Sometimes assertiveness is oppressive. Sometimes shouting at somebody isn't about self-care, but about being a bully. I used to feel inadequate because I couldn't muster up the fortitude to push and shove my way through life, but every once in awhile I get a reminder of just how obnoxious and offensive that way of being really is. It's not a positive way to be. Yeah, sometimes I have to 'go there', but it's exceedingly rare, and I have the social wherewithal to not go into somebody's home and shout at and and insult them. It's not a normal part of my life experience anymore, and that's a very definite good.
I believed that I had come far enough that was able to deflect the toxic energy of other people (please note that I made a distinction here. Sometimes even really terrific people can have toxic moments, so I won't attach that word to a person) but it would appear...not so much. And though there were many positives to the encounter, the negativity left it's mark. It's one of the most difficult aspects of 'hit and run' folks; they are completely oblivious to the lingering effects of their casual use of cruel and devaluing words. They're over it, so you must be too. Um, no.
But I can do this. All my life I've been told "learn to stand up for yourself" and "get over it". It's like, the curse of the quiet child. But I've learned plenty since then. I've learned that real strength is internal. If you have to show it all the time on the outside, it's probably not something you carry internally. Classic bully. I've also learned the value of thoughtful introspection, and that being quiet and non-confrontational has much more to do with strength than weakness. How much strength does it really take to be reactive and verbally abusive?
And for non-parents: Never, ever stick your nose in between a parent-child relationship. Like, ever. That relationship is none of your business. You don't get to say you're like the parent if you aren't the parent. A parent puts the child first, always. I didn't bail because my new relationship was more of a priority (which is entirely your right if you are NOT the parent). And forcing your priorities on a child isn't good parenting, either. I didn't want a 'mini-me'. My daughter and I are both creative people with a sense of humor who love horses, and there the resemblance ends. Instead of trying to shape her to fit my ideas for her, I encouraged her to try everything that interested her so she could make that determination for herself. I never did ballet, played softball, soccer or basketball, but she did. And I was there encouraging her and cheering her on. Were you? I quit smoking so that I could afford to get her to and from practices. What did you give up? You weren't obligated to do anything, of course, because you are NOT the parent. I spent sleepless nights with a sick baby, I went without food so my daughter could eat. She and I have been through things that nobody else could possibly understand. Sometimes, people suffer quite a lot without talking about it. Saying she needs to get away from me (and my limited beliefs) so she can pursue a goal YOU deem worthy is to disrespect the AWESOME human being my daughter grew up to be. She is a much better person than I've ever been. Mission accomplished. She likes what she's doing, she's worked very hard to get where she is and she has every right to be proud of herself. There's no "Yeah, but..." after that statement. There's no, "But it's just...". I'm proud of her, right now today. That's being a parent. That's knowing and respecting your child enough to encourage, to talk about choices, and then stay the hell out of her way. Nobody gets to devalue what she's accomplished, or to interfere with our relationship.
I'll get better at this. I'll learn how to deal someday. But for today, I'll be smudging my apartment and taking Advil!