Monday, March 12, 2018

It would be easier...

Sometimes I wish I didn't have a back bone.  That I could turn and look away when someone crossed a widely recognized line. That I could allow someone to turn a black and white scenario into a gray one for their own benefit.  I feel like it would be easier.  Easier than always being the one that holds people accountable.  Easier than being seen as the instigator of so much conflict when, in reality, I haven't instigated anything, I just won't look away from it like so many other people. 

I know there is a huge population of people that wish they had the confidence to speak up. They constantly struggle with their own self-worth and being treated the way they deserve. I've heard them openly want, desperately, to have the strength to remove toxic people from their life.  But sometimes, I feel like living the way they do would be easier. I've lost 4 friends in as many years because I've held them accountable to their actions. I will not allow them to treat me like I'm something lesser. They don't get to use me, they don't get to lower my worth. But somehow, I'm in the wrong and I not only lose that person, but those around me shoot looks of pity their way and looks of shock at me for actually standing up and saying out loud "No. That's not ok." On no less than 3 occasions I have been personally attacked for holding co-workers accountable for their physical and verbal harassment. They are penalized and despite numerous other people breathing a sigh of relief, I am blamed. I am blamed because I am the only one that would speak up.  Everyone else would give canned responses like "I don't want to rock the boat" or "I shouldn't have to say anything" or "It would be too uncomfortable if he got in trouble". Do you think it's comfortable for me?! Do you think I enjoy having that person's friends give me dirty looks and say things they think I can't hear? Holding people to their actions is inherently uncomfortable. It's confrontational and awkward and it sucks. But it's the right thing to do. And as a thousand different philosophers will tell you, the right thing isn't always the easy thing. In fact, it hardly ever is.

As a side effect, I've found over the years that I have a growing resentment to the "coat-tailers" of this world.  Those that will sit and marinate in their discomfort and unhappiness until someone else comes along to clear the path. Then they happily jump on the coat tails and breath a sigh of relief that they didn't have to actually deal with their life, someone else will do it for them. Not willing to see that the person that cleared that path not only had the strength to stand up and carry their own weight, they ended up carrying everyone else's too. As uncomfortable as it would be to sit and be unhappy, waiting for someone else to come fix my problem for me, it would sure as hell be easier. I find myself in a constant state of reinforcing my expectations for follow through and ownership. It's exhausting and I'm absolutely over defending my basic moral compass to those that have the same one but are too lazy or weak to enforce it. For heaven's sake, stand up and help yourself. So with that in mind I offer the following:

To the friends that only value what I can bring instead of valuing me - that approach will only leave you alone in an empty house.

To the friends that resent me for holding you to your word - look in a mirror long and hard and think about if it's really me you resent.

To the friends that contemptuously cut me out for pointing out your gross negligence of basic ethics - when you choose to violate basic humanities and be angry at those who say something, you will spend most of your life in a hateful space. Think about if that's the house you want to live in.

To the friends that smile to my face and whisper to my back - if you are whispering to someone that thinks that behaviour is ok, don't be surprised when you learn they are doing the same to you.

To the friends that play the wounded puppy when I follow through on my word - if follow through is truly that jarring to you, this world is going to hurt you. Toughen up or tap out.

To the friends that hid their motives in a web of dishonesty - when you get tangled in the very web you weaved, don't expect those you targeted to come to your rescue.

To the friends that held me to my word, that lost sleep thinking about how to confront something/someone and actually did it, that put one foot in front of the other and walked their way out of something uncomfortable - thank you.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Which Part?

I am an emotionally closed person.  I have been the majority of my life.  My usual phrasing for people is "emotional constipation" and that's about the only part of my emotions that I will volunteer.  I would rather stroll naked through a mall than go to therapy or counseling.  I'm more comfortable saying the word "vagina" than I am saying the word "feelings" (Ugh...I don't even like typing it...).  I'm not saying it's right or ok, but it is what it is.  In most cases, I will simply make it clear (when necessary) that I don't do emotion, sympathy or attachment.  For those that are in my close circle of friends I go into a bit more detail.  We joke about how closed off I am.  How I would be the worst character in a horror movie since I don't scare easily and wouldn't freak out at the usual cliché things.  How I could do all the break ups for them since I don't have heart strings to pull at.  When something happens that would upset most people, we smile and I say "yeah but I'm dead inside".  But almost inevitably, those close to me and those that barely know me will make a comment about it not being true.  That, in reality, I care and just don't want to show it.  For those that I'm not close with, the comments roll off me.  Those that are my good friends are partly right.  They are right in that their constant and stubborn refusal to accept the way I am is something I very much care about. 

For example, I don't do birthdays.  It's not an aging thing.  After 3 years in a row of truly horrible birthdays, I decided that any attempt to celebrate the day would result in disaster and I would be happier to just have a normal day.  I shared this with all of my friends and family.  The reasoning, the logic behind it and that I truly desired absolutely zero recognition of the day.  No cards.  No gifts.  No cakes, cookies or treats.  Not even just a happy birthday wish.  Absolutely, positively nothing.  And one by one, they have almost all ignored me.  They buy a card that's not a birthday card because "technically it's ok".  They give me a "just because" gift that "just happens to be on a special day".  And every one of them has been truly hurt and offended when I refuse to accept them or return them.  I tried very hard initially to soothe hurt feelings but after a couple years of this it got tiring.  I began to question what it was I was apologizing for.  I clearly and blatantly stated that I did not want any gifts, cards or recognition and they gave me one anyways.  Why am I the bad guy for enforcing my request?  Why do you get to tell me that I don't really feel that way inside?  I know how I feel and right now I feel mad that you can't honor my request to literally do nothing.  So which part of this is my fault?  Which part was unclear?  Which part was so difficult that you just couldn't comply?  Which part of the way I am is so glaringly unbelievable to you that you get to decided you know me better than I know myself?  Let me give you a glimpse at me and maybe that will help you understand that, yes, I am genuinely that dead inside.  I am genuinely that cold.

