Archive for the ‘commentary’ Category

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ~The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Why does she stay? That’s a question I ask myself so often when I read stories of women who have been consistently abused by husbands, boyfriends, or other men in their lives. And I honestly don’t think there’s one answer that stands up to scrutiny any more than the others. Every woman is an individual, and she has her own reasons for staying, but I can’t help but pose the question inside my own head anyway.

I saw this quote a while ago, and it resonated with me, about accepting the love we think we deserve. On some level it struck me as being brutally honest, for several reasons, but on another level it was an attempt at answering the question that keeps haunting me. Why does she stay? It’s quite possible she stays because she’s accepting whatever she thinks is the love he offers her, that she believes this IS love, even when he hurts her both emotionally and physically.

And I use the term “she” with a caveat, with a disclaimer that not all victims are women, but I come into contact with more of these issues involving women than anyone else. So I use the term, but I understand it’s not all-encompassing as it is. Nothing could be, though in this society we try to make everything fit. Regardless, these emotional and physical scars are everywhere, and those who inflict them often get off scot-free when it comes to getting a proper comeuppance, living to torture their victims another day. To think that victims believe this is love is beyond me, but it happens all the time, and it has happened over and over again.

These patterns are honestly depressing to see, but there is no end in sight. “We accept the love we think we deserve,” says more about our own feelings of self-loathing and poor self-esteem than they say about the other person. These other people manipulate us because they know they can, because they see in us these signs of low self-esteem and they prey on that. Shame on them. They say they love us, but they don’t know what love is. They only know how to pretend well enough to reel us in, and then they lower the boom, in more ways than one. Once we are caught in the web, it’s so incredibly difficult to extricate ourselves from it, because we become believers.

At least that’s how I see it. I could be completely wrong, but it’s what I see from those of my friends and acquaintances who have stayed, who have put themselves secondary to someone who is literally not worth it. The quote, to me, means that we, as human beings, can’t quite wrap our brains around the fact that we’re worth so much more than a punching bag, either emotionally or physically. When we have been neglected and cast aside it becomes easier to accept that any sign of interest on the part of someone else might be the only interest we will ever get in our lives. It becomes easier to accept it all, despite the warning signs, and throughout the relationship, even when the hard times come.

Why does she stay? She stays because she thinks he will change, even though she knows he won’t. He says he will change. He sometimes gets emotional and cries on her shoulder, and she thinks that’s a sign things are looking up, not the manipulative move it really is. Or maybe he honestly thinks he will change, but when faced with a similar situation in the future he simply goes back to his previous ways because they are hardwired into his brain. She stays because she believes in the goodness in him, despite the fact that he often shows her his negative side. She stays because she thinks she cannot find anything better, and she believes what he is giving her is what love looks like.

This is the love she thinks she deserves, and it makes sense. But it also makes me so utterly sad for her, for me, and for mankind, that this is what we think we amount to in the grand scheme of things, that too often we are belittled and taught to think we aren’t worth very much. We deserve so much more, every single one of us out here just wanting to be loved, to be appreciated, to be seen for who we are and embraced for it in a way we haven’t been before. It’s never enough just to settle, to give up essential parts of ourselves for people who don’t care, who just want to control us in a way we wouldn’t accept if it was anyone but us. But we often have blind spots when it comes to those who we believe we love, when it comes to those who have already broken our will, our self-esteem, and our emotional capacity.

She stays because she thinks there’s nothing better for her in this wide world. And that’s an absolute travesty.



Read Full Post »

sNDnYYZe_400x400I love riding in the car with Lexi because she’ll often say something unexpected, especially when I don’t think she’s paying attention. I should be used to it by now, but my firstborn still has a habit of surprising me. Last week I bought the new Taylor Swift album, and like a true #swifty I’ve had it on repeat at home and in my car. I knew all the song lyrics by Day 2, so I was singing along on this particular ride. Lexi was in the back, head buried in her book, but apparently she can multi-task because she looked up and said:

“Dad, is Taylor Swift married?”

“No, honey, she isn’t.”

“Oh, good. Because I was thinking all these lyrics would be strange if she was married.”

