Today, I was scrolling though the Twitter like normal, because in addition to today being my daughter’s 11th birthday, I have the flu.
I’ve actually lost my voice completely, so it’s a wonderful time to be alive, as Bossman said. But I can’t talk, outside of about 10 minutes today. So, while she was happily trying on her new apron and oven mitts (apparently the best gifts EVER, as she’s always wanted a nice apron with matching oven mitts and these are Nerdy Nummies, so even better), I was mindlessly scrolling. I saw a tweet from my editor at the Yards, and saw that he was nominated for TWO Alberta Magazine Awards! I was so excited for him, and went to issue a congrats until I saw something in the corner.
GUYS. I HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN ALBERTA MAGAZINE AWARD AND I FOUND OUT ON TWITTER, WHICH IS COMPLETELY IN LINE WITH MY LIFE.
That’s right! I am an Alberta Magazine Award nominee! Isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?! (To read my nominated piece, CLICK HERE) I would have screamed if I could make sounds other than pitiful squeaks! So, I texted everybody I’ve ever met and told them! My friends are the best because they’re super supportive. My best friend in Cow Province agreed to be my date. My gym crew all took the time to “like” the news. My teacher and mentor said she was proud of me. It was a day of happy tears and ruined mascara, but I got to celebrate the fact that one of my best friends in the whole world turned 11 today and after all of these years of working and risks, I am finally making it in the world of journalism.
I didn’t submit this work for nomination. I had no idea this was even a thing that could happen. I’ve been a member of AMPA since 2015, when I started at Great West Newspapers. I never thought this could be me. I was proud of this piece because it was important and relevant and I was proud to be asked to write it. I probably won’t win this award. The other pieces are a zillion times better than mine. But for me, the girl in 80G who was part of the Convergence pilot program a million years ago, this is a huge deal and I’m super proud.
Ahh, fat MHC. How I hate you.
Hopefully I can get the time off and Carissa & I can go to the ceremony while I meet other journalists and maybe learn some new ways to improve my writing. Then I’ll lose, be disappointed, and move forward. But right now, I feel like one of those celebrities when they hear they’re going to the Oscars; proud and humbled.
Today I feel like I can really be a great writer, and make my daughters proud. They were proud today. For all those times I feel like I’m parenting wrong; today made me think I could really be a role model to them and be the kind of Mom that they can be proud of…at least until the next time I have to work late, or on my day off, or whatever it takes to keep us fed and housed because this house of four women are doing it for themselves. But for one day, all of those struggles seemed totally worth it.
A couple of days ago, I went to bed shortly after midnight. I had written a positive little blurb about my attempts to get healthier. I posted it, then lights out, as 8am comes early. Then, I woke up to read about a terrorist attack within my city. Five people were injured, but the suspect, an alleged radical sympathizer of ISIS was detained. He is facing charges and will be brought to justice.
Maybe it was because I slept through it, or because I knew everyone I love was safe. Maybe it was because Commonwealth Stadium still felt removed from me. I didn’t feel like the world felt darker, or scarier. I went to work. The kids went Halloween costume shopping. I had no fear, in fact, quite the opposite. I felt proud that my city’s fine police officers and first responders resolved this in such a way that nobody died. I was thinking “wow. How lucky am I to live in Edmonton, where our police officers know how to quickly rise to action and protect us.” I drafted my fantasy hockey team, and went to bed feeling grateful that the victims were expected to recover, that Constable Mike Chernyk was safely back home with his family and my city chose to rally for peace. Sure, a few bad apples on social media went on some racist tirades, but for the most part, I feel like we were grateful that everyone was going to be okay.
Photo credit: Andrea Ross (CBC)
Then I woke up to read about another terrorist attack in Las Vegas, one that killed 59 people and wounded over 500 others. My heart breaks for all of these families. They went out for a night of fun, and now their families are grieving. Going out to a concert should be fun, not a night of fear and terror. For those of you who read regularly, you know my stance on gun control. I once wrote an entire article about why you can shove your thoughts and prayers up your ass. I won’t beat you over the head with my stance. Instead, I’ll share with you a little chat I had with an old high school friend.
Even though there were two terrorist attacks less than 24 hours apart, no one died in Edmonton. 59 died in Vegas. The idea of 59 families grieving and so many injured souls is gut wrenching. I have friends that are huge fans of Jason Aldean. The idea that they could be injured or killed because they wanted to enjoy a concert is a terror is one that my mind cannot comprehend, but it’s a reality. My friend & I talked about that every time this happens, every American citizen loses a little piece of who they used to be, whether they buried a loved one or not. They don’t get the warm feeling of knowing they are safe; because they aren’t; not at any point in time. You can be shot at a Jason Aldean concert. You can be shot watching a movie. You can be shot in your first grade classroom. You could be walking down the street minding your business and get shot. I recently took my eight year old to a hockey game. Our biggest concerns were that the Canucks might score and that she shouldn’t eat the entire bag of cotton candy before the end of the first period. But my cousin, who lives in Michigan, doesn’t have the same luxury. She has to worry whether or not Detroit will win, whether her young son will eat too much cotton candy, and where the emergency exits are, and her exit strategy in case of a mass shooting. Wikihow has a detailed guide with instructions on how to survive a mass shooting. That’s the new normal, and that’s terrifying.
