I find I have few redeeming qualities for my mouth. And I have even fewer excuses for my temper. I have never had a “poker face”. And as far back as I can remember, I have always called out inequities, unfairness, and hypocrisy.
Since the top of 2020 I’ve heard from various characters in my life:
- “He called you an ‘SJW’!” (A ‘social justice warrior’)
- “You can dish it, but you can’t take it.”
- “We’re concerned, because you seem to be making all his decisions.”
- “Everyone is sick of your attitude. It was better when you weren’t here.”
- “I don’t have the strength to deal with you.”
- “You don’t want me to be happy.”
- “You’re the reason I’m unhappy.”
- “You don’t know when to quit.”
- “I’m tired of hearing you ask me to ‘pick a lane’.”
- “You really need the last word?”
- “What did you expect would happen?”
I’m going to be 38 in a couple of weeks. And despite my best attempts at remedying my necessity to stand tall on my evictions, I am still falling flat on a promise to myself to muzzle up.
I hate that gif. The one of the gal with the pixie cut and glasses, clearly revved up to 60, ready to burst. The burning caption? “Triggered”. Cause I identify with her.
It burns me up when I see people talk out of both sides of their mouth. Who say one thing, but do another. Who speak one thing, and deny it by lifestyle. Who refuse to acknowledge they’d rather be at Satan’s side, than in his path. I’ve just never been this girl. If I see it, if I hear it, I call it out. I confront it. I delete people off Facebook. If I don’t like you, I can’t do much more than simply tolerate you.
This has been my fatal flaw.
The best I’ve got to offer is a muzzle. Where my bark is muffled behind a mask. Where it’s obvious through my eyes, my resting bitch face, that I am pissed off, or upset. But it’s muffled. It’s the epitome of passive-aggressiveness. And it generally reveals itself in silence. I don’t give you anymore than I thought you already deserved. I just actually walk away. Delete, block, silence. And I don’t come back.
And, as proven in the bullet-point aforementioned, even in my best attempts, I’m still catching fire for stirring up conflict by refusing to lay down and die. Since I was a kid, my attitude has always been: don’t come for me. I will reduce you to ash.
So how do people like me walk through the world built on rules and structure? How do we cope with relationships and settle the score on arguments? How do we deal when people don’t meet our expectations?
We work on it.
And it’s a daily chore to take deep breaths and choose which fucks are worth our energy. I have repeatedly deleted comments I’ve left on various Facebook posts. In fact, my current Facebook profile has nothing on its timeline except a redirect to the Care page. Because I can feel my insides tied into knots over shit people say, and spew. And rather than engaging, I’ve deleted and walked away. I’ve removed people off Facebook. I’ve muted accounts on Twitter. Every day, I try to learn how to take deep breaths before I react. Before my hot-headed, red-burning temper takes over and I am demand a recount of the score in the argument. Because I’m RIGHT, goddammit, and I’m going to show you how!
My 20s were hard.
I think back to the relationships I’ve had over the years. Friendships, boyfriends, roommates, husbands. Do people really need “strength” to be my friend? My lover? Probably. I’m not for the weak. As Sheryl warbled, “are you strong enough to be my man?”
In the last 7 months, I’ve spent more time behind this muzzle than I have in any other time in my life. It chips away at my person to “let things slide”, to “not react”, to “not engage”. And it’s cost me in some ways, and taught me lessons in other ways. As the time ticks by during this lockdown, I’m self-aware more than ever before on my own “triggers” as the gal in the meme behaved. Triggggggerrrrrreeeedddddd.
So how do we balance? How do we quantify what’s really worth whatever energy we may have left to muster up? Which of your convictions are actually preferences, and what of your opinions are more like self-serving desires? How do we know when to pipe up, and when to “let it go”, and are there any brown paper bags anywhere to breathe into when we’re so fired up, we’re going to implode? At least it’s my mouth doing the smashing. I’m not a person who feels the need to throw a plate.
And how do we all handle this last nerve we’ve got on display, rubbed raw from an uninspiring world?
How do we stop before we speak, and say: this time, this moment isn’t worth it?
Thank god for muzzles.
— c ☆