Browsing Tag

men

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, parenting

A Note On My Recent Behavior

July 20, 2015
beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Joseph Medler

Parenthood first goes about revealing your innumerable flaws and shortcomings.

It does this in such a nonstop barrage of situations that reveal your inadequacy that you question not only your abilities, but the universe and its judgment to leave such a precious and wonderful gift in such incapable hands. But you fumble through and with repetition you learn that what feels massive is just a blip and when things that arise that could be massive are dealt with you start to trust that you in fact are the right person and the hospital didn’t make a mistake letting this baby come home with you.

You are broken down to your foundation and rebuilt brick by brick. It is a necessary and critical process as it allows you to discard the many silly things you treated with reverence before you knew and it leaves you with something approximating wisdom. When I held my first born for the first time I became aware of my own mortality. No one told me about this.

About sleepless nights and the many changes to lifestyle, sure, but this existential crisis was not something for which I was on the lookout. I thought about death passively and actively. It was a farmer’s toothpick getting chewed on, soft and tattered until it was soaked and malleable and worn through, splintering and finally turning to pulp to be discarded.

I am empowered by my inevitable death. What felt like a crisis, that I was not going to be able to foster him and his brother completely through a life, has turned into an awakening. It hurts to be sure that I won’t get to see how their stories end. I won’t be there to ensure as happy an ending possible and infact will rely on them to provide this for me. But between now and then it is my privilege and obligation to do everything I can to stack whatever odds I can in their favor. From this angle I’ve become a man that is determined to have as little difference between my public and private face as possible.

I do this for me, yes, but I also do it for them. My little guys need to see that they are able to be wholly themselves even when the world smirks at them. The world can seem a hellof a giant thing and when it takes note of you with scorn it can be scary. But you can’t be afraid.

You can’t allow the world to so color your opinion of yourself that you decide it’s best to hide behind whatever facades you decide upon which draw the least amount of attention. In fact, once you know fully who you are you can smirk right back at the world as you are equal to it. Primarily because ‘fuck it’. You are.

No matter what the world thinks of you it can’t change that unless you empower it. You, me and everyone we know are great. All of us. It may not play out on a stage large enough for the world to see and it may not ever make life easy, but it’s true. Our greatness is innate and the only way we can fail it is to not attempt to practice it and to share it. Do this and the world and its judgments will not only get quiet, they will disappear.

Continue Reading…

Abuse, Binders, Guest Posts, Relationships

Finding Love After Trauma.

May 13, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Alana Saltz

Everything terrible he did to me was supposed to be a joke. The first time I made a self-deprecating comment, he slapped me hard in the face. When I was being indecisive, he put his hands around my throat. During a phone conversation, he said that he would lock me in a box and throw me in the ocean if I ever cheated on him. I told him that his comment bothered me, and he said, “Don’t cheat on me then.”

Whenever I managed to gather my courage and confront him about the things he did, he told me he was just joking. He didn’t seem to understand that I didn’t like the way he was joking. It really wasn’t funny.

Several times during the course of our relationship, I ended up going home from his apartment and throwing up. The first time it happened was after he slapped me. I felt the nausea coming on and rushed out of his place so he wouldn’t see what I knew was about to happen. He was a smoker, so I blamed it on the cigarette smoke. And maybe it was. But the fear and anxiety that rose up in me when he slapped me, or put his hands on my neck, or made threats that weren’t enough like jokes, made my stomach turn even harder.

I found myself throwing up several more times, something that rarely happened to me, despite having a history of anxiety disorder and anxiety-related nausea. This was something new.

We were only together for six weeks. I couldn’t handle the nausea and the fear I felt around him anymore. He didn’t make me feel safe. When I broke up with him, he yelled at me. He told me he never should have trusted me or opened up to me. I kept saying I was sorry. I couldn’t make the real reason why I was leaving him come out.

You scare me.

– – –

I’d never been in any sort of abusive relationship before. I wasn’t sure this even counted as one. I felt shaken but was afraid of overreacting. After a few months, I took steps to move on. I went to a “Geeks and Nerds” singles mixer held by a Meetup group in Culver City. There, I met a very chatty, very eager guy who latched onto me for the entire night.

He decided we were meant for each other because we were both in our mid-20s, had Jewish backgrounds, loved music, and grew up on the east coast. At the end of the night, he kissed me and told me he wanted to see me again the next day. When I got home from the mixer, I spent the night curled up in my bed clutching my stomach, waves of nausea hitting me hard.

I didn’t see him again. For the next six months, at the end of every date I went on with someone I met online, I came home with a bad stomachache. It got to the point where just the thought of dating was enough to bring queasiness.

I began to see a new therapist who specialized in anxiety disorder and cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT was something that had helped me in the past. It focused on fixing distorted thought patterns and the behaviors caused by them. Anxiety had made me nauseated many times, but it had never made me throw up before. Obviously something was very wrong.

My therapist assured me that, although it would take time to recover from the trauma I’d experienced, I would eventually be able to be with someone again. She taught me meditation and breathing techniques. She trained me to think of the situation in new ways. Still, the stomachaches came. I felt like I’d resolved things in my mind, but my body wouldn’t let me date.

“Will I ever get better?” I asked her, over and over again.

“Yes,” she told me. “When you find someone you feel safe with, this will go away. But you have to work on it too. You have to retrain your mind and body not to associate men with danger.”

But I couldn’t make it stop.

