For whatever reason, girls are associated with drama. Pregnant and having a girl? Oh, get ready for that DRAMA! I am a mom of two girls and I wouldn't have it any other way. And guess what? I have friends with sons and I can tell you they seem just as "dramatic" (dare I say it's normal human behavior to learn how to deal with big emotions? but that's a topic for another time.) I'm not writing to talk about whether boys are as dramatic as girls or anything like that. I want to talk about the girl drama amongst their friend groups that has become expected, and therefore written off as normal.
I came across a blog last week that gave this particular mom's opinion on "girl drama" and what she deemed an appropriate level of involvement in said drama. I don't entirely disagree with her opinion on not being involved beyond being a sounding board for advice and a shoulder to cry on, but there were aspects that I felt aren't beneficial for our daughters. While she says she will never call another mom about their kid's part in the drama the drama, I feel there is a line that can get crossed where that's necessary. She went on to say that when we get involved, it prevents our daughters from knowing how to handle people not like them and so on. Beyond that, and the whole reason I'm writing this at all, she said our daughters need friends who they've fought with, creating a "sisterhood forged in fire." As a girl who thought I had that sisterhood growing up, can we NOT?
The same day I saw that blog, I came across old writing and journals dating as far back as my 8th grade year of school. With the exception of some fun nostalgic pieces, what I found from that year up to my sophomore year of high school was the inner workings of a mind that was clearly not okay and, while I'm sure hormonal changes played a part, it was my group of friends and how we treated each other than created such angst.
Our "gang," as we called ourselves (think Scooby Doo "come on gang!" more than actual gangs), was known for our inner drama. Through the years, I had several journal entries that repeated the same idea: "we're fighting again." One particular entry detailed an account of a friend who left our group. Her reason for spending time with new friends? "They don't all hate each other." This was nothing short of treason to 13 year old me, but to 29 year old me, that's such a punch in the gut. She was right. It wasn't okay how we all treated each other. But we truly thought it was making our bond stronger. Creating that "sisterhood forged in fire."
By the time high school rolled around, our "gang" had mostly fallen apart, as it should have long before. Three remained, me and two other girls, my only "real friends." Things were worse, somehow, despite there being less than half the friends left behind. We isolated ourselves, hardly talking to anyone outside of sharing classes with them. The fighting continued, and it continued to take its toll on me.
The tipping point came one afternoon when they asked me to stay after school. They sat me in the teacher stool at the front of the room and sat in the empty desks before me. This was an intervention. They were telling me I was acting different, that something was obviously wrong with me and asked why I wouldn't tell them. I wondered how they couldn't see that my only problem was them. I didn't speak up, though. I've never been good at confrontation so I just sat there and took the humiliation. I went home and cried harder than I ever had up until that point in my life, wondering if there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
Our perfect little trio didn't last too much longer after that. Our fights transformed from being about all of us to me being the bad friend because I was starting to disengage. I wanted out, but didn't know how to leave. Where would I go? I didn't even have a regular table in the cafeteria because we ate lunch in a classroom (one of the girls' mom was a teacher). I felt like no one would get me the way they had. After all, we had forged our sisterhood in fire. But I did. I left the friendship. And honestly? My high school experience improved exponentially when I let go of that assumed obligation of sticking together because of what we had been through.
I made amends with most of these girls before high school was ever finished. I'm connected with most of them on social media now and I'm actually pretty good friends with the "leader" of our "gang," who was who I would say was probably the most toxic to me back then.
The maturity it took for all of us to come back from that dramatic whirlwind wasn't learned through our fights. It took individual growing. None of us were or are bad people. We just thought our fighting made us stronger, when in reality it made us toxic to each other. The drama was unnecessary. Some bickering could be expected, but we took it too far and developed unhealthy relationship habits instead. Again, it's very important to note that there was no actual benefit to sitting in this "girl drama" for YEARS. So why are we subjecting our daughters to the same thing?
Perhaps this mentality of "friendship IS drama" is why I've found myself in far too many "girl drama" situations than should be normal for an almost-thirty year old (ironically, in most situations, the women involved have been older than me). It's something I'm learning to avoid before it reaches that point via very strong boundaries. And I can tell you from experience, the drama I went through as a teen prevented me from knowing how to implement those boundaries until now. (There's no one to blame but myself for that, but it's important to realize.)
On the opposite end of the spectrum of girl drama, there's my relationship with my best friend. We've been instantly bonded since we first met nearly a decade ago. We consider each other extensions of ourselves. We're each other's platonic soul mates. The worst "fights" we've ever had is over differences of movie preferences. And it's not that we just ignore problems--there are no problems to ignore! We're similar in so many ways, and are just accepting of the things that make us different. We are physical proof that what society is telling us is not only normal, but vital for growth, is a fallacy.
So, no, don't call little Susie's mom the minute she says something mean to your daughter, but do more than the bare minimum to help them through their "girl drama." Show them it can and should be better. It's time to stop accepting this idea of dramatic friendship as normal and spreading it to our young daughters, especially when we have proof that we can have strong relationships without it. Let's give them better. Let's teach our daughters that friends can have disagreements, but they shouldn't constantly be breaking your heart and destroying your mental health.