“What do you mean, Lex?”

“Well, I mean she’s talking about being up in the club talking to boys and stuff, and I was thinking if she was married that wouldn’t be a good thing.”

“You’re right, Lex. But she’s in her 20’s, and many young people these days do what’s called dating around.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means she goes out with a boy on dates, and that’s how they figure out if they want to take their relationship further.”

“So she goes around with him? Is that why it’s called dating around?”

“Um, no. It’s because she’s dated a lot of guys that way, to see if it works out, but it hasn’t, not to this point anyway.”

“That’s why so many of her songs sound like she’s sad?”

“You got that right. Or upset. Think about ‘Shake It Off.'”

“Oh yeah. [Singing] ‘I go on too many dates. But I can’t make ’em stay.'”

“She’s talking about ‘haters’ saying she dates a lot but no one seems to want to settle down with her, to get married or something like that.”

“Dad, do you think she wants to get married?”

“Probably. Someday. But right now I think she’d just like to have a long term relationship and see where it goes from there.”

“It must be hard to be famous. People talk about everything you do, and everywhere you go, and everyone you do stuff with.”

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to be famous. Well, not that way anyway. I would want to be ‘book famous.'”

“What does book famous mean?”

“It means I would love for everyone to want and buy my books, so my books would be famous, but I could still go and do things without people trying to take my picture.”

“I don’t like people taking my picture either.”

“I guess I just value my privacy, and when you’re someone like Taylor Swift you really don’t have any privacy.”

“Is that maybe why some of these boys don’t want to date her anymore? Because they want their privacy back?”

“Wow, Lex, that sounds like it might be a reason. I think one of them was a musician and he was jealous of her popularity so he broke up with her. Jealousy is never good.”

“Yeah, I read about it in my books all the time. It never leads to anything good.”

“You got that right. You should be happy for other people and the praise and attention they get, not upset because you don’t have that praise and attention.”

“It must be hard to be Taylor Swift.”

“I imagine it would be. But at least she gets to do what she loves.”

“Date around?”

“No. Well, yes, but that’s not what I meant. I meant she gets to write her music, to sing her songs, and to perform in front of audiences all around the world.”

“That’s cool too. Rainbow Dash can do a Sonic Rainboom.”



Read Full Post »

“If I see everything in gray, and in gray all the colors which I experience and which I would like to reproduce, then why should I use any other color?” ~Alberto Giacomettii

I often like to think of things as black and white, as if things are clear when they’re not. I often like to imagine there are two roads that diverge and that I have to pick one path. Anything else is just too convoluted for my brain to process. But that’s not how the world works. Things aren’t always black and white. In fact, things are rarely black and white. This world operates in shades of gray that are many and varied.

When I was a kid I remember my dad telling me the world was what I made of it, and I recall thinking that just didn’t sound right. For one, I noticed the world was moving on regardless of me, despite what I did to make it stop so I could examine it closely with my magnifying glass. For another, I saw that there were bad things in the world that kept on happening even though I wished it some other way. The world wasn’t what I made of it, any more than an ant disturbing an anthill. I could make my paths in it, but the dirt would eventually fill in again in my wake.

I don’t even remember when I met my first white person, but I do recall thinking their skin wasn’t as flawless as I thought it would be. They weren’t perfect reflections of the driven snow, and neither was I so different from them. Not really. Not where it really counted. And yet there was that division, as if we were indeed diametrically opposed just by sheer force of nature. I remember thinking then that I must be missing something, that I had been led astray by word of mouth, by overwhelming acceptance of a truth that wasn’t true. When I asked about it, my dad told me that’s what he meant when he said the world was what I made of it, that I had to see with my own eyes instead of believing the collective consciousness of others.

I haven’t learned much from my dad in my life, I’ll admit, but that is one that has stuck with me over these 40 years of life. The idea of seeing things with my own eyes before making up my mind, the thought that not everything is as plain as others make it out to be, that is priceless. Of course back then I didn’t see it. My adolescent brain went the complete opposite way, instead making things black instead of the pristine white I had thought it all fit into previously. To me what he meant was that the tiny sliver of the world I had seen was the way the world was. It wasn’t until much later that I realized he meant instead that I shouldn’t judge just based on my limited world view. That I should add to that world view, that I should make it individual, that I should keep adjusting my view based on each and every situation.

