Sides

I don’t really like people, in general. As a species, I often hate us.

But my hatred is not strong enough to outweigh my compassion and overall kindness. I ignore what I don’t like, more often than not. I don’t have the need to randomly call people names, especially if they are complete strangers to me. I have all sorts of my own biases – racial and otherwise – but they aren’t so ingrained in my psyche that I feel the need to act out as a result. Or attack someone because of them, or anything else. I don’t think certain people deserve more or less than other people, and certainly not because of something superficial that is out of their control.

I think people in general should stop couching their hatred in politics. It’s not a political view. It has nothing to do with Liberal or Conservative, left or right, political parties or perspectives, nor even individual candidates.

Being “politically correct” has nothing to do with politics. It’s about not being an asshole.

If you want to talk about, say, abortion, and whether or not it should be legal…that’s more of a political issue. Though, even that one is tricky because it involves a person’s right to choose – specifically a woman’s – so often sexual politics come into play in those discussions. I have my own views on that, and to me, there really isn’t any other way to see it, but many folks try, anyway.

As is their right. The difference is, I don’t try to legislate their opinion.

So…another topic. Say education. That’s something that could fall under the realm of politics. People will forever quibble over the details of how money should be spent, where it should come from in the first place, whether sex ed has a place in a public school classroom or not…that’s what politics are for. Quibbling over the details, and sometimes even having an actual discussion about them.

It is not, however, a place where a majority group (I’m looking at you, straight white guys) should exert pressure to ultimately deny members of minority groups the same rights they themselves are afforded.

We have so many laws and regulations which were created to curb the number of incidents in which stupid people hurt themselves or others. We have so many more which were crafted with the intention of stopping people from being cruel to one another.

But you can’t legislate kindness. Hatred is there whether there are rules against it, or not. People just couch it as a freedom of speech or some other such policy in a political forum, and continually seek the “right” to openly express it. We’re seeing more and more of that right being exercised after the US election fiasco last week. So many people chose not to vote at all, or voted independent, or just voted the party, without actually thinking about what it meant.

It’s not about being Republican or Democrat this time. From what I can tell, there are two kinds of people, and the categories do not fall into the political realm, but rather into the personal/social/emotional one. And I’m not sure that anyone is able to change which category they fall into, let alone if they’d want to change it up. I’m pretty sure I can’t, as even though I have hatred and darkness inside me, it’s just not strong enough to overpower my basic, better-natured instincts. I don’t have to curb it because it’s the law or uncouth or even politically incorrect. It’s just who I am inside. I am in part both kinds of people, but one ultimately outweighs the other.

The way I see it, you’re either a kind, caring, compassionate and ultimately flawed human being…

Or you’re an ignorant, intolerant asshole.

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Learn To React Out Loud

I’ve realized that most of what I know of my friends and their lives – including the ones I talk to almost every day – is gleaned from posts they make online, as opposed to anything said to me directly. That realization hurt at first, until I made the realization on top of it that I do pretty much the same thing.

Except that I don’t really post much online, either.

It’s possible that’s where some of my communication frustration is coming from. Haha

I lean more toward not posting things online in public forums because a) when it’s in writing it’s harder to revise and re-state, b) the general public has no business in most of my bizness, and c) I’m of the notion that those I do choose to share with are closer to me in some way; I trust them with more of me.

So be it in person or via text/email, I much prefer small groups and individual conversations to mass online postings. In a way I choose those trusted few very carefully, but in another way I really just run on instinct. I’m crazy naïve, and of course just want to be liked (emotionally I’m, like, 8 years old on a good day, but most of the time I’m pretty much still an unborn fetus), so my instincts are often steered wrong just by those factors alone. I usually consider what I want to say before I say it (so writing is easier; I’m just not a fan of the public), but I also try to consider who I’ve decided to say it to.

Writing a personal blog each day is ridiculous for someone like me, but one can’t grow and improve unless one ventures out of their comfort zone once in awhile, and thus far I’ve remained mostly inside my comfort zone as far as this little project is concerned. I want to say I’ll work on changing that, but even as I think about typing it, I am also tempted to just let it be. So we’ll see, I guess. I want to keep those closer to me, the chosen few, still closer than this, and to venture further outside my comfort zone with them, too. With them more, actually.