Editing to add:
Since posting this blog, both of my parents have reached out to me saying they wish they had known this was going on to put a stop to it. The thing is, though, the simple reason they didn't know about it was that we didn't tell them. For whatever reasons bred into us from society, we thought it was normal. This was the same era that Mean Girls came out (a movie this group of friends actually went to see together, actually). While the movie is exaggerated, it shows you that society sees the drama as normal and sometimes just gets out of hand to the involvement of adults. Until that escalation, though, it's just in the world of the teens/preteens.
All the more reason to teach our girls ahead of time, so they know to come to us when it does happen. This wasn't on my parents for not seeing what I refused to show. This was on me for thinking it wasn't worth showing.
By the time I hit my mid-twenties, I felt completely lost on how to dress myself. I had spent most of my formative years wearing skinny jeans and a graphic tee or hoodie. If I wasn't wearing that, it was a work uniform. Before I knew it, I had two daughters and a whole new body that came with them and still absolutely no idea how to dress myself to match how I wanted to feel. Try as I might, nothing met the unrealistic expectations set by television and Pinterest.
In an already confusing time in my life, I felt even more lost. I started to find items here and there that I felt good in, but I almost felt fraudulent; like I was trying too hard.
Enter: Filly Flair.
I came across the online boutique Filly Flair in 2015 from a post on Facebook. I browsed their website and fell in love with a brown leather jacket that was perfect for my Halloween costume I was trying to put together. I had to have it. I loved, and still love, that jacket dearly, but I didn't regularly shop the store. Truth be told, at the time I discovered Filly Flair, I couldn't afford to regularly shop anywhere. But I loved the store already.
Even though I couldn't order, I followed their page and often shared their contests on Facebook, hoping at some point maybe I would have the chance to own more of these cute clothes I had always been searching for. When Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017 rolled around, I managed to snag some deals on their site and was finally able to order a few things. Like the jacket, the styles were cute and the quality so much more than I could hope ordering online. I was sold, but I had no idea some cute clothing items were just the beginning of a new era for me.
At some point, I had been added to Filly Flair's VIP group on Facebook. The team over at Filly Flair was always very active in this group, even including the owner, which was nice to see. Everyone always shared their cute outfits they had purchased, showing everyone how the items truly were instead of us all having to rely on model pictures. While I was unsure at first, I quickly began to love sharing my new items in the group, too. Everyone was so positive and complimentary. We were all complete strangers, but we were all connected by this one store. It was like finding a whole new community!
Last fall, Filly Flair changed things up, which in turn, changed how all of us interacted in the group. They started what's called Comment Sold videos, where the staff (especially the owner!) would go live on Facebook and showcase the new items and the customers commented "sold" to buy it right from the video, clicking a link to check out with ease. The videos let customers get a real feel for how the clothes looked and fit beyond professional photographs on a website. I didn't think I would like the videos. Having previously never been able to make purchases on a whim, the thought of sitting through a God-knows-how-long video instead of scrolling through a website when I had the extra cash sounded like pure torture. But let me tell you guys, I was so wrong. These videos were fun! You got to see the real, bubbly, amazing personalities of the owner and staff as well as getting a more detailed look at these products that a photograph alone can't capture. The new videos became almost addictive. Never having been one to know fashion, I suddenly wanted to know what the next trends were going to be. I began branching out, trying styles I never imagined myself wearing—and never would, if not for seeing them demonstrated so well. And I felt good about how I looked. The feeling I had been searching for for years!
Filly Flair shifted from being just about clothes for me back at the start of this year. The owner had gone to Las Vegas to make purchases for the store. From her hotel room, she would go live on Facebook sharing the newest goodies she found, but being in the intimate setting of a hotel room, the mood was completely different. This was no longer “The Owner of Filly Flair” talking with us from a place of business; it was simply Laura hanging out with us and showing us items she liked. These late night videos became our collective girl hang out time. While it was just a video of her and the women on the trip with her, and comments from us customers, it was a shared feeling throughout. Since, Laura has started going live from her personal bedroom closet and the feeling like we're all friends hanging out is a common topic of conversation. In those videos we get the real, raw life of Laura, with her children or pets sometimes joining in on the fun. Filly Flair isn't just another faceless business, it's a small business (if you could still call it that with their reach thanks to Facebook) owned by a young woman just a few years older than me, who followed her dream and created it with her own two hands.
Beyond watching these videos with hundreds of other women from all over, I've made friends because of the Facebook group. A few ladies realized a couple of us were frequently on the videos and liked a lot of the same items, so one morning, I was added to a group chat on Facebook messenger with these ladies. We've called ourselves the “FF Addicts,” and we talk about our favorite items, share what Filly Flair we're wearing that day, or just talk about what's going on in our vastly different lives.
