Last November I finally came to terms in writing (which is a huge deal for me) that I was bi-curious. I nervously admitted to my partner that I was uncertain about just how straight I was, and was ready to start exploring. Well, as it turns out, my timing couldn’t have been worse because low and behold 2020 was right around the corner. I had switched my online dating profiles ready to dip my toes into the dating pool of females, but unfortunately Covid-19 hitting in March, abruptly ended all conversations. As a result I have been left alone with my thoughts, fantasies, and all the insecurities of approaching women forced into the back burner of my mind. Simmering away, I cannot help but lament the fact that it has taken me until my mid-30’s to recognize that my sexuality is likely as fluid as my relationships.
With the inability to move forward I feel like a fraud for thinking and not doing. I don’t want to hurt anyone or use a person for my own exploration. I am nervous to use, and worse, to be used. Isolation has granted me the luxury of getting lost inside my own head, and while it usually gives me great comfort, in this case, I have no frame of reference. I truly feel alone. I long for human contact, for intimacy, and for that intense spark of a budding relationship. But when I awake from the day dream of what if, I am reminded that we are in dark times. I cannot just go out and flirt or mingle like I earnestly desire. And the harsh reality comes crashing down, that if I did take the risk and put myself out there, I do not know what I want or what I am looking for. This is going to take time, stumbles, and probably a few hurt feeling and bruised egos. I just feel so raw that now may not be the right time. But if not now, when?
Looking back at how I was raised, it is no secret that I wish that my biological dad had been around more. I recall telling my mom that he took me to a breakfast spot downtown when I was young that had rainbow flags everywhere and no woman’s washroom. I had no idea what any of that meant, but when I told my step dad about the meal he was noticeably uncomfortable. As a staunchly homophobic man, I remember many nights of him accusing me of being a dike, with my short pixie haircut and not boyfriend to speak of. And when I was in university I was still living at home so exploring my sexuality was still out of the question. Plus I met the man I nearly married only a month or so in. So that was that. I was on the path of the straight and narrow, even defiantly so.
I don’t want this to seem like I am making excuses or that I haven’t forgiven my past. But, looking back, I can see why it took me until my mid 30’s to break away from my personal rigidity. While the timing is not quite right to fully put myself out there, I am allowing my fantasies to be a little more fluid. I still don’t know when things will open up, or when I will be able to take these fantasies to the next level, but.. actually I am just going to leave this one there.
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I am working diligently on getting my life back to a place where I feel more whole. And part of that journey has included a stark realization, that may I never actually get there, and to just put my happiness on hold until that magical moment arrives is foolhardy at best. So, when something joyful happens in my life, I now smile, pause, reflect, enjoy it, basically I have given myself permission to start being the happy, optimistic person that I used to be. Going back to my childhood nickname of “ray of sunshine” is, a dream come true. So, with all of this in hand, I posted a sexy image on Twitter last week whereby I said “somedays you have to wear that bra that makes your boobs look incredible under that most unassuming t-shirt”.
I was celebrating the fact that I was feeling sexy, just for
me. I was at a point again, where I was
feeling playful, and fun. And within
moments I received this message “I’m sorry.. no bra beats the look of a hard
nipple under some cloth”. I was
shocked. The comment literally had zero
purpose. And I realized that some people
just need to be heard. They feel it is
their duty to comment on everything, to voice their opinions, and to use
another person’s celebration as a platform for their own purpose. And for a the next few hours, I got trolled
hard. Two male accounts in particular started
clamoring for how I posted something public, and therefore any and all opinions
and comments should be expected. I was
in the wrong for trying to moderate my own content. And their opinions deserved to be heard just as
loudly as mine. It was, asinine.
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You can read the whole thing on my Twitter under the same picture on this post if you’re bored, but let me pull out just one more quote from the account in question as he tried to explain why he wrote his comment “all I did was indicate my preference for the braless look. It wasn’t about you”. Obviously there was a clamoring of “then why write that”, which fell on deaf ears. It was now about something vastly different than the original intent of feeling confident enough to share that I was feeling sexy. It was showing a glaring truth about the social media sphere of things. And I almost wanted to say “if you can’t saying anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”. But you see, I don’t actually believe in that. We as a society are too nice. We don’t want to offend anyone so, we keep our opinions to ourselves. What really needs to be said, is something along the lines of relevance. Why do you feel the need to comment. Are you adding to the conversation? Is there relevance? Context is king here.
