Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Desperate Times Call for Daring Measures

I didn't think I would blog this week because on my normal day, Sunday, the place where I'm housesitting was broken into. I wasn't exactly shall we say, feeling inspired or hopeful about the future? This is going to sound incredibly narcissistic, but what changed my mind was me and my actions, and also knowing there are others like me in the world.

As you know, I’m moving (again), which dictates I put my stuff in storage at least for the month of October. Some friends kindly offered me the use of their discount at a storage facility under the false pretense that I lived at their address. At the storage facility my stomach was in knots, I felt so uncomfortable being dishonest, leading the facility to believe I live somewhere I don’t.

My friends reassured me it was fine because they were technically liable for the unit but I couldn’t go through with it, I felt awful about not being completely upfront. I told myself it was OK because I’m experiencing financial insecurity and I could really use the money, but my feelings were not assuaged. I called my recovery mentor and he said, “Rebekah, it sounds like you’re justifying.” Ding, yep, way to call me out. I totally was.

I called the facility the next day and fessed up, telling them I wasn’t being completely truthful. They thanked me for my honesty and still gave me a discount, albeit not as much as I could have gotten. I felt relieved about coming clean because the truth is I was giving into my fear. I was exclaiming to myself and to the universe that I didn’t believe that I would be taken care of, that I needed to take matters into my own hands, and that to get what I wanted it was OK to be dishonest. I was allowing myself to be swayed by desperation.

This is all to say to thieves who broke in on Sunday, “I get it. I understand feeling desperate and wanting to make sure you get yours but it’s not OK.” It is not OK that some neighborhood hoodlums have deprived me of my peace of mind. It is not OK that I’m worried for my safety. It is not OK that I startle at every little noise and my sense of home and security has been disturbed.

Furthermore I am pissed off. I am pissed off that people are feeling desperate in the first place. I am PISSED OFF there are no safety nets in our country. That we’re living in a greedy, selfish society where people feel pushed to lie, cheat, and steal to get their needs met. I am pissed off that some people are hording all the wealth to such a degree they are practically wiping their butts with money while others are dying on the street. This is NOT OK.

Capitalism is not working. It’s just not. We seem to think basic necessities like food, education, clothing, shelter, and medical care are privileges and not rights. People, that is messed up. It is time to say no. It is time to say this is not right. It is time to give daring measures like local economies, wealth caps, and cooperatives a chance. Because if the local economy is thriving, if people have all their needs met, how likely is it they’ll break into houses or mug people on the street?

I obviously can’t control other people, all can I do is control myself and change the things I can. All I can do is continue to choose faith over fear. All I can do is act with integrity in all areas of my life. All I can do is employ new measures because desperate times don’t call for desperate measures, they call for daring ones. So let’s be daring.

I dream of a world where everyone everywhere has all their needs met. A world where people feel safe in their homes. A world where wealth is shared and people are taken care of. A world where universal rights are granted and people are happy, joyous, and free.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One is NOT the Loneliest Number

This weekend I've been in New Hampshire to attend a wedding for some friends of mine. A few months ago I wrote a post about feeling at peace where I am, and this weekend has been the proof in the pudding. Normally when I attend a wedding I lament that I'm all by myself, that I don't have a boyfriend yet, blah, blah, blah. This weekend was the complete antithesis because even though I was on my own I didn't feel apart from, I felt a part of a group. I felt cloaked in kinship and oneness with those around me. So often we talk about "one" being the loneliest number but we also lionize being at one with nature, being at one with ourselves. It's become synonymous with peace and tranquility. So maybe "one" is not such a bad number.

This photo may be copyrighted, so, er, I found it here.
I booked a hotel fairly far away from downtown not by choice but more through happenstance. I didn't rent a car but rather counted on the fact other people would shuttle me around, and they did. I felt so taken care of by those around me nothing seemed missing at all. At the wedding I sat at a table full of my friends so it didn't even occur to me I would need a date. Because I didn't. I was full of friendship and love.

Being dateless at a wedding has become tantamount to wearing white after Labor Day -- it's something we're not "supposed" to do and yet so many of us do it anyway. I've noticed in U.S. culture we like to partner up and then move somewhere to start a family. Maybe this is a model based on the Wild West when in order to populate the nation people had to couple up and move far away. But that's not the case anyway. Now it's more beneficial to have a support system, which allows for people to live on their own because they don't have to rely on only one other person. What I've noticed is as I've sought to meet my needs in my community my desire for partnership has lessened. One doesn't feel like the loneliest number because there are so many other people I can turn to. There are so many other options for help. There is so much love for me spread out all over the place that it doesn't need to be concentrated within one other person -- it's been diluted in many.

I am very tired and very sick so I don't know how well my point is coming across, but in essence I'm finally understanding -- and living -- the idea being alone is not the horrible state I was making it out to be. It hasn't made me a pariah. It hasn't made me less of a person. I think it's mostly because I feel very loved and very included wherever I go, even if I'm all by myself. And I feel this way after a wedding, a time that I used to feel my single status most acutely. It's my wish that other people will come to the same realization I did.

