STRIPPED: FANGS & ALL

Hello, dearest readers. I hope you are all safe and well- though if you’re having a tough time, trust me when I say you are not alone, and I hope you feel better soon. ♥️

This post turned out to be a lot more personal than I originally intended, but considering the fact that May is “Mental Health Awareness Month,” and that the whole point of this little photo/essay series is to be raw and real with you, I hope sharing these thoughts helps to comfort you and make you feel more understood, even while in isolation. 

 It could be upsetting for some, and uplifting for others, or both, or neither. Maybe it will make you laugh, or help you reach some sort of clarity in your own life. The point is that it’s real, and if it makes at least one person feel like less of a misfit, then I’ll consider my mission, accomplished. 

In the previous post, you met the version of me that leads with sweetness and a hint of a bite, but here, you will meet the other side of the “Kaleigh coin” (*I’m sure my fellow Geminis can especially relate🌓🥴😅).

Welcome to my most monstrous yet vulnerable inner monologue- or, as my queen Lzzy Hale would say-“welcome to the nightmare in my head…” 🎶💀💋

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*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to Halestorm

I hate to admit it, especially during a global crisis when I should be thinking about millions of other important things, but lately my mind has been analyzing a conflict that drove an important potential “love interest” away, and pretty much all the others. 

**Yep. That’s right. This is about boy troubles. 🙄🙃Because when my mind doesn’t want to think about the uncertainty of my career and future, or the death and devastation consuming the world, or the unknown of what exactly our “new world” will be like, it instead escapes to the land of dating dilemmas, as well as the soul-searching and psycho-analyzation that inevitably follows. I know it seems pathetic, and these problems are completely trivial and privileged compared to all the others, but it’s been one of my core distractions during this strange time in quarantine, and exploring it in writing has proven to be extremely helpful. So grab some popcorn (and maybe some wine👀🍷), and enjoy the damn bloody mess I made.🩸**

The conflict I’m referring to, of course, is my “intensity.” The recurring issue of men feeling like they’re not able to “reciprocate” or “match” me. The fact that this is still a problem in my romantic life perplexes me, since I always try to be genuine and honest from the beginning; if it bothers them so much, you’d think they’d get out quick and save us both the time and misery. But my guys don’t do that. They stick around just long enough for me to catch feelings. They indecisively linger- despite me half-jokingly warning them to run for their lives (*they always assume I’m just being “cute” or “dramatic”). THEN, after they’ve wasted a significant amount of my time, they decide to leave. 🤷🏻‍♀️

youre not like other girls
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful creator. 

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darling im the wolf
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful artist and S.R.W.

I fight so hard to avoid this seemingly inevitable heartbreak, and yet it’s never enough. I’m at a point in my life where I show my true self from the start. Everything after that is merely a reiteration or explanation to further support what I’ve already shown. It took me years to shatter the protective facades I’d put up for most of my life, and even though I’ll admit I felt a sense of relief from that freedom, it’s now tainted by self-blame and disgust, because the only constant in this toxic pattern seems to be me.

she burns herself downjpg
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful author.

More disappointingly, even though I’m well aware that this is a cycle, I STILL grow more surprised and upset with each new destruction of a connection or potential relationship, and I don’t know why. I spend most of my time warning them that I’m a “nightmare” and that they should run, and then when they finally listen to me, I’m shocked and confused.🤣 It’s exhausting. I should know better, I should see it coming, but even after all this time, I still am never prepared for their abrupt exit from my life. 

Perhaps it’s the timing of it all. It feels wrong to hide from them, so instead I hit them with as much as I can to essentially test their limits; I “self-sabotage” or scare them away as a defense mechanism (trust issues, “daddy issues,”- I’ve got allllll the issues), a carefully crafted plan to sooner trigger the inevitable end, but when they withstand all of that- or, even more confusingly- when they say that they LIKE it, the hopeless romantic in me (yes, she exists🥵) starts to believe that maybe this time will be “different.” Maybe this one will stay long enough to see me at my most vulnerable. Maybe this one will be someone I can truly trust…

The person I met a few months ago did all of these things. It was a terrifying yet satisfying relief to experience that with someone who finally seemed to have the mental/emotional capacity to understand me. But perhaps that’s wherein lies my constant downfall- I’ve spent my whole life wishing for someone to understand me, I always assumed that being liked and understood went hand in hand. 

I can now confirm that they do not.

I have since learned that it’s possible for someone to truly see you, to be enamored with you, to really get to know you (even in a relatively short amount of time), and still not feel any meaningful connection to you- or at least not a strong enough one to deem you “worthy” of their time and affection. MIND. BLOWN.🤯

I hope this is the only and final time I have to learn this lesson (though I have a feeling the Fates won’t necessarily be that kind). I certainly wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else.