What started out as a hunt for cute clothes became the discovery of a beautiful community of beautiful women in all walks of life, from fellow moms, grandmas, farmers, women working their dream jobs, students, women traveling the world with their military husbands, just to name a few I've seen. And while most of us have never met Laura or any of her amazing staff, I think it's safe to say we all feel like we have a new friend who rocks an awesome business that is growing right before our eyes.
Deeper than that, I discovered a buried confidence inside of me. Where I was a lost twenty-something trying to find her way in a newly changed body thanks to the miracle of childbirth, I am now a late-twenties woman with her head held high in her new favorite Filly Flair outfit. Of course, clothes are not the end-all-be-all to make a confident person. Beauty on the inside is just as, if not more, important. But you have to admit, when you feel good about the outside, you can feel a lot better on the inside. At least that was the case with me.
In fact, this past June, my husband and I celebrated our ten year anniversary in Bora Bora. Over half of my portion of our suitcase was items purchased through Filly Flair. I purchased a lot of it specifically for that trip. I knew that I would have a great time on our vacation wearing a potato sack, but having these items from a company I am passionate about made me feel more beautiful and confident. I absolutely loved taking pictures of the outfits to share with my FF Friends and the Facebook group. It made an already special trip even more special.
I've been enjoying this company for four years now, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I absolutely love trying out the new styles, and buying the styles I've loved for years. I love talking with my new friends about our favorite new trends. I love seeing the joy that comes from the whole staff at Filly Flair as they keep hitting new records in their business. I never would've guessed it when I bought that first jacket, but Filly Flair really is more than just clothes.
When you become a mom, it's easy to get swept up in that title and lose sight of who you are as an individual. Your identity feels lost. After my oldest was born, I don't think I fell into that too hard. I worked retail part time, and eventually full time towards the end of that season, which I think probably helped me remember Lindsey alongside Mom. When we moved from Colorado to Texas, and I had our second born, it was different. I was no longer working, we had just moved to a town where the number of people we knew was limited, and my husband worked long hours and eventually started traveling. That left me alone with our daughters, being Mom.
While I (thankfully) didn't suffer from PPD, I was in a sort of funk in this time. Not only was I going through the stress of all of the major life changes, but I couldn't even find clothes I could wear in the closet. For the longest time, I had primarily worn my work uniform (khaki pants and a black shirt), so what clothes I did have that were different than that were styles I didn't really enjoy anymore and what was left after that was too small. I felt like I was in some sort of limbo. I knew I needed to change it. I needed to do something that made me feel good.
I started trying to make a point of the tiniest amount of self care. At the time, that came in the form of MLM nail wraps (I know, I know. Don't judge.). It was just something for me to feel pretty and, since I never felt I was good at painting my nails and couldn't exactly go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, it worked for me. As silly as it seems, it helped. Between liking how I looked and the friendships I made in this time, I was gaining confidence and really solidifying an identity outside of “just a mom.” I moved on from the nails and focused on my writing again.
Being a writer is something I have dreamed of since I was in middle school and realized that that was even a possibility in life. I've been writing since at least that young, if not younger, but I never saw myself as A Writer until I clawed my way out from under “Just Mom” and made myself do something with it. I spent countless hours sitting at Starbucks writing short stories and arranging story orders while my kids played with the toy bin to create Paranormalish. Fast forward a few more years and Lost in Grey came. I'm not just mom: I'm Lindsey Behee, author. I love that this is who I am. It fits.
But still, I am Mom. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mom and seeing the little individuals that my children are growing into. I would never change it for the world. It's just, as any mom can tell you, as much as you love it, it can be exhausting. Oh, the number of times I've said “I'm going to change my name for the night!” or “Can I just run away for a little while?” as the incessant calls of “mom” echoed in the house. Even in knowing who you are on your own, the weight of being mom can be a lot to bear. No matter the number of times you remind them, it feels like they forget that you're as human as they are with your own needs, wants, emotions. No, to them, you fear you'll always be “Just Mom.” (At least, until they're adults.)
That feeling is why I was so taken aback at our kids' open house last night. I snapped a picture of my 8 year old's drawing hanging in the hallway, where one part of it was intended for a person she admired: Mom. I was honored. In the stress of the busy, crowded evening, I didn't look closely at the picture, though. Once we were home and I had a moment to look at the few pictures I took, I zoomed in on that corner of her page. There, pointing at what must be a desk in front of me, she labeled “writing a book.” Across from me, she drew herself with heart eyes, labeled “looking at my mom.” Not wanting to make any assumptions, I showed her the picture and asked her what it said. She confirmed it. “You drew me writing a book?” I smiled as tears came to my eyes. “Yeah, I was thinking about that one book you wrote with [Anna]...what was it? Lost in Grey?” I smiled and thanked her. I then walked in the other room and cried. I had never felt so seen by my children as I did then.
See, we all know that kids see and hear everything. They're no doubt going to repeat that grown up word you just mumbled under your breath, and they're going to make their doll-Moms threaten to ground their doll-kids in a tone you swear you don't use. But they also see more than that. As much as we think that we're only Mom in their eyes, they see who you are and what you're doing. My baby knows I'm a writer, and not just because I tell her, but because she watches me, and she sees me.
