I Was A Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men From My Past

From the time I was 13 on, I was a promiscuous teen. 

I’d like to say that at some point I learned from my mistakes, but after listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony during the Kavanaugh hearings, my past came barreling back into the forefront of my brain and it is clear to me that the behaviors I learned in my teens never really ended.  They went with me into my 20s, 30s, my marriage, how I parented my daughter.  It’s all right there in front of me now.  Like a glaring light that I just realized has been on and blinding me my whole life. 

 

Dear All the Men from My Past,

 

Before your instinct to defend yourself kicks in, it is important for you to know that I don’t blame all of you.  I have no desire to live in anger or point fingers.  That is not the purpose of this letter. 

 

Please read the above sentences twice…a few times maybe.  It’s 100% true.  However, do not confuse my desire to live at peace free from anger as my saying that you are negate of any responsibility…there are many of you who I do blame and hold responsible. 

 

Some of you took advantage of a young girl with a substance abuse problem.  Some of you were older and thought because I looked and acted older than I was, that it was ok to have sex with me.  At least that’s what you said to me:  “You’re so mature.”  Is that how you justified yourself?  Truth is I’m not too sure what would make an 18-year-old have sex with a 13-year-old, or a 19-year-old with a 14-year-old, or a 24-year-old with a 15-year-old.  Does it matter to you what the age differences are?

 

Or those of you who took advantage of me when I was completely inebriated.  Mornings when I woke up in an empty bed without pants on, not even really sure who had been in the bed with me.  Those of you who took me out and drank with me to excess and then thought it ok to have sex with me, leading up to moments of my coming to, alone in a room at a party, not really sure what had happened at all. 

 

Some of you I cared for and was desperate for you to care for me.  Some of you, with whom I shared a mutual sexual desire (or at least as much of one that a young teen can have and understand), I had fun with, only to realize that was all it would ever be.  And some of you actually cared about me. Whatever the case may be, past sexual traumas have been shoved in all of our faces these past few weeks, and many of us are reeling from things that we haven’t thought about in years or maybe just swept under the carpet and thought that it wasn’t a big deal, unaware of the daily emotional strife that has been caused from it.  I’ve heard situations described that I have experienced in my past, now talked about as violations…and it never occurred to me that they were…until now.

 

What I want you all to know is that it is a big deal.  It has had long lasting ramifications on my self-esteem, my decision making, and my sexual and mental health as an adult.  I may not blame all of you for the past, but if another generation of men are raised thinking that this type of sexual behavior is ok, that’s a problem, and one that I do put directly on you.  And if another generation of women are raised not knowing how to use their voices, that’s an issue as well and one that you also have a responsibility to rectify.

 

I was a very confused girl who wanted attention and love.  Rarely did I say no.  Rarely did I push you away.  If I started to say no, I was easily swayed once a bit of pressure was applied.  The fact is, I didn’t feel like I could say no.  That saying no meant never having love.  That it was better to just let you do what you wanted rather than say no.  That the way to get love was to be amenable.  The way to make you stay was to put out.  But none of you ever stayed.

 

The reason I don’t blame all of you is that we live in a society where I unknowingly was taught to please men and where men (perhaps at times unknowingly as well) have an expectation of women being agreeable to meeting all of their needs without argument.  Were my parents direct messengers of this?  No.  But it was all around me.  In magazine images, TV shows and movies.  The realization that one of my favorite John Hughes movies portrays date rape never occurred to me until someone wrote a blog post about it last week. 

 

We are being told about blatant attacks, horrendous sexual violations where women feel their lives are in danger, and this type of behavior is obviously abhorrent in a black and white sort of way.  However, there is also a huge gray area that needs to be discussed, where women may be confused and not communicating what they feel deeply because of social and sexual pressures.  I wanted you to like me.  I wanted you to love me.  I wanted you to be there and “no” just didn’t seem like an option to get to that outcome.  It is important for you to know that I was a terrified girl looking for approval.  Is that sexy for you?  To know that I was most likely full of doubt, self-loathing, and terror when we had sex? I sure hope not.  In your defense, I will say that I never let you know.  I never learned that it was ok to use my voice, and it’s something that as a 42-year-old woman I am now having to deal with. 

 

What you did has had a long-term effect on my life.  I have had to fight back from a debilitating alcohol problem that increased greatly during my teen years and didn’t stop until I was having suicidal thoughts in my mid-thirties.  I still live with daily anxiety battles and grapple with depression at times.  We are now learning that these are all issues that women who live with past sexual trauma are more likely to have.  And think about this: we are also more likely to pass these horrible behaviors down to our own children.

 

So, men, here is what I am asking from you:

 

Talk to your children.  Talk to them about sex. Awkward as it may be, it’s only awkward because we make it that way.  If they are old enough to ask the questions, they are old enough to get honest answers.  Tell them the ways you got it right and the ways you got it wrong. Admit to your mistakes so they know it’s ok to admit to their own. 

 

Tell your boys that if they see a girl drinking heavily throughout the night, it’s not ok to have sex with her, period, even if they’re drinking with her.  Tell them that if she’s under 18 and he is over 18, no matter how mature she is, it’s rape.  Teach them about what actual consent is and how consent can be sexy because it creates trust.

