I love you because you told me I would fail…

For some reason mean people are on my mind today. Not just all mean people, but specifically the ones that have, and are in my life (whether I invited them or not).

I was raised with the care and protection equal to a fragile porcelain doll. Which now, having children myself, I completely understand my parents reasons for that. That being said, when I entered the real world, it was a little bit of a bumpy start. There were horrors and wonders I never imagined. One of which, was mean people. I still struggle with not taking every single thing said to me personally. My 18 year old self spent more time than I’m willing to admit crying over some comment a stranger threw at me because I unknowingly cut in line, or otherwise pissed them off. My intentions were always gentle, treat as I wanted to be… never wanting to rock anyone’s boat. Life continued on and I began to learn to either brush it off, or defend myself.

I dealt with insults, rejections and rudeness growing up, but never on the real world scale. This was the first time I realized I was a fighter. Not necessarily physically, but mentally, emotionally… I got better and better at blocking every blow that was thrown at me. Until I met one woman in particular. She was someone I had to deal with on a regular basis. No escape, not even the blessing of anonymity would hide me from her. She knew every mistake, every blemish and imperfection. I had not learned how to react logically, and everything still triggered an emotional response. I cared what she thought of me, of my life, my decisions. I found myself trying (always unsuccessfully) to please her. As time went on, I realized there was nothing I could do to meet her standards. The days I managed to fly under her radar were the best I could hope for. If I did something that attracted her attention, insults, cleverly hidden in “advice” were my reward.

Instead of pleasing her, it became harder and harder to not fear her. All the while, my own self-esteem disappearing before it really had a chance to solidify. My identity was being shaped through her. I began to believe the things she would tell me. I doubted every decision I would make, knowing most likely it would bring some sort of judgement. I was being told I would fail at things I had wanted to do since childhood. I began to do things her way, because it was easier than trying to stand up to her.

Eventually, as I grew older I found the courage to move on with my life. Her words and phone calls still carrying weight far beyond when the ties were cut. I started thinking for myself, my eyes began to open and I figured out who I was. I resented her for a long time. Nothing positive ever accompanied thoughts of her in my mind. Until I woke up one day and realized I wasn’t who she told me I was. I wasn’t failing at the things she had convinced me I would never be good at. I didn’t have to be who she told me I was.

Because of her, for the years after she quit being such a huge part of my life, I worked hard. Really hard. I didn’t know until years later that I fought so hard to survive because I needed to tell her, show her, that I wasn’t the write off she had already categorized me as. Because of her, I have success, family, hope, and a fearlessness that can only come from overcoming one of the greatest fears I have ever faced. So, to you, thank you for putting me down, telling me I would fail never believing in me, and threatening to take my life away. You gave me power, hope and strength.

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