I’m angry, frustrated and upset about some comments that were made to me by a male friend this week. We’d been disagreeing and at odds recently, and he told me in a string of texts a few things that really stuck with me and were triggering given my current situation.
He accused me of treating him badly because he was a man.
First of all, that’s like accusing me of reverse sexism, which isn’t a thing. It’s just not. I was angry at the unreasonableness of the comment.
Then he went on to say that he feels like my court case and my job have changed me (implication was that it wasn’t a change for the better).
I didn’t read everything else in the texts. I deleted them because I wanted to scream and was triggered.
Of COURSE my highly prolonged, extremely traumatic, family law case has changed me. It would be miraculous to the point of ridiculous impossibility for an experience as stressful and difficult as facing my abuser in court, fighting for custody of my kids and being re-traumatized by the legal system over and over, not to impact me.
When I’m struggling, when I’m having a difficult week, it’s even more important for people in my life to be more gentle with me, more understanding and more patient. Because when I’m dealing with my court case (and thus my ex), I’m triggered. I feel vulnerable. I’m not always as kind as usual. I’m impatient and irritable, and it’s rarely to do with the people who I care about. Memories from the past and feeling tones from the past are driving me. I’m more suspicious, less trusting and more wary. I need space, time and comfort in order to ground myself. The court case changes me, and I need help from my friends (not their judgment) to get back onto the path to kindness and safety.
My job has changed me too. It has changed me immensely and completely and wonderfully. Working in a feminist organization, helping women and learning from women has helped me grow and gain confidence. Over the years I’ve been working there, I’ve slowly and painstakingly gained back some of the self confidence I had lost during years of abuse, self hatred and isolation. My job has changed me, as I’ve learned a greater appreciation for my own privilege, and a greater respect and depth of understanding and empathy towards the many faceted situations of others.
Feminism is important to me, because without feminism I might not be alive today.
Does that mean that I hate men? Of course not! I hate the patriarchy and white supremacy and heteronormativity and ableism and cis-sexism and sexism and inequality.
And I hate folks who I have to justify this to.
I don’t exist merely as a sexual object for others. I don’t exist merely to uphold systems of privilege without question. I don’t exist merely to please others. Feminism helps me believe that I am worthy of so much more than that. Feminism empowers me and gives me strength and a path towards a meaningful purpose to my life.
A life that, a few short years ago, I considered meaningless and worth ending.
I wouldn’t change this about myself. I wouldn’t want to go back in time and not have this job. I love what I’ve gained from it and I love myself more than I have in years because of the sense of community I’ve gained from feminist allies. I think that not working, and not being able to work outside the home, was an aspect of the abusive environment within my marriage. For that reason, I celebrate my new abilities, my ability to work and my ability to have a greater purpose. I don’t take my ability to work for granted, because I worked hard in recovery to achieve this.
I have changed. I will keep changing.
And I won’t apologize for it to anyone.