Another Site We Love

I just stumbled across Violence Unsilenced today. The purpose of this site is "Shedding lightViolence Unsilenced: You are not alone, and you don't have to live this way. on the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault by giving its survivors a voice." They have a wealth of information for victims of abuse and so much support. What an a-mazing thing this woman is doing over there.

I hope all you Janes will head over and read what these ladies have to say. While you're there, consider taking the pledge. I did. This is so much in line with one part of our vision for Jane. It warms my heart to know that women are supporting one another through such difficult situations.

Please take a moment to check out the promotional video made for Violence Unsilenced.

Today's mood is "proud".

Much Love,

In 1972...

In 1972 I gave birth to a baby girl. I don’t know her name, I never gave her one. Instead, I gave her to waiting nurses and signed forms that told an adoption agency that they could have her. You may think that my reason for doing this were noble. You would be wrong.

When I hear of mothers giving their children up for adoption I always feel this stabbing in my gut. Most of these women hand over their tiny bundles to complete strangers because they are too young, too poor, too damaged to raise a child and they know it. What they’re doing is a gift to their child. It their final gift to the little life they brought into world. I envy them and the knowledge that they carry with them deep in their hearts. I gave you up because I love you so much.

In 1972 I had a daughter and when her screaming little form came bursting into this world all I could think was how glad I was it was over. All I wanted to do was sign those forms and get out of that hospital and meet my friends to go out on the town. You see, I was 24 years old and I lived to party. I wasn’t an addict, just very selfish. The thought of raising a child as an unmarried woman even in those days didn’t give me pause but the crimp in my lifestyle did. I thought I was a very smart and forward thinking woman. I thought I was ahead of my time. So, I took one fleeting glance at my bawling baby girl and signed those papers.

When I left the hospital I went home to my chic apartment and slept. I slept for days, then more days, more days still. I couldn’t seem to get out of bed. Instead of partying I just…slept. Visions of that scrunched up little face, my face, went around and around in my head.

Here’s the part where I would love to say I called the agency and demanded my daughter back. I would like to tell you we were reunited and I gave her a name, the name I’ve been carrying around in my heart all these years. I cannot. I did not.

I went back to my life. I worked and partied. I was a modern woman and I told myself I would live without regrets…Regrets are funny things. They want you even if you don’t want them and oh, how I regret. If I could turn back the clock and do it over, well, you know the story now don’t you?

I never had any other children. I couldn’t bring myself to look at another little face, my face, and know that somewhere out there was the sweet little girl who should have been mine. I often wonder if she’s tried to contact me. As much as I would love to see her and smell and hold her for the first time in our lives I dread it. What could I possibly say to her? How could I explain why I did what I did? I can’t, there is no explanation.

In 1972 I gave birth to a baby girl. I don’t know her name, I never gave her a name. When I think of her, I call her Elaine, my mother’s name.

I’m so sorry.

Fe/Male Friendships -- Are They Possible?

I just got home from work. The hour is later than normal because I went out for a couple of beers with a co-worker after work. My co-worker and I are very good friends; we know lots of stuff about each other's past, each other's current lives, romantic relationships, and political and religious leanings. We get together regularly for dinner or drinks, occasionally with the other's significant other joining us. We e-mail each other's personal e-mail accounts about non-work items regularly. Hell, we've even compared pornography souces. Sounds like probably a million other work friendships (except for the porn thing), and probably better than most, right?

The reason this is important, the reason I am posting about it, is because my co-worker is a man.

This occurred to me, actually for the first time, while we were drinking tonight. During a lull in conversation, I told him, "One of the reasons I love you so much is that we can drink, we can talk, we have this wonderful intimate friendship, and I can be as handsy as beer will prompt me, and we have none of that [motion back and forth between each other] baggage that so many male/female relationships do. You don't think I'm coming on to you, so you're neither hopeful nor nervous about it. We're just friends, for once everyone is clear. And I love it!"

He smiled, "Indeed." And we were of a single mind. What a wonderful moment!