 

Teach your boys that cornering girls in parties and trying to forcibly kiss and/or touch them is wrong…yes, even if the girl has a reputation for being "easy".  Tell them that if a girl says no and then yes, or yes and then no, that there is conflict brewing inside her and that if there is conflict, sex is not an option. There must be clarity in consent before sex.  And please tell them that a proper response to a girl saying yes and then no is NEVER, “can I just finish?”

 

Teach them that it is not ok to expose themselves to anyone unsolicited, EVER.  I didn’t grow up with cell phones but in this case, I am also talking about sending unsolicited photos.  Teach them that while engaged in sexual activity, consent needs to be ask for again before trying new things.  Teach them about healthy sexual trust and that the real way to please a woman sexually from the beginning is by building that healthy foundation.

 

All of these things happened to me, most of them more than once.  I was a troubled girl and that led to me being a troubled woman for a very long time. I drank and didn’t say no, but that doesn’t mean that any of this was ok…and I am slowly learning that it doesn’t mean it was all my fault.  I was a child when I learned these behaviors and they carried into my adulthood.

 

I also want you to talk to your daughters. Tell them that no matter what, having sex, allowing touching, kissing, oral sex, whatever it may be, none of it will lead to love.  None of it will ever make boys stay. That love and trust leads to sex, not the other way around.  Tell them that having sex while inebriated can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and confusion, and to make it a rule for themselves that when they are drinking, sex is not an option. 

 

Tell your daughters that if they ever feel pressure to do something that they are not comfortable with, to use their voice because they hold more power than they may think.  Teach them that they should be as loud as they want when saying no.  That if they feel discomfort in a situation, even if they can’t pinpoint exactly where the discomfort is coming from, that it means something is not right, and therefore it is not the right time to engage in sexual activity.  It is ok for them to leave the situation.  It is ok for them to defend themselves.  That the fact that they “put themselves in that situation” does NOT make it all their fault. 

 

And make sure you are clear that whatever boy makes her feel pressured or uncomfortable is NOT a good person and will never make a good partner because in reality, he doesn't care about her, he only cares about finding sexual release.  And it is of the utmost importance that your daughters hear this from YOU, their fathers.  They can have these conversations with their mothers as well, but hearing it from the most important man in their life will make a huge impression.

 

In my case, having sex never made one of you stay, it just meant that you would tell your friends that I was an easy lay.  I would be so happy when one of you would call and ask to hang out, and I can still feel the desperate humiliation of that translating to being brought to a remote place to have sex in your car.  Time after time I allowed this to happen.  I was frozen in fear.  Is that what you find sexy?  A young girl too scared to move? 

 

The thought of my daughter having to go through what I am now going through makes me want to vomit.  It should upset us all, including you. I pray that you see the problem and talk to your kids.  I hope that you, the young man who took advantage of a much younger and troubled girl, look at your own daughters or nieces or cousins or step-daughters when they are 13, 14, and 15-years-old and think to yourself, “That’s how old she was when I fed her drinks and slept with her”.   Is that sexy now?

 

We all have to take responsibility for our own part.  I have been dismantling my past behaviors for the 5 years that alcohol has no longer been in my life.  But now, over the past couple of weeks, I have relived all of it including an intense deluge of the shame, guilt and humiliation which I have unknowingly been living with every single day since I lost my virginity, drunk at 13, to an 18-year-old. I feel this. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Have you felt any of that?  Have you thought back on your own behaviors and felt a crushing sense of pain?  I’d like to think that some of you have, but I have a feeling that you have not thought twice about it or me, and that has to change.

 

It is time for you to see what this behavior does to women.  It is time for a change to be made.  I have to find a way past the shame, guilt, and humiliation, which has now turned into anger, sadness and exhaustion.  It is time for you to pitch in and do your part.  So, will you?

 

 

Sincerely,

A Promiscuous Teen

Pictured above at 16-Years-Old

 

*UPDATE*

Thank you for your emails, DMs and comments.  You have all made me realize that I'm not alone and, sadly, that my story is not unique. In reaction to the incredible response that I have received from all of the world, I created a series of paintings called Reclaimed Hearts. These paintings are dedicated to you.  It's never too late to take your power back and love yourself.  Click here to see the series.

 

Thank you to Geoffrey Riley and the JPR team for interviewing me on this topic. You can listen to that interview by clicking here.   

 

Thank you to Paul Gilmartin for having me on his podcast, The Mental Illness Happy Hour.  An interview on the popular podcast with host, Paul Gilmartin, where I read my essay discussing gray area issues like consent, alcohol, objectification and trading sex for love, attention or to avoid abandonment. You can listen by downloading the podcast app or going to: https://mentalpod.com/archives/5168.   

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.

Comments (115):

AnonWoman on

Reading some comments and as always many men refusing to recognize the damage many males do. It’s always the woman’s fault. You’re rotten humans.

Honestly, men will never change. Rotten men never take reaponsibility for they’re crap. Treating anyone like a sexual object is wrong even if she or he allows it. This may sound absurd but men can say no to sex, they don’t have to have sex just because they can, they don’t have to go after the easy chick, etc.

AnonWoman on

In reply to MAn_1975, for the most part, this an issue thay many girls and woman have to deal with because many heterosexual boys and men are sexual predators or selfish. I’m appalled you, as a man, even wants to usurp our struggles and has the audacity to shade the author because you, as a man, feel excluded. You are once again showing how selfish many men are, and to be honest much of this sexual deviant behavior that women, especially, are victim to is because of how selfish males are allowed to be in society. Stop trying to make this a general problem rather than what it is, a problem thay many young girls and victim have to deal with simply because we are women. When you are looked at and preyed upon as nothing more than a sexual object simply because you’re a girl or woman, there is no denying that it is a gender issue. This does not negate the fact that anyone can suffer sexual trauma, but it is a truth that should never be clouded.

