Female Abusers.

I pride myself on being "brutally honest" on this blog despite its many readers and my natural will for introversion and privacy.  I am normally not ashamed of the truth--take for example, the divorce, or my anti-theism/atheism, or my depression/suicide issues, or any number of other ugly subjects that make this blog what it is (and me, who I am.)  Still, this is something I've not touched on despite it being on my mind lately.

And there's another reason, not just the "is this something I should really be making public?" dilemma.  The other thing is that this is supposed to be a year of self-love and my blog was supposed to reflect that.  While I've come miles and miles, I'm still pretty low on the self-esteem scale and I know I need to catch up on some self-love posts.  The thing is I feel shitty lately, and you can only mime your way through so many "I'm pretty" affirmations while riding off the fact that your friends like you and your boyfriend thinks your massive thighs are the greatest thing on the planet (thanks Henri.)  Having nice photos of yourself and your adorable friend helps a little, too.

So I'm going to get this off my chest, and then we can move on toward happier things.  June is going to be a kickass month, and while May hasn't been terrible in the slightest, for some reason I'm glad and relieved to see it go.

With that said, let's talk about abuse.  But not just any old kind of abuse.  Female abuse.  Not directed -at- females, but done BY females.  Weird topic? Maybe.  I'm active on Reddit and I subscribe to a few men's rights groups there because I find their information really fascinating.  One recurring thing that I see popping up is news articles, blog entries, legal situations, etc., in which men are abused by women.  Physically and mentally.  Their position is that females can be just as violent as men and the repercussions are not as severe, and society sees the idea of "violent women" as a kind of joke on manhood.  There's a lot of debate on the issue that I stay out of, but reading some stories about girlfriends/wives who have hit their significant other and caused a lot of emotional pain has made me think of my own past.

When I was 18, before I moved to Utah, I was extremely unstable.  Just out of foster care with nowhere to go and no one to help me, I kind of ruined everything.  I was in a relationship for just under a year to another 18 year old and god bless our ignorant young minds, we were horrible to each other.  In a very abusive way.
 It started off with small things of course, insults and arguments, then escalated to hitting, throwing things, really terrible Lifetime movie drama stuff.  It ended up with him being arrested and me moving to Utah.  We've reconnected and apologized and now everything is fine, but if there is one thing in my life that I truly regret and am ashamed for, it's how I acted.  I was an adult.  I should have known better.  Even coming from an abusive home was no excuse.  I'm still horribly ashamed of how violent and volatile and sick I was.

So yes, I absolutely believe females can be abusive because I know personally just what angry women are capable of.  There's no sugarcoating it, despite what society feels.  It's horrible to know that I was an abuser.  I know that it happened at a very difficult time in my life, and up until that point I'd only seen others in relationships and they were abusive (my dad is about as aggressive as a person could ever get) but those excuses don't cut it for me.  I've been in a few fights over the years for self-defense only, and I always have to stop and think before the situation, "Am I doing the right thing?" I always try to talk the person down or leave before something happens.   Usually this works, but there have been a few occasions where I was trapped or someone else was in danger of getting hurt and I had to step in.  The point is, I am capable of violence and I am capable of hurting people.

Not that I'd ever do that and I have never ENJOYED it...even when I was in my bad relationship at 18 I hated and despised every moment of being there.  I really had nowhere else to go, no car, no job, no nothing, so I felt like a trapped wild animal most of the time.  Utah was my salvation.  Still, I don't think anything or any circumstance justifies what I did.  I'm not perfect, and just knowing that I have the capability to be physically violent scares and bothers me sometimes.  Most memories I have of my father, and quite a few of my mother (she was a violent woman too, to her kids anyway) involve them hitting or at least making fun of, somebody.  I can't imagine what it would be like to be a man, being abused by a woman, and then not coming forward for fear of people laughing their ass off for you being a "sissy."

Just food for thought.  I am a female telling you that females can be aggressive and hurt men in exactly the same ways that men can hurt women.  No one is exempt from violence.  And for all of my strengths, I worry and feel terrible for the ability I have to hurt people.  Maybe like the rest of my family I should just be locked in a cage for a long amount of time.


You Are Not Alone.

