Vlog & FMS | Funny ‘Ish’ People Say If You Have Fibromyalgia (“You Don’t Look Ill”)

Snapshot 1 (25-Jan-15 17-36)

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of interesting comments about fibromyalgia, whether directed at me or at others. Just for fun, I decided to put together a little video sketch about these experiences.

If you have fibromyalgia, then I hope you will connect with this video and have little laugh about our shared experiences.

If you don’t have fibromyalgia…then one of these character might be you. 😉

Enjoy!

Speed-Dating: OkCupid-Style

Speed-Dating: OkCupid-Style

Click. Click. Rome. Click. London. Click. Somerville. Click. Open in a New Window. Click. New York. Click. Click. Click. Milan. Click. Perth. Click. San Francisco. Click. Open in a New Window. Click. Click. Click. Click.

The faces blur into one word: No. They blur into an action: Click.

They blur into forgotten memory like many paintings seen only once. I try to assign human names to HotRod4U or CumCMe or BigTits2Day or DownNDirty or MuyCaliente or some similar thing in Italian.

I try to use my long dual-language profile to screen out unnecessary messages and sexmails, and even end it on a quasi-diatribe on exoticism.  It’s been working. Sort of.

Click. Block. Hey. Block. Wassup? Block. Got Chocolate? Block. U Busy L8r? Block. Le donne nere… Block.

I’m blocking out the words that counter my usually empathetic mind as I scroll and click pass over a thousand men with their barely-covered genitalia on display.  It’s not working.

I read Mark Manson and try to understand the male psyche. I decide it must suck balls to be male, even if they supposedly have everything.  There’s not much they can do to express themselves.  Men are should-burdened into thinking themselves to be robots, or worst still, sex machines.

Or worst still, pathetic.

It’s shocking what the internet unmasks about society: apparently, a bunch of sex-crazed, racist, narcissistic…wait, I just got a message.  It’s amazing how excited you can become when someone treats you like a human being.

Click. Profile. Click. The Two of Us. Click. Unacceptable Answers. Scroll.

  • “I strongly prefer to date people within my race.”
  • Glance up at the European-ancestors-face. Scroll.
  • “Women are obligated to shave their legs.” Scroll.
  • “I don’t mind racist jokes.” Scroll.
  • “I don’t like tattoos on women.” Click. Block.

I’m not shocked. It’s just another day in online dating, about which I have come to understand a couple of things.

  • Some men, particularly in Italy,
  • like to wear Speedos.
  • and take pictures spread-eagled.
  • Some women, particularly in the US,
  • like to wear lingerie,
  • and take pictures of their breasts.
  • ………………………………………
  • Some people don’t have faces.
  • Some people use other people’s faces.
  • Some people don’t live where they say.
  • Some people are sad to say where they live.
  • Some people are just people who are too busy.
  • Some people are people who just want to get busy.

 

Until Next Time,

D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationships | OkCupid, Exoticism & Creepy Italian Men

I am amazed.

Luckily the above screenshot isn’t from my inbox, but the messages aren’t that much off.  It’s been about a week since I decided to make myself visible to “straight people” on OkCupid.  Almost 300 profile  likes and even hundreds more messages later, I am beginning to wonder how “straight women” survive the barrage of messages I am sure they must get.

Now, let’s be real here for a moment; 300 profile likes in a week is not a significant amount.  However, according to OkCupid, as a 30-something queer Black woman, I probably shouldn’t even be getting any attention from anyone: Black, White, Asian, Indian, Native America, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and Human, whether gay, bi or straight.

So, getting that much traffic and positive responses to my profile left me…a bit baffled.

Why? Well, apparently, the general idea that some people have, whether it be OkCupid or Satoshi Kanazawa, is that Black women (and Asian men) are…wholly unattractive….to everybody.   Not only are we supposedly unattractive, or perhaps because of it, we are also unmarriageable.

