This is me calling myself out.

This is me saying I have a problem. Not one of those external problems that people organize interventions about. Something internal. Something insidious. Something my friends have tried to warn me about in various ways over the years. “You’re too nice.” “You believe in people too much.” “You can’t keep being so trusting; people will treat you like shit.”

This is me not trying to frame this flaw as a secret strength, like being too hardworking or being a perfectionist. Nothing about this has made me stronger; it has always, always made me weaker. It has prolonged toxic relationships that have left me broken and scarred.

This is me admitting that I have always tried to see the best in people, and that has been a very destructive thing.

This is me looking back at my teenage years, a period I’ve combed through countless times in an attempt to make sense of what happened. Not saying that the abuse or its aftermath was my fault. But admitting that for years I thought that what made me so easy to manipulate was just that I saw the worst in myself, only to realize now it was also that I saw the best in my abuser. That what undid me afterwards wasn’t the abuse itself, but the realization that he actually wasn’t as good a person as I thought he was. That the truth clashed so violently with my worldview that my reality shattered. Not in a metaphorical way; I literally lost track of what was real and what wasn’t for four years afterwards.

This is me realizing that whenever I learn something terrible about someone I’ve trusted – even when I learn it through something they’ve done directly to me – my first reaction is denial. While this would be bad enough if it only hurt me, it also hurts the people around me. And if I claim to value my friends and loved ones, I can’t go on doing anything that I know hurts them.

This is me trying not to back away from this revelation and retreat into my old habits and beliefs. Not writing this as an attempt to draw attention to myself, but so that there’s a record that I (and others) can hold me accountable to when I inevitably try to turn back.

This is me not knowing what to do now. Being frightened and small. Maybe even worrying that people might think less of me after reading this, worrying that they might roll their eyes at me seeing this as a serious problem when there are people with real problems out there.

This is me hoping that this will help me really be there for my friends, and maybe pick my friends more carefully.

This is me forcing myself to recognize my fatal flaw.

This is me.