Dear Alex

Dear Alex,

I’m sitting here thinking about our conversation from yesterday.  A big part of me wishes it never happened.  Another part of me recognizes that our conversation is something I cannot avoid or ignore anymore.

Maybe I am the one to blame since I chose to sit by you.  But for this situation and today, I won’t blame myself.  You turned to me first and asked me nonchalantly if this train was going towards Queens.  I nodded.  I took out my book and started to read.  Then you asked me if I live in Queens.  A quiet alarm went off in my head.  I knew that question was a precursor to a conversation, and honestly, perhaps unfairly, I did not feel safe to interact with you.  But that’s been my issue… never open to the possibilities of connection because of my fears.  So instead of ignoring you, as I normally would, I responded to your questions.  Where do you live?  Who do you live with?  Where are you coming from? It all seemed cordial.  You introduced yourself and I shook your hand.  Then you made a comment.  You’re so beautiful. The alarm got louder.  I said, thank you, and then looked down at my book pretending to read.  You didn’t get the hint, though.  Do you have a boyfriend? I lied.  You asked me where he is.  You have a nice smile. Louder. I like your lips. LOUDER.

I had been reading The Shack and just talking to God about what it is to love people.  To love myself.  I questioned if the way I was behaving towards you was loving.  I asked God to help me.

You’re so sweet. At this point, I couldn’t take it anymore.  My heart was pounding and I was frustrated.  So I lectured you.  I told you that you were making feel very uncomfortable and that you should not say those things to strangers.  I told you that most women would not react positively if they were approached by you in that way and that you were acting inappropriately.  I asked you to stop talking to me.  Sternly.  You finally seemed to get it and turned away from me.  You stopped talking to me.  Then it was finally your time to get off the train.  But you weren’t finished.  You turned to me one last time and said goodbye.  Have a nice life. I said bye.  Then you tried one more time.  Can I go home with you? I widened my eyes and said, no.  Absolutely not.  Why in hell would I let you do that?  You finally stepped off the train.

A part of me was afraid that you went into another car to follow me home.   I’m sorry to make that kind of judgment on you but I was feeling unsafe from our conversation and it was late. Then I turned my head and began to cry.  I had just read the other day about how many men who are constantly rejected and unable to find love turn to pornography and prostitutes.  I cried because you might be one of those men.  I cried because you probably have been rejected many times.  You are probably looking for ways to fill your emptiness.  I also cried because you made me feel like ripping off my earrings and crawling back into that oversized sweatshirt and baggy jeans of my past.  I also cried because I wanted to punch you.  Really, really hurt you.  I cried because I didn’t know how to really love you.  When it comes down to it, loving someone, loving myself – it’s just not that clear.  Life isn’t that clear.

You are probably hurting.  Just like I am.  You are probably lonely.  Just like I am.  Honestly, the things you said to me… are things I want to hear.  I want to be affirmed.  I do.  But not by you.  When I heard you, I wanted to curse you out.  And I did in my mind.

Alex, I’m sorry about how our conversation went yesterday.  I’m sorry for the harsh way I lectured you and the cold way I wrote you off from the beginning.  I hope you don’t do this regularly because I don’t want other women to experience that kind of discomfort.  I hope you were drunk, even though you denied it.  I don’t want to see you ever again, but I know I’ll bump into you sooner or later.  If not you, then someone like you.  Maybe then I’ll have another chance to figure all this out.  Until then, I’m gonna keep asking God to fill the emptiness in our hearts.  To show us a way to deal with our pain in a way that is loving to our selves and each other.

Sincerely,

cate

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5 thoughts on “Dear Alex

  1. Cate, this is amazing. I felt everything you felt, it was like I was there…and I also struggle when it comes to loving people. It’s much more natural for me to fly off the handle than it is for me to think about what they may be experiencing. And with all the weirdos crawling around new york, it makes it that much harder.

    I’m paranoid with people like that too. I admit, I do pass judgments, because you just REALLY never know…I hope to get that place of letting my guard completely down, but I admit, I am so far from it…thanks for this though it was a great read for a night owl like me 🙂

  2. Cate, thanks so much for sharing this. It saddens me greatly that you had to go through this, and that our world is what it is. I want to punch Alex too… and weep for him… and somehow live in the middle without losing all hope.

  3. Cate, you did absolutely nothing to feel bad or guilty about.In my opinion you could have been more stern.One of the basics of self defense is when your safety is at stake politness and etiquett can and should be discarded.Attackers will use a persons kindness to make them a victim. Glad you are safe.

  4. Ughhh I wanna curse guys like this out. I’m so not looking forward to men’s harassment all over the trains….actually the last few times when guys have said something (not sexual just trying to flirt by saying your beautiful/gorgeous, etc.) I’ve been looking them in the eye and bluntly saying “thank you or thanks!” Then walk away really fast, Lollll! I even said “Thank God!” one time, haha! I hope I’m not encouraging their cat call but it puts me in a better mood versus my usually F*off (if I was with a group and it was a sexual comment then yes I will curse them out but if I’m alone I ignore and run!) And yea I’m so late replying to this post just now. 😁😜

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