Why I Love My Inner Bitch

It was quite the week last week. The tree is up and gingerbread are baked but I’m finding my Christmas spirit to be a bit elusive. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the horrible tragedy last week in Connecticut, which I won’t even speak about because it makes me tear up every time. Another huge part of it has to do with my 14-year-old niece being stuck in the hospital with stabbing abdominal pains that they can’t seem to diagnose after 7 days. It is frustrating and worrying and she is handling it all like a trooper but her poor mum, my only sister, is slowly being worn down to the point of exhaustion. And there’s nothing I can do.

I know this all sounds terribly depressing and I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer but I am finding that having my nerves frayed and this constant low-level of worry eating at me has been quite the eye-opening learning experience. I think I am finally falling in love with my inner bitch.

Don’t get me wrong. She has always been there. She makes an appearance every once in a while, but usually when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine with my girlfriends and we get started on our men, or our kids, or life as a woman in general. She is pretty much bound to show up once a month and my poor Muppet is well acquainted with her.

And here’s the thing; I love women who let their inner bitch out once in a while. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about the kind of woman who looks you up and down, gives you a withering look, and walks away or who insults perfect strangers based on superficialities. That is juvenile and unnecessarily hurtful. What I love is when a woman can finally let loose and actually voice those things that she is unhappy with in her life; the things that drive her crazy, or make her dissatisfied. I love it when my otherwise cheerful girlfriends will let loose with a few choice expletives while pondering why their dear spouse can’t seem to get his dirty undies into the hamper.

Let’s face it; we women are taught to be nice. I know that I have a huge problem saying ‘no’ or rocking the boat. I was always the shy one who was well-behaved and easy-going as a child. And I was complimented on those traits A LOT. Sound familiar? We were encouraged to be nurturing, to play quietly, to keep our dresses clean and our hair tidy. I don’t think I even realized until the last few years how much of that I had carried on into my adult life.

I realize now that all this time I had this other side of me that was aching for more than just a brief walk-on role in my life. As I grow older I realize that my bitch – that part of me that stands up for herself, and doesn’t suffer fools, and gets fed up and frustrated – is a real and important part of my personality and I am growing less and less afraid to let her out.

I look back at some of the times that she was trying to make herself known and I repressed her: The time that I was forced to work until almost 10pm one night because my boss didn’t get his own work done on time and I made a comment to that effect (in a joking tone) which got me a stern look and a warning. The time that I was told I was ‘too blunt’ when I gave my opinion in a meeting. I was right in both cases, but I forgot to be nice and unassuming, to remember my place and not rock the boat.

Maybe loving my inner bitch comes with being in my forties now. I have obligations and responsibilities and I don’t have the time to mess around with poor customer service or whiny people or incompetent bosses. I want my life to be happy, and to run as smoothly as it can, and I am not going to put up with anything that stands in my way.

I actually think my bitch was always there to make sure I did what was best for myself, but the rest of me just wasn’t ready yet to put myself first. She shows up when things are at their toughest and says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. She is the one who gets me to say ‘no’ when I really am stretched to thin. She is the one who gets me to cancel plans that I am actually too exhausted or sick to enjoy. She is the one who lets me speak my mind at my current job because I have important things to say and should be heard.

I am almost grateful that the last couple of weeks have been so stressful. Unleashing my inner bitch has actually allowed me to prioritize and to see what is really important. She has given me permission to say ‘no’ to everything except those things that matter most; my kids, my guy, getting ready to make this a great holiday, and helping out my sister and niece in any way they will let me. In many ways, its like I have found a new best friend!

 

 

 

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Suddenly I’m Interesting Again!

Wow, its been a while, hasn’t it? Turns out my new job is not only fabulous but takes up a WHOLE lot of my time. I worked 40 hours each the last two weeks. That’s just crazy but I’m loving it.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

I was joking with a friend of mine the other day that suddenly I seem to be ‘interesting’ again in many people’s eyes. Its funny, yet at the same time quite sad to come upon this realization.

See, I have always had the kind of jobs that people find rather interesting. Even when I was working in a bookstore, back in the days after I finished university, it was great conversation fodder when out at the bar, meeting new people. Apparently bookstores are fascinating. Working in one implies that you are an intellectual, that you love to read, and that if somebody gets to know you well enough, you may be generous enough to pass on your staff discount.

Then I started working in book publishing. Well, apparently that was super-duper cool. Everybody wanted to know which authors I had worked with and once you start being able to pass around names like Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, your cool and interesting status is well and truly secured. I admit that at moments I enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they found out what I did. They wanted to know more, to hear stories, to find out if it was as glamorous it seems (it’s not, by the way), and the conversation would flow.

Then I became a stay-at-home mum, and when I would meet new people and they would ask me what I did, I would tell them “I’m home with my kids right now.” They would nod and smile, and move on to another topic. Now, I didn’t expect people to quiz me about the daily happenings of my life changing diapers and making lunches. Kids are not everybody’s cup of tea and I certainly understand that once you’re out of the young kid phase, you don’t want to hear about teething and tantrums. Still, there was a certain unease when people would hear that, and almost a dismissal, like we may not have anything in common or anything to talk about. I admit that more than a couple of times I was guilty of the big BUT. “I’m home with my kids BUT I used to be a book publicist,” I would say and their eyes would go from glazed over to interested again.

I hope that most of you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not saying this because I’m some kind of attention seeking weirdo. I’m actually quite an introvert and deep down I find it really difficult to meet new people. Although I seem outgoing and social, that is a persona I have developed over years of working with people and it can be exhausting to keep it up for very long. So, when the conversation becomes stilted, I know that I have certain go-to stories that will keep the ball rolling and put an end to any awkwardness. It’s a tool, really.

Now, I am a Social Media and Communications Associate for a women’s e-magazine, and apparently I am once again interesting. It is a job that never even existed 10 years ago, and people my age seem to find it fascinating that companies hire somebody to post tweets and status updates. Of course, it’s much more than that, but the fascination is still there and just last month , I had two acquaintances from my kids’ school ask to get together with me and pick my brain. Both are self-employed and need to unravel the social media mystery sooner rather than later, so I get why they want to talk to me. I just find it fascinating that I amsomebody that people want to speak to again.

And here’s the thing: I was interesting when I was “just” a stay-at-home mom. I read books and followed politics, and was funny and smart and well-spoken and educated. There was so much more to me than wiping noses and attending play groups. My closest friends are the ones who always knew that, and I have to say that the ones who didn’t will never be people who I could be friendly with. And I feel a bit guilty now that even I would cop-out and bring up my old “interesting” job when I was a full-time mum. I know now that I was telling people that what I was doing with my life wasn’t enough, but you know what? To hell with that. It was enough. Maybe next time I’m faced with telling a stranger what I do for a living I’ll say “I’m a Social Media guru now, but I was home with my kids for 7 years and it was a blast,” and see what they say.