At a very early age, I learned that in my particular family, a thin skin was a liability.  Without getting into detail, if I wanted to survive long enough to be able to start out on my own I better be physically strong, mentally tough and emotionally empty.  And any emotion that was there had damn sure better not show.  That was my foundation and as unpleasant as it sounds, it set me up perfectly for becoming a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) wife.  When your husband is a LEO, it permeates into every aspect of your life.  For this particular topic, this is relevant in a couple ways.  I know more than I want to.  I know better than most how many pedophiles are in the community my children play in.  I know better than most that the second chance someone is claiming a right to is actually a third, fourth, fifth or sixth chance.  I know better than most how many of my co-workers have a serious criminal record.  Not because my husband has run illegal background checks but because I've learned to spot the signs.  I can spot those that have past addictions and I can usually predict with disappointing accuracy how many of them are going to relapse.  I can also point out the ones that are in the middle of relapsing and lying to everyone around them.  Liars are everywhere and once you learn how to spot them, you can't turn it off.  Even though some times I want to.  I'm cynical and jaded and despite the cold start in life I mentioned earlier, I didn't used to be this way.  It's harder and harder for me to see the good in people.  In the last 2 months alone I have uncovered a predator that my children were deliberately exposed to by colleagues, I have witnessed the burial of a fellow LEO, I have been lied to by a friend who was having a legal "misunderstanding", I have discovered some relationship ending indiscretions of a friend and I've had to step back and watch as a friend unknowingly walked down a fiery path of destruction but I'm bound by confidentiality from saying anything.  I have lost track over the years of people that I've had to walk away from because not only were their choices morally wrong, but a direct conflict with my husbands job.  I am ridiculed and harassed and mocked because I won't stay at a party where people are openly smoking pot but in reality, staying could cost my husband his job. 

So yes, I really am that cold.  I have hardened my emotions and turned off most of what I call optional humanity.  My life only has room for the base emotions and I've stopped connecting with people freely.  I am hard to reach and I need to be.  For my own survival.  And honestly, I'm happier this way.  When I tell you I don't feel sorry for someone, I mean it.  When I say I don't have time for that kind of drama and headache, I mean it.  When I say someone's hardship is their own fault and they can deal with it on their own, I mean it.  When I say I'm not interested in making friends, I mean it.  When I say I'm not sad about something, I mean it.  When I say I don't want any celebration of my birthday, I. Mean. It.  I am not your project.  I am not something you need to fix.  Take me or leave me but you can't change me.  And don't be surprised that I'm not actually invested in what you decide to do.  I truly, genuinely, from the very bottom of my cold dead heart, have better things to spend my time on. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Since When...

Since when did it become acceptable to openly and freely state a bias against someone's desirability based on an uncontrollable physical attribute.  I don't mean "his nose is too big" or "she has weird teeth".  I mean "Oh I could never date him, he's too short".  Height is such an irrelevant factor to me.  I'm not sure what I find more offensive.  The statement itself or the fact that people have no issue making it to me in direct reference to my husband.  He is 8 inches shorter than I and this apparently causes a lot of concern to a lot of people.  I have more than once had people volunteer that they could never date him, he's just too short.  The most recent person to say this will, I'm sure, not be the last.  But it's shocking to me that none of them see the ignorance in this statement.  Would you openly state that you could never date a man in a wheelchair?  Or a blind man?  Or a man of a certain race?  While I'm sure these thoughts are more common than most of us would like to think, no one says them in public settings and they certainly don't say it proudly.  It's just not socially acceptable.  So why are comments about height exempt?  Looking me straight in the eye and reducing every part of my husband down to his height.

My husband is not perfect.  No one's is.  He has many flaws just like I do.  But one of them is not his height.  He has given me an incredible family.  He is my best friend, my confidante, my protector, my harshest critic but also my source of guaranteed honesty, my biggest fan and my hero.  He will, without hesitation, dive in to fetid, stinking water with an extra 30 pounds strapped to him so that he can pull an unconscious stranger from his underwater car.  He will wipe tears and snot off our child's face when they trip and fall.  He will work all his scheduled shifts and then spend all his days off helping a friend renovate his house.  He will get up after only having 2 hours sleep and spend an hour comforting a sick little child.  In all my time with him, I have never had a moment's hesitation that he is the person I will spend the rest of my life with.  And I would be missing out on all of this and more if I had, upon seeing him for the first time, said "he's too short for me".

The complete dismissal of all of these amazing parts of him comes from strangers, family and friends.  The more it's said, the more it angers and offends me.  I also struggle with the concept that I regularly withhold and hide my frustration and anger from the one person I've promised to never lie to because at the end of the day, if I told him every time I heard it, I would know that I was helping to take another undeserved shot at his confidence.  He says it doesn't bother him and that he doesn't care but I can't turn off my instinct to protect him from injury, both physical and emotional.  It's getting harder and harder to turn my verbal filter on when people say this to me and I'm starting to wonder why I even bother. I think it's probably an automatic effort to prevent an awkward social situation that would inevitably ensue.  This doesn't even address those that openly ask about the logistics of our sex life but that's a post all in it's own.  Regardless, I know in my heart of hearts, that the people that believe not only this offensive remark, but also that it's okay to say it, are the ones that are missing out.  They are writing off people that could change their world.  They are dismissing, without ever knowing, the memories they could make.  It's quite possible that someday, somewhere, someone will read a newspaper article with the tagline "Woman charged with assault after trying to physically shake some sense into someone after offensive remark".