Last night I went to a new thing called “Hello Sunshine” which is a tour of a panel of writer, actor, athlete, activist, musician, etc, types touring the US trying to create a community through story telling. The Boston kickoff had Cheryl Strayed who is my favorite feminist. Nicole Byer was also there and I have long been a fan of hers…ever since seeing her do Girl Code.

It was really refreshing to be in a very large group of harmless women all there for similar reasons and searching for similar truths. The panelists are all incredibly talented and intelligent. It also came through how hard they all gave to work “extra” just to be considered human….unlike men who just get that consideration at birth.

It occurred to me then how hard I have worked at so many things in my life. My only challenges and detours caused by the behavior or decisions of men.

My father was brutally verbally abusive to me growing up. I don’t know who of you had experienced that but it’s like taking Ricky Balboa punches to the brain so that you have no self confidence and only learn tools of self sabotage. It was so painful all those years, I really wished he would just hit me instead. A bruise I could see and a bruise would heal. One time, in High School he did punch me in the face. I was so relieved. Finally, something I could tell a friend and a reason I could start packing a bag to move out. Oddly, I don’t think he had ever been sorry about it and my mother has never not defended it.

Every guy I date has wanted everything I have until I have wanted something too. He’d still keep me around but go get everything he wanted everywhere else too. There was always another woman he wished he could have.

One guy would still be seeing me but telling all our mutual acquaintances that I was delusional so that they would sleep with him and they did. They’d look at me like they had won some prize and how sad it was how crazy I must be to think he was still in my life. Yet he was. He was still coming around to me for years.

There’s all the guys who ended up with the Kate’s and Sarah’s after me. The guy who swore he could spend his life with me at some point but married someone else. Or the guy who has loved me best for 20 years except….oops, forgot to mention still being married.

My heart has never really broken just because 2 people weren’t a fit. It’s always been painful, deceitful and disappointing and avoidable ways. That stuff damaged the brain too. Although, nowadays when a guy says his girl is crazy, people have started to catch on and say “why, what did you do to her to make her that way?” Amen. Exactly.

Never mind the obvious one… the rape. The horrible male defense lawyers. The men in the jury thinking “boys will be boys.” Then there was sexual harassment in the workplace. That was fun. My boyfriend thought it was amusing. Not that I expected a fight in the parking lot but maybe a “hey, I’m uncomfortable this is happening to you too” Would day have been nice.

Then there’s work. Can’t say too much but my brand got slaughtered for many years by a male superior with influence who didn’t like me. And it was enough to damage my pay, my bonuses and advancement. Less capable males have been promoted over me and other far more deserving women because he liked to gossip with the boss. In the meantime, because it’s so well known as the most bogus promotion ever, no one else can get promoted for fear someone might question it as well. Although, with the people in that range, no one would question it at all. In fact, more questions will be because of who didn’t get promoted. That is actually now far more scandalous considering that guy is still around doing less than everyone else.

I have one income, damaged and lower than it should be, which keeps me a little frozen in place. Had I a slight cushion, I’d be making major career and life changes more in line with my moral code and talents. But, I’m single so I can’t.

I can only afford the home I currently live in. I can’t upgrade or move closer to family as every option is beyond my price range. And, when bills and fees go up, May does not. Every year I become dangerously closer to losing it all.

So upon realizing men have done nothing terribly motivating for my life, why do I still care about finding one to love? Why do I still feel like an odd duck because there is no living proof I can be loved? It’s like validation for anyone who already thinks I am weird. They don’t have to take me seriously because I don’t have anyone helping to take my trash out.

In fact, considering everything I have built on my own and have to offer, guys should be worried about being loved by me. But we don’t raise them to be insecure the way we do girls. Girls can do anything they want but still need to get a husband so “worry about what he thinks, dear” while men have all the time in the world to pick the perfect 10 for himself.

I don’t know why I care, honestly. And I guess lately, I have started putting in less effort to figuring out where the boys are and would rather just go where I want to be. Right now, that’s with my head buried in books, my brain chasing important activism, looking for community through smart women and even when in a bar around men, writing about my observations of them while drinking my beer.

I guess when you look at the tools I lacked starting out which caused me to endure the lacking relationships I did which brought me through a rape I almost didn’t report, a sexual harassment someone else reported for me and workplace discrimination I have never been able to report I could be in far worse shape. But then, the far worse shapes are the girls who end up with husbands. Maybe men don’t know what to do in the life of a smart woman who doesn’t need to be rescued. And I don’t know what to do with a man who does need to be rescued.