Fishicide

Today is the 2nd anniversary of The Great Fish Murder. Don’t worry if you’re feeling in the dark about it, there’s only a handful of people that aren’t.

So, I was married, but I’d decided to leave. I’d found a new place, packed up all mine and my kiddo’s things, and was going to move out the next morning. My ex also had to move out, because he couldn’t afford the house without me. I was feeling relieved that it was so close to being over (we lived together for a month after we technically split up, and it was pretty fucking weird) to the point of near-giddiness.

The toilet wasn’t working. This wasn’t especially noteworthy, as our house was complete shit, but it was foaming, which was odd. I didn’t think much of it, even when my ex started yelling at his son for causing it. That, too, was pretty normal. Other than that, he was also in a good mood, and we were making small talk about moving the next day while he got ready to take his bath (during The Weird As Fuck Month, he took a bubble bath every single day. Usually while listening to Norah Jones, which was then sorta ruined for me.) I told him I’d noticed our fish were gone, and asked if he had moved them to the new place already. “No, I couldn’t. So they’re dead.” “Oh… could you not have an aquarium at the new place?” “I could, but it was too much work to get them over there.”

There were about nine 4-5 inch long fish in a 60 gallon tank, so the fish would’ve had to been taken out, placed in a temporary home, the tank drained and moved, set up, water cycled through, and then fish moved back in. It is a pain in the ass, but as he was moving a block away, his best friend whom we’d gotten the fish from and who had 4 or 5 extra tanks ready to go at his house lived about a mile away, it was quite doable. I started to say this, and he cut me off, saying, “Nope, couldn’t be done. I tried everything.”

“So you killed the fish?”

“Yep. I cut them up and flushed them. They got stuck, so I poured in some Drano.”

At this point I’m just staring at him, terrified. “So… that’s why the toilet was foaming?”

“Yeah”, he said, laughing, “didn’t work so well.”

“Aannnnd… so your son didn’t break the toilet, it was you? You just let him think he did it?”

“Yep! It’s pretty funny really. They don’t even know what happened!”

There was a look on his face that I can’t really describe, other than as maniacal. He was pleased with himself. Not just because he’d pulled one over on us (if there was a sticker chart for criminal masterminds, I bet he would’ve awarded himself two that day) but simply because he had killed them. Some of them were mine. They had names. I liked them.

When I quietly snuck out as he was sudsing up to “Turn Me On”, I realized that this, in a terrible way, was the closure I needed. For most of our relationship, I’d been manipulated and otherwise mentally fucked with. I had no idea what to believe a lot of the time, because when I expressed concern over something I saw, he’d tell me that I hadn’t seen it. If I tried to stand up for myself, he’d belittle and berate me until I lost my nerve. He’d tell me I was terrible, lazy, fat, and ugly, but that he alone loved me enough to see past all of that. I knew he was crazy, and dangerous. But I wasn’t entirely sure I wasn’t just imagining it.

This confirmed that I wasn’t. This settled the fact that everything I knew about him was real. Fish is the least of what he’s capable of, (which I’d always known, but didn’t want to believe. Even when the bloodstained proof was on my floor) and I lived with a monster. It wasn’t really even that comforting to have my hunch proven to be correct, because it wasn’t good news, and I still had to spend the next 12 hours with him.

Obviously, though, I made it. I learned a thing or two, grew like a motherfucker, and call that shit out when it happens now.(The mental stuff. Nobody else has gone all American Psycho on my pets) From the little I hear, he hasn’t changed. Though I don’t take a lot of joy in it, I’m not surprised at all. (Though I would like him to advance in careers, or at least stop working at restaurants I like, dammit.) He’s a sad, broken little boy, and he probably always will be. Turns out, it’s not my fucking problem. People can’t be “fixed” and I have no desire to try. To keep things fair, I never ask or expect anyone to fix me, either.

 

Later, I found out that prior to this when he’d get angry with me, he’d kill my frogs. I knew the fish didn’t eat them! Little fucking bitch.

My my my my my sensi-shoes.

Yesterday I talked about being brave, and how it took me quite a while to realize it’s actually part of who I am. In contrast, I have always known I was sensitive. Despite my love of colorful language and screaming along with power ballads, I’m just a little baby duckling in women’s clothing (alright, angsty teenage nerd clothing. Whatever.). I was in high school before I mastered being able to read aloud without crying. The word “retard” causes me physical pain. (I WANT TO DELETE THAT SENTENCE SO BAD.) I lose my shizz over The Notebook every single time I watch it.

Even if I hadn’t caught on myself, I’ve been told numerous times. I’m pretty sure it’s come up at least once with everyone I’ve dated. Sometimes it’s in an, “awww, the poor wittle duckwing” kind of way. But usually, it’s accompanied by a speech on how this makes me a useless human.

