Break Through

They call it breakthrough bleeding –

There’s a leak in our bathroom sink
and I’ve had a fan blowing for two days,
as my aunt’s fancy kitchen towels brine in musty water.
It blows a brisk breeze on my bare calves –
my skirt billowing out around my ankles,
puddled on the floor,
with my berserk little hormones
borrowing into the floor under my feet.
My breasts hang low and drag across
the peel and stick tile
until my bloodshot eyes finally focus
and find the bleak little ray of light –
shining simply because it’s switched on.

They call it breakthrough bleeding
and I know it means I’ve lost you somewhere in this dilapidated bathroom.
You have scattered your cells across the pad floating,
there,
on the floor between my feet.

They call it breakthrough bleeding,
but it’s really a leak
and the floor’s gone soggy,
so one wrong move
and I’m tumbling down with you.
Break.
Through.

© Laura A. Lord, September 2018


Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt.

Dancer

 

You are the delicate fuchsia flower –
a tempestuous dancer frozen in the middle
of a lustrous pirouette. I found myself
stargazing in the deep purple of
your petals, as if I were watching
for Orion to slip over the knoll
and appear, there, in the soft skin
of your eyelids, closed in fraudulent
sleep. I traced the sunlight, bright
and thick as yolk, as it draped along
your leg. I passed the stain of your
birth, there, at the back of your knee
and minded the flutter your
lashes made. Your breath stuttered,
in spite of your control and I gave myself
up to your kiss – a slow drip of laudanum
that numbed my lips and set you
to dancing, again.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


All things considered, I never dated a dancer. I did have a very passionate fling with a gymnast, but it burnt out quickly. Thank you to MindLoveMiserysMenagerie for the wordle prompt that inspired some memories this morning.

Photo by Matthew Wiebe, Unsplash

Design by Book Genesis

The Beach

He woke up alone on the shore of an unfamiliar beach and
watched as the waves crashed down
like the thin, translucent skin of her eyelids.
White caps were salty, tear-stained lashes and
he laid his cheek against the smooth sand,
let them caress his face. His fingers dug
through each grainy strand and
he knew then, that he knew her well.

And when the waves receded,
pulled back from his touch to fill the void,
she screamed out –
so loud and long and low,
that for a moment
she simply disappeared and
all the was left in the space she had been
was the sound of her agony and
the salt stuck to his skin.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


Thank you to the Miniature Writing Challenge for their prompt: “He woke up alone on the shore of an unfamiliar beach…”

You Have Such a Pretty Face…

I was a tween at a friend’s house for dinner. It was my first time there. I was painfully shy and always relied on the good manners that my Mom had instilled in me. We were having dinner around an actual dinner table, which we never did at my house. So I was already feeling awkward.

I can’t remember all of the dinner, except for this one point. The meatloaf was so dry and terrible that I was drinking soda to choke it down. I didn’t want to insult the Mom by not eating it, so I forced it down my throat.

Then the problem of seconds came up.

She leaned over with the pan and her spatula ready, “You want some more, right?”

“No thank you,” I said, flashing a smile, having put my flatware down on the plate like I’d been taught.

“What do you mean you don’t want more? Just take more.” Her voice was sharp and I felt it cut into me. Everyone had stopped talking and was watching this unfold.

“No thank you,” I said again, looking down at my plate, hoping that a sinkhole would just appear underneath me.

“Well look at you, I know you eat way more than that,” she snapped and plunked more food on my plate. “Now eat it.” I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I was overweight and therefore equivalent to a human garbage disposal. I never went back to that house.

I’ve always been a bigger girl, having a growth spurt before everyone and then I just kept growing (up and out). I’ve grown used to my curves, even learning to love them. I’m more comfortable as a 30- something-year old woman than I ever was as a teen, which is generally the way it is, right?

The trend of being disrespected or assumptions made about me and my eating habits didn’t stop there. I’ve noticed throughout the years that women were more likely to tell me negative things about my body. Always the first ones to pass judgment.

unnamedShould you really be wearing a skirt? Your thighs are so big.

You would be so cute if you would just lose some weight.

