Now Playing: Thistle & Weeds by Mumford & Sons (spare me your judgements and spare me your dreams, because recently mine have been tearing my seams)
I have a confession.
I love cuddles. It's my most favourite thing in the whole wide world - I love the skinship of intimate relationships. I am probably the most socially retarded person you'll ever meet and I don't make friends easily, but I can get close to someone relatively easily, if that makes sense. The only time I will refuse to cuddle is if you smell funny or I hate you. Seriously. If you see me in real life odds are I will probably be cuddling someone.
That's not my confession.
I'm very comfortable with touch - you'd think that someone as socially awkward as me wouldn't be, but I'm very fine with it. I'd have to be really pissed at you if you try and touch me and I shake you off; when I need 'space' I don't mean that I need what other people would call 'personal space'; my idea of 'space' is being totally alone and if I have company, well, one of them better have their arm around me (it is June, after all).
I wasn't always like this - I've spent a lot of time alone, being lonely, not really associating with many people. It's only in the last year or so that I've begun to, you know, learn how to interact with human beings and navigate my way through the sexual politics of high school and now uni - at school we're taught how to use our brains and our strength and socially high school is a bloodbath, but there's a whole other level of playground society that we like to pretend isn't there, but it is interesting and very important to learn how to use your body and your sexuality and the kind of intelligence and conversation you won't learn in class and I have grown very comfortable with that.
But we don't talk about that. And because we don't talk about that, none of us really knows what we are doing. I certainly didn't, and for the most part I still don't. Making it up as you go along is entertaining, for sure, and kind of quintessential to growing up, but also very, very, dangerous. I took for granted the knowledge, the absolute trust, that people wouldn't hurt me; and even if I thought they might they never did. Letting people touch you requires an incredible amount of trust and faith, and it's always a state of vulnerability no matter what you're doing or who you're doing it with, especially because I'm not very big or very strong - it wouldn't take much for a hug to become a fight I wouldn't win or a touch to become something scary and scarily unwelcome. And emotionally, emotionally it's very daunting and can take you to some very vulnerable places, especially when you don't know what you're doing.
I always thought that whatever I did with people that felt good, or exciting, or overwhelmingly intense, or whatever response that could be provoked from some physical act...I related it more to the actual thing we were doing instead of who and what and where and why and all the many thousands of elements that contribute to the mise en scene of every moment of our lives. And then such is the way that we treat women, all this sexism that I had internalised despite being such a passionate women's rights activist...everything you do that has any faint sexual undertone that's it, you've passed the point of no return, the ram has touched the wall and that is now something that you do, it's part of who you are. I cannot quite explain the guilt and shame of disliking something that you're doing with someone that you've done with someone else, the guilt and shame of pushing people away when, in another time and place, you were pulling other people closer. I just felt so guilty that I would run to other people for my cuddles but there was always this nagging feeling that stopped me from getting closer to this person. This reluctance is excused, perhaps, if someone is grotesquely ugly or abusive or violent or repulsive in any other way, but when you're supposed to like them, when they're supposed to be a friend, when they're supposed to be the start of something new and you're just not feeling it and you want to run away but guilt and shame stop you...it's horrible.
I like dominant personalities in the same way that most women like dominant personalities but some strange strands of feminism have somehow shamed that. I like it because relationships move at a blisteringly fast pace, which I like - it's nice to have someone to carry the burden of a relationship sometimes, for them to make the decisions in situations when you're easygoing. It makes what you have to say have more weight; these people learn to be grateful for your peacefulness and accept when you want things your way. I really do like the kind of people who are almost cruelly condescending if you're too dumb or not strong enough to keep up; if you can win them over they give you an unbelievable amount of love and respect and trust, and the warmest people are often the most hurt people and so they hide behind the coldest masks. You can't change a man and it's a fool who tries, but you can see who they really are if you look hard enough.
