I now wonder how many people I’ve run off because I came across as indifferent in how I felt about them. It’s a product of my iron-clad approach to dating, developed after a heartbreak or two early on. It’s extremely important to me to never let anyone see me sweat. And I swear, my former therapist at one time told me I was doing the same thing… to her. The one day I for real broke down in her office, she looked so worried, I was concerned for her. In that moment, I realized my “cool as a cucumber” mask was on way too tight. I also don’t get visibly or audibly angry. Annoyed maybe, but not angry. My expression of anger is usually just pettiness, but even petty is drenched in a coating of no sweat. So I attempted to delve into why.
The “Too Emotional” Adolescent
Because I know someone might wonder this while reading, I am a Sag. Apparently, this means I was born with a stony heart and a sword for a tongue. But I assure you I didn’t pop out of the womb this way. Early on in my life, I’ve always felt like no one would properly react to my emotions. My mother would specifically tell super young adolescent me that I was “too emotional” and that I pretty much needed to learn how not to be because it was highly unnecessary and unattractive. So, there’s that.
“I Want a ‘Manly’ Man”
Previously, I’ve attracted and tried to build with emotionally brick walled men because that’s what I thought was “manly” and desirable until the veil of masculinity was pulled to expose the real. Like when you couldn’t get dude to tell you that the reason he was acting distant is that he was mad you laughed at him for picking the Knicks in 2K and subsequently losing as horrifically as expected. And then there were the moments where they realized you weren’t joking about approaching relationships “like a guy” because now you’re getting dressed to leave at 2am rather than play sleepover. Because you prefer booty rubs to actual cuddling, and you weren’t joking about him needing to make you a sandwich now that the deed was done. But there were those rough times when I needed to be vulnerable, and dating a guy with a broken emotional meter becomes way less hilarious. Because now feelings = cooties.
Sometimes I’ve wished I could be like others who can fall apart outside of the comfort of their bedrooms and receive necessary sympathy. I probably could have saved many a grade if I reached out the right professor and let them know I was too depressed the entire week to crank out a short assignment, or that I had to make a quick run to the hospital because a minor head splitting ear infection that rendered me useless for class. But I’ve found those to be excuses. My dad. He would always say that something is an excuse rather than an explanation for a series of unfortunate events.
Between “you’re too emotional” and “no excuses!” I was not on the fast track to becoming a sugar plum fairy.
Oh to be a Black woman… you gotta be a man too.
I feel like as black women, we are raised up to adhere to a kind of faux toxic masculinity. While simultaneously telling us to be ladies, we are also told to man up. We watched our mothers man up all our lives. When shit wasn’t acting right, when she was tired, when ya daddy lost his damn mind doing something stupid, AGAIN, Mom was holding it down. Even sometimes broken, and bewildered, she held it down. And then she passed it down to you. I’ve always wondered why we pass this down instead of refusing to put the future through the same things we experience in the past. Why don’t we stop? At this point, we’re aware that all the holding it down in the world won’t get us what we want, how we want it. Coretta Scott King was the ride or die of the century and that still didn’t stop her relationship woes. We be going through too much yall. At some point, we’ve gotta take care of us first. Because ultimately we can’t take care of anybody if we all messed up.
My question to myself now is, how do I unlearn all this and allow myself to be vulnerable? Or… is nothing wrong with me and my bf just gonna have to deal with me?