It’s truly disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself. No woman would dismiss what you have been through as most of us have dealt with it yet I refuse to allow the few to cloud the suffering of what many young girls and women have been through simply for our gender.

Susie on

I’ve had a friend in middle school and high school. She was sexually abused by her father at age 11. She turned to drugs and alcohol and became very promiscuous even at one point contracting chlymidia. She would often brag about using guys and string them along and how she can make them fall in love with her. Flash forward 20 years later and she is a social worker Still heavily using alcochol and drugs and refuses to take responsibility for any of her past actions. It’s so easy these days to just blame all your bad decisions on men. She broke a lot of hearts and took quite a few guys v card and emotionally traumatized many of them with her antics. It’s not always black and white is what I’m getting at and the “victim” cannot dump all responsibilities for their poor choices.

MAn_1975 on

Hi. I found your text by coincidence. I don’t know where this tendency woman have to think that their experiences are exclusively related to their gender. Look. I’m a man and I look back at my promiscuous teenage years, from the age of 14 when I was raped but soon discovered that I wanted more of that where it came from, to hook ups, old men, Arab asylum seekers, to finally finding some stability in a father figure, forgetting myself in the process of surviving. Then I read your text, which reminds me of myself, only to find that you exclude me from your narrative because I’m a man and apparently a potential abuser. Reality is far far more complex than that. I’m sorry that your life story hasn’t brought you to that insight, yet.

ConcernedMamaInCA on

I was very touched by this. Have discovered my 18 y.o. daughter (now freshman away at college) has been promiscuous since age 15, as well as indulged in vaping and alcohol. I struggle with the best way to help her as she is far away at university, I don’t want to control her but help her to not continue making poor choices. She is smart, talented and very beautiful, but has weak boundaries and low self-esteem. What can I do to help her? Some of her rebellious behavior is acting out—-as her father and I have had a troubled marriage. While she is legally adult, she has a long way to go before she is an adult making responsible choices.
I pray for her to get to a place of understanding that sex and drugs are not a way to gain personal self-esteem.
Note that she has mild ADHD, and some anxiety/derealization.

Vermithrax on

Your list of suggestions has one important mistake: You should teach your sons and daughter the same. i.E. your sons have the right to no as well and girls must understand that not means no as well. And no girls aren’t allowed to take advantage of a drunk boy as well.

Luke on

Let me get this out of the way—yes, BigTea, a 24-year-old man shouldn’t have been messing around with a teen girl. If he knew (we aren’t clear whether he did) then he was very scuzzy for what he did. But the author isn’t just complaining about being taken advantage of by older men—she seems to believe that even the boys her own age who engaged in consensual sexual relationships with her were somehow victimizing her.

To the author; I’m sorry—Mr. 24-year—old notwithstanding—I didn’t read a story about a victim. I read about an agent—a girl who dished it out as well as she took it. A girl who may have been used at times but who also used and then tossed aside her share of guys. A girl who was ultimately the author of her own world who now as a 42-year-old woman denies that she made choices and instead wants to play the put-upon damsel.

You say that you’ve suffered low self-esteem. Well I have good news—and this is sincere—I hope that will improve and it can. Self-esteem is far more fluid and dynamic, less deeply entrenched than we’ve often been taught. Self-esteem is basically just the reputation you have with yourself, with your own internal audience, and your internal audience can’t be fooled. Your internal audience knows you made your own choices. By facing that and taking responsibility for it I will submit that you’ll be on the path to a better reputation with yourself and a better self-esteem.

Bigtea on

To all the YouTube people. Honeybadger Allison is a nutcase. Expecting a 13 to 15 year old to have the experience to stand up for herself when confronted by adult (remember these men are 18 to 24) is unfair. These men are completely in the wrong.

Allyson on

I’m not alone in this painful nightmare anymore.🙏

Erin on

Thank you, thank you for this. You wrote the piece I wanted to write, but much better and more powerfully.

Marigny Goodyear on

Hi everyone. Thank you all for your comments. I am unable to reply to anyone individually due to the way my blog is formatted but I so appreciate all of your comments and support. Love and light to you all.

Paula on

Wow very powerful words. I’m pleased that your’re now starting to find your feet and your voice. Sexual abuse generally occurs at an age where the child is very young and is craving love and attention and is therefore easily swayed to believe that their abuser (normally a relative or close family friend) is actually providing love, attention and is appreciating them. However, as the child matures and gains some understanding as to what actually occurred – the toxic shame and self blame has the propensity to settle in deep to the core, due to the social taboos and ettiuette our culture has had in place. This in turn, for the most part is likely to be transmuted into teenage promiscuity, but really it is most likely to be what is called “revictimisation”. It is the subconscious minds’ attempt to recreate it’s connection of love and feeling wanted – even though this connection is untrue but it has already been conditioned and connected.

