My friend Cindy is what I refer to as a hot mess. In a good, funny, loving way. It was her birthday and she arrived at my work desk with a couple of pictures to show me. Now Cindy works in another department and made the trip special just to share these pictures. It also happened to be Throwback Thursday and if you spend anytime in twittersphere you know what I’m talking about. Her pictures spoke a thousand words of a young, vivacious, svelte, beautiful woman wearing a daring outfit. The other was her baby picture.
The baby picture was cute, but the young hot Cindy in 1984 is what caught your attention. Cindy is now 61 wonderful years and full of stories about her anything but dull life. Even heading into year so called golden years this woman is living a drama filled, but fun life and she loves to tell you about it. Great fodder for a writer! in fact we even based a character on her in our third book The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truths . To put it simply Cindy is awesome. I could in no way have handled her life or begin to even imagine being as daring as she was and still is.
To the outsider Cindy can be a mental handful. As I stated she loves to talk and if you don’t love to listen to people then she is not the person for you. Her stories make it all worth it. The celebrity encounters she’s had in questionable situations to even current boyfriends make you drop your jaw and shake your head all the while smiling and laughing with her.
The whole picture exchange took less than 3 or 4 minutes and soon we were all back at our respective jobs and I didn’t think anything more of it. That is till the woman who sits on the other side of my cubicle said something to me over the cubicle wall.
“Why do you attract the weirdest people?” she asked.
“Huh?” was my intelligent response.
“These weird people always flock to you, you need to get some normal people in your life.”
Now this woman, let’s call her Mary to protect her not so innocence, is a 40-ish beautiful black woman, single mom with a teenage son. I have been to 1 outing with her and a couple of other friends to of all movies, a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You know the one where people dress up and yell comments through out the whole movie? yeah that one. One of my friends that went with me that night is my age and a lifelong friend named Barb who is a musical wonder and a talented artist in paints and any other type of medium she gets her hands on. She’s high strung and like all artists of a high caliber, very brilliant and unfortunately lives in her own world. She is also an alcoholic, severely broke after having made an ungodly amount of money and is having trouble facing her new reality and frail physical and psychological health. She is a real hot mess and not in a good Cindy kind of way.
I will not lie, I prayed Barb would behave on our outing and just for once enjoy herself getting lost in this ridiculous movie. She did for all of 30 minutes and then her addiction and depression struck. She eventually left and found a bar to shoot back a few tequila’s down only coming back at the end of the movie. I was embarrassed for her and for me. Though I am not responsible for her actions, she had begged me take her along wanting the girls night out and I could have said no.
Mary is a former alcoholic. Mary lived a little of Barb’s life and should understand the addiction and what it does to a person. Mary is now sober and a church going upstanding citizen in her own eyes. Mary made several comments about that night and how she could relate to what Barb was going through, felt bad for her ect….which is why it was a shock to me that she made the comments she made.
Back to Cindy. Cindy is not Barb, Cindy holds a job, takes care of her aging mother and tries to make herself fun to be around. Mary’s comment to me about how I attract the weirdest people struck me as odd. Why was she being so critical? and what is she saying about herself? She after all did hang out with me too. She then said to me she thought Cindy was lying about having any current boyfriends. Cindy being 61 is not the skinny woman she used to be and her body no longer lends itself to dressing like a woman of much younger years. Cindy dresses for work in age appropriate clothes for a person on our meager salary.
I asked Mary why did she think Cindy was lying? What reason does she have to lie? Mary told me it was because she needed to compensate to me for lacking in something that I have that she doesn’t. In other words she told me Cindy was jealous of me.
Jealous of me? I am a living large and in charge kind of gal, in other words fat. My manner of dress is relevant to my size and financial situation. For Christ’s sakes I cut my own hair to save money since my husbands medical bills are so high. Why the hell would anyone be jealous of me?
“Ain’t no woman dresses like her and has a man. You have a long term marriage and she’s jealous of that.” she reiterated again I need normal people in my life.
Ok, who’s jealous of my having a husband? Um….her or you?
I mean how critical can you get? Mary as I have learned is very self critical calling herself things like ugly and fat, even complaining about her dark skin color calling her self Aunt Jemima after the pancake syrup character. Wow! How self loathing can you get? I wanted to cry for her and remember, I’m the living large and in charge gal who cuts her own hair.
