How Someone Treats You

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.

organizing cannot replace personal work

Okay so this tweet and also Samara’s response summarizes this whole AWLOB situation so well. It sucks that I did not see this sooner and I feel proud of myself for getting here now, at least.

“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.

natasha did that the evil is defeated meme

My close friend Natasha remixed this meme to celebrate me finally getting over this guy and recognizing he’s definitely not good enough for me. I love it. Hallelujah!

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!



Filed under Personal

7 responses to “How Someone Treats You

  1. Closure takes time. It has its own schedule and pace. I’m glad you got it to the finish line. While he may pop into your mind from time to time, you’ll be able to put him aside quickly.

    I like your therapist. She has a gift for guiding people to reach a conclusion for themselves.

    • Yes, love that notion of closure having its own schedule and pace! Mine took awhile for this guy yet I am happy to report it still feels so so done, thank goodness. Thank you for your support throughout the endeavor. And yes I’m a fan of my therapist too, I think she’d appreciate your kind words as well. (:

  2. x

    Thomas, this is awesome! But just in case whenever you want to talk about him again, i’m sure I will be reading it. 😀
    Your friends comments about this guy and the books he reads is iconic! Lol. But I’ve been thinking about books, music, tv and what do they say about a person. It’s tricky and confusing sometimes. I used to have a roommate who has to “keep up with the kardashians”(I don’t really care if I spell their names right :P) every week. Personally I can not stand those people. And I assumed someone who likes that kinda reality tv would have terrible values in real life. But she is actually very kind, caring, and does a lot of work for social justice. She is not pretentious at all. And on the other hand, I’ve met people who read the good books and important books but they are terrible in person (dated one of those guys many years ago. He has great taste in movies and books but he is a narcissist). I still don’t have any idea the reason behind these situations. It’s just interesting. I guess we will have to be careful about how we think we know someone and how to judge people’s characters. Time will tell i guess.

    • Haha thank you for that offer Xin! I’m pretty sure I’m done with this guy for good now, though I so appreciate the compassion and patience you’ve provided throughout my many posts about him. And I think that’s a great example, about how while someone’s taste in media may say something about them it may not reveal the full picture too. I also wonder if your friend who watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians was able to meaningfully critique and its limitations while watching it. But yeah, I agree with you, time really will tell if we take the steps to learn about people and learn about ourselves. I think it’s a lot easier to read the “right” books as opposed to really practicing deep self-awareness about whether we perpetuate some of the injustices on an interpersonal level that are described in said books.

  3. Hooray! Good work! I went through a phase of having friends who weren’t kind to me because I thought I didn’t deserve anyone to be kind to me. Not too complicated to unpick but there it is, it took me a good while. I have had kind friends through that, though. And I have them now. I can’t comment about relationships because pretty well everyone I know in one has been massively messed around by lockdown (or is lying about it) but I know that kindness and compassion are more important than what a person performs (and what a person performs isn’t often exactly who they are). As an example of the latter, I came across my husband muttering about choosing his next audiobook and discovered he was going through trying to work out which ones are by POC. He picked a sci fi in the end, though is also keen on The Vanishing Half. Not many people will know he’s reading that as he has no blog and does no reviews. Quite different from some of the performative reading I’ve seen going on and as you know I’ve been trying to steer clear of. I was all hung up on him not talking about the stuff with me but there he is, addressing the stuff in his own way.

    And well done!

    • Ugh that sucks that you had that phase of friends who weren’t kind to you, and I’m glad it sounds like you’ve transcended that phase and now have more healthful relationships. (: And yes I love that example of performative social justice as opposed to applying social justice in more quiet yet meaningful ways, perhaps that quiet application may also be associated with more kind and accountable interpersonal behaviors too. Thank you so much for your encouragement throughout this whole ordeal and for your understanding and sharing how you’ve navigated similar struggles.

  4. Pingback: How Someone Treats You — the quiet voice – Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

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