(anyone else say that word in the voice of Mufasa from Lion King?)
I’ve been pretty sad lately. I’ve felt lonely, under-appreciated, and misunderstood. I’ve been struggling with low self-esteem and trust. Basically, L’s has been a bit of a basket case this month.
Then I remembered, as I slammed through my workout yesterday, a stern determination balancing out the occasional sob: Fuck all this, I am not a bad person. I’m actually pretty great. I’m caring, compassionate, funny, and open minded. I’m accepting, smart in my own way, and a damn decent writer. Even as I wax melancholic about my failure to focus on improving myself, I have to remember: Contrary to popular belief, I actually have been improving myself! I mean, two words: grad school.
But even beyond my educational growth, I’m a person who has had a chronic problem with speaking her mind or expressing herself when she’s upset. In the past I have been prone to manipulative relationships. This is a source of stress, the fear of falling back into that romantic routine where I give too much until I’m so emotionally drained I just can’t do any of it anymore. Still, I have to remember: I have made amazing strides in my communication skills. I used to have this warped idea of needing to be the ‘cool’ girlfriend: laid back, easygoing, never naggy. I thought that those characteristics were required to find (and keep) a boyfriend. Now, I don’t let things continue to bother me without voicing it. Now I try really hard to speak up when something bugs me, whether it’s an inconsiderate comment (usually made unintentionally), or leaving the toilet seat up. The only trouble with that logic is that now I’m facing the inevitable learning curve of long term relationships: when to pick your battles. It’s a ongoing process. Regardless, as a classic, though evolved, introvert, I’m pretty proud of myself. It takes a certain amount of self-respect and maturity to be able to do that.
The other dichotomy to this change is finding that sweet spot between accurately expressing the way you feel, and overselling it. My sister always jokes that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, but I don’t subscribe to that logic. When I’m really upset, I can think terrible things that I don’t really mean, and I’m very attuned to keeping those unfair thoughts from escaping in a moment of passionate argument. You can apologize until you’re blue in the face afterwards, and you may be forgiven, but that insult is still in the ether of that bond. You still said it, and they still remember that you said it. Some people I love more than the minute and fleeting satisfaction of causing them pain, even when it feels justified.
So, all that being said, I reiterate. I’m not a bad person. I’m pretty fucking awesome. Self-five.
Current Jam: “Born to Fight” Tracy Chapman
I was born to fight / said I ain’t been knocked down yet / I was born to fight / I tell you I’m the surest bet / Ain’t no man, no woman, no beast alive / that can beat me / ’cause I’m born to fight.