What did the guy really want out of that comment? Was he looking to see me without a bra, or
with hard nipples instead? Yeah,
probably, however when I asked him flat out his intent, he didn’t seem to
know. He couldn’t articulate the
rational for writing that. And that is
where my main aggravation comes from. If
you want to add to the conversation, debate, have a real conversation I am 100%
for that. But, I am not here to just be
your soapbox, or have you piggyback off of my content.
Now, you are probably asking why I titled this blog the way I did. Quite simply, because context is everything. Use those reading comprehension skills that you learned in elementary, and apply them. If someone posts an article, picture, video, podcast, really anything, before you comment ask yourself what their intent is, and then ask yourself, why are you really commenting? Are you adding to the conversation? Are you looking for something different? Are you displeased with something? Are you trying to network or promote your own content? The bottom line, is interact with purpose. Know what that is, and be responsible for your own words just as the content creator is. And remember the golden rule of the internet, nothing is every permanently deleted, so… don’t be that troll!
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I can be an intense, and passionate person. I articulate my thoughts and feelings in a way that for most new people in my life seems attractive, confident, and refreshing. I approach people and their relationships in a thoughtful, attentive, and what comes across as a well-balanced way that gives off the impression that it just comes naturally to me. The truth is, it took me decades to reach this point. To understand myself, and articulate my thoughts and feelings in such a way that I know exactly when to ask for a hug, ask for space, or just break down and say I have no idea what I need and require help or support.
Now, having this personality is refreshing to people. I blossom in one on one conversations, and usually, I can get a persons life story or deepest secrets within a first meeting. And the range of people I meet this way is fascinating and incredible. But for purposes of this post, I need to shed light on a specific personality type that has plagued me, over and over again, the nice guy.
When I meet a nice guy I usually steer clear of them, because I will admit, I know the pattern our friendship will take, and I never like the final outcome. First, we will become super fast friends. He will feel an incredible high knowing I shared something intimate about my life, and will cling onto that. He will share, what he feels is similar information and create this overly powerful bond in his head. Instead of feeling that we are equals, he will start to idolize or fantasize that what we have is special and unique. And it is. But… there is a catch. Men like this, do not recognize that the are getting a high from this. And that they crave this feeling of being special. So they start asking more intimate questions. They start to delve deeper into your world, in an almost invasive way. Not out of malice but to re-play that initial feeling. And they poke, and prod into your relationship looking for cracks and dirt so that they can “return the favor” and help you solve some monumental moment in your life.
They, in short, feed off of your negative situation and crave it more and more. They want to feel special, and the problem is that it is not in your accomplishments but in your failures. That’s where their emotional boost comes through most strongly. That’s the role they have found in your life, and the experience that they want to relive.
Now, as I mentioned, I avoid these people whenever possible because the reality for me, is I hate having the confrontations with these people. A few more noteworthy ones include, telling a guy exactly what he has been doing and watching him just melt. It was gut wrenching and I couldn’t handle it. Or the guy who got so angry that he called me a tease, and bitch, and well… it got really messy. Then there was the guy that I tried to coach and deal with more gently. For this particular guy I ended up having to finally end the friendship because I got so sick and tired of calling out his bad behaviour because he was incapable of breaking this cycle. And the more I write these the reactions the more I solidify why I just am not equipped to handle this personality type. It’s icky for me, and I would rather just close the door from the onset.
But, here I sit, realizing that there are situations that I cannot avoid. Co-workers, mutual friends, and the worst of them all, the men who I thought were normal friends, but see opportunity in something I shared and basically preditorially pounce, thereby changing the entire relationship dynamic, the wolf in sheep’s clothing, feigning as the nice guy to get closer to me.
So, let me be clear, I believe that the majority of people can
change their behaviour once they recognize it for what it is and actually see
value in overcoming it. I’m an optimist
and do see overall good in individuals. From what I have seen, people are mostly devastated
when I point out this energy cycle to them, and honestly, I don’t enjoy
crushing people like that, because I do not have the energy, expertise, or
drive to help anyone like this fix themselves.
