When it comes to relationships, let’s talk about the nom du jour: crazy. Crazy is what I’ve called myself when I’m not myself; when I’ve involuntarily stepped out of character and then reined myself back, like when he does eventually call me back; when I’ve gone to limits of my self-esteem and then fallen into an abyss. Crazy is what I call myself to justify my actions and frankly, I hate it.
Crazy has just replaced the other derogatory words I ignorantly used in childhood. Words such as prude, desperate, and frigid have now all been amalgamated into one fine word that myself and others bandy about with abandon. Why do we use this word? When you really look at it, why are we really calling ourselves crazy? Is it, that by calling ourselves out, we are in fact, normalizing our behavior?
Maybe, but why do we need to normalize something that is normal, to begin with? What really bothers me is the fact that deep down there is a sense of shame that comes with being our true selves. Emotional and messy are normal things to be in stressful situations that breed insecurity, like the incredibly vulnerable place in which romantic relationships live. Society might tell us to be cool and composed and restrained at every moment. But emotions, both positive and negative, are natural, human, and necessary. Just calling them “crazy” diminishes the validity of these very real feelings.
[Read Related: What Stops South Asians From Discussing Mental Health?]
At the crux of the matter is a sense of not wanting to come across as undesirable in a society that places value in composure above all else. I know this feeling all too well and I’m sure others have felt it. It’s a common trait in many relationships that, initially, we don’t tend to really be ourselves, in order to come across as more affable, more congenial, and less awkward. So we put their particular idiosyncrasies and our polarizing opinions on hold for a moment in order to be likable. If we do have a fit of texting incessantly, we just blame it on the case of the crazies. It was a one-off. I’m not normally like that.
This creates an inherent dichotomy of “cool girl” vs. “crazy,” neither of which extreme would describe us, but just creates stereotypes for us to easily categorize people without nuanced thought. And in our deep desire not to be relegated to the negative end of the spectrum, lest we ourselves begin to think we belong there, we are willing to put in the work it takes to be the opposite. Especially in South Asian society when so much value is placed in finding a long-term partner.
But why is it so bad to reveal all? I do really wonder why there is this fine juxtaposition of “be yourself” and “don’t get crazy!” in society. During the early stages of my relationship, I would make the schoolboy error of revealing all my feelings during an argument. After the storm had subsided I would do a post-mortem run down with my friends. I remember one particular instance when one friend gently insisted that, should this argument ever arise again, I should call them. I was not, under any circumstance, to vomit all my emotions over my partner ever again, lest he consider me crazy. Is this just a part of easing a partner into learning who you are, or setting a false foundation for the relationship?
I didn’t entirely listen, but as the years progressed I did notice that my ‘crazy’ episodes had subsided somewhat and that my deep insecurities were less frequently rearing their ugly little heads.
On the other hand, is it such a terrible idea to initially keep your cards hidden when those insecurities driving crazy moments might fade in the long run? I have friends who confess that they relay all their most trifling anxieties to their friends before they broach the subjects with their partners and they feel all the better for it. I also have friends who consistently rerun their actions to exhaustively analyze any teeny action that might be considered as off-putting or weird.
It’s curious because on the one hand there’s this very pure and simple ‘f**k them’ attitude every time I hear one of these stories. On the other hand, I understand the pressure to not come across as any of the aforementioned characteristics. For me, there was a definite molotov cocktail of anxieties, panic-inducing fear and possible hysteria driving this pitiful ‘cool girl’ routine. It was the fear of driving someone away with crazy moments and not successfully snagging a long-term partner. Yes, I wanted to be cool. But I really didn’t know how.
Insecurities are definitely at the helm of most of our actions and that’s universally relatable. At the end of the day, perhaps the chemistry we tend to feel, is simply the result of someone’s hard work and tenacity to not rock the boat.
All I know is that it’s natural to let some of my vulnerabilities and insecurities show. Nothing can be kept hidden forever. I don’t know when and I’m not sure how but if, in the future, the word crazy slips out, instead of cowering, maybe I can acknowledge that I’ve let the true me slip through. Maybe I can pat myself on the back for being a little honest. And maybe, just maybe, I can be okay with it.