I Refuse to Settle

[CN: frank discussions of sex and sexuality, possible TMI]

A couple months ago, I was contacted on Facebook messenger by someone I didn’t know. It was a guy who said he knew one of the women I knew in my undergrad, which was confirmed when I checked his friends’ list. He said that she’d told him I was his type, so he asked if he could friend me and we could talk. I told him I wasn’t looking for anything romantic right now, but we could be friends and talk a bit.

It didn’t take too long for the thread to unravel. It was clear that he was only interested in sex. We exchanged pleasantries a few times, but then he started leaving bigoted comments on articles I shared. This was right around when Brexit happened, and he posted things like “the English are understandably scared about all the immigrants taking their jobs”. I was miffed, because I’d told him when he first reached out to me that he should read my wall to get to know me, and he said he had, but he obviously didn’t (or else didn’t think my extremely strong-held liberal beliefs mattered, which is worse). When I looked at his profile, I found he was unemployed and living with his parents in NC (I was still in OH at that time), and often commented on his friends posts in condescending tones. There was no evidence that he was looking for a job or to improve his lot. Being unemployed and living with your parents isn’t a deal breaker, but not caring about changing that definitely is for me. And acting like a douche to people who are supposedly your friends is even more of one. I resolved to mostly ignore him, which wasn’t hard because he didn’t really try to pursue me. I finally unfriended him a few weeks ago, and haven’t heard from him since.

What bothers me about this experience isn’t that some dude came onto me on Facebook, or that he was mildly douchey. The problem was that a girl who had known me (admittedly quite a few years ago) had told this guy that I was his type. I don’t know exactly what else she may have told him, because even though she’s my FB friend we don’t really talk, but either his ego or something she said made him think that I would welcome his attention. And therein lies the really infuriating subtext to this whole encounter, because guys like this (and many other people) seem to think that I should be grateful for any attention because I’m fat.

Time and again I’ve had friends and acquaintances try to set me up with men I had absolutely nothing in common with, simply because said men liked fat women. I once had a gay friend point out a girl in a crowd to me, and said “you might like her”, when it was obvious all we had in common was being fat (and bisexual, according to him). True, I often used to bewail my single status, but not liking being single does not equate to being desperate, at least not for me. If I had truly been desperate, I would’ve dated (or at least had sex with) this one guy I knew in my undergrad, who was creepy and always telling me he’d like to sleep with me (I mainly used him as a free ride, since I didn’t have a car at the time). That ended one day when we were watching a movie at my apartment and he did something that pissed me off and I half-jokingly said “I could poke you with my knitting needles” and he pulled out a knife and said “and if you did I’d stab you” and I said “get the hell out of my house”. Thankfully it ended there, which is a happy ending compared to what many other women have been through in similar situations.

The thing is, I’ve made peace with my perpetual singleness. I used to worry that there was something wrong with me, because it seemed like the only people who ever expressed interest in me were online and very far away. I never got to date in college, and it wasn’t until a few years after I graduated that I had my first boyfriend. That didn’t last long, mostly because I realized the basis of our relationship was me being happy someone liked me, and when that faded there was no point in continuing. A couple years later and I had my first real boyfriend, someone I really cared about and enjoyed spending time with. We were together for a couple years, although physically we were apart for much of that time (because I was overseas for 18 of the 36 months we were together, and only saw each other on weekends the rest of the time). He was a good guy, but when he asked me about where he fit in to my plans to move overseas, I realized I didn’t want to be with him any longer, and I certainly didn’t want him to move to a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language just to be with me. I broke his heart, and I’m sorry I did, but it was the best for both of us. I broke up with him last Fall, and despite a few brief online flirtations, I’ve been single since. And I’m okay with that. I definitely wouldn’t mind having someone to cuddle, because I miss physical contact, but I don’t want to get involved in anything right now, especially because I’m still job searching and not sure where I’ll end up.

To be totally honest, the only thing I feel like I’m missing out on is sex. Neither of the two men I’ve dated did much for me in that department (for various reasons), and I feel like I’d really like to find a good partner (or partners) for that, someone who isn’t creepy about it, who cares enough about me to make it fun, but not necessarily wants to have a relationship. A friends with benefits situation would suit me just fine, I think. But it feels almost impossible to find someone like that without already being friends with them, y’know? And I don’t exactly have a lot of friends (and an even smaller number I’d even consider in that regard, let alone whether they’d consider me), especially in limbo here in NC.

So I’ll just be single, I think. And I’d rather be single until the day I die, than entertain another well-meaning friend’s chubby-chaser acquaintance who doesn’t see me for anything but my fat body. I am not your fetish, goddamn it, I am a person. And even in a potential FWB situation, I reserve every right to choose someone who finds me sexy for more than just my fat. Because I refuse to settle. I refuse to be the desperate fat girl. I refuse to be anything less than who I want to be, and be with only who I choose to be with. If you’re going to set me up out of pity, then don’t fucking bother. I’d rather my vibrator than some douche who wouldn’t even admit to his friends that he wanted to fuck me because I’m fat. The vibrator’s quieter and more focused on getting me off!

