Twenty seven days until this book enters the world. Here’s what readers are saying.

by renegademama

Friends, I AM SO FUCKING EXCITED. My book comes out in 27 days. Twenty-seven of them. Less than a month.

That’s why I haven’t been around much. There is a lot to this “book launch” thing. Who knew?

I have written quite a bit about this memoir – here, on Instagram and Facebook. I even made a video about it. So today, I’m not going to share more of what I think about it. (In case you’re new here, it’s a memoir on motherhood and alcoholism. I am both the mother and the alcoholic.)

Instead, I’m going to share what early readers are saying, because I’ve been waiting for this for, oh, I don’t know, TWO FUCKING YEARS?

You all are the reason I kept writing, or even started, for that matter. Though I didn’t know you existed, I wanted to find you. Your opinions mean more to me than the fancy book reviewers – although, let me take a moment to thank them for the positive reviews, too, because jumping off a bridge sounded like an unfortunate plan. Whew. Dodged that bullet. Am I mixing my metaphors?

It’s fine. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I am completely stable, a stable genius, even.

Lord help us all.

My point is, we write to connect with people. Well, I do, at least. But writing is a solitary act. I wrote most of my book locked in a motel room with nothing but Thai food and cacao bars and coffee. So you write it alone, and then you put it into the world and pray it will resonate with people. Not everyone on the planet. Just some people, deeply. That’s what I want, at least.

Anyway, here are some excerpts from reviews from readers, and if you need me I’ll be in the corner trippin’ the fuck out in gratitude and relief and – dare we say it? – joy.

“It is delicate at times and raucous at others but it carries us through her journey in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. It is not a self-help book, it is not a good mother’s guide to recovery. It is broken down and raw and searing and at turns it is joyful. It is a glimpse, no, a wide-eyed look into what makes us human…I finished it last week and it hasn’t left me.” – Amy S.

 

“It’s the story of a woman who, despite so many things, managed to pull herself out of the deepest of pits… She tells us things that many would never EVER admit to, and that’s part of what makes this book so heart-wrenching. There have not been many books in my life (if any) that have made me ugly cry, complete with snot running down my face. This book broke through my stony heart and made me feel so many things. The love of family, the desperation and heartbreak of losing them, and somehow finding the strength to change herself for the better.” – Paige

 

 

“With incredibly raw candor and humor, Hanchett takes us through her journey into the cringe-worthy bottom of addiction and back up, where she finds herself still struggling daily, still bored. If you’ve ever gotten to that place you wanted to be (married, dream job, homeowner, whatever) and still found that life is often hard, boring, and contradictory, then this book is for you. This is a story that embraces ambiguity, paradox, and the unknown like nothing I’ve ever read before. – Jen

 

“Janelle Hanchett’s memoir held me hostage while reading because I could not put it down. Housework piled up, my family ate takeout, nothing got done until I turned the last page (and what a last page!) of this heart-wrenching, perspective-altering book. Every chapter tells nothing less than the absolute truth in gorgeous, straight-forward, astonishing prose. Her explorations of her life in addiction, her difficult childhood, and her struggles in motherhood are unflinchingly honest. Many times while reading I thought that this author was seeing right into the heart of me even though our experiences have been very different. This sense of recognition across human experience is, to me, the mark of a highly successful memoir.

In fact, I’m Just Happy to Be Here is one of the finest memoirs I’ve ever read.” – Maureen

 

“Took my breath away… It’s raw. It’s real. Just when you think you know where it’s going, you find out you’re wrong. It’s a bold memoir. Janelle is unflinching and fearless. She stares herself straight in the eye and then generously shares her story with us.” – Sarah

 

“I am in awe after reading this book. Anyone who has read Janelle’s blog has gotten a taste for the irreverent sacredness of this woman’s life and writing. Her blog is fantastic. Her book is even better.” – Katie

 

“It’s so deeply personal, at times I felt like I should look away as she is someone I feel like I know from her blog. It’s also really funny – her perceptions and writing style are smart and wry. I laughed and cried all the way through this book…I keep thinking about it, even though I finished it a week ago. This is one I’ll read again.” – Denise

 

I mean, I can’t speak. It was hard posting this because it feels a bit self-congratulatory – like hey, hi, here is a wall of praise for my writing – but I had to share the words of the people for whom I wrote this book. It means everything to me, and I can’t believe this thing enters the world in 27 days – on May 1. That is no time at all.

