A scrub is a girl who times when she answers texts, whose words are direct but actions blurry, she’s looking like class and acting like trash and right now, that’s me. I owe you an apology. I roast f*ckboys and the trash dating scene and describe all the ways I don’t care or do. No contemplation for the consequences for my writing occurred. In critiquing apathy so densely, I became it. The way I’ve written about myself, my life, my perspective has become so routine I question how much of it is accurate anymore. I became so embedded in my own rhetoric that I didn’t account for how it was impacting other people, that I have hurt folks in trying to save face. This essay is not the grand gesture. It is an atonement, a commitment to better awareness moving forward. My intention exists without an agenda. There’s no ulterior motive lurking between paragraphs. I don’t want to get ahead, just want to make it right.
This essay is the counterpoint to all of my independent posts– not intended to weaken what I’ve said (because I stand by it)– but to complicate it. I struggle attaching to people. I am affectionate, always adoring people, always extroverted, always ready for a new connection. But I do not believe that people stay. And that’s made me a bit of an asshat. I’ve allowed the smallness of other to be a template for my own behavior, telling myself that because it isn’t malice, it’s ok. I tell myself that distancing myself is smart. I tell myself I don’t want because the want will be weaponized. I sever my feelings at the throat, they never drop deeper.
The thing is that I care, and it was easier to say that I didn’t than to assess if my care was invested in the wrong people. It was easier to say that I didn’t care and retain my pride. I talk a really good game. You know this. What I’ve hidden from you is how I’ve dated while griping about my singlehood. Through the confetti of my singlehood, I didn’t illuminate the attachments I was growing with people. I didn’t want to care. Because I do relish my independence. I did not want to contemplate what that looks like with another person involved. I never wanted to relearn it if someone left. This is a brilliant strategy, but only if I desire surface-level and unsatisfying relationships. There isn’t a real prize at the end of a well-timed text, nor in spacing out responses or playing it cool. I am not cool. That’s how I know this isn’t me. When I need to remember myself, both of these quotes come to mind:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
“Withholding love distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel.
So release yourself from that. Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word “love” to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
It felt desperate and needy to hope for something, and so, I didn’t. I stopped. I grew into my own insolation. I became a better self-soother. There’s a co-reliance in partnership. I’ve never been brave enough to unshackle myself in that way– grasped tightly to my self-sufficiency and ego. But when I’m so protective of my image, I realize that I’m more in love with my ego than these other people. The plot twist is that I am the scrub. I am the f*ckgirl. I enact the very behaviors I critique– making me a hypocrite.
Admittedly, I was also unready for a really long time. First, I wanted somebody to want me so I didn’t have to. I wanted to be the moon, never having to make my own light. Then, things happened. In their wake, my soul hibernated. It needed to repair itself. Years passed and, gradually, time glossed over the howling events I weathered. I needed my alone then. I did not want to become an echo in the abuse I’d experienced– still carrying its sound long after it left me. When people partner before they’ve grasped their issues, love and hurt can tangle. They’re too close together. We, two partners, are too close together. At some point, repair becomes repetition and repetition becomes isolation. I needed to do a lot of life alone. I craved the confidence of conquering challenges with my own two hands. I craved it more than I craved another person.
If I remained small while you were kind, I’m sorry. If I met your affection with latches and locks, my bad. I do not expect your forgiveness or a second chance. I just need you to know that it was always a comment on me. Now, I’m disarming my words. The varnish wears away. The syllables are raw between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. But it’s not just that. It’s my actions. Relearning the rhythm of consistency and unlearning the comfort of the upper hand is a clumsy thing. Compassion isn’t a game. It’s not a dance. Ardent sincerity looks hokey because we exist in a world of cynics. And cynics are just heartbroken dreamers who never healed.
A scrub is a girl who times when she answers texts, whose words are direct but actions blurry, she’s looking like class and acting like trash and right now, that’s me. At the end of the day, withholding love isn’t a romance or friendship issue, it’s a human issue. We are only as great as the love we give, and draining that to a game, weaponizing warmth, only hurts us in the end. These posts are so much easier to write as the one hurting than the one inflicting the hurt. I can’t undo every game I’ve fired in the name of my ego. There is no rewind here. An apology isn’t enough. The only thing that can really change it is improved behavior. So, that’s what I’ll do.