There's absolutely nothing wrong if you feel your calling is to be a mom—in fact, I think that's great. But if you feel lost under the weight of that title, know that you can be more and your kids will see it and admire it just as much as they admire your mothering. Our kids, with their metaphorical heart eyes, see us.
Ah, Friday the 13th, one of my favorite days! And it's happening at the start of fall. Even better. If you've known me at any point during a Friday the 13th, you know I kinda make it a big deal. Each time it happens, I hang my Jason Voorhees hockey mask and machete wreath on my front door (HOA be damned when I lived in a neighborhood with one), I change my Facebook profile to my famous-amongst-friends Jason stick figure with matching status (“Be safe, Jason is Alive. We dug up his body.”) and I always wear one of my haunted house shirts.
What a lot of people don't know about this huge ordeal I create is that I'm not some major fan of the Friday the 13th franchise (I actually prefer the Halloween movies), it's all about the family I joined in 2006, which I realized today is 13 years ago! That realization made me feel nostalgic, so I decided I would jump on here and share with the world why my stick figure Jason and my love for this “holiday” exist.
Thirteen years ago this fall, I tagged along with my sister to a dusty old basement filled with wood pallets and black plastic: my very first haunted house volunteer gig at Misery Manor. At first, I was what was called a “lifeguard,” which was essentially a tour guide that was stationary to one room. A bit into the season, a new room was constructed off of ours, so I took over the role my sister had been playing. The role that created my relationship with Jason Voorhees.
In a sleeping bag on the dusty floor, I shined a flashlight on my face to let the crowd know that I had won a contest to spend the night down in this haunted house and, if I survived, I'd win $100. But before the groups left the room, they witnessed Jason Voorhees slamming my sleeping bag against a large metal commercial refrigerator before charging at them with his machete as the deafening soundtrack threw in lines from Friday the 13th Vol VI (“Jason is alive. We dug up his body!”). I loved this! Watching the terrified reactions of countless strangers from my little hiding spot was exhilarating!
During breaks or the rare slow night, the characters in the rooms directly around me would hang out and get to know each other. Nathan, the man playing Jason, became our great friend. Like I mentioned before, we were all really a family, and it was hard to leave that season behind when November rolled around.
The next year, the group we volunteered with didn't put on their own haunted house, though we did do some work here and there between two different haunts. Still, every Friday the 13th, I made my same posts with my same picture (the one time I didn't, my co-worker got hit by a car! He was fine, but I make sure to post every time now, to be safe.)
In 2008, though, it was peak Misery Manor. I was a freshman in college nearly an hour away, but that didn't stop my roommate/best friend from showing up every single night and working our tails off. That year, I was a tour guide, and we were intense. Our job wasn't to gently walk people through the haunted house, we were just as much part of the show. The high energy of this year's spook house made everything so much more fun. Back then, I was always doodling silly stick-figure comics based off of things that happened to me, bloomed from a silly conversation, or what have you. I can't tell you what the first Jason comic was, but I can tell you it all came from something Nathan had done or said. That season, I drew countless comics filled with inside jokes featuring the characters Jason (Nathan), Sister Olivia (Alyssa), Sister 6 (Laura), Cup (Lindsay), Straw (me) and any other people who were around in the scenario. When November brought MM to an end, I gathered all of the Jason comics and put them in a binder for Nathan since he was the big star. Since then, I've drawn what's now always my profile picture each holiday as well as a few other comics.
So, you see, it's not that these are my favorite movies, or that I'm superstitious (except for having to make my status), or anything. It's that it reminds me of my wonderful Haunted House family and the wonderful memories I have with them. Even though the wonder that is Misery Manor has essentially retired, and I live over 1000 miles away, my love for my chosen family will always be strong.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Friday the 13th. Be safe out there. Jason is alive. We dug up his body!
Today is the first day of school for the kids. I'm sitting here alone at my desk with my coffee and a bowl of cereal, with nothing to interrupt me aside from a dog needing let out, for the first time since 2016. The house is eerily quiet. My baby is now in school with her big sister.
My little kindergartner has been scared about starting school since we moved 5 hours away from the school she expected to attend. We've all done our best to alleviate the anxiety with books, personal anecdotes, talking to her about all of the positive things about school, like learning to read and do math (two things she's actually very excited about).
This morning was the most excited she's been since the fear set in. As she went through the morning routine like a pro, she occasionally mentioned her stomach hurting a little bit; a physical sign of her nervousness, no doubt. But she was smiling. She excitedly took her bowl to the sink and brushed her teeth, hardly able to wait to get her LOL Doll backpack on. She was all smiles as I took the traditional back to school pictures and as we walked to the school. Her big sister and I kept her distracted with the things she's looking forward to instead of what she was scared of. She asked if we could drop her off last, so we took my oldest to the cafeteria where she'll wait with her class. As we left, they hugged as my youngest said “I'll miss you!” Then it was her turn. We went into the gym and found where her class will sit every morning. She was all smiles as I took some pictures before turning her peace sign hands into two thumbs down. She was scared again.
