patterns of messes.

Walk your talk, or you're useless.
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of men. I don't know why I was afraid of them. I just remember being very nervous around men. I remember having to try on shoes and not wanting to, because the shoe salesman was, well, a man. And I remember walking by the bus driver on my first day of Kindergarten, shaking, because the driver was a man. And feeling oh so proud of myself for riding the bus every day after that, in spite of the male presence.

Why was I afraid of men? Where did I learn to be that way? Was it because of my dad's big, booming voice? I don't remember being afraid of my dad. Maybe skittish when he was angry or seemed angry. I don't know. I just remember always being afraid of them.

Yet, as I grew up, I preferred to play with boys than with girls. Maybe this was because there were more boys than girls in our neighborhood. Maybe it was because I just found boys more interesting than girls; not necessarily more fun, just more interesting. Girls are dramatic and emotional creatures; I could never really understand them, though I'm dramatic and emotional myself. But I never took my dramatic emotions out on other people, like girls tend to do, so maybe that was why. And boys seem to be straight shooters; most boys will just tell it to you like it is. If they have a problem, they say so or they punch you; problem solved, let's go play Star Wars guys.

I appreciate that. I used to not to - my insecure ego would get its panties in a wad. But as I've grown older, I really appreciate honest feedback; I just wrote a note on a recent evaluation thanking a boss for it...I never mind honest feedback that's trying to be helpful, and help me grow in whatever I'm doing. And I'm fairly adept at recognizing feedback that's there to help, and feedback that's just put out there to check off that feedback was given.

I think I've written here before about how dads of daughters should hug them, tell them they're beautiful, and say I love you. It's because I think that when girls grow up, they go looking for their dads to fall in love with. Even if they grow up lesbian. I think all girls go looking for their daddies, in one form or another. And if your dad didn't hug you or tell you you're perfect as is or say I love you, then maybe you grow up a little terrified of men. Maybe you grow up looking for a man you can MAKE say I love you, hug you, and tell you you're beautiful. 

That's been my pattern, at least.

When it comes to Y chromosomes, I prefer big and strong like my dad, but also someone who seems damaged in some way. Someone I can make say I love you, hug me, and tell me I'm beautiful. The problem is, my dad did love me (just never said it), did hug me (in his heart), and did tell me I'm beautiful (in his actions). But in my grown up life, what that did to me was to cause me to go diving for men who aren't available in one way or another, men who will either make me feel beautiful and then go completely wonky and cold on me...or men who will say they love me and then try to cage me. So I end up with men who won't say I love you...or they'll say it but try to control me. 

It's depressing, Internet. I'll just be honest: it's very very depressing. These men end up leaving me in an emotional wreck of a tailspin, where I either hate myself (once again) for giving them too much too soon and end up compromising my integrity...or they end up making me incredibly angry and resentful, and end up losing my sense of self.

And the thought of going out there again, into the fray, as a 43 year old woman who's, quite frankly, growing more and more exhausted of humans and their exhausting issues, is really exhausting. 

So. Question. When do you know you're ready to deal with that crap again? Wading through the lost, the tired, the damaged, the con artists? People tell me I need a good year or two to recuperate and heal from a broken marriage, that that's what a separation period is for - to make the divorce part more focused, to make the looking for new love part more rewarding. But what if the marriage was always broken, from the start? And what if the last 3 years in the broken marriage WERE the separation? And what if the healing and recuperation and self-discovery took place in those 3 years? When I left, it wasn't in anger; there wasn't any kind of I've HAD it!! moment, where I packed bags furiously and slammed my way out of there. This was a slow burn, a gradual process.

And other people tell me not to go looking for it; it'll find me. But doesn't that seem lazy? And what if what shows up is more of the same? Am I doomed to living alone forever? (I will not get a cat, I will NOT get a cat!)  

Also, now that I am out on my own, I kinda like it. I miss so many things about being with someone else, but I also really like being on my own. I like the quiet (when Miss M's asleep). I like not having to ask permission. I like not having to be on a team and follow the team rules, even when I disagree with them. I like not feeling judged and criticized. I like not having to hear how I'm a diamond...in the rough. I like not having to be anyone else's mirror but my own. 

But I will also be honest and tell you I would like to be physical with another human being before menopause or whatever. I'm still relatively young, with a healthy libido, and I would like that. But here's the problem: I'm picky. I don't want it to be with just anyone. I want someone I genuinely like, but I also have to be able to trust them not to use me; someone who's not got nefarious intentions...but has a sense of the nefarious about him. (How's THAT for fucked up, Internet? Wonder how many smooth criminals I'd get responses from at an internet dating site that announced: Be kind of nefarious and dangerous but not. Internet dating seems like a depressing meat market; so I'm sure telling someone to bring me danger but be safe about it isn't playing into that psycho mess at all.)

