This is not a pretty story; you should know that up front.
Have you seen that meme floating around out there, the ‘Unfuckwithable’ one? A number of folks who love and/or profess to know me have sent it my way since it first made its appearance in our social media worlds, but I receive it most during times of personal human struggle. It is always intended as a compliment of course, and to remind me of how ‘strong’ I am. I appreciate and know the intent, but as a rule, I do not allow it on my social media timelines/feeds/profiles, for I cannot buy in.
My friends, my family, the folks I serve in my social-worky worlds, other professionals, often call me things like Warrior Woman, Rebel, Superhero, even, and I repeat: I appreciate and know the intent, but it has all sat rather un-well with me, for a good long while now.
All of those same folks are the most diverse group of people you ever want to meet, and for all their diversity and difference, they have two things in common in regard to who they think I am. 1) most of them believe I was/am, in many ways Unfuckwithable, and 2) they could not be more wrong.
I have always known it to be a fallacy. For a never-give-up mindset, plain old attitude, an indelible will to survive, thrive, make lemonade out of those proverbial life-lemons, and Unfuckwithable, are not even remotely related, at least not to my mind, and not to my heart. My attempts to live up to the other-created image known as Unfuckwithable came with a very dear price; a 3 year odyssey which cost every last shred of self-esteem I have worked to build over decades, every penny in my bank account, and damage to every relationship I hold dear. It harmed me in a way that very few other experiences ever have, which speaks volumes given I have lived a life fraught with lemons the size of tanks, literally with the tanks, and metaphorically speaking. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a very long time ago that we do not live in a benign world, and this is not about whining, and it is not a poor-me story.
The odyssey of which I speak is to date, the thing that has hurt me most, changed me most, jaded me most, aged me most, and grown me up most. And in keeping with my contradictory self, it is the thing that has led me back to the amazing kid inside me, the one who has always grasped the value of contrary stances: wisdom and innocence, knowledge and naiveté, normal and crazy, intelligence and ditz, boxed and creativity, power and fragility, even love and hate. I’ve never really let go of that kid, but too often I have hidden the ‘real’ her from view in an effort to live up to a lie. A lie that sounds and looks good on the outside, but is damaging beyond words to my inside, and quite likely, a great many other ‘strong’ women, just like me.
Let me be clear: I am not holding those who deem(ed) me Unfuckwithable responsible for the harm, it was me, partially trying to live up to that image, but it goes deeper than that, much deeper. The depths of that darkness is what I will endeavor to throw a beacon on in this essay, which is really a story of abuse. I cannot tell the story without also analyzing the myth of Unfuckwithable, because to my mind, they are closely related.
Months ago, I wrote these words: “I have to, absolutely have to tell you the story of abuse, the vile, vilest abuse that I partially co-signed, until not that long ago. My recovery from it has been one of my longest, toughest, darkest, loneliest trudges, to date. His name rhymes with Peter (which he has also used as an alias), and I don’t give a fuck if you know him, tell him I said so. His actions were deliberate, planned, cruel, and I repeat, Vile. It is a story that MUST be told, over and over again, so that none of us, not a single one, ever start believing it’s OK for other humans to treat us this way, in the name of love, no less. And more importantly, so that when we do fall prey to his ilk, we get out before, way before, I did. I will tell the story soon.”
Fast-forward to October 24th, what would have been my original dad’s 82nd birthday, had he made it past 36, and I find myself working up the courage to tell it, this story of abuse, with some clarity, and without the agony of months past, more than an entire year, in fact. It is only in the organization of preparing to leave the space and place I literally, hindsight being what it is, escaped to from the tyranny of his ‘love,’ that I am finally able to do so. So hot is the fire in my brain and heart to put these words on a page, that I cannot do anything else until I am, literally, done with it.
Done with him. Done with abusing myself for having let him, touch me, in any way. Ever.
