Stop Being A Frenemy

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         Are you your biggest fan or your worst enemy? Or maybe you’re a little bit of both? Do you cheer yourself on when you’re going through a hard time or do you further your own depression with critical comments directed at yourself? Are you the kind of person who wakes up in the morning and tells yourself you are a badass and you’re going to show today whose boss or do you wake up and allow yourself to feel defeated before your day has even begun?

         For a long time I was definitely my biggest enemy. I continuously woke up on the wrong side of the bed no matter how much sleep I did or did not get. Anytime I had a new idea or wanted to try something, I would shoot myself down before I had even attempted it. I rarely ever gave myself any kind of positive feedback but was quick to critique myself in the worst of ways.

         One day, my mom and I were having one of our regular visits when the topic of my future came up (as it generally does). We talked about all of the things I am good at, where I need improvement and what I could potentially do with my life. My mom, being the bold and wonderful woman that she is, quickly called me out on something that she had noticed during our conversations; “Anything that you talk about doing, you find one reason or another as to why you can’t do it or why it won’t work. A negative comment comes out of your mouth for everything I suggest.” I was slightly shocked at this accusation. I, who had up until this point considered myself to be a positive sunshiney girl was actually quite the pessimistic Pamela, and I was the only person in my life that I treated so poorly.

         Like I said and will continue to say throughout this blog and my life; recognition is everything. When a person begins to look within themselves and truly recognizes not only their flaws but their how’s and whys, they can begin to make some efforts towards changing. Becoming self-aware of my many flaws and character traits has been a huge part of my ability to seek the best in myself.

         Once I recognized that I was my own worst enemy and that I was harder on myself than anyone else in my life was, I began to change. What should have been a relatively easy single step process became a multi-step life lesson. I stopped beating myself up over silly things and tried to compliment myself more. I wrote down a bunch of inspirational things about myself that I should know and believe; “You are beautiful, amazing, talented, able and smart”, “You can get through today”, “Love yourself more”, and so on. My goal was to read these when I was doubting myself. Well, that didn’t go as planned. I read the statements a few times and they had zero effect on me, so I threw my motivating mantras away. I was genuinely trying to make a change within myself and become my own friend and ally but was unable to do so. No matter how many times I reinforced or complimented myself, it really didn’t matter. I continued to hit a brick wall face first every single day. That brick wall was a huge, Great Wall of China sized reminder that I was a liar. I could tell myself whatever sweet compliments I found on Pinterest, and change the background on my phone to a motivating image but it was all a waste of time if I didn’t believe myself. I was trying to be a friend to myself and instead I became a frenemy.

         In some ways, I still am a frenemy to myself. No matter how hard a person tries, we still have emotionally draining days where we want nothing more than to eat a box of mallow pies, drink wine and wallow in our own self pity. This is normal. Sometimes, we just get in our own way no matter how much we wish we wouldn’t. The problems only arise when you find yourself being more negative than positive or more self deprecating than encouraging. There comes a point when you need to grab yourself by the ponytail, put the mallow pies and alcohol away and become your own BFF. This goes along with learning to love yourself truly, madly and deeply. Think of it as being in a serious committed relationship. What kind of person do you see yourself marrying and spending forever with? Does that person encourage you to do your best? Do they tell you all things are possible and that you can do anything you put your mind to? Or do you see yourself exchanging vows with someone who brings you down on a daily basis? Someone who tells you that you suck and are going nowhere with your life or someone who nitpicks every single mistake you make? I know I want a man who tells me I am amazing and encourages me every single day and I want a man that means it. I want a person who lifts me up rather than drags me down. However, there is no way in hell that I can expect this from another person nor will I ever believe the words coming out of their mouth if I don’t believe myself and believe in myself.

         I want to marry my best friend someday because I believe the best relationships are with those who are your true friends first and your lover second. If this is my expectation of a man, my expectation needs to be the same for myself. I have to be my own best friend, partner, ally, cheerleader and advocate. I need to be my own everything before I can be anyone else’s anything. I learned that being a frenemy to yourself is a huge injustice. You have to give up the negative feelings you harbor towards yourself before you can truly love yourself, and unless you do this, loving anyone else will be a recipe for disaster. Give yourself a hug; you are so much more amazing than you give yourself credit for.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath 

     
Another one of my dating mantras has been the saying, “don’t hold your breath”. It is as true for dating as it is for any other hopeful scenario you might apply it towards in your life; a new job possibility, a raise or even a friend changing their negative ways. When I say “don’t hold your breath” in regards to dating, it’s probably not in the sense that you would think I am using it for. I don’t mean it in situations such as when you’re sitting at Starbucks with your girlfriend ogling the sexy man-candy that is handcrafting your skinny vanilla latte and your gal pal says “don’t hold your breath; he’s way out of your league.” Nor do I mean it in the sense that “don’t hold your breath, he will never change.” I have repeated this saying to myself numerous times and it generally follows me allowing my hopeless-romantic-self’s, eager-beaver hopes to soar sky high.   

