I wrote this in my notebook as I was on my porch, smoking these old Camel lights that have been in one of my kitchen drawers for, oh a year now. I am like those stupid Become and EX commercials that talks about re-learning how to do certain things without cigarettes. For me, unfortunately, it’s writing. I’ve tried to write an entry for a while about the internal stuff that’s going on with me. There are some past actions and reaction, aside from writing without smoking, that I’m trying to unlearn.
Some months ago, I was lying in bed, wondering if I was going to be the girl who was always alone. Every past action indicated to that assumption. But I realized, that night, that it was me that was causing the empty bed and the lack of a friend-based relationship. I was alone because I had trained myself to believe that I was “supposed” to be alone. (What does that Interpol song say? “I’m sick of spending these lonely night, training myself not to care”?)
Now Lord knows that after having one guy say and do the worst, manipulative and dishonest things to me at a young age, when I thought that was all I could get, even thought I knew it was wrong, I was still hurt and discouraged. The idea of what “love” was to a man because a separate definition to what I defined the word to mean. Love meant calling me up, after tons of unanswered messages, telling me of his past conquests and hatred for my crying, even though “you know I still love you.” So once I figured out that everything I believed in his words were empty, I went on to try the same routine with two other guys directly after my divorce. Each one turned around one day to say, “I don’t understand what the big deal is” when they did something just as cruel. Hence, I became cemented in jealousy, anxiety, depression, guilt and disillusion.
And since those years long ago, I’ve sought after crushes who had the same kind of attitude towards me. They reeled me in, tossed me out, reeled me in, then berated me for having an emotional reactions to their inactions of care. Never once did I think I was choosing the wrong guys. Never once did it occur to me that I was setting myself up for failure on purpose because I didn’t think I deserved anything else.
By being a single woman in my modern world, I have had plenty of firsthand experience on the long, arduous process of relationship discussions. We have books and movies and television shows and music and friends who all talk about men. We have to be “smart” girls. We can’t put up with any man’s crap. We have to (as Dr. Phil says) “teach people how to treat us.” Men will do anything it takes to screw a woman over and we have to be on guard at all times. Basically, I have been fashioned into a bitch.
And since I have always been the one to be hurt, I never thought anything was my fault past not being beautiful, not being thin enough, not being like other girl who had husbands. I wasn’t bitchy enough I supposed and Lord knows I got plenty of resentment in myself when I was called “bitter.”
In the past month or so, something changed in me drastically. It was as if I finally saw myself on the inside and I found out that my past had been an excuse to carry a chip on my shoulder. I assumed all men were liars, cheaters, manipulators, skirt chasers and all-around jerks who delighted in nothing more than to push every button I had to make me crazy with anxiety and insecurity.
I started seeing that all this time, I was expecting people to say, “Oh, she’s had it bad before, so she has a right to be distrusting.” I had it said to me by women for years. I was set apart because I had this crappy past that I kept on call to use as a tool to week out any possible errors in a man’s character that would potentially make him “just like the others.”
But now I realize it’s been me this whole time that’s choosing to be bent out of shape over things that should be boxed up and buried. I am the one who accuses and assumes that every man is never going to be genuine or trustworthy or kind. So I set up fights and wait for an opportunity to pounce and say, “Ah ha! I knew it!” I lash out and keep myself “protected” instead of tearing down my wall that I took years to put up. I use to think, “I’ll try with this (wrong) guy, but if it doesn’t work (when I knew it wouldn’t because he wasn’t right for me), I’m putting another brick up and sealing myself off for good!” I wasn’t going to be anyone’s fool.
Nope, I’ve been my own fool all along. I saw mean and hurtful, unjust things. I get angry and jealous and worked up over nothing that is the actual truth — I make up reasons to not try and let anyone in.
So unlearning all of this is what I’ve been trying to do recently. I realized that all of the things I have gone through is my reason for writing. I always figured that I’d be able to tell my future audience the things I learned along the way. What I wanted to write about is how I figured out, at age 32, that shutting the door in any man’s face before they even try to know is anything but smart. I learned that it isn’t that someone is going to have to save me from being hurt; I have to save myself from being someone to does the hurting. I’ve learned not to repeat my patterns, but to grow out of them and evolve.
I apologize for any rocks I may have kicked up as I tried to set myself on my path.
Photo credit: remotd