But I guess sometimes I can talk about something other than what I did today, or whatever.

Like fear.

What are you afraid of” and “what scares you” are questions that come up all the time, to celebrities, to potential relationship partners, to friends sitting around a campfire splitting a bottle/several bottles of wine.

I’m not saying alcohol is necessary for conversation, but it definitely helps!

I once did a presentation in high school about fear. I actually can’t remember what it was for, or what I even talked about, specifically. I just remember I started off my presentation with the first 20 minutes of the original When A Stranger Calls. The whole, “have you checked the children” babysitter/phone call bit.

The calls are coming from inside the house!!!”

Guys! Some of the scariest 20 minutes put on film, if you’re me. And apparently if you are some of my classmates that day.

I, myself, am afraid of lots of things. Most things, really, but to varying degrees. I learned very early on in life to not react to some things, because my reactions would make everything worse. If someone thinks it’s funny to scare you and they don’t get the reaction they wanted, they stop trying. I bottle a lot of that shit up, even to this day. Sometimes it’s even practical – if you encounter a wild animal, don’t run. It makes you look like prey. So freezing up on the outside and screaming on the inside can actually be helpful in some situations.

Not in most, though, so training your instincts to do that is not the greatest idea, and it’s incredibly difficult to re-train yourself to scream on the outside once you’re older. I’m still trying to learn how to react out loud; to actively defend myself instead of freezing up.

I’m afraid of any kind of violation, be it of my person or of my home/safe space. Both at once would be unimaginably horrible. Yet I do imagine it, all the time.

I am afraid of the elements, mostly wind and fire. And water, though I guess the chance of a tidal wave coming off Lake Ontario is pretty slim. I think I am less afraid of dying in some sort of natural disaster as I am of losing someone to it. The animals; friends; family. I spend so much time being afraid and trying to prepare and/or avoid catastrophe that I feel like I would survive, but lose someone important to me, and spend the rest of my life re-playing it over and over in my head, trying to make the outcome different. Even losing Alysia – I wasn’t there, but there are still nights even now when I imagine all I would have tried to do to get those kids and Frankie the Kitten out of there safe. I mean, all I think or wish I would have been able to do. Just…anything to make the reality different. I would possibly just freeze in that situation, too, but not necessarily.

I remember once when I was living with Lizz in our cute little house, I was home alone, in the living room, when I heard a cat jump down from her bedroom window and in trotted Kate. Moments later, another thump of paws hitting the floor and Dodger appeared to grace me with his handsome presence.

Then there was a third sound in the back bedroom, and we only had two cats.

They both heard it, too, and together the three of us stared at the dark hallway until a massive raccoon sidled into the light, looked at us, then went into the kitchen to eat all the cat food.

Frozen in my chair, I placed a panicked call to Lizz, who was on her way home from work, and kept an eye on the cats and our unwanted visitor. Everything was fine – more or less – until the raccoon made its way back into the hallway and disappeared. About 2 seconds later, Dodger and Kate took off running after it. I’d heard about how vicious raccoons could be, and how quickly they could kill a cat, and panic washed over me again, but this time it kicked me into action instead. I raced after the cats, yelling the whole time, and they were so startled that they came back immediately. I kept them with me until Lizz came home, but by then the huge critter had made its way back outside through the window from whence it came.

Or from wherece it came.

Anyway, the point is, I was terrified and I froze, but once I was more terrified for the cats, I sprang into action hero mode, if only for a few seconds.

I’m afraid of spiders, though more because of their unpredictability and the whole jumping thing. I don’t like the jumping. Nor the crawling in my mouth while I sleep. Bugs in general…let’s just stay as separate from one another as possible.

So yeah – basically I am afraid of weather, animals/insects, and other people. This is what makes it difficult to leave the house.

However, I am also afraid of embarrassing myself. It’s a different kind of fear, but it ends up having the same result. Often, my ability to freeze and not react has helped me not embarrass myself, though. Or, at least, embarrass myself less.