If you can find a boyfriend…then I should definitely be able to find one!

It’s so brave of you to go to the beach in that. I’d never be able to if I…you know…look like…you…

I even had someone leave a comment on a Facebook pic from my birthday. I was wearing my new favorite dress, I was with my favorite man, and we were going out for dinner. My b-day cleavage was out and about like they were dessert. My grin was shining. The comment was, “You know there’s a time and place for everything…” apparently pointing out my breasts. I don’t think she would’ve left that prudish comment on a slimmer girl’s photo. It would’ve been more on the lines of, “You go girl!” What bothered me the most, was that put a pall to my evening. I felt like the 12 year old being forced to eat more food. And it made me a little sad…and pissed me off.  Then I shook myself and reminded myself that I like this tig ole bitties and not to let someone else’s words ruin my night.

The worse is of all of these is the “You have such a pretty face,” which is usually accompanied by a sad smile and even a sympathetic cluck of the tongue.

I also have a huge ass. When I sit down, you can almost rest a beer can on it. It is unapologetic as it shimmies and shakes behind me, threatening to brush up against everything that stands in our way. My thighs complete my hour glass and unapologetically display the curves of the divine. My hair is a thick and lustrous thing of gravity defying beauty. The bigger the hair, the closer to God. So we must be next door neighbors. My lips have made grown men cry and whisper pleas for ecstasy that I can bring. My stomach is soft and round, reminding me of Gaia. The world lives there. My hands can soothe, stimulate and gives me access to my life’s love: the written word.

And it’s ok the some people will never see that beauty. To them, I’m a slobbering mound of gelatin-like flesh, little more than Jabba the Hut and a reminder for them to not eat carbs. Fine.

Just shut up about it.

I’m tired of women trying to tear me down, and make me feel bad about myself. Do not try to candy-coat your disdain for my perceived bad life choices with some ill-conceived effort to help me to “snap out of it” and lose weight tomorrow.

My fat is here. It’s a part of me. I’m not just someone who is “unfortunate” to be saddled with a pretty face and has nothing else going for me. I’m a woman who doesn’t have to change to suit anyone else’s expectation. This isn’t a post about nutrition. This is a post about loving myself where I am today. If I lose weight in the future, then I hope to still love myself then. This is about acceptance, and self-love.

I’ve never understood this tendency for women to tear each other down. We should stay by each other, pillars lending strength to keep moving forward. Every time I’ve befriended big-bootied women in the past, I’ve tried my damnest to get them to love that big ass. To find clothes that fit and make them feel beautiful.

Why spend time hating; yourself, a body part, your voice, your hair (and the list goes one.)? Accept it. Find peace with it and then find the beauty in it. In yourself.  Your body is amazing. You are a thing of wonderful. Own that inner power and run with it. Be body positive. It feels good to be free.

*****

unnamed (1)Tamara Woods was raised (fairly happily) in West Virginia, where she began writing poetry at the age of 12. Her first poetry collection is available at Sakura Publishing and Amazon. She has previous experience as a newspaper journalist, an event organizer, volunteer with AmeriCorps and VISTA, in addition to work with people with disabilities. She has used her writing background to capture emotions and moments in time for anthologies such as Empirical Magazine, her blog PenPaperPad, as a contributing writer for the online ‘zine Lefty Pop, and writing articles as a full-time freelance writer. She is a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathmagician.

You can also find Tamara here:

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Bathing Suits and Birthing Hips

I have not worn a bathing suit in public since I was 13 years old. That next summer, I grew five inches in only 4 months and went from a size 0 to a size 6. I immediately realized there was something wrong with my body, something that was easily seen by holding up a mirror and looking backwards—it was right below my waist and just above my ass and it sprung out on either side like the golden arches of McDonalds.