The thing is, I don't like romance. Quite frankly, I think romance is contrived and stupid. I'm sorry but I do. Men complain that women complain that chivalry is dead and then they say: Well, you ladies made it that way! Bullshit. What women SAID, men, was to stop infantilizing us. So I don't mind men holding open doors and letting me go first and walking on the side of the road that'll make him get hit by a car and not me...but pulling out chairs is a bit much and placing a napkin in my lap will make me give him a WTF look and ordering FOR me will get a glass of beer thrown in his face. 

But romance? That's...meh. Chocolate? I eat all of it in one sitting and hate myself...thanks for making me hate myself. I once had a man bring me a teddy bear...I. No. Just no. NO STUFFED ANIMALS. Why not just bring me a Barbie doll and her Dream Playhouse while you're at it. (Who decided stuffed animals were romantic? I want to hit them over the head with one.) Flowers are nice and all, but they die and why not just go for a walk in a botanical garden and enjoy them instead. People who think flowers are romantic are the same kinds of people who'd drag down stars from the constellations if they could, and not even think about the fact they were missing the whole point of their beauty, not to mention the fact destroying, literally, light years' of history. 

Candy or fruit bouquets? Gag. Sappy cards? Eh. I'm not into rhyming poetry, non-sappy/funny cards are cool but they better have a handwritten note inside of them that's not sappy. And I'm not into jewelry, I'm not into....okay, fine. Yes. Yes, I am into jewelry. But only from men I've grown very close to, so I won't be forced to take it to a pawn shop to get its energy out of my space when they betray me and I can't have that piece of jewelry on my person anymore.

And that's my biggest issue: I have a terrible, horrible skittishness about being betrayed. It's happened so many times. Where you let someone in, and then they show you that you let the wrong person in. They go cold or weird or wonky or say they'll call and then they don't. That's when I realize: Ah, yes. There you are, Dad. Still can't fix you and me, can I?

So my problem is that I end up with versions of my dad: men who aren't available either emotionally or physically or both...men who like to tell me who I am or what to do and try to cage me or control me...or men who use me and toy with me and then leave me in an emotional tailspin. For the life of me, I can't figure out the last kind because my dad was the utmost honest and most loyal human being I've ever known. He once accidentally broke a neighbor's mailbox in my presence and I watched him struggle with his moral obligations, and then do the right thing. He knew I was watching. 

What I don't want - in any human being I bring into my space, my life, right now but specifically a man - is someone who'll betray me. Whether it's tossing me aside, or trying to isolate and cage me, or just using me. I don't want that; I have so many things to deal with right now, I simply cannot handle someone else's fragility or chaos on that level. And people who use other people are the most fragile of all, by the way; the using of others is to make themselves feel far more in control than they actually are. 

What I mostly want right now is someone who's kind, smart, irreverently and ironically funny, confident, secure, and availableIf he's tall and a Creative on top of it, most excellent. If there are blue eyes and a UK accent involved, I'll know there's a God (or maybe a small Martian with a really kick ass remote control). 

But that's all with a caveat, because I'm not even sure I should be looking for somebody right now. I mean, I'm having a hard time managing to keep my living room straight; would managing a relationship be any better?

I'm pretty simple. I don't ask for much out of life - I just want to raise a strong, happy girl and do work that brings me peace and purpose. ....have I told you I write letters to the Universe regularly? Because I think once you write it down, once you put it out there, that which you seek will seek you. The Universe will conspire to bring you exactly what you asked for (so be careful what you ask for...which is why I've decided to keep my requests very very simple). So that's all I'm asking for (are you there, Universe? It's me, Amy): help me raise a strong, happy girl, do work that brings me peace and happiness, and maybe send me a kind man who won't cage or use me. Please stop sending me people with Y chromosomes who try to cage or use me. And I suppose if I had to pick between people who try to cage or use me, I'd pick the people with a cage....because I can at least escape from that. The worst thing in the world is to feel tricked by someone who said they weren't going to trick you. Bad form, tricksters. Bad form.

At any rate, that's where I'm at on the man front. Probably better to be alone for awhile. But eventually, I just want someone kind who's smart and makes me laugh. Oh, and! He should be good at swearing. I think people who know how to use the word "fuck" creatively are the most honest kinds of humans. 

On a related side note, I just finished Season 1 of Breaking Bad. I totally get Walter White. And I love this show because of its complicated, messy human nature issues. And because of Bryan Cranston who, in interviews, makes me smile hard. I'd be okay with a Walter White (maybe without the meth lab)...he's a mess, but he's an honest mess. Be a mess, but have a damn good reason. Is my motto. And walk your talk. That's my other motto. (I actually have about 10 million mottos. These are just today's.)

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