So, my dear friend Shauna posted this superb meme on my Facebook wall yesterday and she’s all, “This totally reminded me of you” and I’m all, “Hell yeah it did!” Because I am seriously badass, right? Because I don’t take shit from anyone, right? Because whoever fucks with me will be unceremoniously fileted like O-Ren Ishii by my yellow-jumpsuited Kill Bill awesomeness, right? Right?
Wrong. I had myself briefly fired up with this formidable vision of me as the ultimate No Bullshit Zone – the Perfect, Perfect Bitch. I love that vision. I love that people evidently regard me as the very last person on earth with whom they’d want to tangle, because I so desperately want to be that person. But my enchantment was short-lived, and I deflated rapidly as I realized that in fact, I am EXACTLY the person with whom you’ll want to tangle. Because absolutely nothing will happen. Chances are I won’t even notice that you’re being a douchelord for the first 87 or so times you decide to be a douchelord. This is a fairly serious problem, only because when I finally do notice, it means that you have pushed so far beyond the limits of decency and humanity that I completely lose my shit and the relationship is rendered unsalvageable. I am talking about zero to blitzkrieg in the span of one well-timed dick move. Actually, I guess it would be 88. Eighty-eight dick moves. Then you’re done.
So yes. I have a very high tolerance for bad behavior. I could drink a case of bad behavior and still I’d be on my feet.** I have been witness to bad behavior all my life – irrational, unpredictable, infantile behavior. Frightening behavior. Strange, inconsiderate, and often cruel behavior. At some point in my childhood it just became the new normal, and I stopped noticing. But I also realized early on that the best course of action was to do nothing – to take shelter from the storm in whatever happy place I could conjure and ride that motherfucker out. In those days my self-preservation mostly involved Sean Cassidy music and making out with my wall poster of The Fonz. During the years I was married and “stepping,” I coped by going alone to my bedroom while the shit-pies of anarchy and defiance flew wildly about just beyond the threshold. I figured that if I just stayed behind the door, I’d never have to take one to the face. The problem, of course, was that I couldn’t stay in there forever. I’d eventually run out of bourbon.
So this is what I’ve been working on in my never-ending push to become less fucked-up than I was destined to be: Boundaries. Learning to stand up for myself, to speak out, to say no when I need to and to call bullshit when I smell it. To be less accepting of bad behavior during the window of time when my NOT accepting it might still actually change its course. To fix friendships while they can still be fixed. To stop waiting to speak up until my loathing is lit with the fire of a thousand suns and it’s far, far too late. Because while the benefits of having a long fuse are quite agreeable (I do not anger easily, and enjoy very low blood pressure), I’ve come to understand that anything that’s left to spark and sizzle and burn that long is going to make a very big boom. And that shit ain’t ever purty.
**With deepest apologies to Joni Mitchell