Thursday, April 30, 2015

So, your husband is a monster.

There is a trend I see emerging in the beautiful sub-culture of young, married LDS women on Facebook. Like many things I don't understand, it angers me. I am going to try and discuss it here to vent my building aggression towards strangers. Bear with me.

Pornography is something that both science and religion disapprove of. Recently there has been an influx of people being willing to openly disparage the affects that pornography has on individuals and families. This is wonderful news. Hopefully with the recognition of the damage that is done by indulging in such a dangerous material, many people will be able to avoid ever facing a pornography habit or addiction in their life. Hearts and smiles, I'm totally with you here. 

Where I get lost is when I see a wife crying out for help with her husband's addiction. Yes, help is important in this instance! It is important for him to work on climbing above his addiction, and it is crucial for the marriage for both spouses to establish their communication and understanding of each other like never before. What I don't understand is this:

[Young married woman posting on Facebook]: HELP! My husband has a porn addiction :( :( :( I feel like I cant trust him anymore. He is a monster, and he has been cheating on me with this smut. What do I do???? 


Hold up. Let's just hold on to our knickers before we run around streaking here. Yes, porn is a terrible thing, yes your feelings of betrayal and hurt are valid and reasonable, but how in the world do you propose getting through this and repairing your relationship if you are slandering your spouse with strangers online? This issue is also not yours. It is primarily his (or hers, I realise I am being mildly sexist by using only male pronouns. Forgive me) and therefore, he is the one who is needing the most immediate help and support. The same as with any other addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling what have you), berating the individual who is struggling, or handing them ultimatums as an initial response will only close any remaining communication that was left. If a spouse is abusing the other or engaging in dangerous behaviour, then an immediate walk away may be in order, but rarely is that a necessary first move. 

With the expansion of social media and the acceptance of sharing your entire life with everyone you have ever remotely known, people seem less concerned about the necessity for being discreet in marriage. There are things that deserve to be private, and the struggles and vices of your spouse are number one on the list of things that you do not need to be disclosing online. As soon as you invite others into your relationships, you face the danger of further biasing yourself against your spouse. Your own viewpoint is vindicated while people who are sympathetic to you, yet foreign to them attack and dehumanise the person who you have vowed to love, cherish, and respect. 

I also see girls asking other girls if they would like to discuss their trauma further, which is something that just leaves hypothetical chunks of my own brain matter on the wall. Isn't your spouse the one who is in need here? Can you not go attend to him? Work with him to step beyond this awful addiction? I understand asking "how can I help him?" but rarely is that what I see being asked. 
In discussing this with my best friend Allison she said, 

"Ask yourself 'am I asking for genuine help? Do I want to hear honesty? Do I really want to put some work in to making this better? Do I just not know how to do that on my own?' Because in all reality most of us know what could solve the majority of these issues, we're all adults who interact with people. It's good to genuinely need help with solving a specific problem, for people to provide alternative views, but that's so rarely what it is." 

This isn't to say that abuse isn't real. If you feel you are being consistently belittled, controlled, or abused in your relationship, seek help. Reach out and approach friends and professionals to assure you are safe. Reaching out to simply complain about your spouse or to get support for your side of the argument, however, will not end well for your marital happiness. 

I feel bad that I haven't managed to be even remotely humorous in this post, but the rage is embarrassingly real! Please do not interpret my irritation as me being someone who feels pornography is not harmful, or even that it has its place. I don't feel that way at all. What I do feel is the need for people to be aware of how little their relationships should revolve around themselves, and how much it should revolve around their relationship and their spouse. Putting yourself first leads to being selfish and easily offended, while putting your spouse and your marriage first helps you see how problems are never really simply polarised into "his" or "mine," but are almost always "ours." 

And with that, let's discuss ways to combat an addiction. Having struggled with my own addiction and going through the therapy for it, these are some things I have learned: 

1) Identify the problem, and the times and places it emerges. When are you most tempted to engage/to use/to lapse into the addiction?

2) Find ways to avoid those times and those things.

3) Establish an alternative coping mechanism to replace the original behaviour. If you need to keep your fingers busy, pick up knitting, Lego construction, a musical instrument, painting, anything that you think you will genuinely enjoy and will distract you from the original urge. That first behaviour has been established because it is pleasurable, replacing it with something dull and tedious will not do the trick.

4) Accept that you probably won't successfully stop forever the first time. You will probably slip up, but if you allow one slip up to destroy your resolve to continue improving, you will never come out on top. Keep moving forward.

