Monday, January 30, 2017

No Longer Performing Over-It-Ness, A New Hope

 It’s vexing that I spent part of last week marching on Washington with 500,000 amazing people in one of the most meaningful and fulfilling experiences of my life and then a good chunk of my time crying about a boy. Love is resistance, I guess.
Mr. Makeout music and I really, really tried to be friends. A few times it got too hard and I tried to get away, but I kept getting pulled back in, once by an eight-page Post-it note letter that he left on my desk inside my Bon Iver CD. (Maybe the most emo thing that ever happened to me, and that’s really saying something.)
I wanted to be over it so we could be friends, but I’m still in love with him, still heartbroken. When we were trying to be friends, I performed a flirty, lightly-slutty, carefree version of myself. He let me think we were somewhere between friendship and the other thing. In fact, he explicitly said so, and that was enough to keep giving me hope. It gave me enough of an excuse to keep on (and I say this only a little bit sheepishly but mostly self-compassionate) making a fool of myself over him.
I so wanted to skip ahead to friendship that on Friday, I made him take out his phone so we could put a friend-afternoon on the calendar, and in the course of that conversation I found out that he had plans for Valentine’s Day.
I’d sort of seen this coming since she’d been visiting the library almost daily, though I’d asked him about it a few weeks before and he’d said it wasn’t a thing. (Why he has to date her at work is beyond me and feels (probably unintentionally) cruel…) My first reaction to finding out they were together was “Yesss!” because I was genuinely happy for him.
So compersion may have lent me some dignity in that moment, but it couldn’t save me from the fact that right after he told me he couldn’t date me because of family obligations, he almost immediately found a serious-enough-for-Valentine’s-Day relationship. I’d sort of known for a while but love-goggles weren’t really letting me confront it.
It doesn’t always occur to me that people sometimes don’t tell the truth, and I guess I’m glad that I took him at face value. Awesome Genderqueer Librarian says she thinks he was telling the truth, that he wasn’t ready for his world to become bigger and he was ready for something that fit his idea of the world. Maybe, but I knew I couldn’t keep pretending to just want friendship I felt hurt and humiliated that he hadn’t told me the truth in the first place.
So I sent him a last text saying that friends don’t lie to each other and that I’d deserved so much more honesty and respect than he’s given. I told him to leave me all the way alone. I gave him back most of the artwork that he’d made with me and the library kids (I kept the one he’d told me was called “Ms. ______ in Autumn” because the colors reminded him of me.) and he gave me the Postal Service album (“Give Up,” it’s called, I think it was really just a message to myself.) that I’d lent him in a last ditch effort to be at least Cute Music Friends.
It’s sad not to talk to him, not to get at least two hugs a day from him. Saturday afternoon when I walked into the library I just mortifyingly burst into tears, thank god it wasn’t in front of him. I just love and miss him so much and I’m so sad that he didn’t choose me. It’s hard not to compare myself to her and not wish I were easier, more monogamous, more whatever-she-is-that-I’m-not.
But also, I feel relief. I don’t have to date like crazy to prove that I’m over him. I don’t have to push myself into a friendship that doesn’t feel right. I don’t have to fight to stay on his radar or compete with her for attention, because that’s really, REALLY not my thing.
And Saturday, the Universe was so kind as to send another handsome security guard to my department. I hope to never crush on someone at work ever again, but it was comforting to chat with a nice man about art, life, feelings, and politics while I made self-Valentines with the kids. Mine said:
Dear Me,
I love you because you love with your whole heart.
            Even after all of this foolishness, it’s still true.
            Way back in November when Mr. Makeout Music and I had our “We’re not gonna be a thing” conversation, I realized I’d better figure out where I stand with kink and poly. I signed up for the Big Poly Conference and reserved a room for the whole weekend. I also reached out to Fireguy and asked him to mentor me through the process, and he said yes!
            Talking with him has been healing in many ways, making me feel stronger and more able to take risks. He gave me a couple of directives that I’m really enjoying:

1.      You have to know someone to love him or her, so instead of dating, concentrate on doing what I love and building my social circle.
2.      People will show their worthiness by making an effort.
The second one seems like a nicer version of the “He’s just not that into you” philosophy, which I already kind of believe. It’s hard to hold out for real effort, though, because I want so much to serve the ones I love. But looking for those worthy of me, expecting honesty and enthusiasm and communication, is working out very well so far and gives me such a sparkly glimmer of hope and faith.

I may have to watch Mr. Makeout Music’s romance blossom at our workplace every day, but a future of being my real, deep, loving, transparent, poly self will hopefully give me the power to move past him.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A 2017 Heart Wish

I don’t hate 2016 as thoroughly as some, but it did so a lot of damage to my already-pretty-broken perception of men. The Bernie Bros seething misogyny was painful, but finding out during primaries which of my friends are more subtly sexist (or Stockholm Sydromey) was even worse. It was a tough year to fight the tide and hold onto the insistence that women are people, and of course it ended with the election of a child rapist. I’ve never been that awesome at trusting men, and during this time of election grief, it’s even harder.

My experience with Mr. Makeout Music made me realize that as much as I enjoyed the awesome spinster part of my life, I have a deep need for male friendship and affection that I don’t want to ignore anymore. Greeting them with defensiveness and fear, while it seems pretty reasonable most of the time, runs counter to my deep need to connect. Defensiveness has always been one of my worst qualities, and I know it’s partly responsible for the vast gulf I sometimes feel between myself and men. The gulf is heartbreaking because all separations-by-category feel heartbreaking, but also because I long for a male partner and my own family much more deeply than I’d like to admit.

But “fall in love and have him love me back” isn’t a goal one can reasonably work towards, so I decided to get closer to men in as many ways as I can think of. I’ve been scrolling though OK Cupid for 20 minutes every Friday evening, but more importantly, I’ve set the goal to call a guy friend once a week and catch up. I want to see men as themselves again, not just as The Patriarchy or as part of the Hillary-trolling nightmare. I want to remember how to be openhearted to the whole person, not just frustrated by the part of all of us that’s enslaved by gender.

The first time I tried calling was yesterday, and it felt very jangling, partly because the first voicemail I left was for Mr. Makeout Music, about whom I’m still hurty but hoping to let the friendship take care of things.  I left voicemails for three other (less fraught) guy friends, and even making those calls felt foolish, vulnerable, woozy. I felt like I was setting myself up for humiliation and loss. I’m still, after all these years of therapy and adventure, afraid of men. After I left those four voicemails for perfectly kind and lovable guys, I started to cry. I miss them. I miss all of them. (Okay, especially Mr. Makeout Music…)

The first to call me back was my dear and very lovey friend Angel Face, and then a poet pal I haven’t talked to in years. The poet told me about Marie Kondo-ing the kitchen with his wife over the holiday, about jobs and the silly day-to-day, about how awesome it is to make breakfast for dinner. Friendship is one of the most resilient and trustworthy forces in the world, and I’m happiest when I let myself depend on it.

If I’m honest, I know I’m still heartbroken about not being a thing with Mr. Makeout Music. I’m doing my best to take my time, not to push myself, to set aside time at night to miss him. I still love him so much, I still don’t quite understand why we’re not together, but we had a nice talk before Christmas and friendship doesn’t seem so far away.

Most of my other nine goals are about going places and doing things, about artistic indulgence. I’ve named it the Year of Sparkles and vowed to let in all of the queer, poly beautifulness that I can. Being generous with myself seems like the best way to heal, especially since part of that generosity will be finding a therapist and/or support group.

If you’re a man I used to know, send your number to Part of the joy of this year will be in your details.