I dream of a world where everyone feels loved, held, and whole. A world where everyone gets their needs met whether they're in a relationship or not. A world where we all feel a sense of community and kinship. A world where we understand one is not the loneliest number after all.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Equality Begins with We

This dude from the Congo has been emailing me for more than a year saying, “I love you, I kiss you, you my baby angel.” He’s not a scammer, he’s a desperate, mentally ill man who will not get the message to stop contacting me. And I’m pissed. I’m pissed because I have to block him. Pissed that people harass others. Pissed that as a woman I have to deal with this on a frequent basis. Pissed that it makes me feel unsafe.

A friend pointed out she feels unsafe with other women and that men have to deal with this stuff too. I completely agree and absolutely dream of a world where all people feel safe. But for the purposes of this post I’m focusing on women, primarily because there is more often a threat of violence against them. One in four women is sexually assaulted and it occurs every two minutes in the U.S., according to RAINN. I haven’t seen that same statistic for men. People, this is wrong. We do not have to accept this as a point of fact.
I dream of a world where all people feel safe.

What also has me up in arms is this column about how some creepy dudes are allowed to continuously make unwelcome advances on their female friends because the men in their circles are not admonishing the dude for his behavior. His behavior so often gets excused because he is a “nice guy.” Being “nice” should not give anyone anywhere a free pass. If the Dalai Lama punches someone in the face there should be consequences. We cannot say, “It’s the Dalai Lama so it’s OK!” We cannot allow anyone anywhere to inflict harm on others through thought, word, or deed, except in certain circumstances. And believe me, the weirdo who continues to email me saying he’s coming to the U.S. and plans to marry me is harming me with his words.

It’s not enough that I as a woman say he has to stop. There needs to be peer pressure from men too. The only way any of this behavior will change is if we get both genders involved. Otherwise, feminists will still get portrayed as man-hating, bra burners who think women should be treated better than men. We see this all the time in the media as straw feminists. For the record, that’s inaccurate. As a feminist, it means I believe people should be treated equally, not the world should be man free.

I know this post is ranty but that’s because I’m filled with righteous indignation. And even though things are not moving NEARLY as quickly as I would like, I’m heartened by other recent events. One, that a male comedian drove home the point of why rape jokes aren’t funny after the Daniel Tosh incident. Two, that on Friday night I ran into a guy I’ve seen around my recovery meeting place but never actually met. He walked me all the way home and didn’t ask for my number or do anything but be an absolute gentleman. He respected my boundaries 100%. I’m also heartened by you, my male readers and friends because you know how to treat women with respect. You remind me, in my life at least, the good men outweigh the jerks. You remind me that for every perv who thinks women need to be “worn down” and “persuaded” to date them, there are at least three who understand, “No” means “No.”

I dream of a world where men and women can walk around at any time of day or night and feel safe. A world where men and women are treated equally. A world where peer pressure is enacted to keep everyone in line and there’s a clear sense of what’s acceptable and what’s not. A world where all people are respected. A world where we treat others the way we’d like to be treated. A world where we understand equality begins with we.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

No Longer Wavering

Last week I opined that no storm lasts forever, what I didn’t count on is my storm ending so soon. On the first I gave notice and told my landlady I’m moving out September 15. I don’t know where I’m going for two weeks, but in October I’m heading to Arizona to housesit for a friend. What I noticed is August second I felt so much peace and contentment. Not because I’m moving out – although that too – but because I finally made a decision.

For weeks I’ve been wavering, sitting in limbo about what to do. “Should I move out on the first? Should I wait until I have a new place? Should I go to Arizona?” A stream of questions flowed through my brain and I didn’t know what direction to go in. That’s the agony for me, the indecision. At times I feel paralyzed about which path I should choose because I want to pick the “right” path. The path that will lead to my happiness or peace or whatever it is I’m craving exactly. I’m afraid if I choose the first option it will end up being a landmine and blow up in my face.
Which way to go?

Does anyone like being in limbo? I highly doubt it. So once a decision has been made – even if it’s the “wrong” one – I feel better because at least I’m no longer scrutinizing every scenario in my head. At least I’m no longer obsessing about which way to go. I may not have picked the most optimal choice but once I’m off the fence, at least something is happening and I am able to deal with what’s next.

These days I strive for peace and serenity and making a decision leads to that. We are made to keep moving. Pausing goes against the natural order of the universe because if you’ll notice we either progress or we regress, there is no staying where we are. I think perhaps that’s why wavering kills me so much – it’s not a state I’m meant to be in for long. We are made to choose so at long last I have.

I choose to say “No” to unhealthy situations even if I don’t know what’s next, even if I don’t have a clear safety net, even if I’m nervous about what will happen. I choose to keep moving forward with my life and I choose to say “Yes” to growth, to love, to happiness, and making a decision. I may waver for a little while but I won’t waver for long, and that is something to celebrate.

I dream of a world where we all take clear, decisive action. A world where we keep moving forward because it brings us peace. A world where we say no when we mean no even if it seems scary at the time. A world where we feel held by love and light. A world where we no longer waver for long.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.