6 Months Without Tampons! Thanks Thinx!

So this post is TMI, fair warning, I’ll be discussing my vagina…

It’s no secret that tampons are full of chemicals, first of all, the cotton is bleached… I don’t know about you, but the idea of putting something inside me that has been soaked in bleach just doesn’t seem right. I don’t even use bleach in my laundry… WHY would I use it in my giney? Feel free to do your own research, tampons have cancer causing ingredients… It may not be that big of a deal if we had limited contact with these chemicals, but we spend a week with poison inside of us. A week of chemicals being absorbed into our bodies. The more I read about tampons and pads, the more I second guessed using them. But then what? I know pads are filled with the same chemicals, but at least they are not inside of me… but, you guys… I don’t like pads. I hate the smell, I hate that they have diaper-like material. And I hate that awkward bulkiness. I liked tampons because they didn’t cramp my style, with pads I felt like I had to wear long tops that cover my butt because I feel like it’s just so obvious that I’m wearing a mom diaper. So pads were out of the question for me. I stuck with tampons another year, I think because I just couldn’t think of a reasonable alternative.

Until I saw an add for Thinx. My first two thoughts were: “FINALLY!” and then, “Wait, do they work???” It was this moment that I was 100% honest with myself (I often lie to myself so I won’t feel so bad about things… like, Wednesdays drive me nuts because my kids get out of school early… I love my kids, I just really wouldn’t mind if they were out early on Friday instead… Or cheap champagne. I realistically can’t be spending $15 on champagne if I want it daily, and I do… so I tell myself I like cheap champagne. Also wearing heels. As sexy as they are… I kinda hate them. But shhh, don’t tell me that. If I don’t admit these things I don’t have to change them.) I HATE tampons. I hate that awful dry feeling when you try to remove it and it’s not filled with enough blood to gently slide out, instead it sticks to your insides and feels like your ripping a bandaid out of your vagg. Or how about when you don’t insert it correctly and you sit down! Pain! Oh and the damn string. That moment when you get out of the pool and feel that light wet slap against your inner thigh… that fucking string that creeped out while you were bravely swimming on your period. I hate that they’re kinda leaky, and you need a panty liner. Panty liners are not cute. In fact, when me and my husband are about to get it on (yes we like period sex, you should too! It’s the best!) and I have to run to the restroom (#MoodKiller) to remove my tampon, and hide my panties so he doesn’t have to see the paper thin diaper stuck to them… You know what I’m talking about. Tampons are awful. So I thought, what the hell, let’s try these magical panties.

In December (2015) I ordered my first few Thinx period panties and it was the best decision I have made in a while. I have 3 hip huggers, 3 cheekies, and 2 thongs. I ordered a size up because I read an article that suggested this. (the thongs are fine in your regular size, mine are too big, but I wear them anyway.) I would say the material is closer to bathing suit than panties, but it’s not uncomfortable at all. In fact, I like my Thinx! I love that I no longer have to deal with tampons and panty liners. My husband and I both LOVE that on period nights I can come to bed wearing my cute undies, instead of always covering up down there “just in case”. We love that we can have in the moment period sex. I love that I feel attractive during shark week. (Seriously, they’re cute! Husband approves!)

I’ll be honest, it was a little odd to free flow. I had a mild panic attack the first few days when I felt that… leak… Luckily for me, it leaked into my amazing magical panties and stayed there! It was also a little odd to feel the cold when I pulled up my panties, but that was so slight and insignificant. I feel I have gotten to know my body more, as odd as it is to actually see the lining of my uterus in strips in the toilet, it kind of validates the whole awful process. Ladies, our insides are ripping themselves apart. It’s painful and gross… but it’s real. And unfortunately necessary. (Woohoo! Not pregnant!)

Rinsing them out is easy-peasy. I rinse mine at night with some Castile soap and they are dry by morning. So on heavy days I use 3 Thinx panties, a fresh pair to begin the day, I swap them out midday and again before bed. The one day I tried to make the morning pair last until evening, I bent down and had an awkward leak up the front. Lesson learned. That’s only 2 days for me. The last few days I use one in the morning and one at night. Thongs are for my “maybe it’s coming today” days, or the last day of bleeding.

I have tried the diva cup, it didn’t work out… I use Thinx with no back up. It’s been 6 months now. I’m going strong. I’ve saved money, I have not had to chuck panties because of accidents, or buy tampons and panty liners.

So far 3 of my good friends have switched from tampons to Thinx. I am excited to be a part of the movement!

Thank you to the amazing ladies who created Thinx…. whoever you are!

**This is my personal OPINION of Thinx period panties***

#PinkHairDontCare

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So the other day I’m sitting in my therapist’s office discussing one of the most traumatic moments of my life, and kinda laughing it off because it almost sounds silly. I wasn’t discussing being molested or raped- not to say that’s not a discussion, it absolutely has been for many years, in fact, it has monopolized many a’therapy session. So much so that I have blown off other traumatic moments because when you compare them, you kinda can’t top sexual abuse. Well, that was my mainframe, anyway… But let’s not compare apples and oranges…. trauma is trauma. These moments can define you, and they did define me in many ways. I’m working towards living MY life and not basing everything off of my past.

SOOOO I’m discussing the days leading up to my baptism into the (cough* CULT *cough) ICOC. I was 15, it was the summer before I started high school, my parents FINALLY let me dye my hair pink, and I really wasn’t buying “the god thing”. My parents/teen leaders expected me and my sister to go to Teen Camp, and we did… At this point my closest friends had been kept from me for months. You know how I was a bad egg because I questioned, and am not easily silenced. The “church” decided it was better to isolate me… and they were right. Being left out was awful. It didn’t make me believe in god, it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Like I was broken for not having the same blind faith as everyone else. It came down to being treated badly and either ignored or rebuked, or I could “study the bible” and be baptized and be treated kindly.

