Picking at scabs; or, I’m sorry, but I love men.
September 29, 2018
We all remember what Mr. Rogers’ mom told him: when things look look scary, look for the helpers. That always turns things around for me. Yeah, maybe it’s Pollyanna ostrich behavior but, Lord, I’m always just about a day away from falling into the darkness so I need to do what I can to keep the lights on.
Anyway, say what you will about social media but like with everything, it is a mirror of who you are. The last week, I saw in the mirror a wounded survivor in a sea of wounded survivors, all viciously angry and triggered because we were seeing the face of our attackers in a man who is being lauded by a bunch of other men (and, inexplicably, women) who are wearing the faces of the men who laughed at us when we were being attacked.
I could continue to nurse my wounds and pick at my scabs and reopen my scars. A lot us are doing that. It’s very satisfying, picking at scabs. But we all know that only makes the wound deeper and the scar uglier. I don’t want to pick at that scab. It was a long time ago and my roommate heard me yelling “no no no no” and burst in and screamed and she was very big and scary so he pulled up his pants and slunk out of our apartment and I never heard from him again. I learned a lesson about being a little less trusting of my ex-boyfriend’s roommates who come over in the middle of the night and tell me, “I need to talk to you about M______. I’m worried about him,” because it’s pretty obvious to everyone who meets me that I love to help people with their problems.
This wasn’t the only incident with men who thought my openheartedness meant that I wanted to do more than just talk. There was also an incident on the stairs at Drane Hall. And an incident with my friend and her boyfriend who wanted a threesome. An incident with a couple of guys I went to high school with who thought I might be up for some “fun” on White Road. (Luckily, in that case, reminding them who my brothers were seemed to dampen their interest.) A boss that told me he wanted to talk about a promotion opportunity for me but really just wanted to take me to a bar and get me drunk and try it on with me. We’re not even going to talk about why I got fired from Western Sizzlin’. There were lots of incidents in various places and times. Is it any wonder I got fat, haha? We do what we can to protect ourselves.
But to be honest, I’ve had just as many hurtful experiences with women. Maybe more. It’s what happens when you put yourself out there, looking for love and friendship and your tribe. You get your heart broken and you get betrayed and you get ostracized and scapegoated and abandoned so you go home and lick your wounds for a while and then–maybe–you put yourself back out there again. Gotta let those scabs heal. Put the balm of human kindness on those scabs and they won’t be so easy to pick (you scab-pickers know what I’m talking about, right? If you keep them soft, they are harder to pick.)
So back to the helpers. The balm of human kindness. The mirror. I woke up this morning, already stressed because everything I have to do today to get ready for a trip because I’ve been wallowing all week and not getting anything done at home, so to procrastinate, I checked Twitter. I know! This is usually a very bad idea. But, because God can and does make good out of everything, the first thing I saw was this thread with the hashtag #notarapist, talking about all the good men in the world who had the opportunity to rape but instead nurtured and tended and cared and guarded the women. Man, I cried out all that PTSD and triggering and anger that had built up the last week and started remembering all the good men I know. All the good men who didn’t take advantage, who helped and supported and loved and protected me. I started naming them to myself one by one. Good men. So many good men I have known in my life. My dad. My brothers. My first best friend. My current best friend’s husband. 99% of my boyfriends. My friends’ dads and brothers and sons. My cousins. My nephew and his husband. Bosses and coworkers. All those good priests.
The dozens of guys I told “no” and they weren’t jerks about it.
All #notrapists. All good men. I want to name you all but this is getting long enough. 🙂
I am not going to let those few bad men turn off the light for me. Here is what I’m going to let them do:
Draw me closer to women. I’ve never been good with women so I’m going to let this draw me into solidarity with other women who have not been treated well by life. And that’s all of us, right? I feel the wounds inflicted by other women beginning heal up. #IBelieveHer and #IBelieveYou and #MeToo and #WeAreAllInThisTogether.
Vote Democrat. I’ve been a Republican for as long as I have cared about politics because of my stance on abortion and because the Republican Party seemed to be the party of Christianity. I’m pretty sure my understanding of Christianity was really warped but that’s a story for another time. 🙂 At any rate, thank you, Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and all those men who represent the worst of humanity, which in my opinion is partisanship. Division. Competition. Us against them. “We’re better than they are.” “I’m better than you are.” It’s the root of all evil and yet we cultivate it, celebrate it, idolize it, elect it to represent us. So thank you, Republican Party, for helping me see that there are greater issues than whether that cluster of cells is a baby or not. Just because I ruined my life with an abortion doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice for everybody. Maybe it does. I’m still working on that one. Again, another story for another time.
And here’s what else I’m gonna do: grab that balm and slather it on. Lift my heart in gratitude for all the good men I know and not let the few awful ones color my opinion of all of humanity.
And I’m gonna share that balm so you can soften those scabs and let them heal. Here, have some:
I want to tell a story: Once in high school, I felt insecure, I put on a tight top too low cut and dark lipstick I didn’t usually wear. I went to a party drank terrible wine coolers, too many of them. A man asked me if I wanted to leave, I slurred, said maybe. He said “maybe”?
— maura quint (@behindyourback) September 29, 2018