It’s been over a week and still the “confetti” comment has been grinding my gears: popping up in the middle of thought streams like bad flashbacks.
The problem is there are so many things about that conversation – about that statement, that are so true – and there are so few ways to have said it any less cruelly.
I spent my whole lunch hour googling “what is verbal abuse?”
I think about an ex-boyfriend, whose name still enters my thoughts from time to time like Alanis Morissette explained it, “with a vengeance like it was yesterday.”
My girlfriends used to tell me to leave him. “You let him treat you so badly.”
The idea that I give people permission to be miserable and awful to me, that I let men touch my ass at the bar, that I bring drama into my life because I give my number out “like confetti” as it were, and men abuse that and text me for booty calls in the middle of the night – the idea that I could have controlled how people treated me and that I’m “playing the victim” when I expect them to have acted better – it’s that idea that I could have made him stay, made him love me, if only I had substituted his judgment for my own, and not made the mistakes that he arbitrarily deems are mistakes because the mistakes that he deems are mistakes are unforgiveable.
In other words, I’m to blame for the way I’ve been treated. And men don’t want to date me because I’m unlovable – and that’s a hard thing to carry around with you all day.
Maybe that idea has some validity – I could have stayed home instead of going to the bar. I could have not given my number out. I could have said no when someone asked me out on a date.
But I have another idea – maybe he could have not abused me. Maybe the men who enter my life could have extended to me the same type of kindness and forgiveness and tenderness I extend to them and not confuse my vulnerability with thinking I’m a willing punching bag.
I imagine the text message I’ll never receive from Mr. Wonderful turned Mr. Confetti: “I’m so, so sorry, Raquel. I was projecting. I feel so bad that I said that to you.”
And I imagine my reply: “You knew that I had been abused before, so why weren’t you gentle with me?”