Vaginal Victories

When did the vagina become a dirty word?

Think about it. Guys don’t think twice about calling their genitals what they are. Dicks. Cocks. Penises. In fact, neither do women. But when we’re talking lady parts, suddenly we speak in euphemisms. You’ve heard them. Vajayjay, girlie bits. In fact, I’ve even heard grown women refer to it as their “pee pee.” How old are we?

And then there are the derogatory names people call one another… Like cunt and pussy. The word, when used to describe a person is considered nasty and offensive. Okay, so guys can be called a dick, but that’s considered a mild insult by pretty much every stretch of the imagination.

Truthfully, I had an entirely different blog post I’d intended to write today, but then I saw a video that blew my mind. First, because these women had never seen their own vaginas. Part of me wondered how that was possible. Then the little voice inside my head kicked in and said, “You’re not really that surprised, are you? Think about how people are about masturbation or how hard they are on themselves about their bodies as a whole. With all the negative energy surrounding sex, why should anyone be any different about their reproductive organs?”

So I watched the video. I heard their stories. Some of these women touched me with their bravery, yet reminded me again why education and a sex positive message are so important. Take a look. Tell me what you think.

Did you catch what one woman said? All it took was one extremely negative statement from her first lover to completely destroy her confidence in both her vagina and her sexuality. The other woman who touched my heart was the woman who’d been raped. I suspect that one violent act made her feel unclean. Unworthy. Particularly in the vaginal area. I wondered if subconsciously she didn’t look because she wondered if she hadn’t had one, would this horrible crime have happened. Fear is not rational. Pain is not rational. Words hurt. So do actions.

Changing attitudes takes time, but the healing process can start today. With us. It can be as simple as choosing never to use genitalia as an insult word again. Maybe it starts with your lover in the bedroom. Don’t assume they know how beautiful you find their most intimate body parts. Take time to give them an honest and loving compliment. Heck, you may find it improves your sex life!

What other ways can we help improve this message of self love and empowerment? Are you the one in need of this message? What things have been said or done to you that destroyed your sexual confidence. How did you find your way back? Did you find your way back?

A Simple Sorry Will Do

“I’m Sorry”

The words aren’t exactly difficult to pronounce. They’re not complicated. In fact, next to “I love you” it’s probably the most important sentence in the English language. So what makes it so difficult for some people to say?

Through the years I’ve come to recognize several different avoidance tactics… Maybe you’ll recognize them too.

The first, and probably most popular, avoidance tactic is the guilt purchase in lieu of an apology. This is my mother’s go to technique. An example? How’s this…

Back when I was in high school my mom accused me of going on birth control without her permission. She was furious. She wanted to know where I’d managed to go to get on the pill and didn’t believe me when I told her I wasn’t. She swore up and down that I was having sex and swore that if I got pregnant, she’d disown me (yeah, that part I know she was exaggerating about…she’d never do that to me). It didn’t matter how many times I tried to defend my innocence. She was sure I was lying. Well, until my sister came into the room, grabbed the packet of pills she was waving around in my face and told her that they were her cleaning enzymes for her contacts.

You know teenagers…we feel things intensely. To say I was furious and wounded would be a mild understatement…especially when my sister vindicated me. I wanted an apology! So, I did what any loudmouth teenage daughter would do. I gave her the silent treatment. Hey, I’m not stupid. I knew she’d realize quickly that I was mad and hurt.

That evening, while I lay on my bed reading a book, she popped her head into my bedroom.

Mom: (Tosses cool black leather and silver metal barrette on the bed next to me) Hey Kitt. I went shopping today and bought this for you.
Me: (Head comes up from my book to look at her. Glares at her because I realized she didn’t apologize and feeling as though she’s trying to buy me off…because she is. Looks back down at the book. Not a word said.)
Mom: (Pretending nothing’s wrong) Do you like it?
Me: (Looks back at her, one eyebrow raised & shake my head as I look away again)

She finally walked away. I was determined not to accept the blackmail or her non-apology. After several hours of silence, she finally broke. She flounced into my room (yes, moms can flounce, too) and said. “Fine, I’m sorry. Okay?”

