Archives For Relationships

Krisiruth

 

I have been using Adobe programs for about three years now, which I have learned through a combination of trial and error, youtube videos and user forums.

There are a few mysteries I have not quite mastered, like how to move an image file from Adobe Illustrator to Photoshop without losing quality in the image. For some reason, it had never crossed my mind to try googling the answer, or seeking out the advice of a friend. Perhaps it was an internal stubbornness, to prove I could come up with an answer on my own, that I didn’t need others to help me.

Recently, the problem came up again on a work project and I finally typed my question into google and was presented with a simple solution.

It was incredibly easy and it made me wonder what other questions I had not thought to ask? Or what other questions I was avoiding in my life because I stubbornly wanted to find the answers on my own.

Life is no less complex than Adobe programs.

I would say it is much more intricate, and much of how I learn about myself is through trial and error, sometimes with guidance or advice.

If I am not willing to ask myself good questions, or even realize that questioning myself is necessary, I might never grow. But sit in a dormant but comfortable lifestyle.

Well I don’t want to be satisfied with comfortable.

And as I say that, I know it’s also a lie. Of course I want to be comfortable, at least in the short term. But in the long term, I want to know the truth, about myself, about my relationships, about what love looks like and what it doesn’t.

I talked to my cousin Ally about my recent experience with casual dating. How mostly it included ignoring the person I had come to know myself as, someone who valued her body and her faith and who wanted to respect those same values in others.

I knew I was ignoring these principles, when after weeks of feigning commitment to a man, I bolted when he wanted more, a title. “Girlfriend.”

Not because he was repulsive or unkind, but my first thought was “I don’t wan’t anyone to find out.” I don’t want a public proclamation because then the people who have seen me grow into this strong and self aware version of myself, will know I gave up. Will see I am choosing comfort over struggle and truth.

They will know I am running and it will be obvious I am hiding from who I have claimed to be.

Obvious I am ignoring all the things true about what I say I want. Obvious I am filling in the longing left over from the last time I genuinely let someone in. A longing carved out in me from my first relationship experience as self-aware Krisi. A relationship which ended, but left an impression on me. It taught me to speak up about what I want, in the long term and the short term.

Ally could see I was ignoring what I learned, just to be comfortable. She said,

“Krisi, you have to have the courage to be uncomfortable even if it means not getting what you want in the moment.”

This is not an easy lesson to learn.

Self awareness doesn’t do me any good if I use it for self-sabotage. What I mean is, I am very good at talking myself into believing anything, especially in the place between a half truth and a lie. I ask myself enough questions to understand who I should be, but stop short of talking myself away from comfort.

Like a casual dating relationship, no strings attached. No pain. A false fulfilling of the carved out ache.

So what does this have to do with learning how to edit an image in Photoshop?

if I practice asking the good questions in something as simple as learning how to edit a photo properly, ignore my stubbornness and seek help, maybe I will learn to do the same when it comes to the bigger, tougher decisions in my life.

How about you?

 

Krisiruth

I remember watching 20/20 when Rosie O’donnell came out as gay to the public. My sister and I were watching the television quietly for awhile, both of us under the age of thirteen if I remember right.

Kelsey, my sister, turned to me and asked, “Krisi, if I was gay, would you still love me?”

Without hesitation, I responded, “No.”

It is a millisecond of my life which will always haunt me, and I can never take back.

Although my sister is not in fact a lesbian, her ten year old remark, and my response, have set a precedent for our relationship. With one powerful word, I made it clear she would have to fit into a certain mold to be loved by me.

This is a tragic pattern and I want to break it to pieces, both with her and with others.

Before the Rosie O’donnell special, I have no memories of being specifically told not to love lesbians. Even since, there was no Sunday School lesson titled “Do not love those different from you.” It was not taught, in fact the opposite was spoken out loud. But the subliminal mockery of the gay community, the actions of my leaders and peers, built hatred into my understanding of the world.

An understanding which cannot be easily deconstructed.

I tend to avoid the bitter bites on Social Media about the “war on drugs/sex/prayer/blah-blah-blah”, it is destructive and counter productive to make everything into a battlefield. I learned, from the moment with my sister, I tend to react hastily and with regret.

My natural reaction is to hate the church for what it supposedly did to shape my prejudice. To be cynical and distrustful towards the people with which I had spent most of my time.

It would be justified to spite those who I believe have led me astray.

It would be easy to hate a faceless group, who I once identified with, and blame them for my bad prejudices.

But.

It would also be lumping all the people I have loved into a stereotyped sub-culture and hating them for not fitting into a certain mold.

And then,

I think about Jesus, and how he loved his people. The one’s in church, the ones broken on the side of the road, the ones thrown before him, pulled strait from their lovers bed, the good citizens, the dazed, the confused, the righteous.

