I read an article recently about how people should be checking on the “strong” people in their lives because even though these people are the first to offer help, they are also the last to ask for it. While they appear to be strong outside, they are actually really struggling, sometimes hiddenly, very much themselves also. Many psychology journals have titled these people as “the helpers” or something of that nature. When they see someone hurting or in trouble they jump in without fear or the desire to receive anything back in return. Sometimes, they can also be called “empaths” because they have a hidden ability to feel when something is awry or someone is in pain.
I am one of these people.
I’m not self-centered in any way. I’m no good at taking compliments. It took me YEARS to learn to love the girl that looks back at me in the mirror. I didn’t truly start believing in myself until I hit my mid 20’s. Some of it was with age, some of it with knowledge, some because of the important people in my life and some of it was because of becoming a mother.
I have a heart that has been broken.
We’ve all fought our battles. Every single person walking the face of the Earth has their own bag of heavy shit that they have to slug around with them day in and day out. Some have heavier bags than others. Some handle it better. Some people can just put stuff behind them and move on with their lives.
I am not one of these people.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a big ole’ beating heart in my chest. I have always routed for the under dog. Maybe it was being a middle child. Maybe it was being the tiny cousin that used to get picked on so much at the park I had to walk back to my grandma’s with tears in my eyes. When I choose to love someone or something I do it wholeheartedly. I’m fiercely loyal to the people that I love and would be the first person to lend a hand. I really am.
Yet, I have a heart that’s jaded.
The older I get the more and more I have come to see some people for who they really are. It’s an awful ability to have. It’s almost as if I can look at someone and see into their soul. That big ole’ heart that I had as a kid has become more reserved and guarded as a result of the pain I’ve had inflicted on me.
I’ve been gutted by people that were supposed to love me more.
When someone takes you for granted or assumes that you are okay with being walked over time and time again, you grow a fire inside of your belly that has to be let out sometime. So that girl mentioned above, she has had to shoot flames at some people she thought loved her. When you do finally stick up for yourself, they say things like WHOA and call you a psycho or a bitch or something even worse. They refuse to look inward and wonder if perhaps they could be even a little bit at fault.
A person can only take so much before they explode.
Here are a few examples:
- I rescheduled my wedding day for a week later so that my best friend didn’t have to miss her college graduation and could still be a bridesmaid in my wedding.
- I planned a surprise 30th birthday party for that same friend, when I was in the midst of postpartum depression, staying up every night with a fussy baby, and dealing with a recent autism diagnosis with my older child only for that same friend to give another person credit for the party.
- That same friend and I planned for 3 years to get a “friend” tattoo together for both of our first ones. I found out on Instagram one day that she went and got her first tattoo with another friend she had known 5 years and didn’t tell me or think it was “that big of a deal.” Then, told me it was because I was always busy with my kids and that’s why she went and did it. We stopped speaking last August after 25 years of friendship, and when I tried to extend an olive branch last month she never wrote me back.
- That same friend is my older son’s godmother and he doesn’t even know her name. He sees pictures on our living room walls of our wedding day and he can’t tell me who she is when I point to the different people in our wedding party. That’s the kind of effort she put into getting to know him in his 6 years on this Earth.
- I suffered two devastating miscarriages in 2015. The ONLY person that was there for me when that happened (besides my husband) was an old friend from high school that had gone through something similar. No one else gave a fuck. Nobody wanted to listen. Nobody wanted to talk about my babies. Nobody wanted to hear their names or who I thought they would have been. Nobody offered to take my older son so I could have a few days to grieve or spend time alone with my husband.
- I have a very close family member that has betrayed me in ways I can’t even begin to tell you about. She’s said awful things about my husband, my children, made shots at me being a stay-at-home parent, and a whole laundry list of other awful things about me personally. This same relative has talked about me to other people and not stuck up for me in crowds when my character has been called into question. I’ve forgiven her more than anyone else in my life only to be hurt again a short time later.
