It's been a year. Never have words meant so many things in one small statement. At least to me. It's like 2015 chewed me up and spit me out, then 2016 decided to pick me up and toss me in a dumpster fire. Just to name a few things:
Dec 2016: I was still reeling from a breakup that literally shredded my heart to pulp. It forced me to look at myself honestly. To ask myself the hard questions. Why had I invested so completely in someone who never felt the same? Why had I allowed myself to become so little regarded, that I put his needs in front of my own? Why was I constantly the giver in that relationship, settling for meager scraps of attention? And why had I let this become a pattern in most of my relationships to the point of mental anguish and emotional abuse? Which kind of leads me into the next big revelation I had.
Without going into specifics (which I just won't), I found that I had not been being my true self these past 4 years. And honestly, probably long before that. Being in a marriage that wasn't working, followed by a relationship with someone who was unavailable in a host of different ways changed who I was. I wasn't being true to myself and because of that, I was so much more vulnerable.
When I look at the sum of all I have written, they all have a common theme. Appreciation. Being Noticed. Needing affirmations. And I've come to realize that is for a reason. If I have a love language, or in character arc terms a motivation that drives all my actions, it's that I want to be noticed. Appreciated. Liked. A presence who would be missed. I think that's why social media is such an addiction for me. It fills me with the illusion that I am noticed. Every like or comment back makes me feel like, "See? People SEE me."
Now I'm not saying people on social media aren't real, I have met many of them and they are very real and wonderful people. Some have become my best friends. BUT, I think I've finally learned that it's unhealthy to link your self worth to whether or not you get retweeted or someone "likes" what you said. That my value should in no way be formed by how many followers I have. A year ago if a "friend" unfollowed me, I was crushed. I would cry for hours and wonder why I wasn't good enough for them. I wondered what I did wrong and if I could make it better? Why don't they like me or value me anymore? Maybe I am not valuable? It would send me into a depression.
For this reason, I did a few things I regret. One: I rarely spoke up about things that were important to me. Because what if someone I liked, got mad at me? Or worse, unfollowed? Or unfriended? Or whatever un you can think of? What if my boyfriend (at the time) didn't agree? What would he think of me? Would he dump me? Now I know in hindsight, this is ridiculous. If that is how a person would react, then of course, I shouldn't want to be with them. But remember...my motivation is to be liked. (Note: even writing this right now gives me anxiety because what if he reads this and gets mad and hates me...which I KNOW is irrelevant, but still here I am,)
But my point is some of the topics I never spoke up about are ones that now, in light of the events since November 8th, I can't keep quiet about. I held in my politics, my values, because at the time, the person I loved had very strong politics and was very vocal about it. So I listened to the jokes about Obama, and the "libtards," feminists, and social justice warriors, and I didn't disagree. I listened to remarks about women and objectification and I remained silent. I let other people's view of the world color my own. And I am embarrassed. And sorry.
Second: I went along with the thought that it wasn't "as bad as people were saying." I compromised what I believed. Love and attention are powerful drugs, especially when it had been denied for so long, I was so hungry for it. Starving, actually.
When you are dying of malnutrition and you finally get something to eat, you don't pay so much attention to what it is you're filling your stomach with, you just consume it and wait for more. And that's how I was. I yearned for the attention from social media, the accolades of being "shipped," how everyone rooted for us, the constant filling the void in my heart with what I thought was real. The feeling like I belonged somewhere. Even if it was in cyberspace. It was all so intoxicating. Which meant when it ended, it left me a mess. I considered taking my own life. I went back to self harm. I drank a lot. I really self destructed. To say I was devastated is putting it mildly.
Now, here we are. End of 2016. My grandma passed away. My ex's father (who felt like family) passed away. My mom had heart surgery and almost died. And there is a new development in her health which I will keep quiet for now. I am realizing, thanks to 2016, what is truly important. Those life events put other things in perspective. What's an unfollow or a lack of likes when compared to what is real and present? Who cares how many followers you have when the people around you are ceasing to exist? I've learned to place importance...on other things. My priorities have shifted. And I no longer have time to waste caring about whether someone in another part of the country whom I have never met, and probably never will, likes me or not. It's freeing in many ways. I was getting tired of always trying to be "nice" so no one would dislike me.
It's like my life for the past few years is a metaphor for America. Complacency. The thought that "it's not that bad." America is paying the price for it's silence to injustice. It's the dawn of 2017. A scary one. And I know better now. I know I won't keep my ideals and beliefs silent. I won't put up with intolerance. I see what's going on in the world and I refuse to look away. This election taught me a lot.
Racism exists. And it's way more rampant than I believed.
Misogyny exists. And it's way more rampant than I believed.
Sexism exists. Classicism exists. Bigotry exists. Marginalization exists. Lack of representation exists. And they are all way more rampant than I believed. The list goes on.
So, because I have kept quiet for far too long, because I've cared about being liked far too long, because I have accepted that my self worth was to be determined by anyone else but me, for FAR TOO LONG...
I am no longer staying silent.
Inevitably I will say things people disagree with. They may even unfollow. Or unfriend. Or un whatever. But no longer will I accept that those people are somehow better or smarter or more important or more anything than me.
It's 2017, I believe we should help others. I believe we should listen more and talk less. I believe we are in for the fight of our lives. I believe in women's rights. I believe health care shouldn't be limited by how much money you make or what job you have. I believe the 2nd amendment is not some ticket to carry high powered assault rifles. It needs to be amended. I believe a woman should be able to say what is done to her body. Period. I believe government should have ZERO say in that. I believe if you want an educated populace, it damn well better be supported. I believe it's none of government's business who loves or marries whom. I believe we are built on a nation of immigrants and that's our biggest asset. I don't believe any one religion is better than or more right than any other. I believe (KNOW) climate change is an actual real thing and denying it exists doesn't make it less true. I believe our country is not perfect, but it's still pretty damn great. Like no again necessary.
I will never again allow anyone else to dictate my beliefs. Albeit my boyfriend, by best friend, a colleague, family, whoever, I will say what I believe even if it's the opposite of what they believe. If they truly care, they will know and understand that my beliefs are no less valid or important than theirs. They won't belittle or make fun of others just because they disagree. And if they do, I won't put up with it. It's non negotiable to treat others with respect.
No one knows how long they've got left. A day. A month. A year. A decade. Life is too short to compromise yourself or your worth.This is what I've learned in 2016.