I am grossly under qualified to discuss tragedies. But I guess if there was anything I could offer, as an Edmontonian who’s city was impacted by terrorism the night before tragedy struck Vegas, is that I’m sorry that you don’t get to feel safe. I’m sorry that you don’t get to go to work feeling safe because police caught the bad guy because, in a few months, there will be another bad guy with a gun. You’ll need support then too & I promise to offer support then. I’m sorry that you’ll never feel safe at a concert or a movie or a football game. I’m sorry that you’ll always be wondering in the back of your mind if today is your turn to be shot by the bad guy. I hope someday laws change and you won’t have to feel that way, but until then, this unimportant Canadian blogger sends love, donations, and will use my space to encourage those in the area to donate blood and help out in any way that they can. I’ve posted some numbers below. If you live in the area, please call.
During dark times, we should focus on the good in the world. Do a good deed. Be kind to each other. But also, never forget to thank the brave EMS teams and medical personnel, who tirelessly work to save us when we are impacted by the worst of us. Change doesn’t come through violence or finger pointing; it comes through patience, understanding, and love.
I get asked a lot why I love crossfit. Let me tell you a story.
Thursday, I went to the gym. The workout was tough. I had to scale some of the movements & weights. I was huffing and puffing through the WOD, envious of those who can get there every day, and were executing handstand push-ups flawlessly. Halfway through, I questioned why I was even there. But as they finished, they were rooting for me and congratulating me for making it through. That kind of teamwork, along with the results I see at Crossfit is why I continue to go. We celebrate each other’ successes and support each other. It’s such an amazing thing, to see people coming together to help everyone succeed. That success helps me in my day to day life. The next day, I went to work and had a great shift. Then I really pushed myself and managed to run 0.4KM more than my Tuesday run. When I feel good mentally, it helps me push myself physically. It’s a cycle of wellness.
But crossfit has also helped me embrace my body. I’m never gonna be a size six again. My thighs are always gonna be big. I’m gonna have a booty from squats. That teeny waist and dress size isn’t a realistic goal for me. But part of loving yourself is loving your body. I may never be thin, but I will be strong. My fellow crossfit ladies are strong, sexy, beautiful women. They have powerful bodies that are healthy and ideal for their body type. My goal is to get to their level, but with my body. I can’t worry about a scale number, or the size on a clothing tag. Just my own health. I will teach my girls that being healthy is more important that a body type. As their mom, it’s important for me to be the role model. I can’t have low self esteem & teach them to love themselves. I have to embrace my curves, my thick thighs. It’s been a hard road, but I’m getting there.
I’m so glad that we are now celebrating healthy body types of all sizes, and not a “one size fits all” sort of beauty. We’re celebrating healthy, active, strong women. For the longest time, Nikki Bella was my fitness inspiration. She still is. Maybe I won’t have her body, but I can develop her commitment to fitness, her enthusiasm, the way she supports all women & wants everyone to succeed. I think we all need that type of attitude. We need to love our bodies. We need to build up other women. We need to get excited about fitness & health. I may never be a size four like Nikki, but her journey as an athlete inspires me to continue to work on my own health.
But lately, I’ve found myself really inspired and motivated by WWE Superstar Nia Jax. Her IG feed is loaded with body positivity. She doesn’t look like the average WWE woman. She’s strong, powerful, and unlike the Bertha Faye’s & Bull Nakano’s, she’s presented as more than just a one note monster character. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, witty, and assertive. Nia Jax is not a personality free monster designed to prey on the beautiful ingenues. She’s a fleshed out character, focused on her goals, which is to be a champion. My own daughters are big fans of Nia (and while they rooted for Bayley & Sasha, were LIVID that Nia didn’t get a special Wrestlemania entrance like her opponents. They said she deserved Tinashe singing her theme, and fireworks like the others). They think she’s beautiful, strong, and funny. When I was a kid, she’d be a mute monster. But my girls get to see a powerful woman portrayed as smart, sexy, as well as dominant.
But more importantly, she’s not like most girls. She’s strong, athletic. She is in the best shape of her body type. And representation matters. Not every woman looks like Nikki Bella, and that’s totally okay. Some women are built like Nia Jax. Some women work their asses off like I do with the knowledge that size four is never gonna happen. Instead of feeling embarrassed, women should embrace their healthy. That’s why women like Nia Jax are so important. It’s important to see that healthy and fit mean something different to everyone.