I crouched there on the gym floor with her and told her (as well as the seemingly terrified little girl sitting behind her in line) that so many of the kids were scared this morning, because it was new to all of them, but that they would all come together and lift each other up and have a wonderful time. After talking a little bit more, and several hugs and kisses later, I promised her I'd see her this afternoon and left her in the care of her teachers. I caught a glimpse through the crowd before I walked out of the gym and saw she still wasn't crying. A good sign.
I know she's going to thrive in school. As sassy as she can be, she's strong, smart, sweet, and friendly. I have no doubt that the only thing that will get her over her fear is to go through it and realize it's not all that bad. She will adjust and adapt.
And then there's me. Sitting here alone. For the first time since my oldest started kindergarten.
When the youngest child is off to school for the first time, the stay at home mom is often asked, "what are you going to do now?" Will we get a job? Will our homes finally be show-room-ready clean? Will we frolic through the grocery store (or any store, the possibilities are endless) in the low crowds of a weekday morning without at least one kid in tow? Maybe. Who knows?
For the longest time I've simply responded to this question with, "enjoy it." A lot of my stay at home mom life has consisted of me being the only parent home for sometimes weeks on end as my husband worked his tail off supporting us 5 hours away (not the case now that we've moved, thankfully). So, if you ask me, I've definitely earned being able to enjoy some solitude. Once that gets old, though? I have absolutely no idea.
But regardless of what we moms entering this new season literally do with our time, I know one thing we'll do for certain --something that all moms have always done and will continue to do in this ever-changing world of parenting: adjust and adapt.
Well, guys, Taylor Swift has done it again! Another new song from her upcoming album is out today and it's AMAZING! I swear that's relevant information to this post. Just stick with me here.
I had been putting off this blog post until Taylor Swift released the album Lover, as I feel it, with it's butterflies and pastel aesthetic contrasting with the snakes and black and white of Reputation, would be perfect evidence to support my argument, but the title track came out and it has me pumped enough to go ahead and write this!
Before getting to this song specifically, let's get to my point that the trope of the suffering artist has to go.
I recently saw an article that said Sad Taylor Swift is the best, And it has a point. my favorite songs of hers are the heavier ones (just see my post on "The Archer"). And back when details of Taylor's super private relationship slowly started coming out, leaving people speculating if they would get married, I remember seeing comments from people wondering what she would write about if her heart stopped getting broken. So, I feel that point on Sad Taylor leads to a slippery slope that's all too common in the creative world.
This idea of suffering has often gone hand in hand with art. Just look at how we talk about Hemingway, Plath, Van Gogh...This trope of the tortured artist is an old one and it's dangerous for us artists.
It's dangerous to feel you, as an artist, must suffer to produce anything worthwhile. It's a feeling I've dealt with myself as a writer. My journaling is often tapping into my darker feelings and, while I have no intentions of sharing them publicly, I can't help but feel it's some of my best work. I struggle with this on a physical level, even. When Anna Timperley and I wrote Lost in Grey, sleep deprivation simply fueled my imagination, helping us breakthrough plot issues and hitting our word count for novel status. Now, when I struggle with writer's block (which is almost always), I have to physically tell myself that I'm not going to exhaust myself for the sake of trying to write.
As the great poet Andrea Gibson said in their 2018 Facebook post, which actually inspired me to think about this topic as it's been in my mind since the original post, 'your joy is as deserving of your pen as your grief.' Your happiness doesn't make it impossible for you to make good art! Happiness does not equate to lack of substance.
Now back to "Lover." The song is beautiful, and most importantly for this topic, her happiness is palpable. Listening to her talk about the joys of living life with her love, you can't help but smile. I'm sitting here listening to it (again) as I write this and my heart swells with joy hearing it. The emotion I get from it is like when a girl writes her name with her love interests last name all over a notebook. It's like she's so happily blown away that she can't believe it's actually happening while realizing the simple things they can do like having friends stay over, or not taking down the Christmas lights, because it's THEIRS, all while wildly smiling each time she says the word "lover" (I can't be the only one who hears that smile, right?).
And lyrically, I just love it. She has so many nods to previous songs, which is one of my favorite things about her songwriting. "Take me home" could be a nod to "Style". "Forever and ever," "Sweeter than Fiction." Christmas lights are even in "The Moment I Knew." And with the exception to the reference to "Gorgeous" by calling him as a magnetic force, each reference is a nod to heartbreaks past. It's like using these phrases again are a way to cancel out the pain from before. Taylor never fails us with her lyrics, and her happiness doesn't negate that truth.*
"Lover" isn't her first song written from happiness, though. We all know she can write a fun bubbly bop like 'Shake it Off" or "Me!", but she has deeper songs about happiness, too. Just listen to "Gorgeous," a song that describes the feeling of having a crush better than anything I've heard or read. Listen to "Call it What You Want", where you can feel how in love she is with the description of her "baby." She even gets hot and steamy about her love interest with her song "Dress." She has these beautiful songs of substance that don't stem from heart break, but from feelings of infatuation and love. and they're off her darkest album! It's possible to destroy this trope! And based on the hints leading up to the release of "Lover," I have a feeling she's going to keep proving that point. Just another thing that makes Taylor Swift a good role model.