Or maybe he didn’t mean that at all. I’ve never really asked him about it. Perhaps he meant something entirely different, that he wanted me simply to not be so pompous about my own ideas. But I like to think he was warning me about compartmentalizing, about placing things in little boxes and thinking they would stay there for all time, letting them decay in places where they didn’t belong. And I took black and white literally back then anyway, trying to piece together my understanding of the world through the lens of the racial divide. Maybe that’s why it took me so much longer to see that it had nothing to do with race, that it had to do with me instead.

0a3cacdad4c3ef943382ee737e9230f4Seeing the world in shades of gray means allowing for that variance that inadvertently yet overwhelmingly permeates the world, for that trick of the light that changes light gray to dark in the blink of an eye. It means consciously considering that what I see now doesn’t always have to stay the same. It means not making up my mind arbitrarily but taking everything into account when considering anything. And it does fit in with my ideas of white people that have shifted dramatically since that first encounter so many years ago. Because it’s not about white people at all, not about good vs. evil in the least. It’s about looking at everything individually, at not judging at all, because judging means preconceived notions and prejudice.

And that goes for everything in life. It’s why I often have friends who aren’t “socially acceptable,” why I do what I enjoy even when I know it makes me look silly, because life is short, and to paint it in black and white just never does it justice. I try my best to see things in shades of gray because I hope others see me in similar shades. I try my best to see things in shades of gray because I think I finally understand what that means.


Read Full Post »

“We’re heading home,” I told my youngest daughter, and she gave me the broadest smile. It’s the one that shows all her teeth, and my favorite as well. There’s just something about her showing enjoyment that warms my heart.

While still smiling, she responded, “To the new house, dad.” And — you know — she’s right. We were heading to the new house, which is our home.

bee4fa54e8953da02a57738c9e1a4c05--doodle-quotes-short-quotesWe were boarders for 18 months, caught in the circadian rhythms of another household, of another system. It was the longest I’ve ever held my breath, waiting for it all to end, to finally be in our new house. And here we are, ready to take on another fall and another winter, our first of both seasonal varieties ensconced in our dream made real.

Madeline likes to call it “the new house,” and I correct her by saying it’s “home,” but perhaps we are both right. I think she likes knowing it as “the new house” because it helps her distinguish it from the other places we’ve lived. It reminds me once again how her brain works, of the organizational structure with which she lives her life. For her everything is cut and dry, black and white, stark in its edges with nothing on the margins. This is the new house now because it wasn’t here before, and now it is. And now we live here.

But she doesn’t change her designations either. It is the new house now, and that much is true, but in four or five years’ time it won’t be so new anymore, but to her it will still be the new house. To her it will still be the new one because it can never be the old one, and I love the way her brain sees it. It’s as simple as can be, this reliance on a phraseology that distinguishes for the moment but also for forever. I wonder what she would call this place if we ever moved again.

I told a friend today, when she asked how the new house was treating us, that waiting to be in was endless, but now that we are in I can’t really remember not living here. It’s the same way with my children. That’s probably the only thing I can really compare it to, life before my kids getting hazier by the second. I think it’s because this house, just like my children, is a permanent part of my life now, because now all of my memories from here on in will include this house in some way, shape, or form.

It’s the new house because it has transformed us by being here, from some transients into a family with a stable homestead. It’s the new house because Madeline has deemed it thus, and I’m overjoyed to accept her label. And in four or five or twenty years’ time, when she’s still calling it the new house, I will still smile because she will be as right then as she is now.


Read Full Post »

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” ~Unknown

I’m sorry, but…

I’m sorry; however…

These are never good ways to show that you’re truly repentant. Believe me. I’m accomplished in the “qualified apology,” the idea that any apology has to come along with an excuse. But that pretty much negates the apology. See, an apology is your way of accepting blame for whatever happened. An excuse is a way of denying blame for whatever happened. You can see how the two cannot possibly jibe, how they can be confusing and destroy the point of an apology in the first place.

