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Saying “no”

18 Oct

I want to tell you what happened to me last night. I am sad to tell you it also happened to hundreds, possibly thousands of other women last night. In the past, it has very likely happened to your sister, daughter, wife, mother, or friend. It has also probably happened to you. Last night, I had sex with a man. I did not want to do it. I put myself into a situation where it could happen, but I did not want to. I did not say yes, and I did not say no. I said nothing.

After it happened, I felt. I felt afraid. I felt violated. I felt used. I felt dirty. I felt disgusting. I felt like an idiot. I felt that it was my fault.

Do you want to know why I said nothing and why I made a decision that put myself into that situation? It’s because I was afraid he would be mad if I said no and that he would tell “everyone” what I did. I’m 46 goddamn years old. I’m intelligent and strong and fucking amazing, and I was afraid to stand up for myself.

For several years, when I was a little girl, I was raped and tortured by a member of my family. He literally held his hand over my mouth so I could not scream, and he whispered in my ear, “No one will believe you if you tell.” Last night, I was transported to that time, not because I was being mistreated but because I believed what my abuser told me. And even after years of therapy, I still do.

Recently women and men have been sharing their #metoo stories to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem of sexual assault and harassment. I want to suggest that what happened to me last night is a result of a culture in which women (and men) believe they have no choice but to accept what happens to them, whether they are raped or violated or touched or spoken to in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

We believe it’s our fault. We believe no one will listen or care or understand — even when we know our friends and family have had the EXACT SAME EXPERIENCES — so we remain silent.

I’m sharing this story today because I want you to know you are not alone. I want you fathers and brothers and husbands to know this is happening to women you love. I want you to teach your daughters that they don’t ever have to say yes, or remain silent, when they feel pressure to engage in sexual behavior. If you think 9 or 12 or 14 years old is too early to hear that kind of message, I want you to know I was 9 when my abuse finally ended.

I didn’t say no. But I’m saying it right now. No. Fucking. More.

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Meeting my child

15 Oct

Some of you have been sending me such wonderful energy and love regarding my search for my birth son. Though I realize (almost) no one has been hanging on the edge of their seat, I want to provide an update so you can be as excited as I am.

Two days ago, we met each other for the first time since my birth son was three weeks old! We made plans to meet a few days before, so I had some time to be anxious or nervous, but I wasn’t. You’d think after 27 years I would have felt a little bit like I was going to faint or something, but I didn’t — maybe because he seemed so laid back about the whole thing.

Honestly I sometimes imagined that our meeting would be like one from an Oprah episode. I didn’t want that, of course, but that was sort of my only frame of reference. I think because we had been texting each other for a few months and had been able to learn about each other through social media, all the potential for drama and sobbing was gone. We just met for lunch/dinner on a Friday afternoon. No big deal.

We hugged, which was totally my favorite part. We talked about our life experiences and families and the things we most enjoy, like food (he’s definitely my kid) and sports (hockey for him, running for me). We shared stories. We got to know each other. We hugged when we parted and said we’d be in touch.

I didn’t cry once! I forgot to take a picture! I didn’t say anything weird!

He’s a wonderful young man. He is thoughtful and smart and funny and successful. He has just the right amount of self-deprecating humor. He definitely loves his parents and brother. I’m so proud of him and so unbelievably grateful to his parents for giving him the life he’s had and for supporting and encouraging him, especially in his desire to know me.

You can begin to imagine how happy I am. After all this time, I now am certain that adoption was the best choice for all of us, and I feel the most incredible peace and love. Thank you for coming along on this journey for me and for sharing my happiness!

Telling our story

16 Sep

It is a paradox of the writer’s life that some of her most profound experiences leave her speechless. But she must write, because that is how she makes sense of the world, so she crafts the story in bits and pieces. She drafts it in the drowsy moments before she falls asleep at night, scribbles sentences on coffee shop napkins, saves recorded thoughts on her cellphone. She puts the pieces together until she has enough for a story that makes sense, one that gives the reader just enough information to understand while also conveying the enormity of the situation. And then she puts it to paper, or to the Internet in this case, and hopes it will be well received.

write-your-story
I want to tell you part of the story of my experience as a birth mother. When I share that I am a birth mother, the revelation is often met with a perplexed silence. “Do you know what that is?” I ask. Almost no one does. They understand “mother,” but the qualifier throws them off. Isn’t every mother a birth mother? they wonder, and then they realize that, in fact, there are many ways to be a mother.

