Midnight

***I generally do not feel that I need a content warning for my posts, but I think I do for this one. This contains an instance of sexual assault. If you don’t want to read about it please stop here. Also, if you’ve experienced any form of sexual assault, I’m so sorry. I love you and I’m here for you.***

It’s midnight and I present a project I have spent the entire semester on in the morning. I can’t sleep.

I’m not nervous about the presentation. Well, I am, but that’s not why I can’t sleep.

There’s a boy in my living room. 

This is normal. One of my roommates is a guy, but he has a friend over. I don’t want to use his real name, so I’ll call him Harry. 

Harry and I used to date. It was a horrible relationship. Manipulative, destructive, cruel.

It was freshman year of college when Harry and I started dating. We were friends with the same people, had similar interests, and even accidentally dressed in matching Halloween costumes. By the end of the night my Catwoman costume had Joker makeup all over it.


Photo by Josh Appel 

It started out well. I was his first kiss. He was my first sleepover. We slept, nothing else. 

We spent a lot of time together. My roommate was never home, so he’d stay over most nights, walk me to class in the mornings, walk me to lunch and dinner, walk me home at night. We’d spend every second we could together. 

He told me he loved me after three weeks together. It was too soon. I pretended I didn’t hear it. We hurt each other. 

After a few more weeks he said it again, and I said it back. We said “I love you” the way most people said “hello.”

We didn’t have sex, or at least the official, heterosexual-type sex, but we definitely made out and more.

One day, while we were making out and more, he said the wrong name. 

I honestly don’t remember this girl’s name anymore. After three years, it became irrelevant. Who she was was besides the point. 

I didn’t confront him then. I waited. Hours, or maybe days later, I asked him. 

He told me it was no big deal, that yes, he had feelings for her, but he was with me. It should’ve bothered me more. It didn’t. As long as he was happy. Why did it matter? It shouldn’t. Right? 

We moved on from that. 

We fought. A lot. Usually over nothing, just little things.


Photo by Kayla Harris

I wanted to get to know his friends. I wanted him to get to know mine. He didn’t like either of these ideas. 

Some nights, I wanted to hang out with my friends, he wanted me to hang out with him.

He wanted to be my everything. That shouldn’t be a bad thing, should it?

He hated one of my best friends. To be fair, this friend had admitted he was in love with me. I had turned him down, and we continued to be close friends. Harry despised this. He didn’t trust my friend, and he didn’t trust me with him.

On multiple occasions Harry told me that if I hung out with my friend it would make him want to kill himself. 

He just wanted my total affection. He just wanted me to be safe. Right? 

Our worst fights were typically over his neighbor. A giant, evil 18-year-old boy who had decided it was his mission to destroy Harry’s life. 


Photo by Pawel Janiak

Sometimes this boy, I think Harry called him Justin at one point, would threaten Harry’s brother. He would tell Harry that he would beat up his little brother if Harry didn’t send nudes to him. 

Other times, Justin was threatening Harry with a picture that looked like Harry’s dad running Justin over with his car. Conveniently, Justin’s dad owned a newspaper and would be perfectly happy to print this picture. The punishment for this one was usually Harry sucking Justin off.

My personal favorite punishment was Harry breaking up with me. It couldn’t just be on social media either, Justin would know, even though he lived an hour away and had no contacts on our campus as far as we knew.

None of these stories were true. I can’t explain why I believed them for so long. Looking back, they’re clearly lies, but I believed them. And because I loved him I would do anything to help him. 

Thankfully, I never sent anyone nude pictures of myself, or had to get one of his friends off, or anything in that realm. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve done those things if Harry had asked me. I’m glad I never did, but the possibility that I might’ve been willing to terrifies me.

His stories always scared me, but none terrified me as much as when “Justin” told him to kill himself.

Harry had depression. He had told me before that he tried to kill himself. I had been at that point as well, years before. We bonded over it. Our mutual self-destruction.

“Justin,” who at this point I don’t believe ever existed, had told Harry to kill himself. I don’t remember who this one was meant to protect. I don’t know that Harry ever gave me a real explanation. 

I did know that Harry needed some serious mental help. 