At this point, you have to understand that I literally didn’t see life beyond the ICOC. I didn’t dare to imagine it. I was RAISED drinking the koolaid. I felt like it was wrong, but what did I know? I was trained from the get go to believe that this was the only way to live. So when I questioned, I felt like I was “in sin”. It was scary and lonely and confusing. No one sympathized. Even the kids who rebelled still had some sort of faith in god. I was the only one that didn’t. So I told myself that I was wrong, and I should at least try because if I TRY, if there is a god, he will “soften my heart” and I will have my friends back, and my parents would be proud of me. That’s what I did. I studied, (studying The Bible in an ICOC or ICC church is pretty intense. Over the course of a few studies, you have been brainwashed into believing that the only way to achieve salvation is by confessing your sins to someone *who’s going to share with other people*, having a specified discipler and being baptized by someone in the ICOC/ICC. You’re eventually expected to distance yourself from family members that are non disciples.) memorized and regurgitated. After passing the “Prove It” study, my disciplers informed me that I could be baptized by next Sunday, but I had to dye my hair back to a normal color because I was” too noticeable and that’s sinful. God doesn’t like that sort of thing.”

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Remember how I was 15 years old and I had been begging my parents to let me dye my hair pink for like 3 years??? And FINALLY they said yes???? But, guess what, my cool pink hair was sinful. Just like my personality “made the boys struggle” (You guys, I wasn’t even cute, boys didn’t like me. I was awkward and mousy and plain. Flat chested, short… I wore glasses and read books. TRUST me when I say that I was not the girl that “made boys struggle”.) I was infuriated! Of course to be saved I had to conform. After deliberation and prayer, I bleached out the dye, and was dunked into the Pacific Ocean that Sunday. I really hoped my first breath after my baptism would feel like my first, that I would feel cleansed and new. It was a devastating slap in the face to see that I felt exactly the same. Only… pissed. These people have been lying to me my whole life. (I know some of you feel like your baptism meant something, and, OK I’m not saying nothing changed for you, I’m saying it didn’t work for me and it wasn’t for lack of trying.) Never mind the fact that at 15, how much sinning could I have done. I was actually on the more angelic side of the spectrum when it came to actual “sinning”. Realistically, I just wasn’t a bad kid. And after fuming for a few minutes and receiving awkward hugs, responding as honestly as I could when people asked me over and over, “How do you feel?” (probably just to reaffirm how they tell themselves they felt after the baptisms. In fact, I remember asking my best friend the same question before I was baptized, if she felt new, I would, too.) to which I answered, “cold.” I thought, “And I dyed my hair for this?”

Jenna and her rad blue ombre
Jenna and her rad blue ombre

Just over a year later I “fell away”. Afterwards I pierced my belly button, my nose, and tongue. At 18 I started getting tattoos, but I stopped dying my hair. Weird, right? I don’t remember consciously deciding I wouldn’t dye my hair again, but it’s been roughly 10 years and I finally dyed my hair a few months ago, nothing crazy, just blonde streaks. a month or two later I went a little further and went very blonde ombre… kinda dipping my toes in. I remember that feeling, the change every time you look in the mirror. New. Baptized.

And that’s the revelation I had.

For years I have avoided “ceremonial” signals of change. I stopped believing in these big moments that signify transformation.

And then, I decided it was time to dye my hair pink. Why? Because I want to, and I’m an adult now, so piss off! (Yes that was a drop Dead Fred reference) And guess what… I absoFUCKINlutely LOVE my hair! (I especially love that my husband dyed it for me #keeper) Also, we decided that all the kids should rock colored hair, because, why not?

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Just Eat

It’s Eating disorder Awareness Week… I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people. “Just eat”… “I wish I had THAT problem” … Two of the most frustrating, rude, cavalier and insensitive phrases I hear whenever ED’s come up. Eating disorders are serious. Serious like addiction. And it’s not because “we” are selfish, vain or conceited. It’s because we have no self love, self worth and no grace. It’s because we feel out of control in life and take it out on our bodies. Because we feel guilt when we take care of ourselves. Eating disorders are not a joke.

(I rewrote the paragraph above a few times changing the “we” to “they” and the “our” to “their” because I’m struggling with whether or not I want to own my own struggles right now. #VigorousHonesty)

Eating disorders come in many forms, restricting, binging, purging, over exercising… these are the symptoms, the whiskey to the alcoholic, the meth to the addict, the abuser to the abused. If you’ve ever known or loved someone who struggled with addiction, you’ve probably thought, “Why can’t they see what their doing to themselves?”

“Why don’t they just stop?”

“Why doesn’t she leave him?”

“She doesn’t love me enough to quit.”

That’s pretty much the same thoughts you might have when you are close to someone with an eating disorder. It’s frustrating. Maybe a little more frustrating because it’s harder to understand. Harder to relate to. I grew up in a home where addiction was talked about often. My dad is over 30 years sober and has worked in treatment for my entire life. My sister has been in rehab a few times, my mom, too. Addiction, recovery, 12 Steps, meetings, amends…. This is all the norm to me. Addiction, we can handle. We have the tools. But about 12 years ago when I was diagnosed as “Anorexic with purging”, none of us had any idea how to deal. My dad was very proactive, he got me help immediately. A therapist, treatment… What I didn’t have was anyone in my life who understood. In a world where everyone was on the Atkin’s Diet, I didn’t fit in. It was really lonely. For me, going to a 12-Step meeting was not useful. I didn’t use. Not like them. For me, not eating served the same purpose, however, I was not offered the same grace. People rolled their eyes, because their addiction was “worse”. Because “all” I had to do was “just eat”. (I am rolling my eyes as I type this!)

I have forgiven everyone who’s ever belittled my disease because I understand that you DON’T understand. I would like to give a little insight though. So maybe you can have more grace with someone who is walking a road you’ve never walked.

