I go to church and I see no women on the altar.
I was going to meet my ex-boyfriend at his apartment in Manhattan. A man on a bike stopped in front of me, blocking my access to the subway stairs, and whispered, “I want your pussy.” I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction back to my apartment. Fight or flight. I am 105 pounds and 5’4’’. Flight.
One night, coming back to my fairly safe neighborhood to my fairly safe apartment in Astoria (no neighborhood or apartment is completely safe, right?) A crazy guy told me to suck his dick. Again – inevitable, involuntary flight.
I went to a diner with my best girl friend who has short hair, who was dressed in a jean shirt and khakis. The waiter wouldn’t serve us only coffee unless we moved to the bar, despite the diner being practically empty. The following week I went back there with another friend and only ordered coffee. I had the same waiter. No discord.
My job is a glorified customer service job. I speak with members over the phone, and if needed make appointments with them so we can speak in person at my office. Many of the men I help, when they see me in person, ask me if f I’m the person they are really supposed to be speaking with.
I am really sorry, mom and dad.
I had an abortion over a year ago that I hid from most of my world. On top of the trauma add an old, unsupportive woman yelling at me before I went into the Planned Parenthood that I could be saved!
I only apologize to my mother and father because I genuinely care about them outside of misdirecting their personal moral compasses. I am scared of emotionally hurting them because I love them, but I can’t contain this anymore.
I am a happy person. I have great friends, a great family, and a solid enough work environment (the work is frustrating, the pay is minimal, but the coworkers are friends). However, the aforementioned anecdotes, sans the abortion, which is too heavy for me to literally convey, have become more than the afterthoughts I deal with everyday. They become a question of ‘WHY am I dealing with this everyday?’ This is unfortunately where I have to get introspective.
I was in love with a boy for nearly two years who constantly tore me down. At the end of our break up he told me, “good luck finding someone better than me – I will find someone better than you, you won’t find someone better than me.” He also told me I was privileged and selfish, that I only scored higher than him on standardized tests because my parents paid for me to go to a private high school (even though I received a full scholarship to go to said school), AND – to bring it home – said that I received most of my academic accolades only because I was a minority. He is also the boy who impregnated me. The week I had my abortion I asked him what he thought our child would be like. His response: utter shock and a disconcerting “Oh, God.”
Why did I stay with him? Well, I was an idiot, and I accepted the love I felt I deserved. He is in law school, he’s handsome and charming, and he wants to help children for a living. Me on the other hand? Who knows who I am.
Exes are a tricky subject because they are your ex for a reason – usually a mutually exclusive reason. I just painted a horrible picture of the guy, but of course it wasn’t all his fault that the relationship crumbled. I had my repulsive moments in that relationship where I look back and question how I could treat someone I thought I truly loved in such a frivolous, mean way. At the end of the day though, I felt like I needed him because of his accomplishments and my supposed lack thereof. I took his condescension towards me as truth about myself. I don’t blame him – I blame me. I didn’t have the sense of self to get out of something so caustic. I won’t make that mistake again.
I feel like I’ve hit a minor breakthrough in the stereotypical, yet poignant journey to self-discovery. My self-worth is defined by only me. Others may mold it, but I define it, and this is my starting point.
As for the other injustices I face as a woman? That all women have to live with everyday? All I have for now is a personal remedy and the fleeting catharsis of writing this article.
I want to one day be and have a more concrete solution to these problems, but for now, at least I broke the silence.