Blog post, Sharing

Trust in the unknown

Hello, loves. I’m still going through a lot of growing and changing. It’s been a great journey so far, these last couple weeks. That’s not to say that it isn’t still scary, but it’s in a good way?

I finally acknowledged that if I continued to tolerate and accept disrespect, then I would continue to receive that. I acknowledged that I cannot keep protecting my heart and my ego while at the same time expect to attract love and romance into my life. I acknowledged that I’m never going to have all the answers and that I just have to be thankful for the things I don’t yet have in the material world and trust the Unknown.

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about my love language, and how that impacts the way I interact with and/or react to people. Not just how I express romantic love, but also platonic love. My main love language is “acts of service.” Although for me, it’s not just doing nice things for me, but also showing general respect? Like, things that have hurt me deeply in the past are times when people told me they’d be there and weren’t, or I explicitly asked that someone stop doing something (or start doing something) and they continued to do the thing that I told them upset me (or declined to start doing the thing I asked).

This is also how I show my love and affection: I want to help people carry things, or decorate, or clean, or pack or unpack. I try not to be in the way, and be mindful of people’s personal space, and avoid using words or phrases that are upsetting. This doesn’t mean those other four languages aren’t important to me. The second one is probably physical touch, followed by quality time, words of validation, and gifts.

Keeping this in mind has been really helpful in reflecting on how to improve my interpersonal relationships, how I perceive my friendships, and how I expect to be treated. I don’t want to over-look my friends’ kindness because I’m looking for actions, but they’re using words or gifts to show they care.

I also realized that this carries over to my writing, and how I approach it. It comes from a place of pain, and feeling like I have something to prove. It shows. I look forward to seeing how things turn out when they come from a place of healing and love. I don’t want to prove a point, or write “out of spite.” My goal is to share stories because it’s what I love, and I want to give back to this massively important part of my life. I want to help people heal, either from fiction, or just being there for them.

I’m pretty excited for this stronger version of me, and for where I’m going to go, how I’ll keep changing, and the new strengths I’ll find along the way. If you’ve read older posts, you’ll know that a friend of mine inspired me to choose a word that I wanted to define my year. 2017 was “change,” and holy crap was that accurate. I chose “strength” for 2018, but I didn’t feel like that had resonated with me until the last month or so. I already know that 2019 is going to be “trust.” I’m ready to trust the Unknown to bring the things I need and want into my life, to trust my friends with my vulnerability, to trust that my loved ones will be honest with me,  and to trust that the love I give will come back around.

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You make me stronger; hand me my armor.

I wrote a post last month about an old set of armor. The subject line probably sounds familiar if you read that one. Thank you if it did. Thank you for taking your precious time to read my words.

That armor is being retired, though. Recycled is maybe a better word. I don’t want to forget where I came from or lose appreciation for how far I’ve come.

This time of year always makes me feel guilty. I’ve spent the last 11 years feeling like a terrible daughter, because society as a whole thinks that I should still let toxic family members be a part of my life. It makes me feel like a bad daughter, a bad older sister, a bad younger sister, a bad aunt. In some ways I am. In many ways I’m not, though, and I’ve been punishing myself for getting away from my abuse for 11 years. That guilt and fear are my old armor, and I’m ready to be done with it.

I’m not 100% over it. There are things I’m still afraid of. There are still people I’m afraid of. But damn, I am so tired of carrying around those fears like shackles. I am so done using them as a crutch and a shield to deny myself happiness.

Like. Wow. Wow, this is such a good feeling. I’m sitting here crying alone at the keyboard, but I’m crying because this feels so good. I have never felt this good about myself in my life. I caught a glimpse of it when I was 21 and realized that I didn’t need to keep my abusers in my life. But this is feeling? Of letting myself be happy?

I wish you all felt this. I know many of you do, but I know that some of you don’t, and only you can do that. I hope you get there some day. Because honestly, I wouldn’t feel this way without any of you.  If you’re reading this, you’ve shown me what an actual family feels like. You make me feel safe, like if those people tried to hurt me that I wouldn’t have to be afraid. Like I don’t have to be so damn stubbornly independent, like it’s okay to ask for help. Like I don’t have to rely on my own strength for everything, like I can be vulnerable. You make me feel valued, and like I’m not a waste of space, like I have a voice that matters.

It’s so freeing to know that I’m allowed to like myself, and love myself, and be happy despite mistakes I’ve made. I can’t change those things, but I can learn and do better. I’m allowed to admit I’m a good person, and I deserve to have amazing people in my life, and I deserve love, and I deserve to feel pretty. Maybe one day I’ll feel beautiful. I’m getting there.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep taking care of myself, and treat myself right, and expect other people to treat me well too. I’m going to take care of my nearest and dearest, because I can, and because other people took care of me when I felt like I was at my worst, and because my purpose on this earth is to love and support people even if I accomplish nothing else. I’m allowed to rely on other people when I need it, because I don’t get to choose what other people are willing to do, or what they feel, or what they want to give and share with me. I don’t get to choose how much they like me or love me, and I don’t get to tell them they shouldn’t spend their time on me.