I told him to email the school psychologist. He always said he couldn’t go to a therapist because of money, but her services were free for students. I told him to send her an email and to talk to her or I couldn’t be with him anymore.

It was an ultimatum. Like I said, neither of us were good for that relationship.

He agreed. He said he’d email her that evening. We slept on our own for the first night in a while. 

The next day I asked and he told me that he had emailed her. I asked to see it, but he said he’d deleted it. 

He told me she had responded with something terrible and mean. She had called him a loser and told him to get over it. He had deleted that email as well though. It wasn’t even in his trash folder.

Even 18-year-old, gullible me had trouble believing this. 

So, I emailed her and wound up meeting with her myself. She told me that she had emailed him to see if he could meet, but never heard anything back. She was even able to show me the email. It didn’t say anything nasty.

I confronted Harry. It took every ounce of bravery I had, but I did it. I asked him why he had lied to me and why he wouldn’t just go see her. 

He ran away.

I found him pretty quickly. He was hiding behind a dumpster.


Photo by Jeremy Thomas

I demanded that he tell me what was going on. He confessed that he hadn’t emailed her because he was scared she would tell people. He didn’t want me to be upset with him, so he lied. Just a little lie. He had my best interests at heart. He only wanted to make things easier on me. Nothing bad about that, right?

I think it got easier for him to lie to me after that.

He told me that his father was abusing his mom, and that he wanted to protect her, but they couldn’t get out. His little brother had sided with his dad. 

He admitted that he never tried to kill himself.

This one hit me hard. I don’t know why he admitted it. Maybe he had a moment of remorse. I don’t know. I didn’t even yell at him. I didn’t know what to say.

All of a sudden it was summer and time to go home. I live three hours away from campus, four from his house, and I had never driven that far before. I didn’t know when I would see him.


Photo by Despo Potamou

I went to see him for my birthday. My parents bought me a hotel room in the city and a bus ticket out there as my present. We had a good time. He stayed in my hotel room, something my parents didn’t know, and we didn’t fight for the most part. He gave me a birthday present. It was sweet.

About a month later, he came to visit me. My parents loved him and even let him stay in the spare bedroom of their house for the weekend. There were rules he had to follow, like not going into my bedroom, but for the most part the rules were easy. 

I had made loads of plans for the weekend with him. One of my neighbors was having a party, and I had already agreed to go, so I just brought him with me. My neighbor was happy to meet him. He was not so happy to meet her. 

I don’t remember why, but he very much did not want to go. I promised him it would only be a few minutes, and I wouldn’t leave his side, but he only went because my mom insisted. He sulked the entire time we were there.

My neighbor, a very friendly woman, tried incredibly hard to talk to him. She made every effort, and he was rude. This had me pissed off. He wanted to pout in a corner, so I decided to just let him. He sat at a princess picnic table and refused to talk to anyone. I socialized without him. 

Eventually my mom suggested that I take him home. I didn’t want to reward his behavior, but I knew it was best to get him away from other people he might offend. 

I dragged him back to the house. He fought with me about leaving him, about bringing him in the first place, about wanting to go to a party during the short time he was there. 

I was finally starting to realize that he was not someone I wanted to be with. 


Photo by DAVIDCOHEN

We decided to go to the amusement park where I work at home. I get in for free, along with a few free guest passes every season. I wanted to show him around and introduce him to my friend, the one he had already decided he hated. 

We rode rides all morning, took pictures together, and had a good time. I snuck food in so that we didn’t have to pay for overpriced snacks. Everything seemed to be going well. 

I wanted to see the costume characters. I work as one, so I always get to dance with them, or take the best pictures. Besides, I love it. It’s my favorite part of going to the amusement park. 

I pulled him up to one of the “shows.” It’s a line of characters who dance to music and take pictures with people. I asked the guides who was in costume and proceeded to run up to one of my friends. When I turned around, Harry was gone. 

I tried to call him, but he hit the button to send me to voicemail. I started searching for him. Eventually I got sick of it and went to the bathroom. When I walked out he was sitting in front of me. 

I sat down next to him and asked what happened.

He told me that he was terrified of costume characters, but he knew I loved them so he didn’t want to tell me. 

He told me that when he was a little kid, his best friend had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. 