If you preorder it now, it will be in your mailbox one month from today. You can do so on Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble (and other places). You can also request that your local library order it. I would be super grateful.

And, I am very fucking excited to tell you that if you preorder it, or already have, I will send you a full chapter that was tragically cut from the book. 

It’s called “I Can’t Even Be Fat Correctly.”

That’s why it’s tragic. How the fuck does a person cut a chapter called “I can’t even be fat correctly?” I laughed for ten minutes when that shit popped into my mind.

But it didn’t fit. Such is writing. Kill your darlings, et cetera. But I knew it wasn’t going eternally in the trash, and I thought this was a perfect chance to get it to you.

So yes, email a screenshot or confirmation number of your purchase to fatcorrectly@gmail.com (WHAT?!) , and you’ll get that chapter. 

I am, also, of course, encouraging preorders because they really help out authors. So if you’ve been holding off on ordering, I would be infinitely grateful if now is time.

I hope with my whole heart that you like this book as much as the early readers. I cannot thank you enough for your support the past eight years, and I will be posting tour dates (mostly West coast, – I gotta get to NYC DAMNIT), so I hope to meet many of you.

This is all a goddamn dream.

Really fighting the urge to say “I’m just happy to be here.”

DON’T DO IT JANELLE DO NOT.

But it’s true though.

***

PREORDER I’m Just Happy to Be Here now and I’ll do a pole dance in a Facebook live video to a Bon Jovi song.

That was a lie. I’m not doing that.

Nobody wants to see me do that. 

9 Comments | Posted in what the fuck is a writer | April 3, 2018

Why aren’t we talking about parenting teenagers? I’m lost AF.

by renegademama

Can somebody please explain to me why we aren’t supporting the hell out of parents of teenagers?

We have pregnancy groups, newborn groups, baby groups, toddler groups. All the mommy groups. Of course, who knows if those are good for much beyond increasing insecurity and vague shame, but whatever. At least there’s a place to go to meet other parents sitting on the outside of the group wondering what the hell is going on.

There are endless articles and forums – again, most of which are useless – but still, they offer a sense of everyone going through the same shit.

I have a teenager and a near-teenager and I’m going to say something really loud so it’s really clear: Parenting a teenager is the hardest, loneliest, most emotionally trying phase I’ve ever experienced as a mother, and by far puts the biggest strain on my marriage, and our family as a whole.

There. I said it.

And it’s LONELY. Did I mention that? Because there seems to be an expectation or idea that the kid is “already raised,” that they’re “done.” That since they can bathe and dress and feed themselves, parenting them isn’t as difficult as caring for a newborn.

Of course this isn’t Parenting Struggle Olympics, but I have to say, in my experience, newborns don’t have shit on teenagers. Okay, they may literally have shit, and newborns are physically more exhausting, but when it comes to emotional and mental toil, teenagers have proven significantly more trying than those tiny bundles of squishy milk breath.

And here’s why: Setting aside postpartum depression and anxiety, newborns are relatively simple. They’re difficult, but overall, kind of simple. They need clothing, holding, feeding, changing, bathing. It’s an incredible amount of work, but it’s a clean difficulty, a straightforward work, and if we surrender, and stop trying to control the little monsters every waking moment to FIT INTO OUR EXCEL SPREADSHEET OF BABY, we settle into a little groove.

And oh, they offer so much in return, and so immediately: Smiles, coos, new developments every damn week. Baby breath. Chubby thighs. Their little bottoms in the air when they sleep. Omg I want another baby.

And babies, well, they tend to not go for the jugular.

