“I can tell you exactly what your problem is,” he said to me from across the table. “I know exactly what your problem is, with men, with life, with all of it.”
Oh, go right ahead, I thought. Go ahead, man I met an hour ago, go ahead and tell me exactly what my problem is. I sipped my mimosa and I looked at him. This should be good.
“You are too open. You trust too much. You wear your heart on your sleeve. You want to see the best in people. You need to stop that. That’s not the way people are. That’s not the way life is.”
He went on and on and I tuned out. I wanted to scream. Didn't he understand how hard I've worked to be this open? But he didn’t understand. He couldn’t understand. It was beyond his capacity to understand. It was beyond his capacity to think we could learn something from each other, or to think he could do anything but attempt to fix me. I don’t need fixing. I should have gotten up and left right then, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be rude.
The world is full of women like me. Women who are fairly recently divorced, who left a man who treated them poorly, who are facing the unbelievably isolating task of raising their kids mostly alone. Women who are trying to pay the bills on time and tie everyone’s shoes and not run out of granola bars. Women who pierced their noses as an assertion of their newfound independence and post self-love quotes on Instagram because if they don’t tell it to themselves, then no one else will. The freedom feels good, and deep down, it’s right. But as an adult, as the only adult, it’s just so damn lonely.
The loneliness can be encompassing. Sometimes I get so caught up in what I don’t have that I forget what’s right in front of me. I chase it down and invite it in; the ego, the insecurity, the toxic masculinity, the predatory nature of a certain type of man. He wants to sit at a table with me and tell me how pretty I am and then go over the extensive list of exactly what my problem is. He texts me every day, builds me up, and makes me believe in love again; then he tells me I don’t deserve his time. He tells me he loves the way I look but my personality is just a little too much. He tells me he’s sorry if he “made me feel a certain way” but he’s not. He’s not sorry about any of it.
There are million reasons these men treated me the way they did and there are a million reasons why I let them. What I’m beginning to see is that none of that matters. I will never stop looking for the best in people but I will stop shrinking myself down to find it. I will never stop being open but I will stop trying to pry expansiveness out of people who just aren’t capable or willing. I will walk out of the damn restaurant.
I am no one’s feast to prey on. I am never alone. I am open. I trust. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I look for the best in people. These are my powers, not my problems. They look for us, you know, the predators and the pierced noses. I won't allow it anymore. My life is lonely sometimes but I no longer will lose sight of what is right in front of me. From now on, I'll risk being rude, I'll buy my own mimosas, and I'll wave them along. They are exactly what my problem is.