I don’t regret the fact that I went out with that guy, surprisingly it was a positive experience.
He was gorgeous and I won’t deny the fact that I was infatuated mainly by his looks. His passions reminded me of my partner who passed away and perhaps I allowed that to pull me despite knowing he wouldn’t quite be right for me romantically. He was from an entirely different world than mine and I knew in my gut there was probably a lot about me someone like him wouldn’t understand or accept.
This is a personal issue I have. I come from trauma, poverty, homelessness, instability. As much as I grow and create my own life away from the life I lived for 19 years its still a part of me and my experience, that’ll never change. Connecting romantically with people who come from stability has always been difficult for me. In my experience, especially if they’re “young” (under 35) they find it hard to understand and empathize with people like me.
I found his optimism invalidating. Simple comments in conversations such as him saying with such conviction that he believed most men were good, that they were like him, that cheating isn’t common – all these comments felt like rubbing salt into my wounds.
Its not that I don’t appreciate the fact that people who aren’t jaded exist, I do dearly. Without them I’d probably go mad in my own head. They just seem to speak over those of us who’ve lived a different narrative. How can one person say there are more good men out there when in my experience nearly every man I’ve met has hurt me? From my biological fathers abuse, to my stepfathers abuse, to a boyfriend I’d had who would hit me, to the men who would sleep with me then shame me, to the ‘friends’ who would only want me because they hoped they’d get in my pants, to the men who’d lie and cheat on me, to the men who’d disappear on me….No, my narrative wasn’t like his. And I still don’t believe there are a lot of good men out there, I do believe there are some. His optimism made me want to believe him even in the midst of all my apprehension all while making me feel invisible and unheard.
I have ambivalent attachment ‘disorder’ with a dash of avoidant attachment sprinkled in (which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the snippet of my history I just dropped) Dating someone I may want to trust exacerbates it greatly, especially if they’re all wrong for me…which then causes my anxiety and depression to act up. Its quite a ridiculous and painful cycle, but its predictable so I find comfort in that. I kept waiting for him to ghost or do something horrible-but nothing happened. The most offensive thing he did was let me pay for my own food/drinks/etc. At the end of the day he acted like a mature adult *gasp* he was communicative and respected me as a person enough to put that and my feelings above his physical needs. So yes he was good looking, hot, gorgeous whatever adjective you prefer to use when referring to a ridiculously attractive man he was that, but more importantly he was kind.
I was reminded that I’m not my attachment disorder when I’m treated with respect.
Where I’ve been mentally, emotionally, and physically the past few weeks mixed with this experience did something to me. I feel more empowered and self assured than I ever have before. And no, I don’t have him on a pedestal for being a decent human being (he was still incredibly arrogant..but I digress), its such a rare experience for me that I can’t help but be thankful.
Having such a deep appreciation for something others find so small and meaningless makes me feel a bit of shame – its a reminder of my history and the beaming contrast between then and now. The contrast between me and ‘them’.
As much as I hate to admit it most ‘vanilla’ men in my life haven’t been all that respectful of me as a human being. (I use the term vanilla to label men who aren’t paying me). I was predictable for a while and kept my cycle going by choosing shitty men, the only good straight men I knew aside from one of my best friends were my Sugar Daddies (SDs). Which I find funny since society seems to think the men who pay women are the horrible ones – the ones who are desperate losers or simply want to control someone. While that is sometimes the case these are the men who’ve usually treated me with nothing but respect. My SDs have all been incredibly wonderful to me and better yet they’ve all made me feel safe and respected.
On the other end vanilla men have often felt a strong sense of entitlement when it comes to my body, my emotional labor, and my time. They’ve taken what they wanted and left. And sometimes I’d let them.
I was raised in a way that forced me to grow up all too quickly. I was constantly responsible for others and extending my emotional labor until I’d literally have a psychological collapse. It comes naturally to me even now, so much so that it has taken me my entire life to realize: not everyone deserves it. And I need a partner who will understand the fact that yes, I am self sufficient. Yes, I am incredibly strong and resilient. Yes, I can do anything I want. I’m a fucking powerhouse and have survived what some may consider unimaginable. But I’ve literally had a lifetime of having to be independent and strong to a fault with no one to rely on in order to survive.
I truly thought that was the only way I could be. That I had to be strong all the time. That no one could ever see me break or shed a tear. And one day it all clicked – I’m allowed to want support. I’m allowed to be fragile some days. I’m allowed to want someone who will want to hold my hand and walk with me and at times carry me in the same ways I will carry them. Not only am I allowed to want it, I deserve it.
I was reminded of this during our ‘break up’ when he mentioned the fact that he doesn’t like to be nurtured he simply wants to be pushed and supported, then during a later conversation I asked for a favor and he jokingly called me lazy for not wanting to do it myself. For a second I felt offended, lazy is honestly the last thing I am! Then I took a step back and in that moment I smiled. I realized it absolutely never would have worked with us romantically and that perhaps it was fate or destiny… maybe it was just dumb luck, but stumbling across this man gave me the opportunity to actively change my own narrative in a way I hadn’t before because I wasn’t ready to be healthy. Despite his white guy faults he ultimately fostered a situation that allowed me to realize I’m no longer the person I was just one year ago, maybe even just a few months ago.
Its taken me countless small steps back and forth to get here to be able to say I’m not my past and it isn’t going to control or dictate my future.
Thats a gift I never thought life would give me.
Needless to say I’m incredibly thankful my 2017 resolution broke not even two weeks into the year….but I’m back on track now!