I can’t recall a single time my infant said a thing that touched my deepest insecurity as a parent, a personality trait I’m ashamed of, a real flaw I have that is suddenly being held against me by a human whose cell phone bill I pay for.

I can’t remember a time when my newborn pushed my button so hard I texted her father and said, “I’m kicking your child out of the house today, so say goodbye.”

They are complicated, these teens. They are mercurial things with a sense of what about me that defies all reason. Your whole day can revolve around a teenager’s activities, needs, and wants, and at the end of it, if somebody does something that doesn’t align perfectly with the teen’s idea of what he’s owed, he’ll look at you and scream: YOU DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT ME and slam the bedroom door.

Leaving you wondering what, exactly, you just did all day if not demonstrating my care for you.

 

Even when they’re in a good mood, they’re a lot. Talking constantly about themselves, or not at all. The former is exhausting. The latter causes great worry that they’re smoking meth under a bridge while selling illegal porn to minors.

Mmmkay.

Teenagers can clear a room in 30 seconds with their attitudes. And about the most immature shit. They look so much like regular humans, but then you see them entitled and arguing with a 7-year-old or toddler or getting pissed because the family movie isn’t the one they wanted and you’re like: Would you please make a decision: Are you 16 or five?

Yes, these teenagers are going to need you like no kid has ever needed you, and they’re going to need you no matter what else you have going on that day, or how badly you need to get out the door, or how many other kids need you.

Sometimes, I spend so much on my teenagers, I have nothing left for my other kids. My husband and I fight. The little kids get forgotten. There’s a lot of guilt there, for me. The teenager tantrums fill the house with a gray, heavy angst. We all feel it.

And then, when you try to point this out to said teenager, they defend themselves with their last breath and just can’t see their own attitude while they roll their eyes and talk to you like a rat the cat just dragged in. It’s dizzying, and you wonder if you seriously fucked up somewhere.

 

But that’s not all, and this is the part that makes the whole thing so excruciating: They are these soaring, powerful creatures who you look at sometimes and cannot believe they’ve grown so strong, so whole, so complete in themselves. You see them standing against a wall, doing nothing, and the way their body holds their fire – you can feel it, the way it fills space in the room, pushes against the world with all the hope and newness and life you once had.

They are your past, and they are your future, and the days are so numbered. A glimpse of your own mortality. A glimpse of what you could have done at their age, when the world was yours to conquer.

The pain I feel looking at my child and knowing she’ll be gone in a couple of years, that the magical “eighteen” is right around the corner, the one I saw when she was a newborn as a distant fantasy that could never possibly come – when I held her in the crook of my arm and she seemed she’d always be mine – yeah, well, it’s almost here.

She’s pulling away, and walking away, and the end is right there.

We text. We talk shit. We send messages to each other on Instagram. She legitimately makes me roar in laughter and beam in pride. These kids are remaking the world. They’re loud, critical, politically informed, and know how to use the motherfucking internet. Their voices are roaring and they will be heard.

And…one of them just screamed at me for requesting they do the dishes.

I don’t know how to parent teenagers. I don’t know how to hold myself up in the face of their scorn – some of which, let’s be real, is valid. It’s a swallowing of my pride when I know they’re right, when they point out my own hypocrisy or irrationality, and I owe it to them to say, alright, you’re right. And I owe it to them to stand my fucking ground when they are wrong, and to try again and again and again and again to address the character flaws in them I know will cause them pain, to smash the entitlement, to teach them to work. To teach them to love. To teach them never to leave the house without saying “I love you.”

This is the complexity that sits in me and I feel alone. To shift from a rage I never knew was possible toward one’s own kid to a sadness so deep my bones ache at the thought of her leaving – once again, nobody prepared me for this shit.

And I suppose that’s really it, what feels so different about this stage: That when they’re newborns, we look ahead and we see so much to come. We see toddlers and preschool and grammar school. We see so much time.

But now, I look ahead and I see an end I never want to arrive. I wonder if it’s already here. I wonder where the time went, beg for it back, and watch her move through the world with a power I recall from when it was mine.

