Category Archives: Who The Hell Am I? & Other Stuff You Ask Yourself
“Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity…This mismatch between sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings that are called gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It is not a mental illness.” (source: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx )
When you hear the phase “body dysphoria” it is usually in the context of the transgender experience. A man or woman is describing the way they feel towards the mismatch of their body parts and their gender, because for whatever reason, they want the traditional man=penis+testicles, woman=vagina+uterus+breasts equation (not all trans people feel this way, but for argument’s sake I’m focusing on the ones that do). But then there are people like me, whose gender is not so black and white, that aren’t accounted for in that equation.
People understand the transgender experience because it fits in the male/female binary; it boils down to being the opposite of what everyone perceives you to be. But there is no script for being genderqueer like there is for being a man or woman; there’s no set way a genderqueer person is supposed to look. So I guess you could say our relationships with our bodies are…complicated.
I’ve read things online about genderqueer body dysphoria before, and it seems everyone’s experience is different. Some people want a mix or male/female parts, some people want the entire male/female connotation removed from the description of their body, some people are happy with what they were born with and the male/female status of their body, some people want the “opposite” of what they were born with. In a way, it’s nice not to have pressure to get any surgeries or start hormone therapy, but on the other hand it leaves a gaping hole where there would normally be some sort of frame-of-reference. I can’t just do what everyone else is doing, or do what society sees as the “genderqueer body”; I must sort through my feelings about every part of my body…searching for what I see as “me”.
Though there has been a lot of relief with mostly coming out as genderqueer, there has also been a lot of frustration. Most people don’t use my they/them pronouns, and most still see me as a woman (or girl, if they are being infantile about it). And most of the time I hate it. It makes me feel so angry inside to constantly be put in a box where I don’t belong…”I’M NOT A GIRL!” I want to scream. But usually I don’t say anything because I either don’t want people to feel bad, don’t want to be judged, or have to explain myself. It gets sort of exhausting after a while to try to teach people over and over what you are, especially after living a life where everyone assumed things correctly. People mean well, but it feels sort of alienating to have to explain something so integral about yourself as your gender. No one asks men or women to explain what a man or woman is, or when they knew they were one, but they do with me.
I hate being different sometimes. I hate that people see my body, my face and use it against me—to label me as something I’m trying so hard not to be. No matter how flat my boobs seem to look, people still know I have them and talk about them in a feminine way. No matter how skinny I get, people see me as having hips and an ass that is different from men’s. I can’t see to get away from “woman”…but I don’t want to get rid of parts of my body in order to be seen as something else. I don’t want a penis so I can be “manly”; I want people to see the masculine parts of my personality and know that I can be “manly” as I already am. But looking past the boobs and smooth face requires more work than most people are willing to put in.
So I look in the mirror at my body and feel mixed up. Sometimes I love it as is, other times I wish my boobs weren’t there, or that the curves I was once so proud of would even out… My body now is everything I wanted as a teen: skinny, feminine, mature; but now it doesn’t match how I feel on the inside. Everyone calls it female, making me feel so disconnected and sometimes resentful of it. As someone who has struggled hard to love themselves as they are, this makes me feel even angrier. I want to love my body as it is, but it seems to be the source of almost all of the misgendering that happens to me.
I know in a lot of ways I have it easy. My breasts are easier to bind since they are now smaller, and my skinniness makes guy clothes fit easier (though I definitely do still have trouble finding the right fit). My race also helps, since masculinity is not as hyped up as it seems to be in other races and ethnicities. But even with all this privilege, it will never measure up to the privilege I had as a cisgendered woman.
There’s freedom in being something that society has yet to define, but there’s also loneliness in it. My experience as a genderqueer person is so hard to relate to because I am often the only genderqueer person people have met. I guess that means I can sort of set the tone for what “genderqueer” means in my area…but I don’t want the weight of that burden. I just want to be me…why can’t people see that? Why can’t they see how uncomfortable they are making me when they call me a girl? Why can’t they understand that my gender has nothing to do with theirs, and that my existence isn’t affecting their femininity or masculinity at all? Why can’t people just accept me? Why can’t people just accept me?