I have a friend, a good friend who also has an eating disorder, and she is the only person besides my therapist who “gets it”. The irony is that she over eats and I under eat. (I’m actually in recovery… see here is where it’s hard to compare addiction and ED’s because when an alcoholic drinks, they’re no longer sober. If I have a bad eating day, I’m not off the wagon necessarily. It’s not THAT simple. Hence ED awareness week.) However, if you sit us both down and talk with us, or, hear us talk with each other, it’s the same words, it’s the same feelings. We just have literally opposite reactions. When I am sad, I lose 15 pounds. When she is sad, she gains 15 pounds. I’m not saying like I feel sad today and magically 15 pounds evaporate. I mean like, when I am going through depression, stress, anxiety, etc. I can’t eat. Like physically, I cannot swallow food. I will chew for ages and just can’t swallow. And I and not necessarily even upset about my body during these times. In fact, if I’m in that place, I am not even thinking about my body. I am too absorbed in my misery. Yes throughout my life I have acted out my ED because I have had a “fat” day (a word I avoid). I have also noticed that my “fat days” directly correlate to my emotions. The scale has not changed, but for some reason today I fucking HATE my body. Nothing looks right, nothing feels right. I want to rip off my skin. I literally want to take scissors to my thighs. I want to vacuum the fat from my belly. These are the images I get when I look in the mirror on a “fat day.” Meanwhile my brain is saying, “You’re worthless, you’re weak, you’re not lovable, nobody takes you seriously, you deserve to feel lonely, nobody needs you. You’re too outspoken, you’re too opinionated. You’re not smart enough or pretty enough. You’re just not enough. Oh- except your thighs, those are too much. Jeez, Justine, what’s wrong with you? You’re a shitty anorexic. You ate WAY too much yesterday and LOOK at your ass! You can’t even eat right. You’re so stupid. You need to control yourself. You are an embarrassment.” You see how it’s not actually about my body? My body is the scapegoat. Internally I feel like I can’t fix my uselessness, and all the things wrong with who I am, but, I CAN fix my thighs. So here I am desperately hating myself, and truly needing someone to love me, someone to affirm me. Not my body. ME. and I don’t know how to ask for that. And I sure as hell don’t believe I deserve it. So I am sad. So I can’t eat. And not eating serves a purpose. Not eating ,makes me feel successful subconsciously. Eating literally makes me nauseous, so NOT eating makes me feel better.

Meanwhile my friend who over eats has the SAME thoughts, only her coping skill is to make herself feel better by eating. Because when she is eating it FEELS GOOD. It smells good, and looks good and fills her. It literally fills the emptiness. So she will eat fast food, and thus PROVE to herself, all the things her brain has been chanting. That she isn’t strong enough to lose the weight, that she is worthless, that she’s fat. That she doesn’t “deserve” to be healthy, because if she did deserve it, she could eat like a “normal” person. She “proves” her worthlessness to herself every time she gets on a scale and hasn’t lost any weight. Every time her doctor is disappointed. Every time her nutritionist overwhelms her with lists of food she “can’t” have. It’s overwhelming. And what’s the point anyway, right? She feels like a failure. Maybe she is? Oh, is that a Mc Donald’s? French fries will help. And she’ll try again tomorrow.

I don’t know if my sharing this is helpful. I just thought, in the spirit of the week, maybe I can shine some light on a subject that you just can’t grasp at face value.

I want you all to know that I have been working my recovery, seeing my therapist, and learning to love myself. To change the way I talk to myself. To recognize the red flags and seek help when I start going down the rabbit hole. My recovery really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with food. Food is just the way I show the sickness. As a mom I have been good at maintaining a healthy weight… but masking the real issue. I am in a place where I want recovery, and I understand that just because I am not acting out my ED, does not mean I am cured. I understand that every single day I need to work to make the right choices. Because, magically, when I am doing what is right and healthy for me, I don’t hate myself so much. In fact, I start seeing the good. I have recognized that my decisions directly effect my self worth. And I am worth being happy. I am worth love. I am lovable. And so are you.

Talk Hippy To Me (A year of No Poo)

Last march (2014) I really stepped up my hippy game. Before that I kind of identified with “crunchy granola” parents, more because I attachment parented, and we eat clean. The last year though, was a game changer. I threw out all the shampoo, lotions, conditioners, hand soap, body wash, deodorant and tooth paste. I wrote a whole blog explaining “no poo” and I posted recipes for body butters, hand soap, deodorant and toothpaste. Today I want to give an update. the last year has been a learning experience, and I’m happy I took the year to learn more about my body. What I did not expect was that I would learn so much about communication and compromise.

Jojo, one year NO POO, she's become my little boho babe. Very proud of no poo, and clean eating... with the exception of cupcakes.
Jojo, one year NO POO, she’s become my little boho babe. Very proud of no poo, and clean eating… with the exception of cupcakes.