Photo by Taton Moïse

He told me that he had walked into the bathroom and seen the giant mouse groping his friend. 

He told me that he had never told anyone about it, but from that day forward he was terrified of all costume characters. 

It was a load of crap. 

I don’t know why he didn’t want to come over. Maybe he really was scared of characters for some reason. Maybe he wanted more attention. Maybe he didn’t want to meet my friend. 

Whatever the reason was, he didn’t tell me the truth. I didn’t call him on it. I just wanted to get through the weekend. 

We went back to my house after that. I got changed out of my sweaty park clothes, and he did the same. My parents weren’t home yet, but my brothers and grandmother were downstairs. The door to the bedroom he was staying in didn’t close all the way. 

I went into his room. We were talking about something and he started to kiss me. He pushed me up against the door, trying to close and lock it. I told him that it wouldn’t shut. 


Photo by Annie Spratt

He continued to kiss me, putting his hands up my shirt. I pushed him away. I told him that we shouldn’t be doing that. My parents could be home any minute. He told me it was fine. 

He lifted me up and threw me onto the bed. Normally I found this very romantic, but I didn’t like where it was going. 

I told him that I didn’t want to because my grandmother and my brothers were downstairs. They’d hear us. He told me that we’d be very quiet as he pulled down my pants and underwear. 

I told him I thought I heard the garage door, that we’d better stop, as he kissed my stomach and my thighs.

I told him no.

He covered my mouth as he went down on me. I wasn’t to make noise. I knew that if I did, we’d be caught and we’d both be in major trouble. He would be leaving the next day, I couldn’t ruin it then. 

Finally, I pushed his hand away from my mouth, and shoved his head out from in between my thighs. 

We broke up a few days later, over the phone. He threatened to kill himself. I broke up with him anyways.


Photo by Daniel von Appen

I can hear my roommate saying goodbye to him. I can hear the door clicking shut as Harry leaves. He’s out of my apartment. My roommate went into his bedroom. I can hear a YouTube video blaring through his phone.

It’s finals week, I have to present in the morning and I have two papers due later. I should go to sleep.

I can get up and unlock my bedroom door. I can go to bed feeling a lot safer than I have been for the last hour. 

But as I’m sitting here, still writing, still terrified, I’m not unlocking my bedroom door. I’m not going to sleep. I don’t think I can right now. 

It’s been almost three years since I ended my relationship with Harry. It still tortures me that I believed his lies for so long. That I let him use and manipulate me. That I didn’t push him off of me the second he started to touch me in my house. 

But it’s the past, and I can’t change it. All I can do is better now.

Harry has barely said two words to me in the last two years. He’s hidden from me, he’s run from me, and he’s spoken about me, but he’s too afraid to talk to me. And I’m glad. I don’t want to talk to him.

“The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it.

Alan Moore

Friend’s Adventures

This blog began as a class assignment.

While I enjoy working on it, and intend to continue to do so, some of my posts are class assignments. 

Because it’s a writing class, I get to see a lot of other blogs. One of my friends runs a blog called “The Adventures of Jared.” He posts a lot about finding adventure in simple ways, every day.

He recently posted a podcast-type video about his love for our college. He spoke a lot about being happy, no matter what. I thought this was really great and wanted to share it. 

If you’d like to listen to it, click the link hereIt’s called Changing Paths. I really enjoyed it. 

“Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles in life.” 

John Amatt

The Only Fag Here.

I’ve worked in the coffee house on my campus for a while now. Last year, I worked night shift with a few of my friends. One night, I got into an argument with one of them. This is a memoir piece about what happened.

The names in the story are changed. I don’t feel like I have the right to label someone homophobic based on a single comment, and certainly not publicly. The guy, “James” in the story is not my friend. He never really was. It took some time to realize that. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad person, just someone who I did not have a healthy friendship with. We’re pleasant to each other. 

Here is the full story, written out. 

‘Fag’

Chelle Jackson

“Fag.” The word hit me in the face like a tornado of three letters, the abbreviated form of the word they used when they tried to burn us. James smiled as he said it.