For the record: I love women, and I loved being a woman while I felt I was one, but I’m not a woman. I shouldn’t represent women any more, or be asked to speak for them and their current experiences. Yes, I did identify as one and had experiences in that cisgendered phase of my life, but that’s not who I am now. I don’t want to speak for women anymore; I want to speak for genderqueer people…people like me.
All my life, I’ve been searching for answers.
Like most little kids, my favorite question was “Why?” I’d ask my mom about everything and anything, wanting to know why people did the things they did, how things worked, and what my mom thought about them.
As a teenager, I explored different experiences to find who I was and who I wasn’t. I tried being the over-achiever, the slacker, the arty kid, the theater kid, the choir kid, the daredevil, the music snob, the loner, and the social butterfly (at least as much as I could manage it).
Now, I’m a young adult. I’ve got an idea of how the world works and who I am. But like most young adults, I’ve struggled with another big question: what do I want in life?
For the past few months, this question has been interrupting my life almost every waking moment. It all started with my ex Jessie telling me that all of his relationships have fallen apart because he’s still in love with me. While this wasn’t exactly a shocking revelation, it still threw me off guard and left me thinking, “What am I supposed to do with this information?” That got me looking at my current relationship with my boyfriend Fred. Would our relationship allow me to pursue my dreams of traveling in the future? Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. And then I started thinking about the other big black hole in my future: my degree and my career. I thought I knew what I wanted, but the hoops I have to jump through to get there sound miserable. So, all day everyday I have been thinking, “What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?”
The more I realized I hadn’t thought things out, the more questions seemed to be hurdled at me: do I want to get a Ph.D? Do I want to be in a relationship with Jessie? Am I willing to give up on travel? What type of job should I pursue if I don’t get my Ph.D? Would I be willing to let Jessie go? Would I be willing to let Fred go? Should I just be on my own? Should I start traveling now? What do I do if I take a year off? How did I not think about all of this before now?
The trouble with happiness (as weird as it sounds) is that you quit questioning things. The way that sadness makes you hyper-analyze your life, happiness makes you under-analyze your life. After all, if you’re happy, why should things change? Isn’t that the goal, to be happy?
When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to change peoples’ lives. Probably not in a fancy way, like being president or discovering a planet, but changing them in a small, meaningful way. That’s why I chose to pursue psychology, so I could help people manage their everyday lives. I also knew I wanted to travel, to see every continent (except maybe Antarctica) and discover how other people live, and how different life could be. I held these two goals close to my heart and promised myself that no matter how far away they seemed, that I would do them because that is just who I am…I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have these goals.
Now, I’m in my early twenties, and I feel as though every decision I make right now will influence whether or not those goals will become accomplished. I’m terrified of waking up in ten years, stuck, and wishing I had done something different. I’m terrified of choosing wrong, and being unable to make it right.
So I had to make a choice. It all happened in one night, when I sat down with my mom and told her everything I had been thinking. I didn’t exactly want her to tell me what I should do, more like her perspective. What did she want when she was my age? Did she get what she wanted? What about the things she didn’t get—does she regret the decisions that stopped her from getting them? What happened? What changed?
Basically, that conversation with her reminded me of every other moment of doubt in my life. Time after time, I’d feel so lost and helpless…and what did I do? I did what I had to. I chose a college, I chose a degree, I chose to drop out, I chose to go to therapy and get medication, I chose to go back to school. I’ve always done what I had to, and when I found myself lost again I made a change. No matter what has happened, when I’ve had no other choice than to trust myself, I’ve ended up happy and content in the end.
So I chose to make it work with my boyfriend, and try to let Jessie go. I chose to pick a career within psychology that would get me a job easily, so I could have the money to go back to school later if I didn’t like it. I chose to make a choice—to suck it up, pick a direction, and trust that I’d take myself where I needed to go.
