I could be a scalding hot Pepperoni Hot Pocket with a Facebook page and a man would still message “U up?”
This morning, unknown man #6669 messaged me “I hope my messages don’t make you allergic. LOL”. It was the fourth time this month I had gotten that message. Several months ago, I added the Facebook bio “Currently having an allergic reaction to the DM’s” in a generic effort to deter men from entering them. It didn’t work. Men will enter anywhere they’re not wanted.
Something else had to be done. Ignoring them, pretending I’m married, a vagina hat toting lesbian, harboring a mysterious rash or discussing my “hungry, hungry baby eggs” was also no repellant for mediocre men that live on the internet. I thought about deleting social media all together or just not buying a new phone the next time I drop this one in the toilet.
Somehow, at 2am I ended up writing this instead. An open letter the men in my DM’s, the men I used to call friends and the men that just “want to get to know me”. My messages are a toxic wasteland at this point. I’ve either got to start over or do something about it because this bitch is tired.
I’d like to add that I do not feel like hot shit for having a full inbox. I could be a scalding hot Pepperoni Hot Pocket with a Facebook page and a man would still message “U up?”.
Here we go, but first a quick detour.
Like everyone else, 2020 was a year of reflection and an unwanted deep dive into an ancient ocean of suppurating trauma. Trauma that I swore I left under a rug, rolled up and sold on Craigslist to purchase silver moon boots and a bean burrito. I thought there was a chance I bypassed it altogether. Maybe, I drank enough Deep Eddy Grapefruit vodka to drink past my exit to the real pits of Emotional Distress.
But just like any hangover, it’s only a delay. The emotional hangover will ALWAYS set in eventually. That’s exactly what happened this year. It started as shaky anxiety and relentless frustration festering at the edges of my wits. I was a shaken soda slowly coming undone just waiting to erupt.
Earlier in the year, I decided not to lose one more day of my life to alcohol and because of that I couldn’t delay the onslaught of emotions coming my way.
When they reached me, I was riding my bike across an empty campus, lost in a playlist appropriately labeled ‘Sunday’, one ear air pod free as always.
Swoosh! I sprung up startled almost hitting a curb.
I felt a presence on top of me and a chill flooded my veins, my heart was ticking like an alarm and my ears rang. A large man on a bike seemingly from nowhere shot up quickly behind me. Terror ran through me as I tried to focus on which direction to quickly turn off. Which direction had the most people? How did I not see this guy? Where did he come from? I lived my life on the lookout.
The man likely noticing my sudden, frantic pace turned a right and quickly rode out of sight.
That was the moment my body finally caught up and reacted to decades of stored trauma. I started sobbing so hard I couldn’t see and had to pull over.
Nothing threatening happened but t it was in that moment I realized how hard I consistently work to control my external environment and safety. Just the fact that I didn’t notice this guy before he got close enough to touch me was enough to hit my switch. My body suspected danger. I foolishly let my guard down and that allowed danger to get close to me again.
I knew I was safe but it didn’t matter. The fear and the flashbacks finally arrived. Every little thing I did these days was an effort to avoid possible threats. Threats take shape as men. Before this year, liquor was an emotion proof vest. It was armor that made me impenetrable.
So, 2020 has been a long road trip through the dark abyss, getting out at all the stops for therapy sessions and life lessons just to get to the rainbow on the other side of this giant pile of caca. It is not a time for dating and that’s fine, not all times are. However, my attraction to men was temporarily replaced with consternation. A man standing too close in line at the market or even thinking about me suddenly feels like a violation.
I spent years building a thick skin to harassment. Working as a cocktail waitress, men would grope me without permission, and I was always able to shake it off and go about my day. This was so common that I became desensitized. It was just another day of another man thinking he has a right to do, touch or say whatever he wants to women. I was always just grateful when it wasn’t worse.
I never should have had to get become numb to it. No one should. My mind decided to block it all out because I was often putting myself in risky situations. I worked in clubs, I often drank too much, I enjoy dancing alone and have unavoidable clown tits.
So much of this justification was rooted in self-loathing. I was struggling with addiction and I hated myself for it. It’s like I’d made a deal with myself that because I was an alcoholic it meant I wasn’t worthy of being treated with respect. Any time a man harassed, assaulted or a male friend attempted to take advantage it was because I deserved it for who I was. A meritless addict. It was a narrative I settled on because predicting the worst was easier than living in fear of it.
Things changed when sobriety became my current state of affairs. Suddenly the old narrative didn’t fit anymore. I was dabbling in self-love and acceptance again.
I had this idea that life would be easier. In many ways it is. I had to accept that my addiction was my responsibility, but men’s actions weren’t. This was a hard pill to swallow because it meant I couldn’t control everything around me.
I don’t write this as if I’m the prim princess looking down on men from my turret window declaring my newfound sainthood. I’m a hot mess express and forever work-in-progress. My intent isn’t to add to the “all men are trash” statements. I don’t think that rhetoric is helpful. I mean, if I’ve learned anything from men it’s that they need to be rewarded and told when they’re good so they don’t tell everyone you’re a crazy whore for the next ten years.
I’m just having some apprehension about having any symbiotic associations with the opposite sex. Is the risk really worth the reward? I’m pansexual, and I don’t have any fantasies about reproduction. I’m not exactly tethered to a fixed set of partners.
I’ve spent my entire life deeply attracted my own self destruction. It’s not hard to find a man that feeds that part of me. However, as the adrenalized part of me fades, so do my feelings for the people that unleash it. It feels a bit stale.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
2020 has played the main role in the renewal of old trauma. This election ultimately swung in the right direction, but it was disappointing that Americans are still showing up in large numbers for the Trump administration. It cemented the notion that men can do whatever they want and that women are not important. Our bodies and our rights don’t matter. This isn’t just a problem with rotten apples. This is a complacency problem. Men that will stand behind literally ANYONE. Men that don’t give a damn.
It is reminiscent of all the times I’ve heard a man say, “well he’s nice to me”, dismissing the actions of an abuser. In college I was sexually assaulted by a friend and every single man in our friend group stood by him. In fact, they completely ignored it. Nothing more than “that sucks” and a change of the subject.
As much talk as we had about change, we still have a long way to go. Men will always stand with other men. They always have. They’ll declare things about respecting women until it comes down to a dude they see at parties sometimes. They still don’t value us.
So Men, when you message me and I don’t respond, it’s likely not personal. It means, I’m TIRED. I’ve lost my patience for all this and I’m exhausted.
It’s hard to not feel defeated when so many are willing to vote for a man that talks about his right as a celebrity to assault women. The women that voted for that are a whole other story. Something, something, internalized misogyny, religion, something.
I’m healing and it’s a ton of work. It’s going to take time; I’m going to have to clear some shit out to make room for healthier perspectives. I’m going to have to find some balance here.
When you think a woman is a pretentious cow for not walking out of a surgery just to respond to the third “hey” you sent her today…SHE’S EXHAUSTED. Maybe it’s not your fault, maybe it is. Maybe it’s your buddy’s fault that thinks it’s his job to tell women what to wear to get his approval or thinks it’s acceptable to follow her home from the store.
The bottom line is that every woman ignoring you has put up with six thousand dude’s opinions before you showed up. Please take a deep breath, realize no one owes you anything, get a Tinder account where at least some of us want to talk to you and call out assholes when you see them. ESPECIALLY, your asshole friends.
*Ooh, I just got a little stimulated at the mere thought of you giving me some space. Look at that. Maybe there’s hope for you and I after all.