The other day I reached complete closure on an on-and-off crush I held for the past year and a half. Though part of me judges myself for how long it took to finally let go of this guy for good, I also feel proud of myself for the lessons I learned along the way.
“I just don’t understand,” I said to my therapist over Zoom, talking about my former crush. “He’s done so much organizing for so many social justice causes. How could he be so bad at organizing himself and his own internal issues?”
“Emotions can be hard to confront, Thomas,” she said, in her usual patient and kind tone. “A lot of people will throw themselves into their work and professional lives to avoid doing their internal work. That’s what he could’ve been doing, which is very unlike you to do.”
When my therapist said this, so many pieces in my mind started falling into place. I had built up an image of this guy based on the little I knew about him, and I assumed that if he could organize the revolution he would treat people well while doing it. But when I spoke with him over email, he never once asked me how his words made me feel, and he never once asked about what would feel supportive or healthy for me. He said nice things about me, and he still managed to make everything about himself.
“The one thing I’m still trying to understand,” I said to my best friend Bri over FaceTime while lying on my couch, “is that he’s read Audre Lorde. He’s read A Little Life. How could he be so bad at interpersonal engagement if he’s read these amazing books?”
“Well one, he’s a man,” Bri said, “and also that’s the difference between theory and praxis. Someone can read all the books but if they don’t put anything into practice they can still be trash.”
I feel so grateful for my iconic close friends and therapist and this blog and its readers/commenters, because after talking and writing for hours and hours about this guy, I reached an epiphany
that honestly I’ve reached and written about before but there’s nothing more iconic than getting over a mediocre man than feeling like you learned an empowering lesson from it. How someone treats you is how someone treats you. A person’s ability to organize is not the same as how this person treats you. The books that someone has read – even if they are wonderful books – are not the same as how this someone treats you. For example, I know someone in my field who is a leading scholar in power, oppression, and race and treats their graduate students, including graduate students of color, awfully. Bessel van der Kolk, a trauma expert who wrote the iconic book The Body Keeps the Score, was fired amidst allegations of bullying and harassing employees.
The point of this post is not to lampoon or demonize this former crush; I wish him the best and respect his social justice efforts. Rather, I write this because idk I do this weird thing where I over-disclose about my life on the internet, it’s kinda odd, almost as odd as not stanning BlackPink to acknowledge my own growth. Several months ago my therapist read me so hard when she said that maybe I felt attracted to social justice guys, guys who I feel like want to save the world, because I wanted someone to save me from my mother growing up. I told her, like wow, you just read me so hard, and yeah, maybe that’s part of it, but what can I do about it? And she asked me to think about my grandmother, about how even if no one saved me from my mother other than myself, that my grandmother still gave me what I needed to survive and to value kindness and compassion for others.
Anyone who knows me knows I will never, ever say to settle for a man just because he treats you well. My closest friends treat me well and they’re into social justice and they’re funny and they’re insightful and they’re independent and more. As I get older though, I’m re-recognizing the importance of genuine compassion and care. When the revolution occurs and alternative systems are built, I hope compassion and care will serve as these systems’ foundations, alongside equity and justice.
Okay I wrote it in this post once already but thank you to my blog readers and commenters for your patience as I finally, finally got over this guy. I’m sure some of you were getting annoyed at how much time I spent on him (lol @ the one comment I got awhile ago that was basically like, Thomas, move on from him already) and at the same time I appreciate your compassion and humor as I navigated this. Any reactions to the ideas raised in this post or your own experiences of recognizing people may not be a good fit for you? Until next post!