Weeks later, I’m more or less the same. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to get into grad school, and I’m still working on letting go of Jessie, despite not talking to him for weeks. But I feel better, I feel confident in a weird way. I may still be a little lost, but I know it won’t last forever. Eventually I’ll move on to different problems, circumstances in my life will change, and I’ll still be the one calling the shots. The problems I’m stuck on now will seem smaller; the insecurities I face will have faded. Life goes on.
So maybe down the road I’ll change my grad school plans. Maybe I’ll decide to travel on my own. Maybe it won’t work out with Fred, maybe it will be too late with Jessie. No matter how scary it gets, no matter what happens, it’s going to be okay. I’ve kept myself safe thus far, and I know I’ll do it again.
This weekend I went to Florida to visit my cousin. It was decided about three weeks ago, while I was at work running around and stressed, that I needed a vacation. Amidst all the chaos of the dinner rush, I was worrying about my ex and my feelings and the upcoming school year…just worrying, freaking out, stressing out, and doing it all at the wrong time. Fuck, I thought to myself, this is how I’ve spent my whole summer. Just working at this mediocre job and putting off all the things I’d say I’d do. So instead of working on promises I made to myself like reading a book or trying my hand at painting, I decided to take up my cousin’s offer from March to come visit her in Florida. I texted her right then and there, and we planned my visit for later in the month.
The next morning I woke up and thought, Oh god what did I do? It’s not like my cousin and I were close—there’s almost a ten-year gap in our ages, and the only real time we had spent together was when she helped me get her old college job when I decided to go to the same university she went to. Shortly after that bonding, she packed her bags and moved to Florida, and we hadn’t talked much since. So what was I doing, going to stay with her? What would we do or even talk about? I shook my head and cursed my impulsiveness…this was one plan I couldn’t back out of.
Luckily, I found a cheap round-trip flight that lasted the weekend. I was able to take off work, and my cousin was able to pick me up at the airport. Before I knew it, I was on a plane. Just like my trip to Central America, I had zero expectations and told myself that no matter what I’d make the best of this trip. So that was Friday. And now, in the wee hours of Monday morning, all that is left of my mini vacation is the trip back home.
Surprisingly, this trip has given me a lot of fresh perspective. I thought I’d use this time to think, sort out the jumble of feelings in my head and figure out what I’d like my future to look like, but instead I was a sponge absorbing the life my cousin has built for herself.
To give you some background, my cousin moved to Florida with her boyfriend about two years ago. One year ago, the relationship dissolved and left her in a state where she hardly knew anyone, in a lonely apartment, and in a relationship status she hadn’t been in for ten years. But she stuck around, because she had a good job and a lease to maintain. Basically, she had to rebuild her life and figure out who she was again. (Sound vaguely familiar?)
I’ve come to witness her strength and resilience despite all the crap that she’s been through. It’s pretty inspiring, though she still remains unsure of herself and what her future will be. She still gets lonely and sad about the whole thing, for sure, but she’s also very determined, and it’s damn impressive. On her fridge is a message she wrote to herself about remaining positive…in her apartment is a bunch of decorations she’s recently bought to make the place seem more homey and like hers…all weekend she practiced training with her dog because they are in an obedience class…on her counter is a routine of exercises she’s working on in order to become more fit…in her stories is a new family of friends that she’s grown close to and relies upon—she is moving forward and trying new things, for her. Watching it all in front of me, I wondered, when was the last time I did something I wanted to do for myself, by myself? I never could come up with answer.
On Saturday night we took a walk on the beach. Moonlight guided our bare feet through the sand as we discussed things like traveling abroad and surviving our teen years. I realized that everything I was talking about with her was actually about myself and my own private experiences, and not something I had done or shared with someone else. Her stories were very much the same. It made me feel like my life was my own, like I felt back in high school before I had ever dated or back when I went off to college. Why don’t I feel like this all the time? Just because I’m in a relationship doesn’t mean my life isn’t my own…why does this feel different from my everyday life back at home? Suddenly all the personal baggage I imagined revealing to my cousin didn’t need to be poured out…I didn’t want to confide or be consoled…I wanted to make new experiences, just like my cousin.