That’s the thing about being strong AND sensitive, though. I know when to do which, how to be comfortable in my own skin, and when to just tell people to go fuck themselves. My sensitivity is one of my greatest strengths. It allows me to connect to people. Feeling someone’s pain is a great motivator. It keeps me fighting when I want to give up. Because whatever is hurting me, is hurting someone else, too. Though I try not to cross over into full blown martyrdom, I’ll do whatever I can not to see someone hurt.

It also helps me find something to relate to, even with people I disagree with. Remember that they’re human, too. While I do have my limits and will indeed tell someone to kiss my shiny metal ass, it’s not right off the bat (usually. These fucking Trump supporters are testing me, though.). For the most part, I can have reasonable, respectful conversations with people on opposite sides of the topic.

However, there was a brief time that I wasn’t this way. My “freeze” instinct had fully taken over, and for months, nothing bothered me. Nothing made me happy, either. I was completely numb. Not like “Oh, I’m just a little off today”. More like, “I’m not completely convinced I’m actually a real person anymore, and should probably be put on a watch list.” I cannot describe to you how incredibly terrifying that was. Partly because I’ve blocked a lot of it out. But I can tell you for 100% certainty that given the choice, (which I was! So… really. 100%) I will take being a sensi-shoe wearing crybaby any day of the week.

There’s a lot of talk of the world becoming too sensitive nowadays. We’re not. We’re becoming more human. More empathetic. More compassionate. Microaggressions are a thing. Casual racism is a thing. Rape culture, victim blaming, white privilege, rampant misogyny… all things. They all need paid attention to, and stopped. Because we’re all people deserving of respect. Even if you don’t get offended by the same things, it’s not unreasonable to ask that you understand that someone else does. Then, take it a step further and stop whatever it is. Prevent it from happening again. Stand up against it. Care for one another. We’re all in this together, end of story.

If you need any pointers, I’m happy to help. Or to watch The Notebook with you. I can’t help it (nor would I want to), I just fucking love that shit.

 

Red My Lips, take two.

Tomorrow is the first day of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I know you just inwardly groaned, it’s ok. This is uncomfortable. But that’s why it’s a thing, it has to be talked about. Has to.

I participated in the Red My Lips campaign for the last week of the month last year, and I’m excited to do so for the entire month this year. Here’s how it works: you wear red lipstick every day for the whole month. That’s it. Well, almost, anyway. Then, when someone mentions it, you use that moment to tell them you’re wearing it both as a show of solidarity to those who have been victims of abuse, and to get the word out that we have to change the way we look at these things in general.

When I did this last year, a woman I work with commented on it. I told her I was raising awareness, and after a bit of talking, she told me to make sure “not to wear a short skirt with it or anything like that”. This is the EXACT thing that needs to change. This woman isn’t a violent monster, nor is she completely uneducated. But she is part of this society that would rather not talk about this issue at all, and uncomfortably shift blame onto those already suffering when they do. It’s become the norm to question a victim’s story, to make them justify every action they took, and to then tell them how they somehow brought this on themselves.

That. It has to end.

There is nothing a person wears  (or doesn’t wear) that makes it alright for anyone else to touch them without their consent. There is not an hour after which all women walking alone are up for grabs. There is not a number of drinks past which the person drinking them cannot blame anyone else for taking advantage of them in their inebriated state. Victims of sexual assault are never asking for it. Ever.

Last year, excited as I was to stand up and fight for something I believe in so much, I hated almost every minute of it. I didn’t wear lipstick ever, then. Especially not red. It’s seen as sexual, racy, flamboyant… all those things I try to minimize in my own self (which is the exact reason it’s the symbol of this campaign). Though I’m not trying to be invisible by any means, being seen in that particular light is not something I’m comfortable with. I’m good with being the funny one. The awkward one. I’m not the sexy one. It’s probably not a huge mystery as to why; I once believed being assaulted was my fault, too. Even once I accepted that there is no “asking for it” (unless you’re literally saying the fucking words) I still thought if I kept from prettying myself up too much, I would be safer. I knew in the logical part of my brain that was complete crap, but that part isn’t always in use. The first day I wore it last year, I spent most of it looking over my shoulder, jumping at loud noises, and on the verge of tears. Because of lipstick.

I refuse to live my life that way. I refuse to let anyone else, if there’s a way I can help it. So I’ll bring up the uncomfortable, I’ll believe you when you tell me your story, and I’ll do everything I can to change the stigma that rape and assault are just things that happen to sluts who aren’t careful. Also, I talk to my son frequently, about boundaries, consent and choices. That might be the most uncomfortable part of all, but it’s also the most important. As men are most often the abusers, I’ll be fucking damned if my child is going to grow up thinking another person’s body is something he’s entitled to.

If you’d like to read more on this, by someone who explains it much better, you definitely should.

Spread the word, and get that lipstick ready.