Last night a full-grown man hugged me so hard that I literally could not breathe. Yes, I said "literally", and I mean literally. There was so much pressure on my chest and throat that air could not get through. So much so, that I could not say, "Stop!" or "No!" All I could do was try to push him away.
Upon release, he laughed, grumbled, and drunkenly stumbled off into the night.
This was -- is a friend of mine.
In high school, my closest friend would greet me with a hearty punch, slap, or smack to the back or arm.
Before then, my "best friend for life" and her sister would throw me in their closet and hit me with a ruler if I tried to leave.
To this day, my mother and brother find the best way to get a message across is a swat, pull, punch, or kick.
I am aware I am not a punching bag. I am not deserving of this treatment. So, what I have to sort out now is... why I allow it and how I became convinced this was okay.
First, I will look at last night. Yes, I was unable to breathe, which is why this dude was able to choke-hold me. But I certainly could have put an end to our friendship there. Or, at very least, not texted him 20 minutes later making sure he got home safe and well. Being drunk is not excuse for a man to harm a girl, even if it is partially unintentional during a hug. On one hand, he had previously been discussing some heavy issues of his. He was talking about the internal pain he has, his suicide attempts, and his claim that I "could not possibly feel as much pain" as he does. Accurate or not, he was clearly clicked into an unhealthy and upsetting mindset. His sudden rage hug may have been due to this. It was his frustration and hurt, and I was the nearest stress ball. This all occurred to me in moments, which is why I let it go. Which is why I allowed such inappropriate treatment. Which is why I presume it will occur again eventually.
When I was in 10th grade, I moved to a new school. Immediately, I was an outcast. I was familiar with this role, I was hunky dory with it. The way I was treated was horrible, but I was able to grin and bear it. Grinning and bearing it has always been my expertise.
The first person to introduce herself and welcome me into her little nerd group was a girl who had been bullied her whole life, as well. She was the type who hardened up, due to this. She didn't take anything from anyone. People thought she was nuts... heck, I thought she was nuts. She would have rage fits and power trips. Our other group members were familiar with her ways, but they would call her out when she yelled at them or insulted them or smacked them on the back. I, of course, did not. I just bit my lip and made a joke. Our teacher once observed this and said, "You are the most calm and patient person I have ever seen." I took this as a compliment. It was, but it didn't solve my problem. Eventually, when my friend was done testing how long I would stick around and be loyal to her, she stopped insulting me. I wasn't gross or ugly anymore... not usually, at least. I got off the hook after 2-3 years of this. Not because I was strong and stood up for myself, just because she, for the most part, didn't feel the urge to do it anymore.
As for my childhood friend and her sister, well, that story speaks for itself. However, the reason I continued to go over her house and be "best buddies" with her was because she was the person I was supposed to be. All the adults in my family said she was who I should be more like. And I tried! I tried to focus in school and study and do better and make more friends... It didn't work, though. I couldn't will it to be. So, I continued to spend time around her. Time, I thought, would transform me into the perfect student and perfect daughter and perfect person. It just turned out to cause me to let her boss me around, make me misbehave, destroy my self-esteem, and get me beaten with a ruler in a dark closet. Don't worry, though, karma came around. Now she's in law school, living in Manhattan, and dating a dude who is doing good things with his life. If it makes you feel any better, he's pretty ugly. Maybe she'll fall off a mountain, eh? A girl can dream. (I assure you, I was going to use a much more horrible hypothetical, but I figured falling off a mountain would do the job for now.)
Anyway, these are just examples of what a chump I am. I can be an insanely weak fool. I couldn't tell you if people like me *need* to exist. I don't know that there have to be those of us who are the net to catch everyone who falls off the rope. In all honesty, though? Its never really bothered me. Not that I like being hurt and insulted, but I've come to accept my role in people's lives. I get a slight, weird pleasure from being so important to them, even if they don't know I am. I'm not always just the friend who listens to your problems and offers comfort or advice, I'm also that friend you can gain control over or just yell at and punch. At the end of the day, I'm healthy and alive, how I view myself is no longer going to lessen, and I am confident in my ability to maintain my dignity and self-respect throughout it and despite it, so why not? I don't deserve it, but I do allow it for their sake, for my own "self-importance". It's my special job and I'm pretty glad for it at this point. Is that so bad?