Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Was Thinking I Was Afraid

“Good-bye Laura! Good-bye! I don’t want to hear it! Get your purse and get out of my house!!!” Then she tore off a check and threw it on the floor. I did not want to pick it up. But I had to. I needed it. I surrendered my dignity, bent down at her feet and gathered what I had earned.

She continued screaming at my back as I crossed the lawn with focus and deliberation through the vanishing sunlight and rational behavior to my car. Hot tears of humiliation poured down my cheeks as the neighbors flung open their front doors in the otherwise quiet, extremely upscale neighborhood, to gaze upon the girl who had obviously done something absolutely abhorrent and was completely deserving of what was now transpiring. She had to be. She was, after all, as she was repeatedly reminded in a mocking tone only “the hottest new accessory…a white nanny.”

The day before, this woman’s oldest son had punched his father thirteen times and beaten him with a golf club. Despite this, I had insisted on returning the next day to put in my two weeks notice as to not inconvenience them. What? Inconvenience them? What was I thinking?!?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking we had just moved to Los Angeles. I was thinking I had only had this job for a little while. I was thinking, aside from these people, no one knew me. I was thinking that I was less than. I was thinking that my position of servitude left me pretty powerless. I was thinking that I was the sole breadwinner in the household at that moment and I had better play nice, no matter how horrible the situation, or I would never work again.

I was afraid. It’s amazing what you’ll put up with when someone more powerful makes you feel threatened or helpless or worthless. And we wonder why people get away with bad behavior? This is why.

I had bills to pay, obligations to meet and no way to do it with a ruined reputation. And that is exactly what would happen if I wasn’t believed. That’s a big motivator to shut up and stay in line.

And although it took every ounce of courage and willpower I had, I did go ahead and type up everything, date and submit it the day of the incident. My agency contacted me. They were removing me and working to place me elsewhere for my own personal safety.

They believed me. In my case, it turns out other complaints had been filed with other agencies. And neighbors had made phone calls, reporting concerns, on previous occasions. And yet, I still wound up in this situation. Someone had to be first. And they obviously weren’t believed.

I did go on to nanny for two more families in the coming years. Both of whom respected and embraced me, enabling me to love and care for their children to the best of my abilities. And I love them to this day.

I was fortunate. I was believed. I was protected. But it still amazes me that they were able to do this to other people before me despite complaints. 

And after? I don’t know.

Follow me on Instagram and twitter! @thelaurabecker

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Because We Can't Have Everything...

They say you can’t have everything. And it’s true. It would all be just too much to carry. Too many possessions and people and places and possibilities. Too many ideas and dreams and memories…and feelings.

And so some of them must be missed. Or lost. Or left behind. Forever.

Oh, sure, at some point, there was the possibility of that “other life." The one composed of all of the choices not chosen. The one we occasionally convince ourselves is somehow magically still out there lingering in the lament, going forward without us. The lie we foolishly long for when things aren't quite going our way. Just like Brigadoon in the mist, it appears just like clockwork when our inner widgets and workings are wound too tightly with discontent.

The one we convince ourselves we see oh, so clearly as we look through the rose colored lenses of our 20/20 hindsight. While it is in fact, only shoddily slapped together "if only”s with the flaws and weaknesses shrouded by a faint cloud of regret. Smoke and mirrors! A parlor trick played by a petulant past attempting to steal today. A master illusion so beguiling, should we be drawn-in too deep, we could  lose our way unable to see through the pale, to all that comprises the present-day.

Today. This today. The unexpected one of minor miracles and beauties from sorrows, with laughter and loss and love.

The one that is real. That is absolutely dependable to change without notice. That can both scare and surprise us. And leave us breathless on both accounts.

The one to be tasted and touched and completely taken in. The one of which there should not be one more second wasted.

Because we can’t have everything…and everything we do have, will be over before we know it.

Follow me on Instagram and twitter! @thelaurabecker

Monday, October 17, 2016

Handbaggage: The End of a 28-Year Codependent Relationship

Four days after my ovaries, uterus, and cervix were unexpectedly cut away…we broke up. We both knew it had been coming for some time, it was now just a matter of getting the last of my belongings out of his place and saying goodbye. Our relationship had always been one of convenience, not desire and I often found myself shouldering the weight of everything we supposedly shared. So after 28 years, ever by my side, I had a conscious uncoupling with my purse.

It started as a flirtation. A crush really. All of the women I knew had a little something on the side, dangling from their shoulders, on display for the whole world to see. But the truth behind what kept their relationship together was zipped away in a little inner compartment. Secrets completely off limits. Personal. Purses were so public and private at the same time. I was infatuated.

I remember my first time. The awkwardness and fumbling as I showed up to middle school with my purse slung over my shoulder, confirming the whispers behind my back, that I had experienced a scarlet right of passage between my legs. For the next few months, my purse was an ever-present proclamation, more powerful than the perky peaks on my tiny torso, that something had changed. I was now and evermore would be a woman.

I thought we would be so good together. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew what it meant to have a real purse in my life, but I didn’t. I was just too young for such a big responsibility and I did not understand the gravity of what I was taking on. There were times when the weight of it all was just too much and I literally walked away and left my purse knowing I could always come back and he would be right there waiting for me. We would makeup and breakup every three weeks or so when my purse would not so subtly hint at all of the private details of my intimate on-goings to everyone around me. But what business was it of theirs anyway? Overall, I was pretty sure of myself, it was my biological clock that occasionally went off schedule. What became a problem was when I unexpectedly needed my purse, and he wasn’t there for me. My purse demanded a commitment. I finally swallowed my pride and settled. I would be in it for the long haul with my handbag.

