risk.

I’ve thought about joining a dating site again.

Honestly, despite all of the horrible outcomes I’ve had with people from dating sites (and there have been many,) I’ve had some insanely memorable ones too. Same goes for hiring my own employees, and for saying “yes” to anything, when I could’ve said “no”.

It’s all a risk, and I tend to be a risky person.

I’m learning rapidly that some risks aren’t worth taking—at least not for the moment.

Crazy can be fun. Energy is exciting, and new experiences are typically worthwhile, but, crazy also gets very tiring, very quickly, and sometimes the consequences aren’t worth it.
One minute you’re hanging out with someone fun and exciting, and the next you find out they do coke and live a reckless lifestyle that starts to wear on your own. One minute, you’re dating someone who lights up your entire world, and the next you find out they’re a dishonest and manipulative narcissist, inevitably tearing down your entire sense of self. One minute you’re excited about a new employee who is a little overly friendly, and months later they’re breaking into your apartment—or is that just me?

People are risky. Always.

After awhile, though, you learn the signs of toxicity. I’ve spent a lot of this year dealing with a lot of chaos. Someone close to me recently told me, “you attract crazy people.” They’re not wrong—it sure seems like I do—but I think a lot of it had to do with my own inexperience. There have been a lot of red flags I’ve overlooked for the sake of believing in people; in giving them benefit of the doubt. I still often believe in seeing the good in others, but I’m learning how to protect myself, too. I’m learning the difference between good people who are worth taking risks on, and people who are just risky.

I think taking risks has to be a calculated jump. I’m an impulsive person who is constantly swaying between, “what have I got to lose?” and, “I have literally everything to lose.” I think when it comes to trusting people, there needs to be a balance.

People often show you who they are the first time (believe them.) Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we get blindsided. Personally, I’ve always learned a lesson—even if it was the hard way, (and it usually is.) I don’t know if I would’ve learned the difference between good people and toxic people if I didn’t take the risks, but I’ll never know. All I can do now is take the lessons I’ve learned, put them in a backpack, and keep moving onward.

So, I’m trying my best to slow down. My life has been anything but calm, and though oftentimes it’s been out of my control, sometimes it’s been a result of my risk-taking.

I don’t regret any of it. There have been times I thought I did, and of course, there are things I could’ve done differently. But I’ve learned a shit ton of lessons in a small amount of time, and it’s made me a stronger person.

So… I don’t think I’ll be joining any dating sites anytime soon. I’m not ready to throw myself into a pool that’s so risky quite yet, but I am hiring new people, and I am still saying “yes” when I can choose to say “no.” I’m just a little more careful, a little more thoughtful, a little less impulsive. Maybe I’m growing just a little bit wiser.

God, I hope so.

no.

No means no means no means no, still means no.

“Not right now,” is not a yes.

“I don’t feel like it,” is not a challenge.

“I’m not sure,” still means no.

“Can we wait?” Is not a promise.

“I don’t know,” is a no.

 

I recently dated someone who told me, “No doesn’t always mean no.” In the same breath, they said, “No can turn into a yes.” At this time, I yelled at them because I’m a confrontational person, but when it came down to it in the end: he was right.

I didn’t always say yes. Sometimes I said ‘not now’, which was protested, and they won. Sometimes I said ‘I don’t think we should’, which was overpowered. I don’t think I ever said no, but I don’t think I was ever in a position where I thought I could.

Consent is a tricky thing nowadays. Well, consent isn’t tricky, but it is often misconstrued. I can’t sit here and say there aren’t women who lie about consent to get a man in trouble; that happens all the time. But, I think there are also a lot of women that don’t know how to say no, especially when manipulation is involved. They aren’t lying when they say they didn’t want to, but didn’t know how to say it. It’s hard to say no when there’s a man on top of you that weighs twice your size, especially if you’re disabled.

As a woman, self-worth plays into almost everything, for me personally. For someone who has the history I do, it’s true that there have been times in the past I’ve thought I had to sleep with people for them to like me. It’s not hard to see; it’s not hard to prey on. Is it right? No. Was it rape? Also, no.

There is a definitely a gray area, and I still don’t know where that line is, or if you can walk it. I’m learning that I don’t want to be around people who make me.

Manipulation has made me make a lot of decisions I’m not okay with. I’m not saying I didn’t consent—I’m not saying this person committed a crime—I’m saying they put me in a position time and time again that ate away at my willpower. I’m saying that anything that isn’t a yes, should be a no in the eyes of any decent person. I’m saying that no woman should have to question if they even can say no.

There are still good people out there. The first time I was with someone after the one aforementioned, they always asked me straightforward, and made me say “yes” before anything would happen—even a hug. It blew my mind, but I’ve slowly realized that this is how it should be.

For disabled women, it’s that much harder. If I’m out of my wheelchair, I can’t move at all. All of my trust is on the other person, whether I like it or not. I have to be more careful than the average woman, and I’ve been lucky in the grand scheme of things. I’ve met some shitty people. I’ve been in relationships that tore away at me, but it was never because of my physical vulnerability. I’ve been lucky.

So, maybe he was right. Maybe a “no” can turn into a “yes,” but anyone who wants to turn your decisions into theirs shouldn’t be making any decisions in your life at all.

No still means no. As hard as it can be—stand firm, friends. We’re worth more respect than we can even imagine, and you deserve to be able to say no.

And so do I, and I do.