– – –

Almost a year after the breakup, I went on a first date with a man named PJ. We had been in touch online for almost two years but hadn’t met in person yet. We talked now and then, each time never quite connecting, never taking it to that next step of actually meeting.

But there was something about PJ. I liked his round glasses and funny beard, the fact that he was an artist and creative, and the things he said in his profile about how he tried to always be there for people. I had a feeling that he might be someone I could trust, someone who could really care about me. I still had my worries about the anxiety and nausea, but I didn’t think he would make me feel nervous or pressured. He seemed safe.

PJ and I met up at a café halfway between his place in Redondo Beach and mine in Pasadena. We chatted for a few hours about art, writing, and Doctor Who while sipping boba teas. He was intelligent but not arrogant, laid back but energetic, interested but respectful of my boundaries. We spent the week before our second date talking online and on Skype. I shared some of my short stories and essays, and in return, he showed me his art and sent me a poem. His poem, “a wake,” was about wanting someone to see him. He wanted someone to see who he really was and then tell him not to wake up.

It was his dream, and it was my dream too. That was when I knew that we might be onto something. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts

My Two Step Program.

March 18, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Amy Turner.

Getting dressed to go take dance lessons at The Broken Spoke tonight I put on a silk dress and look in the mirror. I am in Austin, visiting from Los Angeles. That’s what I do. I visit the places I had imagined an ‘us’.  Where he was from, where he traveled for work, where he wanted to take me. For some reason, we don’t get there. But when we break up, I go.

The trips, I expect to work like leeches, ridding me of longing and restoring me to health. According to the ancient Greeks, bloodletting restored balance. But there is always a point, weather in Paris, the Sierra Nevadas, or now, Austin, where I wonder why I have to do this. People use leeches medically because of ineffective draining. I visit these places, hoping I can empty myself of the fantasy, hoping that as much as it stings, I will let go. It is both indulgent and purposeful. J. talked about Austin, talked about us coming here, to this place, The Spoke, to dance.

The last time we danced was after the Thanksgiving, when I made a salad that cost seventy dollars because I wanted to impress people. It sat on the serving table untouched, a buffet wallflower. Back at my house the mandolin I bought to get the fennel epidermally thin sat in a drawer and mocked me for the rest of the year. We brought the salad home and when we slow danced in my living room, none of it mattered. I couldn’t two step and J smiled and told me he wanted to take me to the Broken Spoke. He said that would make him happy.  I pretended like it was a little thing, but I tucked it in my brain book, a pressed flower I could take out and marvel at when he went back to Texas. A  man wanted to take me dancing. I had told him I didn’t want to fall in love with someone unavailable. He went back to Texas. I hoped he would return, but when we spoke a few months later, he had a new girlfriend. I never learned to two step, so… here I am. Continue Reading…

Beauty Hunting, Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops, Men

On Fear & Beauty: One Man’s Thoughts.

February 18, 2015

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Note from Jen: Peter Tóth has been following me for a while on social media so it was a huge honor to have him schlep all the way to London to attend my workshop. He wrote this beautiful post after the workshop. The honor was all mine, I can assure you. I was simply blown away by this, and by him. I will be back in London at Lumi Power Yoga in Hammersmith for another workshop October 10th!

 

By Peter Tóth.

A re-view of a journey there and back

16-17. February 2015

Last three days (from 13th till 15th February) have been really interesting for me and I am unsure how to describe their magic in words. I feel like I can only miserably fail in attempting to do so, but I will try anyway. Although I’m not a fan of cheesy motivational quotes, I will use one now, it’s from Bob Proctor and it’s actually a good one (and not too cheesy either):

“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.”

So, here’s to attempting the impossible…

On Friday, the 13th, on the way home from work, I mind-travelled back to the moment I learned about Zina Nicole Lahr as it would have been her 25th birthday that day and after reading her essay Contrast And Catalyst (Click to download pdf. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and as far as I know it has disappeared from internet ) for about tenth time I felt the same connection to her as I felt back then (The only difference was, that this time I had a conscious knowledge of who she was and I was desperately trying to figure out why do I feel connected to her and why she occasionally comes to haunt my day dreams with her fragile, aetheric, otherworldly beauty.)

I wanted to celebrate her birthday, but I didn’t know how. (Not long ago I met a girl who told me to fucking forget about Zina and to concentrate on the real life instead. In a way it felt like an insult, like if she didn’t understand that every thought we think is real and that a person can be dead and still be a catalyst, an agent that provokes changes and actions and we should not be judged if we somehow found ourselves attracted to such being. Because what if each life silently continues after it disappears from this world, where we can witness and measure it? It might go unnoticed, unobserved, unsung, but so what? It might as well be, that it is simply us who don’t pay enough attention to what goes around us, after all who knows? … )

In a painful moment of realization that I will never meet her, I sort of promised myself to remember her through creativity. Through manifestation of myself via any act of creating, whether it’s writing, drawing, photography, or a paper modelling. And it was shortly after all this happened that I found another beautiful American, Jennifer Pastiloff. Once again, my moth like personality felt attracted to her flame immediately. It too happened through her writing. But this time it wasn’t as much about what she has written, or how (although its beauty and power is undisputed and I loved everything she has written). It was the courage with which she has written it. The rawness of her essays. The willingness to look the pain in the eye and the humility which shone through her after she came victorious from what must have been exhaustively tiring staring contest. I just love female warriors. I decided I must meet her. And talk to her, like one human being to another. I wanted to see her, not visually, I wanted to witness the poetry of her being.

