Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ex-Boyfriends & STDs: What I've learned from getting an STD for the first time.

I've gone back and forth about writing this post, but in the end, I think my being honest will not embarrass me and might help some women.
I broke up with Jason, my very on again-off again boyfriend, for the 13, 209th time about a month ago. I caught him in yet another lie.
I can't remember if it was right before or right after, but I noticed some different things going on "down there." Mostly, it was just weird spotting. I have Mirena, and that's pretty much the norm, so I chalked it up to that. The list of symptoms kept growing until I finally got into my doctor's office yesterday.

According to the NIH and the National Library of Medicine
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.

Trichomoniasis, also commonly referred to as "trich," is commonly found in those who are HIV positive. The other big complication is PID, pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility. Trich also puts the infected person at a higher risk for HIV and chlamydia because of the inflammation it causes.

Did I mention I don't have health insurance? Nope! This little emergency gyno trip will end up costing me $500 at a minimum.

I have to wait for the rest of the tests to come back to make sure I don't have chlamydia or gonorrhea. I also have to have an AIDS test not only because of the behavior of the man who claimed to love me so much, but because the woman he believes to have contracted this from is also an African-American woman. African-American women are the largest risk group for HIV/AIDS. He admitted (mostly because there really was denying. If he could have denied it, he would have) to having unprotected sex with this woman twice. 

I also need the AIDS test because come to find out, Hampton Roads has the 2nd highest STD and HIV/AIDS rates in the country. 

Here's an excerpt year old article from the Daily Press that will, most likely, be the focus of my nightmares for the next few weeks:

Eastern Virginia has the highest percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
"We have a significant local epidemic," said Dr. Edward Oldfield, director of Eastern Virginia Medical School's infectious disease division.That means people here are at a higher risk of infection — that engaging in unprotected sex is riskier here than it is in other parts of the country, Oldfield said. Once an infectious disease gets into a community, it spreads more easily here than it would elsewhere.
Oldfield, who's director of nine HIV clinics in Hampton Roads, says they see one newly diagnosed person a day on average. They're treating about 2,000 people at clinics in Williamsburg, Gloucester County, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Chesapeake.Who's at risk?More black Virginians than whites were diagnosed with HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, the four sexually transmitted diseases tracked by the Virginia Department of Health. Black residents made up about 62 percent of the HIV diagnoses in 2009. Between 2005 and 2009, black residents made up 63 percent of syphilis diagnoses, 76 percent of gonorrhea diagnoses and 55 percent of chlamydia diagnoses, according to the state health department.
Newport News tied with Virginia Beach for the third-highest percentage of diagnosed cases of chlamydia in the state between 2005 and 2009, at 7 percent. Norfolk had the highest at 9 percent.
Norfolk had the second-highest percentage of gonorrhea diagnoses in the state in 2009 at 11 percent, followed by Newport News at 8 percent.
The number of people diagnosed with syphilis in Virginia has increased every year since 2005, hitting 547 in 2009. Norfolk, at 12 percent, is tied with Richmond for the highest percentage of people diagnosed with syphilis in the state between 2005 and 2009. About 5 percent of the state's cases were in Newport News.
About 10 percent of the people infected with HIV or AIDS in the state live in Norfolk, making it the city or county with the second-highest percentage of people living with HIV or AIDS in the state, according to 2010 health department figures, which were released last month.About 4 percent live in Newport News and about 3 percent in Hampton.
I've never had an STD. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot  of fun in my 20s, but I was smart. I protected myself.  I never thought that the man I gave my heart to would put my health at such a high risk.

So, I'm trying not to judge myself and trying not to feel sorry for myself. I'm not typically the "why me" kinda girl. But seriously, how do you come back from something like this? How do you ever get over such a betrayal? Not only did the guy lie to me, but he didn't even have the fucking decency to use a condom. How do you trust that the next guy won't do the exact same thing?
I have a hard enough time opening up and being emotional to begin with. I'm just not that kind of person. I don't like to be in that vulnerable place. My heart is definitely harder today. Am I just supposed to forget this and tiptoe through the fucking tulips like nothing ever happened?
My advice: No matter how you think you know him, how good a guy you think he is, use a condom. He might be even greater than you think he is. He might be honest and trustworthy, but he might not be. And, is it worth the risk?
The shitty thing is that these men can go around footloose and fancy free and screw whomever they choose with little to no consequence. HPV doesn't give them cervical cancer. Trich won't render them infertile. Most STDs don't really affect men. That's why they're so scary for us chicks. Most of the time, these assholes have no idea they have anything wrong down there. You and I both know that if all STDs caused any symptoms in men, we'd have no more STDs! These idiots will drop everything and teleport themselves to the doctor when their pee-pees aren't kosher.
Ladies- protect yourselves. Educate yourselves! Don't be embarrassed. You're not the one who was thoughtless, careless, and downright stupid. But remember, just because you did nothing wrong, you still have to face the consequences of his douchy-ness.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Compassion...It's actually God speaking to you.

