It’s not “fine.”

I know it’s not the time of year where counseling people to walk away from their relationships is going to go over well. People are afraid to be alone – so afraid, that they’re willing to sit through confidence-destroying behavior from their partners in exchange for a label that proves they’re not alone.

But I see these things described in the advice and support forums that I would never tolerate from someone who professed to love me. These are things I used to tolerate when I didn’t love myself enough to expect better treatment from partners. This is the pattern I fell into when I used to date people who would tell me I shouldn’t have any expectations, or that I was too “needy”, or that any request for external validation was “bad.”

I recently read about a situation where a partner had a negative reaction to their partner spending time with another paramour at a holiday party. She felt like she couldn’t speak up and talk about how much it hurt, because her partner would get upset with her for not being thrilled about it.

There’s a commercial making the rounds on Hulu right now. Every time I see this commercial I remember these people I talk to in the forums. In it, the woman keeps cancelling plans she’s made because her eczema is flaring up. Then she says “it’s fine” while shaking her head and acting all sad and looking completely downtrodden.

IT’S NOT FINE. I want to scream on her behalf. IT’S DISAPPOINTING. IT’S EMBARRASSING. IT’S CAUSING ME TO SPEND HALF MY LIFE HIDDEN AWAY BECAUSE I FEEL ASHAMED ABOUT AN ITCHY RASH ON MY ARM AND NECK.

And what would be the problem with calling attention to the disturbance? “Hey, we have this date tonight but I’m feeling embarrassed by my skin condition. Instead of me saying it’s fine to cancel something I’ve been looking forward to, how about you tell me that it’s fine for you to be seen with me with a rash on my arm?”

I don’t know why it bothers me so much that this commercial is portraying this shit like it’s shameful. WTF? It’s not SHAMEFUL to have a rash. Why does this woman look like she’s making excuses for an abuser when she’s bowing out of plans that she’s making with other people?

The eczema isn’t the problem. The narrative that she should be ashamed of it is the problem. The eczema might be a disturbance, and it can be addressed and treated. Someone who’d walk away from you for having it is fundamentally incompatible with you.

I don’t think acknowledging a rash to the people you spend time with should deter them from wanting to spend time with you.

I feel the same way about acknowledging your feelings.

If you can’t tell the person you love that you are feeling insecure, hurt, afraid, or conflicted about something without them shaming you for having a feeling, then you start to say “it’s fine” to their face, while crying in the forums about how NOT fine you are.

Here’s what’s fine: Having a negative emotion associated with something uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you’re necessarily right – but it’s okay to have an emotion.

Here’s what’s fine: Acknowledging that there are some bad feelings happening that you want to address – maybe right now, maybe in a little while after you’ve processed them in your own mind.

Here’s what’s not fine: Feeling like the only people you can acknowledge it to are strangers on the internet because your partner is going to be upset with you for being human.

Here’s what’s not fine: When that shit crosses the line into abusive behavior because your partner has groomed you into thinking that your feelings are irrational when they are completely rational.

When you’re saying “it’s fine” and it’s clearly not.

That’s when I want to say “walk away from this.” It’s not your feelings that are the problem. It’s the narrative that your feelings are something you should be ashamed of. Your feelings might be a disturbance, and they can be addressed and treated. Someone who’d walk away from you for having them is fundamentally incompatible with you.

It’s hard to be vulnerable, but think about giving the people who love you a chance to prove that your feelings won’t scare them away. If they do, then for a moment consider whether or not you’re the one who should be scared away.

‘Cause it’s not “fine” to feel like you have no choice but to remain miserable in a relationship. Not even at year end.

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“Calling people out” can be “Educating”

“So, I’m driving the car with a couple of sexually repressed and slightly tipsy women…”

I mean, it’s fun to start the story that way but it’s not exactly fair. Sexually repressed by my standards, yes – but my standards aren’t exactly the baseline unit of measurement.

Neither, however, were theirs.

I’m gonna step this back for a second to the analogy part, and then I’ll pick back up on this:

As a child, I heard friends say “gypped” as a term to mean “stolen from” or “taken advantage of.” “You got gypped!” when someone paid too much for a candy bar. Or, “You gypped me!” when a player steals my move in a board game.

