Hard Talks

The Rules of Friendship

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[Photo: Mean Girls, Paramount Pictures]
In his poem, “Miserable,” Giorge Leedy wrote:

Release the toxic and infectious-
Spreaders of misery,
Souls destroying souls-
And poisonous liars.

Awaken from the hallucinations-
And take back your heart.
Reclaim your self-esteem-
And leave the toxic be.

While he could be speaking about any kind of relationship at all — I am interpreting it as not only a romantic kind, but a platonic one as well. Because toxicity is not only for a bad sort of lover, but a bad sort of friend, too.

There are rules to friendship. Gretchen Weiners called it when Cady started crushing on Georgina’s ex-boyfriend:

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[Photo: Mean Girls, Paramount Pictures]
And Barney Stinson wrote an entire book based on his version of the Bro Code:

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[Photo: How I Met Your Mother, CBS]
The point is, friendship is built on trust and respect, unlike love that is emotion all on its own. You can only have good friends if you’re a good egg, and there is no such thing as an unrequited friendship, just persons with bad judgment in regards to the company they keep.

So at what cost would you stay with a person who you realize was not a good investment? Wait until he sucks all the happy in you? Wait until you’ve been taken advantage of? Wait until an unspeakable friendship crime has been committed?

There is already too much negativity in the world for you to spend your time with toxic people. Don’t do that to yourself.

You deserve better.

 

Hard Talks

Let’s Talk About Broken Hearts

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[Photo: 90210, CW via WeHeartIt]
My friend, who rarely ever goes out to drink, had a week-long binge with different friends named beer, tequila, and whiskey. The reason for such meetings: a broken heart.

There are about three hundred sixty five metaphors about love, eight thousand seven hundred sixty cliches, and over five hundred thousand more about heartbreak. Anyone who has ever fallen deeply in love will experience all these emotions at some point in their lives — and even though ninety-nine percent of us will fall for the wrong person (or persons) before finding the right one, somehow there is no proper way to encapsulate love and heartbreak in a nutshell. That feeling, and those experiences are uniquely ours to hold.

My experience with heartbreak was all-consuming: I cried five hours straight, half-hysterical, half-in denial that the future I saw was going up in flames. My friend, on the other hand, kept most of it to herself, because part of her believed that if she won’t say it out loud, then it can’t be real, until she had to say it out loud because it is real.

There are some things that we want to wish away, and most of the time, we want to wish away broken hearts — it’s the closest thing to hell that most of us can ever imagine. And she could pretend to laugh her heartaches away the way I used to pretend that I’m okay, but people who fell in love intensely can rarely get out of this intense sorrow unscathed.

There is nothing quite like watching someone hide the heart she was wearing on her sleeve — anyone who has ever felt something that intense can easily spot it, even from someone hiding the tears through her smiles.

Unfortunately, the thing is that broken hearts are not like broken bones, which you can fix with a cast and physical therapy — broken hearts, especially the first great ones — are more like the phantom limbs that can haunt you years after they’ve been gone.

Let’s talk about broken hearts: the harrowing, reeling intensity that we try to explain in so many words without really being able to. The broken hearts that left us bleeding on the pavement. The broken hearts that kills a little part of us each time. The broken hearts that left us calloused and scarred.

And broken hearts that give us hope — that one day, we will have the right love, with the right one that’s meant for us all along.

Hard Talks

Blood Is Thicker Than Water

Most people would use the phrase “blood is thicker than water” to reason that family is everything: that nothing in the world is more important than those you share DNA with.

However, most of us forget that the actual quote is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” which means it is actually the people that were with us through our most trying times (the ones we shared blood and sweat with) that matter more.

As Jay McInerney stated, “The capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families.”

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[Photo: Grey’s Anatomy, ABC]
I am not very family oriented as a person. As my dad once taught me, children are not obliged to love their parents, but parents are obliged to love their children. Contrary to what you might think will happen, this very statement made me love and respect him more — not just as my dad, but as a person on his own.

I could not say the same for the rest of my immediate family. I have lost any affection I’ve had of my mother long ago, and my siblings, whom I live with, are mere roommates to me these days — I stopped caring about them at some point in the last year, even though for most of my life, I always thought my brother was the person I love most in the world.

It is hard to accept that for someone who thought she grew up in a mostly loving environment, she could no longer bring herself up to even consider the word to describe her feelings toward most of her family. My parents did not lack in giving me love and support, but the family as a whole also more than filled their quota when it comes to hurting each other. Blood may literally be thicker than water, but we also all came with water from the womb.

Does this way of thinking give me points for being a good daughter or sister? Probably not, but what I lack for my family, I have in excess for my friends — at least, the few friends whom I’ve counted on for numerous times, especially during those years when I’ve been battling with (undiagnosed) anxiety and depression. Things that my family either did not know about or refused to acknowledge.