On a conscious level we know in our heart and soul that this is not the case and definitely not the outcome we desire or want. This is where drugs and alcohol step in to drown out the nagging conscious thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, it’s purpose is a double edged sword – upon quietening our conscious thoughts and feelings it gives the subconscious mind the upper more benevolent hand and it will twist and distort our conscious view of ourselves once sober. This ensures the continuation of the downward spiralling effect of substance abuse and dependancy, until our soul has had enough and the suicidal ideation creeps in. It is this point where we decide to exit or to expose and fight our demons. This is when we grow and blossom and we need to find a way to reach this point sooner rather than later.

You are not alone in your quest. There is probably more like you and I then there is not, unfortunately. Hopefully in the not too distant future it will be the other way around. It is fortunate that the social taboo surrounding sexual abuse and unwanted sexual acts/attention is changing, but the onus of proof still falls upon the victim. One wrong date, time and/or place and the abuser walks free. Thank you for sharing and helping to give others the opportunity to self reflect and to grow from your story.

Kennedy on

That was a hard read. Much of it was exactly my story. Thank you for having the guts to put it out there. I see you have already gotten the standard loser dude comments. So predictable.

A on

You are so brave. This is a huge issue for boys and girls all lost without proper, caring, honest, guidance and lack of connections or even understanding when faced with making poor decisions or the resultant deep emotional distress. This article will enable many to open a much needed conversation with their teens. As a teacher and a mother I thank you so much. As a human being with a mixed bag of experiences, I thank you for the most vulnerable parts of my being. You have made your mark on the world with your generosity and honesty. Be proud of that – it should help to lessen the pain of bad memories because you have turned it around. It made you who you are and has helped many no doubt.

Stephen on

Thank you for this eloquent, personal call for action. As a parent and at work I am fortunate enough to be in the position of educating people about what you raise here. To me this is the social issue of our time. For those who may struggle to understand the problem of sex with underage girls / young people, try removing sex from the issue, and see this as a form of bullying /physical assault, and a clear example of someone abusing their power over someone who is weaker. To understand power imbalances, imagine a grouo of adults using fear and violence to get a person to work for them for free. Fundamentally and utterly wrong. That’s why sexual assault with minors is illegal and in my jursisdiction comes with a max. 14 year jail term.

Leann Trowbridge on

Thank you so much for this. I have been unraveling similar experiences and their consequences this season, as well. I was incredibly lucky to stumble into ranks with the riot grrl and punk post-feminist movement in college and became politicized early. Recent events have shown me that I still have lots to learn at 45. I also have two daughters, and will fight as hard as I can for them to find the voice I didn’t have as a teen. Sending love to you and your family.

Stephanie on

Oh how I wish I was as brave and courageous as you are. You have written a story so similar to my own. The shame and guilt for needing love from a man so desperately that I would never say no. Thank you for sharing your story.

A Guy That Made Mistakes Like Yours on

“that whatever boy makes her feel pressured or uncomfortable is NOT a good person and will never make a good partner because in reality, he doesn’t care about her, he only cares about finding sexual release”

This is as damaging as the logic which landed us in these positions. I associate with in more than a few ways, but I was doing it for almost all the same reasons so be careful with that shaming. you do admit and quite a few places that your motivations were off, but that statement doesn’t leave room for anybody else to be guilty of the same, at least not anybody of the male sex and that you would qualify it as a gender issue at all is also a bit shortsighted in this context though I get where you’re coming from and I can’t imagine how hard it was to put this together so thank you for doing it.

sarah on

This article helped me come to terms with my own sexual assault. Thank you for articulating what has been pushed down and never dealt with my entire life. This article has given me so much peace and closure and allowed me to start healing. Thank you.

San on

Hi,
I’m also going to have my grands read your article and will have a discussion after.

Thank You,
san

San on

HI, Thank you for sharing your process on this life experience and how you are healing and discovering more about yourself. Our society needs to treat male, female individuals with truth honesty, information about self care – love, sexual safety with ourselves, others. I have male , female grandchildren, and have conversations with them about interactions with individuals , use correct book topic about sexuality, anatomically biological pictures. Talk about addictions, alcohol misuse, along with other interests, coping skills, what makes a person choose the drug of choice to calm the pain, insecurity that they feel. We need both sexes to appreciate and get along discuss, trust , develop friendships to stop the way we stereotype male, female roles that haven’t worked . Teenage years are tumultuous have conversations , get to know their friends, parents of their friends, be the adult they can confide in.
Thank you for sharing, starting this conversation we can change 1 person at a time to make this world a better place to live in.

SB on

My life is a shadow of what it could have been because I was afraid to say “yes” well into adulthood. Women “give”, more specifically, “give up”, and men “get”, and I couldn’t handle being seen as conquered. I lived the much-less-bad, through-the-looking-glass version, and that’s why I believe every word you wrote.

Men are barely trained to take responsibility for their own actions, much less anyone else’s. They really do not understand what it’s like to be held responsible for how people see them or treat them because they haven’t been marinated in it.

Chet’s comment made me glad that I don’t know him, but it was nothing we haven’t heard before. Minimizing and dismissing the chasm that lies between 13 and 18 does nothing to curb naive predators. What you wrote here will actually help. Thank you.

Alice on

Thank you so much for sharing this. I too was a promiscuous teen and was looking for love in any way I could. I have felt tremendous shame about the way I went about it. I never knew that I could say no. It is all coming up again with Kavagnaugh and the #metoo movement. I take responsibility for my choices and try to forgive. It does effect my everyday life in sub conscious ways and I struggle a lot.
Excellent suggestions for men to teach their sons and daughters about consensual sex. I hope more fathers take this into account. Thank you again for having the courage to share this.