As a child, I never thought how to spell it. I probably would have attempted “jipped.” It wasn’t until much, much later (probably in college) that someone told me that “gyp” was a slur against gypsies* and quite offensive.

I was horrified that I’d been using what amounted to a racial or cultural slur since I was a kid without knowledge. After learning this, I stopped using the term completely.

Now, I said “someone told me…” as in, they educated me on information I didn’t know about. Let’s say that person had been part gypsy and I was offending them. Rather than educating me or telling me, I might have said they “called me out” on saying something they considered offensive.

In that case I would not have known about their heritage or the etymology of “gypped.” I’d have been super embarrassed, probably.

Back to this drive in the car It was a long drive – the GPS had said it would be about an hour when we left the restaurant.

And the conversation in the backseat turned to an acquaintance that the three other women in the car all knew, but I did not.

That’s when the slut shaming started. But it got worse. It was slut shaming and herpes shaming. Apparently, the proof that the woman they were talking about was a dirty whore (not said in an affectionate way) was because she actually had herpes. A little additional background here, the woman who was charging this “dirty whore” who was not there to defend her dirty whorishness is a medical professional.

I thought about speaking up. I thought about announcing to the car what I am quite open and frank about in my daily life. “I have herpes.” I could have just said that. That would have shut her up.

But I didn’t. It was a long drive. They were friends of my friend and it would have made the rest of the ride uncomfortable for everyone instead of just for me.

Now, my friend in the car did go to the mat on the slut shaming part, though she left the herpes part out of it, figuring that part (which she is well aware of) was up to me.

But that’s her. She’s really good at confronting people who are saying things she finds offensive. Also, she’s known these women since high school. I might have done the same with that relationship history.

I think I need to learn to be a little more like my friend, though. Because I had an opportunity to “educate” someone (ironically, a healthcare professional) about the tactfulness of using “herpes” as a derogatory descriptor in a car with four people, when something like one in five Americans is a carrier.

Perhaps, like with the person who educated me on “gypped,” she might have learned that it’s inappropriate to stigmatize a condition as widespread as herpes with such derision by making it a “whore’s” disease. (And to further stigmatize “whores” ’cause, when used affectionately and with consent that is a term I find rather endearing.)

There had, in fact, been a lot of wine involved that day. I let it go, but thankfully, my friend didn’t. Back at the hotel, after I’d gone back to the room while they stayed outside for a bit, she called her out on it on my behalf.

And of course, I imagine the friend was properly mortified.

It brings me no pleasure that she was embarrassed. Just like younger me didn’t know gypped stemmed from a racial slur, she wasn’t hyper-aware (probably because nobody’s ever told her) that talking shit about people with herpes to someone who has herpes can be really, really offensive – and with the prevalence of herpes, if you’re talking shit about it within a group of people, there’s a fair chance you’re offending someone and making them feel badly over something that is completely benign.

And of course, the slut shaming was just….uncomfortable, yes. But I’m not going to turn it around and “virgin shame” the sexually repressed (by my standards, that I’ve established as not an average standard). My body, my choice. Her body, her choice.

I didn’t speak up this time, but thankfully my friend did. I think I’ll take a page from her book and speak up should I ever find myself in this position again.

_____

* Note: After posting this I received a few messages from friends letting me know that “gypsy” is A) actually spelled “gipsy” and B) a derogatory slur against the Romani and widely accepted as such. In the spirit of being further educated, I am grateful for this information and pass it along to my readers.

Mr. and Mrs. Shameless Take out the Trash

The roar of the garbage truck echoed through the bedroom walls. Still sleepy, Annie nudged her husband’s calf with her foot under the covers. “Daddy,” she grumbled. “Trash day.”

He grunted in response. Too tired to argue, she cradled her head into his chest, letting her hand wander (as it customarily did) toward his cock.

“Daddy, there’s something on your cock,” she murmured, unconcerned.

“Yes, pumpkin,” his voice had risen half an octave. “Let her finish,” he continued, “then she can put the trash on the sidewalk on her way out.”

Mr. and Mrs. Shameless Host a Memorial Day Picnic

“Daddy, Officer Bradley is here with Trisha and he brought Mark and Candy and two guys from the fire department.”

“Have you put out the chips and dip?”

“Yes, Daddy.”

“Did you turn on the hot tub for later?”

“Yes, Daddy.”

“Has the meat been tenderized and marinated?”