I think this minor moment is of importance to The Jane Community is that I've heard it said, over and over, that men and women can not be friends. That the sexual subtext of the human animal prevents this from occurring. That there's always going to be, at the very best, unconscious sexual jockeying, game-playing, some sort of unvoiced undercurrent that will either ruin whatever "friendship" develops or will turn that "friendship" into, at the very least, a sexual relationship.

I used to agree with this viewpoint. Now that I've actually experienced the contrary, an extremely rewarding and non-sexual fe/male relationship just as intimate as any I've experienced with my best female friends, I must disagree. That this has only happened now because, in general, my most rewarding fe/male relationships have been with boyfriends or ex-boyfriends (I tend to keep them around as friends because I liked them before we became a couple) bears mentioning. I'm not sure if it's age, maturity, or the particular compatibility of my co-worker and me, but I've discovered the wonder of a rewarding and non-sexual fe/male relationship that has fundamentally cracked my previous views of the fe/male dynamic.

I'd be interested to hear about your experiences in this arena, and about any shifts in your perspective over time. I am, at the moment, attempting to reconcile the repercussions of my perspective shift, and I'd like to hear how such a thing worked for others.


I Miss Your Toothbrush

My boyfriend has been out of town for a few weeks, so I decided to take a picture of "home" and send it to him. He doesn't live with me, but part of our shared vernacular is that "home" is wherever we are, together. It's a bittersweet sentiment, since he does not live close and can't be here often even during the best of times.


Comments We've Received about TJP

We are pleased to be able to share just a few of the comments we've received on The Jane Project:

  • This gem came, unbidden, from a woman of very few words: "I've seen the site. It's good. Very good." From her, that sentence is effectively a dissertation!
  • "I looked at the site. It's really good. I wouldn't change a thing!"
  • This, via e-mail: "Dr. Janet Rose (drjanetrose) is now following your updates on Twitter."
  • "I feel that TJP is valuable learning tool. I have begun taking topics and letters from the Project and using them to broach topics with my patients in group therapy sessions.I hope you will continue to do what you all are doing. We could all learn so much from one another."
  • "Just wanted to let you know I am totally in love wtih the Jane Project. I'm passing the word on to as many gf's I see. G'luck with it because it's a very helpful and insightful site."
  • "I have become hoplessly addicted to this site!"

Remember, this is your forum. Read. Comment. Submit. This is your safe place to support one another and let yourself be heard!

PMS and the Single Woman

I am about to start my period. Any minute now, in fact. I’ve only recently realized that I have an (odd) PMS symptom -- As soon as my hormones begin to spike, I start to nest.

Seriously. Nest.

Here’s the deal: I don’t clean. To be more precise, I like a clean environment, but I’m not good at cleaning, keeping things clean, or maintaining tidy habits. When it's all messy enough, I snap and begin binge-cleaning until my feet and lower back ache. I first began to notice that my cleaning binges have a regularity I’d never noticed approximately six months ago.

Every 4-5 weeks, the spirit of Maria the Housecleaner* invades my body, I wrap a bandanna around my head, crank up the Tejano music, and do battle with the ever-encroaching horde of dust, trash, clutter, dust bunnies, and soap scum that threatens to run me out of the apartment. My cleaning binges are usually followed by a bevy of decorating ideas that never come to fruition.

Now I know why.

One day I realized that I always seemed to have clean sheets in the linen closet when my period started and I suddenly had to change them. I wondered if it was my subconscious making me wash that extra set because it knew better than my conscious mind that I'd need them soon. I began paying attention. At first, I thought it might be a simple coincidence. I was bang-on with the sheet-washing, and I began noticing the cleaning routine. Again, maybe a coincidence, so I continued paying attention. Since my cycle fluctuates randomly, falling somewhere between 28 and 35 days, I’ve been able to nail this binge-cleaning phenomenon down with utter certainty.

I'm scheduled to start within the next 24 hours (most likely while I sleep tonight) . . . and I cleaned for the last two days. I spent half of today cleaning and organizing the lab at work. I’m looking forward to going home tonight and packing old clothes into vacuum-seal bags for storage.

