I had one of those nights last night. You know those nights. Then when I thought about it I realized it’s actually been one of those weeks. I think you know those weeks too.
It peaked around 1 am. I was in a bar I would never purposely choose to be in, pressed up against frat boys and poorly dressed college girls while hip hop bass pumped around me. Suffice to say that I was most heartily not amused, but it was a friend’s birthday party and I wanted to make an appearance. Which I did, and I stayed for an hour or so until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I pretty much bolted.
But as I made my eager escape I got trapped in a bottleneck of people and all movement stopped for a moment. One of the people opposite me, a 6′ 3″, 180 pound man, started knocking me over as he shoved to get past. I shouted at him, as I fell into the person behind me, “Hey. It’s crowded, and I’m a woman. You’re shoving a woman 50 pounds lighter than you just to move two inches. Is that absolutely necessary? Can’t you just be a fucking gentleman for two minutes?”
He looked over his shoulder at me and said, “You’re too loud. Be quiet.” And shoved me even further to keep going. His friend laughed, also shoving, and of course I went into a total rage and spit on the friend’s back as they moved into the crowd. Thank God I didn’t have a drink bc I would have thrown it before thinking and they were not the type to refrain from hitting any woman, quiet or not. I only hope the first one patted the second one on the back at some point–my spit is not a big comeuppance, but there is hope that it might have been sticky and annoying for a second. In any case, I left the bar on the verge of tears from this one dumb incident (and an hour and a half of hip hop–that always makes me weepy).
So this morning I’ve been putting together the pieces of this week and figuring out how I reached that pinnacle frustration point and the same thing dawned on me that always dawns on me when I get to that state. First of all, some days are just shittier than others, but beyond that–I am a person of great power (as are you), who consistently forgets that they are a person of great power. And then I am left wide open for minor crap like that to upset me far more than necessary.
It’s unavoidable that I am going to end up in shitty white boy hip hop bars on the rare occasion. New York is rife with them and some of the people I work with and love just aren’t that interested in rock and roll (sigh…). I can’t control their bad party choices. But I can control the mood that I approach these situations with. I’ll always walk into those places unhappily because I fucking hate them, but on top of my usual aversion I walked in last night already feeling small. I was not centered or safe inside of myself, which meant I was vulnerable to some giant asshole willing to shove me out of the way on his mission to get drunk and locate new date-rape victims.
I am the best little co-dependent that you’ll ever meet. I am comfortable with people and situations that need my help, that have nothing to give, that gape like black holes waiting for me to dump everything I have into their abyss. My instinct is to over-extend myself where I will receive nothing in return and once the cycle is begun I will repeat the behavior over and over again until I am completely drained and have totally forgotten who I am. I have been doing that all week, in all kinds of ways, both in my work and in my personal life.
One time during a breakup I learned that a mutual friend of ours, who is a very sweet and trustworthy person, had been checking on my ex regularly while I hadn’t heard from her at all. Months later I ran into her and told her how hurt I was that she had chosen to remain friends only with him and hadn’t checked in with me that whole time. She was honestly apologetic and said, “I never thought to call you because I just expected you to be okay. You’re always okay.” That message really stuck with me.
I am always okay, until I’m not. I’m relentlessly okay until I am out of control and spitting on some asshole’s back in a crowded bar. I will just continue to hand my power over and extend myself far too far until everything snaps back with violent emotion like a rubber band. And then once again people are gaping at me with that look of shock and terror on their faces that I know far too well.
Luckily the lessons are not completely lost on me, and today I do remember who I am. I am a person of great power and worth and I don’t need to fucking extend myself any further to anyone or anything that can’t or won’t reciprocate. I am surrounded by people and situations that show me great love, that see who I am, that see when I am not okay and who do something about it, and see when I am okay and still check in just to make sure.
And that is where I need to place my energy, where it will be regenerated and where it can do the most good. And to those of you who fall into that category, and you know who you are, I thank you most heartily for your kindness, for your attention, for answering my texts in the middle of the night, for offering to send in reinforcements when I am trapped in trendy clubs, for putting on your jacket and walking me to cabs without my having to ask, for recognizing that even bad-ass co-dependents need taking care of. You are where I belong and you have my utmost gratitude and respect. It is you who bring me back to true self, and I honestly hope that I am able to do the same for you when you need it.
And then when we are in our center, in this place of remembering, we are untouchable, no matter how hard the creeps shove. That’s pretty great, and that’s where I intend to be today.