I decided my body was misshapen and started wearing baggy clothes. No one had ever explained that becoming a woman often involved developing hips the width of Texas. The entire concept made me feel like a foreigner grasping to understand a new word. The topic of womanhood was never discussed in the den of masculinity where I was raised.

unnamed (1)

Eventually someone explained that I’d been blessed with “birthing hips.”  I could only assume this was a good thing, considering I’d been told that the sole pride of a woman was in having babies.  My Mom used to write letters of protest to churches with daycare programs because they were enabling women to work outside the home.  It was always understood that I’d eventually grow up, get married, and have my own babies to stay at home with.  I have to admit, I never really thought about pursuing a professional career or traveling because that’s what selfish women did and we felt sorry for them.  We definitely felt sorry for their children.

It took me quite a few years to realize that being a woman is not defined by any one single act or right of passage.  I’m 28 years old, I’ve never been pregnant, and I can assure you I am most definitely a woman.  If someone wants to ask me how many babies I have then I’ll list off all 17 countries I’ve traveled to.   I don’t feel that I need a man to put a baby inside of me before I can claim the honor of being a woman.  My family, on the other hand, may disagree.  My sister-in-law periodically sends me articles about how likely it is that my children will be born with Downs Syndrome.  On my 25th birthday she sent me a statistic on just how many of my eggs were dead and floating about my ovaries like the burned bits of quinoa in the bottom of a pan.

It’s not that I don’t like kids, because I do.  I actually happen to be the Best Aunt Ever.

unnamed

I’m hoping to eventually make my own babies—just not yet.  I have an agreement with The Boyfran that for every year past 32 that I don’t get pregnant, I get a new pet.  I’m currently in the market for a kitten, a baby goat, and a turtle so I figure I have plenty of time.  When I do have children, especially if I have a daughter, I won’t be passing on this limited definition of femininity and womanhood.  Being a woman is amazing—whether you’re pregnant (let’s talk about your lesbian sex dreams) or have kids (let’s talk about their cuteness) or are still trying (let’s talk about how hard that is) or have chosen not to (let’s talk about how great it is to do whatever the hell we want).  There is no single thing that ranks any of us above the others or plots us in some chart of achievement.

Watching my nieces in all their feist and cleverness makes me think we’re born with an awareness of our capacity but that its often stripped by someone who gains from our limitation.  I wouldn’t trade anything for this journey, but if I could go back and tell 13 year old Aussa what it really means to be a woman, I’d borrow a few of the same words that I plan on telling my nieces and maybe, someday, my own daughters:

 

 

*****

10259992_1461639377402038_8238494803804831722_nHi I’m Aussa. I don’t make good choices but I do have good stories.I work at a psychiatric hospital– but the patients aren’t the crazy ones.I don’t ascribe to the “Eat. Pray. Love.” mentality that flitting about the world collecting passport stamps will grant you some sort of spiritual enlightenment. I ran away from my life because I’d lost control of it and had to forcibly relocate myself to a place where no one spoke my language or knew I existed.My attorney first called me a “Hacker.Ninja.Hooker.Spy.” in the midst of a court battle against my abusive asshat of an ex.

Hacker Ninja Hooker Spy

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A Tale of Two Tracies

In elementary school, the principal is merely a figurehead.

The school is really run by a tightly knit group of women – a gung-ho group of stay-at-home Power Moms.

They establish themselves in the very first year – The Kindergarten Mom Mafia.

 

bulliesThe KMM (Kindergarten Mom Mafia) hated me.

I’m used to not fitting in.

But when you have a kid – and the other moms ostracize you – your child suffers.

And it’s BRUTAL.

 

Kindergarten is an enormous milestone.

People were actually going to take my kid for a whole day, and I didn’t have to pay anybody?

There must be a catch.

There was.

 

The school encourages the kindergarten moms to volunteer.

I use the word “encourage” lightly.

Every day there were 10 more emails asking for help with the buses, at lunch, in the art room, with the pretzel sale, at the book fair, in the school store…

Volunteering for kindergarten is a full time job. And I already had a job.

But my schedule was flexible, and my kid really wanted me there.

Plus, I was hoping to meet other mothers.

About half of the moms in the class signed up to run all the activities for the kindergarten year.

Of this group, I was the only one who worked outside the home.

 

 

I know I’m a little different from the average suburban kindergarten mom.

I dress differently.