Random music sharing, sometimes it happens.  Only when I come across something profound though.  And even if I don't touch on why the song means so much, trust that if I am open enough to post some music on this public blog, it means a lot and/or accompanies a feeling of epiphany or at least calmness in the calamity.

"All alone.  Whether you like it or not, alone is something you'll be quite a lot."  

As I'm sure many people, especially independent people and those who come from broken homes, can relate to, aloneness has a sort of bittersweet feel to it.  We are born alone and die alone and sometimes it feels like all we will ever be is alone, even in the middle of a group of people.  And yet, the fact that we succeed and do things on our own is liberating.  It can also be devastating, like the time I had a college choir concert that I was so happy about, and no one attended for me.  My choir mates had proud parents and groups of friends.  I had no one in the audience.  I sang alone.

Also, I'm an atheist.  There's a whole world of aloneness that atheists have that religious people don't ever get to feel.  It really is a phenomenal void, one that I can't even explain to theists and one that every atheist could probably nod their head in agreement with.  And I for one am irrevocably thankful for that aloneness.  It's taught me so much about my own intentions as well as the intentions of the world and mankind at large.  Problems and happy memories take on so much more meaning when you are not the daughter of some cosmic being playing puppeteer.

I've actually posted about feeling alone before on this blog, and usually when I'm feeling sad and lonely in my aloneness.  It happened more frequently with the onset of my depression, and there's nothing to do when you're lonely but write.  When I heard this song, something occurred to me.  At the moment, I am not alone. I haven't felt alone in awhile.

I think the thing I like about this music is that it's very happy while still having that undertone of vulnerability.  It's saying that you're not alone, but it may not always be that way.  In other words, you are not alone right now.  The song is also playful while being serious and having a deeper meaning--which is pretty much how I view life, and maybe even how some people would describe me.

Anyway, the point is, I know how it feels to be utterly and completely alone, and I know that sometimes it isn't that way, and both are important to feel to live a well-rounded life.   And I am so thankful for the awesome people in my life and the awesome readers I have who make me realize I Am Not Alone!


10 Things

1. I live and work in my favorite country. 
2.  I have an amazing boyfriend. 
3. Two words: my boys.  
4. Two more words: my cats. 
5.  Our summer house.
6. Madi visits in June!
7. Brandy visits in June!
8.  Rammstein in June!
9.  Tuesday night Skype with Derik and my cats.  
10.  This old photo of Henri and his cousin that his aunt sent me.  My ovaries burst.

Come to think of it, it looks like June will be a pretty kickass month!!! GET HERE JUNE!!!!

Also look at this creature of beauty.  

Talking to Myself Maybe.

What do I have to apologize for? To you, anyway.
To the person that I tried so hard for, for years of my life, who I credit with making me a better person, who I wanted to be a better person for.  And you showed me so much, and I showed you so much, so what on earth would I ever feel sorry for?

But I do, and the reason I want to say I'm sorry is because still after all of this, I feel that this was my fault for not being good enough for you to love properly.  I don't know if my self-hatred was fueled by our failing relationship or if the opposite is true: I hated myself and that caused things to go down so badly.  I know that because I failed, because we failed, I feel even more inadequate despite all the happiness I feel with how things in my life are going.

I will never understand why I'm not good enough either, and I most certainly can't understand how you can dismiss this and say that you "change with life tend not to look back."  How can you treat this so unceremoniously, why do you ignore or don't feel all of the things we've been through together? Or even apart, the things that we know about each other that nobody else will ever be able to share.  That way that we would sit and look at each other without speaking for minutes, like having a telepathic conversation, or the humor that only we had together that was so special? You wrote songs for me.  And they were beautiful.  And I knew, even though you never said it, that you did love me.  And that's why I kept trying.  It wasn't because I hoped, or because I was stubborn.  I knew that even if it was for brief, fleeting moments, you loved me in the ways you knew how.

I'm sorry that I'm not good enough, but I'm not sorry for moving on with my life and I know you want me to be happy, but losing my best friend of seven years does make me unhappy.  I'm not sorry for still caring about you, because what I felt for you was completely real and to say that I feel nothing like you would be a hilarious lie to myself.  I don't care about the end of the romance, or the end of the physical relationship, or the end of what was quite honestly a really destructive coupling.   What I care about and am sorry for is losing the friendship at the bottom of everything.  I feel so lost without it.

