Pulling Punches

Anne Lamott once said that if people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. Maybe it's time I stop giving some people the benefit of the doubt. Truthfully, there are bad people in the world. I don't mean bad on the epic scale, like Hitler and Lady Gaga, though they surely do exist. I mean bad in the little ways. The hundreds of thousands of every day decisions that collect into a selfishly lived life. The common unkind words, the earnest desire to get ahead no matter who's left under foot, the consistent inconsideration.

And all of these things the good people have to put up with those hundreds of thousands of times per day.

I don't claim to be a good person. I know there's too many things keeping me from that designation. Too many qualifications I just don't nearly make. Too many anxieties, too many fears, too many failures.

But I can write for them.

I'll never be a strong person. My muscles won't lift what my mind hopes they can. I'll never win fights that are brought upon me. I can barely look conflict in the eye without looking away. I am far from helpless, however. I have this ink and these words and it's high noon on knowing what to do with them.

Somewhere along my lifetime I got the idea that people wanted me to sit down and shut up. That I'd be better liked if I pretended like there weren't so many things that I disliked. It made me affable. It made me approachable. It made me personable and likable and most of all, it made me a doormat.

I learned that someone who stood up to me or talked down to me was better than me just because they did that. Just because they could look down their nose like they were aiming a weapon. I learned to be tolerant, and not in the gloriously trendy way. In the first act of an underdog story sort way. In the punching bag sort of way.

Somehow, I started to believe that as long as I could live through what was done to me, it was acceptable. It was something I should have to endure.

The feeling never went away. The acorn of an idea that this wasn't the way things were supposed to be. That I should stand up, push back, and show those people what I was really made of.

I never did. I guess I did show them what I was made of.

Too often, I forget that I'm far from helpless. I've been given the means to defend myself. I can fight back when the time is right. There are people to protect, and one of them is me.