Never mind the possible reasons why so many people have been dedicating their time and energy to putting us in our place…or reminding us of where they think we should be.

Never mind the fact that OkCupid overtly suggests to its Black users (particularly female) that they should add some “whiteness” to their profile to make it more appealing, because “[a]dding ‘whiteness’ always helps your rating! In fact it goes a long way towards undoing any bias against you.”

I imagine that OkCupid thinks this some sort of positive strategy. Let’s now all jump for joy! Woo hoo! It’s great faking to be White! Yay!…Not.

This brings me back to my OkCupid experience.

I make it pretty clear on my profile that I’m not really looking for a romantic relationship, just new friends and perhaps an online pen-pal or two from some culture in which I take interest (eg. Japanese and German).

I also make it pretty clear that I have zero interest in being exoticized and ask kindly to be bypassed if it is the case that the person is looking for their next “Black” conquest or “African” goddess or are obsessed by the “darkness” of my skin.

Of course, all of my warnings mean very little to the significant number of mostly Italian men who enjoy creeping on my profile, sending me messages in both Italian and broken English that add up to be the same thing:  how soon can they put their penis in my vagina.

The point is this: online dating, regardless of who (race/ethnicity/sexual orientation/etc.) you are as a woman, is no walk in the park.  

Of course, there are great people out there, who will contact you in a respectful manner.  However, there is a pretty hefty number out there who simply want to know just how good your “big lips” feel on their nether regions. 😉

Until Next Time,

D.

Remember to follow your path by trusting your instincts.

 

Relationships | Black, Female & Dating…Or Trying To? According to the Statistics, Why Bother?

Disclaimer:  All images used in this post are from the “Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism” by Rebelle Magazine. The images are a part of the “I Am, Too, Harvard” campaign, revealing the experiences faced by Black students at Harvard.

Please, visit both Rebelle Magazine and the campaign sites by clicking on the highlighted links! By the way, almost all of the pictures relate to my experience while at Stanford–I hope the students there will do something like this as well.

Also, I use the word “we” often, not to say all Black women are in agreement with me, but to express my solidarity with those who do have shared similar views.

 

 Now, on to the post!

Image from Rebelle Mag: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

 

Today, I came across the 2011 article “Why black women are justifiably bitter: The bleak relationship picture for African-American females” today.  While the article was far from shocking, it really laid out in a clear and undeniable manner the reality that many Black women face in trying to make gains in the dating market.  

Plus, the article was far more favourable than the now-withdrawn 2011 Psychology Today “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women” (links to a Psychology Today rebuttal of the argument).

The article follows on the 2009 blog post by OkCupid, “How Your Race Affects the Messages You Get,” that indicates that Black women were, for the most part, shut out of the online dating world, being the users who sent the most messages while receiving the least replies.  Black women were also the most likely to respond to messages.  Black men as well as other races, OkCupid’s statics showed, do not consider Black women as relationship material.

Feeling depressed yet?

Image from Rebelle Mag: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Well, it gets worse.  It follows that if Black women are not considered relationship material, then surely marriage is out of the question.  That is where the article comes in and eloquently explains why Black women have every right to be angry/bitter in general.  Because although we are not considered for marriage, we are surely considered for sex.  As the article points out that “7 in 10 black children are born to unmarried parents.”

Oh?  Really?

I am not surprised given the dating statistics. Of course, given the grim statistics on incarceration and African-American men, it makes sense that marriage would seem unlikely.  Nothing wrong with having had a bad moment in life and having had to go to jail/prison, but it does make getting married more problematic.

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

So, why I am writing about this?

Well, because I am frankly tired of reading the negative online commentary about Black women, whether it is about our hair, our skin colour, or weight, or our strength of character and fearlessness (a.k.a. our masculinity).

