We all have our fair share of “you can't make this shit up” stories, and when you find someone with as many as you, you may find yourself drawn to them. But it's worth noting that sometimes that shit can be made up, or at least twisted in favor of the narrator. When every single life story you hear from someone ends the same way with someone else turning out to be a villain, leaving them hurt and betrayed, take that as a red flag , not a sympathetic notion.
Beware those who are constantly victims. Be aware of who you surround yourself anyways, but if you find yourself accidentally enthralled with an Always-Victim, learn to be okay with the outcome of being yet another villain of their repertoire.
You can be the best friend to them. You can be nice, honest (even when it's not what they want to hear), helpful, and have the best time together. But once you inevitably fall off of the pedestal they lifted you on by simply standing up for yourself and setting necessary boundaries, you'll instantly become “one of them,” the others who are so horrible to the Always-Victim. Because that's the thing—in their narrative, they cannot be wrong. I don't think it's necessarily intentional, though maybe it is, but it hurts regardless. It'll hurt when you hear the things being said about you, knowing you can't defend yourself because while they play like you left, it's actually they who did. It'll hurt and leave you feeling disappointed to know that all of your mutual friends fall for their version. It'll make you want to scream the truth out, to clear the air so you can move on once and for all. But it's of no use. They can't hear you. If they heard you, really truly heard you, that would hold them accountable. That would be admitting that all parties are flawed, because we're only human. And that would make them not the victim in the story.
Always-Victims become a negative energy cyclone, threatening to pull in anyone who dares come near. Stay. Away. I know, it's hard to recognize it, but just keep your eyes and ears open for those red flags and believe them. And if you fall for it, know that it's okay. It happens to us all, especially those like me who are people-pleasers who tend to see the good in others to a fault. But when that world crashes down, and the dust starts to settle, look around you and see who's there:
The Invaluable Friend. These are the friends who are truly there for you, always. They know the truth because they know you for who you really are, not what anyone else says about you. You can empathize with each other over the Always-Victims you've both encountered in life, and allow each other to vent out the frustration of everyone seeming fooled by it. They gently correct you when you're making a mistake, and welcome the same from you. But they also let you indulge your more dramatic side privately with them so you don't make a fool of yourself in public. These are the friends you never have issues with, even through your differences. You'll grow together, even when your life stories are oh so different. These are the true friends you should surround yourself with. These are your very best friends.
What it all boils down to is this: guard your heart, don't give Always-Victims your energy, and cherish your Invaluable Friends.
Two of my Invaluable Friends, Anna and Blake, who have been here with me through the start of a new chapter in life as my dust settles. They surely aren't my only Invaluable Friends, but they've been incredibly important.
You often hear the phrase “the right choice isn't always the easy choice.” It's usually in regards to some moral obstacle in front of you, but I've come to determine that it applies to more than just that. It can apply to your physical life choices just as much as your moral ones. And that's something I've learned in the last (almost) month with our latest move. The last few weeks have SUCKED. And I don't say that for sympathy, but to prove my point.
In the last 10 years, I've gone through several moves. My husband was in the Marines for about half of that time, so moving is no new adventure for The Behee family. I grew up in Kentucky, but since, I've moved to California, back to Kentucky, to California AGAIN, to Colorado, to Texas, and finally, to our current location. And that's not counting each home change, either. Through all of those moves, though, who would've ever guessed that the hardest move so far would be from one city in Texas to another? Granted, the move was over 300 miles away, which is extremely far and sometimes states away to a non-Texan, but still! It's been so incredibly hard!
With every new house comes projects to turn it into a home. We had a good solid week of just preparing our back yard, which was a blank slate of dirt, for grass. I literally thought my body would give out on me in the physical labor I had to go through, including spending 12 hours laying new sod (Seriously, kudos to each and every one of you who do physical work for your jobs every single day. It's not for the weak.) I had never felt so sore and exhausted, even in childbirth—yes, childbirth was awful pain, even with an epidural, but at least I got a sweet cuddly baby after each instead of just a bunch of cuts, bruises, and awful sunburn all over. Add in general unpacking, organizing, hanging blinds, installing a Reverse Osmosis water filter with new kitchen faucet, etc, and it was just a ton of physical things that felt unending. On top of that, our kids really took it hard. What little bit of routine we had over summer break was completely shattered. Projects lasted hours, which had us eating dinner far past their bedtimes and then sleep wouldn't come easy. The first few nights, they slept wedged in our bed, leaving me on the couch by the early hours of morning. By the end of last week, I was starting to wonder if we had screwed up. We thought this move was for the best, but was it really? Our kids are fighting worse than ever, including with us; we're physically exhausted; every project we take on adds in 10 extra steps when something that shouldn't have gone wrong has....Was it really the right choice?
