Me, too.

One time I was out walking my 2 dogs with one of my girlfriends. Some guy drove by and cat called us. We were 13.

One evening I was waiting in line to get into a concert venue with a group of friends. I was eating an ice cream cone. Some dude next to me was staring at me with this look of hunger, and then says “Nice…..whatcha got there?”.

One time I was walking down the street with a friend when a man grabbed my hand and pulled me to him. My friend grabbed my arm and kept us walking the other way talking me out of causing damage to the man.

One time when I was a freshman in college I was with a group of friends drinking in their dorm room. Two mutual friends of someone who lived in the dorm were there. They were high school seniors. One seemed cool, so we chatted. It was one of the first times I’d ever been drunk. He decided to tickle me, so of course I was laughing. I grabbed his arms to stop him, and he decided to grab my boobs. I was too embarrassed to say anything.

One time some guys who lived in the dorm below me had a party. I was chatting with one of the guys when he learned I was a musician. He immediately said “I always wanted a musician for a girlfriend.” Before the night was over, he asked me out. I told him I wasn’t interested. He wouldn’t leave me alone, would show up at my dorm, would call and text me. I wasn’t interested, but that wasn’t good enough for him. He would knock on my door and demand to talk to me. My roommates would lie and say I was out. Finally, I went on one date with him to get him to leave me alone, because I showed him how bored, uninterested and unconnected we were. Still nothing. So I told him I got back together with my ex. He didn’t believe me, so I asked my ex, who was still my friend, to drive up to hang out with me and stage being back together with him to get the guy to leave me alone. He then proceeded to insult me, call me a bitch among many other horrible things, and block me on facebook.

One time a coworker who was my parents age told me as a woman I didn’t deserve the education I had. That it was wrong that I had a degree. He was outwardly rude to me. Saved me in his phone as “Stupid Bitch”. Then when I lost my patience as was rude to him, he would say things about me having PMS.

One time a different coworker started buying me gifts after he learned that I started taking up jogging to blow off some steam. He was a professional runner, so he wanted to be supportive and offer some coaching. At first it seemed kind and harmless, but then the gifts kept coming and coming. Then he started demanding that he takes me to all these different practices and races, started forcing his own running schedule on me, and then explicitly made me promise him that I’d run a particular marathon with him. He would say things like “I’ll be thinking of you” when he would run a track I’d done with him, or “I fantasize about crossing the finish line with you next to me”, or, when I told him I was going to skip a run some evening, he’d say “you’re going nowhere in life”, “you’ll never amount to anything”. When I confronted him and told him that he had be so incredibly generous, however I cannot accept anymore gifts and I needed to have my own running schedule, he exploded saying things like “you’re looking at me like I’m a sexual predator. You’re treating me like garbage.” Then retaliated against me at work, calling me names behind my back with other employees and gossiped about what a horrible person I am.

One time I was driving, it was 5am so it was still dark outside. I was at a stop light when I glance over at the truck next to me. The man was masturbating (or perhaps just doing the motion pretending to, not sure) while looking at me. When the light turned green, he got behind my car and started following me. I had to take a bunch of spontaneous turns before I shook him off.

One time I was at the airport when an older man started talking to me about the gate being changed and such. Then out of nowhere he looks me up and down and calls me gorgeous, says I have a great figure, and starts asking my age and marital status. He introduced me to his daughter, who was my age, and he just gushed about me to her. She rolled her eyes at me, which I don’t blame her for. Her dad has clearly done this before.

One time I was hanging out with my friend. We were having a nice evening, playing our musical instruments and talking about life. He was 18 and I was 23. He asked me if  I wanted to have sex, which, I was glad he asked me, but my answer was no.  But then for the rest of the evening, he kept bringing it up as something we should do. My answer remained as no. This came up again on a different day, only he became frustrated and asked me why I didn’t want to, which, I appreciate him trying to talk it out, but, at that point I just wanted him to take no for an answer.

One day my work place had roofers working on the roof. Every time I, or any female employee, walked out the building, the roofers would cat call, whistle at us, call us “Mami”, blow kisses, etc. I called the roofing company and the project manager for that job came to speak with me. He said that his men don’t do such things, that we must be misinterpreting them. He said they are messing around with each other, that we must be overhearing them speaking with each other. So I said “oh, so they address each other with “Hey Mami! Whats up baby girl?”. The man, now morbidly embarrassed, fumbled with his words, and became frustrated with me. He became defensive but had no argument, so he scoffed and fidgeted while he finally said he would call his boss, the business owner, to let him know of the situation. The owner came to my establishment to personally apologize, and he fired the culprits involved.