But that’s why I love crossfit. I remember working out at the GoodLife gyms, and hearing the snickers while I was on the treadmill or when I set my machine to a lower weight, as I was a beginner. I heard the giggles in the change room, as if a fat girl had no business there. It kept me out of a gym for four years. I don’t hear that at my gym anymore. It doesn’t matter if I scaled the workout, or finished last. There’s no mockery, just encouragement and acceptance. I’m sure women like Nia hear your mockery too. They see your tweets calling her fat, calling her Nia Snacks, etc. A friend of mine has come back to wrestling fandom after 10 years off and he called her “the fat chick.” His wife (who works in fashion), commented that she looked like a strong, powerful, woman. But those comments are why women like Nia are so important. We need to teach little girls that every woman’s body is different. A dress size or a scale number can’t be your goal (My Fitness Pal said my goal weight should be 118lbs!), but being in the best shape for your individual body should be.
If you’re a woman who is actively working on her health, celebrate that work. Celebrate your body and what it can do. Celebrate your strength, your movements, your accomplishments. Hell, even celebrate that cheat day where you ate a large pizza with extra cheese. But celebrate your body, not the number on your dress tag or on a scale.
It’s time for another episode of “what really grinds my gears.”
Today: why people need to stop dismissing sexual assault as “just…”
I hear it all of the time. It’s just a cat call. Just a kiss on the cheek (in the case of a reporter at Osheaga last week). It was just a friendly comment. Last year, I tweeted about an old man that catcalled me and numerous men on my Twitter feed told me it was a compliment. I should be flattered. Let me tell you, there is nothing flattering about being catcalled. It’s degrading to both parties. But they’re probably “nice guys” that just aren’t appreciated *cue eye roll emoji*.
This week, Taylor Swift is making headlines as she is in court, battling a lawsuit filed by David Mueller, a Denver DJ who lost his job after an incident where he allegedly groped her. Swift has countersued for $1, demanding an apology. While the trial is ongoing, a lot of comments I see online are “it was just a butt grab.” So called feminists who preach about defending women when forced to confront someone who assaulted them are notably silent (Demi Lovato, I’m looking in your direction. Maybe you’re matching on Capitol Hill…?). Feminists stop being feminists when Taylor Swift is involved it seems. No support for her. After all, it was just a butt grab. No big deal. Right?
A similar statement echoed through social media when a fan attending a live event commented that a child had slapped the posterior of WWE Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss.
The kid was praised, fans wanted to give the kid a high five. She wears such short shorts, she had it coming! Besides, he’s just a kid and it’s JUST a butt grab. No big deal! Calm down feminists, it’s not sexual assault. It’s just a playful slap on the butt!
Except it’s not just a butt grab. It’s not “no big deal.” It’s not “calm down.” It IS sexual assault. Taylor Swift is an entertainer, but she’s also a human being. She deserves basic respect. She doesn’t deserve to be sued because she didn’t stand for being molested by a DJ. All of the “she’ll write a song about it,” etc. jokes do not take away from the fact that this man allegedly sexually assaulted Taylor Swift. I commend this smart, strong woman for standing her ground, because the millions of little girls that look up to her are watching & she’s showing them that you do not have to dismiss sexual assault as “just a butt grab.”
I’ve been in situations where a guy took liberties. Last year a customer grabbed my ass while throwing something in my garbage can. I was furious, but when I called a friend back home & told him the story, he pointed out it was “just a butt grab.” I wear tight pants to work, right? I kind of accepted it, but I sometimes wonder how many women dismiss sexual assault or harassment as “just…” I’ve even been told by female relatives that as we age, the catcalls stop and we should be flattered that men still find us attractive. But is it flattering when it makes us feel gross? To me, flattering is something that makes us feel good, not super gross. I can’t imagine Taylor felt good, and considering she complained & Mueller was fired. I can’t imagine Alexa Bliss feels good when grown ass men teach little boys to slap her ass and catcall her. It’s not flattering, nor a compliment. We need to stop referring to this behaviour as such and refer to it as what it is; harassment. To those who do these things; it’s a funny story and a high five, but to the women involved, it’s a loss of trust, a loss of personal safety. As guys like Mueller become legends around the bar, women like Taylor become labelled as cold and standoffish, because they’re not comfortable in those situations anymore. Great trade off, right?
If it makes you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or unsafe, it’s not flattering and it’s okay to stand up for yourself and say that this is not acceptable behaviour. It’s not okay to tell a woman that it’s just a slap on the butt, or just a friendly catcall, be flattered. The more we diminish this very real harassment, the more we embolden others to think it’s okay. I commend Taylor for standing up for herself, not settling, and making this man accountable for his actions. Maybe this will encourage other women to speak up about harassment in the workplace, at a club, or even among friends when a joke went too far. After all, the only way this sort of behaviour will be stopped is when we as a society stop tolerating it, and kudos to Taylor for not just shaking it off, but standing her ground instead.
Over the last few months, I haven’t had much faith in humanity. Mostly, because humanity hasn’t given me much to have faith in.
