Tag Archives: Story Time

Dealing with the Holiday (and Special Occasion) Bullies/Blues

My heart goes out to all my friends struggling to find gratitude today for any reason.

To those of you especially who are being bullied and rejected by your own families because you don’t participate in the traditional slaughter, remember your worldwide vegan family is standing with you in spirit. You’re not alone today or any other day.

Holidays can bring out both the best and worst in people. Make a choice to stand with love, compassion, and gratitude.


I was once bullied and embarrassed at my own surprise birthday party by my mother, grandmother, and her side of the family because I wouldn’t eat the cake or meat and cheese sandwiches made just for me even though I had been vegan for years and this was nothing new.  According to them, it was a phase.

I was chastised for not eating even a single bite of cake.  How dare I be ungrateful and insulting to my family who worked so hard to surprise me with a birthday cake and food that I was unable to eat.  I was also told I had behaved so poorly and rudely because I ate a veggie sandwich right before the surprise happened even though, as the “surprise birthday party” would suggest, I did not know this was going to happen when I ate my veggie sandwich.

This is merely one of many examples of bullying I’ve experienced for my vegan choices from family and others.  The method of using guilt and public shaming as a tool to bend me into submission and get me to comply with what they wanted me to do, of course, did not work on me.  I did not bend. I did, however, develop even more of a bitter taste in my mouth for family and food bullies and birthdays and special occasions.

This event was not significantly worse or better than any of the others, but it was the event that made me start declining family functions from then on.  It wasn’t worth the shaming and tears.  I now avoid situations like holidays that would put me in a position to be targeted by bullying.  Maybe they’ve changed.  Maybe they haven’t.  It’s just not worth the depression and anxiety for me.  What’s done is done and now we live with the consequences of our choices.


Letting go is not the same as forgiveness.  I don’t have to forgive my family.  What they did was not okay and I never have to accept it as okay, but holding on to bitterness and pain only hurts me in the long run.  What’s that saying about holding a grudge lets people live rent free inside your head?  Each day, I feel like I get closer to my happy place.  I let go of the bitterness and the pain for me.  Not for them.

Gratitude

We stayed up late drinking Kombucha and raw coconut water and sampling holiday raw vegan Kandy Kale and watching the 90’s live action movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I remember I used to watch that movie (and the sequels) on repeat as a young kid and I would pretend that Leonardo was my boyfriend and we’d gang up on Raphael when he acted out. Mikie and Donny played ninja games with me and laughed with me like brothers.

I wanted to be a ninja too and have a ninja family with a wise ninja master as our father. I’d even live in the sewers to have that.

Maybe I wanted all that because my father, step mom, step brother, and step grandparents weren’t in my life anymore and I never got to meet my new sisters even though I talked to the older one when she was still in the womb.

Long story. Adults happened. My father, step mom, step brother, step grandparents, and two future sisters were gone from my life.

18 years of solitude later, we were reunited at a funeral. I’m grateful to have them back, even if we didn’t get to grow up together and even if they don’t carry around weapons on the back of their shells and scream “Cowabunga!!” But finally, I’m one of four.

The Human Experience – Evolution

They say jokingly that when you go vegan, you will start losing friends. It’s, sadly, a very true statement, but not necessarily because of the vegan thing. It’s an evolution thing. My friend loss was delayed for many years, as it so happens.

We are constantly evolving as people. Constantly growing and changing from day to day. The human experience is truly a beautiful thing.  Sometimes we resist and become stagnant.  Sometimes we face the struggle to accept the lesson and then grow.

Most of us don’t start out as vegan. We come to it because something is triggered in us… awakened. Whether it was for reasons of health or for the animals, generally most of us will come to realize that we stay vegan in the long run because “All Of The Above.”

The well-intended people who always followed what they were taught by their doctors and those convincing TV commercials preaching on the massive amounts of protein we need to survive (fear fear fear), those people might in time desire to turn their life around after a sobering health crisis. Those same formerly desensitized people may look back upon their clouded state and feel a preference for doing less harm in the Universe.