I’m sorry. I was wrong. I take full responsibility for whatever happened.

I know it’s hard, too. As human beings, we are hard wired to look for the way out, to see how anyone else, how anything else, could have had a part in whatever happened, in whatever went horribly wrong. I’ve been there more times than I want to take credit for, but here I am, taking credit, or blame, however you want to look at it. No one else is responsible for the decisions I make, and I learned that the hard way. There’s no surer teacher than the hard way.

There was this one time I really liked a girl (don’t all quality stories begin this way?) so I lied to her about having exclusive Dave Matthews Band fan club tickets. Of course I figured I could join the fan club the next day, get some tickets, and no one would be any the wiser. Unfortunately the exclusive tickets for the show were already gone by the time I signed up, but instead of fessing up I got in deeper. I bought a regular ticket and gave it to her, telling her it was the exclusive one, then lied about meeting her there later.

Of course the tickets were nosebleed section, and of course I was no where near when she inevitably found this out. I don’t know what I was thinking, honestly. All I can say was that I was hoping she was dumb enough to A) accept that fan club tickets just aren’t as cool as they claim to be, and B) accept my excuse for not being there. She wasn’t dumb at all, it turns out, and the next time I saw her after the concert she ripped me a new one. I apologized then, of course, but it was way too late, and we pretty much never spoke again.

If only I had just told her I was sorry I lied about the fan club tickets ahead of time perhaps I could have salvaged a friendship. And when I did finally apologize it was with the patented excuses built in. I said how much I liked her and wanted her to think I was an exclusive kind of person. I said how I really did try to get exclusive tickets after the fact, how I spent a lot on the regular ticket… just for her. And did that get me anywhere? No. All she did was say that if I really liked her then I should have just trusted her with the information.

Because those excuses were never really for her. They were so that I didn’t feel so horrible about myself for what I did. But that’s just it. I needed to feel bad about what I did. I needed to let it all out and let the chips fall where they would. It was my fault, and I needed to take responsibility for it instead of thinking of excuses, instead of trying to rely on excuses to get me out of taking that responsibility. It never works, and even if it does all it does it reinforce the idea that I wouldn’t have to take responsibility.

You can be assured I learned from that experience. That doesn’t mean I didn’t apologize with excuses after that in other situations. I’m sad to say that I did. But it did mean I was aware of it, and eventually I was able to cut out the excuses. The more times we do something and don’t receive the desired effects… the more we learn. Now, when I apologize, I take all the blame. I lay it all out there and take the consequences. Because that’s what I would want in return.


Read Full Post »

Why do we feel the insane need to judge others? Why can’t we simply enjoy our own lives and let others enjoy theirs? Or at the very least why can’t we just leave others alone? Meddling has become an art form. I swear it has. There’s just something so… American about getting all up in somebody else’s business, and making our home there, whether we’re welcome or not.

I honestly don’t know where I was going with that. It’s just that way too often lately I’m reminded that we don’t know everything about others, that we judge them based on what we think we see, but we don’t have the full picture. Because we think the world should revolve around us we see things through the lens that IS us, through our own experiences and the way we would do things.

But others are not us. They have their own lives, their own circumstances, and their own thoughts. They do things their way, whether we like it or not, because they don’t live their lives for us. So even when we think we know better, we need to remind ourselves that we don’t, that it’s their choice to make. We need to remind ourselves that we are mere pebbles in the stream, all working to find purchase.

We often judge because we either don’t understand, or we misinterpret. How often have you seen the show where the audience knows what the main characters are talking about but the entire half hour is spent with them upset with each other because of misinterpretation? Or the Shakespeare play where each Act builds on the previous one, and almost leads to absolute ruin before the characters realize they’ve judged all wrong. Oops.

Yet it’s not just judging based on misinformation, or on a lack of understanding, or even on our misguided perception. It’s judging based on preconceived notions of entire groups. I see way too much lately in my feed about how, “Republicans are douchebags who care more about their guns than about other people.” And I see way too many instances of, “Those stupid democrats know that gun laws won’t stop killing, right?”

