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 these last couple of weeks, 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

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. 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.   Join me on this crazy beautiful artventure.  

Comments (106):

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.

Dave Bernstein on

Thank you for telling your story. Your guidelines on what to teach my kids are perfect. I encourage you to publish then in other forums for fathers to use. For example — never, ever have drunken sex with a first-time partner is such a specific, easy-to-follow rule to remember.
I wish I’d had them from age 17 to 24 and not have to second-guess if I was pursuing someone too hard or not hard enough. And wish I’d had them 10 years ago when my first daughter went through her teen years.
But now I’ve got detailed examples to give to my next teenage daughter and also for my adolescent son. They’re straight-forward enough to have a conversation that, while inevitably uncomfortable just by the nature of the subject, won’t make it THAT uncomfortable.

Paul on

Thanks so much for writing your story. I’m having a daughter in six weeks and I’ve been unsure what I can and should say to her, so it’s really helpful to read your words about exactly what you think should be said from a father to a daughter!
And I’m sorry for Chet’s comment, I think they’ve missed the main message of the piece.

65 and they're all gone on

Dead anonymous,
I’m now 65and my phone no longer rings. It’s been about fifteen years since I’ve “Put out”, and that’s what I now call it! You so eloquently wrote my story. I, even as an adult, thought when a man wanted to sleep with me he loved me and we would eventually marry. I was very, very, wrong.. I now have the best relationship I have ever had with Jesus Christ, and as for my family? It’s huge!!! I have the entire body of Christ! God is good! Praise God!!! 😊

Chet on

You start off well when you say you don’t intend to blame men for all your bad choices. But then you proceed to blame men for all your bad choices. When a male and female, both equally drunk, have sex, while is it that he is violating her but she isn’t violating him? And are you sure it is ALWAYS rape when someone over 18 has sex with someone under 18? Was I supposed to break up with my high school sweetheart (who was 2 years behind me in school) on the day that I turned 18?

The teen years are a confusing time for boys too. They don’t always know how to use their voices yet either. Taking responsibility for their own choices is hard enough, they shouldn’t have to take responsibility for girls’ choices too.

Zainab Umar on

I feel sad. These painful experiences and feelings are not the kind of life God-Our Creator wants for us. That is why He tells us not to open doors that lead to messy lives. But most of us think we can live well without His Wisdom and Guidance. How painful are the consequences! Nevertheless, as long as we are still breathing, it’s not too late to change our lives for the better.

Charis on

Wow. I could of wrote this. If I was articulate enough to get it out. I’m crying. My daughter is 15 and my son is almost 13. I’m 41 and still struggling to say no. To anyone. Still struggling with the ghosts. What is happening right now is like opening up an old wound. But honestly that wound has never been healing. I’ve always been ashamed of my past, my decisions, myself. I should have said no louder. I shouldnt have drank so much. Maybe if I didnt dress the way I did. Maybe if I didn’t need to feel wanted and loved so much. Why??? Now I just want to hold that sad, lonely girl and tell her it’s okay. She is enough. I just a very emotional talk with both of my children together about consent and saying no and everything you described. I will have many more talks. As awkward and as uncomfortable as they get I’m going to. They unfortunately or fortunately are watching their mother heal, whether they know it or not yet. Thank you! I was pretty amazed to see you live in the Rogue Valley as well. I know a lot of people are gravitating into our lovely little valley. I hope you love it. I grew up in the mountains of Phoenix/Talent. It’s very beautiful.
Blessings & thank you again.

Margot on

That was such an evocative article. When I look back on those days- sexual education was not easily available, the 60’s and “free love” continued long until the 80’s and sexual mores were dictated by Playboy and Penthouse on to the porn industry. Men were taught women were objects, sex was free and culturally women were taught their value was less. The strides the feminist movement made in the 60’s gradually became eroded. It is time for change- parents, both fathers and mothers, need to be open and speak to their children. Gender neutral and accepting education needs to be available in the schools, and blended into the curriculum. After all, this is really about respect and anti- bullying. I don’t believe much will change until we as a society begin to speak the same language. This transcends racial and religious boundaries and is all about power. Information is power, let’s give that knowledge and power to our youth- male, female and all the variations in between.

