When people try to deal with me on an emotional level, it is assumed I have been hurt by many, many men over the years.  There actually haven’t been that many, in all honesty.   I mean not many that I have been close to.  Lots of strangers and non-traditional episodes, yes.  Intimacy, no.  Hardly any.

It really only ever takes one person, one sentence, one word to scare you into believing something is wrong with you.  

My father was very emotionally abusive when I was a kid.  He made it quite apparent I was incredibly damaged and unlovable.  I was too sensitive.  I talked too much.  I was too emotional.  I was argumentative.  I wasn’t happy enough.  I wasn’t obedient enough.  I wasn’t athletic enough.  I wasn’t thin enough.  And my mother wasn’t too much better.  She believed that even though I was a child, I was responsible for what my father did to me because I was somehow supposed to know he was damaged and therefore, adjust myself.  Because my brother and sister seemed to be able to manage was just the proof my mother needed to validate her beliefs.  Even now, she blames me for who I was and my inability to control myself at a young age.  I still have to correct her and explain that children don’t have that kind of power.  

I only had one boyfriend tell me I was crazy.  Too in love.  More into him than I should be.  That me buying him a coffee was me trying to have another go at a relationship with him.  I was too loud.  We weren’t in a relationship.  I was delusional.   He could see himself married to me some day but not then and then he married someone else.  He hated me but came back.  Hated me and came back.  Said I was crazy and then took it back.  Called me crazy again but still came back.  That’s all it took.  It wasn’t 10 boyfriends that made me feel like me was garbage.  It only took the one.

I am terrified of liking someone more than they might like me.  I want to make sure the balance is never off.   If I am happy I think it’s because there is something I haven’t discovered yet.  I am terrified of being embarrassed or being naive.  I don’t even want to tell anyone when I start seeing someone because I figure it will be over so fast, it’s not worth it and people will think I am stupid to have thought anyone I meet might have potential.  I only talk about dates after the fact when I know it’s not going to work out.  Notice how all the stories I tell are about things very quickly shelved in my past.  I only talk about what I have scorched. 

Strangers are easy.  They have nothing on me, nothing they can use against me.  I am just a fun night out and I am in control of all those situations.  When they want more, I don’t respond.  I don’t want to find out about my pretty face which would be beautiful if I just lost some weight.  I don’t want to hear about my sensitivity as though it’s dirty and shameful.  I don’t want his friends knowing I’m crazy but being nice to my face.  I don’t want to find out he is sleeping with my friends on the nights he isn’t with me.  Or that he’s worried what his friends will think if they see me and see I am not a “10.”

When I meet guys now, I am rigid about my time.  I am very clear that if they screw up my time I will walk away.  I don’t want the embarrassment of telling my friends or family I can’t make plans because I have a date and then that date cancels or never shows up.  If I even sense that could happen, I freeze them out really fast.  And, yet, they always act surprised like I didn’t warn them up front.  What is really sad is that my wall is like Game of Thrones ice wall with no zombie dragons in sight.  When I erect that sucker, you are never getting back in.  Because I don’t want to be made a fool.  That happened to me with one man and it stays with me like it was this morning.  Not 10 guys.  Just one.

Another guy dated me for a short time and it didn’t work out.  Went our separate ways.  Found each other on Facebook years later after I had lost 80 pounds.  He was suddenly very interested in seeing me again.  He actually came by the house just to see me thinner and then asked me to dinner.  We tried dating again but I still had the same expectations such as if he told me we had plans, then I think we had plans.  And there was something wrong with me when I was disappointed that he decided to play golf instead at the last minute.  Or that he let me give him a blow job before telling me it wasn’t going to work.  Actually, he didn’t even have the decency to tell me.  He ghosted and I had to be the one to confront and scorch it.  So yeah, I don’t want to give something without knowing it’s the last time.  And I don’t want to be the one who has to quietly deduce something is wrong and have to tie it up myself without another participating adult.  10 guys haven’t done this to me.  Just the one.

I am feeling pretty good about things in my life right now.  I have been happy for awhile.  I have gotten phenomenal writing material this summer as I amped up the dating plan.  While infuriating at times, it can be fun too.  I have learned a lot about myself and have lightened up a bit.   But I still have to face all these little “too muches” and “not enoughs” while potentials assume I have been treated like trash for decades by volumes of men.  In reality, it’s the sheer volume of all the things I have only had to hear once that have made it really scary and vulnerable to be me.    But I’m doing it.  I’m being me and I am trudging through, cutting away branches with my machete as I make a clearing and search for what beauty and possibility I believe is on the other side of this jungle.