Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Honesty is such a lonely word*

I've been having a lot of chats with people on the subject of honesty. For example, I wish The Dragon had been honest with me about whatever it was that was bothering her about our relationship, so we could have tried to fix it, instead of sneaking away into the night like Barney Stinson. I wish I had been able to be honest with myself about how I felt about BBot and how he was disappointing me much earlier, so we could have escaped the long and drawn out ending.

The one big honesty question that comes up though is: Should I tell my SigOth I cheated?**

Now y'all know what I think constitutes cheating, but most people don't agree. Everyone says you have to tell the person it happened. I'm not so sure.

I did begin on this whole, ultimate honesty is always required--if you love someone you shouldn't lie, etc. A lot of this came from people trying to let me down gently and me reading too much into it, so I'd say, just TELL me straight out that you don't like me like that, don't string me along! Then, also, I had that whole sex-is-sacred-and-can-be-had-only-with-love thing going on. This, coupled with crippling insecurity meant that of course it was unacceptable for anyone to cheat, and then to not tell me would be compounding it horrendously, because you had BETRAYED MY TRUST IN YOU.

Then I went and grew up a bit, heh. I learned that the only person who could heal my insecurity was me--cos no amount of reassurance will stop me from needing more, and if what I have with someone isn't enough, they'll leave anyway, so why spoil the time we have together by stressing about it? I realised that sexual fidelity isn't a big deal for me, so whatever. Sure tell me about it, or not. Just use protection, kay?

Dan Savage, that wonderful man whose columns you should subscribe to if you're on Google Reader, has a very valid point, one that I have come to see myself.

The reason we tell our SigOths about one night stands is this: we are guilty; we hate ourselves for doing this, usually because we know they would not like that we have done it; and we really want to atone for our error and ease that guilt. But, and it's a big one, exactly what does telling your beloved partner that you got drunk and hooked up with your ex one night when they were gone achieve? Do you want to leave the SigOth? No. Do you want to do it again? No (If the answer is yes, THEN you have a problem). Not knowing that you slipped up will not hurt the SigOth. Knowing that you did and then having to deal with their own insecurities about you leaving them, when you have no intention of doing so, will traumatise them, and possibly forever destroy their ability to trust you or any other partner, and thus their peace of mind.

Telling someone about a hookup serves one purpose only--to make you feel less guilty--and not very well at that. You can tell yourself you've been honest, but then you also know you've hurt the person horribly, and you are guilty of a far worse crime. Yes, you can argue that if it hadn't happened in the first place it would all be moot, but nonetheless, in terms of the pain you cause your partner, telling them is a far worse crime. And yet, they will want you to tell them, because of this 'sacred covenant of honesty'. Makes no sense to me...

*Hands up people who've heard the song.
**Here I mean unplanned, random hookups, one night stands. Not saying that other kinds aren't fine, but that goes into the whole how-you-define-your-specific-relationship thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bringing sexy back

How cliche a title heh.

So, moving on from all the various things I've written on the subject of body image in general, and mine in particular, the writer of this article has exactly the same beef as I do with the world today. Why does everyone outwardly subscribe to that stupid stupid idea of sexy that is narrowly defined by society?

Mind you, I'm not saying I never do--whether in myself or other people. Yes, I'm often uncomfortable at parties and clubs because I don't think I can begin to compare to all those stick thin, silky-haired drop dead gorgeous women floating about (nearly literally). Yes, I usually expect guys to not find me attractive, though it rarely lasts past five minutes anymore thank god. Yes, my heart skips a beat when I see a tall, lean man who is clean-shaven and wears nice clothes.

But I also never, ever, thought I would be practically incapacitated by my attraction to short guys, fat guys, hairy guys, tattooed guys, long-haired guys or bearded guys. But it still happened, mainly because I was willing to give it a shot. And it worked. Similarly, I am often blown away by the power my body has over a variety of guys--but only those who are willing to admit that the social requirement of a attractiveness in women is not really valid in most cases.

So what is with us? We all know that different things work for different people. We all know that, when it comes down it, you can't really see the other person and they might really have moves that melt your bones. We all know that often a mental or emotional reaction can obliterate or outstrip any physical connection you might have. But we still continue to buy into and feed this whole idea of beauty, male and female, that causes so much misery!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Maxi Me

In one of those delightful convergences, The Bride had this post up this morning. I say convergence because this idea of who I am and what it means as I've gotten older has been occupying my mind a lot of late.

Regular readers know about all my issues about my physical appearance, and how my personality can and does intimidate and put boys off. However, living in New York, being in a relationship for two years, finding inspiration in work, generally just growing up certainly seemed to have calmed a lot of those anxieties and issues. And yet, last weekend, I refused to take my shirt off with a guy I already had incontrovertible proof was very attracted to me. So I spent the week wondering why on earth it had happened--what happened to all my hard won confidence?

The oldest personality I remember having was a loud and enthu child who hero-worshipped her older sister and cousins. I also demanded a lot of attention, but that is something I only know now, with hindsight. I also got that attention from everyone but my mum, which of course is what led, in a very pleasing manner to our dear friend Sigmund, to many other issues. I was also spoilt and thus ate badly and ended up fat at a very young age. It happened between the ages of 8 and 10. I remember I put on 4 kilos in a month when I was 8. That's a pretty nuts.

