Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
May 18

From Whence We Came

We all have to survive our parents, and I don’t mean outlive them. I’m talking about surviving our upbringing and the legacy that our parents leave us with. All too often we must figure out how to survive and thrive in spite of our parents rather than with the help of the skills and the love they provided us. We must learn to shake off the lessons we’ve learned about being reactive, irrational, short-sighted, selfish, and a poor communicator as if they were shackles, bonds that hold us tightly.

At some point, we all must experience a realization about our parents. We must come face-to-face with the fact that our parents are imperfect people and have done us damage despite their best intentions. We must reconcile our adoration and respect for the people who have sacrificed for so much of us with our anger, sadness, hurt, and sometimes resentment at the positions that they’ve put us in.

For some people, this realization comes easily and it’s merely a speed bump in the road of life, a soon-forgotten blip on the radar, a single sentence in one of many chapters in the story of their lives. It may be that their parents were simply better, that the hurts were smaller, or that those people are somehow more resilient than others, but this particular struggle is brief and leaves them relatively unscathed.

For others, this lesson doesn’t come easily, but it is timely enough that the damage has not yet had time to become irreparable, to sink its claws and teeth into our flesh and our hearts and to irrevocably alter our lives and permanently cement us in our misery, our childish responses, and our never-ending cycles of self-sabotage. We sigh a breath of relief because we’re finally able to shrug off a mantle heavy with resentment, confusion, and parental missteps. They have the rest of their lives to look forward to now that their eyes have been opened.

There is yet another group of people, those who are unable to escape that tangled web, either easily or easily. Some of them live nearly their entire lives, if not the entirety of their existence,  without coming to the realization that there are lessons taught and beliefs shared and handicaps created under the tutelage of their parents that are holding them back. They may maintain unhealthy albeit close relationships with those parents, never having acquired the perspective necessary to view life about this bubble, perspective that often requires time and distance to glean.

This group, then, is one that often perpetuates the same mistakes with their own children. Sometimes foibles made as parents become exponentially more damaging, a cycle so pervasive that it can only be considered a family’s legacy. It takes a certain awareness and willpower to grow beyond the garden that sprouted us.

It should come as no surprise that I am one of the second group. My battle to become more aware,  both with myself and if the environment in which I was raised, is one that I consider hard won. My ability to be a rational human being, a good communicator, view the bigger picture, and to put myself in others’ shoes are all direct results of the adversity that I faced and because of where I came from. I could not overstate how much I value these lessons nor would I want to seem ungrateful. But pain, even pain that ushers in progress, is still a hardship. Nevertheless, those growing pains will fade as I age and continue to grow because I was fortunate enough to experience them early on.

On the other hand, my mother appears to be a member of that third group. In some ways, she seems stilted, not entirely a grown and respectable adult who can operate within the confines of a civilized society. I am sometimes amazed that I am her daughter, that she could be my mother. I find myself overcome with bewilderment when I try to isolate the factors that allowed me to overcome those hurdles, to solve the equation that is my success. As confused as I may be, I am equally as proud of my ability to flourish having lived a life that might have just as easily snuffed out my light, no thanks to parenting that I received.

I just hope my sister can survive her parents, too.

Dec 31

On Body Positivity and Misdirected Anger

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for a couple hours, so let’s just do it. Okay? OKay!

This is a post about body positivity.

It seems to me that the younger you are, the more body positive you are. People who are five years my junior trend in this direction? A decade younger? It’s damned undeniable.

Do not get me wrong. This is a good thing. A great thing. A god damned miracle!

I see women telling makeup companies to “Fuck off” unless they want to experiment with it. I see unshaved legs and experimental fashion in full force. I see people living more and caring less. That is awesome.

But I sometimes look and see people who have not been indoctrinated into a cult that tells them what they care where and how and in what color and how they must present my body. I see people who haven’t had to go through the difficult process of unlearning body shame. And I am jealous.

It feels unfair that things are (just a little bit) easier for these people. Curvy women who get to wear jeggings and skinny jeans and haven’t had the idea that they can only wear flares or bootcut jeans drilled into their head time and again. People who wear what they want because they like it, damned if it’s not “flattering.”

I see this all and I feel jealousy because they don’t have to care. And I have not yet learned how to not care. I care less, of course, but I still care.

Perhaps it’s because this body shaming was taught not as something that was negative but as a sort of awareness. You were aware of how you — or others — looked. This awareness seemed something akin to sophisticated. It was something to aspire to be.

So when I judge, both myself and others, I still feel a tinge of that awareness. I know something. It doesn’t matter that whatever knowledge I have isn’t actually useful or is actively harmful. It feels like being part of some secret club.

“Well, I know women like me shouldn’t wear stripes.”

I also know how fucking ridiculous that sounds, believe me. I may not always have realized it, but I do now.

It’s been a process, though, to get here, to shed any of that body shame, to be okay-ish with myself, to stop judging others. Some days I am much better than others. Some venues, too (I am more body positive online than in person, I think because I have a bit more time to make something other than a snap judgment).