This is a hard limit for me. And
why, whenever I have full control, I give a hard NOPE to this particular negative
thriving person (again, I know it’s not on purpose, but that doesn’t make it
better!). So, what then do I do with the
unavoidable nice guys? What do I say to
them? Why do I constantly have to be
clear, put them in their place, or worse, re draw lines in our friendship to
ensure I don’t become prey to their need to “just help me”? I am not someone who wants pity. I just want equality in my friendships and authentic
communication. I want to be free to vent
about another person in my life without having a reaction of judgment, and the horrible
“if I were you” or the life draining sentiment of “ I would never treat you
Can we just be there for each other during the rough times, and build each other up on the day to day? Can we find a way to communicate without putting others down? Or better yet, realize that humans have a great capacity to hold more than one soul dear in their lives. We don’t need to always vie for that one coveted spot of primary or best friend, or any other of these titles. Just be a good friend, a good person, and stop the cycle of feeding off of negativity!
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First off, I am a survivor and not a victim. I say that out loud to myself from time to time, because I find it helps me regain my power and control over the situation that I found myself in a few years ago (sorry I cannot give a specific timeline due to circumstance outside of my control). Why did it take me so long to come out and write about it? Because, it was difficult for me to put a label on it, and publicly address what happened to me, especially as, until recently, many of the people I considered extended family read my blog and knew this man. The silly thing is, the fear of not writing this post, is a key reason why I need to. I need to break any and all control that my former mentor, and confident has/had over me, and I need to do it from a place of serenity and autonomy, and try not to let the fear of him getting upset and isolating me any further (I still am keeping his full identity anonymous as this is about healing and not about starting a witch hunt). This is my experience as I am Breaking free from gaslighting.
What is Gaslighting?
When I first read about the term gaslighting, I dismissed it as the latest buzzword. A trend to label behaviour that was most likely a form of abuse and required a person to just get out of the situation. For the most part, I dismiss labels, and by doing that I feel that I can be more fluid and not allow them to define or trap me. However, as I recently discovered, I needed this term in my life, to come to full terms with what was happening to me, and just how bad things were about to get. If you want a fuller description of gaslighting, please check out this link, but for the context of this post it is someone who never apologizes without making you feel guilty. It is someone who makes you feel isolated and that everything wrong is your fault, and claims to love you unconditionally with caveats that are completely unachievable. They lie repeatedly, refuse to take any personal responsibility, and what for me was even worse, they tell everyone that you are the crazy one. Honestly, there were times that the magnitude of how cruel the whole situation was, I could barely catch my breath. And being isolated from all my family friends, and not realizing how deep the isolation actually went, I would naively turn to them for help and end up making an even bigger hole for myself, by proving that I was the crazy one who was off kilter.
All I can say, is that even though he tried numerous times
to turn my partner against me, and drive a wedge between us, my partner has the
most incredible B.S. detector I have ever met and he called him out for exactly
what he was, and what he was doing to me.
Without my partner, I may have crumbled and gone crawling back to this
man because I honestly was left with, a feeling of complete nothingness.
Where Am I Now?
While I still feel the weight from time to time of this person’s years of abuse, and occasionally find myself asking if I am stupid or weak, I have far more good days than bad. I have incredible friends who ensure I do not feel alone, and are happy just to sit in silence sipping a beer with me if I need to, sometimes it’s not enough. There are moments, that I dream about him, and honestly wake up believing that things are back to how I idealized they were when I was younger. I feel this incredible calm, that maybe this nightmare I have lived is over, and I am free. I go back and forth between fantasy and reality, sometimes worried that I will never know the truth. I am not fully free of this man, and for my mental sanity, I have to just accept that for the time being and continue to find peace in what I can control. And that, is how I move forward with my life, and how I can forgive myself for living so long with the mental hell of my past.
And please, out of respect for me, and my families privacy as I continue to work through this difficult time, do not guess who this person is, or try and reach out to that individual. There is zero good that can come from that. And I have learned that the only person that I can control is myself. I am not looking for apologies, answers, or even acknowledgment. I am simply taking care of my own mental health by writing this very painful post out, and continuing to heal with purpose.
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I have toyed with a post explaining why I believe the word friendzone is bullshit for over 5 years. I have outlines, ideas, and just random thoughts peppering my work in progress document and nothing I wrote ever could quite get past the whole “I don’t like the label and it’s implications”. Until recently, I felt writing this post would be irresponsible and give people the wrong impression about me (by that I mean, I didn’t want men who felt they were in the friendzone to start pushing boundaries). But I write this now because there is something bubbling beneath the surface of the word that I think needs to be addressed here. With a few beers in me, I wrote this in reply to a comment on my Predators blog post: I have tried numerous times to write a post on the friendzone, however I stop myself in light of this very context. Until there is a clear understanding of consent, and boundaries, there are certain men that should just stay believing in the friendzone for the sake of the women they are in essence pushing boundaries with…. OK, maybe this should turn into a post.