          Let me elaborate by example. There have been countless times when I have found myself sitting on edge waiting for a boy; waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for a text, a call, an invitation, an opening, a complement, a comforting gesture and typically, this ends in disappointment. I was always the type of girl who would drop everything and anything for a boy. I was at his disposal whenever he was available and willing. I was the “you say jump, I find a pogo stick and get to jumpin” kinda gal for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, it took me an incredibly long time to realize that I was this girl.
          However, when I became painfully aware that I had the whole “damsel in distress” thing spilling out of my pores, I vowed to make a change. The process to change myself in such a way was not a simple endeavor. It in fact was a lot of trial and error and a whole bunch of that self-actualization and realization stuff. It took me months of calling myself out on being the pansy that I was to figure out that I couldn’t just get angry at myself every time I had a moment of weakness but that I had to step back and understand two things; the why and then the how.
           The why plays a huge part in our behavior and actions. As I explained previously, I wasn’t raised with a steady male role model in my life; I was actually raised with the polar opposite. I did not have a knight in shining armor father to come rescue me when a boy pushed me on the playground or to threaten my first boyfriend when he picked me up for a date. I was never a daddy’s girl who was adorned with compliments and pick-me-ups when I had a bad day or even a dad’s hug before bedtime. I was not raised with a stellar example on how a man should treat a woman and what a woman should or should not take from a man. Instead, I hold memories of men who came, conquered and abandoned and women who allowed this to happen. It is no wonder why I was the kind of girl who deeply craved a man’s love, affection and attention and would do nearly anything for it.   
          After I was able to understand the daunting and traumatic why, I had the difficult task of figuring out the how. The “how do I stop being such a dramatic woe is me Disney Princess and become the independent woman I want to be?” Wow! That’s a lot more complex than just asking how isn’t it? The answer didn’t come easy, trust me. I talked to a lot of people about it, especially my female friends. This was the wrong place to go let me tell you. The majority of my girlfriends were unknowingly going through the same thing as I was and no one really knew what to do. In fact, a lot of my girlfriends didn’t really care about the why or the how; they were okay being all damsel-y. I was not. I talked to my mom about it multiple times and received the same answer I always did, “You need to learn to play the game.” To which I ever so politely responded “No thanks, I don’t play games. I just want to find real love. Real love isn’t a game.”
          Although I still do one hundred percent stand behind that final statement, I am not so naïve to think that real love doesn’t involve mind-trickery to a certain extent. I am not so sure that I would call them games but it is that very word that spiraled me towards my solution; my how. I sat and thought about it for a very long time on many occasions. I asked myself questions like, “Do guys really play games? Is that what dating is about? How does one learn to play said game?” Then I took a step back and surveyed my current situation, applied it to my dilemma and hark!
          The current situation I was struggling with was in regards to me wanting to be (and so being) overly-available to any man whom I was involved with at the time and the solution I was seeking was basically how to want to not be so available. The connection I made between my situation and the “game” is that the guys that I was communicating with at the time talked to me very sporadically and were quite flakey. He would say were hanging out, I would get excited, he would bail, I would crumble. This was essentially the chain of events. I enjoyed their company and the attention and I was more than likely harboring some feelings for them. So, because they were not available all of the time at my disposal, I made myself become available all of the time just in case. This is sad and horrible, but many people do it, both boys and girls. I constantly questioned myself, their intentions, my intentions, our intentions and ultimately our “status”. “Why doesn’t he want to spend time with me?”, “If he’s not responding, what is he doing?”, “Who is he with?” and so on. This opened the flood gates essentially and inadvertently let Hell loose on my poor impressionable brain. The conclusion I came to is quite simple; people are and should be, busy.
          Yes! Busy. So what appears to be a game of “I’m going to wait twenty minutes to text you back this time and then respond with one word just to see what you’ll do” isn’t actually a game at all. It is drama that we as females create in our own minds because well, were excellent at it I suppose. In a day and age when texting has become the main source of communication and we have literally everything at the touch of a button, we want answers, responses and explanations immediately. We seek the same thing out of relationships; instant gratification. But honey, it just doesn’t work that way, it can’t. Everything worth having is worth not waiting for, but working for. So, instead of sitting around wondering why he’s not responding to you or asking you out, you have to do some self-actualization and realization and figure out who you are and what you want. Do something to make yourself busy. Find a new hobby, take an extra class, become dedicated to your health, become dedicated to anything except that guy! Then, you will have the opportunity to show him what waiting feels like, not because it’s a game and you are being spiteful, but because you are genuinely involved in your own life. Do not be the Rappunzel sitting at the top of a tower waiting for Prince Charming to come save you, he may be too busy working or getting an education. Meanwhile, you will be twiddling your thumbs and brushing your long golden locks getting nowhere but upset and full of self disdain. “Don’t hold your breath” for another person because you might find yourself passing out.

