The Shadow Manifesto
Entry #7: The Shadow Manifesto
In My Headphones: Jorja Smith "Don't Watch Me Cry"
"I guess you could say it all started with this guy..." is the first thing I say to the therapist in the hypothetical scenario where I make an appointment and actually sit down with one in real life. I haven't done it--yet--but until I do, there are so many things I need to process, so much ground to cover, so many life moments I need to get off my chest: celebrations, devastations, heartbreaks, and perhaps some triumphs. For the last few months I wanted to sit down and write but I couldn't for the life of me find my "why." Then, one late night scroll on Instagram made my entire world stop and CLICK; there was my why, my inspiration, and the clearing of my months-long mental fog. The beginning and end of this story really does come down to one guy, one repetitive feeling of rejection that plays out on my heart like a Pride parade complete with vogue dancers, a marching band, and a float of near naked men holding signs that read some variation of, "HE DOESN'T WANT YOU", "HE PLAYED YOU!", "HE WAS NEVER GOING TO BE WITH YOU." This twisted fantasy is fabulous as fuck, but the mockery of it all is absolutely unbearable at times.
For several years now, I have dedicated myself to following my gut, my initial instincts when I meet someone new. I've prided myself on my fool-proof accuracy. Over the course of this last year, however, I have been wrong time and time again and the experience has been brutal. Learning that everyone you meet isn't as trustworthy as you feel they are has been a really tough lesson for someone like me. I do my best to always lead with the best intentions, state exactly what my heart wants, and I naively believed that anyone that would ever enter my realm would do the same. I always encourage my friends to voice their intentions, their perspective, and proclaim their heart's desire so that everyone in their lives, new or old, knows where they're coming from and what they're looking for. Quite frankly, though, most of the time nobody knows what they're looking for, but most people seem to have a general idea or an overall direction. I think it takes meeting someone truly special to discover the direction that your ship will sail and last year I thought I'd found that person. I thought my compass had finally pointed me in the right direction when I met MPD. I was wrong though. I got dooped by my own damn compass. In 4 short months he gave me what I'd been searching for for nearly 13 years. And then he moved to Boston for work, armed with my full support, my optimism for our future, and the most genuine love I'd ever felt for anyone I've ever met. And 2 weeks later, it was gone. My blind faith in the love between us was indeed blind and the mistake I made has had some serious emotional repercussions. For the complete backstory, click here.
It has been nearly a year since MPD and I have spoken to one another. The last time I reached out was mid-December and just like all the times before, he never replied. What I find to be the most fucked up part about it all is that between the disappearing act in July and my text in December, he trolled my Instagram several times and liked multiple pictures at a time. One particular "like" was a promo for this blog, which makes me wonder if he's read any of these posts and knows what I have been going through. Since he wouldn't respond to a simple text, I blocked him on all my social media accounts just before the new year. It wasn't about him at that point, it was just something I needed to do to move on. Well, a little over 6 months later, I was cleaning up my Instagram page and saw a comment from him on one of my old pictures. I thought that once you blocked someone their likes and comments went away, but to my surprise, there he was. I looked at that comment and thought to myself, "I think I'm ready now. I can unblock him and see where he's at in life and be okay." You see, until that moment I hadn't looked at his social media since July. I know what I can and can't handle and, when everything was fresh and raw, I knew that I couldn't see one single picture of him living his life without me. I took a deep breath, clicked on his name, pressed the "unblock" button, and watched as all his pictures loaded before my eyes. At first glance, I was good! One picture of his face stood out and it didn't tie my stomach up in knots like I thought it would...whew. A quick swipe up and down and all was still good in the hood. I scrolled back to the top and was just about to get off his page when something popped out at me in his description: "Happily taken 👬"
Oh, it hurts the most cuz I don't know the cause
Maybe I shouldn't have cried when you left
And told me not to wait
Oh, it kills the most to say that I still care
Now I'm left tryna rewind the times you held
And kissed me then
My heart sank to the pit of my ass. I slowly scrolled through individual pictures and looked at each caption, complete with sappy, oftentimes cliché, one liners about his new man. One hashtag, though, hit me like a ton of bricks: #fiancé. Gasp. Gold band on the left ring finger. Holy shit. MPD is engaged. The first man that I ever thought I could spend the rest of my life with has a ring on his finger from someone else. I immediately had a meltdown on the floor of my best friend's bathroom. To be one hundred percent honest, I knew the likelihood of him being with someone was likely; he's a handsome, charming, and magnetic Gemini. It's in his nature to be a social butterfly. I was not ready for an engagement though. Was this the same man who told me he wasn't sure if he believed in forever anymore? The same man that was having an existential crisis not too long ago? Even now, I still can't believe it. I, of course, went into full social media detective mode and gathered this much: it looks like they met sometime in January and hopped on the fast track. Damn near every post was the two of them together. In the four months he and I dated, I got ONE post. This dude was around a couple weeks and was already filling his page up. What the shit is that?! The trips that we talked about going on together? They've already done them! And by April/May the rings were exchanged.
