Men trying to save women, from all the wrong things.

He loves me so much he can’t possibly fuck me. He is gentle, gentle in bed, and waits until after we are married. In the meantime he sleeps with prostitutes, if we are in the 19th century. In the meantime he sleeps with the girl down the block, if we are in the 20th. He saves me from moral ruination but breaks my heart. By the time we are married, my heart is weighed down with not trusting him.

The lesson he tried to teach me is, I am valuable and I deserve more than a quick tumble in someone else’s sheets. The lesson he teaches me instead is that he is content to marry me but never content to fuck only me. I have learned he would prefer some other woman’s arms.

Men save women, all the time. Every day. Men move their hips away and think hard about garbage to avoid unwanted hard-ons. Men pretend sex does not exist and men hate women for not having to do the same. For men, public spaces are only bearable if these spaces are devoid of sexuality.

For me, these spaces are filled with women he undoubtedly wants more than me. I am scanning their faces, I am sizing up their bodies. I am silently taking their measurements in their heads. I am beset by jellyfish blooms of jealousy, stinging. I am filled with hot rage that my life has been so circumscribed that I cannot go to the gym because walking down the stairs takes my literal breath away. I am too-large tits. I am too-big ass. I am aware as I gaze at him how very far I am from perfect. I am embarrassed to be meeting him when I look like this. When he struggles to meet my gaze, I turn away to blink back my tears somewhere he cannot see.

I am love he does not believe in, love I shout to the world but hide in plain sight. I am talking with anyone else, flirting with everyone else, treating love like a bomb I must spread around so it does not go off in his arms and hurt him. It is a bomb of flowers I suppose, but who cares? Whoever gave me permission to give him anything.

I am lists of fantasy novels I want to exchange with his list. I am list of sci-fi television shows I have been waiting for a decade to watch with someone I really truly love. I am where is my Babylon-5 partner, my homemade-pizzas partner, my try-my-new-chicken-soup-same-as-the-old recipe partner? I am profoundly unexciting, this I know. I am movie at home over live public event unless it is an outdoor concert. I am my parents killed my last two pets, I’m not sure I am ready for another one. I am afraid to hold his hand in public. I am afraid of the looks we would get.

I am marginalized person considers dating not marginalized person, and it hurts. I am slew of medications Western and herbal both just to get through the day. I am half-hearted poetry and still trying to get up the guts to slam poems again. I am where is my voice. I am he is my north star. I am what if by the time I finally get home, it’s too late and he is already gone?

I am gentle, gentle with him as I can be. I am so gentle it hurts and I cannot sustain it. I am moving into crowds of other people when I want to play rough. I am holding his heart and trying not to harm it. I am holding his heart at arms’ length so I do not shatter it. I am not sure what to do when he looks at me so I do nothing so I cannot hurt him. I am hurting him also by doing nothing, but I don’t know it yet.

I am wanting to hold his hand. I am wanting to spray ylang-ylang and roses and gardenias and jasmine all over his body every time he leaves the house so the world knows he is mine. I am melding into the shape of the heart he left behind. I am still holding onto his heart for him. I am hoping he comes back for his heart someday soon.

I am lists of country music songs no other Jew on this planet would appreciate. I am stupid novel I stupid bought for his stupid birthday last year even though I will probably never see him again, stupid. I am finally knowing exactly what to say, not sure I have the strength to say it but trying to. I am taking theater of the oppressed classes and feldenchrist and improv and more and more antiracist workshops and nonviolent communication and mindfulness and please, please be good enough to be loved some day. I am writing like the feminist writers I admire hoping he sees some method and not just a kind of writing that looks crazy.

I am sick and run on adrenaline. I look bipolar because adrenaline-fueled is manic and the end of adrenaline is depressed. It is easier to be crazy. People want less things from you. Men do not touch you unless they are predators and for the longest time men touching me meant flashbacks and I could not deal. Easier to control with half-truths. To let other people assume what they will. Especially when you are exhausted all the time. Hiding sickness like you have done for all your life.

Auto immune diseases are not caused by childhood trauma, it’s just many kids who’ve been abused in childhood happen to get them. It’s just when you are too terrified to sleep, the body copes in strange ways and the brain goes a little bit sideways and you try, you try so hard to just survive. People in survival mode look and sound crazy, sometimes. Fun is a foreign concept. Pleasure an indulgence we do not understand. The point of life is to get from one place to the next, and not be killed along the way. This seems like so much drama from the outside looking in. Unless you happen to live with or be financially dependent on a parent who stole your life from you. Who might again, for all you know.

The behaviors of the powerless always look crazy to the powerful. Boys laugh at girls who go to the bathroom in droves but girls go to the bathroom in droves to not be raped. I flirt and flounce and smile at men. I giggle. I was taught to make men like me, so they would not eat me alive. Yes my tactics do not work. But they were the only weapons I was ever equipped with.

Men like it when women are crazy. This is an excuse to save us. Masculinity is still so built around saving women. But patriarchy has twisted this impulse into unhealthy extremes. I am a fount of unasked-for intrusive wisdom for the Black women in my life. And he is always trying to save me from the things that I want most. He is willing to give me advice and stories and information and impressive anecdotes and songs and all I want is his mouth on my mouth and his….well no one ever accused me of being a good little girl, did they?

All I want is all those other things, too. But I am trying to give him what I want to give and he is asking for my time my emotions my energy my listening ear my compassion my sympathy my care, and. He is treating sex like mother may I. Like someday if I am a good enough never-called-girlfriend.

He is treating sex like how dare I. Like just thinking about it already makes me the wrong kind of girl.

I, I am the wrong kind of girl. This I know already. I am not sure where my heart is, but I am not ready to give it. He is maybe someday hopefully learning where his body is, and not yet ready to give it away. I am thinking we can hold each other through it. I am thinking I tried to save him from me, to give him to some skinny blonde model-looking lady because I thought that is what would make him happy.

I hope he is happy. One of us should be.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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