Praxis of The Heart (Inspired by the Lovely Leslie Jones)
Heads up, this is a bit of a ramble.
So…the back and forth on the article where Leslie Jones talked about feeling like “what am I doing this for” in regards to dating, feeling like one may die alone, etc. from a few days back seems to have struck a nerve with a lot of heads…including myself. I’m still seeing comments on various other folks’ pages about it and the sentiment she expressed about having the want to connect with somebody and feeling frustrated that (at least presently) jacksh*t is coming from it.
One of the things I noticed in various comments were folks talking about her looks and that’s the main reason why things aren’t working for her.
* sighs *
I’ve talked to a few folks on the phone lines about this news item the past few days that brought it up (including literally earlier this afternoon) and got all kinds of responses.
It inspired me to write this.
Let me tell you a little story from a period of my life in regards to WHY some ladies and men can get frustrated with this sh*t in striving for a romantic relationship.
I really didn’t get remotely comfortable with my physical and mental self until damned near my mid-to-late 20s.
I dealt with my share of sh*t and whatnot for being short, a dark skinned Black woman (which for some was already a #whompwhomp in regards to being perceived as physically attractive from jump), wearing glasses (pretty much have had jacked up vision damned near since 1st to 2nd grade), a tomboy (with little to no fashion sense since I didn’t care about that sort of thing for way too long + didn’t get boobs and booty proper until later on), weirdly smart (TOO smart for some, not enough of a genius for others) and other things kids, teenagers and ain’t sh*t adults with their own damned issues & complexes would make fun of, mock and whatnot.
My teenage years on that level were kinda trash. College got a bit better due to getting some of my outer sh*t a bit more together, getting real deal friends and whatnot but I still had my fair share of dealings with predators & a**holes due to having jacked up self-esteem that was like a bacon buffet to a pork lover.
I went from feeling ugly to “meh” at best to “meh” to “I’m actually kind of cute at least”. The bullsh*t foolery comments f*cked with me less and less.
Years go by. I fall in and out of romantic relationships post-college — some with the best of endings as possible (still am friends or acquaintances with some past lovers and 1 ex is actually my male best friend; incompatibility happens but y’all don’t gotta be enemies) and some f*ckery filled interactions that lasted WAY too long one wants to burn, bury six feet deep and then cover the ground with lime so that nothing grows there again.
Players f*ck up due to emotional needs at times and issues one has to resolve on their own before even getting into finding your compatible puzzle piece in the game of love. Is what it is.
One day some years ago, I run into an old FWB.
I was single for a minute after a rather garbage semi-long term, long distance relationship where I honestly wasted a bunch of time on trying to to make imbalanced toxic emotional interactions pure while dealing with a f*ckload of family & professional stress. You can’t be nice to everyone or keep giving chances to those that are damaged and don’t want to work on themselves, much less a union with someone else. Love sometimes means getting the f*ck out of traumatic nonsense before YOU go nuts.
Again…players f*ck up.
Anyway, myself and said Friend with Benefits never really had poor interactions with each other. Life was just life. Folks moved in different directions and areas, talked every once in a while on things deep and shallow (including if we were or weren’t in relationships at the time), had times heads chilled and/or “chilled” (the latter only when we were NOT in relationships — folks weren’t on that kind of biz) and that was that.
There was a connection & obvious chemistry mentally (I have a thing for intellectually curious men) and physically, but apparently not a “let’s try to date” connection.
I never thought I was on his radar for anything serious after a significant period of time, so I didn’t pursue it. Things go as they go.
One day, myself and the fella caught up with each other and were having a conversation. Pretty standard stuff. We both talked about each others lives and how things were going mostly pretty decent (and my ass was happy since after that wack time, things were smoothing out for me personally and professionally).
He eventually asked me about how things were on the love life end.
I was pretty much like “meh, it’s not really jumping right now since I want to have a genuine connection with the dude I meet before getting into anything physical. I want them to like me and vice versa beyond a physical thing, even if we don’t get super into anything serious”.
They responded back “Do you think you think you’re attractive enough for that?”
That sh*t kicked me square in my motherf*cking chest.
It was like a scab was ripped from my heart with a rusty scalpel and I started bleeding internally.
They said that statement so damned effortlessly. Not one damned stutter.
A person I have known for a solid period of my life. Who knew I wasn’t a sh*tty woman, lazy, stupid, jacked up or whatever.
Someone who THEY were cool enough to get it on with.
Someone who from years of conversations, interactions ,etc. that weren’t all shallow who I f*cking thought knew better.
The bit of deserved ego I finally got after decades — life going good, in at least decent shape, comfort in the skin I was born in, making a decent 9 to 5 & creative work progress and whatnot — two pieced deadass in the face.
I didn’t curse them out. I didn’t lose it.
Truthfully…I think I was honestly just in shock.
The idea that all I might be — or had ever been to them — was a decent looking convenience to take up time with was some wild sh*t.
Like logically…well, life’s life. We were not around the same way, we were not in any formal coupling. Expectations were not there beyond FWB status.
Emotionally however…DAMN. DAMN YOU COLD, HEARTLESS ASS SON OF A B*TCH.
How dare you let that just come out of your face? You had to be THAT brutal with that statement yo?!
I was all the way f*cked UP. The whole game done changed and the rules were on stacked against me on some Monopoly sh*t where your ass couldn’t even own Baltic Avenue.
I went about the rest of the day after the talk ended — think folks just yammered a bit more and moved about their business.
I just compartmentalized & pushed aside the conversation that transpired. Packed it up and thought I could just roll with things like nothing happened.
...so I thought. NOPE.
