Trying To Tinder (and not hate myself!)

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Since I have been a year sober, I have earned the free pass to start dating again. That’s when I realized the bleak reality that I have never actually dated before. I’m going to cut out the cop out and say “never really” dated before; that one time he bought me Taco Bell and his Fire Sauce-laden hands stained my shirt in the boob-area does not count as a date.

But why?

Well, I’m going to say something that feminists aren’t supposed to say: I was completely undateable for a long, long time, and a lot of it was me and my refusal to attempt to attract good guys. I always blamed it on being overweight, or having acne, or guys just being ‘dumb’, or other shallow things, but I never, ever thought that maybe it was because I was really closed off to men, offensive, an alcoholic (an at times mean one), and radiated a ‘I’m here for a good time and that’s it’ mentality . When I was younger I had a ton of guy friends I would play with and I would always be one of the boys, and, for the most part, my guy friends didn’t want to date boys. As I became more comfortable with my femininity and sexuality, I started to get even more lost. I didn’t know what to do with myself, because I was so used to being a tomboy. Dresses? Make up? Boobs? WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THIS GIRL STUFF? As I grew up I would never quite associate with the right type of guy for me. No one ever said, “oh, he seems great for you!”. Actually, my friends pretty much always didn’t like the guys I would hook up with. Honestly, I never really liked them that much, either. There were definitely a few I liked a lot, but for all of the wrong reasons. I would like them because they would treat me like I was nothing, or put me down…it’s awful, but it’s true. I was attracted to guys who pointed out the same flaws I saw in myself, and the great guy friends I have accumulated over the years were always just friends because they respected and loved me for me. YUCK! Next.

Well, being sober has opened my eyes to a lot about my friendships and relationships. The friendship arena was easy to tackle and, although painful, was great to sift through and find the red flags. Dating has not been as easy. I still harbor a lot of insecurities just from being human and my experiences with men. I, like many women, have my issues with men. I have been assaulted, I have been lead on, I have been friend-zoned, I have been lied to in order to get into bed, I have chosen to believe lies to get into bed, I have hooked up with people I absolutely would not have hooked up with had I been sober, I have hooked up with guys simply to get back at someone else or for the story…I really only had one experience with a guy I really liked and we shared both an emotional and physical  attraction. We awkwardly (aka soberly) hooked up and I freaked out because I made him think I was this confident, chill girl, when in reality, I was a big ole bundle of nerves, anxiety, and inexperience. Long, long story short, after a couple of hook ups, he asked if we could just be friends because he was still recovering from a bad break up (which, in hindsight, was probably a way to let me down easy) and I lied and told him we could be just friends when I was crazy about him. We hung out all of the time, became extremely close, but were always ‘just friends’. Yeah, no one believed that crap, either, but apparently he did. I finally told him how I felt, he rejected me (as respectfully and nicely as possible), he broke my heart, and I have hooked up and dated down just about ever since to avoid ever being crushed like that ever again. I didn’t do it consciously, but as I reflect on the guys I had flings with or forced myself to connect with, they were always guys I knew I had no chance of a future with. Guys who I didn’t really find attractive. Guys who were “great, buuuuut….”. I protected my heart, yet I was constantly hurting myself by hooking up with guys who weren’t worth my time. I was convinced I was unlovable and not good enough for a good guy. I was 18 and gave up on ever finding love. How over-the-top dramatic is that? Queue drinking to numb my feelings and to make it easier to hook up with guys I don’t care up.

I definitely have liked plenty of guys since then, some I’ve hooked up with, some I haven’t, but it always paled to how I felt with that one guy from so long ago. That was when the drinking and ‘relationships’ became hand-in-hand. I started to get involved with guys I knew I would never have a future with, and would make myself believe that I had all of the power in the situation. Sure, I might not have liked the guys, but it’s not like they were obsessed with me, either. It was just apathy tango, and it made for some pretty depressing ‘relationships’. I would settle for so many HUGE deal breakers, because I never felt like I was worth it or loveable; I was lucky to have a guy look at me beyond ‘just friends’. So what if he wasn’t attractive to me at all and makes me feel bad about myself—he wants to put his dick inside of me! I should be THANKFUL, right!?

The thing is, that’s how I thought about myself for a very, very long time. I have confidence in so many aspects of my life and personality, but when it comes to attracting guys, I am completely an insecure mess. I am aware that I am beautiful and have a big chest and an ass sponsored in part by french fries, and in college I learned that guys will sleep with anything. However, in terms of making a guy want me beyond a sex toy or just friends, I never believed I could make a guy want to date me or just like me “like that”. It was a severe complex I had that made celibacy pretty darn easy in the recovery department. I never so much as blinked when in AA they said “you can’t have sex or a relationship for one year”. Twist my arm, why don’t you? Can you make it two years? I just never understood why people loved sex so much. TV and movies told me I should love it, and I should be sexual, BUT NOT TOO SEXY, but not too prude, either, but definitely a sexy prude tease that puts out. Cool!

Yeah, the celibacy was not hard. Honestly, the dating is way harder.