I’m blogging about uncontrollable nesting.

The bright spot is that this won’t last much longer. My decorating ideas never come to fruition for the same reason that I eventually stop cleaning – My hormones finish their upward spike, and then begin to settle back down.

What kind of weirdness do your hormones bring? How have they affected your life?


*Note: ”Maria the Housecleaner” is an old, inside-joke, and should not be misconstrued as racist/ethnocentric/derogatory.

Happy Memorial Day!

This is a heartwarming e-mail sent to a military wife. It made me misty, and I wanted to share it with all of you because today is the day to remember our Airmen, Guardsmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers.

A Cup of Tea with Friends (Military Life Blog)

To all past and present US military service personnel: Take care of yourselves, and each other -- At home or abroad.

Note from the Admins

We're extremely proud to be a part of this fledgling operation. A safe place, where women of all ages can collaborate, discuss, commiserate, vent, brag, laugh, cry, support, and simply think! The power of TJP comes from you, dear reader. Your outstretched hands, your extended hearts, your thoughtful dialogue and sharing ways.

We've incorporated a few changes today -- "Tweet This" buttons on each individual post page, a variable share button for each post visible on the main page, and a hit counter. We hope you like the updates; we hope they're valuable.

Note that clicking on the title of an individual post shows the conversation in-line. We think it's an easier way to read a conversation than in the pop-up variant. You'll also see that when viewing an individual post page, the "Tweet This" button becomes visible. Very cool!

Please consider submitting and participating in the active conversations on previous posts. TJP is a worthy project because of your participation, and its value lies in you expressing yourself in a completely safe environment.

So submit and comment, ladies, until your fingers fall off! :-)

Judgment-free parenting or "How my mom dropped the parental ball"

When my son was born I was overjoyed, neigh, positively ecstatic. Was it because he was perfect in every way? Not a chance - He had severe prenatal issues that rendered him anything but the "perfect" newborn. Was it because I had always dreamed of having a child to call my own? Not quite – Being a mother hadn't even been a blip on my teenage aspiration radar.

The reason the sight of my son's tiny member filled me with joy was because he wasn't a girl. Boys I can do. Feed them, water them, play some tag, tell them how much you love them and POOF! Before you know it you have a well-adjusted man on your hands. Raising my son to adulthood was as easy as this parenting gig gets. He was raised in love, encouraged to be independent, showed to respect woman. These lessons (along with proper grooming techniques a la uncle Tim) and some uncomfortable conversations about sex produced a stand-up citizen and all-around good guy. Easy-peezy and more gratifying than I ever could have thought.

Then when my son was 23, I found myself married to a wonderful guy in an actually “better than just surviving” financial situation. Suddenly, visions of sweet little sugar plum fairies danced in my head and POW!, I wanted a girl to call my own.

The husband and I ditched the condoms and screwed like rabbits with rabid zeal. We weren't just getting it on, we were getting it on with a purpose. Within 2 months I was knocked up at the age of 41 and, when I tell you I knew before I started this process I would have a daughter, it's the truth.

When my daughter was born (we'll call her "E") I was in a panic. Actually, the last trimester of my pregnancy all I could think was "WHAT HAVE I DONE?!". I'm no girl's mom! Girls are complicated and emotional and needy. What if I screw her up? What if I'm my mother?

My mother. Sometimes people have the best intentions, but they don't know what the hell they're doing. Sometimes they belittle the ones they love to teach them about how they can be better. My mom was one of these people. My hair was never right, my clothes were in bad taste, my interests were too masculine. I could never get anything right, and I know this because she was fond of saying, “Terry, you never get anything right!” She was shrill and judgmental and downright mean. All in the name of love. I grew up feeling like a failure in every sense and that is how I ended up knocked up as a teenager, terrified, lost, and completely alone.

This is not the best foundation for raising a daughter.

We're taking this mother/daughter thing slowly. E is now 4 and I think I'm doing pretty damn well, all things considered. When E comes to me with a tutu and 2 different socks and a lop-sided pony tail with glittery lip gloss speared all her sweet face, I don't just tell her how beautiful she looks and twirl her around like a ballerina to buck the things my own mother would have done. I say and do those things because I mean it. I really and truly mean it.