Like, my first MRI, I did all this research so I’d know what to expect, but still, as I slid into the tube and felt the machine pin my arms to my sides, and looked up to see the cage over my head and the top of the tube inches away from that, I sucked my breath in – and froze. The tech asked if I was okay, and I said “yeah”, which forced me to expel a little bit of air, just to make sound come out. I felt like kicking and screaming and oh-HELL-no-ing my way right back out of there, but that would have been humiliating. One of the techs was hot and I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so I reminded myself to breathe, and let even more of that air out. Then in, then out. And repeat.

Since then, I’ve been admittedly kind of an expert on the whole MRI thing, and even give a little coaching to anyone I meet in the waiting room who’s nervous about it themselves.

I don’t like causing a scene. It gets me into more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, but once in awhile it helps. I just never really found the balance, because I’m still so focused on the freeze and stay silent than I am on what a more appropriate and beneficial reaction would be in some circumstances.

I haven’t found other ways to defend myself, even though my go-to doesn’t really work out very well most of the time.

Everything Nice

The movie Room was easily one of my favourite films of 2015.  The range of emotions that it puts the viewer through, and the way it’s filmed almost completely from young Jack’s point-of-view.  The whole thing is just so well done, it’s the kind of film that stays with you long after the final credits roll.

There was a line in it which suggested that the character of Ma was in the predicament she’s in at the start of the movie was because she’d been raised to “be nice”.  That perhaps she might have protected herself better if she’d been less concerned with how she might be viewed by others.

In the moment the line was uttered, my first reaction was of how mean and hurtful it was.  My second reaction, right on its tail, was that it felt true.

It’s kind of a contradictory message we send, especially to girls and women.  Despite the fact that there have always been predators waiting in the shadows to exploit it, we are raised to be nice.  To be polite.  To not be combative.  To be agreeable and not make a scene.

Yet it’s pretty much impossible to protect yourself without appearing rude.

On top of that, we are made to feel guilty if we don’t trust someone enough to assume they won’t take advantage of that trust.  We get accused of not understanding that someone is a “nice guy”.  We have to provide evidence for why we don’t trust, as opposed to them having to provide evidence of why we should.  But it only takes one time – one lapse of judgement, one wrong choice of throwing caution to the wind – to potentially ruin or end your life.

And usually if a guy has to insist that he’s nice – he’s not.  Just sayin’.

Conventions of society, of a civilized world, teachnus that girls and women are either kind, malleable and easy to manipulate, or they are loud, abrasive, headstrong bitches who will never know love.  That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if you think the only way to earn affection and acceptance in the world is to be the behavioural equivalent of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Everything nice.

That doesn’t describe someone who would cause a scene, who would say no, who would fight back, or keep walking if approached by a stranger asking for help.

I mean, until quite recently (and still now if we’re being honest), a husband could not be said to have raped or assaulted his wife.  She married him, and apparently marriage means consent at any time forever.  What kind of shrew would withold sex from her husband?

It’s completely ridiculous to say, or type, and yet it’s still there, even now, in our public consciousness.  The way women – any woman – who does step forward to accuse her attacker is treated and viewed is…abhorrent.  It’s a wonder anyone speaks up at all.

When I was little people used to like to pin me down and tickle me sometimes.  It made me laugh, but I hated it.  I even had at least one nightmare wherein I saw someone else getting tickled and knew I was next so I tried to run but I could hear the footsteps in pursuit, right behind me.  I learned that the easiest way to stop the tickling was to not react.  To freeze and wait for whoever was doing it to stop because my non-reaction was boring.  It wasn’t the laughter they were looking for.

That’s my first instinct to this day – avoid conflict, freeze, don’t react, wait for it to stop.  And try not to draw attention to yourself in the first place, if it can be helped.  Not because I’d deserve what I got, but because it’s way easier than fighting back.

Because after all, it’s impossible to fight back and protect yourself while still being nice.

 

Note:  I have more to say in this vein but I need to go to sleep.  To be continued some other time perhaps!