I didn’t show up looking like some Goth Punk Princess.

Maybe I was in destroyed skinny jeans, a Pink Floyd tee-shirt, some black booties.

I’m sorry. I don’t own frocks and cardigans.

Maybe I had a little ink here or there. A tat on my foot. It’s not like I had “fuck the police” emblazoned across my neck.

Maybe I’ve led a pretty different life than most of the women in suburbia, but what of it?

I don’t smoke crack and run a phone sex business out of my kitchen.

My house is always immaculate, I’ve got good grammar, and I bake a mean cupcake. I figured I was qualified for admission to any kindergarten clique.

 

I joined the volunteer squad, even though hanging out in the lunchroom with 50 raucous kindergarteners hopped up on fruit punch and Ring Dings was about as fun as having a root canal – without the Percocet party.

And I dialed down my personality a bit.

Shut up.

did.

 

It didn’t work.

I don’t know why. I’m adorable.

And it’s not like I did anything off-putting, like referring to my son as “that douche bag.”

At least, not right at the beginning.

 

But I was emphatically denied admission to the KMM.

And just like that, my adolescent insecurities reawakened like a dormant virus.

 

In the “hierarchy of the clique,” the core members are the leaders.

The two leaders of the KMM had zero interest in me.

They were both named Tracy. Convenient, right?

I’ll just refer to both of them as “Tracy.”

The same way when I was growing up, the neighborhood referred to my entire family as “The Jew.”

 

Tracy wasn’t openly hostile to me. It was more passive aggressive.

First, she ignored my Facebook friend request, but it was early in the year so I assumed it was just an oversight.

But then I noticed she avoided any eye contact with me.

Or conversation.

This is no small feat when you’re working at a school event.

It takes talent to ignore someone sitting across from you at a kindergarten table the size of a shoebox.

 

At birthday parties she made sure I was excluded from the momversations.

She would actually turn and position her body while speaking to someone so that I was physically barricaded from the conversation.

But I caught snatches of their latest lunch escapade, or their Friday night Applebee’s adventure. I was like a kid standing outside a bakery, with my face pressed up against the glass.

Able to see, but not partake.

 

It was ironic. When I lived in Manhattan, the only feelings I had towards the Bridge and Tunnel crowd were annoyance and disdain.

If my friends and I went to a club, and there were too many badly-dressed Jersey-ites, we left.

And now I was hyperventilating because a gaggle of New Jersey housewives were going out to lunch without inviting me.

 

Because it wasn’t just about me.

All the play dates hinged around the moms who bonded.

And my own unrelenting outsider status had a trickle down effect on my son’s social situation.

If you’re a part of the “in” crowd, you get asked for play dates.

If not, you can chase a piece of string around in your backyard, alone, until you rot.

 

In this respect, I completely failed my son.

 

He was left out of everything.

 

In school, Tracy was EVERYWHERE.

Even events that she wasn’t scheduled to help at, she showed up for.

She suffered from what I refer to as CVS: “chronic volunteer syndrome.”

It’s a disease that afflicts some women who, because they don’t work or have interests outside the home, measure their lives and sense of self worth in their children and what goes on at their children’s school

 

I work with the kids of those vicariously living moms, fast forwarded to high school.

Those kids who were given absolutely no breathing room.

And those are the kids who grow up and escape their parents faster than you can say “out of state college.”

 

I tried even harder to be nice to Tracy at school events.

I never called her a bloated, culturally barren, intellectually-stunted suburban fucktwit, but maybe my innermost feelings were not as well-hidden as I thought.

Or maybe it’s like I’ve always suspected – people in a tribe can sniff one another out.

Even though I spoke and acted like THEM, I clearly was not one of THEM.

 

Of course, my friends tried to make me feel better about the clique.

“You wouldn’t even want to be friends with them anyway” was the constant refrain.

Yes, outside the kindergarten arena I would have no reason to befriend Tracy.

But I didn’t want my son excluded, punished really, because Tracy had decided not to like me.

 

My gym friends warned me, “They’re never gonna like you – you’re too skinny.”

