A Blog on Surviving Womanhood

Category Archives: Relationships

It’s me. And no, it’s not the first time we are meeting. We have met before, except you didn’t quite notice I was here. I’ve always been right here, but you only saw me through your questionable, skewed perspective.

I am the daughter who you have pushed through school and tormented. I was told that I was too stupid, too lazy. And when I finally became a doctor or engineer or lawyer, you were not happy till I was married and had grandchildren. And here I am looking after my children, when you cry and said I have wasted all my talents – if only I had also given my career a shot.

I am the person you grab on the streets, on the buses. I am scared to go out without being surrounded by a horde of friends. And even then, protection is not guaranteed. I see your glances, hear you discussing my dimensions. No, it’s not attractive. It’s not funny when I take the long route home to avoid you. It’s not funny that I dig my fingernails into my hands. It’s not funny that I pray silently that I am not raped.

I am the friend who did your school notes, sat with you through all-nighters, proof-read your essays when you were dead tired. I am the person you’ve called when you were down. I am the girl you spoke to about your crushes and the times when she broke your heart and walked off. And then, as soon as I got to caring, you thought I became too needy, too desperate. That you never saw me that way. You tell me that I am only a friend, not womanly enough to be a girlfriend, a wife. And then you shun me, ignored me till you needed your ego boosted again.

I have been bullied about my weight since before I hit puberty. I have developed eating disorders, lost sleep over how I look in my navy blue and white school uniform. If I am fat or have short hair, I am a questionable tomboy. If I am slim and have long plaited hair, I am a sleaze. If I don’t wear makeup, you don’t take a second look at me. If I do, you leer at me, wondering whether you have a shot. Of course you do, because, let’s be honest, who can resist you?

If I am too intelligent, you don’t notice much beauty in my face. If I am too beautiful, you don’t think I am very brainy. If I disagree with you, (never mind that you are wrong, which you incidentally never are), I am not thoughtful, not analytical enough. If I don’t understand your brand of humour, it’s somehow my fault. The joke was not degrading, hurtful and downright disgusting – it’s simply that I am not open or smart enough to understand it.

If I am career-oriented, it’s just a farce. I can, of course, never be as good as you. If I am as successful, it’s because I was lucky, slept around, or am cold and ruthless. But not as capable as you, no. As your soulmate, my title and salary should always strategically be below yours – useful, but not threatening.

I am the person that has to be perfect at homekeeping. Cooking, cleaning and raising a family. If the floor is not clean, it’s my failure. If dinner is not on the table right after you come down from your warm shower – wait, is there ever a good reason that dinner is not on the table? It’s only reasonable that you come home and sit in front of the television sipping scotch – after all, you had as long a working day as I did. And since I’m the mother, if the kids go bad, it’s my fault. A poor mark on a test. A lie. A fight. All the values are imbibed from the mother. Somehow your responsibility ends with cuddling the child.

If we can afford that big screen TV, the car and the golfing, perhaps you don’t have taunt and tease me every time about that new dress or pair of shoes that I got for myself.

Oh and by the way, it’s okay if you’re short, fat and not very attractive. At fifty, after two kids, you tell me to lose weight. All the while balancing that glass of scotch on your stomach. I am not allowed to think about, let alone look, at other men – that makes me loose. But you can compare me to the film star half my age and with plastic surgery and tell me to take better care of myself.

It’s not amusing to say I am PMS-ing, no, truly it’s not. It’s not fine to say that I am insecure, when all I get from you is complaining and criticism. It’s not acceptable that your problems are our problems, and that mine are just a figment of my imagination or stress. I have down times, I get burnt out, I age too. I accept your inadequacies, your frailties – why do I have to continuously prove myself?

And when I threaten to leave or walk out, you say I am overreacting. That you love me, that I’m breaking your heart. Don’t I care? If you truly want to know, I did care. A lot. But I gave while you only took. Quite frankly, I am tired. All my life, I strive to be perfect, to make everybody happy and it drains me. I am never thanked, but rather as the days go by, I am taken more and more for granted. I am exhausted.

