Sometime in our senior year of college, my suitemates and I found ourselves talking about abortion. We came to two important conclusions:
If any of us ever had an abortion, the others would buy her vast quantities of the candy of her choice (hereby known as “abortion candy”).
You got to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the rest of the day.
Strange as this may sound, I took great comfort in this. I still do. For all the sugar and TLC absurdity, we broached a topic easy to talk about in abstract from a political vantage point but rendered taboo in every day conversation.
As we debated the merits of Reeses pieces, gummy worms, and snickers, surrounded by our leopard print shrine to Abraham Lincoln and a life-size cutout of Justin Bieber which we decorated with bras far too large for his cup size, I internally sighed with relief.
This conversation meant that whatever choice you made, you could count on your friends to be there with and for you. It meant that we could talk through our options. It meant we would never be alone.
Several of us had had that heart-stopping moment of realizing our period was late. We found ourselves calculating the date of our last sexcapade, becoming more stressed by the minute (and making ourselves more late in turn). For me when I haven’t had a gentleman caller of late, this turns what I call the Virgin Mary Panic. “Oh my God, I can’t be pregnant…can I? I mean, it happened to the Virgin Mary! Maybe it is about time Jesus came back. I wonder if Jesus would be a cute baby. Probably not.” I always found solace in the fact that goodness knows God wouldn’t pick me and in the span of a few seconds reverted back to the sane and reasonable “oh, I must just be really stressed.”
But even when it wasn’t Virgin Mary panic and in fact real panic, our brains clawing back to possible failures of our birth control methods of choice, there was a sense of being not alone as we sent good blood-tastic thoughts to whoever was late. And we’ve been lucky. So far, it’s only been stress and hormones toying with our bodies. But should the day come otherwise, we’ll be there for each other.
The Abortion Candy conversation reminded us that should our birth control somehow fail, should we not be as vigilant as usual one night, should we find ourselves pregnant, our friends would be there as we figured out our course of action, no matter what that entailed for us. We had a choice, and in turn our friends had chosen in advance to honor and support our choice. Be there a baby or an abortion, we could talk to each other. We could be scared and overwhelmed together. We could be confused, relieved, happy, sad, or all of the above.
And we could eat candy together.
After all, there is a great strength in sugar and solidarity.
I love Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec’s unabashed use of compliments to celebrate the people in her life. While her metaphors may seem absurd, they speak of the intensity of her love for her colleagues and friends. She values them, and they’ve come to accept that, bizarre as Leslie’s esteem may be, it comes from a profoundly genuine place.
So when I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of my favorite Tinder fellows this week, I found myself surprised as I reconsidered my own relationship to compliments.
This gentleman does wonderful things for the world, for his community. He stumbled into an opportunity to help others and has seized it, serving on a board advocating for those who need a champion and a role model. He worked hard to get a job at a place he dreamed of working. He mocks people on HGTV like a champ.
Oh, and word around the block is he can make chocolate chip cookie dough spring rolls.
I think he’s pretty amazing. He jokingly attempted to refute me. I wasn’t having it.
Then I realized I was being a giant hypocrite. So often when people pay me a compliment I try to brush it off. I try to play it as humility, as if modesty were some magic circle that made being complimented acceptable.
However, that’s operating on the assumption that accepting a compliment is somehow to be vain. I’ve spent my life treating embracing compliments as a shortcoming. I want to appreciate people. I love telling people why they inspire me, why they bring me hope, joy, and inspiration. Why would I not give them the joy of appreciating me if they should want to do so? Why hide behind the guise of modesty?
The answer immediately rang in my head, and I’m ashamed to admit it’s because I don’t think I deserve it.
