Kick the Dog

Being honest about character flaws and vulnerabilities can be easier at some times than others. That’s been uncomfortable for me to think about because of the odd sense of pride I get from my lack of filters. The lack of filters, incidentally, that results in things like a public blog where I openly talk about my fears and feelings.

The realisation has come about as I thought about how to write about today’s topic.
There are plenty of unsavoury bits of who I am, like my natural arrogance, stubbornness, selfishness, etc that I can acknowledge without compunction. However, there are other parts of myself that are more difficult to open up about.
The one I want to talk about today is my warped sense of how others should treat me.

See, I’m very, very confident. Probably over-confident. I also take care to spend time alone, and do what I can to show love to myself. Regardless, while my insecurity has improved in the 4-6 years I’ve been working on it, there are still some fears and attitudes I have that don’t reflect a sense of self-love.

I’m currently worrying about the way I allowed people to disrespect me after coming out. My parents, for example, still do not call me by my real name, and while they’ve tried to stop using pronouns with me altogether, they still misgender me occasionally.
I’ve decided to be patient with them and give them time to adjust, but should I? Perhaps I should not be so permissive with people who are clearly not trying to accept me.

Still, they are family.
In that case, what happens with people who are not family? With friends who behave in a similar way?

It was easy for me to cut out of my life every person who outright told me they would never accept me, but there are plenty of friends who fall somewhere in the grey area between that rejection and active support of who I am.
Some of them clearly feel uncomfortable using my real name, but use it occasionally, and do their best to go for the right pronouns. Others do not seem to accept me ideologically but still use my name without a problem, and have adjusted the way they behave around me. Then there are those who are less supportive than either of the previous.

Is any of this acceptable?

Every time I ask this to online friends, I get a loud and clear “NO!” regarding the majority of these cases. The people that genuinely do their best get a little leeway from those online friends.
However, I’ve never listened to that advice before, as I always rationalised it away. “They don’t know my friends… my friends do other stuff to make up for it… it’s not their fault they were taught these hateful beliefs…

I never listened to the advice… until now.

Maybe it’s down to over a year having passed from the day I came out and went full-time, but for whatever reason, lately I’ve had a lot less patience for anyone who does anything different from fully supporting my identity.

After 12+ months of hearing everyone call me by my real name and use the proper pronouns, I’ve lost a lot of my patience for being misgendered, as I’ve had to deal with it less and less often.

I feel like a dog that’s been kicked all their life.

For all that I talk about loving myself and being a bit arrogant, I think I actually have terrible self-esteem in the context of how little respect I demand from people close to me.

Just like a dog that’s been beaten and abused for years and years, a part of me has grown used to the abuse, and has even started to think it’s somehow deserved. When the unacceptable behaviour comes from strangers I get instantly furious and aggressive, but from people I care about I just lie down and try not to whimper as I get kicked more and more.

Regardless of being able to occasionally acknowledge the problem, I still have trouble doing anything about it. Sometimes I wish I could act like the people online who advise me to tell those “friends” to go fuck themselves if they continue to refuse to treat me better. A little voice whispers to me that friends who don’t respect me enough to even use my real name aren’t worth having, but then my insecurity and doubts and weakness come in and insist that we need to be patient, that it would make me a bad friend to impose my beliefs over someone in an ultimatum, that I need to show more grace, and so on.

I have listened to the insecure side of me for the past year, but I’m starting to get sick of it. I want to demand respect, and to stop surrounding myself with people who won’t stop behaving or speaking in a way that makes me want to come home and cry alone. But then I imagine telling them: “I demand to be treated with respect or I’m out,” and then hearing them choose to lose my friendship rather than change.

What then?

The very thought of that level of rejection makes me sick to my stomach, and I lose all the certainty I previously felt.

I don’t want to go on like this.

I wish everyone in my life cared enough to treat me in a way that made me feel loved and respected, but I also feel afraid to do anything about it. Here’s what it comes down to: I am terrified of being alone. As much as I enjoy solitude, I’m absolutely petrified of ending up without a friend in the world.

Isn’t this a ridiculous thing to say for someone who came out of the closet and told a couple dozen people to get lost in the process?

Still. It was easier with someone who was distant, or a close friend who was completely horrid to me. I feel terrified when faced with the idea of willingly turning away someone who seemingly cares for me, who might have gotten better with time, who maybe didn’t deserve to be abandoned by me.

I suck at goodbyes, and I apparently don’t love myself enough to demand real love from the people I call friends.

Someone recently has shown me a lot of love. (They’re probably reading this post right now so “hi!” 😛 )

It’s been completely unexpected. Not because their past behaviour has been bad, mind you, but rather because a dog that’s been kicked all their life will get confused if someone suddenly starts speaking kindly to them, and patting them softly.

My insecurity has fed into a vicious cycle where I feel so insecure that I allow others to treat me in ways that are not acceptable; I get used to being treated that way and it makes my insecurity worse, which leads to being treated in a worse way; then I get used to that treatment and, well, it goes on and on like that.

The only way to break that cycle is to remember you are a human being worthy of real love and respect, but that is hard as hell to do when you’re stuck in that self-hating mentality.

The immense kindness shown to me by this person has been like a breath of fresh air. For the first time in a while, I’ve remembered what it feels like to actually be treated with dignity, and it makes me feel sad and ashamed.
In part because the insecure side of me keeps whispering I don’t deserve this love, and partly because I am seeing the pathetic way I’ve allowed others to treat me for what it is.

For all my talk, I still can’t make up my mind to do anything about it.

I could write a message to the people I feel disrespected by, bring it up next time I see them, or I could just keep quiet and hope it’ll get better.

I know what the right choice would be, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Simply wishing for things to get better is worthless, but I still wish I could respect and love myself enough to demand nothing less than the best treatment from others.
Isn’t that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever read?


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