And if Taylor Swift isn't really your style, you can find all sorts of examples of this out there, too! In fact, going to my favorite, King of Sad Songs, Conor Oberst has an entire album of hopeful songs.
The point is, we all go through dark times, and writing (singing, painting, whatever your medium) is a wonderful way to cope and process through those feelings so please, don't stop making art when you're sad. But don't limit yourself to needing to suffer to make your art. Don't sit in your misery for the sake of creativity. Your light art is as special as your dark art.
*Shout out to Taylor Swift super fan Blake Walker for helping me find references to older songs in "Lover." This blog would've had a lot less substance without him!
It's Back to School season and this year I have one kid going into third grade and the other starting kindergarten. We still have a little over a week until the big day when school actually starts, but we're ready! We have the backpacks and lunchboxes, the supplies from the supply list, new socks and underwear, new shoes, clothes sorted to make sure they aren't short of anything. We've had the talks about listening to the teacher, we've talked about what our five year old will learn when she's in school, all of that. I even have my first day of school blog post started, just waiting for the day's anecdotes to finish it. We're ready to take this year by storm!
Or so I thought...
Last night, after the kids were in bed, I thought I would enjoy my Friday evening with a hot relaxing bath and maybe brainstorm on some writing. The kids should be asleep, as I've desperately been trying to get them on regular schedule in preparation for school (it has not been going well.) And it was nice, until my five year old barged in to the room (yeah, our new bathroom door doesn't lock. Only the toilet room locks. Probably the one thing about this new house I'm not a fan of) with only a shirt on as she complains about her bathroom woes. After a lot of back and forth, and a lot of toilet paper, she was content and off to bed, right? Nope. A few moments later, she walks back in with her underwear in her hand, soaking wet. WHY? “I tried to rinse them off.” Yeah, you can't do that, kid. I get her new underwear and let her know that when she goes to school, she can't spend nearly an hour just going to the bathroom, and she especially can't walk around with no underwear on.
Her green eyes went wide as she asked if that was true. And that's when it hit me. Had I in any way prepared her to function as an actual human being outside of the home?
I swear my oldest kid wasn't like this. I know, every kid is different, but it was like she was born for school. Like her younger sister, she couldn't read or write beyond a few letters, but she had no issues jumping right in and figuring it all out (and really thriving). When she was in kindergarten, I think we had to have one talk where I let her know that if she is asked to wait for a bathroom break, she is allowed to ask again before it becomes an emergency. Other than that, I believe she went into the new world of daily school like an actual human being.
But what about my younger kid?! She is a force to be reckoned with. Long, relaxing bathroom trips aside, this kid is wild. She's brave enough to ask her dad “You wanna fight?” with fists ready once he's told her to stop her attitude before she gets grounded. She regularly walks around slapping everyone's butts (including her own). She never sleeps. Like ever. I almost had her on a normal schedule last school year, but that was all down the drain once we moved. She is my loving, hilarious, beautiful strong-willed child.
I know what you all are probably thinking: it's totally normal. She'll be fine. And I don't doubt that. I believe she'll thrive in school just as her sister has. And as far as how she'll actually be when she's there, I have to remind myself that she went to the childcare at our church back in Fort Worth for years with no issue, including as a 4/5 year old in their preschool-like setting. But I also know I can't be the only mom wondering what more she could have done before her kid was ready for kindergarten.
Let me know the hilarious things you never thought to teach your kids until it was time for kindergarten!
We all have our fair share of “you can't make this shit up” stories, and when you find someone with as many as you, you may find yourself drawn to them. But it's worth noting that sometimes that shit can be made up, or at least twisted in favor of the narrator. When every single life story you hear from someone ends the same way with someone else turning out to be a villain, leaving them hurt and betrayed, take that as a red flag , not a sympathetic notion.
Beware those who are constantly victims. Be aware of who you surround yourself anyways, but if you find yourself accidentally enthralled with an Always-Victim, learn to be okay with the outcome of being yet another villain of their repertoire.
You can be the best friend to them. You can be nice, honest (even when it's not what they want to hear), helpful, and have the best time together. But once you inevitably fall off of the pedestal they lifted you on by simply standing up for yourself and setting necessary boundaries, you'll instantly become “one of them,” the others who are so horrible to the Always-Victim. Because that's the thing—in their narrative, they cannot be wrong. I don't think it's necessarily intentional, though maybe it is, but it hurts regardless. It'll hurt when you hear the things being said about you, knowing you can't defend yourself because while they play like you left, it's actually they who did. It'll hurt and leave you feeling disappointed to know that all of your mutual friends fall for their version. It'll make you want to scream the truth out, to clear the air so you can move on once and for all. But it's of no use. They can't hear you. If they heard you, really truly heard you, that would hold them accountable. That would be admitting that all parties are flawed, because we're only human. And that would make them not the victim in the story.