I officially, FINALLY, started going on dates. REAL dates. Where I am sober, and it was set up in advance, and it’s on a weekday night at a restaurant or something. Food and drinks are had, and the guy pays (I make 75 cents to the dollar, fuck going dutch on the first date if you ask me out). A d-a-t-e. And it. has. been…..scary for me. Just really, really scary. I have been using free dating apps, which I know you get what you pay for with those things, and my expectations are low, but I actually finally got the courage to meet one of the guys in person. A date! I got dressed up, wore heels, sexy underwear (lol), and wore my favorite perfume. It was surreal, but I hadn’t done that since that one guy broke my heart nearly a decade ago.

I went on the date, and not only did I not die, but I actually had a great time. I laughed at his jokes, I found him incredibly interesting and genuine, smart, dare I say even kinda cute? We went to a casino and actually won a decent amount of money in the slot machines and craps; I told him the last time I was in a casino was in Vegas when I was black out, got in a fight with everyone, particularly the one guy who was leading me on at that time, and I lost my wallet. I regretted never gambling and having the experience, so it was a bucket list moment for me. He bought us dinner and drinks (I did not tell him I was sober….that was awkward). We sat on the same side of the booth like those disgusting couples you hate. I even told him that I hate people that do that. He didn’t care. I didn’t either. We talked for hours about literally nothing. It was really, really nice.

As we were talking and he was trying to touch me (in a non-creepy way), I would immediately retract. I cringed when he complimented my eyes or my smile. I would get really sarcastic when he complimented my dress (I mean, I know he wasn’t complimenting my dress…my boobs looked fantastic in it. I didn’t wear it to get complimented on my shoes). I just was throwing up those walls again that I did when I drank, and it really disappointed me that I kept going back to my old tricks. I just couldn’t let go of those past feelings of rejection and insecurity that I have worked so, so hard on building back up over these past 15 months. I felt like all that work was for nothing. I can’t make a guy like me if I don’t believe he could like me. Cliche, but true.

Then I did something I shouldn’t have. I asked if he wanted to hang out and smoke.

I am so adamant about women being able to do whatever they want, with whomever they want when it comes to dating. I have been slut-shamed and sexually humiliated by men with locker room talk over the years, and it is a terrible feeling. Especially when I am apparently always friend-zoned, I have been celibate for over a year TWICE (like, I have done this before, EVEN WHEN I DID DRINK.),  and I can count on my one hand how many men I’ve hooked up with in five years. But yes, I too have been slut-shamed. If anything you would think I would be called prude, but since I have a large chest and a loud personality, some people assume I am easy. I take responsibility for perhaps exuding that behavior in my drinking days, but at the end of the day, sexist stereotypes are sexist stereotypes, and I get them, too, as I’m sure every woman reading this has been sexually stereotyped based on their appearance. I can’t even imagine what my friends of color have experienced–I get sexualized when I say I’m French, for God’s sake. I can’t imagine what women of color deal with, and it’s just despicable.

We went to his place, smoked, and watched Netflix. Need I say more? It was a great night, and I ended the chapter of my 18 months of celibacy. We kissed and it was fireworks. I felt those butterflies I haven’t felt in so long, that I thought only existed in drinking hazes. He was actually a good kisser. He was respectful of me and my boundaries. He did not pressure me, nor was he expecting company since he was frantically trying to clean up when he let me into his house. We stayed up all night, and he had work at 6 in the morning. He invited me to sleep over, but I was not going to wake up at 6 am to not go to work. He told me what a great time he had, how we should do this again, and told me to text him the second I got home, but not while I’m driving. He kissed me goodbye and my knees buckled. I was freaking smitten.

We texted all day the next day. He talked all about where he will take me next after his beach weekend. Cute. He told me to break a leg at my show and was so excited for me. He would text me random things here and there and we talked all weekend.

But he wouldn’t set a date!

So I decided to throw my admittedly traditional philosophy aside and make a move.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 3.15.19 AMAnd I never heard from him again.

And you know what, at first I was disappointed. I felt kind of dumb, and a little embarrassed. And who knows, maybe he will send me some text this weekend and I’ll post our engagement photo. Buuuut I don’t see that happening. He’s just not that into me, and come to think of it, I wasn’t that into him, either. How could I, I barely know him! I was attracted to him and enjoyed his company, and yeah, we had a great date, but other than that…I don’t have much else to miss. That’s when I realized how scary dating is now a days. There are so many options, and everyone is so disposable. There is always someone around the corner to swoop you up, feed you pizza, and make out. The old me would’ve sent a passive aggressive text calling him out on blowing me off, or how he lead me on, or blah blah blah….but you know what I did instead? I swiped right some more guys, and started talking to another, cooler guy, who is a doctor that volunteers and has the cutest dog in the entire planet. We have a date tonight. He’s picking me up. We’re going to a real restaurant. The other guy was so last week. And maybe this guy will be so last week next week. Who cares! It’s dating, and it’s supposed to be fun. I’m learning what it’s like to have fun with dating. To kiss a guy and not freak out (completely). Baby steps!

