Monday, December 23, 2013

Why I Refuse To Sleep Inside Of An Enclosed Umbrella

So a guy I’ve been dating has been trying to get me to go camping with him. I do believe you all know my feelings on camping by now. Referenced here. And Here. And yet again, here.
I go to great lengths to avoid anything that involves actual camping. In fact, in our house, camping looks like this:

Garage S'mores over a can of sterno. Urban style

So anyways, this whole camping thing has become a regular conversation around here with this (overly persistent) guy. Today it comes to a head, and this is pretty much how the conversation goes;

It starts with him saying “Baby, come on, I really want to go camping. Please will you go with me?”

To which I sort of whine out “Dude. We don’t need to do EVERYTHING together. It’s ok to have our own hobbies. Babe, I just don’t want to sleep outside, in a tent, which is essentially an enclosed umbrella.”

In his own distinctively whiney voice, he says “But I want to go WITH you. I have more fun when I’m with you. I know how weird you are about your food, so I won't even make you eat anything that I caught in the lake.”
"Are you going to make me eat anything that has been living in a cooler for longer then 12 hours?" I ask him.

He is not smiling.
So I ask him in a playful, yet somewhat antagonistic voice, "Can I live off of dorito's and candy for the entire trip and you can eat gutted fish with hidden bones and hotdogs that are clinging to life on their third day in the cooler?"
Still no smiling.

“Ugh. Babe. I have no problem going to the camping place with you,” I say. (He interrupts me with "Its called a campsite. Campsite." Ok, whatever. The place where you set up camp. (Thank you grammar police, for pointing that out to me, as I'm sure my grammatical error could have changed the course of this entire conversation.) “We can hike and kick around some dirt and do whatever you want to do, but when it comes time to go to sleep, I would like that to be in a bed. How about we like go to one of those lodges that’s like IN the forest preserve? We can wake up early and hang out outside until we can't stay awake anymore, and then you can sleep outside in your enclosed umbrella, and I’ll watch you from the window of my hotel room and make sure that you’re safe? I would totally do that for you. I got your back.” I flash him my most innocent smile with raised eyebrows as if to say "Good plan, right? Am I right?"

Still not smiling and obviously completely un amused, he replies in a somewhat short tone of voice, “So let me get this straight. You want to sleep, in a hotel, several stories above me, so that you can watch my tent, and make sure that no bears eat me?”

Yep, that sounds about right.

So I decide to try a different tactic. “Ok, so let me put this in terms you might understand. I need showers. Showers are a must. Like what if I want to make out with your body and you are all sweaty? Like not just sex sweaty, but like ACTUALLY sweaty? Gross. That isn’t going to work for me. Can’t we just like stay in a lodge in the middle of Yellowstone or something? I’ll even agree to turn the TV down really low and open a window, providing that there is a screen of course. We can even turn the air conditioning way up, snuggle under the covers, and PRETEND like we are outside.”

Again with the no smiling, he says in a totally flat tone, “I want to go in July. Why would it be cold outside in July.”
“It’s pretend camping dude! It can be whatever the hell season we want to pretend it is! If we pretend that its winter, we can do the whole s’mores in the microwave and hot chocolate under the covers thing. If we pretend it’s July, then what are we going to do? Apply bug spray to each other and call it foreplay? Cuz in that case, let’s just actually apply sunscreen and go to the beach.”
Still not smiling, he says “You realize you sound crazy, right?”
Somewhat smiling I say, “You realize I AM crazy, right?”

He sort of huffs and says “You really aren’t going to budge on this camping thing, are you?”

“Come on babe” I say, my tone now changing in irritation. “Have I ever said no to anything you have ever wanted to do? Didn’t I scream my head off at the baseball game with you? And pull my weight at sports trivia night? And help you lay insulation in the attic? Because I can assure you, I did that last one with a smile on my face, but I was most definitely not having fun.”

