My mother has described me as someone who’d bring home little lost people instead of animals. Through the years, I’ve survived toxic relationship after toxic relationship because of this accursed belief that I can fix people. Make them better. Help them see the good inside them.
In my current state, I’ve managed to wash my hands of most of those relationships and surround myself with positive people.The most recent relapse into my old ways (and likely last relapse) was a run-in with an old friend who almost everyone had washed their hands of due to his actions. I held out my hand again, and he bit me. Not as hard as he had in the past, but he still bit. This time, the bite did not puncture me. As hard as it was, I turned my back and walked away.
As much as my love for other people defines me, it also puts me in an unwelcome situation. I am easily manipulated, emotional, and have an extraordinarily hard time with appearing as anything but kind and rock-solid. I go internal when I’m having problems, and have no one but myself to blame when no one has any idea how low I’ve sunk. I know I’ve confused friends in the past with this behavior. It’s easier now that I have a man in my life that (unfortunately for him) is the softest place to fall I’ve ever experienced since the support I get from my family.
Writing has helped tremendously with the decisions I’ve made to keep my life chaos free. It started with Livejournal a million years ago (I know, I know…) and now I suppose it’s come to a head with this blog. I’ve been able to see my mistakes and learn from them. Even when I make brand new ones!
My life now is wonderful. I’m basically broke, but who isn’t. I’m 4 years deep in passionate love. My family is amazing. Every friend I have is magical. Yet there is still that want to hold on to old, wounded people. Even when they have no interest in being held. In a way I’m sure this is tied to my ego, as I feel fantastic when someone tells me I’ve had a positive effect on their life. Learning when to let go is a hard process, also likely tied to my ego. Why couldn’t this one work out? How are they still such broken assholes when they’ve had ME?
Learning about quality over quantity, as cheesy as it sounds, was absolutely key in growing apart from the clutches of Miss Nightingale. I went from having no friends, to having hundreds of acquaintances, to having a few dozen key loved ones. Holding on to the want to be surrounded by admirers is easily diminished when you realize a lot of them are there for the same reasons you are. Because everyone else is.
I cherish the friendships I have now because each of these people give me something.
Does that sound selfish?
It’s not material things, it’s not verbal praise, it’s just company. They give me good company, and good times. I don’t have to pretend and I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t have to walk on eggshells. I communicate. I disagree without fear of losing them. I agree without want of pleasing them. I treat them as I would want to be treated, as they do me. I never feel bad in their presence, I trust them with every fiber of my being. I know that no matter what happens, no matter the hardships we all face, they will always have my back. So yes, it’s selfish.
If you are in a relationship where you are missing even one of those elements, you need to re-examine it.
To be your best you, you have to be selfish. You are nothing to anyone if you do not love yourself first. This is vastly different from self-importance. That builds walls around you and it’s nothing but fake, grandiose crap. See the difference.
Sometimes I forgive, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I don’t. When I think back on those no longer in my life I wish them well, and thank them internally for serving a purpose in building me as a human being. Your abuse made me strong. Your lies make me smarter. Your unforgiving, selfish natures made me want nothing more than to be exactly what you were not.
I am a work in progress. Always. I am never perfect. I can not make anyone cease to suck if they don’t think they suck. I can not fix the universe.
Be charitable, be kind, but do not be a doormat.
This is a lot heavier than most of my posts because it means a lot to me. I am surrounded by people who I know exactly where I stand with and it is literally the best feeling in the world. Those few who I question get my co-existence and nothing else.
And thankfully they are very, very few.
Juggalos, Justin Beiber, Emos, Hipsters…everyone’s got their hate bandwagon.
In my youth I saw it all around me and kind of took it as canon.
In the goth clubs. Don’t dance to Manson. Manson’s a poser. Don’t shop at Hot Topic. Suburbans goths suck. New York goths are snobs. DC goths are hicks.
