"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, May 14, 2016

defensive assholery

Now Playing: Third Eye by Florence + the Machine (there's a hole where your heart lies and I can see it with my third eye) 

I cannot count the number of times when I've been alone, privately, with a guy - pillowtalking or whatever - and they suddenly announce, quite randomly, out of the blue, that they're selfish, or that they're 'a bit of an asshole' or 'you know I'm a dick, right?', or start recounting a story of how they mistreated one of their previous partners. And I just sit and listen in stupefied silence, thinking 'where the hell did that come from?'

I'm all for putting one's cards on the table, and I obviously don't think that people are flawless bastions of decency. But I cannot for the life of me understand why men are socialized to make these sudden, self-deprecating statements with no context or apparent purpose; as if they have this big secret and they just decide to blurt it out before the cat's out of the bag.

I think guys know what they're up to more than they're willing to admit. Because, in that situation, what am I supposed to do? Hop out of bed, get dressed, shake hands and say 'it was lovely meeting you, but we clearly have insurmountable issues and this relationship is insufficiently serious enough to try and tackle them'? Of course not. I just have to lie there with this self-proclaimed selfish, heartless bastard, and probably reassure him that he's not nearly as selfish or heartless as he claims he is.

One of the first people to do this was my abuser - it was by far not the worst thing he did, nor were the other people who did the same necessarily abusive. But when we were having our huge, horrible falling out, he said 'I don't know what you expected, I told you I'm a dick'.

Yes, you did. Once upon a time, when we weren't fighting and had no reason to fight. In a calm, peaceful, serene moment you calmly and coolly explained that you were a Colossal Asshole, knowing full well that if I had run for the hills then and there I would have come off as completely batshit insane and become just another one of your crazy exes. That was, apparently, warning, for the shit to come. And my socially contracted obligation to stay because you weren't in that moment acting on your apparently intrinsic douchebaggery was apparently consent to being messed around. It's like proactive victim blaming.

Here's another thing; selfishness, being a shit person - these are not unshakable character traits that define the core of one's very being. It's understandable in a sixteen year old who's just fucked up his first relationship because he fell down a porn hashtag rabbit hole on tumblr, but it's less forgivable in a twenty-something man who is making the same mistakes from nearly a decade ago.

Since when has it been okay to suddenly advertise one's negative attributes, anyway? I don't, in the post-coital haze, start recounting the story of that one time when I was ten and won thirty games of Uno in a row by making up rules against my gullible playmate, or that for reasons unknown I have kicked a few boys in the balls totally unprovoked. And I don't then use That One Time I Told You Stories About My Past to retroactively claim that you're okay with me cheating or giving you blunt testicular trauma. You move on from being the cheating, violent kid and try to make yourself into something of a respectable adult and halfway decent partner and you try, very hard, not to hurt the people you care about. Sometimes you're gonna fuck up, and that's okay, but these people and their little trips down memory lane and strange manipulation of peaceful couple moments...I feel like they're not even trying.

And in all this kerfuffle I feel, ultimately, disposable. I have to constantly tell myself that I did okay, that it's not my fault, that I didn't accidentally consent to being messed around and bullied by someone who claimed to care about me. I have to be okay with the fact that I'm probably another one of your 'crazy exes' who just 'didn't understand you'. And I have to be okay with the fact that, as wonderful as you apparently thought I was, you were okay with losing me because you didn't have the balls to grow up. That maybe, one day, you'll get bored of throwing women away and be the person I always knew you were, and some other lucky woman will have that version of you, and all I got was a wonderful boy who somehow thought that jealousy and selfishness were core to his very existence, rather than things he could have given up, for me.

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