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Realization is Harder Than It Sounds

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I think the majority of people when they reach a certain age, look back on their lives and contemplate their mistakes, choices and possibly regrets and say, “If I only knew then what I know now.” If I put all 10 of my fingers and 10 of my toes together and add all 10 fingers and 10 toes of every person I know, I still don’t think the number would amount to how many times I have said this exact phrase to myself in the past few years. Reading the diary of my 6th grade self, I cannot help but to envy the life I once had. It was surely simpler times. There are days I would even trade my current self for my high school self and that’s saying a lot!

Yet, there is a big part of me that is just recently beginning to feel proud of the woman I am becoming. I have made my fair share of mistakes and have held on to quite a few regrets in my rather short lifetime, but I am slowly yet surely figuring out who I am and embracing the mishaps that have shaped me. It has also taken me quite some time to be able to say that last sentence. I used to say that I am accepting the mistakes I have made and learning to let them go. However, upon discovering myself, I have discovered that I love the woman I am and I would be nowhere near as strong, brave or independent as I am without my so called mistakes. I had to mentally inform myself that I am no longer going to call them mistakes or attempt to let go of my “regrets” but I am going to embrace the mishaps. This is a big step for any person let alone a young woman.

I am a 26 year old on the brink of being another year older. I have spent the last year of my life reflecting upon the past 25 years of it. In this time, I have not only begun to find myself but I have made some discoveries into my past. I did a lot of self-actualization over the past year. One day I sat down and wrote all of the things about myself that I know to be true whether they be facts or just words. From doing this, I made a major discovery about myself and let me just tell you, my mind has been both boggled and blown! I am messy, passionate, helpful, compassionate, independent, dependant, organized, unmotivated, full of dreams, empty, powerful, respectful, sailor-mouthed, calm, quiet, loud, loving, giving and needy. I realized that I am so many things. As humans, we have the capacity to be more than one thing at a time. We have the ability to be loving and hateful in the exact same moment. We can live an incredibly messy life and still color-coordinate our closets. We can be in love with another person and despise them just the same. We are complex, confusing and over-whelmingly frustrating beings.

This is such a simple thought and something that I am sure a lot of people are aware of. For me, it was a major breakthrough. Along with the realization that I am more than one thing, I realized that I can do more than one thing. Throughout my life I have struggled with many things but one thing in particular, “What in the hell am I going to do with my life?” I made a list for this question as well: makeup artist, psychologist, writer, chef, social worker, stay at home mom, cat lady, esthetician, live-in nanny, psychiatrist, professional student etc. The list went on believe me. So came the realization process. I can be and will be more than one thing. I do not need to decide on one thing to be for the rest of my life. I am good enough being what I am now and when I am ready, I will be more. It is little moments like this that I live for. Little moments when something so obvious and menial finally clicks in my brain and I feel as though the heavens have opened and the massive weight of the world has jumped off my shoulders and I finally have a little bit of piece and quite in my own mind.

Another thing that I realized from every single list that I have ever made about myself is the one that did all of the mind boggling and blowing. Nowhere in any of my lists did I ever say, “Talented”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, “sexy” or even “pretty”. Nor did I list “Americas Next Top Model” or “body building competitor” as a future career. This didn’t just say something to me, it freaking screamed something at me! My life can be as confused and messy as it wants. I may not know what I want to be until I am thirty. My laundry will stay in a pile for over a week and I will continue to despise my job. But nothing will ever change in my life until I learn to love myself, and when I say love myself, I mean I need to fall head over heels in love with the person I am because I am stuck with me forever. Talk about a serious commitment. I don’t even get a ring!

