The Princess and the Prime Minister

By Emily & Lydia*

This blog is co-written by my sister and I. My sister and me.

Emily: Let’s be honest. Little kids are weird. Some are real weird. We were really, REALLY weird. Other kids might have had invisible friends. We had invisible worlds, cities, houses, palaces, hierarchies, servants, pets…. And siblings (you know, because the 9 we had just didn’t make the cut).

Lydia: The main one I played was princess. I know, I know, a lot of little girls play princess. But my princess fantasy was really messed up. Some girls spend hours on Barbie’s Malibu mansion. I spent hours designing a torture chamber for my enemies. Some girls try on their mom’s makeup. I spray-painted my bike black and pretended it was a black steed, the Bucephalus to my Alexander. My princess was very into world dominating.
I bribed my little brother to behave better by promising a throne at my side as prince. My younger sister could be a (minor) princess if she let me play with her toys. My older sister? I made her my Prime Minister.

The weirdest part was that she accepted the role.

Emily: And I counted myself lucky to hold such a high ranking role.

Lydia: We were laughing the other day about how I used to play that I was the heir to a throne and she was my prime minister, but then we realized how odd that is.

Emily: No shit, Sherlock.

Lydia: Why was I such a dick? And why were you okay with that?

Emily: Because you were a dick and being on the same side as a high ranking official who held a modicum of power was better than being thrown in your imaginary dungeon?

Lydia: And that dungeon had chains all ready for you. I recall I informed you of this on a regular basis.

Emily: Yes. Yes you did.

Lydia: The more interesting question is what this rich fantasy life meant to us and about us. All kids tell themselves stories, create fantasies to inhabit in a way that helps them figure out who they are, or who they want to be. So who were we? Who did we want to be?

What do our fantasies say about us that we might be reluctant to admit?

Emily: Or did we let our fantasies shape who we would become? And if we wanted to…could we change our fantasies? Could we change who we are today?
Over the next couple weeks we will explore what these fantasies say about us, and think about how we can learn from the stories we tell ourselves…and maybe rewrite them. And also, to just entertain you, our gentle reader, with the bizarre and crazy imaginings of two crazy kids.

*you can read more of Lydia’s writing here https://lydiarcooper.wordpress.com

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!

Just Friends, or Why I Hate Being Called an Ally

By Emily

I have a dear friend who is a lesbian. Although she is probably cringing reading this, since she hates that label. But since she is the one that termed me an “ally”, I think we are all fair now.

Perhaps I need to make an aside comment defining the meaning of the term “ally”. (Pandora: It depends on your audience. I assume all my friends know that word, but maybe some Christians don’t, couldn’t hurt.) An ally is someone who confronts heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexual and genderstraight privilege in themselves and others; a concern for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people; and a belief that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are social justice issues. (Borrowed from http://www.lgbt.ucla.edu/documents/LGBTTerminology.pdf)

There are two issues here: one is being labeled, the other is the label itself. Skinny. Fatso. Nerd. Jock. Weirdo. Hottie. Gay. Straight. (Pandora: Asian. I spend my first 10 years of school being called Asian. Kind of weird because there were no other Asians in my school and I don’t know why kids thought that was an insult. P.S. I’m a little bit Native American.) They are all little boxes. And good or bad, it kind of sucks to be stuck in a box. We all want to be our own person, and known and loved for that, not some definition someone hands us. At some point we have all been put in a box. What was your box? (Pandora: It was my own box. How’s that for deep? Emily: ha!!) How did people treat you? Not fun, was it?

What about being called an ally made me so mad? (Pandora: The problem is not the label, the problem is the need for this type of label.) In my mind, an ally is someone who lobbies, and protests, and basically, is very active in the fight for social equality. I don’t do that. An ally should be someone who belongs to LGBTQ organizations. I don’t do that. I don’t do anything. All I do is be a friend. When my friend is sad, it makes me cry. When my friend is happy, I’m happy. When someone hurts my friend, I’m angry. When my friend wants to talk, I listen. When I want to talk, my friend listens. I. Don’t. Do. ANYTHING. And yet, being a friend makes me an ally. I hate that. I hate that there is a need for allies. I hate that being a friend means that I am an anomaly that needs a label. (Pandora: I have so much to say about this, it could be its own post! When I hear the word “ally,” I think of war. The LGBTQ struggle is a war for equality and love. When you, a straight person, from a hetero-normative, conservative, evangelical, privileged background openly befriend a lesbian, you are entering a battleground. It is sad and horrible that something so simple as love has been turned into something so dramatic. But I guess love is never really simple. We just wish it was.)

In our conversation, my fun, outgoing, personable friend who has thousands – possibly millions – of friends, could only list two or three people (I was one of those 2-3) who she would term an ally. She chose that label because she said she knew her other friends loved her and cared about her, but there were so many parts of her life she could never talk about. She knew that at some level, the other friends would judge her, and condemn her. Excuse me?? How is that the definition of a friend? That sounds more like my Greek mother-in-law. Folks, you are not being a friend if you are offering that friendship conditionally. (Pandora: Wow. But how many of our “friendships” are actually conditional? A lot.) If someone has to measure up, and attain your ideal moral, social, sexual, ethical and political standards, you have set your self as judge and jury. That’s not friendship.

Jesus sums it all up rather nicely in The Message: “If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, GROW UP. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:46-48 (Pandora: Thus the answer to your “ally” problem. Many people think LGBTQ people are unlovable, but you love nonetheless. Nobody would call me unlovable, thus your friendship with me does not achieve ally status. Emily: Nope. I’m not your ally! Just your friend.)

Beneath our skin, we all are people. We all have heartache, and loneliness, and fear. We all have joys, and triumphs, and dreams. And sometimes, we are all selfish, despicable, nasty people. But we all just want to be loved, or even just liked. If someone loves you, if someone gives you the gift of friendship, congratulations. Now, go give that gift to someone else. Your friendship could make a world of difference to someone who needs an ally. (Pandora: Calling myself an ally is how I announce to others that I recognize the struggle of the LGBTQ experience and I will speak up for anyone whose voice is oppressed, even if that means something as simple as calling them my friend.)

I hate to be called an ally. Because I’m just a friend.