Today’s guest post is written by Ania Bula of Alex and Ania and is published with permission.
It’s been almost a month since that last fight, and I still find myself processing. Why? What was so different about this time versus every other one?
Was it because the first half of the visit went so well? Because I thought we were finally starting to understand one another and come to some sort of truce. Was it all because deep down I still foolishly believe that things could change?
I don’t know.
But I do know the phrase that has landed like a barbed arrow in my heart: “You and mom are both, prone to exaggeration”
Prone to exaggeration.
I haven’t been able to get those words out of my head.
It was in hearing them spoken by you in this context that I realized that I had been hearing them my whole life.
“You’re exaggerating, the pain isn’t actually that bad.”
“Stop exaggerating, the teachers would stop things before they got that far.”
“Quit exaggerating, lots of women find other women attractive, that doesn’t mean you’re bi.”
“If you’re doing so well in class, how come you’re average is only in the 80s”
“You can’t be ADHD, you’re just lazy.”
I’ve also heard those words said to others:
There isn’t that much racism out there.
The police aren’t that bad.
Sexism isn’t that rampant.
We don’t live in a rape culture.
The easiest way to discredit victims is to claim they are just exaggerating. What’s been happening isn’t abuse. It’s just that you have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. You always did like being the center of attention. You’re just making it seem worse than it is.
How much of my life did I spend afraid to say anything because people would think I was exaggerating? Is that why I stayed with that boss so long? Because I figured that things were only that bad in my head. Is that why it took so long to come to terms with the fact that what that doctor did was assault? Is that why I am still afraid to consider myself a non-binary woman?
All because I’m afraid of exaggerating.