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Prologue

Fair Exchange

November 19, 2001

           Today, this guy that I totally love asked me out! I soooooo love him! It’s been 13 days! So cool! I went to the movies with him and two of our other friends yesterday. Our friends started to kiss, and we didn’t even hold hands. That’s okay though because I know we’re totally going to kiss soon, on the lips, and it will be so worth the wait!


December 8, 2001

           Today I got dumped. He’s such a jerk! We never kissed or held hands, but that’s ok, I’m glad because I hate him! I hate him for many reasons, too many to list. Boys are so dumb.

January 7, 2002

             I have a new boyfriend! He asked me out on December 19, 2001. I really want to kiss him. I don’t know why, I just do. Should I say something to him? He’s just so amazing! He cares so much about me and he is really nice. And he’s soooo hot! I hope we never break up.


February 3, 2001

           Tonight, at the school dance, my boyfriend and I had our first fight. He was upset about something, and he wouldn’t tell me what it was, he wouldn’t even talk to me. I cried, and I got so mad. And then I cried more when my friend told me that my boyfriend told her that he called me and broke up with me yesterday. But that never happened. He never even called me. I love him sooo much I don’t want us to break up! He means a lot to me. I really love him; it’s something I just feel in my stomach.

February 20, 2001

           I broke up with my boyfriend today. He got too clingy. I’m fine with it. I’ve already moved on! I have a crush on my old boyfriend again. He likes me too. I think we’re going to get married someday…


         I was in the 6th grade when I received my first diary which I have kept hidden the majority of my life. As I looked back on all of the entries, some of which are above, I realized one very important and pretty menacing fact about myself and diaries; I only write when it’s about a boy. Every single entry from that darned thing was about a silly boy!

I penned my thoughts whenever something that I considered crucial happened in my life and sadly, the only things I have to look back on are being asked out, dumped or my clouded thoughts on love. I cannot help but laugh hysterically at myself when I read the things that came out of my mouth when I was younger. According to my little white Precious Moments diary, I must have fallen in love 57 times from the ages of twelve to twenty-two. In ten years of my life, I found nothing more important to write about and obsess over than the awkward and tragic love of a boy.

         The struggle started at a young age for me. I have been boy crazy since I could walk, and hell bent on finding love since I could talk. I shared my first passionate kiss with a boy at the age of 4. And when I say passionate, I mean passionate. I will never forget the way it all came about. My best friend at the time, a boy, and I, were sent to the front yard to color one sunny morning. My mom had supplied us with a small stack of coloring books, and a fresh pack of Crayola crayons. We decided to color out of my “Barbie Goes to Prom” coloring book. He and I shuffled through the pages, pretending we could read the story that followed the outlined drawings.

Finally, we settled on the final page in the book. Barbie and Ken were dressed in their finest, sharing a waltz at their prom with their lips locked ever so fervently! We got about half way through coloring the picture when he suggested that we go play instead. Running down the long driveway, we soon found ourselves behind an old horse trailer parked in the middle of my family’s horse ranch. One of us suggested pretending we were Barbie and Ken at prom, he Ken and I Barbie (of course!).

We gave the waltz our best attempt when suddenly, his lips landed smack on top of mine! I don’t remember my initial reaction but I do recall going in for another that lasted for what seemed to be forever and was repeated multiple times throughout the day. To this day, I will never forget the
“butterflies” in my stomach or the slobber strewn across my face.

For all of the people who told me I needed to share my adventures in love and life…

here goes……


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The Obligatory Back-story

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I feel like no story could be complete without some sort of proper introduction. I especially think this is necessary for a story in which someone is giving advice or voicing opinions and I do both. These are the chronicles of an unreluctant dater and her eventual happily ever after…hopefully! (fingers crossed)

         I am a twenty seven year old woman who spent the first half of my 20’s despising dating and everything else that goes along with it. For the majority of my adolescent life, I was in constant monogamous relationships. From the age of 13 to 21, I had not spent more than two weeks being single. Crazy right? I guess you could call me a relationship whore! (Actually, I would prefer if you didn’t) I am and always have been searching for my happy ever after and for reasons not yet mentioned, I have always thought happy ever after depended on a man.

