Dear downstairs neighbors,
Verbally terrorizing your wife and children is still considered abuse even if you do it with Brian McKnight boosted to top volume. In fact, that may even make it worse on them.
This shit better be resolved by the time “Back at One” comes on. I just don’t think I can handle that kind of irony without contacting the police.
Because I spent the day making 300 fucking dollars by sitting in my pajamas and correcting someone’s grammar. That’s why.
I love this shit.
As I move closer to becoming the person I want to be, I move further away from my stepmother. Originally, I was going to write the word “family” there, instead of “stepmother,” but my sister and father do not regularly select things they dislike about me and systematically cut me down over the course of two hours every single time I see them.
The problem is, I actually really like my stepmother. I think she’s a very empowered, intelligent woman who is driven, works hard, and isn’t scared to speak her mind. Those are all aspects of her that I admire, and that I want to learn from her. She’s always been the one to fight the hardest to get my sister and I the help we needed dealing with the trauma from our childhood. She’s always made sure that we have every chance to look our best and network with people who can teach us how to better ourselves. She laughs at my sense of humor. (And that might not seem like the biggest thing, but there’s nothing in the world I love more than making people laugh.)
I don’t know how to mend my relationship with her, because there are so many, MANY things about myself that she fundamentally disagrees with or disapproves of, and she feels it has become necessary to discuss each of these things at length each time we meet. I’ve tried to talk with her, and explain that some things like politics and my choice of partner are poor topics of discussion because not only do we not agree on them, but it constantly becomes an argument instead of a conversation. This has no effect.
I understand that she is concerned about me.
That being said, I’m a 25 year old woman with my own values and opinions about morality, ethics, and political beliefs. And I have a fucking right to believe these things. I don’t feel the need to constantly defend myself against others for having these beliefs. I don’t appreciate being put in a position where, for five days or more over christmas, I am belittled, criticized, and told how “fucking dumb” I am for believing these things. It induces anxiety. It causes me to question whether I have a family at all, and therefore whether I should even bother to visit them over the holidays.
I love my father and sister. I love my stepmother, too, but trying to ask her not to speak to me that way has only lead to her calling me “Thin-skinned,” “needs to be handled with kid gloves,” “has no self-respect,” I could go on, but I think you get the point.
I don’t think it’s thin-skinned to stand up for yourself when someone tells you you’re “brain-dead.” I don’t think it means I need to be handled with kid gloves. I think it means you’re a disrespectful bitch and I’m sick of hearing your low opinion of me. I don’t need that shit in my life, and I’m at an age now where I’m done hearing it from her, from myself, from anybody. If you have a disagreement to talk about, do it like an adult. This isn’t a goddamn school-yard, and I don’t respond to bullying or name-calling.
So there you have it. It’s May 9th, and already I’m anxious about thanksgiving and christmas. I don’t want to go. I might as well just admit it- I don’t want to be stuck in a house with that woman. Afternoons here in town, going to lunch or maybe out to dinner? Fine, because I know that I have a way to escape if I need to, but in Tucson it’s her territory. I have no escape. And I hate it.
So there needs to be a talk, I guess. It hasn’t worked well in the past, but maybe I need to phrase it differently. I’ve imagined it in my mind a number of times- How it would sound, what I should say. It goes something like this:
“Mom, I’m worried about our relationship. I think we love each other and want to have a comfort level with one another that allows us to speak our minds, but I don’t think we’re there. I often find myself on the defensive before I even see you. I feel anxiety about visiting your house because I know how often we fight. And I know, too, that we’ve talked about that and you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around me. I feel that way around you, too. So maybe we need to agree that even though we love each other, you don’t have to like me. In fact, I give you permission to not like me. Because frankly, it’s pretty obvious you don’t like me. Let’s just get it out in the open, we’ll both feel better, and no one is to blame. There’s no rule that says you have to like everyone. Let’s just deal with it. But I want to make myself clear- I do not push my politics on you. I do not push my spirituality on you, or my relationship with my boyfriend. I expect the same courtesy from you. Don’t push your politics on me. Don’t push your religion on me. And if you still feel, (as you have previously mentioned), that avoiding these subjects means having to “handle me with kid gloves,” then I don’t think we need to see each other at all. If you can’t have a single conversation with me without needing to express your disappointment that I’m not a high-powered republican go-getter, then you don’t have half the creativity and intelligence that I thought you did. I don’t live in a world where my friends and I only discuss politics and religion, but when the topics do come up, (and yes, I have many interesting and intelligent republican friends), they don’t treat me with the disrespect and blind fury that you do. They are open to discussing ideas in a safe way, listening to other people’s beliefs without insulting them, and finding common ground among the various ideas discussed. I hope one day you and I can do the same. Until then, I’m sorry, but I have too much dignity to put myself through another Christmas like last year. I love you, but I will not let you treat me like shit. It’s really that simple.”
Thankfully, I have a few months to make that less offensive before talking with her… Ugh.
There is a certain marrow-deep peace that comes of choosing to live according to your own morals and values. What do you believe is right? What do you need in life? Are you afraid of how you will be perceived according to these beliefs? I am terrified of how I will be perceived. I have become different things to different people across the board.
That being said, I want to become a genuine person, and an authentic person who accepts herself in all these aspects. Making these changes in my life has caused friction in my family, in my friendships, and in my relationship, but it is worth it.
So here, I believe this will be this first step, (a timid step because only a select few individuals read this), towards outing myself as Abigail Brown, in all her complexity and weirdness and self-ness.
I am a vegan, because I disagree ethically with the suffering and slaughter of other living beings for the sake of my own convenience. I am bisexual, and have enjoyed the sexual company of both men and women. I am, currently, a writer who does minimal writing and so is not really a writer, though I believe that this will change and is in the process of changing. I feel it is acceptable to co-habitate with an individual you care about without being married, because I do not believe that commitment to another person necessarily needs labels. I am terrified of arachnids and centipedes. I am blessed. I have a family that I love, and a family who loves me. I do not always believe those families are comprised of the same people. I am sometimes guilty of acting or speaking without weighing the consequences of what I am doing, and it makes me furious with myself. I am often embarrassed about my weight, but somehow secretly in love with my own body. I do not understand how that’s possible, but it is.
And I spent a portion of my time this evening listening to people bare their own honest histories through poetry and literature and art. I also watched a gorgeous drag queen sing and play the accordion. From this, I understood that life in this world is so peculiarly and singularly fantastic, that I cannot afford to waste more time being afraid of what I might be, might think, might say in the “wrong company.” How beautiful is this place, that makes us such strange creatures? How bright are our shadows when we aren’t looking?
I miss you so much.