Does she make you better?

In my attempt to blog less and live more, I’m trying to do two posts at a go, like a BOGOF, and you know I like me a good BOGOF, because I’m a bit of a cheapass.  Now seeing as I have limited space in my brain, space that’s for the most part taken up by useless knowledge, like the recent study that says men are twice as likely to underestimate their weight than women (I said useless, no?), I’m struggling to find a second track for this post, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been stuck on one playlist all week, because of last week’s post.  Ah well, I always say you can never have too much Raheem…

Even if I don’t have much to my name,
And through the ups and downs that come with fame,
You pat me on the back and rub away the pain,
‘Cause you’re my baby,
No dollar amount can buy the friendship you bring,
You are the first lady worthy of a king,
The moment I set eyes on you I knew I would fall,
See life ain’t so bad after all,
You make it better…

Have you ever talked to someone and gotten the distinct impression they think you’re a bit of an idiot?  They go out their way to poke holes in your theories, constantly trying to show you the fallacies in your thinking, mocking you at every turn, seemingly offering you their (allegedly) invaluable support via their unrelenting criticism of everything you do, say, even the way you breathe.  Then, when it dawns upon them that their not so gentle coercion has failed to achieve their stated intention of bending you to their will, they give you the look that says, “What the fuck are you saying you daft cow?”  No?  You’ve never gotten that look?  You lie…  Its not a nice look that one, it’s the look that makes you feel about 2 inches tall, shrinks your insides into a quivering little ball of insecurity, making you question whether the sun really does rise in the east and set in the west.  Not a good feeling at all.  Especially when the person giving you that look is the one person you hope thinks you’re the best thing ever.

I’ve been in a couple of relationships with men, friends and lovers, who did not treat me very nicely.  Its not that they beat me or anything like that, they just spent their time putting me down every so often, as if to keep me in check, or keep me under their thumb.  Now while I am occasionally a somewhat arrogant cow, I do not honestly believe that a man needs to tell me my opinions are stupid.  That’s just rude, no?  I get that a man needs to be a man and shit, often feeling the need to prove his big, proud masculinity when challenged by a silly female like myself (I have been known to chokoza a bugger on occasion, just), but when his being a man translates to making me feel like less of a woman, and not more as it should be (with both friends and lovers), well then we have a bit of a problem.  In my experience, I’ve learnt that when someone puts you down to make themselves feel better, that person is nothing more than an insecure little shit, inept in the ways of cordial human interaction.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not objecting to genuine criticism, an honest opinion is priceless in my book, even when it stings (especially when it stings).  What I’m talking about is snide put downs and bitchy retorts, the type typical of those bastards who like to fight dirty, going for the jugular when you so much as look at them sideways. 

I used to hang out with a couple of dysfunctional gentlemen a couple of years ago, at a time in my life when I was a bit more fucked up than I am today (yes, that is in fact possible).  These buggers were going through relationship drama, as was I, so you can imagine the levels of foolishness we engaged in as we sought to drown our sorrows, quite literally.  They were my crutches when I needed help getting back on my feet, but as with all good crutches, once I got my head back on straight, they became superfluous, unfortunate reminders of a past I didn’t need to remember.  I no longer needed to be around people who felt the need to remind me just why my last relationship failed, and just why I would never get over the bastard, and just why I would never be able to keep a man.  These were friends, by the way, they who were supposed to be lifting me up, but instead spent half their time pushing me down, because I was much more useful to their dysfunctional lives when I was broken.  See when you’re in the gutter, and scared to get out, the last thing you want is your gutter companions picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and leaving you behind in the filth, all alone.  Better we wallow together, no?  No.  Friends, real friends, will either by give you a hand up, or kick you in the ass repeatedly until you get yourself up. 

And gets worse when it’s a lover pulling these stunts.  One of my exes was the classic passive aggressive type, retreating into his shell whenever confronted, instead getting back at me through obnoxious, or reckless, behaviour.  That’s a fancy way of saying he’d act like a complete jackass whenever we’d have a fight, and then somehow I’d end up being the one apologising for his crap.  The day I couldn’t be bothered to apologise for shit I didn’t do, that’s the day I realised the end was well and truly nigh, because it meant his hold on me was finally slipping.  That makes it sound like he was some evil, controlling bastard, doesn’t it?  He wasn’t.  I was party to the silly mind games as much he was.  Looking back, I can see how my own insecurities were feeding his jackass, and I kept letting him get away with the constant put downs because in my head I was telling myself the same nonsense, worse even.  He would tell me I wasn’t sexy, and I would believe him, because when I looked into the mirror I didn’t see a sexy woman.  He’d tell me I was ‘too smart for my own good’, and I’d dumb myself down, because I agreed that my intelligence was something to be ashamed of, surely it was what was keeping me from submitting to the man of my dreams?  Not really, thankfully. 

