Sometimes being crazy is the thing that keeps you safe.
When I was young, I had no parents. That is to say, my parents taught me I was worth nothing, and the protective web that parental love wraps around a person was missing in me. Bullying in school echoes societal power dynamics. The strange kids get bullied because the teachers target them because their culture tells them that these kids matter less. Everyone is so full of rage, you see. This culture we live in. Driving around in cars. Not getting enough exercise. Never feeling the sun on our faces, most of us, from 9–5 every day. And we are looking for a safe place to deposit all of that rage.
Everyone has someone in their lives who pisses them off, someone they are not allowed to be angry at. A father. A teacher. A boss. Perhaps a partner.
And so instead, they beat up on whoever they can. Physically. Mentally. Whatever way they can get away with it.
I was that kid. For everyone. Always.
If it was not one thing, it was another. I was too Jewish, or too disabled, or too middle-class in a neighborhood of the disgustingly wealthy. I was an other but I thought it was my job to try to belong. And trying to belong brought me close enough to power for power to lash out at me.
Trying was the problem, really. But I was so lonely. In both my cultures. In all of my communities. I was lonely. Because I was alone.
Being crazy is easier. People leave you alone. Men don’t try to grab hold of you. Women don’t try to wipe you out as possible competition. You can get by in the corners, in the shadows of things. People don’t notice when you leave the room. You can go to the party and read in the bathroom.
You can tell the boy, stop being Angel Clare, at least you can tell him that in your head. And not worry that he will take you seriously.
If you are on the bottom of the social hierarchy, there is no point in dating. You will always be the one who gets screwed. That is the purpose you are there to serve. So it is better just to not try.
If your identities have built you into somebody who is on the bottom of the social hierarchy, you have only so many ways forward. All of these paths involve either truth-telling or self-destruction. I keep moving forward. Mainly because sometimes I think about light and that boy wearing glasses and my heart recalling itself to itself. Sometimes I think I am mostly still alive because I would really like to fuck somebody I love at least once before I die. Love seems impossible until you feel it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can still feel it, even long after the part of my garden that is also a part of his garden has died. I am sicker than I realize and he is far away but when I go to sleep, I remember how it feels to not be alone. And so I keep on waking up and I keep on going to sleep. Because if you’ve ever felt something like that, you can’t take life for granted anymore.
You can’t hate life anymore. Even if you’re me. And you have every reason to.
Sometimes it’s easier to be crazy. Because men tend to treat personal space like a suggestion. Every guy I have ever met who has ever said “I feel uncomfortable” is forgetting in that moment. Is not realizing that in the war of attrition between men and women, men have been destroying women for ever. Men started the war and men refuse to finish it, even if that means destroying this planet in the process.
It’s easier to be crazy. Because there are men trying to smooth talk me whether I want them to or not. Because there are many many men of my generation who pride themselves on turning that no into a yes. Because laughing about how terrible they treat women has become the cool dude’s calling card. Because even the ‘good’ guys want to be flattered and made to ‘feel like a man’ by some woman who plays up her defeat in this war. I don’t want to fight but I want to respect myself.
I want to go out and party and have fun and fuck up and fuck around and fuck my best friend’s boyfriend and fuck my best friend. I want to do these things mostly because they are normal and I think he would like me better if I was normal. My life is the things I do to make him like me better, and the things I do hating him. This is overdramatic but I have spent so much of my life being hyper-rational. To make up for my humanity and my feminine emotions.
I want to walk around in this world and feel safe. To not worry that some old man might accidentally-on-purpose brush my ass. To not be told I am showing too much cleavage at work when there are five women around showing as much or more cleavage but they are all thinner and more powerful than me, that’s the difference. To not worry that my perspective on whether I am flirting with a guy or merely talking to him, really is not the deciding factor, his perspective is. To not worry I might be walking along, minding my own business, when a man decides the way my hips look in that skirt is a come-on. It is not a come on. It is an article of clothing.
In the movies, women always laugh this stuff off. Oh, sure, they say, with a pretty little hair flip. Sure, he grabbed my ass on the train. Sure, he stared down my shirt at work when I bent over to get some more coffee. Sure, that guy at the club grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go. Sure, that other guy wouldn’t leave me alone. Sure, I was trying to be nice, and he thought that meant I wouldn’t stop him when he went for second base. Sure, he told his friends about it afterwards to brag about his conquest. Sure, to him I was only ever a conquest. Sure, he told his friends all my private secrets. So what? It’s really all just a game.
Men want to have fun and women pretend to be having fun. Or, men want to have fun and women make good fun, especially at our expense. Or. Or.
It’s easier to be crazy, because men are scared by crazy. Usually. I don’t have to worry about whether they are going to pretend afterward that I didn’t really say no. I don’t have to worry that they are going to treat my body in public space like my body is public property. I don’t have to worry. I can write. I can think. I can have my own separate identity. I don’t have to worry.
On the downside, no one is likely to believe me when I start talking about these things. But that’s all right. No one really believes me anyway.