Sunday, May 6, 2012

20s versus 40s

No, This Is Not A Review Of Girls (http://www.hbo.com/girls/index.html)

So, I started watching this show on HBO called Girls, which is about young women in New York City in their early to mid twenties and it got me thinking about a few things such as the differences in how I look at dating and relationships in all their messiness now versus how I looked at things then. Why I can relate to it is, I do see a lot of the age twenties to thirties Annette in the character, Hannah, played by Lena Dunham who also writes and directs the show. I wasn't exactly like her. For example, she's a lot more disease paranoid than I was, mainly because I came of age when the fear or STDs especially HIV was just a blip on the radar of kids in their late teens and early twenties in the mid to late 80's. The other difference is that Hannah is a nervous talker. When I get nervous or upset, I shut down or completely OFF and therefore I become extremely quiet and can appear eerily calm when inside I am working extremely hard not to implode. The only tell then and occasionally now, is that I tend to fidget with any jewelry I may be wearing, a zipper on a boot or a tiny balled up piece of paper between my fingers. Sometimes I might continually brush the hair away from my face.

I think the difference now in how I appear externally is that when I was in my twenties and even into my thirties, it was often pretty obvious that I had shut down. Now, most of the time I can turn on some sort of charming mask or just appear as if I am calmly observing everything to mask any anxiety or shyness I may be feeling. But it's not the differences between the character of Hannah and I but the evolution of how I looked at myself and my behavior in relationships and on my complete cluelessness as to how men might be perceiving it and even on how men think and process the world and how different that can be from how women might view things. Like the characters in Girls, I read books and magazine articles, mostly written by women on how to impress guys and supposedly on how they thought and also like the characters, I mostly ignored the advice and cloaked my naivety in the guise of being a rebellious, post feminist who was in complete control of her sexuality and herself when inside I felt extremely beyond insecure, had no idea what I liked sexually or what I wanted out of a relationship and in fact had a lot of extremely self loathing and a very low sense of self worth as a result of repressed childhood trauma from emotional, verbal and sexual abuse at a young age. So like Hannah, who also has self esteem and self worth issues, I sometimes to often, chose to be with guys who were for lack of a better term, jerks. I would chase them and wonder why they didn't call and then call them and of course because they weren't usually very nice and I was there and available, they would basically use me.

This is not to say that I never had a real relationship. I did. I actually am mostly a person who is better in a long term relationship but those in hindsight seemed to happen by accident. My first serious relationship with a good guy came out of his desire to rescue me from the guy I was seeing at the time, who was actually one of his friends and who he saw treating me like garbage when from the conversations he and I had together when my girlfriends and his buddies would go out together as a group, I obviously was (and still am) a very intelligent, funny, artistic, talented and beautiful woman. This relationship lasted two years. It began when I was 19 and ended when I was 21. After it ended, I went back to a pattern of chasing unavailable well not men, boys who were equally as clueless as me. And not all of them were jerks. But we were all pretty confused and I was like I said before, in complete denial as to how my behavior was being interpreted by any guy I was or was not interested in.

I think at the time, I thought I was learning alot about relationships and what I wanted but I'm really not sure that I learned anything until my marriage several years later and even after that ended, it's taken another several years to see how I actually need to take a look at how my behavior effects the men in my life and to even learn how they process things and that this doesn't mean that I still can't be a rebellious, independent and post post feminist, strong woman at all. It doesn't mean becoming less myself, but more myself. It also means becoming less selfish and less self centered and more caring about what the other person is thinking and feeling and on what there perception might be. It also makes me look at what I am actually communicating to men. So for example if I meet a guy and we go out a few times or a couple times and I think I may want to see if our friendship has the slightest potential to grow into something deeper, then I need to behave in one way while still being true to myself. But if we go out and I decide I want just something physical then I can behave in another way. But most importantly if I deiced, I really don't like a man, then I can with grace and dignity, decide not to go out with him or even speak to him anymore and this ok.

I still have a lot to learn. But I hope I know enough now to kick a guy out of bed, no to not even go to bed with a guy who is a total jerk because I am actually both paying attention to his behavior outside of the bedroom and how he treats me in public, as well as to my own feelings about him. It's still hard for me to wait to respond when a guy I like calls or texts me. It doesn't feel natural but like playing a game even though all kinds of research shows that no matter what a guy says, if a woman is that available, he will usually lose interest quickly. I'm just impulsive and passionate which is ok, I guess though in order to really know how I feel about somebody and to really learn how they feel about me and what they are actually looking for out of a relationship, then this wait and see game isn't really a game but a tool to slow things down so both the man and the woman can gauge what they actually want and how they actually feel about each other. So that's my next goal, to take charge and really pay attention to both my own feelings and the perception and perspective of any guy I happen to be dating so I don't get overwhelmed and either shutdown or behave impulsively and completely blindly.

Wish me luck. This is completely out of my comfort zone although it might appear when you see me in person, like it's not. I'm not confident, I just play like I am. But I'm now taking dance lessons again so hopefully that will help change all of this. But more about that next time...

p.s. I received an email from my ex-boyfriend (that's what he is to me, I was never sure how he saw me whether is was a girl-friend or a friend with benefits or ????) that there is a test now to detect HPV in men (there is I googled this, it's not FDA approved for men but labs will still process tissue samples from men) and he tested negative so he did not give me HPV. I only was with another guy and that was in Los Angeles. But it's not important who I caught it from. And please note, while I write about dating men sometimes who are jerks and while I am obviously no virgin, I am also not out there sleeping with lots of men either. I actually most of the time in celibate. The spiciest I have gotten is sexting or im-ing but even that I've stopped doing. I'd just much rather save the spice and sass for the guy I am going to hopefully be with for the rest of my long life whoever he may be oh and for myself. Because I'm going to be with me forever and that's the best part of all.