I’m tired of being the person who used her sad story as a reason to settle for things. I’m tired of being a girl who almost settled for a guy once because he was handsome and paid attention to her, but was only nice when he was sober. Thankfully I was strong enough to cut that out early. Apparently he turned out to be the sort of guy who hit his baby’s mom, and I’ve already been someone’s punching bag, and my whole family were alcoholics. I’ve already decided never again. I deserve someone who is going to lift me up instead of push me down. I’m allowed to let my friends help me with things. I’m allowed to start growing some roots instead of being ready to run.

Maybe one day I won’t feel like I need to hide behind a pseudonym online, and I’ll stop being afraid of being found because I have amazing people around me who will be there even if I’m afraid. There are still things I’m working on, like student debt, and getting healthy, but those aren’t a reason to cling to the mistakes of a scared 21 year old girl. It feels so good to put my trust in my friends and the Universe.

I’m ready to treat my apartment like a home and not a pit stop. Everything I have is either easy to pack or easy to part with. Even when I lived with other people, I felt like I was just a second-rate person. I’d like a real home. My small community makes me feel more secure every day. Thank you for these happy tears.

Blog post

I put my armor on

I could be thinner.

I could have more muscle, and be toned, and have the sort of legs people stare at.

I looked like that, once.

Because back then, in Once Land, I wanted to be noticed, and did bold things like wear shorts and shave every day.

Back then, I was proud of my legs, and my posture, my six minute mile, and how long I could hold a note.

I wanted the world to think “Wow” when they heard my name.

But things change.

I’ve been told I would be pretty if I lost some weight, and I heard all the unsaid implications: I would be sexually desirable; people would be happier looking at me; they would take me more seriously; I am unlovable as long as I look this way.

You’re full of shit,” I think, even as I wonder “but what if that’s true?

Maybe the people I’ve been interested in wouldn’t be so out of my league if I were thinner,” I think, and immediately hate myself, because I am worth more than the soft flesh I hide beneath over-sized T-shirts, and I know that thinking otherwise is playing into some toxic patriarchal idea of the perfect person, and I should punch myself for perpetuating it.

Those thoughts are poison. A poison which has already set in, and the only cure is dedicated, deliberate corrections, and they are so hard, so hard to internalize.

Because when I walk down the street, or into a store, or exist in public, I see other girls (thin girls, chubby girls who are fat in the “right” places, curvy girls) get cat-called.

And it fills me with rage on their behalf, because they don’t exist for someone’s viewing pleasure, and how dare those guys think otherwise, and yet-

And yet

It is a foreign experience for me. For a split second I am jealous of those girls, of the attention they receive, because their bodies look the way I wish mine would, because my curves are in the wrong places, because they were noticed and I never have been, because no one has ever looked at me and vocalized their immature, self-entitled, egocentric sexual desires onto me, and-

And-

And fuck those guys for pulling me back into that poison pit. Fuck them for making me want that sort of attention for even a millisecond, for tricking me into feeling insecure and small and unworthy.

And that’s just it, isn’t it?

I know what I’m doing.

My appearance is all very strategic.

Because if no one notices me, no one will want me, and if no one wants me, then my head and my heart and my body are safe.

Safe from what?

From embarrassment, insecurity, vulnerability, rejection, from seeing a look of disgust cross someone’s face, from caring too much.

Maybe that’s why I always want the ones who are out of my league, because it’s safe, because I will never be able to reach that high and touch them, because when they are intangible then I will never have to fear them touching me, or telling me that my mind, my heart, and my body are too soft. I will never have to see the look of regret when they see me naked.

I already know all that.

It makes me safe from wanting to be someone’s forever, from feeling like I deserve to be a priority, from wanting to be someone’s number one, from getting my hopes up. But it also makes it so easy to feel like my flaws dictate my value, that I’m not deserving of affection because I don’t meet certain aesthetic requirements.

I know that’s a line of bullshit. I know that’s false. I know it can happen to anyone, no matter how they look. Because some of those things already happened to me. It doesn’t matter that my experiences are on a much smaller scale than other women I know. I’ve had a boy feel me up and stick his hand down my pants to grab my ass even after I told him no.

So no, trying to be invisible doesn’t work 100% of the time. In many ways it has, though. I’ve allowed the need to stay under the radar dictate how I interact with people I was interested in. I let it tell me to keep my mouth shut, to hold back, to sit and watch them notice and desire and choose other women. It’s no one’s fault. I don’t blame those other women, and I don’t blame those people for not noticing me in that way. I’m the one building and sustaining the anti-visibility barricades.

But as much as I want someone in my life I can depend on as a life companion, partner, significant other, I tell myself that I don’t deserve than until I have everything perfect, so that I won’t burden them with my debt, my emotional baggage, my physical body. Anyone who could ever think I’m worth their time deserves to have me at my best; I want them to have me at my best. I’m trying to give everyone in my life my best version of me, and it frustrates me when I’m not.