But as I sit here on my couch, hearing my kids playing nicely in their room and my husband playing his video games in the office, I know it was still the right choice. It absolutely wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Today is our oldest daughter's birthday, and we were able to celebrate it, not because of my husband's work schedule coincidentally working out or celebrating early or late, but on TIME. Because now we're all together, every day. We'll get to celebrate my birthday tomorrow, together. Holidays, his birthday, our other daughter's birthday, all of it. Because we made this very hard decision to move.
Yes, the projects may not be done (I had to paused in writing this to turn off the sprinklers for that new sod), but I know we made the right choice.
So ,if you're faced with a life-changing decision and you aren't sure what the right thing to do is, it just may not be the easier sounding one. But it's still the right one.
Taylor Swift released her newest single "The Archer" yesterday and, let me tell you, it's had me in my feelings. I felt her emotion in my core as she sang the words my own mind hadn't been able to conjure, expressing that heavy feeling in my chest that had come and gone over the last few months in the aftermath of losing a best friend. In listening to the song on repeat, I came to the realization that, in a figurative way, Taylor Swift had become the friend I really needed in such an oddly hard time.
Now there's a phrase I never believed I would write, especially so close to 30, but here we are, and I'm not at all embarrassed about it (though 2006-emo-me may be shocked). I'm by no means discounting my actual friends, who have all been there for me and are amazing. At a certain point, you just feel the need to shut up with your friends; you have to stop repeating the same situation that you should be over by now, especially in a situation like mine where I know it was for the better. but when you can listen to a song on repeat that feels the same way you do, it's its own sort of release.
But why Taylor Swift, you may ask? I have a pretty eclectic catalog of music, so the fact that I've focused on just this one artist may be odd. Well, for starters, I'm sure the fact that she's just a year older than me allows me to relate to her on that basic human level, but I think the rest of it makes sense once we look into my own personal history listening to her music and its involvement in this loss.
While Taylor Swift has been on the music scene since I was in high school, I was drawn to her music in 2014, when my oldest daughter (3 at the time) became obsessed with "Shake It Off." Watching the music videos from the 1989 album on YouTube was a wonderful bonding experience for me and my two daughters during what was honestly a pretty emotionally difficult time for me.
From there, I started noticing news of her then upcoming reputation album from a few friends who loved her and her music. I unintentionally kept up with the information and, when the music dropped, I was hooked. I instantly purchased the album and had no regrets listening to the whole thing on repeat for days and days.
Like 1989, reputation was another fun way to bond with my children. When I saw the rep tour was coming to my city, I knew I wanted to take my girls, but I also knew I didn't want to go alone. Through a Facebook status, I found out one of my close friends was also a huge fan. We somehow didn't know that about each other, and it was something that brought us closer, to the point that we often got caught up listening to song after song when I really should've been going home (like for my date night with my husband while she watched my children.)
We decided we'd take our daughters to the rep tour show together. It was a huge deal to us. So much so that we even made a song and music video parody to Taylor's Wildest Dreams to announce it to our kids (believe me, we cared more about that than our kids did. but I digress.)
The concert came and went and, despite our young children breaking down for being out so late past bedtime, it was magical. So much more so than we could have imagined. The kids even agreed, despite the sleep deprivation. We couldn't wait for whenever her next album would come so we could attend her next tour the same way.
But things don't always work out that way. Without going into too many details so as to not appear to be bashing this woman (truly not my intentions), that friendship completely exploded in my face. It was unexpected, and rough, though ultimately, I believe, necessary. She handled some things that were happening in her life in a way that made me extremely uncomfortable, and she felt the need to ghost me because of it.
