It was brought to my attention this weekend that I appear to live in my own little bubble; an observation from a friend of mine. The notion hit a raw nerve and distinctly upset me; made me feel extremely foolish and began a spiralling internal self-questioning that resulted in a shower of tears and a crushed spirit; but in fact, I needn’t have been so self-deprecating.
As a big girl I have had my fair share of insults, jibes and ignorant heckles from immature males, bellowed from the safety of an open windowed, travelling car. In my youth each one would cause a ricochet of two emotions; anger, towards those perpetrators of ridicule, and sadness, at the shame of my apparent inadequacy. Over the years I came to believe that there was something in me which made me worthless, inferior and dismissible; anyone advising to the contrary wasn’t to be trusted; they clearly had an agenda, or they were just plain mocking me. It made me bitter, cynical and turned me into a people hater. I trusted no-one. I treated everyone as guilty before proven innocent and built my impenetrable walls sky high. I would be instantly defensive, especially with anyone new.
The consequence of all this negativity was that I made myself lonely. I wanted love again, but I didn’t let anyone get close enough to be open to the concept, and on the off chance I was in a situation where I may feel something for someone I would run from it immediately, eradicating any possibility of having my walls broken down. The emptiness, however, was too much. If I was to ever have any chance of finding someone, or even of finding happiness alone, I had no choice but to let my defences down. I had to allow myself to open up to people, trust that what they say is what they mean, start believing in my own worth and approach everything with more positivity.
After a sequence of events in my life I began to let go, to free my mind of all my pre-judgements as well as my automatic defensiveness. A compliment received shouldn’t be instantly assumed to be disingenuous; not everyone that saw girlfriend material in me was just someone on the take; being approached on a night out didn’t have to mean I was the unlucky social recipient in a game of ‘Chat the Pig;’ nor was a random comment from a stranger to be taken as a personal jibe; not everyone is that clever, quick-witted or sly; sometimes they are just a few sandwiches short of a picnic! And sometimes, you never know….they could actually be genuine. Either way, I managed to stop feeling like everyone was out to get me, to ridicule me, to kick me when I was down, and so…I let go.
These days I give people the benefit of the doubt. If I instinctively know they are to be wary of, then I keep them at arms length. If they reveal themselves to be untrustworthy, I ditch them from my life. No second chances, no explanations. I’m sure I still get dirty looks from people, or disrespectful asides; people, in general, are idiots and will always amuse themselves by finding faults in others, but I have chosen to not see it. On the rare occasion that I do see or hear something unfavourable directed at me, the individual will receive my reaction, in whatever form I am in the mood for. These people are nothing to me, it is them who are inferior.
So am I really in this bubble that I was accused of being in? Was the bedraggled, homeless looking woman, standing with her shaggy dog on the roadside, vacantly staring at passers by, who wished my friend and I, “Happy Halloween,” being sincere in her simplicity/friendliness, or was she making an underhanded slant at us being a couple of un-costumed, scary Mary’s, based solely on us being large? (Which was the attitude my friend took it to mean.) And was my upbeat reaction of a broad smile and chirpy, “Thanks!!” an oblivious retort to her greeting, or was it an instinctive attempt to retaliate ironically to her alleged nastiness? In either case, what does it really matter? She was forgotten about the second I walked passed her; that is until my friend brought it up later in conversation.
In life, I am happier being this way than I was by being overly guarded. I have freed myself of the notion that life is against me and opened myself up to the plethora of compliments I receive from people I know to be genuine, as well as those from strangers; and I accept that while life is full of arseholes, ready to take you down a peg or two for their own entertainment, I don’t have to give them any of my precious time.