Mike laughed it off, “nah, it wasn’t like that.” Mike had been telling me about a threesome he had with a girl he didn’t know and his male roommate. It didn’t faze him, fag. He wasn’t hurt because it didn’t apply. Confident in his own masculinity, he shrugged it off.

“Actually that’s me.” I told James, the six foot ‘nice guy’ I was closing with that night. They both ignored me. I repeated it, louder this time, “pretty sure I’m the only ‘fag’ here.”

“What?” James asked.

“I’m a fag.”

“You can’t be.”

Mike agreed with the enemy, “there’s no way.” No doubt he was thinking of the parade of boyfriends I had had most recently.

“I like girls.” I stood, arms crossed, ready. I was trying my hardest to stand up for myself.

“You’re bi.” Mike acknowledged. I thought about the multiple times I had mentioned this to him before, the number of straight jokes I had told him.

“Yeah.”

“Well that came out of nowhere.” James moved away from us, something I was glad about. He said that he would never hit a girl, but if that was true it meant that I would wind up kicking him until he blacked out or someone pulled me off of him. This would lead to legal charges, and no one needs that.

“You okay?” Mike asked me.

“I just hate that word.”

“Fag?”

“Yeah.”

He nodded. “My roommate doesn’t like it when I use gay either. I have to check myself around him.”

I let him change the subject.

36 Questions to Fall in Love

In class I was told to use Arthur Aron’s 36 questions to fall in love with a stranger. I asked my mom to help me, and we asked each other the questions.

 

 

If you want to see more about this, you can check out the research behind it here or read the “Modern Love” articles on the New York Times website here. (Please be aware that without a subscription you can only read 5 articles on the nytimes website.)

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”  -George Sand

Squirrel Hill

I am incredibly sad today.

Normally, I’ll try to talk about happiness. How to be happy even in the worst of times. But happiness is only one emotion. We don’t have to be happy all of the time.

If you haven’t heard, there was another mass shooting this past Saturday. Most of the time it is easy to feel disconnected from the shootings. After all, we usually aren’t personally affected by them.

This shooting happened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a neighborhood called Squirrel Hill. My school campus is outside of Pittsburgh, but many of our students are from the area.

I don’t know anyone who was killed. I know that friends of friends were killed and that people I care about could’ve just as easily been.

 

If you haven’t heard what happened, a man named Robert D. Bowers, 46, allegedly started by shouting anti-Semitic statements in a synagogue before firing his AR-15 style rifle. He killed 11 people:

Irving Younger

Melvin Wax

Rose Mallinger

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Jerry Rabinowitz

Joyce Fienberg

Richard Gottfried

Daniel Stein

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

These people were in their place of worship, a place where they should’ve been safe. They did not deserve to die.

The man who killed them was vocally anti-Semitic and should never have been allowed a gun, much less a semi-automatic assault rifle and three additional handguns. He never should’ve thought it was acceptable to speak hatefully about another group, particularly to the extent that he did.

The people who were killed should’ve been safe, but they weren’t. As a country we keep allowing people to be killed because of hatred and intolerance. I have no intention of lying to you and saying that this country was built on freedoms. It wasn’t. It was built on slavery, indentured servitude, racism, sexism, homophobia, and so many other disgraceful things that raised rich white men above everyone else.

I will say that we’ve improved, but not enough. We claim that people have religious freedom in this country, but people are still being killed for their faith. We try to say we’re the land of the free, but we aren’t. We’re the land of the bullshit. We’re falling backwards too. I am not proud to be an American. In fact, I’m somewhat ashamed.

Good people get taken too soon, bad people get too many opportunities to do terrible things.

I used to believe bad people didn’t exist, that “bad people” were good people with poor decision making skills. I genuinely thought that everyone wanted to help others and be a kind and beneficial part of the human race.

I don’t believe that anymore.

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer

 

Drugs

rawpixel-617402-unsplash
Photo by rawpixel

Every night at 10:31 the alarm on my phone labeled “DRUGSSSS!!!” starts going off. While I may be slightly dramatic for naming it that, they are prescription drugs. I don’t have a reminder to take a daily dose of heroin or a multi-vitamin.

The three types of drugs sitting on my ever-cluttered nightstand are birth control, Zantac, and Zoloft.

thought-catalog-612383-unsplash
Photo by Thought Catalog

I take the birth control because practicing safe sex is important, but the other two have a more complicated history.

