Thursday, July 13, 2006

No Boys Allowed

Technically, boys ARE allowed, I just don't think they'll find much of interest here today. Also, boy or girl, if you're looking for something funny or political or both, check back next week. This one's serious. And long.

Yesterday I worked with Kate, a recent high school graduate who will be attending NYU in the Fall. She was telling me about how she got a Facebook and has already started meeting other people who'll be attending NYU. "Wait, what's a Facebook?," I interrupted. She tried to explain it to me. "Oh, so it's like a MySpace?" "Sort of, but for colleges," she said and kept explaining. "OH, so it's like a Friendster?" "What's a Friendster?," Kate asked.

Kids these days.

So Kate got online and went to Friendster, which didn't help much since we couldn't see any Friendsters. I never got into Friendster, nor did anyone else I've ever known except my ex-fiancé and his group of friends(ters).

I typed in the ex's name for Kate. His Friendster profile came up. Kate looked at it and said, "Yeah, that's pretty much like Facebook." (why she couldn't have just shown me her Facebook and saved us all that trouble is beyond me) Then Kate asked, "Your ex-fiancé has a friend named Osama bin Megan?" and the next thing I knew we were looking at this.

For those who don't feel like clicking on it, in a nutshell, it's a fake profile of me that my ex-fiancé created. And it's not nice.

I showed it to my friend Meaghan this morning. She read it, saying "oh my god" every few seconds and glancing at me to see if I was okay (I was). "He called you a shrew," she said, amazed. "And a bitch," she continued, shaking her head. "Don't forget harpy," I added. "Wow," said Meaghan finally, "I'm surprised."

The funny thing is, as I explained to Meaghan, I'm not surprised by it. Hurt, yes (even two years after the fact). Surprised, no. Meaghan was surprised that I wasn't surprised. "It's typical," I sighed, "I would never have said it then, but on some level I knew my fiancé was emotionally abusive." Meaghan sighed too. "God, I hear ya, girl," she replied.

Meaghan and I worked together almost every day the summer before I was supposed to get married. Simply by virtue of spending so much time with me, Meaghan was probably the only person as clued-in to my emotional state that summer as my guardian angel Dave (although I never sat in her living room and contemplated taking my engagement ring off and throwing it across the room, as I once did in Dave's). Shortly after I called off my wedding, Meaghan initiated a separation from her husband, who she described today as "a drunken bastard." We talked about our similar experiences, and what I think is a fairly common experience among women, maybe men too.

"It scares me sometimes what we put up with in relationships and never even mention to our friends."

"We don't mention it because we know deep down we shouldn't be putting up with it."

"And maybe we're afraid our friends will tell us something we're not ready to hear yet. "

"Emotional abuse isn't physical abuse, but GOD it sucks."

"I remember feeling frantic when he'd get like that. Not frantic for my safety, but frantic about placating him so that he would stop screaming and saying horrible things."

"I remember cringing, mentally curling up into a little ball, and thinking 'if I don't say anything or do anything or even look at him, he'll stop. He'll have to.'"

"Why didn't we talk about that? We were going through basically the same thing at basically the same time and we never said a word."

"What could we have said to each other that would have made us get out?"

"How does this happen? I mean, we're two fairly intelligent, independent women who don't need a man around to make us happy. What the hell?"

Meaghan and I couldn't come up with an answer to that question (plus we were supposed to be working), but we did agree it wasn't a question unique to us. In fact, I know exactly zero women who are stupid, and I know very few women to whom that question does not apply.

So what gives, girls?

Oh, and PS to the ex: If you're gonna base half the mean stuff you say about me on a made-up love for Little House on the Prairie, at least have my picture be of Laura Ingalls Wilder. You'll still look pathetic, but not as pathetic as a guy who bitched endlessly about Laura Ingalls Wilder and then posted a picture of Holly Hobbie. Laura Ingalls Wilder certainly never carried a parasol. She was a pioneer, for the love of god. On, you know, the prairie.


Brian said...

I was unaware of this supposed Little House on The Prairie obsession of yours.

It's good for all parties involoved that I do not own a gun, less I should accidentally throw a bullet at Capt. Douchebag.

Brian said...

I think I was supposed to say "lest" or something. Either way, you get the point.

I'm sure someone who belongs to the Perfect People Club will scoff and then correct me. Because they're perfect.

wonderturtle said...

Holy crap. The bullet here was dodged by YOU, big time.

I too am continually puzzled by what I will accept even from my guy friends--let alone from boyfriends--that I wouldn't take from my chicas.

I wish I had more insight to share. Right now it's just: me too. Damn!

