I remembered the first time I got fingered. His fingers entered me like a bull that saw red. I was in so much pain that I physically recoiled, but it didn’t matter. I was not wet, did not proceed to get wet and this not only left him bruised but angry. He could not understand why I couldn’t come for him, why I was not aroused and I didn’t either. But my body knew. Every part of me knew that it was not the right man, set of fingers and this refusal was frustrating to me because I wanted him to enjoy me. As if that meant anything. He just scoffed and told me that maybe something was wrong with me and I kept that; I was the problem.
I met my first boyfriend on a night where my vision was blurry and the music was too loud to distinguish bodies. We decided, between our haziness and slurred syllables, that we would date. I had never had a guy show interest in me like him so I told myself he would love me so I could. I waited 6 months but I wished I waited forever. We were drunk, convinced ourselves we loved each other and I went along with it. He fucked me in a motel room, came in seconds and fell asleep almost instantly. I laid there, numb and not knowing how to feel. Society brainwashes you into thinking that certain experiences have a way about them and if you don’t feel the exact way, you are doing it wrong. This felt wrong and I didn’t need a song, a book or a movie to tell me to feel that I shouldn’t be feeling like I was. He was wrong for falling asleep and not caring if I came and I was wrong for allowing myself to believe that this was what sex looked like. I cleaned up and probably took about 5 showers to try and wash the shame away; it didn’t help. I called my best friend and our conversation was laced with guilt and judgement. I was scared and unsure about what to do and in that minute, I needed something, a glimmer of anything instead of the nothing I was drowning in. What if it was really bad? What if I’m pregnant? Am I still me? I was full of questions but felt empty and I needed something. I got nothing.
I didn’t know that I would continue to have unfulfilling sex with this boy for the next year and a half until I found out he was also having sex with lots of other girls. Had all the other girls been fucked the same way? That couldn’t be right. Is he representative of all the sex I’m going to have for the rest of my life? In the back of mind, in a small corner, I hoped not but I had stopped hoping for anything at that point.
After him, the shame grew. I hated myself because I had demands in bed and was constantly told that if I had sexual needs, I was not the type of girl that you could have a long term relationship with. Can you imagine that? Actually knowing what you want and giving yourself permission to enjoy sex which can serve as an act of self love, freedom and life, automatically deemed me the complete opposite? I had been beaten into submission by so many, by myself, I couldn’t even recognize who I was anymore.
We are a sick group of people, hungry and looking for love in the wrong places. We hang onto every word, looking for a meaning, obsessed with reading between the lines to find something that doesn’t exist. Our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers married to pass on their wisdom down to younger generations. We bloom because they did, they chose to trust men they hardly knew, trust a system that was built to fail them, just so they could bring daughters and sons into the world that didn’t make the same mistakes, took different paths and maybe even carve their own. My mother always told me that I needed to find someone that loved me more than I loved him. Mom, how do I know what love is if I can’t even recognize it in myself? My parents came to this country from the streets and waters they were familiar with, only to drown in their own insecurities and the struggles of a culture they hardly know. They never got a chance to recognize, to learn the way of this new world because they had to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. I grew up watching my parents toil to make a living, but never thought they actually loved each other. Maybe they loved each other because they shared me and my sister, love comes in different forms, degrees and cannot always be seen by the naked eye. I know now that my dad loved my mom but was too sick to let it cure him and my mom was too weak to give herself permission to let love run through her veins just as naturally as her blood. This isn’t a particularly uncommon or new way to love; and it was all I knew.
Fast forward to my adulthood and I am desperately looking for my own story. Unable to recognize anything that was healthy, somehow convincing myself that the love I craved, the beauty that I was searching for lay in someone else’s hands, legs, spine and heart. My body was begging for someone to touch it and make the broken parts feel whole, to fill the bullet holes that my soul was unable to recover from. I threw myself into people that did not deserve me and was left feeling unfulfilled, unhappy and ready to fall into another.
I still struggle daily to accept the messy bits, the inconvenient truths about myself that don’t fit neatly in a box, the type you don’t want to look at directly in the morning light. I hate that my orgasm wasn’t a priority for anyone, especially myself, for so long and I hate that I felt my body was programmed wrong if I wasn’t able to react the way someone else wanted me to. Today is one more day I get to be further and further away from the people that took my idea of love and played with it, that didn’t understand that I would never come for them no matter how badly they wanted it. Today is one more day that I use to get closer to a place where none of that matters anymore. A day I cultivate the universe inside of myself and maybe some day find another universe that is finally worthy of me.
Love would never be easy for “women like me.” Difficult women – that is. Or so I’ve been told. But I’ve met women who society claims are not difficult. There is no good synonym for these women, other than, “not difficult.” Perhaps, “accomodating?” Yes, accommodating is the right word. However, these women never seem quite so happy to me, for people who are supposedly easy to love. They always seem like they sacrifice too much of the self for something that isn’t love at all; just a substitute. I was taught to envy these women. But whenever I encounter them, I do not envy them. And I don’t think they envy me either. Life is difficult for the both of us.