Well, it’s not my fault Tracy hadn’t lost the baby weight – and her baby was six.

Maybe if she wasn’t living vicariously through her kindergartener by organizing the lunchroom schedule, she wouldn’t be stuffing all her unfulfilled desires with Dunkin’ Donuts.

 

“It’s because you’re Jewish,” my Italian girlfriend warned me.

Okay – next Halloween I’ll dress my son up like Hitler.

Will that help him fit in better?

 

“It’s because you’re a single,” my male friend told me. “They think you’re after their husbands – or their husbands are after you.”

Really? I didn’t want my husband. I certainly don’t want yours.

 

After speaking about this for several years, it appears that many people believe it has a lot to do with the invisible line drawn between working and non-working moms.

If so, this pointless and nonsensical line needs to be erased.

 

After kindergarten, you’re not asked to come in on a daily basis.

Thank God. 

And now, I volunteer for many events, but I’ve developed a thicker skin.

I don’t know if I have outgrown the politics of cliques or I simply do not care anymore.

 

 

Little Dude had a really rough go making friends the first couple of years.

All because of the Kindergarten Mom Mafia.

But – because he’s awesome, and because kids eventually outgrow the friends their mothers designate for them in kindergarten, he has a full social life.

That social life is HARD WON. 

He knows it. We’ve discussed it.

And I have never stopped feeling guilty for that.

 

What’s most irksome about Mommy cliques is that they’re harmful to the very children those passionately involved parents are trying to help.

 

This type of exclusivity sends our children all the wrong messages.

It fails to teach them important social and emotional skills.

Bullying has become one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school age children today.

 

Maybe the focus should be off the KIDS – and on the PARENTS.

Who do you think is teaching them to be bullies?

 

 

Do you ever feel left out or ignored by other school parents?  Has your kid been affected by this?
Should the schools be addressing the Mom cliques, and the trickle-down effect it has on our children?
Talk to me.   I’m listening.

*****

unnamedSamara is a die hard New Yorker. Every day she wakes up in suburban New Jersey, her soul dies a little more. She blogs at A Buick In the Land Of Lexus. Samara can occasionally can be found on Facebook, and Twitter. But only when she’s supposed to be working.

Turning Up the Knob on Your Humanity

Photo: Shawn Allen via Flickr
Shawn Allen via Flickr

As the person behind Gunmetal Geisha, it’s my pleasure to guest blog here. Please remember, women’s issues are human issues.

Do you roll eyes at so-called inspirational quotes and self-betterment platitudes? I know I do, which means if you don’t, you’re already a step ahead of me in terms of grace. After all, what is it to me if people find themselves uplifted where I might not? I should have the grace to summon neutrality in myself, rather than contempt, when it comes to how others choose to spread what they believe is goodness. And I’m working on it. In fact, I’m working on eliminating all contempt within myself in relation to other people’s tastes and beliefs that differ from my own. As my friend Joshua says, no need to “yuck anyone’s yum.”

Still, you can imagine how I struggled with writing a “messagey” piece, which this is about to fast become. How can I keep people from rolling their eyes when I’m about to rehash thoughts they’re subjected to from all directions, starting with trite TV sitcoms, the preaching homeless man on the corner and Twitter? I can’t. I can only show courage and risk repeating what they already know. So here it goes.

It’s simply not possible to navigate life through the twisty bends of work, finance, family and relationships without encountering bumps and stalls some of the time.

But it is possible to train one’s self to handle the rough parts with grace and dignity.

Why is this important and why do we need yet one more person suggesting it?

You know why:

You can start at the individual level and make a better world.

If I work on me, and you work on you, and we each humbly share what we find valuable with the next person, and so on, we could have a bonafide epidemic. But you know, without the pestilence.

You’ve heard a dozen secular and religious variations of the thought: Pay it forward. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It was tempting to abbreviate the last sentence and leave it as: Do unto others. But already, we don’t think about the actual meaning behind those tired words. The more we hear something, the more it ceases to have meaning. So maybe, let’s start by taking the proverbial aspect out of it and work with the simple version:

Treat others the way you want be treated.