And one day I realise that you only ever loved yourself. It’s the one thing I have learnt from you and that I take from here. Maybe it’s time to love and live for myself for a bit. Maybe being selfish isn’t such a bad thing after all.

By Riddhi Sen

2013 Blog Writer for Change Tomorrow’s World & The Wonders of Womanhood

 

Edited by Wonders of Womanhood Team

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is a day to celebrate the wonderful contribution that women make to our society.

Thank you to all the women who have changed my life: you have taught me that being strong and courageous are beautiful qualities to possess; that the greatest gift a mother can give her kids is her own time, knowledge, confidence; and that being a woman is hard work and underappreciated, but very rewarding.

And thank you to the men, who treat woman as equals, with respect and dignity; who recognize that beauty isn’t defined by dress size but rather by a vivacious personality; who recognize that being a feminist is a good thing when it promotes the equality of men and women; and who find an intense, courageous, strong woman attractive, rather than emasculating or threatening.

Happy International Women’s Day! Cheers to all the women who strive to be the best version of themselves that they can be, and to the men who support them!

 

The Wonders of Womahood


“Do you know what a woman is most afraid of in the world? It’s that she is not gonna find that one person who accepts her for everything that she is, and that, when she finally starts to let him in, he’s just going to leave.” – Kate to Ben, in Ben and Kate Season 1, Episode 1.

All women want a person that will accept them for everything they are. We want that guy who likes all of us – who sees that there are flaws but doesn’t say anything because he sees the “big picture beauty” as I like to call it. We all want that guy who is intoxicated by your beauty and smarts and smile. The guy whose eyes still light up when you come to bed, even though you didn’t have a chance to shave your legs, and your stomach has gotten a little flabby over the years. We want the guy that says “I love you” every morning, and even though you reply “I love you too”, still stops you, puts his hands on your shoulders, looks you in the eyes, and says “No, I really love you”. We want that guy. We deserve that guy – the guy who respects our hearts and minds and character first, and recognizes that our bodies are one part of our beauty.

Even though I’ve dated an amazing man for so many years, I still get nervous around him. I still feel a little insecure – when he puts his arms around my waist, I instinctively suck in my stomach. When he keeps glancing at my lips, just before making a move to kiss me, I wonder if he is noticing that I missed threading a couple of hairs off my upper lip.

Like all women – like all humans – I’m not perfect – not physically, not personally. I get unnecessarily worried over small things, and sometimes I get really mean when I am trying to hammer home a point. When I am around people and feeling nervous, I make really inappropriate jokes.

I couldn’t pinpoint the exact ingredients to a “healthy, normal relationship” but I can say from dating someone for many years, that one of the many reasons my relationship works is because he gives me confidence. He never makes me feel bad for not living up to the ever-so-high standards of beauty that society puts on me, and in exchange, I always make an effort to look my best, and impress him. When I am feeling insecure, he soothes me rather than exploiting those feelings for his personal gain. He makes me proud of who I am, and never says things that makes me feel I’m not good enough, or smart enough, or skinny enough or hot enough, or talented enough, or charming enough.

He makes me feel like I am enough. He makes me feel like who I am, in my entirety, is just right for him, and I don’t need to change at all for him to consider me “good enough”.

We’ve been together for almost 8 years, and have weathered a lot of storms, but I always get butterflies before we meet. I always want him to see me at my best, and I appreciate when he loves me the same way at my worst. I don’t know what makes a perfect relationship, but as long as I am enough for him, that’s good enough for me.

 


Is it just me, or is it tough to find a good guy, now-a-days? I mean, maybe its just me, but whenever I start thinking about my future, I get this nagging feeling. Any thoughts of marriage end up involving a very handsome groom with a blurred face. When will that face crystallize?! I’m finding as I get older, and transitioning out of school, that it is becoming harder and harder to find a guy I can date longer than a year, let alone find “the one”. I feel like I might end up dragging, or worse, being dragged, to the altar.