Peggy Spinks on

Omg. Thank you for writing this. I have struggled for years to find the words to tell people what i struggled with as a pre teen (12 years old) as a teenager and as an adult. I was sexually abused as a very young child and honestly never knew saying no was an option. I was so afraid of guys and tried anything to please them and to make them like me. I struggled with drugs and alcohol from 12 – 17 and other self destructive/ self harming behaviors. I am now 42 and still struggle with disappointing others and standing up for myself. I am definitely sharing this article . Thank you for finding the words and the courage to put this out there.

Joseph Slott on

It isn’t only that our culture gives men permission to take advantage of vulnerable women. Our culture also gives the message to young men that they are less of a man if they don’t “get laid” or “get any”. And the more notches on your belt, the more of a man you are. I was a confused young man. I ponder the origins of such misguided messages.

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marigny goodyear art quadrant to do listAn example of my quadrant to do list, which I make first thing, every morning.

I am a huge dork that gets shit done.

I'm sure you're wondering where the hell this topic is coming from, so here's a little context:  I had a whirlwind of emotional months leading up to the Kavanaugh hearings which sparked my letter, I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past, which as you are most likely aware of by now, went viral.  The aftermath brought correspondence from people all over the world who shared with me their thoughts on the topic, and stories from their own pasts.

Last week, I told you how I escaped to Las Vegas for a break.  I worked my butt off prior to leaving and finished 35 little Reclaimed Heart paintings, which I'm going to offer during my locals' holiday sale, and my December online Pop Up Shop.

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marigny goodyear art all the lists
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I am a huge dork, who gets shit done and then needs to stop and cry.

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I am a huge dork, who gets shit done and needs to stop and cry in order to realize that I what I really need is to go surfing.

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The holidays are a stressful time. No matter how much joy they bring, they can also bring overwhelm.  We need to make sure to give ourselves a break this holiday season in order to practice good self-care.  So, take care of yourself and do what you can to keep your head on. I had a little bit of a hard time finding mine this go round, so I recommend being proactive about it.

The lists will still be here when I get back, plus, I know that there is pie to look forward to next week.  So I'll surf tomorrow and then work my ass off again until Thanksgiving. Then pie...  Then a holiday sale...  Then an online pop up shop... Then Christmas...Ho Jeez.  Surfs up!  

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. 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.   Join me on this crazy beautiful Artventure to receive early access to my December Pop Up Shop, where I'll be offering some paintings from my Reclaimed Hearts series, one of which is seen at top. 

 

 

 

 

 

Las Vegas: An Extreme Change of Pace and Million Dollar Vomit

After a month of humbling, comforting and saddening correspondence regarding my letter: I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past, I simply needed a break.

Two weeks ago, I was still spinning from the reaction to my letter.  I went from being silent about my own issues as a promiscuous teen to vocalizing my experience to the world.  The response was staggering.  All of a sudden, I became a person that other women felt safe revealing their own secrets to.  I was told of others' similar promiscuous behaviors and stories of horrifying sexual assaults.  

While I was discovering that I wasn't alone, so were many others who read my letter.  All of a sudden, a veil was lifted and I became a safe ear for women to tell their own deep, dark secrets to.  I want to say, that I am glad to be that ear and I will gratefully continue to listen and receive.  However, it was WAY intense and something that I was not prepared for because, frankly, I thought that what I went through was kind of unique.  Man, was I wrong.

I was talking to my husband one afternoon and told him about the turn that all of this had taken.  I told him through tears that I was, "ready to think about nothing but unicorns and puppies for a minute."  His response was, "You should come with me to Las Vegas next week".  He had a trip planned that originally, I was not going to join him.  I'm not much of a gambler but a getaway with my man, a nice dinner and a show sounded like a good distraction.  

And so off we went.  My first discovery about Las Vegas was the amount of incredible art that is there!  I wandered through massive hotels, each one trying to out do their neighbors with spectacle.  I saw works by Henry Moore, Julian Schnabel, Frank Stella and James Turrell, just to mention a few.  The Chihuly installation in the Bellagio took my breath away, not to mention the amazingly explosive fountains out front. Wowsers.