I wonder if you're thinking, "Is she alright all alone?"
I wonder if you tried to call, but couldn't find your phone
Have I ever crossed your thoughts?
Because your name's all over mine
A moment in time, don't watch me cry
A moment in time, don't watch me cry
If I'm honest, I feel a lot of things. There's times when I feel like knowing he's engaged is a good thing because it's the ultimate closure but then, at the same time, I remember bumping into him at a club after five years of trying to connect, or the first time we hung out and how he kissed me when I was in the middle of saying something, and our first night at Coachella after he drove down so last minute, watched me perform, and then rolled my bag all the way to his car through the gravel and dirt trails. The floodgate opens and it makes accepting closure so. damn. hard. But I'm also angry that I put so much energy into someone who used me as a stepping stone to find "the one," I'm more than pissed he just tossed me out like I was nothing. I'm stuck on the injustice of it all. I'm disappointed that I was wrong about his character and what I thought he was capable of. I'm devastated it's not me. I wanted that to be me. However, then I remember that none of his friends even knew I existed. The only time I even met two of them was the night before he moved to Boston. The night I stayed up until 5 AM, after an eight hour rehearsal, and helped him pack his shit but even then his friend was hitting on me the whole time! Man, I don't know. I guess part of me is just jealous. I want my happiness, too. I want to feel the way I used to feel when I was with him. Wait a minute. I think a lightbulb just lit up in my head. Maybe it's not actually about him, maybe it's just the experience of the feeling of being with him that I'm actually attached to? Shit, where's Freud when you need him?
On a broader scale, though, I'm so sick of being the "gateway hoe" for these dudes. It's like, "hey! Want to find the love of your life? Date me, don't claim me, dump me, and he'll be next in line!" It's bull shit and I've had enough. On this seventh blog, I'm here to scream loud from the Santa Monica mountaintops that I won't take it anymore. This is my declaration to all the men that spent their days and nights with me but never once told their friends or family about me, the ones who asked me to take their pictures for Instagram but never once asked me to be in them. This is for those of you who felt like it was okay taking all my time and energy, my love, my affection, my willingness to accept your past and the issues that came from it, my ability to compromise even though you never did, my passion towards helping you be the best version of yourself, and to all of you that kept me in the shadows. This also goes to my future lovers. This manifesto is to proclaim my worth, to take back what so many have ripped from me, to acknowledge that I'm worth so much more than what I've been given, and to state what I will and will not accept any longer. This is:
THE SHADOW MANIFESTO
I am not your in between lover, I am not your lucky charm, I am not your sideline hoe, I am not your gateway to finding true love, I am not "behind the scenes," I am not your fuck toy, I am not here to fulfill your schoolboy fantasies, I am not going "to see where things go" with you, I am not gonna go with the effing flow, I am not waiting for you to decide when it's the right time to announce that we're together or to just simply say "we're dating." I am not waiting for you to profit off of your "coming out" (this is actually something someone said to me), I am not the one who will easily forgive and forget your trespasses against me. You need direction, you need confidence, you need to be inspired and motivated, you need to know exactly who the fuck you are and what the hell you've been put on this earth to do. You know why? Because I am the end game, I am the real deal Holyfield, I'm the one who can cook with Mom and talk shop with Dad. I handle my business even when I'm not at work. I know exactly who I am, what I represent, and what I want to accomplish in my time here. So before you step to me lookin' crazy, just know that this is me, this is what I bring to the table, and you need to either match me or be ahead of me. If you're not on that level, get out of my face. Got it?