I’ve spent the past year feeling like a giant loser. Hell, right now I’m applying to jobs like crazy and can’t manage to get an interview. I’ve taken to paying for groceries in change (sorry not sorry, people in the self-checkout line at Kroger). I couldn’t even afford my own car insurance (generous grandmother to the rescue!), can’t afford to get my eyes checked, and haven’t had a haircut in over a year. Between stress eating and OCD meds I’ve gained a stunning number of pounds, reducing my wardrobe to mostly jeans, leggings, and t-shirts.
My ego has been shot to pieces.
I didn’t realize how vain I was until I found myself hitting what has felt like rock bottom. Me, Miss Phi Beta Kappa, fancy liberal arts degree, talk your ear off, charming to a fault, somehow held down three jobs at a time during college—an incompetent mooching failure laid low by OCD and the job market.
And yet people still seem to like me. As all the things I thought I valued in myself have fallen away, academic success, employment, even my old appearance, people still like me. People still somehow have compliments for me. It’s absolutely blown my mind. I found myself attempting to dismiss kind words with a laugh, or sentences starting with “yeah, but…” Upon further thought, as someone who so values words, how unkind of me to dismiss someone else’s for the sake of my current lack of self-assuredness.
I’ve learned people value who I am so much more than what I achieve. They celebrate for me when I succeed and hurt for me when I struggle, but at the heart of that is a profound respect for who I am as a person, in spite of what I may or may not accomplish.
So often we forget that the measures of our own esteem are inherently flawed, twisted by years of assumptions and false comparisons. While we may think we fall short, in another’s eyes we may absolutely shine.
Even if in my heart of hearts I’m struggling to see myself in a positive light, I owe it to these people to believe them when they say kind things to me and to trust, even if I can’t quite see the good things myself, that compliments come from a genuine place based on their experiences with me.
So, you beautiful tropical fish, if I tell you you’re wonderful, trust me, and I’ll do you the courtesy of trusting you. Here’s hoping that the more we let ourselves be wonderful in each other’s eyes, the more we’ll learn to be wonderful in our own.
No one looks good covered in their own blood. The imagined streams of a positive and O negative poured freely in my mind’s eye. Arteries burst under the pressure of knife blades, of gardening tools, of particularly sharp sticks. And the blood was on my hands.
I spent a year completely convinced my destiny was to be a serial killer. I was simply delaying the inevitable. The thought of stabbing people burst unprovoked into my mind in the middle of television programs, walking down the street, in the shower. I didn’t want to stab anyone. I don’t want to harm anyone. Ever. Well, maybe not any more than one might with a barbed witticism. That is about the fullest extent of acceptable violence in my book. Yet bloody images of knives, gardening implements, and even protractors popped into my mind’s eye, again and again and again.
I pictured the bodies of loved ones on the floor, smeared in blood. I wondered if different blood types smelled different. I wondered how high blood would shoot from an artery as opposed to a vein. I wondered how long I’d be able to avoid knowing that. My mind twisted in loops, unable to think about other things from fear that my thoughts were in fact my destiny.
I started hitting myself in the face, totally unbidden. My hands would move before my mind could even recognize what was happening. I would be sitting quietly, anxiously dwelling over some email I hadn’t sent, some small failure, my current state of loserdom, and POW right in the kisser. Sometimes it was a punch. Sometimes it was a slap. I started to worry I’d give myself a black eye. My mind felt disconnected from my body. I felt trapped in a body that I couldn’t control.
I began to speak to myself, sentences that had no relation to what I had previously been thinking. They startled me. While completely innocuous in content, that I found myself blurting out sentences about cats or saying “I don’t like that” to myself randomly was almost as disconcerting as my violent actions towards myself. I’ve always loved talking, especially public speaking. That I had lost control of what I had to say scared me. My mind and my mouth were at bay. How long until I lost control entirely?
I was scared. I felt like there was some barrier in my mind that was just barely keeping some terrifying, violent me at bay. I couldn’t even keep myself from violence against myself; how long would it be before I started hurting others?