This weight began, obviously, to erode self-esteem, cos I'd be teased about it, goodnaturedly in my family, and meanly outside. I became less confident in myself, how I looked and how people felt about me. I think that's when I became the really needy everyone-must-like-me me, and as a consequence, the doormat me.

Doormat me stuck around a really long time. As a teenager, I really wanted the cool kids to like me, and I bent over backwards trying to be that person they wanted me to be--it backfired, of course. Less self-esteem.I was also smarter than everyone in my class, and the boys did not like it--the same boys I needed to like me, cos they certainly didn't want to date me. Crush after crush was into my friends, or stopped talking to me when they found out. It became the strongest weapon against me--so I never could show people they were important to me, because it made me vulnerable. I also slacked off like mad about academics--though I think not pushing myself if I didn't care about the subject is a fairly innate characteristic of mine.

When I went to college, I regained some confidence about my brain. It was cool to be smart. I had friends who were smart. We all faffed and still did well. My inner romantic flourished, along with my inner optimist. I even liked a boy who didn't run when he found out--my first love. But he did screw with my head. Maybe he didn't mean to, but he did manage to obliterate whatever vestiges of confidence in my body I had left.

I returned to my MA, social and friendly and proud to have a brain. I made a lot of friends. And yet I was severely depressed--I even did some silly things as a result. I tried to embrace pessimism, to not expect things from other people, but it only made me more miserable. But I never, ever, not even with my closest and dearest friends, showed how I felt. It seemed that my earlier reluctance to reveal vulnerability had solidified into an inability. When I started therapy and finally told my friends, who included The Bride, they were aghast, saying they'd had no idea. And, honestly, how could I have expected them to, when I never ever gave out a hint about how I was actually miserable that every guy I thought I connected with only wanted my friends' numbers? It became this sort of conflict between rational and emotional--I could hardly demand that someone be interested in me, and yet, it hurt terribly that they weren't. It hurt even more watching them be happy with my friends, and yet I could hardly wish unhappiness on my friends or blame them for not knowing how I felt when I didn't tell them.

That was Conflicted me--I was open and friendly and would tell you anything you asked; I would show emotions for other people, and my own happiness, but I would never ever show you my tender spots. and then I was hurt you couldn't guess where they were or even that they did exist at all. Conflicted me still had Doormat me, just with more sass. I needed to be needed, and I wanted to swoop in and save people, which meant I put up with a lot more shite than I needed to--something that continued or a long time.

Then I moved to New York, and finally began to feel like I was attractive. Several boys managed to talk me out of the belief that I am unattractive. I began to be more willing to say what I felt, albeit politely. I began to agree to disagree. I found that socializing was an innate part of me. I didn't need to make polite conversation, but I was happy to hear about what anyone did or though,. I began to think about politics and economics and development--and suddenly had so much more to talk about and so many more people to talk to. Therapy had taught me to not be ashamed o what I felt on an emotional level, regardless of rational opinions. You cannot tell yourself not to feel something, you can only feel it and get over it. It was okay to expect things from people, and okay to be hurt when they disappointed you--no one had to judge anyone for expecting or disappointing. I would say that this was New York me: confident in my ability to attract men, able to hold my own with a stranger, able to put people at ease and make myself at home in most situations.

Then I had to move back. At first I was very upset, but then I found a job and made friends and settled in. I found many many boys who found me interesting and attractive. I was now a bit blase about attractiveness, but still devastated that no one seemed to want to be my boyfriend! Then I found one. I found the best friend-circle ever. I had a shite job, but I'd never cared about career, so it was fine. That's when I became Balanced me. The boyfriend did not, however, do much for my self-esteem, because he blew hot and cold like mad. Again that rational-emotional disconnect kicked in, because I couldn't demand that he be besotted with me, but I needed him to be. And because I needed him to be, I drew the lines all wrong at the beginning, which is really why everything began to fall apart once I realised I wanted to move the lines. In a lot of ways, that was still Balanced me. I had learnt to deal with my emotion-logic disconnect. I knew who I was--and I felt no need to hide it. Yes, I was promiscuous, before BBot. Yes, I was very smart. Yes, I was not conventionally attractive. So? I was a strong independent woman and I was AWESOME.

And then I moved to Delhi and broke up with BBot. Suddenly I was Doormat me again. I don't know what happened, but SIW me had gone into hiding. Then The Dragon dumped me too, and I thought I wouldn't recover from that. It was almost as if that fifteen-tear-old whose class had formed a MinCat Hating Association was back, curled up in a foetal ball in the corner, whimpering. I was nearly thirty and I was lost. It felt like the past decade had been erased. No one would want me--and unless I either got a lucrative career or a husband, I'd never be able to afford to have kids, and that was all I wanted.

And then The Architect happened, the job love happened, I found friends in Delhi--and I think I'm nearly Balanced me again. But I am Balanced me who is aware that Doormat me still lurks beneath the surface--and I don't know when she will take over. Still, I now know more than ever, that I don't want to settle: not in relationships, not in career, and not with friends. I know that I am honest, often brutally, especially with those I care about, but I can and will tell lies if they are needed. I know that whoredom is difficult to define, as is fidelity. I know that agreeing to disagree is all very well, but sometimes you need to agree. I know that I will always be social, enjoy socializing--even need it. I know that there are absolutely no hard and fast rules, and I'm immensely suspicious of anyone who thinks there are. I also know that there are things I will not enable. There is a line. It is here. That's it.

What about you? How did you become Today you?