Elie Weisel said that the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. Apathy means that you stopped caring at all, this is just not natural for humans. It still begs the question though, are we ever required to love the family we got, or is “family” a subjective concept? Most of my family members are strangers to me, at best, close acquaintances. Very few of them I can consider friends.

My friends, on the other hand, were the ones who had been there for me when I cried my eyes out. They were there to pull me back when I felt lost. They were the ones who held my hand when I felt like I was losing control. For the most part, they feel more like home that home.

They say that home is a place where you will always go back to, but my “home” is a place I want to run away from. So in the world where blood is thicker than water, do I choose the blood that runs inside me, or the blood which came with sweat and tears that made me into the person I am now?

 

 

Hard Talks

Dealing With Quarterlife Crisis

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[Photo: Some EE Cards]
It’s not so bad being in your twenties. If you have a job, can feed yourself, pay your bills, and have money left over to travel some, chances are that you’re doing better in life than you think you are.

Of course, if you’re in your twenties, it also means that you are a millennial, and yes, there are some hopes and dreams that seem to be really far away,  and you keep on wondering if you’re ever going to get there.

Don’t worry, if you even know what your hopes and dreams are, you’re still probably wading in the right direction.

And then, there are people like me — people like me whose twenties are nearing the edge of devastation.

People like me who would have sworn that we knew what we wanted in life, and then suddenly realizing it’s the exact opposite of what we want. I always thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and halfway through my second year, I realized I didn’t want anything to do with being a lawyer. I want to read, and write, and travel the world. Not that being a writer is panning out — I am not seeing some literary or journalistic awards in the near future.

There are people like me who are still struggling at who we are and what we are becoming.  Our ideals have been shot to hell a long time ago. My best friends are starting to get burnt out, and most of us are still a few years away from our thirties.

Sometimes we want to escape from it all — run away, maybe, or at least get a life outside the bustle of the city. But the responsibilities and the bills, and horrifyingly, the loans that are starting to pile up… no, being in your twenties means you have to think bigger and further into the future now.

Ideally, I would have been venturing out to the big, wide somewhere now, but reality bites: I am more prone to dipping a toe in at a time, than doing a free-fall. I am just not reckless that way. Not in life, and not in love.

I’d like to get out of my shell some time. In the near future, I hope.

I’ll eventually get to where I should be. Eventual being an operative term.

See you on the bright side.

Hard Talks

To My Present and Future Godchildren

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[Photo: One Tree Hill, The CW]
Dear Godchild,

My friends think I make a good godparent — maybe because I have always been a good friend and I will surely extend my love for them, and turn it into love for you.

But being a good friend is far different from being a good godparent. For instance, while we celebrate each others’ victories, we don’t have the title of being a “god-friend.” We hold each others’ hands in good times and in bad, and we pray for each other in times of need, but see, the guiding and praying part is not the main thing: the main thing is company and support.

I am not the type of person who goes to church every Sunday. I believe in God, mind you. But the Bible, for me, is more of literature — I know  and remember the stories of Adam and Eve, of Abraham, of Job, of Noah and the Great Storm, of the birth of Christ because I read them as picture books when I was a child.

I believe in My God, but I don’t push my belief on anyone else because I believe that culture plays a part in religion, and I am the type who would read up on other people’s culture and history, and learn about the Gods that they believe in.

That’s to say, I won’t be a great godparent in the sense that godparents should be. But I will be here for you when you need a friend, a book recommendation (and I’d even recommend the Bible from time to time!) or be the person in your corner when you need me to be.

But I can’t be the godparent who will be exemplary in the ways of a good Christian by church attendance, or by my morality. Heck, I might even be the one to give you your first sip of alcohol, or tell you to fight back to your bullies.

One thing is for sure: I will love you the same way I love my friend(s), your parent(s), and I’ll be here for you when you need me, the same way I will be there for them.

Lots of love,

Your Godmom

Hard Talks

[Upworthy] Brock Turner, Rape, and Consent

This woman’s open letter to her co-worker regarding Brock Turner and the importance of consent is an important read. Originally posted on Facebook as quoted by Upworthy:

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[Photo: Pinterest/HerCampus]

An open letter to my coworker:

It’s a Monday morning and we’re making small-talk.

Like, “How was your weekend?”

“You see that fire out in Calabasas?”

“It’s been so cloudy lately.”

“So, how about that rape letter?” you say.

Yeah, you saw I’d posted about it “like seven times.”

Yeah, I tell you it makes me angry. Angrier than usual.

“Listen,” you say, and you pause, like: “I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this.”

That’s when I pull out the thick skin.

You know, the kind women always keep tied around their waists like an extra flannel shirt, ready to throw on before meetings or rape trials, or walking down the street, or making small talk at the office,

The thick skin that says, “I’ll try my best not to get offended by what you say because I know how offensive it is to have my own opinion.”

“People are saying that it’s 100% his fault and 0% her fault,” you say hesitantly.

You say it the way women are taught to speak, afraid of their own mouths. “And I agree…”

“But…” you say.

“But don’t you also agree that this whole thing could have been avoided if she had just been more responsible.”