I suppose the answer, again, is in the surrender, and I suppose I’ll find it, again, because there is no choice, and ultimately the mother’s job is in the letting go.

 

a scratched-up photo of my first kid and me, when there was more time

 

*****

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The three-year-old explains how to do mornings without pissing him off

by renegademama

Hey, Mama.

Look, I know you raised three toddlers before me, and I’m sorry it’s come to this – truly, what is wrong with you – but I’ve noticed you really suck at meeting my needs in the morning. I’m a giver, though, so I’m going to tell you how to stop being awful.

I’ve broken this down by topic so your questionable brain can comprehend it better, and you can use it as a sort of reference sheet when you grow confused, which, as far as I can tell, is often.

Waking up:

Thanks for letting me crawl into your bed at 2am to use daddy as a pillow and you as a footrest. I like that. Please don’t wake me up, though. I don’t like that. If you wake me up, I will either be so fucking adorable you could cry, or I’ll behave like a weeping squirrel on methamphetamine.

I like to wake up when I wake up, which is usually 6am, unless you have to be somewhere, in which case I like to sleep longer than I’ve ever slept in the entirety of my life.

Getting dressed:

I like pants with “soft stuff” inside. Nobody knows what that means but me. I hate some clothes, a lot. Which clothes I hate changes daily, but you’ll know if I hate it because when you try to put it on me, I will throw myself onto the ground with my face on the carpet and bottom in the air. This is because your sartorial choices are so awful they cause me physical pain.

Like bowel cramps. That’s why I’m writhing.

Also, the person I want to get me dressed is whoever isn’t available. Daddy is at work, you say? Well, he’s who I want to dress me. Since he’s not around, I will refuse to get dressed.

If not him, I want the teenager who already left for school.

Third-tier choice: The 7-year-old, because at least with her I get to laugh a lot and everything takes nine times longer than it should.

Lot of motion, no progress. That’s the way I like it.

Basically I want anyone in the world other than you to dress me because I hate you and you’re always rushing on account of your shitty planning skills, which aren’t my problem. I hate rushing. I AM THREE.

Brushing my hair:

I will never know who’s fucking idea it was to grow my hair out. What are you? Hippies? Hipsters? You’re almost 40. Pull it together. I hate my hair. I hate that you think you need to brush it. I only like daddy’s beard brush. I can’t believe my father has a beard brush.

The reason I like it is because it’s boar bristle and therefore does absolutely nothing against the wads of dried whatever the fuck is in my hair.

The best thing for you to do would be to NOT TOUCH MY HEAD EVER but look, I’m reasonable, so I’ll settle for an iPad in front of me and unbridled wailing while you attack my head with small, ineffective bristles.

Breakfast:

I hate breakfast, unless you don’t feed me breakfast, in which case I feel starving, downtrodden, and abandoned, even though daycare feeds me breakfast. Once you feed me breakfast, though, I remember I hate it.

So what’s best is that you make me food then let it sit at the table so I can reject it.

Shoes:

I prefer shoes that do not fit the season. In the winter, I like sandals. In the summer, I like rain boots. I’ve observed you’ve gotten on board with the summer rain boots but really hold fast to this “your feet are going to get cold, honey” nonsense.

Fine, I’ll wear closed-toed shoes, but only the pair that has one missing. Oh, you can’t find it? Look harder. I NEED THE ONES THAT ONLY HAVE ONE, Mother. And I need to put them on myself, which I don’t know how to do.

Jackets:

Fuck jackets.

Carseats:

Fuck those too.

Lunches:

I need a lunch like the other kids even though a wonderful woman named Amanda makes me home-cooked lunches every single day and you pay for it. And I need three items in that lunch. If I spot sweets, I need three sweets. You never let me do this. This enrages me. If you would just give me the three sugary items in my lunch, I wouldn’t have to remove the shoes that just took me ninety minutes to put on the wrong feet.

Walking:

Sometimes I will walk to the car or up to the door at daycare. Sometimes I will tell you, “My legs deflated,” and collapse in a pile on the sidewalk.

