I'm acutely aware that for years I was a blind and stubborn person who thought I was infallible, and in addition to that, I'm very aware that I've treated a lot of people here poorly. To this day, when I return here, it's easy to fall back into those habits because of the relationship I've established with people here. I'm a lot like my mother in that regard.
I'm aware that I've made statements, and wholly believed in them, that were racist, race-baiting, sexist, sexist, or in general bigoted. I'm a lot like my father, and his father before him, in that regard.
Every day in my daily life, probably since the last time I got out of jail a little over a year ago, I have been trying to look more closely at the things that make me a shitty person and change them.
I think I've made a lot of progress, and I've seen every relationship in my life improve as a result of this. It was not easy to get to a place where I realized that it was time I change. I had to live through poverty, homelessness, losing my freedom, being sexually assaulted (as an adult it was worse for me than as a child, I think), paranoid delusions stemming from mental illness, and a whole lot of loss. But it wasn't the pain that opened my eyes to what kind of a manipulative monster I'd become.
Just before my last trip downtown, I really and truly found love. I wrote letters every day, and when I got out months later, my boyfriend was still waiting for me. When I got out, I also found real friendship. Where before most of my relationships had been based on personal gain, I learned what it meant to be someone's friend. My friends took me in, and I was so grateful that I did everything I could within my meager power to give back to them. Their generosity showed me how to be generous.
I liked the person I was becoming so much that I decided to start taking strides toward doing the right thing in every walk of life. This is where things start to get hard. When I learned to give back to my friends, I had a genuine change of heart, but you can't force that kind of change to occur intrinsically.
I found out it takes conscious and constant effort to teach yourself the habits of a decent human being. Honesty was the first step, and it was hard. There were times when it was so grueling to tell someone the truth when a lie felt easier. But I did it anyway. Honesty is a habit and it can be mastered.
The next was the way I regard others. I found out I couldn't be dismissive of the opinions of others, or walk into a room and assume I knew more about everything than everyone else there. I think I have a lot of room to improve still in this regard, but just by paying careful attention to what others have to say and really taking it to heart I think I'm getting a lot better at being courteous. Of course, disagreements still occur, but I've found out that there's no reason to get angry at someone because you disagree with them about something.
One thing I hadn't gotten the chance to improve on during the time I spent living with my friends was bigotry. Where we lived in Texas, starting a race war is next to normal, so I didn't get the chance to be exposed to the good habit of not being a racist. And I still held a low opinion of women. When I moved to Colorado this summer I started meeting new people and my eyes really opened up to the idea that white-supremacy miiiiiight not be a political end-all-be-all.
When I arrived in Colorado I met a middle aged black man named Phil. I never would've guessed that he was going to become one of my best friends. Phil was born and raised in the Bronx, and came up during a hard time in the city. His family and his friends were more important to him than anything, and he spent his summer worrying constantly about whether or not his son was getting in trouble. He showed me that I was wrong, and opening up to his friendship helped me to move past my racist upbringing.
I used to think all women were boring, stupid, empty wastes of human life only here to pump out babies. I really wanted nothing to do with them. A lot of amazing women have come into my life in the last year, and they've shown me what should've been obvious all along: women are just people. Earlier today someone on discord was echoing those negative sentiments and backward views on women. I was reviled at first, but then I started feeling sorry for them. I actually feel bad for anyone who feels the way I used to feel. I can't imagine how lonely and angry at the world they must be. They must feel abandoned.
After moving to Wyoming I came under the tutelage of a particularly talented and thoughtful chef named Vasko. He's from Bulgaria. In general, I had always held a low opinion of Eastern Europeans, despite never having met one. Vasko wasn't alone though, I made a lot of friends there from various Eastern European countries, and much to my surprise, they too, were just people.
Some of them I disliked, some I got along with, some, like Vasko, I even admired a little. But they were all startlingly human, and couldn't be encapsulated by a stereotype.
I don't want to end up broken and lonely like my family. I want to live a decent life where I can be proud instead of ashamed.
Consider this an apology for the shitty way I've treated some of you, hell, at some point probably all of you. I realized a bit back I had been using this site to vent my negative feelings onto others, but now I see that I need to do the right thing and treat you guys, my oldest friends, with the same dignity I'm trying to engender in my daily life.
Please, be my friend. It will save my life.