The Ugly Side of Me

I have never had a problem stepping outside of myself and seeing myself as I truly am, whether I like what I see or not. Lately, I’ve been seeing a side of myself that I particularly don’t like, but I don’t seem to be able to change it. To be honest, I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to get to this point. A lot of God and growing has kept it at bay, but it was bound to surface eventually.

Last night, just after the new year came in, I was sitting at a table with a young lady I attend church with having a conversation I really didn’t want to have. She asked me if MensHealth and I were “finally going to do this thing” in 2015 and about my books sales, etc. These are two of the last things I wanted to discuss at a New Year’s gathering, but I gave non-committal answers as I stuffed eggs into my mouth to stall. “It seems like you’ve just given up,” she said, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “I’m just focused on different things right now,” I answered. “There’s nothing wrong with giving up and realizing that you’re done,” she continued.

Hmm. Am I done?

Here’s the thing: I feel as if I have been a patient person in a lot of ways, a positive person. Life hasn’t always turned out the way that I would have expected or liked, but I feel as if I have rolled with the punches pretty well. I’ve probably committed myself and remained devoted in situations where maybe I should have done something else because I like to be sure about things. But lately, I’ve been seeing what happens when this patience I’ve cultivated erodes, and it isn’t pretty.

I find myself acting out of character and not like the woman I know. I find myself short tempered, irritable, and impatient a lot more often. I find that I take setbacks a little harder than I did before. I was at work yesterday, trying to build up some enthusiasm for the new year. I love new beginnings and I’m usually bursting to get a new year started, but this year I’ve been more reticent. I was feeling hopeful about some work changes to be made in the new year. In 2015, my duties were going to change a bit. Some of the more tedious tasks would be moved to someone else and I would be responsible for more complicated duties. I was toying around with getting licensed and trying to move up. We received emails of recent promotions in another department and a coworker complained about it, but I was happy for those people. Then I got some unexpected news: the coworker taking over tasks for me was leaving. She would be staying home with her small children and not coming back.

Happy new year! Nothing is going to change for the better for you! my circumstances are shouting. It’s the same old thing. Nothing is changing but the date on the calendar. You’re still stuck in the same places you’ve been stuck in for a good five years! Blame it on whatever you would like–the devil, your boyfriend, your too nice nature, an inability to demand what you want–you still aren’t going anywhere!

And that, my friends, makes me feel a little bit crushed, crumpled, and clueless about how to move forward. And to be quite honest, it makes me angry. I’m angry at MensHealth for not proposing or leaving or doing something that isn’t status quo. I’m angry he keeps pressing me to change this or that using this if/when we get married I expect angle that just makes me mad that he’s still not making a decision on where our relationship is going. I’m angry at everyone asking me why I’m still single or telling me I need to cut my losses and start over. I’m angry at people expecting so much of my time and money, trying to dictate so much of my life without truly being invested in me as a person and my growth. I’m angry at the fact that my book isn’t selling as well as it should, that people aren’t leaving reviews one way or another, that I have no idea whether or not it’s worth it to still pursue this writing thing. I’m angry that I don’t seem to be making progress in any area of my life no matter what I change and what I try to do. I’m angry that I have tweaked and polished every area of my life and somehow I’m still not enough.

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Questions That Should Have Answers

It’s been a while…like, almost a year. So much has changed, yet too many things remain the same. It’s been one roller coaster of an almost year, and I wanted to make sure that I recorded it here, where my true feelings go. So here you go.

About that book that I was writing…I finished it. I revised it. I found a cover artist to make me a beautiful cover for it. I gave it to beta readers. I wrote and revised some more. I formatted it. I submitted it to CreateSpace. I got my proof in the mail. I made some corrections and resubmitted it. I published it!