I hid. Unemployed, terrified, I spent the days hiding from most of the world, unloading the dishwasher in my parents’ house, baking bread while blasting Kanye and Jhene Aiko, playing video games with my best friend, and building endless Lego towers with my little sister. These things distracted me enough to keep me going, but I still couldn’t get out from under the shadow of fear. In some ways it’s been good for me. I hadn’t gotten to spend this long with my family in a long time, and they needed someone to run carpool and fill the crockpot with magical mac and cheese. While I’ve utterly destroyed my savings, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my siblings, who are the lights of my life, even when I’m feeling not so shiny myself.
I managed to find a number of other welcome brief respites during this period. I went to the largest pageant in the world for female impersonators (often called “drag queens”) where I performed as a backup dancer whilst dressed as a Disney princess. I learned how to glue rhinestones to things, which I adored because the thousands of tiny sparkly things kept my mind and hands so preoccupied. It is hard to kill someone with a rhinestone. I took trips to see friends during which I found a welcome distraction from my own mind, only to find myself lying in the dark of guest rooms or curled up on living room couches just feeling glad that somehow my love for these people wasn’t letting me give into these violent thoughts and shove whatever nearest sharp thing that was available into their fleshy bodies.
Nothing, no matter how fascinating or cheerful could mitigate or allay the thought that I was losing my mind. I could only stand to be around anyone for so long. One of the manifestations of my OCD is an extreme perfectionism. I don’t like anyone to perceive my weakness or see me as somehow flawed. All of this I counted as decidedly flawed. For all my pride, I’d rather appear the indulgent bum mooching off her parents than the out of her mind potential murderer. I cried constantly. In the shower as I tried to wash off the stain of bloody thoughts, my hair tangled into tree roots before my eyes, trapping me in tulgey woods of my own design as I sat on the cold tile floor, wracked with sobs.
I slept as much as possible, my favorite refuge from reality. I read the same book about a charming Jewish family in the early 20th century over and over and over again. I couldn’t manage an interest in any other book. The library, which had always been my sanctuary, became a hell, an endless sea of books I wished I could get my brain to read. I listened to the same albums and watched the same tv shows over and over. I sat very still and stared at walls. I felt incapable of productivity. Any attempt I made to write, to job hunt, to do anything, ended with me in a full blown panic attack, feeling like a waking nightmare. I was unable to move, unable to calm down, unable to escape. There was no waking up. There was only waiting. My heart pounded as I struggled to breathe. A heaviness overcame my body refusing to let me move. I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Everywhere I turned I felt I ran into a wall, and every offer of help anyone made made me all the more frustrated for my inability to successfully accomplish what they wanted of me, be it a job application or a hangout session or a phone call.
I wasn’t ok, and I didn’t know how to tell people exactly how not ok I was. Or rather, I didn’t want to tell anyone how not okay I was. I was scared. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy or dangerous, even as I considered myself crazy and dangerous. I didn’t want to scare anyone away any more than I already had by being a ball of mopey tears and general incompetence.
Thanks to a handy article online, I finally started to realize that most people aren’t anxious about everything all the time. It felt like a revelation. I’ve spent my entire life overwhelmed by things like kindergarten picnics with teddy bears (would my teddy bear get lost? What if I spilled juice on my teddy’s dress? What if my teddy got mad? What happens when teddies get angry? What if another kid took my teddy bear?) and missed questions on middle school social studies tests (early humans wove clothing out of plant fibers, -2 points). Failed social moments, rules broken, and people disappointed overwhelm and haunt me all too frequently. Most people don’t head to the grocery store, make a wrong turn, and become so overwhelmed by their own failure that they just drive home. Most people don’t beat their heads against walls when they do something naughty and get punished, which at one point was two-year-old me’s modus opperandi.
