dismiss it as the ravings of a madwoman?

If people tell you to shut up, that means your words have power, and they're afraid of that power.


A hypothetical Top 10 list

OK, help me out here. This is hypothetical, of course. I'm wondering, if I was free again, what kind of online dating profile I'd write. I loved David Letterman's Top Ten lists, so I thought I would use that format.

I came up with 9 reasons why I'd be a good girlfriend, but I'm having trouble finding one more. Can you help?

Also, feel free to comment on what I already came up with.

Top 10 Reasons Why I'd Be a Good Girlfriend

10 - I don't want to get married and have children.

9 - I'm not looking for a meal ticket or a sugar daddy.

8 - I won't get upset if you want to play or watch sports once or twice a week. I'll just find something else to do. (More often than that and we might want to rethink this - that's a lot of time apart.)

7 - I want to have sex about twice a week. I place a high priority on romance, passion, and sex. And the journey is just as important as the destination.

6 - I'll never make you watch a chick flick with me. In fact, that's my least favorite sort of movie.

5 - I'm an excellent listener. You can tell me (almost) anything and I won't freak out. I'm very good at staying cool and helping people think things through.

4 - I can keep a secret forever if I have to.

3 - I can adapt to new environments and get along with most people.

2 - If you're into music - contact me. Seriously. If the chemistry is there, I could be your girl. If not, we could still be good music buddies.

1 - ????



You know you're in a sexless marriage when:

You Google "how to get a man to touch your breasts." And your cup size is DD. And you're not fat.

(BTW, I checked the first 10 pages of hits without finding an answer to the question - which confirms my theory that that usually isn't a problem.)

The pain and grief of the bad woman

I'm so envious of some of the wives of male ILIASM members.

Not the women whose husbands are angry and fed up and have one foot out the door.

No, I envy the wives of the guys who never get laid (or very rarely) - but their husband still wants them, still says nice things about them, still won't step out on them.

These women have something I want: a man who both loves them AND desires them.

Why them and not me? What have these women got that I haven't got?

They're pretty? So am I.

Got a sexy figure? So do I.

Good company, good sense of humor, intelligent, interesting? Check.

Ice maiden who never puts out? Ah, maybe this is the problem. Maybe Mom was right and boys don't like girls who are too easy.

Life would be a lot easier if men would wise up and go for the women who want them, instead of the ice maidens.

Now do you understand why I have almost no sympathy for refusers?


Ten things I'm never going to do again

Ten Things I'll Never Do Again

1 - Get married.

2 - Move in with a guy. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and we can't miss each other if we're never apart.

3 - Promise to be monogamous.

No, I take that back. If I'm enough in love, I won't want anybody else. If I'm enough in love, it will hurt if my man wants someone else.

So, I'll amend that. I'll never again promise to be monogamous without putting in a clause that says the agreement will be revisited in the future, and can be changed.

4 - Make my hair either straighter or more curly than it is naturally. Its natural state is sort of in-between - wavy, I guess. I'm going to stop fighting with my hair's texture. (But not with its color or style. I get so bored with my hair.)

5 - Move to a place, unless I'm sure I really like it and really want to live there.

When I was a kid, I didn't have any choice in the matter - I had to go wherever my parents wanted to live. As an adult, I've lived in places because of men.

When do *I* get to pick where I'm going to live?

An old drunk guy once gave me a very good piece of advice: "First, decide where you want to be. Then, decide what you want to do. Then, decide who you want to be with."

In vino veritas. (Or in his case, in beero veritas.) I've been doing it ass backwards all my life. Next time any possibility of moving comes up, I'm going to stand up for what I want.

6 - Carry a balance of more than $5000 US on my credit card.

I'm working on this one, OK? I'm not far from that goal.

7 - Let my exercise routine lapse for more than a week.

I don't really like exercising, but I usually do it. Two reasons: 1) I'm vain about my appearance and 2) arthritis and osteoporosis run in my family, and I'd like to preserve my joints and bones.