Always-Victims become a negative energy cyclone, threatening to pull in anyone who dares come near. Stay. Away. I know, it's hard to recognize it, but just keep your eyes and ears open for those red flags and believe them. And if you fall for it, know that it's okay. It happens to us all, especially those like me who are people-pleasers who tend to see the good in others to a fault. But when that world crashes down, and the dust starts to settle, look around you and see who's there:
The Invaluable Friend. These are the friends who are truly there for you, always. They know the truth because they know you for who you really are, not what anyone else says about you. You can empathize with each other over the Always-Victims you've both encountered in life, and allow each other to vent out the frustration of everyone seeming fooled by it. They gently correct you when you're making a mistake, and welcome the same from you. But they also let you indulge your more dramatic side privately with them so you don't make a fool of yourself in public. These are the friends you never have issues with, even through your differences. You'll grow together, even when your life stories are oh so different. These are the true friends you should surround yourself with. These are your very best friends.
What it all boils down to is this: guard your heart, don't give Always-Victims your energy, and cherish your Invaluable Friends.
Two of my Invaluable Friends, Anna and Blake, who have been here with me through the start of a new chapter in life as my dust settles. They surely aren't my only Invaluable Friends, but they've been incredibly important.
You often hear the phrase “the right choice isn't always the easy choice.” It's usually in regards to some moral obstacle in front of you, but I've come to determine that it applies to more than just that. It can apply to your physical life choices just as much as your moral ones. And that's something I've learned in the last (almost) month with our latest move. The last few weeks have SUCKED. And I don't say that for sympathy, but to prove my point.
In the last 10 years, I've gone through several moves. My husband was in the Marines for about half of that time, so moving is no new adventure for The Behee family. I grew up in Kentucky, but since, I've moved to California, back to Kentucky, to California AGAIN, to Colorado, to Texas, and finally, to our current location. And that's not counting each home change, either. Through all of those moves, though, who would've ever guessed that the hardest move so far would be from one city in Texas to another? Granted, the move was over 300 miles away, which is extremely far and sometimes states away to a non-Texan, but still! It's been so incredibly hard!
With every new house comes projects to turn it into a home. We had a good solid week of just preparing our back yard, which was a blank slate of dirt, for grass. I literally thought my body would give out on me in the physical labor I had to go through, including spending 12 hours laying new sod (Seriously, kudos to each and every one of you who do physical work for your jobs every single day. It's not for the weak.) I had never felt so sore and exhausted, even in childbirth—yes, childbirth was awful pain, even with an epidural, but at least I got a sweet cuddly baby after each instead of just a bunch of cuts, bruises, and awful sunburn all over. Add in general unpacking, organizing, hanging blinds, installing a Reverse Osmosis water filter with new kitchen faucet, etc, and it was just a ton of physical things that felt unending. On top of that, our kids really took it hard. What little bit of routine we had over summer break was completely shattered. Projects lasted hours, which had us eating dinner far past their bedtimes and then sleep wouldn't come easy. The first few nights, they slept wedged in our bed, leaving me on the couch by the early hours of morning. By the end of last week, I was starting to wonder if we had screwed up. We thought this move was for the best, but was it really? Our kids are fighting worse than ever, including with us; we're physically exhausted; every project we take on adds in 10 extra steps when something that shouldn't have gone wrong has....Was it really the right choice?
But as I sit here on my couch, hearing my kids playing nicely in their room and my husband playing his video games in the office, I know it was still the right choice. It absolutely wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Today is our oldest daughter's birthday, and we were able to celebrate it, not because of my husband's work schedule coincidentally working out or celebrating early or late, but on TIME. Because now we're all together, every day. We'll get to celebrate my birthday tomorrow, together. Holidays, his birthday, our other daughter's birthday, all of it. Because we made this very hard decision to move.
Yes, the projects may not be done (I had to paused in writing this to turn off the sprinklers for that new sod), but I know we made the right choice.
So ,if you're faced with a life-changing decision and you aren't sure what the right thing to do is, it just may not be the easier sounding one. But it's still the right one.
Taylor Swift released her newest single "The Archer" yesterday and, let me tell you, it's had me in my feelings. I felt her emotion in my core as she sang the words my own mind hadn't been able to conjure, expressing that heavy feeling in my chest that had come and gone over the last few months in the aftermath of losing a best friend. In listening to the song on repeat, I came to the realization that, in a figurative way, Taylor Swift had become the friend I really needed in such an oddly hard time.
Now there's a phrase I never believed I would write, especially so close to 30, but here we are, and I'm not at all embarrassed about it (though 2006-emo-me may be shocked). I'm by no means discounting my actual friends, who have all been there for me and are amazing. At a certain point, you just feel the need to shut up with your friends; you have to stop repeating the same situation that you should be over by now, especially in a situation like mine where I know it was for the better. but when you can listen to a song on repeat that feels the same way you do, it's its own sort of release.
