Ben Howard - Black Flies
My roommate has a thing about the month of November. Everything poignant or tragic or pivotal in his life thusfar has happened in that month, so every year it comes around again, something changes in him. There’s a reliving and a retelling of those same stories, to reflect, reset, and move into the next month with grace instead of ties to the past. It’s like New Year’s Eve for the rest of the world.
April is my November. Many of the men I’ve loved have been born in April, I’ve often initiated break-ups and cut ties in this month. It’s actually strange when some kind of crux doesn’t appear on April’s horizon. This April is one such strangeling.
This time last year I was the type of woman who chased boys. Not men, mind you, and not that their maturity makes the chasing any better. They still were searching, for “she” or “it” or “something you can’t quite put your finger on.” They thought of themselves as incomplete, in the way children read about in storybooks. The Big “O” seeking their “Missing Piece,” if you will.
I, too, thought of myself as incomplete. But furthermore, I didn’t really believe I was worthy of being completed. Therein lied two falsities:
Not only am I a complete being, who is insanely talented, attractive, witty, generous, gracious, and giving, but I am—as are all of us—entitled to happiness, partnership, similitude, mutuality, and a feeling of wholeness.
My ignorance allowed for so much to get lost in translation, and so much hurt to creep in where confidence couldn’t make its way through. The allowances I made for uncertainty were unprecedented; I settled for lukewarm feelings and halfhearted attempts at connection. At a point it became easier to anticipate things like disappointment and a deep feeling of unsettling because although I knew what I wanted, I was never brave enough to communicate it to others, for fear of being judged, or worse: rejected.
I made decisions based on the opinions of others instead of my own. I let my fear of failure control me. In the end, I had become weak of mind.
But last month I had a wonderful revelation. I want to share it here because I want the world to feel as self-satisfied as I do right now. If you’re reading this and feel yourself to be “searching” in some way, I sincerely hope this finds, and serves, you well.
Revelation part 1: I am totally awesome. No, I did not know this before. My mom spent much of our time together telling me I was not good “enough.” I spent lifetimes comparing myself to other singers, other dancers, other teachers, other women, kinder people, more laid-back calm-of-mind folks, more energetic doers. There was no end to this list. But what I learned was: there will never really be an end to the list of things that someone is more or less of than you, nor the list of things that you are more or less of than someone. You are. Period. Someone will love you as you are if you are willing to embrace yourself. In fact, loads of people probably already do. Once I realized all of this, I started to appreciate people as people more.
Revelation part 2: I am totally worth it. Contrary to liberal propoganda/social media, every human is “entitled” to a few things. Things like respect of their personal space, and decency via forthcoming communication. Long ago as a young girl, I loved the concept of “your body is a temple.” Somewhere in the midst of growing into a young woman, likely in the growing guilt of occasionally trashing my own temple, I decided to make allowances for others to disrespect it as well. This went on from the time I was twelve until just recently.
I also made allowances for disrespect of my time and my energy. I spent most of my young adult life waiting for people to make up their minds about me, instead of making my mind up about them, and letting their level of uncertainty signal how heavily or how long I should lean on their word.
Now I have accepted this truth: that lines are an ok thing to have, and that people who don’t respect your lines—built out of your values and priorities—are not doing a good job of showing their respect to you as a human being. Demand that respect, because you are worth at least that.
What has happened to me: I have been able to have the first positive, platonic, consentual, engaged conversations and relationships with men that I have ever had in my life. Previously this entire species of humans was unequivocally put to purpose or otherwise removed, by which I mean: if a relationship did not serve a sexual purpose, or work towards a future partnership, it was otherwise devalued. How sad is that? Horrid, I know.
I have also been able to have the first positive, mutually-appreciative, growth-inducing, supportive conversations and relationships with women that I have ever had in my life. Women were once one thing and one thing only: competition. Now they are allies. They are my community and inspiration. They are kindred; no man could ever relate to me, comprehend my inner workings, as a woman does. I finally understand the term “sisterhood” in a colloquial context.
Mind you, it helps considerably that I have decided to remain celibate for the foreseeable future. Removing sexual intention from the picture removes a lot of confusion and uncertainty as I begin to re-lay the bricks of my moral groundwork, and determine how exactly I want to enact that.
If you find yourself at a place of unsettling, I would recommend looking inward, as I have. I imagine you’ll find there what I did: that much more is hiding within you than you now realize. Go unleash your inner strength and beauty.