*moment of silence*
I'm not crying cuz you left me on my own
I'm not crying cuz you left me with no warning
I'm just crying cuz I can't escape what could've been
Are you aware when you set me free?
All I can do is let my heart bleed
I will admit that when I first started writing this entry I felt a tremendous void; I felt like I had lost someone close to me and, in a way, I did. A very important relationship died and MPD's engagement was the final nail in the coffin. As one of my best friends pointed out, it's important to grieve the end of any relationship, to allow yourself to feel the temporary flood of emotions and the overwhelming, and fleeting, feeling that you won't ever find your piece of the relationship pie. I think one of the most important things I've taken away from this moment is how important it is to trust your feelings. Acknowledge what they're telling you, identify the root of your pain, and recognize that in these moments, the process is just that, a process. Although I was genuinely wrapped up in the drama of my emotions, I knew I wouldn't feel that way forever and that the process of feeling it was critical in being able to let go.
You wanna know what the biggest help was in getting out of my head, accepting the closure, and truly moving on? It was talking to all of my friends, separately as well as in big group settings. Being in a safe environment with all the people I care about and sharing every single one of my "woe is me" and "I'll never find what I'm looking for" thoughts opened up space for insightful dialogue and exposed me to different perspectives that I couldn't see on my own. Not to mention the innumerable amount of times that we laughed so hard we had to pee. Once I got out of my head and opened up to the people around me, our conversations yanked me out of my "it's the end of the world" mentality and made me realize just how much love I really have around me. All love isn't romantic nor does it need to be and the one thing that unites us all: pain. We've all experienced it, but it's how we work with it that defines us. I'm taking my pain and putting it here. I am also using it in other productive ways, soon to be announced! I'm finding that I'm actually quite full, which is why "The Shadow Manifesto" exists. Because I'm full, any potential partner needs to be as well. I hope you take stock of the love around you and realize that you are full as well. Does someone in your life need to be on the receiving end of YOUR manifesto? LET. THEM. KNOW. PROUDLY. It comes down to how much you value yourself and what you bring to the table. Unsure of yourself? Finding that confidence is also a process and if you're in the middle of figuring it out, maybe now's not the time to be in a relationship. Whatever you do, trust yourself and don't discount your feelings. They're real and they're yours.
Finally, I want to leave you with one of the most eloquent things ever said about feelings. It comes from the series finale of Sense8, a phenomenal show on Netflix, and it's the vows one character says to her bride-to-be during their wedding ceremony. I think it's spot on when it comes to the human experience of feelings but it also provides a valuable lesson in why we should each honor our own:
"My love, we live in a world that distrusts feelings. Over and over we are reminded that feelings are not as important as reason, that feelings are childish, irresponsible, dangerous. We are taught to ignore them, control, or deny them. We barely understand what they are, or where they come from, or how they seem to understand us better than we understand ourselves. But I know that feelings matter--sometimes they're little, like when I smell cinnamon toast and I miss my grandma, and sometimes they are huge, like when I found out my girlfriend shares her thoughts with seven other people around the world. However, if you're lucky, I mean really lucky, a feeling comes along that will change everything. I remember such a feeling and how it walloped me years ago when this girl walked into my bookstore, it is the same feeling that I have right now. The feeling that this is her, my love, my wife...this is my future and I trust this feeling more than I have trusted anything in my life."
Until next time...