I don’t know, man. Y’all keep trying to tell me I’m well liked, and that stings more than all the other bullshit. I can take an insult, if you throw the same one at me a bunch of times, I won’t even feel it anymore. When they hurt, I spin out for an hour or so until I’ve worked my way through it and I can put it in whatever box it belongs. But when you’re nice to me, it feels especially cruel. Like you’re mocking me, tempting me to believe it just so its more devastating when you take it back. Underneath all the layers of winter clothes, you somehow find the bleeding wound, and I’m both embarrassed that you saw it and disappointed that you can’t stitch it right. The gauze just makes it hurt more.
Like when I was the bullied kid, and everyone told me I was ugly. I just got used to it, kept my head down, didn’t bother anyone, practiced suicide on the weekends. My own grandmother didn’t even lie, just bought me soaps for my acne. And then my mother would try to stop the tears with, “You’re beautiful, Ashley,” and I would cry harder, knowing she didn’t mean it and doubting whether anyone ever would. Because it was such an obvious lie, I knew I could never believe it.
People don’t like me. I don’t play by the rules. I express exactly what I feel and I expect people to be morally accountable for their actions at least as much as I try to be. I fight back when I believe that I’m right and I don’t let anyone tell me who to be. People don’t like me.
And that’s okay. They never have. Except the leaches, they love how easy I am to exploit, all passive and forgiving and quick to take responsibility for their flaws. People never liked me, so I became very nice. I’m still nice, until you’re ruining my life. My guess is that if I could be more assertive from the start, and draw better boundaries, people would stop running my life. But then I wouldn’t be as nice, and people still wouldn’t like me.
You don’t have to lie to me, is the point. Look, I won’t write those proposals I was gonna write. I’ll stop getting myself into trouble with unnecessary substances and awful men. I’ll give you most of what you want, but I’m keeping the things in my life that serve my hopes and dreams. I never had a shot, this year was supposed to be it, and I never even made it to the range. Too many traffic jams.
When I die in 30 years or so, I won’t regret doing sex work until I turn 32. I’ll regret not taking my shot. Six months ago, I woke up certain that I was gonna make it. Traffic is clearing up, I’m not fucking going home.
So I’ll stay out of your way if you stay out of mine. That’s fair, and you know it’s fair. Might does not make right. Don’t confuse power with moral authority, please. Fair is all the respect you’ll get from me. It should be all you need.