The thing with writing about my most personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences, is that people read them. And when those thoughts, feelings, and experiences involve other people- who read them- things can get interesting.
I woke up yesterday to a message from The Handsome Indian man I hung out with in Bali. He read what I wrote about him, our interactions, and my confusion around the context. And he wanted to clear up the confusion.
He explained that he did indeed have a girlfriend, and told me why he didn’t mention it (basically he didn’t want to be presumptuous about where I was coming from). He also apologized for any way in which he may have misled me, though he was intentionally trying to not mislead me by intentionally not do anything he would normally do when trying to drop hints or make a move, which is basically just showing affection.
When I first read it I thought, Aww that’s really sweet of him to communicate that. I truly appreciated it and still do. But the more I thought about it, the more I found myself stricken by something he said. The ways in which he drops hints and makes moves. Showing affection, holding hands, touching, etc., simple, right?
It made me realize how rare it’s been for me to have men do that as a means of dropping a hint. Those few actions, which he considered dropping a hint- as in, just the beginning of what he has to offer in a relationship- have been pretty much the extent of the effort most
men dudes have made for me- as in, the end point of what they have offered me- even deep into relationships. It’s more often been me to be the one to do those things as a means of dropping hints.
I started to wonder, is this a cultural thing? Are American men just lazy, unromantic, and incapable of chivalry? Probably. Is it (and I say this as a proud and avid feminist): the ways in which I think feminism has damaged modern relationship building? Possibly. Or was it just my experience with men dudes, the ways in which my own issues have played themselves out time and time again, and the men dudes that I got myself involved with being a reflection of who and how I was at the time? Most definitely.
The thing with The Handsome Indian is that he was just a handsome Indian man I became friends with, and for a moment I thought something more might be happening, until I realized that it wasn’t, and now he’s just a handsome Indian man (with a girlfriend) who I’m friends with, again. That’s all it is. But you know me- nothing is ever “that’s all it is”.
I’m always going to look for the lesson and deeper meaning in every situation (because it’s always there).
It felt so good to have him clearly communicate to me (another thing a lot of American men seem to lack). It felt so good to be in a space of unobstructed Truth. But the more time I spent in that Truth, the more I could see and feel that it was exposing a wound that still needed to heal.
See, I wasn’t even trying this time, yet I still, even if just for a brief moment, found myself in a situation where I was allured by an unavailable man and ended up feeling a sense of rejection.
I have done so much work around this. I have gotten to know that pattern well- too well. I have become very conscious of my old, detrimental ways. And I have gained so much knowledge about how to shift those old ways. I have grown and evolved and become a much healthier person. But despite all of the growth and all of the knowledge– I still hadn’t truly learned.
And this time I could feel it, deeply. I am done. In the depths of my Truth I am so done doing this to myself.
That pattern has played itself to death.
I’m an intelligent, attractive, kind, caring, funny woman, to say the least. It’s not unreasonable for me to want to be treated with a basic sense of value… to say the least.
Yet, it still tends to be an anomaly for me. And it hasn’t just been with guys either. This has existed across all genders and contexts.
And one simple, parenthetical set of words, said by one handsome Indian friend, has really gotten me to take a deeper look at all of this.
When I look back at my tumultuous past, and think about the things I permitted people to say and do to me, I am fraught with indignation like never before.
After years of inner child work I finally… truly, feel like a mama bear protecting her cub, when it comes to taking care of the innocent little Julia inside me. I can finally say- and without a shadow of a doubt mean it- “Never again.”
Whether it was family, friends, lovers, co-workers, or bosses, I always found ways to say, “It’s ok.
“It’s ok for me to be treated this way.
“It’s ok for me to be underappreciated, taken for granted, walked all over, used, and abused. It’ ok for me to be disrespected and disregarded. It’s ok for me to be underestimated and over-scrutinized. It’s ok to not be shown common courtesy and common decency. It’s ok.
“I’ll do it.
“I’ll be the one to treat you how I want to be treated. I’ll be the one to initiate contact. I’ll be the one to make plans. I’ll be the one to make the first move. I’ll be the one to make romantic gestures. I’ll be the one to communicate… I’ll be the one to apologize.”
And I did it again, and again.
But I’m not going to say “It’s ok” anymore. Because it’s not ok.
It’s not ok to say and do the horrifically manipulative things that so many people have said and done to me throughout my life. It’s not ok to do the heinously aggressive- and almost worse, passive-aggressive- things that people have said and done to me throughout my life. It’s not ok to antagonize and throw tantrums, then play the victim when there’s a reaction. It’s not ok to gaslight and guilt trip.
It’s not ok. None of it is ok.
I am finally, from the depths of my Truth, saying, “No more.”
I will no longer make excuses for people. I will no longer believe the lies. I will no longer take the bait. I will no longer hold out hope for others to become anything other than what they have shown me.
And that has never felt more true.
The Handsome Indian wasn’t doing any of these things- he’s a wonderful person. He just held the magnifying glass over an old wound, gently touched it, and proverbially said, “There, that’s where it still hurts.”
Had none of this happened the way it did, I would not have arrived at the profoundly important place where the mama bear within me can wholeheartedly lick the wounds of her little Julia cub, so those wounds can finally heal.
I guess I know what my current totem animal is.