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#lifestagesThere’s No Scrapbook Page For This

12 comments | December 13th, 2011

oh

(story by Mir, a Chestist, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda) I have kids, you know. Two of 'em, one in each flavor. Being their mom is almost always my very favorite job, and I of course am trying to raise them "right," by which we understand "right" to mean "healthy, happy, and generally kind to small animals and other humans." To me, the most interesting thing about raising small humans is how the experience causes you to reflect on your own upbringing so repeatedly. I mean, really, who needs therapy when you have children? For whatever reason---maybe it has to do with some recent events--I've been thinking about our various notions of body privacy and such. How we as a society view these things, and how I was taught about them, and how I teach my kids about them. See, my kids have been taught that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. They've never been taught that anything about their bodies are "bad" or "nasty" or anything. I've used, I think, very ...

#lifestagesSurvivor’s Pride

10 comments | December 5th, 2011

chestist blue

(story submitted by Matsu, a Chestist)

Her story is equal parts horrifying and inspiring.  It begins here:

I used to joke that getting married was something my mother would do for fun on weekends. 

She was a child of the 70's, whose own mother ran with greaser boys and regularly flipped off social norms and had a joyfully combative relationship with her husband. Maybe un-choosing that for herself, my mom decided that she wanted a 1950's marriage in the 1980's, and ended up in a series of marriages and years-long relationship searching for one that fit her ideal.

It was her lifelong dream: to have a husband she could rely on and children she could care for, a stable family in a stable home. But the longer she went without finding it, the more she relaxed her standards.  After her second divorce, she was a lonely and vulnerable single mother of a preteen daughter who, she thought, needed a father at a crucial time in her life.

So she found one.

Her third husband was abusive, but intelligent and trained to read the reactions of others. Like most abusers, he ...

Love & SexTogether

8 comments | December 2nd, 2011

together

(by OOC via TheGirlProject)

We first bumped into these amazing images of teenaged girls a few months back, all of which can be found in Please Read (If At All Possible): The Girl Project, by Kate Engelbrecht.

Since we both like a good cliche and happen to believe that a picture can actually be worth 1000 words, we'll be featuring a handful of images from the book over the next week.  We're hoping you'll share with us what words (even if not 1000 of them) come to mind...what they make you think of, and how they make you feel.

Our first reactions here @OOC HQ, will serve as the titles for these posts.

To check out more of The Girl Project and Kate's work, please also check out:

http://thegirlprojectblog.blogspot.com/

http://www.pleasereadifatallpossible.blogspot.com/

#bodiesHow Much Do I Weigh Now

8 comments | December 1st, 2011

ona scale

(by OOC via TheGirlProject)

We first bumped into these amazing images of teenaged girls a few months back, all of which can be found in Please Read (If At All Possible): The Girl Project, by Kate Engelbrecht.

Since we both like a good cliche and happen to believe that a picture can actually be worth 1000 words, we'll be featuring a handful of images from the book over the next week.  We're hoping you'll share with us what words (even if not 1000 of them) come to mind...what they make you think of, and how they make you feel.

Our first reactions here @OOC HQ, will serve as the titles for these posts.

To check out more of The Girl Project and Kate's work,

please also check out:

http://thegirlprojectblog.blogspot.com/

http://www.pleasereadifatallpossible.blogspot.com/

#lifestagesBecoming A Highly Educated Housewife

3 comments | November 30th, 2011

chestist sad

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

When we first got this story from one of you, we were so struck by her understanding and insight into herself. We've no clue if she's being unfair to her, as so many of us are to ourselves, but here are her words and her story:

I'm clinically depressed and have been since I was a child. Treatments don't really seem to work. I am unreliable. I can't really control myself. Sometimes I'm nice and generous and productive, but it inevitably lapses into flakiness and sadness and paralysis. Somehow I've gotten into a good doctoral program, but I'm not doing well in it.

I'm graduating this year, and starting to apply for jobs. I don't mention my mental problems, which feels like a great deception. For the jobs I am looking at, no one would hire me if they knew how erratic I am. I literally shouldn't get these jobs. I feel like the only work I am perform reliably is some sort of migrant shift work, or perhaps just NOT work.

I'm increasingly considering becoming a highly educated housewife, except that I can't ...