Finally being able to say that you can buy  my book has been an experience. It hasn’t all been great. To be honest, the first couple of weeks I felt completely deflated. No one was buying the book. Like I literally didn’t sell one until September 28th ( I published the 15th or a little before). In the month since then, I’ve sold about 50 copies, mostly face to face. I have also put out the study guide that goes with the book. The response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive from those who have read it. I’ve struggled to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and attempt to sell the book beyond church members and others I know. I’ve experienced some success with this, but also some missed connections and long waits to see what will come of these connections.

I figured that I would get certain questions when I published the book about my marital status. I find that once someone starts to read the book and realizes what the book is actually about, they are less apt to ask those questions. But I have gotten the “and when is your wedding?” question more often than I can count. People are also asking MensHealth how he feels about the fact that I wrote the book. Um, what? For the love of yoga and broccoli, please read the book! The book is not about my relationship, and it’s especially not a slam to him in any way. He’s mentioned twice in the book–the acknowledgements and one sentence in a section about elders involved in a courtship. Heck, I’m not even in the book often enough for the reader to learn much about me.

But since we are on the subject of relationships here at the moment, and I do talk about my relationship here, let’s do a quick recap of what’s happened in the last year. … OK, now that we’re all caught up on that…

What? That wasn’t as informative for you as it was for me? OK, fine. Let’s see…

I’m not married or engaged or tangibly any closer to either of those things than the last time I wrote. I’m still in the no man’s land of “if” and let me just say this is not where I envisioned myself to be nearly two years after a decision one way or another was supposed to be made. I imagined that I’d be married, truly single, or preparing to enter the dating world again with a stopwatch, bible and shotgun, but definitely not nearly a seven year anniversary with no engagement in sight. Oh, we’ve had a lot of good times, informative conversations, and the like. MensHealth has been super supportive of me and the book, coming to events with me, going to network with me in Miami and paying for the trip and any number of nice things. But we haven’t moved forward. No plans to marry or move on. Just…existing. Helping each other along when we can. To be completely honest, I’ve mostly checked out of that aspect of our relationship. I’m choosing to focus on being a good friend and confidante to him while pursuing my other goals and dreams. I mean, I’ll be thirty in less than four months; no use wasting time sitting around waiting for a proposal like I’m waiting to see a doctor or dentist. I’m not about the waiting room life anymore.

That may seem harsh, but it’s true. I can’t think of anything else to do. I have tried to grow in the areas I needed to grow in for myself. I’ve addressed the areas he found problematic. There just comes a point when you get tired of trying to sell someone on you. Like, dude, I’m not a used car or short sale house; I’m a person. A person you either want to marry or don’t. I have no other discounts or incentives to offer. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to pull back after nearly seven years. I think that’s pretty generous, especially since we both agreed we’d make a decision by our five year anniversary if we were in or out. So that’s where that is.

I am still pursuing other writing things. I want to get some fiction published. I’m still aiming at a publishing contract by my 30th birthday. I entered So You Think You Can Write again. I didn’t move to the top 25, but I’m holding out hope that I will get a request for a partial or full on the story in November when they begin to contact people. Even if I don’t hear anything from them about it, I got such positive feedback about it that I know this story needs to be out there. I’ll try a couple other publishers, but if they don’t work out, I’ll try my hand at self-publishing again. I’m no longer limiting myself to one path to success.

I’ll update you on all the other things later.

 

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Suffering from Neglect

I have neglected this blog, all of my blogs, ever since August of this year. It’s been a whirlwind of writing, new job responsibilities, and goals for self-improvement that have fallen largely by the wayside for me. Since the year is rapidly coming to a close and I still have a LOT of work to do on me, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and plan here before things got even busier.

So the major changes that I’ve wanted to make are related to health/beauty and my apartment. As far as health and beauty, I haven’t been able to do much of what I set out to do. One thing I wanted to do is keep my hair done more. I have straightened it and worn it down more often than was usual for me the past three or four years, but it still hasn’t been consistent. I haven’t had the money or the time to engage a stylist, so I’ve been doing it on my own. Despite my inattentiveness, my hair has been growing like a weed.

