WARNING: IT’S ABOUT TO GET PERSONAL.
I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I said that, sometimes, I can be a little polarizing.
Often, I can be a little hot-headed.
A lot of the time, I say things that are dumb and kind of mean.
Okay, enough beating around the bush: I can be an asshole. I am sorry about that, honestly, but the truth is, I’m probably not going to change (at least, not much). Because, you see…I already changed. Or stopped myself from going down the path of total darkness and self-destruction that too many young men (and women, too) find themselves on.
Briefly: Without love, I’m pretty sure I would have ended up somewhere on the scale of people that includes MRAs. I like to think that I’m more intelligent and open-minded than those people, of course, so I don’t think I would ever have gone so far as to blame all women for my woes or take up arms against them (ugh, fucking Incels) but…I probably would have been an even bigger asshole than I am right now.
(NOTE: This isn’t meant to be a “poor MRAs and Incels” write-up, because fuck those losers. This is a success story, damn it!)
What I can say with absolute certainty is that, without meeting and falling in love with my fiancée/common-law wife, without coming to understand that being a better person would not only enrich her life but also my own, I would have been a much darker person than I currently am.
And I’m already pretty dark! Let’s talk about that for a spell.
I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental illness and I know the dangers of self-diagnosis very well. I won’t say that I have “depression,” or “anxiety,” or that I’m “bipolar” with any certainty; I do, however, tend to think that I exist somewhere on the spectrum that includes those things. I can say with certainty that I have strangely opposite moods, one more or less “happy,” the other utterly depressed and “sad,” and that drifting from one to the other can happen incredibly quickly, even suddenly. It’s like feeling a cold weight fall in my chest, a sense of absolute dread, a desire to slink away into nothingness…most people have some exhibition of these emotions and feelings, but I feel like they impact me in a way that’s different. (It’s hard to say how true that is, of course, because you never really know how much people are hiding behind closed doors. Despite a wealth of progress, there is still stigma surrounding the recognition that you’re not “fine.”)
Before I fell in love–and I actually mean “love,” not just lust, not the possessive (and most often unrequited) love that is “I need to have that thing no matter the cost”–I had a lot of suicidal thoughts. Not constant, and none ever far beyond the thought itself, but often enough to be worrisome. I was always able to lift myself out of that pit by reasoning that, despite my best efforts to convince myself otherwise, it would actually result in the worst possible situation for the people I loved and who loved me. Thank God. (Turn of phrase.)
Before I fell in love–before I received love in return–I used to think that I’d be alone forever. That maybe I didn’t deserve love, that because I was fat and a nerd and a million other things, I was destined to be alone. Of course, it’s all fucking nonsense. You only “deserve love” insofar as you put love out there, and when I was being a loser who wallowed completely in self-pity and thought dark thoughts about the people who were out there living their lives and having girlfriends without me? I didn’t deserve much love, then, it’s fair to say.
It took meeting someone who was willing to give me a chance, and give me something that, in turn, “deserved love,” that ultimately pulled me up out of the darkness. Aside from a very dark and depressive period at the end of 2016, when my back issues were at their peak and I was bed-ridden for months, I haven’t had a truly suicidal thought since I met Ilia. On the surface of it, that might seem bad; have I become parasitic, deriving self-worth only from my relationship to my partner? I don’t think so. As self-deprecating and depressive as I still am, I think that I have discovered enough self-worth (and have learned how to appreciate other people in a committed relationship sense) that, God forbid, if anything were to happen with my current relationship I would still be better off.
Because while the world does often suck, and there are people for whom we can blame many things, ultimately our happiness and our mental health is in our hands. We have to want to be better and be loved. And a lot of people aren’t there; a lot of people maybe never will be.
I don’t feel particularly bad when I encounter one of these trolls online, these MRAs or Incels or whatever-they-call-themselves, because more often than not they are cognizant of the fact that, on some level, they are wrong, or that they are causing other people pain. No, I don’t feel bad for the people who hate women to the point that they give them bullshit titles or names and say all women are “sluts,” and I get furiously angry at the people who try to give credence to their arguments; the people I feel bad for are the people they never became, the people who could experience and share love, like I have.
I’m by no means saying I’m a perfect person. I’m not, by any measure. But I think being able to actually care about another person in a way that isn’t selfish is something that we take for granted as a natural circumstance instead of something that might need to be taught and nurtured. There’s a reason so many people are concerned with “winning” and “losing,” and caught up in petty power battles asserting their dominance over other people–men and women, although, let’s be real, mostly men.
I don’t think we should back down from “the fight,” but neither do I think violence is the answer. If it was, we wouldn’t have these vile philosophies and ideologies that, instead of dying out, fester and return like a malignant cancer years later. The only thing that can truly penetrate it is love and understanding, but…how do you do that with someone who doesn’t want to engage with you on that level? Someone who rejects love?
I don’t know, but I hope we can figure it out.