And I laugh aloud as the hot tears flash to my eyes and roll down my cheeks, again… but this time, they are the hot tears of joy, at knowing a new self. You can read about her here: As is… Finale.
But let me digress back to unfuckwithable, which in this story of abuse, starts here: manipulation, the art of the sociopathic con. It is not my default, not how I function in the world, not my expectation. Therefore, I am con-able, manipulate-able, fully fuckwithable.
Trite little platitudes the likes of ‘you’re too strong to be fucked with,’ are fallacious at best, and damning at worst. They often serve to set up powerful women (like me) with the unrealistic expectation (internal and external) that we are not impacted when people treat us badly, or worse, that we are too smart to let it happen, so when it does, and it does, all the time, we suffer in silence. We do things like gouge holes into our arms in the privacy of the shower, or in the woods, when hiking, running, posting pictures of our adventures, our ‘love affairs’ with our tormenters, to our unsuspecting friends and family, because to them you see, we are Unfuckwithable, and not being that way, will bring victim-blaming judgements, opinions, and most tragically, has created deep-seated shame, because we have chosen to be with this person and brought it upon ourselves. When I say we, it means me. It means I did all of these things. It means I felt this way.
If you know anything about me at all, you will know that I quite despise our culture of DSM-diagnosing everything and everyone to death, but if the box fits, get the fuck inside. In this case, I have no other way to describe his actions toward me (and people around me) than Gaslighting, and to tell you that he was/is an absolute genius at practicing his self-described Narcissistic Sociopathy. Why oh why did I not believe him when he said so??? I really thought he was being funny. That joke, was on me, so big!
The thing that has come back to haunt me most often during the time since my escape from that hell, is the palpable memory of a really wise intuition, of sinking feelings, gut-wrenching doubts, which I experienced shortly before I literally moved him into, and allowed to take over the life I had so painstakingly, so grindingly, so manically built over the past 35-plus years, out of rubble, over and over again. He was pushy in a way I interpreted, (partially because he convinced me I should), as his mad, passionate, love for me. Please read that with the sarcasm and irony I intend. In my defense, I repeat: he was damn good.
You should know, it is not that I cannot live without a man that I continue to date. It is not that I am desperate to be in a relationship, for I quite enjoy my own company, and prefer living alone. It is that I spend my life caring for others in the nastiest human follies imaginable, and sometimes, I just really fucking want someone to give me something back that I cannot get from family, friends, or friends with benefits. He made all the right noise, and I repeat: manipulation is not my default, so I don’t automatically look for it in others. And that’s the last time I will defend myself in this story.
So here’s how he got me: he presented me with enough ‘real life’ evidence for who and what he was, how/where/with whom he had lived, and how he ended up in his current life, including in terms of money. The ‘evidence’ to prove my ill-feelings about it, about him, was so vague in comparison, nothing to ‘sink my teeth into,’ so instead of doubting him, I doubted self: exactly as he had planned, exactly as he intended, exactly, I learned later, according to the minutia of the agenda he had painstakingly laid out.
And it grew. His deliberate, meticulously planned and executed manipulation of my very core. He picked apart every.single.thing about me, about my family, about what I believed in, about my emotional, psychological, creative and intellectual capacities, about what my money was for, about my physical appearance, about his distaste for me sexually, and he did it right after expounding on how I was all that and then some. And he did it all so insidiously, so covertly but in plain view, so contrarily in every way, that I really started to believe I was truly THE problem in this ‘relationship,’ while that same intuition kept trying to yell muffled screams that I was being played, in the most sinister of mind games.
It all grew inside me to the point of a physical, emotional and financial ruin that even my serious bout with drug addiction many lifetimes ago, cannot touch, when compared with this ‘broken.’ This fractured, was simply easier, and somehow more necessary, for me to hide from the worlds I occupy, than that other battle, because at this juncture, I had become Unfuckwithable to so many of the people I care about, who care about me.