When I take her in my arms and smell her strawberry hair and squeeze my eyes shut to keep this moment for as long as I can, I sometimes wonder if my own mother did this. I don't know.

What I do know is that in my pursuit of parenting without judgment, something unexpected has begun to happen. My judgment of my mother has slowly started to wane. So I'll end this with a note to my mom.

Dear Mom,
I forgive you. Thank you for helping me to be the parent I am today.
I Love You,

The Bystander Effect

Sad Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

If the news report is accurate, a woman in her 20s was raped, in broad daylight, in front of hundreds of people, yesterday afternoon in a Spokane, Washington park.

No one stepped in, even though "Witnesses reported seeing her struggle and attempt to get away from the male several times."

Local NBC affiliate KHQ reports that the incident occurred at Riverside Park approximately 1:45 PM, and that the perpetrator was reportedly a 53-year-old panhandler.

If hundreds of people watched, then it's safe to assume that there were women, just like us, who stood by and let this happen. A remarkably similar case in the mid-1960s prompted the first social psychological research into this phenomenon, the Bystander Effect, in which the herd mentality diffuses personal conscience and responsibility to the point of eradication.

I am outraged and disgusted to the level of physical illness. I guess this means my normal mantra of "People are really good at their core" simply doesn't apply to groups.

How do we make sure that we're not a part of the herd? That we don't ever stand idly by, silently waiting for someone else to take the lead, while another woman is assaulted?


A Jane to the Rescue!

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

I arrived at the local discount department store at 8.30 last Saturday morning. I pull up, and I see a young, thin black guy trying to wrestle a (presumably new) bicycle into the back seat of his car. A white lady walking into the store stops, says something to him, smiles, walks towards him. "How nice of her," I think as I park, put away stuff in the car, dally a bit about getting out. I get out and see them, together, trying to wrestle this 10-speed sized bike into the backseat of his car.

He's driving a 4-door small-ish sedan. Like mine. I laugh out loud at this sight.

I open the trunk of my car, get out the crappy yellow dollar store nylon rope that I used to tie something to my own car approximately 3 years ago. I take it over to them, she laughs and looks relieved someone else is here. She's obviously in over her head. He still looks confused as to why this damned thing doesn't fit in his car. I tell her that I've done this before, "Just put it in the trunk and tie it up," I say. She is totally grateful and runs off after telling him, "Oh, look, see? Someone who knows what she's doing!" She scampers off.

He looks at me, relieved, and I tell him to keep the rope, put bicycle in the trunk, tie it all up, and he'll be fine. He takes the rope, and he's grateful. We say a few nice words, I notice that he's probably gay (it's his up-turned '80s collar thing that has become trendy again in the gay bars that makes me think so), that he has some sort of Mediterranean/French/African accent to his perfect grammar, and I head into the store.

No pun intended, but what a colorful (yet strangely formal) young man!

Now, it's not even 9.00 on a Saturday morning in a discount department store. I walk to the middle of the store, buy 5 SpaceBags, pick up a silver jewelry cleaning cloth on the way, and snag a pair of drawstring sweatshorts (without even trying them on) on the way back towards the register. I walk up to an open register, check out, and walk back towards my car. This took maybe 20 minutes.

At this point, you can imagine that the very last thing I expect to see in the parking lot is the colorful foreign young gay black man with perfect grammar still jacking around trying to get his bicycle into his 4-door small-ish sedan, right?

That's exactly what I see.

I walk up to him again and, this time, he looks more embarrassed than anything. "Was there a particular technique you used when you transported yours?" he asks. I blink, but only at the still-surprising formal language. "Well, first, it has to go in the trunk, sweetie!" I reply.

While I was in the store, e'd been trying to tie the door closed, with the bike hanging out of the car. Thank God he figured out that was unwise.

He tries to tell me he is okay, he'd called his (somebody), and he was bringing a truck.