8 - Buy a brand new car.

They lose a lot of the value the minute you drive them off the lot. I bought my present car new because I had my heart set on a MINI Cooper, and at that time there weren't that many used ones around - and my old car was a POS that needed to be replaced ASAP. But next time, I'm going for a good used car and save money. I'll bring a guy with me so I'll be less likely to be ripped off.

9 - Accept a job offer without asking to see my future work space first. I've had some god-awful seating at my various places of employment.

10 - Let my passport expire, after the time period where you can do the whole renewal by mail. If you do, you have to make an appointment to be questioned by a representative of the U.S. government.

That wouldn't be so bad, except you have to take time off from work and pay an extra fee. And if you were born overseas, like I was, you need to bring all the paperwork pertaining to that with you. They send it to D.C. along with your passport application. I was nervous about letting those important documents out of my possession. (I did get them back. But still.)

Evolution

I pruned my friends list.

If you got pruned, try not to feel bad. It doesn't mean I don't like you. I like most people (at least, at first.) Some of the reasons for the pruning:

1 - I answered a question today ("What's your agenda here?") and it made me realize that I no longer have the same agenda as when I first came to EP.

At that time, I was hurt, angry, and felt like I was going crazy. I wanted to know if I was still attractive. I wanted to know if I could say some of the things I really think - would people run screaming, or laugh at me, or shame me?

And I found out that some people still think I'm attractive, and that some people aren't put off by my dark, crazy side.

And as a result, I feel a lot better, and my behavior has changed. The dark, crazy side, having been comforted, is now more willing to let my civilized side take charge more often.

(Don't worry - Dark & Crazy is still there! I'm like an Edwardian aristocrat's mistress - discreet in public, and, um, interesting in private. I would have been good at being an Edwardian aristocrat's mistress. Or for that matter, a female Edwardian aristocrat. They got up to a lot of mischief themselves. It was more like discreet serial monogamy than outright sluttery. I think I could do that.)

Oh, and my agenda? I didn't know I had to have one. I'm just going to see how it goes.

2 - The question of who really is a friend. You might not be a close friend if...

....I haven't heard from you in a long time.

....We just don't really click.

....You only wanted pervy stuff from me. Yes, I do pervy, but (usually) with only one person at a time. And I have so much more to offer, in addition to pervy. If we can't connect and have a good conversation about something other than sex - I probably like you, but we're not really friends.

3 - If you can't spell, punctuate, capitalize, use grammar correctly, and at least write somewhat well - call me picky, call me a snob, but I *hate* that.

Especially from people in my own age group, who would have learned that stuff before the internet came along. If you're 20 years old, you have an excuse for writing "OMG!!! u r SO hott!!" (Although it still makes me cringe.) If you're in your 40s or older...no. Just no.

In my own defense, I work in an occupation where writing well and using conventional correct English matters. It's about the only thing I'm really good at (that I'm willing to take payment for), so cut my some slack for being picky about people's writing.

OK? Is everything copacetic?
My mood: a bit hopeful

Random talk from a crazy woman

Life is harder than I thought it would be when I was a kid.

Against my better judgment, I went shopping today.  I haven't bought anything yet, and I might not.  I'm pretty picky, which is good, considering I really don't need another handbag or top or book.  It's allergy season and I've got a headache; and my stomach is a little queasy.  I probably should have stayed home, but I had to get out.  That's a weakness of mine; I go absolutely crazy if I don't get out of my home at least once a day.  

(Interesting side note:  I need foot surgery, and the main reason I'm postponing it as long as I can, is the recovery period.  I think about being, not only locked up at home for about 4 to 6 weeks, but actually confined to bed for 2 weeks - and I shudder.  No exaggeration.)

Oh, I wish I had someone to confide in.  Why am I always the one that has to keep a cool head while other  people need comforting?  when is it going to be my turn to have a real meltdown, let it all out, cry until I'm ugly and say all the things that can't be unsaid?

