Friday, October 28, 2011

HiYA! Keeping your love and good sense in the same place

Of all the places you expect to run into an ex that you have semi purposely avoided for approx. two years, a special public screening of The Exorcist is not the first unfortunate meeting place that comes to mind. Here was a very short and very unimportant, but cruel spirited relationship that kept my head spinning Linda Blair style for a few months afterwords with sheer confusion as to how people you thought highly of could behave so poorly, and here we are finally at the same place and the same time, and it happens to be at the "scariest movie of all time"*.  Granted, we didn't actually see each other face to face. And granted, I haven't really thought about the guy, or even actively dodged him, for well over a year now- but it makes for a good opener for this post.

It is about relationships. Well, healthy relationships. Which is ironic, because if you look at my personal history, my relationships have been as healthy as the digestive track of a small child in a third world country.

Healthy relationship, kept on track with a little karate.
When I began to seriously notice the opposite sex, almost immediately I developed a set list of goals.

1. Find a dude with a tortured soul and floppy hair (please, let's remember I was 13 when this list came into existence).

2. Make him realize that I am the
                                                      A. Cutest
                                                      B. Funniest
                                                      C. Deepest
                                                      D. Smartest
girl around. (aka The Bee's Knees)

3. Have him touch my secret. ASAP.

4. Have him declare his endless and undying love and devotion to me.

5. Then figure out whether or not I wanted to keep him around or trade him in for a better model.

Ok, so as foolproof as this list may sound, I actually did not do a lot of, well, anything in my early years. No dating, no kissing, no secret touching. Nada. Instead, I had minor panic attacks anytime a boy showed interest in me and in defense of my heart and my loins, became an unbearable bitch until their interest withered and died.

Unhealthy relationship, where nebbishy goes from sexy to needy. Eww.
Hey, don't blame the list! Not when there is so much more we can lay blame on - my immaturity, my parent's own failed relationship, my vhs copy of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet that burned a hole in my vcr, my warped reasoning that love and lust were interchangeable, with lust eventually being the deciding factor of the success of any relationship...

Perhaps it was because I judged relationships by their success. I mean, let's look at this realistically. If you base a relationship's success on whether or not they make it, then you'll never really know if you've won Love's grand prize until you or your partner drop dead without having gotten divorced or broken up. I know, cheerful right?

 It took several years of  "failed" relationships before I realized my focus was a little misguided. Instead of making sure my relationships were healthy, I was too centered on making them last, which ironically can be one of the biggest relationship killers. Anyone that has gone through a break up knows that you can often put off what needs to be said until you've already parted ways, and then it just mostly comes from a place of vengeance or anger, instead of simply trying to assert yourself and make sure you're keeping your place in the relationship, in order to keep from becoming someones whipping post.

I recently listened to a very funny old Phil Hendrie episode, where the topic was about 50/50 relationships. For those of you who don't know, Phil Hendrie is a radio host who will have special guests with outlandish and controversial views on his program, but what the people who call in to respond to the guests don't know is, Phil Hendrie is actually also the voice of the guests himself. On this show, he was pretending to be a young man about to get married and who was convinced that his relationship was 50/50. His fiance worked, paid the bills, cleaned, cooked and took care of her three year old son; his part of the union was being good looking, watching Payback with the kid and bringing some "serious lumber" to the bedroom. Of course, everyone who called in was incensed at the "guest's" gall and his fiance's stupidity and it was all very funny- but at the same time it was very real, because of how many people allow themselves to be used and walked all over just to keep the person they love around.

I have always considered myself to be a rather assertive person, to the point of tactlessness at times (although I really have been working on that over the years, I swears!) but for some reason I was a willing doormat to many a guy. If the teenage Jessica, with her school yard flirting techniques and limited experience could have seen the way adult Jessica sometimes acquiesced to such bullshit, she would busted a lamp over adult Jessica's head.

I have often expressed my love for women on this blog. I love our spirit, our unique understanding of humanity, and our strength. But when love enters the picture, it is so easy to let common sense fly out the window. Why is that?

I wish I could say that life, if you get it all figured out, is pretty straight forward, but it simply isn't. We're in a million pieces and when you're with someone, those broken fragments mix. And while one of my greatest and weirdest joys comes from sometimes not knowing whether an idiosyncrasy comes from me or from sharing my life with my boyfriend for over a year and a half - at the end day it is important to know which pieces are truly my own. Having that definite sense of self not only propels my own life forward, but it allows me to know the difference between selflessness and selfishness... and which I should choose when life asks you "what is best for you?".

Healthy relationship, with give, take and everything in between.

Having my own projects and my own interests keeps my energy and focus where it needs to be. It keeps me knowing who I am and knowing that I am not defined by who I am with. Because there is no guarantee on any relationship, knowing who you are outside of it is the most important thing to remember while you are with someone. It gives you the power to know what you want, and to stand up for it. Does that mean that I don't compromise when it is necessary? Nope, because I know being with someone takes work, but it allows me to point out piles of emotional doo turds as I see them and to not silently slip into a world where I have no definition outside of my relationship.

So why am I talking about all this? Well, a month ago I was invited to talk about healthy relationships for Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence's very first Domestic Violence Awareness Month blog-a-thon. After staring at my email in shock and trying to decide if I should laugh, cry or run and tell every boy who ever dumped me that I had been asked to share my take on healthy relationships, I realized I absolutely wanted to be a part of this. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and I was incredibly flattered to be invited to be a part of this. However, and this may totally shock some people, I am a champion procrastinator and I waited until the last minute to finally piece together all my sentiments into a somewhat easy to follow train of thought (although I have a super duper excuse of being in rehearsals and shows nonstop for the past month and a half). But I still wanted to take a moment to share this with everyone, because I do believe it is an important organization and that domestic violence is preventable. Many people may not feel they are able to, or even have the right to escape an abusive relationship, but it simply is not true. We are all entitled to our own safety and allowed to be our own unique and wonderful person- not just someones victim. Please take a moment to view the site. And then go celebrate your individuality, you wonderful creature, you!

*After re-watching The Exorcist, it is important to note that it is not as scary as I remember. For one, nothing happens for an hour. And two, it is really more disturbing than it is scary. I now think of it as a drama that goes bat shit crazy in the last hour. However, it is still a great film, kids.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Are you or someone you know being abused? Please call the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence for help 24/7 at 1-800-650-6522 or visit them online at


Charcoal Renderings said...

Thank you for sharing your insight on this subject. Apparently, Mariska Hargitay, also known as kickass detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU, was in my town yesterday doing an event on domestic violence, and I am very upset that I did not know about it until afterward, because let's be real, she's who I want to be when I grow up.

Have an awesome weekend, lady, and thanks again for sharing the love. Whoo! Healthy relationships for the epic win!

Jessica said...

Thank you! You have a great weekend too! (and Mariska is a totally awesome idol!)


Your blog is amazing and I loved this post!! I'm totally going to be following you :)

Jessica said...

Oh, thank you so much! That made my night!

Debblog said...

Wonderful post from a wonderful woman. Here I am at 153 and still struggling to find a healthy relationship. Hope springs eternal...