And soon she pulled a workshop in London and although the yoga bit and the seemingly feminine character of it all scared me, I booked it immediately. That was in November 2014.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.

~ Continue Reading…

Abuse, feminism, Guest Posts, Women

Why the Street Assault Video May Need Narration for Men.

December 28, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Amy McElroy.

A recent video made by the non-profit, Hollaback, http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/28/living/hollaback-10-hours-walking-in-nyc/index.html, made its rounds on the internet showing a woman walking for ten hours down NY streets. With each of the one hundred street assaults she received, another of my hairs stood on end. Even though she was a black belt in martial arts. Even though she had a hidden camera person with her the entire time. Because when I walk the streets “alone,” I am truly a woman alone. But what I started wondering next, during all those catcalls and taunts, was what other men watching the same video were thinking.

The men in the video acted offensively, no doubt, and their words assaulted the actress on an emotional and psychological level. But to me, they were more than that, they were threatening.

Did men see that?

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Relationships, Self Image

The Single Girl’s Saga. What I learned After 5 years On The Dating Scene.

December 14, 2014

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By Brittney Van Matre

After my 10 year relationship ended, 10 years too long and a lot of angst culminating to the anti-climactic ending, I slowly began dating. I was not ready to be emotional entrenched with someone new; however, this realization didn’t quench my desire. I thirsted to find love in another. And therein began my 5 year saga on the dating scene.

I watched from afar while my best friends fell in love, flaunted sparkling diamonds, bought gorgeous gowns, and painstakingly planned every detail of their “big day”. “Why couldn’t I find a love like that?” I asked myself as I purchased my sixth bridesmaid dress, this time in lavender. Another ugly dress to be worn one night, and one night only. All these frocks were destined for a life of dust collection; soon-to-be second hand store merchandise where they’d likely be purchased as Halloween costumes.

Of course I was elated for my friends’ obvious good fortune; however, I was simultaneously in despair over my own ill-fate with love. My supposed inability to land a good guy of my own easily transitioned to second guessing everything about myself from my appearance, to my personality, to my choice in Facebook profile pictures.

My impatient quest for love included embarrassing words like coercing, manipulating, forcing, controlling, and dramatizing. I endured many years of unnecessary heartache while trying to work for a love that was not yet meant for me. I became more obsessed with the idea of a relationship than I was with any person themselves. Essentially, my ego was in complete control. Continue Reading…

feminism, Guest Posts, motherhood

Hello Son, It’s Me, Your Mother.

December 5, 2014

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By Naomi Elana Zener.

To My Darling Son,

I think you should know that I am a feminist. There, I wrote it. I’ve said it. I’ve even screamed it at various points in my life. But, what does it mean for you and for me? I’m NOT some man-hating, refusnik of shaving my legs or armpit hair, Birkenstock- wearing (actually I love my Birks and wear them in the summer, but I love my Prada shoes, too), birthing my babies in the woods, crunchy gal. Those are great women too, simply because being a woman is wonderful. Women who are feminists come from all walks of life. I’m a happily married woman, working mother of two young babes, with two law degrees, who enjoys manicure-pedicures, reading, writing, shopping, travel, fine wine, art, theatre (wasn’t Avenue Q the best?), air conditioning in the summer, a great steak at Mastros, and believes that feminism is about equality for women in every walk of life, having the freedom to choose to do what we want, and having said freedom, equality, and rights protected by law.In that vein, I would like you to know that I plan on raising you NOT to be a male sexist, chauvinist, or misogynist.I fully intend to raise you to be a feminist, just like me, your father, your sister, your grandmother, your grandfather, and your aunt. If you respect me, you HAVE to respect women.

You are the son of a strong woman who pursued her dreams. I encourage you to pursue this just as I have and continue to do.

My dear, sweet son, you are the brother of a strong girl who will one day be a strong woman, and you should fight for and protect her right to have the same opportunities you will have to achieve her goals.
You need to look beyond gender as a qualifier, and that every law abiding, honest, and respectful human being is deserving of the same prospects in life regardless of whether that person is male or female. Neither women nor men are playthings. When I had you, I wrote a satirical poem taking a jab at how men have mistreated women throughout history, which is something I never want you to do.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Letting Go, loss, love, Men, Relationships

Longing For Her.

December 1, 2014

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By Tim Lawrence.

Our relationship ended in a myriad of contradictions, with love and uncertainty.

She had been my closest confidante for several years—my companion, my lover, and truly my very best friend. This was not a pairing of superficiality, it was the most profound love I’ve ever experienced. Prior to meeting her, I did not fully grasp just how extraordinary another’s happiness and wellbeing could become to you—how inextricably linked you could become to another person.

It was a gift I had avoided most of my life, never really allowing my romantic relationships to move into the territory necessary to achieve the sort of undeviating commitment most of us hope for. But this was different. And it awakened a part of me I had no idea even existed.

An understanding of a lifetime, found, cherished, and cultivated slowly.

That’s what I wanted. And I had found it.

Until I lost it. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Manifestation Workshops

Not Just For The Ladies.

September 24, 2014

By David Krause.

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Note from Jen: David just attended one of my workshops in South Dakota and posted this on my Facebook wall. I am blown away, to say the least.

ManifestStation Workshops-Not Just for the Girls.

I was in Santa Monica last April visiting some friends and thought I’d try yoga.