From the time I was seventeen, I have hidden myself in the security of relationships for fear of loneliness, depression, and asking myself the big questions: what do I really want? Why am I not doing it? What is holding me back? Subconsciously, this effort to protect myself has been the backbone of almost every problem in the last three years…every moment of uncertainty, of choosing a path, of moving forward has been about protecting my relationship with someone or developing my relationship with someone. And where has it gotten me? Scrambling inside my head, still questioning whether all of my decisions are the right ones. Fuck, I thought, maybe I should just quit the mental dialogue and just do the things I want to do. Sometimes life doesn’t need to have some big fairy tale lesson or conclusion.
Being on your own is harder than relying on a partner during the everyday issues we encounter in life. But on your own, you learn so much more…this weekend I learned that I like eating fruit in the morning and doing puzzles while a movie is on in the background. I learned that I like reading before bed and that snacking on cheese, meat, and crackers with wine is sometimes preferable to eating a regular meal. I learned that I love walking on the beach barefoot at night, and that walking around outside in the afternoon breeze can be just as relaxing as staying indoors. So when I go home later today I’m going to try to take some of this with me. I’m going to make more of an effort to take care of myself, for myself. I don’t want to keep waiting until shit hits the fan—until I’m forced to—to take some time out for the things I want. I’m going to go out and find what I’m looking for…status quo be damned.
Sometimes people have the luxury of reducing their identity down to one thing. “I’m a writer.” “I’m a partner to SoandSo.” “I’m a student.” “I’m a traveler.” “I’m a democrat.” You get my drift. This can be a really nice thing, because it can give a person a sense of purpose, a direction for their life. Or, even if it doesn’t give a direction, it can soothe the existential crisis in their hearts because they finally have a name for who they are—they can put a word to a feeling. But not all people have this luxury; some people feel hopeless disconnection with the rest of the world and everyone in it.
I bet you can guess which type of person I am right now.
When most people are going through a rough time they stop and examine their identities—you know, they start hanging out with their friends, they pick up an old hobby, they go home to their family. Going back to your roots is an important part of the healing process, because it reminds you that you used to exist (and do an adequate job of existing) before your crisis. But sometimes a person has nothing to go back to—nothing seems to quench the pain, nothing is comforting enough to cling onto. So they spiral…they are like a dying star, collapsing onto themselves until they implode. And when they implode, everyone likes to shrug and say stuff like, “Well, if they needed help so badly, they could have come to me. Geez, it’s not that complicated.”
Here’s the thing, it is complicated. When a person without an identity or a support system has depression, their first instinct is basically everything you know they shouldn’t do. They don’t want to call a friend, they don’t want to go to the doctor, they don’t want to go see a funny movie and they don’t want to take a hot bath. The first instincts of depression always are along the lines of: do nothing, say nothing, pretend everything is fine, curl up in a ball and cry, stare at the walls until you don’t feel anything, drink until you don’t feel anything, smoke until you don’t feel anything, do anything that makes you feel nothing, entertain ideas about walking out in front of traffic, etc. And this isn’t a little devil on your shoulder telling you to do these things, it’s your brain. Your brain, the essence of who you are, is telling you to essentially give up. Not only is that completely fucked up, it’s heartbreaking.
So what’s a person to do? You can’t trust your brain, you can’t go to other people for help because there’s no one left to really go to, and you can’t fall back on who you are because you don’t know who you are. You’re stuck, hopelessly stuck in a life you hate and in a situation that destroys you.
This is where I’m at right now readers, and the thing is, I don’t have any answers. I know I need to be back on meds because therapy alone doesn’t seem to be enough, so that’s something, but the meds will take a month to kick in, and I need something that’s going to help right now. Should I quit school? Should I run away? These don’t seem like the right answers either. I don’t want to throw away my life when I know my grandpa would be here if he could, so killing myself is out of the question. But staying this way seems to be impossible. What do I do?