Michael Arkin on

Wow, that was powerful! I’m so sorry you have suffered so.

Sex is such a complicated subject. I agree that taking advantage of a girl made vulnerable by alcohol or drugs is wrong. It is damaging and hurtful. It is abusive.

Do you know that young men are also vulnerable. Many think that sex means love and that they can’t get love unless they are bonding through sex? Do you know that some of us never felt love from our parents? Many parents are addicted to substances, have mental illness. Maybe were never bonded to their parents. Maybe sex has been the only bonding a vulnerable Guy has ever had

No matter who I had sex with over six decades, it never stuck. No woman ever stayed with me emotionally forever. After all, I never learned relationship skills from my parents. All I ever had was sex and we know sex is only part of the glue.

I don’t want you to think I’m a great guy. I did some bad things – treated some people wrong ( maybe not as badly as you were treated but badly nonetheless). I regret those bad things but
I can’t go back and change them

So what did I do? I managed to figure out most things by the time my second family came along. I taught my children well. They have shown me they were
Listening by living the lives they do.

Bless you for sharing your story

Michael

Rob on

If you are going to teach out sons the above lessons, also make sure to teach your daughters to fight their instinct to date hypergamously. One of the side effects of the feminist induced breakdown of the family unit, and thus the hookup culture, that the author bemoans above- is that women tend to date high status men. This allows a smaller proportion of alpha males to get sexual access with a lot of women, and then women feel used when those men don’t stick around. Female vanity is the reverse side of the coin of male aggression, and society is better off for keeping both in check.

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It’s showing up places where I’m normally fine…like on my daily walk when a damn cat scared the crap out of me by simply moving.  I’m having trouble making decisions, and I when I finally do make one, I obsess over if that was actually the right decision to have made. 

I’m so tired of my fear right now.  It’s like having another person in the room with me at all times, making me doubt my every move.  And when I say “every move”, I mean EVERY MOVE. 

I question the Netflix show I’m watching.  Deciding whether or not to eat a sugary treat is filled with terror and then fear gives me more shit even after I eat the damn treat. 

Should I surf?  Should I not? Should I hang out at the beach?  Should I be scared my kid is hanging with her friends? Am I washing my hair too much?  Blah blah blah blah blah.  It’s never ending.

 

I know I’m a capable person, but this fear thing, it seems to always have its claws in my shoulder, forever holding me back.

 

And it’s fucking exhausting.  It makes me feel like I’m broken.  I am forever jealous of people who are sure of themselves.  Why can’t I seem to believe in myself and my decisions.  I know I’m a capable person, but this fear thing, it seems to always have its claws in my shoulder, forever holding me back.

I feel like I’m in my own way most of the time.  I think that one reason I was feeling just fine when our county was being asked to stay home, is because the amount of decisions to be made was forcibly reduced.  All of a sudden, there were way less options.

Now we’re in a weird kind of limbo, waiting for more freedom, or for it to be taken away again…. We’ll see which way it goes.  And you know what causes my fear to blow up?  Uncertainty.  There are too many “what ifs” right now, and my anxiety loves a good “what if” party.  The fun never stops.

I feel like I’m driving my family crazy because if I had my way, I be just fine isolating for the foreseeable future.  I don’t even need an end date.  I work from home.  I love cooking food for my family.  I now know that I love freezing food so we always have something for dinner out of the freezer.

I built a veggie garden.  I finished my back yard, and I now absolutely enjoy doing my computer work outside on the patio.  My work has changed with all the other changes happening, and it’s fun to see where that’s all going. 

But I worry.  I worry about my friends and family who are chomping at the bit for things to “go back to normal” (whatever the hell that is). My parents are diligently isolating and disinfecting everything that comes into the house.  I worry that the steps they are taking don’t matter if all of us aren’t taking the same steps.

 

 I’m scared that the life we have all worked so hard to build is crumbling away.

 

And FINE. I’ll admit it.  I worry about getting sick.  I worry about anyone I know getting sick.  I’m petrified that I could be actually walking around without any symptoms, infecting others.  I’m scared that my art biz won’t survive this.  I’m scared that the life we have all worked so hard to build is crumbling away.

I’m sick over the fact that my daughter has decided to not go to college in the Fall.  Not because I want her to go, but because I know that she REALLY wanted to go, but she doesn’t want to risk having to move out of the dorms in October because of a outbreak of Covid-19.

I’m sad that she’s missing her high school graduation and I’m finally ready to admit, that I’m also extremely sad that I’m missing her high school graduation.  She’s my only kiddo.  That was my only chance to see that.  I cried when I returned her text books and picked up her cap and gown, which we’re still not sure that she’ll get a chance to wear.

 

I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.

 

I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.  Everyone I know seems to have different opinions on how we should be responding right now.  Very few agree on all points.  It makes me question myself more, even though I feel strongly and surely about what I believe.  What if I’m the one that’s wrong?  What if, what if, what if….

My husband keeps saying that we have to live our lives.  Yes, I agree…and no I fucking don’t.  Are we so singular that we have to keep living our lives, or is it ok at times, to take a pause for the greater good? 

I’m scared that I have had a more peaceful time than I’ve had in years, just by staying home.  What if home is where I prefer being?  Would me wanting to simply be home more effect my relationships?

