I’d like to thank whomever created these special social media holidays for giving me some inspiration each year on what to post. Most of them I can glaze right over, but there’s a few that actually resonate with me and no, it’s not only national pizza day and national burger day (though I do feel those are important causes we must recognize as well).
Over the years, my feelings on International Women’s Day have gone from “oh, I’ll post a photo of me and my mom” to “I could say so many things and most of them are rage-fueled so nevermind” to “just say what you feel – isn’t that what celebrating being a woman is all about?”
So…here goes nothing!
It just so happens that I’ve been going through some emotional shit these past few months anyway – of which I will spare you the details right now – but let’s just say that it has made me realize that I have done a very good job of hiding a lot of the parts that make me inherently a woman all these years, and I wasn’t doing it on purpose. It was subconscious, which may be worse? Allow me to elaborate.
I’ve always been a guys girl or a girl that has a lot of male friends. Therefore, this translates into being a woman with a lot of male-driven interests (cars, video games, sports, toilet humor), and a male-driven psyche (you spend enough time around a bunch of dudes, you start to think like them too). This can be both a gift and a curse, and again, I realized that I actually own a lot more of my “female” side of the brain than I let on, which has caused a fair amount of discord among people I date or get close to – and that includes female friendships as well, believe it or not.
Fun fact: one guy I dated recently asked if he was gay for liking me, because that’s how much I remind him of a man, mentally. Good times. I think it was a joke but still?
In the interest of not completely spilling my guts on any one specific relationship in my life as an example, the point I’m making is that it always seems to come as a surprise to people when I actually get upset about something. They almost don’t know how to deal with it, because I’ve never expressed anger or disappointment before, and if there’s one thing I’m good at – it’s expressing how I feel. And I am usually VERY direct about it. I’m not a dick (usually), but if something bothers me, that means it REALLY bothers me. I don’t usually pick at the small shit, but I cannot hide the way I feel because I wear my heart on my sleeve (even though no one would expect that), and because of that, there are times when I react “in the moment.” It’s something I will forever be working on (aka waiting before sending that text).
And the best part? When a man gets angry, he’s passionate. When a woman does, she’s psycho. I don’t make the rules, but somehow they still exist.
So, I’m writing this for all the women out there who have been told they are “too much” or “too intense.” This is for you. I’ve gotten that a lot in my day and while yes, I can be intense and introspective, I’m also very caring and understanding. I’m a good friend, partner, and listener, and I’m very sick of being viewed as a monster or apologizing for being an emotional basketcase for reacting in the moment (which is rare to begin with). No one has ever used those words by the way (at least not to my face), but you know when someone feels that way about you. You fucking know #lol. I’m pretty sure it’s the reason my ex left me the way he did. He was afraid of my “anger” and my “emotions” because I can be angry and emotional. Holy shit, she’s a woman after all!
Editor’s note on my anger: I have never once even come close to hitting someone or throwing/breaking something. I feel like this needs to be called out because people hear “anger” and that’s what they picture. I’ve had those things done to me (an ex many moons ago threw a plant at my head and tried to push me out of a moving car while screaming so loudly he FOAMED AT THE MOUTH like a rabid animal), but I have NEVER done any of those things. I’ve yelled, I’ve cried, I’ve been a passive aggressive texter. I’ve been a novel-texter. Absolutely. I’m not saying those things are “ok” either, but just want to clear that up because I’m STILL unpacking the trauma my ex left me with when he said my “anger” was a big issue for him.
But here’s the thing about that: I chose someone who grew up in a house where people didn’t raise their voices. Ever. I felt like my entire childhood was surrounded by a bunch of loud Greeks/Jews/Italians. I grew up in Queens for cryin out loud. Everyone’s kinda always fighting but not really? Or maybe they were? Who knows?? That’s part of the fun! And I thought “isn’t that what everyone had growing up?” Guess what? NOT SO MUCH.
One of my exes told me his mom never yelled and never cried. Another told me his Dad never cried and that he wasn’t “allowed” to cry. LIKE. WHAT. That is the type of shit you carry with you into adulthood if you don’t recognize it as an issue. And believe me, that is an issue. You don’t have to cry over commercials like I do (damn you ASPCA), but you should never feel like it’s “not ok” to be sad or cry. I can’t imagine that kind of life.