I looked up and smiled and said “Thank you.”

I won’t lie…I grabbed that hair clip and kept it after she gave her apology. No sense in letting it go to waste… And to be fair, I know my situation is not the norm…many people will just continue on with their business and never say the words.

The second avoidance tactic is the “Sounds like an apology non-apology”.

There was a guy I used to manage with. He was so proud of his “faux-pology” skills. He used to use it on customers a lot. An example?

A customer was frustrated with her treatment by one of his employees. She felt the employee misled her on her plan and how returns worked.

Him: I’m sorry you didn’t listen to your rep about the return policy.

or

Him: I’m sorry you didn’t think to read the fine print.

or

Him: I’m sorry you waited until two weeks later to tell me about how your rep treated you, now that you’re outside your return policy and my hands are tied.

As you can see…none of these things were real apologies. Nothing to validate their feelings.

All I could think was…would it have been so hard to tell the customer “I can only imagine how frustrated you’re feeling right now. I’m sorry you were made to feel unimportant. We value your business. Why don’t we take a look at this together and see what options and alternatives we can come up with”?

Somehow I doubt his customers were pleased with their service….or stayed very long.

The third avoidance tactic is where you tell someone that you love them, but never that you’re sorry. This is used most often on family. It’s very similar to #1, except that instead of blackmail with something of monetary value, you resort to twisting up emotions.

For example, you embarrass your significant other…maybe you lose your temper and yell at him/her in front of other people. Your partner is hurt and walks away. After you cool down you realize you might have overreacted. Instead of an apology, you seek him/her out and tell them “I love you”.

Courtesy of sweetstuffcalledlove.tumblr.com

Courtesy of sweetstuffcalledlove.tumblr.com

Two words. Two simple words… So why are they so hard for some people to say? How can accepting responsibility for injured feelings or poorly chosen words be so hard for some people? The funny thing is, many of these folks are sorry. They feel remorse for their careless/thoughtless actions…but they just can’t say it! Granted, there are those who refuse to apologize simply because they’re narcissistic enough to believe they’re never wrong…but usually that kind of arrogance spills over into every other aspect of their personality, making it a trait that’s fairly easy to recognize.

One thing I’ve learned…with love, there’s no room for foolish pride. Someone who loves you won’t take an admission of wrongdoing as an opportunity to browbeat you and hold it over your head. They recognize your willingness to humble yourself in front of them as a gift…and it strengthens your love and makes it easier to let go of hurts and move forward together.

When it’s left unsaid, resentments fester. Doubt creeps in. Feelings of inadequacy and lack of appreciation become so strong. All the good becomes overpowered by memories of every hurt and each slight. Yes, withholding the “I’m sorries” in my opinion, are just as dangerous as never saying “I love you”.

Before you ask… Yes, I’m well aware that there are also those people who overuse I’m sorry, but never mean it. But those people…their actions speak so loudly that they make it easy to walk away. The other ones, though…they devastate. You want to fight for your relationship. You try to fight. But after a while the battle feels one sided and you wonder if you’re the only one bothering. You begin to wonder WHY you try.

The words may be scary to say…especially if you’re the person who’s always held it back. But if you put yourself on that limb. Say the word. The rewards are so much bigger your fears. You’d be amazed at the difference it can make. Try it! I promise it won’t kill you.

What are your experiences with “I’m Sorry”? Which of these non-apologies do you see most frequently? Have you seen other avoidance techniques that we should be on the lookout for? Have you been the victim of this kind of hurt? How did it impact you?

In the meantime…I thought I’d share a little Elton John….

A Foundation Of Tears And Trust

Patrick Thomas from the first episode of The Voice does an amazing cover of Rodney Atkins’ song, “Invisibly Shaken”. The song resonates with me, and I really love Patrick’s pared down version.

What do you do when the your foundation gets shaken? Sometimes it may be a relationship, like in the song. Sometimes it can be a crisis of faith. Maybe it’s not your faith being tested, but your sense of belonging. Maybe it’s a loss or upheaval in your family. Regardless of the circumstances, we all have those times where our internal strength gets tested.