There were so many choices of places to eat that I told my Hubbie that I wish I had four stomaches.  However, the eating came to an abrupt end when I got food poisoning that reared it's ugly head half way through my truffle tasting menu at the very fancy Le Cirque restaurant.  Thank God their five star bathroom is a single stall so no one else was subjected to my five star vomit.  

I must admit that I felt a twinge of guilt not checking my email to see if I had new correspondence from women who might have been waiting for a response. Also, it was very hard to see the billboards on trucks that advertised "Hot Babes Direct to You", rolling by every time I went to cross the street.  All of the women who reached out to me were still very much on my mind.  Now that I'm aware of the hardships that women have to endure, it is difficult to ignore it, especially when it was being shoved in my face on the back of a pick up truck.  

Now I'm back at work.  I'm in full preparation mode, making new art for the holidays and getting ready for my holiday pop up shop.  I can't help wonder if I'll ever be able to go back to just talking about painting and art and surfing and the ocean.  How do I revert back now that I'm being turned to as a person with a voice on the topic of sexual assault?  It seems insensitive to just change topics all together.  Honestly, it seems insensitive to be talking about the woes of Le Puke at Le Cirque.  

I suppose the only thing I can do is to just keep doing what I've been doing which is talking about my truth, my artistic process and the things I do to keep myself sane.  Last week, it was Las Vegas.  This week it's getting caught up on work and next week, hopefully I'll get some surfing in.  I guess I'll just take a lesson from my past and take everything one day and one topic at a time.  In the mean time, here is some eye candy from Vegas.  If you're having a rough day, I hope it distracts you with a brief moment of nothing but beauty and amazement.

Thanks for being here.  I hope I don't make all of this sound like a burden.  It's not.  I'm so grateful to be here with you.  

Marigny Goodyear Art Las VegasJust a HUGE dancing woman aside my hotel. For scale, my husband was standing up beneath her foot a second before this photo was taken.

Marigny Goodyear Art Chihuly Bellagio
The Chihuly installation as you walk in the Bellagio is stunning.  
Marigny Goodyear Art Chihuly Bellagio Las Vegas
Here's a close up of the Chihuly.  It was so vibrant and alive.
Marigny Goodyear Art Vending Machine
Yup...in Las Vegas, art comes out of vending machines.  
Marigny Goodyear Art new york new york las vegas
No, not New York, but the New York New York hotel on the Las Vegas strip.
Marigny Goodyear Art Desert Mermaid
I found the mermaids in the desert.  They greet you when you enter the Mirage.
Marigny Goodyear Art Le Cirque Bellagio fountains. 
Our five star view from our table at Le Cirque.  I got to enjoy it for a second.  The photo at top is me under the big top at Le Cirque.  Million dollar vomit happened shortly after that photo was taken.  So freakin' embarrassing.
 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. 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.   Join me on this crazy beautiful artventure to receive early access to my December Pop Up Shop where I'll be offering some paintings from my Reclaimed Hearts series, inspired by the power I took back by publishing my letter, I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past.

Forgiveness, Acceptance, and the Crazy Path to Getting There

It has been two weeks since my essay, I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past, went viral, and I have experienced a serious internal shift.

Two weeks ago, I shared my biggest secret with the world, and a change has occurred within me.  I feel different. I look in the mirror and I look different to myself.  I'm not sure I can give this change a name, but I can give you a few examples of what's happening:

 

I stopped crying.  I cried multiple times a day, everyday, in the month leading up to my essay.  The day I posted it, I was in tears as I hit the publish button, and then again each time someone commented, shared or sent me a message.  As the support came in and women started sharing their own stories, I knew that I had done the right thing.  I cried a little here and there over the days that followed, but then, all of a sudden, I stopped.  Maybe I was just cried out, but I don't think so.  

Something happened within me when the men started sending me messages.  They were saying the most beautiful, supportive things to me, and they were expressing gratitude to have new tools to use while talking to their own children.  All of my hesitation and fear lifted.  The men had my back and the women were holding me in their arms.  I, for the first time in my life, felt like I had a place in the world and that all the fear that I had been holding onto had actually stopped me from truly engaging with life, and that time was over. 

