A friend of mine wanted to know:
Tell me about a time you failed, what you learned, and why it was okay.
I failed to stand up for my Korean friend in junior high when she was bullied and pushed around by a bunch of assholes.
I learned that if I am not constantly pushing myself, my cowardice will win.
It wasn’t ok. I failed. She was harassed, and I didn’t help her.
I failed to yell at an abusive boss at work when he unleashed blatant misogyny all over me. I failed to yell at a newspaper about what happened, I failed to scream at the local union to defend me, and I failed to be heard by people who insisted they could hear me.
I learned that I am the only person who will stand up for myself, and if I choose not to, exactly fucknothing will be fixed.
It wasn’t ok. I lost something that I cared about and am still mourning. I worry every day that I won’t be able to scream loudly enough, that even if I do, my screams won’t matter, and I’ll just die unheard and trampled.
I failed to serve perfect food to my family, like a whole bunch of times.
I learned that partially uncooked potatoes are bad no matter how drunk you are, I learned that I am the only person in my family who likes bleu cheese (what the fuck?), I learned that it doesn’t matter how much everyone else loves your desserts because nope across all of it, and I learned that maybe in our house, mom is the chef and I just have to accept that.
It wasn’t ok; I love food and I like making people happy with what I feed them. My family also loves food and they should also fucking love what I make every single fucking time no fucking exceptions EAT THE BLEU CHEESE WHAT THE ACTUAL UNBRIDLED FUCK IT’S DELICIOUS. Ugh.
I failed to walk away when someone hurt me. I stayed and yelled back and didn’t give up and got angry and made it worse.
I learned that sometimes people will hurt me and I can’t make them take responsibility for it. I learned that sometimes I have to just walk away and carry my hurt on my own, with me, because they don’t care. I learned that I am good at carrying hurt and good at not needing to forgive and good at being me even when the world wants me smaller.
It wasn’t ok. I lost and what I lost wasn’t even real and that real abyss over a fake loss continues to haunt me in my happiest moments, and I may never go unghosted.
I can’t stand before my utter failures and say that they were ok. None of them were. They were failures, and maybe another one of mine is that I haven’t learned to love my failures. I hate all of them, every unscabbed dribbling wound of reminders that trickles across each freshly birthed attempt regardless of hope.
But, I am ok. I am my failures, my scars and my still-dribbling wounds and my constant-rebuttal faults, and I am ok. I think what that means is that I get my battles and even though I hate fighting, I love too much to not engage. I love the untainted bits of me that insist on shining when nothing else does, I love the people that slide into my life like sun that never burns and light that never wanes and luck that isn’t fickle. I love that my failures will roll when the quiet is just right, and let me see their soft furried underbelly, the care that lets me hate the wound as thoroughly as I do. So, I’ll carry my failures, and I’ll wear the scars, and I’ll hate every crusty bandage that doesn’t work and every fight that leaves me mangled and every choked reminder that I am still a work in progress.
And I’ll love every minute of the sum total war because being in the siege means being alive, and I want every second.