Men who have a problem with strong women, ought to avoid dating Black women, in my opinion.  Black women are not raised to be cowed by anyone.  We understand clearly where the dominant society has decided to relegate us and how some (apparently a majority) of our male counterparts view us.  (Let me not get into this statement: “black men who, according to social science data, are more likely than any other group of men to maintain relationships with multiple women.”)

 

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

We understand clearly that a good portion of our male counterparts are eager to mobilize themselves by marrying up and thus marrying light. We get it.  We get it that the kinkier and nappier our hair, the broader our thighs, the bigger our lips, bottoms and hips, the louder our voices, the more likely others will to try to shut us down or shut us up.  We get it.

The thing is…

We don’t give two cents about it.

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Unworthy men and women (for our LGBTQ population), please continue to ignore us.  Please, continue not to respond to messages. Trust me, it’s much better this way, because we won’t be wasting our time on you.  And who would want to?  I am beginning to feel really sorry for those who do.

You see, while some people may see Black women as available (sending so many messages) and desperate (responding to so many messages), the fact is some Black women simply won’t do two things:

  1. Wait for permission to say what we want, and
  2. Be impolite to someone just because we don’t like them.

Have you ever thought about that?  Have you thought about the fact that some Black women simply own our sexuality and are polite?

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Can people get beyond the need to assign to us the roles of either

  1. the gold-digging concubine or
  2. the food stamp baby-making mammy?

Can we get beyond this already?  

What? No, we can’t? It’s far too important for maintaining the status quo?

Oh, well, forgive me.  I thought it was okay to be seen as human.

Image from Rebelle Magazine: Black Voices at Harvard Share Their Experiences with Racism

Of course, this is all just my personal opinion.

 

NaPoWriMo: Day 5…Who knows…

Scongelare*

Doli agreed with me about the pleasure,

though twisted,  to be found in action-less love,

through the act of loving, not taking measure,

not caring why or how it came to be, of

 

not knowing when or where it will go, loving

simply because there is no other choice but

to love, disregarding old boundaries, trusting

the depth of time to heal any old wounds, cut

 

through the bitterness that hardens our hearts

every time we love and then lose ourselves

in that loving, that careless tossing of parts,

that ultimate destruction of self that delves

 

too deeply within us, rooting us to

the bitterness of having said  “I love you.”

 

 

(Scongelare means to figuratively unfreeze, or literally defrost)

 

[Relationships] To Rebound or Not To Rebound? Um…I don’t think we actually have a choice…

For a few days now, I have been thinking about that space in between relationships, oftentimes called the “rebound” period.  Why?  Well, because I am in it, but not just in it…

I am actually recognising and admitting to myself that I am in it.

Now, for some people, this may seem quite a strange concept.  The inevitable question is: how could you not know that you were on the rebound?

Image Found: SomeEcards.com

Well, the answer is easy enough.  I just never thought about it.  I simply lived with a kind of go with the flow mentality that led me easily from one relationship to another from the age of fifteen.

I am sure I am not alone in this.  More than likely, there are many, who just never seem to be out of a relationship or out of the dating experience.

Of course, there are some people who might say, “Hold up, D! I know you were single from years XXXX to YYYY! I was there listening to you complain!”

And while that may be technically true, i.e. that I was not in an established relationship, I was most definitely casually or seriously dating on a regular basis in between and complaining about those dating experiences…and not my last relationship. 😉

The other day, I was talking with my friend, V. about being single.  V. is about eleven years younger than I am and told me that since he had started his dating life, he had spent more time being legitimately single than not.  His words gave me a serious pause for thought…especially as I was just about to head out the door to what could be seen as a–oh, I don’t know–date.

Image Found: Fremdeng.ning.com

His words acted like a very loud warning bell, stating oh so clearly, that I needed to back up and think about what I was about to get myself into! (Thanks, V.!)

Seriously, if I were to add up all the times when I was not in a relationship and not dating in any fashion between the ages of fifteen to thirty-five, I think I would come up with less than five years (and that figure is really generous on my part).

