Life isn't a fairytale.
No, I'm not talking about the movie starring Fantasia Barrino, I'm making a general statement.
I wish that my life was a fairytale sometimes. You know the type, a prince is born but a curse is put upon him and he's put into the body of a female, spends his life trying to break the curse only to find true love and once that happens everything that follows is all sunshine, rainbows, bunnies, ponies and happy Disney music. I wish the smile that I give to people was always easy and carefree, that it wasn't forced, but unfortunately, that isn't the case. The fact is there are moments when I have to force myself to smile, days when I honestly don't want to talk to anyone, when the memories and the pain get to be too much and honestly I just can't be "The Vickster," I can only be "Vic."
And that's okay.
It took me a while to realize that it's not my job to make sure that everyone is always happy and smiling. It's not my job to ensure that someone is content with their life. Not unless they're my child, and even then it's only my job to take care of them. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. So I don't have to stress myself out in order to try and make sure that everyone around me is always happy and smiling, though I've dedicated my life to that end.
I guess the biggest thing that brought about this truth was the moment that I realized that there are certain relationships, partnerships and friendships where I'm doing the giving but none of the receiving. I finally realized that in these scenarios my "selfless, self-sacrificing and giving nature" are being taken advantage of (my therapist's words). That I am there for people for the good and the bad but there are those who aren't there for me for the bad but expect to be around for the good.
Honestly, I'm used to it. My biologicals were that way. If something was unpleasant or difficult or at all emotionally taxing, I was told to "pray about it" and then summarily stop talking about it. I spent my life taking all of the bad shit and collecting it in a jar and then shoving that jar into a safe, shutting that safe and burying it in the back of my mind.
Unfortunately, when you're in therapy your therapist takes an almost sadistic pleasure in digging up all of those safes and opening them and breaking open the jars to make you deal with all of the bad shit. It makes for an emotionally raw, mentally exhausted person. If you're anything like me, after every session, especially if it's a good session, you feel drained and bruised and you don't want to be around anyone and if you are around someone you don't want to talk.
Then there are times when you need to talk. When you need to know who is still behind you, still supporting you, still encouraging you to keep going forward. Those people are the ones who will be with you when you finish your journey. They're the ones who will be there at the end and will share in your joy, your triumphs, and have the opportunity to see the finished project, the amazing you that you will become.
It's hard. It's really hard.
It's hard to watch someone that you know and care about relive the pain and the heartache, the grief of their past. It's hard to feel helpless as your loved one suffers or to even hear about their suffering. I know. But the thing is, life isn't a fairytale. You can't tell someone that you're their friend, that you love them and then cut out at the first sign of trouble, or duck out the first time a dark cloud covers up the sun. It's not realistic when you're trying to have a relationship with someone.
Life isn't a fairytale. Not for most people. For some people it is.
Not for me.
And I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with those who've never had a storm touch their lives before. I wish that I could protect all of my loved ones from that, but at the same time, I'm very aware that my relationship with those who can't handle, won't handle, can't understand, won't understand or refuse to understand, is completely different than the one I have with those who can ride out the storm with me until the sun starts to shine again.
So, as I honored my daughter Vivianna the past two weeks and reconnected with my other daughter, the one of my heart, I realized that in the grand scheme of things I have to look out for me. I have a duty to myself, to Catrina, to Vivianna and to any other children I may have to make sure that the people in my life aren't fair-weather friends. That if they're in my life they're either a root to my tree or a branch trying to grow into a root. I don't need leaves that blow away when the winds get a little too rough because the fact is, being black, transgender and gay pretty much guarantees that the wind is always blowing. Adding the "disabled Army Vet," Messianic Jew, childhood trauma, deceased fiance, being disowned by the biological family, abuse and history of violence, you're pretty much guaranteed a bumpy ride. The thing is, I know that the great hell I went through is only going to lead to a great future. An awesome future.
A fucking bright future.
There may be rainbows, ponies, bunnies and sunshine in my future, as a matter of fact I'm counting on it, the thing is, you can't get rainbows without rain, the sun doesn't shine every day, ponies grow up to become horses, and bunnies die. And no, I'm not trying to be morbid, but I am being realistic.
And yes, I know, sometimes it's nice to escape reality. It's why I write. It's why I write HEAs, because I need that myself. All of my stuff may not be fluff but it's all HEA, even if the HEA is unconventional.
But this isn't about my writing, this is about my life. My life is real, my life is hard and tough. Most people's lives are hard and tough but we have relationships with people, we forge friendships so that we have someone to turn to when things get hard and tough. Someone to encourage us to keep going. Someone to help pull us through if need be. Someone to speak a kind word in the darkness. Someone to save us when we want to give up and fade away.
The thing is, you can't turn to fair-weather friends or fair-weather relationships/partnerships when you need those things. You can't call those people up or email them and say "Having a hard day today, can you talk?" Those are not the people who you share the bad with, and sooner or later they stop being the ones that you share the good with as well.
And yes, I'm sort of rambling or talking in circles, but this is all stuff that I've finally come to realize. After over 20 years of hell and bullshit, I'm finally deciding to make sure that the people that I lean on are strong enough for me to do so. That the people I take with me are the ones willing to walk the journey. I won't keep chasing after people to like me or to love me. Acceptance, being loved, being liked, being appreciated are all good things. Having someone want to take care of you just like you want to take care of them is fulfilling and satisfying, it's awesome, but you know what? I'd rather be alone than to deal with someone else's bullshit and be used and taken advantage of.
I accept myself. I love myself. Hell, I even like myself. It's nice when I get those things from other people, it's awesome, but my life no longer revolves around it.
It took me 20 some odd years to realize that I can't have a relationship with someone, any kind of relationship, if I'm the only one giving and if they can't be counted on to stick it out with me when times get tough. It took a long conversation this morning for me to come to the understanding that I was holding onto an image of relationships that existed for me, but didn't really exist for the other person(s) and it's not doing me any good to keep doing that.
So, life isn't a fairytale. It's more Grimm than Disney. More Grey's Anatomy than Scrubs. More One Life to Live than Once Upon A Time. And for me more Glee than High School Musical.
There's bullshit that comes. But with that bullshit comes strength. With the fire that you go through you come out a diamond. When you go through the darkness you appreciate the light. When you survive the storm, you appreciate the rainbow. And when you make it through the night, you fall in love with the sun.
So I don't begrudge those who can't or won't be with me during the hard stuff. I'm not angry that they expect me to constantly give to them, be there for them, but that consideration isn't returned to me. It used to hurt me deeply, and no, I can't say that I'm 100% better just because I had an hour long conversation with another Army Vet who got it (thanks John from the VA), but now it just disappoints me. Now I shake my head at people and move them from one list to another, and with some, I remove them completely. It sucks. And it does make me a little sad, but it also eases a burden, relieves some of the weight from off of my shoulders and helps me walk the journey with a little less baggage than I had before.
I'm looking forward to the day when my life is more rainbows and bunnies, I am, but right now, I'm loving what I'm learning as I walk through the storm.
-Vicktor Aleksandr B