Slowly I started talking to people in my life about anxiety and depression. Some were helpful. Others were not. When someone tells you they think they’re dealing with a psychological issue, that isn’t license to spout the wonders yoga has done for your anxiety and maybe if they just tried that and then kept busy they’d be fine. It doesn’t mean that sharing about that one time you felt sad and you journaled it out so maybe they should do that is relevant or helpful. That’s like telling someone with two broken arms to play the violin. It doesn’t work. In spite of these sweet people’s good intentions, it was infuriating, and more than that, saddening to have people list things I should do and yet somehow could not. All it did was make me feel more like a failure that I couldn’t just kick this on my own somehow, especially since people who were close to me seemed convinced I should be able to do so. I’d always been a pull yourself up by the bootstraps and just get it done kind of gal, looking down on people who couldn’t seem to just pick themselves up and move on when life got them down. And now here I was, stuck, no bootstraps in sight. It was humbling and mortifying all at once.
But so many people rose to the occasion. I didn’t need to be told it was going to be okay; my brain couldn’t begin to process the idea of being ok, let alone accept it. To the many people who offered countless reassurances, who listened to me bemoan how I couldn’t stop crying or how I couldn’t seem to manage to get my life together, who just let me sit and be, who let me cancel plans because the thought of leaving the house made me too stressed to move, thank you. So often all I needed was someone to sit with me. To feel less alone in body, because in my mind I remained utterly alone, a crazed island unto myself.
My mother finally insisted I seek professional help. At that point, I was so overcome by social anxiety that I couldn’t even dial the phone myself. I would stare on it for hours on end, knowing help was at the other end, but afraid to admit the things I would have to in order to get help. She pressed the buttons and shoved the phone into my hands. And then there was the wait. Finally, four months after requesting an appointment, I got in to see a psychiatrist.
When she started asking me if I ever have thoughts about violence that don’t feel like me, I hesitantly said yes. When she said “that’s OCD,” I stared at her in shock. Then she asked the most important question: “do you want to hurt anyone?” I immediately replied “of course not!” What she said next changed everything. She said “then you won’t. That’s all there is to it.”
It felt like Christmas. No, better than Christmas. It was Valentine’s Day and every birthday party and confetti and the smell of really good frosting and the feel of holding a puppy and the view of the ocean from a sand dune in Maine and your favorite song coming on the radio and a sweater fresh out of the dryer all rolled into one. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in my entire life. My psychiatrist explained that my brain fixates on something I don’t want to happen ever. It’s like a hiccup in my mind. It just goes a little out of control, contrary to my desires, contrary to my actual self. These are called “ego dystonic thoughts.” I’m not dangerous. I’m not crazy. I’m just obsessive compulsive. It turns out people with what’s called harm OCD frequently have these thoughts because in fact we have such a strong moral compass that the idea of violating it plagues us. I’m not evil. I’m just extra super moral.
I sat in the car after that first appointment and wept. I was okay. I am okay. And from there on out, there was the possibility of getting better. I am not a failure. I am not lacking in some way. My brain is just wired differently, and I’m slowly but surely learning to navigate that and strengthen more positive, helpful neural pathways, and to dismiss the thoughts that don’t align with who I am.
What does align with who I am is that I can’t live my life without sharing this any longer. People need to know this can happen. I seemed really happy. I seemed highly functional. Part of my diagnosis involves my extreme perfectionism. I don’t like anyone knowing something is wrong with me. My OCD kept me from getting help for my OCD for far too long as I kept up a facade. It was easier to appear a between jobs mooch than sick out of my mind. We don’t know what lies under the surface of people’s exteriors. But we can offer opportunities for people to open up and make vulnerability feel ok.
Be with people. Be willing to hear. Be willing to speak. Forge real connections with people who will hold your hand even when you don’t understand what’s going on, even when you’re terrified, and for whom you would gladly do the same. These people will ground you, they will hold you, they will wait with you until you can begin to rescue yourself. We can’t save each other. We can’t fix each other. It robs us of our own agency and of the power that so often helps remedy the sense of helplessness mental illness causes.