"No need!" I cry. The situation has transmuted from giving a stranger a piece of cheap nylon rope to becoming my mission in life to get this chap, and his new bicycle, to his destination in his little car. "Trust me!" I cry, "It'll go in the trunk!"

He tries to protest, saying that it doesn't fit. "Trust me!" I cry again, "This will work! I know it doesn't look like it, but I've done it, in that car!" pointing towards Betsy, my small-sh 4-door sedan. For extra emphasis, and because of my native excitability, I pantomime putting the bicycle in the trunk.

He looks doubtful, but, partly out of politeness at my sense of interest/helpfulness and partly because of my overwhelming confidence, he pulls the bicycle out of the car and tries to stick one end in the trunk. The problem immediately becomes clear to me.

He'd been putting the wrong end into the trunk.

I laugh out loud, and his expression changes from embarrassed to confused again. "Nope, that's your trouble right there! You have to put the other end in first," and I grab the handlebar and pull the front end of the bicycle towards me (and out of the trunk). He put the back end in, and I moved it diagonally into the back corner. I point out to him that the part of the bicycle touching his bumper paint are tire rubber and that the frame of the bicycle iss actually resting on the rubber seal of the trunk, so that nothing will be damaged. He understands, but isn't figuring out where I am going with this yet. He's still envisioning this thing flopping out of his trunk in the middle of the street on his way home.

Then I wrap the rope around the trunk lid, front-to-back, pull both ends towards me, and close the trunk onto the bicycle. Then I run the rope around the bicycle frame a couple of times, and run them around the trunk lid again.

The light goes off in his head. He beams.

He helps me tighten the whole rig down, running the rope around the trunk lid and the bicycle frame a few more times, and seems very impressed when, at the end, I grab hold of the bicycle and tugged (hard!) and wiggle back-and-forth and it doesn't move.

He grins ear-to-ear and thanks me profusely, and I just laugh and say, "Just help out someone else when they need it." I turn to leave and then turn back, "Hey, go call the guy with the truck and tell him not to come!" He looks confused again, then throws his head back and laughs, scampering off towards the store . . .

After all of that, I really would have let him use my cell 'phone if I had realized he didn't have one. Seriously.


Growing Up

July 6, 2004

To A:

Oh, take a drag and break my heart. You cried these crocodile tears and the blood ran down my legs and pooled all around me. You don't know anything of me and it was a lie was from the start. Your cruel hands perfectly sculpted in black and blue on my wrists and my neck and soul. Please don't pretend to break through my pretences, you didn't ever touch me wear it counts. My protective coating ripped away and tossed aside and yet I knew who you were, even with my innocence crying like a bawling baby, torn and hemorrhaging on the floor. You were not the first my love and could never have been the last. Salvation comes in the strangest forms and the steed isn't always there before we need to be saved. Sometimes it's little but an ambulance screaming in the night to whisk me away, broken, to repair me in some dirty motel room. Or a boy with brown eyes and a poetic hand to share my love of Ginsberg and fuck under Mexican blankets. Maybe a friend who shakes you loose from the grip of Valium and vodka, hurling you into a shower of ice saying, "You fucking bitch, you stupid girl." I will never be as you wanted to see me. Instead I am flawed and ugly and beautiful and full of remorse and never regret. Perhaps one day I will see you on the street and pass you by, not recognizing you because my heart and mind do know you. I imagine a time when I don't break to pieces when I wake in the night, shivering in the deep hot darkness; afraid of those shadows you gave me.

Letter Too Late

Fellow Janes,

Do you ever feel like there are a million things you would love to say to someone you’re in relationship with but never do? Then by the time the love is over you’re so disgusted (or still in love!) or have moved on, and those things never get said? A really funny and wise and woman approached me about a letter that she had written to her ex of 12 years.

Linda is cynical, funny and pretty heartbreaking in this letter and I enjoyed reading it so much!

She says:

“Eric and I were high school sweethearts. Our breakup was a defining moment in my life and I was left with a lot of baggage to carry around. All those little (and big) things I never said felt like a weight chained around my neck. So I wrote a letter. Just in case you’re wondering . . . Yes, I sent it to him.