I know, I know, I want to punch myself too. Believe me, I like to avoid saying things everybody else says. But I’m going to be stubborn and ask you to really consider what it would mean, in a worldwide sense, if every individual on the planet conducted themselves according to the Do Unto words. And let me clarify, I am by no means religious. But if you are, far be it for me to yuck your yum.

Is it possible that if we only had to go by one life rule and still prevent full-on Wild West mayhem, treating others the way we want to be treated would be the most simple and reasonable?

So why is it so hard?

Self-interest, that’s why.

Every screwed-up thing that happens in this world, whether among quarreling couples or warring governments, is rooted in self-interest.

Even when we adopt the Do Unto policy, our thought process is rarely, “If I were that guy who’s accidentally cutting me off in rush hour traffic, I wouldn’t want me to honk at myself in anger,” and calmly wave him in front of you.

It would more likely be, “That selfish asshole who just cut me off clearly hasn’t adopted the Do Unto policy, because if he had, he wouldn’t cut me off. So I’ll reign honking terror on him to remind him he wasn’t treating me how he’d want to be treated if I were him.”

Too often, instead of treating others the way we’d want to be treated, we treat them the way we assume they would mistreat us.

The problem is, our own interests are often in conflict with the interest of others. And we’re so good at twisting everything back around to our self-interest.

So treating everyone the way we want to be treated would actually involve giving their interests equal weight to our own.

This is not an easy feat by any measure, however, it’s not impossible. Especially if we all participated. Well, that part might be impossible – expecting a collective agreement from all human beings.

Or, is it?

We do, for the most part, collectively agree not to enter each other’s homes and take stuff. We do collectively agree to stop at red lights. All I’m saying is, it’s not impossible to self-implement a policy in which we at least attempt to give the same weight to other people’s interest as our own.

What if the thought of other people’s children dying on the battlefield horrified us as much the thought of our own? What if people in business accepted they don’t want be ripped off as much their customers don’t want to be? What if everyone was willing to get a little less rich because they showed more scruples? What if a stranger’s hunger caused the same sense of urgency in us as our mid-afternoon sugar-craving?

It’s not an outrageous reach to imagine our individual selflessness leading to a collective selflessness impacting why we war or how wealth is distributed.

Some may say that’s an oversimplification of global issues. But think about it, greed is simple. Even cruelty is simple.

I began speaking about gracefully handling bumps on the road, and later dragged actual traffic into it. We’ve all been the person who gets cut off or does the cutting off, and we’re all familiar with angry-driver behavior, including our own. Every driver thinks they’re in the right, honking ensues, middle fingers fly, and someone begins a drag race either to intimidate the offending driver, or to get away from the wronged one rolling up with a face of fury.

It is in the midst of this most mundane of circumstances that I had the opportunity to see the simplicity and impact of decency.

I was making a left at a busy, wide intersection. My mind doesn’t usually choose such moments to wander, but on this occasion, it did. Somehow I managed not to see the car continuing straight on the lane into which I was turning. It certainly wasn’t my intention to cut off the car, and probably terrify the driver, but I did. In fact, I didn’t even realize what I’d done until I noticed the car in my rear view mirror vrooming directly towards me. When it reached me, it angrily veered to the right to roll up next to me, which would have been my cue to take off. But instead, I found myself shocked that I had caused such a reaction in someone at all. Instinctively, I slowed down until the car was parallel to mine, at which point, I began rolling down my passenger window.

The driver was a woman and she looked almost cracked with the stress lines of anger. My window rolled down all the way and I slowly shook my head in contrite dismay. I mouthed, “I’m so sorry!” And it was from my heart.

What took place on her face was a wonder. Her face transformed from bitter rage to unexpected delight. She was immediately placated and didn’t feel the need to finish whatever sentence she had begun. Instead, she nodded with a satisfied smile and drove on.

It was that easy to diffuse someone’s rage? Simply take responsibility when you’re at fault? In other words, basic courtesy? That is as micro, mundane and individual as you can get.

And yet, it was a grand experiment regarding conditioning versus inspired reactions.