Other than hair, I haven’t improved my wardrobe, lost weight, gotten more fit, or cleared my face as much as I would have liked. What my lack of progress in health/beauty and apartment goals comes down to is a lack in an effective routine. I’ve had a ton of success with writing this year as I’ve developed a set time/place to get some writing done, and a system for writing, reviewing, editing, and revising that has been working quite well for me. I don’t have a routine for the other areas of life yet that works for me.

I still haven’t found a real fitness passion, and at this point, I’m convinced I just don’t have one.  I had a conversation about fitness yesterday with MensHealth that I’m still processing, but overall I don’t feel very good about. I’m at the point where I’m not happy with a ton of things, but I’m not sure how to go about fixing them. I’ve gone full speed ahead on my writing goals, but I’ve seen no progress in other areas. I still have a small amount of the year left to make some positive changes, though. I just don’t know where to start.

Erica

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Worker Bees Don’t Have Knees

I don’t know about all of you, but ever since Google got rid of Google Reader, I have been missing out on some of my favorite blogs. I don’t have time to check multiple times throughout the day to see if my favorites have a new blog up. I hope that you all have hit the subscription and follow buttons, because I’m here so rarely it’s like a public appearance that you can’t miss.😀

Work has been working me lately. I was splitting the INEBIGTDIA shifts (the 10am-7pm ones) with a new addition to the department. She left on Friday to go back to school, leaving me to be on the INEBIGTDIA shift for the next TWO WEEKS, plus the Tuesday after Labor Day, while a new worker gets trained. Of course, once the new worker is trained, I go back to three regular shifts followed by two INEBIGTDIA shifts. All of this shifting is grinding my gears.

Aside from the shifting schedule, I have received a ton of new responsibilities. I am responsible for the administration of all the legal departments sub-departments. I receive all the documents, pay all the people/vendors, and the million other things I can’t tell you I do for confidentiality, and I am drowning in work. I am angling for a title change now and a pay raise in December that’s more than 2%, since I have taken on so much. We will see if my willing spirit is rewarded instead of just coming back to bite me in the you know what.

Not only have I been busy with work, but I’ve been busy writing, revising and editing my book, which now for sure has a title. I’m still placing quotes from interviews and wrapping up sections here and there, but the major heavy lifting of writing the draft is done. Now it’s all revision (aka cutting, cutting, cutting), editing (shifts in person, shifts in tense, etc.), and rearranging (this is in the wrong chapter, or hey you have requirements vs. preferences in my submission. I’m thinking marketing strategies and book covers now. I know that I am self publishing through Amazon’s Createspace and Kindle, and I know what I want my press to be, but other than that, post finished writing product is a little murky. I know I want to have a book release party, though. Details to come as I work them out.

I’m also exploring opportunities to get more of my writing out there in different venues. I’m working on something now that I will announce when it’s officially official, so look for that. I’m also thinking of looking into some other things. I don’t want to again be guilty of revealing too much too soon and looking crazy when it doesn’t pan out, so bear with me.

What have you guys been up to?

 

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Fighting the Good Fight

MensHealth and I don’t fight very often. I would say we average one actual fight a year. We have had little disagreement here and there, but mostly it’s been smooth sailing. This is not me bragging; this is me stating a fact that worried me about us. Who doesn’t fight? I’m not saying we should be putting hands on each other or yelling at each other all the time, but how do you know if the two of you can fight fair if you never fight about anything?

When I say fight fair, I’m not talking about when two fighters get in a ring and the referee says, “I want a clean fight. No hair pulling, no spitting, no hitting below the belt”; I’m talking about how to have a disagreement without blaming, nagging, threatening, or punishing. I’m talking about being able to communicate–you know, talking AND listening. Are we even hearing the same thing? Are we going to each run and tell our mothers and others in an effort to rally troops to our side or are we going to stay here and work this out?

Weeks ago, MensHealth and I had one of those “this might not work” fights where you don’t stay there and fight, one of those fights where someone would pack their raggedy duffle bag and leave* if we were cohabitating. By the time we were both mad enough to not see straight, I had an almost sparkling apartment (cleaning is my answer to anger, grief, and a cluttered mind), he left and I left. Where was I going? To Wal-Mart to pick up some more cleaning supplies.