He forgave them, Jesus had compassion.

I want to hate people for hurting me. Or maybe I want to hate them because it is easier than developing a new understanding of the world.

I read this post from Rachel Held Evens about a recent news story, concerning all sorts of holy war battling. She mentions the fact that Evangelicals won their war and lost a generation.

It would be so easy to wash my hands of these Evangelicals, to spit on them as I perceive them spitting on others. But what would be more difficult, would be to not walk away.

To look on them, and just like Jesus, choose to have compassion.

It’s not comfortable, and it’s not easy.

I learned as a tiny twelve year old, rapid hatred is the most regrettable action.

A few years ago, I went to my sister and told her, that should she ever chose to come out as gay, I would in fact love her. This wasn’t just about her orientation, it was about a principle of choosing love, no matter how different someone is from me. I wanted her to know she didn’t have to fit a certain mold to be loved by me.

This act is part of how I am re-writing my understanding of the world. First, I make it clear to my sister, that no matter who she is, I will love her. And this little shift teaches me knew habits, new understandings.

 

’cause grey is not a compromise -
It is the bridge between two sides.
The shores on which our stubborn land
And restless seas collide.
Grey is not just middle ground,
It is a truce that waits to be signed.
I would even argue that, from where we stand,
It most represents the color of God’s eyes.

So, let’s fold our atlas into paper planes.
Change is slow, but I feel it taking shape

—Sleeping At Last; 101010

 

 

Can I Kiss You?

February 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

Krisiruth

I went to an event a few years ago in Abilene called “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes“.

There were a few dramatic readings, the mayor spoke, (it was a small town) and then several dozen men, some in biker chaps, others in salmon colored polos, strapped on high heels and walked one hundred yards down the main city street.

It is a mens march, to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. “A Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Event is a playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediations to men’s sexualized violence against women.”

It was a silly sight, men with handle bar mustaches wobbling down main street.

At the end, we all gathered in a theater to listen to a speaker talk about rape culture and how we could fight to respect one another as sisters and brothers.

After he spoke, he threw XL t-shirts into the audience which were printed with “Can I kiss you, do you ask?”

I don’t remember the speakers name, but the t-shirt tagline has stuck with me. One of his questions to us was “if we cannot encourage girls to speak up when they want something, how can we expect them to speak up when they don’t?”

Disclaimer: this question was not speaking as a solution to sexual assault or gender violence. But about reshaping how we initially approach the conversation of sexual intimacy, a thought to combat warped ideals about female submission and silence.

It was a new concept for me, I had never thought about asking a boy to kiss me, or asking him to ask me first. It seemed silly, and a little childish. But for myself, I needed the question as a sort of self check. I have not always been known for speaking up, it’s something I have had to learn.

The beauty of the question, “can I kiss you?” is how it offers respect to the recipient. Asking, rather than presuming and taking, offers a choice.

I needed to know I was respected enough to be given a verbal choice.

So just imagine how that conversation has gone for me, staring a man square between the eyes and saying, “hey, if you want to kiss me at some point, I want you to ask first.”

It’s not the method for everyone, but it has worked just fine for me. some may see this as a little crazy, maybe it is.

It takes courage to ask, and if I don’t have the courage to ask for what I want, I won’t have the courage to say what I don’t.

Sexualized violence robs both men and women of healthy intimacy. In a way, this practice of asking men to ask, is my tribute to the women who don’t have a voice, who weren’t given a choice.

It’s my way of joining the biker chapped and polo clad men, in their strappy red heals.

What about you, what are you doing to stop gender violence? 

 

Krisiruth

I downloaded Tinder at the beginning of January, mostly as a joke, I think.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Tinder is an app which allows you to view photos of people who live close to you, along with a one sentence “about me” blurb, all pulling from their Facebook. You then have the option to swipe left in the app, and their tiny photos will be stamped with a big NOPE. But if you swipe right, a LIKE stamp appears on their pretty faces.

If they come across your photo and witty self-defining blurb, and proceed to stamp you with LIKE as well, a little bell goes off and both parties get a notification exclaiming “It’s a match!”

From there, the instant message games can begin. On my first few “matches”, I chose to get the ball rolling with this phrase, “There is really no way to carry on a conversation with someone you meet in an app. Agree or disagree?”

So began several get-to-know-ya conversations with various men.

It was bizarre, and I still felt a little apprehensive.

But coming off months of dating a guy long distance, with the pressures of making it work, casual dating did not seem so horrible.

Yet, I couldn’t decide if the app was trashy or clever. Regardless, it was easy to get addicted too. Why does a program like Tinder seem so fun? Is it the attention? Is it validation? Boredom? Does it make me feel bold? In control? Lastly, does it have to be a bad thing, simply because it is untraditional?