It’s all fine and well at first…they praise me for my “compelling” personality and “unique” style, saying they love my little “novels” when I text them and how “expressive” I am when I talk to them, and then out of the blue they make me feel like I’m all of a sudden being “too much,” even though I’m just matching what I’d been doing all along. It happens in a matter of days or weeks. It’s as if they either fall for the “vixen femme fatale” idea of me, or the “innocent, awkward nerd” version– they can never seem to like/love and accept BOTH. No matter how much I try to explain that both personas are 100% core parts of who I am, they can’t wrap their heads around it— and these men are exceptionally intelligent (yeah, I have a “type” 🥴), so why can’t they comprehend something as simple as a woman embodying a multi-faceted personality?

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*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful creator. 

(*I think society’s “Madonna/Whore Complex” is partially to blame- but I already covered that absurdity in my previous essay, so I’ll spare you the repetitive rant). 😅

Then, to add even more insult to injury, they feel SORRY for me- to the point where they can’t even tell me the truth, even though they know I have extreme trust issues and know I’ll most likely figure out that they’re lying and why. They PITY me. Because they’re “good” boys. They’re “nice” guys. And that’s somehow WORSE than just being randomly ghosted or cheated on by a thoughtless asshole, because they think they’re doing the “right” thing. They think their reaction is normal and appropriate for my obscure personality. “Poor them” for being caught in such a difficult position and made to feel like the “villain”- and “shame on me” for somehow “entrapping” them in that role. Prince Charming couldn’t possibly be the monster, so it therefore must be me. Not exactly the “fairytale romance” everyone wishes for. 

call me villain poem
*Excerpt from Amanda Lovelace’s the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

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It then only further perpetuates the cycle of my trust issues, because every time a guy praises me for my “quirks,” I’m always going to think/fear that they’ll soon change their mind, because they ALWAYS DO, and then I’m stuck not knowing if my anticipatory distrust in them is what caused the disconnect, or if they just genuinely got tired of me.

So the saga continues…

My fangs get sharper.

My mind gets darker.

My heart gets colder.

My soul gets emptier.

fangs collage- white background
*I do not own the fang images on the right. Credit belongs to rightful artists.

I have to go to war with myself time and again, even though I want nothing more than a peace of mind and unified sense of self. 

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*Excerpt from Courtney Peppernell’s Pillow Thoughts II.

 I hate that I make people feel that way, just by being myself. I hate that I try to get ahead of it and “warn” them (which is fucked up in and of itself- I shouldn’t have to always feel like I need to apologize in advance for being a genuine individual). I hate when they assure me that they like who I am and don’t want me to change a thing; I try so hard to go against my realistic nature and believe them, because I never hide anything, so I figure if they not only tolerate- but actually LIKE- the firestorm I’m throwing at them, then they must be telling the truth…because why else would they share their time with someone they just met if they don’t technically have any obligation to me?

But they stay only long enough to get under my skin, and it’s just when I’m about to trust them a little, when I think they might actually have meant what they said and will be in my life for a while, that they RIP THE CORD and leave me to fall into the abyss.

Every. Single. Time. 

never crave the rose
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful creator & Anne Bronte. 

And with this pandemic heightening everything, it’s only going to get worse. My brain was already wired in “apocalypse mode” BEFORE the end of the world, so now I’m just going to be even more intense to match the new reality, and I can’t tone it down because then it feels like I’m not being my true self, and what’s the point of letting someone “get to know you” if you’re not even being real with them in the first place? It’s a waste of time if you hide yourself, and a waste of time if you don’t; and despite my experiments and efforts, I can’t seem to find a way to be “authentically mysterious”- giving them genuine bits and pieces of myself over an extended span of time, without shoving everything down their throats right from the start. There’s also the added battle of having to walk the fine line of being written off as “boring” if you try to keep things simple and basic, or “intense” when you try to express yourself honestly and compassionately. 

return to gone away poem
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful artist and Tyler Knott Gregson.

 I’m just exhausted. I’m tired of hearing that these crushing and devastating encounters are “lessons.” Why do the few people I want always have to be a (mostly negative and disappointing) “learning opportunity,” when most of the people around me get to fall in love and be loved- or even just liked- in return? 

It makes me wonder what men really mean when they say they “love powerful women”- are they attracted to the passion, independence, intelligence, and genuineness of this exceptional,”ideal” woman, or do they just get off on the idea of how challenging and rewarding it would be to strip her power (and clothes) away, and convince her to come down from her throne, only to leave her vulnerable, alone, and powerless in the end, as they abandon her and move on to another conquest once they’ve taken what they wanted? 