“No, and that’s why I don’t understand why you won’t go camping! Camping is FUN!” he says in a sterner than convincing voice. “I’ve seen pictures of your missions trips. I know you showered for a week in an outdoor shower that was made from a tarp and a hose. I know that you spent the majority of those trips FILTHY dirty. So what gives?”

In the Appalachian Mountains
Finally, with no where left to turn and backed against the wall, I have nothing left to say. Nothing except for the truth. “Sleeping under the stars might be fun for you, but for me, it’s not fun. It wasn't fun when I was four and sleeping in the front yard bushes. It wasn’t fun when I was 12 and hiding outside from my mom. It wasn’t fun when I was 14, hungry, cold, wet, and sleeping under the awning of a taco bell. It wasn’t fun when I was 17 and sleeping under the pedestrian walkway bridge, and hoping no one would attack me that night. It wasn’t fun then and I’m not ready to see if it’s fun now.”

His face softening and his voice a bit sweeter this time, he asks me, “hun, won't it be better this time since you know you are safe in my arms?”

I want to trust him, to believe what he is saying, to feel safe in his arms. I want, with all my soul, for him to hold me and tell me that it will all be ok. I want to believe its the truth. I long to know, for once in my life, what it feels like to be protected, to truly feel safe. My body literally aches with the yearning to let my wall down, to be able to give up the burden of fear and defense.  To be able to stop pretending that I don't need anyone, that I can do it all on my own. Its exhausting having to be on guard all the time. I long for that one person that I can trust, for there to be one person in this entire big world, that I know won't hurt me. Please God, give me someone! But as of now, through the fear and the trauma, the pain and the healing, I'm not sure if I've found him yet. Or if I ever will. And that kills me.

So I reply with the only truth that I know. “I’m not ready yet, but I will be smiling, and happy, and excited, to see you when you get back.”

And hopefully, he will be ok with that.
Because when it really comes down to it,
                     I need to be ok,
                                  with being ok,
                                                with the fact that I'm not always ok.
And that is ok.


  1. I understand. I'm 64, have had 4 husbands, and now only feel safe when I'm on my own alone surrounded with large dogs. I connected with my Mom in her last 4 years because she was in a wheelchair and could no longer hurt me....there are many of us out here. I believe you are smart, beautiful and worthy, I'd like to think some of us find that safe spot....mine is here with my dogs and good friends....I truly am privileged that you would share your story and I wish you safety and happiness.

    1. Aw, thank you hun! I am glad that you have found your safe spot, and I wish you nothing but the best. Sending you a great but internet hug! I hope to see you around here often :)

  2. Hey, I was in abusive relationship for 20 years and finally stood up to him and walked out. Now I am with a man who understands that when I say "no" it means "NO" and he never pushes me. This has given me confidence to try a lot of new things and I absolutely feel safe with him. Finally. All it takes is somebody to truly respect you and accept your decisions at all times. (He also absolutely adores me which is an added bonus :-)

    1. I hope some day I can say the same :) I'm so happy you have found someone so great!!!

  3. Hi, I don't know if this is the correct place to comment, but I am doing so anyway. I read your piece on XOJane. You are incredible. I am from India and I shared this piece with some of my friends in the USA and in Pakistan and in Singapore. There are women all over the world in awe of your strength. Keep on keeping on. Best, Anon.

    1. That is SO awesome!!! How incredibly neat!! Thank you for sharing my story, I'm trying so hard to take my past and help it change the future for others. To make my past worth something. I hope you visit my blog often, I would love to have you :) Sending you a great big internet hug!!!! And also, you are free to comment wherever you would like :)

  4. This guy sounds like a whiny entitled manchild. And if he pushes your boundaries on this, he'll push them on other things. You've said No to him multiple times, being very clear about it, and he still pushes you? That's not cool.

    1. You know, I never thought of it that way before. You are right, he is being pushy. I really need to work on my boundaries! Thank you for pointing that out to me :) Hope you see you and your insights around here often!!