My Important Advice.

One thing to keep in mind, true love is not real unless it is returned. Make sure whoever you're giving your heart to deserves it. It took me a long time to learn that one. But it was worth it.

This was actually really hard for me to accept for a really long time.  I always thought you could love someone and have your love be unrequited, and while I still think you can care for others, TRUE love, the kind that people sing songs about and write poems for and cherish their entire lives....that kind of love has to happen between both people for it to matter and make a difference in both peoples' lives.


What I'm Afraid Of.

What are you afraid of? I'm proud to say that I am actually one of the bravest people I know.  I can leave a place or relationship or bad habit behind without so much as a blink of an eye toward others. I think this toughness was just ingrained in me from a young age.  It's one of the things I'm most grateful.

So, when people ask me if I'm afraid of anything, I say no.  Car wrecks? Nope.  Planes? Oh please, I love flying.  Zombies? Scientifically impossible.  Ghosts? I think a good ghost story is one of life's greatest pleasures.  Spiders? Adore them.  Poisonous spiders? Adore them also.  Snakes? One of my favorite animals.  Dying? Ehhh.  It's gonna happen at some point.  Now you see what a hardass I am guys?

But the truth is, we all fear losing our loved ones.  The only thing that saddens me about my own adventurous nature is the people I rarely get to see.  One reason I'm so active on Facebook isn't because I like to promote myself, it's because it's the only way I get to see a lot of these people.  The positive side of all this is that I know who really cares about me, because I'm not an "every day" commodity.  It's probably insanely difficult to be friends with someone who is always a world away, but some people do it anyway, and I am so grateful to them for that and I would be completely and utterly broken if one of them left me.

I fear losing my cats.  I know this may sound silly to people with children, or people who may not bond so forcefully with their animals, but I care more about those creatures than anything on this planet.  Even myself. That's right, I'd give up my hopes and dreams to save my cats if I needed too.  I'm so lucky that I get to experience Sweden and they are safe and snug at home with my roommate.  Does this completely de-closet me as a crazy cat lady? Probably.  Do I care? no.  A cat/human relationship is a complicated and beautiful thing as any cat lover can testify.  It's a bond you can't get with any other animal (though I'm definitely not a dog, or any other animal, hater) and for introverts and independent people like me, a bond with a cat is something to be cherished.  And before you ask, yes I Skype with my cats.  I see them once a week.  I think of them daily.

I don't fear dying in itself, but there are a few things concerning death that make me nervous:

-Dying before I see the parts of the world I want to see, and experience a variety of cultures
-Dying before I ever see my novels published
-Getting old and being alone
-Getting old and being in pain for years before dying

Well, this journal was depressing as fuck, but now you know my weak points.  If you hurt one of my friends, I will kill you.  If you hurt my cats, I will not only kill you, I'll come after your family and everyone you've ever met and then burn your house for good measure.  And with any luck I will get what I want out of life, or at least some of it.  That's all any of us could hope for.


Exploration, history, ruins, and Valborg.

What is with this week? It's like....taking forever.  Last weekend I was at the summer house with everyone and all week the kids have been home from school sick, so it's been theeeeeee lonnnnnngest week EVER! Yesterday we fixed the garden and backyard and grilled for the first time, so it really is starting to feel like the seven days of Swedish summer I've been hearing so much about.  But still...CAN IT BE FRIDAY PLEASE? I need a break! Phew.

With that rant over, let me say that I am in the works of starting something new on this blog--a new category if you will, specifically for locations in Sweden that I visit.  I feel that it's an important enough thing to warrant its own feature and I want to keep my "thought journal" separate from my "travel scrapbook."  But I've been too lazy/busy to work on this yet....still, if reading about foreign locations and Scandinavian history is something that interests you, keep your eyes peeled! Soon my pretties.

Now, onto this week's adventures.