It all started about three months ago, when some teen girls tried to rob my teenage daughter. Suddenly, I didn’t feel as safe in my neighbourhood. Then, I was blindsided and abandoned, subjected to some of the most manipulative mind games & cruelty from a man who claimed two days earlier that he loved me & to remind me of a conversation we were having once we were married, because he couldn’t wait to marry me. Fast forward to 48 hours later, when I woke up extra early for my long commute to get ready for a date we had planned for when my shift was over. 48 hours earlier, he told me he couldn’t wait for date night. I was so excited to finally have time alone with him without work, as I was beyond over work taking over our romance…only to find he erased me from his life, and a cold text saying he was angry & if I gave him space & a little time & did what he said, everything would be fine. I began obeying his commands, both stated and unstated. I felt like a dog, like I was being punished. And nothing I did made it better. He still wouldn’t talk to me. I apologized for what he said was bothering him, because I am a firm believer in owning your shit, I offered to take steps to resolve the slight, even transferred at my job to help give space, but not a word. I’m not perfect, but no one deserves this treatment. I used to believe he could never hurt me. But it was like the man I love; the kind, gentle, man who sought me out & begged for my affection & loved me so much died and a monster stole his face. It shattered me in ways that I still haven’t really recovered from, and sometimes I’m afraid I never will. I refuse to be a victim, I knew better but I wanted to believe he had changed & would allow us to communicate when he was angry. Bad shit happens, you get up, you kick ass. But it leaves scars. Horrible scars. I don’t know if I’ll ever trust another man again, as I am absolutely terrified of this man I loved. I built up huge walls to keep him away from me, as well as anyone else.
Sometimes I’m still in denial, like there is no way this man that swore I knew him best could do this. He couldn’t be this hateful. I keep thinking he’ll want to fix it like before, but the thought of him coming near me actually terrifies me, something it never did before (even though he would never harm me). And sometimes, while my friends, therapist, all insist he is emotionally abusive (sending me article after article to back it up), I still squeak out tiny defenses. He’s not mean. He just can’t do anger. I bet he feels badly & just doesn’t know how to come tell me. They ask me how he’d feel if someone treated his daughter as he treated me, because he’s teaching her that this is okay & I still try to defend him. Sometimes at night, I still cry confused tears because I literally just don’t understand how a man went from holding me and telling me that I was the love of his life to never speaking to me ever again in 48 hours & was seemingly proud of destroying my heart & self esteem while I sobbed on his voice mail to please just talk to me. How did we go from looking up engagement rings on New Years Day to feeling like I needed to change everything about me (even though I didn’t want to) just so he’d speak to me. I would delete blogs after minutes for fear of offending him. I would have done anything just for him to talk to me & I still just want him to talk to me, even though I know I deserve a man who would never dream of treating a woman this shamefully. But I still sometimes feel worthless because he won’t talk to me & even though I’m terrified to let him near me, I just want him to fix it like he said he always would. But I don’t ever want to be a woman who meekly kowtows to a man. That is NOT who I am not who I will EVER be. I don’t want to be controlled. So I move forward, focused on being the most bad ass MHC I can be. And despite how harsh this may sound, I don’t believe he’s a bad person. I think he’s a good person who struggles with anger management and commitment & conflict. He made some very poor choices & they are on his conscience, not mine.
A few weeks later, I was robbed, my purse stolen from my workplace. I lost all of my ID and I’m still trying to get it all back. The whole experience left me reeling, I had just transferred and now I didn’t trust my own coworkers. The mall security didn’t help. I have little faith in the police. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly feel safe at work or walking home from work. I feel violated and I look over my shoulder a lot. But I focus on the good things I have; my family, my health, crossfit. My amazing friends who rallied around me during those tough few weeks, including a really cool coworker who became my bodyguard & protector. My super cool therapist. So many awesome people who made this whole experience bearable. By focusing on the good, I could get through the bad. I have so many good things. I am lucky to have these things. I am happy.
(This isn’t a pity me trip. Bad shit happens every day, you get up & keep on going. But I just talked about why we need to be our authentic selves. That means I need to be able to talk about the times life kicked me in the metaphorical balls. It just sometimes takes me a bit, until some of the hurt subsides.)
But to say it didn’t make me question my faith that people were essentially good would be wrong. It did. I didn’t trust anyone. At one point, after a particularly cruel trick he played,where he messaged Erica claiming he wanted to talk to me, which never happened, I almost stopped trusting Erica & shut her out for a few days, even though she’s the most important person in my life. I shut out everyone for awhile, except for those good friends who forced me to talk. I stopped writing, I had nothing to say. I felt like everything I had believed about humanity was wrong. People aren’t good. I watched people get busted for shoplifting many times a day, road rage assaults, murders on the news & my neighbours got robbed.My house got egged. And I waited for a conversation that I was told he wanted until I realized it was just another manipulation to keep me hanging on to nothing. Everything I had ever staked my beliefs on felt wrong.