    2. Same anon: I would recommend checking out the advice blog, and its messageboard, It's a good group of folks over there.

    3. awesome, thanks so much for the tip. I'll definitely check it out! ;)

    4. This was absolutely MY THOUGHT, too. Even AFTER you opened your heart and told him every terrible experience you've had that makes you adverse to sleeping outside, he STILL pushed you to go camping with him. I agree, he's needlessly pushy and that's not cool.
      My boyfriend is afraid of roller coasters. He didn't used to be, until he was rear ended by a motorist, causing his car to flip. Now, he doesn't like to be upside down. I would NEVER badger him about doing something that would make him uncomfortable. That is forcing someone to re-live their trauma. NOT ok.

    5. Oh gosh, your poor boyfriend!! It's weird bc he is very much not pushy with everything else, but the whole camping thing is....ugh. He is fading fast on my relationship radar anyways.... :( I have a feeling come July, he will be long gone

    6. Just always remember to be kind to yourself, first and foremost.
      By no means have I lived a life as drastically wracked with abuse as yours, but I was married to a psychopath, too.
      I have been there and it definitely made me wary. I am dating the kindest man ever now :)

    7. I'm so glad you found your prince charming :)

  5. Hello,

    Your article from XOJane brought me here. I was in awe at your story and my heart hurt for the "The baby No one protected" (boy were you a cute baby). It saddened me that your family who by nature were supposed to protect you didn't and to add injury to insult, were Christians - that is not what Christianity is truly about. Trust me nothing is wrong with you no matter what they tried to make you believe. In fact you are a very strong woman. Not everyone with a past like that is able to rise above and make it in spite of the negativity. You are amazing and I am so happy you found the strength to put your children and yourself first and disconnect that negative element from your life.

    This post made me laugh as I read you trying to needle your way out of camping and that it was kind of sad when you revealed the painful memories you have attached to the entire outdoor living. One of your readers put forward that the guy you are seeing did not respect your boundaries. I'm not too sure if that is it. It could just be that he honestly wants to spend time with you and loves being in your company. That said, only you will know his true intentions as you are living it. I do agree though that you need to trust your instinct and if you don't feel comfortable doing something, don't let anyone force you to do it.

    At the end of it all, you have a gift with words and have gained a new follower of your blog. I do hope you and your babies had a happy holiday and I wish you a safe, prosperous and happy New Year.

    All the way from Trinidad & Tobago ~DaniD~

    1. Hi Dani!! Wow, my first Trinidad & Tobago commenter! I don't even know where that is...... but I like it! Haha. Thank you for taking the time to write to me :) Thank you so much for your insights, all of you are giving me so much to reflect on!

      Your kind words brought a big smile to my face and warmed my soul. Thank you hun, for taking the time to share them with me. You are very much appreciated and a bright spot in my day.


  6. Oh my gosh. I love you!!!! I don't know you, but I'm pretty sure I love you.

  7. WOW! Soooooo glad I came across your article on XOJANE! I know exactly what you mean about the "safe spot". And the sadness of realizing that you may go through your entire life not finding it. Or worse yet - get to the place where you are tired of "searching" and just become content in your own little place of "no-hurt"....Thank you for this blog!

    1. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you commented, I know exactly what you mean about just becoming content in the 'no-hurt" safe spot!!! Ugh. How sad for us. I'll send you a hug :)

  8. Let your Guy Friend know. We have been to Yellowstone twice so far, Once in 2007 and once in 2012. In June. And It snowed on us both time. At night it gets BELOW freezing. The elevation their allows some places to be snow covered all year round.

    And When you go. Roosevelt Lodge, and Yellowstone Lodge are the best. :)

    <3 Love you, Stay Strong.