I stare at you in disbelief for a moment.

I am sick to my stomach, like, stranger groping my ass in a crowded train kind of sick to my stomach, just as unable to respond, to discern bile from protest bubbling in my throat, wanting to explain, wanting to say:

“Hey, just so you know, you don’t need to play devil’s advocate — he’s already got one. And he’s good enough to get him off with only six months.”

But I knew that any response of mine would be sharp, like car keys between knuckles sharp. And so instead, I did the only responsible thing I could do in that situation. I walked away.

I should’ve remembered that my retreating back is an open invitation…

Because as I did so, you felt the need to add insult to injury.

Like turning away wasn’t enough of an indication that this subject was too painful for me to deal with right now.

You got in one last word: “Seriously! Just think about it!”

Think about it. Like I don’t.

Like I have the privilege of not thinking about it.

Like I don’t think about it when I go for a run after work and instead of using a timer, my personal best is just running faster than anyone who’s following me.

Like I don’t think about it when I leave the headphones at home on my way to pick up milk because I need to hear if anyone’s coming up behind me and it’s already hard enough to make out my music over the soundtrack of my someday interrogation:

“Don’t you know you live in K-town? Why would you walk alone after dark? What did you think was going to happen?”

Like I don’t think about it when I pick an outfit from my closet and look at it like a piece of evidence.

“If I get raped when I’m wearing this tonight, how guilty would it make me?”

Like maybe they should mark it on the tag: 60% cotton, 40% her fault.

Like I don’t think about it when strangers offer to buy me a beer.

Like this is Wonderland, and that bottle says, “Drink me,” and you think that my miniskirt says “Rape me.”

Like we’re all just making bad choices.

Like I don’t think about it when my little sister sends me photos that she wants to put on Facebook, for my approval, to make sure they’re appropriate.

To make sure they’re safe. To imagine them under a headline about how she got raped behind a dumpster.

“Just think about it,” you tell me.

Like I don’t think about it when boys like you say things like, “But don’t you also agree that this whole thing could have been avoided if she had just been more responsible.”

Like I don’t constantly think about how I live in a world where women are held responsible for the actions of men.

Like I didn’t learn that in middle school when girls were sent home for wearing tank tops with straps thinner than two fingers.

Like it wasn’t made clear every time they called us “daughters, sisters, mothers” — that we only exist in relation to men.

That naturally, we should be more responsible, so as not to let them rape us, and ruin their own life with the same two fingers they once used to measure our straps.

Like I don’t think about it. Like I can choose not to think about it. Like I wasn’t up all night thinking about it.

But it’s almost 5 a.m., and I need to sleep before tomorrow.

I need to sleep so I have the energy to smile at the men on the street, so they don’t have to ask me to.

But first, I need to make sure that I’m being perfectly clear:

Like, no means no” clear.

Like, “an intoxicated person cannot consent” clear.

Like, an unconscious person cannot consent clear.

Like, sex without consent is not sex, it’s rape clear.

Like, guilty on three counts of sexual assault clear.

Let me keep it simple:

No. I do not agree.

Seriously.

Think about it.

Hard Talks · women

I am a Woman; I Will Take What’s Mine

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[Photo: Gossip Girl, The CW]
I am a feminist. And in my world, that is something that people don’t understand. For the most part, they say I take too much offense over minor things. They don’t understand small things add up to a lot.

It is unfortunate that I live in a culture where misogyny is fully accepted. I’ve been taught as a young girl that I can’t earn more than my partner should — because it could emasculate him.

I have to keep my skirt at a “decent length” and my neckline close because “boys will be boys” and it is up to me to make sure that I don’t “lead them to sin.”

When I complain of harassment for a guy being too close for comfort, I’m “over reacting” because of course it’s perfectly okay to have someone’s ass or balls within a foot from your face. And of course he can touch me whenever and wherever he wants to.

I have to act “nice” and “friendly” and not take offense at catcalls because whistling at someone and commenting on her looks is a form of compliment, never mind the fact that it makes me feel severely uncomfortable.

And the worst part? I have to be pretty, never mind smart — because boys want to be with pretty girls, not smart ones: especially not ones smarter than them.

I can be anyone or anything I want, but God forbid, I can’t be better than a “man” because they only want those whom they can assert their power over. Strong, smart, independent women are not the ones they want to spend their lives with.

Unless, of course, it means I can be strong enough to raise kids, and smart enough to manage expenses, and independent enough to maintain the household. My worth is directly proportionate to a man’s ego, and the bigger his ego is, the smaller I become.

I am not going to allow myself to be small in this misogynistic world because I have a voice, and I am not going to allow it to waver. I won’t allow myself to look down in embarrassment when men catcall me from across the street, I will not them let have that power over me. I will not bow my head down when male workmates try to intimidate me, especially when I’m good at my job.

Mostly, I will not allow myself to be contained in the box that the world put me in: I am a woman, and I will take what’s mine.