Jen instructed the 2nd class I ever attended (I had no idea how big of a deal she is-I was pretty lucky). I struggled through class but loved it. Afterward I thanked her for being patient with a rookie from South Dakota. She laughed and invited me to her workshop in Sioux Falls, SD in September. ‘See you there!’ I said, having no idea what a workshop was, but struck mainly by her enthusiasm and energy.

Months later, I learned that 1-Jen is a legend in the yoga world, and 2-yoga workshops involve journaling and talking about feelings.

I like to play sports, climb mountains, shoot trap, fly fish, and look for sweet deals on shotgun shells to shoot trap with. So I don’t have a journal, and I will listen to anyone talk about their feelings but don’t do much with mine. Skeptical about attending, I thought Jen would forget and I could stay in my comfort zone.

More months later, Jen remembered, and wrote on my Facebook timeline where, when, and that I should bring a journal.

Like an absolute goofball, I messaged her – ‘what is class like? I don’t journal much. I’m not sure if this is for me.’ She got down to brass tacks and told me it’s about getting out of my comfort zone.

For 3 hours that night I could be found 100 miles from my nearest comfort zone-45 female yoga pros and the lone male in his late 20s.

It was totally necessary and entirely enlightening. I could end up being pretty damn boring if I’m focused only on being a resident the next 5 or 6 years. I could miss the moments in life to smile, to make somebody smile, and to be fully human.

I could neglect current relationships and not make new ones.

But for 3 hours Jen led and taught me how to prevent that with introspection and a consistent sense of wonder. Jen has that light which lets you know she’s fully human. It is evident that she feels more intensely, more keenly, more loudly. She’s sharing that with the world-the boys just need to show up with an open mind.

And yes . . . a journal!” ~ David in South Dakota.

 

Note from Jen again: Hi, it’s me again. I wanted to share this for the men. You can come. You see? It’s not just for the ladies!  See you Sat in NYC!
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For a list of Jen’s upcoming events click here. 

click to order Simplereminders new book.

click to order Simplereminders new book.

Guest Posts, Sex

Children’s Toys.

June 24, 2014

Children’s Toys. A Short Story by Fiona George.

It doesn’t feel right, having him here. Doesn’t feel right to call him by the same name I screamed in bed, now that he’s my ex. Doesn’t feel right to call him by any name, not yet. We’ve only been apart two weeks. Apart isn’t the right word, because he’s here with me on my couch. We’re apart like we’re not fucking, like we don’t say I love you.

People always asked how I loved him. How a little doll of a girl loved a big, fat man. It was never hard. When I fell out of love, it wasn’t because he was fat. I outgrew him. He was my giant teddy bear, the kind of overstuffed, oversized teddy bears people buy their girlfriends on Valentines Day. His eyes, big blue eyes glossed like the plastic eyes of stuffed toys. But I never knew a teddy bear to down almost a whole bottle of champagne.

He brought the bottle to share. I only got a little. But that’s okay, an empty stomach and a lack of sleep fill in the blanks of my drunk. Give up love, and I give up food and sleep, too.

We both knew my love would run out, I never had enough love to stagnate in our own sweat and saliva and cum and call it happily ever after. It was only the first time I fell in love, that pulse through me saying nothing can be better than this, even though I knew better. But he’d been there. Done that. He was in it for forever.

Then I changed my mind.

No, I didn’t change my mind. My heart went and changed on me. It’s my mind that keeps changing now, got no idea what it wants. It’s my mind going back and forth that’s gonna yank us around tonight.

All the love I ever had for him isn’t enough for my heart to change back. Not enough to call him by his name, or even look him straight on, to look anywhere but at our reflections on the blank TV screen in front of us. He’s got his black leather jacket on and it makes his body disappear on the black screen. All there is on the couch next to me is a floating Cheshire cat head. Red lips and his teeth, straight and white except one snaggle tooth in his front top. His smile too big. I don’t remember what one of us just said to make him smile.

But there’s a lot more of him than his floating grin. The rest of him takes up half the couch. All the way up to the crack in the cushions, the line between us. My unspoken rule, he stays on his side and I stay on mine.

The weight of him makes a valley on his side of the couch. I have to hold on to the arm on my side if I don’t want to slip, slowly, into it. I almost want him to stay over, but I don’t want to fuck him. But without those big blue eyes on me, all their adoration at every little thing I do, I feel worthless. I want to slip into his valley, the same way I did when he used to make that valley in my bed.

“Do you want to stay over?” I hear myself ask, my words weak, thin and slow as I feel.

His face, his eyes. I finally turn to look. I haven’t looked into his eyes since I broke up with him. His features so big, blue eyes, red lips, his nose with a little bit of a bump near the bridge. But it’s always been his eyes, those big pale blue eyes that always got me. They’re empty now, empty and happy like a teddy bears should be.

I want him to leave.

“Never mind,” I say, “I shouldn’t have asked. It would be a bad idea.”

His face doesn’t move, but it’s all different. Like a snapshot of when he was happy for a second, eyes extra glossy with tears. If you pull his string, he talks. Says the words he said when I left him. Prerecorded nicknames, prerecorded love.

“Whatever you want, buttercup, I just want you to be happy.”

Words that sound like the end of the conversation.

It wasn’t the end then, and it’s not the end now. His face right in mine, his bar breath of cigarettes and booze fill the space between us, his recorded words soaked with champagne.

“But what if, and feel free to say no,” He says, “what if I just cuddle with you till you fall asleep?”