I sent the letter in its entirety and Mellissa has edited it to filter out some really personal parts that I am unwilling to share and made a few changes to the text with my consent. I hope you enjoy it and find in it the courage to do what I never did. To speak your mind.”

Dear Eric,

Remember the time we went to the Jane’s Addiction concert and, against my wishes, you snuck in that ridiculous hip flask you loved to drag around filled with cheap whiskey? Remember when you got so sick from drinking it combined with the heat all those bodies and the humidity and the burning Texas sun that you ended up throwing up all over the lawn in front of you? I told you it was okay, that I wasn’t embarrassed and that I was totally okay with leaving the show early so you could go home and lay down.

I lied.

Eric, sometimes when you did something to piss me off, like got drunk with your buddies, passed out at their place and missed work because of a hangover, I would do things to get back at you in my own way, like giving you food on dirty dishes or scrubbing the house down with bleach before you came home, hung over, because I knew it gave you a headache.

When you got in that fight with that little person at our favorite bar back in ‘99 and got your ass beat and I told you it didn’t make you a pussy.

I lied.

Once when your parents came over to have dinner to have dinner at our first apartment, I excused myself to get a drink from the kitchen. Well, your father came in behind me and made a pass at me. So remember when I said how great your Dad was?

I lied.

Eric, I know you kissed the neighbor by the Dumpsters all those years ago. I know our cat, Bunsen, died when you told me he ran away (he had Feline Leukemia, I just didn’t think you could handle the truth), I know you watched “Life Goes On” marathons when I was at work and cried like a baby because the character Jessie, who had AIDS, reminded you of your brother. I know you peed on the toilet seat to spite me. I know you told my friends I wasn’t home so you could keep me all to yourself. I that know you stared at me while I slept.

Eric, remember when I told you I was better off without you and all those years we spent together were a waste?

I maybe. . . Just might have, lied.

Miss, Ms., or Mrs.? Good God, how about just Ma'am?

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

I am single, never married, and close enough to an after-30 milestone that I can see it poking over the horizon. I've been told I look younger than I am. I have no idea if that's true, because we never see ourselves as others see us.

Regardless of how old I really do look, no one is going to mistake me for being in my 20s. What I don't understand is that most people still don't know what courtesy title to use with me. People stumble over themselves, “Miss, uh, Miz, um, Hi, how can I help you?”

I live in the South. People here still won't say Ms. Anyone who does, you realize after listening to them for a little while that they're from the North or, more specifically, the Northeast. I think the main reason that Ms never became part of the common Southern vernacular is that, in general, Southerners have a long history of pronouncing “Mrs” as “Miz” rather than “Missus.” “Miz Johnson” is a married elementary school teacher. “Miss Johnson” is the single librarian. There's nothing in between, unless it's in writing. To Southerners, people who use Ms sound prissy and more than a bit pretentious.

I happen to also live in a large city that has many residents transplanted from different places, both nationally and internationally. As a result, their formal and idiomatic speech will change over time. It's these people that seem to stumble the most. I have nothing but sympathy for them, but it somehow irritates me that Mrs is becoming more common as I grow older. This irritation is probably not due to what you think.

I don't care that I'm getting older. Mrs irritates me because I'm proud of being single, damn it! I'm proud that I didn't need some damned man to take care of me. I'm proud that I can, and daily do, stand on my own two feet, independently living my life as I see fit, outshining my male co-workers and most of my male friends. In short, I fought like Hell to get where I am, in a man's world. Alone.

When I fill out a form that doesn't have “Miss” as an option, I write it in. My return address labels say “Miss.” I'd paint it on my front door if I didn't live in an apartment. Our cultural assumption that I'm married/divorced because of my age is an instant affront to my fierce independent streak, but the stumbling just makes me feel sorry for people. They don't even realize they're as conflicted about the inherent inequity in the matter as I am.

I understand the point behind Ms. Theoretically, I even agree with it. The problem is, it's clumsy, awkward, and when spoken where I live, it's confusing.