By the time I started to put it all together I was so plagued with anxiety and self-doubt, which of course was part of his plan, and which he used as weapons against me. He purposely incited doubt in the minds of my family about me, and hurled all of it like so many grenades when he threatened to ‘take me out for good,’ in the four walls I was trapped in with him. The ones I paid for, along with everything else in his world for the better part of two years.
I began to think that not seeing another day sounded like a good idea, so I reached out. I called a helping professional. Someone I thought knew something about me. It didn’t go well. I got a bit of a psychobabble-platitude and words like ‘you’re too strong to let him get to you, Marcela,’ and of course the famous, ‘why don’t you just leave’? Well, I had no money left to leave with, nowhere to go, and no-how left to get there. You should also know that I know something (too much), about the statistically proven reality of women (and men) dying, after they leave abusive spouses, partners, whatever word you wish to call them, at the hands of said spouses, partners, whatever word you wish to call them. I will use the word perpetrators; of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and financial manipulation, abuse and violence.
But I digress again, sorry, no I’m not, this is not a neat and tidy story and I cannot tell it truthfully, in a neat and tidy package, in any orderly fashion, for it was a nasty, messy affair. So I come back to the falsehood of ‘unfuckwithable,’ and the words of that helping professional and the painfully invalidating (m)utterings of others, however well, or jokingly-intentioned.
Such a conversation was born of a post from me, which reflected my sarcastic truth, when someone I know was liquidating their clothing store, and selling off the remaining accoutrements of said store. It was a powerful example, at that point in my process, of what I am attempting to articulate in these pages.
I really wanted what I named the Good(Man)nequin, yes, I anthropomorphize, and play with words, among other things… in any event, I really really wanted it, for so many reasons, including that I just like odd things, things that speak to my creative (some say eccentric) sensibilities, but alas, she had already sold it by the time I saw her post. So I posted the following, along with the photo she had in her ad:
“A friend of mine was selling my potential next boyfriend and I missed out…. quite sad about it, he’s so reminiscent of many a past suitor and both ex-husbands… no head and no balls… …he would’ve made the perfect addition to my oh-so-stylish and eclectic home decor… multipurpose too, I could decorate him at Christmas, use him as a clothing rack in my closet-room… the possibilities would have been endless… ”
My friend GR, a woman I have the utmost regard and respect for, made the following comment, which at that time, felt more like salt in the wound, than anything else. Please note, I own that feeling, her words did NOT ‘make me feel.’
She said: “What a cruel tongue you have my friend.”
I responded with the following:
“I will admit that my tongue is slightly more acerbic than usual, even for my unfiltered self. However, I fail to see the point in extolling the dubious virtues of, or worse, staying silent about, men who thought it was necessary or even OK, to resort to violence of every ilk and variety when they realized I was not on this earth to do their bidding (sexually, financially, emotionally, psychologically), and while I’m up for almost any adventure, using and abusing me is not OK, ever. The level of male violence and abuse I am party to in my work world right now, and have been subjected to in my own life, in further and more recent pasts, is beyond anything I am able to filter, co-sign, or even forgive in some instances. And I believe I am finally done and done trying to be compassionate about everyone’s ‘context.’ With the exception of deliberate thought about their actions, there was nothing brainy or ballsy in the actions of both of my ex-husbands, and my most recent longer-term-live-in-liaison. Cruelty to others is the epitome of cowardice to my mind, and the acidity in my words rings more of truth, to me, than cruelty. Coates and Wade have a significant body of over 2 decades of research on this and related topics, and I have written an academic paper, or twelve, on it myself. The sharpness in my words speaks to those individuals only, who have used manipulation, control and violence, and by no means reflects my thoughts and feelings on all the men in my past, long ago or more recent, and most importantly, is not a generalized descriptor for all males of our species, from my viewpoint. My recent and current dalliance with the Sailor included, I know, have known, and loved, many a beautiful man.”
Today I would add, I have also raised one.
