I love Twitter, but sometimes 140 characters are just not enough for me to properly share what I’m processing. Because of this, I’ll end up tweeting a bunch of things in a row. I’ve taken to calling these my stream of consciousness tweets. This past Saturday, July 10th, a date that had been very significant to me in the past, went by without me evening realizing what day it was. It took me by surprise at first. And then I starting turning it over in my head, and… stream of consciousness tweets was the result. I want to share these tweets here, because I these words are import to me:
10 years ago today (well, yesterday), I got engaged to the wrong person. I have no regrets; the last 10 years have been an amazing journey.
Saying you’re sorry and actually meaning it seems to have developed a whole new meaning lately. I’ve read countless articles in men’s and women’s magazines alike warning against apologizing. I’ve seen so many blog posts championing the ‘times you should never ever apologize’ mentality. Bloggers and columnists are telling us that apologizing for certain things can show weakness, or worse, could cost us ‘winning’ an argument.
Now, maybe my Canadian is showing, but I fail to see how admitting you made a mistake and feeling a bit of regret for effing up is a sign of weakness. Or that winning every argument is the most important thing when it comes to conflicts.
Sure, apologizing is not always the most comfortable thing to do in the world. It can be awkward. It can be hard to admit you’ve made a mistake. It can leave you feeling vulnerable, and as a general rule, we humans do not like that so much. But sometimes, a genuine, authentic apology is the first step to letting go of your fuck ups, of working through hurt feelings and, most important of all in my opinion; an apology requires the reflection on a situation that helps you learn from your mistakes.
My dad’s parents settled in the north end of the city shortly after they were married. They were married in September 1956, so their first married Christmas happened just a few months after their wedding. A few days before December 25th that year, my grandparents received a notice from the department store Sears that their stove had been paid off. They asked around, trying to find out who had been so generous by paying off their stove, but no one seemed to have any idea who’d paid it. It was a mystery.
The next Christmas, my grandparents were celebrating their first Christmas as parents. It was my dad’s very first Christmas. Again, a few days before Christmas, they received a delivery from Sears. It was a Christmas present for my Dad, from this secret Santa. My grandparents still had no idea where the special deliveries were coming from. By each Christmas growing up, my dad and his siblings would always receive a mystery delivery from this generous secret Santa.
In high school, I used to wait by the music room after school to meet up with my boyfriend. We lived in generally the same direction, so even on nights where we didn’t have plans to hang out, he would walk with me most of the way home.
The elementary school down the street got out around the same time we did, so we would often walk home surrounded by running, screaming, playing kids. One day, as we were walking home, we came across three little boys tormenting a little girl. From a distance, we could see that the little girl was upset, it was written all over her face. It’s not until we got closer, though, that we could hear what the little boys were saying.
The boys were no older than eleven and I was shocked to hear their words. Slut, skank, whore, bitch and cunt. For variety, they added combinations of fucking, stupid and dumbass to the insults they were throwing out. I was shocked into silence, rooted on the spot.
How could these children be treating each other like this? What made them think that this might be acceptable behavior?
My boyfriend, however, jumped into action.
“Hey!” He shouted, but if the boys had heard them, they were ignoring him. In two strides, M had caught up to them and he tried again, this time louder. “HEY! What the HELL are you doing?”
This time, the little asshats stopped their harassment long enough to look around. That’s when they spotted the gangling, 16-year-old standing over them. Their apparent ringleader spoke up first, “Fuck off, you big doofus!”
I held my breath. My boyfriend wasn’t really the fighting type. He was tall, awkward, skinny and yes, most certainly a geek. He wore black plastic framed glasses, plaid shirts and Chucks (apparently he was a hipster before it was cool to be a hipster). He was a writer and a musician and impossible at sports and athletics.
But then again, he was up against a group of pre-teens.
“First off, you can drop the language. Secondly, you can stop assaulting your classmate. You know that’s what you’re doing, right?” He paused. The asshats were looking at him with their mouths hanging open. M didn’t wait for them to formulate a response, “You’re assaulting her and harassing her. That’s against the law. People go to jail for that. It’s disrespectful and it’s not how human beings behave. You don’t believe me? Let’s go talk to your principal about it.”
