Month: October 2015

7 Tips for Long-Distance Lovers

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It is possible to sustain a healthy, passionate relationship even with thousands of miles between you.

stacy-keibler-phone-call

Long-distance relationships often get a bad rap. People often assume that physical distance can equal emotional distance, and that living in different states (or even different countries) can lead to mistrust, arguments, and a lack of passion and connection.

Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the case. A new study published in the Journal of Communication found that long-distance lovers report a closer emotional connection to their partners than lovers who live in the same house. Long-distance couples also report improved communication and they are more likely to say that they believe that their partner is really listening to them.

It’s wonderful news for the nearly 14% of Americans who are in long-distance relationships, as well as for couples who separated for days or weeks at time due to work obligations. The truth is that physical distance does not have to amount to a lack of intimacy and connection. In fact, it can actually encourage couples to foster healthy habits and improved communication.

Here are some tips to consider to help keep your long-distance relationship strong:

  • Make (and keep) regular phone dates. Thanks to today’s technology, long-distance lovers can easily stay in touch. Thanks to Skype and Facetime, you can even see your partner’s face as you catch up on the phone. Make sure to make regular phone dates and to block out a part of each day (or week) in which you can connect with no other distractions. Sending frequent texts and emails is also great, but sometimes your partner needs more than just a note on his Facebook wall in order to feel close to you (and vice versa).
  • Take turns visiting each other. Sometimes long-distance couples squabble over who’s turn it is to travel, and work, kids and financial issues can complicate these matters. However, whenever possible, it’s best to trade off evenly so that one partner doesn’t feel as though they are always the ones who are making the effort. When your partner does arrive, make an effort to put your focus on them and enjoy your precious time together. Nitpick about things like cutting the grass or dusting the shelves later.
  • Don’t buy into the “he said, she said.” It’s important to talk openly about issues that are bothering you rather than letting all of those miles (and rumors) get in the way. If you see someone new on his Facebook page, ask him about it, rather than going behind his back and trying to get the dirt from one of your mutual friends. Open and honest communication is key in every relationship, but especially so when it comes to long-distance relationships.
  • Don’t let expectations and disappointments overwhelm your time together. It’s natural to look forward to seeing your partner and to excitedly plan your activities together. However, remember not everything always goes according to plan…and that’s okay. Let things happen naturally and don’t put too much pressure on having the “perfect” weekend. Just being together is enough!
  • Stay connected sexually. Whether it’s a short and naughty sext or a long, erotic email, there are so many ways to stay connected sexually even when you are separated by the Atlantic. Spice up your phone calls with dirty talk or wear a slinky teddy when you chat on Skype. You can even send your partner a letter describing all of the X-Rated things you want to do with him when you are finally together.
  • Communicate. Make sure that you talk to your partner about anything that is bugging you, and that you regularly check in to make sure that you are and your partner are still on the same page. If the relationship isn’t working for one or both of you, it’s better to talk about it now and to try to figure the issues out if possible. It’s easy to sweep things under the rug in relationships (especially when you are long-distance lovers), but remember, those issues never go away. They just fester and become worse: So tackle them bravely and honestly in the present.
  • Behave as you would want your partner to behave. Stick to the Golden Rule when you are out at parties or socializing with the opposite sex. It’s nice to have attention and to feel attracted and wanted, but if you are coupled up, it’s important not to cross the line or to give the impression that your partner is “out of sight, out of mind.” Finish up your night out by Skyping with your partner if possible—that way, you can both fend off temptation and drift off with sweet thoughts of each other.

I Am a Child of Incest—But I Won’t Let It Define Me ….

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 by rexan jones In a raw and revealing essay, Rexan Jones embodies the power to overcome.

There are very few people who know the full story of my childhood. Friends know bits and pieces—that I was adopted, maybe, or that my parents have passed away, or that I am uncomfortable in crowds—but the details are often too much for me to share or for people to hear. I’m speaking out now in the hopes of urging anyone having a hard time to seek help, and in an attempt to find other survivors like myself. 

I am a product of incest. My grandfather sexually abused my mother—his daughter—for years, eventually getting her pregnant, and I am the result. He’s my grandfather and my father; his other seven children are my aunts and uncles, and my brothers and sisters. 
For years, my mother, the oldest, put up with the abuse through a twisted agreement with her dad: Do what you need to with me, as long as you leave the other daughters alone. She was 18 and a mother to me before she learned that he never actually kept this promise, which is when she fled. 
She also decided to finally report the abuse to the Department of Human Services. My family had escaped attention by staying on the move and isolating themselves from any kind of community. They lived in various hotel rooms and never sent the kids to school. In a strange coincidence, my mother went to authorities at the same time that two of her brothers were found by police after running away. Their stories were so similar that social workers connected the dots.

               MY MOTHER, THE OLDEST, PUT UP WITH THE ABUSE THROUGH A                      TWISTED AGREEMENT WITH HER DAD: DO WHAT YOU NEED TO WITH ME, AS LONG  AS YOU LEAVE THE OTHER DAUGHTERS ALONE.