No Poo/Dandruff/Eczema/Psoriasis: Well, I have to say, I did not know what to expect with my hair. Talk to your hair dresser and he or she will probably be mortified if you even consider quitting shampoo. Turns out, it’s really freeing. I had never just used water on my hair in my life, I was so attached to the suds, and the silky feeling after conditioning. At first that hard wet feeling really bothered me. But I was amazed by how quickly my hair dried, and how light it was. I hardly had any transition. Most people have a greasy week or 4. I had a few weeks where my hair needed extra TLC in terms of brushing sebum through. Even now, a year later, i have no split ends, and my hair is soft and shiny!  But the only problem I had is that I couldn’t get rid of the dandruff. I had never had dandruff until I gave birth to Jo, and have struggled for the last 6 years. I had tried EVERYTHING. The only thing that seemed to keep the flakes away was washing often. So you can imagine how “in your (my) face” this issue was once I stopped washing. I began searching forums and googling “natural” dandruff cures. The one that stood out the most was pouring 50/50 ACV (apple cider vinegar, and they say the smell goes away after your hair dries, maybe if you have less hair, but I have thick wavy hair and the smell DID NOT GO AWAY! It drove me and my husband crazy!) and water onto my scalp and letting it sit for 30 minutes every 3 days. OK, that was quite a commitment. But I was encouraged that it would help. It didn’t. In fact I ruined the pH levels on my head so I ended up with waxy hair. By waxy I mean, if you were to pinch a chunk of my hair it would feel sticky-ish. ALL of my hair. And water couldn’t penetrate it! Water would just roll right off my head like my hair was made of wax paper. I even went in the swimming pool, and it did nothing! So I tried apple sauce to get rid of the wax. Apple sauce helped the wax, but then my hair was filled with apple flakes! So it looked like I had the worst case of dandruff in history! I think it took 3 baking soda scrubs and LONG soaks in the tub to remove the apple flakes. In the end, the dandruff came back. So I tried an egg wash. OMG, that was the most disgusting thing I had ever done. Besides the complete weirdness of massaging snot-like goop into my hair, it smelled AWFUL. It continued to smell until my next ACV rinse. Those were my more amusing stories. But over the year I tried many “cures”. patchouli, lavender, coconut oil, tea tree oil, honey, kombucha, aloe juice, yogurt… Nothing helped. At least nothing helped for more than 3 days. Then the itchiness came back. I read that dandruff might be a type of yeast, so I cut out sugar, and started using probiotics, in fact, I have been brewing kombucha in my kitchen for months now! Still no relief. At the end of the year I tried a “low poo” conditioner from Shea Moisture, it didn’t help. So I finally decided to try the African Black Soap system from Shea Moisture. I kinda wish I had tried this 6 years ago! So far so good! right now I plan to use it once a week, then see how long I can go between washes. If the dandruff stays gone I will go back to no poo. If it comes back I will used this system as needed. I do use coconut on my ends, I think that’s why I don’t have split ends.

A 24 weeks in to no poo, 10 days water only!
A 24 weeks in to no poo, 10 days water only!
February 2015 No Poo allllllmossst one year!
February 2015 No Poo allllllmossst one year!

Lotion/Moisturizer: I’ll be honest. I missed lotion the most. Out of EVERYTHING I changed. I love lotion. And while I used hand made moisturizers, lotion bars etc, I just missed regular old lotion. I thought my skin would adjust so I used nothing for a few months. I hated it! I missed being super smooth!  And the simplicity of a pump. So at the end of the year I bought Shea Moisture’s baby lotion. I love it. (Should I mention that Shea Moisture is not paying me to pimp them out, its just an affordable brand that doesn’t have a whole bunch of added chemicals.)

Acne: My acne has been gone for over a year now. I stopped using all the astringents, soaps and spot treatments. Now I oil cleanse, and use a jojoba and coconut oil serum twice a day. Oil Cleansing is super simple. Massage the oil of your choice (I used jojoba) into your skin for a few minutes, then cover your face with a wet hot wash cloth (Don’t burn yourself… common sense, guys.) for 2 minutes, then just wipe the oil off. Only do this at night. I also still use my lemon scrub (sugar, lemon, raw honey) 2x a week.

Body Wash: Turns out water cleans really well on its own. I suggest using a scrub occasionally, or something a little on the rough side to get a good scrub. I do still love my coconut oil and sugar body scrubs, I’m just sure to rinse the shower REALLY well after because coconut oil hardens and traps dirt and it’s slippery and gross looking.

Toothpaste: I enjoyed using my DIY toothpaste, but my husband HATED it. He especially hated that it clogged the sinks… So we’re back to toothpaste, I have been using the Trader Joe’s brand toothpaste with fennel. It tastes like jagger, but it really gives you a whole mouth clean feeling.

Deodorant: Another thing that my husband was not impressed with. I used it occasionally. Like today because it’s going to be 80 degrees, AND I had coffee. That’s what I learned, If I drink coffee, or eat dairy, I should use deodorant. But I’ve maybe used it 15 times in the last year. I made a deo with beeswax and it seems to work better, less drippy. My co worker traded me ***succulent clippings for the deo. It was an awesome trade!

Hand Soap: The hand soap smells nice, and works well, but it’s super watery and was an annoyance for husband, so we are using hand soap again. I’ll have to research what kinds are more environmentally friendly.

My Kombucha! home brewing for 6 months!
My Kombucha! home brewing for 6 months!

 

Kombucha: I started brewing kombucha in our kitchen 6 months ago, and it is going very well! My kids like it, I drink it daily. It think it causes minimal annoyance for my husband. Kombucha is a fermented tea, it’s filled with probiotics and is extremely healthy. I started brewing it to help with the dandruff, it didn’t help, but it was more affordable to make my own then spend $4 a bottle.

Oil Pulling: I still oil pull a few times a week.

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House Plants and Succulents: My newest obsession is clean air. I started out adding succulents as decoration in our home, which has been fun, and a good test since it’s difficult to kill succulents. I recently added a few air cleaning plants to each room. A Peace Lily, a Parlor Palm, a Snake Plant, a Golden Pathos and Aloe Vera. My husband has reminded me that plants belong outside, however I think he prefers this obsession over no poo.

So the moral of the story is this: I had fun, I feel good about the last year. However, somethings just weren’t worth the effort, or the fight. I’m definitely gonna stay on the crunchy side, just not as strictly. I have a lot on my plate, and unclogging a coconut oil filled sink is just not worth the effort. And as you can tell, my husband just wasn’t impressed by any of this. Since he responded a bit better to eating real food, I think I’ll focus on that. And kudos to him for putting up with it for so long!

Lucky bamboo
Lucky bamboo

 

How I Drove My Husband Crazy By Accident

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Compromise.

