Clearly the time has come to work through all the issues surrounding my “relationship” with Boo. No one should absolutely lose their shit because somebody they work with is moving to a job across town. But my shit I did lose. The very real, desperate pain I felt over the weekend was incredibly out of proportion to the actual event.
I have to figure out why this has such a hold of me – why I can’t let it go. I can’t allow this delusion to continue to control my life, obsess me, and craze me. I think the easiest way to work through it is with some lists with occasional narrative thrown in for explanation.
Who Is Real Boo? – The Good
*Best first date EVER!
*Never completely lets me go (no matter what dumb shit I do)
Who Is Real Boo? – The Bad
*Wrapped up in his work
*Not there when I need him
*Never completely lets me go
*Coming out of a BAD divorce
*Mean streak disguised as humor
Why I Deserve Better
Clearly, the real Boo and the Boo I make myself sick over are not really the same person. That’s not fair to him. That’s not fair to me.
So why do I continue to cling so desperately to my delusion of “SuperBoo” and to my efforts to forge a romantic relationship with him?
Why Do I Continue To Fight To Keep It Alive?
*I’m desperate for male approval.
*I need to know that I am desirable and lovable.
*I don’t want to be alone.
*He’s my only option. He’s the only straight, single man in my life.
*I need to win, not fail.
*I can’t stop believing I can make him love me if I say and do the right things.
*I need to prove that I can “do anything I put my mind to.”
*I can’t accept that I can’t control him or the relationship.
*I want to fix him and heal his emotionally broken places.
*I want him to cherish me for fixing him and showing him how to love again.
*Letting my hopes for SuperBoo go means giving up on the hope for love, acceptance and companionship.
*If I stop looking at him, I have to look at me.
*I have no intrinsic identity.
*If I stop chasing this, I don’t have anything else to concentrate on.
*I have no other goals or dreams or desires for my life. (Sadly, I’m serious.)
The self-identity piece of this fascinates me. Boo is not the first man who I’ve gotten super-crazy about like this. First of all, I didn’t date growing up. I had a boyfriend for two weeks in 9th grade and then a couple of short term boyfriends in college. And then I got married when I was 25. So I never practiced relationships. I’ve always been so desperate for them that I clamp on like a bear trap as soon as a possibility arises, and my hopes shoot through the roof. That’s the biggest problem. I can NOT control my expectations. And inevitably the disappointment CRUSHES me. I can’t just brush it off and let it go.
But none of this started happening until I started graduate school. I got there and it turned out I WASN’T the smartest person who ever lived. I was out of identities. So I started looking for a man to define me – to put the socially-acceptable stamp of approval on me. I didn’t know how or who to be without an extrinsic label. I still don’t
So Who Am I Now?
*Not an athlete
*Not a scholar
*Not a runner
So Who Am I Inside?
So What Does That Mean I WANT To Be?
*Someone’s girlfriend so I can prove to the world that I’m straight, loveable, and OK being me.
*Someone’s girlfriend so I can be protected and appreciated and loved.
What I Probably Need To Be
*Alone until I learn to define myself without a man, and learn to know who I actually am inside and not just as defined by the things on the outside – the things I do or wear or how I cut my hair. (I don’t wanna! *sniff!*)
*A woman learning who she is and why she’s OK.
*A woman who likes herself without needing any external approval to do so.
*A student (literally) of casual dating who doesn’t lose her emotional shit over one dinner.
And so here is the stupid postscript to all this. How do I deal with my ongoing relationship with real Boo in light of these admissions and realizations? Is there a way I can step back and start over again looking at him with new eyes? Can I unravel these emotional ties I’ve woven? Will any kind of relationship with him continue to bring me grief and disappointment? Can I ever get to a place where we can just be friends without me wanting him and feeling jealousy and hurt? I’m just not sure what to do. I don’t want to cut ties with him. But is that just a symptom of the problem at hand?
Hahahahaha! I can’t believe this is a song!
