After a while, I kinda got control of it, and I realized I could actually use this magical power. I didn't use it often, but when I did, wow. It was powerful. I got really good at being prepared for shitty situations with more shittiness. For someone who had always imagined after every conversation what I should have said, this was a revelation. Again, I used it at work, at school, and yes, even in my personal life. The better I knew someone, the more potent my dark magic could be.
Eventually though, this started to make me feel pretty horrible. Making people cry, while handy in certain situations, left me feeling sick.
Then one day I was playing with several kids in the 8 to 10 year old range, and one of the kids said something super mean to the other, and she started to cry. Not just cry, she sobbeduncontrollably. It broke my heart. I wanted to help her, so I took the mean girl aside and I told her that she had a choice, she could either give people a reason to smile, or a reason to cry, and she would have to live with the consequences either way. As the words came out of my mouth, I realized that message was actually for me. The message I delivered to this 10 year old girl who could not control herself and hurt her friend, was actually for me. A forty year old woman.
I realized that this magical power I had wielded so handily would have to be put away for good, no matter how awful the person I was dealing with seemed to be. I decided I would have to develop another kind of magic. I started slow and small, and man, I was not in any way good at it. Making people smile was not something I had ever really practiced, or cared about. But the first time it worked, it was huge.
I was at work. There was this woman there who walked around all the time with a scowl on her face, which seemed to be a foreshadowing event to what she might say to you when she approached. I had always avoided her at work, challenging though it was, as I ran all the service centers at my job and would occassionally break my employees and help customers.
One day, as I was walking across campus, I spotted her coming toward me, all grump and darkness, and I decided to be the opposite. I started skipping. I smiled brightly, and I called out to her as if I hadn't seen her in a long time, like it was so good to see her again. I even waved. BIG.
Unbelievably, magically, her whole demeanor changed. A smile, strange and bright, spread across her face, and she asked why I was in such a good mood. Okay, the smile was more like the beginning of a laugh, (when I skip I look a bit silly), but still, it was a smile, and I told her my mood was due to seeing her. Then, it happened. A genuine smile. It was quite wonderful.
After that, every time she saw me, she smiled and was quite pleasant. In fact, after a while, I couldn't help but smile when she came around. People would ask me why she was so nice to me. She started being a kind of ally at work when people were stupid. It was quite remarkable what one very simple interaction could do to an entire work relationship. After that, I worked in this way, very often over-shooting my goal with ridiculousness. After a few years, I got it down to a science. I focus on having a positive effect on everyone I come into contact with, if I can help it. Sometimes, I slip and don't quite make the goal, but still, this result fills me up and energizes me. This result actually feeds me.
While this story is simple, maybe even a bit boring, I believe it is important right now. We are surrounded by people who are trying to scare us into behaving horribly. We are being intimidated into inaction. We must not allow it. We must not let the horrendous behavior of the few influence us. I know it is not easy. Believe me. I am someone who is so good at being mean. I mean, I have skills that would make most people shudder. But I cannot allow someone to have that kind of control over me. I won't give in. I won't give up.
I have been talking with many people lately who want to hide, give up, or ignore what is going on. But this is not that time. This is the time to fight back. This is the time to muster all the strength we have and believe in each other, be there for each other, and not allow this awful hatred to take us. Hate spreads like a disease, but kindness and compassion is also quite contagious.
So if you only do one thing, be kinder to yourself. Treat yourself like you are the most important person in the world. This alone will make a difference.
After that, practice on others. After that, the world. This is no time to give up on humanity. This is the time to fight for it. Even if it is only showing greater love for yourself. Even if it is only not being so hard on yourself. It matters. You matter.
Please don't give up.