No one is left, readers, no one but my mom and Fred, and they are far away. Maybe I should move back home. Maybe I should be institutionalized. The only thing I can think to do is listen to my heart, to trust my heart. But my heart is just crying.
I look back at my life and see a person who tried to do the right thing. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes you try your whole life to be happy and you fail. But I’m not dead yet—this depression I’ve been struggling with since I was twelve might kill me one day, but today I’m alive. So I’ve got to keep trying.
I don’t have an identity, I don’t have any friends I can reach out to, I don’t have a partner, I don’t have a family I can talk to. But I’ve got my depression. I guess that is the only thing I will always have, forever and ever.
The best way to make a change in your life and how you feel about it is to start trying new things. Everybody knows this, but we all sort of get busy with our lives and push new ideas aside because it’s so much easier to stick with our old routine. Sometimes, though, you’ve just got to go ahead and put on your big girl panties, suck it up and put yourself out there.
As a person who has a lot of anxiety about interacting with people, this is no easy task for me. Sometimes hanging out with my own friends can be tiring and nerve-racking, so making new ones is not something I’m especially good at or used to. But after weeks of talking about it with my therapist, I’ve finally found some motivation to take the plunge and actually try.
So what am I trying? Well, it’s just baby steps for now, but I’ve been focusing on: a) Cutting back on people-pleasing so damn much and actually doing what’s right for me, b) Making more of an effort to socialize with my roommates and in general, and c) Trying things that I am interested in instead of just letting opportunities slip by. How I’ve been doing this is: a) I told my roommates I want to live somewhere else this fall. I just can’t live with pets anymore without some sort of allergic reaction, and even though that’s not my fault, I was really dreading the idea of telling them I want to move out. I didn’t want them to think I was being unreasonable or hurt their feelings, so I really considered just staying where I’m at, but in the long run I know moving out is the better choice for me. b) On Monday nights I set aside time to watch The Bachelor with my roommates. Honestly, I think the show is super sexist and ridiculous, but it’s something they enjoy, and I like watching it with them because we all add our own commentary. It’s a good bonding activity, especially when we break out the wine. c) I’ve been searching for a club to join this semester that fits in with my schedule and is something I maybe won’t get the opportunity to do after college. So next week I’m going to a Tango Club meeting, because I suck at dancing and I’d like to be better at it. I’m not setting up any high expectations—I’ll go, and if I like it I’ll keep going. If I don’t like it, I won’t go, and I’ll probably try to find some sort of craft club to join. My therapist used an interesting metaphor for this; she said that it was sort of like gardening, where right now is the time to just try to plant a bunch of seeds. Some of them won’t grow into anything, but others hopefully will, and after time they can turn into something great that I can pick and make into jam or some shit. So basically, I’ve got to try some new things, find what I like, stick to the ones I enjoy the most, and eventually it will bring me a sense of purpose or some friends or at least a fun way to spend a Wednesday night. (For all of you non-therapy goers, metaphors always turn up eventually, even though it’s so stereotypical, and they are almost always something strange that sound stupid in any other situation.) Anyway, I’m planting my seeds, readers. Hopefully something will grow.
In other news, I’ve also had some good changes with Jessie, my ex-partner living in Central America. Since allowing each other to see other people, we’ve become more honest with another and more realistic about our relationship. Now that I feel less pressure to tie my future to his*, I actually feel more inclined to. But I’m not making any sort of promises still, because there’s more work I need to do about figuring out how I want my life to be. In a strange way, I think we are sort of better than ever at this point.