I ain’t mad. My legs just deflated.

The car ride:

I like to listen to The Greatest Showman soundtrack with my lunch in my lap, or I like to scream about how you fucked up my morning again. There are just so many details you forget. Stick to this reference sheet, JANELLE, and I’ll just sing, okay? I’ll sing show tunes and be the cutest little ratty-headed toddler in the world.

Like God intended.

You’re welcome.

Love,
Arlo

what sort of bullshit you gonna serve up today?

***

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29 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | February 28, 2018

In case you’re simply “managing” too.

by renegademama

February is a strange month for me. In the later years of my drinking, February was such a “strange” month that I would hit a spectacular bottom by the end of it.

I went to rehab in March 2007.

I went again in March 2008.

And then, in March 2009, I got sober, after the bottom that ended all bottoms, though it was an internal collapse that time.

A few years after that, I noticed that every year (even sober), around February, I am hit with a persistent, vague malaise.

Nothing in particular is wrong. Everything in particular is wrong.

A therapist once floated the idea of “seasonal depression.” That sounded plausible, but I’ve always been able to manage this state with exercise and eating a little better and forcing myself outside or staying inside and the steadfast knowledge that it will end, and I go through this every year.

So I don’t think it’s depression. I think it’s a yearly shithole I enter for some reason, or many reasons, which remain not entirely clear.

“Manage” it. What does that mean, exactly? Endure it to get through, I suppose.

Not die. Not drink again. Not obliterate my life some other way.

On February 8, I attended the hearing of the mentally ill cousin who killed my grandmother. I heard testimony of what happened that night. I sat in a room with him, the kid I knew as a kid, with whom I played and even lived for a while. He did not look the same. A couple times he looked back at me. I could not smile, or even nod.

On the way home, I fell asleep in the passenger seat and stayed half-asleep for two days.

And then I got some sort of ten day illness which I am not entirely sure was not a sickness caused by my shaking in that courtroom and a re-entering of the images I thought had faded in the past 14 months.

But I took antibiotics and it improved, so probably not.

“Manage.”

The Parkland shooting happened shortly after, as you know. Seventeen more babies dead. AR-15s. The NRA. The President suggesting we turn our schools into dystopian wastelands of gun-wielding ex-marines and teachers. I wonder if we should stay. I wonder if I belong here. I wonder where we’ll go.

I want to be funny. I want to write you a funny post.

It will come.

Is that how I manage? Because I know it will come again?

I know that after the greatest pain of my life, the relief has come. The freedom. The facing, and the letting go. This isn’t the greatest pain of my life. Not even close.

I think of the parents in Florida living theirs. I think of the kids who survived, the ones telling the NRA-whore politicians to get the fuck out of their way.

“Manage.”

The other day I looked over at Arlo, my three-year-old, as he was kneeling on the living room rug, carefully trying to push a little figure into a car that wasn’t meant for it, and I watched his little fingers move. Have you ever noticed the way toddler fingers move? Just these tiny hands working so damn hard, these chubby, sweet things working, working.

A task that doesn’t matter. The only task that matters.

I thought maybe it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Because in February’s defense, this is the month when I cry looking at the faces of my children, when tears come so quickly I’m ashamed of myself. Then I’m ashamed for being ashamed of myself.

I am on the edge of what my body can contain, right on the rim of my person, where every insult, every joy, every sting hits me faster, and harder, than when I’m on the inside, protected, drawn deeper into myself where the days are safer and the world kinder.

This is the month of raw nerve.

I have learned to “manage” until I fall back where life is more comfortable. And I suppose, in some strange way, I’ve learned to appreciate what this feeling is, and what it does, because like it or not the pain casts the joy in more vivid light, and the ears of my dog feel softer, and the arm of my husband feels denser, and the curl of my baby seems perfectly fallen over his eye like a weird piece of art.

And I notice it.

In thirty minutes, I’m going to leave my house to hear one of my favorite singers. I’m going to dance. I’m going to feel my body move.

