Whenever I start seeing somebody new, by the second date, he’ll invariably asked about the ink party strewn haphazardly across my body. But I’m a good girl and I don’t lift my shirt for anything but the really classy Mardi Gras beads, so he’ll be left with the ones on my wrist and my arm and my ankle and my shoulder and my neck. (For now, if he’s lucky.) It’s the one on my wrist that will usually trip him up most. “What does it mean?” he’ll say, working at his beer or at his wine or at his pasta while I assess the situation, decide if I like him or not, if he’s cute, if he’s nice, if I want to go on that magic third date with him or if this is the end of our little love affair, and my conclusion to all of these questions dictates my answer to his question.
Option A: “Oh, it was just something really stupid I got when I was 16.”
Not a total untruth. I did get it when I was sixteen, but stupid? Maybe. Naively passionate and misguided about the cause? Definitely. Shrug it off, remember to delete him from your contacts in your phone, chalk it up as a “Hey, well, you tried,” and move onto the next.
Option B: “Oh, it was something I got when I was 16. I had an eating disorder and it meant a lot at the time.”
Pause. Assess. Wait. Watch his reaction.
I don’t tell him this as the ultimate test, to see if he’s up to par, to see if he’ll get a third date, to see if I want to take him home with me. That would be a cheap ploy. His stance re: women, women’s bodies, women’s attitudes towards their own bodies, women’s issues with food, et al, has little bearing on whether or not I like him, whether or not I want to see him again, whether or not I want to sleep with him. But all of the mental crap associated with food and with my body are still parts of who I am, and if we’re going on dates to learn more about the other person, well, he deserves to know exactly what he might be getting into.
Because there is no easy way to tell somebody, “Hey, actually, I’m a little batshit cuckoo crazytown. But I like you all the same.”
The fact of the matter is, we’re all crazy. We all have shit going on in our lives, we all get obsessive about weird little things, we pick at microscopic details in our lives, and it’s okay. It’s how we differentiate ourselves from the next person, and sometimes, the crazy details make us interesting. But when these details are big and looming and actual #issues, that’s when things get murky.
And if you tell somebody about these issues, and instead of accepting them as just one side of who you are, they gather their things and run, that’s okay. Because for every story we hear of the couple who weathered deployment and lost limbs, or survived cancer together even though they’d only been dating for a week before the diagnosis, there are the stories of what could have been. The guy who never called the girl back once he learned she was obsessive compulsive. The girl who couldn’t bring herself to go on a second date with the guy who was in court for tax evasion. Whatever the case is, sometimes, when we unload our baggage onto people, they don’t pick it up and help us move it the rest of the way.
And they are under no obligation to do so.
They just aren’t.
It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad person, or that there’s something wrong with them for getting hung up on your hang ups. Maybe they have shit of their own going on, and guys, if you’ve got too much shit between the both of you, you’ve just got a big old problem. You don’t want that. You can be idealistic and tell me that maybe you can help each other through the pain, but maybe you’d become each other’s crutch and maybe you’d never learn how to stand alone. There is only one way to find out for sure, and sometimes, you never get that chance, but that’s okay.
Above all, how people react to something about you isn’t a reflection of you as a person. Rather, it’s a reflection of them, but just because they can’t or won’t put up with your crap doesn’t mean they’re bad people.
And it doesn’t mean you’re unlovable.
I tell people I’m dealing with X, Y, Z from the get-go not so they know what they’re getting into, or so they can decide if they want to continue, or for the shock value, or for anything else. I tell them I’ve got issues because it’s catharsis, because it’s acknowledgment, because it’s admitting that I’m flawed and imperfect but hey, I’m aware and I’m working on it, and this is who I am, and in doing so, I’m accepting myself. You can walk away at the end of the night when I admit that I’m crazy about certain things, but I can’t, and if I did deny it — by denying some part of myself, by not declaring it — I wouldn’t be true to myself, and I would have to live with that. Being crazy in any capacity does not define you as a human being unless you let it. Unless you let it drive you into a hole and hide away, it cannot keep you from living your life. That is your own choice, and frankly, you’d be crazy to not want to live your life, even if it’s merely in stubborn defiance of all that shit that’s bogging you down.
So instead, I admit things. “I got that tattoo when I was 16, and when I was pretty deep in my eating disorder, and it meant a lot to me at the time, as a sort of mantra to live by.”
Pause. Wait for it to sink in. When I was pretty deep in my eating disorder. I am flawed and I am human and I am weird about food and I grow moody when I can’t go to the gym and I vacillate between one extreme to the other sometimes and my body is in flux, but this is who I am, and I’m working on it.
More often than not, guys have been understanding. The ones who weren’t, I wish them well. But I am single now, which is proof that even though those understanding guys accepted me despite some mental bang-up of my own, that wasn’t the end to the story. We weren’t compatible for other reasons. Your being crazy isn’t the only thing that defines you. It is not always a deal breaker. Something else might be, but that’s okay, too.
Take a risk. Tell them you’re crazy. I dare you to find me one person in this world who is otherwise, who is not even just a little bit nuts about something. And when you risk, you’ll find somebody who loves you, whether or not you’re cuckoo. Hell, they may even love you for it. (You’ve heard about the women who’ve fallen in love with inmates they’ve never met, right?) Somebody out there will love you. Statistically, it’s a fact. You just have to grow in order to find them.
And risking yourself is one of the best ways to grow.@9 months ago with 36 notes
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