I'm on Facebook. Everyone is on Facebook. I adore Facebook. I know many people who think it's just drama-filled dribble or a place where one can make his/her life appear much more fabulous than it really is. I know some people hate Facebook. Not me! I seriously love Facebook. Why do I love Facebook so much? Ha! I'm so glad you asked.

Facebook has awarded me the outlet to reconnect with so many people. I have had falling outs with more than a few girlfriends. This all happened before the internet, so when you factor in the time that's passed between then and now, Facebook allows us to try that friendship again. It's been awesome getting to know my old high school girlfriends all over again. It's awesome to watch my old friends grow into parents, spouses, and grown-ups.

Facebook has been a place where I can be "friends" with people I didn't have the opportunity to know well in high school and college. There's this one girl, Rachel, who was a class ahead of my in high school. Rachel was (and is even more so now) stunningly beautiful. In addition to her very fortunate appearance, Rachel was (and is even more so now) a terrific human being. She's beautiful on the inside! I always looked up to Rachel, but kind of from afar. Since she was older than me, and our school didn't include freshmen, I didn't have a whole lot of time to spend with Rachel. Facebook has allowed us to really get to know one another and she has become a very important person in my life. I get support, encouragement, and really good advice from Rachel.

Facebook allows me a glimpse into the opinions and interests of my friends. Don't get me wrong, I have "un-friended" plenty of people who reveal their ignorant, bigoted opinions, but for the most part, I learn a lot. One thing that was recently posted on a friend's wall was a link to this blog post. It changed my life. Here's what she said:

Hey Baby.Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’ team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.Enjoy and cherish your gifts.And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.
Love, Mama

I have read this to my daughter many times, and the more I read it, the more I want to meet the woman who wrote this. Faith has always been something I've struggled with. Perhaps it's because no one has ever put it so simply to me before. I know it sounds silly, but this little blog post has brought me one step closer to finding God again.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The necklace that saved my sanity

During my almost 10 year long failed attempt at marriage and adulthood, I tried so many times to discover myself. After giving up big, powerful, career-woman dreams, I decided to go to community college and major in interior design. My parents were of the engineer type and creativity was never going to be a suitable career field for me. Rebellious as I was am, I majored in Fashion Design. Nope! I switched to English, the most artistic thing allowed by my CPA mother, when my mother (may God rest her soul) informed me that the best job I could hope to have was managing the Gap. So, English it was. I hated it and ended up dropping out of college a short semester before I was set to graduate and begin my depressing career as an admin-assistant/wannabe writer. Looking back, managing the Gap would have been a sweet gig. I'm a fan of their t-shirts!

Let's skip to my marriage.  In my marriage, it was never really, um... encouraged to create much. In my ex-husband's pretend OCD eyes (more on that later), all I ever really managed to create was a mess. While this is most definitely true, it still kinda sucked. So, I tried to think of a creative outlet befitting of a soccer mom.
Scrapbooking! What a nightmare! I feel like for so many people, scrapbooking is a way to pull focus from an ugly picture. Sure, it's a good idea in theory, but I am trained in photography (note- I said trained not talented!) and I like my photograph to tell the story.
I then thought, well, if my job is creative, then it's cool! Community college, here I come! I planned to major in interior design. Problem? My family is only cool with 4 year degrees, and not one of the 1,975 colleges in my area offer a bachelor's in interior design. So, graphic design! Yes!!! A growing, in-demand field, creative, decent pay, and I would get to call myself an artist. Hooray!!!! Nope.

The demands on my time took a toll. My first semester, I took 2 classes. Art 121, The Elements and Principles of Design, and Photography 101. Both were required courses, and both were so incredibly time consuming, I dropped the Art class. Next semester, I re-took the art class and spent about 50 hours each week on homework. Ex-Husband was dissatisfied, to say the least. We divorced shortly after that class ended.

After a couple more intense semesters, I dropped out of community college.

