The 10-day challenge.
This essay is written from the point of view of a hetero 33-year-old white Canadian woman.
He left this morning for his Vipassana retreat. 10 days- no contact. Within two hours of his departure I found myself sitting on the couch in my underpants, eating a hotdog for breakfast. I have two Netflix movies lined up and (please no judgment) some pot to numb the pain for having to do everything for myself again.
I guess I should backtrack a little bit. I am dating a man who takes excellent care of me. He makes me coffee every morning (cause I yell for it from bed.) He holds onto his power (when I try to thwart him.) He f***s me like a tiger. He forgives me when I am a silent bitch and he buys me an over ordinary amount of gifts.
I am waiting for the ring.
It’s like he has brought the princess out in me that was lying in the mud for 33 years. The little lady who wanted so bad to be celebrated for her birthday is going to a Joan Rivers Tribute this year wearing a brand new dress! The little woman who longed for stability now has a man who calls her dog- his dog. For example: “I fed my Dog today.” This is a woman who knew she would never get married because all the men she ever loved thought marriage was a dark pit of a waste of a life. This woman (me) has found the fucking motherload and quite frankly is tucking in.
I am like the witch lady in The Little Mermaid, swirling around the ocean floor, getting bigger and bigger! He has created a monster and even better he thinks this monster is really entertaining and fun to hang out with.
I take fewer showers. I give less blowjobs. I have gained more weight. I am fully and completely all of myself and he is totally cool with it and now for 10 days it’s back to reality. I am on my own.
So… I am making a record, a chronological diary of how I progress or regress as a full and independent woman in my enforced alone time.
Day 1: Mustard stain on my underpants from the aformentioned hotdog for breakfast incident.
Day 2: I went over to his brother’s house to look at him because he looks exactly like his brother. I briefly imagined kissing his brother and pretending it was him but then I realized that would ruin everything. Longing to care for my man, instead I made his brother some lunch, I did his dishes and then I trudged home by myself. (I think his brother was highly uncomfortable.)
I used to do a lot of awesome things all by myself. I WWOOF-ed in Hawaii. I spent month’s snorkeling, hitching in my bikini around the island, taking lovers and sleeping in tents.
I went to personal retreats solo. I went on vacations solo. I did partner yoga workshops solo. I travelled to Thailand and took a Thai massage course in the highlands. I got my body strong and tanned and beautiful.
I swam in the darkest of oceans by myself, far out in a storm. I did rituals on the beach, I made spells in the sand, I prayed to God and I got what I wanted most in the world. I met my man.
And now, this part of me that was always free, impulsive, getting so much shit done, taking lots of planes and meeting all new people, this person who was actively and adventurously living, is now in her apartment eating apple sauce waiting for her man to come home.
I have to ask myself where has the feminist gone?
Day 3- After I worked all day, I hung out with friends. We got samples at Sephora and ate pizza (what am I 13?) They all stayed out late and got drunk together. I went home to lie in bed and miss him a bit (what am I 70?)
Day 4– I hung out with my nieces. I bought them some shit. I talked to them about my man. They think he’s fine. They like the boots he wears. I say “Ya, so I miss him soooo much.” They say “I have a doll that pees herself.”
Day 5– Hump day. I had a lot of anxiety today. I had a lot of worry and anger. I ate chips. I watched Date Night. Today wasn’t so good.
Day 6– I work up to a dream that we had broken up. He didn’t love me anymore. One of those dreams that when you wake up you are so relieved it was just a dream and yet you can’t shake the vulnerable shitty feeling for the rest of the day.
Day 7– I cried this morning- because there are things happening in my life that I need to talk to him about. I need his opinion. I need his ear. I’m getting tired of all this freedom. I’m feeling worn out.
I know this is a pile of shit really. Writing about how your boyfriend is so great that you are useless without him. But the backstory is what makes it more palatable.