 

These are just a few stories out of an entire life time of encounters of unsolicited sexual attention.

 

 

 

 

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Things that have been said to me since losing my mom that just suck.

People mean well, but when you’re going through grief, words can be the furthest thing from comforting. Here are a few notable things that have been said to me this last year that completely and utterly sucked.

“I’m sorry you’re not over your mom yet.”

This was an angry response I got from my employer after breaking down emotionally in response to his anger towards me for accidentally opening his personal mail he received at the office thinking it was mail for the office. 

“Life moves on.”

Yea, no shit. That’s the hardest part. 

“She’s with God now.”

This means absolutely nothing to me, and if it did, it would bring me absolutely no peace. I want her to be with me, not in your imaginary cloud land with an imaginary bearded man that unconditionally loves you but only under certain conditions. 

“Well, you would know!”

When it took me a moment to remember how to spell the word “hospice”. 

“As you know, time is so important.”

This was more innocently said to me, but was completely and utterly unnecessary. One of my employees was asking me for time off to spend with her family, which I already approved, and she decided to pull this get-personal card.

“He asked me if ‘the girl who lost her mom’ was working today.”

Because “he asked for you” wouldn’t cut it. 

“She was here today, gone tomorrow!”

When I was telling her story to a client and explaining how quickly she became ill, the same employer from the above statement felt like cutting in to emphasize how quickly the cancer took her.

“She had a beautiful life.”

Except when she struggled financially and worked her ass off and sacrificed everything that she did to keep our family afloat. Except for when she got the gift of a weekend spa and massage trip that she didn’t get to go to. Except for the fact that she has been obsessing over the thought of her eventual grandkids that she’ll never get to meet. Except for when her organs started to fail and she compared the pain associated with it to being “worse than labor”. As much as its meant to help me, when I hear that sentence, all I can think about are the not so beautiful aspects. 

“I don’t know how you do it. You’re so strong.”

What gives you that notion? It happened, what choice do I have? I exist, why is that considered strength? Because I haven’t killed myself? That’s just stupid. I don’t understand why people think I’m strong. I’m broken and dealing with it the only way I know how. 

“You will heal, it’ll just take time.”

No, this isn’t something you heal from. My mother and I were best friends, and we were robbed of many, many years we were planning on spending together. This is something you adjust to, not heal from. I will always need my mom, especially when I become one. I will not heal, I will simply learn how to live without her. 

Oh, and the above statement is 100 times worse when the person saying it still has their mom. 

Ten Things You Might Experience After Losing Your Mom

There are certain things that happen after you lose your mom that you can’t prepare yourself for. If you suffer from anxiety, you have a predisposition for getting stuck in your own head, repeating thoughts that are unwanted or harmful over and over again. The following are things I have experienced, and continue to experience, in the first year after losing my mom.

The thought of moving on hurts, so you feel unable to.

Moving on would mean accepting that she’s gone, and you’re not quite there yet. But you have no choice, you can’t freeze or move back in time. So you might go in and out of moments of panic because its like you’re being slowly pushed towards the edge of a cliff, and you don’t have your mom parachute to keep you safe. Everyone will tell you that life moves on, but to you, that’s the saddest part.

Literally everything will remind you of her.

No matter where you are, what you’re doing, and how unrelated it may even be, something will remind you of her in some way. A song might come on the radio that you knew she loved. You drive by a house that you know she would have complimented. Someone says something she used to say. Literally everything elicits a “she would have loved this” or a “she would have hated that.” You constantly think about her, and the things she might have said in any given situation.

Thinking of happier times hurts. A lot. 

Whether or not you’re already a nostalgic person, you become one. Only, instead of feeling joy out of reviewing previous times and eras of your life, it burns your heart in ways you’ve never experienced. Suddenly the happy memories are hard to perceive as happy because they hurt so much. They’re dangerous to think about because they put you in a hole that is hard to climb out of. But you can’t help but think about them because you are desperate to see her again, so you think about the times you had with her. You want to go back. You want so badly to go back. Yet, at the same time, at least for that moment, you want to forget so you can stop hurting. But then that thought hurts too, because the time you had with her is so sacred and precious, you want  to hold on to the memories for dear life, but staring them in the face destroys you.

Suddenly you remember lost memories.

Conversations, interactions, events, tons of random, insignificant moments from your past that have been long since forgotten, from early childhood to present, will suddenly be remembered. They might be triggered by something, or they can come into your head at complete random.

Music hurts. 