5) Find someone who will check in with you and hold you responsible for your lapses while still loving you when you do lapse. For me, I am addicted to self harm. Even when I am happy, and even though I am currently clean, I still get urges. Peter has been aware of this addiction since we first became friends. He knows it, he accepts me despite of it, but he hates it. Knowing this leaves me with three options when I am faced with a temptation: I can cut and hide it from my husband, meaning I have let lying into our marriage, cut and have him disappointed and sad, or resist and have him shower me with love and affection when I tell him I overcame my moment of weakness.

6) Seek professional help. When in doubt, find a therapist you can trust and rely on. They are trained, they are licensed, and they can give support to both you and your spouse no matter the issue. 

Be excellent, folks. You and your marriages deserve it. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

One score and three years ago.

My very first class of university was Acting I. It was a Wednesday, and class was brief as the teacher only went over our syllabus before dismissing us. I sat on the front row and attempted, but failed, to engage a conversation with anyone nearby. Acting was an awesome class for a Freshman in desperate need for friends *cough* me *cough*. While I didn't hang out with anyone from the class, I still felt like I belonged when I was there.
One day we played a storytelling game. A person would volunteer to tell a story while the class sat in a circle on the stage. Each time a new character or setting appeared in the story, students had to rush in to the circle to try and fill the roles. One story began, "once there was a beautiful fairy princess." Six or so girls surged forward, but were all beat out by a beaming boy with a head full of curls, who skipped around the circle fluttering his arms emphatically. 
"Wow." I thought to myself, while laughing hysterically, "that is one incredibly secure kid." 
Of course, that kid was Peter. 

Peter sat on the other side of the theatre from me each class period, but from my vantage point he always looked like someone who I wished I could be friends with. While we had never spoken, I was pretty sure we would get along and I wanted desperately to break the ice. One day before class he walked past me wearing a shirt I recognized from The Big Bang Theory, but didn't know what it represented. "Perfect!" I thought to myself, developing a cunning ruse, "I can ask him what the symbol means and also bond with him over good TV *maniac laugh*" 

"Hey!" I said, catching his attention. "That's Sheldon Cooper's shirt from the Big Bang Theory, what does it stand for?" 
To my surprise, I was met with a distainful look from this perpetually grinning boy, "uhhhh," he said, every word dripping with dislike, "this is the Green Lantern." 
"Oh," was my subdued response, but before I could try anything else, he had continued on past me. 

Thus ended my attempts to engage with Peter Gregory. We would run into each other on campus or the beach, and even spent time together in groups. Somewhere along the way Peter decided that he was passionately and madly in love with me and I fell in love with him too, so it all worked out. 
Tomorrow it's that silly little boy's 23rd birthday, so here, for you, are 10 things I love about Peter. 

(In no particular order) 

1. Peter pretends he knows what I'm talking about even when he doesn't. 
I don't do this as much as I used to, but as a Freshman I loved picking pretend fights. Peter knew this, and he engaged me in them. I would squint a certain way, or push him, and he would turn back, arms open and yell "WHAT?!" Or "DONT EVEN BRING THAT UP RIGHT NOW," or some other variation. Other times we would pretend to be able to read each others minds, even when we didn't know what the other person was even slightly alluding to. It made me feel like part of an exclusive club, and I adore that Peter would do that for me. 

2. He sleeps like a dancer. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen a human do while unconcious. 

3. He is passionate. Did you know that Peter taught a Lego class when he was a teenager? He legitimately got paid to teach kids how to do his hobby. What the heck. 

4. He raps and beatboxes in both English and Japanese. He has also told me, and I quote, "you don't understand, when I was a teenager I was the epitome of gangsterdom." 

5. He is an excellent cook. Without him I would starve. Without him I do starve, actually... 

6. He serves me. A couple weeks ago I came home from work with an agonizing migraine. Peter put me to bed, and then got me ready all while I lay there. He brushed my hair, dressed me, washed my face, and brought me my tooth brush and a bowl to spit into. That isn't a surprising thing, though. Peter is always looking for a way to care for me, and for anyone who he loves. 

7. His eyelashes are incredibly long and dark. It's revolting. 

8. We are equally yoked in how clean/messy we are. This is actually super important. Watch out for this when you're dating. It will save your marriage. 

9. He always smells fantastic. 

10. When he was a teenager he made a suit out of duct tape. 

There are a billion and one reasons why I adore my Peter. I hope if you meet him, you love him too. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Maybe don't read this one.

Recently I've been feeling super fantastically crappy about my appearance. This is something that is a vicious cycle of frustration for me.

