For as long as I can remember, I have always felt a kinship with Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist. A charismatic and strong-willed leader with dreams of order and change but is often too bogged down by the weight of trauma and past regrets to see those grand plans through. A leader who can rally troops but sometimes can barely manage the strength to get out of bed. I’ve always had men and women at my side, just as Mustang has, that have been a stabilizing force in my chaotic life. While the names have changed, the roles have not, so let’s go over some of the men and women who stand by my side and help me see my mission to its end.
My Right Hand, Hughes
At this moment, it’s Carlos, my best friend and co-panelist. It’s been others before in the past but I want to talk about Carlos for a bit. Like Hughes while he can seem all over the place and even dismissive, he’s far from. He’s remarkably attentive and always trying to make sure I eat something (even when it’s something sweet). I’ve always needed someone who can drag me out of darkness, someone who listens and understands but also can challenge my negative thoughts in a way that I can process and Carlos has learned remarkably quickly how to speak to me in a language that I understand. And while we don’t always agree, I’m blessed to have such a dedicated and trusting person by my side to push me forward.
My Cheerleader, Havoc
Again, a role filled by many before but right now it’s filled by Ricky. This man will cheer me on no matter what I’m doing. I could be plotting world domination (and let’s be honest, I am) and he’d support me with an enthusiasm and genuine care that I think rarely exists on Earth. I’m fortunate, really, that I have someone who can support me no matter how grand or small my endeavors are.
My Shield, Hawkeye
Despite my earlier brushes with misogyny, I have many women that I now consider close friends now that I am removed from the need to see them as competition for a mate (also known as highschool in America under a patriarchal society). Right now, a few women get to hold this role: Amanda, Victoria, Amber; all of them willing to support me during my darkest days . Not just as protectors but those willing to tell me when I need to be better. My trauma and illnesses are not an excuse but are context; it is not a pass to be a terrible person; it’s just a brief explanation as to why sometimes I do what I do. This is why I appreciate these women so much; they’re not just passive shieldmaidens, they are just as active in the fight as the rest of them.
Those No Longer Ranked
It’s hard staying friends with a miniature tyrant bent on world domination. I’m the first to acknowledge that it isn’t easy being my friend but I try to be empathetic and understanding. Needly to say, some just don’t maintain their ranks. I normally spend years agonizing over those I’ve lost along the way but thanks to a lot of medication and even more therapy, I’m coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, people are bad. Obviously, out of respect and an abundance of caution, I have no reason to name names and more importantly, despite the hurt I carry with me, I don’t wish these people ill. I genuinely hope all of them are doing well and are getting what they need that they clearly could not get from me. The bow can not always hold, things fall apart, friendships don’t last forever and people can be cruel; they don’t always mean to be but that’s just how it happens. The problem with friends that also have trauma is that we all have these horrid burdens within us, these maladaptive skills that we’ve honed our whole lives to cope with untenable situations. But because we’ve been honing these horrible coping skills for years, we tend to use them on those closest to us, oftentimes blissfully unaware that we have become no better than those who have abused us in the past.
Friend breakups are their own special kind of hell, having to remove those once close from your existence, divide up mutuals like you’re going through a divorce, cut every picture in half, burn all of their gifts in a kiln, slice open your hand to reverse the blood pact you made with them…
It’s strange timing considering that as of writing this post, I’m going through another friend breakup that is going about as well as anyone can expect. I feel nauseous if that person even appears on my timeline even though I’ve blocked them nearly everywhere, the thought of this person makes me cry and I still feel the hollow sting of pain in my heart when I think of the betrayal butI’m stronger for it and here because of the men and women at my side who are strong for me when I cannot be.
They have supported me, comforted me, provided me with sage council when I wanted to be rash and irresponsible. They gave me safe harbor to rest my tired sails and anchored me when my heart was nothing but battered against the rocks.
I’m told I’m a generous person, always offering my friends help, always baking for people, always going above and beyond but to me, it’s still an act of supreme selfishness. I give because I know how much I take. I give because I know that once I need to cash in those cached chips of good will, I will need to. I will need these treasured few more than ever. I don’t give because I’m a saint, I give because I’m a sinner.
I’m so grateful to the men and women by my side. Many of them bonded with me through shared secrets, shared heartbreak and most importantly shared healing and understanding.
At ease, troops. You’ve earned a break.