I can’t begin to explain how often that advice is given. It fits with just about any issue… in a perfect world. But what about when there is no compromise? Because those situations are the real issues. The small things, yeah, we can find middle ground, one of us will back down because, we’re just too tired. Too tired of fighting. I am too tired.

Last year I committed to a year of “no-poo”. Well that’s what I called it, but in reality shampoo was only one of the many changes I made. I stopped using shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial hand soaps, body wash, lotion, face wash, acne treatments and sunscreen. I know, now I sound like a dirty hippy. Don’t worry, I’m clean, and not smelly. I started out by making my own hygiene products, and slowly weaned off of many things altogether. Here is what I learned in the last year:

The biggest thing that stands out, to be honest is that I drove my husband bonkers! Seriously. Like I think there was a point where he was ready for one of us to move out. No, not because I smelled bad, but because I didn’t give him the option NOT to jump on my bandwagon. Within a matter of weeks I had thrown out all of the shampoos and soaps in the house. I went DIY crazy and made toothpaste, hand soap,  and shaving cream. He hated it. Not all of it, but most of it. He missed the suds in shampoo, and the wateriness of the body wash. The coconut oil toothpaste was salty, I fixed that, but then it was clogging our sinks. Our showers and sinks were nearly impossible to clean because coconut oil hardens and traps dirt. Still, I stood strong. I felt I was doing my job, I was saving my family from diseases. I still 100% believe in my “cause”… I just may have done it a little differently. I know that I changed everything because I love my family, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have… the negative impact. I had high hopes for the positive! I didn’t expect my husband to be frustrated daily. Missing the simplicity. I didn’t realize it took so much energy for him to try to understand my reasons, and how overwhelming it must be for him. I mean, our first year together I took away all the processed foods, and he started reading food labels. Which annoyed him then, also… now he has to read labels on the hand soap…

I realized that I was insensitive and didn’t truly know my husband. And he didn’t know me. I did not respect him. I didn’t bother to ask him, in my mind I had to save the world. That’s me… I am an activist. I see a problem and have an innate need to fix it. My heart is too big, I inherited this martyr-esque personality from my dad, and seriously I will be uncomfortable and miserable and choose the path of GREAT resistance for the greater good. That’s not my husband. They say opposites attract. Well in this case, it couldn’t be more true. I’ve learned this year that my husband is both a blessing and a lesson. I’ve learned that I am a control freak… and so is he. I’ve learned that compromise is a bitch.

The year mark couldn’t have come soon enough. Not that I wanted to buy regular hand soap, but I was ready to stop fighting. Every day became a fight on some level. Maybe we didn’t actually argue, but he would get frustrated by any number of inconveniences caused by the changes I made. And I took it personally that he hated it. It was those little things that wore on him, and turned into reasons to bicker. He became so frustrated. I felt like he didn’t care about his health, or our kids. It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that it was too much. This isn’t what he signed up for. It was all too much. And let’s be honest… Ignorance is bliss. I stripped away his bliss, I dissected it, and magnified the ugly truths, broadcasting them, forcing them to be acknowledged. This was the third time I turned his life upside-down and inside out. The first time it was the food, switching to organic and banning fast food. Next it was parenting, I brought my crunchy attachment parenting ideals into his home, and changed the rules. I took parenting out of his hands, again without compromise (in his eyes). And now I’ve taken away shampoo. In his mind, I’ve been taking. Taking away his comforts, his jobs, his rules, his ideals, his deodorant… In my mind I was enriching, nourishing, helping and teaching. It’s mind blowing how opposite we see the same situation.

It never occurred to me that I might make him feel stupid. I have such strong feelings, often based on extensive research, and because I trust my intuition. It was never my intention to make him feel less than he is. All I ever wanted was to be better for each other, our kids and the planet. I never thought that maybe he was perfectly happy with the way things were. Who do I think I am, that I can just make these decisions without talking with him? I am not his children’s mother, I do that job, he asked me to… And I wanted to. I assumed it meant I could parent the way I saw fit. I didn’t stop to think that because this is a partnership, he should have a say, more than a say… they are his kids. But I thought it was my job, this parenting thing. I have a daughter of my own, and I do my best. I thought his job was to provide, and back me up, while I did all the nitty gritty mom jobs. I didn’t think he wanted to “parent”. He never expressed interest in it, that is until I was doing it full time.

I learned that compromise doesn’t mean admitting defeat. It means I value my marriage. So last week I bought shampoo. I bought antibacterial hand soap, lysol, and toothpaste, too.  (I’ll write a whole blog on what kind and why!) I am picking my battles, and finding ways to keep my household healthy… and also realizing that all of our emotional health is more important than  physical. I would rather be married.

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I plan to write all the amazing things (and all the not so great things) I learned in the last year! What worked, and what didn’t… I know this post makes it should like it it was a disaster, it wasn’t. My hair is happy and my skin is smoother than ever! I had to get the therapeutic part out of the way first 😉

 

 

Birthday Wish

Tomorrow is my 28th birthday. I’ve been sick in bed with this horrible stomach flu… plenty of time to think through the last 27 years, but really I’ve focused on the last year. Usually we take inventory on New Years eve… but I think this is more appropriate for me. I’ve bee thinking about the kind of woman I want to be in the next year.

This year I want to listen more. I will bite my tongue and take a deep breath, because I don’t have to be right. I will be conscious of how I make others feel when I express my opinions. No one should feel small because of something I’ve said. My tongue can be acid, something I am honestly proud of… it’s my best weapon. But I’d rather use it only when there is a worthy fight. Speaking of fighting, I will pick my battles. There is no point in fighting to the death when it’s not THAT important. I don’t want to push people I love away because I have strong feelings. I will be kind to my husband. Why is it that it’s so easy to snap at him when I love him so much? Even when he does idiotic things, chances are, he had no idea how it would effect me. It’s not fair to hold him accountable for not meeting the expectations I never voiced. I will voice my expectations (after thinking them through, deciding if they are reasonable, fair and won’t rock the boat (too much). I will tell my kids that I love them everyday. I will tell my kids I love them when I am mad at them. I will have patience with other humans. I will have patience with myself. Nobody is perfect. I will follow my heart, I will embrace change, I will nurture and nourish myself family. Our health is important, even if it can be inconvenient. I will listen to my intuition. I will have humility when I mess up. I will not point out other’s faults. I will be kind. I will burn the good candles, eat sushi for no reason, drink champagne any time, and call my grandma “just because”.

