Last week, in a moment of bravery/insanity I downloaded bumble.
These are the things I’ve learned so far:
I don’t like guys with girls in their pictures.
I don’t swipe right for gym selfies.
No thank you, atheists.
And, really? Shot-gunning a beer in your profile? That’s the best you can do?
Also, why is no one messaging me back?
Am I not thin enough? Not short enough? Not hook-up-y enough?
And why am I waiting for notifications to pop up on my phone? I haven’t done that since my ex!
I thought the days of anxiously waiting for crumbs of pseudo-attention were behind me! I hate watching the phone, reading too much into careless words, squeezing meaning out of nothing, hoping to feel seen for a breath of a moment.
The moment always ends.
Which brings me here, to my latest, most interesting, least shocking, conclusion:
Men terrify me.
Actually, physically, I’m having a reaction.
A skin is itching, stomach is sick, can’t sleep through the night kind of reaction.
Allergic to boys, possibly?
Whatever it is, I’m over here with my itchy-anxious self wondering how the hell I’m supposed to trust them again.
How am I supposed to find a place I feel supported while wading through these very unsafe, bizarre, murky waters?
It’s been a long time since I’ve muddled through this swamp, and I’m not enjoying the swim.
I was fourteen when I started dating my first boyfriend. Not a bad age until you start thinking… Hey, this girl was in middle school six months ago. Why is that boy older, and why is he telling her she should do him favors to “make her man happy?” Why is he trying to hook up with her in the art room after-hours and telling her what to do with her bikini line? Why is he hearing her say no, thanks, and pushing the envelope anyway? Feels a little creepy, from this point of view.
Creepy or not, we bop along until, out of no where, he breaks it off. I’m crying on my bedroom floor, crying in the car, crying at school, crying in church, wondering who else will ever tell me I’m beautiful. I’m starving myself and burning myself and finding myself in therapy. Full teenage melt-down.
I dive into religion, finding rest in God, finding a place I felt forgiven for the shame I’d been carrying.
Spring comes around and I make new friends, meet new boys.
The next one was friendly for a while, leading me on like the best of them, and I absolutely pined (*eyeroll* the drama) for him for months. Of course, he’d been spending those same months debating whether or not to keep up with his sexy-cool bff or commit to me: quiet, bookish, good-girl-next-door. Should’ve listened to my gut and moved along, because the week he finally decided for me (dates and kissing and all!) he promptly hooked up with her at a party.
So. Not hook-up-y enough for him, not cool or badass or fun enough. Not enough boobs.
The next guy made sense, in comparison. He was just as sweet and quiet as me. He knew he wanted me, he reached out to me, and actually asked me on a date.
So when he turned cold, when he cheated, when he lied, when he pushed, I prayed. And prayed. For almost a decade, almost endlessly. I thought if I tried hard enough it’d get better. If I was consistent and faithful, if I modeled Christian love and generosity and the freaking feminine genius things would turn around.
God was good, right? He’d fix it.
Some things that stuck instead: You’re dirty. You’re not enough. You’re forgettable. It’s unfixable.
At this point, it feels like the way I’ve been handled by men is the only way they operate. That pisses me off.
Also making me angry? God.
I think He shouldn’t have let me feel so much shame for the first boy. I wish I could’ve avoided the mess with the next boy. I feel like He could have stepped in harder with the last.
So what now?
Here’s what I’ve come to, a glass of wine and a few expired matches later:
A) I’m pissed at God, but I would like to untangle my understanding of Him from my understanding of men.
B) I’m pissed at men, but I would like to untangle my current understanding of men from the possible reality of men.
C) I would like to tackle points A and B without diving into hell-hath-no-fury mode. Because honestly, I do like men, when they’re good. And I do love God; He is good.
Nothing is unfixable.