Twenty-seven years ago I gave birth to a beautiful boy with a perfect little round mouth, sparkling blue eyes, and soft blond hair. I am his birth mother, the mother who carried him but not the mother who rocked him to sleep at night or bandaged his wounds or picked him up from soccer practice or gave him advice about life. I made an adoption plan for him. I released him. I chose a family to become his family, to raise him and care for him. And three weeks ago, I found him.

This is the Cliff’s Notes version of the most recent developments in our story: On my birth son’s birthday, I wrote a post on Facebook indicating that I was ready to begin searching for him. I received a piece of information from a friend that helped me begin to make the connection. I reached out to the agency through which he was placed, and a social worker called him, letting him know that his birth mother wished to have contact. He friended me on Facebook and sent me a thoughtful and kind message. We have continued periodic communication through text messages since then.

When my birth son was born in 1990, it never occurred to me that I would one day be able to find him on a website, to see that he looks like me, and to piece together the story of his life. I never imagined that we would send messages to each other on our phones. And I have not really ever allowed myself to consider anything beyond what is currently happening — not a phone call or a meeting — because… Because I don’t know. Because ours is a new relationship that will continue to evolve. Because neither of us have any experience with this.

I can tell you this part of our story, but I cannot begin to convey what it’s like to see my face in another person’s. I don’t know how to explain the love I feel for someone who is, for the most part, a stranger. I also can’t tell you how difficult it is to remember the grief I felt when I held my child for the last time. And I don’t know exactly how to describe the joy that comes with knowing I made a good decision, that he is happy and successful, that I am not hated, and that I gave my birth son (to use his words) the best life a kid could have.

I want to know more about him, to sit across from him and to hear him tell his story in his own words. I want him to know me as well. But I don’t know if that’s what he wants, and I don’t know how to ask. I don’t have the words. I don’t know where to begin or how to continue.

There will be more to tell, I believe. But I am learning that some of the best stories must be told one sentence at a time, as the story unfolds and the words come to the writer.

Choosing a different path

13 Jul

woods

A dear friend once told me that every time he asked how I had been since the last time we spoke, I would always begin by telling him if I were dating anyone. He said I defined myself by my relationship status, and it seemed to be the most important thing for me to discuss when I was asked about myself.

Since that day, I have worked very hard not to begin a description of myself, or the answer to your question about what’s new with me, by telling you if I am currently single or otherwise. The fact remains, however, that the search for a partner has been a central focus for most of my life. I have often said that finding a partner was the greatest desire of my heart, and everyone who knows me knows this about me.


But for a while now, I have been standing at a crossroads looking back down the path I’ve worn bare and considering that perhaps the other path–the one less traveled–is the right one for me.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

From The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost


What if it’s possible that some of us are not meant to be with a partner? Or what if we are meant to love many people and not just one special soulmate? I’ve been considering these questions and thinking that maybe, just maybe, traditional partnership is not my thing.


I like being single and I’m good at it, and I have a rewarding and beautiful life! But from time to time I miss having someone to hold my hand or snuggle me during a movie or sit with me on the patio and ask about my day while we sip fruity drinks. Would it be possible for me to remain “single,” whatever that means, but find a way to fulfill those needs for companionship or intimacy with friends who love and care about me?


Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal Wendi?” To me, it’s a monumental change in the way I see myself, the way I operate in the world, and in the focus of my intentions. Sure, perhaps I’m overthinking it. It’s a big deal to me, and I’ve devoted a lot of thought to it, and I’m still not 100% sure which path to take.

Loving completely

16 Jun

I have a friend who (I think) loves deeply and completely: her family members including her children and especially her grandchildren, her pets, her significant other, her friends, and her students. She shares a lot about her life on social media, which I appreciate, and recently she wrote about being away from her beloved. Her post made me feel both a little bit jealous and a lot inspired.

If you’ve known me for more than a few days, you know that finding a partner has been and continues to be perhaps the deepest desire of my heart, second only to running a 4-hour marathon. Just kidding. Finding a partner really is my deepest desire. If you know this about me, you also know that I suck at it.

There are a number of reasons I have been largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. It doesn’t take an analyst (I heard a mental health professional referred to as an “analyst” in a 1960s movie I watched last night, and I think we should bring that term back) to identify my issues. One of my problems is that I’m afraid to actually meet people.

I know that’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, trust me, I know.

I get very nervous about first meetings because I’ve had so many of them where I can tell within the first 10 seconds that the person is not at all interested in me, and it just makes for an awkward and uncomfortable hour. Even when I try to squeeze the best out of the situation, it’s still weird when we get to the end and there has to be an acknowledgement that we will never see each other ever again in our lives unless we happen to run into each other at the grocery store, which can certainly happen in the small town where I live now. And then, again, awkward.