Being honest means I’ve fessed up to seeing someone else in the past few weeks. Now, by “seeing someone” I just mean hanging out and intimacy—it is not a relationship with labels and I intend to keep it that way. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed spending time with this guy (who will be anonymous for now) and it has taught me a lot about the kind of person I am looking for. After looking back at some of my old relationships I now see them in a different light; where I once thought I had serious, adult love I recognize that it was young, foolish love that was based on a naïve dream. Now I know that while it is fun to spend time with people who are free spirits and idealists in your 20’s, the person I want to marry one day is someone I could count on, who is responsible and reliable. And that’s not to say that free spirits and idealists aren’t great people…I just know now that I’m going to need someone who I can both dream with, and conquer reality with.
I had a funny sort of inspiration for all of these realizations lately. Yesterday I was sitting in my car outside my therapist’s office, looking out the window, and thinking about what it would be like if I were pregnant. Mind you, I have no desire to be a mother any time soon, but since I’ve lost track of my periods I was a little concerned about this at the time. (Just for the record, though, I’m not pregnant.) Anyway, I sat there picturing myself with a little boy who was mine and I suddenly saw this attainable version of myself that I’d like to be someday. I was independent, and I trusted my instincts though I was sometimes scared, and I stuck to important values that I wanted to pass on to my kid. Values like being honest instead of proud, being kind and fair, especially when you don’t agree with someone, and learning about the things you don’t understand instead of dismissing them. I know it sounds sort of silly, but when you think of the life you’d like to give to someone you love with all of your heart, it becomes clear what you think people deserve. And I think if you can take that idea of life, and apply it to yourself instead, you realize that maybe you deserve that too.
So this is my journey in becoming someone I can admire and aspire to. It’s not going to be easy (in fact, it will most likely be pretty uncomfortable as I push myself to do new things), and it’s going to take time and work, but I’m trying because at the end of the day if I tried, at least I did something different.
*In the past, I’ve used she/her or they/them pronouns for Jessie (or tried just avoiding using pronouns altogether), however recently I learned that Jessie’s correct pronouns are he/him, so that’s what I’m going to start using!
Well, everyone, here I am starting my senior year of college. By December I’ll be done with this college town and undergrad, and ready to start a new adventure… But, like a decent portion of college seniors I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.
Never before have I had less of a clue about my future plans. In high school, I didn’t exactly plan for college extensively (actually, I just took one lousy tour and applied to the place I’m at now), but I did have an idea of what I wanted. I had this vision of my future college self in my head, and I knew that’s what I wanted to be. As for post-undergrad, my vision is…nothing. I’ve got a giant stack of nothing ready to be served up as soon as I graduate, and while I know I’ve got a year left to figure something out I’m not optimistic. I keep searching and searching for what I want, and I either find nothing or find it in the wrong places.
It’s only the first week of school and I’m stressed. My latest dilemma is that the deadline to renew my lease is coming up, and I’m not sure I want to stay at my current place. It would be incredibly easy if I stayed, but I feel like I’d be less stressed if I went (at least once I found somewhere else to live). I don’t want to hurt my roommates’ feelings by leaving, though, and I wonder if it’s too short of notice to say something. But I bet they’d be better off without me, anyway. The thing is, I’m ready to live on my own. I know that’s a scary option, given my past with depression, but I know I’ll never feel comfortable living with anyone other than a romantic partner. I close myself off and I perpetually feel like a visitor; it’s time I make my own space where I can feel at ease. But it’s hard to make a decision that isn’t people-pleasing.
Speaking of, things with my ex-partner (who I’m just simply going to refer to as Jessie from now on) are interesting. She told me she wants to marry me someday, can you believe it? Actually, what she said was: “I’m going to marry you someday, ____. And goddamn it, you’re going to say yes.” What does a person say to that, especially when their whole life is a giant question mark? It made me very nervous and guilty, for reasons only some of which I understand. I don’t always know what to say to her, you know? The more time passes with her living in Central America, the more different our lives are becoming. She seems to be growing so determined and decisive about her life, while I only seem to be growing less.
