“(Messaging from a fake account which I’ll delete soon as my partner checks my phone.)
Just wanted to let you know that your videos make me feel really positive about the future. Almost three years ago I was career-driven and independent. I’m now trapped in a relationship with a cheater who over time convinced me to give up my job, my car, my apartment, and move in with him. My confidence and independence have been stripped away and my world shrunk. I know eventually I’ll have to leave – it would just be too tragic to spend my life with this man. I know that 20 year old me would be devastated to see that this is where all that hard work got me. I’m terrified about starting again from square one at the age of 25, and past attempts to leave have failed, but your videos always give me hope that when I get out things will be ok. Thank you x”
My Dearest Bad Baddie,
Growth is not a one-way street. Sure, some of us start at point A and then get to point B in a relatively painless and straightforward fashion, but many of us meander, run backwards, run sideways, and stumble forward until point B hits us in the face just before we give up hope that point B even exists. You’re doing the hard work, now, and even though you’re not where you imagined you would be at twenty-five, that doesn’t mean you can’t be where you want to be at twenty-five and a half, or twenty-six, or any number of days and ages into the future. It may be difficult to see right now, but what you’ve given up is a small fraction of what you stand to gain once you muster up the courage to walk away from the only thing tethering you to your misery.
If I had to pick one thing that I wish women could unlearn, it would be the fact that we’ve been taught that a man is coming to save us. That, somehow, the presence of a man can fill the absence of everything else that is missing from our lives, and that if only we could find someone to love us, it would negate the need to love ourselves. Maybe we’d stop hating those extra five pounds we’re perpetually trying to lose. Maybe we’d stop seeing how our noses are too big, or too small, or too wide at the bottom when we look in the mirror. Maybe we’d be whole. But, Prince Charming is not coming, and, while I don’t know the intricacies of your relationship, I know that I have used the presence of a boyfriend as a replacement for self-worth one too many times.
When I was in my twenties, I briefly dated a man with a big, fancy job in media. His occupation was an anomaly out of the majority of finance bros that I came across in NYC. I was, at the time, a twenty-something struggling actress who had just broken up with her long-term boyfriend a few months earlier. Big, fancy media job guy was everything my ex wasn’t – empathetic, emotionally connected, with just a touch of weirdo in him that the weirdo in me appreciated. The relationship lasted only long enough for him to love bomb me and for me to believe him. And, while I don’t condone his excessively effusive behavior during our relationship, I take full responsibility for believing the lie that I told myself – that he was going to fix my life. More than a small part of me hoped that maybe he wasn’t just the answer to my prayers of finding a husband, but also a career in media – two for the price of one right swipe on a dating app!
In the years since, I have learned that we are the superheroes of our own stories, and it’s only when we stop giving our power away to others in hopes that they may save us that we end up saving ourselves. I didn’t get the shortcut to a husband and a career that I had hoped for from big, fancy media job guy, but what I ultimately did get, after a few years of standing alone, was a husband who never promised to save me, but to stand next to me while I saved myself and carved out a career that no man could have given me.
I hope you know that you can do things scared. That you can be terrified, disappointed, and devastated and still save yourself. And, that, really, maybe it’s the devastation you feel that will shake you into action. We don’t change when we’re comfortable, we change when the pain of the present is no longer sustainable. Your life is not sustainable as it is, you know that, but perhaps you’ve forgotten that you also have the power to change it. That despite the fact that he took away your job, your apartment, your car and your confidence, he did not take away your power to gain it all back. No one can take your power from you, even if you try to give it away, so stop trying to give it away when you’ll need every ounce of it to claw towards the life you were made to live.
Your internet hype woman