I’m promising myself, because everything I do effects the universe. I want to make the world better, not bitter.

Maybe we should talk about this? (Open communication in marriage)

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What is proper relationship etiquette? And how do know what is and isn’t OK in a relationship? There are millions of marriage self help books out there, and they seem to have one common theme: Communication.

As individuals we all have different ways we need to be loved, and different preferences when it comes to other humans in our lives. Much like parenting. We know as parents that each child is different and we strive to respond according to our children’s individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same with adults. The hard part is that as an adult we expect every other adult to ACT like an adult, and when they don’t, we are MORE frustrated. As adults we are just as stubborn as a willful two year old, but we have a lot more power. We have the ability to change things, and we have that innate need to push others to be what we think they should be, or act the way we think they should act.

Enter the balancing act. In a marriage our job is to be one half of a partnership. The hard part is that the other half is not controllable. It sounds simple enough to roll with the punches, but at some point it gets exhausting. Without healthy communication we are being constantly hurt by the one person we love most, and chose to spend our life with. Nobody hurts you worse than a spouse… it’s an utter betrayal. (I’m not saying other things don’t hurt, and I’m not saying your spouse will hurt you more than anyone, I mean, when you are hurt by your spouse it’s THAT much worse. It’s broken trust.) Part of the problem with putting all of your faith in another person, and not knowing how to communicate is that you both have expectations that are impossible to meet because you don’t know how to have that talk.

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My husband and I are the odd ones in our group of friends because we both are good friends with members of the opposite sex, and it’s not necessarily mutual. We have our own friendships. It’s always been that way. My married friends think it’s so strange. Some of them don’t allow their husbands to speak with other women hardly at all, only in group settings. Some of them know each others phone, email and Facebook passwords. Some share their Facebook page! You can see the extremes here?

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Personally I have always found it odd for people to be so enmeshed in their partners lives. But I see that for some of these couples it insures fidelity, and brings them closer. I think it would drive my husband and I bonkers. We both need our space. We have both been in relationships where our significant other took advantage and read through our emails, texts and for me, my journal. We chose to give each other personal space. However, we never discussed boundaries on communication with the opposite sex like certain conversations we feel are not appropriate and talking to a member of the opposite sex during “our” time. I think we both felt if we put restrictions on each other, it was a sign that we don’t trust each other. Which isn’t true. the problem with the way we do it, is, neither of us has a leg to stand on when it comes to one being upset about a friendship because neither of us know what kind it is. In the event that anything happened that “looks” wrong, either of us might jump to conclusions based on assumptions. Just like with children, boundaries protect us.

Communication is more than: “Suzie has softball and 4, Max gets out early today and we are out of milk ” Communication is being open about feelings and the things that matter. making your expectations clear. BONDING.

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Step Monster

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I am so tired. Emotionally. I do not want to get out of bed because I’m not sure I have the energy to be a step mom today. I feel like every few months I’m at my wits end, sobbing in the bathroom into a glass of wine, resisting the urge to call my own step mother, and best friend to tell her I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how she managed, how in the hell she didn’t run away. I think, actually at one point she did run away. I don’t blame her. I can’t say whether it was harder for her to not have her own children, it was definitely a piece that was missing, but maybe it was a blessing for my sister and I? We needed all of her heart.

When I came into this relationship I already had my daughter, and my husband had a daughter and a son. I liked his kids immediately, and they liked me. I was thrilled to become a step mom, having been raised by one, I felt like maybe it was preparation for my future as a step mom. Not everyone is lucky enough to be raised by a step parent that they actually look up to. (It certainly wasn’t always like this, there were times that I think we hated each other, and years that I made her life miserable.) It didn’t occur to me that my life would turn into a fight. A constant fight for the impossible. I had been a stay at home mom, an attachment parenting mom. I was and am deeply connected to my daughter. I had not thought a whole lot about how I would parent her as she grew up, because I was taking it one day at a time. (When she was three I was convinced she was possessed, turns out she was just three… But I spent hours on the phone and the internet trying to figure out what to do.) Suddenly I had a 7 year old and a 5 year old, and my 3 three year old. I figured I would keep doing what I was doing, I tried to fit into their life as best I could, but there really was no place for me. The family was so used to taking care of each other that I was only really needed as a babysitter. Feeling like a fish out of water I began to make small changes in our household, there had to be a way to make us a family. Initially it was health. I threw out all the packaged, boxed and canned food and worked tirelessly on changing their diet. I wasn’t comfortable feeding my child TV dinners, and I thought it was the loving thing to nourish my new family. Well, that backfired. I ended up becoming the enemy of the in-laws and extended family. Instead of backing me up, they decided to lie, and sneak around, teaching my kids that I do not deserve respect.

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That was 3 years ago, since then we have had similar struggles, and they seem to be worse and more frequent. Between encouraging my kids to lie to me and my husband, and actually lying to us, it’s impossible. My husband is so used to his family disrespecting each other that he doesn’t see the problem. Because he doesn’t see it, he thinks I overreact. He feels I should just let it go, because they will never change. I would do that if it didn’t directly effect the way his kids treat me.