In addition to the obvious stress of that situation, a silly fear set in. I was afraid I'd lose my love of Taylor Swift's music. I have a tendency to dissociate from ended chapters in my life and I was terrified that this part of me would be a casualty from that. In that fear, I reminded myself that her music was mine and my kids' thing long before she entered the picture. So I made myself listen to her music. Jamming to the darker songs found on reputation was actually a great catharsis for me in this period. And, so, the love stayed.
It wasn't just about the actual music, though. It was the (semi-) parallels in the situation I was in to what inspired the reputation era. As most of you all probably already know, Taylor Swift became the subject of a very public feud with some other celebrities and dropped out of the public eye in the aftershock of it. She focused on her private life, not retaliating as her reputation was dragged through the mud, and grew because of it. I knew that I needed to do the same in my life.
But that was hard, because in the loss of this friendship, I knew that on some level, I would become a villain in her story. It killed me that she controlled the narrative, and not knowing what she may be saying about me was a real struggle for a while (sometimes still is, if I'm being completely honest). Remembering to grow was difficult as I found myself physically ill from anxiety before a meeting with my church leaders over the situation (I was her small group leader, and she requested to leave our group, so the ghosting had to be addressed with them). After that meeting, it dawned on me, though, that it didn't matter anymore. Anyone who truly cared about me knew the whole story, not just the one side, and anyone else? Who cares? Let her say what she needs to say to make herself feel better. As Taylor so fittingly sang, "they're burning all the witches, even if you aren't one...so light me up." And I could grow in the aftershock. And then, I took Taylor's (still cryptic at the time of writing this) advice to "step into the daylight and let it go," removing her from social media she forgot to block me on.
Even in knowing you've made the right choice, though, you can't help but look back at every other failed friendship and think that maybe the problem is you. No matter how much you've grown since each ending, both in physical age and in what you hope is maturity, it just happens all over again. And, I'm sure you can guess at this point, enter: Taylor Swift.
"The Archer" perfectly encapsulated that notion to me. It was as though she knew exactly how I was feeling: having so much you want to say, but knowing it's pointless at best and mean at worst; the almost self-loathing that you've found yourself in exactly the same high-school-drama-filled scenario and you're almost 29, not 15; the anxiety that keeps you up thinking you'll always end up like this; knowing your worth in one breath and questioning how anyone sticks around you the next; and finally, the hope that someone actually could stay. I needed to hear that song.
I know it may sound weird to say a celebrity you'll likely never meet was a friend for you in your time of need, but I believe maybe some other people can relate. Her music, and the parts of her story she's been vulnerable enough to share with the world, have a way of being there for you when you feel completely alone, even if you aren't.
This song came out at the perfect time for me. It's allowed me to feel emotions I feel I should be over by now. And I seriously can't thank Taylor Swift enough for being here for me through this, both through "The Archer" and other songs.
And, for the record, if you haven't already read her article "30 things I learned before turning 30", you NEED to read it. Wonderful advice!
The common phrase "the grass is always greener on the other side" is often met with the rebuttal that "the grass is greener where you water it." And yet there I stood, in a scorching Texas July, desperately trying to revive my dying grass. I had spent most of my time helping a friend in need, which isn't a bad thing, but I had let all my own needs get pushed to the back burner. The realization that I had unfortunately become the physical manifestation of this metaphor because of distractions was both eye opening and embarrassing. But hindsight is 20/20. Until it happens again.
I have a feeling it's part of human nature to end up in this seemingly endless cycle of being sucked in to various distractions, whether it be watching too much TV, over-committing yourself to help everyone but yourself/family, what have you. In different seasons of life, what those distractions look like vary, but ultimately, what it boils down to is that we end up focused on things that aren't benefiting us, even if our intentions were good. Lord knows I'm beyond guilty of this! But I'm making the conscious decision to interrupt the pattern, re-calibrate, and do better.
Recently, my dad reached out to me and my sisters with links to some very informative videos about pattern interruption and creating new thought processes. Since then, I've been trying to be more aware of when I'm falling into a bad habit, no matter how small. When I catch myself, I say the words "pattern interrupt" and push myself to make the change that needs made. Usually, I'm doing this to convince myself to clean the kitchen at night when I'm tired instead of waiting until the morning, but I want to start using it on a much larger scale.