Five years of being single out of twenty years is really not a great deal of time.  Not only was I operating on a permanent rebound status, I was also not being fair to the people who dated me, either casually or seriously.

Even more importantly, I wasn’t being fair to myself.  I wasn’t allowing myself to heal and to learn lessons from my experiences, so that I could make better choices moving forward–not that I am not grateful for everyone and all the experiences I have had.

Image Found: Examiner.com

Still, it would have been far better for me and for those who had been involved with me had I waited and sorted through the feelings that can emerge when a relationship ends, such as sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, envy, guilt, shame, and that general sense of abbandonment (even if I had been the one to end the relationship).

Instead, I found myself in many emotional tug of wars.  However, I was the one working both sides of the rope,  attempting to pull people closer to me when they seemed too far away from me at one moment, only to pull them far away from me when they seemed too close to me in the next moment.

After my conversation with V. and subsequently my therapist (yes, I have started therapy again ), I began asking myself why was it that I hadn’t chosen to remain single for long periods of time.

Certainly, some might imagine that it would be an issue of fearing being alone…but anyone who knows me would easily refute that.  I love being alone, even in a relationship. Furthermore, I rarely experience loneliness.

Seriously, I really enjoy solitude. 🙂

Julie Andrews, Sound of Music. Image Found: TheAge.com

Perhaps I thought that that was what ought to be doing, i.e. dating and “moving on with my life.”  You know, gallivanting in meadow with the magical spring weather that forces you to embrace the warmth of new love…or something like that.

I am of the mindset that it is more than likely this.

Perhaps it was an effort to “reset” my last experience, which oftentimes enough had provoked some kind of painful emotional response.  Thus, being with someone new was a lesson that intimacy wasn’t something to be feared–remember, I really like my own company and so it is easy for me to isolate.

Well, the point is that I am embarking on a journey to understand this experience of being on the rebound and also working through it.  Thus, when the time comes for me to actually have another relationship, I will be better able to understand what I want from it and what I can give it.

If you are like me or the contrary to me (actively staying away from dating and relationships), then taking a moment to pause for thought on this subject might not be such a terrible idea. 😉

Until Next Time,

D. 

[Toxic Relationships] Dr. Phil: Protect yourself from BAITERs

Dr. Phil addresses the issue of how to deal with people who may have a toxic impact on your life. Primarily, he focuses on the importance of trusting your instincts or “gut” and how to identify the different types of people who may fall into such a category.

[Reblog] Being Single is Not a Fatal Disease: Knowing Your Relationship Patterns

[Reblog] Being Single is Not a Fatal Disease: Knowing Your Relationship Patterns

“Common Unhealthy, Repetitive Relationship Patterns

Psychologists have documented again and again that victims of childhood abuse, or neglect will often seek to repeat the abuse in adulthood. There are many different patterns and themes that tend to show up again and again. Until we change these beliefs and behaviors they are bound to continue to resurface in all our future relationships with others, because as we’ve said in previous blogs, our relationships with our primary care givers is the template for all our future relationships with others.”

FMSpeak-English Dictionary: When I Say…I Mean…

6,909 distinct languages.

There were six thousand nine hundred and nine classified distinct languages in the world as of 2009.

If we add to that body language, the various dialects, conlangs (ASL, Klingon, Na’vi, and Tolkien’s many languages), jargon (legal, medical, craft, etc.) and internet speech (inclusive of emoticons and text-speak), it is possible to see that human beings have spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to communicate with one another.

Still, we manage, oftentimes enough, not to understand each other.

Even though we hardly need another language, I propose to add another “speak” to the mix:  Fibromyalgia|Speak or FMSpeak for short.

Why?  Because I realize that there is some clarification needed for certain expressions that I use when discussing my well-being.  So, I thought I would share some of my entries here.   My hope is that it will be useful (and perhaps amusing) for you.  Here we go.