The old me would have never done that. I would’ve given up, claimed all guys are the worst, and hang out with my gay friends and groan about how awful everyone is. Now, that last part is still always on the table, but I just dusted off my shoulders, genuinely believed it was his loss, and got back on the horse. I might just be ready to date, after all.

And, might I add, the tinder guys will not have any access to my social media or able to go to a show for a very, very long time.

Here’s to loving yourself, dating, and simply not playing games. Just being honest, cutting them loose the second you see a red flag, and having some fun along the way.

Comedy Pigs Summer Comedy Extravaganza Set

Last night was so much fun! A huge thank you to everyone who made it out!! I had such a great time getting to see old friends and meet new ones. Missed out? Don’t worry, I recorded it. The phone fell off the chair, but luckily I was loud enough for it to pick up everything from the show, to me freaking out backstage. I hope you enjoy it!

Press: Comedy Pigs Summer Comedy Extravaganza 2015

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MET’s ‘Comedy Pigs Comedy Extravaganza’ Set for August

MET's 'Comedy Pigs Comedy Extravaganza' Set for AugustMET’s hilarious sketch and improv group, The Comedy Pigs, will play host to comedy groups from across the Maryland/Virginia/DC area for the “Comedy Pigs’ Comedy Extravaganza”. The “Extravaganza” will run for two performances this August, each with a different line-up, for two unique nights of comedy featuring improv games, stand-up comedy, long-form improv, sketch, and everything in between.

The Comedy Pigs, who have been making audiences laugh for over 22 years, are thrilled to invite some of their friends and bitter rivals from the DMV to Frederick for a weekend of hilarity. Writer, comedian, and personal shopper Suzanne Lassise will stumble into town as she has stumbled through adulthood, one over-priced (but worth it!) shoe at a time. Ladies Night Out explore what it means to be women, in more ways than one. Prettier Than You, a DC-based long-form improv troupe with a focus on character work, thinks that they are, um, prettier than you. Local comic, Isabel Duarte is a member of the Comedy Pigs, a MET company member, and a regular contributor to the weekly comedy show and podcast, “The Last Hurrah.” Tributes is an improv comedy act from Baltimore that specializes in friendship, mind-reading, and a lack of boundaries. While exploring the periphery of relationships, they fulfill wild dreams and realize impossible scenarios right before your eyes! Additional performers will include Topher Bellavia, The Last Hurrah, Porkchop Volcano, Trampus, Send in the Clowns, Tramped, Washington College Improv, Drop Three Improv, Devin Greene, Girlfight, Topher and You, Going to the Movies Alone, and of course, The Comedy Pigs!

In addition to the “Comedy Pigs Comedy Extravaganza” performances, The Comedy Pigs will be hosting improv workshops led by Topher Bellavia. Topher Bellavia is an actor, director, designer, and writer who lives and performs in DC. He has performed with the Washington Improv Theater and has won two 48 Hour Film Project Awards. He was the Managing Director for the Washington Improv Theater for four years and has continued to offer training in Corporate Improv and Creativity. He has worked with The Comedy Pigs over the years and is currently hosting the “Maryland Wednesday Drop-in” in Silver Spring to work with local groups on their improvisation skills. The first workshop will focus on “The Power of Positivity” and the second workshop will work on “Interacting with Locations and Objects.” The workshops will take place on August 8 at 12pm and 3:30pm.

“Comedy Pigs’ Comedy Extravaganza” will run Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. at Maryland Ensemble Theatre (31 W Patrick St. Frederick) located in the historic FSK Hotel. These shows are intended for mature audiences only and tickets are $17 (all fees included). The Comedy Pigs Improv Workshops will cost $25 and are intended for individuals of all ages who are interested in learning more about improvisation. Reservations for the workshops should be done in advance because there is limited space available for each class. For more information visit marylandensemble.org or call (301) 694-4744.

ORIGINAL POST MADE ON http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwcomedy/article/METs-Comedy-Pigs-Comedy-Extravaganza-Set-for-August-20150729

Day 2: First Up, First Out

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A week has passed since I last performed. After getting back on the saddle with stand up, at first, I felt a little disheartened. Not that I expected to kill, but I was just kind of jarred by how hard it is, how delusional I must be to think I can actually *do* comedy, and what my life will entail doing open mics more and more frequently. It was scary, and I didn’t feel ready.

Then as I got more support and wrote about it more, I felt more at ease about the situation. It’s miraculous how a week of just preparing and getting kind of excited will do to you. I wanted to do some more open mics but my work schedule just won’t budge right now. Tuesdays are typically good for me, so I do open mics then. I was back at Wits End Saloon and saw some familiar faces when I came in promptly for sign up. I was the first to sign up, Suzanne Lacease. I sat alone with my moleskine and waited. and waited. and waited.

The MC told me I was up first, and I was actually kind of relieved. I just wanted to get it over with, because my jitters were kicking in and I was starting to get nervous. He called me up, and it was like I was a completely different person than from what I was last week. I just sat on the stool, remembered my moleskine this time, and just chatted with the audience.