Then, little things happened to help me see that most people are good & not to let some bad apples spoil that. My girls & I started attending a new church here in the city. We were welcomed with open arms. My teenager attends youth group. She’s learning and growing. The pastor drove her home because it rained. Suddenly, we felt like part of the community. My district manager, who did everything she could to make my work life tolerable, pulled me aside on one particularly trying day and said “I sought you out to hire you because you are a strong, talented, energetic, genuinely kind hearted person. If he can’t see your value, then he’s missing out.” My new manager did all he could to make me feel welcome. He’s been great fun to work with. My teenager’s teacher went above and beyond to help her with math. My coworker drive me home after working 15 hours. And when my cat went missing this past week, my neighbours formed a search party to help me find my beloved kitty. Each day, something new happened that helped me see that people are good.
Each day, I saw a little more kindness from people. The cab driver that didn’t charge me because I looked tired. The coworker who gave me a hug because I was so drained I burst into tears at work. The crossfit coach who called me the day after a hard class to check on my hip. The stranger who walked an old lady down the street. The principal who consoled my nine year old when she got sick at school. All restoring my faith in humans. How could you not have faith in the planet with so many cool people around?!
Finally, this weekend, I saw how truly good people could be. After a forest fire displaced many of my fellow Albertans, I saw kids with lemonade stands. People paying for the groceries of the person behind them. A man donating $200 to Red Cross. The same people who were cussing each other out in the street were helping each other. WWE Superstars Kevin Owens & Tyler Breeze created a GoFundMe to help bring people together to raise funds during their personal time (Mr. Owens once did an amazing thing for my daughters during a WWE Live Event last year, so I already knew he was a great guy). And my dearest Bree reminded me that humanity is good, I just need to remember where to look.
It shouldn’t take a tragedy to bring out the best in humanity. We should all aspire to be good to each other every single day. And we also need to not lose sight of the good things people do for us, who’s there for us, the random strangers who have your back. Don’t lose sight of them because of a few bad people. Don’t let the bad people of the world take away your belief in humanity. People are good if you believe they are good. And even if they aren’t, be a good person because it costs you absolutely nothing to be a good person, but you will gain so much from it.
Humans ARE good. Yes, some are bad. Some are good, they just do dumb things. But you’ve gotta look around & see the good. It’s there; you’ve just gotta make sure you see it…and live it.
As I’m starting to settle into my life here, I’m realizing that I need to scale back on my social media.
Last night, my daughter asked if our cat could have an Instagram, and my older daughter is now the cat’s social media manager. This kind of made me realize how dependent we have become on social media. Maybe we are way too invested in it, keep people on our Facebook accounts that we don’t like for no apparent reason or we post our whole lives, etc.
I’m super guilty of this, especially since the move. I’m on social media & blogging far more than I used to, mostly to stay connected. But perhaps I’m also inviting negativity into my home, which is causing me unnecessary anxiety. I am blessed with amazing friends. I am also friends with those who love to be right, at the expense of my happiness under the guise of helping. And by inviting people into my personal life as much as I do, perhaps I’m allowing them access to make me feel less than happy with my life.
I refuse to walk on eggshells. I want my life to be positive and joyful & happy. So, I’ve started distancing myself from people who do not make me happy, including family members. If you do not contribute to my life, my home in a positive way, then you are welcome to leave. I know who contributes positively to my life; Erica, my best friends Melissa, Doug, Sarah, Gleason, Bree & Damanda. My brother. My boyfriend. All of these people enrich my life & make it better. Crossfit enhances my life. But, my heavy social media presence is allowing others to analyze my life. Same with my blog. I write because, to be honest, I don’t have much else to do. But perhaps I need to be more mindful about what I put out there. I write about my failings because I’m human. I feel like being honest about my humanness will help people see me the way I want to be seen; as a resilient, beautiful, kind hearted person who is not perfect. And they can love me in my imperfections, because people on pedestals fall down. I just want to be a regular person who tries her best & makes mistakes & is deeply loved by those she loves. And those I don’t know personally can take some refuge in the fact that others are not perfect either. But, I also don’t want to be analyzed like a specimen or my blog used as a substitute to engage with me. Maybe I invite that by writing about my life so candidly. So, perhaps I need to scale back my social media involvement & keep more of my life offline.
Maybe this is a sign that I’m finally starting to embrace this as home. I don’t need my lifelines at home to make me feel connected to human beings. I have a great life here, I was just too afraid to see it, because I was afraid to lose it. I love my work. The stuff I’m writing is so cool. And I’m building contacts, which will help me later. I’ve gotten rave reviews for some of my articles & even my editor is impressed by my growth as a writer. My kids love it here so much. They love their school & their friends. I’m making friends. My new job is both exciting and terrifying. And for the first time ever, I’m really happy in a relationship & I’m not analyzing every move wondering if it’s gonna fall apart. I trust him completely & it’s such a good feeling to know you’re with someone & they make you happy & even months later you’re happy & you’re content with where you are. I have never had this & it scared me, but now I’m just so happy. And maybe, because I’m settling into my life, I don’t really need to advertise on social media that I’m doing well. Maybe I just want to do well.