Just what I want, all the comfort and none of the sex. But I know I’d wake up sticky with him, a couple glasses of champagne burning in my stomach like undeserved adoration. He used to light a fire in my panties, I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe those eyes. But for the last year, sex had my little sacrifice to his self-esteem. I’d do it again if we were in the same bed.

“I’d have to wake up to lock the door anyway,” I say, “you should probably leave.”

His knees creak to lift all his weight, all that might seem like soft fluffy stuffing is so much heavier. When he talks again, he faces the door and his words don’t sound recorded, the little voice box at the end of the string crushed and it’s all my fault.

“Fuck, fine.” He says, “You asked me to stay. But whatever.”

I don’t leave the couch, I pull myself into myself. Knees to my chest with my hands clasped around them, head on my knees. Small as I can be. I wait for him to leave so I can cry. He doesn’t leave, he’s back in front of me, his leather jacket zipped up like he’s ready to go. Me, small as I can be folded in on myself, his jacket would fit all of me.

He doesn’t leave. The pop pop of his weak knees when he bends over me. All I can see is him. Right now, he could lay down on me, fall on me, smother me, crush me. I wouldn’t be able to do a damn thing.

His voice is a recording again, sing song sweet and all fake.

“Can I get one kiss before I go?” He asks, “Just a peck, I promise.”

I want to tell him no, but I want him to go. Maybe this one bit of affection will be enough and he’ll be out the door, happy to get what he did. So I bob my head in voiceless consent.

He holds himself up with one hand on the back of the couch, the other is drunk hot and sweaty on my cheek. He leans close, closer, his plushy soft red lips on mine. My knees between us, push into his chest. His stomach curls around the little rock I’ve made myself, swallowing me up. I feel safe, like the last two weeks never happened.

That was just the peck, and if he left right then that would be okay. I might even miss him.

But that isn’t it, his tongue pushes past my closed lips, my brick wall of teeth, reaches down deep in my throat for the part of me that still wants him. He runs me over, three hundred pounds of him crushing my bent legs into me until I can’t breathe. Hot hands reach into the little rock of me to my breasts beneath a pink sweater.

He steps back and stands up straight but not to leave, to pull my legs out and apart. I let him. I don’t fight. He has me opened he wants me naked, naked as I am under all my pink. My sweater gone and so am I, close my eyes and imagine someone else. But there is no one else, no one I would want to do this. But I’m going to let him, I’m going to fake one more orgasm for him, scream everything but his name.

Then maybe he’ll leave.

His hand on the back of the couch grips my hair, the other moves down the naked top of me. The humid hot of his palms. Chubby-soft fingers feel hard. His nails unclipped on my breast, he pulls to hurt, to bruise the softest part of me. Pop pop means he’s on his knees, both his hands go to the elastic top of my sweat pants. Fingers slipping in pants and panties pull both down in the same motion.

My eyes, closed in a black nowhere trying not to let tears leak out when I feel two chubby fingers. Two of his drunk hot fingers inside me with the word he’s said so many times in two years, the word that used to get my panties wet and make my heart do circus tricks. Now all it does is bring the champagne in my stomach to a boil. His low smokers voice, that one word that held all his power.

“Mine.”

Two years, all the time he’d called me his, two years of my body as his. Two years and I would never say no, because I didn’t want to say no at first, then because I didn’t want to hurt him. All that time. Wasn’t until right there on my side of the couch, the other side of the line he crossed. Wasn’t till I was stripped with two of his big fingers in and out of me and his mine that I knew I had my one word, too. My word with all the power.

When it comes out, it’s almost a whisper.

“No.”

Almost a whisper, but he heard me. He stops. His fingers still inside me but they don’t move anymore. My eyes open and his plastic eyes up at me. He doesn’t take his hand out, more like it falls out. His hands, his face, fall down. Each word out of his mouth, one little tear drop.

“I’m sorry,” He says, “I just want to be close to you, I’m sorry.”

Kisses at my thighs, lips gone soft. I’d never seen him look so weak, and all I wanted to do was kick him in the face. I don’t kick, I run. Pull my legs from where they’re spread around him, into small as I can be again. I roll onto his side of the couch, spread myself out in a jump off the couch, run to the only door in the apartment that locks.

Behind the fake wood bathroom door before he can lift himself off the ground. Maybe he’ll leave, he can’t get to me behind the door, so maybe he’ll leave. But just seconds later his knock on the door bounces off bathroom tiles, into the cold white porcelain tub I’ve curled myself up in, small as I can be. This door between us, sounds hollow. Breakable.

My tears, fill the bathtub one drip from my chin at a time. He screams from the other side of the door, the only thing I hear is selfish slut, everything else just sounds like anger, like hurt and tears. I’m crying loud in my head, bite my lip to keep silent. He won’t hear me cry. Tears run into my mouth, bite my lip and taste salt and iron.

All I want right then is my giant teddy bear, to roll into his valley and be wrapped in warm, soft first love. To lay on top of him, feel okay about ever loving him. But he isn’t my teddy bear anymore, he isn’t mine. I’m not his.

He shakes the apartment, the stomp stomp stomp of heavy footsteps.

He’s gone.

The slam of the door.

He’s really gone.