I just want to find a dream to go for again. I used to have my whole post-undergrad plans figured out, and I wanted them so badly. I had a whole life I wanted to live, I dreamed of living…I know now that it wasn’t the right life for me. But what is? All I know are the things I don’t want, and the things I should want, but that isn’t the same as having a dream: knowing what you want and going after it with everything that you’ve got.
Hell, I don’t even know what plans to keep for this weekend…What is wrong with me?
Why do I do this to myself, readers? Why, why, why…?!
As some of you may have gathered, I tend to have a more go-with-the-flow relationship with other people. When my friends and I go out, they are the ones that decide where we’re going and what we’re doing. When my mom wants me to come home and spend time with my family, I go and spend the better part of 24 hours trying to ignore my dad’s criticisms despite the fact that I’d rather be doing almost anything else. When I’m in relationships, I will myself to be assertive about what I want and need from the other person….but somehow, it’s always the other person holding the reins.
My present partner moved to Central America. My ex-boyfriend never graduated college and moved in with me. My only other serious relationship, which happened when I was 17, consisted of months spent waiting for the guy to acknowledge that we were even in a relationship. That’s the key word in this story, folks: waiting. I am always waiting—for Charles to love me and call me his girlfriend, for Fred to grow up and choose me over convenience, and for my current partner and I to find a place where we can both be happy and together. Waiting, waiting, waiting. And so far the record shows that in the end I never seem to get what I’m waiting for.
Of ‘course, this lack of assertiveness is nobody’s fault but my own. For some reason, I seem to think that loving a person means living my life by their speed. And while I realize that it takes two to tango, maybe it’s time that I actually take the lead instead of letting my partner drag me around the dance floor.
Here’s the deal: Today my partner and I were messaging. The conversation was innocent enough at first—we were talking about our plans for the day and flirting. But then, out of no where…
Hey. I don’t think I’m going to be here a year.
I’m sorry, WHAT??!?! You think I’d be dancing, you think I’d be jumping up and down singing, you think I’d at least send a 🙂 emoji….but no. I was just shocked. I didn’t say much of anything, and let her explain. So she tells me she’ll probably come back to the states in May, and then leave again in August to go traveling with her ex-roommate while I finish my degree. She doesn’t know where exactly she’ll go (probably Spain) and what exactly she’ll do (get a job eventually?) but suddenly that’s her new plan. And I found myself getting frustrated rather than happy.
We already did the painful goodbyes. From the first night we hung out, I knew she was going to leave eventually and travel to the country she’s at now. And now she’s there…after almost a year of “I can’t wait to go back” and “I just want to leave”, she finally left, took my heart with her, and turned everything upside down just to say that she’s coming back, and then leaving again, and then maybe coming back once I graduate so we could travel together if we’re even still an item at that point.
And that’s when I realized that I have a problem.
For about two years I was in a long distance relationship because my boyfriend wasn’t willing to make sacrifices (granted, he tried to remain faithful even though he didn’t succeed if you want to count that). Did I want to be in a long distance relationship? Hell no! But I stuck to it because I believed he would put in the same effort as I was to finish school so we could be together. Because I loved him and believed in him, and no one could tell me he wasn’t anything less than the best thing that had ever happened to me. Now I am in a long distance relationship once again, despite the fact that I hate LDR’s, because my partner has always been hell-bent on going back to Central America. I love my partner and want her to go after her dreams. Here I am, saving up the little money I make so I can visit her during spring break, just to find out she’ll be back in four months? After almost a year of preparing for the impending doom of her moving away for a whole year? It’s the same friggin’ situation; I’ve let my partner change up my future because it’s what she wants, and I’m left feeling out of the loop and powerless. Again. And it’s all my fault because I let my heart rule my decisions.
I wish I could talk to Fred about this. I know the stuff in the last couple of paragraphs probably sounds resentful, but believe it or not, I feel pretty detached from our past. I was stupid, he was stupid, and sometimes young people get together, fall in love, and are stupid together. I need his perspective on this whole thing, even if it is to tell me I’ve got it all wrong, because I don’t want to make the same mistakes with my partner as I did with him. I don’t want to always be playing catch-up with the person I’m with—I want to be involved and make decisions with them. And I know that my partner can move anywhere she likes and do whatever she wants with her life…but I wish I wasn’t left behind, trying to make our relationship work around her decisions. When will it ever be my turn to take risks in life, and let my partner wait for a change?