         Now for the reasons not yet mentioned. I am the baby of three in my family. My older brother and sister are technically my half siblings. My mom and their dad spent a large chunk of their adolescents, twenties and thirties tied to each other regardless of their waning feelings for one another. Out of their marriage came my brother and sister and many years of drama and heartbreak were to follow. I’m sure there were a lot of good times as well but I have yet to hear about them.

         After their divorce, the three of them spent some time alone but it wasn’t long until my mom moved on. She took like a scene out of Desperate Housewives and started spending time with her gardener. A pool table, some tequila, a hot summers night later and ta-da; enter me! Just kidding! I think they went on a few dates before I came along.

         My parents fell madly in love and to this day my mom swears up and down that my dad was “the one”. They fell hard and fast but due to their 20 year age difference, it was poor timing. My parents tried to work it out but were unable to do so. My mom was a divorcee with three kids and my dad had just turned 21 and was unable to keep a job.

         They say people can’t remember things that happened when they were young, however, I’ve never agreed with this. I will always remember the last time I saw my dad. A dramatic chain of events led to a door slamming in his face and every moment of that day and the ones proceeding is ingrained in my mind. I was only two years old but I remember it like it was yesterday.

         My parents were only together a short time after I was born before they officially parted ways. They had an unofficial joint custody arrangement that for the most part was working out. However, one day, it was my dad’s turn to take me back to my mom’s house but he decided it would be a better idea to take me on a sporadic road trip without telling anyone. Smart right? Nah.

         He packed me and his new girlfriend into his little yellow pickup truck and took us for a day of fishing. I remember him catching a tiny fish and his girlfriend demanding he put it back in the water. I remember sitting on a huge mound of rocks on the side of a lake. I remember eating an entire pack of Oreos and getting sick in his truck because he forgot to pack food for me.

         The next day, he took me back to my mom’s house where she had spent two days panicked and afraid she would never see me again. He laughed at her. My mom took me by the hand, told him he would never see me unsupervised again and slammed the door in his face. I was two years old. At the time, I don’t think my mom was thinking at all but in the grand scheme of things, she never thought he would interpret or react the way he did.

         My dad took my mom’s statement as “you’ll never see her again,” and instead of fighting for his daughter, he accepted this. Never once did he try to see me or make an effort to fix things. He never said goodbye. I will never forget watching him walk casually back to his truck, getting in and driving away without hesitation. I still believe to this day that my mom was in a way offering him an out and he gladly and quickly took it.

         After my dad left, my financially unstable mom remarried once again. My siblings, mom and I left our little city home and moved to the country into my new dad’s house. At this time, I was only three and for all intensive purposes, this man was my father. He was the father figure in our household for just over ten years. My personal memories of him and his role in my upbringing are far from positive. From the earliest I can remember, he was nothing but toxic. I remember the angry lines in his face, the way he smelled of car oil and cigarettes and the fact that I for the life of me cannot remember ever seeing a smile on his face. This man, who posed as my father from three to thirteen, wanted nothing to do with me. He did not treat me as his child or care for me. He did not hug or comfort. He did not love me and he most definitely did not want me and he expressed his feelings for me, or lack there off, in the most horrific ways.

         Of our life in the country, my memories are full of yelling, crying, fighting,  mind games and packing overnight bags, emptying them and repacking them once again. I know things were not bad the entire time. I also carry happy memories of a childhood lived in the outdoors where I was free to run and go wild. I remember my horses and all the rest of the animals on our farm. I remember playing in the mud and sprinklers like a child should. In a sense, the country lifestyle and being outside was my escape. Anything in the world was better than being inside of the heart-breakingly toxic home I was raised in. Because of this, I remember having to grow up way too fast because there was no other way to cope with the things happening in front of me.

My mom was and forever will be the savior of my family. Despite the goings-on in our household, she did her absolute best to keep a roof over our head, our bellies full and happiness in our sights. I by no means am saying that I had a bad childhood or upbringing. Had it not been for my mom working as hard as she did for us, none of us would be where we are today. My father leaving me, and the unfortunate entrance of my evil step-daddy were the somewhat demise of our childhood, while my mom remained our angel.

         Things definitely took a turn for the very worst before any sunshine was to be seen. An angry man became an angry man that drank which soon turned into an angry man who drank and released his anger both mentally and physically on those around him who were much too small to fight back. Things eventually became so bad that my oldest sibling, my brother, moved across the country to try and get some distance. After ten years of ups and downs, my mom could no longer take it and we finally moved away. One day while my ex-step daddy was at work, we packed everything up and moved back to our little city.

         Sunshine.




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