Most music, if not all, will hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s music you know she never heard. It will all hurt. Music you used to listen to before she got sick reminds you of happier times, and as mentioned above, that hurts to think about. Music that comes on the radio will hurt too. The lyrics in love songs stop being about romantic love, and become about the love you shared with your mom (minus any sexual content). Break up songs feel like they’re talking about your loss. New songs will come on by artists she loved, and you’ll be sad that she never got to hear them. Songs will come on by artists that she hated and you wish you could trash talk with her.

You’ll still reach for your phone

For a fraction of a second, I’m talking a very instantaneous piece of a moment, you will reach for your phone to text or call her to tell her something, and you’ll freeze in your tracks. You’ll be completely shocked that you just did that. How could you forget? Then suddenly, its like you lost her all over again.

You will have flashbacks.

Seeing your mother, your best friend, the one person on this Earth who understands you more than anyone else you’re close with, go through such a sudden onset of illness from a cancer no one knew she had, waking up every morning knowing the odds are against her in this battle, being with her in the hospital night and day, sleeping in a cot beside her, having doctor after doctor come into the room and deliver nothing but bad news after bad news. Riding in the ambulance with her as they bring her home for hospice care. Seeing her face looking at the sky when they take her out of the ambulance on a stretcher, knowing it was the first time she saw the sky in weeks, and it’ll be the last time. Then watching her take her last breath while you stroked her hair and whispered your goodbyes in her ear… all this is the darkest hell anyone could ever experience. The aftermath in your mind and soul after having lived through such a traumatic event is painful.  When its all over, you’re mind and body are still in a type of survival mode, but you’re also trying to process what just happened. Five weeks ago life was completely normal. Suddenly, you saw her suffer intensely and now she’s gone.

Your thoughts will be interrupted by intrusive images. This will happen so often, it will drive you to the brink of a whole different emotional breakdown that you don’t even have the energy to have, but you will have it anyways. They will either be triggered by something, a smell, a song, a sound, a place, or they will be completely at random. You might be brushing your teeth, or at work discussing business with a client, or ordering food. Out of nowhere, they hit you. Sometimes, they take you away from reality, and you find yourself staring off into space. Sometimes they are actively occurring in the back of your head while you are carrying a conversation, and on the outside you appear perfectly normal.

The images will be of her in the hospital, or of her in her hospice bed at home, or the look in your dad’s eyes the moment the doctor’s said there was nothing more to do but let her go. They will be of her face when there was still hope, the moment she came back home for those few days before she took a turn for the worst and went back to the hospital. They will be of the view outside the hospital room, because you looked out that window so much. They will be of the lobby of the hospital when you first walk in, or the elevator ride up to her floor. They will be of the pain scale poster in the room, or the artwork of flowers. They will be of the moment she finally cried, the one time she cried, because she was scared. You’ll never forget that one. They will often, often be of the moment she took her last breath, the sound of your own voice saying “good bye, mom, I love you so much”, then the sound of your sobbing amongst the sobs of your dad and brother.

Sleep is both a friend and an enemy. 

After a day of painful thoughts, you welcome the moment you get to turn your mind off, but your dreams can be just as painful. You never know when you can escape those images because sometimes they follow you into your sleep. But, the worst, which will happen the most often, is the opposite of the painful images; you will dream that she gets cured. You will dream that she is suddenly ok, that something was figured out, and that she can go back to living a normal life. These are the dreams that will be the most vivid, the most realistic. These are the dreams where you truly think that this is real life because you can smell that familiar smell of her perfume, and you can feel her when you hug her, you cry and you feel the tears rolling down your face. The most absurd detail is projected in this dream involving all your senses. When you wake up, you experience losing her all over again.

You feel completely disconnected from your friends when they mention their mom.

This one doesn’t need too much explanation. When your friends mention their moms, you can feel your facial expression become hollow as you smile and nod and listen to their conversation while thinking how they have no idea how lucky they are. You’d never admit this to them, but you’re jealous, and you even go as far as being slightly irritated by them.

When much older people mention their still-living mom, you feel like life is incredibly unfair.

You’ll be at work, and a client you’re working with who is maybe 20 or more years older than you mentions their mom. You feel that similar feeling in your face going hollow, only this time the thought in your head is solely focusing on how unfair it is that you will never have what this person has. How could it be that you, at 29 years old, lost your mom, and this 50 year old is talking about having just had lunch with theirs as if life wasn’t fragile. Why does this person get to grow old with their mom and you can’t? Why does this person get to have their mom around to help them with their kids, her grandkids, while your mom will never get to meet yours? Life will constantly rub in your face the unfairness of it all. This will often make you angry, but will mostly just make your heart even heavier.

