When people say nice things to me it always makes me feel good. There's this overall consensus that compliments should be nice. That's what makes them compliments, right? For a long time I believed in this without really thinking about it, until one day, very recently, I received the best compliment of my life up to this point. But here's the kicker: it wasn't nice at all.
To say it was brutal is an understatement. It was more like being fed into a wood chipper. Or having a karate black belt put on steel-toed boots and kick you for twenty-four hours straight. Or being tied up in the desert with honey smeared all over you and an army of ants coming your way. It was like being raped with words.
So how could this be the best compliment of my life? Well obviously I didn't have this opinion when it happened initially. I didn't even have this opinion afterwards for days. At first I thought, I just need time. I need space and time to heal from this. But now that I've had space and time, I realize I am not healed. But I also realized I'm not still hurt either. And that's when it hit me, that I wasn't hurt to start with.
How can you be fed into a wood chipper and not be hurt? This seems completely mad. I still can't make complete sense of it, at least not enough sense to really explain it to someone else. So maybe it'd just be best to explain the facts.
I'm sitting there with my boyfriend Rob of two months. It's been a nice two months. In that time we have spent a lot of quality time together, getting to know each other, letting our relationship unfold as most do in those early moments. There were many things about Rob I really liked: he was smart and funny, cute in a dorky way, and was very laid-back. He was also really romantic and told me all the time how amazing I was, how I made his heart leap, how he thought about me all day, etc. etc. The boy was a walking Hallmark card and I loved it. Which is why the day I realized we had to break up was incredibly hard for me.
I thought about it all day. I was supposed to see him that night and I kept mulling over the pros and cons of everything. We had something good, that was obvious. He was crazy about me, also obvious. But something wasn't right and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Was it that we wanted different things? Was it that we were too different? Was there just not enough passion? I wasn't sure. And maybe that was it, I wasn't sure. And when you're not sure you shouldn't do anything until you are.
So I called him up and said we needed to talk, and he agreed. I went over to his house and told him how I was feeling, and he listened attentively. I was relieved at how well it was all going, and thought we might actually get out of this relatively unscathed. That was, until, this exchange:
Me: So anyway, I figured it was probably best to end things now, and part ways amicably.
Rob: Yeah, I agree. It's not like we are super in love.
This comment surprised me because of how gushy he had been about his feelings and thoughts of me. I didn't necessarily think he was in love with me (in truth there was significant evidence to support that he was) but it was just an odd thing to say. I almost dismissed his comment, but then thought wait a minute, that just doesn't make sense. Why would he say that? So I decided to challenge it.
Me: Really? We're not?
Rob: No, not really. I mean, like when we're together, it's nice. But when you're not around, I just feel... its weird. It's like I know you're out there, patiently waiting for me, being so good... like you're just, so good. And I feel so guilty because it's like, you're so good and I'm just... here. Like, sometimes I even feel kind of indifferent towards it all.
What. The. Fuck. I had no idea what to say to this. The day before, I mean literally, the day before, we had spent the whole morning in bed together. We had made love twice in the space of three hours. And now he's telling me he was indifferent towards it all
? That's way worse than saying he doesn't like me. Not liking me I can handle. But fucking indifference??
Me: Um, when were you planning on telling me all this?
Rob: Yeah, well, I don't know. I think I was just trying to like, see what would develop. Because like I said, when we were together it was nice, so I just thought I could like, make it work, you know? I mean you are so amazing-
So now I'm amazing, even though he's indifferent towards me. Wow.
-and we just have all this chemistry, but like... I hate myself for saying this, because it really shouldn't matter. (at this point, he starts crying) But it does matter, and it totally sucks, and I just hate that it matters, you have to know that... but like, I want a trophy. I hate hate hate that I want one, but I do. It sucks. It really really sucks.
I'm totally stunned by this and really, all function between my brain and my mouth has stopped working, so I can't even formulate words at all, yet alone the right words to express how I feel about all this. I just kind of sit there catatonic for a few seconds, as he rambles on a bit longer. And yes, he's still crying. I don't care if a man cries in front of me, but I do hate it when they cry to manipulate us. They really think we're that easy, that a few tears will turn us into their mothers. All is forgiven, my little boy. Why don't you go play with your legos while I make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off, and we'll forget this whole silly business of how you completely disrespected me? There's a good boy.
Finally, my brain and mouth start communicating.
Me: Well, I don't really care that you want a trophy. If that's your thing, it's your thing. You want to put sex above intimacy and conversation and companionship for life, be my guest. If you don't care that you'll never know if the woman who is with you is with you for you or for your money, then good for you. If you're cool with having to change partners every five to ten years because your trophies lose their shine, go nuts. It's a free country.
Rob: Well that's what I'm saying, like I do want those things, I want true love, I just don't know if it's out there. It just doesn't seem real.
Me: Oh it's real all right. But you're never going to experience it. That's what's really sad in all this.
After that I left. I kept thinking about what he said though, about me not being a trophy. It really bothered me. I thought it bothered me because he was saying I wasn't valuable or beautiful or whatever, but now that some time has passed I realize that's not it at all. I'm not upset that he doesn't see me as a trophy. He's actually right, I'm not one. Being a trophy goes against everything that I am as a woman, as a person. I am not a prize. I will not sit on a shelf and collect dust. I will not be thrown away after a few years because the initial excitement of winning me has faded. And best of all, I will never end up with losers like Rob who only want me to look good and do absolutely nothing of worth. That clueless, selfish idiot gave me the best compliment of my life.