However, social media is an addicting thing, so I’ll probably still post on my FB, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr & Snapchat (all of which you can find & follow by clicking here), but less frequently. I want to catch up with friends, but we can text. And if we can’t text, maybe we aren’t that super close. Either way, I will not damage my happy life with doubts or negativity. I’ve worked too hard to make my life epic. Even if you don’t agree, just be happy with me, because that’s what I want for everyone I know.
So, anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been reading about the Ashley Madison hack and I find it completely hilarious.
I’m not one to revel in the misfortunes of others, but watching guys like Josh Duggar, who for years have tried to make LGBT families, divorcees and anyone who doesn’t fit into their traditional mold of marriage feel like they are somehow deficient try to squirm their way out of this makes me giggle. Watching them try to blame Satan for their hypocrisy warms the cockles of my tiny black heart.
However, the fall of the Ashley Madison website brings me a personal joy for a more personal reason. During my year as a newlywed, my former husband & I had a million and one problems, most of which stemmed from the fact that we were far too young and not ready to be married. But he worked midnights and my roommate and good friend had discovered that this website was real. So, we looked it up and were horrified at the number of people we knew that were on this site trolling for affairs, one of which was my ex husband. In the infancy of our marriage, maybe even before we had said our I do’s, had been looking for an affair. I chose to stay with him for the next seven years, and I’m glad I did as we later had two beautiful children, but the shock and betrayal stayed with me, as our marriage was marred by a lack of trust, which was pretty valid as he cheated on me pretty much all the time. After our first year of marriage, I discovered that the weekend he sent me to visit friends in our hometown was so he could meet a friend in a hotel for a tryst. About two years ago, he admitted to me (while heavily drunk) that he had slept with the stripper next door. I received an email from his former friend’s wife confirming they had been sleeping together while I was pregnant and on bedrest with our second child. And he was once banned from working as a photographer at two separate bars in our old hometown for sexually harrassing the staff. These all stuck with me for years, negatively impacting my future relationship. I would remember the female friends who weren’t platonic friends, the comments about how if he didn’t think I’d get mad, he would be trying to get with our female friends, or the time he propositioned my best friend to have a three way with him and our friend Sarah. It bothered me so much that I didn’t know how to trust a man who said he loved me and it took three years of therapy to feel okay and accept that not every man on Earth was out to hurt me or cheat on me.
I sent an email to the creator of Ashley Madison and blasted them for providing this service. I asked them how could they sleep at night knowing that they were making it easier to break the hearts of so many trusting souls. The reply I got was that maybe I should have been a better wife and lover, and my husband wouldn’t have wanted to stray, a sentiment he would tell me when I would put him on blast for his flirting, or whatever I caught him doing (that he would always say was misunderstood, or he was misunderstood, because he was the victim and why wouldn’t I just do *insert sex act here* and he wouldn’t have to want to cheat?).
This is why I laugh when I see the cheaters on Ashley Madison squirming and crying about their privacy.
I feel for the victims, and by victims, I mean the actual victims. The spouses who used the tool on Wired and got the unfortunate surprise of “Guess who’s email address was compromised?!” or the stammering conversations where they explain their behaviour. I don’t feel the tiniest bit badly for the “victims” who’s privacy was breached. Oh, I know the dark side, this could happen to anyone and boo hoo and credit cards aren’t secure and the like. But a bunch of horrible people are going to be exposed for betraying their spouses and I’m glad. I hope they feel violated and like their integrity is compromised and awful. You know, the way their spouses have felt for months when they have suspected for months that their partner was cheating, or when they found out the truth.
I have had a few friends who have said to me that since I was a staunch defender of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence when they had their private photos leaked online last year, I should take the same stance on this. I disagree. There is a big difference between private photos that were meant to be viewed by one person privately (such as Jennifer Lawrence’s photos for then partner Nicholas Hoult) and cheating on your mate. While yes, cheating isn’t illegal and having your credit card information compromised totally sucks, you were betraying your partner, and in the case of a guy like Josh Duggar, you were doing it while condemning other people for not living life according to a belief system that you yourself weren’t following. So, I don’t feel totally badly for these “victims,” just the people they have been victimizing, for having to learn that the person that they are with actually sucks in such a public way. Even if you didn’t pick anyone up on Ashley Madison, you had an account, the intent was there and you sir or madam are a raging douchebag. Your partner deserved a million times better and you should feel violated, because you are walking a mile in their shoes and I hope you wear them well.