“God will not test you beyond what you can bear.” That’s the promise God gives us on 1 Corinthians 10:13. But there are moments, aren’t there? Moments when you wonder if that’s really true? For some people it can be an untimely or unexplainable loss that brings on the crisis. Cancer, accidents, violence…things that happen way too often. Or maybe it’s just an incongruity.

Have you ever walked into a church, heard a message…maybe through the preacher or through the songs and hymns being sung…but the message sent by the behavior of the members, or even the minister didn’t match? Were you that person who felt unwelcome? Unaccepted? Unloved? Unimportant…even in God’s house?

It’s a challenge, isn’t it? To hold on to what you know is right and good and faithful when everything around you is shaking and crumbling? I often wonder if this is how my sister-in-law felt when she was told that her only son, my nephew, had committed suicide. I knew it destroyed my husband, though he wasn’t my husband yet. It was also his first close, personal experience with loss. I know so many of us asked the questions that Blaine Larsen asks in this next song.

Sadly, often when we ask those questions, all we come up with are more questions. Many either question God as to “why?” or even “where were you?” or “How could you let this happen?” Everyone’s ability to cope is different. The pressure point can vary from person to person. No matter how strong a person is, there IS a breaking point. What I’ve learned through life is that we were NOT meant to live it alone. God sent us each other to push through till times get better. Things that may not seem like much to you can be the thing someone uses to hold on and pull through. Oddly enough, it was my experiences with my brother that prepared me to help him and his family during their time of grief.

I was 15 when my brother died. I’ve talked about him before, so some of you even know the circumstances surrounding his death. I was a freshman in high school. Moved to a private church school, I didn’t feel very welcome. Most of these kids had been together since kindergarten, and I was the new girl in.

No one made it easy for me. In fact, girls being what they are at that age, all but two of them had decided they hated me on site. The one had grown up with me, and had been one of my closest church friends in our younger years. The other found out I grew up like a sister to the boy she had a crush on and hoped that being nice to me might get her a date with him. The guys? At first they were very welcoming, excited to have “fresh meat” in the classroom. It all changed when they realized I wasn’t really interested in dating. My brother had just died, we’d moved neighborhoods, moved schools….been taken away from everything that was familiar to us. Dating was the last thing on my mind! Coping was the best I could hope for.

Something happened about a month into my stay at this school that changed everything. School had just gotten out and an impromptu softball game had broken out at the baseball field across from the school. Fingers wrapped in the fencing, head tipped up to enjoy the sunshine, I stood, enjoying the last of our Indian summer day when I heard footsteps approach.

Turning, I saw an underclassman friend from church. I smiled, “Hey! How are you?”

Hoisting his foot up to rest it in a fence rung, he nodded. “Doing ok. I hear you’re really popular, though.”

Confused, I turned to face him completely. “Popular? Me? I hardly do anything.”

“That’s not what I’ve heard,” he said, tone sympathetic. “I’ve heard you’ve had a new boyfriend practically every week. I just thought you should know.”

Suddenly, I wanted to throw up. “It’s not true.”

“I know that.” He shuffled his feet. “The damage has been done though.”

Nodding, I headed for the bleachers and grabbed my books. “Thanks for the heads up.”

Without any effort on my part, I’d become the school slut. While I’m grateful to my friend for warning me, any sense of welcome I might have felt from the few people who faked their friendship to me was gone. Dried up with a few pointed words.

I didn’t want to go back. Part of me wanted to lash out. It was all so unfair, but what could I really do? I couldn’t tell my mom. She was going through enough! This was her second son she’d lost. No parent should have to go through that. I didn’t want to burden my little sister, though I was pretty sure she had been hearing the rumors about me too, by then.

If there’s one thing I have in spades, it’s pride. I would not ever give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry. So the next day I walked in to school, determined not to show any sign of weakness.

God has funny ways of giving us gifts in the midst of these painful times, though…if we just look for them. Mine came in the form of a boy, two years younger than me. I’d met him on registration day, but he was shy, so I spent more time talking to his older brother. This day was different. He walked right up to me.

With a bashful dip of his head, hazel eyes looked up at me through a fringe of thick, dark lashes, “Hey.”