Having just ripped myself out of yet another cycle of distraction (over-committing myself, to be exact), I've really put that large scale pattern interruption to the test. I'm only about a week into it, but I have to say, so far so good. Since choosing to focus on my goals for myself, my family, and my house, I have been more productive, my kids and I have been more physically active (and outside more!), and I'm generally more relaxed. Oh, and probably the most surprising aspect? I started writing again! It's crazy that we don't realize how we hold ourselves back by allowing ourselves to get distracted on such a deep level.
Now, the difficult part is keeping up with the new patterns, right? In the initial stages of a big change, the excitement of everything gives you momentum. How do you keep that going? I believe that re-calibration is the answer. We have to focus and make these new changes the new normal. Then, we can't fall back into the old habits because they're no longer on our scale.
While I'm clearly no expert at this, I feel like the best way to go about the re-calibration process is to shift your perspective of things. If you think of your cycles of distraction as turbulence on airplane, you can feel like getting through it is a matter of life or death, when in reality it's just a bumpy patch you'll be through momentarily. Better yet, you can look beyond the turbulence and focus on the amazing view out your window. You have to make that conscious decision to look at it all differently. Finally, I think the ultimate way to break free is to be intentional with how we spend our energy. We need to decide for ourselves what we want to see in life. Do you want to write more? Make healthier eating choices? Spend more time with your kids? Then choose those things. Choose them every day, or several times a day if you have to. Just be intentional about it.
This is a learning process for me as much as anyone else who may be reading this post. I'm brand new at it and far from perfect, but I'm trying. This post alone is proof of pattern interruption, because believe me, in my current circumstances, I could have written a post that would've come out sounding very similar to my last post in 2016, but I consciously chose to take a different route.
I can't tell you where I'll be a month from now in this journey, but I'm promising myself it won't be standing in my dry yard trying to revive dead grass again.
I have wondered lately why friendships aren’t seen as complex as romantic relationships. They have the meeting phase (which is extremely difficult as an adult I might add.) Then there’s the honeymoon phase, where you realize all your common interests and spend a ton of time together. And then, when things get comfortable, things can just fall through. When you break up with a love interest, your friends encourage you that you’re better than what they put you through. You believe it, grow and move on because you know you are more valuable than that. But is that not true for friendships?
I’ve lost many friends over the years. A few particular relationships stand out as they made me question if there was something wrong with me. These were people I could see being a big part of my life for years to come. And they’re gone. I’ve walked away from some, ran from others, and some have left me behind themselves. When it happens time and time again, it makes you truly question why you always seem to be the common denominator.
Through the insecurities, though, I’ve finally learned a lesson, and maybe that’s why it’s happened so often. I needed to learn this lesson. I needed to learn to voice disagreements before they boiled over.
Looking back, even as far back as high school, I can tell you that often, the relationships where this happens were already on a shaky foundation long before the damage was bad enough to end things. Issues that I was too scared to bring up. I didn’t want to lose my friends, so I just ignored the core problems and nearly drowned in the ensuing drama. Of course, in high school, we didn’t quite have the emotional stability to address and work through those issues as much as now, in my late twenties. But the point is, I’m finally learning to pinpoint the problems early on before the proverbial house collapses.
In that sense, the problem was somewhat me. I was so afraid of losing something that was already fragile that I just ignored the red flags until it was too late. In the last decade since then, I’ve really worked internally. I’ve found my spine, and with it, my voice.
Alongside those newly strengthened traits, I’ve also found my independence. I’ve spent so long being afraid of loneliness that I allowed people to treat me less than I deserved until I broke under the pressure and finally stood up for myself. It doesn’t take me so long to catch on to that, now. And I’m not sure if that’s intimidating, but so far it hasn’t worked in my favor—strike that. As I write this, I realize it’s not that at all. It’s not working in their favor.
Something I tell my children is that they don’t have to be friends with someone who treats them unkindly. I tell them that disagreeing doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them, but that you don’t have to put up with people who are flat out mean or are disagreeing more often than not. They are worth more than that. It’s time I start leading more by example, because I realize it’s true for me, too.