Now, there were maybe 8 people in the audience, but I got constant laughter and participation from the audience. It felt great. I was just talking to them like they were my friends, and we all felt much more comfortable. I wasn’t trying to hard to be witty or funny, I just said what was on my mind and it worked so much better. I forgot some one liners I wanted to say, which I’m still kicking myself about, but I am overall really pleased by how it turned out! I also ended too early and was at a complete loss as to what to say when I was done with my two bits. I wanted to tune them up for my big show so I forgot to make it long enough to fit into a set. I talked about dating again with this set, and have come to terms with the fact that I am just gonna do dating jokes as I start out because they are easy for me and it’s something I know, at least. I don’t know relationships, but I definitely know dating. I just got to suck it up and realize I’m not Chappelle or Carlin…yet. :)

I got up, did my thing, got some laughs, and PROMPTLY got out the door. I just did not want to hear dick jokes or any jokes, really. I just was not in the mood and I have an early morning tomorrow. I was home in bed by 10:40 PM. Now that is a great open mic to me.

My big show released its flyer today and I can’t be more excited. With this solid open mic under my belt and more to come, I am feeling more and more confident that I will put on a good show. I’m trying my best to not beat myself up or be hard on myself because I’m just doing it for once and not getting in my own way. It’s nice to look out on the horizon and not see me standing there blocking myself from my dreams.

I am tucking myself into bed and getting some sleep. Until next time!

Baby’s First Playbill

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Come join me and Maryland’s best comedy acts for the show that keeps on giving! I am so excited and nervous to do this big show and I would love for you to come see it! The show is at the Maryland Ensemble Theater in Frederick, Maryland. Tickets are available here!

Day 1: First Step to Stand Up

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I’d like to share with you my open mic life, as it helps me get better at my, dare I say it, “craft”. I started writing about open mics years ago (I can’t believe it’s been YEARS…yikes), then got a new job and a whole bunch of excuses to get in the way of my life. Now, I am getting back into it, and as an incentive, I want to write about every performance I do. The good, the bad, the ugly.

I have a big show August 8 (Marylanders, buy your tickets!! It’s a great line up of comedy Improv troupes and stand-ups) and I realized something: I should probably practice and get a tight 10 minutes of material ready. You know, prepare? Maybe? I am someone who rarely studied and got A’s (B’s…C’s…and D’s…but mostly B’s!) a pretty good athlete that always groaned during practice but always delivered at game time, and an improviser at heart, but I know I have to cut that habit out if I ever want to get that A. I can coast all I want but at the end of the day, you just won’t get good if you don’t practice. I’m learning that the hard way.

My girlfriend’s boyfriend, Devin, is a comic in Maryland who was kind enough to let me in on his open mic plans. There was a small show at Wit’s End Saloon next to Magooby’s Joke House in Timonium, and I’ve been to the bar before to eat some food, but never knew there was a stand up show there. I have been coasting a lot recently and haven’t performed in months. It’s my own fault, but I work every day just about, and when I don’t, I’m traveling. I don’t abuse adderall anymore so I just don’t have the energy I used to “have” back in the day when I worked 15 hours a day. I know I need to reel in my work schedule, but that’s another story for another meeting with my therapist. I just never think I’m doing enough, and honestly, I am doing way too much. Way. Too. Much. Comedy took a back seat because it didn’t make me money, and I thought I was hot shit and funny because my friends think so. I don’t know many newbie comics who don’t think that way; we’re all delusional to think we can become real comedians. That’s how all of the greats start–completely, utterly delusional, but performing every single night.

It’s about time I did the same.

We got to the show and like clock work, I pulled up next to Devin in the parking lot. It was cosmic, or it was just the closest spot by the bar. You decide. I met the other comics on the line up, and met the MC. He was very friendly. I was very nervous. I was wearing my lucky Nike kicks and my favorite red lipstick, and I still felt nervous. I signed my name on the line-up sheet “Suzanne Lacease” just to avoid the dreadful Lassie pronunciation. It was in ink. Boom. Done. Now it’s time to sit and wait.

and wait.

and wait.

Am I even going on? Did the MC forget me? I don’t blame him, but I can’t hear one more dick joke…

I went outside to take a deep breath and chat with some drunk guys who told me they’d laugh at my jokes ‘no matter what’. I was so nervous I believed them. The MC came out and told me I was coming on after a guy with a vest adorned with buttons a la Girl Scouts. This is it!

I was called to the stage, and I decided to record being called up and screamed “LET’S TELL SOME DICK JOOOOOKEEEEESSS” on video for Instagram. It was greeted with 0 response, I pressed ‘done’ and posted it on to Instagram. At least the people on IG can hear the clapping and not the ‘what?’ I felt like as the only woman on the line up I should call out the very obvious theme of masturbation and dick jokes that was throughout the hour and a half I was patiently waiting.

I decided that they didn’t really hear me (false) or that they really thought I was going to tell dick jokes (another false), and I made a joke about how I don’t have that kind of business to banter about. I got the giggle. Ok, phew, let’s go.