Surprised, I smiled. “Hey, you!”

He reached out for my hand, sliding something small in it. “I just wanted you to have this. It’s nothing much.”

Looking down, I realized he’d given me a class picture of himself. By the time I brought my eyes up to say something, he was gone. I lifted the picture to look more closely. Flipping it over I found this message: “If you’re missing your little brother, and you need one, I’m here.”

Even at that age I was floored. What a kind and generous offer to make someone you barely knew. Still determined not to let anyone see my tears for fear it would be interpreted as a sign of weakness, I calmly walked into the girls washroom, entered a stall, locked the door and sat on the toilet. In that safe place I let tears of gratitude flow at his compassion.

In two days I felt like I cried a million tears…some filled with pain and anguish, while others were of gratitude, healing and catharsis. Looking back, I think it was these days that cemented the importance of tears for me. It’s always found a way into my poetry. For me, I realized that without the bitter tears, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the sweet ones.

Since those days I’ve realized something about God’s promise and me. When those hit come and drop me to my knees, there’s a reason. First, he wants to remind me to call on him, to lean on him. Second, he rarely answers with the loud roar we seem to expect. Instead, he answers with a soft whisper, sometimes carried on a gentle breeze, other times through a simple gesture from a friend.

Our problem is that we’re so busy looking for the roar, we completely miss the whisper. Then we turn to him and blame. How much easier would it be if we just asked for his help instead of demanding it? More than that, how often have we been the mean, catty person? How often do our words have barbs, designed to cut and hurt someone while we excuse our own behavior because of some slight (real or imagined) that they’ve committed against you? How do we know that these people haven’t been sent there to teach us lessons in kindness or patience or tolerance? Those kinds of responses are easy. Taking the high road when you have no reason to? That’s hard, but you never know when your simple kindness may change someone’s life.

I Bled For You

First and foremost, I want to say Happy Veteran’s Day. If you are a Vet and have served for your country…regardless of which country it is, know that I appreciate you and the job you did. I am sure it was not easy.

My blog posts the last couple of days have been fun and sexy, so I felt I needed to give notice…this next post is in honor of Veterans Day and is a little bit different. I was compelled to write a short story this morning. Most of you are well aware that the military is near and dear to my heart. Having grown up a child of the military has opened my eyes to all sorts of experiences and opportunities to really appreciate people and different cultures.

If you were ever made to feel that your contributions to our freedoms were not appreciated or respected, please know I appreciate you and the freedoms that you’ve enabled me to enjoy. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. We’ve had so many wars lately that many have not always agreed with. You were doing your duty and your obligation…regardless of whether you agreed with the reasons or the politics. You didn’t deserve to get caught in the crossfire. I’m sorry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He was tired. Mentally, emotionally. The weight of guilt and grief and anger were a heavy mantle around his shoulders. Today when his little girl came home in tears because of him had been more than he could take. Feeling like a failure, he’d gotten into his car and drove.

Pete knew he should have probably let his wife know he was leaving. She would worry. She was a good wife and didn’t deserve all the hardships and sacrifices she’d been forced to face, mostly alone. He just couldn’t help himself. After looking into his 6 year old girl’s tear stained face and coaxing the story out of her he’d needed an escape. He didn’t want her to see the rage that was floating close to the surface.

Looking around, he found himself in the middle of nowhere. Up ahead, to the right, there looked to be an old abandoned church. The tiny building with it’s dark wooden doors flung open seemed to beckon him from the road. As he pulled up and put his car into park he noticed the decay. Tall weeds surrounded the building everywhere except along the rubble path and the steps made of carved gray stone. The white paint curled and chipped with heat and age.

Stepping out of his vehicle he looked up at the little cross at the steeple. He walked carefully up the steps noting the cobwebs in the corners of the door jams. Although the doors were open with welcome, it was obvious to him that no one had been here in a long time.

He contemplated the dark, scarred wood that made up the cross in the front of the sanctuary. His feet led him forward, down the aisle. Stopping at the second pew, he glanced down. They were in good condition.

“What the heck,” he thought to himself as he sat down, “I’ve got nowhere to go anyway.”