I never in a million years thought that I would be in these shoes. I never thought that I could rely on someone; be so deeply myself with someone, fuck up with someone. I thought I was going to be miserable with an asshole or alone forever. And now I’m not. Now, this guy whom I never would have expected, this man who is not perfect but works his ass off loves me and I feel safe for the first time in my life. I can let my guard down. I can let Ursula, the Sea Witch free.
This is completely contrary to all my feminist training. I spent my entire 20’s working very hard to be cool with being independent and I did so because I was angry with men. I was pissed off at the injustice I saw, the physical violence I personally encountered and the daily inequality I felt at work and socially. So I took the task on.
I volunteered at a Battered Women’s Crisis Centre. I shaved my head. I bared my breasts. I got my nipple pierced because I wanted to physicalize my female pain. I thought poorly of the older woman who seemed to loose their feminist verve. I followed Ani’s tour dates, I even faked being lesbian for f*** sakes. I was the poster woman for what I thought was the model angry 90’s feminist and now I’m not.
Now I’m soft and it is all his fault.
Day 8- I made a deal with God today. I will be nice to my Mom while I am visiting her if God brings my man home safe and sound (I took an Ativan to keep up my end of the bargain.)
And I fought loving him let me tell you. I tried to dump him many a time. Like the time I decided it was over because he gave me a bad massage, or the time I knew I had to end it because his apartment was too noisy at night “I cannot live like this!”
Every cell in my body knew that relaxing into him was a horrible idea so I vigilantly looked for the cracks. I was on constant alert for psycho signs. I was literally begging for him to fail my tests so that I could go back to being comfortable and miserably alone again. When he was 5 minutes late for the third time in a row I screamed, “this is a non-negotiable! You have to learn to respect my time!” He remained calm and let me do my thing.
Day 9- He makes my life easier. He makes living better. I have got to figure out how to accept this.
And you know what, politically speaking I think this newfound softness is a way more engaged option. I think it is a braver and deeper choice for me to need a man, to be scared shitless that he will fail me and to lean on him anyway. In fact, I think it is a radical action that could change the world.
Maybe my feminism needs more femininity.
I think that the best way that I can be a part of ending gender imbalance and violence towards women (at least in my own life) is to have a basic shift in my feminist perspective. I don’t want to roll with The Fight Back Club anymore. I am changing my tactics. I am now fighting fire with flight.
I am emotional and ever changing like the tides.
I have excellent intuition.
I will not take any bullshit.
I don’t want to have to act like a man to get what I want.
I want to achieve my highest goals and dreams without hindrance.
I demand respect and safety at all times.
I will act against injustice.
I will share my opinions, feelings and needs.
I want to have children and a career.
I believe that Women and Men are different and their differences are complimentary and necessary to making this planet a better home therefore:
I want to nest.
I want to move at a slower pace.
I want to be cared for.
I want be f***ed like Ursula the Sea Witch.
I want my man to fiercely love himself and live on his edge.
I want my man to revel in my ass-kicking love.
I want to play on the same team.
Day 10- I wish I had enjoyed my alone time more. Now the handsome motherf***er is going to wanna’ be all up in my junk for the next week. I’m done for.
Like the martial artist who keeps sidestepping blows until he tires his opponent out, my man’s slow and steady undoing of my defenses has finally broken down the fortress for good. I lost. I surrender. Now I need his help rebuilding my palace.
I am terrified to need a man. It goes against all my training and that is exactly why I have to do it because not needing him is clearly not working either. I find that there is more power in my vulnerability than I ever found in my anger. It is a fierce softness. I call this movement neo-femininity and I feel liberated.
I do not have to survive in the wilderness on my own anymore and but I am a bit lost. “I have never been here before. I don’t know what to do next?” “A day at a time,” I hear him say “I’m right beside you so let’s just take it one day at a time…”
Edited by Hayley Samuelson.
Emelia Symington Fedy is a theatre creator, writer, yogi, friend and storyteller. Her favorite quote at the moment is: “Live the light, spread the light, be the light” (found on a yogi tea teabag). This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.