    PS. Tent Camping is only allowed in a few campgrounds in YELLOWSTONE. Because of Bears. Some you have to have Hard Side Trailers.. heh

    1. Hahahahaha, oh my gosh, that is AWESOME!!!! See, I knew I was the smarter one in that pair. Now I have proof. Awesome. :)

    2. Camping is 100% overrated. Give me a bed and some heat/AC any day.

  9. When you said "It wasn't fun when I was four and sleeping in the front yard bushes. His heart should have stopped. FOUR yrs old; a traumatized baby. He should have stopped breathing and felt oh so sorry for even mentioning it.

  10. When you said "It wasn't fun when I was four and sleeping in the front yard bushes. His heart should have stopped. FOUR yrs old; a traumatized baby. He should have stopped breathing and felt oh so sorry for even mentioning it.

  11. When you said "It wasn't fun when I was four and sleeping in the front yard bushes. His heart should have stopped. FOUR yrs old; a traumatized baby. He should have stopped breathing and felt oh so sorry for even mentioning it.

  12. When you said "It wasn't fun when I was four and sleeping in the front yard bushes. His heart should have stopped. FOUR yrs old; a traumatized baby. He should have stopped breathing and felt oh so sorry for even mentioning it.

    1. One would think, right? I think some people just don't absorb that stuff as well, especially one's that have lived a very vanilla life. They can't empathize as well if they have never lived through any life changing rough times. :(

  13. Hey Eden, this is my first time visiting your blog... I read your XOjane post as well as this one for starters, but I'll be coming back for more... the way you write is just so engaging and so very easy to see and feel your life as you lived it.

    If I were to make a quick judgment on the man's personality based on this one blog post and a brief overview of your history... I would simply say that judging by your playful personality, your strength, and your compelling desire and demeanor to be okay (all lovely characteristics)... it might be difficult for him to see you as someone who is in the middle of a rough healing process.

    You say he lived a very vanilla-life, but if he lived a vanilla-life with the right amount of crummy, or is at least great at being empathetic... this also has it's pros. It means that the man won't be projecting his insecurities onto you from all the crap he's been through because he either knows how it is and has dealt with it, or he's in it with you for the right reasons and not to fill some gap in his life. On the contrary, it seems you've had a taste for what it's like to be with a man that is just as "broken" as you have been in the past, with all the projections, and the gap-filling. And you know the tell-tale signs of what is simply not okay (please continue to set appropriate boundaries).

    It sounds like this new guy might have been genuinely baffled and confused as to why you wouldn't want to go camping since you've shown your openness for other cool things. If he backs off after your disclosure and polite, but serious reply... and he continues to treat you with upmost respect, then I'd say stick around a while longer :). If his response allows you to feel totally comfortable, it might even be a sign that you could trust him with your personal story sooner rather than later in the conversation as it becomes relevant to share your experience.

    Be open to the idea that this guy is teaching you something, as well as the idea that he is learning something from you. But your heart is the best indicator of what you truly want and need from yourself and from a relationship -and whether or not it's sitting in front of you at this moment. Nothing "bad" is going to happen anymore if you stay, and nothing "bad" is going to happen if you go... "you're big now and no one can hit you anymore." :)

    Sending smiles, good vibes, and love in your direction. :)

    Love, Marilyn.

    P.S. You are definitely okay in all the varying degrees of your okay-ness. :P

    1. Welcome Marilyn!!

      So glad you have found your way here :)

      I never thought about the fact that my personality does masquerade a lot, which should be common sense to me since its one of the main reasons why no one ever had any idea my ex was so abusive. I guess I just had never really thought about it in terms of dating.

      Its so hard to find the perfect amount of vanilla and baggage past in someone. Impossible and unrealistic actually. I seem to sway wildly from people with a perfect past, who have no concept or understanding of what I went through, and guys with terrible pasts who have so many issues that together we are a disaster.

      I guess I'm just going to have to keep feeling it out as I go.

      In the meantime, I'm glad I have you and the rest of my readers to offer me your priceless insights and advice.

      Thank you :)

  14. I love you! You are smart. You are strong. You are are loved! ;) Keep that head up and you keep going forward girlee girl!