Awareness of the consequences of some actions leads to a caution for the consequences of other actions, especially after an unsettling life crisis. Why do more harm to others when it’s so easy to continue doing less harm to others and yourself simultaneously and enjoy the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle? It becomes so easy to have compassion and a consciousness of choices and their consequences.

People who come to it for animal advocacy reasons after seeing the horrific cruelty of the industry may also stumble upon the unintentional health benefits of cleaner eating. Although, just because something is vegan, that doesn’t make it automatically healthy. It is sometimes an accidental or unintentional transition to “All Of The Above” as time progresses.

We experience. We learn. We evolve. Or not. It’s a choice.

Near the beginning of 2014, I had a mental health crisis. I had been on anti-anxiety medication for a few years after coming out of a divorce with several toxic years of marriage. I can’t blame all of my anxiety and depression on the marriage though. I was also resolving many emotional issues from my colorful childhood. Other stories for other days.

My crisis came when I was weaning myself off the medications and realized that I had developed a chemical dependency on these medications which I took exactly as my doctor had directed. The more withdrawal side effects I experienced, the more I researched. The more I uncovered on these medications, the more they screamed “Danger!”

At the time I decided to go on the medications, I was close to not being able to function and was afraid of losing my job because of my inability to focus at work. I had panic attacks frequently. My marriage had been on the rocks and that was not helping matters. I wanted to give the marriage and my life a shot at succeeding and moving forward. For numerous reasons, I decided to try the medication. If it meant getting doped up for a little while to work on the issues, I was willing to risk it at that time.

Withdrawal hit me hard and lasted for several months with a controlled taper off. I worked through all of it and miraculously was not fired from my job. My personality had noticeably altered during that time. I would swing between crying fits, anger, yelling, giddiness, dizziness, panic, shaking, flu-like symptoms, and an inability to focus. It was not fun to say the least.

A lot of social damage happened during this time, as it usually does with mental health issues. During the withdrawal period, I documented my journey on social media as a way to also help others who were going through similar issues or dealing with loved ones who were struggling. I received surprising feedback from some people whom I thought were friends and also some surprising feedback from some people whom I previously thought weren’t that close or caring. People surprised me. Even in the fog of the withdrawal, I started to see others in a way I never had before.

Between my withdrawal updates, I also posted a few vegan awareness messages. Some were about the cruelty of the industry against animals and some were about the health benefits associated with the vegan lifestyle. Some were even about the environmental impact of going vegan. At that time, I had zero vegan friends. None. I was the only one I knew! I didn’t feel special. I felt alone and misunderstood in the midst of the world spinning around me. Literally… the withdrawal dizziness was awful.

My Standard American Diet (SAD) friends would argue with me about the vegan awareness posts constantly. It also became the only topic they would talk with me about in person. I had always defended, or rather, gotten defensive with my vegan lifestyle (or as my SAD friends called it, my “eating habits”). It hurt me how blind people could be about themselves and the animals and how the thick layers of cognitive dissonance persisted among those I cared about.

The playful teasing got worse and developed into frequent bullying. When someone gets defensive, it’s a bully magnet. When someone’s having a mental health crisis and is at their weakest and most vulnerable, increased bullying over their vegan lifestyle is REALLY. NOT. NICE. I didn’t help things by creating a giant target over my head with my defensiveness.

People would send me pictures of meat and say things like “mmmmm meat.” I had one person comment “bacon” on every single one of my posts, or if I had commented on a mutual friend’s post on a completely unrelated topic, the person would come around and comment “bacon” right underneath me. I also had someone “moo” at me. Yes, quite literally “MOO” at me… in the office… and other coworkers would laugh at me. It taught me to keep coworkers at a distance to protect myself, although my current place of employment does not tolerate behavior of this sort. I had a very old close friend make his own thread about why all vegans are angry which was dedicated to me. I kept trying to make them understand. I would argue. I would tell them they are being toxic and terrible people – hurting themselves and others. I would justify myself over and over trying to make them understand.