Maybe I’m biased, because I know how it feels to find out that your spouse has an account with a website designed to help him cheat on you and I know how people like Anna Duggar feel. I hope Anna Duggar takes her kids and leaves him and finds happiness with a man who recognizes how beautiful and special she really is, but I doubt her religion will allow it. Ironically enough, her church will likely badger her with the same answer that Ashley Madison gave me and she will stay with her unfaithful husband. If she does, let’s not shame her or call her stupid. We are not walking in her shoes. We don’t know what her “church” has done to devalue her. But for all of those who are scrambling to “save” their marriage and blaming the Ashley Madison hack, I don’t feel one bit sorry for you, because you already destroyed your marriage when you strayed (or attempted to stray) from your partner; it’s just now everybody knows you were doing it.
And to those encouraging people not to check the list for their partner; I disagree (although I haven’t for reasons that make sense to me). Chances are, you won’t be shocked by the answer. My Texan bestie looked up her own email & hubby, even though she knew the answer just for the lolz. But most people who are checking are either;
a) bored like me or
b) confirming an answer they already knew subconsciously, an answer they have every right to know.
While I generally do not care to discuss my relationship with my boyfriend (as I like having that part of my life fairly private), since he pretty much suggested this entire post (complete with the title), I kind of have to.
He’s an interesting & captivating man, compassionate & smart & sweet & pretty much every good adjective you can think of. He supports my crazy desire to become the world’s greatest reporter/cell phone princess & reads literally every word I write. But, in addition to all of these amazing things, he entertains my needs to ask questions.
I’m an inquisitive sort; I need to know everything about the world around me. So, I ask a million questions; about the world, my family, etc. I ask him a million questions every day; how is your day, your life, your daughter, tell me about your job, etc. and he answers them all. I think it’s because he’s like me; he likes information. Whether it’s sports, politics, current events, world religion, he likes to know. I think that’s why we work; he’s the intellectual and I’m the journalist, the supplier of information. He loves to learn & I love to inform, we’re quite the pair. Also, he hasn’t complained about my inability to shut up ever, so either he’s mastered tuning me out or is a glutton for punishment.
However, he possesses dual citizenship & unlike most Canadians, he would actually prefer to be American. We have conversations about when Thanksgiving is supposed to be (pro-tip; he’s wrong) & I often end conversations with “YOU WERE BORN HERE.” So, we tend to differ on the “American” vs. “Canadian” way.
Today’s horrible shooting in Ottawa put a halt to our mock fights about national pride to listen & read about what was happening. This was a horrible thing & a young man lost his life for no good reason. He’ll never have another birthday or Christmas. His beloved dogs will never see their master again. His parents will never hear his voice on the phone & my heart breaks for them. No 24 year old should be taken from this world in such a terrible way & I hope that we as a nation will stand by the Cirillo family through this horrific time.
I wanted to know why this happened, what measures will be taken to protect our Prime Minister & Members of Parliament going forward, how did a man with a gun get into Parliament, is there a second shooter, etc. The RCMP was mum. The Canadian Press seemed mute except about the lockdown. Meanwhile, CBS already had the identity of the shooter & breaking news site heavy.com had a bunch of facts about him, before the Canadian Press knew what was up. I was so frustrated, because as a journalist (albeit a fluffy celeb journalist) I didn’t understand why no one was informing us & why we as Canadians seemed to be okay with that. I texted my beau a huge rant, which prompted my epiphany that perhaps his “American” thought process wasn’t so off base & he told me to write this because I’m a genius.
The truth is; we get the media we deserve.
My American friends are not afraid to question everything they hear. My Facebook timeline is inundated with them questioning their government, their police, the FBI, Mark Zuckerberg, and the list goes on & on. They live in a “stranger danger” sort of world. When the Boston Marathon was horrifically bombed, we had real time updates from every reliable news agency in the world, as the American media kept people appraised. We knew who, why, who was at large in hours & people knew what was happening. Today, people in Canada sat questioning how this happens here & when I would ask why it happened, I was told I was nitpicking the coverage instead of the tragedy & shame on me.
While Americans live in stranger danger, we in Canada do the opposite; we don’t care. We’re ostriches. Political scandals are overlooked (one of my colleagues once wrote an amazing piece for a magazine we all wrote for about Canada’s apathy to political corruption) because that doesn’t happen here (yes it does), we flip out whenever there’s a major crime because it doesn’t happen here (a prime example was when a meth lab blew up near my old house right before I moved & everyone freaked because that doesn’t happen here), and we’re so focused on being perfect utopia Canada that we miss that bad things happen here & we need to accept that so we can learn from it so it doesn’t happen anymore. People get murdered, there is crime, there is corruption & pretending it doesn’t happen won’t make it any less true. While my feelings towards Prime Minister Harper’s politics follow “I don’t agree with anything he says ever,” he was very realistic when he said we are not immune to terrorist attacks. We are not. Fortunately our Nation escaped this horrific day with only one tragic loss. But we need to be smart and arm ourselves with information, we need to ask questions so we won’t be shaking our heads wondering how this happened because it doesn’t happen in Canada. I love my Nation; I think it’s a beautiful place and I am so proud to be Canadian, but we are not a utopia and the biggest lesson we need to take from this tragedy is like Mr. Harper said, we are not immune to tragedy, so we need to stand in the face of these things and not hope it just goes away.