My anxiety is easier to shut down than it used to be. My normal run of the mill anxiety attacks were like slow rolling trains.  They started slow and gained speed over a day or two and then barreled down upon me. It would take everything in my arsenal to get them to go away.  Usually that would mean a few days of practicing extreme, disciplined self care before the train would finally crawl to a stop.  

Now, I'm finding that when the anxiety creeps in, I am quickly reminded that I have already told my deepest darkest secret.  There is nothing left to hide from.  There are no other skeletons remaining for people to find out.  That thing that I was the most afraid of, and felt the most shame around, is out.  Not only am I being supported, but I'm being told that I am not alone and that I don't have to feel shame anymore.  As soon as I remember that, the anxiety lifts and I am left with a clarity that I have never felt prior.

The trolls don't bother me. These fuckers. I am one of the most sensitive people I know, who has historically taken EVERYTHING personally.  One reason I was terrified to share my secret is that I wasn't sure that I would be able to handle any negative feedback that I received.  In the past two weeks I have been called a whore, told that I am the worst kind of person, and that I've most likely already ruined my daughter's life. 

Funny thing is that I DON'T GIVE A SHIT.  The trolls actually make me laugh because they think they're hurting me.  The fact is, what they have been throwing at me is nothing compared to the horrible way that I used to talk to myself.  Sorry trolls...you haven't even scraped the surface of what my self-hate sounded like.  Good luck topping that.  

"The men had my back and the women were holding me in their arms."

As cliche as it sounds, I feel lighter, as if a weight has been lifted.  Fear has been greatly reduced.  Negative self talk has stopped.  Sure, I still feel doubts about my decision, but I realize that is just habitual fear creeping in.  When I think about my new found clarity and the response to my essay from others, that fear dissipates.  

We've all heard before that the truth will set you free, and I think I believed that.  I mean, once I admitted to being an alcoholic, I felt what power the truth can have.  But this feeling...it's as if the root of all my anxiety and self loathing was revealed.  It had been hiding deep inside me, entangled in a jungle of denial, humiliation and complacency.  All I had to do was tell that part of myself that it was ok to come out. Maybe over the past five years since I quit drinking, I have been building up the strength.  I'm not sure.  It was just time.

There have been moments in life when everything shifts, and an internal power is shown.  I have been given permission to reclaim my power and now, that power is creating change. I am finally getting to know my true self, and for the first time, I am able to understand and forgive myself.  I realize the root of my feeling like I could never do enough and that everything was always my fault, was based on me feeling that I was 100% responsible for my promiscuity during my teen years.  Crazy, huh?

I would like to say that I believe I do hold some responsibility for my past behaviors, but I have worked very hard, for quite a while, to understand what exactly that means and how I can make amends.  I now know that the person I needed to make amends with the most, was myself.  My essay was the path for me to do that.

And now, I am feeling verklempt, and so for the first time in a few weeks, I shall excuse myself for a good cry.  This time it's tears of joy, freedom and gratitude. The other kind of tears have had their time and that time is over now.  I will not waste anymore time talking to myself like I'm a horrible person.  I will no longer sit and feel as though I am the most worthless person in the room, all the while hiding behind a smile and feeling afraid that I'm going to be "found out".  No more will I think to myself that I don't deserve anyone or anything good in my life.  That's all bullshit.  I am finally welcoming myself to my life.  It's about time I showed up.  

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. 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.   Join me on this crazy beautiful artventure to receive early access to my December Pop Up Shop where I'll be offering some paintings from my Reclaimed Hearts series, one of which is seen above (in progress).  

Reclaiming My Broken Heart

My blog post, I Was A Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past  has gone viral, and the response has been intense.

"Thank you for publishing my story."

"You are me."

"You just wrote my story.  Thank you for putting it into words." 

"Are you sure you're not me?"

These are some of the comments that I am getting from women ALL OVER THE WORLD.  As of today, 10/19 at 4:50pm PT, my letter has been viewed over 123,000 times in 187 countries.  Women are thanking me for articulating feelings that have been tormentingly wordless.  A church in Arizona is making is a educational brochure from it for their members.  It is being shared in grief and PTSD groups.  Wow.