I have no time for self loathing, self hatred and internal or outwardly name calling. People will do that for me and to me on a regular basis. I told Mary the reason the off center, kooky, crazy, troubled, weirdo’s (who are just normal human beings getting through life the best way they know how) are attracted to me is because I try not to judge and I listen. In them there are several life lessons to be learned and shared. Everyone has value even if you can’t or refuse to value yourself. For a woman who overcame her own addiction just to constantly put herself and other women down is sad. She is not an Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth or any other sticky syrupy commercially racist character. She is a beautiful black woman who turns men’s heads wherever she goes. I’m guessing the reason she can’t keep a love interest is beyond her beauty. If you can’t respect and love yourself how are you going to love someone else? Cindy is not lying about her life or the men in her life. I believe she still attracts men not because she is still the raving beauty of her youth, but because she is still a fun loving, quirky light hearted individual that loves life and has no problem in sharing it.
So here’s to all my weird, wacky, troubled, artistic, fun loving friends. Keep on keeping on. and to Mary, lighten up your heart already, it ain’t that serious!
This post is under Raven Newcastle, but the events talked about only happened to one half of the writing team, Von Morley, and in no way imply any such situations happened to my co-author Joi.
My Labrador has a habit when playing, He brings me his ball and wants me to throw it. Well sort of. What he does is play a game where he acts like he’s going to put it in your hand but then pulls it away. I tell him if you want me to throw it then you have to let it go. Sometimes he gets the message and does so. I say give and he drops it in my hand. Other times he pulls it away not ready to give it up.
I read a post today from one of my new favorite authors Lani Wendt Young on sexual abuse at Don’t Shame Us. Don’t Shut us Up. (How to better support and empower… It’s a must read for everyone that is affected in some way by sexual, physical and mental abuse. That is to say every human being on the planet. Statistically 1 in every 3 women will experience some form of abuse at least once in their lives. I say in reality it’s every girl and woman, some more obvious than others. Domestic violence and spousal rape are at epidemic levels everywhere even in the so called developed countries where we out to know better.
I bring up my Labrador’s game playing habit to emphasize a point many women do when faced with their own reality of abuse. We play a game with ourselves where we want to tell someone but find ourselves pulling away. Everything mentioned in Lani Wendt Young’s blogpost about how our friends and family, even the authorities react make us keep quiet or offer ill advice on how the victim should handle it is true. The reactions can make us pull away even though we want to give.
I’ve also played this game with God who knew my abuses I suffered through and wanted desperately for me to hand him the ball and let it go so he could help heal me. I spent years pulling the ball away afraid of what others might think and dealing with the self imposed prison of feeling shame on my own. I went through many years of anger and hurt mostly at myself for at first believing I had allowed it to happen then as I grew older went from realizing it wasn’t my fault to chastising myself for not having the courage to deal with the emotions sooner. I mean it was ALL those years ago and I’m no longer a spring chicken, move on already I would say to myself.
Moving on for me meant ignoring it ever happened. when the memory came up I pushed it back down into a file cabinet in my brain called cold cases. Then last year a very close and dear friend of mine called me to tell me she had her husband arrested because he, after coming home very late and very drunk, had demanded a meal and sex. when that didn’t happen he shoved her to the floor hurting her and daring her to call the police. This time she finally did. With cellphone in hand she did the most courageous thing she could have ever done and dialed 911.
She called me the next day and informed me of what happened and that the spousal abuse had gone on and off for over the 30 yrs. of their marriage. She told me in detail how even when going through her chemotherapy for breast cancer this man who swore to love her, demanded sex as her ‘wifely’ duty even though she was desperately sick from the side effects of the drugs that were supposed to make her better. She told me if she said no then he would laugh her off and pin her down making her suffer through it.
My response? I chastised her for not telling me sooner and for not knowing that spousal rape in this country is illegal married or not. My next question? Why didn’t you leave this fool earlier, why? why? why?
Why was I not a better friend?
Lani Wendt Young’s post is informative and insightful and made me desperately wish I could take back some of what I said in my feeble attempt at being supportive. I wonder now if I had confronted my own abuses earlier instead of shoving them into the cold case file would I have better reacted to my friends situation.
Abuse is abuse and it stays with you for a lifetime. It’s how society and ourselves handle it that make the differences. I have been blessed to be married for 20 yrs. to a man who is gentle and kind. My abuses had happened long before I met him in my youth and young adult years of both sexual and physical abuse. The latter was at the hands of a step mother who didn’t like me talking about the sexual abuse and made me deny it ever happened by a family friend among other real or imagined reasons to beat me consistently thru out my childhood.
I am encouraging all of my readers and some that are usually not to please read Lani’s post and take to heart the lessons involved. Male or female, if their is someone in your life that is going through any type of abuse, listen to them and validate what they are going through. Help them in everyway possible without intentionally or unintentionally being critical of their choices in how they handled it in the past. Remember they are talking to you now and love and support is a beautiful thing.
My friend? She is a courageous cancer survivor and currently going through a nasty divorce. The light is bright at the end of the tunnel though and I intend to be there to greet her.
Thank you Lani Wendt Young and thank you to all who read and spread the message and lessons she shared.