You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I do not have to be good. I do not have to be nice. I do not have to assume your intentions are good when your words are not. I don’t have to be grateful to you for suggestions I didn’t ask for. I do not have to be grateful to you for anything, in fact. I do not have to protect your ego. I do not have to pretend I’m not hurt and offended when I am. I do not have to try anything just because it helped you, and I do not have to defend my choice not to. I don’t have to defend any of my choices to you. I do not owe you any explanations. I do not have to agree with anything you say about me that doesn’t resonate with me, especially when it’s about me. I do not have to defend who I was or who I am now to you.I am doing the best that I can, and I’m struggling severely. I do not have the energy to take care of other people’s feelings. I’m generally a pretty nice person–I want to connect with people, and I don’t wake up in the morning scheming about how to hurt their feelings. I used to do everything I could to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, to avoid making anyone feel badly, because I thought I’d done enough damage in the world already.Eventually I realized I was taking care of everyone else at my own expense. I was letting people hurt me over and over to avoid the risk that saying no would hurt them. It was letting everyone I interacted take away a little piece of me, and if I’d kept it up, eventually there wouldn’t have been anything left of me. I’m not going to do that anymore. I can’t. I’ve come to understand that it’s in neither my nature nor my best interest to keep quiet when someone says something that hurts me. I’m sure most of us don’t want to hurt each other, but how can we know we’ve hurt someone unless they say so? Sometimes you step on someone’s toes or jab them with an elbow without even realizing. When someone points out that we’ve hurt them, we feel terrible. Some of us apologize, but some of us compensate by lashing out, accusing, even bullying. Luckily, I’ve reached a place in my own healing where I can see that the lashing out isn’t about me. I can’t say that it doesn’t hurt me or make me angry, and I can’t say that it doesn’t still make my heart rate jump up to 120 and make me feel hot and lightheaded. But it no longer makes me feel like I have to kill myself, and it no longer stays with me for days or weeks. I can set it aside because, once I’ve calmed down, I know it’s not really about me.But I can’t let it go without saying something because silence is not something I do anymore. Silence is what lets people keep trampling over my boundaries and stepping on my toes and jabbing elbows into my ribcage like I don’t even really exist. I do exist, and I do have a voice.My blog is not everyone’s cup of tea, which is fine. If you don’t like it, if you don’t like me, feel free to click the little red X in the corner of your screen. No one’s stopping you. It’s okay if you want to unfollow me or never follow me in the first place. You can call me a bitch or an asshole, but don’t be upset when that doesn’t bother me–I say far worse things to myself every day, so your insults will need a lot of work if you want to hurt me with them. Just don’t assume that I’m going to pretend what you say helps when it doesn’t. Don’t assume that I will be silent in response to words that hurt.