You can see, my husband is generally more relaxed, he’s not a rule enforcer. The only time he really pushes it is dependent upon his mood, or what is necessary, like if we have to go and the kids are messing around, THEN the dad voice comes out and everyone scrambles. I prefer that the children are obedient and don’t require “dad voice”. I am aware that as parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our children and teach them to be decent human beings. (The jury for me is still out on The Lord of the Flies, but watching my step son, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hesitate to eat his friend.) It seems I worry endlessly about who these kids will be as adults and I am scared. Honestly scared. I see a child with no conscience. And I believe it’s our job (and I mean EVERY adult) to teach children empathy. We are not all born with the gift of empathy, and if you grow up in a household where it’s every man for himself… and that’s kind of the environment I see. The problem is, I seem to be the only immediate family who sees a problem and I go back and forth between just letting it be, and then being horrified and feeling a deep seeded need fix the problem.

I wonder if I didn’t have my own daughter, and actual horse in the race, maybe I would just let it go, be a babysitter, and let their lives be the way they were. The problem is that I have a little girl that I have high hopes for, I see so much promise in her, and I won’t cut comers on parenting. Not with my little girl. I have seen the products of “non parent parenting”, and I am not going to be responsible for that. The problem is, I have a hand in parenting my step children, so I will have responsibility to take. What am I gonna say? I’m sorry I fought with your dad so much and taught you that it’s OK to undermine your partner? I’m sorry I was so inconsistent? I’m sorry you think I favor my daughter– I wasn’t allowed to be your mom. I’m sorry I gave up on you….

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I don’t want to give up. I love these kids. And I love my husband. I want us to be a family, but I don’t see how we are going to get through this with out royally fucking these kids up. At some point something has got to give. I’m tired of fighting. But I feel a moral obligation to these awesome littles. I feel a deeper obligation to MY little.

I am blessed because my daughter has a wonderful step mom who has become my friend and sometimes my therapist. I have 100% support from my daughter’s father and his wife. It’s refreshingly healthy. I can’t see why I don’t have that from my husband’s family.

I know I’m not an expert parent, but my heart is in it, and I work my ass off trying to do right by my little family. Often times it’s the hardest thing to do. And way too many times it turns into a fight. Where is the balance? What battles do I pick? How can I make this work? I have fantasies that I take my daughter and we just live together, and I spend weekends with my husband and the kids… wouldn’t it be easier if I only saw them all occasionally, and didn’t have a responsibility to parent? I would miss them, but I think I would be much more relaxed. It’s a huge responsibility being a parent. I do not take it lightly… I do not want to abandon them. But I do want to run away sometimes. Like today.

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Stop means STOP

This one is kind of a rant….

I have a question:

Why are victims the ones who have to make all the changes? Why is it socially acceptable to give victims pointers on how not to be harassed, bullied or raped?

I asked my husband yesterday as he was giving me ideas to tell a friend of mine who is being cyber bullied by her ex husband. He said, “Because Douchebag (No his name isn’t really Douchebag, but I changed his name for his privacy lol) is never going to stop. If she wants it to stop SHE has to do something.”

To me that answer sounded an awful lot like, “She was wearing a dress, she was asking for it.”

Why doesn’t the abuser have responsibility to take in these scenarios? Why doesn’t STOP mean stop? Why doesn’t NO mean no? Why did my friend have to run away from an abusive man, and get rid of her cell phone because he had enabled the GPS and was following her? Why did she have to sit in a court room and be victim shamed because she couldn’t afford a lawyer?

Why doesn’t he stop? Why is he allowed to text her 20-40 times in a row? Threatening litigation over and over for every little thing. Blaming HER for his actions. Somehow its all her fault, but he is the one who abused her. And he is still the one harassing her.

In the 4 or 5 years that I have known Douchebag, he has been possessive and controlling. I watched my friend’s phone ring 32 times in a row. 32 times! If she silences her phone and puts it away while we are out to lunch or something, when she picks it up again there are dozens of missed calls and texts. When they shared a car, he would threaten to call the police and report it stolen if she wasn’t back in a reasonable time. For a few years I rarely saw my friend because it was just too stressful for her to leave the house. And she is not the only person who has been harassed. He will call my friend’s parents to “tattle”, or show up at their house in the middle of the night in a panic. He threatened to kill himself, and sent a photo of himself lighting the title to my friend’s car on fire. He has cyber bullied me via Facebook and text message. He showed up at another friend’s house at 2am and began ringing the doorbell over and over looking for her. Their daughter told me that “Daddy is scary at mommy.”

Somehow in his brain this is all her fault.He has no responsibility to take. The judge didn’t think a restraining order was necessary, and ruled that Douchebag is allowed to talk to his daughter on the phone every night, so my friend had to give him a phone number. Which he uses constantly.

A few hours after court I received a (drunk?) text from Douchebag threatening to sue me for “deformation” or character and slander. (It’s defamation you idiot!) I had been on the stand that morning, and I told the truth, (although, funny enough, I wasn’t allowed to tell the whole truth. I was cut off at any chance that I tried to explain an answer. Why was I even sworn in?) and he didn’t like it. No kidding, it makes him sound like he’s insane!!! But he can’t own it.

Last night I got a text from an ex boyfriend of my friend informing me that Douchebag contacted him in attempt to locate my friend. He threatened legal action. I found out later that he also contacted 3 other people as well.

When will it end?

When will stop mean stop?

