About a lifetime ago I had a "thing" with a guy. This guy was someone I'd known since forever, who had been a friend, became something more, and then became a whole lot less. That's another story for another time. But there's something he said that has always, always, always stuck with me.
One day, while talking, I made some sort of sass mouth remark (shocker). He listened to it, looked at me, and said..."You used to be the nicest girl. I loved that about you." Or something to that regard. The meaning behind it being, "what the hell happened?"
It meant nothing to me at the time, since I was 25 and an asshole, but it's always been in the back of my mind. And I guess, to be honest, it meant SOMETHING to me, because it stung. A lot.
He was right. I WAS always the nice girl. I hated trouble and I never wanted to be mean to anyone. It broke my heart to see people being mean, ridiculing and making fun, bullying. Awful. And then somehow, someway, things changed.
Maybe it was the moments of a difficult childhood piling up, maybe it was peer pressure and the desire to fit in. Maybe it was because I knew I had been blessed/cursed with a fairly quick wit and the easy joke always gets a laugh. Mostly though, I'm sure it was the low self-esteem and heart full of insecurities. Yeah, it was probably all of that.
So somehow I became calloused. Petty and snotty and full of dickhead comments. Full of jealousy and anger. To be fair, I wasn't always trying to be mean. In fact, sometimes I didn't even KNOW I was being mean. But sometimes I did. (Getting my thoughts to stop before they exit my mouth has never been my strong suit.)
Now, I still had a lot of amazing qualities. People liked me. When you have the ability to talk to almost anyone, people tend to like you right away. But my negative qualities seemed to take the spotlight. And, let's be real. If I was saying mean things about others TO you, what was I saying ABOUT you? I get why people didn't always like me as they got to know me. But instead of stepping back and looking at that, I just used it as more ammunition to build walls and be a snot. The older I got, the more of a jerk I became.
Girls nights would consist of making fun of people on Facebook and judging other women as they walked into the restaurant or bar. Conversations would revolve around us talking about other people, rarely nice things being said. Even about people we called our "friends." Yikes. I know. Even writing this I'm cringing. How in the hell did I have any friends? I guess some people just knew the good that was under the bitchy exterior, and the rest were doing the same things I was.
And I wondered why life was shit. The answer there is simple:
When you hang around people who are secretly happy when bad things happen to you or others because it makes them feel better about their shitty choices, your life will be shit.
When you find happiness, or at the very least solace, in making fun of or judging others, your life will be shit.
When you have no sense of self and decide it's easier to go with the crowd than deal with figuring your life/self out, life will be shit.
When you build walls and constantly think, "poor me," instead of DEALING with your issues, life will be shit.
Let me be clear: I'm not preaching. Please understand that. I still have my moments. Sometimes someone gets a haircut that is just too much for me or someone I don't care for just drives me crazy and I say something ridiculous and awful (and sometimes damn funny). I absolutely admit to that. I also admit to being overcome with jealousy more often than I care to admit.
But it gets said to a VERY small circle of people who I trust with all my good, bad, and ugly. And, to be truthful, I feel guilty even then. But at least I know when I say it to those people, they understand me and know where I'm coming from, and where my life is at.
And they know that now I come with the following disclaimer:
Hi, my name is Cassie and I'm a recovering asshole. A former mean girl. A broken woman who didn't have much in the way of self worth who fights everyday to be better. A woman who's been a size 6 and a size 16. A woman who's been told she was beautiful and smart and kind and a woman who's been told she's nothing but a loser who will never amount to anything. A woman who's been both the life of the party and the outcast. A woman who carries pride and shame in the same basket. A woman who is actively learning to love herself and to be thankful for her lessons learned. A woman who understands your struggle.
As that woman, I promise you this:
I promise to never shame you. Not for your religious or political views. Not for your size or sexuality. Not for your past or even not so great present. I promise to understand that you're learning, just like me. I promise to remember that sometimes learning looks an awful lot like falling apart. I promise to be empathetic, your very best cheerleader. I promise to try my damndest to never make the world a darker place, when I know I have the ability to make it brighter. And I absolutely promise to be the nicest girl, even as a 31 year old woman.
PS...I do NOT promise that I won't ever make fun of your haircut. ;)
PS again...Calling myself a woman TOTALLY makes me giggle. Every damn time.
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