So this post ends up being about finding “the one” – less about deciphering who is the one, and actually determining where the hell you can even find him – or his friend, brother, cousin, relative, etc.

One really important thing to remember is that, although it’s really hard, you have to put yourself out there. You have to be confident – you have to remember you are incredible, and interesting, and unique, and you need to have a thick skin and not be afraid of a little rejection.

Once you got your confidence on high blast, lit with neon signs and decked out in glitter, time to go fishing!

Take Advantage of School: School presents a wonderful opportunity to meet people. Between classes, clubs and extra-curricular activities, the potential to meet people are endless! Plus, school allows you to connect with specific groups or types of people – you can join a club that contains people you would be interested in, whether its meeting an adventurous person in the sky-diving club, or someone of your own ethnic background. Put yourself out there!

Ask a Friend to Set You Up: Your friends know you best, and they may have someone special in mind for you, based on the intimate relationships they share with their other friends. What could be the harm of getting their advice or trying a couple blind dates?

Be Careful About Dating in the Workplace: It’s easy to meet people at work, but harder to get rid of them from your life if the relationship goes south. Be as close to 100% sure before you pursue a workplace relationship.

Go to the right places to find the right type of man: What type of guy do you want? Maybe someone who likes to drink and have a good time? Take your girlfriends and go out to the local bar. Looking for someone more low-key and philosophical? Try checking out the art gallery or the spoken word contest or book reading at a local cafe. In other words, go to the right place to find the right guy for you. It always surprises me when my girlfriends go to a bar, come home with someone they later realize is not compatible with them, and then stare at me baffled. Choose the right location to find the right person. Common interests in location lead to common interests in relationships.

Know What You Want and Don’t Settle for Less: You may meet a lot of duds before the right one comes along. A lot of women don’t realize that the inability to know what they want is the direct reason they can’t select the right guy for them. For some people, it’s a process of elimination – each new (and failed) relationship teaches them what they are or aren’t looking for  in the final selection. But for others, it’s about indecision – about not knowing within what you want, or knowing that you are good enough to deserve what you want, and thus, finding the right person seems like an insurmountable challenge. You have to know yourself – and be confident enough in yourself to recognize that you are good enough for the best person for you. You should never settle for less than what makes you really happy – you should love yourself enough to recognize that it is better to be alone, then be with someone else and unhappy.

 Other thoughts on how/where to find the right guy? Share them with us!

~ The Wonders of Womanhood


My Declaration of Self Esteem
By Virginia Satir 
 
I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself.

I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do.

I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay. — from Self Esteem


We see it all the time in TV shows; episode after episode the protagonist ignores all the warning signs that her boyfriend isn’t right for her, or doesn’t really love her. It starts with small signs, where the girl says to herself or her friend “that’s odd, I wonder why he did that” or “I’m confused, what did he mean when he said that” and it builds into flat-out denial of “I know he didn’t mean that” or “he was just stressed” or “it was just the circumstances” or, the one I hate the most, “it will be different this time”.

 
There is something about women and the way they ignore warning signs; something about the way our heart works that allows us to dismiss whats right in front of us, even though logic dictates otherwise. My cousin does that all the time: chooses men that are self-destructive for her, that  don’t value  who she is as a person, and then ends up surprised when the relationship doesn’t work out.
 
It pains me to see this, to hear young women justify the behavior of the men in their lives by saying things like “he isn’t that type of person (to celebrate anniversaries, or go out for dates)” or “he thought these were the only ways he could do something, so his actions are justified”. Why do we make such pathetic excuses for our boyfriends, when clearly, there are men out there, somewhere, even if they are hard to find, that will treat us with respect and compassion?
 
