Judging the covers…

I was having a lovely day. Well, at least a lovely morning. The weather has been chilly of late but in all honesty, I do love the cold, gloomy weather. I find it much easier to keep warm than to try cool down on a hot day. I am one of those people who very rarely feel cold. So even on a cold day, I’ll be up and about in my usual clothing while everyone else is all bundled up trying to preserve whatever heat they have and they keep wondering how comes I’m not cold! Hot weather is very uncomfortable for me. I feel like a sweat messiah with the amount of sweating that goes on! I shall not even bother getting into the amount of deo I use in the hot weather or how many times I need to shower in a day just to be comfortable. Chilly weather, yay! So why are we discussing weather anyway? Because I noticed a trend… whenever I’m doing my thing, walking around without a sweater or a jacket, guys wonder, some of them quite loudly, to my face, how comes I’m able to do that. The one thing I have always noted to be blamed, or credited, for my resistance to cold is my size. “Oh, you’re so lucky you are big so you don’t feel cold. Man, I need to put on weight too so that I can be like you…” I find that people are rather insensitive when it comes to weight issues. Girl, you need to hit the gym, you should diet, you should do this, or do that. Or, Girl, you need to eat a burger or something, hold on tight, the wind might just blow you away… I get a lot of the former. And for the longest time, I used to be incredibly hurt by such comments. I used to hate going out clubbing or being in the general public with my skinny friends. They feel the need to give diet advice. People you randomly meet feel the need to do the same. People who don’t even know who you are. Making assumptions. Making condescending comments like they know who you are what your life is all about or your struggles. I’d feel inadequate when we’d be in a club partying away and my friends would get picked up by dudes one by one and suddenly I’m there all alone, staring at a drink that I don’t even like, hanging out in a club virtually by myself, feeling more lonely than I’d feel if I was curled up in bed with a nice Sandra Brown novel… So I slowly changed. Became a loner, learnt to enjoy my own company, learnt to entertain myself, I slowly found things that I loved that didn’t require company to accomplish…  I transformed my initially  jolly, bubbly, happy self into introvert who avoids crowds at all costs and finds company (unless we’re friends) quite tedious. I tried just about everything, some things even dangerous, except perhaps surgery, to change my size but nothing worked so far. It really is cruel to be in a perpetual state of hunger yet people assume that the reason you are the size you are is because you gobble everything edible in your sight. And somehow this was still not enough. In this day and age where the whole world is in your house with you, in your bedroom, your bathroom , courtesy of social networks, I found that I was just avoiding the problem, not dealing with the root of the problem. Which was that I was not secure with myself. I barely had a spoonful of self-esteem left in me… And I don’t know exactly where or when or even how it happened but I woke up one day and I just said enough is enough. I was tired of letting other people’s opinion of me dictate my opinion of myself. And since then I have never looked back.

Now, when guys say I’m lucky I am fat and therefore cannot feel the cold, I just smile and nod in agreement. Now, I can make jokes about it too, tell them it’s difficult for me to feel cold because I’m well padded. I have grown and I have matured. I have learnt to be comfortable in my own skin. I learnt to keep those disparaging voices out. And for the first time in my life, I learnt what a wonderful thing it is to have self-esteem…. That I can wake in the morning be happy, proceed to have a nice day and not wait for another person to be the source of my contentment and happiness. That I don’t have to do things simply because I want people to like/love me. Seeking approval from other. I have also learnt to deflect. I make fun of myself. I laugh at myself. I judge myself. You’d call it self-deprecating but I simply see it as being in a place where I am comfortable enough in my skin. I joke about my weight. I joke about my big thighs and my big ass because the truth is, there is no one in this world who can judge you more harshly than you judge yourself. And when you have reached a point where you have judged yourself and accepted who you are, there is nothing someone, anyone, out there can tell you that can make you feel bad. There is nothing you can tell me that can worse than the things I have told myself. There is no insult you can hurl at me that’ll hurt worse than the ones I hurled at myself… I learnt that you have got to love yourself because the world out here is cruel and ain’t nobody got time to deal with your bullshit AND their own BS. Not for long anyway… And I also learnt to stick up for myself. You think I’m fat? Yeah, well, you’re bow-legged and you don’t see me going on and on and on about how that somehow makes you less of a human being! (I once actually told someone that to their face. A dude was in shock! The mean streak in me loved it! )

One of my pals forwarded me an article yesterday that made me feel like the author was my alter-ego. Or my best friend. Because she was discussing the very same issue of being comfortable and even (gasp!) happy with yourself. Because you have learnt yourself. You know your shortcoming, you know your strengths, you know you limits and you are okay with yourself like that. And I was so inspired. The original article is here if you may want to read it but I’m going to re-post it. Here goes:

I want to talk about something I will call “uglyism”. It’s a form of discrimination that is rarely spoken of, yet those discriminated against are entirely faultless and it crosses gender, race, age and sexuality. The word “ugly” is, well, ugly. Phonetically I find it rather pleasing. Perhaps I shall work to reclaim it.

