It is not a wonderful thing for a man to leave another woman for you.
Do not want this for yourself. If you are a party to this, do not brag this to your friends. Do not smirk at the other woman if you see her on the bus. Do not betray any self-satisfaction or any form of pride. This thing called life we share is not the Spelling Bee or whatever the fuck they’re doing to engineer human cruelty on reality TV these days. Do not proclaim yourself the winner of a contest, because the likelihood is the prize you think you’ve won won’t be worth much in the end.
You are worth your weight in gold, but don’t think for a second that you’re a prize to be won, like a pile of chips on the table. You’re as lovely and common and necessary as air.
It goes against what you want to believe, but I hope you will stop and consider it, because such an idea may save your life. I learned the hard way. There are so many of us who have.
We women should talk about this. Maybe then, less of us would be harmed when romantic love is used as a weapon.
I shall not deny that you are a brilliant, beautiful blossom of mystery, and that what you want more than anything in the world is someone who sees into each crack and crevice of your being, able to solve you, heal you, want you, know you.
But once you see that so does she, and so do I, that every woman who passes you on the street is the same as you in need and want, in mystery and desire, you will set yourself free to see love as a common resource. Air and water. Salt and soil. Love is abundant. It should be there for everyone. Relationships, time, cute couples photos posted to Facebook: those are not trophies. Those are side dishes at the banquet of the human condition. See that first, and you will never endeavor to see such things stolen from another woman and given to you instead.
If you choose not to listen, and this is what I, one of the discarded who wants to warn those who come after me, knows: my words will likely be dropped on the ground and kicked into the sewer because the narrative of possession is so tightly woven into the fabric of romantic love that clearly, I must be jealous. There will be an end, as everything in life ends. Your heart will break and your mind will be dizzy with confusion and sickness. And the person you will need the most then will be the woman whose heart was broken in your name.
Sure, your friends will wrap Band-Aids around your battered soul when he does the same to you. Love is abundant, after all, and necessary, and takes many shapes. Friends are wonderful. But take it from me, dearest: healing is nestled in the folds of these other women’s stories, and the stories that match your own will bring the cure faster than what the Commonwealth of Sympathy can offer you.
Your heart is the most important thing, but so is hers, and so is mine. They are, we are, all the same.
It’s okay if you bought into a dangerous story with a painful ending. You are forgiven. I have forgiven myself for the same trespass. I have received the forgiveness of the one who came before me. The story of movies and princesses, sad pauper girls risen up on the shoulders of fantasy.
If he tells you what’s wrong with her, how she did not love him the way he needed her to, how she failed to fix that teensy broken part that makes you love him so much, that is not romance. That is planting seeds in a field of horseshit.
If he tells you he never loved her, then spit on him. This does not make him tragic. This makes him cruel.
If he tells you he never loved her, as if that means there is more for you, then he won’t love you, either, because he can’t. At least not with the quiet, hard-shelled love that doesn’t give a whit about what your crotch feels like.
If he tells you she was crazy: think carefully about what that word really means. Crazy gets thrown at women a lot. It’s a way of saying another person’s emotions are inconvenient. It’s a way of punishing them for wanting to be seen, for showing that they have to struggle to get what they need. If a person is truly crazy, they should be supported as they seek professional help. Crazy does not mean garbage. Crazy is not a word applied as permission to quiet someone out of existence.
It helps to see your heart as plain, your deserving of love as universal, your connections to the world vast and interdependent. Kill the idea that your power rests in your ability to snatch, steal, seduce, or lure, and that you are a clever thief in an economy of starvation. I look at those words and my mind knows to recognize them as sexy in that hungry, power-mad way: universal shorthand that pokes fun at the losers of a game that shouldn’t exist. But those are ideas that Hollywood made up to make you really believe the wrong things about yourself, to trick you to spend money on dreams of being someone else, and to place your worth in the mouths of others.
When people say you have to love yourself, this also means you have to love other women, too.
Love is not something that is earned by being what someone asks you to be.
I see how connected we are, we lovely, similar women, chinks on a chain, holders of each other’s hearts, spiders weaving the same web. I approach other women with gratitude, for I go forward in strength on the backs of their stories.
And there are so many stories. A well-placed story will save your head.
And I promise I will give my story to you, dear one, when the time comes and you need it like medicine.
We are so resilient, we women. So quick to forgive.
And that is why.
That is why.