But why Taylor Swift, you may ask? I have a pretty eclectic catalog of music, so the fact that I've focused on just this one artist may be odd. Well, for starters, I'm sure the fact that she's just a year older than me allows me to relate to her on that basic human level, but I think the rest of it makes sense once we look into my own personal history listening to her music and its involvement in this loss.
While Taylor Swift has been on the music scene since I was in high school, I was drawn to her music in 2014, when my oldest daughter (3 at the time) became obsessed with "Shake It Off." Watching the music videos from the 1989 album on YouTube was a wonderful bonding experience for me and my two daughters during what was honestly a pretty emotionally difficult time for me.
From there, I started noticing news of her then upcoming reputation album from a few friends who loved her and her music. I unintentionally kept up with the information and, when the music dropped, I was hooked. I instantly purchased the album and had no regrets listening to the whole thing on repeat for days and days.
Like 1989, reputation was another fun way to bond with my children. When I saw the rep tour was coming to my city, I knew I wanted to take my girls, but I also knew I didn't want to go alone. Through a Facebook status, I found out one of my close friends was also a huge fan. We somehow didn't know that about each other, and it was something that brought us closer, to the point that we often got caught up listening to song after song when I really should've been going home (like for my date night with my husband while she watched my children.)
We decided we'd take our daughters to the rep tour show together. It was a huge deal to us. So much so that we even made a song and music video parody to Taylor's Wildest Dreams to announce it to our kids (believe me, we cared more about that than our kids did. but I digress.)
The concert came and went and, despite our young children breaking down for being out so late past bedtime, it was magical. So much more so than we could have imagined. The kids even agreed, despite the sleep deprivation. We couldn't wait for whenever her next album would come so we could attend her next tour the same way.
But things don't always work out that way. Without going into too many details so as to not appear to be bashing this woman (truly not my intentions), that friendship completely exploded in my face. It was unexpected, and rough, though ultimately, I believe, necessary. She handled some things that were happening in her life in a way that made me extremely uncomfortable, and she felt the need to ghost me because of it.
In addition to the obvious stress of that situation, a silly fear set in. I was afraid I'd lose my love of Taylor Swift's music. I have a tendency to dissociate from ended chapters in my life and I was terrified that this part of me would be a casualty from that. In that fear, I reminded myself that her music was mine and my kids' thing long before she entered the picture. So I made myself listen to her music. Jamming to the darker songs found on reputation was actually a great catharsis for me in this period. And, so, the love stayed.
It wasn't just about the actual music, though. It was the (semi-) parallels in the situation I was in to what inspired the reputation era. As most of you all probably already know, Taylor Swift became the subject of a very public feud with some other celebrities and dropped out of the public eye in the aftershock of it. She focused on her private life, not retaliating as her reputation was dragged through the mud, and grew because of it. I knew that I needed to do the same in my life.
But that was hard, because in the loss of this friendship, I knew that on some level, I would become a villain in her story. It killed me that she controlled the narrative, and not knowing what she may be saying about me was a real struggle for a while (sometimes still is, if I'm being completely honest). Remembering to grow was difficult as I found myself physically ill from anxiety before a meeting with my church leaders over the situation (I was her small group leader, and she requested to leave our group, so the ghosting had to be addressed with them). After that meeting, it dawned on me, though, that it didn't matter anymore. Anyone who truly cared about me knew the whole story, not just the one side, and anyone else? Who cares? Let her say what she needs to say to make herself feel better. As Taylor so fittingly sang, "they're burning all the witches, even if you aren't one...so light me up." And I could grow in the aftershock. And then, I took Taylor's (still cryptic at the time of writing this) advice to "step into the daylight and let it go," removing her from social media she forgot to block me on.
Even in knowing you've made the right choice, though, you can't help but look back at every other failed friendship and think that maybe the problem is you. No matter how much you've grown since each ending, both in physical age and in what you hope is maturity, it just happens all over again. And, I'm sure you can guess at this point, enter: Taylor Swift.
"The Archer" perfectly encapsulated that notion to me. It was as though she knew exactly how I was feeling: having so much you want to say, but knowing it's pointless at best and mean at worst; the almost self-loathing that you've found yourself in exactly the same high-school-drama-filled scenario and you're almost 29, not 15; the anxiety that keeps you up thinking you'll always end up like this; knowing your worth in one breath and questioning how anyone sticks around you the next; and finally, the hope that someone actually could stay. I needed to hear that song.
I know it may sound weird to say a celebrity you'll likely never meet was a friend for you in your time of need, but I believe maybe some other people can relate. Her music, and the parts of her story she's been vulnerable enough to share with the world, have a way of being there for you when you feel completely alone, even if you aren't.
This song came out at the perfect time for me. It's allowed me to feel emotions I feel I should be over by now. And I seriously can't thank Taylor Swift enough for being here for me through this, both through "The Archer" and other songs.
And, for the record, if you haven't already read her article "30 things I learned before turning 30", you NEED to read it. Wonderful advice!
Hello! I'm Lindsey. I'm a writer with a ton of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. So I share them here in hopes that they reach others with these thoughts.