The first 5 entries: 

When I say…

  • “I am tired.”

I mean…

  • “My body feels as though I do not know how I could possibly move it another inch.  My brain isn’t forming thoughts clearly.  My eyes are not sure when the last time they closed or opened themselves was.  Even if I had/have the opportunity to sleep, I can’t sleep.  I am too exhausted to move, sleep, think, talk, cry, laugh, care, be, feel, eat, drink, deal, know, want, need…Please, don’t ask me anything else about my health, because if you do, then I just might fall apart.”

When I say…

  • “I am not well.”

I mean…

  • “Every movement makes me nauseous, tired, hurt, cry, angry, desperate, and scared of what will come next.  Every thought is no thought, and I’ve probably forgotten your name or what we were last talking about when we met.  Every minute feels like I am being pierced by hot needles all over (or, if I am lucky, just some parts of my body).  My brain is splitting apart and I am sensitive to light, sound, smell, motion.  Please, don’t ask me anything else, because it will be too much and I am barely holding myself together.  I want to cry and sometimes I will…if you keep asking me if I am okay.  I am not, and you already know that.”

When I say…

  • “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I am mean…

  • “Why me? I thought I was feeling better.  Why won’t this go away?  Why can’t I get it (medication, work, relationships) right–why does my illness get in the way?  Please, don’t ask my anything else, because I won’t be able to deal.  (See last two entries).”

When I say…

  • “No, I can’t.”

I mean…

  • “No, I can’t, physically and/or psychologically. What you are asking of me is counterproductive to keeping myself well. The conditions are inauspicious.  It’s winter.  I haven’t slept in four days (literally). It’s been raining and dark for days.  Walking is a challenge–smiling, too.  I don’t want to be around others when I am like this.  I don’t want to bring others down with my illness…and you can’t bring me up, because you can’t make me better.  It’s impossible at the moment.  I mean ‘no’ at this time, this moment, but who knows about the future.  So, please, ask me again, even though I may say ‘No, I can’t.’ Okay?”

When I say…

  • “Yes, I can.”

I mean…

  • “Yes, I would like to and think I will be able to, if the conditions are auspicious, i.e. the weather is good, my stress level is low, the season is right, and I have actually slept.  I am really happy that you asked me and I want to do it–really, I do.  Please, believe in me.  Please, give me time to do my best.  Please, help me to challenge myself to do more than I think is possible.”

And so there we have it.  A bit tongue-in-cheek, but quite true for many, if not all, people who have fibromyalgia (see video below).  At some point or another, we have had thoughts like these–And I am sure that most people have had thoughts/feelings/experiences like these…the thing is that we just happen to have them more often. 🙂

I hope that these entries will help to spread more awareness and give some insight into what it feels like to have fibromyalgia.  It’s no walk in the park. 😉

People with fibromyalgia, we are strong and we show that every day.  Regardless of who we are, where we are, what we do, how we live; we are trying…and in trying, we survive and eventually thrive.

Below, I leave you with “Voices of Fibromyalgia”, the video that inspired this post.  Many thanks to its creator!


Until Next Time,

Diedré

The Bait: Do Not Take It!

Perhaps, like me, with the start of a new year, you begin going through a list of stuff that you “should” or “shouldn’t” do.  For example, I should clear out the clutter of random and unnecessary papers that have been occupying my bookshelf for the most part of the last year; or I shouldn’t spend so much time online looking at the random and unnecessary aspects of online life.

Well, I think you get my meaning.  Either way, the start of a new year, oftentimes, means a break with the old and an incorporation of the new.

So, what have I decided to keep or to let go this year?

First, I decided to keep my spirits up. 🙂  How?  By continuing the new part of self-care journey that I started towards the end of 2013.  That is, I am going to continue to work on achieving holistic self-balance.

Why?  Because I realize that I have a tendency to abandon my self-care when something or someone “more important” comes along.  As therapist, I know that this is a big no-no.  Still, in my personal life, it has not always been easy to practice what I preach.  Thus, it leads to my second decision.

