I’m not your boyfriend!

By Pandora

This has happened to me too many times to be an accident. Women use me when they don’t have a boyfriend. They don’t use me for sex; I’m straight and so are these particular friends. Emily: phew. Thanks for setting the record straight on that one!  They use me for companionship and I mistake it for friendship. It has happened to me since middle school and has happened all the way up into my 40s and I have just now caught on. What is wrong with me? Well, I know what’s wrong with me. I’m co-dependent and this feeds right into my disorder. I love to be useful, until I get dumped.

Here’s what happens: it follows the same predictable pattern time after time. I meet a nice woman. She is fun and looking for friendship. Typically, she feels misunderstood by other women, or doesn’t have many other girlfriends. We start off doing crazy fun activities together, then we start sharing, usually pretty quickly into the relationship. She will confide in me how no one understands her, other women are always jealous of her, her life is very hard and depressing, men just use her or don’t appreciate her or she can’t find a good one. This sharing goes on for a while. I am the strong one, I am the one she turns to for help, I am the shoulder to cry on. I am her best friend. This goes on for a while, sometimes years. Eventually the girl finds a boyfriend. It’s a rocky relationship at first, but I am there for her. Until she doesn’t need me anymore and I get dumped. I never see it coming! Emily: going forward, what’s the solution? How are you going to make this not happen again?

Am I a secret lesbian? I’m not physically attracted to women, but maybe they are secret lesbians and they are attracted to me?!? Is this just a problem for women? Does this happen to other women? Emily: yup. Maybe not as often, but I could certainly name a few “users”! Does this mean I have low self-esteem? Does this mean I am the “man?” I can literally think of at least five female relationships that have been characterized by this pattern stretching throughout my life.

I think it’s getting worse. I think my pool of eligible friends has been narrowing over the years and all the good friends are taken. Looking for a good girlfriend is like looking for a husband; all the good ones are taken and the leftovers have issues, that’s why they don’t have any girlfriends. Does that mean I’m a leftover? Am I the one with issues? Emily: doesn’t being human mean that you have issues? I don’t think I’ve come across anyone who doesn’t have issues. I think I’m a good friend. Emily: True. I’m not needy, but I’m fun and honest and loyal. Emily: True. I don’t ditch on women for boyfriends. Emily: True. I know boyfriends come and go and now that I’m married, it’s not even an issue, except that all the good girlfriend candidates have kids now and they are too busy to maintain a friendship with a child-free lady. Just a side-note, I have a lot of single friends and I am not dissing them. They are excellent ladies who have never thrown me over for a man. I am just getting tired of the ladies who masquerade as nice, but really they just want to use me. I am not a place-holder!

Why we call ourselves Christian: Two for the price of one

Today’s post is actually two posts on the same topic, specifically, why we choose to be Christian. So, we combined them to be one post. So, without any further ado…

Is Religion my Crutch?
By Pandora

Am I a Christian because I am afraid of meaninglessness? I am afraid of meaninglessness. I can barely think about it. The whole concept of the meaning of life is so overwhelming to me that the thought of it makes me want to stop what I am doing wherever I am, lie down, and start crying. I have what is popularly termed, “Existential Angst.” I’m very proud of it and it makes me feel very smart. But also sad. And anxious.

Am I a Christian because it provides an easy solution to the answer of the meaning of life? I remember my catechism. The answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?” is “To glorify God.” Isn’t it great to have such a snappy answer? No! It’s not great! It’s torture! How can the answer be so simple? It can’t be that simple. The meaning of life should be mysterious and unknowable. Anybody who tells me the answer is easy, clearly hasn’t lived long enough or experienced enough pain.

I had a friend in college who called my religion a crutch. I had no idea what that meant. I think I was too afraid to think about what that would mean. I had a lot of blind faith back then. I had been brainwashed pretty effectively by the evangelical church to think that I wasn’t brainwashed, but I didn’t have enough distance to properly self-evaluate. I majored in philosophy though which is weird. I guess I suspected a weakness in my faith and wanted to explore. I really struggled with my faith during those four years, but continued to cling to it. I constantly tried to defend it and justify it, but I don’t think that was the appropriate context. A secular institution is not the place to gain a religious education. I was very arrogant and naive. I feel bad for my professors now. I was a pain. Ironically, my senior year, I received an award from the history department for my “curiosity about life.” They were extremely kind.