I’m going to notice the cracked love and sin of his voice, and manage.

In case you’re managing too.

Here we are.

the curl in question, and the rocks he asked to “borrow from the earth.”

****

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32 Comments | Posted in mental health mental non health | February 24, 2018

I understand why women don’t run.

by renegademama

In college, I drove a white 1986 BMW 325, a gift from my stepmother when I was 17. I loved that car. It was hers for ten years, then mine, and it was small and fast and just fancy enough to make me feel like I was somebody, or would be someday.

Perhaps that little car is why I drove alone so often, to no place in particular: toward the beach after high school, or San Francisco, or the river in the summertime. Sometimes I made it somewhere. Sometimes I drove around in circles.

My college town, Davis, frustrated me because there was no beach within thirty miles, no particularly lovely river to visit. It was hot and miserable in the summer and smelled vaguely of cow shit.

But nowhere else could I find the feeling I had driving my little car and listening to my favorite tunes, alone with my thoughts, so I drove wherever or nowhere for that feeling.

One evening when I was nineteen, I bought a pack of Camel Lights and headed west on interstate 80, toward San Francisco.

I wasn’t going to San Francisco. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was listening to old live Grateful Dead tapes and feeling lost and a bit sorry for myself while the rest of the world held hands. I had broken up with my boyfriend, again. When I met him at seventeen, I was sure he was “the one.”

But he kept on being not the one, and my roommates and their boyfriends were irritating me.

Somewhere near Vallejo, just before a big hill that always made me feel like I was going too fast, like I would lose control of my car somewhere near the bottom, I saw a rest stop on my right, up at the top of the hill, and for some reason, I took the exit and parked my car. Perhaps I thought there might be a view. The sun was setting. I must have wanted to watch the sunset.

I sat on the hood of my car and looked out over the land beneath the hill – the spotted lights of a shitty valley town. I watched the sun go down, though it was nothing like the orange pink over Bodega Bay.

I smoked a cigarette, and smoked again. And maybe again, when I noticed a van parked two spots away from me with a man in the driver’s seat. He got out, walked over to me, and casually began a conversation.

What I remember about him is that he was a white dude, at least forty years old, short, small in stature, thin, with short dark hair and dark eyes. He wore jeans and a black sweater. He appeared unassuming and friendly. I do not remember what he said to me, or why I engaged with him, or how or when or with what segue he shifted the discussion to my appearance. My face.

At that age, I had straight blonde hair that fell down past my waist. I was thin and strong from riding my bike every day to my class, and swimming laps when I could. I felt attractive. I felt wanted. I liked that. Maybe that’s why I kept breaking up with the one who was supposed to be the one. Maybe I wanted to see who else would like me.

I don’t remember what the man said or how long he said it, and I don’t recall the tone in his voice or the look in his eye, so I do not and will not ever understand how he managed to work the word “modeling” into our chat, or why, more importantly, I believed him or cared.

And even more significantly, I do not recall and I will never understand why I found him to be legitimate, or forgot we were at a rest stop on the side of the freeway. I did not ask myself what he was doing there. I did not ask myself what I was doing there.

And I will not ever understand how I, an intelligent, strong young woman who fancied herself critical, with an impenetrable wall of self-defense, having grown up with a father and mother and brother who warned me about the evils of predatory men, how I, how I, grew confused.

I will never understand how he, a stranger, wrapped all of me, all I was and had ever been, into a tiny ball grasped in the palm of his sweaty little hand – a hand I could have broken. A face I could have smashed, or simply walked away from.

“You can do it,” he said. “You can model for me and I’d like to hire you.”

Did I tilt my head in doubt? Did I chuckle? Did I curl my lip in amused skepticism? He handed me a card with a phone number. Did I think that made him real?

“But what I need is to see your body.”

There. There.

There is the moment I should have left. There is the moment I should have looked for other cars to make sure I was not alone. There is the moment I should have known.

But I did not.

“Will you show me now?” He asked.