Wreta Abbey 
My boss, maybe feeling the strain on everyone from being sick and stuck indoors, pulled us out of the house for a mini-excursion Tuesday.  I got to see Sweden's oldest church and monastery, Wreta Abbey.  No one knows exactly when it was built, and they assume that a wooden church was build before the stone structure that stands today, but it's been around since at least the early 1100's.  Considering the fact that the Vikings' heyday was still going strong in the 900's....that's a long ass time ago.   And in fact, under the church/crypt, they found Viking burial monuments.

Source: Linköpings historia
I didn't get any photos of my own of this church.  I went in anticipating to, seeing as I have my new camera, but when you're in such a building, this kind of strange feeling takes over and photography is the furthest thing from your mind.  At least it was for me, and I'm sure others felt the same way.  I'm the least religious person on earth, but the history and beauty and love and care of Wreta really touched me in what some could call a spiritual way. I could almost see myself in a past life, living there as a nun and being in peace and quiet and ponderous devotion for my entire life.  One of the Viking stones, complete with carvings, was on display inside and I touched it as probably thousands of other people and tourists have done.  I touched the grooves on something made so long ago, the same grooves that the carver cut and cleaned and traced and worked so hard on.  Things like this are what makes living in Sweden so special to me.  It makes me feel so privileged just to be alive and see the artists of the past.

Wreta Abbey has an awesome badass founding story too, as you might expect.  At the time the first church was ordered built, Christianity was a new thing and Swedes weren't too fond of it in certain areas.  They were still pagan and had no desire to give up their awesome hardcore metal custom of blót, which was a custom that went something like this:

1. Sacrifice animals, usually horse and pig.
2. Cook them
3. Offer the best meat to the gods
4. Put the magic blood of the sacrifices on stuff like walls, table, and each other
5. Eat the remaining meat for yourselves
6. Pray for awesome stuff to happen
7. Mead.

Inge the Elder became King in the 1100's, and he was a Christian man (and supposedly very handsome, and TWO METERS TALL!!  (Basically 6' 6'' and that's insanely huge for someone living in the 1100's, yanno?) Anyway, Inge the Christian was really pissed about these sacrifices and demanded them stopped.  After the Swedes gathered that he wasn't going to endorse their bloody parties--of which Yule was the greatest--they stoned him and ran him out of Sweden, exiling him.  His brother-in-law, Blot-Sweyn, became king.  As you can guess from his nickname, Sweyn allowed and endorsed the sacrifice rituals.  But Inge, metal hardass that he was, came back from exile three years later and killed the shit out of Sweyn.  And Inge became King again.  And nobody fucked with him.  At some point during his rule, he ordered Wreta Kyrkan (the church) to be built.  They assume that some of the remains, of which there are several kings, in the church are his.

Stjärnorp Castle
From the church, we went to a place my boss had seen on a map.  It was marked only "slottsruin" (castle ruin) so we had no idea what to expect or what we were looking for.  Then we turned a curve and saw, in front of a lake, a dark tower on a hill.  It was Stjärnorp Castle....or had been at one point, anyway.  The ruins themselves were majestic, but they were un-majestically closed to the public.  This is frustrating for someone like me who is careful, cares nothing about graffiti, loves old ruins, and will not blame anybody but myself if I end up with a broken neck.  But more about that later.

I couldn't find much of a history about the castle other than that it was owned by a family until it burned and the family had no money to repair it.  Now it sits dejectedly in front of a ravine, by a beautiful lake.  It was at one time the kind of castle you'd imagine Keira Knightley starring in a movie about....a courtyard, a balcony, carriages, a forest, and probably a handsome Swedish prince.  Alas, it has been left to rot.

This week was Valborg, or as the English speakers know it, Walpurgis Night.   In asking people how to celebrate this traditional, pagan holiday, the best I could gather is that you light a fire, have fireworks, and get stone dead drunk.  Sounds kind of like the Fourth of July, amirite? Still, this holiday took place in the middle of the week and while most regular working Swedes have the next day off, I don't really seeing as how my job and home life coincide.  I didn't really want to bother with drinking alone at a bonfire and then having a hangover with two sick children around the next day. Seemed kind of tacky.  So we went to the local bonfire and watched it for awhile, snapped a few pics, watched the fireworks, and went home.  Much more my style! Am I getting old or crabby?