When I was 12 I started to have panic attacks. It wasn’t long before I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Disorder.

Six years later, I was still having panic attacks. I had never been to therapy and while they were always getting worse, I was getting better at dealing with them.

 

yeshi-kangrang-316720-unsplash
Photo by Yeshi Kangrang

At least, that was the case until my freshman year of college. That was when I started having trouble eating. I didn’t understand why, but I would start choking on my food. I couldn’t swallow, and more often than not I wound up racing to the bathroom, unable to keep any food down.

Stubbornly independent as always, it took me a few months to admit that this was not something I had under control. After that, the doctors also had trouble designating the root cause of my inability to swallow.

Eventually, we realized that it usually happened when I was eating around other people, or when I was stressing about something.

I had never been to therapy or put on medication because my parents didn’t believe in it, but now I was 18, and the decision was mine. The doctors recommended both therapy and an anti-anxiety medication, but I was nervous about it.

ian-espinosa-311604-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Ian Espinosa

I had lived with my anxiety for so long that it had become a part of my identity. It led me to a psychology major, helped me to form bonds with the people around me, and was part of what made me an individual.

I took information in from everyone around me. Most of my friends encouraged me to start both. They had witnessed my eating issues more than anyone and had significant concerns. My parents and boyfriend at the time were against it. They thought it would change me. The reality of it though, was that it didn’t matter what everyone else said, I was the one who had to make this decision.

bekir-donmez-335320-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Bekir Dönmez

I started therapy first. I went to the campus counselor, and she also encouraged the medication. I finally decided to start taking Zoloft–a medication most commonly used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety–the summer before my sophomore year of college.

A few months later I started having trouble breathing again. The panic attacks had nearly stopped, this was different. I felt a sharp pain in my chest. It was like I couldn’t breathe, there was something physically stopping my breath.

I assumed it was anxiety related, because everything seemed to be. It wasn’t. It was acid reflux. It took a trip to the emergency room to figure that out. I was told to take a 150 milligram daily dose of Zantac.

Finally figuring out what was going on in my body was a turning point for me. It changed my entire outlook on myself. It didn’t happen overnight, but with the help of medication I was able to push myself to do better in every aspect of my life.

The important distinction is that the medication did not change me, I changed. The medication gave me the opportunity, but I still had to actively work on my own well-being.

I was always a shy person, terrified of new people. The medication removed some of the anxiety surrounding meeting people, but it didn’t remove all of it, and it didn’t make me an automatically outgoing person. I still have to push myself when I want to talk to someone new. The anxiety medication just allows me to push past my fears, and face situations head-on. It allows me to function “normally.”

I definitely still have issues, especially if I forget to take my medication. I have an alarm on my phone, but occasionally I’m out of my apartment when it goes off. This can cause real issues.

At one point, a few months after I started taking Zoloft for my anxiety, I ran out of pills and had to call both the pharmacy and my doctor multiple times. The doctor I was seeing at that point wasn’t listening to me too well, and hadn’t left enough doses for me before I could come back to see her. I figured it wouldn’t be such a big deal if I missed a few days, and besides, I didn’t have another option.

A few days into it, I started to have horrible panic attacks, more than I ever had before. I wound up crying a lot, and confused as to why. At one point I started to leave for a class I didn’t like and ended up racing back to my room, curling up on my bed, and crying so hard I couldn’t speak for about twenty minutes.

It took a lot of questions from my boyfriend at the time to figure out why I was in such bad shape. I was going through withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms usually aren’t so bad, as long as you go through it the right way. Your doctor slowly, usually over the course of a few months, brings down your dosage until you are off of the drug all together.

In that case, I was not slowly weaned off of it, I just stopped taking it for a few days.

Soon after that, I switched to a doctor who listens to me and respects my understanding of my own body. I have never had an incident again where I haven’t had my medication for days on end.

There have been, however, days where I forget to take it. It’s only ever one day at a time, and I have never had such serious withdrawal symptoms from it. If I forget for a day, I may find myself a bit emotional a few days later, but that’s the extent of it.

