The Double-Edged Sword of Badassery: A First Trimester Meditation

I’ve been kind of quiet, lately.

That’s mostly because it’s hard to talk with your head in a toilet.

First trimester has kicked my ass, ladies and gents. It’s over this Friday, though, and I’m so happy this child is healthy, but MAN.

SEE YA, FIRST TRIMESTER. DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YA WHERE THE GOOD LORD SPLIT YA.

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Other things are happening, but I can’t quite talk about them, yet. But my emotions are all over the place, and I’m so excited and so nervous and so just

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The one good thing about feeling like shit for about six weeks straight is that you have oodles of time to think about life and stuff. Cause you can’t do anything else.

And I’ve been watching my daughter. Her cuteness helped me remember that there was a very good reason I wasn’t keeping food down.

She has a new favorite thing. She gets a marker, holds it like a sword, and says, “I go fight the bad guys, mom.”

And I love that. I love that my daughter a) knows there are bad guys and b) she wants to handle them herself because c) she knows she can.

But I want to be cautious, because as I lay sick on the couch, trying desperately to keep down crackers, I realized that being a badass has been a very important part of who I tell myself I am. And I realized how quickly feeling like a badass can go away, and how small I am alone.

I don’t know when the whole “badass” mentality came in, but I figure it was probably self-preservation. And it hasn’t always been good. In fact, most of the time, it’s been bad. But for a time, I felt like I needed it.

(Full disclosure: Deep, dark, crinkled pages of unpleasantness below. Proceed at own risk.)

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When you’re eleven and enveloped by OCD to the point where you have no friends and sit under a tree reading The Hobbit during lunch hour, you tell yourself that you don’t need anyone.

And when the people who were once your friends pay other kids to go pour their lunches on you, you develop a glare that makes the hired hitman approaching with a Tupperware full of shit she intends to dump on your head think twice about her plans.

When you’re fourteen and unable to stay in class for more than ten minutes without having a panic attack, you tell yourself you must be going through something bad to prepare you for something others couldn’t handle.

You must be stronger than everyone else, because that’s the only thing that makes you feel better.

So when you start cutting, it makes sense. People cringe at the deep, infected lines on your arms, and you like that. Because you’re stronger than them, and you know it.

And when you’re so terrified that high school will be a repeat of hellish middle school that you start ditching to the point where your father has to walk you into the office and sit with you every morning to then escort you to your first class, you smirk at everyone who asks why your daddy has to walk you in and tell them it’s because school is lame and you were ditching too much. You know, because you’re a badass.

Eventually, the anxiety about school dies down. But then a whole new shit storm comes up. You thought the anxiety couldn’t get any worse, but then you’re blacking out and grabbing fistfuls of your hair and pulling it out and your parents are having to tackle you to the ground because you’re trying to run in the street.

And you tell yourself that you’re a badass, because others wouldn’t survive this. You’re barely surviving it, yourself.

This is what I told myself when I woke up burning with adrenaline, too terrified to even scream.

I’m a badass. I can live through this.

This is what I told myself when someone would make an offhanded comment about one of my triggers and I would spend our whole “Girl’s Movie Night” digging my fingernails into my palms while the others sipped tea and watched Pride and Prejudice.

I just wasn’t made for a fun girl’s night. I’m too badass for a fun girl’s night.

When I fell down in my living room and shrieked, begging God to help me and I felt like He was silent, I steeled myself.

He must think I’m a badass, too, if He’s letting me go through this alone.

This little phrase also came in handy when my winning personality slashed people the wrong way and they’d slowly back out of my life like any sane person would have.

I don’t need them. I’m a badass.

My family stayed. I’d wake my father up and sit by his bed, my shaking hand vice-gripping his as he prayed that my panic would subside.

My mom held me. My sisters didn’t look at me like I was a freak. But, obviously, they didn’t count, to me. Family has to stay. It’s like a rule.

For years, I told myself I didn’t need anyone. I didn’t want anyone. I was too badass for that.

And then… then, so slowly I almost didn’t see it, I found people who didn’t leave. People who weren’t bound by blood who held my hands and looked me in the eye when I spiraled into the black. People who would wake up with me and pray. People who would see me losing my shit on the stairs and sit with me, even if they didn’t know me. Even as others stepped over me like I wasn’t there.

People started building their tents around me, even as I warned them it might not be the best idea. I stuck my head out of my little door and gave them a look.

Um… you’re probably new here. It’s not super safe to get too close to me.

And they were like cool. But I’m here.

And they stayed. And even when I crossed my arms and rolled my eyes like okay well, I don’t need you. I’m a badass, you see. Lone ranger.

They stayed.

Slowly, my tribe grew. And I realized they were the badasses. They were pitching their lives close to someone who had a habit of losing touch with reality.

They were investing in me.

And somewhere along the way, my bones stopped feeling so brittle, and I could stand on my own. I let people in. I fell in love and let people see my scars and they didn’t run. Really being badass was starting to look a lot like learning to trust people.

Somewhere along this road, I realized that I didn’t need to wear badassery as some sort of sign around my neck that read “F*** OFF”.

I’ve started learning to use it well. I’ve been in bad situations and shoved my way out, because I knew I could.

I took MMA grappling classes and got slammed around and kept coming back for more.

I stand up for myself when I need to.

And, I’m proud to say, at 27, I can finally go pee in the middle of the night without turning on every light in the house.

(I mean I still turn on the bedroom light and the bathroom light but that’s just smart, right? You’re practically signing up for a horror movie moment if you try and pee in the dark.)

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about that this first trimester, and I’ve never been more grateful for my tribe.

I’ve never been more grateful for my husband, who makes me food and listens to me whine and takes Aryn to the bathroom when I have no energy. I’m grateful for Amanda, who has been holding my hair back for twelve years and continues to do so. She was one of the first people to stick around, and she’s seen every side of me and my crazy. I’m grateful for Brit, who encourages me when my spirit is low. I’m grateful for Hilary Miller and Jillian Denning, because without our texting thread I would have to vlog my feels and it would probably just be me shriek-crying about WHY IS WRITING SO HARD. For my family, who feeds me and watches Aryn and doesn’t make fun of how ridiculous I sound when I vomit.

To Gina, Jeans, Kate Angelella, Rachel Simon, Shelby, Morgan, Isaac, Becky…

To the people who stayed and made me better.

To my tribe.

So when Aryn looks at me now and pulls out one of the writing pens I use for editing that SHE KNOWS SHE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO TOUCH BUT SHE LOOKS SO CUTE SHE KNOWS SHE CAN GET AWAY WITH PRETENDING IT IS A LIGHTSABER

…and tells me she’s going to go fight bad guys, she’ll be right back… I’ll tell her I’ve got her back.

She can be a badass.

She just doesn’t have to do it alone.

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