Hey, Bonita!

Proof is in the Healing

I don’t ever want to be seen as petty. And believe me, I had to work to gain that mindset after a lifetime of being the type who doesn’t let anything go. It was a reaction to feeling powerless—I had to do something to make my hater feel like they’d lost. I would tell every single person we knew in common that they’d done whatever horrible thing, thinking it made them look bad, only to realize a decade later that it just made me look gossipy and bitter. Half the time it still didn’t help because I had yet to learn the power of forgiveness and moving on. Something about that anger was energizing as well—that’s how I first got into running, actually. For a long time, I channeled my rage into becoming a better runner, and it worked. I eventually cut out intervals and got my 5Ks down to half an hour, all fueled by fury.  

I was putting my rage somewhere besides in my own head, but I still wasn’t actually dealing with anything. And it wasn’t just anger and resentment that had a hold on me, I was also incredibly depressed. I genuinely believed that bad things happened to me because that was my lot in the world, that I was somehow put on Earth to lose and to be treated poorly. I learned about the love lives of the ugliest fascist dictators in history, which validated my self-loathing. I can’t get someone to treat me right, but Hitler had three entire women commit suicide over his dumpy ass?!  

I’d been going to therapy at this point in my life, and I remember having a hard time making progress because this thought had become a belief. I “knew” in my heart that I was human garbage and that the world never intended to be generous or kind to me. This belief was so ingrained that I barely noticed when the opposite was true—I didn’t notice or even believe the amazing people who wanted to date me, and I didn’t understand the significance of my role in the community. I wrote an advice column while also volunteering and serving on various boards for various nonprofits, only ever shrugging when my parents expressed pride in my work. Everything was bad, so the good stuff couldn’t possibly be actually good, right?

Healing is like exercise: For weeks you are wobbling through your intervals and hoping that no one sees you stopping to breathe, until one day you finally notice that you just crushed 3.2 miles in half an hour. I genuinely can’t remember when I noticed that I was healing. I just started choosing what to stress out about, and I was more keen to find solutions for my problems than wallow in the misery of them. I started making moves towards my goals instead of just believing that I was not meant to achieve them. I stopped holding grudges, and I stopped requiring perpetrators to participate in my healing from the hurt they caused. It’s not about them; it’s about me, you know? Good people will listen and atone for their transgressions, and I don’t want to be around the people who wouldn’t.  

So when a dearly loved person in my life recently made a joke about something personal that I do not find particularly funny, I chose to talk to them about it because they are a good person who will listen to what makes that topic off-limits. They were empathetic and oh so kind, and they were apologetic for crossing that line. I thought about the Bonita of the past who would have loved to lay into that person and hammer away about how offended and affected she was by what happened. She would have required prostration and a freakin’ hair shirt before just accepting a simple apology, and all of that might not have even been enough. But this is now, and I love this person, and I know they love me, and also they didn’t know that this topic was upsetting for me. What grudge is there even to hold, really?

I don’t like the feeling of anger simmering in my gut. It gives me no energy; it helps me in no way. I don’t want jogging to be a thing that I inflict upon myself because I can’t let my anger go. I’ve gained a lot of weight, of course, and that’s fine. I’ve always been a baddie. I’m ready for swimsuit season, and I’m ready to love someone again. I can forgive any disappointments that dating may bring, and I am a pro at the numbers game. Whoever they are, I know they’re out there.

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