I closed down my heart

Story 6b Me traveling 1_18.jpg

“I want a girlfriend,” he said, “but not you as my girlfriend.” oooooohhhh, stake through the heart. “In fact, I’m thinking about asking [mutual friend] out.”

We hung up the phone and whatever was left of my already broken heart shattered even more.

I don’t think men understand how easily they can crush our souls. 

He was a close friend in my twenties. We’d talked on the phone every day for months after my other relationship ended. 

I really let him in, to see the *real* me, during a really, really vulnerable point in my life. We talked for hours. We shared everything. 

When he made a move, I thought we’d be boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s all I’d experienced. I knew I wasn’t every guy’s cup of tea. But the ones that dug me, didn’t let go.

I didn’t realize how nervous and unprepared for a serious relationship he was. All I thought at that time, which seemed to fossilize in my heart was: If he didn’t want me, then who would?

I kept dating but with every relationship, I shut my heart down more and more. Until one day, I discovered that my heart wouldn’t open. It was cemented shut. 

It didn’t matter that he apologized over and over again and wished he could take it back.

It didn’t matter that he showed up later asking if I wanted to get back together, hinting at marriage.

It didn’t matter that he told me I was a really important person in his life and he wanted me in it. 

I was still pissed. Being pissed felt better than being hurt. 

Our anger is sometimes the only way we survive. 

I can’t speak for all women, OF COURSE. But I think it’s safe to say that for many people, the root of the anger men are sensing from women has been growing out of years of hurt and pain.

I feel lucky that I already had my “angry years” - sorry to everyone I encountered in my 30s (yikes). 

Being angry is a luxury I can no longer afford. That energy has been rerouted to keep myself alive. 

Anger can be so energizing and motivating. 

It can clear the air. It can help launch Movements! The key is to feel it, share it responsibly, process it and let it go.  

If we get stuck in it, we don’t grow. I know this because I did it for too long. Festering anger = bad for body and mind. Old anger isn’t good for anyone.

I’ve felt bad, knowing he would be reading my stories and feeling bad. We’d made such strides in recent years, gotten our friendship back on track after a long time.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d said Yes to him. 

Would we have been happy? Would I have gotten this sick? Would we have made it?

The root of so much of this collective anger buzzing throughout our country is that we care. We care so much.

And it doesn’t feel like it matters. Our feelings don’t seem to matter. Our wishes don’t seem to matter. 

They feel brushed aside. Unimportant. Dismissed. 

It’s so toxic for women to live this day in and day out, especially those that are disabled, women of color, immigrants, gay, bi, trans.

Even the women who are pretending that nothing bad is happening - they’re still struggling, they’re internalizing this toxicity. They feel it too. 

It’s so hard not to internalize the horrible messaging we receive ALL. DAY. LONG. You’re wrong. You’re dumb. YOU DON’T MATTER.

I wish I’d had the wherewithal to know that what someone else thinks of me has no bearing on what I SHOULD BE THINKING OF ME. This is a tough one, right? Still working on it in therapy. 

We have so many belief systems that become “set” at young ages. Undoing them isn’t easy. But it IS possible.

Undoing belief systems around genders is crucial now. 

Undoing belief systems about groups/race/religions is long overdue.

Undoing belief systems about ourselves is how we start this process. 

Until we undo old belief systems, we can not create new ones.

I’m releasing an old belief about myself today. I know he’d want me to. I wish I had a long time ago. 

Instead I embrace the belief that knowing the real me, the quirky-mushy-sentimental-hilarious-loud-overthinking-nerd-with-an-edge-badass is a gift. A beautiful gift. Sharing it with all of you through my writing feels like a gift to ME.

I worry sometimes, that I am going to leave this planet before I am able to say everything I want to say. Apologize to everyone I want to apologize to, forgive everyone that wants forgiving. Tell important people that I love them, that I always have.

I don’t want to carry old shit around anymore. I forgive all the dudes that have hurt my heart. Hurt my soul. I forgive you.

And I’m so so sorry if I caused you pain. If I did, it was because I was in pain and lashing out. It was because I hadn’t owned my shit yet and didn’t know how to responsibly explain that my feelings were hurt.

I hope that if nothing else, that during this strange and politically charged time, that we can find ways to say I’m sorry to each other. That we can find ways to understand each other better. 

It’s not going to be easy. But I’ll tell you one thing: it’s a hell of a lot easier than walking around in pain. I’ll take the hard work of letting the ugly feelings *out* over stuffing the pain down any day of the week.

To finally heal, is a relief.

There is quite a bit of data linking negative emotions to physical health and lowered immunity. If this interests you, Google "emotions and physical health immunity." It's still considered "woo-woo" to mainstream docs EVEN THOUGH there is hard data linking mental health to physical health and vice versa. I'll be sharing more on this topic when I share my medical story. But it's something to consider as we all move forward during this stressful time.

Photo #6b. This is part of a writing project where I challenge myself to write 700-1000 words per day - not in advance - for 30 days using old photos and different writing prompts. This particular set of stories will focus on my experiences as a (white) Gen X woman and experiencing America pre- and post- #metoo movement.