Then I look to the stool to open my Moleskine of jokes I wrote, or a set list I had scribbled, and I realize it’s on the table by Devin and I was a deer in headlights. I joked about being unprepared (everyone’s favorite…sigh) and Devin tossed me the Moleskine that I dropped on the floor. Welp, I thought, I’m gonna just wing it.

I started off talking about being from Baltimore, but I couldn’t quite remember how I set up the joke in my Moleskine and it fell flat. Wasn’t awful, but just wasn’t funny. Luckily I had a lot of guys in the audience who were from Baltimore so they at least were on my side. Kind of like a “ok, white girl, bring it home to Baltimore”. I slabbed on my accent and kept going.

On to the next!

Then I joked about my job in retail, and I got some tepid laughter. It wasn’t hysterical, and it was a little too long-winded to get to the punchline. Luckily, once I got to the punchline, it got the laugh, and I felt all right. I’m not killing, but this room is about 10 half-drunk comics who have heard it all. You just aren’t going to kill, and that’s ok! Tepid laughter from a comic means I should hold on to it for another open mic.

Then I kind of forgot what else to say. SMASH CUT: DATING JOKES!

I hate dating jokes. I don’t know, I just have heard them all from way funnier women, and they just are always the same. Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings are the go-to dating joke gurus, and even then sometimes the jokes are like “uuugghhhhh we get it”. But I didn’t know what to say, and I felt like talking about something I know will get a laugh because it is fucking funny. Shout out to my newest Instagram follower “Orgasm.Giverr”. He saved my set. I can improve on it but I have a good set up and I built my confidence back up. The guy in the front was smiling. Devin was laughing because he’s a good guy, but when someone is a stranger and laughs, you feel good.

Then I had some joke about charmers that I honestly know was so good when I had it written, but completely forgot the punchline. I forgot the set up, and a huge chunk of the story. It got a giggle but it fell flat, but I know it can get better with some practice.

I stayed and listened to one last comic, then decided I had to get home for work in the morning. I got some smiles from the other comics, and nods. It felt good to be back. I chatted with a guy from LA outside and we chatted about LA and open mics. He was aloof, like a lot of comics, but he seemed like good company. As I was talking, the MC came outside and asked me how long have I been doing stand up. I just passively said “not very long”, because honestly, either answer isn’t going to make me look good. I was expecting a “oh, I can tell” or something like that, but he nicely said “oh, wow. Well that OkCupid joke was great. It was a great set up, and it was so obvious, yet I never heard anyone say anything about it before. It was really funny.”

That’s all I needed to hear.

So all in all, my “first” open mic (let’s just call it that) was a pretty good time. I was used to “killing” in front of my friends and it made me a bit delusional. I’m so glad I got out there in front of strangers in a room of dudes and just did it. I didn’t do amazing, but I did just fine. That’s how you should be when you start out. You don’t kill every time. If you’re killing when you’re starting, you’re in the wrong room. I learned that tonight, and I’m so glad I did. I texted Devin and want to set up an open mic on Thursday.

a la George Costanza, I’M BACK IN BUSINESS, BABY!

The Art of Finally Letting Go Of The Bully

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Despite my at times aloof disposition, I am incredibly sensitive. I get hurt by an off-handed innocuous comment and hold it in my heart for years, and I’ll never tell you how much it hurt me. I’m a masochist like that; I hold it in, hold it in, hold it in, until something triggers me and sets me off. It is a terrible habit I developed from my childhood, but that was just how I was taught to deal with feelings. “Suck it up, get over it, or pay a therapist to listen to it” is on our family crest. When I drank, I would bubble over with feelings that flung from my mouth without any inhibition. I would lash out at people with no filter or consideration for the other person’s feelings. I would mask my commentary as a joke at times, but everyone knew it wasn’t a joke. It was truly awful. Now that I’m sober, I have made it my mission to express how I feel and articulate myself when I am hurt, without letting it boil over into a much bigger deal than it needs to be. I have been pretty good about it so far, or so I thought, but I was tested today. Today I encountered a person I honestly hoped I would never see again, and often times fantasized what I would say if I ever saw them again.

After 7 years since graduation, I saw my high school bully.

Everyone has some type of childhood nemesis, and although I had plenty of people I didn’t see eye-to-eye with, this person put the rest of my nay-sayers to shame. To make an incredibly long story short, this person hated me the minute they met me, a loud, outspoken girl, because they too were loud and outspoken. Unfortunately for both of us, we were both loud and outspoken about hating each other. I remember it like it was yesterday, the guy transferred into our high school, and I had no idea who he was, but everyone kept telling me there was this person who says that I am the “ugliest, most annoying girl he’s ever met”. A tad dramatic, but I’m not bullet-proof. It hurt. I didn’t even know this person, but I was instantly rejected. So, like any sensitive high schooler, I fought fire with fire, and came up to him and confronted them. It was the start of an endless battle that lasted well through senior year. He would say or do one thing to hurt me, I would say and do another to hurt him; it came to a point where I would fear crossing paths with him, because, like me, he did not hold back, and he knew what would hurt me, just like I knew what would hurt him. It was, in a word, so very high school.