See, with each ended friendship, I’ve learned more about myself. I’ve grown, evolved. I’ve discovered that I am actually a person that I like. I’m happy with myself. I take pride in who I am. I’m not perfect, but I know I’m always learning. I have learned my worth. And I won’t stand down when others refuse to see it.
Most recently—very recently, actually—I lost someone I considered a close friend. Lost is putting it lightly, honestly. They tore themselves from my life completely. Something they did bothered me, but I didn’t bring it up. I was trying to have grace and move forward, but as I struggled, I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. I suppose my feelings were shining through our regular conversations, because I was flat out asked if something was bothering me. I was honest. Why would I lie? What would that accomplish? I explained that while I accepted the apology, I felt I wanted to address a few things specifically so that I could process and work on moving forward. So I put it out there. I’m a writer, so this was all handled how we usually talk anyways, on chat. I asked for them to take time and process what I had said, hoping to have a mature, relationship growing type of conversation, not rush through things in a heated manner and causing more wounds than necessary with high emotions on both ends. The next day, I had a goodbye message with a little error box telling me I couldn’t reply. They had blocked me. This was someone who I regularly called best friend. I had future plans with this person, like being in their wedding, going on a trip together. And now there’s just nothing.
Perhaps I could have handled things more gracefully in this most recent event. Been more willing to discuss step by step instead of relying on my strength as a writer and putting it all out there at once. Or simply addressing it sooner. I will take responsibility for my part. I believe in accountability. I’m neither perfect nor immune to making mistakes, and I will never claim to be. And I’m upset—I’m hurt, I’m angry, even, but I won’t try to force someone to see my side. I will mourn the loss, and others that have been like it, but I will not apologize for letting someone know when I’m upset. I will not apologize for not agreeing with someone all of the time. I will not apologize for knowing I’m worth more than that.
You can’t sacrifice yourself, can’t sacrifice your worth, for someone else. I can tell you, in the aftermath of a huge loss, that this stands true.
There’s this vicious cycle for women in society and to ask where it begins is likely as impossible to answer as the whole chicken and egg debate. That cycle is how women are perceived to treat one another and how women actually treat one another. If you look back in my past, I can tell you that a vast majority of my hurts were inflicted by other women. You more than likely can say the same about your own past. However, there’s also this stereotype, which is where the cycle comes in, that women can’t interact with each other on a regular basis without their being this underlying dislike, jealousy, or just general “frenemy” behavior. How awful is that? Seriously, it’s pretty terrible. Like I said, I’ve had my fair share of problems with other women in my life, but I know without a doubt that I don’t dislike my best friends and I like to think they don’t dislike me (I’m joking, I know they don’t.)
For whatever reason, society pits us against each other. You have to strive for the best body, the best clothes, the best hair. You’re so shallow because you love to dress “cute” and wear make up every day. You’re “frumpy” for no makeup, messy hair and yoga pants. You have to be married (“to a man”*) to find happiness. But you have to a strong independent woman who doesn’t need anyone. You have to rock a career or be a mom. You don’t want kids? What does your husband think? You do want kids? How archaic? If you’re a working mom, what a pity your baby will be raised by a stranger? If you stay at home, what do you even do with your day? It’s so pitiful that you have no aspirations in life but to pop out babies and sit at home with them. But, also, while you’re staying home, you better do daily crafts, have the most angelic behaving children and a spotless house. We’re even judged in how we raise our children—something that is really just the business of the parents and children involved! You’re awful if you don’t breast feed. You’re disgusting if you do. Seriously, women just cannot catch a break with this stuff! It’s everywhere, coming at us from all directions. It’s so easy to just get swept away in it, tired of fighting against the current to prove, “No, not me.” And when we get swept away, we lose sight of why we fought to begin with, and we can turn against each other.
You know, there’s a verse in the bible that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that is praise worthy. How amazing is that? That God can create us so perfectly, flaws and all. (And please, hear me out if you aren’t a believer, because I believe this is fitting for everyone!) You are amazing. You are beautiful, inside and out. You are perfect in every way, flaws and all, because that’s how you were created. But, you may have noticed, it doesn’t mention that the only ones who are wonderfully made are in one column and anyone not fitting those confinements aren’t. God created us all to be wonderful. He created us all exactly the way that we are on purpose. Don’t you think that’s amazing? Even if you don’t believe, think of how complex humans are. How we are all the same base, but completely original at the same time? That’s awesome! You can’t deny that, no matter your religious beliefs.