Towards the end of my withdrawal period and after 12 years of dealing with the teasing and poking and bullying, I finally snapped. I got mad and I got mean. I called people murderers and rapists and sick fucking idiots when they attacked me. I went on a blocking rampage and cut off the especially toxic people and repeat offenders. Then, I started blocking even the first time “bacon” commenters. Yes, I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms and a warped perception of reality, but even looking back on the situation with a clearer head now, I have some understanding and compassion for my former volatile self.

The dust settled within a few days. Suddenly, I felt calmer. I was okay. I am me. This is who I am and who I’ve been for a long time now. I don’t apologize for being me. I don’t argue against being me. Not anymore. I don’t beg for approval. If you don’t approve of me, fine. If you bully me, I’m not going to argue. I’m simply going to adopt the “have a nice life” attitude and walk away and not ever look back. Congratulations to me, I finally found my backbone.

This incident ended up being the catalyst for a complete social makeover. I stumbled upon the Vegan Friend Bomb on one of the vegan communities. I participated and instantly made 100 vegan friends. Holy rescued cows! I’ve never had vegan friends before. Now I don’t know how I ever managed without them. They are my rock. My soulmates. My sanity.

When the world seems so heartless and cruel, off to the internet I go to read what like-minded people are doing and thinking and I connect with them directly about issues that we all deal with each and every day. I was so alone before in thinking that I was the only person who thought this way, who lived this way, who experienced moral conflicts this way, who gave conscious energy to trying to evolve and become more aware every single day. Of course vegans aren’t perfect people. They are human too. It was still awesome to meet some compassionate people for a change.

After meeting these vegan people, the remaining non-vegan friends started falling into two distinct categories. Toxic and Tolerant. The Tolerants tolerated my vegan posts and some even got excited about them. They tried my recipes and asked me for transition tips. They would send me questions like “I have a new vegan coworker, what should I make them?” They were real friends. Good people.

The Toxics though… I never noticed how many of them I had collected until I saw the contrast of the more positive, passionate, and proactive vegan friends. I started noticing things like how certain friends never had anything nice to say ever about anyone or anything. They enjoyed complaining and ranting constantly and couldn’t wait to discover a new reason to be upset with others and the world. They got off on it and enjoyed their ignorance and lack of awareness through the peephole in their tiny claustrophobic reality.

I stepped back and realized, this is really not me. No… Correction: This may have been me in the past, or rather I was attracting them to me or attaching myself to them or they were fulfilling a certain need I was craving, but this is not me any longer. I don’t surround myself with gossip, complaining, manipulation, two-faced backstabbers, tantrums, martyrs, and constant self-inflicted and intentionally perpetuated drama. I need to heal. And this is poison.

I blocked several other people in this process. Not because they were anti-vegans or bullies, but because they were simply black holes of negative energy. Some had been around for a short time, but others, and this was somewhat conflicting for me, I had known for a very long time and had strong connections with in the past.

As I evolved rapidly during this time and growing more and more conscious and, well, happy, they were not evolving with me. Or at all. I left them behind long ago when they repeatedly planted themselves comfortably in their resistance and bitterness. I sent my love to the people we used to be and the experiences we shared. I let them go so I could keep growing in a positive direction and not get dragged into their dark turmoil.

I found confidence and happiness. I found self-acceptance, self-respect, and self-love. I was taking the next step in the recovery process and choosing my happy ending.

The human experience is truly a beautiful thing. We are faced with a choice every single day to either do the same stagnant thing while expecting a different result, or to evolve and make the changes for ourselves. I made hard choices.  And I did find that brighter tomorrow.

I will not compete for the affections of my partner.

I learned a lot from my failed eight year relationship/six year marriage, and I will never regret how it evolved me. Among the numerous lessons and growing opportunities, I learned that I will never again compete for the affections of my partner against anyone or anything. While I will never be able to prove or disprove a physical affair (not important), I can prove the emotional affair because of the behavioral backlash on the relationship. Both types of affairs are significant, if not more so (for me) being the affair of the heart.

