What did I do for my birthday? So glad you asked.
Well, the day before my birthday I celebrated in the traditional way: by violating a promise to a really good male friend of mine, who made me vow to cut the cord on this tenuous, tortured, stupid-idiotic-WTF non-relationship I was having with this Clever Sexy Guy -- someone who I had seen for a bit and who was making me crazy. Or to be more accurate: someone who I was choosing to let into my life and feel crazy about. I mean, he didn't make me do dick. Every action of a mine is a choice. I get that. My actions were showing what I thought about my own worth loud and clear. Boundaries? I'm sorry, you lost me.
So. As an incentive to protect my heart from ill-advised in-the-moment acting-out-of-fear-and-lust-and-impulse behavior, my dear male friend and I made a deal that he would punish me and not be my friend anymore if I engaged with Clever Sexy Guy, because it wasn't healthy and he was not treating me well. I needed to show myself I was valuable through my actions and who I let into my life, and that's what I promised my friend, too. But, lo and behold, when Clever Sexy Guy reached out via text the day before my birthday -- instead of deleting the texts as I promised, I engaged. (Oh, and that dear male friend said he knew this was going to happen. He's so damned smart. And still my friend, thankfully.)
That night Clever Sexy Guy and I talked on the phone for two hours. He said he wanted to date me. He said he cared about me. Of course, I recognized that I was mostly steam-engine pushing it, but he's one of the few people who make me laugh and who I have actually connected with since returning to New York; for me, that makes me feel alive and hopeful and like anything is possible. That is my crack. Possibility.
Clever Sexy Guy and I talked about meeting up in the evening on my birthday. It wasn't definite, but times were discussed. I was assuming it was a go since he kept telling me his plans and availability. He couldn't do actual dinner because he had a friend in town. Okay.
Early on my birthday, when the sweet girlfriend I was going to meet up with remembered she had a school commitment, she canceled, and I scrambled to figure out who I could have dinner with instead. Okay. And then I got an email saying that I did not now have the place in Bushwick I was planning to move to in a week. Okay.
I decided to do what anyone would in this situation. I went to Victoria's Secret and bought new lingerie.
Then I reached out. Happily, miraculously, a friend has come through with a place I can live in for a few months in Great Neck. God bless, real friends. Seriously.
And I reached out to my friend Jessica Delfino to see if she would have birthday dinner with me last minute. It was a nice dinner. Until we got to a confrontation that had been brewing. I had emailed someone who was really much more her professional contact than mine, and she thought boundaries were crossed. She was right. It was completely dodgy of me, and that's why I told her that I did it.
But then the conversation got weird. I said, "But you know that I'm a good person."
Jessica is someone who -- like me -- is very careful about giving trust to other people, and so she responded quite logically. "I honestly think we're still getting to know each other," she said.
As we spoke, as we had our dinner, I was wearing the new lingerie that I had bought because I was excited to see Clever Sexy Guy. But it was clear now. 8 p.m. became 9 p.m. became 10 p.m. It was certain he was bailing now, and not just bailing, but not even having the courtesy to text at all -- and so I deaded him for real this time.
It's the third time I've deleted him from my phone. But this time, I just felt excited. I felt like I had saved myself from wasted time with a guy who, when it really mattered -- like say on your birthday -- would treat me inconsiderately and like shit. I get that I'm annoying and aggressive (my final text -- before deleting him -- alluded to the "thoughtful gift" he better be getting me), but I also think that I ultimately protected myself with those kind of are-you-really-in-this-or-do-you-just-want-to-fuck-and-fool-around-and-be-casual shit tests. It's clear when a guy cares. He shows it. He engages.
Hell. You could buy a thoughtful gift for $5 if you wanted to. Thoughtful. Not expensive. And, a man you want to get involved with is consistent with you. He isn't a charming, remorseful, considerate person to you one day, and a selfish, inconsiderate, cold bastard the next.
So, I was sad, but this was a good final nail in the coffin. A nail in the coffin on this type of behavior of mine, too. Chasing men. Being the steam engine. It's not working for me with men. It's just not. I'm done. And it doesn't matter if someone makes me laugh or makes me feel a certain way; the treatment is what matters. Getting blown off on your birthday matters.
At dinner with Jessica, while I did feel shitty about Clever Sexy Guy (rejection is perhaps the most painful human experience of them all), I was feeling even more terrible for nearly having screwed my friendship up with Jessica, for having done this crappy professional thing which I acknowledged to be a crappy thing -- overstepping boundaries with her contact.
I was apologizing a second time when the discussion morphed into that question of whether she believed in my innate "goodness" (which to me is just hitting old tapes of lovability and conditional love). And then, over a plate of nachos, I suddenly out of nowhere, not able to keep it together anymore, just broke out into full-on sobs. Not like crying. Sobbing. Body-wracking sobs.
"I...just...feel...so...sad," I gasped as all the people at the Mexican diner where we sat outside stared. I told her that here she was a person who I had asked to have a birthday meal with -- and she didn't even know if I was a good person or not. This was my life. It was too much.
Jessica said that she was just being protective of herself. She was stunned and moved by the rawness of my emotion. She apologized for having been thoughtless in not just immediately saying, "Of course I know you're a good person," and said she accepted my apology for what I had done, and then the sobbing somehow turned into laughter. It took a while for it turn into laughter, but it turned. And it felt like a weird-friend-grief-orgasm that bonded us in some way. That may sound strange, but it did. To me trust is having a friend that you can be real with, even when it isn't pretty.
"You are meant to date princes, Mandy," she said. "Sheiks and princes and leaders of the world. That's who is good enough for you."
We hugged tightly before she headed off into the night. It was a good birthday after all.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.