Back in the day, I loved to make jokes at men’s expense.
Oh, I had a good old time. Men were jerks. Men were dogs. Men were just after one thing, and one thing only, and would dump you after they got there. Men were cheaters, losers, addicts…wow…have I left anything out?
Maybe….I was a little bit…BITTER?
As I have said before, ad nauseum, back in the day, I was a commitment phobe. I tried to work out my “Mommy” and “Daddy” issues in my intimate relationships. And yes, I think I really got something out of being a victim. And didn’t like being told that.
Post some time in a co-dependency 12 step group and some rugged self-evaluation later, I think I am a pretty good woman.
And I don’t make the ‘bad men’ jokes anymore. Well, hardly ever—I might throw a few smart alecky comments at some of the bad ‘exes’ of my past, but you know, I really don’t even much like to do that. Past is past. Learn from it and let it go. Why be bitter?
Which leads me to the reason for this rant, ah, blog.
There really does seem to be a lot of bitter people in this world. A LOT. And those bitter folk tend to spew generalizations about both women and men.
The generalizations, which are said to be total ‘truth’ make my blood boil.
I remember the reactions that the ‘good guys’ in my life (yes, there were a few!) had to my ‘mean men’ comments. They were offended, and rightfully so. And eventually, they left me to stew in my vitriolic cesspool. If I was that determined to be unhappy, lonely and spiteful, then so be it.
I did stew—for years.
I remember, right before I moved to Kentucky, asking God how ‘long’ I would walk the path of loneliness. How long, Lord?
I felt the unwelcome answer, from the Holy Spirit, was “until you learn what you need to know.” And, what was that? What did I need to learn?
These days, a lot of hard soul-work later, I think I know—I needed to learn to live with people—and not simply around them. I needed to learn not to paint everyone with that same bitter paintbrush.
Yes, there were some true jerks out there…but there were also good men, decent fellows who were out there too.
Just last night, I read a blog about things that men are said to believe to be ‘true’ about all women. I went ballistic. It was the same old tired stuff. Women are gold-diggers. Women like to make their men totally insane with jealousy. Women lie about how much sex they have had. Women like to cheat, and they are better at it than men. And the one most resembling my past choices—Women just love the bad boys.
And that last one, for me was true. For most of my adult life, I had a broken ‘man-picker.’ Put me in a room with 29 healthy men and one Charles Manson prototype, and I’d choose Charlie every time. And every time he did something horrible, I’d swear to my friends, “But I LOVE him.”
Finally, a few years back, during the last unhealthy go around, one of my closest friends got sick of my codependent repertoire. She said, “What is that you love, Laura? That he humiliates you, that he disrespects you? That he plays with your heart whenever he’s not running after someone else? Is that what you love?”
Talk about total silence.
There was no justifying my ‘love.’ Even from a raving co-dependent. At the time, I was very angry with my friend for challenging my need to keep trying to make my very unhealthy relationship work. Her words of truth cut like a knife, right into the soul of my personal dishonesty and denial.
But her words also turned out to be healing. They forced some serious questions. What did I love about this guy?
And it turned out—I loved the convenience. I loved the whole idea of his basic unavailability. It was the ultimate safe relationship. As long as I clung to impossible ideal of making it work with this guy, I didn’t have to really try to make a relationship work with a healthy person!
I didn’t have to risk anything. I didn’t have to struggle to learn how to communicate or problem solve. I didn’t have to give up my will to meet someone else half way. All of the healthy struggles that mature and functional couples encounter—not for me! In tilting at relational windmills I could stay childish, self-centered, and I could be stagnant in my adult dirty diaper.
And I could be very, very lonely.
Time has passed. I’m learning who I really am. Not who the unhealthy others in my life tell me I should or have to be. Just Laura Kathryn–warts, mistakes and hangups. But also some amazing and good things. I’m learning to like this girl who finally decided a few years back to call a halt to insanity and learn how to relate in health. To believe that there really might be a few good men out there, and with God’s help, that I might eventually build a relationship with one of them.
The blog that made me so mad—maybe it was skillfully intended to do that. To get me and a gazillion other female readers dander up. It sure guaranteed readership. In mind’s eye, I can see female necks snapping back and forth, eyebrows raising, and voices going up a few octaves:“What DID this person just say?”
I think, post my own personal meltdown regarding these generalizations about what men think ‘all women’ are like, that maybe there is some wisdom to be gleaned. ‘All’ women aren’t any of the negative things that this blog suggested. Just like ‘all’ men weren’t the adjectives I put on them back in my bitter days.
And I hope that sensible men, if they have been burned by such types, have heart enough to realize that us girls aren’t ‘all’ made from the same cookie cutter.
That some of us have been deeply hurt too, used, taken advantage of, lied to, cheated on, and even abused. The survivors among us may let bitterness drag us down. We may let it consume our hearts and souls and color every new person who tries to love us.
Or maybe, we won’t.
There are a few good men out there. I know, because I’ve met a few. I tend to put such types on pedestals—which is a really bad thing. Because ultimately, they show their human sin-nature, and off they topple. What is left is who they really are—good, bad, strengths, weaknesses, and all the stuff in between.
Pedestal builders can then either reject this real human they see, or accept that this is the chance to realistically know the person for who they are. I’ve only recently learned that giving up the super-hero on the pedestal is the best thing that can happen. Once your idol falls off their pedestal, you can stop looking up to them—and start looking at them, and they can do the same for you. If he’s not perfect, then maybe you don’t have to try to be.
Good doesn’t mean perfect. I am a recovering codependent. I still find myself falling back into the old patterns of the past from time to time. But you know, I’m a good woman. And somewhere out there, there’s a good man who is going to appreciate that, just like I will appreciate him.
And when that happens, generalizations will mean little, because we will be meeting on common ground.