"Not the self-destruct button" found at http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/4100.  I had to include this image... It was just too funny not to do so.

“Not the self-destruct button” found at http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/4100. I had to include this image… It was just too funny not to do so.

I have decided to let go of the bait(s).  Nope, really, I won’t take them, no matter the form.  Not interested. Zero percent, nada, niente, zip, zilch.  None of it!

Now, you might be wondering what I mean by bait.  It’s very simple:  it’s anything that depletes you emotionally, physically (in a negative way), mentally, or spiritually.  So, how can you spot it?  Well, here are four examples:

  • Always being a “yes” or people-pleasing person.  Think about it.  Are you the type of person, who when asked to do x, y, and/or z, you immediately say “yes”?
UnderPressure

“Under Pressure” photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Well, I like putting it this way:  if you are saying “yes” to someone, then you are, oftentimes, saying “no” to yourself.  And just why would you do that?  So, the next time someone calls you up and asks you to sit through a 10 hour back-to-back special of a watching grass grow nature show just say “no”…unless you are into that sort of thing.

  • Always being a “fixer”. Yes, really.  Do people (friends/family/acquaintances/random strangers) like to come to you with their problems?  And if they do, does your mind transform into a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It mentality.

 

"Zed" photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

“Zed” photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Because the reality is listening might just be what that person is seeking, rather than your intervention.   Or better still, ask yourself this question:  Do you have the emotional space to manage listening/dealing with someone else’s issues?

If the answer is “no”, politely back up and say, “You know, I am really sorry to hear about that, but I am not in the best (emotional/mental/physical) space to listen/discuss that with you.”

It may seem callous.  It isn’t.  The reality is that there are times when things are beyond our capabilities to manage them, and it is better that we acknowledge or limitations rather than jumping blindly into fixing someone else’s life (before they ask), especially when we have our own lives to manage.

  • Always being “right” or coming out on top.  You know what I mean. 😉 Were you ever in the debate club in high school or really enjoy being contrary just for the heck of it…or rather for the thrill of being “right” in the end?
"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

“The Revenge of Pride,” photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

 

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Do you have any idea of how much mental and emotional energy (read: capital) goes into making an argument?  Seriously, picture it!

Now, imagine using all of that energy to plan your future rather than arguing over whether something is black or white.  Find the grey already and move on with your life already!

  • Always being the “victim” or “martyr”.   It happens to all of us at some point in our lives.  You look around you and your life feels empty and desolate.  Or perhaps you are in a relationship or job that is sucking the very life out of you.  Do you find yourself looking at your life and asking yourself or anyone available questions like “why me?” or “why does my life have to go this way?” Seriously?
Breaking the Circle: Failure, Photography by Dolores Juhas ( http://www.dolores-juhas.tk)

Breaking the Circle: Failure, Photography by Dolores Juhas ( http://www.dolores-juhas.tk)

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Because it is time for a reality check.  Yes, your life may not be what you want it to be in the moment.  But you know what?  Asking those types of questions won’t get you out of the place you are in!

Instead, challenge yourself to pick up the phone and call for professional help if necessary (therapist and/or life coach).  If you believe that you don’t need that, then grab a planner and start writing down the ways in which you are in control of your life…and then what steps you would like to take next.

So, that’s my start for the New Year:  taking care of myself and not taking the bait.  After all, it is when you are most true to yourself that you can be most authentically available to everyone else.

"Black Health Is..." Found: http://cdn.madamenoire.com

“Black Health Is…” Found: http://cdn.madamenoire.com

Also, please, remember that you are never alone.  Someone out there is walking a similar path or has walked it.  Someone out there is willing and available to help you.  You simply have to want it and reach out to accept it.

Until Next Time,

D.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue. 

You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her:d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog athttp://themax.bloger.hr