An Open Letter to the Guy I Cried Over in 2017

First things first: Don’t flatter yourself too much. The tears only lasted a couple days, and then I was over you. And honestly, I was more upset with myself for caring at all than I was with you, anyway.

But the reality is, you still did hurt me.

I wonder how it would make you feel to read this, if you read it. If you are the person you try to present yourself to be, it should make you feel bad. I honestly don’t really know if you are that person. I have a sneaking suspicion that, at best, you might WANT to believe you’re that person, but you might actually be the type who would, to quote a comedy special I recently watched, “treat a 4 like a 6 and she’ll be grateful.” Maybe that’s my own insecurity talking. In any case, I might look like a 4, but I still know I’m worth more than that, and I will not settle for being treated like a 6, much less be grateful for it. Perhaps that surprised you.

I am not a person who admits to feeling hurt easily. I prefer anger. Anger has power. Anger is protective. I can hold a grudge like no other. I trained as a therapist, of course. I’m well aware that anger is just hurt’s shield, most of the time. It allows me to feel less vulnerable. I don’t think that’s necessarily always a negative thing, though. Anger can be a driving force. Anger can get shit done.

I could tell a few stories about my accomplishments that stemmed from anger.

But that’s not why I’m here.

There is strength in vulnerability, too. There is power in allowing yourself to feel hurt. It’s a more dangerous kind of strength, though, because it leaves you open for more beatings. Metaphorically speaking, of course. But even though I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, it has been a work in progress for me to try to harness that strength more. To crack the shell and allow myself to be more open. To trust more. To let it be known when I have been wounded. That’s why I’m here.

I don’t date much. I don’t like dating. Honestly, at this point, if not for the fact that I still want to have a child, I probably wouldn’t date at all.

So when I first heard from you, someone who, on paper, seemed like he could be perfect for me in every way, I was hesitant, but I decided to see where it went.

And then I began to feel hopeful.

I started to think that maybe, just maybe, there really was someone out there for me.

I started to feel downright fucking optimistic.

There were nagging little red flags, though. Like the fact that conversations were always focused around you. And the fact that plans never seemed to get made. And the fact that there were obviously communications with other women still happening.

Like I said, I am not going to be grateful for being treated like a 6. So I called you on this.

To be honest, I was still hopeful at that point that you would make it right. But instead, you first told me that being nagged about it made you not want to respond to me, and then, when I continued to push it, you cut off all communication with me.

That was a total gaslighting move, by the way. My concerns were perfectly reasonable by any metric, and you acted like I was being irrational and pushy by expressing them. And yet you claim to be a feminist.

And then, a few months later, you sent me a message asking why we hadn’t gone on a date. I was kind of in awe of your nerve, to be honest. Like, was that supposed to be flirty? Was I supposed to be flattered that you deigned to get back in touch? My answer to you was true, for the record: I did move on with my life. And I’m doing great. A job I love, a great family with three beautiful nieces, wonderful friends, and adorable pets. That said, and it pains me to admit this, I still had this momentary flare of hope when I saw that the message was from you, that maybe you would apologize for being shitty, and make it right. That maybe you weren’t actually an asshole. But, of course, you just ignored my response. My question wasn’t entirely rhetorical, though. I still kind of wish you had answered it. How did you expect me to respond?

So, yeah, I was hurt by it. But more than anything, I was upset that I allowed you to have the power to hurt me. How fucked up is that? You hurt me, and I blame myself for letting you.

And it awakened long-dormant insecurities, too. Beliefs that I was unworthy of love and desire. That it was stupid of me to allow myself to believe it might have turned out otherwise. See, if you’d ever bothered to ask, you would have known that I have struggled with depression and anxiety, too. Of course, the difference between us is that I don’t use that as an excuse to be shitty to people.

So, I’m starting the new year by taking back my own power and releasing the self-blame. You didn’t hurt me because I allowed you to; you hurt me because you acted badly. It was not stupid of me to think maybe there was potential between us; it was a dick move for you to string me along and then cut me off when I expressed what I wanted.

I was not an idiot for being optimistic; you were an asshole for exploiting my optimism.

Happy new year, fucker.

A Song for my Cats

Do you really need to bite me?

Do you really need to make me bleed?

Do you really need to scratch me?

Can’t you retract your claws when you knead?

I don’t want to declaw you

I don’t like to tap you on your nose

But what will it take to convince you

It really hurts when you nibble my toes?

I know that you really love me

And that this is how you tell me so

I like when you rub your head against me

Could you keep your teeth and claws out of it, though?

Do you really need to bite me?

Do you really need to make me bleed?

Do you really need to scratch me?

Can’t you retract your claws when you knead?