2014-05-24 19.33.33

Fiona George is a non-collegiate high school dropout who loves to learn, especially when it comes to writing. She is conquering a fear of her own words and putting them out in the world. She’s had one other story published in Nailed Magazine. She feels lucky for the opportunities she’s had to learn from writers whose presence makes her a little nervous, in Tom Spanbauers weekly Dangerous Writing workshops, and in The Writers Voice workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch and Suzy Vitello, where she met Jen. (Jen thinks she is the most badass 20 year old she knows.)

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next Manifestation workshop is London July 6. Book here.

 

Guest Posts, Self Image

Enough. By Josh Becker.

June 4, 2013

Enough.

When I was 14 -years old I had the worst case of acne and I was about as skinny as a bean pole. To top it off I had bucked teeth which just added to the whole package. At 14-years old, boys my age had one, and only one, mission and that was to attract girls. This was the start of High School and aside from figuring out how you were going to hide your bad grades from your parents, who you would date was the only thing more pressing.

I was the kind of kid who just wanted a girlfriend. I was happy being in a long-term (as long-term as a 14 year old could have) relationship. Fortunately, I managed to attract enough of the girls that I did have some of those relationships. Whether or not I was in a relationship though didn’t matter much. Every day I was self conscious about my looks. I grew up on the east coast where it wasn’t unusual to have sweltering 95 degree days with 95% humidity. Those days where you wish you could walk around with a fan attached to your forehead. However on those days I’d be the kid, and the only kid, wearing pants. I was so self-conscious about my “chicken legs” that I couldn’t stand the thought of someone seeing them.

Being called, “skeleton” and “bones” wasn’t uncommon and it wasn’t unusual for an attractive girl to walk up to me and ask why I don’t eat. Oh I ate…I could eat pretty much anyone under the table but my metabolism was so high none of it would settle. I remember laying awake at night in bed wishing I was fat. I remember putting my hands over my stomach and then working my way down to my protruding hip bones in disgust. I wished I was fat because I was convinced I could just run or lose the excess weight somehow. Gaining weight for me was just not an option and I was reminded how horrible that was every day.

The acne was bad too because that wasn’t something I could cover up with pants. Shame would wash over me when I walked down the halls thinking about what “they” thought. There were times when I felt like I was wearing an ugly mask that I just couldn’t take off. I would go out of my way to avoid people and cut conversations short just to avoid others looking to closely. I was barely even listening when they were talking as I was too busy wondering what they were thinking of my zit covered face.

Smiling sucked at 14 because I was the one in the front of the class cracking the jokes. Can you imagine what it’s like to try and make others laugh and laugh yourself all while not smiling? I did a lot of those “lips closed” smiles. There wasn’t one single time I smiled that I wasn’t conscious of it. Not one smile.

I loved being the center of attention but hated actually receiving it.

The irony of this doesn’t go lost on me. I was a young boy covered in shame and left with false beliefs of not being good looking enough, not being tough enough, not being loved enough, and just not being enough. I longed for the love I wasn’t giving myself and that love took shape in the form of attention. I sought that attention but when I received it my shame came right back and spit in my face. It reminded me how “not enough” I really am and wouldn’t allow any of that attention and ultimately love in. The shame did a great job of keeping me in my darkness.

As I got older the pimples went away, the teeth straightened (did the braces thing twice!), and I gained the weight. The problem was the false beliefs were still there. Every morning I woke up and put on my glasses of “I’m not good enough”. This is how I saw the world and anything that happened meant I’m not good enough. I would get cut off on the highway and it meant I’m not important. Someone would say, “No” to me and it would mean I wasn’t good enough. I would say,” No” to acting on my own dreams because I knew thought I wasn’t good enough.

I learned that the shame I carried my whole life didn’t have anything to do with how I looked. I knew it had to do with the false beliefs I started to live my life by. It didn’t matter what I looked like. It didn’t matter what clothes I wore. It didn’t matter what girlfriend I had, what car I drove, how much money I made, or how popular I was. None of that mattered.

The greatest determination of my own self-love had nothing to do with the things “out there” and had everything to do with the things inside of me! Unfortunately those “things” were all covered up with my own shame and false beliefs that I carried from early childhood. One day (okay, this took years and is still a work in progress) I decided I wasn’t going to carry this shame anymore. I learned that the shame I carried was the shame of others. I gave back that shame and gave back all those false beliefs. I would tell myself daily that…

I am enough

I am good

I am beautiful

I am precious

I am intelligent

I am powerful

I am strong

The lies that fueled my false beliefs were being replaced by truths that were fueling my authentic self. The self I was born as. The one that had all those qualities I longed for. Today, I’m about 25 lbs over weight, my dark hair is turning more salt-n-pepper, and my eyebrow hair is growing faster than the hair on my head. Yet, I walk with my head high seeking only healthy attention. When the attention comes I accept it and receive it with love. I no longer worry about what others think of me and know that it’s literally none of my business what they do. People say, “No” to me and I celebrate the Yes they gave themselves. I listen when other speak to me as my attention no longer needs to be consumed on my self-worth. Life is so different and it’s filled with love, lots of love.

It’s a daily practice and I know it’s about progress and not perfection. I still do have my days when I forget that I’m not those lies I used to tell myself. Though, today I’m quicker to catch it and remind myself of the truth. If there’s one thing I know it’s this…

You are ENOUGH as you are and there’s nothing you can do to make yourself more or less enough, you just are! I know this to be true about you because I know it to be true about me.

