forgiveness is surely a thing --
a thing that takes time,
some weakness, too,
but mostly time.
i wrestle with forgiveness.
i have the flaw of letting old feelings crowd
into areas of growth where the seed of forgiveness has
taken root, but where the lie of bitterness wants to tarnish.
i had to forgive a girl once for the way that she treated me.
we were young.
to this day, i don't believe that she ever meant her apology because it was her
mom who made her pick up the phone after overhearing my "friends" talking about me.
i told her that i forgave her, though.
i tried hating her many times,
especially when i recalled the darkness that she spread across my life when
we were much younger.
in the days of being bullied to the point of needing to transfer schools,
i dealt with suicidal feelings and depression. my anxiety was through the roof -- especially
throughout the many, many sleepless nights i spent tossing and turning just dreading school and hating who i was. because who i was felt an awful lot like a valid reason for my "friends" not to like me.
she and i moved on with our lives, though. about half a decade ago.
and what's funny is that i now admire her from afar.
i like who she portrays herself to be.
i enjoy reading what she writes.
i think that the pictures she takes are beautiful.
and not long ago it occurred to me that she wasn't necessarily a mean person--
and, frankly, i don't even know her person anymore because so much has changed between then and now--
it's just that she and i were always so similar.
and that it wasn't that i had the problem within myself,
it was that she had the problem with who i was,
and no amount of goodness on my part could have changed her reaction.
from the moment i met her, i basically coined her name along with another girl's name who was more cruel than the first girl was, but who only impacted my life for a short time.
anyway -- i coined her name, and for every girl i met that resembled her in
how she once acted towards me i would say: 'oh, here's another ______.'
for years i thought that i would never fully forgive the girl.
but life moves on.
and time -- time allows for forgiveness take root.
when it occurred to me just how similar i feel we are--strong, confident, honest, funny, adventurous, administrative, charismatic, dreamers (we actually are quite alike)--i realized a second thing:
i am so grateful for the absolute hell that she and the other girls put me through,
for how they made me feel less than a pile of shit.
i am grateful for being told that i should just go kill myself,
for having been sat on because the boy i liked thought it would be funny to pretend i was invisible,
for being directed towards an empty bench at lunchtime because i wasn't welcomed at the table,
for needing to transfer schools because my mom could no longer get me out of the car without me crying.
i am so fucking grateful for it.
because at twelve,
and again at thirteen,
and then from the ages of fifteen through eighteen when i would experience
more hate, and cruelty and manipulation at the hands of another woman,
at all of these ages i had to face the same kind of girl,
the same kind of woman.
and through her i ultimately had to face myself.
and i am grateful for that because facing yourself at twelve
can be so much scarier and lonelier than facing yourself at twenty-two.
i didn't have the resources,
the life experience that i do now.
and yet i survived the way that women,
the way that one type of woman, decided to treat me.
i coined a single name and used it to name nearly two dozen other women
who decided that they just didn't like my face,
or my clothes,
or my voice,
or my essence,
or my words,
or my confidence.
i always thought that i would leave the coined name girls in my teenage years,
but immaturity even at a legal age is also surely a thing.
there were so many times when i wanted to allow my bitterness to make me hard.
i wanted to hate all other women.
i declared that my guy friends were easier.
but to hate half of the population is impossible and wrong.
and to make others pay for the wrongdoings of a single person (or twelve..or twenty) shows a lack
i also believe that women who empower other women are special,
and very much needed in the world.
a single woman is a force,
but more than one woman is a force to be reckoned with.
which is why, when i still meet women who fit the name i coined, i am baffled at their
insensitivity. i look at them, and i wonder why they feel the need to lash out.
i ask myself what wove such a thick insecurity,
and i am aware that the burden of carrying any insecurity is always unwarranted and undeserving.
still, the other side of me wants to fight back,
put my defenses up, or run away.
i see the woman talking down to others and i want to speak up because i know what it's like to be dismissed.
dismissal is my biggest insecurity, my biggest hurt that i must actively work through in nearly all situations.
i also have to battle the urge to succumb to the insecurity and the pettiness.
being the bigger person requires power because to relinquish pride feels so unnatural.
i believed that i would leave the coined named girls in my teenage years.
but i meet her every now and again.
there is so much of me that wants to be quick to take offense when my character is picked apart,
when i am manipulated, and when i am outnumbered simply because others believe the lie about someone they have only judged and not known.
it's always the same story -- it always comes down to my clothing and my confidence, among other things at times.
it's always the cliche judging a book by its cover.
i'd like to say that i am not guilty of this, but i hate a hypocrite.
what i will say is that i am grateful for every mean girl i've ever met,
not because i'm glad that a girl is miserable enough to attempt to make others miserable, too,
but because that type of girl reminds me why i need to work hard at being kind.
she is a reflection for me to examine my own flaws,
to question my own intentions with people,
to ask myself if what is being said about me is either defining or degrading.
i am also grateful for this type of girl because she makes me stronger.
one of the lessons i learned in los angeles was to walk into a room filled with people
who either intimidate me or don't like me, and to hold my head up high and remember why i like me.
i like a critic because i've learned to love the challenge of working harder,
proving my worth,
relying on those whose opinion truly matters,
and exceeding my goals.
i learn more about relationships by engaging with those who like me least
because i practice having differences with people without allowing the offense to poison the entirety of my life.
i do none of these things perfectly, but because i continue to encounter coined named girls i am
actively attempting to improve my reactions, my feelings, my thoughts.
i realize that there are those who have legitimate offenses with me, and for that i am sincerely sorry.
i also realize that not every one will always like me,
but that this doesn't have to define me.
instead, it can be used--with lots of time--to learn from,
to grow from,
to know what actual love is,
toward one's self.
and aside from all of the healthy benefits i have learned from these women,
and aside from the fact that i have always been a writer,
these women have all contributed to sharpening my tongue,
and my confidence.
and for that i am grateful with all of the sass in the world.
and i hold firm to the belief that loving one's self first is no selfish act.
i see it as a means to loving others well.