The women here at The Wonders of Womanhood have a theory: we allow men who aren’t right for us in our lives because of our own insecurities. Men, despite how wrong they can be for us, make us feel good. Even if they don’t really love us, they still make us feel loved and that makes all the difference. When everything else feels wrong in our lives, when we feel lost because we can’t find a job, or are doing poorly in school, or just can’t lose those 10 pounds we’ve been starving for, those men are a fixture in our lives, and we will put up with a lot, because they give us security, even if they can’t or won’t give us much else. It is only when we feel confident in ourselves that we are willing and able to say “I deserve someone who loves me”, “I deserve someone who respects me”, “I deserve someone who makes my life easier and better”, “I deserve someone who takes joy in celebrating me as a person, who takes pleasure in making me happy”, “I deserve all these things and more, and nothing a guy could say will ever make me settle for less. Maybe there isn’t such a thing as a perfect guy, but I will find the one who will spend their life trying to make me happy”. It is when we will insecure about ourselves that we use men who are wrong for us as validation. We use them to ignore what’s really bothering us, to avoid the true fears that haunt us, hoping that the identity of being someone’s girlfriend will give us a sense of direction. And worst of all, though we are perceptive enough to see how wrong someone’s boyfriend is for another, we often have trouble seeing the very same thing in our own relationship. 
 
I think part of the issue is, we don’t know how to face what we already know, that we are afraid of the pain of being alone. It’s hard for me to watch the women I love fall into the same destructive patterns, and not be able to do anything. When I can see their minds are closed to my warnings, what are the options? Do I push, acting as a true best friend, who will show you the side of yourself you have been hiding from? Or do I wait, hope that she will come to her senses, and be there when I know that wasp hat was doomed from the start finally comes crashing down?
 
These are the questions we pose to you today, and we leave you with an important message: trust your instincts, and heed the warning signs, whether behaviour from your young man, or skeptical looks from family and friends. Your intuition will guide you far better than anyone else ever could.
 

Hi Wonders of Womanhood!

First off, love your blog!

Thanks!

I need your advice. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over a year, but we hit a bump and I don’t know if I want to be in the relationship anymore – its boring. I’m trying to figure out if this is normal or not, and what my relationship might be like a year or more from now if I stayed. Don’t get me wrong, I really like him. Its just…I don’t want to be bored in a relationship, but I don’t want to lose him if this ‘slump’ is just temporary.

I want to ask my friends what their experiences are like, but no one that I feel comfortable talking with who is my age (19) has been in a long-term relationship. I know you guys will tell me every relationship is different, and I get that. I have to decide for myself. But…I just want to know how people in long term relationships feel. Does the spark go away? Do you get boringly comfortable in the relationship? Like, you know – the “old married couple” thing…Can you guys gives me some ideas about what I can expect in the future? What do people in long term relationships experience?

Thanks!

– Alaina

Hey Alaina,

Great question!

Your question comes right after a funny How I Met Your Mother episode, where we see a comparison between the relationship between Zoey and Ted (a challenging, passionate relationship), and Lily and Marshall (a comfortable, the “perfect” relationship).

An important message from that episode is – just because someone has a different relationship than the “ideal” perfect couple, it doesn’t mean thats a worse couple, by any means (although mutual support in a relationship is always better than constant battles).

I think “the fizzing out” is a problem a lot of people worry about. You’re right – the first thing we will tell you is every relationship is different and no universal piece of advice applies to all relationships. Age, ethnicity, personal interests, education, childhood upbringing, location and just about everything else can affect how your relationship works. There is no way we could tell you what your relationship would be like in a week, or a year or even five years down the road, and there is no way we could even tell you what an ideal long-term relationship would be. In other words, we don’t have a crystal ball.

But, in spite of this, I still think we can help you. We roped in a member of our team (who has been in a long-term relationship) into an interview. Hopefully, the answers to her questions will give you insight into the experience of someone who has been dating for several years. She is only a couple of years older than you, so you might be able to better identify with her perspective (in comparison to maybe someone ten years older than you). Maybe her experience will match yours, or at least give you insight.

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