At the punk shows. Spiked hair is for posers. Short mohawks are for posers. Skinheads are all racist, no matter what they say. Hardcore punk is crap. American punk is crap. Pop punk is crap. UK 77 era punk is crap compared to US 77 era punk. Crust punk is for kids that don’t shower. Glam punk is for kids that shower too much.
Now that I’m older, my effort to justify my relationships with people by what music they listen to, or don’t listen to, has officially ended. And frankly it was half-assed to begin with because you can’t keep up. My old crew (and mostly still current crew) was a mix of every kind of misfit, and everyone got along fine. Somewhere in my late teens to early 20’s, who you were seen with became immensely important to many of my friends. Being a fat, awkward weirdo and being graciously let into some inner circles felt great at first. After a while, keeping up with the do’s and don’t of scene life was exhausting. Have the wrong friend? Wear the wrong T shirt? Listen to the wrong album? Forget it. GTFO.
I found myself in an odd state of envy towards people who could blindly listen to pop music and thoroughly enjoy themselves without apologies. Of course, this envy was deeply embedded between a layer of self doubt followed by an even thicker layer of belief that they were brainless hive-minded morons and I was way smarter and more enlightened!
As I got older, things changed. That happens when you get older. Those base and stupid things we think tie us all together started to fade into the background. Deeper relationships (although less of them) were founded on a sort of mutual energy. A feeling of “you’re really neat even though you watch reality TV and like Nickleback”.
I’m not writing about suddenly becoming the Dahli Llama and loving everyone no matter what. I’m also not writing about over-tolerance of things like hate organizations. I’m writing about the weird, seemingly growing intolerance of other people’s completely banal shit. Hipsters and Justin Beiber come to mind almost instantly. Some of the folks I know that hate on Hipsters the hardest…actually kind of look like them. Hipsters, to me, seem like the amalgamation of all the scenes I grew up watching kind of…coming together. Why is that so bad?
The Beiber thing is a bit easier to understand, as pop music featuring kids has been a boil on the butt of outside the box thinkers and grumpy old adults since the dawn of time. The Beatles, Menudo, heck my brother had a “New Kids Suck” all caps T shirt that got him sent home from school once (and it was hilarious). It’s always existed, but this was before the internet. Trolls had to work harder then. If you truly wanted to piss off a fangirl, you had to walk into a building full of them with neon letters painted on your chest that said “EVERYTHING YOU LIKE IS DUMB.” Now you just write it in bold white all-caps on a picture and share it on Facebook. Instant Troll.
So I get it, it’s irritating. You don’t like it. So don’t listen to it. Here’s a kid who got famous doing what he loves and I really hope it doesn’t screw him up. That’s my end thought on the matter. His existence, and the existence of those before and after him will continue to please and annoy until the end of time. I’m choosing to be tolerant of it’s presence because I have many other delightful things to steam up about. My rights as a woman, the future of my career, and the government peering into my vagoo every five seconds just off the top of my head.
The easiest to understand may be Juggalos. Here are some fun people who believe in a Valhalla of weed and ax murder founded by two insanely chauvinistic guys in clown makeup. There’s SO MUCH THERE TO RUN WITH! But should I? They’re basically just another group of kids who found an accepting subculture.
Where to draw the line.
For me, it’s drawn on how you effect my life. This is perhaps more selfish a move than condemning them outright, but I look at it this way. Racial intolerance effects my life. Violence against men, women and children effects my life. 12 year olds looking for some sweet and dulcet teen pop tones to ease them gently into womanhood does not. Someone wearing lenseless glasses (seriously why do you do that) does not.
I attempt to carry this tolerance of hoomans beyond music genre. I carry it into religions, political differences, and completely different sets of beliefs. I can think of some amazing lessons learned from staying judgement. Some of my most favorite conversations have been with people who are nothing like me on a surface level.
So although it’s very easy to pick on subcultures, it’s even easier to let them do what they’re designed to do. Give kids a way to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves.
