If you’re a human being living on planet earth in possession of a vagina, there are two things you learn to fear from an early age: Being fat and being crazy. Since I’m eating Oreos with reckless abandon while typing this (and I loathe hypocrisy), I’m going to address the second one of these fears.
My last relationship was characterized by discomfort and fear. I can easily imagine my ex Justin telling the story of our relationship to his friends between sips of an overpriced cocktail, calling me a crazy girlfriend. “Yeah, she just went nuts.” I’m good enough at visualizing such day-mare scenarios that I can make myself blush with shame just thinking about it.
We only dated for six months. In hindsight, it should have been for one or two. From the very beginning he was disinterested at best, and disdainful at worst.
Because I was insecure and plagued with self-loathing when we met, his ambivalence only encouraged my passion. The resulting relationship (if you can call it that) was a predictable misery.
One night after a sleepover, he suggested I take a different route to the subway because he didn’t want to walk together. Because I’ve got this weird thing where I want the person who puts it in me regularly not to overtly hate me, that stung. (That said, this guy basically lived in his ten-year-old flip-flops, so if anyone was going to be embarrassed about being seen with anyone, I think we can all agree it should have been me.)
I never felt safe or comfortable with him. I confused the anxiety caused by being with the wrong person for the thrills and butterflies of being with someone new. But those nerves never went away. I constantly fretted: Would he call? Would he text? When would I see him again? Would I ever see him again?
Every message I sent or date I arranged felt like a desperate plea to be liked. I can imagine his face, blank to the point of iciness, looking at each message and weighing his options as the minutes and hours ticked by.
Logic would indicate that in a situation like this, talking about what was going on would be the order of the day. But here’s the thing: I didn’t want him to think I was crazy. We didn’t talk. Or, rather, he didn’t.
I would try talking and found myself met with a concerned tone of voice: “Are you okay?” You know, the way you’d address a naked woman in her mid-80s you spot wandering the aisles of your local grocery store.
There’s nothing worse than someone taking your feelings and invalidating them because to them those feelings are scary or hard to understand. Every time a guy calls a girl crazy, that’s exactly what he’s doing: Shifting the blame.
A guy calls a girl crazy for calling him twice in a row? That’s a deeply rooted feminist issue, y’all. The patriarchy should, frankly, be driving us all to madness.
Justin was supposed to be my romantic partner but I couldn’t tell him when I was worried or scared. I didn’t want him to call the men in the white jackets and whisk me off, presumably to treat me for “hysteria” in a sterile, sadly vibrator-free environment.
I didn’t even know what he thought about me, what he felt because I was terrified of asking and his conversation never went any deeper than his contrarian takes on Blockbuster movie releases and his deep and abiding passion for tacos. Verily, a god among men.
Eventually, my fears became reality when one day he just vanished. Thanks to social media, I knew he wasn’t dead. What I didn’t know was why this person I spoke to daily and shared a bed with thought so little of me that he would end our relationship without a word.
Months later, he would reach out in a chatty text message about his move across the country to live with his mother. Baffled, I watched the “…” flash on my screen as he composed a missive dedicated to his everyday activities as nothing had ever gone wrong between us.
I weighed my options and crafted a thoughtful reply. “It’s cool that you seem to want to be friends, but in order for this to happen, I think you owe me an apology.” His response was lightning fast: “I can’t pin down my feelings for you so easily and a full-frontal attack won’t get you the answers you want.”
Months ago that would have left me reeling, but a lot has changed since then — me, most of all. “This guy,” I said to my roommate, “is totally insane.” She nodded like I had pointed out that the sky was blue.
The only thing crazy about me was the blinders I had on during the time I spent with Justin. There’s nothing remotely insane about having a feeling and wanting to talk about it. There’s nothing insane about hurting and feeling scared or lost. There’s nothing insane about wanting to love and be loved.
Moving across the country and icing someone out because you’re so scared of feelings (your own and those of others)? Now that, my friends, is what we call bats*** bananas.
Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She’s an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.