#lifestagesPutting Away the Claws

16 comments | November 29th, 2011

claws

(story by Mir, from WouldaCouldaShoulda, a chestist)

When I was little, I wanted long, pretty fingernails like my mom's (hers were very long, and always brightly painted). I was sure that they would make me beautiful. But I was kind of a rough and messy kid, and often as not, I had a couple of longish nails and eight ragged ones that were broken or chewed or both.

I wasn't very big, and I wasn't very strong, but at some point---maybe the first time was an accident, even---I learned that sinking my nails into the arms of another kid who was bothering me was a surprisingly effective weapon. All I had to do was grab and dig those sharp nail tips into soft flesh, and whatever problem I'd been having was going to run away crying in very short order.

It didn't take long to figure out that this wasn't a terribly stealthy way to misbehave. When the wails of discontent were countered with, "What happened??" it only took a single, "MIR CLAWED ME!" for my fate to be ...

#lifestagesAt Least He Listens

7 comments | November 28th, 2011

me and a friend

(by OOC via TheGirlProject)

We first bumped into these amazing images of teenaged girls a few months back, all of which can be found in Please Read (If At All Possible): The Girl Project, by Kate Engelbrecht.

Since we both like a good cliche and happen to believe that a picture can actually be worth 1000 words, we'll be featuring a handful of images from the book over the next week.  We're hoping you'll share with us what words (even if not 1000 of them) come to mind...what they make you think of, and how they make you feel.

Our first reactions here @OOC HQ, will serve as the titles for these posts.

To check out more of The Girl Project and Kate's work, please also check out:

http://thegirlprojectblog.blogspot.com/

http://www.pleasereadifatallpossible.blogspot.com/  

#bodiesI Cut Myself

4 comments | November 17th, 2011

black explosion chestist

(story submitted anonymnously, by a Chestist)

We're guessing this was sent to us by you, one of our younger Chestists.  We're old enough here 2OOC HQ, that we don't recll cutting being anything anyone we knew gorwing up did.  Now it seems almost epidemic...whether it's physical cutting or emotional cutting.  Here's a story from one of you:

Every morning, i wake up feeling terrified.

I get scared.

I get worried something bad is going to happen.

I  feel invisible, and a waste of space. I guess i have gotten to an age where you start realizing things.

I cut myself, hoping that i will get attention. Obviously, not. After a counselor called from the school, i was a bit overwhelmed and worried that this was it. My mom was going to find out, and i was going to die.

On the bright side, i talked to a psychiatrist. Then from there, they told me that i needed extra help, so my mom took me to see a therapist.

I'm actually very thankful for all the support i have been getting. Although this is killing me inside, i know that this ...

#lifestagesHer Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

5 comments | November 16th, 2011

chestist threads

(story submitted by Euna, A Chestist)

This is one of those stories that reminds us all that no matter how dark today, tomorrow's always around the corner.  Let's get right into this,  sent us some months back by Euna, a chestist and one of you:

When I was 11, I started cutting. Stupid, I know.

When people think of a cutter they see an emo kid listening to The Cure slicing into their wrists saying, "No one understands me!" For me, I was just a normal kid. I realized, with a pair of scissors, how amazing the blood looked as it trailed down my finger. It was an accident at first, but I continued to do it. I became obsessed with the pain, because it filled some infinitesimal hole I felt had burrowed it's way deep into my heart.

By the time I was 13, I had multiple scars on my arms and legs. I fell into rapid depressions that would last for days at a time, and I hardly ever went to school. My teenage years were filled with these depressions, as well as periods of ...

#lifestagesEffing Rumors

3 comments | November 14th, 2011

mean girls

(story submitted by Kylan, a Chestist)

Message Body:

When I was 14 years old, my best friend decided to spread rumors around my whole school about me. Saying I had slept with some guy I just met, got pregnant, then aborted the baby. I did NONE of those things.

But the school believed the rumors, I guess lies were more fun then the truth. Girls we yelling at me, punching me, spitting on me, calling me names.. boys where sexually harrasing me, pushing me into walls, calling me names. I got really depressed with no friends and the school hating me. I grew suicidal.

Then I started talking to a counselor and got help. I was a victim of girl on girl meanness, and I'm not the only one. But I am one who survived it. And i say that lightly. Although I am ok now, I remember what state I was in. Life's tuff for everyone, no girl or guy has to make it tougher for anyone. No one deserves it. never will.  {end story.}  

Remember that old "sticks and stones may break my bones but words ...

