In this world, I am of the firm belief that we can sense, and even absorb, the negative energy of other people, such as hatred, disgust or animosity, the way we might ingest poison or breathe in polluted or toxic gases. Just being near someone who feels “evil”, or extremely unkind, is like standing to close to a burning fire: you cringe and wince a little, knowing you are near something dangerous and bad; and if someone is cruel towards you, or wishes you ill-will, this cruelty and ugliness translates into energy as well, which you absorb, oftentimes just as damaging as a physical punch or kick might have been: that’s why people say words feel like “a slap in the face” or like being on the receiver end of emotional or verbal abuse feels like they’d been “punched in the stomach”.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of bad energy in my time, despite the fact that I’ve only lived on this Earth for about two decades, and I’m sure there are many of you who have experienced a great deal of pain and suffering at the hands of other people. In my younger and less experienced years, some of this negative energy came in the form of racial discrimination, or microaggressions (I copied this from Wikipedia; a microaggression is “a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group”), where I would be treated badly in a subtle way, that would leave me hurt and unhappy, and feeling unworthy about myself; it came in the form of a young lady in high school who enjoyed bullying me; a man who hurt me the most effective way any man can hurt a woman, which is to repeatedly sexually harass her to the point where she becomes too frightened and afraid and disgusted to go near any man for months; in the form of cousins who bullied me, taunted me; a father who didn’t realise girls need to be treated tenderly and carefully; a mother whose sharp words, to this day, pierce my skin like barbs; and from living in a world where just stepping out the door is enough to have someone attack you, verbally or emotionally (or, heck, even physically, depending on where you live), because they’re unhappy or having a bad day.
It’s not a good world, because people are not good. That’s plain and simple. I used to think, wrongly, that people were just hurt, lost, lonely and suffering—that’s why they hurt other people. I pitied them, felt compassion for them, because I’m just like that, silly and melodramatic and too-kind sometimes. But then I realised that wasn’t the case, because I’ve been in so much pain before, to the point where I wanted to (I’m quoting myself here—apologies) “paint out the world with my own blood”. And yet, no matter how much pain I was in, no matter how dark my inner world became, I never, never hurt another living person because of it. Just because I had a thorn in my side didn’t mean I felt the need to start poking other people with sticks. That’s when I realised those people that you hurt you? Yeah, they’re not good people. There’s something wrong with their hearts, and there’s no fixing them. I would like to say they’re evil, but decorum dictates that I refer to them as being “ignorant” or “cold-hearted”. Scrap that, they’re just—hideous.
So what do we do when these people hurt us, hm?
It’s a tricky thing. It actually all depends on the situation. For instance, in some situations, people are just bad-tempered for that one day, when generally they’re a nice and caring person, and you just happened to receive the brunt of it. Then there are the others. The ones who want to see you suffer, who want to take from you what is yours, who are jealous of you and hate you because they don’t like themselves or the world. They’re unhappy, supremely unhappy, and they want you to feel the same way they do. These people, and I know I’m going to get called out for being callous here, need a dose of their own medicine. You have to take matters into your own hands and stand up for yourself. If someone holds a gun to your head, occasionally, you have to hold a gun to their heart. It’s tough, but that’s what I’ve learnt, after years of being trodden on and abused. Those people will never stop abusing you if you never stand up for yourself. Trust me on this. They won’t listen to reason, they don’t care about your tears, they won’t even stop if you show them why what they’re doing is wrong. Trust me on this.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but there are just bad people in this world.
So, sometimes—not all of the time—you need to stand up for yourself and fight back, rather than take the hits like a champion. Let me give you an example. The man who sexually harassed me in my teen years and left me with a long-lasting fear of being raped and creepy men? Yeah. I told his wife everything that had happened. I did. It was harsh, but I did. I didn’t go to the authorities, or even tell a teacher or a mentor: I just quietly went up to his wife one day, when we were alone, and told her exactly what was happening and what he had done to me. Then I left. The rest was up to her. Not only did I never see that man again, I hear his marriage isn’t going so well and there’s hell for him to pay at home. Do I regret it? No. Because if I hadn’t done that, he might have never left me alone. And I would have had to undergo seismic-levels of suffering as a result.
You might think this is cruel, that I’m fighting fire with fire, that two wrongs don’t make a right. I say: you’re wrong. I’m sorry, but you are: only someone who has never been at the receiving end of severe mental, sexual, emotional or physical abuse can possibly say they’re too “kind” to fight back. When you reach a point where someone is literally suffocating you with their toxic energy, their hate, or, in the aforementioned case, their greedy hunger for your body, you’re not afraid to pull out the knife and slash them in the leg. That’s the truth. So while such a method of dealing with “people who hurt you” might seem vindictive, cold and calculating to some, to me, and I know to many people in this world, it’s the only way to fight against demons. Niceness gets you nowhere, except broken and hurt.
You stand up for yourself. Sure, if you believe in God, and I suggest you do, you know that justice will ultimately prevail and that those people will get their comeuppance. But there’s something to be said about fighting back in the real world, in this lifetime. One time, this man actually ignored me for fifteen minutes at the bookshop. I kid you not. It was like he’d decided that someone of Asian descent didn’t deserve to read or something. I was so hurt, I actually left without buying any of his books (which, in retrospect, was a good thing). A week later, I phoned up the company that owns his bookstore—it was a franchise—and complained about my experience, as well as giving them a description of the man who had refused to process my books for purchase. While I don’t know exactly what happened, at least I fought back and stood up for myself. Standing up for yourself builds your confidence and makes you a stronger human being (I feel like this should be a tweet).
Once again, I want to stress that there are actually bad people in this world. I keep droning on about this because it took so long for this to get into my own head. I had this preconceived notion that all people were good, they’d just lost themselves somewhere along the way due to bad experiences. That’s usually not true. If someone has the capability to hurt you just because they want to, because they hate you for being better than them, or some other stupid reason, then they’re not good people. They have darkness inside of them. A little part of them is poisoned. And you don’t deserve to inhale a single breath of their toxic cloud.
That’s what it comes down to: good people fighting against bad people. In the process, do we become bad, in some way? I know, when I finally fought back against the man who harassed me, I felt a sense of triumph, a satisfaction that he was finally getting what he deserved. I was wary of this feeling. Was I getting a little drunk on the fulfilment of revenge? That’s still something I’m trying to figure out. While I’m certain I have nothing evil or dark in me, I’m afraid that sometimes my own pain and suffering can muddy how I should actually feel when fighting back against people who hurt you: not triumphant, not glad, not content, but sorry, sad but determined. That’s the key. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world, because there are nice people, but it is a fight-back-or-suffer world, and I intend to stand up for myself, as I would stand up for anyone else in the world who was in pain or suffering. Because me, you and we deserve it.