I spoke to a friend recently who lamented her daughter’s obsession with My Little Pony.
“I hate it, but she’s got no idea. She’s five. I don’t want her dressing like one at 35 because mommy didn’t like ponies.”
There will always be cool and uncool, and there will always be a dichotomy drawn on which is which. Rage up about things worth raging about. If that thing is Hipster glasses, count yourself lucky. You’re doing alright.
PS. You totally sound like your parents.
We’ve either done it, or seen it done.
You’re in the lunch room at work and you grab a donut. You search for someone…anyone in the room and say “Well, there goes my diet.”
At a wedding: “This is going straight to my thighs.”
Baby Shower: “I’ll work out an extra 15 minutes.”
Barbecue: “I’m being so bad right now.”
I’m not going to slam the population that exhibits this behavior. Connecting food with guilt is something that I’ve done for a very long time, and I understand it’s a way to verbally atone for what you think is a detriment to your health, coupled with showing everyone that you are not a gross pig. However, the connection we have with food and guilt is what got a lot of us…me very much included…in the situations we are in now.
We’ve all seen images like this. Women secretly scarfing a brownie sundae in their living room in the dark, candles lit, seductively licking the spoon. Talking all sexy like on the phone to her bestie about the Boston cream pie she had three times this week (except it was actually yogurt…NAUGHTY SNEAKYPANTS) and this particular woman who looks like she’s celebrating the house she just set on fire.
For a long time, I didn’t let anyone watch me eat. Being overweight made me feel like everything I put in my mouth was judged by those around me. The guilt got deeper. I’d eat out with friends, and finish the rest at home in the dark watching Police Academy. I’d never order dessert, but I’d stop for ice cream on the way home.
So I decided to attempt to disconnect food with guilt. When I eat, I eat with Devo, or with friends. The times I eat alone are because I am alone, and not because I’m going out of my way to be alone. The only thing remaining was my extraordinary drive to apologize for what I did eat.
In the past two years I’ve made a very concentrated effort to remove food apology from my life. This does not mean eating what I want, when I want. My health is in jeopardy if I do that, which the doctors have made very clear. However, if I’m at buffet one weekend I’m not going to clue in the rest of the world unless it was extremely delicious!
It’s not easy, especially being overweight. People watch what fat people eat. They watch us work out, walk down the street etc. It happens. It’s ok. Feast your eyes. Right around the time I decided to end food apology I started going to the gym. I wanted to tell the world, because the first few times I felt amazing about myself and my accomplishments. I decided that this was a different sort of over-sharing, because I got support. I needed it, so I put it out there. There is no support when you eat half a donut and get the other half fifteen minutes later. There is only a weird silence, followed by the occasional “Oh please you look great” which you never believe, because you’re a gross pig who just ate a whole donut.
Food’s connection to guilt, to me, is proof positive that I am battling an addiction. It’s also proof positive that we are a nation still obsessed with appearance. If a beautiful, thin girl can’t pick up a cookie without bowing penitent at the alter of the break room table, what the hell are we doing to ourselves?
Believe it or not, this new-found freedom from food apology has helped me exceedingly in both my self esteem and my quest to be a healthier person. Food is becoming less and less of a pair of comforting arms the more I disconnect it from my emotional well-being. Eating a piece of Easter candy with no follow-up comment has started to take away the naughtiness of it all. It’s not a life ruiner, it’s a piece of chocolate.
This does not mean I’m throwing caution to the wind and eating everything that’s not nailed down. I just don’t want to feel bad about it anymore. Feeling bad about things and then eating to feel better is a lifelong cycle I’m trying to break, and loving my treats is helping. Taking away negative feelings from food is the best thing I’ve ever tried to do, and it’s working.
This is my ice cream face. My cake face. My careface.
So go to the gym if you’re going. Do that extra lap. Just try to fight the urge to proclaim your horrible guilt, and move on knowing that you’re working towards emotions being emotions, your body being healthy, and food being delicious.