 

A pretty generic post about social anxiety

One of the biggest issues I suffer with is caring too much what others think of me. I know, you don’t have to say anything. I just need to let this out.

Its one of the biggest issues people with social anxiety deal with, and its one of the most easily dismissed by non-anxiety sufferers. “Who cares what other people think!” Right? We’ve heard it far too many times. People with good intentions love to tell us these things and, we get it, you mean well, but that doesn’t help. It’s not that simple.

If it were, we would absolutely love to just turn that off. It really is so exhausting to be constantly thinking about literally everything happening around you, and happening in your head, how you think you’re acting, and how you’re being perceived all while trying to just fit in and be normal.

Am I being normal?

Are they looking at me weird?

Does he think I’m lying?

Does she think I’m awkward?

Did I just say something that could have been taken as offensive?

Did I just sound like I’m trying to too hard to participate in this discussion?

Do they think I’m not intelligent?

Are they judging me?

And then commence the over-compensation in your personality to make sure you’re coming off as nice (because on the inside you’re severely in distress), which really makes you come off as having too much personality, then comes the fear of having too much personality, yadda yadda yadda downwards spiral yadda yadda.

We don’t like to talk about this, though, because non-anxiety sufferers don’t always get it. In fact, most of them don’t, and we’re afraid of that. We’re afraid of admitting and explaining what is going on in our heads because if they don’t understand it, then they can’t relate to it, which just further isolates us from them. We also fear that we won’t be taken seriously, and if we aren’t taken seriously, we fear the judgement of being considered weak or dramatic.

I don’t really know where else to go with this other than to say that it sucks thinking this way. Every waking moment of the day. It sucks that this is accepted as normal life, going around and having the mechanisms in my brain go on over-drive every time someone talks to me.

All this “we” and “us” talk is really just me being too ashamed to say “me” and “I”. Even under a mask of anonymity, I’m still incapable of it. Don’t even ask how many times I’ve read this damn thing and how much I’ve struggled over whether or not to post it.

That’s just stupid. This is my blog. Post it already. No one knows who you are and…. WHO CARES WHAT THEY THINK.

Save as draft.

Here we go…

I’m way too anxious to put myself out there because someone I know, out of an entire internet of people, will totally find this random and incredibly unpopular blog and immediately recognize me… YOU NEVER KNOW.

Here is the general stuff: I’m female, I’m in my early 30’s. I’m married without kids. I am a supervisor at my job. This is my first managing position.

Here is the why-I’m-here-stuff: I’ll keep it short and simple so I don’t lose you, if I haven’t already.

As you can see from my totally unoriginal blog title above, I have general and social anxiety disorder. I am high functioning, but my brain doesn’t stop, my thoughts are intrusive, I worry about a thousand things at once, sometimes to the point where I shut down.

My mom is my counterpart, my sage, my best friend, my go-to for everything in life. I always describe her as my twin sister that happens to be 30 years older than me. She has her own issues with anxiety, so together we share everything. We are each other’s therapists, although really she is just mine because she is experienced in life and I’m just a sprout in this big world.

She passed away suddenly a few months ago. It was unexpected.

So here I am, clinging on to the debris of a shipwreck. I wear my strength on my face as I smile and pretend like my life isn’t in chaos, but inside I’m drowning. I’m way too anxious to cry in public, let alone give off the impression that something is wrong. God forbid someone comes up to me and asks me if I’m ok.

My husband is amazing, but the last thing I want to do is cry to him every single day. I have a marriage to support, and I’d rather he be a source of positivity than a worried tear sponge.

I avoid grieving with my dad and brother because I can’t bear to see them sad. My brain takes profound photographic images of their mourning faces and later shoves them into my consciousness at any given moment to remind me how much they are sad, and how much it hurts me that they are sad.

Therefore, a lot of my grief is spent in private or behind a fake smile that is also masking overwhelming anxiety and fear of how I’m being perceived, how I’m contributing to my job, my marriage, my life, etc etc etc.

In the mean time, I’m a new manager and I’m suddenly tasked with having to delegate tasks and point out errors to people. Sometimes this involves doing this with employees that are 3 times my age, and 3 times more experienced. Those same employees have made it abundantly clear that they strongly dislike me. My work life is basically every socially anxious person’s idea of pure hell.

So! A blog seemed like a good place to put some of my thoughts out there. I’m not sure what I’m trying to get out of this… although catching the attention of like-minded people would actually be really rewarding, whether you have anxiety, are going through grief, or both. Regardless, I’m doing this for me. I could use a peaceful place to release.

Ok, blog post #1 done.