There have been some things that have recently transpired in my person life that I have A LOT of feelings about, and I feel compelled to get them out. And since I’m not in therapy anymore … here we go
More recently, I have found myself in contentious situations that have resulted in curse words, elevated tones, neck rollin’, and the like. I am no stranger to confrontation, but as I’ve grown older I try to find myself in those situations less often.
There is this thing that people who specialize in manipulation, abuse, and lying do. They start mess, then play the victim when their mess is responded to. They cause disruption in your life and cry when you try to put it back in order. They do something wrong, and instead of owning their wrongdoing, they’ll attempt to create a situation that transfers the blame onto you (and in some twisted way, relieve their guilt of what they’ve done to you).
These are some of the matters I have found myself in recently. And after some reflection, I realize this is something that has been happening to me my entire life. I’m quite a target for it.
I am a Black, queer, undesirable person that is super emotional and often empathetic to the people around me. I move with a humanity and intergrity so it’s hard for me to purposely harm folk in my communities (this is generally speaking. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I do and say that wrong things – which we’ll get to).
That puts a wide target on me that welcomes unfavorable people and situations. And on top of all of that, I have a tendency to turn up. My “0 to 100” can take off at lighting speed if I’m not careful and chaos and destruction are sure to follow. So when I’m responding to unfavorable scheming behavior, it’s mad easy for the opposing party to aptly take the victim role. It’s equally as easy for onlookers to think the same thing – that I’m acting out or cause conflict.
My identity also plays a major role in this, too. It’s easy to paint a big dark-skinned Black person, who is read as male, as “aggressive” or an “abuser”. It fits neatly within racialized stereotypes of people who look like me and it is quickly weaponized against me – this has happened to me by other Black folks, too.
This has also been a theme in my life. As early as I can remember, I was routinely punished for responding to harm instead of the harm being addressed. As a result, I am deemed “crazy”, my person is promptly criminalized, and I am regulated to the shadows as someone unworthy of care or attention (wow, that sounds mad dramatic, but it’s also my experience).
And, on a very different scale, we have seen this happen in popular culture recently. People like Simone Biles, Lil Nas X, Naomi Osaka are being scrutinized and demonized for responding to harm done to them, as opposed to addressing the harm that resulted in them doing what’s best for them.
Additionally, this is the basis for the social construction of what is “crime” and who is deemed “criminals”. The responsibility falls on the individual(s) and not harmful, inequitable systems.
This is not to magnify my interpersonal problems or put them on the same scale as macro-level issues, but to draw the connections that the way to cultivate and maintain interpersonal relationships are directly related to systems of power and influence. Nothing happens in a vacuum.
Anyway, back to me.
In the spirit and politic of accountability, every instance of disrespect or wrongdoing does not require an immediate cussing out. I fully acknowledge that my temper can use some work and everything I’m called to doesn’t need or deserve a response. I am actively working on protecting my peace and controlling the urge to choose violence posthaste. I have faith in a good therapist, the Lord, and I will get there soon. But in the meantime, who you won’t try is me. And if you do, be ready for the response.
I felt compelled to share this for two reasons. 1) Selfishly, to get this out of my head and onto the page in hopes of feeling better (I mean, I am a writer. That’s kinda what we do). 2) To speak to folk who might find themselves in similar situations.
You are not crazy. You’re not difficult to deal with. You’re not hard to love. You’re likely a sensitive soul that people take advantage of. People are drawn to you for the same reasons they feel like they can disrespect you without consequence. You are likely responding to the harm that is done to you in whichever way you deem necessary.
For people like us, it’s our responsibility to respond “appropriately” – I use that word very loosely because it easily falls within the bounds of respectability politics and American politeness culture that I detest. But it is our responsibility, and within our authority, to draw boundaries and protect ourselves from harm.
Sometimes the appropriate acknowledgment to disrespect is an altercation (part of protecting your peace is letting folk know how they won’t treat you). And, sometimes it’s knowing what’s not worth it and removing yourself. What’s always needed is being gracious with yourself and knowing that you deserve to be in community with folk who won’t cause you harm. And if they do, because we are all human, active accountability is centered in the wake.
This goal of this post was not a give a ‘woe-as-me’ realness or a poly to victimize myself. It is rather an attempt to speak truth to my experiences and make adjustments of how I handle myself with care moving foward.