With Gratitude and Appreciation, Josh

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Josh Becker is an Author, Speaker and Mentor dedicated to helping you take off those glasses of false belief in exchange for your glasses of inherent nature. Josh is bridging the gap between the needed healing of our past and the tools necessary to live authentically now and in the future. You can find him at www.isimply.am, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Beating Fear with a Stick, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

I Don’t Like You But I Want You To Want Me.

February 26, 2013

1

By Jen Pastiloff.

I used to play this game in my twenties with men. I don’t like you but I want you to want me it was called. I was insecure and wanted all the attention I could get from men but I didn’t want to have to give anything up for it: sex, intimacy, love. I wanted to feel pretty and desired without having to look into anyone’s eyes or have them claim me as theirs. I felt ugly and short and I overcompensated by wearing high platform shoes and low cut shirts which showed my cleavage. And a lot of makeup. I was a master at flirting. I could make men want me.

Then I would panic. I would avoid. I would not return phone calls or emails. I would hide. I would be distant. I was a fraud. I couldn’t hold my own.

I didn’t want to hold my own.

A good friend of mine has been in a situation where a man was flirting with her and showing signs of attraction. She was attracted to him. She was confused by some of his behaviors and she told him as much. He then called her up to say: Just to be clear, I have no romantic or sexual interest in you. 

(Easy there, cowboy!)

What an asshole I said over the phone. Until I realized he was playing the game I used to play, or a version of it. I want you to want me but I want no responsibility. I don’t want to take this any farther but I want to feel desired by you. I want you to fall in love with me and I want to have zero accountability. In fact, I will be somewhat shocked when you call me out on my behaviors was the name or names of his game.

I remember after I got dumped in my 28th birthday I agreed to go on a date with a guy I had been waiting on for years. I had known he’d had a crush on me and I wasn’t attracted to him at all but I was trying to get over heartbreak and I thought it would be a good idea to get out. I wasn’t interested in him but the date was fun. He took me to a big famous Hollywood television producer’s house for a Christmas party and I felt funny and pretty and after we left he told me the big famous Hollywood producer kept asking about me. Who was the cute little Jewish girl? he said the producer kept saying. I’d felt flattered.

I wasn’t into this guy but I tried to make myself because I thought he would be good for me. He was a successful television writer and he was smart and funny. And he liked me. (I had been with someone for two years who didn’t like me very much.)

I just didn’t want to kiss him. Ever.

We went out on a few dates and finally he emailed me and called me out after I sent him a forwarded joke via email. He told me that he had enough friends. That he wasn’t interested in me as a friend and I needed to be straight. Was I interested in him or not?

I panicked. I wasn’t. I stared at the computer, horrified. I couldn’t bring myself to type the words. I admired him for his straightforwardness. Here I was sending him dumb emails just to keep him at bay, hoping he would disappear but not without pining for me.

I forget what I said exactly but it ended with No, I don’t want to date you. I probably beat around the bush. I probably made it sound nice and fluffy and a little dishonest.

I never heard from him again.

Look, I get it. He didn’t want to be my friend. He wanted to love me. He was being honest and fair.

I remember being shocked at his email. It was harsh, as I’m assuming his feelings were hurt, but I had never received such a blunt email before. He was so willing to speak what he wanted, to say what he felt and what he needed. And a friendship with me wasn’t any of those things. Fair enough.

I cringe when I think of the things I used to do for love. I hated myself and thought that if enough men wanted me it could fill that hatred with something. Even something I didn’t want.

Why so many lies?

I don’t want you but I want you to want me. Or even the I don’t like you but I can’t stand that you don’t like me. I want everyone to love me.

Oh, there it is. I want everyone to love me.

It’s so ugly and horrible and smelly that I throw it down the basement stairs before it burns my eyes and blinds me with its filth and stench.

There’s a roomful of people who are all nodding and digging what I am saying. They are into it. Then, there’s one who isn’t. I focus on the one.

I want you to like me. 

I focus on the one.

I sent an email to someone the other day which included my newsletter. I wrote about it the other day. He simply replied “unsubscribe.”

When I got really down and dirty with myself I was willing to ask Why did you send him the email in the first place, Jen? I’d had a hunch he didn’t like me. I had known. And the answer came. I was again in my twenties wearing a low cut shirt and high shoes to hide. I wanted him to like me was the wimpy little 5 year old kid answer.

The thing is, I only sent the email because of that. If I get down real low and look where I am afraid to look like under the bed and in the basement. It’s disgusting. Want me want me want me want me want me from the darkest crevices you can imagine.

Here’s the great thing about being honest with yourself. When you finally are, you leave the basement. The ugly truths about you aren’t so ugly once you face them. You just get a little wet washcloth and move forward with your day dusting off whatever needs dusting. It’s just that most of us are afraid to look inward so we keep throwing things under the bed and down the basement stairs.

I would be scared to go down there after a while too.

So that guy, the one who was leading my friend on, I don’t know what his deal was. (And yes, I still think he was an asshole for saying that to her.) I do know that he flirted with her and sent her every signal that he was interested and then when she called him out, he balked. He wanted what he wanted without having to be there for it.

Who wants to live that way? It’s ghost living. It’s like lying your way through your life and knocking people over with your big bag as you walk down the sidewalk. It’s like making a mess and walking out as you yell Someone else will clean it up without so much as even glancing over your shoulder.

There is a fine line between being honest and being an asshole.

Don’t get me wrong. At times I have been both. What I am concerned with now is the former.

I want to love you is a revision of I want you to want me. 

I want to love you. 

