Not So Random Thoughts On: How Pregnancy Changes Friendships

​8 months into this pregnancy and I never would’ve guessed I’d feel so lonely. Prior to finding out I was pregnant, I was social. I attended parties. I went out dancing once a month at clubs and bars. I spent an hour or two on the phone with friends. I listened. I reached out. I was always there. Always down to hang out. Always willing to support a friend.

Pregnancy has changed me. It’s not that I don’t want to still be a social butterfly; my wings are just tired.

By 8:30, I’m ready to call it a night. Early morning and/or midday naps are a godsend. Shortness of breath makes it a struggle to hold long conversations. Sitting or standing for extended lengths of time hurts my body.

I thought going through this experience would bring me and my friends closer. I thought I had an amazing network of friends who were thoughtful and supportive and would be with me every step of the way. I was wrong.

I’ve been accused of not being around and of being cold when I was simply setting boundaries. I’ve basically been told, “I miss the old you.” How hurtful to feel so alone in this experience and have people you love project their insecurities and expectations on you.

I can’t be the shoulder to lean on right now. I would love to, but I can’t. And it hurts to have to accept that reciprocity is not there. Now, when I need support and understanding and care the most, now I find myself slowly, but surely, crossing names off my “Support Squad” list.

I don’t need to feel guilty for not being at anyone’s beck and call. I don’t need to be stressed when someone disregards boundaries I’ve set. I don’t need to feel like “Pregnant Jenise” isn’t as cool as “Party Jenise”.

“Pregnant Jenise” is fucking funny, and sassy, and cool, and you would know that if you ever gave her a chance.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m extremely grateful for the ones who have stood by me since day one of this journey. I am beyond blessed to have people who text me simply because they’re thinking of me and the baby. People who want to hang out and laugh with me. People who offer support instead of opinions.

But, I’m still sad about the ones who don’t bother to call or don’t understand where I’m coming from or who expect me to be the same giver I was before.

I’m not that person anymore. And I’m just going to continue to evolve once Baby Jelly is here.

And if that bothers you or you feel “left out” or “ignored”… well, that’s not really my problem, is it?

You can’t be my priority now. If you don’t like that, that kinda sucks for you.

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Stormy Weather

​he is so happy
a number knocking on his chest
a bouquet of roses clutched in his grip
a sweetness my nose will never know

I am a wilted sunflower
still craning its neck
to follow him across the sky

did I kiss you hard enough
in my dream last night
did you feel the sparrow sing
beneath my chest
did you know I rise
every morning for you
did you even think to ask
if I like roses

I am a porcelain doll of emotions
a book of questions dressed in dust
a sad love song loop in an empty room
this rain is too much for my soul

The Fucked Up Shit That Bonds Us

​Here’s the thing: it’s not just “locker room talk”. Women get grabbed by the pussy all the time.

I’ve had it done to me more times than I’d like to remember.

“But, like, your actual pussy?”

Yes. By men I respected and trusted and never would’ve expected to violate me.
The first time I remember having my butt grabbed was in high school. I threw the kid into a locker by his collar. The last time I remember was in a club some months ago. I almost punched that guy in the face. I’ve also had women grab my butt, thighs, and breasts, assuming it’s okay because they’re women, too. It’s not okay.

About two weeks ago, I was whistled at by someone in a moving car. I’ve been honked at and yelled at (while alone or pushing a stroller). I’ve been followed. Offered rides. Watched a guy turn his back to and walk away from his two young daughters to approach me. Had hands linger too long on lower back after hugs. Had comments like, “You should be in detention,” said to me by strangers in a supermarket. (What does that even mean?!)

These are not just things dudes talk about in the company of other dudes for cool points. These are things that happen on the daily because men feel entitled to women’s bodies.

When I was in high school, I used to stand outside of my classrooms and hug anyone going in who wanted or needed one. I was THE hugger. The hand on the shoulder. Now, I’m far less likely to initiate contact with people. If I feel like a supportive hug might help, I ask if it’s okay first. But, I can clearly remember the last time I cordially hugged a guy I didn’t know on our first meeting because we shared a mutual friend. Remember how helpless I felt when his hand lingered on me and I didn’t swerve away for fear of making a scene/causing everyone discomfort.

I don’t mind my body being touched, including my growing belly, if you ask first and I consent or we’re just cool like that. You shouldn’t assume that we are.