#lifestagesIt Sucks Growing Up

5 comments | November 12th, 2011

50s chestist

(submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

There's a song that sings "the first days are the hardest part."  Unfortunately, for a lot of us, the first days can last all the way through High School.  They did for her:

It sucks growing up. It sucks even more when you're a girl who *gasp* dared to like learning and had the nerve to be intelligent. That was me through high school. Shunned because I actually use my brain and enjoy it. I have never been so relieved as when I got to college and found other people like me.  {end story}

Were school days hard for you; were you one of the cool kids; or did you just float through as if on a lazy river? 

How do you think those days influenced who you are now, if at all? 

Any advice to share with those going through it (whatever it is) now?  Go on, break out that yearbook, let's revisit the past, and #discuss.  XO

 

#lifestagesPutting ‘em in Their Place

19 comments | November 8th, 2011

boom

(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda)

I have a soft spot in my heart for bullies. This wasn't always the case, of course. Nor am I some sort of Mother Teresa figure, now. It's just that time and age have taught me that happy, fulfilled people don't behave that way. People are mean because they hurt. As a theoretical concept, I sympathize. As an actual---say, as a kid beating up on my kid---well, my patience isn't quite so great. But I try.

Me, I was bullied as a kid. But the truth is that I also was sometimes the bully, myself. There is something intoxicating about having the power to wound someone when you, yourself, have been badly damaged. I get it. As a child, you don't think it through that way, of course. All you know is that it feels powerful. Just like all you know when it's being inflicted on you is that it hurts like hell.

This insight---if you can even call it that---came long after 99% of the situations wherein I needed it. My ...

#lifestagesBehind a Mask

14 comments | November 1st, 2011

mask

(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda.com)

Happy day-after-Halloween! I trust everyone is nursing a fun-size sugar hangover, as is practically mandated by law. I remember the first year I realized that parenthood meant I could sneak my kid's candy. Bonus!

Of course, Halloween got me thinking back to my own childhood, back before all costumes were either too slutty or too scary. When I was a kid---back in the 70s, you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth---costumes were purchased from places like KMart and consisted of one flimsy plastic smock and a matching thin plastic mask that covered the entire face and secured around the back of your head with a piece of elastic. If you didn't want a costume of the plastic-smock-and-mask variety, you could of course put together your own version of a witch, hobo, etc., if you were inclined to make your own.

I loved the plastic masks. I have a vivid memory of the year I went as Raggedy Ann. Nowadays, if you want to buy a Raggedy Ann costume (notice how I'm skipping right over how probably no one even knows who she is, anymore), ...

#bodiesSay Cheese

50 comments | August 30th, 2011

cheese

(story by the amazing @MIr from Woulda Coulda Shoulda.com)

A few years back, my mother gave me my baby book. Inside I found twelve years of school pictures, and with them I could make a virtual flip book to page through my formative years. I could watch my hair go from short to long and back again. I could watch my wide, happy smile go from baby teeth to a jumbled mixture of permanent and temporary teeth and then... my smile disappeared for a while. It returns---post-orthodontia---at the end of high school. But even then, it's different.

It's not just that my teeth are straight in the later photos, either. You can see that I don't smile as widely or easily as I used to. The unselfconscious glee from my early days is just gone.

There's an argument to be made that very few of us retain our happy-go-lucky "oh yay, a camera! LOOK AT ME!" joy past kindergarten. Age and maturity mellow and dilute our enthusiasm, of course. But for me it wasn't just a getting-older thing. It was a growing awareness of my teeth and how prominent they were.

"Don't ...

#bodiesToo Young

9 comments | August 29th, 2011

new chestist

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

My 11 year old daughter asked me for an underwire bra the other day! She's starting to develop and wears cute, appropriate little bras that provide some coverage.

 

I explained that underwire (like a cellphone) is a need, not a want. When the need is there, I will review it and make the decision. Just because your friends all have the thing, doesn't mean you have to have it too.

 

Of course, I remember having the same discussion with my mom. Turns out, I STILL don't need underwire! I've seen some "teen" bras that look like something from the old Fredrick's catalog. [end of story.]

 

You ever have to wrestle with your mom (or dad) about wearing something you thought was the look - which they didn't see the same way?  You ever have the experience of not letting your kid wear something they wanted to because you didn't think it was appropriate for the age or occassion?  Where do you/will you draw the line?  Our battles with fashion are hard enough when they're just us against our clothes.  Total buzzkill when kids and ...

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