When you’re someone who has gone through a significant amount of trauma in your young life like I have, you have triggers, as well as responses to those triggers. They’re not usually good ones, and I’m aware of that, but they are things you have to manage basically for the rest of your life. I’m not sure anyone ever fully overcomes trauma, so much as they learn to manage it and grow AROUND it. People think you just move forward and it’s “in the past,” but I’ve always felt like I’ve grown WITH my pain. I take it with me and even though it’s not always at the surface, it’s in there. And sometimes, things happen that make it resurface. And it’s not pleasant.
I think my “humor as a defense mechanism” has always thrown people off the scent that I actually give a fuck about how I’m treated. So as I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with myself, I don’t just let everything roll off my back anymore. I still have to work on my timing because sometimes it’s too reactive, but overall, if I’m still bothered by it 24 hours later, you’re gonna hear about it. I’ll try to be as calm as possible, but if I raise my voice or say something passive aggressive, it’s out of disappointment, not malice. And I’m not going to hit you with a shoe.
Anger is a secondary emotion, and it stems from a bunch of feelings, but usually “disappointment” or “neglect” is at the tippity top, at least for me. *abandonment issues have entered the chat*
When I set out to make that silly video for today about “Inspirational Quote Tampons” (see here if you haven’t yet), I felt like it was a bit of a metaphor for myself, and for most women. We have great versions of ourselves and not so great ones. I am a total cliche sometimes and eat ice cream/chocolate when I have my period so it made sense to me #lol (also, please consider donating to reproductiverights.org – that was part of the driving force behind the video too).
I have had many people in my life see the imperfect version (the angry one or the sad one) and they have decided that they just can’t or don’t want to deal, and they slowly fizzle out or they ghost entirely. Is it painful? Yes. But is it wrong? Not necessarily. Everyone deals with conflict differently. I’m the type to face it head on and tell you what I think, but I tend to attract people (both romantically and platonically) who avoid and ghost. Tale as old as time!
That said, I have a large number of friends that I’ve had for literal decades. Some of them have seen me at my worst and they’re still around. We’re always evolving though, so there’s a chance that 10 years from now some of those friends may fall away too, I have no idea. But this isn’t really about telling the future, it’s about telling people who you are. If you wait long enough to tell them, I’ve discovered that you always, always end up showing them. And by then, they either know you well enough to know you did a backslide into some old trauma and are willing to work it out, or they’re gonna say “fuck this” and push you away.
I hate to say this, but I get it sometimes. It can come off as manipulative to the wrong people – like you hid parts of yourself to fool them, when you really just didn’t even know those parts of you were still there. You thought you healed them and turns out, they were just buried and can be brought up again if you’re not careful who you play with in the sandbox.
Ultimately, there are some people (like me) who need someone who is going to want to find a solution together. This goes for friendships, too. I refuse to be the only one putting in effort and believe me, I put myself in that spot MANY times. If you have neglect issues, that’s a good way to rub some coarse salt in that wound.
When it comes to men I date, I clearly choose the ones who have no desire to do that work with me (not trying to throw a pity party for myself, it’s just a fact). Again, tale as old as time! I have to believe someone out there is willing to do it, but it’s not an easy job to sign up for.
Long story short, I think I’ve done maybe not the best job of being up front about my feelings on certain things because my male-esque brain says “nah don’t be annoying or needy.” So I sit with the pain or disrespect and I give people a LOT of chances. It’s probably one of my worst qualities? You teach people how to treat you, and when you let things that bother you slide, you’re telling them “your behavior is ok.” While I believe in picking my battles, I know that I’m going to be a lot more up front with people about who I am moving forward. It’ll prob sound something like this:
I’m very tough but I’m also pretty sensitive (depending on the context and who it’s coming from, of course).
I’m blunt but I’m also cautious. I know my words can sometimes be harsh so I try to be considerate of how I phrase things.
I’m independent but I also get lonely. It’s nice to have people in your corner but only if they’re the right ones.
I’m strong but I’m also weak in certain areas. And I’m gonna need some patience/compassion on that one.
I’m an overthinker but I’m not a mindreader. Talk to me or at least TRY TO.
I’m a woman and I’m complex.
Happy International Women’s Day 🙂