No More Bad Days

I have more time to think than I do to write these days. But that’s not always a bad thing. I’ve got ideas for a new blog – or maybe just taking this blog and its archives into a new, more purposeful direction. Anyway, not the point here. The point is that I’ve had a lot of time to think, and now that I have time to write, all that thinking has really come in handy!

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a weird one-sided tiff with someone I care about. I could have let it escalate; I could have accused the person of being unfair and blown out of proportion. But I didn’t. I sat there thinking that people have feelings, however big or small, for their own reasons and even if I couldn’t see the point of those frustrated feelings, I should probably just validate them anyway. So I did. I gave the person the space they needed but also decided to not let it affect me. I decided there don’t need to be anymore bad days.

I’m done with them. Bad days I’ve had in the past are no longer…bad. I’ve decided to repurpose them all as learning experiences. Even the most horrible people I’ve ever met have served a purpose in propelling me down the pretty amazing path I’m on now. Instead of being bitter, resentful, and angry about lost time or years, or beating myself up for having made stupid¬† (or just hasty) decisions or trusting stupid people, I’m just…not. So what if that person was an asshole? That’s their problem. Not mine. Who cares if someone called me a name? Do I define myself, or do I let others define me?

I’m not anyone else’s opinion of me. I’m not defined by an argument. I’m not worth less as a person if I upset someone, or if I feel upset. The world doesn’t have to end over a disagreement.

Life is so much better when you can learn from a disagreement instead of just blowing up over it. Things are so much easier when everything can be learned from. So, yeah. I’m done having bad days! And you should be too.

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Me Too.

The first time I had my space and body violated in a way I knew wasn’t okay, I was eight.

I don’t think I understood the magnitude of this event. I know I didn’t. I didn’t foresee a future in which my body would speak louder than my words. That I would become a tactile object in a world run by men.

At home, I was taught that I could be anyone and anything.

The world told me something else.

It starts with people normalizing the idea that “boys will be boys.” That if a boy likes you, he will let you know through acts of violence: hitting, throwing things at you, pulling your hair, and calling you names.

And we accept that.

When you get pantsed at the playground, everyone laughs. No one punishes the child who has just forcibly disrobed the other.

Ate age eight, I couldn’t have expected that my life would play out in a pattern of assault. Like many, I can say that I have been groped in crowded spaces and on public transportation. Like many, I can say that I have carried mace in my hand while I run outside because one too many cars has slowed down behind me to whistle, yell things, or follow me home. Like many, I can say that I have had to shout for help while being assaulted in public. Like many, I can say that I have been “groomed” by bosses with gifts and compliments, and then threatened with job termination for not acting in kind. Like many, I can say that I had a drug slipped into (not even an alcoholic) beverage followed by an attempt to coax me away from the crowd.

5 years ago, someone I considered a friend tried to rape me.

I no longer leave the house alone (if I can avoid it). I bring a big dog, or my male counterpart.

I no longer make eye contact with or greet people on the street for fear that a man will misconstrue my salutation as an invitation.

Like many, I have been told to swallow my voice – to know my place. To accept that things are what things are.

And, like many, I refused to stay silent on the issue. Rape culture IS common culture, and we need to be proactive in ending it.

A Blog Without an Identity

I’ve always envied people who can pick a topic and blog endlessly about it. So many people dedicate their writing to a specific genre and become experts. They become experts on a topic and do not waiver from it.

I see these blogs and wonder what I’m doing with mine. What purpose does it serve, other than to let me word-dump whatever comes to me that day? What value does this blog add to the universe?

And so I sit here wondering if it’s time for me to become an expert on a subject matter and become a genre or themed blogger. Would it give me more reason to write? Or would it compromise the very nature of writing in the first place? When it moves from organic to commercial, does it cease to matter?

I don’t know.

Meniere

When I was 14, I started to lose my balance a lot. I’d had a history of ear and dizziness problems, but falling was new. At first, we thought maybe it was a growth spurt – you know, tripping over my ever growing feet.

But one day, I fell and nearly broke a bone. Yikes! So, I ended up with a referral to the UCLA Research Hospital, where I met with a specialist who ultimately diagnosed me with meniere disease (the testing for that, by the way, is truly a crappy experience).

I was (and maybe still am?) one of the youngest people to receive the diagnosis because it’s an extremely technical diagnosis to make, and usually doesn’t produce symptoms until people have reached their twenties. In fact, about 1.8% of people who think they have meniere disease are self or misdiagnosed. Only .02% of the population has it.

It’s not something I feel is a true struggle (currently), although it can be annoying. Meniere Disease is an inner ear disorder that causes episodes of vertigo (sometimes very severe, followed by nausea and vomiting) as well as fluctuating hearing loss, with progressive and permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, and fullness in the ear.

It usually only affects one ear. In my case, it’s the left ear. But, within the next 15 years it’s expected to eventually spread to my right ear.

It’s one of those “silent” afflictions that plagues roughly 615,000 people in the US. But when it strikes, it’s brutal. I’m lucky in that I tend to experience it “constantly” in that I’m basically always slightly dizzy and off balance. I rarely get a large episode that keeps me down for a whole day. In fact, that has only happened to me twice in 14 years. For others, it’s so severe they collect disability.

I’m talking about this because I think it’s important to share experiences. It’s important to remember that we all have “our thing” we are dealing with, whether it be on a daily basis or not. It’s important to remember that some illnesses are invisible, and to be kind to people because we never know what is going on under their otherwise healthy looking skin-surface.

Discomfort

Kumashiro’s theory of discomfort suggests that as students [of life, at school, and as humans in general] we are unable to see true growth in our lives without struggle – without wading through discomfort.

It makes sense. When I heard this theory in college, I initially rolled my eyes. Why would I need to suffer to grow? A plant doesn’t suffer in the ground before it thrives. It has to be nurtured and can’t be exposed to too many harsh elements.

But then I remembered that people aren’t plants. And that, yes, while some circumstances may ¬†cause us to wither away – our roots go much deeper and we are much more capable of coming back from trauma than a stupid cucumber plant. Or whatever plant you were imagining.

No one learns how to do anything perfectly the first time. We learn constantly from failure, and failure is uncomfortable. Failure doesn’t have to be a swear word or something to be ashamed of. We should encourage the people we love to venture into the unknown, to take the leap, to not cower. We should want those around us to have opportunities for growth, even if those opportunities come in obscurely wrapped packages.

But most importantly, we should be there for each other, seeing each other through to the other side of our learning experiences, whatever they may be.