Many lifetimes ago I was sitting on a guy’s porch with him drinking and stargazing. We were having a thing and were in a phase where I was sleeping in his bed more often than my own but we hadn’t yet talked about what that meant. In the comfort of the dark and after a few drinks I guess he was feeling extra stupid because he dropped into conversation that he had a crush on some other girl. This was absolutely as shocking and devastating as it sounds.
Do you want to know what my heartbroken younger self did? Not a god damn thing. I sat there in silence using every iota of strength in my body to not burst into tears. He noticed his fuck up. He noticed me trying not to react. And he ignored it. We hooked up later that night and I went home in the morning and cried all weekend.
This is not healthy.
Here’s the thing: I’ve spent a significant portion of my life as a young woman trying to convince men I’m not crazy. I had this idea in my head that since we weren’t capital ‘d’ Dating any feelings I had for him were inappropriate and weird. Keep in mind that this is someone I’d been hooking up with for months. I spent a lot of nights that spring touching his skin and playing him music and telling him how great he was. In retrospect every feeling I was trying to hold in was completely called for, natural, and appropriate for the situation.
Nothing about the act of caring for someone makes you crazy. It’s human to care. It’s human to have a relationship with the people who touch us and play music for us and tell us how great we are. But we were in a silent competition to care less than the other person, to keep it more casual, to act more indifferent. Which is a pretty gross way to go through life.
I just need to know, as a feminist and a human, how it got to the point where I was more concerned my valid feelings may shed an unflattering light on him and he would have to feel guilty about his actions than I was concerned that he was actually deliberately and objectively treating me poorly. I need to know how I became a person who would rather walk on eggshells around someone else than listen to my own intuition. Why was it so important that this person think highly of me when he had already shown me through his actions that this wasn’t ever going to be a likely outcome of us hanging out.
Why do I care so much about the wrong things?
Some guys just think women are crazy. It’s not my responsibility to convince them otherwise.
The more I date, the more I think the idea of the crazy ex-girlfriend is just an urban myth. A morality tale to scare women into submission. When we advocate for our own needs: the need to express normal human emotions, to ask for affection or for closure, or for the ability to not feel like a ball and chain for simply having wants and needs at all — we run the risk of being labelled crazy or needy or clingy.
I don’t know how much fault men actually have in this. It would be great to blame “the patriarchy” and move on but the ideas that permeate our thoughts are nebulous and we don’t invite them in on purpose. A simple history of Western thought (the foundation of basically everything we all believe) is a story of trying to rebrand humans as rational. We ignore our human instincts and champion people who are able to separate their minds from their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. From the very beginning, Plato associated anything earthly, feminine, or feelings oriented as inferior and we’ve followed suit.
The sad part of this is that we all already have so much wisdom within us. My intuition knows when something is off and I should be communicative about that with the people around me. The people who tell me “it’s not a big deal” or “I’m overreacting” have an agenda. They aren’t trying to make the situation healthier, they’re trying to make me doubt myself so I don’t listen to the voice that’s telling me maybe they aren’t a great person for me to be around.
The way men have made me feel has lasting consequences. It shapes the person I am able to be. I don’t deserve to have to be bitter or less-trusting or less joy-filled in love because of how someone else treated me. I don’t want to be around people anymore who tell me it’s wrong to feel or that what I feel is wrong.
I just want to be a multi-faceted human being who listens to myself. I want to make decisions based on measured thought held against my gut. I have a pretty good history of success when I actually do stop and listen to what I’m feeling. Maybe I’d have had less fun nights with the guy on the porch. The loss of someone who didn’t treat me well doesn’t feel like much of a loss in retrospect.