What I do know is that instead of feeling envy or jealousy of people who are more body positive and have been taught less body shame, I should be glad for them. I should remember that it’s not easy for anyone; there is still plenty of body shame for everyone. And that, my friends, is bullshit. So I’ll redirect my anger to the institutions that are still makin’ it hard to be body positive, no matter what generation you’re from.

I am positive that they can fuck off.

Dec 28

Things That Hurt My Hand Right Now

  • Typing this
  • Playing with a cat laser toy
  • Painting nails
  • Drying my hair
  • Doing pretty much anything else with my hand, despite the fact that I have work to do and blog posts I am inspired to write

This has not been a good hand week. Sigh.

Dec 09

I Don’t Write Year-Ends Letters

I do not write year-end letters. Yes, I receive them. I read them and smile. I send off a quick email to let the sender know that I’ve seen and appreciated their words. But I am never the sender.

If I were to write a year-end letter, I suppose I would have a lot to say about this year. I might comment on all the big plans that were brewing in my mind and how it took me months to finally bite the bullet and act on them. I would start with a mention of my trip to California, which included my first American train ride (and three more to boot), a journey across the country and days spent connecting with family members and touring a state I had never before visited.

But I do not write year-end letters.

Still, I cannot help but think that if I did, if I did, I would mention the many smaller trips within the state and without. The overnights to see concerts and movies, share laughter with friends and family and visit museums, cemeteries, and zoos. I might comment on lamentations over dessert and on walks with friends and family members who shared my same frustration at the current political climate.

Remember, I am not the type of person to write a year-end letter.

Though were I to consider such a feat, I would be remiss to mention another trip: one to view the full eclipse, a trip for which I was so excited but woefully unprepared. Yet, somehow, it still happened, and while I spent my time with viewing the solar eclipse with different company than I imagined, I was still fraught with excitement and managed to shed a tear.

You will recall that I will never write a year-end letter, of course.

Perhaps, had I such an inclination to write a letter, I might mention the joy that I experienced walking many miles, playing various games, listening to multiple podcasts, researching myriad topics, and reading more books than in any single of the previous 31 years of my life. I could recount the countless meals partaken or discuss new friends made, memories shared, and weddings participated in.

This is not a year-end letter, you will notice, but those are the types of things I would write in one.

If I sat down to type a year-end letter to mail to my loved ones, I would undoubtedly find myself struggling not to mention the difficulties that the year had lobbed in my direction, namely the passing of a dear friend and an injury that plagued me for much of the year in an attempt to further keep me down. Both succeeded, for a short while. I might pontificate on the ensuing struggles, you know, if I was doing that sort of thing.

A year-end letter from me would also have to include mention of the story that I had published at the Radvocate as I ramped up efforts to write more and publish. I might also have mentioned how I toiled (okay, perhaps not toiled) on my novel, wrote other stories (one of which took me most of a year to title), brainstormed a graphic novel, and began to plan a more serious future as a writer.

The type of writer who doesn’t pen end-of-year letters, you see.

This isn’t a year-end letter, no matter what you might think. I don’t know what the hell it is. But it’s certainly not the type of letter you write at the end of the year to recap the previous twelve months.

I wouldn’t do that.

Nov 20

Communication Breakdown

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I communicate with people. Those interactions have left something to be desired, for all parties, I’m sure.

I find myself being short with people. I haven’t had the energy to pretend that I am okay with someone consistently cutting me off or failing to even inquire how I am. I think I have desire to speak to people but am struggling, and it’s even worse when they don’t give me the opportunity. Perhaps I want my conversations to slow down a bit.

One thing that makes this difficult is that I don’t go to work or school and see a bunch of people on a daily basis. If I have a conversation with someone, it might be the first – or only – conversation I have with a person that day. I may have a lot to say, so I throw it all at them because I just happen to see them. Perhaps I am inundating people with things that they don’t care about, even if I do. There are things I enjoy and discover on my own that I want to bring into my interactions with others.

Yet, I feel like my roles in these conversations in passive. And I much prefer being engaged in conversation, Rapt attention to a deep conversation is more my stride, which is why I am only further disappointed by conversations that only seem to scratch the surface. Where’s the real stuff, bro?

Because of this, I find myself so disappointed, mostly with friends. And I feel bad, not because I am guilty over judging them but because there’s disappointment everywhere I turn. It’s so frustrating. I would prefer to be happy.

Of course, every conversation is a two-way street. I am not without fault here. I think that while giving myself permission not to pretend that I’m not slighted in conversation sounds like it will use less effort, but it only leaves me focused on what others are doing wrong. It’s a lose-lose.

I should probably just cut people slack for being imperfect. We all are. People have their own lives. Some people are especially busy. Plus, we live in a world where we interrupt one another on a frequent basis, and not every conversation will be thrilling or even pleasant.

Maybe I should discuss these things with people so they know where I’m coming from. Although, that might only open me up to more frustrating if nothing changes. And I seem to be struggling with suggesting change in a constructive manner, unsurprisingly. I may be lacking thoughtfulness just like others. And I’m sure I assume I am better in these situations than others are. It’s what we humans do, after all.

And now this human, having come to no useful conclusions, is signing off.

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