The worst part was that he became friends with my friends, because he was a very outgoing, charismatic, funny guy. I see what others saw in him. He had the whole mean girls thing down to a T and boy did it drive a wedge in my social life. Slowly over the years my once close friends began to pull away as they became closer with him, because he was more fun, and, well, he would make sure no one liked me. Some months I remember he would try to be nice to me, and I would do something to mess it up by shooting a friendly fire, and that would just make it worse. Sometimes I would purposefully annoy him just because I knew it would, and now in hindsight I just see how innately stupid and childish that was, but I was desperate to look like I had the control in our ongoing battle, and I’d be damned if I waved a white flag. It was, in a word, so very fucking self-destructive.

Once Senior year came, I was on the final strings with a lot of my friends, and I felt that we were all going different paths. We just didn’t have much in common anymore, but I wanted to have groups to go to parties with, groups to say hello to in the morning, a group to go to Homecoming with…I just wanted to be included, even if the group didn’t really like me that much. It was just survival, as I’m sure many of us can relate to senior year when we look around at all of our friends and go “wow…I don’t have anything in common with you”. Little did I know none of this would matter in a couple of months, but at the time, it was devastating feeling left out. And I am not going to pin it all on this one guy, but he did not help with my friends feeling uninterested in maintaining a friendship with me when it pissed off their friend they like more than me anyway so much. It’s basic psychology. I get it.

Then there was the final moment that I should have waved my white flag, but I didn’t, and it ruined my entire Senior year (dramatic, but accurate in the eyes of a 17-year-old). My friends were all going to a concert that I didn’t care about but bought a ticket to specifically because I knew it was the place to go that weekend. I also knew there would be drinking, something I had done a grand total of 1 1/2 times (essentially 3 times I took 2 swigs of vodka when I was 15 and was “hammered”), but that was what the cool kids did, and like any high school flick, I wanted to be cool, A-DUH. I remember taking maybe 2 shots at once and the rest was a blur. I blacked out and woke up outside of the concert, with one of my closest friends all through middle and high school, and him. I had no idea what happened, and they told me I was kicked out because I was falling and a mess. I started bawling immediately, because alcohol + embarrassment = ALL OF THE TEARS. He took my phone and called my Mom, telling her what happened so she could come get me, and my Mom went absolutely insane. I had a trip to New York with her the next weekend, and I knew she would cancel it if she found out I was drinking and got kicked out of a concert. In hindsight, I realize that would never happen, because the tickets to our Broadway show were already purchased and our hotel was long booked, but knowing her, she would find a way. My Mom sent my Dad out to pick me up, and I was continuing to be hysterical, mostly yelling at the guy who was helping me. This guy, who has been nothing but mean to me, was helping me out when I needed it, and sacrificing his concert to help me, and I was screaming at him. I was screaming at him for being so mean to me, for calling me ugly, for hating me for no reason, the whole 9 yards. I reached my boiling point and Burnetts let it all pour out all over the one person helping me out in my time of need. He didn’t yell at me, he just took it, and tried to calm me down, but never denied that he hated me. I always found that funny and in hindsight respect him for that. My Dad picked me up, and it was time to do damage control. Little did I know, I was going to make things 93576 times worse.

My Dad was furious in the car, and as I was sobering up, I began to realize what was at stake. My New York trip, my fun, the rest of my Senior year…I had to think fast. The first thing that came to my drunk mind was to blame the one guy who my parents know has “had it out for me” since day one. I told the biggest, most bullshit lie I could muster up, and that was that my bully stole my phone and lied to my parents about being drunk and kicked out of a concert to get back at me because he, well, hated me. I don’t  know what was more insane, that story, or the fact my parents, without so much as skipping a beat, believed it. I texted that very person I threw under the bus for my own selfish needs and thanked him for his help. He told me I should pay for his ticket, which I agreed. I was still in a ton of trouble anyway but the fire was put out, that is, until that Monday.

That Monday was the worst day of my entire grade school career. I came in, and everyone knew what happened. I was hammered, a shit show, and made out with some weird dude (apparently he was super old? I have no idea what happened, but I don’t doubt that happened), and my bully-now-super hero was fucking furious with me. Everyone stared at me and made comments when I walked through the hallways. I knew that everyone knew, and they knew that I knew. It was absolutely horrifying. I got it that the guy who helped me was mad, but I thought we were cool when I apologized and offered to pay for his ticket. We were all sitting at lunch, and I remember seeing him fuming as he came up to me. I said ‘hey, here’s your money’, and he turned to me, and screamed to the entire lunch room “You keep your money, since you told your parents that I fucking lied to them when you were wasted and making out with old guys”.

My secret was out. He found out because my dumbass brother posted on my facebook wall about how my parents bought my stupid story. It was in print, and there was no denying it. I was exposed. I admitted what I did and apologized, but the damage was done. My other friend who helped me that night was sitting with me, and I looked at her, and she was so upset. Everyone was staring at me. I mean, literally, everyone. The guy stormed off, and I just was alone, surrounded by stares and whispers. It took every fiber of my being to not cry, and I calmly got up, grabbed my lunch and walked off into the bathroom where I ate my lunch alone and cried, a la Cady Heron in Mean Girls. It was fucking awful, and I deserved it.