…[B]ut identity is not a negative. Identity is just a difference, and you have to reclaim that and be able to love that in yourself and say that this was probably always going to be me. And this part I can love, and it is not a problem.”
– Charles Blow, NPR Interview
This is how I’m dressed today. And when I dress like this I feel 100%, authentically myself. But I’m not a pretty girl. And I constantly struggle with that emotionally, philosophically and ontologically.
There is a disconnect between what society, particularly straight, cisgender society, considers pretty, and my authentic self. Oh, I know I’m not hideous. I have nice eyes and people say I have a nice smile, but I’m not granted the privilege of the pretty girls.
I can’t toss my hair and bat my eyes and easily have men want to be with me. If I like a man I go to almost any lengths to try and make him like me too. I chase and I make muffins and I send text messages and I wear lip gloss and put on perfume and I dress uncomfortably girly and I grow my hair longer and it still doesn’t really matter because I’m not pretty and don’t have big breasts. (But I have a good personality…)
I’ve never been able to cry my way out of a speeding ticket. I’ve never been given free parking spots or concert tickets. I’ve never been sent flowers. I’ve never been told I’m beautiful. (But I’m smart and funny…)
Things are easier for pretty girls. And frankly, I resent them. I want to slap NFL cheerleaders. I want to kick beauty pageant contestants in their cooters. I want to push those girls who wear high heels they can’t even walk in off cliffs. I know this is hateful. But that’s how I feel. Sorry.
I understand that I could make myself prettier. I could grow my hair longer. I could wear makeup. I could dress more feminine. But I don’t want to do those things. I don’t want to get up an extra hour early in the morning so I can blow-dry my hair and put on makeup. I don’t want to wear shoes that torture my feet all day. I want to be low maintenance and comfortable.
Besides, I wouldn’t be true to myself OR a potential partner if I tried to be all those things I’m not just to attract someone. So why can’t men see deeper than the pretty?
I would actually fit really well in the Lesbian “Stud” community. My look is well-suited there. But I know I’m straight. #bornthisway
I’ve also thought a lot about the genderqueer or transgender labels. But those don’t feel right either. I’m not trying or wanting to present as a man nor do I identify as a man. I just feel like I’m ME. The kind of woman that doesn’t get much consideration or appreciation or attention in mainstream society because I’m not soft and pretty. There is no niche or label for heterosexual cisgender women who want to “present” like me.
The irony is that I’m incredibly soft and vulnerable. I just don’t manage to wear that on the outside. It feels very scary and threatening when I go out dressed femininely. I feel like I’m naked and open and afraid and ashamed. I feel like I can’t protect myself. I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m doing it wrong. I feel like people are laughing at me.
On the inside I’m all cookies and kittens and cuddles and empathy and love and concern and care and hugs and Pop Tarts. (Okay. There’s some snark and filthy language and control issues and passive-aggressiveness in there too, but still and all….) But you have to look beyond the ballcap and the Bad Ass panties and the Doc Martens and the scars to see the vulnerable me.
Like I said at the beginning, I’ve struggled with these gender presentation issues my entire life from fighting with my mom about what I could wear when I was five to fighting to convince a man to love me last month.
Here’s where I stand on it all right this second. I feel so much like myself in my tomboy clothes and without makeup and long hair that I don’t think I can deny that it’s who I am.
I don’t want to spend time trying to be someone I’m not just so I can find a man to love me. Am I willing to be alone forever if that’s what it costs? Right now, I think so. I’ve tried being someone I’m not in relationships, and obviously, it never turns out well. But I really wish a man I was attracted to could find me beautiful like I am and love me for it.
I’m loving (or at least accepting) myself more and more every day. I love my ballcaps. I love my sparkly earrings. I love my sweatshirts. I love my knee-high black leather boots. I love my scars. And I love my little boobs.
I’m not a label. There is no definition for me. I am just, finally, becoming me. And I can’t be anything else.