- I was called a bully by a woman who I had known for years and thought respected me as a woman, that liked to tag my husband in pictures almost daily on social media and repeatedly text him during off work hours about non-work things for years before I finally asked her to stop because we had mutual friends asking me if my husband was having an affair. Spoiler alert, they weren’t, but she almost broke up my marriage because of it.
- During the darkest hours of my marriage, when my husband and I were both suffering from severe depression and lack of help with our kids, the people that were supposed to be there for us, weren’t. Nobody encouraged us to work it out. Everyone gave their opinion on what we should do and the different choices we should have made. The fact that we fought through it and didn’t get divorced seems shocking to them.
- I’ve had people ask me questions about my son with autism that make him sound like an invalid or something of that nature. My son. My living, breathing little dream come true that can do math better than I can as an adult at 6 years old. People that don’t know him or have ever attempted to get to know him.
- A relative of my husband doesn’t like me for whatever reason, has told people that I abuse prescription medicine and am a terrible mother. He has never met my second son and the only prescriptions I take are antidepressants, if I abused those I’d be dead.
- A cousin of mine that I grew up with threatened to kill me after someone told her I spread rumors about her boyfriend getting arrested for drug possession that I never did. This same cousin, told me “well, at least he’s healthy” when I told her about my older son’s autism diagnosis.
- Another writer accused me of plagiarism on my first piece that went viral, when I confronted her about it she said I stole “her idea” and not her words and tried to school me in what the definition of plagiarism is because she teaches high school English. Guess she didn’t realize I have a college degree too. She also writes (with great hypocrisy) about encouraging other women and raising each other up on her blog almost daily. In the end, though I proved my innocence, it costed me a writing retreat I had been looking forward to going to and planning to go to for a year. It was swept under the rug and all the people that were in my corner turned a cold shoulder and forgot about me.
- I’ve had people call me crazy, fucked up and a bitch. I’ve been called the “C” word more times than I can count by people that don’t know me.
- I’ve drawn swords for people that I know would not do the same for me, including members of my own family.
There are more things I could add. I could call out people by name and call out more people still. I’m always the bad guy for stating the truth. I’m always the trouble maker, the instigator.
Yet, how much SHIT can one person take before they break?
I’m sick of being taken for granted. I’m fucking sick of being pushed aside for something “better.” I’m sick of having my character and morals questioned by people that know nothing about me or the stuff I have to deal with everyday. I’m sick of having to remind people that it is their job as my parent, sibling. friend, etc. to check in with me once in a while. Being forgotten hurts like a motherfucker. Wounds from childhood follow us all of our lives. When a heart like mine is hurt, it doesn’t always heal again. And as a result, when you betray me, I will retaliate. If you are wrong, I will tell you that you are wrong. If you come after me or someone I love, look the fuck out! After all of these years of being treated like a lesser than, a second option, a punching bag…I’m done. My heart is jaded. You made me this way! I’m not a psycho or a bitch for stating the truth or defending myself.
I have found my voice. I know my worth. I know my truth. I know my heart is good and true. I know that I am a good friend, wife, mother, sister, daughter and person.
Am I perfect? Fuck no! Who is? I’ve said things back to these people that I may not have meant in my defense or out of frustration for these things. I have a sharp tongue that can cut deep and hard, and leave the other person bleeding in the sand without remorse.
I’m sick of it. All of it. If you cannot add to my life then you do not need to be a part of it! You really don’t. You may be the kind of person that can forget what someone had meant to you once upon a time but I cannot. I remember.
You reading this, check on your strong friend. The one that is the first to ask you how you are doing. The one that changes her wedding day to accommodate you, or questions the guy you are with, or has defended your name to others that might speak badly of you. Ask the hard questions. Stick your nose in even when you think it’s not wanted. Reach out. Check on her. She needs it more than you think.
To those that have stuck by me, I thank you. You know who you are and what you mean to me.