We spent most of the day cooling off and doing what we each individually do when we fight, or at least what I gleaned that we do when we fight from that day: He went to a local park and walked, had ice cream, called his mom*, and calmed down enough to think. I cleaned, roamed Wal-Mart, bought a couple $5 blu-rays from Best Buy, came home and sat in the middle of my freshly vacuumed carpeting watching movies while the dishwasher hummed in the background. What I didn’t do was talk to anyone about the fight.

Dear Reader, it almost killed me not to pick up that phone. I really wanted to pick up that phone. I wanted to tell someone my side of the story. I wanted someone to tell me I was right and he was wrong. I wanted someone to say they were coming over with ice cream and Waiting to Exhale. I wanted someone to give me some advice about what I should do. I wanted to talk to someone about something else to get my mind off the fact that MensHealth had left without a word to me. But I knew better than to pick up that phone.

The thing about doing all of the interviews with married women that I’ve done, attending every marriage and family workshop, and completing 2 different pre-marital counseling courses is that that I now have all of these voices in my head with solid advice. People who have been there and done that, counselors, and my Bible were all telling me to keep my lips shut. I had heard people saying how important it was to communicate with your mate, who is the only one that can fix the problem anyway. I’ve heard people say how this friend or that person’s mom has caused division in their relationship. I have been counseled that those people you invite in when you have a disagreement don’t get over it in the same time frame as you do, especially when you only run to them with the bad and never tell them the good. On top of all of this, who hasn’t said some crazy things that they’ve regretting when they’ve been emotional?

In the midst of my movie watching, MensHealth came back over and we talked through some things. Well, actually, that’s a lie. MensHealth came over and asked me if I had gotten anything to eat. We talked about the argument the next day, after things had simmered down and we could talk about it from a place other than Anger City.

I am glad I didn’t pick up that phone and give my mother something to dislike about MensHealth, or give my bestie room to breathe her “all men are dogs” doctrine into my heart and mind. The fight can actually be over. I count this as growth. INEBIGTDIA growth, but most growth is like that, isn’t it?

How have you all been relationship-wise?

XOXO

Erica

*”He just packed his raggedy duffle bag and left” is from an episode of Living Single. Get familiar.

*I don’t know what MensHealth and his mother talked about during their conversation. I only know they talked because they told me.

 

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Good News & Gripes

I’m sorry I left you with such a moody post. I promise this one has good news. I’ll end with that to leave on a more positive note. I’ll start with the bad, move into the INEBIGTDIA, and finish with the good/great. Ready?

The Bad

My great aunt passed away at the age of 67. This was one of the family matriarchs, a pillar if the family, and someone I was very close to, so it hits really hard, once I slowed down enough to let it sink in. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, either, so I was a bit upset about that. My great aunt had a good life, loved her family, and was a woman of faith who could pass in peace, so I’m happy for that.

INEBIGTDIA

We had a nutritionist speak at work a few weeks ago. It was a great opportunity for me to get some guidance food-wise. I won a one on one consultation with her which included an evaluation. I had to get weighed and measured. I stood on the scale, endured the tape measuring of my bust, waist, hips, thigh, and calf, and had my body fat measured. Afterwards, I got to ask questions and receive advice. It was really eye opening and helpful.

I started couch to 5K so I will be able to run the 5K our company has a team for in April. I’m not sure if I’ll do we’ll, but my goal is just to do it…and to finish in 45 minutes, around a fifteen minute mile. I have no lofty notions where running is concerned. I am buying YogaWorks BodySlim and possibly another favorite yoga routine to get back on the mat. I’m not making any goals there, either, except to meet my mat at least a couple times a week.