Megan said...

B - I don't HAVE a Little House obsession, that's the thing. I haven't even THOUGHT about Little House since I was 9. And yes, it's "lest."

WT - I know I'm the one who dogded the bullet, which I think is what scares me sometimes. How the hell did I get that close?

vikkitikkitavi said...

Megan, it happened to me too.

I married an emotionally abusive guy. He would berate me, and humiliate me in front of our friends, but it was because he had high expectations for me, blah blah blah. He also continually screamed at others and blew up over trivial things, and I would rush around trying to mend the fences, but behind his back, so he wouldn't GET MAD AT ME FOR DOING THAT. Can you imagine?

Then one night, I just got sick of it. He yelled at me for putting spinach in a salad when I was supposed to remember that he didn't like raw spinach (one of about 1000 food items he didn't like) and this was proof of how much more committed he was than me and also what an idiot I was and I just snapped. I yelled back at him. I had never, ever done that before.

And then the explosion. He grabbed me by my shirt and threw me all around the room, screaming that I didn't know what love was, and didn't I see that I was killing him? Yeah, it would have been pretty freakin hysterical if I wasn't scared for my life.

By the time he stormed out the door, I was bruised all over and the shirt I was wearing was absolutely shredded. I wasn't wearing anything underneath, and I remember being terrified during the assalt that he might sexually assault me too.

He moved out soon after that, and it took me about 2 months to realize that it was a good thing, which happened when my grad school advisor (who was also his advisor) was complaining to me about how my ex blew up at a prof, and asking me what I thought should be done.

I just started laughing. Laughing really really hard. My counselor gave me the "are you crazy?" look. I couldn't stop laughing. Finally, I pulled myself together and said "I'm sorry. I'm so happy. This isn't my problem anymore." I remember so clearly the unbridled joy I felt in that moment of realization, and how I hadn't felt that free in so long, and it was just so wonderful that I was feeling it again.

I vowed to myself that I would never be controlled by a man again. I wouldn't be one of those women (like my ex's mom!) who kept marrying the same abusive assholes one after another.

Fortunately, being married to one gave me excellent asshole-spotting skills.

And although lord knows I haven't been the luckiest in love, and I have made a lot of dumb mistakes in relationships, I kept my promise to myself.

But you know what, Megan? I knew marrying him was a mistake. I knew it before I did it. But because no one talked to me or helped me come to my senses, I just sort of went along with it all. I was afraid of admitting a huge mistake. You escaped that because of your wonderful friend. But from now on, you'll be able to help yourself.

So fuck that asshole, baby. He doesn't know you. He doesn't know your heart. How could he?

Megan said...

Jesus! What a nightmare! But thanks, Vikkitikkitavi, you rock.

I think what I was trying to get at, although maybe not so well, was not so much about ME, but about how common this experience seems to be among the women I know and how infrequently we allow ourselves to talk about it. And probably how much better off we'd be if we DID.

vikkitikkitavi said...

All I know is, when I was in the middle of it, it NEVER occurred to me that I had any right, or obligation, to walk away. I thought it was my job to make it work, period. I think the only explanation for that is that I must have been trained in childhood that that is what you do in a marriage.

Crazy, huh? That a grown woman couldn't look around and say "Hey, this sucks pretty bad for me," and just walk away?

Also, I was ashamed that the biggest decision I'd ever made in my life so far was a really really bad one. And that's why I never told anyone what was going on in that marriage until years later.

Now, I don't give a shit. And when I tell people about it, their reaction is always shock: "YOU? You stayed with an abusive husband? I can't believe you, of all people, etc."

Just goes to show you, there is no one kind of woman that this happens to. It's not about asshole meets low-self-esteem woman. It's about asshole meets a woman who has absorbed her lessons well, maybe.

Laura said...

What a fucking asshole! I hope I never see him around town because it won't be a pretty sight. He apparently hasn't realized what a LOSER he is, which is why you left him. Good choice, by the way...

Megan said...

VTT - I think that helps to explain a lot of it, that we are programmed to stick it out, make things work, etc. And abusive, manipulative people know exactly how to make that work to their advantage.

Laura - I doubt you'll ever see him around town. He's way too cool to ever leave the city.

lulu said...

He's a dick. End of story. And you are very very lucky to have dodged that bullet, not that that makes it any easier to deal with.

I don't know why women put up with this sort of shit, but we do. The good news is that you probably won't put up with it in the future.

At some point in my early 30's, I hit a point where I just stopped taking shit from anybody. It wasn't a conscious choice; I just became less and less willing to do things, or put up with things, that made me unhappy.

You deserve much better.