Today I want to talk about something that’s been with me for as long as I can remember. For most of my adult life I have listened to friends, boyfriends and scorned admirers spit words like “cold” and “emotionally detached” in my face. There have been periods where I heard those words so often that I took it as truth, and really began to believe it. But, as I approach the big 3 0 I feel like I am getting to know myself and finally seeing me for who I am. And I am not going to apologise for how others perceive me anymore.
Am I “callous”? Or am I a woman who misses her Grandma so much that, almost a decade since I lost her, I still can’t say her name? Ever since she died I’ve been having a recurring dream where I’m abroad somewhere, definitely not in England (where she lived), and, when walking through crowded streets, I suddenly see her. She catches my eye, knows she has been seen and starts to giggle and run away. She doesn’t speak. She hides just out of sight, but I catch a flash of her face, her hair, her perfume now and again so I know that she is near, even though I can’t see her. When I wake up from this dream I usually feel the weight of her loss crash into me, as strong as the day she died.
I’m such an “ice queen” that I can’t listen to any song referencing a fathers love, or a happy family, without an aching hollowness opening up in my chest. Without feeling cheated and kind of angry.
I am so “unfeeling” that I spent 3 years with a man who beat and betrayed me, regularly, publicly, because I was afraid of hurting him. The one time I just about built up the courage to leave and he held a knife to his own wrist. I knew. I knew he would never do it, but thinking I was hurting him enough to make him act out in such a dramatic way broke my heart and I stayed.
I am “so fucking cold” because I generally shun physical affection but what you don’t know is that I was never hugged as a child. I’ve had the shit kicked out of me by people who said they loved me. People I expected to protect me. I’ve been cheated on in every relationship I’ve ever had, I’ve been sexually harassed in every job since I was 18 and, like most women, I can hardly go out without being groped or leered at. I post selfies on the Internet, thus obviously receive dick pics on at least a weekly basis from complete strangers. So yes, at first, I will shy away from your touch and I will never make big, public, displays of affection but know that if you have patience and give me time, I will learn to become more tactile, and even I have nights where I physcially crave some affection.
It’s true that I probably wont show you that much emotion. I can’t say things that you want me to say. I will sit there, quiet and still, calm and collected, no matter what you are telling me. You could be saying you’re in love with me, or you hate everything about me and I won’t know what to say. My face wont say anything and my mouth will try to form some words, but they’ll be inadequate. I can’t talk about feelings. I’ve never done it, I don’t know how and I can’t even force it because you’ll see and the words, even if I mean them, will seem fake. But this doesn’t mean that I’m not feeling something too.
By calling me cold, all you are doing is belittling yourself, whatever we had and whatever you meant to me. For you to be close enough to be so angry, and to feel the need to say something so cutting, indicates that we must have actually had some connection and chances are that you meant (or still mean) a lot to me. So don’t do that. Don’t make it nothing; if it meant enough to make you feel like this, it probably meant something big to me too.
Now, I am not looking for your sympathy. I am a grown woman. I am strong and I am happy. I have a great life and would not change a second. I’m writing about the crappy parts today, but we all have those, and there have been 5x as many amazing parts in my full and wonderful life. All I am asking for is a little respect. And that next time you feel the need to call someone a “fucking robot” you bite your lip, get over your selfish, petty anger and realise there are probably a hundred reasons why someone appears that way.