In case you’re still confused, or think that it’s ridiculous that someone takes medication for their thoughts, let me explain it this way.

Zoloft is an SSRI, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. Generally, these are prescribed for depression, but they can also be used to treat anxiety.

SSRIs work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Basically, serotonin is a happy chemical in everyone’s brain. Some people though, happen to lose a lot more serotonin to reuptake, or reabsorption. SSRIs block the excess reuptake, therefore allowing the brain’s happy chemicals to work properly.

This doesn’t work for everyone. All drugs have side effects, and different people react differently to them. For some people, like me, the worst side effects are weight gain and occasional headaches. Other people might have severe nausea and insomnia. Even others may be more likely to commit suicide from medications. It all depends on the person and the type of drug.

If a certain medication isn’t right for you, maybe a different one is. The truth of the matter is that it’s trial and error. Sometimes you get lucky and your doctor picks the right drug for you on the first try. Other times, you wind up with nasty side-effects and have to change your medication or dosage.

The most important thing with taking any medication is telling your doctor about any problems you experience, and making sure that you have a doctor who hears you.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Family Privilege

Tonight, my dad and I got into a pretty bad fight. It was the worst one since I told him I changed my major from engineering to psychology. Tonight he made a comment in front of me about reverse racism, and I lost it.

I am a white person who has never had to worry about keeping a roof over my head or where my next meal is coming from. I have a lot of privilege in this society. However, I am also a gay woman, which sometimes means I have a little bit less privilege.

My dad, on the other hand, was brought up very poor, and gained economic stability later on. He is a straight white man, and he’s in a position of reasonable power. By no means will I say that he’s always had privilege, or that he doesn’t work hard, but today, and for most of my life, he has privilege. He has a lot of privilege.

I can’t say I want him to have less privilege. There are very few people that I want to have less privilege. (Donald Trump, Brock Turner, and Brett Kavanaugh come to mind.) I do want other people to have more privilege.

I am a feminist. I believe that black lives matter. I support gay marriage. I want to end poverty.

But once again, I have a lot of privilege. For one thing, I can put all four of those statements out there, and I don’t have to worry that I’ll be physically attacked for any of them.

My dad, is not a feminist. He believes “all lives matter.” He does not think gay people should get married. He wants people in poverty to “pull themselves out of it.”

Obviously, we disagree on some points.

The problem is, he’s still my dad. So while I may be one of the four people with the best chance of changing his mind, I’m also one of the four people who he can get really, really pissed off at.

So, we try not to talk “politics” because that’s what family does. We put it to the side and talk about my grades in the college he pays for. (Yes, I know that’s another point of how privileged I am.) Usually, that works pretty well.

Sometimes though, one of us opens our mouth and says something like “reverse racism” or “universal healthcare.” If it’s just one comment, we let it go.

Then there are the rare nights, the nights like tonight.

I was on my laptop, trying to finish working on something. I wasn’t really doing much, I’m not often home for the weekend so I was just trying to hang out with them. My dad and his mom were talking about something over the television. I couldn’t even tell you what, just that it had something to do with overcompensating for racial biases. His mom agrees with him no matter what, so he kept talking.

I tried to be civil about it, nice little girl, complacent little girl. “Please stop.” I could feel my jaw grinding as I said it. I had been biting my tongue all weekend and the metaphorical blood was about to start pouring.

He didn’t stop. I can’t remember what he said, but it set me off.

“You are so privileged and you don’t even recognize it! How can you act like that? There is so much bullshit in this world happening to other people but you can’t even open your eyes and try to get someone else’s opinion.” I definitely wasn’t eloquent, but I made my point.

“Actually I have gotten others opinions.”

“Give me a break.”

“If you don’t like it, then go.” He said the words but it didn’t hit me. He would never kick me out.

“Why are you so sure of yourself? You can’t see the other side.”

“If you don’t like it, you can go.”

That time, it hit me. He told me to leave. So I did.

“You want me to go? Fine. I’ll go.” The plan had been to return to school tomorrow, but I ran to my room and started shoving what I needed into my bag.

My mom texted me, she had witnessed the fight and was furious with both of us. “He’ll stop. I asked him to.”