Gazing up at that cross he started talking.

“I didn’t ask for this war. I believe in this country and what it stands for. I enlisted hoping to better myself. I wanted to provide a better life for my wife and my daughter.”

He laughed bitterly. “Little good that had done,” he thought. That same little girl that he’d wanted to give the world to, whose birth he’d missed because he’d been deployed, was the same adorable face that had looked up at him, eyes swimming in tears.

“You look like you’re in a crisis of faith, son,” a voice came from beside him.

Looking over, he saw a gentleman sitting beside him. He must have been so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear the man join him. In coveralls, little chips of wood and sawdust in his dark brown hair and clothing, the man was fairly nondescript. Pete figured he was probably a carpenter.

He tried for a friendly smile, but only succeeded with a grimace, “It’s been a rough day.” He snorted softly as he rolled his eyes, “Who am I kidding? It’s been a rough few years.”

“Care to talk about it?” The man asked warmly. “Sometimes it helps to tell a stranger.”

Pete didn’t trust easily, especially after the welcome he’d received when he’d gotten home from overseas. This war was doing some crazy things to this country he loved so much. Something about this man called to him.

He found himself speaking, “My six year old came home from school today, crying.”

He swallowed hard, blinking back tears of his own as her precious face swam into his memory, “She was playing with the neighbor kids in their yard when she overheard a couple of the parents talking. One of the parents said that they thought it was ridiculous that we were even in this war. That our soldiers were out there murdering innocent people for a selfish cause that nobody agreed with. As other parents nodded agreement someone else added that they couldn’t believe that soldiers just went along with it. According to these people I should have voiced my disagreement and insisted on coming home.”

Pete ran his fingers through his razor short hair and looked into the sympathetic brown eyes. “They never considered the damage their hurtful words would do to those innocent six year old ears.”

He huffed out a breath, “Who am I kidding? I doubt they even cared. I came home from the war to be greeted by picketers, hate and angry words. Why should they care about how their words affect my wife and daughter?”

“Only your wife and daughter?” The man beside him asked, eyebrow raised in a very astute question.

“No,” Pete answered. “Not just them. I left today because I was so filled with hurt and rage. I didn’t even tell my wife I was leaving. She’s probably worried sick. I didn’t want them to see me that way! I feel betrayed! I serve for love of those same people who hurt my daughter. Who mocked my trip home. I’ve done it so they can enjoy their lives. Enjoy their freedoms. They don’t know. They have no idea what I’ve seen. What I’ve heard so that they can taunt me and make my daughter cry. I still hear the explosions in my head. The screams and chaos that follows never quite go away. I carry it all with me. In my heart. Scarred on my soul.”

He looked at the kindly stranger whose face was filled with such understanding, “Part of me wants to scream at them. I bled for you. I died a bit for you. Don’t you see I do this for you? How can you turn away from me so completely? How can you make my wife and child so sad for love of me?”

The man gently put his arm around Pete’s shoulder. “I know how you feel. It’s not easy to be turned away by the people you love so much. When all the things you’ve given up or missed seem unnoticed and unappreciated. Hang in there. Give them time. One day someone will realize what you’ve done and how deeply you loved them. Go home to your wife. Your daughter. Give them a hug. They love you.”

With that little bit of wisdom, the carpenter stood up and walked away.

Pete thought for a moment about what the man said and turned around to thank him for his kindness. The man was gone. As he looked back toward the cross, prepared to head back home, he looked up again. For the first time he noticed Jesus. He shook his head. He didn’t remember him being there when he first walked in.

Shrugging he walked to the car. As he pulled the car back onto the road he realized three things. First, the guy on the cross had a very familiar face. He looked an awful lot like the guy he’d been chatting with. Second, as he thought back to that man, he remembered the scars he’d seen on his new friend’s wrists. Third, those voices in his head had stopped screaming for the first time in years the moment he’d entered that church.

He bowed his head for a moment to say thanks. Someone understood his sacrifices all too well. It was time to go home.

~~~~~~~~

The life of a soldier isn’t easy…not on them, not on their family. Here’s a song for those still in service and overseas.

And for this country that I love…