I decided I may as well make the most of it. I went all out pouring myself into him filling my purse with everything we could possibly need. He put on weight. I didn’t mention it knowing that this sort of thing happens over time. But then he started hiding things from me. Forcing me to dig deep to pull out the least little details. Gum. Sunglasses. Bankcard. Once he hid my keys so I couldn’t leave. So passive aggressive and such a time drain, that even though, every twenty-eight days we would have a week of intimate time, the rest of the month I was beginning to see him for who he had become, unwanted baggage completely full of crap. He held on to too much of the past and never carried enough for the future.  Something had to be done. 

I sought some heavy-duty retail therapy. He trimmed down and we went for a designer label. I made an effort to hold him, instead of just expecting him to tag along at my hip. I was intentional with our time together and treated him like the expensive treasure Neiman Marcus proclaimed him to be. But our relationship became familiar. Sure there were times we dressed up and went out on the town. Times I even flaunted how good we looked together. But the truth was, for the most part, we slumped through the everyday errands that made up our stale relationship and the slightest wear and tear seamed to distress my handbag. And I had to keep an eye on my purse all of the time now. If I left him alone for even a second in a crowded bar, he might go home with someone else that night. 

And I was starting to have needs that weren’t being met. Something wasn’t right. I was losing more of myself all of the time. Too much sometimes. And once it would start, it wouldn’t stop. It just kept going. What should have been a once a month need from that secret, zippered, inner compartment, had quickly become an everyday dependency. One that often emptied out and used up every scrap of femininity I had tucked away in there. I decided to see a doctor about our situation.

It turned out, my purse was not the only unwanted mass I had been carrying around. I had several growths, one the size of a grapefruit that had to be removed in the next two weeks. I was beginning to think my purse should be amputated right along with it.

We set out to be together in sickness and in health. But when I was ill, my purse couldn’t handle all of the forms, pills and changes of clothes for my upcoming tests and procedures. When I needed him most, he refused to take on any more and so, I looked elsewhere for comfort and slipped into the open straps of a small backpack.

What started as a one-time infidelity became more and more frequent over the next two weeks, until it was a full-blown affair. Finally, I decided to leave my purse at home altogether as I took the next four days away in the hospital recovering from my surgery to think about what I was willing to carry with me from here on out. I had always been a woman who needed a purse, would I still be one when I did not?

I came home from the hospital and sat down with my purse. I looked deep inside. Every pocket, every flap, every crease. I unpacked that little, inner, secret, compartment and pulled out every feminine fragment. Then I zipped that chapter closed.

No, my backpack and I are no longer together. He held everything together when I just couldn’t do it myself and I am grateful. He had my back through a rough time, but in the end, he was just more unnecessary baggage. 

And sure, on occasion, my purse and I go out together, but we’re not codependent anymore. It’s a good familiar feeling, but one I can live without. And the minute things start getting too heavy, I put my purse back in its place…the closet.

I don’t need a purse to be whole. And despite my missing accessories, on both the inside and the outside, I am still just as much a woman. That’s something no amputating of appendages, especially those of the retail variety, can take away from me. 

I have officially moved on. I even have a new adornment in my life. A wallet/phone-case combo. I don’t need it, but I like having it around, for now. We’re taking it one day at a time. 

This piece was previously published on

Follow me on twitter and Instagram! @TheLauraBecker

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Heel Thyself

It is a constant crust that cannot be cut away. The loser piece of the loaf. The beginning that must be gotten through and the end that must be endured. The heel. And I will not have it!

As the oldest of five, I was guaranteed to get it. There was always someone younger who wasn’t up to crust and it was just easier to serve the last slice to the oldest sibling. And it had to be eaten because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough to go around. On top of that, if we had company or cousins…I would wind up with both toasted tips!

And though I was grateful for my daily bread, because I was regularly reminded when I complained that there are people with no bread at all, my elementary aged incisors would struggle through it’s extra dryness from its position of outer exposure as I squeezed my bologna and Velveeta between these counterfeit crusts and imagined I was eating the inner most slice. The prized position in the pan.

Sometimes I would flip my food upside down, good side up so I couldn’t see it. If the mayonnaise had been smeared on the standard slice, I would restructure my sandwich, tucking the obscene brown bit within, so only soft surface was showing, but I knew. And with every bite, I was less chewing and more gnashing my teeth against a texture I just couldn’t tolerate.

In adulthood I avoided sandwiches and toast, thoroughly convinced that I did not like bread. But once I was married, the loaves were suddenly back on the grocery list and I soon discovered that it was not bread itself that I despised but the heel!

So I would use the bread, reaching around the heel to the rest. But eventually, I wound up with a bunch of moldy heels. So, I started tucking them away in the freezer. Until one husband confronted me about my heel hording.

He had opened the freezer to get some ice but had been blindsided by bread. A glut of gluten, all frozen solid and falling on his face. There were at least 40 little plastic twist-tied leftover loaf bits all stored up and saved for someday.

“Why is our freezer full of frozen bread heels?”
“I thought I would use them for stuffing.”
“You know there are only two of us, right?”
“But I hate the heel!”
“Then throw it away.”

Throw it away? Just throw it away?!? This bit of daily bread I had so generously been given when there were people out there who didn’t have any bread at all…as I had so often been reminded. But what was I going to do? Send them all of my heels? That’s not really giving, that’s garbage. And saving it up for someday wasn’t gratitude, it was guilt.

Guilt over having enough to go around, even without the heel. Guilt over no longer struggling to get by. Guilt over doing better. Guilt over gluten I was no longer going to give in to.

I don’t force myself to eat the heel anymore. I rarely save it either. I don’t have to. And I am grateful.

Follow me on twitter and Instagram! @TheLauraBecker