It all started with this post: To be or not to be a Queen B, although there was a hint of it in August 2016, when I wrote A Pointless Story about Coping Mechanisms, Boys in Drag and Eminem. I started getting snarkier, and it permeated my writing. The edge to my posts stayed throughout October and November. In December, my posts are very brash. Examples:
So far, in January, I’m still petty, both in my personal and professional life:
Two of my wonderful Qc cousins exclaimed in horror when I happily referred to myself during a Xmas supper as a mean bitch. They don’t see me in that light. I reassured them, no, no, Vanilla is finally in touch with her mean side. Again, they disapproved. It isn’t good for me to indulge in my mean spiteful side. If I have this “bad” side to me, I must work on it to eradicate it from my character.
It isn’t easy hearing “I do not like who you are becoming” from people you love and whose opinion you value. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over their words. Specifically, I find it odd that my impulse is to celebrate this new aspect to my personality, whereas they condemn it. That is a disconnect in opinion worth exploring.
Life as a kid with ADD, unmedicated, a religious upbringing and a mother with very strict notions of propriety and etiquette (I read Miss Manners for fun as a result – highly recommend it. She is funny!)
Vanilla! How could you say that?! Don’t you see that you were rude/insensitive/thoughtless. You obviously didn’t take XYZ into consideration before formulating your opinion. Why are you presenting your opinion as a statement of fact: change your wording. How are you backing up your assertion? If you don’t have arguments to support your statement, that is a sign that you should stay silent. Don’t speak for the sake of speaking. Be considerate of others feelings. Your words say a lot about your character: do you want to appear vain/immodest/insensitive. Think before you speak. Speak when spoken to, and if you are going to speak up for no reason, make sure it is interesting and within the boundaries of polite discussion.
Everything I said was wrong. Even with the best of intentions, my words and my behaviour seemed to trigger bewildering reactions in others, and I would feel hurt by their condemnation of me, without understanding my good intentions. And as feelings do not depend on logical arguments to be supportable, I stopped expressing my feelings, after “losing” arguments with my mother too often to count.
Life as an ambitious, smart, driven career woman. Bite my tongue, don’t piss off colleagues or clients ever! You are too brash, Vanilla. Tone it down. Always try manage other’s feelings. Piss them off anyhow.
Learn at 30 that I have the right to speak up at work. Learn via this blog that I have a voice: my feelings and my truth matter. I don’t publish anything on this blog that I wouldn’t want the people concerned to read – they might not always like my opinions or agree with my assessments, but I always explain why I feel the way I do.
Get hired at my job because I’ll get things done and won’t let myself be bullied – disorienting to hear the aspects of my character that have always been portrayed as negatives described as valuable strengths.
Boxing taught me to acknowledge that I have a lot of anger that I’ve spent my life repressing, resulting in the deep and scary depressions, the last of which took 20 months of therapy to recover from.
I’ve no urge to ever hit my opponent first, to bend them to my will, to impose my fighting style over theirs. Those are not impulses that appeal to me either in the ring, or in the real world. I’m much more of a “live and let live” kinda person. I’d be perfectly happy if my opponent and I each took a corner of the ring and shadow boxed in silence. I’ve noticed that in the real world I do not know how to manage my anger. I’m totally comfortable feeling bitchy, annoyed, irritated and pissy. But anger? Real anger? I feel a flash of it, before dissolving into sobs, and giving way to despair and defeatism. I don’t ever fight back, because my anger has evaporated, leaving me with apathy. This is my go-to approach when an emotion is overwhelming. I fear what might happen if I did give way to my feelings: who I’d hurt, and how badly. To avoid facing that fear, I rid myself of the problematic anger entirely.
I think my problem is not that I am not a violent, angry person, but rather that I am scared of discovering just how violent I truly am. I know that I won’t be able to control my anger, so rather than learn to do so (and live with all the painful mistakes I’d make during that process), I avoid the entire issue, both in and out of the ring.
A lifetime of conditioning that what I say must be edited to be palatable to others. My need for self-expression must come second to other’s feelings. A lifetime of denying myself the right to express my emotions. A belief that negative expressions are bad. Imagine my confusion when my therapist proposed that all emotions are equal sources of information, and must be acknowledged equally.
Because such feelings are aversive, they are often called “negative” emotions, although “negative” is a misnomer. Emotions are not inherently positive or negative. They are distinguished by much more than whether they feel good or bad. Beneath the surface, every emotion orchestrates a complex suite of changes in motivation, physiology, attention, perception, beliefs, and behaviors: sweating, laughing, desiring revenge, becoming optimistic, summoning specific memories. Each component of every emotion has a critical job to do—whether it’s preparing us to move toward what we want (anger), urging us to improve our standing (envy), or allowing us to undo a social gaffe (embarrassment). – Psychology Today, Beyond Happiness: The Upside of Feeling Down
And there you have it.
I am proud of my new bitchy self because I have reached a point of strength where I can feel all of my feelings including the spiteful, mean and angry ones – emotions I was always taught to believe were “bad”. I also have accepted my right to express them, within socially acceptable boundaries. I use the word bitchy, because my whole life assertive women were called bitches, but really… I have learned to be assertive.
Assertive, bitchy, I don’t care anymore. I will speak my truth, professionally and personally. People won’t like that, bc hearing strongly worded, supported intelligent opinions isn’t friendly/charming/fun/sweet/easy. That’s ok. I rather be true than be liked.
It feels like freedom.