All of this flashes through my head in the two seconds it takes the store clerk to stumble over himself, but I also remember that he's not the progenitor of our culture's courtesy title snafu, merely a victim of it. Just like me.

So, I smile, and say, “Ma'am is fine. Do you have this in black?” And he relaxes.

A good deed done? I think so. Tell me what you think.


Are Mothers Being Snookered?

Greetings, Ladies --

According to The Gainesville Sun, the US Department of Justice shows 90-115 children were kidnapped by strangers in 2002.

The National Center for Child Death Review Policy and Practice shows that 12,035 children died from unintentional injury in 2003.

Are mothers being sold a big black basket of fear masquerading as maternal duty?

Please, discuss.


About My Shoes . . .

I kissed you three years ago Audrey. In a hot, dark club in Dallas when the last call was feverishly drinking in my money at the bar.

I miss you Audrey.

By the way, I want my Chucks* back.

*Definition of "Chucks"


Dear Janes,

I wasn’t sure about writing this. I don’t like talking about stuff with anyone who isn’t like me. I really don’t even know if this a topic about “women,” but I am one and this is about me. I am an addict. I’m not just addicted to one thing, I have multiple addictions. I smoke, I drink every night after work, I do cocaine on the weekends and holidays. I smoke pot, every single day. I have never, not once, tried to stop.

Because of the things I do I’m pretty much regularly out of control. I am consistently in bad situations. I have been beaten, raped, had car accidents, lost jobs, been arrested; I’ve served jail time more than once. Yet I never try to quit. When I think about living without my addictions I feel like I can’t breath.
My family has no idea I live like this. I live in a different state, and my mother actually thinks I’m still married to a man I haven’t been with in 3 years. He left me because I was a wreck. The thing is, NOBODY knows about this. Not even my friends.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this.

Maybe I just wanted to tell someone...

This and That

This was sent in by Clair. She says:

"I trained all of my life to become a ballet dancer but when I was 22 an injury left me grounded. Instead of performing on stage, I now wipe butts and make muffins.

But the kicker? I love it."

This One is Tough...

"Every time we have sex, I feel like he's raping me."

- Anonymous

*Please note, all tags were applied with the express permission of the author of this submission.

A quick note from MellissaY

I have received some a-ma-zing submissions today. I want all of you to know that I will be posting 2 submissions per day as long as I get them. Please check in tomorrow and see what I’ve received. I have some light editing to do and some verification and then it’s on with the show. Enjoy the two I was able to post today. I hope they make you think.

Thank you ladies, for being so forthcoming and just plain wonderful.

Sex Positive?

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

As I sit to begin sharing with all of you, taking a few precious minutes away from the ever-growing list of chores and tasks, I wonder what today’s topic should be.

Some pretentious (and mostly groundless) statement on our current culture? (not in the mood.)

A thinly-veiled feminist rant regarding our country’s consistently conflicted views of pornography? (interesting.)

The nature of God vs. Man vs. Woman? (too heavy!)

How about a discussion of Wal-Mart, the Evil Empire, vs. Woman? (not enough self-righteous rage today.)

I think I’ll go with the choice that interests everyone – Porn. I’m not in the mood for a long treatise tonight, but a few words are required because NOW the idea is stuck in my head.

People love to see each other naked. People love to have sex because it’s fun . Most people like to see other people having sex for the same reason. In a million little ways, from “Wow, that's an interesting idea!” to the autonomic responses most of us experience while consuming pornography that interests us (rather than what specifically turns us off), we get a kick out of “adult” entertainment.

Positive sex and images of it are sociologically and psychologically healthy. People, especially women, who embrace this idea are more comfortable with themselves and more at home in our society. One of the easiest and most earthy ways to embrace this ideal is consuming pornography. Without deviating too much into the myriad implications of the “F” word (feminism), such a stance is commonly referred to as the “Pro-Sex Feminist..” This archetypical woman believes in human nature and the need to protect it, as do I.

And, so, the big question: Am I a consumer of pornography? Not to egregious levels, but of course I am. Many people claim they aren’t, but I disbelieve most of them. I tend to worry about the emotional well-being of those who honestly do not respond to something that could be classified as porn, and I think those people are actually few and far between.