Any guesses where I am going with
this yet? The friendzone is a word, that
I have always felt, was a copout. We use
it to place a person who we may or make not actually like, but definitely do
not want anything physical to happen with (at that particular moment). And as we are still trying to figure out what
role they play in our lives, we relegate them into this so called “friendzone”. The implications of that zone, are that the
person will take the hint, and therefor understand that they are to stop being
flirty, or expect that the person who placed them there will ever sleep with
them. Basically, it’s code for “just
give up already”.
So, there are two parts that I will touch on here to explain why I think the friendzone is bullshit
The first, is why do we allow, or
even encourage people to place labels like this on other human beings. It’s often cruel. If a person likes you, man up, and have the
conversation that says you are tired of them doing such and such behaviour, and
would like it to stop for the friendship to continue. Then set a clear expectation, for example,
this is what will happen if you don’t. Off
the top of my head you could threaten that the friendship will be over if they
continue to push your boundaries. Of you
could simply state where you are at in the moment and call out the persons bad
behaviour as it happens.
Perhaps you would like an example from my colourful past? Ok, here is a little story time…Once upon a time when I was in a long term monogamous relationship, I had a friend who would constantly try to buy me drinks, text me cute pet names, and when he got drunk he would meow at me. I really appreciated all the free stuff I was getting, and when we texted it was playful, it was fun, and quite flattering being on someone’s mind like that. However, when he got drunk, he repeatedly tried to cross the line, would hold his hugs just a little too long, and the weird meowing turned into this creepy cat-like howl. To be clear I had zero attraction for him, and was in a completely monogamous relationship that he was fully aware of. He was a teddy bear in the day time with whom I always hugged when I saw him, was a great listener, and overall I loved the boost he gave my ego. So, I, without realizing it, was letting him ride in that weird friendzone territory, while I sorted out my feelings and tried to rationalize where he was in my life.
But then, I grew up. Ok, the truth was, I got sick and tired of his drunken behaviour and watched it start to spill into our sober text messages. So, I gave him a choice. Either stop crossing the line with me when you’re drunk and allow me to trust you 100% of the time, or you will not be in my life. And guess what? After two strikes, he was no longer in my life. I won’t lie, I missed the attention, but ultimately, the ego boost just wasn’t worth having someone like that in my life.
Ok, so now let’s talk about the other side of it. Why people find themselves in the friendzone. I’m not going to mince words here, if you have ever found yourself in the friendzone it is because you do not have the social skills to handle the situation that you are in and you are the problem. See what I did there? I told you what was wrong in a direct manor. Let me explain, if you’re sitting there, shell shocked, or feeling like you want to start defending yourself, take pause and hear me out. If you are attracted to someone, and the feelings are not returned in the same manor that you are wishing they would, there are a few things going on. First, you have picked a target way out of your league and you are either too shy, under confident, or socially awkward to overcome that hurdle so you tell yourself, just being close to this person is enough. Guess what? It’s not, it’s weird, and you need to start learning how to build your confidence.
Second, you have this person in
your life who keeps telling you no, but you have decided, that they are wrong,
and you are going to keep trying. Guess
what? That makes you an asshole and you
have violated the whole consent thing.
Maybe this person is just being too nice, doesn’t want to hurt your
feelings, or is just genuinely trying to figure things out. That shouldn’t matter to you though. If you
hear the word no, it’s time to back off immediately. Perhaps they will miss you, and come
around. Or more likely, they will
realize their gut was right, and they just were one of those genuinely amazing
souls who are nice to everyone, and are so relieved that they don’t have to
feel awkward around you anymore. Either
way, respect the word no, and back off!
The friendzone is not healthy, for anyone. The friendzone is a bullshit place to be, and equally to put someone in while you figure things out. I propose that we remove this silly label from our vocabulary and start actually communicating with people. You don’t have to use black and white labels. We are blessed with a whole range of words, body language, and clear methods of expressing ourselves. So, start building those skills. And did you know that you can always change your mind about a person too? If you tell a person you aren’t into them, and then realize you were wrong you can go and talk to them and share your feelings? Crazy, I know! But it’s far better than playing this whole in the friendzone, out of the friendzone charade. So take these new and improved communication skills you have learned here, and go have meaningful conversations with people you like. And always remember, if they say no, for the love of everything, respect that, and do NOT keep trying!
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