A while ago, I wrote this post about my anxiety and panic attacks.
Yesterday, I got this comment:
When I opened up my email and read it, I laughed so loud that Rob could hear me in the shower. (Let's be honest, that's not that big of a deal. The shower is about 2 1/2 baby steps away from the futon. Our apartment is bitty.) He said, "You know you have to come tell me what that was, right?" So I groaned and made the 0.4 second trek to the bathroom to read it to him out loud. And then he laughed, too. Because he agreed! Because it's all true.
Well, not the karma bit. I mean, I believe in karma. But I get panic attacks because of an anxiety disorder that I've had since way before I was "dishonest, evasive, aloof and just plain mean."
I'll start off by saying I appreciate the compliment. I get that Zooey Deschanel thing a lot, and while I'm not as cute as she is, it's a better visual association than ... I don't know ... Bruce Vilanch.
That comment got me thinking. I wish it was funny because it was all made up. I wish I could show it to people and they would say, Oh, that's ridiculous! You were none of those things to the boys you dated. And then I would say, I know right? Whoever this is is like totally obsessed with me! But it's funny because it's true! I can't argue with the guy. My husband reminds me all the time what a chore it was to date me at first. He even tells this story about finishing up a particularly trying phone conversation, and then throwing the phone on his bed with a disgusted sigh and resolution to never call me again.
I was hard to date. I thought verbal sparring was an important part of flirting because I read too many Jane Austen novels. And after my first college boyfriend (who had a bit of lying problem, among other things), what I originally employed as witty repartee became an impenetrable forcefield around my heart. To me, being "hard to get" was a virtue. So I would be mean, thinking I was funny. If them boys still liked me after that, then either they really liked me or they were really dumb. It was a weeding process.
I wasn't just mean. I was stupid, too. That and I had/have impressively low self-esteem. I couldn't believe that anybody would actually want to date me with my bad posture and my freckles and my squishy thighs. So in the rare instances a guy wanted to date me, I immediately assumed there was something wrong with him.
Other times, I got myself into quasi-dating relationships without really realizing it. And then I would be evasive, aloof, and yes, probably even dishonest (though not deliberately) to try to back out of them. I was terrified of relationships. I never wanted to be mistreated or have to stand up for myself or have a fight. So if I could just distance myself and confuse a boy into lack of interest, then that seemed like a better way to go. I was the worst. I never would have tried to date me.
I have a lot of regrets about the way I treated boys. But then again, there are guys out there who probably should have regrets about the way they treated me. We're idiots, all of us. And in trying to navigate romantic relationships with each other, we do serious damage — sometimes irreparable damage. It was done to me and I did it to others. And I feel like a jerk. You know what? We all should probably feel like jerks.
It's like Michele said in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, "I bet in high school, everybody made somebody's life hell." That's what we do when we're dating. We make people's lives hell. Each one of us leaves shattered hearts in our wake, and each one of us has a shattered heart that needs to be pieced back together.
Sometimes I wish I could have re-dos with some of the people I mistreated. No, all the time I wish that. But then would I have met and married my Rob? Who knows?
Either way, I owe you an apology, Anonymous. You and all the other dudes I was not cool to over the years because I was young and dumb and a mean girl. And, assuming you're a fella, there are probably a few girls waiting for an apology from you.