Because I’m afraid of rejection, I usually do something to sabotage my interactions with men on dating sites, like judge them harshly for their spelling or grammar or disqualify them because they hate coffee or cats. Then we never get to that “Would you like to meet for coffee or drinks?” stage. A lot of the guys on the dating sites lack written communication skills, so it’s kind of easy to be all judgey and cross them off my list for dumb, trivial reasons. 

I’m doing it wrong. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

After reading my friend’s Facebook post about missing her friend, I thought, What if I loved deeply, everyone in my life, all the time? What if I gave people a chance instead of finding reasons not to like them? What if I were more open and less afraid? I wonder what kind of a difference that would make in my interactions with others.

how-to-honor-love

So I’m going to try this. I’m going to try really hard to exude love, even to people who don’t know the difference between your and you’re. Let’s see what happens!

Getting picked last

23 May

Last week I had a junior high school flashback, and it was unpleasant. Does anyone have pleasant flashbacks to junior high? I’m sure some people have fond memories of their young teenage years, but for me it was all angst and embarrassment and trying impossibly to figure out how the hell to fit in with a bunch of people who were trying to figure out who the hell they were.

Out of the blue, my coworker said, “I should set you up with my buddy.” He texted his buddy, who replied immediately, “Send pics.” We snapped a picture. I tried to look cute. Since I have not received any follow-up from my coworker, I assume his buddy’s reaction was not favorable. In fact, I imagine he said, “Um, no thanks. She’s ugly.” I am positive he did not say, “Wow! She’s gorgeous! What is her number?” or I would have heard about it by now.

I had, and still have, no idea who this person is. I don’t know what he looks like or what he values. I don’t know what he does in his free time. I don’t know if he even wants to date anyone. While his rejection of me should not matter one tiny little bit, it does. It stings. Why? Because being picked last — or not being picked at all — hurts, no matter how old you are.

In junior high I had a terrible crush on a boy one grade above me. I wrote out the lyrics to Lionel Richie’s Hello and put them in his locker. If he told his pals about it, and I have completely blocked the memory if he did, I’m sure they all stood around and laughed at how gross and weird I was. Clearly, I still feel foolish and mortified by it, which is ridiculous because it happened 30 years ago.

do-you-like-me-lg

I also got picked last all the time in junior high. Last for kickball and softball and dodge ball and anything that required height or agility or speed. If we had smarts contests or spelling bees, I would be picked second (after the smartest girl in the class), but I don’t recall that we had a lot of smarts contests in my school. So that, combined with the fact that I wrote out song lyrics in an attempt to win the hearts of boys made me a bit of a loser. And I also loved Classical music more than 80s pop. 

So much of my life has been defined by the search for a partner and the rejection of hundreds (am I exaggerating?) of people. Of course I have had (a few successful) relationships! Of course there are seemingly well adjusted, normalish people who have liked me and wanted to kiss me! Lately, however, the people who are interested in going on a date with me are 1) married, 2) scammers who I assume live in a foreign country and are waiting for the right time to ask me to wire money, 3) sporting gold-capped teeth, or 4) located hundreds of miles away from my town.

I have a full, wonderful life. I am healthy and happy. I am surrounded by friends and family who love me and care about my well-being. But I really and truly want to be in love with a partner who loves me. Just one time, maybe for the only time, I want to be picked first. I want to pass that boy a note and have him return it with this message: Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

Fuck junior high, man.

Believing I’m enough 

8 Apr

For most of my life, I’ve felt like I was too much — too fat, too loud, too crazy, too emotional — too much of the bad things and never enough of the good. In the last few months, that has changed. 

I’ve been focusing since October on wellness, which for me means making changes or improvements in several areas of my life. I began a running/training program designed to reduce stresses, increase the body’s use of fat as a fuel source, and strengthen the heart. It is much lower in intensity than the typical training program, and for the first several months I saw little improvement. But lately I’m making steady (and kind of huge!) improvements and it’s incredibly rewarding. 

I also made a goal to change my nutritional habits so that most, if not all, of my choices were supporting my training and helping me live my best life. In March I started the Whole30 and it really has changed my life. Every day I eat a lot of whole, real, delicious food! I’ve lost weight, I sleep better, and I have more energy than I ever have. 

I’ve made other changes to my thought processes, relationships, and in my approach to dealing with conflict and frustration. I don’t have everything figured out, and I don’t hope to. But I’m moving forward and it’s empowering.

Just this morning, I thought “I feel like I am enough, not too much or to little. Just right.” My wish is for you to feel like you’re just right, too.