By The Optimist
I do not hate men. There, I said it. You see, that's usually what people assume when you have the audacity to express your disgust, mistrust, or downright anger towards men when you discuss the fact that you are totally frustrated with relationships, and sometimes men on the whole. I actually made the mistake of joking to someone that I was so tired with men that I just might "turn to the other side". I was the only one who thought this was funny. (Sorry, Mom.)
But the reality that I and many of my friends face is the fact that none of us are getting any younger, and for those of us who are tired of the questions that we get from other relatives (I mean, who doesn't have an uncle who, at any family gathering, brings up the fact that you're not yet married?), it gets a little bit harder to ignore the ticking of that clock that gets louder and louder the closer we get to 30.
Now far be it for any of us to say we NEED a man. We do not, and we resent the implications of such a statement. But the truth is, not many of us were destined to make this journey alone. There are of course many men and women who are happily single, and well into the later stages of life, very content to have never made that trek down the aisle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The confusion comes about, however, when people who believe themselves otherwise inclined find themselves making that steady, inevitable walk to middle age unescorted. Many of us to this day are still trying to come to terms with the fact that this is where we are in life, especially since this is not what we hoped for.
There is no desperation here, however. I have resigned myself to accepting what fate has in store for me. There is no drunken bar-hopping, no regret-it-next-morning-please-wake-up-and-get-out-of-my-house one-night stands, no pathetic pursuit of a guy who's clearly not interested. There never was any of this, and I'm quite proud of myself. I never know what tomorrow will bring, but I have made it my business to enjoy the journey. And I'm pretty sure that even if I make it to 40 and I'm still not married, I'm probably not going to burst into flames and die.
Yes, I've learned to relax, somewhat. I spent much time being a hectic planner, someone who knew exactly when I would get married, who my groom was and how many kids I would have by, you guessed it, 30, and seeing that all blow up in my face spectacularly when I was 23 was a nasty shock. You see, my intended groom had other ideas, and apparently, after five years, decided he wanted a different bride, a pixie he had been working with for some time. I was the last to know, and I took two years to get over it.
To say that I cried every day for more than a year would not be exaggeration. To say that it ate away at my insides until I became so gaunt that a family friend was visibly disturbed when she saw me is unfortunately a true story. To say that my ex and his spanking new lady probably weren't half as bothered by what they did to me is most likely more fact than fiction. And to say that to this day, it still makes me seethe with anger is the absolute truth.
But most days I'm ok. I'm actually quite pleasant to be around now. I enjoy making people laugh. I'm no longer walking around "wearing my pain" as my mother used to put it. The poor lady was quite worried for a while and was literally begging me to regain the will to live. If it's one thing I'm sorry for, it's that I put her through that. (Once again, sorry, Mom!)
The anger I felt and continue to sometimes feel is consuming. I wake with it, I go to sleep with it. Being cheated on and eventually being abandoned for the shiny new toy can bring your self-esteem to a low you never knew existed. It is a type of heartache that is indescribable, and an agony I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. So when the same thing happened to a dear friend of mine, I wanted to cry all over again.
Her experience almost parallels mine, down to the coward's sudden decision to go off to England to study, and the comfort his "not as new as we thought" girlfriend felt in spending $10,000 to join him there. I see myself in her eyes. I see the same sadness, the same questions, the same anger.
There are days when she doesn't even have to explain to me why there's such a dark cloud over her head. I already know what it is, and no words are necessary.
I know what it's like to wonder what went wrong, and what I did to make the man who claimed to love me decide that I wasn't enough for him, and to wonder if I'd ever be enough for anybody. I know what it's like to live every waking moment thinking about it, and when elusive sleep finally comes, it's riddled with recurring dreams of him and her together, and me standing all alone watching them act like I never existed. I understand the rage of learning of his family's apparent acceptance of what he'd done, and the uncertainty of whether you ever really meant anything to any of them. I know what it's like to blame yourself for what happened. I understand the difficulty of suddenly having to force yourself to fall out of love with a guy who is now apparently someone else's boyfriend. And I know what it's like to be unmoved when someone attempts to reassure you by saying "at least you didn't marry him". When the wound is raw, this is very small comfort. And we are both completely insulted by the arrogant insistence: "I didn't mean to hurt you, ok? I hope we can still be friends." This, roughly translated, means "Hurry up and get over it so I can talk to you like nothing happened, and I can pretend that what I did was okay. I feel a little bad about it and would like to minimise my discomfort."
