My mother is a very intimidating woman. She towers above the average woman and plenty of men. My mother is the kind of woman you want on your side in an argument. She is loud, I know the neighbors can hear her from inside the house. My mother is the kind of woman who chases arrogant and mean people out of restaurants to tell them “Shame on you for treating people horribly.” The word “no” is not an acceptable answer. She never allows anyone to walk all over her. There is never a doubt in my mind that she loves me because she makes the effort to show me and tell me. My mother does not water dead flowers, they are thrown out without hesitation. Diane knows what she is doing.
I have a very clear memory of my mom and I speed walking up and down the aisles of our local Target. My family does not tolerate slow walking, we are constantly on a mission. I had just cried my eyes out to her, involuntarily, after she demanded I tell her what was wrong.
5th grade bullies. Teaming up against me. Hurtful words. Alone.
I do not remember what my mother said to me in the bathroom, or in the car, or speed walking through the parking lot, but I do remember what she said to me inside the store.
“When people see you, your body language and attitude need to say, ‘Do not fuck with me.'”
Learning to stand up for yourself is difficult. Over the years there were times I let my guard down as well as situations I could not control. Second and third chances I gave out to consistently be let down. Multiple conversations, confrontations, trampled feelings. You can invest all you have in someone but you cannot force someone to treat you right.
I could not control the bullies from the 5th through 7th grade who made me feel alone so I sought other forms of (negative) control. I could not control the random father who yelled and cursed at me on the telephone at my place of employment because his son’s car got towed causing my entire body to shake uncontrollably, but I felt the fear each time the phone rang for the rest of the day. I could not control that the boys I liked always wanted to date my friends so I pretended it was okay. I could not control that the head of my college major’s department was trying to find grounds to kick me out of my program for the simple reason that she heard a rumor about me yet I crossed that stage and taught junior high school.
My mother’s advice remains one of the best I have ever received. Hold your head high and do not let others mistreat you; do not fuck with me. I was born with a feisty nature and it definitely has gotten me into some trouble. My feisty nature has also helped me demand the respect I and others deserve, especially as I grow older.
There will always be situations you cannot control. How you handle them is what matters. With the excellent advice I received, I am consistently working on dismissing negative people and situations from my life and always treating people well. I make sure to show and tell the people in my life that I care about them.
I could tell you about the time I got three long, obviously drunk, text message from a number that is no longer saved in my phone. They told me what a wonderful person I am and how proud they were to know me because I am going to accomplish so much in this life. The kicker, was that it started off with, “I think you hate me and I do not know why.” I put it behind me without responding, flattered and amused that I am on someone’s brain (and on a pedestal!) while they are out drinking.
I could tell you about the time I had nowhere to live because my supposed roommates decided to sign a lease while I was at church. Finding a roommate in April in a housing market that began the September prior was an interesting experience. I practiced forgiveness and learned that it was all the doing of a manipulative person so I was the lucky one to not live there.
I could tell you about the group of so-called friends who quickly became strangers because my friendship was not a priority. Cringe-worthy run-ins include them asking how I am at least seventeen times and silently praying for my soul because apparently it is bewildering that I am doing REALLY WELL. I always feel uncomfortable when this happens until I remember they are the ones who let me go.
It does not matter which story I tell you because there are so many. There is a difference between a stranger hurting you like the angry dad on the phone and a person who was an active part of your life. There are only so many talks you can have, strides you can make, reaching out you can do, invites you can give before you realize you have suddenly entered a one way street. Dead relationships are the equivalent of letting people walk all over you. The sadness, being alone, feeling left out, confused brain, hoping heart is not beneficial for anyone.
Do not water dead plants. Do not fuck with me.
I have not forgotten about the people who have hurt me. The hurt softens, forgiveness eventually comes, but the scars remain. I cannot and will not let you back into my life after you have faithfully shown me how little I mean to you. You hurt me in the past and I will not allow you to hurt me again.
I wish you well and I hope you learn to treat people better. I want you to become more observant of how your actions, words, or lackthereof can deteriorate or build others up. I want you to not be a shitty human because there are far too many in this overpopulated world.
For the people who do not have the privilege of hearing my mother’s advice, I hope you have the courage to cut off all the negativity in your life, stand up for yourself, and never let anyone fuck with you.