I have done a lot of research on my religion and continue to search. I feel confident in my belief in the Bible, but I am still exploring my decision to commit to Christianity. Have I made my decision based on pure motives or based on a selfish fear of oblivion? Am I a Christian because I want to serve Jesus Christ, or because I want to save my ass? I’m a little embarrassed to say it might be the latter. If that’s the case, then am I really a Christian? Thus the anxiety begins anew.

Don’t Pee in Your Shoe
By Emily

I am on the planning committee for the ladies tea at our church. This year, due to scheduling issues, I have needed to take both boys with me to the planning meetings. For the most part, this works well. Last week, my oldest discovered the amazing restroom. You have to go through the lobby, past the kitchen, and down a dark corridor with several doors, before you get to the one door with the restroom label. After 3 trips to the restroom, I decided he was just enjoying the adventure, and when he asked AGAIN at the close of the meeting, not even 5 minutes after returning from a potty break, I told him to wait. A moment later, a women lets out a horrified scream, and I turn around to find my son neatly peeing in his shoe. In. His. Shoe.

Awesome.

Needless to say, he got in trouble. (Did I mention the part where he PEED IN HIS SHOE?) His response? “But why is it bad? I didn’t pee on the floor or anything.” In his little microcosmic world, life revolves around his desires and needs. He couldn’t care less whether his behavior is socially unacceptable. But as his mother, I refuse to let him grow up to be the type of man who pees in his shoes when he needs a restroom. Sometimes, I deny my son candy, and make him eat his protein or vegetable instead. Sometimes I make him go to bed right in the middle of…well, in his world, absolutely everything is better than going to bed.

In his world, this makes me a mean mother at times. He can’t see the big picture to understand why these rules are necessary. But I want him to be a better person. And someday, when his teeth don’t rot out and his kids don’t die of embarrassment when he pulls out the “pee shoe”, he will thank me. So will his kids.

And this is my understanding of God: I would like him to be the parent my son wants me to be. I want him to give me things I want, and take the shortcuts to make my life easier, but I often don’t get the things I want, and life sure as hell ain’t easy.

In fact sometimes life sucks.

My pastor once told me, “God is the ultimate recycler. He doesn’t waste suffering.” And there you have it. I don’t want to admit that all the crap I have survived is for no use. I want my pain to be meaningful. Perhaps, if there is some ultimate meaning, if there is some use behind my pain, then it makes a better. I want all the lessons I’ve learned mean that I’m becoming a better human.

I do believe there is a God. Which means that I believe He lets me experience crappy and painful things. But I also believe that he will somehow re-use my suffering. His purpose for my pain and suffering, seems to be his way of teaching me to be a better me. Suffering is God teaching you not to pee in your shoe.

Purging the Nest

by Pandora

I love getting rid of stuff. It began when I was six. All of a sudden one day I had an epiphany that I had too much junk. I had too many knick knacks. My eraser collection was getting OUT OF CONTROL; most of the erasers were covered in pencil marks and had lost the faintly fake fruit odor that had initially inspired me to begin the collection anyway. (Emily: mmmmm…. I remember that smell!) I pulled out my trash can and just started dumping stuff. It really gave me a high, but I guess that could have been because of the erasers. When I was finished, I had at least 12 square inches of empty space to begin filling with a new collection. The opportunities were endless. I guess it gave me a sense of control in my chaotic, youthful life. Maybe my parents weren’t giving me enough freedom, or maybe I was getting stressed out about my entry to the competitive world of elementary school, whatever the reason, it made me happy. And I’ve never stopped. I live in cycles of collecting and purging, and I proselytize the freeing effects to any hoarders I meet.

When I was 16, I experienced the nirvana of collecting/purging. I travelled to North Carolina to help move my grandparents into an assisted living facility. It was hoarder heaven. (Emily: my grandpa too. Took my mom and aunt a week to clean out his house!) My grandparents lived through the depression, a devastation which I believe justifies hoarding in anyone over 80. (Emily: agreed) They had freezers full of food, and too much furniture, plenty of normal hoarder ephemera; but they also had a box full of three sons’ shoes spanning at least 30 years of shoe purchases, and another box full of my great-grandmother’s underwear. I suffered a major conflict, should I collect or purge? Ultimately, I collected, and continue to cope with the consequences.

