Tonight I crawled into my daughter’s bed to hear her breathing and stare at her face and remember why it is that I had to go through what I went through – why I have to go through what I still go through. For her.
I wouldn’t have this exact human unless I fell into the trap. Unless I stayed blind and oblivious for so long.
I haven’t needed that reminder in this way in many, many months.
And tonight it was the replies to a Facebook comment from some local guy I don’t even know that made me heave-cry for the first time in months and sent me to my daughter’s bed to get re-grounded.
Even as I cried so deeply that I started to dry heave (something I did so often in 2016 and 2017 that I used to run to the bathroom to cry), I asked myself, out loud, what is this really about? What’s really going on?
People disagree with me all the time. And I still make myself heard. I can’t ever recall crying over a social media comment.
Hell, the x has sent me forty-three messages just in the last thirteen days. Trying to bully. Trying to recreate truth. Absolutely insulting me and trying to demean me.
Trying to create the reality that suits him.
So maybe that’s part of it. I guess.
It’s tough to be tough with this stuff. I’m really pretty good at it and it’s still exhausting.
To have what should be easy things be anything but…. to be preparing for court again. Still. For what feels like always and forever.
It gets tough to face down that this may very well be what the next thirteen years is going to be like.
It can be hard to not let that be heartbreaking.
Nevermind that the world is a tense ball of sickness and hatred and trying to stand up for what’s right as masses of my fellow citizens scream in defense of hatred and death.
So enter what was a misguided comment on my part in a large, local Facebook group.
I got jumped, verbally, by the male poster. And when I said I felt he jumped to conclusions but then bowed out instead of fighting (or fighting to be understood), he came at me again.
Doubling down on why I was wrong and justifying his assumptions of me.
And that? That felt too familiar.
One misstep. And then the vulture swoops.
After I could catch my breath and get my eyes to stop leaking, after I laid in that twin bed staring at my daughter’s perfect face for a handful of minutes and copying her breaths, I could see that that is what was really going on.
I said something. It got taken differently than I intended. Whether it’s my fault or not is inconsequential to what comes next.
Me stepping back. Essentially offering an apology.
And then more attack.
As though they can’t hear the apology.
But they can. They always can.
The old me would’ve kept explaining. Uselessly.
The old old me wouldn’t have been struck so sharply by it, either. She would have mentally flipped him off and moved on with her night.
I’m not her anymore.
Shrapnel. From years being gaslit and projected upon.
This person misunderstanding who I am and what I stand for hurt, not because he mattered to me, but because being misunderstood matters to me. It always has.
Which is why I got as lost as I did in the abuse. I fell into the trap of saying more and more and more in an effort to bridge that gap. Be understood. Be heard.
And then saying more would escalate the abuse and end up with me in a heap on the bathroom floor crying into a bath towel so my sleeping baby wouldn’t hear me.
It’s one of the toughest lessons in all of this for me. That words can’t make it better.
That words are mostly what stripped me raw and left me scarred.
But I didn’t explain to Facebook man. I just tried to bow out.
Still, he kept at me.
And I started crying.
I blocked him.
Maybe I didn’t need to.
But in that moment I did. Need to.
I didn’t need to explain myself to him. So I didn’t. That, for someone like me who spent years trying so hard to be heard and understood, is progress.
He doesn’t mean anything to me.
But the wound he poked does.
I’m still figuring out why being so misunderstood in that moment dismantled me so much.
Maybe because I was able to so effectively shrug off the shitty projections in the five different projecting messages I read from the x that morning.
I had used all my armor already.
Maybe because I’ve put so much energy into countering, with logic and kindness, racist rhetoric online this week only to be taken as one of the folks I’ve been working to disarm and reach, choosing words so carefully all week to try to engage someone without demeaning or sending them into defense.
I answered a post I had clearly misread. I was off topic, really, without realizing it yet. And I appeared as an enemy.
Maybe it’s just that I was due.
Or maybe it was that that guy was being a bully.
And I was tired. It was late. And I was due to remember that I’m not all healed yet.
Tonight, healing feels like some weird version of line dancing. Not really two steps forward one back. More like a shuffle forward with some side steps and a shuffle back before you shake your hips and turn your body and then make the same shape again but in a different direction. Making lopsided circles to the beat until you find yourself facing somewhere different and then somewhere the same, reminding yourself that you are different even if you forgot that for a few minutes so that you can keep stepping in the direction of healed.
I’ll keep stitching it all up and working to not be silenced.
What is this really about?
Everything . And nothing.