Maybe this is my wake-up call to start making plans of my own that don’t involve any relationship. Maybe I should just pack up and move to Australia by myself or go study abroad on my own and just let everyone else deal with it. I don’t want to be this person who wastes their whole life doing what is convenient for everyone else just so they’ll love me and stay with me.
Besides, giving people everything—my future, my body, my love, my time—doesn’t seem to be enough to make them stay anyway.
My (romantic) partner leaves for Costa Rica next Friday. The universe is telling me, “Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! I’m taking away your source of happiness and love!” Nothing like starting 2016 with utter heartbreak, huh? But life goes on.
As you could probably tell by my last post, I’ve been contemplating my depression and its relationship with my romantic partners. Naturally, when breakups happen I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine, but I think it’s more than that. For instance, this past semester I dated quite a bit (at least compared to the past 3 years of my life). The more I felt like shit, the more reckless I became, racking up messages off of Tinder and
likes off of Okcupid. I did the little dating dance, where you like their profile, send some flirty messages, go on a date, and then never talk to them again. This didn’t exactly make me feel better, but it took my mind off of things. “I’m getting out,” I told myself. “I’m meeting new people and trying new things. Depressed people don’t do that.” The dating dance was sort of a denial dance as well.
It’s like when I was seeing this one guy Jeremy (I’m not even going to bother changing his name…that’s how little this guy really meant big picture-wise). Isaac had just kicked me to the curb, my then ex-girlfriend was dating someone else while also seeing me, and I was harboring a mess of sadness and angry about Fred. Jeremy was simple: we went out for a beer the first night together and by the end of it were making out hardcore on the hood of his car. I knew he wanted to fuck me, and as long as I was just interesting enough (but also boring enough not to encourage true feelings) he would help me waste my time. So we kept seeing each other, and it was fine. Then when my ex-girlfriend and I got back together I just quit texting him. And you know what? He never texted me back, either. It was over just like that…simple. And I felt completely fine about it.
Now, while this kind of behavior didn’t bother me in the moment, I realized how superficial it all was once I remembered the people who had actually mattered. Thoughts of Fred, Isaac, and my now current partner made me remember how much I was still missing. The lack of romance in my dating left me empty, and while empty was less risky it was also doing nothing to help my depression. Empty distractions did nothing to sooth the heartbreak I still felt, and even though I had physically moved on, my brain was still stuck.
I worry that I will fall back into this old pattern once my partner leaves for Costa Rica. It’s not like I want to date anyone else…I need to use this time to focus on building myself back up and getting my balls back, haha. But I’m terrible at dealing with loneliness, and when I get lonely the depression usually kicks in. So what then?
Well, I’ve started seeing a new therapist for one thing. After weeks of back and forth scheduling, I finally had my first appointment and it went alright. But seeing a shrink won’t fix everything. So, to fill my time otherwise, I’ve started painting and crafting. Right now it’s just Christmas gifts, but since it makes me feel super calm I’m going to do my best to keep at it. And then I’ve got a few goals for myself to reach, since I’m sort of anal like that. I want to make more friends to play board games with, and I want to work with my therapist on believing the friends I currently have don’t hate my guts. It’ll be a process.
I know I sound like a real bitch, with my “dating” habits and the fact that I’ve spent this blog post talking about myself rather than the amazing person I’ll be losing. But what else am I supposed to do, just tell you all I’ll cry myself to sleep and resort back to cutting myself? I’m not doing that shit again—I’ve got to keep my eyes on what I can make better in my life, despite my shitty habits. Because even though the universe is shitting on me this holiday season, I refuse to believe that’s all my life will become.
There’s gotta be more than just loss around the corner.