Crying in bathrooms on your birthday.
I spent part of my 21st birthday in the bathroom crying. We were all out at a bar. I don’t remember why, but I remember that my ex-boyfriend made me cry. I had some sort of terribly deluded idea that I was going to be friends with him, that you can drift from fucking to dating to friends without issue. I was idealistic, thinking that because I was open and embracing my sexuality and exploring both bisexuality and non-monogamy, that I would live in a feminist utopia.
No. He was quite mean to me for a long time, despite my la-la land fantasies about us being Okay. That is, until I had a breakdown one night over my roommate’s dog destroying the trash and coming home from the bar to find chicken bones and lettuce flung about my apartment. I started sobbing and realized, hey, this guy is a self-important fucking asshole. The end.
This memory came back to me because I was thinking about how to explain to someone that I’m thinking of coming out to about why I became a whore. The usual narrative that I’ve constructed and become comfortable with is that I didn’t know what else to do with my life. Actually, I was thinking about coming out to this person, but also thinking about explaining to a group of people close to me the experience of finding out you’re not dead after all.
Let me back up. I had thought, for a long time while I was sick, that I would be dead by the time I was 21. I kind of planned on it, actually. In the sense that I was doing everything to hasten my demise. That’s kind of what an eating disorder is.
So, again, I find myself not dead (surprise!) and without a concrete plan. And definitely not the ability to hold down a straight job and work straight hours. So, yeah, I became a whore. Kind of just like that. But not really.
Then, on my 21st, I am in a shitty chain bar crying in the bathroom, still alive to my surprise and confusion, and now a whore. I’d just started working. I really had no idea what the hell I was getting into and I did fuck up really badly that summer. (Because even though I am happy, I am not a Happy Hooker.)
It was not the first time he made me cry. (And, duh, not the last.) I was shaking mad when I told him I was going into sex work. He actually told me that I could not prostitute myself (his words) and still be a feminist. To which I got out of his car, slammed the door, and went into my apartment in a huff. I wrote an angry poem about how fucking stupid it was that a guy in a male body was telling me, a woman in a female body, what I should think of my social world. Thanks, asshole.
And I kind of find myself replaying this situation as I think about coming out to different people. I no longer feel the need to justify my actions to anyone. But this is as much about being older and wiser as it is about cutting assholes out of my life. So, wherever you are, darling ex-boyfriend, it’s almost my birthday (again) and I haven’t fucking cried on my birthday since then. I’m a whore and this is what a feminist looks like.
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Tags: coming out, feminism, mental illness, sex work, stigma