On words, tough love and the Friend Within
Reserve the smooth talkin’ for the one who deserves your smoothness the most
My dear friend,
The story I’m telling you today is long and has different parts to it, so I’ll divide it into chapters:
CHAPTER 1: THE IMAGINARY NOVEL WRITER.
About 7 years ago, I started writing a novel for teenagers. Which is SO EXCITING! And so fun!!
The story is all in my head. Complete. With characters and a full story. A beginning and an end.
The only roadblock I found is this: I really have no idea how to write a novel.
Especially in English!
I found it so extremely hard and daunting!
I wrote a bunch of ‘scenes’, but I could never get past the stage where, if my novel was a sweater I was knitting, there would be WAAAY more holes than an actual sweater.
(In fact, writing journals for the last 3 or 4 years, and my desire to “get good at writing in English” was largely in part because I wanted to understand the language before I attempted to write this novel that has been stuck in my head for so very long)
Anyways, you can find in my journals, many many little scenes and sketches and descriptions of people and places and conversations.
There is even this little drawing I made of the main characters and which has been following me, taped to the wall, for years and years:
CHAPTER 2: TOUGH LOVE VIA EMAIL.
A couple years ago, while I was already working on my novel, I was emailing my mentor and I made some bad joke about myself.
It was one of those jokes that, if you hear someone else saying it, it makes you kinda cringe, to be honest.
They call this “self-deprecating” humour. But I would also argue that is simply a covert way to be really mean to one’s self.
I suppose I grew up putting myself down without thinking about it too much.
Naturally, the people who felt most horrified when they heard me, are the people who love me.
The email I got back from my mentor was so very serious and stern and I had never heard him talking to me in such a severe tone.
In long paragraphs, he basically told me he didn’t want to hear me putting myself down ever again.
It might not seem much to most people, but I found it so very shocking! I felt kind of scolded or something.
I suppose, part of the shock was to realize that he was right, and that what I was doing is actually a self-hurting activity. It really is!
The world is tough enough. Do we really need to be talking negatively to ourselves?
Moreover, do we need to talk negatively ABOUT ourselves to other people?
ANSWER: No we don’t.
Still, when you feel like you disappointed someone you look up to, it very much makes you worry about what they will think of you.
It makes you kind of worry if they’ll see you differently from now on. So, this whole email conversation made me feel so dizzy with emotions.
I knew love was happening. Some kind of love.
BUT at the same time, just wondered…
…did I ruin something?
CHAPTER 3: THE LIFE THROUGH THE NOVEL
While looking through my journals, I found this little scene between my main characters, Sally and Robin:
SALLY AND ROBIN, CAFETERIA:
- I don’t know Robin. I mean. I am no expert. And I love you more than I can tell you with words. And still, it makes me really angry to hear you speak like that. You’re not a loser. You’re not a worm. And it sickens me it sickens me to hear you putting yourself down day in and day out. I really have a hard time stomaching it. There are lots of people dealing with the most horrific of circumstances right now. Out there. In the world. There are people being born in terrible conditions. People being abused, killed, diseased, imprisoned. Yes, your condition is challenging. But the way you speak to yourself about yourself is simply despicable. I would never speak to you that way! And you know why? Because I am your friend. Are you your own friend, Robin? Do you love yourself? Even a little? Because no matter how much I tell you that I love you would never be of any help. It will mean nothing. I think you better find a way to be your own friend, and to love yourself. Heck. Even if you could find a way to like yourself that would make things easier for you. And for us, the people who love you. Because never Robin, never, never ever ever ever do I want to hear you putting yourself down again. I won’t stick around someone who bullies my friend. Even if it’s you bullying yourself Robin. I’m done with that.
And with those words, Sally took her books off the table and left me there, sitting with the stupidest of expressions stretched all over my face, like the most cringe-inducing canvas your eyes have ever seen.
I felt like the most embarrassing sad clown.
What the hell did she mean?
I was just trying to be funny.
She walked to the door so fast that her hair made almost a parallel line with the ground from all her dramatic speed.
Oh Lordy. I was as hot as a barbecued hamburger from all the shame I felt.
Was she right?
I just hoped she wouldn’t stop loving me. Just from a stupid joke. Was she really going to stop loving me? Or liking me? Was she really?
I hope not.
This fear made me so dizzy I almost passed out from the buzz inside my head.
I nearly lost consciousness and faded into the universe of darkness. I nearly dropped dead from the screeching sounds inside my head. Everything was spinning and I felt I had to throw up a little.
I hope I didn’t go too far.
Dot’ talk to me, anyone.
I am not here.
I’m in outer space. Floating around. I hear nothing.
My heartbeat, maybe. And my own breathing.
I am ready to let go of all of this.
If Sally doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, I really have nothing. Nothing. Nothing to make me wanna stay attached to this stupid ugly planet.
Isn’t this interesting?
I was connecting the dots and looking at the dates when this was written.
I feel like Ani of the past was very transparently using the feelings she got from the email exchange with her mentor (and exaggerated them a little), in order to write this scene.
The message is clear:
WE CANNOT ALLOW OUR FRIENDS TO BULLY THEMSELVES!!!
NO WAY JOSE!!
AND WE CANNOT BULLY OURSELVES!!!!!
CHAPTER 4: THE YOGA STUDIO SECRETARY BULLYING THE YOGA STUDIO SECRETARY.
While this whole thing was happening, I went to a hot yoga class.
I came to the secretary and asked her some thing or another. She was trying to figure out some phone trouble she was having.
Since I had to wait for a little bit, she became all nervous and flustered, she covered the receiver with her hand and said: “Sorry to make you wait, I’m the worst at dealing with phones”.
I AM THE WORST AT DEALING WITH PHONES.
For some reason this sentence triggered me and made my belly hurt.
Was she putting herself down?
Is this what it looked like when I put myself down?
Is this what the Universe is trying to teach me?!
Thank you Universe! I understand now!!
- “No you are not the worst at dealing with phones! You’re doing a very good job! Phones are very difficult to understand these days!!!”
I pretty much yelled all these aggressive words of affirmation to her, because it made me cringe to see a beautiful soul going down the route of self-deprecation.
NOT ON MY WATCH SISTA!!!!
CHAPTER 5: THE FRIEND TEST.
All of this situation left me quite extremely aware and obsessed with the voice that goes inside my head.
But also the voice that goes outside myself, about myself.
Can we just learn to be better friends to ourselves?
The other day I found this little note I wrote on an envelope.
It’s a question, but it’s also a test:
Would you be the friend of someone who speaks to you the way you speak to yourself?
All I know, is that, yes, we must, we must learn to speak with more love to ourselves.
We are the closest friend we’ll ever have.
The closest person to us that will ever be!
We are our original, ultimate, undeniable BFF’s from birth till death!
So, yeah! That’s a first step.
And if you hear your friends being mean to themselves… kick’em in the butt!!!
With all your love!!
They need you!!
You can’t let them!
This text is so deep and at the same time so emotional and certain. It made me to think a lot about one friend that all the time is bullying and treating himself so bad >_<. I'm sending to him this link right now! Thanks for your lovely writing Ani <3
Think only good thoughts. Think positive. Self-care. Don't sweat the small stuff. Be kind to yourself. Healthy mind, healthy body.
Thank you Ani. <3