Aw crap.  There are a lot of questions in this blog post.  Sorry, but that’s all I have to offer this week. 

But maybe you could help me.  In the comments, I’d love to know, when you feel fear starting to take over, what’s one thing you do to keep it at bay? 

I’m going to go walk to visit my friend’s horse today and try to do a few sketches.  Don’t worry, I won’t be touching it as horses scare me…are you surprised?

 

The painting at top is Psychedelic Sea Stars, 8"x10", Acrylic on Canvas, framed in a black natural wood floater frame.  My surfboard collection makes me happy and reminds me to go with the flow and ride the wave that's in front of me.  For more details and purchase info, CLICK HERE.

 

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

 

 

How Not to Punch Friends Who Think the Pandemic is a Conspiracy

Mask or no mask?  Social distancing or hugs.  To vaccinate or not. If we thought we were a culture divided before, now we have more differences to add to the list.

 

Are you one who is listening to the recommendations of the scientific community, or are you following your own guidelines?  For me, I’ve been pretty good about doing what is being suggested. 

One of the biggest challenges for me during all of this uncertainty, is feeling how I feel about how we should be acting within our communities, while having to deal with the fact that not all of my family and friends feel the same way.  In fact, I seem to be in the minority. 

Now, I could totally spend my time this week ranting about why I think my point of view is the right one, but to be honest, that does absolutely zero good.  I think in all of the posts I made on social media encouraging others (especially surfers) to stay home, I made one couple change their weekend plans. (Thank you, Alice.)

Of course, that was back in March, and now it’s May.  Things have changed.  But exactly how much they’ve changed, and what is looming around the corner is yet to be known.  One thing we all seem to be able to agree on is that we don’t know what will happen next.  Only time will tell. 

 

We have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.

 

But while we’re waiting, it seems to me that we have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.  So instead of ranting and raving, let’s talk about two things that are infinitely more helpful: Acceptance & Flexibility. 

My daughter got hired at a pizza joint two days before the school closure happened.  Within 48 hours, she lost her senior year of high school, and the new job was questionable…accept that it wasn’t. 

When the pizza guy discovered that my kiddo was wanting to work, he was ready to schedule her.  That was at the beginning of April, right when we were being told that, “the next two weeks are going to be pivotal”.

She came to me wanting to work.  I asked her to please wait the 2 weeks, kind of hoping that she would lose interest.  No such luck.  At the end of those 2 weeks, she asked to start work again.  I was against it. 

Problem was my husband supported it and my daughter obviously wanted to do it.  I called her Dad down in New Orleans for back up.  Certainly, he would support my position as he lives in a hot spot, but nope, he supported it too. 

Totally outnumbered, I had a decision to make.  I could dig my heals in, pitch a fit, stand my ground, and insist that she didn’t work.  I could then deal with the aftermath of anger, disappointment, and depression that living in isolation was causing, especially for the teenagers.  Or, I could compromise.

 

Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated. 

 

Oy…not an easy compromise for me.  We made a deal.  While the pizza joint was requiring employees to wear gloves, masks were optional.  My deal was that masks are not optional for her.  She has to wear one.  We also created a checklist of things to do when she gets home from a shift.  Her close and mask go right in the washer. Shower immediately. Wipe down doorknobs and whatever she touched on her way in...

She wasn’t thrilled (mostly about the mask), but agreed.  That was about a month ago.  Now the restaurant is requiring all employees to wear masks (thank goodness), so she doesn’t feel so singled out anymore, and she loves the job.  She has been working her booty off and looks forward to her shifts. 

All better, right?  Not quite.  I still have to live with being uncomfortable about it all.  Now I’ll admit (and you know) that I have an anxiety issue.  Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated. 

 

All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.

 

And that brings me to my point.  I can’t help feeling frustrated.  I can’t help that I feel disappointment in that many of my friends and family are making poor decisions (as I see it).  I can’t help that at the root of these poor decisions, I see selfishness.  It makes me sad. 

But there’s how I feel, and there’s how they feel.  All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.  I also ask that they be flexible and respect how I feel, and they do.  

We are all trying our best to stay true to ourselves and supportive of our loved ones. I think that this may be one of the big lessons of the pandemic.  That we can feel differently and yet still be one community.  But it does require some give and take on both parts.

I had to call a friend out yesterday because I witnessed him give another friend a hug and then encroach on my space to get an elbow bump.  Aren’t elbow bumps like so 2 months ago?  I got pretty turned off and retreated to my own space.  He sent me an email saying he hoped he didn’t bum me out with his encroachment.  I replied honestly that he did and I explained why in detail. I also told him I loved him dearly.

I think the best strategy right now is to keep on stating how we feel and then accept the fact that we may get a statement back that is the complete opposite.  Because really, if we zoom the lens out, this is definitely not the first thing that we have disagreed about. 

 

Don’t react.  Respond. I'm working on it.

 

I will admit that it was easier before when most controversial topics paralleled one’s political lines, and we as people seem to congregate with those who have the same views as our own. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the pandemic. 

It’s a real mixed bag, and we either have to be ok with that, or live in a state of anxiety and frustration, and that will do nothing but lead to massive amounts of resentment.  I really don’t want that to happen. 