Imagine the world where we are all concerned with what people think of us and if they like us and how much better we feel when they do love us and how we don’t want to have to actually be in our bodies but rather parade them around looking perfect.

Oh wait. Right.

We live in the world. You and me and all the other pots calling the kettles black.

We get to create what the experience is like for ourselves. I want to love you. I don’t care if you like me. 

Except that’s a lie and we all know it.

We care.

I care.

How about this: I want to care less.

I want to care less about the things that don’t matter and the people who don’t love me back (there will always be some so get over that now.) I want to care less about who is loving me and more about who I am loving.

We live in the world. There’s not much we can to to change that fact except not live in the world and that choice seems grim. We live in the world and we live in our bodies and the capacity to love is great. It’s so great that we don’t even have to do anything about it except acknowledge it and ask it to sit down for a glass of wine. It has a dog’s nose and can smell shit a mile away so don’t worry about that.

Your capacity to love is so great that it will carry you through most things in this world.

 

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts March 3-5, 2017 for a weekend on being human.

 

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com to register. June 17-24, 2016 or Sep 9-16! Click pic of info.

 The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on November 30th. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.


The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on November 7, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

 

 

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being

Ring in New Years 2017 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being

 

Featured image by Simplereminders.com.

 

 

 

 

healing, loss, writing

In Case You Also Hate Goodbyes.

February 11, 2013

I haven’t had that many goodbyes to speak of, but I can tell you straight off the bat that I am not a fan.

They feel final and long, drawn out. Overdone. Severe as winter and hard as bone or something like that. Something that can’t be chopped into smaller pieces or fed to the dogs. At least the goodbyes that I have known were like that. Awful in their lack.

I have never stopped saying them either. Goodbye to my father, goodbye to this or that. I am always saying goodbye to you and yet here you are.

Here you are.

Of all the people that left me, none of them said goodbye. My father, gone. Up in a whiff of smoke. Boyfriends, like they’d never even existed in the first place. Men in the ether. Friends who vanished. No goodbye, no note, no I’ll see you around. 

Last week at the airport I saw this little black girl in the back of a mini-van, hair in braids and little plastic barrettes. Her father, (I am guessing) came off the same flight as I did from Boston. He opened the back door and leaned in, up close to her face. She started to cry. She was so happy that she actually started to shake and cry.

The kind of emotion you see in those moving YouTube videos where the father returns from Iraq or Afghanistan and surprises his kid at school. He walks into the kid’s second grade class and as they are writing letters on the board he speaks his kid’s name. The kid drops the chalk and the eraser and his shoulders shake before he turns around because he thought he might be saying goodbye to his dad yet here his dad is. Right here in his classroom on a Monday in winter. He cries the happiest tears and runs and hugs his dad. The little girl in the back of the mini-van was like that boy with the chalk. Maybe she thought she’d never see her dad again, if it was even her dad, and yet here was, his big face peering into hers and his suitcase filled with presents from Boston or wherever.

I thought for sure he would climb in and sit in back with her. He didn’t though. He got in the front and turned to face her and she wiped the tears and the woman driving the mini-van drove them off. Goodbye.

The dirt river feeling in my stomach when I leave London and my husband stays back to be with his parents. That piece of the river that doesn’t move, stagnant water sleepy and half-frozen and useless as a complaint. That’s my stomach on that flight from Heathrow. Gurgling and moving the bits of trash upriver and downriver and back up again as I sip a wine and watch England fade away. Goodbye.

What if it’s the last time I see you I say out the window to England, to my father, to the men in the ether. 

What if it is? What if it is? Then what? Then what? So many questions. 

Before the men who left me slipped into the oohs and ahhs at my sudden givings over to pain, to confusion: Wait! Where is my father? (I am always dreaming of my ghost-limb, my old battle wound, gaping.)

Oh Night! Take me back! I yell often to the wing of the plane but not loud enough for anyone else to hear. Just a whisper-yell.

I want to be back in the world between the headboard and the wallpaper, where my head presses to the vent and voices from the den travel up into my ears as small as baby fists.

Sail me into time! Maybe the hot tail of a meteor or a field somewhere in South Jersey. Say 1983. 

Drop me into a world before men: the Pre-Man Era. A glitch in time before men started in on me, before their fingers started in-all over me.

Before any could leave or not say goodbye.

Goodbyes suck. They insinuate this is it. They suggest No more.

Here is an open letter saying Goodbye for all the future goodbyes headed my way.

Dear whoever you may be,

Goodbye. I may have loved you and I may not have but this here is my goodbye in case you decide to leave or die or whatever. In case you forget. In case you thought I didn’t need a goodbye. Take mine as an offering. Take this as a small gift and know that you served me in some way. Just your presence in my life did that. I hope I served you just as well. We may not be able to see it now, what the good of it all was but still. Maybe you won’t even hear this goodbye. Maybe you died in your sleep. But still. I think somewhere you can hear it. I will sail this letter off and if possible I will literally stick in into your palm. If that is not possible I will deliver it in some way, even if that means through my imagination. I will make it short and simple and easy as a summer day. Imagine that? Goodbyes like butterflies. Goodbyes like falling. Like falling into the empty space in between rifts of a song. Imagine that? Goodbye, whoever you are. In case your forget. Or I forget. And if you come back and it’s me in the back of that min-van I will cry because for the longest time I might have thought you’d never come back.

 And yet. There you are.

But in case you don’t: goodbye.

Goodbye.

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