Maybe the woman would now be more patient with her kids when she arrived home. And because of that, maybe her kids would be nicer to other kids in school the next day. And so on.

Infection doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I believe allowing ourselves to experience negative emotions like disregard, spite and jealousy towards others is in our control.

In the same way, our heart has a humanity knob on it that turns up and down. It’s our choice which direction to turn it.

*****

V1Writer, fledgling filmmaker, actress. A person living life imperfectly. Those are the things I write about, especially the imperfect part, but also about ways to gain better footing on an uneven path.

You can find Gunmetal Geisha’s blog here!

Also find her on Twitter @GunmetalGeisha and Facebook!

Crab Mentality: Women v. Women

You’ve heard of the phenomenon known as crab mentality, surely.

Let me give you the literal picture.

Have you ever seen a bucket of blue crabs?

One crab, on its own, can easily climb up and get out of the bucket. However, just as this one crab reaches the rim, the edge of escape and gets a whiff of the sweet smell of a successful, freeing climb, the other crabs pull it back down – dooming the crab to suffer their collective, miserable fate.

Now, picture women as blue crabs.

Uh huh.

crab mentality

The reasoning behind crab mentality is actually pretty simple: envy and competition.

“If I can’t have it, neither can you.”

Some women are just not capable of allowing another to get ahead, to better themselves, even for the greater good. It happens in the workplace, in education, and – in my own experience – in social environments.

I stopped going to PTA meetings a very long time ago. Why? It’s not because I don’t support education or my children in their learning environment. I do. Emphatically. It was the moment I realized the room was full of women who forgot to leave their “mean girls” back in high school.

They carry their designer bags, wear their designer watches and sunglasses, and smile at each other while sharing only the stories they want you to hear. Then they retreat to their cookie cutter homes, drink wine, play bunco, and stab each other in the back. Sometimes, they even punch each other in the face for ridiculous reasons, breaking a nose.

True story.

Another day in suburban paradise. No thank you.

I’ve been out of the workplace for a very long time but found the same scenarios of envious game playing. Instead of putting a bug in the ear of a neighborhood peer about someone’s drinking problem or extramarital affair, information gleaned in a mock-sincere heart to heart, the boss is made aware and regardless of of how well one performs their duties, THAT is the information that sadly sticks.

Success and failure dictated by the company we keep is ridiculous. Why does there have to be a better or worse than? Why do we secretly (or not so much) revel in other women’s failures?

If you begin to succeed and find yourself in the company of women who continue to drag you down, it’s time to make choices. This isn’t always easy because sometimes we have to leave people we love behind. However, we need to surround ourselves with other women who, though they may not always agree, allow and respect choices and opinions, are constructive in their criticism, and don’t hold us back with back-biting, petty jealousies.

True friendship and genuine camaraderie is found when the other women around you not only support you when you are down but celebrate you when you are succeeding.

It is very important that you find out who you share your bucket with.

Men compete with brawn but will most times leave the fight in the ring, shake hands or give that ridiculous bro hug and move on.

Women are less forgiving and social isolation is their weapon of choice.

Crab mentality is real. I won’t sit here and proclaim innocence, as if I’ve never participated in the act. Unfortunately, I think it’ the nature of the beast. The curse of the double X chromosome.

However, I have made a conscious decision to do my best not to participate. As a human being, of course I envy and I’m competitive. But, I now see other’s successes as motivation to do work harder, do better. BE better.

I compliment the work and achievements I admire. These women have worked hard and who am I to demean that?

If someone is flailing I don’t revel in it. I offer to help. It’s called getting by with a little help and we all need it.

Most importantly, I try to be a role model for my children, especially my daughters. Crab mentality will never disappear but it can diminish. I’d like my girls to realize that we rise by lifting others up. Not tearing them down.

It’s time to let the crab climb out of the bucket.

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Sandy is a wife/mom/cheerleader/chauffeur/tutor/referee/psychologist/nurse to five kids: hers, his, and theirs. When she’s not on a sports field or court of some sort (or the laundry room), she can be found writing about life in it’s sordid reality at Mother of Imperfection.

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