Sometimes it’s hard to be a girl.
“Why do you not want to give me another chance?” I hear the boingy Facebook messenger notification sound, and look down at my phone to see this message.
I am confused by this question, because I already told him why, several months ago. We dated almost five years ago. He broke up with ME.
Five years ago when he told me that he and I just “didn’t fit,” I drove with my then four year old daughter all the way up to Fort Wayne to visit my aunt and uncle to escape the pain I associated with this statement. But you all know what happens when you try to escape your devastation, right? Those feelings of devastation end up hijacking your body. They cause you to lean up against the kitchen counter in your aunt and uncle’s home and find yourself sinking into the floor because you can no longer stand. The feelings then cause you to crumble and get smaller and weep and suddenly forget that your very aware four year old daughter is looking at you, and tearing up at the sight of your pain.
Your aunt and uncle distract your daughter by taking her into the basement to watch the Disney Channel. This is good, because you need to cry, and so you do. You sob, crouched on the kitchen floor, with your back up against the cabinet, until you’re tired.
And then you wipe your face, drink some water, take a hot shower, and realize somewhere deep inside of you, that you are still loved and still worthy of love. The voice that tells you this is very quiet, but you still know it’s true.
Fast forward to five years later. You receive the aforementioned message from this guy who broke your heart, and you remember sitting on the kitchen floor at your aunt and uncle’s house, and all you can say is what. in. the. f*ck.
But I (because we all know I’m talking about myself, and not you), decide to provide an explanation.
“Ummm, you broke up with me. So, I got over you. You didn’t like me getting over you, and you unfriended me on Facebook, which is fine. But now here we are: you are messaging me on messenger because you don’t even have my phone number, and you want to know why I’ve moved on. We are at different places. I don’t know what to say…other than I ‘just know’ I don’t want to date you.”
He is quiet, and confused. Not satisfied by my response, but accepts it.
The next day I receive this message:
“Are you just trying to make me feel like shit, talking about how I ‘dumped you’? None of it makes sense. I have far more to offer now than I did then, yet either it’s not enough for you, or an excuse. Are you actually saying to me that you can do better, and that’s why we’re not at the same point in our lives?”
I feel these words like a punch in my gut. They feel like a snake bite, venom pulsing up my arm and into an artery* flowing straight to my heart.
I choose not to respond to his message. I move on with my day. And yet, I’m clearly bothered by it.
You see, I was taught from a very young age that you don’t say “no” to others, if it causes them pain. I don’t know if boys are taught this or not; but I know that lots of girls are. We are subtly taught that being kind means being small and pretending to be happy. We are taught that if we say no, we must say it nicely, and that if we offend or hurt someone with our “NO” that it is our duty to ameliorate that.
In very subtle ways, we are instructed to be peaceful and pleasant and pretty. We do not rock the boat. We apologize when we forget this, and acccidentally rock it.
When a girl begins to date, this translates to “don’t overwhelm guys by being emotional or needy” or “if he doesn’t like your personality, you need to tone it down” or “don’t ever initiate anything, ever.”
It all comes down to playing small.
And the problem with playing small is that when you play small, you are never truly being you. And more importantly, you are never truly free.
I want to be done with playing small.
I want to be done with feeling guilty for saying how I feel. I want to be done with not trusting how I feel. I want to be done with not trusting my thoughts and my logic.
I want to be loud and take up space. I want to show my daughter that it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to say no, if saying yes means compromising yourself–ESPECIALLY if saying yes means compromising yourself. And while being kind and respectful to others is important, HONESTY and INTEGRITY and BOUNDARIES are just as important. So when it comes down to being nice or being truthful, I will hope she chooses to speak wisdom and truth.
Telling the truth is fundamental to our development as people–into our development of WHO God ordained us to be.
And we were not ordained to be small.
*(It is arteries that go to our heart, right? Or is it veins? I don’t know and I’m too tired to google it.)