I came out today on Facebook.
As a rat owner.
And I should have done it sooner but I was scared of being judged. I was worried if someone made a nasty comment I would feel embarrassed. Then I realized that was stupid because someone being nasty toward me was a reflection on them, not me. And depending on how nasty it got, I’d just unfriend them anyway.
When I relayed my intentions during a phone call with my mother last night she asked me, “you’d disown a family member over that?” I told her it would likely be a different outcome if it was a family member, but for a so-called friend, sure. See, the way I look at it is if I’m talking about something I hold dear, like a pet, and you’re going to crap all over my excitement with a negative unsolicited opinion that serves no purpose other than to be hurtful, well, that doesn’t really make you a good friend, now does it? And I don’t need you in my life. Some people think just because they have the right to free speech they should exercise that right regardless of how it makes other people feel. I don’t agree. You don’t have to like the same things as other people do but you can, and should, be respectful when you’re around people who have views & likes contrary to your own.
Case in point regarding keeping one’s mouth shut but also standing by your convictions – I very rarely say things about smokers. I personally don’t care for them, not as people, but as a class of people. I think it’s a disgusting, unhealthy habit that infringes on other people’s rights to breathe clean air. For the most part I keep my opinions to myself, particularly because I have friends and family who smoke. However, new neighbors recently moved in and much to my disappointment, they are smokers. So I posted on my Facebook – “After a year of the place next door being empty there are new neighbors moving in today and wouldn’t you know it, they are smokers? Son of a bitch! How is it that only 20% of the population smokes but 100% of my neighbors do? &*#^*!@!(!!!! — feeling frustrated.” It’s annoying living next to smokers, you know? You can’t open your windows and enjoy fresh air because they are outside frequently to get their fix.
Anyway, in response to my status update, my SIL (Joe’s brother’s wife) posted about how it’s not fair that smokers’ rights are being taken away for what amounts to a bad habit. I could have ignored her rant, and in the past I likely would have because thanks to the way I was brought up, I avoid confrontation whenever possible. But all that has amounted to in my life is being treated like a doormat by other people, so I decided to respond back. I wasn’t mean or nasty but I explained why I feel the way I do and so forth. The sad part was that she responded about how she’s known 22 smokers who quit and died of cancer soon after quitting but since it wasn’t lung cancer it wasn’t caused by smoking (I’m paraphrasing, of course). She then went on to say we should focus on things that are proven to be harmful. OH. MY. GOD. I cannot believe there are still people out there who think smoking only causes lung cancer when it causes a host of cancers! If you’re going to smoke, fine, but at least be educated about what it can do to you! I sent my SIL a link to the CDC and she didn’t reply after that. I just hope to god that she and her husband aren’t smoking around their grandson because that is not cool.
Another example lately where I stood up for myself was again on Facebook (noticing a trend here?). I posted about Nougat passing away and an ex-boyfriend made a comment about him making good taco meat or something. I deleted his comment and sent him a private message that said – “I deleted your comment because it was rude, insensitive, and not the least bit amusing. I hope you think twice before acting like that again”. I was shaking because I was mad, but also because I was afraid of the reaction I’d get for standing up for myself. How sad is that? Shortly after my message he replied, “I’m sorry. Won’t happen again”.
So what’s the conclusion here? The world did not end when I stood up for myself and my convictions. I’m learning that communicating your feelings to someone doesn’t automatically result in that person becoming defensive and turning things around. That’s a revelation for me because in my immediate family you cannot express your feelings and ever just get an apology in return. The other person always turns it around and makes it about them. It’s exhausting and it’s refreshing to know it doesn’t have to be that way with everyone.