I am infuriated by the disrespect. This man truly believes he’s in the right, he believes he has every right to harass whomever, whenever. It’s not OK. I encourage you to speak up when you witness bullying of any kind. Teach your children about respecting each other, when your child says, “stop” then stop! And reinforce that you respected their words. Let’s not raise bullies. *****Obviously, be safe, don’t put yourself in danger.*****

Parents have responsibilities to their children and to society to raise respectful children. Bullies don’t just pop out of nowhere. It’s a product of some type of trauma, or abuse or neglect. (Monkey see monkey do.) As parents we must nurture, and encourage empathy. Teach our children that other people have feelings, too, and it is equally important to validate your own feelings, as it is to validate other’s. There are too many little assholes running around, one day they’re gonna be big assholes. And it’s much harder to tame that kind of behavior in an adult. Let’s teach our kids that it’s OK to say, “I don’t like the way that makes me feel” and to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations. It’s OK to to walk away when someone is hurting you, or or making you feel yucky. I wish I was taught this. I wish my friend was taught this. Sadly she put up with it for too long. The problem with allowing bullies to bully, is they have learned that it’s ok to treat you like that. At this point we have responsibility to take. I am always called the bitch because I won’t put up with “certain people” who treat me badly. I will not be yelled at, name called or disrespected, and I make every effort to avoid situations where this might happen. I avoid certain functions because I know that I am not respected, and I won’t just sit quietly and take it. Because it’s viewed as “rude” to defend myself, I stay away. While everyone gives “certain people” excuses. “That’s just how they are.” Not to me they’re not.

If you have suggestions on how to deal with a bully, please comment below.

Fighting Food Demons

I read this article today on “orthorexia nervosa”. Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I, although I had a sneaking suspicion it was a thing. It’s having an unhealthy (go figure) obsession with eating clean. Generally when someone gets on a health kick, they are trying to be healthy. Evidently the issue here is that this drive towards ultimate health can actually make you UNHEALTHY. Well, that sucks. Particularly if you’re me. Having struggled with eating disorders for many years, resulting in rehab, then outpatient, groups and lots of therapy, I finally found peace with food. However, my “peace” with food has become increasingly “unpeacful”. When I built a healthy relationship with food, I decided I needed to have a better understanding of food. What is it? Where does it come from? What’s in it? What does “processed” mean? How does my body react to certain foods? Answering these questions helped me to not dwell on the calories, however I have noticed that I still feel just as guilty (and judgmental even) when I eat certain foods. And it’s not like a regular person who would not even consider that they have a relationship with food, (because you normies just EAT food.) and maybe feels some guilt when they go to a drive through, or eat ice cream. I feel guilty when I eat a sandwich. I feel self loathing when I eat bread. I hate myself when I eat cheese. And it’s not just that I do have a fear of gaining weight, but in my head I am thinking that I am causing inflammation which will undoubtedly lead to every health problem imaginable. And it will be because I ate a slice of pizza. I will die a miserable death because I had mozzarella sticks. You may be thinking that I am insane… But you may be like me and you maybe literally won’t EVER touch demonic foods that contain gluten, dairy or GMOs. (And I am over here feeling sickeningly jealous of your strength…. *You see, I wouldn’t ever buy these satanic tempestuous treats, but my husband literally won’t live without them. He thinks that no meal is a meal without carbs, in fact he thinks it’s ridiculous when me and my daughter don’t eat sandwiches. He would like to know what will fill us up if we don’t eat bread?*…And lucky if you don’t have have a partner who eats clean as well.)  It doesn’t stop there, I feel like like I am bringing bad karma onto myself for eating certain foods! (namely animal products)

I can compare this overwhelming guilty conscious to religious people. In fact, I believe I am so sensitive to not “doing what’s right” because of my past in churchianity. So if you feel bad because you missed church, or forgot to say your prayers, or whispered a curse word, maybe you feel a fraction of what I feel when I eat food (that you may even consider healthy). I feel like I have to go to confession after eating black bean soup! AND IT’S VEGAN! Why? I read that beans cause inflammation. I start planning a cleanse after eating quinoa. Yeah… quinoa. We all thinks it’s so healthy… but is it? I listen so carefully to my body after eating a food because I have to know how it effects me. I have slight depression when I see a carton of milk. I mean, those poor cows. And the meat isle?!? It’s a graveyard, It’s the dead animal isle. I don’t like it. I feel like I am literally driving the nails into Jesus’s hands when I eat cheese that isn’t organic. And I have nausea even if it is organic because I’m a little grossed out by the concept of cheese. And simultaneously, cheese is my weakness, it’s the equivalent of the shame you may feel watching porn.

OK so you see my insanity. But here’s the deal, I don’t eat perfectly. So far I am healthy, even though I cheat sometimes. I can and do go to restaurants. I will find food that I can/will/want to eat. (Except fast food, but if we are going with the religious comparison, fast food is like a whore house, right?) I generally bring my own food to a BBQ, this isn’t that weird because I don’t eat meat, and it doesn’t bother me. I would like to say that my food standards are reasonable. I felt bad a few weeks ago when a friend asks me to feed her kid lunch and I knew already that he wouldn’t eat what we had. When I asked what he liked to eat, she suggested something like, mach n cheese, buttered noodles, pb&j, chicken nuggets, cereal and oatmeal. I had none of that. Or I and pieces… no butter, no bread, organic funny looking noodles, no milk for cereal, no peanut butter…. I apologized (don’t worry he was fed!), I honestly felt bad, but in reality, it’s not that big of a deal. These things happen, and I don’t think those are necessary foods. I don’t think that makes me extreme, either. I think that maybe my intense feelings on dairy seem extreme, but not buying chicken nuggets, not so much.

You may be wondering what this means for my kiddos? What do they eat? Well, if we go to a birthday party or a bbq, they eat pizza, hot dogs, cake and chips. The only thing I really put my foot down on at a social even is soda. At home my kiddos eat a balanced healthy diet, and I try to buy organic. They get dessert 2-3 times a week. My kids don’t eat as strict of a diet as I do, and that’s ok. I have had to loosen the reigns on that one, I wasn’t always so nonchalant about that.

Am I orthorexic? No, I don’t think so. I think that eating this way has helped improve my health and is better for my family. Do I think it’s a fine line? Yes. Considering my history it’s not weird that I have unhealthy emotions about food, however, it’s pretty awesome that I have not taken my obsession with health to an unhealthy extreme. I will be mindful, and I will continue fighting my food related demons.