Untwisting Dark Fantasies

I’m Done Blaming Myself for the Failures of Careless Boys

c/o def jam

“You could have been the love of my life, but the timing has been never right.”

Let’s have a toast to the douchebags.

“I don’t care or think about spending time with you as much as you care and think about spending time with me. I like you, but I don’t really like you the way you like me.”

Let’s have a toast to the assholes.

“I still want to be able to text you. I still want you in my life, but I don’t want you to expect anything from me.”

Let’s have a toast to the scumbags, every one of them that I know.

Unfortunately, I’ve known a lot of them. I’ve been hurt by a number of men. Mostly emotionally, a few times physically. Some of these men were true scumbags; actual Bad People whom I hope I never see or hear from again, whom I wish didn’t live in the same world as me. I sometimes want to forget the Bad People, but I never will because forgetting means pretending parts of myself and my life don’t exist and I can’t do that again.

I will never forget again, and I won’t always forgive. Some wrongs are beyond forgiveness. People say that anger will destroy you, that you have to forgive to move on, but those people are mistaken. The wrong kind of anger can and will destroy you, but anger can also give you strength. Anger is what kept me alive when I was drowning in undeserved forgiveness.

I forgave my abuser and blamed myself. He was troubled; he was hurt and I was fixing him. My own suffering didn’t matter as much as the delusion that I was responsible for him — that I, only I, could save him from himself. I buried myself in apologies and excuses for the horrible way he treated me, for his volatility and violence. I forgave him and I fractured under the weight of that forgiveness, crushed by shame and guilt and self-loathing. It was anger that eventually broke through and allowed me to pull myself out.

Before him, there was the boy I lost my virginity to. He thought he loved me, but he didn’t love himself enough to love anyone else. I wanted to love him enough for both of us, but he made that impossible. He was troubled; he was hurt and I was fixing him. But he hurt himself too deeply and lashed out at me, manipulated me without meaning to; he couldn’t accept that I didn’t hate him as much as he hated himself. I ran away before he took me down with him because anger over the injustice in our relationship gave me the strength to leave.

Anger can destroy you when it’s misplaced, but sometimes anger is the only thing that holds you together and sets you free.

Run away as fast as you can.

I wish I had run away sooner. I put up with their shit just way too long.

Some of the men who’ve hurt me are not Bad People, but they still might be assholes. They aren’t mean or malicious, but they are careless. I think of these boys as Daisys; for as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Some of these Daisys are more careless than others; some of them are even Good People, but they made selfish decisions. It sucks when someone is hurting and you want to help them; but when that means putting your own needs aside because they can’t look beyond themselves to see how they’re hurting you, because they can’t or won’t help themselves, because they take and take and take and never give, you have to learn to run away. Run away and set yourself free — because they never will.

I’ve spent so much of my life apologizing for the failures of men who act more like boys. I put their happiness or comfort ahead of my own; I enabled their carelessness because I stuck around to clean up the mess. I set myself on fire trying to keep everyone around me warm; for a few years, my identity and self-worth seemed lost in the ashes. But not anymore.

I walked away from the boy who told me I wasn’t the love of his life months ago. He tried to pull me back in for a while, oblivious or apathetic to the pain he caused each time. He said he loved me; he wanted me in his life forever, but it was always, only on his terms. I kept walking away and eventually he stopped trying — I’ll never know if it was because he cared in the wrong way or just didn’t care at all.

When this pattern seemed to be repeating with the boy I’d been seeing recently, I was wary but didn’t hit feet initially because unlike the last boy, this one would at least talk about his feelings. That doesn’t mean things worked out, but he let me know it wasn’t really about me. He isn’t a douchebag, a scumbag or even an asshole; he’s a Good Person, but he was careless at first. He had to say the hurtful things out loud so he couldn’t be careless anymore; so I wouldn’t have to wonder and find things about myself to blame instead. He’s troubled; he’s hurt, but so am I. I can’t help him, but I can help myself.

By now I’ve been hurt enough that I couldn’t just walk away — I’m running as fast as I can.