Perhaps we do need to borrow a page from our American brethren and accept that bad things happen and start asking questions. It is perfectly okay to question your government. It is okay to question law enforcement. It is okay to ask what is happening in the world around you, if you are safe, because when all is said and done, these people work for us to preserve our way of life and for the most part, they do a damned good job. But if we as Canadians are not asking, we won’t be informed and we’ll have to learn from our neighbours what’s happening in our own backyard. We cannot peer over the fence and ask America who is attacking us. We need to find out for ourselves.
So, ask questions. Seek knowledge. Make the media answer those questions. Hold them accountable and let’s make it a point to make sure we aren’t ostriches as the world goes to Hell around us, because it CAN happen here.
(I understand this deviates a bit from my normal formula of self depreciating wit, I promise to bring it back tomorrow.)
Dear IOC, Major Television Networks & Corporate Sponsors,
Let me introduce myself. I am a 30 something single mom who lives in works in Canada. I’m not a celebrity, of anyone important by any stretch of the imagination. I have never won an Oscar or an Emmy & my only medal is a silver medal when my eighth grade class represented Thun, Switzerland in the bid for a pretend Winter Olympic Games.
I am, however, a huge supporter of the Olympic Games. Every four years, a school project was dedicated to an Olympic sport. I waited with baited breath & stayed up all night to see if you would let Ross Rebagliatti keep his gold medal. I stayed up all night to watch the Beijing Olympics live. I forced my then boyfriend to sit through events we had never heard of (Keirin? What?) & even saluted when the US teams won medals (even though I’m a proud Canadian). I have six pairs of those red mitts, stuffed mascots & books everywhere. I cry when Canadian athletes stand on the podium & stand for my anthem with pride. I love the Olympic Spirit…
…but I will not watch one moment of the Sochi games.
I’ve read about the state-sanctioned corrective rape, the sickeningly high suicide rates & Vladmir Putin’s claims he’s defending “traditional family.” Fifty years ago, my family was not traditional. A single mother, that wasn’t a widow, working full time while building a career was unheard of! Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon would have been stoned in the street for their interracial marriage & children. Traditions change, families are redefined every day. Same sex families are every bit the new normal. I can’t imagine how anyone could look at photos of Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka with their children & not see a beautiful & loving family. Traditional is so subjective. BDSM isn’t traditional, is that banned? No Fifty Shades of Gray? Or is that okay because it’s heterosexual relations? But I digress.
As much as I love the Olympic spirit, I love people more. I love my LGBT family members & friends who would be forced to live a horrible life if they were in Russia. I love my daughters, whom I need to teach right from wrong & the Russian law is WRONG. I cannot support the spirit of the games when your host nation breaks human spirit every day. So , you can keep your games; I’ll watch reruns of Glee. I won’t be enjoying any sponsors during the games either. Sorry.
I know I’m a nobody. I’m not Lady Gaga or Stephen Fry or George Takei. I’m just one woman & I won’t affect your ratings or your games. But I’ve always taught my girls that one person has a voice & I am using mine to tell you that what you are doing is wrong. I’m also using it to implore all athletes to use their time to perform well & if they support LGBT families, use this chance to support them. Use the spirit of the games to support the human spirit, the greatest thing we as people have.
Please don’t give up. I know it hurts that they left you, or that you didn’t make the team, or get that job. I know it hurts that they called you those names & said you don’t matter. I know you want them to love you & they don’t & it sucks & you want to not hurt anymore. I know you wish your parents cared but they’re mean & it seems like there’s no one & no where left to go.
Well, I don’t know you, but I’m here & you can contact me via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter. I think you’re great & you worked really hard. I know someone will love you even though they didn’t. Your parents are likely proud of you, they just don’t know how to show you or let their own sadness bring them down. People come & go & it’s okay because the best ones will come back or better yet, never leave. Don’t wait for them, live your life & be a beacon of awesome. Life hands miracles to us every day & can be found with courage, faith & conviction. Give yourself a chance to find them.
But it will be okay. Maybe not right away, but it will be. It will be alright & you will become a champion because everything that hurt you taught you to be strong and you will be alright.
If you do have suicidal thoughts, call the number listed with your country. Qualified crisis counsellors will help you & if nothing else, you’ll feel like someone listened & for awhile, you’ll be okay. Feeling suicidal does not make you crazy, or worthless, or a bad person. It means that you’ve lost the ability to cope & that’s okay, you can find it again, I promise. I also promise someone out there needs you. You might not have even met them yet, but they do. Hold on for that someone, whether its a friend, a parent, a teacher, your child, the person that you love most in this world, regardless of your current relationship, hold on for them and for you.