18 June 2015

A Man's Word

When I was in elementary school and the face of classmate of mine lit up as I told him about this celebrity I was crazy about and he promised he had his poster and he’ll get it for me the next day, I got very excited. I thought it was very nice and generous of him and I couldn’t wait to stick that new poster on the wall neighbouring the gazillion other posters that probably fed my susceptibility to asthma attacks in later years. The next day, he didn’t bring the poster. Nor did he the day after. Nor the week after. Nor the month after. Never.

A short while later I requested my father to help out with something at home. He said he’ll take care of it. He didn’t.

I began assuming that’s just how men are. They say things they don’t stick to. They just blurt them out in the spur of the moment. And then they go about being in their own world with absolutely no regard to the promises they made. I began to not believe almost anything the men in my life said.

It didn’t help that I had the tendency to get attached to words, places and people, something I only recently managed to relatively be able to be aware of and manage.

And I don’t know if it was just me, but this pattern continued. The women in my life seemed to generally stick to their word. The men didn’t.

Two years ago, a couple of days after my birthday in August, my ex “promised” to put a ring on my finger by the end of the year. He never did. We broke up and he disappeared forever a week before Christmas.

I don’t get it. I don’t understand whether it is a behavioural pattern I attract because of an assumption I made in elementary school. Or whether I take things a bit too literally and naively believe the things said to me and get attached to them. Or whether this is an actual difference in the way women and men naturally communicate.

What’s ironic is that in the Arab world, “a man’s word” is meant to really mean you do believe what you hear and take it as the genuine and ultimate truthful promise that will be implemented. However, I generally reaped nothing but disappointments one after the other from believing this “man’s word”. Unfortunately, I don’t find it easy to believe what the men in my life express in terms of their feelings. My faith in their word is shaken. A promise to check out that new sushi bar next week is as good to me as a paper boat floating by the shallow shore, and, “I love you” lingers at the door of my heart for a while before I can melt to it and let its sweetness cautiously sink in.

I am disappointed. I know this sounds harsh. I know this is personal. I know this is the effect of a masculine tradition clashing with the reality that gender has little to do with how truthful and sincere your spoken word is. I know that the intention is what matters, and I need to let go, let go, let go. Yet this little girl inside of me, at this hour in the night, is still disappointed she never got that bloody poster.

Amal - June 2015

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