For me, I have to stop before I react with a bunch of yelling word vomit that begins with, “What the fuck is wrong with you!?!?”  I sit for a minute and think about how I feel, and how the other person feels, and how I can best respond to what’s happening.  Don’t react.  Respond.  I’m working on it. 

So, don't punch your friends who think differently than you do.  For one, you would have to touch them for that!  Instead, practice patience and openness...and wear your own mask and wash your own hands as much as you want.

I’d like to know from you, how you’re dealing with your loved ones having a different perspective from your own.  Gracefully?  Not so gracefully?  It’s all ok.  We have to start somewhere. 

 

In the comments below tell me if you’ve been reacting, or responding to those with different views from your own.  

 

As always, I believe at the root of everything is love.  I wouldn’t be so worried if I didn’t have so many damn people in my life that I love.  I want us all to be safe and respected, and at the end of it all, I want us all to still be friends. 

 

 

The painting at top is Soaring Heart 10, 6”x6”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  
Pelicans soar just inches from the water, in long single file lines.  Each one using the energy from the ocean waves and the bird in front of them, to effortlessly fly without even having to beat their wings.  We must work together and respect the fact that we have the ability to lift each other up simply with our own energy.  Be kind to one another.  For purchase information CLICK HERE.

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

Pandemic Life: Finding Excitement in the Little Things

Outdoor visits with friends.  Reduced house wipe downs.   Hair washing every other day.  These are some of my new favorite things.  It’s amazing what we can get excited about these days.

 

Today I am filled with gratitude.  Part of that has to do with a conversation I had yesterday with my dear friend, Tamiko, who lives in Boston.  She aptly described the situation in Boston as “a shit show”.  No one wearing masks or practicing distancing. Crowds of people are walking on the river without a care in the world. Grocery stores have never quite been restocked since the beginning, and now there are restrictions on meat.

Last week, I talked about learning new things about myself during this isolated period of time.  Tamiko said, for the first time ever, she could see herself living in a smaller more rural community.  One with less people that is surrounded by farms. I get it.

Each day, I find new reasons to be happy to live where I live.  Because of how isolated we are, in general, the effects from the pandemic are “lighter” than in say, a place like Boston.  That is something to be grateful for, right there. 

But this week, I’d like to talk about how humorous I find the things that we get excited for, when we are living more boring and restrictive lives.  A few days ago, I had a friend over for an outdoor BYOE coffee date (Bring Your Own Everything).  Oh, to have company come!  You’d think I was getting ready for the first guest I’d ever had in my life. 

Yesterday, when my daughter came home from work she asked me, with exhaustion in her eyes, if she still had to wash her hair after every shift.  We decided that, at this point, every other shift would be ok.  She left the room fist pumping saying, “And we’re easing, and we’re easing…”  I’ve never seen her so happy about something so…well…uninteresting.

But that’s the world we live in right now.  We are lucky to be where we are.  If we lived in New York or Boston, there’s no way she would even be working right now.  

 

Ah the adaptations of the quarantine.

 

Last night, she went over to her friend’s house where they recently built a new outdoor space to hang out in.  Ah the adaptations of the quarantine.  She left the house with the same look in her eyes that I last remember seeing when she got her driver’s license, and was pulling out solo for the first time.  

I have also spent time on my outdoor spaces, and I’ve been hanging out there a lot.  It’s like discovering a new room in your house.  There is just so much “newness” right now.  Each time I get frustrated about not being able to do something, I think of something we’ve implemented that we’ve never done before.

For example, I have a projector that I use for art projects.  Now I’m thinking that outdoor movies sound like a great idea!  Just hang a sheet and put out some socially distanced blankets and chairs.  

 

I can’t wait to see what’s lifted next or what new activities we can engage with.

 

I can’t wait to see what’s lifted next or what new activities we can engage with.  I’ve never gardened much before.  In fact, I always though gardening was kind of a bore.  Well, you should see my backyard.  It’s so pretty now!  I can’t believe it took a pandemic for me to finish it.

In a way, we’re getting to know ourselves all over again.  I mean, we live our lives in the manner that we do in part because of how the outside world dictates we do things.  I’ve never really thought about that before, but now, it’s hard not to see.  And the interesting part is that we’re watching this “new normal” grow right before our eyes.  

Maybe we’ll get drive through movie theaters back.  Maybe we’ll be seeing the musicians we love continue on in more intimate ways, as they share acoustic sets from their living rooms.  Maybe we’ll learn how to comfortably sit still for longer periods of time.  

It’s hard to know, but what I do know is that I never thought I’d see a day when my kiddo was totally stoked because she can now wash her hair less.  I also recognize this feeling of anticipation in my belly.  It’s one I’m familiar with because it is one of my anxiety symptoms. 

 

I’m working on feeling excitement about the anticipation instead of anxiety.

 

However, after being just fine and (mostly) stress free from simply hanging at home, I’m working on feeling excitement about the anticipation, instead of allowing it to fill me with worry.  It’s harder for me to worry about the future when I don’t know what it looks like (ain’t that a life lesson…we always never know what it’s going to look like...).  Don’t get me wrong, I can find stuff to worry about, but what’s the point right now.

All my worries are on the “what if” train anyway.  The only place that train is going is to anxiety central.  I don’t think I’ll get on it.  Instead, I’ll keep coming up with the pearls of this situation and feeling excitement for our new world.   So, pump those fists.  There is light in sight.

In the comments below, tell me one thing you got excited about this week.

