Tough is one of my favorite adjectives. I love to ‘pretend’ I’m Ford tough. There is no better compliment to my ego then someone saying something to me along the lines of ‘you intimidate me’. I am notorious (although I have worked on it over the years) for mean mugging. A buddy named Ed who I used to hangout with a few years back, when I was just coming around to bettering myself, called me Mean Muggin Becca. He’d always point it out, tell me to smile a little, not look so miserable. I used to always get the resting bitch face meme’s or videos forwarded to me. In fact, in college, I had 20 points deducted from a final presentation I gave due to my mean and uninviting facial expressions during it.
Yet I ate it all up. It meant I was protected. You wouldn’t come near me and attempt to get to know me if I looked like a total bitch. Heart of gold under my sleeve, but I wouldn’t show you it, ever. Weak people show the world their weaknesses was my way of thinking back then.
It wasn’t until later, that I realized:
1. It was all an act (boy does my ego have a hard time keeping that in here without some wise ass comment to follow it up in hopes you won’t believe it).
2. By keeping ‘bad’ things at an arms distance, I kept ‘good’ things there too (Check out my blog for more detail on this topic (The word VULNERABLE is equivalent to the word CUNT).
3. It is hard to practice gratitude with a sour scorn on your face all the time.
4. It knocked my looks down a few notches, because a smile is nothing shy of sexy.
5. You are closed off to personal growth. How can you grow when you’re shielding yourself from the world?
Don’t get me wrong, it benefited me for a long time to be that way and may come in handy some day if someone tries to mug me- I at least got a decent right hook for them. But truth be told, it’s hard to live that way on a regular basis. I miss out on so many opportunities and experiences.
Since I have eased up on my ‘toughness’ over time, it means I have feelings when I have to be tough on others. It has made dishing out tough love a bitch. It pulls on my heart strings now and my emotions tell me to bailout. I don’t enjoy those feelings, the ones that bring out my vulnerability. You know the ones that cause you to doubt your decision and make you consider if you’re doing the right thing. You tell yourself that maybe you can just make this one exception and next time you’ll do it. Next time you’ll follow through with it. Lies we tell ourselves just to feel comfortable again.
I have found that anything that resonates with emotional pain from my past triggers the need to save or protect someone. It is like I am instantly thrown back in time and their current situation transforms into a past event of mine. I literal start running the tape through my mind and it is as if I am right there, back in time. I have to remind myself someone else’s experience is 100% different then mine. How they perceive the world is not how I do. How they interpret the world is not how I interpret the world. We may have similar lenses at times but they are individually molded to how we have seen the world over the years. Our experiences shape us until we shape them.
I always have to remind myself of those that have given tough love to me over the years. One of the biggest memories I have, which is probably going to be engraved in my memory bank forever, is when my mom and pops stopped inquiring about my day. I was 16 at the time and had anger seeping out of my pores. I was delinquent, had zero respect for them and their rules, selfish and cared only for my wants at the time. My parents finally had enough, as they should have, and stopped giving me anymore then the necessities one needs to give a child as a parent.
My mom stopped showing me her unconditional love (she later told me one, ‘she loved me but hated who I had become‘). She was always one to engage, ask stupid questions- what did you do today, who were you with, how did it make you feel, what was the best thing that happened to you today, what was something that went wrong, you know all the motherly questions one asks to try and get some kind of feedback from their too-cool-for-school adolescent daughter. I would come home after being gone all day, no contact since I had left that morning, if I had even come home the night before, walk through the door and no one greet me. I’d come down at night after hiding out in my room all evening on my phone and no one noticed I entered the premises. I was no longer notified when dinner was ready or was dinner waiting for me when I got home after missing curfew (nor should it have been, but you know how 16 year-olds feel entitled).
It rocked my world. It rocks it still when I think about it. I wish you could see in my mind right now because I’m instantly standing back in my parents kitchen (I can even see the old kitchen as my dad has remodeled it since). God it stings! And it should. I was an inconsiderate, self-centered douchebag. You see how my current reality of sitting on my bed, typing this right now was not what I just saw two seconds ago. I was literally right back there. The same thing happens right before I dish out tough love.
Now that I am older, no longer an inconsiderate, self-centered douche bag and have a daughter of my own, I can only imagine what that felt like for my mother. I wonder what memory that brought to the forefront when she was giving me that tough love. I salute her for not caving, for setting boundaries and for wanting more from me. I was capable of much more then what I was giving the world at that time and she knew it. She also knew it was no longer working in her life.
You see, tough love is not only for that person in hopes that by you no longer enabling, cosigning or providing an escape goat for them causes them to face their truth, but it is for themselves as well. They too have feelings in which they need to protect. They also need to do right by themselves and if you blame them for putting what is best for them ahead of your problems, you’re an inconsiderate, self-centered douche bag.
I also learned from that experience with my mom, as well as all the other tough love times others have handed to me, I wouldn’t have gained. Take a look at all of your experiences where someone has implemented tough love. If you’re like me, they have some serious weight in your life today. They are valuable lessons and experiences that you never would have gotten if you hadn’t been challenged. I don’t ever want someone to take those away from me, thus I can’t take them away from others. And as much as tough love is a bitch sometimes, I wouldn’t be doing those I love and care about, which includes myself, a favor. So I remind myself of that today and on any other day where tough love is the only kind of love I can offer at that very moment. I just hope at some point they look back and recognize it for what it is, but that’s not for me to decide, it is for their own personal lenses to see.
Toodles, Becca Jane 🙂