Sometimes, just as a joke, or to make a rhetorical point, we ask someone else, “Who hurt you?” Like the explanation for that person doing something we don’t approve of has to be some kind of deep-seated trauma, or maybe it’s just that someone piddled in their Cheerios and we’re trying to imply their skin is very thin?
But sometimes, the answer to the question “Who hurt you?” is actually a living, breathing human in that person’s life. Then the joke backfires. Then you haven’t made a point at all. Then you might feel like you’ve scored a point, sure, but all you’ve done is basically commanded that person to put their pain on display for you.
This is a habit I would very much like to break. Because I can answer “Him” or “Her” or sometimes “Them” to that question, and if I don’t want it done unto me, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it unto others. This was sparked by reading Anna Dimmel’s latest, which is very good. It made me think. It made me think about the fact that I’m less snowflake and more kintsugi pottery. How much I resent being called a snowflake, like the things that I actually can’t live with are petty and meaningless, how I hate the implication that I am fragile.
If you know me, I’m anything but fragile. Aren’t I still here? So many opportunities to pack it in and say “Maybe next lifetime” and I haven’t been able to let go of life after all. No suffering, so far, has been that great. There will come a suffering I cannot bear, and then I will acknowledge my limits. Until then, I demand to be treated like a person who has grown through adversity and, yes, sometimes speaks up because your foot is on my foot and I want it gone, thank you.
I can agree to disagree with a lot of people on a lot of things. My psychiatrist and I have almost diametrically opposite views on gun rights, for example, but I don’t shout him down for cluttering his office with books that I personally would not read. His beliefs in and of themselves do not step on my foot, so to speak. Other people would have trouble doing what I am doing in this situation, because they have been more directly affected by gun violence in this country and need to not be around someone or something that reminds them of pain.
If I were to discover that one of my close friends were anti-choice, I would have to sit down with them and have a long talk about what choice means to me. How the medication I’m on makes the choice a bit of a horror story, and no real choice at all: we don’t know what happens to Baby when they’re exposed to all of these drugs at once in the womb. We just don’t. And I respect life too much to turn it into an experiment that way. I hold life sacred in my own way. I believe we deserve the least painful lives our parents can inflict on us. But I also understand that other people view life, any life, as hope and therefore worth saving. And I can believe these things simultaneously without my brain breaking.
What would really break my brain: hurting something that grew inside me for between 6-9 months because maybe things will be okay.
And it’s also possible that the pregnancy hormones themselves would do it. I mean, I really stabilized once I stopped taking a birth control pill containing estrogen. So… what would pregnancy mean for my mental health? Which, might I add, is something I have fought very hard to get back? (Yes, I know, estrogen is only one of the factors. It’s just not a factor I want to discover mattered more than it did… from after I’ve lost my mind. Am I making sense?)
I can’t be enthusiastic about polyamory. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be a willing participant in a non-monogamous relationship again.
Who hurt you?
He did. And he hurt her, too. And he didn’t stop until I said I was out of there.
If you need more than one partner, don’t have relationships with monogamous humans. End of. Balls up and break it off or everyone will pay the price.
Incidentally, I finally feel all right about showing my body to the world again. No, not in the same hypersexualised way as before. Just. Skirts above my knee, maybe in summer a hint of cleavage. Bare hair. I might even buy a black bikini bottom and wear that in place of the long shorts I’ve been wearing, or a black swim skirt; I am discovering a side of femininity that I want to embrace. I have healed. I am become gold where I was cracked.
In the end, life is a spectrum of morality, neither black nor white, not even recognisably grey from day to day. Maybe yours is orange. Maybe mine is teal. Maybe we need to see how our moralities jive before we can be bestest chums forever.
Yes, I want to treat you with the basic respect due my fellow human. But I need to know that you don’t want me dead or crazy first. I need to know that you don’t hold me in the contempt that so many strongly principled people hold others. Only then do I feel safe trusting that we can come together and somehow make our world better.