There are certain facets of my life that, although alluded to in my blog, are unreachable in such a public forum. It’s my story to tell should I find myself ready, but it won’t grace the gleam of a screen; it will be tangible, printed, bound – one day. My perspective on the situation is valid, but I don’t feel the need to reveal it for the sake of others, nor do I feel the need to be understood at this time. I respect myself and my feelings, and that’s enough.
When I try to gather the words to express these truths publicly, my brain bars off the area, my wrists constrain the keys. Words that typically flow forth from my fingertips jumble into a collection of letters, spiraling endlessly out of control, never to quite come together into the perfect pattern to portray my heart.
So – I will skim the surface of what has happened to delve into what I’ve realized as a result.
There are many things I can’t comprehend, most of which I could learn should I put my mind to it. What I will never be able to fathom, however, is the desire to hurt another human’s psyche, to intentionally manipulate their experience to be more challenging in an already proleptically decaying world. There are those who lurk in the shadows, waiting for, even encouraging, something to go awry for another person, so that they don’t feel so alone with their misery.
There’s a theory of human behavior called crab mentality. If you put crabs in a bucket, one of them will eventually attempt an escape, only to be pinched by the crabs at the bottom and dragged back into the pit. Humans, it turns out, are not all that different from crustaceans. Many (all) of the happiest days and experiences of my life, a claw has clung to my calf, pulling me from the pinnacle of my experience. In the past, I allowed myself to be dragged back down, then repeated the process of pulling myself back up.
Not this time.
This past week, we went on a Disney vacation, and, if you’ve read my previous blogs, you know, for me, there is nothing better. My husband’s family took us all for the first time as a group, and, for several of them, it was their first trip to Disney World ever, so we were excited to show them the ropes. I should have foreseen that, as always, this would be the perfect opportunity for the crabs to pull me back into the bucket.
At the very end of a wonderful, sunny, precious first day in the parks, my phone rang, a call that, although I knew was a possibility because I had been taunted with this idea prior, I never thought could become an actuality. I had convinced myself no one could be that delusional and, for lack of better words, crazy. And so emerges my aforementioned naivety – the inability to believe other humans can seriously work overtime to make someone they are supposed to love suffer.
Sitting in Hollywood Studios, I stared forward blankly, the sounds around me becoming a dull roar as everyone awaited Sorcerer Mickey to emerge and begin Fantasmic. I turned and told my husband the news, watching his face contort into the expression of a real man – who knows, despite using every moment of his life to make his wife happy, he can’t protect her from the evils of the mind.
But then something happened. On his lap sat my four year old niece, eyes wide, ears covered with her hands. On my husband’s left were his sisters and mother, talking and laughing; on my right, my father and brother-in-law, both partaking in a beer with me. Out of the speakers, the sounds of Fantasmic began to play, the lights dimmed, and a metaphor emerged in front of me. Sorcerer Mickey met with snakes, dragons, and all of the Disney Villains, but he kept fighting back and didn’t let them overtake his imagination. It felt relatable.
I understand that life is not a Disney movie (much to my dismay, might I add), but I do know myself. I know my husband. I know my sister. I know my best friends. I know my new family. For all of the bad in the world, the people who wish ill on others, there are people who are good, who want the best for others. The scale of my life is not weighted by the negative. I’m surrounded by wonderful people, a beautiful home and safe space, a new job, the kindest husband, and hope for a better tomorrow that no one will strip away from me.
In that moment, I chose to just say no to allowing others to evoke an emotional reaction in me, and it worked. No moment, not even Fantasmic, was marred this time. I counted my blessings, and they outnumbered my woes. I enjoyed every second of my trip, surrounded by the kind of people who love and respect me in a way that allows me to love and respect myself. I know what love is, and it’s not what I was raised to believe. It’s not enabling. It’s reciprocity, well wishes for others as well as yourself.
No one has the power to take my power away. I am not a crab in a bucket; I’ve already made it into the open, blue water.