I've had a profile on a dating site for months and months now. I haven't been asked out on a date, I've only had two or three people send messages to me, and I've only had a couple people respond when I write. I happened to look at my "personality" bar graph page, and the top thing, the most glaring was "more arrogant". Hmmm. The second on the list is "more kind". Kind and arrogant. I feel like I'm collecting a stack of green apple cards at the end of a game of "apples to apples". Clearly, their algorithm doesn't work for me. Should I answer questions that I think make me sound arrogant (like "are you a genius?" to which I answered, honestly, based on the results of many, many tests--IQ tests and the like--I've taken over many years, "yes") with dishonest answers that make me seem less confident? "More confident" is not an option. "More self-assured" is not an option. Or maybe I should just chuck the whole dating site account because it's utter bullshit and it only makes me feel more sad and lonely.
Anyway, I admit that I did let that "arrogant" label get to me. Maybe I come off as arrogant? Maybe not putting up with bullshit is arrogance? Maybe not being vulnerable comes off as arrogance?
I don't let myself be vulnerable. Growing up in an abusive household where it was always open season on me, the "black sheep" (what made me the black sheep anyway? I'll tell ya: I wasn't a wanted pregnancy. I was an "oops" baby, and I made the mistake of being an "oops" GIRL baby.), anything that I did that caused me to pop-up into someone's sites was reason enough to get beat up or made fun of or ganged up on. Being, or seeming, vulnerable was like throwing bloody steaks into a pool of sharks, KWIM? But, I have always been a very sensitive person, so I created a protective personality to draw fire (punk rocker with mohawk), and then I hid my true self, my vulnerable self. Sometimes I'd let it come out, alone, in my room. Still, that's the most likely circumstance under which I will let myself be vulnerable.
However, there are situations in which I am made vulnerable, simply due to biology. Pregnancy, childbirth, all the stuff around reproduction, those are vulnerable times, and there's nothing I could have ever done to make it any other way.
When my kids were both quite little--I think T was about 18 months and L was like 4 years, I got pregnant. It was the first pregnancy I had experienced where I was excited and thrilled and happy. With L-dawg, because I was single and in the Navy and on a ship, I got sexually harassed by the captain of the ship. No kidding, it was awful. And I went through a lot more shit around that. Then I had tumors and surgery and surgical menopause at 25, and my cruel, cruel sister kept lecturing me about the evils of overpopulation, as if THAT were the problem. And then I got pregnant with my miracle baby, T-Dizzle, and the FAX wanted me to have an abortion, and I didn't tell my bio-fam about the pregnancy because they had been so fucking mean to me when I'd had surgery and menopause. And I had a hard pregnancy with T, I was so alone. so lonely, so depressed, so poor, my car was stolen two weeks before her due date, the people who were supposed to be my postpartum support ALL flaked, and I had a totally psycho midwife who threatened and berated me while I was in labor, and then called me a homophobe when I tried to complain to the midwifery community. But when I got pregnant again, things with the FAX were more stable, I didn't feel like I had to hide or be ashamed, I had friends who were supportive, I had a wonderful midwife who was super happy to work with me. I was excited. I felt so much love for myself and what was going on inside my body.
And then I had a miscarriage, at about 13 weeks. And, as before, my support eroded. I didn't have family to talk to about it, the people I considered my friends, I realized that I couldn't rely on them or be open with them. The FAX wouldn't listen to me "complain about this AGAIN" (this, he said, within the first week, while I was still bleeding). I was devastated, and vulnerable, physically as well as emotionally, but no-one helped. No-one listened, no-one hugged me, except my kids, but that was a different thing than what I needed.
I could never go through that again. I could never handle that kind of loss, alone, bleeding, no-one to turn to, on such a physical level that I couldn't walk or run or scream or get away from it because it was happening inside me. It wasn't just the loss of that baby, it was the loss of having a do-over, too. I wanted a nice pregnancy, a beautiful birth. I had only had shit around that stuff before. I wanted "not shit", but that wasn't going to happen. I also never really got the chance to mourn MY loss. I just kept taking care of my kids and my household and the FAX.
I got pregnant twice after that. I had two abortions--for many, many complex reasons. One of the reasons, however, was that I just couldn't bear to hope, to be vulnerable, to risk another loss like that.
Arrogant? Maybe. Protective? Definitely. Vulnerable? Not.