Have you experienced how lonely it feels to be with someone who doesn’t want you? Wanting them… wanting them to want you. Unrequited affection… it’s fucking lonely! And when I look back, I wonder why I tolerated it for so long. If I’m honest with myself, the signs were all there. I was mistaken to forgive and overlook them.

The First AffairMasturbation.

I am not disparaging or blaming masturbation. Masturbation did not ignore me or neglect me. Masturbation didn’t work for only four hours a day and then jerk off until I got home from my ten hour work days. Masturbation didn’t discourage him from getting a full time job because he would have less time to enjoy himself. Masturbation didn’t absorb into video games or movies during my precious evening time and weekends. Masturbation didn’t push away my frequent advances and requests for affection.

He did that. Those were his actions and decisions. He also mentioned to me that he thinks about me when he does it. Really? How special does that makes me feel? You think about me when you whack off multiple times a day and ignore me completely when I’m home and available and wanting. Huh.

I argued with him about this for years on an off again even though it did get somewhat better over time. He called me controlling and jealous and immature. I called him neglectful and hurtful and selfish. Arguments ended in screaming, door slamming, tears, fists into walls, sleeping on the couch, and even sometimes packing. It nearly ended our relationship several times.

If I had more self-esteem, it would never have gone that far. I wanted to resolve and persevere to prove my adulthood successful after coming from a series of broken childhood homes. I did love him, but I resolved the relationship for the wrong reasons. He was already toxic for me and feeding my low self-esteem with reinforcement.

The Second Affair The First Love.

For my ex, his first love was not the same as his ex. In fact, they never dated. She was never interested in him. She was his first love though. They ran with the same crowds in high school, and that’s exactly where his adult psyche was stuck. In the stagnant fantasies of high school. This affair was not as conscious for my ex as his first affair had been.

When you get married young, it’s assumed that you eventually will grow, change, and evolve together through the years as a couple. Unresolved childhood damages may be well hidden for years along with any permanent immaturities.

He had always been an aspiring writer. I even allowed him to be a stay-at-home writer for a year to get his work off the ground. He wrote twenty minutes a day, if that, and not every day. He did end up finishing a first draft of a short novel and a script for a short play, however he never pursued publication for anything that he wrote and the drafts were left to gather dust.

Every piece he ever wrote was stuck in this universe called High School. If he did manage to write about adult characters or adult circumstances, the characters would still behave emotionally as if they were in high school. And there was always this one girl he wrote about. Constantly. Always the same girl with different names and faces. Up on a pedestal of perfection and worship. Or am I confusing that with obsession? Sometimes he would tell me that she was me. I found it hard to believe, as I did not have much in common with high school girls even when I was in high school. I would see the same girl over and over appear in his writing, but I could never see my face.

This was completely out of my control and there was nothing to fight against. All I could do was watch it progress. Was this about him not writing about me or not thinking of me as his muse? Absolutely not. This was about him having continued unresolved feelings about this specific girl from his past which just happened to make itself apparent in his writing. It merely put the pieces together of the odd behaviors and seemingly random comments. It was merely showing me his perspective.

When you continue to carry an active and attentive loving relationship all in your mind with a person who doesn’t know they are involved, your mind makes that real for you and it becomes your present. And when you devote time and energy on someone else in your mind, the person standing right in front of you wonders why they aren’t worthy of the same attention.

There was absolutely nothing I could do to fight for attention or affection against a person who didn’t even know she was involved in a romance that had never even happened in the first place. A high school friend of his was also obsessed with conducting an affair in his mind with the same girl from high school. She must have been one hell of a girl to have so many devoted fans. My ex did eventually resolve his feelings and ended his affair in his mind after seeing this friend’s behaviors which were much more exaggerated and quite disturbing due to brain chemical imbalances. My ex saw this play out and found his own perspective and inner peace. He was finally able to let it go and enjoy the present with the person standing right in front of him. For a time.

The Third AffairThe Coworker.

