Yet as I culled through my things this past month, there’s a lot of items that didn’t make the final cut. Obviously the big furniture - mattress, couch, bar stools, bedroom mirror - were donated as they don’t fit into my car. Anything easily replaceable - dishes, cookware, lamps - also went the way of Goodwill with a hope that others will benefit.
When time finally came to pack I even got a bit brutal with the selection. Clothing I liked but didn’t fit the aesthetic I prefer? Donated. Items being saved for “just in case”? Gone. Things I bought with good intentions but didn’t ever use? Thank you for the thought and out the door they go.
But as I sit here in my makeshift bed on my floor - basically pillows and a blanket - I realize that there are some much larger items - ginormous stuff - that I also decided not to take with me.
My tolerance for toxic people
Tolerance is this concept that we try to be accepting of others whose ideas, traditions, values, beliefs, or behaviors, are different from our own. However somewhere along the way, I was taught that tolerance also meant to put up with people who are rude, crass, bigoted, racist, homophobic, etc. The notion - as it was explained to me - was that I could lead by example, but couldn’t change someone. And sometimes “you just have to" suffer thru having such people around.
It was as though my feelings on their behavior didn’t matter. That my horror at their harmful natures, was to be suppressed so I could be the “bigger” person. “They are who they are” was the general consensus, “and we just have to endure and carry on”.
While that may sound a bit innocuous, the reality of accepting that people “are who they are”led me to feel that I was condoning the behavior. Situations arose in which I was even bullied and abused by those who thought taking advantage of others was their right. And at one point as a young adult, when I tried to get help, I was told it was MY FAULT that I somehow TRIGGERED others to behave badly. If I could somehow be more accommodating, submissive, or better at serving them, then they wouldn’t “have to” punish me.
That’s a disturbing thought.
And as much as I would love to say that my experiences were isolated and uncommon, sadly, that is not the case. We live in a society that shames the victims, and puts all the obligation on them to become smaller versions of themselves so they are “not the target”. We also instruct them to help the abuser change into a better person as though this is the victim’s responsibility. Or even worse, we suggest they forgive the bullies who harm them because "something in the perpetrator’s past” caused them to be this way. Oddly enough, nowhere is the wrongdoer held accountable for their actions.
But I call bunk. And after the events of the past few years have drawn to a close, I finally have the strength to say I have a zero tolerance policy for toxic punks. I have no intention of condoning abusive behavior ever again. And whether I use my voice to stand up to them, or simply remove their access to my life, such people are not coming with me into this next chapter of mine.
My fear of the worst case scenario
Once upon a time, I wasn’t exactly fearless, but I was pretty damn courageous. Not much could phase me. Need work? I was smart, willing to learn, and I could talk my way into most jobs. Move cities and know no one? Five minutes after arriving somewhere I guarantee I could make some friends, and have the inside scoop on the best social scene. No idea what to do next? No problem - I assumed everything was figure-out-able.
But then came the pandemic - and it hit me like a piano dropped from a sky scraper because I had no idea it was coming. Sure I heard rumblings of something or other - but I thought it was the usual new strain of flu that cropped up every season. So when the world shut down, and suddenly we were all confined to homes, with no money coming in, and nowhere to go if I couldn’t make it on my own, I literally lost my marbles.
One night I found myself sobbing hysterically into my phone, alone on the little beach near my home, gasping for air as I frantically dialed my best friend. Although I was outside, I was convinced the entire planet was shrinking down around me, my claustrophobia in full force despite the space stretching uninhibited to the water.
“I will not die from something named after a bad beer!” I was hysterical into the phone. “I don’t even like or drink beer!” Now in this moment, I was completely healthy by the way. But as I watched the world shut down, saw videos of empty shelves and people behaving badly to get necessities, I truly thought I was stuck in a nightmare of a dystopian society.
I had hit rock bottom - or at least I thought so. But flash forward a year, and I had relocated to an area a bit more open even though the pandemic was not yet declared over. I was determined to rebuild and then…I was targeted by a narcissistic psychopath who ingratiated himself into my world and destroyed what I had left.
This was worse than the pandemic. The world lost it’s color and I lost my sense of self. Breathing seemed to take effort some days. Getting out of bed was a monumental task. I felt like a hollowed shell of my previous vibrant spirit. Was this a descent into madness? I began to wonder if I would ever feel my connection to the world again.
Eventually I broke free from that situation, thanks to the love of friends who encouraged me to never give up on myself. But still I felt anxious. First the pandemic, then this? What possible hell was waiting out there next for me? Making decisions felt terrifying, because I became afraid of my own choices.