Taking that a step further, if you are fearfully and wonderfully made, so is every other woman (and all humans, but I’m specifically talking women today) you come across. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like someone’s hair, or how they do their makeup if they do any at all, or how they spend their free time. It doesn’t matter, because they are not you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means perfect in this area. There are times I see someone I don’t like, or maybe don’t even know, and think something nasty for just a moment before catching myself. “Those shoes with that outfit? That looks awful.” But no! It’s not awful! Because if that is the outfit that she felt amazing in today, then it’s a great outfit. It’s none of my business how any other woman is living her life as long as she’s not hurting me or anyone else (or herself, but that’s a topic for another day) just as it’s no one else’s business what I’m doing.
So what do we do about this? In the broad spectrum, I feel like a lot of women in society are already fighting back, but it’s not enough. We as women have to band together. Show the world that we aren’t all hormonal animals ready to fight each other for the last top in our size at the mall.
There’s a bible verse that has just really bee resonating with me and it’s the proverb “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Be that iron that sharpens the iron around you. Don’t be jealous of someone’s accomplishments, instead cheer them on! Even if you’re in the same business, it’s not a competition! Someone being successful doesn’t mean you can’t be successful yourself! We deal with so much crap in the day to day from stressful jobs, misbehaving kids, and everything in between. We don’t need that coming from the people we should be happy to be around. My best friendships are the ones where we’re constantly cheering for the other’s success, even in times where we are trying so hard to no avail yet. Be a good, supportive friend!
I feel like there’s this misconception between what a happy, supportive friend looks like, though. It’s not smiling widely and cheering on every move they make, even the bad moves (which you then judge in private). It’s being able to kindly tell them the truth of how you see things when they ask. It’s challenging them to think differently. Friendship isn’t all or nothing—no relationship is. There’s a balance. You can give your honest opinion when you’re asked, while still allowing them to know that you’ll be there for them if things go awry. You can set boundaries within the friendship and it still be a good friendship. Iron sharpening iron is to help each other grow and evolve into a better version of you than you were before.
So, in short, rise up, women, and empower each other. Embrace your differences alongside the things you have in common. Love each other. Lift your women friends up in a world that’s trying to tear us all down. Let’s shatter this cycle once and for all.
*NOTE: This is NOT my belief, not even CLOSE. I’m just showing the extreme pressures from society, and this is one of them. I am all for marriage equality and all equality.
As I watched the hour pass by, waiting for someone to show up to my house for a planned visit, I found myself growing more and more frustrated. This person, who I will keep anonymous since I’m not trying to put anyone on blast here, asked if this day and this time frame worked for me. I didn’t come up with the plan, they did! Yet, here I was and here they weren’t. I tried to keep it cool, give them the benefit of the doubt. It wasn’t a set in stone time, it’s fine. But when it had finally been an hour past the scheduled time, I gave in and sent a text. I needed to make dinner very soon, given that we’re now on a much stricter schedule since my oldest has started Kindergarten.
“Were you still planning on coming, or….?” I texted, trailing off to hopefully seem laid back.
Ten minutes passed. Then, finally, “Got called in to work sorry.”
Life happens. This, I understand. I’ve had to back out of plenty of plans for various reasons. What bothered me, though, was the inconsideration in not even telling me the plans were canceled, not even an hour after the scheduled time. I put off cooking dinner for my and my children’s hungry selves for this person. Beyond that, even, I was frustrated because I had told my kids. This person happens to be a family member and the visit wasn’t for me to have some grown up conversation, it was for them to see my children, who they haven’t seen in several months. My kids were excited and then I had to pop the bubble that this family member wasn’t coming and didn’t tell me. Thankfully, they were fine, but, I mean, to be honest, they’re somewhat used to this.
I found myself not just frustrated, but downright angry. Not violent rage angry or anything, but angry enough to want to say something. I sent another text calmly explaining that I should have been told, especially when the time was confirmed the night before. Surely, this person had 30 seconds to send me a brief message canceling. But they didn’t. They apologized and admitted they should have called. The response isn’t why I’m writing this, though.