What a joyous day it was when I found him a full time job with benefits. Yes, I found it for him. To his credit, he nailed his interview and got the job. He trained hard, learned well, and moved up. He was proud of himself for his accomplishments. It made him happy. That made me happy seeing him happy. The money wasn’t great, but it was worth it for his happiness. I was so happy for his success and happiness, until he started staying late to “hang out.” And then “hang out” time became longer and longer.

He swears that nothing physical ever happened and I’m actually inclined to believe him. Not because I think he’s that honest of a person, but because of his history and comfort zone of romance being a mind game that he plays with himself as opposed to anything real or physical. Too much danger and vulnerability involved for him in the real deal.

This job required him to work on weekends and evenings. I had my usual day job during the regular business week. Our time together became precious and limited. As time went on, he stayed later and later. When I asked how his day was, he would tell me stories about this one particular coworker who was also married but seemingly unhappily so. She always had a story. She was zany and shocking and loud and opinionated in unpopular and unkind ways. She was also a very pretty woman. Both tall and thin. Her mixed race complexion was stunning. I understood why he was smitten with her. She was everything that I wasn’t. Or at least, that’s how he treated me.

She was also a smoker. He began taking smoke breaks with her constantly. He came home smelling of her perfume and cigarettes. How does a wife not make a comment when her husband comes home smelling like another woman… the same other woman… every single day. Of course, that was an immediate fight. He called me controlling and jealous and immature. I called him neglectful and hurtful and selfish. Arguments ended in screaming, door slamming, tears, fists into walls, sleeping on the couch, and even sometimes packing. It was getting close to the end of the marriage by then, but those are stories for other days.

The final straw for me was on Christmas Eve. His business closed early and we had a mutual friend drop by unexpectedly at the house. I said, my husband should be well on his way home by now since they closed early for the holiday. An hour went by and I started to worry. I called to see where he was and to let him know we had company. It just rang and then went to voicemail. His phone was on, but he wasn’t answering. I started to get concerned and embarrassed at an hour and a half. At two hours, I had a panic attack. At three, he finally showed up at home. The mutual friend saw that I was okay and promptly left after giving him an earful about communication and respect.

His story was that he left his phone at his desk and got caught up in the parking lot for three hours just hanging out with the holiday interns (all high school and college girls). I asked why he couldn’t simply call to tell me this by borrowing one of their phones and telling me that he’d be home late. How dare I suggest such a thing… I won’t bore you with the details of the fight, but it was obviously a big one. I had lost all respect for him at that point. This was just emotionally the last straw for me.

Reflection

Someone once told me that you are treated the way you allow yourself to be treated. My ex obviously had many redeeming qualities or else I wouldn’t have fallen for him in the first place or tried to make it work with him for eight years. No one is all good or all bad. However, I take responsibility for allowing any of this to happen to me in the first place. I learned many things about myself during this relationship including self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth. This story is merely highlighting the feelings of neglect and betrayal I had in the relationship and how it evolved and escalated to situations that I absolutely would not tolerate even with self-esteem issues. This is not an attack on him. This is all a reflection of me. I tolerated. I silently hurt. I forgave. I saw patterns and didn’t put my foot down. Things escalated. The rest is history.

What I am today is someone who will not tolerate being treated this way ever again. A love affair with a fear of intimacy, a love affair clinging to the fantasy of another person, or a love affair (be it intellectual, emotional, or physical) with another person, I won’t allow those in my life. I’m not saying these infatuations are bad for other people, but in my situation being in a committed relationship where I give my romantic attention only to my partner, this is entirely toxic to me.

I’m not out to force someone to love or respect me. If you pursue my partner, I will lose respect and trust for you. If my partner allows to be pursued or pursues another, then I will lose respect, trust, and love for my partner and the relationship will be over. I deserve a relationship of equals. I’m on this plane of existence. If I don’t jive with yours, then it’s not meant to be. Find someone you are compatible with. It’s only fair for all involved.

I will not compete for the affections of my partner. And, likewise, my partner will never have to compete for mine.