My mother taught me to care of myself from head to toe. That every detail of one’s appearance matters. I’m not so sure about this lesson. People don’t seem so attentive to me. But I still think of her lessons whenever I have a bad hair day, or think of myself as not looking particularly pretty, or realize I haven’t done anything with my nails for weeks. I wonder if falling and staying in love is harder because of these things. But then I remember my mother’s most important lesson about beauty – that it matters most what people cannot see; the heart and soul are what matters most. Trying to fall in love with heart and soul seem like quite the task, even on a good hair day.
There is a moment in every woman’s life when she wonders if someone will love her. If a woman has not experienced this – do not take anything she says seriously. Do not trust people who don’t believe in pain or suffering or heartache; who have never experienced these things in the misery of their own company. Trust people who know how to be alone, who have cried and comforted themselves in anguish, in loneliness. Trust people who still believe in the beauty and sacredness of love, even when they despair because of it. These people know how to survive. Trust them.
If you ever envy the love that other people have, remember that you don’t know anything about their life. Not really. You only know what people tell you and show you. Internalize this. Think of the things that you do not tell people about yourself. Do not read into stories that you are not a part of; do not paint pictures that you do not see. Be angry at yourself, your situation, your inability to say the right thing, and do the right thing, and be the right person – the kind of person that falls in love quickly and often. Be angry. You’ve earned it. Then each time, stop being angry and promise yourself that you will believe in love till your last breath. Don’t break that promise.
The people you want are bad for you. Or so you’ve been told, and so you tell yourself. It doesn’t help. It often feels like you’re stuck in the space between wanting people who don’t want you, and not wanting people who do. There’s a certain kind of madness in it. And people blame you, and you blame yourself but you cannot force love from any side of the equation. Maybe that’s why love is so spectacular. It is a rare thing that happens when two people can want to be with each other in a particular place at a particular time, and want to keep wanting each other. It is bizarre and wonderful.
Tell yourself that you will not make the same mistakes other people make. Tell yourself that you are much too evolved for that. Those silly games that people play with each other, to get each other, to like each other. It’s all so pedestrian isn’t it? Why can’t people be in love the way we all want to be in love? Why must we all create so much work for ourselves? Trying to be the simple person inadvertently turns you into the difficult one. The one who is forward but scared; honest but cautious, and who wants to be brave with someone who is also brave. I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway. All love is tragedy.
Dare yourself to fall in love, difficult woman. Do not listen to the voices in your head that tell you you’re not enough in one way or the other. Those voices are false; they tell you that you cannot do something that is in very your human and spiritual nature. You can. Dare yourself to change in some ways, and not change in other ways, for the kind of love you believe you deserve. Drown the voices that tell you what kind of love is and isn’t meant for you; for women like you – difficult women, that is. You deserve good things and beautiful things and wonderful things. You deserve love difficult woman; you too, deserve love.
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I’ve talked about before why Broad City is easily one of my favorite shows and why it’s so easy to fall in love with Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the two masterminds behind the comedy show. If you’ve always wanted to see the show but for some reason haven’t found the time to get into it, here are 10 clips of some of the show’s best laugh-out-loud moments. Enjoy!
1. When they let us know in 2014 anal IS on menu.
2. When they made very, very adult decisions.
3. When they are literally us cashing a check at the bank.
4. When Ilana elevated her levels of highness in an attempt to remember.
5. When Ilana complimented Abby’s best ~ass~ets.
6. When they showed us how to support your best friend’s romantic interests.
7. When they do whatever it takes to see Lil’ Wayne.
8. When Ilana faces the uncomfortable experience of seeing an accountant.
9. When they asked the very important question – to peg or not to peg?
10. When they show us what it’s like when your friend is just a littttttle too into shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Do not shower, change clothes, brush your hair or in any way damage the physical evidence. You need to preserve the physical evidence, including DNA evidence, as is for the proper administration of a rape kit. Rape kits are straight-forward, anonymous, only kept on file for 18 months after the incident, and will only be examined or put to use if you decide to. It is always better to keep the option open for yourself.
Call a friend or family member you can trust for emotional, physical, and medical support. You may feel judged, exposed, guilty, or other difficult emotions that may make you want to simply deny the situation and move forward without discussing the event. It is important to reach out for support as soon as you are able so that somebody you trust can help give you guidance and stay clear headed about the situation.
Go to a local emergency room. A medical exam can be quickly administered to identify and treat external or internal injuries. The doctors and nurses there can also treat you with medications that can prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs during the crucial 24 hours after the incident. Hospitals often provide this service anonymously and free of charge to those who require it. A nurse can assist you in processing your rape kit so that the evidence is available on file should you choose to pursue your case with the authorities.
Follow up with your doctor. It’s important to follow up with your scheduled doctors appointments following the application of STI and pregnancy prevention medications. Any injuries you may have gotten will also need to be overseen by a doctor as they heal.
Follow up with the police. If you want to pursue your case legally as a crime you can contact your local police precinct and report the crime for investigation. Many people choose not to speak up immediately following sexual assault but later wish to pursue the case. Go when you are comfortable and emotionally ready.