And honestly, I’ll never be “fixed.” “Fixed” suggests an end point. There’s not one. This is a part of my life, the same way I have a freckle between my fingers and a retainer for my crooked teeth. It’s a continuous stream of good days and bad days, of hard moments and easy ones, though at the moment, I’m fortunate that I’ve got techniques and medication to help keep the bad days at bay. I’m so lucky. I’m so happy.
And through all this, we can be together. We can listen for the little signals. We can avoid judgment passed off as advice and instead relish the power of presence, creating safe spaces for honesty. We can end the idea of “crazy” and switch to “different,” to “atypical,” and to “struggling.” We can stop alienating people who already find their own minds alienating them.
We can make it safe not only to be our genuine selves but to learn to love who we are, mental illness and treatments and symptoms and all. My OCD is a part of me. There’s a lot about it that’s hard, but it’s made me who I am. I love it for that. As I piece out what is illness driven, what is my genuine self, and what is a combination thereof, I increasingly find myself grateful for this experience.
If you know anyone this might help please feel free to pass this on. The more people read articles about mental illness, the more there’s a chance someone will realize that dissonance in their mind is atypical, but not at all abnormal. There’s more of a chance people will find hope and help.
If you’re just looking for someone to talk to about mental illness, if you have any questions at all, PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me. After so much time hiding all of this and resisting the urge to share, feeling embarrassed by what I’ve for too long considered to be a year and a half of failure, I am happy to speak to anyone about any of this.
I want to live in a world where mental health is something we can talk about openly, where it isn’t looked down upon or viewed as a failure or shortcoming. I firmly believe the only way to make that world happen is to act as if it’s already here. To that end, I promised myself that I would be open about my diagnosis, though it’s admittedly taken me a while to find the courage and the words. I’d rather look like a self-involved loon for this and hope that it helps one person than keep this to myself any longer. Or, in the words of J.D.:
Be a dreamer. Use your words in pursuit of a better world. In words there is power. There is freedom. There is hope. Be unafraid to share your fear. The burden gets lighter. I promise.
Once in a while you stumble upon a piece of media that speaks to your soul. I am so fortunate to have friends who continually place inspiring works right in my grasp so I don’t even have to stumble on them! Two of my best friends run an amazing podcast called Mooncycles that always leaves me absolutely inspired and inevitably with a tune stuck in my head.
Are you a woman? Do you know a woman? Have you ever seen a woman, perhaps at the park, on television, or during a family vacation? One time at a Waffle House in an obscure part of Maryland did you sit near a woman? Perfect. The Mooncycles podcast is for you!
Featuring songs performed by women and dealing constructions of womanhood and relevant issues, it’s a great way to gather some new playlist fodder and to give yourself an opportunity to ponder constructions of gender. They often center it around a relevant theme, with the most recent episode focusing on motherhood in honor of Mother’s Day and their own amazing mothers, Pam and Iantha, both of whom I treasure in my heart.
Both Gabi and Angelique are passionate about women and gender, social justice, and the creation of spaces to showcase and focus on female musicianship. Plus they rock at charming, insightful banter. I know. I’ve spent more hours than I could count sitting in beanbag chairs eating dino nuggets and over-analyzing Fifty Shades of Grey with them both.
Oh, and they’re both incredibly talented musicians in their own right who can eloquently speak to the nuances and power of music. Gabi is a singer/songwriter with a powerhouse voice, Angelique sings like an angel and does insane vocal percussion and mouth trumpet. It makes going to karaoke with them a bear and a half, but I still love ’em to death.
I’m also elated to announce that Mooncycles is the intended cornerstone of what I’m planning to call Button Hooks, a periodic round-up of media that’s relevant to Tinder Buttons.
So what are you waiting for? Get your Mooncycles on!
What I thought would be a pleasant, if generic conversation with a Tinder fellow to distract me from my aches and exhaustion (thanks two day adventure with food poisoning!) derailed into a tediousness that could only be countered by sarcasm.