After my depressing toilet lunch, I spent the rest of the day hiding in the guidance office, sobbing for hours, missing the rest of school. I was inconsolable, and I had no idea what to do. I was exposed and that was the final nail in the coffin with any of my friends who were on both sides of Team Suzanne, Team Guy Who Helped Suzanne and She Fucked Him Over. I was done, he was officially the good guy, and I was the villain. The Senior year I was so worried about ruining by not making the effort with my friends was ruined just by me trying to be cool and drinking. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself.

The rest of the year was pretty bleak. I was tainted with “that girl” reputation and the bully now had all the power over me. He could say whatever mean thing he wanted to say, because I finally gave him a real reason to hate me. No one ever officially took sides, but seeing that my social life was just me going to work on the weekends being friends with people who didn’t go to my high school pretty much sums it up where I stood on the social food chain. I was a social pariah ’till graduation. No one was mean to me, but no one was especially friendly, either. It was a sea of apathy or hatred, and no one was buying what I was selling. It was so lonely, and it scarred me with my friendships and future friendships ’till this day. I was overcome with loneliness and guilt, and there was nothing I could do except wait until college to start all over again with people who may not know so much about my not-so-great high school resume.

Over the years post-graduation, I would hear through the grape vine of the horrible things my bully would still say about me, the Facebook statuses he would post at my expense, you name it. I tried to move on from my high school baggage in college, but as I drank it would bubble over and affect my friendships, and even relationships. I would think I was ugly and not worthy of any guy liking me, because that was what I was told all through high school. It is sad but this person had such a hold over me, even years after the fact. The back of my head just played a monologue of the things he said to me, that I knew other people thought of me as well, and it seriously messed up my psyche. I would fantasize of what I would say to him if I ever saw him again, how I would shut him down and shove in his face how great I am doing now, how I graduated with this and got a promotion in that, how some dude at a bar said I was beautiful once…just a pathetic list of accolades that for some reason I would think would show him what’s what! It was pretty lame, to say the least.

After years of therapy (for other reasons, not just a bully) and getting sober, I started to let go of a lot of my baggage, and he was one of the biggest pieces of carry-on that I had trouble shaking off. This past year I felt a lot more at peace with my past, realizing how I contributed to our war, and how he had a lot of demons that he was battling as well that contributed to lashing out at me, just like how I would lash out at others from my demons. He was dealing with being gay in a completely anti-gay environment, which I can’t begin to understand how hard that must have been, and I know he had family issues that I am not going to air out on the Internet. I had my family issues and mental health issues, too. We actually weren’t very different. I always accepted that I would hold on to that part of my past and it was a part of me, that shame, that guilt, that loneliness…until today.

I was at work at one of my part-time jobs, when all of a sudden a guy came up to me and was talking about a David Yurman bracelet he was returning. He just talked to me, and thinking he was just another unhappy customer, I tried to just lend an ear and listen. I made a joke about the bracelet, and he half-laughed, as much as the joke warranted, and then I looked into his eyes and realized who it was. It was him. THE PERSON. I was mid sentence when I finally realized who it was, and my heart began to race. In my head I was like “Holy shit!!! It’s him! He’s lost so much weight, holy shit I didn’t even recognize him…wait, is he going to beat the shit out of me like he threatened all the time? Am I safe? Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, what was that one cool line I had saved from 2010 that I wanted to say to him? FUUUUUCK WHAT IS HAPPENING” and then literally as I was mid-thinking of something to say, something I always wanted to say to him, to confront him on how much he hurt me, etc etc… I drew a blank. Then I just had a clear head. There was nothing in there. I was completely calm. He was just a human I used to know 7 years ago. I asked him about his job, and he teaches special ed now, and seems really happy with it. I genuinely told him “good for you!”. I meant that. He asked me how I was doing, without a mocking cadence, and I told him what I was up to, and he was nice about it. We made nice small talk–small talk you don’t make with just anyone–and as we wrapped up I just blurted out “you look good!”. What? Huh? This person who made me feel so insecure and ugly looks GOOD? Suzanne!? COME ON! LET HIM HAVE IT!…but no. I genuinely thought he looked good, and I wanted to tell him. He lost a lot of weight and I know how hard that is to do. He said I looked good too. Now, that was probably a lie, but the fact he said it speaks volumes. I couldn’t believe it. We both had an incredibly pleasant conversation, catching up on each others’ lives, with no ulterior motive or putting each other down. We even complimented how we fucking LOOKED, the one thing we constantly ragged on each other for over the years as petulant teens. It felt completely freeing. We parted ways and I just sat down and said “holy shit” to myself as I let out a huge sigh of relief. I couldn’t believe it. All this time I had so much pain and all of these plans of “revenge” by living a super great life, and here he was, just being a guy helping out kids in special ed, being happy with himself as an out gay man, and here I was a girl being happy with myself as an admitted addict, having lots of odd jobs and working on this ole comedy and writing thing. It was better than hitting my one year sober, because instead of getting “revenge” on each other, we just both found what made us happy and went for it. We both were at peace. We could finally move on from being hurtful to each other because of our own pain that we may not have shared with others at the time.