I ignored her text. He and I had agreed to stop plenty of times before, but it never worked. There was always another comment.

I started making up a plan in my head. It was too late and I was too tired to drive the three hours back to school. I’d call my best friend as soon as I got on the road and ask to stay at her house for the night. I’d come back home in the morning after my dad left for work so that my mom would know everything was fine.

I had to pass them to get out the door, and I could hear my mom calling after me to stop. I didn’t listen. I was throwing my bags into the car when my dad came out.

“Your mom wants to talk to you before you go.”

I looked down to see that he was standing in the driveway without shoes on.

“Fine.” I wasn’t doing it for him. My mom deserved better than me running out like that.

I went back in and gave my mom a hug. She held onto me, pulling me away from my dad and into her room. I let her. “It’s late and wet, you’re not driving back tonight,” she said. “You planned to stay one more night, just stay. You can leave tomorrow. You have a dentist appointment in the morning.”

“He told me to go.”

“He doesn’t mean it.”

“Well he isn’t taking it back.” I was crying. “He isn’t asking me to stay.”

“It’s our house too.”

I shook my head, “It’s not my house.”

“Well it’s my house and I’m telling you to stay. He’ll stop with the comments.”

“Mom, he’s never going to stop.”

“He will. I asked him too.”

“It doesn’t matter, he’s not going to stop.”

“He loves you.”

“He doesn’t respect me,” I told her.

“Why do you say that?”

“He just doesn’t. My opinions mean nothing to him. He thinks they are so below his.”

She almost laughed. She was sitting on her bed now. She knew before I did that I wasn’t going to leave. “I don’t know of too many people who’s opinions he values on the same level as his own.”

“I believe that.”

I could hear his footsteps approaching, loud and clear. My brothers and my mom shuffled. My dad and I stomped.

“Oh, and now he’s coming in here,” I whispered. I was trying to stop crying. It wasn’t going well.

He knocked lightly on the door before opening it, even though it was his bedroom. “I’m sorry. I never meant to insult you. I really don’t say things intentionally to make you upset. I don’t want you to go. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He said, “When I see inequality, I have to say something. I know it’s the same way with you, we just have different views of equality.”

My mom and I stayed in her room, but he went back to the television.

She told me that she understood feeling that lack of respect from him. She said she just deals with it. She told me that I was never going to change his mind. I already knew that. She told me that he was afraid, terrified of how the world around him was changing. I knew that too.

I told her my opinions, and how I never expected to change his mind, but maybe make him hesitate before he calls reverse racism next time. Maybe that’ll be enough to cause the other white guy he’d be talking to, to not think about it like that for another month. Maybe him not thinking about it for that much longer, would lead to his kid not hearing about it from his dad, before he learned about all the horrible things Christopher Columbus actually did. Maybe that would change his kid’s mind. Maybe the kid would grow up to be a wonderful leader and help to bring about a more equal society.

Most likely, the fight I had with my dad tonight didn’t change anything. It certainly didn’t change his opinion. But maybe it did.

Now, sitting in my bedroom in the house that my dad pays for, I’m left feeling guilty. I don’t do enough. I let too much slide. I don’t call him on the one liners just like I don’t call out people in my classes or my friends. I don’t march because I have classes or work or it’s cold outside and I can’t find my winter coat. I make posts on Facebook that get liked by the people who agree with me and ignored by everyone else. I am complacent.

I feel like that a lot. I’m complacent. I tell myself, “I have to do better in the future. I have to do more.” But I continue to do the same things.

It’s 11:59 on a Sunday night. I am a young, able-bodied, straight-passing, white, well-off woman. I am going to do something better.

I’m voting for people who I’ve researched. People who I think will do the right thing.

I’m going to protest, the next march or rally possible. Even if I’m tired or have better things to do.

I’m going to advocate and elevate the voices of people who don’t get that bullshit white privilege I have. What they have to say is more important.

I’m going to continue to fight against the systems that keep the 1% on top. I’m going to educate myself and anyone who will listen.

I’m going to do better, not in the future, not tomorrow, today.

“Happy people plan actions; they don’t plan results.” -Denis Waitley

If I have said something that you disagree with, or if you have a correction, please leave a comment for me. Just be nice.