Guy: Hey ya
Guy: What’s up
Me: I’m sick. It’s lame. How are you?
Guy: Good. What’s wrong
Me: Food poisoning. My whole family has it
Guy: are u on fb?
Guy: How do I find ya
Me: Why might you need to find me?
Guy: Yeah I will add ya
Me: That didn’t answer my question
Guy: Who is thisb
Me: My name is Aubree. We met on tinder.
Me: Do you just text people in your phone and have no idea who they are?
Guy: Never mind. U have any recent pics
Me: Yes, many.
Guy: Can u send some
At which point I sent him this stunning array, all recent images either taken by or saved to my phone from random sources of internet hilarity that I now can’t find again:
Let’s ignore the whole “Do you just text people in your phone and have no idea who they are?” “Never mind” thing for the moment. That’s just insane.
Instead, let’s just look at the many, many yes or no, painfully generic questions that constitute this guy’s conversation attempts.
I worked in sales for a while. Sales taught me to hate yes or no questions in conversation, namely because they’re counter intuitive to the very purpose of conversation. They shut down the possibility of a back and forth. You’re expecting an answer of a two to three letter word. Not even a four letter word, which offer so many more colorful opportunities in a response.
These Tinder questions, and real life questions, are the equivalent of the “so do you have a phone number?” or “do you have an email address” or “so do you have a last name?” (the last of which I admittedly appreciate, because for all they know maybe I’m pulling a Madonna or a Cher and rocking the single moniker).
The people who ask such questions hope and in some cases expect you take the passive aggressive bait and divulge whatever information might be relevant to the yes or no question they asked. Sometimes they’re trying to get you to spin a conversation out of thin air all by yourself, even if they were the one who started talking to you. They’re leading you to their own desired action with questions, rather than doing you the courtesy of actually asking for what they want directly.
For instance, this guy was trying to goad me into saying “oh yes, let’s be facebook friends!” or “oh, yes, here are lots of pictures of me!” or “Here, let me humor you and make you feel special by giving you more access to my life even though you clearly aren’t someone I want to know more about me, because I am that desperate for attention!”
And that’s some bullshit right there.
I’m not a vending machine. You put in a quarter, you get a quarter back. If you only give me a quarter, I don’t spit out Bugles (though God knows I love me some salty pretend witch finger nails). You get what you give. And if you’re too shy to press the buttons to get whatever chocolate covered pretzels or sugar-watery beverage you want, then that’s your problem, not mine. If you can’t manage to have a real conversation with me, you sure as hell don’t get to see more photos of me than those that are on Tinder.
If I want to have a conversation with myself, I’ll go play Gollum, my precious.
So here’s the deal: let’s not waste time with people who won’t hold up their end of a conversation, who leave us vaguely annoyed at humanity at large and at ourselves for ever responding. No amount of distraction from nausea is worth enduring boring conversation.
Conversation should never be endured. It, unlike the One Ring, is truly precious and something to be celebrated. Plus never will you be able to drop a bad conversation into Mount Doom and then be saved by giant eagles.
We have to save ourselves.
I’ve spent too much time having conversations with Tinder fellows and even just people in general in hopes that they would prove themselves better conversationalists or less asinine or sexist or mean than I initially thought. 1 out of 10 times it happens. Why do I prioritize giving people the benefit of the doubt that they could eventually be a worthwhile addition to my life in some capacity, even if it wastes my time in the process? Do I want to have faith in humanity more than I want to have faith in my own judgment? Uh oh spaghettios.
What’s even better/worse: he already friended me on facebook ages ago (he was the first person to ever match me on Tinder), and I friended him back out of sheer novelty and almost immediately unfriended him because he made me feel uncomfortable and he’s way too into himself. And he didn’t recall that any of this had happened.