I am ugly, and I am proud.

There is a huge difference between being “attractive” (which is very subjective) and being “good-looking” (still subjective, but I think less so).

It makes people very uncomfortable if you describe yourself as being “ugly”. Social mores seem to dictate that they must respond in a Pavlovian way with, “No, you’re beautiful“. And it gets awkward.

The fact is I don’t see people in magazines who look like me. I don’t see people like me playing the romantic lead or having a romantic life. People on TV and in films who are not good-looking are rarely portrayed having sex, enjoying sex, having sex with good-looking people who don’t regret it or having a healthy attitude to sex without hang-ups.

But, you know what? I do have sex. And I have had sex with some really good-looking men. Not because they were doing me a favour. Not because they felt it was a charitable act. Not because they were drunk, or doing it for a bet. But because we fancied each other.

Now, in my 30s, after many years wrestling with feelings of inadequacy, I’ve realised that aesthetic beauty really is only the tip of a very large and attractive iceberg.

Moreover, I am thankful. I love my lumpy body and my funny face. I have also learned to appreciate the benefits of not being aesthetically too pleasing. These include:

1. I know that friends actually want to spend time with me, not just a glamorous accessory.

2. I have a robust and individual personality as I have never been able to rely on what I look like to make friends.

3. I don’t get leered at in the street or groped in pubs.

4. I am not worried about “losing my looks”. The pressure, particularly on women, to grow old without actually ageing is ridiculous. It must be very difficult to have been an exceptionally attractive person, and to have used that to your advantage, and to watch that power fade with every wrinkle.

Still think uglyism isn’t a thing? I could give countless examples. Here’s just one. Recently, a friend tweeted this:

“My reaction when I realise its [sic] Monday is similar to that when the not-so-hot girl would pick me at the school dance.”

Guess what? Being fancied by someone ugly doesn’t affect your attractiveness. Whether you find them attractive or not doesn’t affect the fact of the flattery. Just as if someone from a different race fancies you, it doesn’t affect what race you are. What’s more, personally, I don’t find this friend remotely attractive. What’s worse than an ugly girl fancying you? An ugly girl that doesn’t fancy you. Ha!

If I were “pretty”, I wonder, would I still be a stand-up? Is it easier to laugh at somebody with a funny face? If I were stunning to look at, maybe that would distract from what I’m saying?

Many reviewers describe my act as “self-deprecating”. My comedic persona is, like most comics’, an exaggeration of me. Yes, I refer to myself as being scruffy and world-weary, but these are qualities I love about me. It is only assumed by others to be self-deprecation. “How can she possibly say those things without being self-loathing?” Well, I’m simply not.

For the record, I like being me, as much as anyone likes being themselves. That is, not always, but enough of the time to get by.

The culture of body shaming is deeply rooted in us as human beings and I doubt that it is going to go away any time soon. And I am not just talking about just weight, though of course this is the one thing I am well versed in. I’m talking about the stereotypes… Like the assumption that a woman cannot be pretty AND brainy at the same time. If a pretty woman got anywhere in life, she did because she’s pretty. Of she used the age-old route of parting her legs. We sit down in the comfort of our homes and we judge and judge and judge. Oh, she’s too fat. No, he’s too short. No, he too skinny. No, she’s ugly. Granted, we all have our personal preferences… for example, I prefer to date guys who’re taller than me. There’s something about a guy that’s taller than you… it makes a girl feel petite. And God knows I could use every illusion of me being petite! Lol. But, this does not mean that I hate short guys. Or that I won’t talk to a guy who is short. Or I won’t associate myself with, or be friends with a short guy simply because he is short. Or that I shall make fun of a short guy and probably make worse any esteem issues that he may already have! On the social networks I see all sort of shocking things. People making fun of dark-skinned people, light-skinned people, short people, tall people, fat people , skinny people, people with short hair, people with long hair…. It’s exhausting to try to live up to people’s standards! You just cannot win. They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. (Or beer-holder, depends on who you’re asking! Lol!) And I get that. I just don’t understand this culture of shaming people just because they are not what you are, or because they are not what you believe is the standards of beauty. Dear God, now even NAMES have to be pretty! The other day, I watched online as a group of people attacked a lady because she has what they thought was and UGLY NAME! I just wish we could all get along. Let my personality be the issue… Get to know me first then hate me because I am liar. Or I’m a thief. Or I’m douche-bag…… because when you attack someone just based on their physical attributes, you are a shallow, narrow-minded, waste of human space. Yes, this is a tad harsh, but frankly I have no tolerance for such crap in my life. It would make a wee bit of sense if making fun of a person actually earned you something. Like money. But making fun of someone just so that you can feel better about yourself, that’s utter bullshit and I refuse to be convinced otherwise. And if making fun of a person who you think is somehow less of a human being because they’re not light-skinned, or tall, or short, or whatever else standards you may have applied, actually DOES make you feel better about yourself, then you, my friend, are sick. And you need to be on medication. Now, I’d like to sit here and think that now that I have put up this post and it’s been read, the world is gonna be one big happy family. But that would be akin to burying my head in the sand and leaving my ass sticking out. (And with the size of this ass, I’d probably end up causing an eclipse anyway.) We are all human, and this means that we are all fundamentally flawed. This, however, should not excuse ugly behavior. There IS something known as common human decency. And frankly, the world would be better off with a little more of human decency. And self-esteem. Lots and lots and lots of self-esteem. And love. And frankly, a whole lot of sex too. Protected sex. It’s gotta be protected sex. 😀