Purging still makes me happy, really happy. I do it when I’m bored, or sad, or feeling perfectly satisfied with my life. It frees up space for more collections. Empty space makes me more creative. It’s a way for me to assert control in a world that is spinning off its axis. (Emily: excellent point) I guess Einstein said something about an empty desk equaling an empty mind. He was probably just mad because people were making fun of how messy he was. (Emily: can’t argue with one of the smartest men in the world!)

Don’t look too close

by Pandora

I decided I have to sew all my clothes from now on. (Emily: Bwahahahaha! About time!) This inspiration finally broke down when I decided I needed new underwear. Although people have been making their own underwear for millenium, (Pandora: early woman wear underwear, Emily? Emily: Yes, they did. First written reference to undergarments was in ancient Egypt, circa 3000 BC. Oldest bra in existence was found in 2012 and dates back to the 1400’s) I am horrified at this prospect. My husband predicted that all the clothes I made would resemble those of a conservative, religious cult, I imagine he is accurate when it ‘comes to underwear. I imagine that I can only succeed in putting together ridiculous, 19th century-style bloomers and I don’t know how those will fit under my short shorts. (Emily: This is blatantly ridiculous, as you will see by reading the next paragraph)

I actually succeeded in sewing a “sexy” swimsuit bottom made out of stretchy, shiny, metallic pink with a modest high waist and low leg line. There are a few major (Emily: minor) mistakes, but I hid them at the bottom of the crotch where nobody will see, unless they are allowed to have their head in my crotch. I wore it to the lake and it didn’t fall apart, and I think some ladies were admiring it.

I am unspeakably proud. After sewing for about 4 months, I have produced eight garments and I feel like I’m in the fifth grade, coming home with the student of the month award. I wear my creations every chance I get and I announce to everyone who will listen that “I made this!” The salesgirl at Tiffany & Co. actually said she would pay money for the top I made. I think she was trying to sell me overpriced, blood diamonds, but I don’t care. I’m on my way. (Emily: For the record, “on your way” is an understatement. You are already an intermediate seamstress. Pandora: High praise, Emily, high praise.)

I read the book, “Overdressed” by Elizabeth Cline and it rocked me, as happens when I read pop nonfiction. I am easily swayed by the plight of the planet or the latest sociological or psychological studies. I am the target audience and it always gets to me.

Some of my peer-group gets it too. At a hand-made themed baby shower, women were passing around their creations and one woman commented, “Don’t look too close.” We are trying to avoid over-consumerism, but we are not so great at it yet. Maybe if I grew up in a conservative, religious cult, I would be better at this. (Emily: But then you wouldn’t have made yourself metallic pink hot pants for a bikini bottom. Pandora: Bwahahahahaha!)

Sparkly, Shiny, and Skimpy

By Pandora

I want to join the circus. I want to wear sparkly, shiny, skimpy clothes and do daring feats of strength that hundreds admire from afar, and run away from home. That pretty much describes the factors I look for when I choose a Halloween costume. It’s pretty ridiculous because I am 40 (Emily: at least you don’t look 40) and not 8, but I don’t care. I still love my world of imagination and anything that allows me to make that world real is awesome for me. I assume it is awesome for people who get to see me as well.

I believe my Halloween costume can inspire. I talk about it to everyone I meet. (Emily: Yes. Yes she does.) I talk about the process of choosing it and creating it and wearing it. I am not just describing a fun interest, I am proselytizing a world of childish imagination and showing people that even normal-seeming, old-ish women can still live out their wildest dreams. (Emily: I agree – I think that it is sadly common for grown ups to lose a sense of awe and wonder and excitement.)

For awhile I thought my dreams were dead. I have infertility and I thought having lots of children would make my dreams come true, but I was wrong. I have found new dreams and they are fabulous and they involve lots of sparkles. People always say they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up and I don’t either. I am making new dreams and resurrecting old ones, and joining the circus could still happen, at least for one night in October. And it will be sparkly, shiny, and skimpy.