CW: Suicidal Ideation
Today, my husband and I had an argument. As a therapist, he is very passionate about invalidating language. The argument was sparked by me stating that a character in an anime who was assaulting another character had “anger issues.” Within the context of that argument, I discovered that I had internalized ableism.
I was wrong, and I felt terrible about it.
But then as we continued to talk, we went into my feelings of terror and fear of rejection and anger at being called out for invalidating the anger of the character. It didn’t matter that she was a fictional person; it mattered that this was something I did without being aware of it, echoing the invalidating language I grew up with.
And it dawned on me that up until Michael and I met and married, I was not allowed to be wrong.
It was not safe to be wrong.
It was not okay to admit to being wrong.
I grew up in an authoritarian household where my parents’ thoughts and opinions were absolute, and anything that didn’t agree with what they said and thought, especially my father, was wrong, and was punished. Sometimes the punishment was physical, but many times, it was emotional. The utter rejection for daring to voice an opinion that was not in lockstep with the “elders” was brutal and cold. Being cast out when one is already an outcast and has only family for company is a cold, lonely place.
In talking with Michael, I realized that I finally, after all of this time, have a safe space to be wrong. I have a space to fully discover and articulate my emotions and separate them from the judgments I’ve made.
This feeling of freedom is one I only ever thought I would experience if I ended my life. I only ever wanted the pain to stop, to stop feeling guilt for existing, to stop feeling guilt for making mistakes, to stop destroying myself to please other people.
I’m just about to turn 42, and it feels like my life is actually beginning.
I am free.