The logic, I assume, is if you can convince a woman who doesn’t “need” anyone to decide that she actually wants you, then you must be the best, most powerful king of a man in all the universe. The ego is satisfied for a short while, until it inevitably gets hungry again, and yearns for fresh blood…

Just as innocence is fetishized, so is independence. 

It’s just another challenge. A different level of the same game. A tortured, insecure soul with a pseudo sense of self confidence looking to suck the self love and respect from a genuinely confident, strong soul, until there’s nothing left of them. Then, from this heartbreak, another tortured, insecure soul is created, further perpetuating the cycle, and it goes on and on and on and on and on and on, until everyone is broken. 

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*Excerpt from Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales.
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*The SFX blood was made by my talented friend, Shaynelle Francis!🩸🖤 Shay’s blood is the best blood. 😈🩸Check out her site, Shaynelle’s Bloody Emporium, for all things creepy and cute!💀💋

I know what you’re thinking:

That’s extremely dramatic and depressing, Kaleigh, there has to be SOME way to break that toxic cycle…” 

The trick, of course, is to have so much love and respect for yourself stored up, that even in your darkest moments, you never compromise your worth, because you know in your heart and soul that you’ll survive the pain. It takes time. It takes work. And unfortunately, it takes a lot of heartbreak. But if you invest in that growth, you’ll ultimately become invincible. 

I, myself am admittedly not there yet (if you couldn’t already tell from these angsty posts🥴). I’m in more of a “baby groot” phase of growth– and yes, that involves a lot of dancing adorably around my room, thanks for asking. 😉🌱

giphy
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to Marvel Studios.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

I’m tired of being described as “intimidating” or “intense” or “emotional” in a negative context. Men say or imply this to me all the time. Even the “nice” guys. Even the “good” boys. I even get it from the “dominant” men, who-by their own definition- should technically be the more “intimidating” ones. 👀🤷🏻‍♀️🙄 But despite this exhaustion, I now realize that I’m not “intimidating,” they’re just intimidated from their own insecurities, and I can’t sacrifice myself to feed their insatiable egos any longer. 

confidence poem
*Excerpt from Amanda Lovelace’s the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

I pride myself in being a direct, honest, compassionate person. I communicate what’s important from the beginning. If my passion is too wild for you, if my fangs are too sharp, if my mind is too strange, if my heart is too sincere, then don’t even dare waste a single second of my time making me believe otherwise. 

i want them to flinch
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful artist/writer.

Being a monster isn’t always equivalent to being the villain (*no matter how much leather I may be wearing). I can’t keep carrying the burden of feeling personally responsible and to blame for all of the terrible things people- particularly men- have said and/or done to me. 

girls of the wild
*Excerpt from Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales.
Gaga countess collage- white bg
*I do not own the Lady Gaga images. Credit belongs to rightful photographers, and the producers of American Horror Story: Hotel

I love that “Rose” is part of my name, because I truly identify with what that flower represents: a combination of delicacy and ferocity, softness and harshness, vulnerability and strength. This is who I am, or at least who I hope to be. 🥀🌹

be a rose with thorns
*Excerpt from r.h. Sin and Samantha King Holmes’ We Hope This Reaches You in Time.

Accepting and understanding this personality paradox was my first challenge. The next one will be finding that balance within myself, and determining the difference between being fetishized/idealized for who I am, and being genuinely appreciated for it in regards to relationships (no matter how casual or serious). 

dont be afraid of the solitude from raising your standards
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful artist and Ebonee Davis.

Being both genuine and mischievous is a tough energy to match, but it’s what I want, and I refuse to waste my time on someone who can’t be my equal; but the other side of that battle is that I have to believe I’m their equal as well. 

And therein lies the most difficult challenge of them all: to fully embrace my passionate intensity, and never again step down from my throne to elevate someone I like/love onto a higher pedestal, but rather, inspire them to rise to my level and sit beside me, so that we may rule and share our lives and experiences together.

a little wicked
*I do not own this image. Credit belongs to rightful artist and Valerie Broussard (*lyrics from her song, “A Little Wicked”).

I don’t know what will happen in the future- it’s uncertain on many levels for several reasons, on both a global and personal scale… 

red riding hood
*Excerpt from Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales.

…I just hope I can continue to grow into the woman I’m meant to be- fangs and all. 😉💋

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Xx,

K 

* Inspirational Songs of Choice:

“Mz. Hyde”- Halestorm

“Maneater”- Nelly Furtado

“Bad Guy”- Billie Eilish

“Nightmare”- Halsey

“Big Bad Wolf”- In This Moment

“STFD”- TeZATalks

“I’m About to Break You”- New Years Day

“Devil on My Shoulder”- Faith Marie

“Reflection (Epic Version)”- Samuel Kim

“A Little Wicked”- Valerie Broussard

 

 

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