It took another six months, though, before one pulled my mother aside and asked her gently about my parentage. The whole family maintained that she was knocked up by some maintenance worker in one of their hotels, but the social worker pressed her until she broke down and admitted I was my grandfather’s child. No one caught on earlier—it wasn’t exactly as if she was going to pre-natal appointments and putting sonograms on the fridge. A blood test was more than enough to seal my grandfather’s fate, and he was sentenced to 20 years for sexual abuse and incest. (He was released two years ago, but is on the sex offender registry—I track his whereabouts to this day to make sure he’s nowhere nearby.)
Unfortunately, we weren’t suddenly safe just because my dad was behind bars. My mother started doing drugs, and continued the cycle of abuse. She got a new boyfriend and would use me, a toddler at the time, as a part of their sexual activity—she filmed and photographed me in these situations and sold them as kiddie porn. One of my earliest, haziest memories is being sent to my room for the night because I resisted, and in another I refuse to give her boyfriend oral sex. My mother hanged herself on August 7, 1996, when I was almost 5.

  I was sent to live with my grandmother, who had been a silent witness to the horrors her husband performed. She wasn’t mentally stable herself, and she saw me as the love child of her husband’s infidelity—to her, my mother was the other woman. So she regularly beat me, and peppered me with constant psychological abuse. When I did something that displeased her, she reminded me that my bad behavior was because I was a “child of Satan.”

SHE REMINDED ME THAT MY BAD BEHAVIOR WAS BECAUSE I WAS A “CHILD OF SATAN.”

Many teenagers are angry, and many experiment with drugs and alcohol and sex. My fury was huge, and I sought refuge in prescription painkillers and pot. I got pregnant with my high-school boyfriend when I was 16—and my child finally changed my life for the better. 

I stopped drinking and smoking the second I found out, and all my focus was on giving this kid a better life than I had. When I gave birth, the doctors took one look at a pregnant teen covered in bruises and reported me to social services. My son and I were sent to a foster home, but the social worker assigned to my case was the same one who had helped my mother and brothers all those years ago. She decided to adopt me when I was 17. 
After that, I had some semblance of a normal life. I graduated valedictorian of my high school class. I married my high-school sweetheart, the father of my child. We had another son, and my husband entered the Marine Corps. 
Throughout these years, as a stone-sober working mother in her late teens, I struggled with intense anxiety and the fog of depression. I was even institutionalized for a time after a suicide attempt. When you’re in a mental hospital, you can either talk about your problems or color with crayons in the recreation room. Coloring gets a little dull. So I started talking, and I started journaling. I wrote nonstop, in my room, around others, in the cafeteria during meals. It all flooded out. I still read those journals when I’m having a tough day, to remind myself of how much I’ve overcome.
There are other sources of comfort. I have several really supportive friends. My husband and I divorced, but oddly enough I wound up bonding with his new wife. She visited me in the hospital and brought me drawings from our sons. Then there’s my roommate, who is aware of my anxiety triggers. Instead of glossing them over, he pushes me to deal with them—if we decide to go shopping and then all of a sudden I can’t get out of the car, he just sits next to me and waits for the panic to pass. We will chat for 45 minutes while I calm down, and then I’m like, “All right, let’s walk into the store.”

I also have a psychiatric-therapy dog. He’s a big, fluffy Saint Bernard who is trained to know my triggers, and will sit on my feet to literally block them from me and calm me down. If I have a panic attack, he will locate pressure points and push his giant head into them until my breathing returns to normal. I’ve always loved animals, and I volunteer as a vet tech in my spare time.

  You may wonder about my health, considering the complicated web of a gene pool I came from. Any diseases that were in my dad’s side of the family I have a high risk for, because I have so much of his DNA. I’ve battled cervical cancer twice, and because my joints didn’t develop correctly, I already have arthritis. One doctor told me, “You’re a 23-year-old with a 53-year-old’s body.”
Dating is terrible for most people, and I’m no different. But I try. Intimacy is really tough—both emotional and sexual—so I set limits. The dos and don’ts of getting close to me. 

                   MY SONS ARE MY INCENTIVE. THEY TEACH ME HOW TO BE CAPABLE OF JOY.

And there are my sons. At the moment, they are 6 and 4, and all they know of my past is that mommy is an orphan who was adopted. When I’m with them, a switch gets flipped and I am in happy mode. They motivate me to get out of bed, to go to work, to keep going, to smile. The cycle of abuse has stopped with me. They are my incentive. They teach me how to be capable of joy.
I’ve spent enough of my life being angry. And enraged about my past, and resentful of my family, and pessimistic about humanity’s enormous capacity for evil. I am done being angry. 
I founded a support group for people like me, and hope to form a network of survivors. I am okay with the past. It’s the present and the future—my career, my animals, my hope for love, my bright, beautiful boys—that I want to talk about now.​​ what do you have to say?..