The Other Woman (Part 3)

So George called me today. Early in the morning,. I had just gotten out of the shower and was getting ready to heard out to work. My phone rang and I picked the call on reflex only to find out it is George. He just won’t quit despite everything we have talked about and how I have treated him. I confess, I have been quite rude to him on occasion. I blocked him from all my instant message services including Skype and he just won’t quit. I don’t pick up when he calls or reply his text messages and have pretty much asked him to leave me alone but he just won’t get it. It could be because I told him we can be friends because that’s pretty much all I can have with him. Maybe he figures if he’s persistent enough, I shall change my mind? And maybe I have, unwittingly, offered him some hope by telling him we can be friends? I don’t know. Anyway when we talked, I told him much of what I always tell him. I told him I’m not ready to me ‘the other woman’ with him. The broken promises, the cancelled plans, the sitting around waiting for someone to make time to see you while you cannot make any plans for fear that they might call and you won’t be available, having no one to reliably be there for you when you need help, compartmentalized lives, sex in HOTELS or motels! Seriously though, having sex in a hotel is one of the most disturbing things ever. Cheap motels and hotels are even worse. Nothing makes a woman feel dirtier and more used than that. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Hilton you were at, nothing would make me want to scrub my skin raw under scalding water more than sex in a hotel. I thought it was demeaning the one time I actually tried it and I swore I would never again put myself through that. Ever. Bleugh! … Nuh uh… I am not doing that. Not ever. Been there done that, got the T-shirt, thank you very much. So, naturally, I figured today would be a good day to do the final bit of my ‘The Other Woman’ series. I have been a bit busy and you know how life is, sometimes it throws you a curve ball… It occurred to me that maybe three posts is a bit too much time to dedicate to one topic… but after thinking it over, I figured, what the hell… It’s something that’s bugging me and I might as well talk about it until I manage to get it out of my system. And honestly, we tend to talk about what we experience, right?

What do you do when you are caught in a situation where you have to choose between being the other woman and being alone? Frankly, I cannot tell you how you should carry yourself. That is an intensely personal decision that you have to make for yourself. But what you need to remember the reality which is that, a man doesn’t need to be unhappy with his relationship to cheat. If he is cheating inclined, he’ll cheat whether the going is good or bad. It’s not about her, it’s about him. They’re selfish, self-involved twats. He didn’t even see himself as a cheat and like majority of these men, he could very comfortably have lived his double life for as long as I would let him. Rationalizing the situation will only hurt you in the long term.

According to my current favorite author, Natalie Rue, you both need to be on the same page about the relationship. Are you still sitting pretty, wondering if he is ever going to leave his girlfriend/wife for you? Are you still asking him if he’s gonna do so? You can do this:

1) Make sure that when you have any discussions that they are definitive rather than being wishy washy: A lot of women don’t ask direct questions (they think they do though) because they are afraid of hearing bad news or pushing him too far. He needs to be pushed. Better you know where you stand now than find yourself still doing the same thing and having the same conversations several years down the line.

2) Be careful of setting deadlines. In fact, you should only set a deadline if he has said that he intends on leaving. Do not set deadlines that you are not going to follow through on. No matter how much you yell and scream, if you’re still with them afterwards, you look silly and he knows he doesn’t have to leave. Make the deadline realistic but not so long that it loses any meaning. Make sure you gain agreement, be clear on the terms, and be even clearer that it’s over if he doesn’t follow through. 3-6 months is optimum – the shorter the time, the better.