Step one of cycle: Feel ugly.
Step two: Feel sad because feel ugly.
Step three: Feel angry because feel sad because feel ugly.
Step four: Become indignant because feel angry because feel sad because feel ugly.
Step five: Have berating inner monologue, reminding self that it doesn't matter what you look like. Are smart human. Are kind human. Are loved by husband. Are actually kind of stupid for caring what you look like.
Step six: vow to be smarter human who does not care what looks like.
Step seven: weep.

The cycle of self love/self deprivation is a really tough one to try and get out of. We're constantly seeing AcCemptanz blogz everywhere, and campaigns to try and destroy the "old beauty standard" or whatever. Us throwing harts and lurveee at each other to remind one another that IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT WE LOOK LIKE. However, side by side with those things, is the desire and encouragement to put your best face forward and be a presentable human being who showers and looks appealing. So, really, it does kind of matter what you look like.

I don't have a soapbox that I'm standing on right now; I honestly don't really care one way or the other if someone puts a lot of effort into their appearance or none whatsoever. I have fluctuated between the two extremes since I first discovered makeup at 13. Ultimately, I think it's probably the attitude and circumstance of the individual that dictates which extreme is best for them.

Once in my Abnormal Psychology class, we were discussing body dysmorphia. My professor told us all that in order to attempt to try and understand the pressure that many young girls feel in criticising their own appearance, for about one week he took five minutes at the beginning of every day to look in the mirror and honestly critique and analyse what he saw. He said he has never felt so depressed in his life.  Hearing that, I took a personal challenge to not look at myself in the mirror ever. My days got roughly five billion times more wonderful.
Since then, however, my complete indifference to my daily appearance has started to make me a little bit sad. Usually, it's only when I see a photograph of myself that I realise how sad it makes me. So, I'm starting my own experiment again. Instead of refusing to look in the mirror, I'm going to try and take a little extra time at the beginning of each day to put on a bit of a face, and then work to not look in the mirror again until the day is finished. Baby steps into a new routine and all that.

Really, we all need to work on being fulfilled in our own way. If you aren't happy with yourself, that's a terrible place to be. Imma work on that. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

This post contains the word vagina.

In addition to my Skills Trainer job, I spend Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday babysitting. M/W/F I watch two little boys, Nash who is two, and Max who is six months. Our time together is made up of laugher, spit up, and lots of hugs and kisses. On Thursdays I watch a brother sister duo, M who is four, and her little brother A who is 2. Adventures with these two are readily more complex simpy due to M's age, but made doubly so by the fact that she is easily the sassiest four year old I have ever met.

Thanks to the fact that I am bffs with Nash and Max's mother, and she knows M and A very well, I have many stories stored away on my phone as I text her in exasperation and amazement for each new insanity that unfolds. Enjoy some texts, and some scary moments in child care. (Clarification, Jenna is mom to Nash and Max and Jen is mom to M and A.)

Thursday December 4, 7:34pm

Me: Oh no. Oh no. I think I just taught M the word vagina.

Jenna: Oh this made my night. What happened?! At least it's not the P word [laughing emoji that won't show up on my blog]

Me: She went to the toilet, and when I came to check on her she was investigating herself. She asked what the part in the middle was and I said, "it's all just part of your vagina" and she said "what's a vagina?"
So that was a scary moment. I tried to explain it as best as I could, saying that girls have them and they are private parts of our bodies, and she said, "so we should just pull down our pants if we need to prove we're girls!!"

Jenna: You can't make this stuff up!!!! Totally innocent moment. Jen will be understanding.

Me: I hope so! I didn't want to just say, "we don't talk about that," or anything, and I was kind of hoping she already knew the word. It's harder for girls, because technically, it's NOT her vagina... Penises are much easier to comprehend, I think.
Oh, my. Haha.

Jenna: I think by that age I called it my vagina... I'm sure they knew the day was coming.

This particular story has an even better follow up. At the end of my nights with M and A I talk with Jen and her husband Kyle and tell them everything that happened in their absence. This particular night had me incredibly nervous, as I wasn't thrilled about having to tell two parents that I had educated their four year old on her reproductive organs.
After telling them the story of what had happened, Jen laughed,
"She DEFINITELY knows that word. She was playing you." They then went on to tell me about life shortly after M had learned the words penis and vagina. Each time a male guest came into their home she would eagerly ask them, "Do you know you have a penis??" Which would then be followed up with a factual, "I have a vagina."
Kyle had been on deployment at this time, and was not sure how and when they would be teaching the V and P words to their daughter. Thus, when he had arrived home and was out driving with M and she quietly asked from her carseat, "daddy, do you have a penis?" He responded, "you know, I'm not sure, let's ask mommy."