And the men!  Oh the men!  Here are a few of their comments and messages:

"I have been talking clearly to my own boy.  Your words here add so much to the conversation."

"Your story gives me a perspective to share with [my daughters] I could never give them on my own." 

"It has caused me to think about how and when I will talk to my kids." 

I take great comfort in the women's reactions in that I know I am, and never was, alone.  However, I find great sadness that this is a weight that we have all had to bare for so long.  The messages from the men give me hope that change can be made. 

Other topics of conversation have also been brought up.  I have had one man question his own defensiveness to my letter and another who shared that he was bullied in high school for not pressuring girls to have sex. I have had women say that what I'm implying is that only men can have sex for pleasure, while women have to have love.  One thing is obvious...there are a million avenues of discussion surrounding this topic that we could go down.  

Right now, I'm pretty humbled, overwhelmed, exhausted and excited about the attention that my letter has received...and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.  In fact, that number just keeps moving faster every day.  Yesterday it hit 31,000 views just for the day.  Today, it's on target to pass that.  Just incredible.

I began a new series of paintings yesterday.  Starting with torn hearts that I plan on reassembling on canvases.  I truly feel as though I have reclaimed my heart and my power, and I no longer feel terrified of this part of my past.  Although, I must admit that me being known best for what I once saw as the most humiliating part of myself is the Universe operating on a whole new level of irony.  

We need to keep talking, sharing our secrets and burdens.  It is time to let go of the self loathing, self blame and humiliation.  If I had any doubt before, I now know that we are not alone and I am positive that speaking our truths really does lead to freedom for ourselves and real change in our world.  Freedom is ours.  Let's take it.

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. 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.   Join me on this crazy beautiful artventure. 

Moving Towards Understanding: Communication is Key

Right now, I must express myself or I may implode like an overdue time bomb. 

It has been a crazy couple of weeks for us all.  I could just say that it's been a hard couple of weeks for me, but every woman that I speak to seems to say the same thing.  Without sharing my most overwhelming feelings right now, which are frankly too confused to put words to, I'll just say that it is so important now more than ever, to support the women in your life.  Ask them how they're doing.  Listen without interruption.  Respect their challenges, past, present and future, without judgement.  We need each other's humanity now.  

This is seeping into my work.  As both a distraction and a motivation.  I want to be strong and grow past this rough moment in my own story.  I want to be a voice that helps to allow others to feel brave enough to use their own.  I want to fight until there is no more of this particular flavor of internal pain, and replace it with knowledge.  Do I know how I'm going to do this?  Not at all.  But just by starting the conversation, I feel I am doing the right thing.  

We should all be sharing our past, present and future with each other. We have more in common than we think.

And maybe that's the how:  by simply starting to talk about it.  I have to be honest...right now, the thoughts are hard to organize.  I often feel paralyzed by the overwhelming amount of thoughts that enter and exit my brain at a rapid fire pace.  I promise to be less vague as I learn more.  But right now, this is all I can offer.  It is all I have.  Just a vow to figure the shit out for myself so that I can share it with you.

And so I paint without parameters.  Just let whatever wants out, out.  This has always been my best form of communication anyway.  And I surf.  Paddling out into surf that is bigger than I'm used to surfing.  Getting my ass handed to me by the waves and then getting right back onto the board, paddling even harder.  To prove my strength to myself.  I am strong.  I am diligent.  I want to learn.

And I'm seeking help to put some order into the chaos that my brain is currently hosting.  In my case, this means visiting my therapist.  Sometimes, I need guidance.  And that's ok too.  Now is the time for me to practice more self-love and compassion than I was giving myself yesterday.

Whatever gets you moving in the direction of understanding, do it.  Whatever allows you to forgive yourself, don't hesitate to dive in.  Whatever support you need from your loved ones to move through this space, ask for it.  Because I guarantee, if you start talking, they will too.  Take care of yourself.  Be kind and gentle. We are the voices of change and no longer will I choose shame over change.

Painting at top is Reflections, 24x24, Paper Clay & Acrylic on Canvas

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