3) If you’ve been asking a lot, stop asking and be a woman of action. If you genuinely don’t want to share this man, don’t share him, and he’ll see that there are consequences and that if he wants to be with you, he has to man up. You are doing yourself a big favor in the long run. The best thing that you can do is believe in yourself – tell him to come back when he’s free to be with you. That may be never, but it’s better than waiting forever.

4) Remember that if their marriage/relationship is not working and they say it as over anyway, they are leaving for that reason, not just because of you. It’s important to remember this because should they leave, the worst types will keep throwing it at you that they only left because you told them to or do the whole ‘I left her for you so you should be grateful’ type thing, or even worse ‘You know how you met me! Why are you surprised that I’m sleeping with X, Y, and Z?’. Some people need a catalyst to leave and can’t end relationships on the basis of it not working – they need to have someone to go to.

5) Make sure you know what you want before you go down this road.

Sometimes you want them to leave because you want to ‘win’ – then you discover it’s a booby prize… If you’re OK with being with someone who has a wife/girlfriend, and particularly if it’s not the first time, you need to address your own issues with emotional unavailability and second best syndrome.

Have you thought it all through and you are still determined to be with the man? The love of your life? (sic) According to Miss Natalie Lue, here are some basic tips to help you survive being the ‘Other Woman’

1. Have your escape route from the affair planned. If you have any sense of self worth, don’t be banking on being the other woman forever. Either get the commitment you want and be the starring role instead of the understudy, or get out. Set a time limit and stick to it.

2. Don’t be burning up energy making empty threats. Sometimes an ultimatum is needed to bring things to a head, but if you have no intention of actually following through – you’ll look like a dipstick and then he knows that he doesn’t actually have to make a decision. An ultimatum is an ultimatum for a reason which means there should only be ONE.

3. Do tell a friend about the affair: Keeping things to yourself will be a big strain emotionally and you need someone who you can confide in, have sanity check with and who will also tell you that you should be doing better.

4. Don’t get pregnant in an attempt to force his hand. This is just about the WORST thing you could ever do to yourself. The only person you’re ‘trapping’ is yourself. A baby is for life…not for using as a tool to get what you want.

5. Get a life. Don’t make him the focal point of your existence and don’t be afraid to spend time on your own and certainly spend time with friends and family. The better you feel about yourself, the quicker you’ll come to your senses about being the other woman. Also if you make him the focus of your existence, it gives him supreme control and makes you very dependent on him. Not good!

6. Don’t be doing the chasing. How can you be spending so much energy running after a man who is throwing you the crumbs of his attention? Pfffffft.

7. Keep it real. You are the other woman, he belongs to someone else, this isn’t a good indicator of how much he can be trusted and he is probably having sex with his girlfriend/wife. This doesn’t mean he loves you – it means he’s greedy, indecisive, cowardly and/or a cheat.

8. Don’t disparage the girlfriend or wife. It will do you no favors and makes you appear to be jealous and childish. It’s a difficult situation but he is with this person and whatever reason he has come up with being with you and cheating on her, he hasn’t left her and he’s still with her.

9. Don’t turn into a stalker. The moment you feel yourself going off the rails and wanting to follow him, cut up his clothes, follow his girlfriend/wife, hang around at his kids school, fake pregnancies, fake diseases and any other devious or attention seeking carry-on, it’s time to abort the mission and bail out.

10. Don’t cope with being the other woman. Get out and be with a man that isn’t someone else. Take off the rose tinted glasses and particularly if you have been with him for an extended period of time, you need to let go. It doesn’t take that long to leave someone and he is emotionally unavailable no matter what he says. If he really did love you, he’d put himself in a position to actually be with you properly. Don’t let him convince you that he is the best you can do for yourself – you are better than playing second best.

That fear that many ‘Other Women’ have is that if they leave, he’ll think they don’t care or find someone else. If you’re worried that he’ll replace you with someone else to cheat with, it suggests he’s worth leaving…

The relationship cannot be just on his terms. Just like he expects you trust in him, he’ll have to trust that you’ll be there when he’s got his shit sorted out.

Lastly, if being with someone who is attached is against your core values and forces you to make a rapid departure from who you are, sidelining yourself and living on the fringes and in secret from friends and family, opt out now. If loving him means that you can’t love yourself, choose you. Always choose yourself. Who is going to take care of you, if you do not take care of yourself first?

PS: Natalie Lue is the author of the amazing books Mr Unavailable And The Fallback Girl, The No Contact Rule and The Dreamer And The Fantasy Relationship. You should absolutely check them out. They are available in paperback and as well as e-book format. This lady is the sh*t.