Being friends with someone dominant or condescending doesn't mean you have to be submissive - if anything, it makes you more assertive than before, which I like. All relationships are power struggles, and egalitarianism is nonexistent in the closest friendships, or at the very least merely a facade; there's always that push and pull of power, and I think the real test of any connection between two people is whether conflict can bring you together or force you apart. There are always boundaries pushed and lines crossed and prides that are wounded, but at the same time there is also sympathy and empathy and favours that are done without question or request or any expectations of reward; there is understanding and acceptance and apologies and forgiveness and, sometimes, having to swallow one's pride and beg forgiveness. But no matter what, respect is a vital part of any relationship; and I know my friends respect me as much as I respect them. There are hurts, but they are apologised for and forgiven. That's how relationships are supposed to work - trust, love, respect and lots of cuddles. I like dominant personalities because when you finally establish that friendship they will show you more respect and commitment than any nice guy ever will. People tell me I create the worst kinds of relationships with the worst kinds of people, but that's simply not accurate. I have never been unsympathetic of humanity - we are all human, and that is okay. Men are flawed creatures and that is a reality I accepted long ago. But if we all must have our flaws, I prefer them to be out in the open, so I can assess for myself if they are things I can handle and tolerate and forgive. The truth is my friends are no worse than yours; it's just that I am very aware of their shortcomings, and they are very aware of mine, and we are all okay with it. If anything I have the healthiest relationships, or at least the most honest ones.
When I'm whinging about being single and blah blah blah I know there is a small but bitterly resentful group of boys who are like 'well, she could have chosen me', and then start on their emo rants of 'nice guys finish last' and frienzoning and all that other crap. But they're not nice guys, none of the boys I've left behind have been in the least bit nice; they're all snivelling messes of emotional blackmail and violent jealousy and total lack of tact. You are not a nice guy if you tell a girl she's not pretty enough to do any better than you. You are not a nice guy if you think 'being nice' should be rewarded with getting your way with someone. And you are definitely not a nice guy if you blackmail people into doing things they don't want to do.
It all sounds very innocent, you know - it always does, even when it creeps you out. You tell other people and the gravity, the urgency of your panic, isn't quite relayed properly. You tell them to stop and they just smile at you like you're an idiot. You're stupid enough to tell them that you've been there, done that and then they pressure you into thinking that if you've been there you'll go there again, with them. You've done it all before - you've done a lot worse, actually - but it doesn't feel the same, it doesn't feel right, and there's a hard knot where the butterflies should be. There are the endless speeches about how they'll always be your best friend and when you try and step back they take a step towards you and ask in that horrible wounded voice why you're not caring for them the way they're caring for you. And I believed it, for a second, for a second I thought that because I've done this all before I had to do it all again. And when you do pull away the guilt stays, and I really did feel like I was letting him down. But the last straw comes to knock some sense into you when they ask why you're treating them so badly and jealously sulk that you've obviously let others do so much more and then you finally have the wisdom to think 'Yes. I did. Because I wanted to.'
You have to have the vanity to believe that you deserve the world or you end up with people like that. That's a lesson I learnt the hard way. I want other people to know that - I want people to know that no matter what you've done you always, always have the right to say no. I knew that, really, I did, but only in principle. The reason why I keep crapping on about Old Man isn't because he did anything to hurt me physically, but a mere week of his emotional blackmail cut very deep. I wanted to be that girl, that girl who did what she wanted and said no when she'd had enough but I never have been - when I took what I wanted I was slut shamed and when I wanted out I was under so much pressure to give in. It's easy to believe these girl power attitudes in theory but sometimes it's hard to put them into practice, especially when...well, when you're afraid. I didn't really know him and I didn't know what he might do and it was then that I realised how grateful I am to have friends who realise that even though relationships are power struggles blackmail is never acceptable.
I am not as stupid as people think I am - I know that is a rather idiotic thing to say after confessing to being so incredibly naive, but it's true. People think I am in bad relationships but trust me, I know a bad relationship when I see one and for all my naivety that fiasco didn't last any longer than a week - that at least I am proud of. I know exactly what is good and bad about all my relationships, about all the people I love. Nobody is perfect, and I think it is stupid to think I should run from anyone should they show the slightest flaws. The gravest faults show up in the most perfect people, and very early on. Perfection is a facade one can only keep up for so long - especially if there is rot at the root of perfection.