Which is precisely why we continue to have this divide. Why can’t we all just get together to say that what happened was WRONG, that it should never have happened, that we need to ALL figure out a way to stop these things from happening.

Because I haven’t gotten numb to this kind of violence. Each instance fills me with a sense of dread, of a deep sadness that threatens to overrun my soul, thinking of how far humanity still has to come… together. I will never be numb to this kind of violence, but I will also not take out my anger and sadness on others. All that does is foster the same kind of atmosphere that led these people to believe that was the answer, that led these people to think that was the only way they could make some kind of statement.

I won’t judge them. I will judge their deeds, which were heinous, and I will mourn those who lost their lives, and the ones who were left behind.

This is not about democrats or republicans, about agendas and gun lobbies. This is about humanity, about the ongoing fight for relevance that will never end while there are people around who breathe. Because humanity has always been about judging others, about making ourselves out to be better than whomever, about survival of the fittest. Humanity has always been about getting over, getting by, by any means necessary. Of course as we have progressed it has become easier to take out our aggression on those we judge, who judge us in return.

This is human nature. That’s why it’s such a fight to be nice, not to judge others, to be quality human beings. That’s why people say they “strive” to be good, because it’s something we have to strive for, because human nature is not good. It’s in our nature to be our base selves, to demean others just for the sake of demeaning them. It’s in our nature to get pleasure from belittling those around us in order to raise ourselves up. We push them down so that we can rise.

But it’s wrong. It’s wrong to hold others down, to wish the worst for them, to judge them for what they cannot help. To judge them for who they are. Because we are just as bad. We are just as responsible for the things we do as they are, for the times we have judged others when we haven’t been innocent ourselves. We need to come together, not to take pleasure in discord. We need to learn the lessons from all these acts of violence, because contrary to popular opinion, they’re not senseless. It’s only when we can learn from them, when we try to make sense of the chaos, that we can truly progress, that humanity can learn its lesson.

I think back to Klebold and Harris, names that will forever be etched in my consciousness, and I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for their victims, a category the two of them also fit into, and I grieve even today. The same is true of every single instance between then and now, between Columbine and Vegas, and for all the instances to come, because I know it’s not over. I don’t judge those who did this, nor those who paid the ultimate price. I don’t pray for them or for their souls either. Prayer is not going to help anything or anyone. It’s only when we stop saying we are helpless, that we couldn’t have done anything, only then when we can truly make a difference.

Because making a difference doesn’t mean praying. It doesn’t mean banding together to send money and supplies to the victims. It means making connections with others every day, so that no one falls through the cracks. It means getting people with issues some honest to goodness help, not just paying the whole thing lip service and then shaking our heads when bad things happen. “Not on our watch,” we tell ourselves, because we honestly think we were watching and trying to help. This is a method of patting ourselves on the back, on saying how good we are when we’ve done absolutely nothing.

Then we sit back, and we judge them. Even worse, we judge those around us, the whole rhetoric of democrat vs. republican just window dressing for the two sides that can’t be separated so cleanly — good and evil. Because everyone has the capacity for both. After all, it’s human nature. So we must fight human nature every second of every day. We must try to make a difference.

And it starts with no more judging. No more.


Read Full Post »

“‘Cause they need a new song like a new religion, music for the television. I can’t do the long division. Someone do the math.” ~Jason Mraz (Wordplay)

9e9ad8b7-77df-42a5-86a8-165ad969402cI don’t like Twitter. There’s just something counterproductive in finding something to say, then being forced to limit it to 140 letters, or characters, or whatever they want to call it these days. I like being brief, or concise, or whatever you want to call it, but I like to do it on my own, not because someone is making me do it. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t really make for a good journalist. It was writing, but it wasn’t writing what I wanted to write, in the way that I wanted to write it, on whatever subject I so deemed worthy.

