For a very long time, and I’m struggling with this still, I thought there really was no such thing as “good men.” I KNOW this is (probably) wrong, logically. I know several men who are awesome people, which completely disproves my own opinion. I always approach new men as default-bad because I’ve been faced with a crazy amount of first encounters that have swung that direction via cab driving.
That filter is for you, the reader, to judge my opinion:
ALL good men do bad things. All of them. At one point in their life they were a teenager, or they misbehaved, or they were drunk, or they did something super shitty and they probably feel ashamed about it. They are human, just as all women have also done something terribly shitty in their life, we’re all in the same boat.
I give forgiveness VERY selectively when Shitty Things are done to me. I always remember the Shitty Thing(s) so I can guard myself from being burned twice. When it’s not my place to forgive and I’m not even involved with the situation, I replace “forgive” with “change my judgement.” I’m also super judgy.
So here are my criteria for forgiveness/better judgement:
- Show remorse
- Offer reparations
- Show actual change of habits (which might require substantial time)
Every situation is different, obviously, so some are minor and some are major. Some require more of one of these three things than the other things. I grew up super gullible and know quite well that only the show of remorse can be a trap, especially from those you love and trust most. The way to my heart is the actual changing of habits, or even never establishing a habit and only having a one-off shitty incident because WE ALL have at least one of those.
I don’t need a bunch of pretty words, I need men to know we’re watching and judging and we get to choose when we let you into our hearts once, or again, because we have brains, autonomy, and usually actual desire to! We also, individually, get to choose when to cut people out of our lives, if that’s what we think is best for us.
I want things to change drastically right now. I’m so glad women and men are speaking out, from all sides of the political spectrum, when they’ve been targeted with terrible behavior by men in power. There needs to be this anger and examining of things, and there needs to be understanding. We need to forgive those who deserve it, be understanding of those who aren’t in our personal spaces but are in our field of influence, and most of all: offer respect and patience because it’s super hard being faced with our own bad behavior.
P.S. This message is kind of mostly a reminder to myself to be this way because I TOTALLY fly into rages and it’s really hard for me to rein that in and be patient with good people who deserve a little time to come to their fucking senses with their bad behavior. My rages tend to shunt the healthy growth of other people’s understanding of themselves (by focusing on my disproportionate reactions) and our relationship beyond that, which I’m slowly working through with a bit of professional help.
You’re not wrong. We’re all fairly terrible.