The Good/Great

I bought a domain for my website! http://www.aseriousseason.com will be my website. Right now it’s a blog until I get the web hosting selected and work with MH to design the site, but I have completed step one. I will buy the hosting, if things go according to plan, next week, right after my birthday! I am so ready for this. I’ve found the brand I want to work under. I know what I want to do with it. It’s ready to roll out. Be sure to check out the blog and follow the blog’s twitter. @seasonserious.

The book stalled for a bit due to performance anxiety, but I am back on it. I bought printer paper ( I ran out right when I finally bought ink, smh) and I am listening to interviews to pull quotes. Details about the book will be on the site as soon as they are finalized.

What’s new with all of you?

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Sometimes You Feel Like A…

Have you ever gained a little bit of ground only to feel your foot sliding beneath you? Imagine carrying this heavy weight on your shoulders while going uphill and not being able to gain any traction. It’s precarious. It’s scary because you know that you can’t catch yourself. You’re flexing your hips, bending your knees, shifting every way you can think of that might keep you on your feet instead of on your back with that heavy weight coming down on top of you. Now imagine that you are in this same position with a Rottweiler racing towards you with his teeth bared. That’s close to how I feel right now.

I was going to title this entry “A Granny Panties kind of Day” when I thought about writing it yesterday, but that seemed kind of a TMI title (and it wasn’t Tuesday). The point of the title is that there are just some days when you want to be comfortable, supported, without anyone all up in your business. That’s what I call a granny panties kind of day. It’s not a boy shorts day where the bottom is just hanging out but the important bits are covered. It’s not a thong day where it covers only the really important things but still manages to be all up in your business. It’s not a string bikini day where everything’s covered but it’s all hanging by a thread. It’s a hi-cut, control top, only available in nude, black or white granny panties day. You’re just holding it all in, holding it all together as tightly as you can. Yes, that.

I feel the need to have a bit of melodrama at the moment. I went to clean out my car this morning, seeing it for the first time since the accident. It was a sight to behold. I wasn’t aware of how badly damaged it was. I knew that it was totaled because the airbags had deployed and various fluids were leaking, but I had no idea that it looked that bad. Seeing the airbags, front end damage, and buckling on the side, it just makes me grateful my car is not made of plastic. Seriously. Someone at my church told me a story about being involved in a business where they had to stick a promotional magnet on the side of their cars. Another person she knew said their magnet kept sliding down because the doors weren’t actually metal.o_O Anyway, the other person’s insurance company will be taking my car today or tomorrow to their own facility while they determine liability and etc. We will see how long this takes to sort itself out.

Looking at my car, along with the gratitude I felt that my injuries weren’t worse and that my car held up well, I felt…disappointed. I had finally gained a small foothold on the financial mountain, a little bit of black in a blood red financial ledger, and I slipped. No, not slipped. I was pushed right off the side. Worse, I was pushed off on step one. You see, there was a well-developed plan in my head for finally securing a few things and moving forward. Step one: pay off car. Step Two: open a savings account and begin to save money for the future. Step Three: Meet w/ director of paralegal studies and map out a plan to be able to sit for the paralegal exam (ensuring work development/better opportunities). Step Four: Finish my book, and then begin focusing on my fiction works in production. Step Five: REALLY get this married or single thing nailed down. Take some time apart or whatever we have to do. I mean, I thought we had dealt with this already, but since it still wasn’t crystal clear…

That was the plan. But we know what happens to our plans. I am not surprised by this. I acknowledge that it could be worse. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck right now. It’s still not fair that someone out celebrating a birthday with booze derailed what took me months, even years to line up. It’s really irritating, then, when people won’t let me have my moment. If you know me, you know that I love planning. Organization is my thing. I like to know what the plan is for going forward. I am not shy about asking for advice when I need/want it. I’m an optimistic person who naturally looks on the bright side; however, when there is no plan immediately at hand, let me have my moment. I don’t ask for advice while having my moment; I ask for some support and comfort. I don’t want a solution. I don’t need thong love; I want granny panty love. Is that too hard to understand? I’ll be back to boy shorts, thongs and the like eventually.

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