Seek talk and group therapy. The difficult thing in such traumatic situations is that the veil of shock may give the victim the false sense that they aren’t as emotional about the situation as they may in actuality be. If you’re comfortable, make an appointment in either a group therapy session or a one-on-one talk session with a psychologist, therapist, or counselor who specializes in cases of sexual assault in order to take care of your needs should they arise.
For more information on sexual assault or to speak to somebody knowledgeable, contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) at https://www.rainn.org/ or 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
“An old man was sitting at the kitchen table with his teenage grandson, quietly eating breakfast and flipping through the pages of the newspaper. Upon glancing at the weather section, the grandfather announced, ‘Looks like it’s going to be raining cats and dogs this weekend, the roads are going to be a mess.’ The grandson, unimpressed with his grandfather’s attempt at small-talk replied, exasperated, ‘Ugh, tell me something I don’t know!’ The grandfather folds down his paper and says, ‘Okay… Your grandmother’s asshole can take my whole fist.’”
This was the joke that best-selling author and acclaimed humorist David Sedaris told to an auditorium full of people in San Rafael, CA while on tour promoting his book, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. Now, before you jump to conclusions and decide that Sedaris’ new book must be pretty fucked up, let me explain what was going on:
The grandma fisting joke was actually part of a larger story that Sedaris was telling us about a time when he bombed spectacularly in front of another audience, which basically came up as the result of him saying, “Well, no matter what I say here today, at least it can’t go any worse than this one time.” A few months prior to the event I attended, David (or should I call him Mr. Sedaris? I want it to sound like we’re close friends, but I also want to be respectful of one of my idols. Hmm, anyway…) was hired to give an entertaining speech at a Yacht club fundraiser or something similar; the venue was chock-full of humorless, old, white, Republican men and their even more uptight, pearl-necklace-wearing wives. For some reason, Sedaris thought a joke about Granny-fisting would make for terrific opener, really ‘loosen up’ the crowd. Suffice to say, he was very wrong. Not only did no one laugh, nobody even cracked a smile and it was so quiet in the room you could almost hear everyone’s asses clench even tighter.
When the joke was repeated to us, in the context of recounting this catastrophic moment, we roared with laughter. And though Sedaris made us all laugh about a half a million times that evening, this was the moment that stuck with me. Sure, maybe it was that the fisting joke was horrifying enough that I’ll never be able to forget it, but I also think this moment can teach us a lot about art and what it means to be an artist. Here’s what I’ve surmised:
1. Even successful people fail.
If you’ve been hired to entertain a room full of people, and you tell a joke that makes exactly no one laugh, I think it’s fair to call that a failure. I also think that selling over 7 million books and hitting the NYT Bestsellers list 5 times makes you a pretty huge success – a reminder that success and failure are not mutually exclusive, and that even the most talented amongst us will experience cringe-worthy moments, and those moments won’t define us or our careers.
2. There’s no such thing as objectively “bad” art (whether it’s a joke, a painting, or a song).
I think the fact that Sedaris told the fisting joke twice and was met with silent hostility in one instance and boisterous applause in the other, highlights the fact that there are no universals when it comes to art – some people will interpret your work favorably, and others will absolutely hate it. Having written online for a handful of years, I’ve learned this first-hand: I can write an article about pretty much anything and then scroll down to the comment section to see that xoFlower-Child1989 has written, “omg, this was beautiful, I love you” meanwhile right below that, bieberfan41 has posted, “you suck balls, go die.” My advice is to take neither of these kinds of responses to heart, and to just keep focusing on your work instead.
3. It’s important to know your audience.
While you can’t always control how people are going to react to your art, you can minimize the chances you’ll be booed out of a building if you tailor your work to the audience you’re trying to entertain/ inform/ impress. Far be it from me to criticize someone as famous as Sedaris, but maybe had he ‘read the room’ of the Yacht club a little better, he would have decided to skip the Old Lady Fisting joke and instead tell a joke about, I don’t know, poor people, and then the whole thing would have gone over a lot better.
4. Care less what people think.
That David Sedaris was able to not only repeat the joke again, but also the story about how terribly the whole affair went for him, shows me he didn’t really give a shit about what any of those old geezers thought about him or his joke. While it might have made for a pretty uncomfortable rest of the speech, I also can’t imagine Sedaris going home, locking himself in his bedroom and agonizing about the faux pas for weeks, can you? It’s a good reminder that at the end of the day you need to let stuff go and move on, and that there might even be some humor in the whole thing that you can draw inspiration from later.
5. Try, try again.
I think if David Sedaris were to have retired on the spot, never written or entertained again after a few people didn’t laugh at him one time, we’d all agree that would be pretty ridiculous. And yet, for those of us who haven’t earned the same level of accolades as Sedaris, we can sometimes be tempted to throw in the towel altogether in the wake of an artistic ‘failure.’ NO! Throughout the career of any artist, there will be highs and lows; so, after a particularly rough low, congratulate yourself on having gotten one of them out of the way, pick up your pen/guitar/paintbrush/camera/laptop/etc. and set out to achieve another high. There’s never an excuse to give up.