After I sent my “rant” sounding message, I felt almost guilty. I felt as though everyone probably thought I was so crazy for being bent out of shape over someone not showing up to see my kids. This isn’t the first time I’ve been upset about someone not following through, even if I hadn’t always said something. Surely, I was just overthinking this all. Surely, I was just being crazy.
The more I thought, and still think, about it, though, I’m not crazy. My time is valuable. My children’s time is valuable. My children’s feelings are valuable. We are worth something. We are worth seeing, we are worth being told if plans are canceled. It’s not crazy to know your worth.
I’ve been sitting here feeling like I was in the wrong simply for wanting to be treated with respect. For wanting to be told within a reasonable time that plans weren’t happening. Why is it that we think we have to just sit back and accept whatever is thrown at us, lest we appear “crazy?”
I’m not one to promote lingering on negativity, so I know I should let this go to an extent. I will. I’m not going to be angry forever over canceled plans. However, I do think it’s so important to know that you’re allowed to stand up for your time. Your allowed to tell someone they didn’t treat you with the respect you deserve, even in small situations. It’s not crazy. It’s knowing your worth, and you are worth something. But you know what is crazy? Thinking it’s okay to not show someone simple respect such as letting someone know you can’t make it.
A few years ago, my place of work was robbed at gunpoint. My story is a lucky one where the robbers left with nothing and we were all safe. In the routine questioning, the police asked us how the robbers got in, as this took place hours after our usual closing time. We explained that we had extended hours that weekend, so the robbers were able to walk in right during working hours. Would you like to know what happened then? The cops took what we said as fact and moved on with their questions. They didn’t repeatedly ask us why the doors were unlocked, trying to change the words to confuse our stories. They didn’t tell us we shouldn’t have had extended hours for our busy time of the year. They in no way blamed us, the victims of a traumatic situation.
So why do we insist on doing this to rape victims?
Why do we ask what were they wearing? Why do we ask if they have a history of promiscuity? Why is everyone and every past situation more to blame than the person who actually did the raping? It’s well beyond past time to stop blaming the victim and blaming the rapist, the same way we blame the drunk driver, the child abuser, the murderer, the robber.
Unfortunately, periodically, a big case hits the media where people are mourning the ruined future of a rapist for being caught in their actions, making sure to use nice pictures of the attacker and explain all of their successes to further prove how wonderful they really were.
This disgusting excuse for media portrayal is damaging enough to the victims in all of these cases, but it goes so far beyond that. This is detrimental to all victims.
Recently, a friend of mine found out that her worst nightmare had happened while visiting an old friend. He had sexually assaulted her, a fact she didn’t even remember until it came back in a flashback a night later.
If the fact that she was betrayed by a friend isn’t enough to make your blood boil, what makes it worse is that I can tell her all day every day that it was in no way her fault, and a majority of herself will agree with that, but thanks to the way our society is, she still feels like she is partially to blame. She drank (the doctor told her it was likely she had been slipped something, given how sick she got). She admitted she found him attractive (and while I hope no one reading this needs to be told, in case you don’t know, thinking someone is pretty/handsome/whatever, it’s not consent for things going beyond that.) These things do not in any way, shape, or form, justify what happened to her. What happens to too many.
And it makes me even more upset that I can’t tell her with confidence that a court system would agree with me. I can’t tell her that her situation wouldn’t turn out just like the Stanford case right now. Because it just takes one judge to think the rapist’s future is more important, more worthy of protecting, than hers.
This has to stop. Now. It should have stopped long before. I saw a hashtag today from an organization, which prompted me to right this, and I stand by it. #itsonus to stop blaming victims, and start blaming rapists. Stop mourning the broken futures of someone who knows the difference in right and wrong and still chooses to rape. And mostly importantly, support the victims. Don’t put them on a trial for the actions of someone else, that affected them. Support them. Get justice for them.
When I saw the text message from my best friend showing a patch of hair cut out of her elementary school-aged daughter (who we will call J), I originally thought she had done what many kids do once they know how to use scissors. But the truth of what happened horrified me. A classmate, her “best friend,” had walked over, informed J that she was going to cut her hair and, despite protests, lifted up the top layer of hair and cut around her ear. Once my best friend finally got the truth out of her for what happened, she asked why she didn’t tell the teacher, or at least her what had happened? Of course, J was afraid she’d get in trouble with her teacher, but the other reason? Because she didn’t want her friend to be mad at her.