Well, there is really only one way to find out.

I went on a date, with a guy whose tagline was “Photographer, Skeptic, and occasional jokesmith.”

In our initial conversation I asked for a joke, he responded with, “Handmade is not a quality statement, it is a warning.” I couldn’t decide whether to be offended or delighted. I went with the latter. And so we bantered for several days before agreeing to meet for drinks.

It was the coldest day to date in Minneapolis this winter, -20 degrees, not very friendly for a girl who wants to dress impressively for a stranger. I begrudgingly layered up and texted Skeptic as I was leaving, “I’ll be the girl in all the sweaters.”

(Disclaimer: I wasn’t going for slutty, it just would have been nice to wear floral rather than a balaclava.)

We met in a dive bar, the waitress kept calling us cuties, and Skeptic commented “she is the only nice one here, in my experience.”

We smiled at each other a lot, had nice little bouts of talking, and then ever so often a semi-awkward pause, which He would puncture with “So…”

It was a nice night, warmed by Hot Toddy’s and low lighting.

My face flushed from the whiskey as I blabbered on about my family and writing. Skeptic had a fascinating story himself, talking about his work with photo development and the small business he has been apart of starting the last few years.

He was interesting, respectful and easy to talk to.

With the last sips of my then Cold Toddy, I explained one of my reasons for joining Tinder, “well, I was in a relationship of sorts which we ended…well he ended, anyway it ended, in November. But it was long distance and it just didn’t work.”

I looked down and moved my mug in little circles, feeling awkward and stupid for snuffing out any future dates with Mr. Skeptic.

He gave me a little smirk, and said kindly, “ah well, you have to give yourself time, and there will be plenty of guys.”

We parted ways at the end of the night in a friendly, casual way.

That was it, no follow-up date or awkward “DTR” conversation. Which was perfectly fine with me. I learned a few things from this casual dating experience,

  1. It’s okay to just go on a date. For fun.
  2. He doesn’t have to present a full pedigree of compatibility for me to accept a date.
  3. Recognizing it for what it is, a date with a stranger which probably won’t go anywhere is not taboo, but realistic. In fact, it relieves pressure I may not even realize I am putting on myself and my date.
  4. It teaches me a whole lot about being in a relationship in the future. I think about the last guy I invested time with, and how I placed him into the same mold as every guy before him. A mold, or expectation I didn’t even realize was unhealthy.

Here it is, my expectation has always been, hone in on a man you want to marry, date with the assumption you will marry, and then well, get married. Put all other things in life on hold, until this task is complete, and then continue business as usual.

Well, I have proven, with my story, this does not work.

I deleted Tinder, it was a nice experiment, it reminded me to enjoy people and experiences. It may be untraditional, maybe even a little shallow, but I think it was what I needed, for a bit.

A breather from the pressure to have life and relationship figured out.

How about you? What ways have you tried dating untraditionally? 

Creative Meeting Dance

December 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Creative-Meeting-Dance

In fifth grade my teacher asked each of us to put together a family tree and present it to the class.

I, being an overachieving odd ball, who never passed up the opportunity for show and tell, dug ten generations back and carefully scrawled out the names of relatives as far back as the Mayflower. I may have even dressed up as a pilgrim and showed up to class with “New World” snacks.

After my dramatization of the Johnson family discovering New England, my classmates got up and droned on one after another about how their parents met. And if one was feeling ambitious, they would delve into where their grandparents retired.

Meanwhile, I sat in the back with my arms crossed, sniffing indignantly at these twelve year olds lack of interest or knowledge in their personal heritage.

However, I learned something that day, rather accidentally. Nine tenths of my classmates had parents who met on blind dates. For no good reason at all, this has stuck with me for thirteen years.

I barely knew what a blind date was, but it sounded awful and uncreative. I came up with the notion that meeting my husband on a blind date would be like giving up. It would be like trading in artisian coffee for Starbucks or a gastro pub for Chili’s.

A blind date feels like a declaration that I am done with creativity and chance. It feels like saying I am done writing my story and I want someone else to do it for me.

Here’s the funny part, a week ago I asked my coworker to set me up on a blind date.

And then I had to ask myself, is it boredom? Loneliness? A need for some excitement?

Or maybe it’s just being tired of the creative meeting dance singles are so good at. Weddings, coffee shops, yoga class, online, bars, travel, all good stories for meeting a future spouse. All tiring games of flirting, texting, smiling, dressing up, being someone you’re supposed to be to get the other person to notice you.

Maybe a blind date isn’t giving up, but a bold declaration. Like saying, hey, I am not playing a game, this is not just for friendship or hookup, i’m looking for something more. It eliminates the dance, and that’s just fine, because I was never very good at dancing anyway.