You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.Anne Lamott
This has always been my writing mantra. When your entire writing identity is telling embarrassing, painful, raw true stories about your life you have to decide just how many other people you can include. I do write warmly about people I care about. But if you cross me? If you take that rope I give you and try to strangle me with it? Oh you better believe I’m going to go all Conor McGregor on your ass.
Wow. I just referenced Anne Lamott and Conor McGregor in the same post. That’s either really random or I’m a highly skilled writer. I think we know which it is.
I’m normally a very patient person. It takes a lot to get a reaction out of me. Sure, I’ll make some snide comments if someone else is listening. I’ll fester quite a bit. I’ll analyze and weigh the pros and cons of responding. But eventually, if you keep testing me, I will snap. Never without provocation, or justification. I’m a Libra lawyer. If I think I’m being treated unfairly or taken advantage of, you will eventually hear about it. And I will rain down invective like it is Napalm.
The wee hours of this morning was one of those occasions. Years ago I took an online writing workshop that changed my life. This blog was born out of it. I finished a screenplay I never would have stuck it out to finish. I made many great, talented friends, and a few of us formed a private group on Facebook that endured for several years. But I had to leave it today.
This pandemic has everybody on edge. It’s impossible to not feel the stress of it. So when people who normally post on Facebook just to get a reaction out of people suddenly find themselves unable to get attention in the real world because of the quarantine, it seems they are acting out even more. In other words, the Attention Whores are out in full force. You know who I mean. They suddenly have it worse than everyone else out there because no one can appreciate their new outfit, or they obviously spend hours taking artsy new profile pictures posted with inspirational quotes about self-love. They whine about how they can’t hook up with the latest guy who sent them a dick pic on Instagram. And then the next second they are suddenly Dr. Fauci’s surrogate lecturing people on staying home because if you end up in the hospital no one can visit you and that would JUST. BE. THE. WORST. No, sorry, I don’t care if no one visits me. I’m staying home so my mother doesn’t get the virus and die. Because I’m not a self-centered asshole and actually think of other people.
I posted a few weeks ago about how I’m trying to change my life and become a healthier, happier person. Yeah, well quarantine changed that. I did start using the rowing machine again, but my 3-glass-of-wine-a-night limit has become a bottle of wine a night. Not great. But I can’t change everything overnight, and at least I’m writing again. Writing is good for my soul, so there’s a trade-off. Another aspect of this decision was to stop following bad news. Oops. 0 for 2. A pandemic kind of ruins that. But one thing still under my control is to limit my exposure to people who are energy vampires. I need all my energy for the transformation I’m trying to achieve. I’ve worked on me for nearly 11 years now, and I’m so damn close to being where I want to be. I see the finish line. To use a bad metaphor, this quarantine is the Boston Marathon bombers. An obstacle I didn’t expect. There’s a lesson in it nonetheless, but I have to finish the race. I don’t need any unnecessary other people cutting me off or drafting off me to slow me down.
My greatest grudge against this particular Attention Whore who made me quit my tribe was that in a space which was supposed to be a safe space to say all the things we keep in our heads, this person never allowed me to do that for some reason. I have my theories, but I’ll leave them wrapped up in my head. It’s no secret that since my divorce I have had massive walls up, and done a hell of a lot of work on myself, and didn’t feel a need to go whore it up (other than year one). I want substance and a soul mate and laughter, and I won’t settle for less. That’s not crazy. But she didn’t agree. It’s entirely true that I did have a history of finding red flags with any guy I talked to, only because my standards were so high. I recall writing to the group that I didn’t know if I wanted to meet one particular guy from Tinder. Sure I could fake interest because I did need to get back out and get laid, but I also didn’t really want to waste my energy on a connection I knew was going to be over after one night and I suck at faking it. This so-called friend blasted me that I was going to be alone and miserable because my standards were so high. Basically that I was wasting everyone’s time with these posts because I had no intention of ever giving a guy a chance. Mind you, I’m quite a bit older and wiser. I lived a wild life in my 20s and didn’t need to sow any wild oats. I craved substance. In no uncertain terms, she painted me as a pathetic, scared whiner who either needed to fuck my way out of depression or shut up. So I stopped sharing with the group because of what she said to me.
Well. Do you guys know me? I’m not a pathetic, scared whiner. I’m a thoughtful, deliberate, smartass, drunk woman who places high value on anyone I engage in a relationship with. But what this exchange taught me was to shut up for the benefit of the group when I really wanted to punch the bitch out. She clearly didn’t know anything about me in all the years I was in the group. And obviously never read my screenplay I sent her.
So after a bottle of wine, I finally had enough of her shit when I tried to help her in a legal matter and she posted some nonsensical answer why I didn’t know what I was talking about. Not a thank you. Not trying to find a solution based on what I told her. It was clear it was a made up drama that she wanted sympathy for but not a real solution. None of it made sense and my bullshit detector went off. And I did too. When I feel wronged I have a tendency to go full scorched earth. Ask my ex-husband who is probably still finding the hundreds of wedding photos I hid in our belongings. It was totally deserved. But I do regret losing the safety of a group of friends where I could share freely. They’re still friends, but I won’t be able to see the things they post in there now seeking advice. All because of this bitch who would take our comments and post them on Instagram or Facebook as her own or dissect them for likes. Seeking more attention by mocking our words. Yeah, our trust was betrayed, and that deserved my full wrath.
Some people see me as harsh, bitchy, bullying, stand-offish. Fine. That’s your perspective, and a reflection more on you than it is on me. I say the things other people are thinking but don’t dare say because they are afraid to rock the boat. If I think the boat needs to be capsized, I will do it (even though I can’t swim). If you ask me how I’d describe myself I’d say I’m fiercely loyal, I fight for justice and fairness, and I’m never hypocritical. If you wanted someone to have your back in a debate or a street fight, I think 9 out of 10 people would pick me. I don’t cross my friends, I fight to the death for people I love, and my ideals matter more than anything tangible. I don’t think those are bad qualities to have. My dad would be proud, and that’s the only standard I judge myself by.
Let’s see what the next month of quarantine brings with a few less toxic people in it for me. Less distraction and biting my tongue. I have goals to meet and plans to make. And so far I’m still writing. I’m doing ok, and under the circumstances, that doesn’t suck. The energy vampires can find somewhere else to suck.