But like a closet stuffed full of miscellaneous stuff you eventually have to reorganize and get the dust out of, things had to get cleaned out in my head with that situation later on.
And, well…so I did.
I had to unpack sh*t, confront what happened with myself after that conversation and get some help (for me, professional and spiritual) to refine processing it — especially why I accepted that in my head at least as emotional residue that statement —“Do you think you think you’re attractive enough for that?” — messed me up on top of other trauma that was going on in my brain at the time related to male/female interactions, the concept of romance and so forth.
I got to realize that I didn’t get bitter after everything happened, just a but…sad. Rueful. Because I felt small as hell and had not felt that way for a long time.
And well…f*ck that noise.
Happily for me after working this out all the way…things have worked out pretty good since.
In regards to the folk who said that to me…I really did not look at that man the same ever again after that.
Not as an enemy (we knew each other for too long and this was an aberration — a JACKED UP ONE, but one regardless — of behavior modes & talkthat never occurred again), but…some illusions were basically shot to sh*t after over a decade of knowing them as a friend before anything remotely physical even occurred.
Not the illusion of one day “they’ll finally choose ME” on some goofy Hollywood romance movie plot stuff. That’s a fantasy I never engaged in (which if I did…man, things would’ve been a LOT worse for my ass) and at least with my life trajectory thus far in over 3 decades...lol…not how things work B.
No, it was dealing with something more mundane and weirdly painful I was used to more from strangers than those I let remotely intimately in my life as usually guarded person who doesn’t let too many people in my head, much less other bodily arenas — that I simply wasn’t important enough to give a damn about because I didn’t LOOK like I was worthy of protection, even just of the basic civil and emotional sort.
A bit of the last vestiges of the innocence of “this won’t happen to me from THEM at least” dependability blown away like dust in the wind I guess.
* inhales *
What happened afterwards with that fellow and I?
I apparently wasn’t attractive enough to put out an effort to date. I wasn’t attractive enough to do the social media dance of being like “me and bae” where ever and whenever.
And end of the day…I certainly was not attractive enough to wax poetically about in all public forums, get intro-ed to the fam, get engaged to and ultimately marry a few years later.
* exhales slowly *
But even knowing that simple 2 word truism, that sh*t f*cking hurt (one’s heart getting kicked like a Manchester United soccer ball would) and had me in my feelings more than I cared to admit for a long time.
But life moved forward, I engaged in praxis of the heart from the lessons it gave me for a better tomorrow and here we are.
Rambling on Medium and stuff via the click clack of the keyboard telling a bit of my story.
For myself, things overall are pretty damned good day to day and I’m immensely grateful for that. Most parts of my life are comfortable and solidly content and have been for a decent minute.
However, I can’t act like I don’t feel a bit off sometimes in a “well, why in the entire f*ck ain’t the romantic part of my life popping at ALL”.
I look back at the old FWB in this story and can honestly say I am not mad at them at all finding their true complement in love.
Besides the fact this situation happened quite a while ago (I would be utterly amazed if said fella even thinks about what to them was probably a simple convo at all), I honestly don’t think they were purposefully being on some bullsh*t or wanted to be mean.
I don’t think he’s a sh*tty person and (from my knowledge of them from then to now with their life trajectory of growth beyond age) everyone can grow on multiple ends to not be stuck on the same f*ckery of day to day living or accepting of societal “norms” of being a casually cruel about such things as before.
Knowing a bit on how things go in said individual’s current day to day — where they are WAY more mellow at large, with someone they opened themselves up to in regards to love beyond shallow facades & on deep mutual levels that were not there before, not being trapped in manboy status with person to person interactions at large, etc. -.he would probably be the type to post this on social media, say “Damn, that young dude was a complete f*cking D*CK! They should apologize to you at least…f*cker.” and probably ask who the hell was the jackass who did that to me.
Life’s can be a weird ass trip man.
Anyway, I just think he reflected in that small talk (to them, obviously not to me for too damned long) what society tells so many of us subconsciously — that usually doesn’t matter how cool, smart, accomplished, hard working, nice, etc. you are (or hell, even cute/
cute” by whoever’s definition), none of that matters if someone does not deem you attractive enough “FOR REAL”.
Like, you’re not real until declared to be so or worth putting effort in. This could be in relation to your external looks, what is deemed “acceptable” employment, etc.
And that is TRASH.
The sort of trash a lot of us — women and men, conventionally attractive or nah (I personally know plenty of externally handsome and pretty motherf*ckers that are actually decent folks who have and/or are still currently dealing with this mess, much less folks on the other side of the physical spectrum) — are familiar with in the dumpster that can be quite a bit of our love lives (or hell, just regular ass interactions PERIOD) until we a) first and foremost love & respect ourselves regardless and b) hopefully romantically connect with someone who digs the person that you are as a whole, in a traditional way or nah that works for y’all.
Life gives us what it gives us.
If traditional romance does not occur now (or maybe ever), it does not make anyone lesser, wack, etc. at ALL.
It just is. And everything happens on time, as the old folks say.
And I think a lot of us in adulthood know such a thing logically and go about our day to days, there are times it sucks. And it’s ok to admit that.
Side Note #1: I posted this piece after an extended personal status on my Facebook in regards to this and being asked to share it from various men and women, especially since I talked about getting back into writing semi-regularly.
To each of y’all, thank you for the encouragement to share this.
Side Note #2: The identity of the FWB being addressed in this article is ultimately not important at ALL.
What they did is…well, was.
Too many people have told me about dealing with similar scenarios with their own men and women in their lives and how it caught wreck with their emotions for a detrimental period of time. And that sh*t needs to cease.