It seems almost unimaginable that a strong woman could be completely floored by something like this, but the truth is, we still fall really hard. I was always sure of myself, and my wonderful friend is, as far as I'm concerned, even more woman than me. She works two jobs, goes to school and is always off running a marathon or hiking up some mountain. She's always doing something, and I'm very often doing nothing. And she always wants to do more. I admire her more than she'll ever know and I share her heartbreak more than I could ever explain.
In the meantime we busy ourselves with the business of getting over it. A trip on Facebook produced pictures of the "other woman" in her love triangle and we laughed heartily at just how regular the mystery lady is. She's nothing to talk about. (Bitchy and petty behaviour, I know, but cathartic and therapeutic. And the only feel-good option we felt we had.I have urged her not to do this anymore though.)
But the question remains: why did this happen? When we discovered that neither my friend's ex nor mine had absconded with Halle Berry, and that the young women in question are ordinary girls, it made it so much harder to understand. I knew it couldn't be something as shallow as aesthetics. Not in my friend's case, anyway, and just the thought that she could believe this is nonsensical. A trip out onto the Promenade with her is an event, and you can see slack-jawed men, young and old, openly gaping at her and appealing for Jah's mercy. She's beautiful.
So what is it they're seeing that her ex could not? Why is it that when you give your heart to someone and you make it obvious that you couldn't possibly imagine giving it to anyone else, it is so easy for him to give his away? What is the obsession with the grass on the other side? What is it that this generation of man is looking for?
On the other hand, it would be dishonest of me to claim that men are the only ones capable of dishing out heartbreak.
I'm aware that there are quite a few gentlemen out there who have found themselves in the arms of some very deceptive women, and who are just as floored as we are when a relationship goes down the drain. I recently met a young man who was wearing his bleeding heart on his sleeve, and I felt a sense of shame (albeit misplaced) at what one woman had put him through. And he had the same questions I had. Why? Why stay with someone if you know they aren't who you envision yourself growing old with? Why do some women feel that it's okay to marry a man if they know very well that they would rather be off with someone else? Why jump ship when something "better" comes along? What about your vows?
My heart goes out to the men who have been hurt like this, especially those who have been conditioned to believe that "boys don't cry". The fact is, just because they aren't as expressive and emotional as we are, it doesn't mean that a man feels no pain. I figure that's why it's so easy for some women to do the unthinkable and walk away. Somehow, we get it into our heads that men are coated with Teflon, and that a man's heart is somehow sturdier than ours. Boys do cry. And they become disillusioned with relationships as well, just as we do.
And my friend is disillusioned. I hear it every time she talks about the future. I hear the uncertainty in her voice. When she talks about where she thought she'd be by now, and what she wished she could have had by the time she hit 30, I can empathise because it has dawned on me that we're in the same boat, and as that number looms closer we find ourselves having to reluctantly and at times resentfully rewrite our lives' scripts.
As I try to battle her disillusionment and mine, my own anger still simmers just below the surface. I'm well aware of the fact that I have to let it go. I will probably never get any of the answers I want. I know that's life and that resentment isn't going to do much good. But as I see what happened to me happen to so many other people, I have to wonder how it's possible that there are so many unthinking, unfeeling people out there who are concerned only with their own happiness, and why is it so easy to meet them? Why don't they walk around with a sign saying "I'm a jerk and a self-serving ignoramus. Please avoid me"?
But, as they say, hope springs eternal. I envision a fantastic future for my friend, gorgeous "Rasta Barbie" that she is. She's one of those women who everyone admires for her vision, intelligence, independence and drive. Even though she has this hurdle that I intend to help her cross, I have no doubt that her story will have a happy ending.http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/ar...ag?id=161514653
I believe one day I'll be fine too. There's an old saying, "Always look at what you have left, never at what you have lost." I have to stop focusing on the past (although I sometimes still entertain myself with fantasies about beating my ex with a cricket bat, even though I've come to terms with the fact that this may be unhealthy.) I'm looking forward to my silver lining.