If that wasn’t heart breaking enough, it only got worse. When J finally confided in her teacher what happened, the little girl denied it (as to be expected). After a conference with the principal, she broke down and confessed and apologized. All was better, right? Well, if only it was that easy. That afternoon, some of J’s classmates approached her and said that her “friend” was going around calling her a liar and urging the classmates to not be friends with J. So let me get this straight. The little girl had the scissors. The little girl walked up to J and told her she was going to cut her hair. J told her no. She did it anyway and then lied to the teacher and, up until her breakdown and confession, to the principal. But J is the liar who shouldn’t have friends?
I have one word to describe that behavior: Bullying. Well, what I like to call Unconventional Bullying.
When you hear the word bullying, you automatically think of the big kid on the playground picking on the younger kids. Threatening all sorts of things if you didn’t bring them your lunch money or your toys. Shoving you in the locker. In recent years, you may even think about anonymous messages sent on social media or spreading rumors about the “different” kid in school who doesn’t fit in. But what happens when the mean words, threats or negative actions come from someone you consider close? Unconventional Bullying.
I’ve personally witnessed Unconventional Bullying in just about all age groups. In fact, I’ve even been the “victim” of it myself through the years (though I definitely don’t consider myself a victim in any sense of the word). It isn’t just elementary school kids cutting their friends hair.
It’s my four-year-old daughter running to me, sobbing, because her best friend called her a baby for the twelfth time in the past two hours, and it’s not a new trend.
It’s the middle school me being met with laughter and rolling eyes because “you really want to talk about that weird band again?”
It’s the high school me feeling isolated from her old friends because her “better” ones would rather eat somewhere else. But then those same “better” friends sit her down after school to ask what’s wrong, blind to the fact that it’s the mean notes and generally how they treat her that’s wrong.
It’s being an adult that’s suddenly back in high school because you somehow got sucked into drama that isn’t even yours. Being asked to lie, never knowing what words from your friend are the truth, and dozens of little comments that leave you feeling insecure around them.
It’s all of these, and still thinking that person is your best friend. And you put up with it because you have this notion that best friends stick together through thick and thin. I’m here to tell you that that’s not the truth. Will the occasional drama happen? Well, sure, maybe, especially in the teen years. But where does that line from normal to Unconventional Bullying get crossed?
Don’t confuse Unconventional Bullying with Bullying. It’s different, which is why I call it Unconventional. Unconventional Bullying doesn’t mean that there was a big mean bully seeking out a weak victim for their joy, it means a friend treating you how you shouldn’t be treated, but expecting you to stick around. You don’t have to stick around.
If you’re coming home after spending time with your best friend and you’re questioning if your interests are okay or weird, it’s not friendship. If you come home and you’re crying for the fifth time this week because you were once again passed a nasty note, it’s not friendship. If you come home and have to ask another friend if they would have taken these words negatively, because you can’t get them off your mind and they hurt your soul, it’s not friendship. It’s all just different versions of that little girl implying to J, “Let me do this to you, or we won’t be friends anymore.”
But guess what? You don’t deserve that friend. You don’t need the friend that comes with self-compromising conditions. That’s not a friend! You deserve the friend who you can laugh with for hours and feel like minutes have gone by. You deserve the friend who can stand the test of time and distance. You deserve the friend where the biggest fight is over if a movie was good or not. You deserve who accepts you for everything you are and is your biggest cheerleader in all aspects of your life, even if it’s different from their own.
I have spent so much of my life being unconventionally bullied, even now when I’m half way through my twenties, but not anymore. I have two very best friends, and a number of other close friends, who are amazing. I am unapologetically me and they stand by my side and applaud that, and I for them. They are real friends. Go find the friends you deserve.
Today, as I was getting ready for my weekly small group at church, I thought to myself "I feel like I should skip the mascara today." I don't know what it was that made me think that, but I just shrugged it off and applied as usual. Boy, I really should have skipped it.
Hello! I'm Lindsey. I'm a writer with a ton of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. So I share them here in hopes that they reach others with these thoughts.