There’s just something about Twitter that’s suspect. It’s kind of like an advanced form of gossip, except that everyone can read it everywhere. It’s not really for secrets then, and yet people expose those innermost thoughts utilizing the forum. I guess there’s something about making something public that gives people a heady rush, that is transformative in a way that most other things just can’t match. Or that’s what they tell themselves when they’re letting you (and everyone else in the Twitterverse) know the shape of their pain.

And I get the idea. I do. It’s supposed to be a big soup bowl where everyone contributes, a massive spider’s web where everything sticks and we are forced to stare at them every time we pass. Every time we pick up our phones. Every time we get retweeted by someone, BY ANYONE. Because a retweet is like getting a phone call direct from god, like we are suddenly famous and ready for our closeups. Especially when that retweet does indeed come from someone we placed after the almighty hashtag.

So tweets have to be worthy.

All hail the new usage for the number sign. A hashtag is a grand way of saying “Look AT me” because to everyone who searches for the particular hashtag you displayed it will come up. Your tweet will come up. They can read it, and love it, and yes indeed, retweet it to their heart’s content. @therealjaymohr just enjoyed my tweet so much he had to retweet it, and now everyone who subscribes to @therealjaymohr is now reading my tweet.

So tweets have to be worthy. They have to justify the time and effort we’ve spent on them. We have to make sure we are putting the absolutely best, the absolute most appropriate hashtag on each tweet. After all, we need the best coverage, the best chance that someone who is anyone will read and appreciate our pithy wordplay. A little birdy told me. A little birdy whispered in my ear, but it wasn’t a whisper. It was a shout, a sound heard round the world, but it wasn’t even a sound. It was the power of words multiplied by the power of the platform.

But yeah, I hate it. I use it, but I hate it. And I know what you’re thinking. Why use something that you hate? It’s a rather simple explanation too. Because everybody else is doing it. Well, not quite everybody else. But many of the people I appreciate for their artistic merit, literary skill, or sports acumen like to tweet. I’m not generally a fan of political tweets because we all know politicians always have an agenda, whether on or off social media. That of course doesn’t stop the zeitgeist that is Twitter from recommending politicians for me to subscribe to on a daily basis.

I delete those recommendations.

Then I’ll dig out a hashtag and get busy.

Seriously, though, I only tweet about once a month, when I remember that it is indeed an interactive platform. It’s kind of like when I’m playing golf on the Wii and I forget that I’m playing over a connection and those are real people walking the “course” with me, until a speech box shows up out of nowhere. I respond, and then I forget again. It’s the same way with Twitter. I catch a tweet once, and it moves me. So I either like it, or I retweet it (as if my retweeting something will make it more popular) and then I’m off again for another month. Or sometimes when something short comes to me that I feel like imparting on the universe. Then I’ll dig out a hashtag and get busy.

Then I’ll dig out a hashtag and get busy.

But Twitter and I will never be more than acquaintances. I just wasn’t built for the stamina and discipline it takes to perfectly construct hashtags, to cyber stalk celebrities’ tweets, or to just do pretty much anything on that type of social media. I just can’t quite wrap my brain around it for longer than a few minutes. In fact, this is probably the longest I’ve ever sat in front of any screen, without pause, and thought about Twitter.

_prayer2_400x400Twitter is like a new religion, a type of worship of social media itself, a grand attempt at brevity that somehow misses the mark when people feel the need to tweet every single second of every single day. #prayer #newreligion #tweetsrlife. I deleted the app once, and it was gone for a while before someone reminded me that they had sent me an @sammcmanus callout, and they were wondering why I hadn’t responded. I almost told them it wasn’t them. It was me. But I felt that would be too cliche a response. I wanted to craft something spectacular to tell them how I really felt.

But it would have been over 140 letters, or characters, or whatever they want to call it these days. So I didn’t.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


A great WordPress.com site

Cozy Corner

A Writer's Journey

Whose Wine Is It Anyway?

Exploring life, love, lifting, and (almost) literally everything else, frequently aided by laughter and libations

The Ninth Life

It's time to be inspired, become encouraged, and get uplifted!

Sara Furlong

Strategic freelance writer specializing in online content, articles, web copy, & SEO.


Personal blog, interracial relationships, dating, author, BWWM,

%d bloggers like this: