She texted me again.
Really? That bitch is crazy. It’s been two months. She needs to move on.
Stuck between a bench and a table stacked with freshly poured beers, I felt compelled to add my two cents to a conversation between my boyfriend’s friends, regardless of whether they were equipped with an open coin-slot. Don’t get me wrong — smart guys, but emotional maturity might not have been their strong suit. The discussion was about one of their ex-girlfriends that he broke up with over a text-message he didn’t compose. Although the dump-ee seconded the emotion, he was clearly distraught by her words. Distraught might only be a small overreach. Only a small one. Perhaps it was easier to go along.
My response to him was a soft, “I have empathy for her. Maybe she should move on, but she isn’t crazy. That’s a strong word. She has feelings; she is hurt.”
They were not open to my exchange, or at least, it wasn’t accepted on the surface, and my boyfriend certainly didn’t back me up.
Said boyfriend and I broke up about a month ago. It didn’t take me long to realize I deserved better. The loss I can handle — I’m a big girl who knows how to put on her big girl panties when I have to, but it was the way he dismissed our relationship by ending it via **Facebook message!!!!** that hurt the most, diminishing what we had for six months and not allowing a final face-to-face and a goodbye. We didn’t have a bad relationship, so why the awful breakup treatment?
When this happened, I felt the only way to speak my part and find some sort of closure on my own was to write about it. He had not given me the option of speaking to him. The night he refused to see me in person to break up with me, I panicked and wanted desperately for him to say it to my face and to say goodbye. We cared for each other for six months and were a huge part of each other’s lives during that time, and I felt I deserved that respect and the peace of closure. I couldn’t wrap my brain around why he was doing it this way. I called him and texted him that night so many times without a response; I felt shame. I remembered his friends’ words, “That bitch is crazy.”
But thankfully, it wasn’t just those words that stopped me, it was the anxiety settling just enough to piece myself back together.
He wasn’t in a place where he would be able to see what was behind my actions. In other words — he was not equipped with a coin-slot. It was much easier for him to lock up his pain and ask for me to deal with it along with mine, so he didn’t have to feel those uncomfortable feelings. It would be easier for him to slap a label on me and invalidate my “crazy” feelings because it made him feel discomfort. And just to be clear, I don’t know whether or not he joined his friends on the trigger-happy-crazy-label train after my search for closure that night, but I do know it would be much easier than dealing with any pain or loss, and he hasn’t apologized for the way he handled it.
When I shared my writing that same night of the break-up, the feedback was an overwhelming and emphatic, “What a jerk!” in some form or fashion, from most people. I didn’t paint him one way or the other; I simply relayed the events of the night exactly how they unfolded. I cannot lie and say I didn’t feel an urge to echo that same sentiment, because I did. How he treated me revealed a side of his character that has now made me question the person I thought he was. As quickly as my feelings changed for him, and as repulsed as I am by his post break-up behavior, I will still not echo it. In fact, I will refute it, and it’s not because I still have feelings for him but because that is what sane people do. It’s the right thing to do.
Calling him a jerk is not much different from the “crazy” label. “Crazy” is a term that is (almost) exclusively used against women with emotions, by people who are unwilling to accept responsibility for having something to do with those feelings with which they don’t know how to deal. Likewise, “jerk” is a term that is (almost) exclusively used against men who seem unwilling or unable to deal with the responsibility of someone else’s emotions. I’m not saying the label-ers themselves are fully responsible for the other person’s actions, but the label-ers play a part, and they should be prepared to handle the consequences of their choices, albeit difficult, in a responsible manner. It’s so much easier to slap a label on someone than to deal with what is behind their actions. Dealing with it is work. The work might be painful. In fact, the pain would have eased even quicker than it did if I had labeled my ex a jerk because of his actions and said “case closed,” instead of understanding what was behind them and dealing with those reasons. Allowing fear and discomfort to take the reigns over how to deal with someone else’s emotions when you don’t quite understand your own is not necessarily a responsible choice, but it doesn’t equal “jerk.”
We have to stop labeling each other and do the necessary work — the hard work that it takes to understand each other and heal in healthy ways. Often, the hard work is cumbersome, but it’s worth it to stop shoving that pain away only to let it creep back in from time to time.
It is forgiveness that allows us to really move forward, to learn, to grow, and to find what we’ve been seeking all along — someone who understands us, validates us, and is willing to see what is underneath the surface — someone willing to do the work. Us “crazies” and “jerks,” we are all deserving of that.
Lauren a.k.a. Darlin’ teaches prepubescents how to read, write, choose kind over wrong or right, and to laugh at her lame jokes. She hopes to inspire her readers to make the most of what they have without settling for less than desired, all the while convincing herself to do the same. She currently makes mistakes in Austin, TX.
If you would like to catch more from Lauren a.k.a. Darlin’ check out her weekly Monday posts at keyandarrow.com, among many other great reasons to read.