While M was lecturing the kids, an audience had starting forming around us. Kids from the elementary school, kids from our high school and even a few parents had stopped to watch the commotion. M looked around at the people watching his intervention. And then he tore into them, “And all of you standing around. What the hell is YOUR problem? These boys were acting disrespectfully and you all chose to ignore it, walk by, pretend like it wasn’t happening? Guess what that makes you? Just as terrible at being a human being as these guys,” M gestured to the asshats who were shifting their weight from foot to foot, staring at the ground.
M then turned to the little girl that had been the subject of the torment, “And you. No one should ever treat you the way these guys have today. You got that? It’s not okay. It’s not just a joke. They’re not friends. They’re not teasing you because they secretly have crushes on you, they’re jerks. Don’t give them the time of day. Don’t let their words get to you. Because you’re better than that.”
By the time he was finished, everyone was looking uncomfortable.
After M had stopped into the elementary school to share what had happened with the school’s principal, we continued on our way home in silence. As we neared the corner where we would part ways, I finally spoke up.
“So. You were kinda the White Knight back there. Everyone looked uncomfortable. I even felt uncomfortable.”
“Good,” M smiled, “Everyone should have felt uncomfortable. The only thing worse than being a douchebag is ignoring douchebags. When we ignore stuff like that, it’s like we’re giving our silent approval of the situation. If more people would call idiots like that out, they’d be less likely to do it. Generally speaking, those guys are cowards. That’s why they tend to run in packs.”
M became my hero that day. Not only did he stick up for the little girl when everyone else was passively letting the harassment go on, but he also took us all to task for standing by and letting it happen. I hope that everyone else that was present for it remembers it, too, and that it has changed how they would react if they were ever to come up against a similar situation at some other point in their lives. At the time, I thought it was just an issue kids face.
But it still happens. All the damn time. At work. On the internet. On the street. It takes on different forms, different words are thrown around. But it’s still the same thing, it’s just as hurtful and disrespectful.
So how do we stop it?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this after reading this post by fellow blogger Dominque. I’m at a loss for words, really. And those of you that know me will find that pretty surprising.
We’re all in this together, it’s time we all start realising it.
Okay, so… I was starting to worry that perhaps my funk may be a little more serious than a funk. Granted, the stress has been higher than usual this year. But I was doing things that were out of character. I was having bad weeks instead of bad days. I’ve been moody and brooding and quiet. I started avoiding seeing my friends and visiting my family. I was hating school. I essentially quit band.
Guys, I quit band.
So, yeah. I was getting to the point where I was starting to worry about the intensity of my funk. But then a few things happened.
Two weeks ago, I went for an interview. I need to complete a work placement for the program I’m taking and two Fridays ago, I went to meet with my potential supervisor. I got to talk to her about something new and be exposed to an entirely different work environment. I came away from there feeling energized and excited. Feeling those things made me realise how long it’s been since I’ve felt them.
Then yesterday, even though work was insanely busy and stressful, I still had a good day. I made it through 8 hours of ridiculousness and was still in a decent mood by the end of the work day. I escaped the office and met someone for lunch. The sun was shining and I got to feel it warm on my face. It felt like spring. And I was feeling energized and excited again.
These seemed like such mundane, ordinary things, but they had a huge impact; it shook me right out of this nearly four month funk. The realisation left me feeling a little stupid. It makes sense that this would be all it would take to get things in perspective and get me out of this funk, but when I was right in the middle of this particular sneaky hate spiral, I just could not for the life of me come up with a solution.
So, I’m tucking this away in hopes that next winter when I trip into this funk, I will remember that the best way to shake it off is to find something that energizes me and may be a little different from things I’ve done before. Work is still going to be insane. People will still cause drama and stress. But that so doesn’t mean I have to let it put me in a bad mood. Why can’t I remember this? Seriously.
Oh, and guys, in case you were wondering… This Saturday, I’m going to go play with the band.