I dress modestly, but for the wrong reasons

“It looks cute on you, but I can’t wear this in public.” The silver shirt looks stylish on my friend’s slim body with small breasts, but I feel cheap when looking in the mirror.

Frowning, she agrees. “Yeah, you look very, eh, boob-y. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but you know everybody will be staring at your chest.”

I take off the shirt and hand it back to her. She pulls it over her head and the shirt that made me look trashy suddenly turns into a sophisticated top.

“It’s odd, don’t you think? Your breasts look amazing in…


The patriarchy has indoctrinated me to believe hairy legs on women are ugly

After nearly cutting my labia in half once, I’m extremely cautious when I’m shaving my vulva. But my legs? I can do that with my eyes closed, balancing on one leg— or so I thought.

I held my razor under the shower to rinse off the hairs, and I saw a strip of skin dangling from the blades.

“Oh no,” I cursed. “Not again.”

Looking down, I could see the blood spreading over the shower floor, dramatically swirling before it disappeared in the drain. It was a lot of blood. Sucking in air through my teeth, I lifted my leg…


I’m done forcing my body to be thin

Cursing, I stepped off the scale. The weight gain wasn’t a surprise — my pants don’t fit anymore, and my bras can’t contain my breasts. But seeing the actual number made it somehow more real.

So I did what I always do; I committed myself to lose weight. But for the first time in years, I didn’t know where to start. Restricting what I eat always triggers disordered eating, so that was not an option.

Working out more while gyms are still closed due to the pandemic was also tricky. …


I’m your favorite imaginary friend

I recently made a new friend, by accident. “You are so easy to talk to,” she said, all smiles. “You want to hang out this weekend? You’re welcome to come over to my place.”

Oh no, I thought. Here we go again. I can’t even keep up with my current friends, whom I’ve known and loved for years, let alone a whole new person. We already had a conversation today; why would I want to have another one this weekend?

With kindness and a tad of panic, I declined her invitation. It’s been weeks. …


That’s why it’s so hard to eradicate racism

Her eyes filled up with tears.

“That is so unfair of you to say! I have nothing against people of color, and I treat everyone the same. How dare you call me a racist, just because I only have white friends?”

I was so surprised by her intense reaction; I didn’t know how to respond. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she explained that it wasn’t her fault that all of her friends — coincidentally — were white.

“I mean, I don’t even know how to meet those people. Are you suggesting I walk over to the Turkish people…


Autism and ADHD aren’t illnesses or disorders

“Oh wow, we weren’t expecting this,” he said with a serious look on his face as he thumbed through my test results.

I was instantly anxious. Had I done something wrong? It was the second day of testing, and I felt I’d aced all the questionnaires.

“Your autism-spectrum quotient or AQ is higher than expected. Your score doesn’t correlate with the way you conduct yourself in our interviews. It seems like you’re extremely good at social camouflaging, and you constantly act in a way you think you are supposed to, instead of how you really feel.”

I felt defeated.

Almost…


Arguing with a gaslighter is like wrestling a greased pig

“Are you cheating on me, again?” I did my best to sound unbothered, but the words came out all shaky. His response was perfect. Eyes wide with shock, he immediately walked over to me and hugged me.

“Of course not,” he said as he lifted my chin and made eye contact. “Babe, I made a promise. I know I’ve hurt you a lot in the past, but I’m not doing that kind of stuff anymore.”

He pulled me closer again, and I could hear his steady heartbeat. His response should’ve been reassuring, but I only felt worse. Early on in…


Unacceptable situations are an accelerant for growth

“I will never, ever, be okay with this,” I said. “I am fine now, but every time I look back at what happened, I am still appalled by the situation. There is no alternative timeline where I will ever be okay with his behavior.”

She nodded. “If I hear you correctly, you are saying his actions are unacceptable?”

Stumbling through my words, I tried to explain that yes, it was unacceptable, but I was also fine now. Even better than fine. Despite his actions and the subsequent heartbreak, I am happy. It is good that we broke up. …


Sign on the dotted line in case the happily ever after doesn’t work out

I knew it wasn’t a smart move. But he was persuasive. “Come on. Trust me,” he said.

We’d been together for over ten years and worked through some pretty big stuff. But this time, we were at a standoff. We’d fallen in love with a beautiful farmhouse on the other side of the country. I felt it was too far away from everyone we loved and crazy expensive. We were still in the middle of the economic recession, and I wasn’t sure if we‘d be able to sell our current house without losing money.

We had some intense fights over…


Two lives ruined in the heat of the moment

“If you show your penis now, right here, I’ll give you 17k. Send me your bank account, and you’ll have it.”

His friend interrupts him to inform the kid is a minor. But either he doesn’t listen, or he doesn’t care. So he continues, laughing his ass off while he keeps persuading the boy to show his genitals. The boy protests by saying he doesn’t have a bank account.

“I’ll give it to you in cash!”

And that is how a 12-year-old boy exposed himself on an Instagram live stream. Almost 5,000 people watched the stream, and the screen recordings…

Judith Valentijn

Failing forward. Writer. Psychology student. Certified Non-Duality Coach. Reluctant marketer. Reach out: judith.valentijn@gmail.com

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