My 33rd Birthday is on Sunday. I'm noticing some changes in myself. I've been making observations, like, "Oh, so that happens to me now." Last Sunday was Mother's Day. On Monday, at the office, my boss asked my co-worker how her Mother's Day was since, "She's the only Mother here" and I felt my heart shift suddenly down in a painful manor. "Oh," I thought, "so that happens to me now." I feel pain when I'm reminded that I'm not a Mother--not even close.
I've been on dating apps for a long time. Most people, it seems like, don't really want to talk after matching--they just disappear and I do too sometimes if I'm not totally sure if I'm into them and need them to make the first move--or they just want to talk and wont commit or show up to a date. I've had my settings set to just women for most of the last year or two or three (what is time???). I've just been more interested in exploring that side of myself that I've known about for a long, long time, but hadn't acted on. So I acted on it with a special woman, and it was nice, but it ended. A few times I've tried opening up my settings to women and men again and it tends to only last a short period. I know that I still have the ability to be attracted to men, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to trust them. I look at each man and try to get a read on the likelihood that he'll rape, murder, stalk, be controlling or abusive to me--I know you can't tell by how they look or what they say. I know women who've entered into relationships with a wonderful man only to have him swap personalities entirely into something controlling or abusive once the relationship evolves into something long-term. I don't trust men. I live in fear of their hidden intentions.
It's funny in a way that in my late teens and early twenties I was afraid of being judged for my attraction to women and so didn't pursue it and often did things or put myself into potentially dangerous situations with men, sometimes feeling so badly about myself or my body I felt like I didn't care what happened to me (though in retrospect I know I did--but I was in pain and needed guidance and didn't know how to ask for it). But now that I'm older, the fear of being with a bad man far, far outweighs any remaining fear of judgement or hate I may receive from dating a woman.
I've seen too much. And I'm what would be considered one of the "lucky ones" in terms of my own personal experience. But just being a woman in the world, in America--watching the way large quantities of men have behaved towards women publicly and proudly in the last few years...watching what's happened to women in my community, my circles, hearing all the stories of the cases of families in Foster Care, seeing nearly daily in the local news that another rapist was given no jail time even for a repeat offense...it all wears on you--it's worn on me. It's validated over and over again a narrative that men can't be trusted. And I know that's a sweeping statement and sweeping statements are not true. There are good men. I do know some personally. Men I trust with my life. There's not many, but there's a few. And I don't want to be someone that meets someone and assumes anything about them based on something superficial that they can't control. I really, really don't. I try to assume the best in people--but when it comes to dating, it's hard. It's hard to be a woman on the internet---knowing how small a fuse some men have at the slightest sign of rejection. It's not worth it in most cases to throw the dice and swipe right on someone who looks fairly attractive with little information on who they are or their history of behavior--not to mention that seeing someone in a photo and in person can give you totally different vibes.
It's just hard. So, that happens to me now. I've developed a nearly pathological distrust of men and I would like to not have that--but I unfortunately think it's not entirely unrealistic (based on observations of the world around me) so unless men start doing better, it's going to be hard for me to trust them as much as I trust women.
And that's, by the way, not to say I find it instantly easy to trust women either. Beyond my fear of the male intention is my own fears of intimacy, of abandonment...so, that's definitely there too. And I know that women are capable of just as bad of actions as men--they just don't seem to do it at such an alarming, epidemic rate as men. So, it feels safer. It feels safer to date a woman in the bible belt than a man--things I never thought I'd say.
Also, I want to be safe now. Pretty much always. I've healed enough to care a lot what happens to me and I'm very protective of myself, even from my own mind when it reverts to mean thoughts. So that's good. Progress.
I'm more guarded now, too. I find I have less to say. The small daily ups and downs have less importance as I focus on my bigger goals. I'm less inclined to let everyone know my every emotion or thought. I'm more protective of myself--less trusting of other's. So it goes, I suppose.
33. Wow. Not at all where I thought I'd be. There's a meme going around about how you should remind yourself of when you wanted to be where you are now. I never wanted the things I have now. The things I wanted, I didn't achieve--though I tried in every way I knew how. And now I'm on a different path, a path I didn't see coming, didn't know I would ever want. My desires are so domestic these days-- a home, a family, small creative projects, time to explore earth with my dogs or friends. I want a small, safe, happy life with a partner in every sense of the word and some children, where I am making a positive difference. It feels impossible--just as impossible as my last goal of being a working actor. Why do I never seem to have enough money? How could I ever have enough to buy a house or care for a child? That's really the big thing in my way.
And my business--how do I make it successful? Do I have what it takes? I think, well, even if it fails to really take off and be sustainable for me to live off of...maybe at the very least, it will help me build a creative portfolio that could get me a job in that field. That's helpful to think.
I have this desire to make a positive difference--they talk about how as a CASA we are making such a difference...I believe that--but I don't personally feel that. I don't feel like I've helped much. But I'll keep trying--there's so much to learn about everything--not just being a CASA, but in life. There is so much to learn it's incredible and overwhelming. How does anyone ever get the hang of it? I don't think people do. I'm learning that now. I don't think people do. I think people are just trying to get through it a lot more than we realize when we are so caught up in our own insecurities that we forget everyone else is feeling them all too.
These days I think about love and if and how it exists and what it really is... I think about our brains and bodies and emotions and how we process pain and trauma and loss... I think about parenting and play out hypotheticals in my head--what if my future kid does this or says that? How will I react? What could that look like if it goes like this or that? I think about my future home and the type of space I want to create. I pin artwork for hypothetical children's room that have encouraging or insightful phrases on it to remind them of helpful things. I've started cooking...and am learning to enjoy it. So, that's me now.
A lot of growth and in the midst of a whole lot more growth. Sometimes (daily) I'm scared that I'll fail to achieve these dreams like I failed to achieve my last ones... sometimes I'm anxious that I'm not "there" yet... but also, I realize that there's so much to learn--so much I am learning and so much more after that to learn and prepare for that will only make me a better, more capable parent, business owner, home owner, advocate, and human... this time is not being wasted. I'm working and learning and preparing and that's invaluable to the outcome--whatever it may end up being.
And whatever may end up being my future--I'll find my way to peace in it.
I am grateful for my dogs, my bed, my home, for food and water, and parks, and online courses, and stories, and that most every day I am able to find things that make me smile, make me genuinely feel happy or comforted, and that I am able to look at myself in the mirror and feel proud of who I have become.