Most of us just won’t admit it because we fear black-suited femi-Nazi ninjas will drop from the ceiling in order to imprison us somewhere that would make Guantanamo seem like Aspen should we utter such a vile sentiment.

“Come and get me, Ladies! You’ll never take me alive – and I’ll take a few of you down with me!”

Wow, getting that idea out of my head felt great!



I am fat.

I have always been fat.

When I was a chunky toddler people would tell my mom how cute I was and she had my picture taken at the fancy photo studios in the department stores. She took endless pictures of my cute dimpled ass as I raced across the living room. She filmed me eating cake. She rewarded me with candy for good deeds.

When I was a fat child people began to tell my mother I would become obese soon if she didn’t do something. She would pat my hand when people were thoughtless. She would buy me ice cream sundays to help me to feel better. When I was 7 she took me to Sears to have my picture done in a pink dress that looked like a dollop of strawberry icing with my red hair all done up in banana curls like Nelly from "Little House On the Prairie". I remember wearing white patent leather Mary Janes and holding my mama’s hand as we went through the store. I remember thinking I looked exactly like Nelly from "Little House on the Prairie", only better, on account of Nelly being such a wicked child and I had just helped watch my little sister that very morning.

When we got to the studio another mother was in front of us with her own daughter who looked like a real-live princess in her white satin dress with the big pink bow in the back. She didn’t have banana curls in her brown hair, it was instead naturally curly and ran all down her back all the way to that big pink bow. I think that was my first pang of female jealousy. She was a slight girl with a light dusting of freckles and I had wild red hair and suddenly I could feel the rolls of fat underneath my strawberry frosting dress. When she looked at me, I smiled. I said “Do you want to be friends?”. She just turned to her mother and whispered “fat”.

My mama never had my picture done again.

When I was a fat teenager, I was still popular. I had lots of friends and people didn’t pick on me like in the movies. I made sure to be available to my friends for whatever they needed. I kept lip gloss and extra money in my purse and extra pencils and pens in my locker alongside my diet pills and my gum and my empty candy wrappers. I smoked cigarettes when it was cool. I drove them all wherever they wanted to go. I snuck out of the house in the middle of the night. I debased myself and made them laugh. But they were friends. They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me.

In my junior year I got a boyfriend. His name was Evan and he was fat too. Everyone thought we were the perfect couple. Evan liked to pinch my double chin and share diet tips with me. After 3 months of being a couple he forced himself on me in his parent’s den one afternoon when we were skipping school. I ran home with bare feet and called my best friend Patty. When I told her what happened she told me she was glad I got laid. She said I should go to the drug store and get a test just in case.
I did. When I tested three weeks later it was negative.

I went to prom with Evan.

My mama decided to practice tough love with me. She began to install pad locks on the pantry doors and wrote down everything I ate. She took me to the fat doctor and he put me a strict diet. My mama told me, “Fat girls don’t get husbands.” She told me, “If you don’t lose weight, you’ll die.”

I stopped eating.

When I was fat young adult I grew to hate women. I hated my mother the most of all. I hated them for using me and for not standing up for me when I needed them most. I hated women because I was one and I hated ME. I went on crash diets, I drank away the pain, I dated men who hated me.

I abused myself.

Now, I’m still a fat adult. I’ve gone to therapy, I’ve had surgery, I’ve gone to therapy again. I’ve lost over 120 pounds and on the outside, I’m not a fat girl at all. On the outside, I’m one of them. I’m a skinny girl. Inside though, there she is. The fat girl still lives there and I know I need to make peace with her.
These days I have friends who are women. Some, like me, are fat girls. Some are ugly girls, some are nerdy girls, some have buck teeth or thick glasses or big feet. Some are beautiful and have never, ever been a fat girl. I am learning to live with myself, with help from these women. I hope someday to finally look in the mirror and just say:

“There I am. Just me.”

Personal account submitted by a Jane Doe in Birmingham, Alabama, written with cooperation by Mellissa Ybarra.