I'm pretty certain she told them yes.

Thursday, January 29, 9:43pm

Me: Funny story.
I arrive at Jen's today and M is screaming, which honestly isn't too unfamiliar.
I come right as quiet time is ending and because M doesn't sleep as much anymore, she's often wreaking havoc behind her closed door. Jen asks me to play with A while she deals with M. When she comes out to tell me what happens she is super serious and says, "M pooped in a drawer. When I asked her why she was naked and if she had an accident, she lied, and so she has lost her book privilege and now I need to go clean everything." And I look at her, and I try to look solemn and serious but then I'm like, "oh my gosh, she POOPED IN A DRAWER?!?! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry. Sorry. No, but really? Bahahaha"

Jenna: Lololololololololol!!!!

But really, she pooped in a drawer?!

Me: Apparently!! I didn't ask the mechanics, but I really want to know them. Did she squat over the drawer? Did she poop and then move it to the drawer? Why didn't she go to the bathroom? So many questions, Jenna.

Thursday, February 26, 6:41pm

Me: Adventures with M #5638951

"What are these?" *lifting up shirt and pointing at her nipples*
"Those are your nipples"
"What are they for?"
"Well, everyone has them. You know how A has them too?"
"Yeah, but his are very small! How big are yours?"
"Uh, probably bigger than yours, because I'm bigger than you."
"Show me!"
"No. I'm not going to show you my nipples."
*grabbing at my shirt and then patting my breasts* "oh wow, yah, they are very big!"

I then explained that mommies feed babies with their nipples and she said "MISS JENNA DOES THAT FOR BABY MAX!!"

Jenna: I loveeeeeeeeeee your M convo recaps. They are THE BEST!

Me: We then moved on to belly buttons and I tried to explain that they are where babies are connected to their moms when they are inside and then we cut the chord when they are born. She told me she was there when you guys cut Max's chord ;).

Jenna: Lolololololol I do love that girl. She is hilarious!!!

The adventures with M are never ending, and I appreciate her peppering my life with spunk and stories. Hopefully this year of babysitting will prepare me for my own hobbit-haired children who are certain to poop in strange places of their own and ask to see my nipples. It's all just part of life. Right? Right. 

To send us off for the night, I give you an inspirational quote: 

"Ms. Melly, you should exercise. You're so slow." - M. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Now I can stalk everyone and drink soda.

A few weeks ago I did something bad. I allowed myself to get heated on a Facebook post and say something mean. The problem with mean words is that, even if you regret them as soon as you have formed them, once you have sent them out into the world, they cannot be fully recovered. I didn't call anyone any names, or attack someone's mother, but I snapped at someone very rudely, and was called out on it immediately. And thus, my Facebook privledges were revoked.
I mean, no Facebook gods stole my password or anything crazy like that, but I had clearly shown I was not able to handle the adult responsibility of stalking every person I've ever known. After discussing the situation with Peter, and recognizing that I have a serious Facebook addiction, I deleted Facebook off of my phone and iPad and vowed to finish Lent without it. (My original Lent sacrifice was soda. Just so you're aware. It was a big thing.)

My problem with Facebook was that it was dictating my entire life. The only daily social interactions I was having, besides Peter and children under the age of 5, were those on Facebook. Every day I was seeing the worst of every one I know. Facebook is like attending a party with hundreds of people, but the party lasts forever, and everyone is telling you everything that they think, do, and eat ALL THE TIME. Most sane people would become lunatics if trapped in a situation like that. However, most sane people would also just hide the people they can't stand updates from on Facebook, but NO that is just TOO EASY for Ms. Melece to do. Instead, I hide those people and grow increasingly anxious about what they may possibly be posting. What if they are poisoning others with their aggressive political views and rants about their spouse??!! If I can't see it, HOW CAN I STOP IT? 

Well, the reality is, I can't stop anything anyone says or does ever, but I can give myself a time out for bad behaviour. 

Someone told me I was stupid for giving up Facebook, because any social interaction is better than vegging out in front of Netflix. I have to disagree. When you allow your social (*cough* online) interactions to become toxic as I had, those conversations don't really allow you to improve or grow. They just live in your brain and fester until you're unable to do anything else without steaming over what someone said. For now, I am back, and I have very much enjoyed reading the wonderful things friends have shared on my wall in my absence, but this whole situation has been very enlightening to me. If I want to become a successful therapist, I need to be able to manage my own emotions and seriously reconsider how I interact with the people around me.