I felt this way until one morning, as I wrote out my gratitudes (a practice I have had for years), I realized this simple truth:
The worst case scenario that could happen is…
And I haven’t died yet.
That means that I still have positive choices I can make every day to better myself, my life, and the world around me. So the fear of the worst case scenario? Yep, that’s not being packed up to take with me ever again.
I’ve spent my whole life angryAF. Which may surprise a lot of you who know me. Because I’m a pretty happy human on the outside AND genuinely peacefully joyful on the inside. But here’s the wonderful yet funny thing about being human:
You can be TWO (or more) things at once.
So while I am totally the girl who loves the world, tiptoes thru the tulips, sees mermaid highways in sparkly water, and adores humanity, I was also
All the bloody time
And absolutely aghast at the prospect of anybody knowing. Practically paralyzed with alarm at what might happen if I unleashed all this fury of mine.
It had built up over the years, creeping into my bones, fueling my hyperactivity to the point where sleep constantly eluded me. Closing my eyes led to nightmares in which I relived the very things that made me mad.
I had been taught that I wasn’t allowed to be upset. When bad things happened, I was told to forget them and move on. When I was hurt - emotionally, mentally, or physically - I was instructed to get over it. If I was wronged in some way, I should just overcome.
And although we all have little things that annoy us on our journey, it wasn’t these that grated on me, inciting the fires that licked at my soul. It was the big things, the scary ones, the moments I wasn’t permitted to discuss, and told I should simply “pretend” never happened, that pissed me off the worst.
Because I pretended so hard, so that I could be a ‘good girl”, that I finally forgot. Literally. I had gaps - huge blackout holes that spanned years - in my memory. Until they all started to flood back every time I closed my eyes. In technicolor gory detail. Along with the all the memories of the same people who had harmed me, instructing me to forget such things had ever happened. Or, they promised, the next time would be worse, and I would have no one to blame but myself.
The child part of me - who I suspect will forever live on - was sad when this happened. And terrified to close her eyes at night. But the grownup portion of me was beyond outraged. So here I was, a happy girl, loving the world, and bottling up all this anger. Nice girls, after all, don’t give in to rage, right?
You know that bestie I keep mentioning? I’m convinced the Universe brought her into my world as a gift. And even if she were to decide tomorrow not to be my friend anymore, the time we’ve already had together is priceless.
See she’s the one who finally showed me how to let my wrath dissipate safely so that I no longer felt like I was being eaten from the inside out. It happened a little over a year ago. During a conversation we had sitting outside with drinks.
She was visiting me for Thanksgiving. And she told me how scared she had been for me during the dark times. How she was so mad on my behalf over what had been done to me.
So I confessed. I told her how scared I was, not just of the situation, but at the anger I experienced. That I felt so afraid to let myself dive into these feelings, because I wasn’t sure if I would find my way back.
She looked at me for a moment. And then she said “You have every right to be angry. None of what was done to you was okay.”
I had a right to be angry? I don’t think anyone, ever, in my life, had spoken those words to me. Yet it would take me over a year to really understand how profoundly this conversation had hit the deepest part of my soul.
Her words, were like a flashlight guiding me back to my voice. To that part of me that wanted to speak up and say “This is wrong. Stop!” whenever something bad had happened in my life. And although I can’t go back in time and do that, I can let go of the worst anger of all:
The one in which I was pissed off at myself, for not being able to protect myself better.
It’s ok to get mad when shizzle happens. I can control my actions, words, thoughts, and perspective, but I can’t always control what happens to me or around me. I can however, speak up, remove myself from a situation now, and keep going - without having to pretend that everything is ok.
My bestie and I leave messages for each other daily. And when I tell her sometimes now about the rare moments when something gently pisses me off and I speak up, she says my favorite line:
“I love angry Tink!”
And then I laugh, and don’t have to hold on the the anger anymore. So I’m not taking that with me into this new adventure either.
With each new part of my journey, I find I let go a little more of that which no longer serves me. And in doing so I create space for hopes, dreams, passion, light and love. Fortunately, those will fit in the car too.
Have something to say? Feel free to comment below. Want to support Tink's writings? Click the Cashapp link here to become a patron of her work!
Tink, world traveler, positivity muse, and adult entertainer, has also freelance written for a number of companies as their ghostwriter. Now talking directly to YOU on this platform, she is also writing two books at her community's request.