they angrily say. And they want you to be upset with it too. And immediately you want to shout back “I didn’t change!”
But press pause before you say that. When people say it to me, it’s most often people that knew me in high school and college. I was still finding myself then. I’m still finding myself now.
You want to know when I most often hear those worthy of an eyeroll words? When I disagree with them. When I tell them that I think differently.
Why? Because I was the doormat. I know it. I’m not afraid to say it. I’ve had “friends” that manipulated me for this exact reason, and I knew it when it was happening. I let it happen.
But I kept my mouth closed as always. Any kind of social injustice to anyone else and I was always standing up with a megaphone telling the world it was wrong. But I didn’t know how to do that for myself.
I was, for the most part, non-confrontational when it had to do with me. I would get mad. Vent to my friends and my mom. But unless it completely bubbled over from it building for so long, I never said anything to the person that angered me.
There were people I would try to distance myself from but because I didn’t have the heart to tell them I didn’t want to be around them, I would end up hanging back out with them, to my detriment. I made stupid decisions with stupid crowds.
Probably not to the extent that most people talk about their high school/college days. But for me, they were stupid decisions. Because I knew they were.
I am heartfelt. To the core. I try (and still do) to see things from others’ perspectives. I want to understand what they are going through. How they might feel based off what I say. I try to measure my words very carefully. And hurting someone else’s feelings was the worst thing in my mind that I could possibly do.
Because I had done it. When those occasions of bubbling over happened, the worst possible word vomit exploded. I have said some horrible things to people. Because I couldn’t manage my own feelings and get out what I needed to say in this moment. Because I felt I couldn’t figure out how to say things, without the person getting upset. I let the other persons life, become more important than my own.
I let people dictate my life in a way. I definitely had ideas and did things that were big for me. And I was pretty outgoing and friends with everyone. But it was inside that I had the battles.
In my friendships, relationships, business and family matters, I kept my mouth closed. I would get so angry, and vent. And then never bring it up again.
And then this thing happened. I found out I was pregnant. And my world as I knew it came crashing down. During my pregnancy and shorty after I had my son, my relationships changed. My choice of major in college changed. We moved to a new county, an hour away from the old one, where I didn’t know anybody. I changed schools. New house, new town, new…me?
It was a new beginning, in more ways than one. The friends that often manipulated me, were gone. Good. My son was the rising star of my life. I would give him everything. I would make him feel supported. He would be strong and respectful. My baby. My boy.
And then we started noticing differences in him. He wasn’t talking. We had to teach him sign language. He used to eat everything from peas to hummus, and he wouldn’t anymore. He was throwing up constantly. He would get so wound up it was hard to calm him down. He screamed and cried when we went in crowded places. And that is how I learned to have a voice for myself. Because I had to have a voice for him.
We fought with the school district, evaluators, teachers. I was pissing off everybody and taking names. I didn’t care. I knew he needed extra help and I was going to fight for him. We have fought so hard to get him to the amazing point he is at now. And these next few years are crucial. That happened because my mom, taught me, to have a voice.
When I first found my voice for myself, it was just yelling at everyone because, well I don’t know why to be honest. I don’t have the energy or care for that anymore. I’ve got better things to save that for.
I literally sent a text out to my family (that would ask every time I was upset if I was pregnant) to kindly cut that shit out. That I wouldn’t be taking it anymore and that I don’t find it funny, I find it offensive. I knew their reasoning was because I was an angry pissed off woman when I was pregnant (for good reasons and a lot of them) and instead of keeping how I was feeling inside I made it known. And it felt GREAT. And because of that, they held it over my head until my son was 5 years old. And only because I told them no more. I remember using the words “I am not being anyone’s doormat anymore” and one of my uncles’ responses was “it’s about time.”
I use whatever form of communication I think I need to use at the time. If I think it will be overly emotional and frustrated, I type it out, wait a day, and reread it. I sent an email to a supervisor at my son’s school a just week ago. I speak my mind constantly now. I have my son to thank for that.
So yes, I have changed. I have been through a lot. Medically, emotionally, physically for both my son and I. His emotions are my emotions. His pain is my pain. I am so grateful that I learned to have a voice for myself. It was the hardest gift to get thus far, but totally worth the wait.
Balancing the emotional avalanche inside me has been a hard one to get around. Figuring out how to best explain myself without having to censor myself for others (and still being thoughtful of that that person) was emotional for me at first. But I am so glad it happened. I’m still learning to navigate that. I am fairly new to this, but it’s liberating and I promise I won’t go back.
I’ve changed since high school. I’ve changed since college. I’ve changed since yesterday. And when I’m 70 I will probably be a whole new person. And I’m fine with that.
If you haven’t changed, then you haven’t grown. So don’t accept that as negative. When someone says that you, “thank you” is the correct response. Don’t ever let someone make you feel that their version of you…is more important than the version that you want of yourself. The real ones will stick around.
Hugs to my emotional friends out there. I understand. It gets better.