That comment/conversation was the beginning of the turnaround, but their initial impact, much like those of the helping professional, felt at first as though they just broke me more. It’s called Negative Social Response and there’s a huge body of research on it as well. Slowly though, those same words became the fuel to provide the flicker, which eventually (re)lit the fury of that little girl inside me. That child who learned more than any child ever should, by way of life’s most vicious and dramatic, yes, dramatic slaps, about how to a) survive, b) rebuild and c) fucking thrive not despite, but because of, those very bitch slaps, and the humans(?) and systems we choose, or end up around/in, who deliver them.
And as life will, she presented my then 25 year-old son with a bitch-slap of his own, which in turn presented itself, in the form of him, as my salvation, again.
It was his temporary presence back under my roof, which helped me find enough of the strength I am so often credited with, to make a move. A move I knew I was now safe enough, literally, in the physical sense, to follow through with. For the sociopath could not fuck with me, through my child, but especially not with that beautiful soul of a young man, in my immediate midst. For months before ‘Sunny’ came to stay, I no longer considered the roof over my (and the sociopath’s) head our home, and in the safety of my own mind considered myself single, long before I told him I was, long before I busted that all important move. But I could do it now, for this hu(man), my son, has always given me a courage and will that are not my own. Fret not at this statement, I am deeply and profoundly aware of the pitfalls of making other humans my strength, my power, and as such that is not what I mean.
And while my son’s presence in my home did not prevent the sociopath from attempting to continue his manipulations, what a narcissistic sociopath cannot possibly know, is how real love works, the kind my mother has always had for me, the kind I have for my child, the kind he has for me, the kind I have had and received from other men, and ultimately, the kind I have grown for myself over decades of hard core personal work, and the sacrifices I have chosen to make in the name of that personal work, and for that child.
It is all that, which his presence in my home, brought me back to, and while perhaps not back to my senses right away (see above under ‘trudge’), I remembered who the fuck I am, and that it was NOT, what and who the sociopath had worked so diligently to make me, and others, believe, in order to serve his own ugly ass and heart. Yes, he has an ugly heart. And perhaps someone will dig far enough into that dirty to uncover something else, but it will not be me, not even in ‘pretend-friend-land.’
This is how I became unfuckwithable (by him) in a recent, the last, text communication:
Him: “bla bla bla bla bla”
Me: I would much prefer it if there was no further communication between us. After all, I don’t even actually like you.
And then I blocked his ugly ass number.
Fast-forward to December 31st, 2017 and it is pushing 11 p.m…. I do not put much stock in New Year’s Resolutions and the like, but I have been sitting on this, with this essay, for far too long now, and while it may not be wearing its best and final edits yet, I feel a burning desire to be rid of it, the way I have exorcised myself, literally, of him, the sociopath.
On December 31st, 2014, I started an essay called ‘The year of Fly.’ Turns out, I made a series of decisions shortly thereafter, which when combined with some lifey-life-slaps, and (too) many bitch-slaps from a conscience-less-sociopathic-bitch, dressed in lover’s clothing, turned my anticipated ‘Year of Fly’ into ‘Four Years of Flop’n mop – up the tears and other messes.’
So I will press ‘publish,’ while in my head and heart, I hear and heed the words of that same glorious friend who noted the cruelty in my tongue, GR. She recently reminded me that:
“You are in possession of a cast iron Spirit, and a matching mouth… I’m sure you will prevail, after all, you’ve conquered your own demons… “
So with my well-dented but solid, and beautifully seasoned cast-iron spirit, and clad in super cozy lounging attire on this Eve of another New Year, I sense that I might actually finish that ‘Year of Fly’ essay, this day next year.
With all of my Maddest Madd love and appreciation for those of you who continue to follow me here, and support me in any beautiful way, anywhere in the worlds I occupy,
~Marcela: Not fully Unfuckwithable, but so much smoother and more non-stick.
PS: Please feel free to do your own research, I have, and continue to do mine. The links are added for your convenience only and intended as a starting point, if you feel inclined to look further.