Look to the world for support, not confirmations of guilt. You’ll be happier receiving the former.
The first time the term “Pick your battles” clicked with me was over a game of tabletop D&D.
My group was doing battle with this elemental wizard, see. He’d sent a large wall of sand flying towards us at an alarming rate. With every role it got worse. The Paladin before me had the bright idea of shooting a jet of scalding flame from his magic sword at the offending mobile beach, only to change our sandy fate to a wall of white hot glass. Stupid Paladins.
So, I decided to do the only thing my simple thief could think of.
I put my head between my legs, and took no damage that round.
Picking your battles is something not a lot of people do nowadays. Granted, I still cherish the occasional roundabout debate that goes nowhere, but it usually stays where I’m comfortable. Friends, people I trust, people I know won’t take me personally, and people I actually give a crap about.
Again, if you’re the argumentative type, more power to you. I just don’t have that kind of time.
This came into play at two of my recent workplaces in the past few years. The first was a battle I chose to fight. I had a manager who openly disliked me. Nothing I could do would make her any less sour towards me. Apparently I was everything she hated. Liberal, nerdy, well liked and happy, I guess. After a few months of her treatment (Which included my staff and my customers regaling me with her personal comments on a daily basis) I finally snapped. However, I snapped knowing that without me, she would have been utterly screwed. She wanted nothing to do with the actual clientele of her business on a daily basis, and without me, she would have had to set aside her dreams of corporate America and come swim with the little fish 6 days a week. We came to an understanding after that. I don’t think we ever hugged or anything, but she finally realized that beyond the gaming, horror cons and graphic novels stood a fully functioning adult female quite capable of defending herself. That was a battle worth fighting.
At another job, I was readily thrown under the bus by a co-worker after being publicly told off in a pretty embarrassing manor. My first instinct was to argue my innocence, but I decided to take stock in my situation. Apologize and move on, or fight what was likely a losing battle and take someone down who frankly got enough crap there as it is. This battle was best left sucked up and forgotten. It was simply not worth the effort.
I never, ever, ever fight on the internet. Oh I am tempted, but there’s nothing to gain. I have a position in my life as a GM where I attempt to put out epic net arguments on a weekly basis. A sort of unpaid human resources department. I’ve watched so many people run into a proverbial room full of unarmed men with guns blazing, fingers poised to shoot at anything that moves in a direction they don’t like. Business being made personal, veiled insults, all of it. Completely pointless. I’ll watch people on Facebook go at one another, derail topics ad nauseum, and come off with some of the most well written retorts humanly possible. Of course, they have the information highway at their fingertips, and infinite time to drive.
By the way, I can totally tell if you Google statistics, stupid.
One of the biggest keys to find out whether a battle is worth fighting is simply the effect it will have if you win. Will you prosper without squashing anyone’s feelings? Will others benefit from your actions? Will the person you’re speaking to listen? Are you doing this to feel superior, or because it’s just right?
My battles are not yours, and as previously discussed, my way is not the highway. Some people adore arguing and I won’t lie, I adore reading it. Especially when I agree with you. It’s my little Maury Povich guilty secret.
Internet aside, when you feel the white hot rage of injustice well up inside of you, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Look at the person you’re fighting against. Are THEY worth it?
We’ll end with a personal example of a battle I thought was worth fighting. A former man in my life would stop at nothing to make me feel like hell on a daily basis. He saw that I struggled with esteem, that I was in a rough place in my life. Instead of support it, he exploited it. He was battling his own demons, and I represented a soft place to throw daggers. One day I grew back my balls, and he broke up with me. I hold him no ill will, but I thank goodness every day that I knew exactly how to get him out of my life. Fight back.
The types of battles worth fighting for involve ignorance, bigotry, racism, chauvinism, human rights. Big stuff. Being able to play a Pegasus unicorn elf hybrid, or covering your ass from rubber bullets, not so much.