I’ve even deleted his number a couple of times, but he’s frighteningly persistent for someone who apparently has no idea who I am. Recently someone taught me that you can block numbers on iPhone (I’ve only had one for two years, so I suppose it’s time I learned such things). Clearly it’s time I took advantage of this feature and channel what is actually the most recent image saved to my phone:
It’s not surprising. He all but disappeared after our second date, doing that weird not responding to texts thing and falling off the face of the earth beyond periodic “likings” of my Facebook statuses. I got invited to one of his gigs, where I was without warning introduced to his very young and very dull girlfriend (in fairness, even he has acknowledged to me that she was boring) with whom I made absolutely agonizingly tedious small talk. At that point, I’d actually written him off, to the point that my brother, in all his fourteen-year-old articulateness, told me “fuck that guy. Stop talking to him.” And then, lo and behold, he appeared again, having broken up with young boring girlfriend, and becoming the stuff of my musings on conversation. To say I was confused was an understatement.
But he was fascinating. Brilliant. Ridiculously good looking to the point I found myself at a loss for words (and as you might guess, that is an extremely rare issue for me). One of those people who ask incredible questions. Self-reflective. Insightful. Creative. The rare sort of person who inspires you.
And I knew. In my heart of hearts, I knew we were firmly planted in the friend-zone.
He’s told me I’m sweet three times in the way you’d say it about a puppy. That is a friend-zone “sweet” right there. That is an arm’s length, never mind that I kissed you on the top of your head because I’m never going to do it again, let’s just forget how nice it was to have my arm around you “sweet” right there.
Apparently my sense of masochism took over, and I just had to go and say something that I knew would lead to clarification.
I’ve gotten friend-zoned a lot in my life. I’ve been left in liminal places eternally without responses. I’ve had guys suddenly deny having told me multiple times they liked me, meaning they either lied or they were fickle. Those things hurt far, far more than this knowing does. There’s a great blessing in actually knowing where you stand with someone. It feels a lot better, even as much as it hurts.
At the end of the day, I’m still the artsy girl in the glasses in a Freddy Prinze, Jr. movie who never got the makeover (not that I need a makeover. I happen to think I’m pretty awesome the way I am). I’m still going to lose out sometimes to boring women who have cute faces and giggle when you poke them, while I sit with my nose buried in the illustrated William Blake or a book about ideal museum label structure, or go play with a cat and chat with a slightly unhinged drug dealer in the corner of a concert. I am the girl in the strip club analyzing the subliminal messaging on the walls and chatting it up with the girls about how they take care of their feet after wearing those heels all day. I am the girl who unabashedly ran a porn club, who plays in the rain when she’s home by herself, and who drives a mini-van.
I’m more than just interesting or quirky. I’m capable, and I’m fun, and dammit I’m beautiful. Not pretty. Beautiful.
And I get it. I’m not going to fault someone for not feeling chemistry. I wouldn’t want someone to pretend to want me if he didn’t really. We want what we want. He gets to want what he wants. He’s entitled to that, and I can respect that. I’m grateful for his honesty and his forthrightness at long last. I’m pretty sure we have a long and lovely friendship ahead of us after I build a bridge and get over this.
But sometimes we just want to be wanted. And it is valid and just as important to let ourselves acknowledge and feel how much we want to be wanted. It hurts. But it will pass.
Because there are men out there who like us, who feel the chemistry, who find music in our laughter and joy in our eyes. These are the men who dream of us with flour smeared on our cheeks or curled up in library chairs, simply being ourselves. These are the men who text us before bed just to make sure we go to sleep with a smile on our lips, who respect when we say things are moving too fast, who just want to make us laugh-and then in that same breath-kiss us. We wait for these men.
I will always be the weirdo. I am a Gonzo, a total oddball, surrounded by a sea of chickens, perfectly contented to throw myself into whatever may fascinate me. I will always be who I am. Sometimes, that means I don’t get the guy.
But I’d rather be the friend-zoned weirdo without the guy than be anyone besides myself.
And for tonight, that’s a little bit lonely. I’ll still take it.