Dealing with Rejection

So I’m job searching right now, had an over Skype interview earlier today. Job searching is like my personal worst nightmare. Being forced to make myself vulnerable over and over to people I don’t know. Being forced to meet people and try to market myself to them when I often feel like I know nothing and don’t do anything well (because depression and anxiety). Being forced to write meaningless cover letters over and over. These are all things that I see no value in doing. And everything is so competitive, because everyone needs a job, and there’s always someone better than you who wants the same job you do, and it really doesn’t feel worth it to even try when you know you’re going to fail over and over and over.

I hate failure. I’m not used to it, first of all. As a child, I was usually good at whatever I tried, and if I wasn’t, I quickly stopped doing it. My parents never forced me to go through with things if I didn’t want to do them, so I never learned that failure can be a good thing. And all the pop psychology articles in the world telling me “failure helps you learn” and “failure is normal” don’t help dispel my feelings that if I fail at a particular task, that I am a failure at everything. When I fail, I see it as a direct indicator of my personal worth. So if I fail, I’m worthless. And if I fail over and over and over again, I’m worse than worthless. I might as well not even try.

That isn’t a very helpful attitude when job searching, but I can’t really help how I feel. Doing any activity where I just feel more and more worthless the longer it goes on is torture for me. I’d rather have heated nails driven into my flesh than have to apply to jobs over and over and just end up being rejected every time.

I don’t mind as much when I submit a resume and just get a form email rejection. I have half a second of disappointment and then I move on. What makes me feel awful is being rejected after an interview. That’s a more personal rejection. When I go to a bunch of effort to look nice and prepare, and then the interview seems to go well, but they then send me an email or call me to say they don’t want me, I feel awful. It would be easier if they would tell me why. If there was something I did, or if they had a way more promising candidate who interviewed after me, or if they already had someone in mind for the position but had to put the job posting out there anyway. I mean, I get that they can’t usually disclose that kind of information, but I wish they could. It would help me to know they aren’t rejecting me personally. But then, maybe they are, and it would feel awful if they told me they didn’t hire me because I’m fat, or because I’m too old, or whatnot. So maybe it wouldn’t help to know why.

I have another interview on Thursday. Right now I’m sure that job won’t hire me either. So I’ll have to go put myself out there again, and again, and get rejected again. Thinking about it makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry.

So that’s where I’m at right now.

Family Photos

(Quick summary of what’s happened since I last posted. I’m now living in NC, in a rental house my mom was living in until two weeks ago, because she bought a house in the area, but her lease isn’t up on the rental until the end of August, so me and my cats are living here (with only a mattress, an armchair and a couple laundry baskets for furniture) until I find a job. Moving out was pretty stressful, but everything was more or less okay, and me and the cats are doing fine for the most part.)

This evening I went over to my mom’s house to just hang out with her (I’ve been feeling isolated because I don’t know anyone in the area besides her, she moved to the coast of NC a couple years ago, I grew up in the Triangle area), and we talked about this and that, she’d had kind of a rough day because her dog got out and ran off and got down in a ditch that was full of green slime so it wasn’t a lot of fun to try to catch her and then hose her off. She told me she’d gone through the big box of family photos that she had, and sorted through all the ones she had of my dad from when they were young and during their marriage, and put them aside to mail to him.

She asked if I wanted to see the photos she’d collected of him, and I said sure, so we pulled them out (she had them in a bag, waiting to be mailed to him) and we went through them and she told me when they were taken, who the other people in the picture were, or so on. There were a couple of him with me and my brothers, but she’d carefully made sure there weren’t any of him and her together, because his wife dislikes her. There were pictures of us on vacation, or of him cuddling one of our family dogs, a bunch of him graduating from medical school, some of his family (his younger sister’s college graduation, or visiting his parents), some of him as a young man. It was such a bittersweet experience, seeing pictures of him when I was a baby, or before I was born. Most of them were in a specific context, like his graduation, or a party with his medical school friends, or a trip with his parents. But there were a few, sprinkled in between these mundane memories, of just him, looking at the camera. Sometimes he was serious, sometimes he was smiling, sometimes he was dressed up, other times he was totally casual or even messy. My mother said “those are the ones I look at and remember who the man was that I loved. I wish he’d come back, not so I can be with him again, but because he was a good man who loved his family.” And I see it too. I look at those pictures of him and I see the man I called Papa, the man I played with as a child, who loved me unconditionally, who called me silly names and threw me into the pool as I squealed with delight. I miss him too.

I’ve already talked a bit about my relationship with my father. It was so strange, looking at the face of the man he used to be, before the gulf grew between us, before my parents split, back when we were a family and we were happy. Like my mother, I wish that man would come back. I really miss him.