I went all the way across town to do this.  I'm sitting in the cafe of a bookstore not that far from where I lived the last time I was single (12 years now.)  Did I feel like I had to get out of the neighborhood I live in now, where I'm coupled?  There's a branch of the same bookstore there, but in my own present neighborhood, everybody who works in the local stores knows me as part of a couple.  Here, in my old stomping grounds, I think I feel the ghost of who I used to be.  I think that's a good thing.  I'm glad she's still there.  I think I need the woman I used to be.  Those were pretty good days.

Am I going crazy, or is my heart breaking, or both?  I wonder if I would do things differently if I could rewind back in time about 12 years.  When my man asked me to move in with him, I had doubts about actually doing it.  I was afraid living together and getting domesticated would ruin things.  For about 2 years, we even had a long-distance relationship, due to me taking a job out of town; we lived about 100 miles apart and saw each other on weekends. I think now those were the best 2 years of my life.  Our weekends were magical.  Now, he spends evenings either on his computer or playing guitar, and I spend evenings reading, watching TV, and sometimes on the computer.  And on weekends, we both go out somewhere - but separately.  That isn't how it used to be.  And I can't quieten the little voice inside of me that says, "I was afraid this would happen."

Why does domesticity have such a lure?  Especially for women, and especially when we're younger.  I think a lot of it is the way we're all brought up, the way families in our culture live.  I had the classic two-parent family with (probably) one of the last stay-at-home moms; we lived in the suburbs where nothing interesting ever happened, except minor disputes with the neighbors and the school system.  And yet, we worshipped that way of life, we idealized it.  I think I believed I was supposed to do all the things my mother did (marry early, have children, live in the suburbs, etc.) - and so did a lot of other young girls, although by the 70s things were changing, and some of my friends' mothers worked and got divorced and lived very differently.  

My own aunt, my mother's sister, lived differently. She was married, but she didn't have children until her late 30s, and she and her husband traveled and had an active social life and all sorts of adventures.  And maybe she would have been a better role model for me than my own mother was.  (Not to put down my mother - she was and is an excellent mother.  But she probably wasn't the best role model for the sort of life I've had.)  And in my family, we don't talk much, but we can have whole discussions silently, without anyone saying a word.  It was understood that I found my aunt interesting, but I also understood very well that I was supposed to turn out like my mother, not my aunt.  And that was that.

I wasn't much like my mother.  I may be a throwback, to my grandmother, my great-grandmother, both of whom were sensual, sexy women who got into trouble with men.  I've been in and out of trouble with men ever since I hit puberty (at an early age, which compounded the problems.)  I was a smart kid, teachers always said so; but I never felt like I was particularly good at anything.  Nothing really gave me that "this is it" feeling - until I started getting to know guys.  And I found out that what I really, really love more than anything else on this planet (and what I'm really, really good at) - is making out and fooling around.

And neither my mother nor my aunt was any help at all.  Since I can't read minds, and since in my family, we don't talk openly about things, all I knew about them was what they told me and things I overheard.  And they both seemed to me like they didn't like the sexual side of life much at all. They made it sound like this ridiculous thing men like for some reason, and you have to do it to keep your husband happy.  So I've never, at any time in my life,  felt like I could ask either of them for advice about my love life.

My grandmother was slightly more help, but by the time I discovered that, I was in my early 20s and embroiled in a mess of a relationship.  And you know how some things are just going to happen?  They seem to be  programmed, like a train that's going on a particular route and stopping at specific stations.  That's how that relationship was.  So I'm not sure her advice would have helped me with that situation.  (Although some of her advice has been useful at other times.  She's been deceased for 21 years, and I still wish I could talk to her and ask her for advice sometimes.)

And I did *try* to turn out the way I thought I was supposed to turn out - I really did.  I said no to guys when I  wanted to say yes.  (Although not every single time, as my parents would have wished.)  I tried to do things women are supposed to do to achieve the goal of the steady husband, the house in the suburbs, and all the rest of it.  But I look back on my life and I can't help thinking maybe that was never meant to be for me - even if I could
have gone through with it, I think I would have been miserable.