I feel like everyone has some type of bully, weather it’s being their own worst enemy, their loved ones, or even just a bully from grade school that has affected our psyche in some way today. We all know it’s harmful to hold on to such toxic feelings, but it’s easier said than done. Now, I’m not saying go and reach out to everyone who did you wrong and ask what special ed class they’re teaching, but maybe take the time to realize how much those feelings of anger and or residual feelings of insecurity they left on your heart are holding you back in life. Forgiveness is the best revenge. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Forgive me for being preachy. Take a deep breath and let it go. You’ll be better for it.

Maybe the entire conversation my bully and I had was fake and I fell for it, but I don’t think it was. What I can say is that the freedom from letting go of the bully I built up in my head is very, very real.

Take care, Jared. I hope you find that apartment you were looking for and got a refund for that tarnished bracelet.

Until we meet again,

x

#TotalHonestyTuesday Feature in “The Financial Diet” Vol 3

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Here’s another feature of ‪#‎totalhonestytuesday‬ in The Financial Diet! I have always been self-conscious of my thighs, as I’m sure many women can relate, and I decided to show them off to the world. The feedback has been overwhelming and awesome (from women, of course!). Love yourself and love your thunder thighs, ladies! Skinny, curvy, flat, voluptuous: you’re all beautiful. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s true!

Welcome to the #‎SummerofSuz‬!

#TotalHonestyTuesday Feature in The Financial Diet

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I participated in #totalhonestytuesday and was selected to be featured in The Financial Diet! It’s a website about financial literacy for millennials and is co-founded by one of my Maryland writer heroes, Chelsea Fagan. I fangirled out when I saw that she selected and enjoyed my piece about how I’ve been feeling since I hit my one year sobriety mark. I loved this concept and was moved by what people shared. What would you like to be totally honest about next week?

Check out the first installation of #TotalHonestyTuesday!   
Here’s the caption I wrote for my contribution

  

Governors Ball NYC Outfits 

Some come to Governors Ball for the social media glory, some come for the bands, some come for the Molly: I come for the fashion.

Not that I don’t look forward to seeing Conor Oberst, Atmosphere, Death From Above 1979, yadda yadda DRAAAAAAKE yadda, but I love seeing what New York’s finest put together for the music festival to end all music festivals. I know I looked forward to what I put together.

 

Friday Festival Outfit: “Pass The Chambray”

 

Now, just because I love the fashion inspiration of Gov Ball doesn’t mean I’m gonna put on a flower headdress and a paisley peasant top. This look is perfect for a first day. We have the fun pattern of a casual Lush sundress, paired with my favorite Halogen chambray denim button down with cool embellishments that always catch my eye in the mirror. Since I’ll be on my feet in dirt all day, the shoes have to be comfortable and able to get muddy. See: Sam Edelman chain sandals. I got them for a steal and they feel like air, despite the weird toe ring, they really do bring an outfit together without sacrificing comfort. Last but certainly not least, it’s time for the panama floppy hat to make its debut in NYC! This hat took a lot of courage to try; I usually steer clear of a trendy accessory, but I love the sun blocking and chic touch it brings to any outfit.

 

Saturday Festival Outfit: “The Only Time I Can Wear A Romper And No One Can Say Anything About It”

Ah, the Romper. I took the plunge and gave it  try. Like I said, I’m not super big on trends but decided that this is the time to really go for it and try out anything! The romper was a steal from H&M and I always envied how they looked on my other friends, so I gave it a go.  Aside from the obstacle course it takes to go to the restroom in this thing, it’s a super comfortable, easy chic outfit. I added the Lucky Brand flannel because it might rain, and also I just had to throw some grunge on it to make it more “me”. I may or may not nix it, I know I should, but I just can’t let go. The galaxy vans are my favorite random purchases I made last fall and they will not miss the opportunity to make an appearance at Gov Ball. To top it all off, I added a House of Harlow necklace that’s edgy but bohemian. Boom.

 

Sunday Festival Outfit: “Basketball Wife Meets Alimony Hearing”

I am obsessed with this outfit. I know a lot of people hate wedge kicks, but I am not one of them. I love my Baublebar Courtney Bib Necklace like a child, and it takes any simple outfit to another level. I got a black and white dress on eBay and it has pockets, so, I mean… And the Kut from the Kloth denim jacket is my favorite jacket–if you ever need a denim jacket, this brand is your best friend. They have stretch, comfort, and durability that just can’t be beat. It’s a little steep in price, but I’ve worn it so many times it pays for itself.

I am really excited for the weekend ahead and it feels great to be back in NYC. I know I will be moving soon and I can’t help but smile every time I’m here. I look forward to making this city my home in the future, but for now I’m going to sit back, slab on some SPF 50, and enjoy some of these sick beats.

Most of these items can be found at NordstromNordstrom Rack, or My First Love, eBay

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