But, I still felt like my life was bland. I took up painting. After all, I had just taken all these art classes. I've designed a ton of wedding invitations, birthday party invitations, business cards, etc... and I liked loved doing it! I totally can paint! Yeah, no. I suck at painting. 
As a way to mitigate my bordem and alleviate stress from the upstairs' neighbor situation, I took up jewelry making. It started with me trying to copy this amazing, simple, and incredibly expensive necklace and then I turned into a full fledged addict! I had a new creative outlet! I also discovered that working with my hands puts me into a serious Zen-like state, something I didn't know how much I truly needed.
Here's the necklace I was trying to duplicate. Elva Fields is a beautiful artist and I felt horrible trying to copy her piece. It's not a terribly difficult piece, and I certainly spent significantly less on the supplies needed to make this (I actually spent more, but that's another story), but it just felt dirty somehow. Like I was stealing. Needless to say, I still have yet to complete this necklace almost 6 months after I started it.
Although this piece remains in the "works in progress" pile, and I see it almost every day, it remains sad and incomplete. However, what this dirty, seedy necklace did was spark my creativity and make me feel whole again. I now have a way to express myself, meditate, and create. Life feels so full and complete when one can create something. Making jewelry is relaxing, cathartic, soothing, and super fun! Since stringing this relatively easy necklace, I have challenged myself to take my jewelry making to a new level. I've taught myself wire work, macrame, earrings, and the list goes on. This silly little necklace project reminded me that I need goals in my life. I need challenges. And most important, this silly little necklace taught me that I can actually achieve those goals and overcome those challenges. 

And even though I totally copied her idea, I'm cool with it because I couldn't even find the same kind of beads she used so I just made it my own. Now I know I didn't copy or steal her idea, I just used another artists' work as inspiration. I love making jewelry, and although I am no where close to being as talented as Elva Fields (seriously, check out her website. The woman is amazing!), I found a healthy, creative passion that helps keep me sane. Ok, mostly sane.

As I finish this up, I really want to go finish this necklace so I can wear it tomorrow, get tons of compliments, and feel full and complete because I'm wearing something I created. And that feels amazing!

And on that note, I'll be using this blog to show off some jewelry (mine and other people's) and I might even do some sort of tutorials, just in case I might inspire someone else.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Everything is gonna be alright!

The thought of a blog always sounds so good in my head, but then I finally sit down to write something, anything, and I just stare at this very, very white screen like an idiot. I think I have Blog Fright. Look it up. I promise it's a thing.
Anyway, I have amazing friends. Seriously, I have AH-mazing friends, and they have all been encouraging me to write about my life, what it was, what it is, and what it could be. Perhaps I'm just too damn scared to write so honestly about myself. But, my AH-mazing friends are much smarter than I am, especially when it comes to myself, I'm gonna give this blog thing a whirl. Here we go!
I'm 29 for the 6th time, and I am divorced. Wow, that sucked to write. I feel like I just uttered a shameful confession or introduced myself at some sort of meeting. Truthfully, I hate that I am divorced, but only because of Scoots. Scoots is my 7 year old, painfully adorable daughter. Her name is not Scoots. I have no idea why I call her that. I wish I could tell you some heartwarming anecdote about how when she was a baby she scooted around like a Vespa, but, alas, while I am sure she did scoot around like a Vespa, I still don't know why I call her that. Sometimes, I call her B or Bees. Don't know where that one came from, either. Her dad/my ex-husband,  Big Temp, calls her Bread. I do know where that one came from, and it is an adorable, heartwarming story. I am kind of mad at Big Temp because I am jealous he has the heartwarming meaning behind the bizarre nickname he gave his daughter. Oh well, I have lots of Barbies.
Let's get back on track! Crap, what am I talking about? Oh yeah, divorce. So, yeah, that happened 2 years ago. I made the incredibly intelligent decision to leave my husband and then instantly fall in love with a new boy, J. J was sexy, sweet, attentive, amazing in the sack, pretty much everything my ex-husband wasn't (well, he is all of those things, he just stopped being those things with me). J was practically perfect. Well, no, not really. Ok, so, he wasn't practically perfect. He wasn't even close to being perfect, but he was a good guy. We broke up.
So, now, I'm single. For real single. LIke, for really real single. And, I'm trying to be cool with it. But, I've got my AH-mazing friends, my precious heart, Scoots, my AH-dorable puppy, Potato, and who know... I'm sure something else awesome will come my way. One thing I will never lose is my own awesomeness.

So, this is my new blog. It's gonna be a place for me. I'm going to ramble, nothing will make sense, but it doesn't matter because it's for me. I've named it Champagne Thursday because Thursdays are always champagne days! Ok fine. Every day is a champagne day, but especially Thursdays!