I’m just saying: this is not just “boys being boys”. These attacks on our bodies should not be one of the things that bonds us together. Should not be the thing that makes the men in our lives reflect on how they have and do commit these acts against women. Should not be the reason we wear headphones with no music playing, spot our nearest exit as soon as we enter a room, make sure our shirt is long enough, hold our keys this way, wonder when the next attack will occur…

Lyrically Speaking: I Know Places…

“I know places…”*

My dear friend Inbal Sansani recently posted about an interaction she had with a young woman who suggested she “travel places”.

Reading those two words immediately made me think of Taylor Swift’s “I Know Places”, which has been a running theme song for me for quite some time.

This song always gets me emotional; sometimes, I even cry. Why? I have no freakin’ idea.

Well, I had no freakin’ idea.

Reading Inbal’s post made me reflect on this song and the deeper meaning it had for me.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

“Baby… I know places we won’t be found…
And they’ll be… chasing their tails trying to track us down…”

How many times in life have I needed peace? Have I felt like everyone wanted something from me and I had nothing left to give? How many times have I neglected self-care to cater to the needs of others?

As much as I would like to point the finger and yell, “Bad, human! Bad, selfish human!” at all those who should recognize my exhaustion, ultimately, I am responsible for setting boundaries. I am responsible for myself(care).

It is up to me to make that time for myself. To turn off the phone and go alone (or take a friend) without feeling guilty. To let others figure shit out on their own or wait. To rejuvenate and release and come back anew.

“‘Cause I know places we can hide…”

I do! I know the importance of self-care. I know how to relax in a nice shower. How to enjoy a cup of ginger tea. How to paint my nails a pretty color. How to blast music in a traffic jam. How to reach out to a friend for support (or to laugh at stupid things that only we get). I know where to seek refuge. Where to turn when I need solitude.

And, let’s not forget:

“Loose lips sink ships all the damn time…”

How many times, sweet, naive child, have I shared things with people who shouldn’t be trusted? How many times have I relied on “hope” instead of “reality” and been disappointed?

Not everyone deserves every piece of me. Not everyone deserves my time or my priority. Not everyone deserves to share my peace and my bliss. And not everyone needs to know intimate details about my life.

Yes, connecting with others is a beautiful, magical thing. But, in the wrong hands, those intimate details can be sharp as a blade. I refuse to be cut with my own heart.

“Not this time…”

So, this… This is why this song gets me so worked up. It really has become an anthem for me and I never understood why.

It is a song of strength. Of perseverance. Of courage. Of self-care.

Or, maybe it’s a song about person who doesn’t want everyone all up in their business.

That works, too.

________
|*All lyrics from Taylor Swift’s “I Know Places”

A Message To My Community…

​Last summer, one of my friends got into an altercation. To keep him from fighting, I physically held him back. Yes, all 125 pounds of me. Why? All I could think was that if cops were called, he might not make it home to his mother.

There has been some talk about us doing more than being social media activists and actually stepping out into the streets. And we’ve also been talking about the small steps we take that make huge impacts.

No one knows what triggers us, so no one can tell us how to grieve or take action. Some of us will write. Some of us will march. Some of us will protest. Some of us will speak. We will do what we know the best way we know how.

No one knows all the work we are doing. In our homes, our communities, our jobs, our relationships, or internally. To keep people informed. To keep people safe. To keep people alive.

This is part of the reason why I preach self-care.

We never know when we will be called to deescalate a situation. Or help someone. Or facilitate counseling. Or offer kindness. And we must be ready. We must.

So #selfcareselfcareselfcare.

However you must grieve… However you must heal… However you must open up your heart to a greater kindness… However you are capable of making an impact… Do that shit. Do that shit right now, so when you are called, you are ready.

We must stick together as a community.

Our survival depends on it.

Dress the Part?

I’m reading Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. and it’s filled with useful tips and things to think about as it pertains to being a woman in a man-dominated industry (and world). I just got to Chapter 7 “How You Look” and I was struck by this sentence:

“Research shows that about 55 percent of your credibility comes from how you look.”

By the end of the page, I picked up my pen and immediately began to write the following.

Travis Barker says, “I will never not be myself just to gain something, and I will break every stereotype.” He does dress the part: he dresses like a self-confident rocker. So, who am I? What part should I dress?

I would say my style is gender fluid. I mix and match “masculine” and “feminine” styles together. Floral leggings with a Wolverine t-shirt. Boots with a sexy dress instead of heels.

I’m a creative.
An artist.
I dress as such.

I suppose, if I wanted to conquer Wall Street or sell real estate or teach I would dress accordingly. Then again, I’ve been in corporate settings and still let my inner artist shine through my hair and accessories.

I’m glad I connect to my innet artist and present myself as such. I suppose you never have to guess if I’m a creative.