 

The image at top is Sea Plants 1, 12”x312”, Acrylic, Paper, and Water Color Crayon on Birch Board, natural wood floater frame included. Take a good look, then close your eyes. Can you remember what it feels like to float on the surface of the water? Sea plants drift back and forth with the current and catch the sun in reflections of the water.  The ocean sway that remains calms my anxious heart.  For more information and to purchase, CLICK HERE.

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

How the Easing of Restrictions is Causing My Anxiety to Surge

One minute I’m in my kitchen just cooking away.  The next, I’m doubled over, yelling into my hands, trying to expel the anxiety that has collected in my chest. (Don’t worry…I washed my hands afterwards.)

 

Do you know what it’s like to feel absolutely fine one second, and the next, feel like you are exploding out of your skin with every emotion in the book?  Welcome to my Monday afternoon. 

I have been doing so good.  I have been holding myself together and (should I even say it?) have actually found some pleasure in the simplicity that isolation has brought.  I haven’t had to question what to do next within my day to day.  I’ve been cooking, cleaning, working, building a garden, tending to my yard, making art, and taking care of my family.  Life is full.

 

Monotony has its perks.

 

As much as I long to make it to the beach to surf, I must admit that not having to prepare for long weekends, and instead, spending those weekends tending to my home and family have felt, in a way, rather liberating.  There’s no juggling of schedules.  There’s no cramming two days of work into one so I can surf when the swell calls.  Everything has just slowed down.  The clearness of the days is bright.  Monotony has its perks. 

Then, over the past couple of days, it seems that things are beginning to ease up a bit.  In some states, beaches are opening and non-essential businesses are being given the green light.  Good news right?  Well…not for my anxiety.  Yesterday was my first true attack since this shit started. 

 

All of a sudden, tears exploded from my eyes and the sound that escaped my throat was something that can only be compared to terror mixed with extreme dread. 

 

I was in my kitchen making banana bread for my Mom and salads for the week, when it hit.  All of a sudden, tears exploded from my eyes and the sound that escaped my throat was something that can only be compared to terror mixed with extreme dread. 

All of the windows and doors in my house were open, and I hope I didn’t scare anyone walking by, but it could not be contained.  It was fast and furious.  I went from fine one second, to standing up crying, to doubled over yelling within two seconds.  And before I knew it, it was over.

When it happened, I managed to notice a few things.  One is that in my head, for the first time during an acute anxiety attack like this one, my brain activity went from a million topics at once to one: “It’s ok, Girl.  This will pass.  Don’t hold it in.  Let it out and let it out good.”  That’s about when the howling started.

I also noticed that it was one of the first times since we have been self-isolating, that I was home completely alone for an extended period of time.  Being alone gave me the freedom to let it out as it needed to come out.  I didn’t have to go run a shower and cry all quiet.  I could let it rip and man, did it ever.  Short, but intense.

 

I realize that the easing up of restrictions, and the invitations that followed, actually created more stress and anxiety than staying home has.

 

I realize that the easing up of restrictions, and the invitations that followed, actually created more stress and anxiety than staying home has.  Within two days, I had been invited to Costa Rica (for June) and found a loop hole regarding going to the coast to surf.  Normally I would be shouting with excitement about these two opportunities.  But not right now.

Right now, I’m understanding that the easing up of the lock down, and the options that are coming with that easing, is what caused my anxiety attack.  Not the lock down itself, but the possibility of being freed.  I have to admit that I may not be ready to be completely free.

 

I may not be ready to be completely free.

 

I guess this is where we are all going to have to make our own individual decisions based on our comfort level, and we should all feel completely ok with doing what feels best for us as individuals.  Members of our own families may feel differently, and that’s ok. 

This is going to be a practice in flexibility, tolerance, and understanding.  For me, I’m quite alright hanging around the house for another couple of weeks.  What I don’t want to be is part the reason for a resurgence of cases that spikes our now official state wide flattened Covid19 curve.  I want nothin' to do with that.  

I have finally gotten into a groove with work.  I’m exercising every day.  I’m meditating most mornings.  I’m making new art.  My backyard is finally completely finished with the addition of a raised vegetable garden.  In a way, I don’t want to go back to the way it was before.  The complexities of my pre-covid life was stressful.

 

I have to let this new normal bloom.

 

Things have changed for me, as it has for all of us.  But I find that I’m really quite ok with the changes.  I have to let this new normal bloom.  No resistance.  Spring is here in the Rogue valley.  It has been absolutely stunning. 

I have felt blessed during this time.  To be where we are.  To have the jobs that we do.  To be stuck in a house with people that I love and want to spend time with. I continue to focus on the silver linings and I don’t have any sort of grip on my past life, except that I really want to go surfing again soon.  Every day, more and more people feel safe doing so.  I’m waiting until I do too.

How are you feeling about easing out of this mess?  Scared?  Antsy?  Impatient? Excited? In the comments, give me one word that describes how the idea of no longer self-isolating makes your feel. 

  

The image at top is Heart Flower 7, 6”x6”, Acrylic and Paper Hearts on Canvas.  Just as Spring has sprung, we must let this new normal bloom. These heart flowers are a wonderful Mother’s Day gift.  Click here to purchase a one-of-a-kind Heart Flower painting for Mom by CLICKING HERE. I'll even write a hand-written Mother's Day card from you.

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.