Point is, the man knew exactly what to say to fuck with my head, because I had shown it all to him, and given him unrestricted access.  It was like he gave voice to my demons.  Strange thing is, I don’t think he was doing it out of real malice, just immaturity, and perhaps instinct.  I’d complain about the time and money he’d waste in the bar, drinking himself into a stupor every bloody weekend, because at one point that was the biggest problem we had, and his response would be to call me an uptight ‘chick’.  The ‘chick’ part was the insult by the way, uptight is not so bad by comparison, even though, in retrospect, it does explain why after the break-up I went into ‘party like its 1999’ mode (it wasn’t 1999).  Seriously though, it was easier for him to shut me up with a well placed barb, rather than have the discussion about his (very) alcoholic tendencies; it was simply self preservation, jackass style.  Understand that I can comfortably say this now, many years later, because I finally figured out what was going on with him, and me, after we broke up.  I’ve been forced to look my demons in the eye, I even named a couple of them for easy reference.  I’ve learnt to defend myself from cruel bastards, and idiots lacking social skills.  I’ve learnt to see other people’s insecurities, and not just mine; very helpful when you want to avoid unnecessary drama, and shots to your jugular. 

And because of my experience with geniuses like these, I know what to say to someone who may be going through a (possibly?) similar situation. 

I was talking to a friend of mine last week, listening to him go on about his woman, she who claims to love him more than life itself, she who also takes any opportunity to remind him how lucky he is to have her, because she is so much better than him (I’ve paraphrased), she who claims his finances, or lack thereof, are the reason it can never work out between them.  Now when I find myself in such situations, and oddly enough I often do, I usually restrain myself from speaking my mind, knowing that speaking my mind will more often than not result in my getting bitch slapped by the ungrateful recipient of my wisdom and clarity.  See, there’s no way to listen to that speech (I’ve heard it all before) and not think, ‘Well, she’s a bit of a bloody idiot, isn’t she?’  To which said man usually responds, ‘You just don’t like her,’ which is completely true, because I often do not like her, because she’s a bloody idiot.  Folks, I have been that well-meaning, yet clueless, ‘friend’ who felt the need to tell her pal that his woman was nothing short of an evil, evil woman, intent on bleeding him dry and/or screwing him over.  Problem is, men don’t like to hear that shit, and this messenger almost always gets shot.   Still, I would be remiss in my responsibilities as the good friend if I didn’t at least try… 

For all the talk of how important relationships are for us, how much we need to be with someone, anyone, as long as we’re not alone, for all the bullshit spiel about how everyone needs love, friendship and all that good stuff, there’s a crucial piece of the puzzle missing.  Its not enough to have other people in our lives, what we need are people who genuinely care for us, and not just themselves.  My friend, I know being alone, and lonely, is a bitch, but it’s much better than being with bastards who don’t really like you.  Friends or lovers, same rules apply, respect comes first, love is simply a delightful bonus.  What you want, need, is someone who makes you greater than the sum of your parts.  Someone who makes you better. 

When you whisper in my ear baby it will be okay,
You make it better,
Rub my body down after a hard days work,
You make it better,
Waking up to you in the morning,
You make it better,
Late in the midnight hour,
You make it better,
Now I can be the richest man on the earth and not have much at all,
But we got something priceless baby,
See life ain’t so bad after all,
You make it better…

The song is ‘Mo Better’ off Mr Devaughn’s second album, ‘Love Behind The Melody’.  Its seven and a half minutes of brilliant soul music, the likes of which we don’t often hear from someone this young, these days.  He even does the talking thing, halfway through the song, because he is the shit like that.  This song is what a (good) relationship is supposed to feel like, in my strange music themed mind that is. 

My good man, your woman is supposed to be your biggest fan.  She’s supposed to think that you are the shit.  She’s supposed to creatively mask the fact that she’s as interested in your wallet as much as she’s attracted to your cute bum.  She’s supposed to love you, despite the sometimes stupid shit you do.  Yes, she will occasionally call you out on your bullshit, and maybe slap you if you act like a jackass, but because she’s your woman, she’ll do it in such a way that you come out of it a better man than you were before.  She will treat you with respect, as you do her, because without respect, there’s nothing worth holding on to, is there?