“Brad’s getting started on tenderizing Trisha with the baton, and Candy’s working her way through prepping the rest of the guys.”

“And you, pumpkin? Why aren’t you in there helping her out?”

“Well, the marinade just doesn’t taste the same without your special sauce, Daddy.”

“That’s my girl. Get your clothes off and get in there. I’m going to tenderize that sweet ass of yours before I serve it up to the boys.”

Mr. and Mrs. Shameless (Drabble) at the Movies

Their Story Begins Here

_____

“Please, Daddy. I really want to see it.”

“No, pumpkin. There’s no way that’s what we’re watching.”

They were standing in front of the teller at the box office looking at the upcoming movie times. Their choices were between a blockbuster action movie, a couple of sappy dramas, and a chick flick.

She wanted one of the sappy dramas. He wanted the chick flick.

“Why would you want to see that?” she asked.

“Because that Bradley Cooper dude makes your pussy wet and I know you aren’t wearing panties under that skirt.”

Mr. and Mrs. Shameless Go to the Supermarket

Their story begins here 

_____

“Can we play our game, Daddy?” she asked as she pulled one of the shopping carts free from the row.

“If you like, pumpkin.” he took her cart and she turned back to yank another one out.

“How long?” she asked.

“Fifteen minutes. GO.”

He went inside and made his way to the produce section while she, smiling mischievously, turned a sharp left to the pharmacy department.

Ten minutes later they were both back outside. “What’d you get?” she asked him.

He opened the paper bag and described its contents. “A very large cucumber, some lube, a pack of extra large condoms, a “Men’s Health” magazine, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a packet of clothespins, and roll of duct tape. What’d you get?”

“Pack of condoms, a package of sewing pins, a bottle of tequila, two coloring books, and the Plan B pill.”

“That’s good, pumpkin. What’d they say at the counter?”

“Nothing, but I’m pretty sure the woman was glaring at me. Did yours say anything?”

“Yeah. He gave me his phone number.”

For Shame

“Have you no shame?” he asked incredulously. She’d been bent over trying to pull a stubborn weed out of her front lawn. It was a hot day and she was wearing a short sundress. Standing up and turning toward the voice that had interrupted her struggle, she cocked her head to the side.

“Excuse me?”

“The way you’re dressed, you should take better care to watch what you’re showing off to the world, young lady. Obscenities do not belong in public.”

Young lady. Her eyes narrowed. She’d show him how young ladies could be obscene.

“DADDY!”

The front door opened and he came out, using his palm to shield his eyes he looked out onto the front lawn. “What’s up, pumpkin?”

She twisted at the waist so her skirt would flair up a bit as she turned. “Daddy, Mr. Buzzkill wants to know if I have any shame. Do I have any shame, Daddy?”

Her husband looked over at the man standing on the sidewalk. “What did she do?” They were peers – middle aged, salt and peppered.

“She was bent over in that short dress letting the world see everything she’s got. Look, I’m no prude, but it’s a dangerous time for women to be flashing their goodies all over the place without caring about consequences.”

“You are absolutely right. I should teach her some shame.”

“Oh, no Daddy, please no!”

“Bend over and show me all your goodies the way you were showing them to the world. I need to teach you a lesson.”

She dutifully bent over. The hemline of her skirt slid up her thigh to just under the lace trim of her white panties.

Stepping forward, her husband lifted the skirt, pulled her panties down and started unbuckling his belt.

“What are you doing?” The interloper was panicked.

“I’m teaching her about shame. It was your idea.” He unzipped his pants and pulled his cock out. As he shoved it inside her he grunted toward her, punctuating each word with a slap to her ass, “You need to learn to care about consequences.”

“Yes, Daddy. I’ll learn my lesson, I promise. Uhhh..yess….teach me that lesson right there, oh that lesson feels so good Daddy.”

The interloper ran back across the street to his home, and the suburban couple took their shameful display back inside.

A few minutes after she’d finished swallowing his load, the doorbell rang.

“Hey, guys. I got a complaint from your neighbor that you were having intercourse on your front lawn.”

“Hey Officer Bradley, you’re right on time. She’s ready for round 2.”

“You know, Simon, you could just call me over. I’m always happy to fuck your wife.”

“Yeah, but this way that nosy neighbor of mine gets something out of it.”