As if I were floating, I got in the driver’s seat of my fancy little car and he in the passenger’s seat and we drove to a darker place of the rest stop and I lifted my shirt, the flesh of my size 34B breasts exposed, my nipples still hidden.

“Now take your bra off,” he said.

His voice now was thick and heavy, fast and impenetrable. I was his now, it seemed. I was in some world I knew before, though it had been many years. Or perhaps it was a world I had never left, only convincing myself I wasn’t a little girl anymore, and I could fight now, and I would know when I had to fight, and I wouldn’t fall silent and complacent and participatory in my own abuse.

He was demanding, not cajoling. There was no doubt in his voice. I was his. I felt it, a snake whispering from the passenger seat, nudging me to look around.

I looked at him, and when I did, I noticed movement in his lap, a shadow in the corner of my eye, and when I focused on it, I saw, like a knife shredding the veil of my trance, his hand in his pocket, stroking his erect dick through his pants.

There. There.

I knew.

I pulled my shirt down and scanned the parking lot, aware now of the danger I was in. A car drove by the other side of the parking lot, and I loved the driver. His existence gave me power.

“Get out.” I said.

I don’t remember my tone. I don’t remember if I tried to sound big or loud or convincing.

“Get out.”

He did, without a word.

I drove away. East, this time, back home.

My heart pounded the beat of those just startled awake. When you’re in a deep sleep and a bookshelf falls or a window slams. Crash.

My skin crawled. I wanted a shower. I wanted to understand what had just happened. I wanted to erase his face, his hand creeping across his groin.

But more than all of that, I wanted to erase me. I wanted no soul to ever know. I wanted no soul to know I was that weak, pathetic, illogical – and, dare we say it? – stupid.

My daddy didn’t raise a fool. My mother showed me better. And I, I was more than this.

But I wasn’t.

So I threw the card of that man out the window and never told a soul about this moment until right now.

Because everyone right now is talking about the girls who don’t walk away. We wonder why they don’t leave. We wonder why they don’t scream fuck you and run, because some do, you know? Some of them waltz out with the fire of a thousand suns. They make sense. They are strong.

But what I want to say is that some of us were messed with as little girls. Some of us already know what it means to shut down and fold up to get through. Some of us have never tried the alternative, because we didn’t know we could, or didn’t find the power.

Maybe it’s that. Or maybe it’s that girls are taught from the moment the world starts patting our heads and putting us in skirts that we are “pretty” or we better be “pretty” and we are “pretty” for the boys, who want to have us, and we are taught that when they want us, we owe them, because we were pretty and they couldn’t help themselves, you know – it’s just the way they are.

So by the time we are in their apartment, having allowed them to buy us dinner – by the time we kissed them once – or spoke to them too long at a party or bar or rest stop, well, we led them on, didn’t we?

And now we are theirs.

We are pretty. And they want to have us, and if we don’t deliver, we are out of line, breaking the pact, fucking with the natural order of things. Blue balls, et cetera. You know. Perhaps we are used to enduring, to not liking it, to giving in. Perhaps we’ve done it countless times.

Or maybe it was just that the stars aligned in a way that night that removed my brain and voice and power. Maybe I was fucking sad and that’s it. Maybe he hypnotized me. Maybe he saw me from afar and sniffed my weakness, or maybe, I was just plain stupid.

I will never understand what happened that night. I will never understand where I went, and how he won, but I understand why girls don’t always run.

Isn’t it strange, though, that I spent twenty years wondering why I didn’t run, and no time at all wondering why a piece of shit man stroked his dick in my car, after spending an hour convincing me of his virtue?

Isn’t it strange that in my weakness, I did wrong, but in his abuse, he owes no explanation?

That, I understand, though, because I am a woman. I believe women. I believe women who don’t run. And though I wish every one of us that power, to fight and kick and fuck these bastards up, I know why we don’t, I know why we hide, and I’m telling this story to come into the light.

I didn’t ask to be harmed. He sought to harm. I failed to defend, and yet everyone – including me – is concerned with me.

And that is why we cannot run, sometimes.

 

 

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