I was actually married for six years.  And if I'd been more determined to stick to the script, I'd probably be living in a house in the suburbs and have a couple of kids.  But dealing with my husband could be like swimming  through lard sometimes.  I had to nag him for three years to get the ugly wallpaper off the walls of our condo and get it painted off-white.  My next goal was going to be the ugly carpeting, but you know, by that time, I just didn't have the energy.  Because I had to keep at him about it, something that I thought would be sort of fun - decorating our place, and then finding a house - turned into a tedious, horrible, time-consuming chore.  I correct what I said earlier - if I hadn't given up on him, I wouldn't have had the house in the suburbs for "years" by now.  At the pace he did things, we would just be moving into it right about now.  I know I'm not the most patient person in the  world, but how patient do you have to be?

That was far from being the only problem with that marriage.  Long story short, I shouldn't have married him in the first place; I did a disservice to both of us.  And I'm the one that should have known better, because he was less sophisticated than me about these things.

Whatever it is inside me that isn't good at domestic things, prefers the city to the suburbs, likes other people's kids until they start to whine, loves kissing and making out and making love better than anything else on earth - that side of me ALWAYS comes back sooner or later.  Always.  I'm just not a good bet for the house-in-the-suburbs scenario.  

And I feel like that makes me a bad woman, because I didn't turn out like my mother; because maybe I'm better to have as a girlfriend than as a wife; because I seem to have trouble mating in captivity.

Good fiction books about women

This is by no means a complete or definitive list - just some of my favorite fiction books that really explore what it is to be female. Also, I left out some of the obvious ones that everybody picks, like "Waiting to Exhale" by Terry McMillan, or "Circle of Friends" by Maeve Binchy  - because everybody already knows about them.

And When She Was Good - Laura Lippman
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
The Water's Lovely - Ruth Rendell (and so many more of hers as well)
The Saturday Wife - Naomi Ragen
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
Little Children - Tom Perrotta
Island Beneath the Sea - Isabel Allende

Oddly enough, I don't read a lot of chick lit.  I read mostly mysteries and thrillers.  But if I can identify strongly with a character in a book (and since I'm female, I would tend to identify with female characters), I never forget the book.

I'll add more as I think of them.

Hurt & angry

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Sex and Love in the Postmodern U.S.

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Previous Posts
If she loves you, she'll f-ck you, posted July 5th, 2014, 1 comment
I Love Somebody Who Has Bipolar Disorder, posted July 1st, 2014
Love and feelings and grace and stuff, posted June 17th, 2014, 1 comment
Your Reality Check for Monday - A Rant, posted June 16th, 2014, 2 comments
Used to fending for myself: good, or bad?, posted June 4th, 2014, 2 comments
Message to the man I want, posted May 29th, 2014, 2 comments
Bah humbug on Valentines Day, posted February 11th, 2014, 2 comments
A new appreciation for poetry, posted January 24th, 2014, 2 comments
The trouble with Amy - NOTE: No advice please! I'm just venting, OK?, posted December 27th, 2013, 7 comments
Avis, self-image, and the search for steampunk, posted December 19th, 2013, 3 comments
I have power? I never knew., posted November 8th, 2013, 3 comments
A hypothetical Top 10 list, posted September 24th, 2013, 12 comments
You know you're in a sexless marriage when:, posted September 7th, 2013, 2 comments
The pain and grief of the bad woman, posted September 5th, 2013, 10 comments
Ten things I'm never going to do again, posted May 11th, 2013, 2 comments
Evolution, posted April 25th, 2013, 3 comments
Random talk from a crazy woman, posted April 7th, 2013, 1 comment
Good fiction books about women, posted March 27th, 2013, 6 comments
Hurt & angry, posted February 15th, 2013, 12 comments
Sex and Love in the Postmodern U.S., posted January 27th, 2013, 5 comments

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