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Don’t Look Back.

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Don’t look back.

If I could give myself one piece of advice, that would be it. I would tell myself this, again and again, year after year. I’d whisper it in my ear as I stare out the window, dreaming of my youth. I’d say it and tug on my arm when I look at my brother, remembering how we played together so long ago. I’d scream it to myself when I walk away from my dad, remembering how I’d run up and hug him after he came home from work back in preschool. I’d slap myself in the face and tell myself, “don’t look back” as I cried over the years for so many people….

I guess I’ve always been sort of a nostalgic person. I used to keep journals and scribble my thoughts furiously, telling myself that they’d someday matter. I hang onto pictures, pour through them and will myself to relive the happiness I felt in them. I replay my memories like an annoying film montage that can’t ever seem to pause. The past holds so much knowledge, so many mistakes, and I constantly search through it so that my future may end up differently…or the same.

But I’m trying to stop this. My nostalgia gets me in trouble because it plays on all the softness in my heart. In those moments when I long for the closeness I once felt for my family, guilt, pain, and anger start appearing. When I remember my happy childhood I often feel sad, because it ended too soon. And when I think of the good times, the times I’ll never get back with the people I’ll never get back…well, then I start questioning. Did it have to end up that way? What did I do wrong?

What. Did. I. Do. Wrong.

That used to be the thing I whispered to myself in nights spent alone. Instead of advice, I repeated that question to myself, gradually chipping away at my self-esteem. The depression that kept coming back to me came back through my memories. It attached itself to my past, sucking away all the happiness I once felt and leaving emptiness, leaving blame. If the present sucked, it was my fault. And everyone knows you can’t repeat history. But I tried, anyway.

I went back again and again to the same relationships, the same friendships, because I loved those people and I missed them. But what I loved and missed more were how they once made me feel…whole. Happy. I had so much trouble letting go, because I was always looking over my shoulder, wanting to make the past a reality again.

But things can’t be undone, can they? A fight will always be remembered; the words said can never be unsaid. The carelessness that someone gave toward your heart will always leave behind a new insecurity, just like a love once felt will always leave behind some pain. Even though I would try my hardest to rekindle laughs, wild nights of summer, unhinged passion, and unblemished trust…I failed. Those friendships would fade again when I wasn’t looking, and those relationships withered away in my hands.

So I tell myself, “Don’t look back.”

It’s true, the past will always be a part of the present; I cannot pretend to be indifferent to the things I once held so dear. But the past doesn’t have to remain my vicious cycle of retracing my steps. I can accept my mistakes; I can let go of the rose-colored glasses peering into my recollections. The past was never perfect, just like the present, and I can’t let myself cherry-pick the good times. Life goes on…One happy memory can always be followed by another, and sometimes you find happiness where you don’t expect it to be.

By welding my own destiny, and following the path of the present I can move on. So when I dwell on the dysfunction of my family, I think of how independent it has made me. When I feel the sting of rejection from old friends who have turned into strangers, I remind myself of the new friendships I have created. And yes, even when my stomach drops in disappointment when recalling the relationships that have gone awry…I manage to hold strong, reminding myself why things ended the way they did. Because I find that the older I get, the more I define my experiences, instead of the other way around. If I’m looking back at my past I won’t get to see what’s coming up next. Life moves forward so I look forward…So I can look forward to life.

Alone, But Not Lonely

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About three weeks ago, I decided to make a change. I wanted to be alone. As a person who has spent the better part of five years unconsciously trying to avoid being alone, this was sort of a big deal for me. For most of that time I had been jumping from serious relationship to serious relationship…out of love, yes. But also out of fear. After many bouts of depression, I was petrified of being alone and facing my demons; I liked the safety and security of knowing I could always pick up the phone and run to someone who loved me. And while I will never deny the beauty and selflessness of that kind of reliance, I acknowledge now that it wasn’t always healthy for me.

Last January, my partner moved out-of-country. I was screwed, to put it frankly. My friendships were shot to hell; my courage was buried under self-loathing and pity. I withdrew from the world and everyone in it. And from that spiral of depression I hit rock bottom—quit school, quit my job, quit my life in that town and ran back home. Though I was ashamed of these decisions at the time, I don’t regret them. They were scary and awful…and exactly what I needed.

Everybody says to do the things that scare you. This has been my mantra for years. But during most of the time I took that as my excuse to dive into relationships headfirst without taking a breath. What I should have done was take some time: for myself, by myself. I realized all of this about three weeks ago, in the midst of yet another serious relationship.

So we decided to take a break. I needed to know I could still accomplish my dreams of traveling the world, and I needed to know I wasn’t in that relationship simply because it was comfortable. It wasn’t exactly an easy time for us either—medication had made my libido completely evaporate, and the passion between us went with it. I constantly felt guilty because of this, which made me start to distance myself from my partner.

And just like that, we were broken up yet again; I was on my own. And for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t struck by paralyzing fear. I felt okay…the world wasn’t ending; the sunlight had not been buried by clouds. I was free to do whatever I wanted, and I did just that. I spent time at home more, I tackled projects I said I’d do months ago, and I planned new activities to try. I slipped back into a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time: self-reliance. I was alone, yet perfectly content.

Only then did I realize how stressed I had been. The combination of a full-time school schedule, a part-time work schedule, and squeezing relationship-time into all my free time had done a number on me…it wasn’t until I sat in my room one night and let it dawn on me that I had nothing to do…not one thing…that I felt delirious with joy. No more living half my week at my partner’s place, no more driving, packing, planning, and no more feeling guilty for being tired and drained when we finally had a chance to enjoy our time together!

This time by myself has been so important to me… I have woken up, taken charge of my life, and decided what needs to change and what doesn’t. Sometimes that means burning bridges and disappointing the people you love, and other times it means building bridges and letting yourself love more. Like always, I had let my tendency to people-please get the best of me these past months…But now, I feel self-aware enough to say no sometimes, and make my own plans. After all, if I’m not taking care of myself then I can’t give the people in my life the love they deserve.

And they deserve so, so much…

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Trusting Yourself

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.

Mixing Up the Status Quo

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.

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Taking Back A ‘Cheater’

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Our society has many rules of dating, some of which make sense, and others not so much. For instance, there’s the common rule not to sleep with someone on the first date. Or the rule that says you have to wait a certain amount of days before calling or texting someone who just gave you their phone number. Personally, I think these dating rules are best when they are broken—after all, not every situation is the same and not every person is the same. So why should we all play by the same rules?

While I have broken many of the dating rules out there (starting with my first date, when I didn’t order the lady-like and easy-to-eat salad and instead opted for hot wings, fries, and cheeseburger pizza….also I was wearing old, ratty jeans and a T-shirt that belonged to my brother), one of the big rules I have broken is taking back my boyfriend Fred after he cheated on me. Before I go any further though, I should explain one thing: I have been a cheater myself, and taken back myself. So yes, I know both sides of the experience.

I never thought I would cheat on someone. It seemed like something that was obviously fundamentally wrong, and how could I ever do something like that to someone I cared about/loved? Why not just break up if I wanted someone else?  But life happened, and I jumped into a relationship right after ending one that lasted 2 years. I never processed the breakup, and I ended up dealing with those feelings in a really awful way, by cheating with my ex. It was the biggest and worst mistake I’ve ever made, and while I have forgiven myself I will never forget it. Long story short, both the relationship and the cheating blew up in my face and left me miserable and alone. But months later, that same person I cheated on took me back.

I was incredulous that this person would want to be with me again, let alone not hate my guts. After all, I had broken their trust and not owned up to it until much later. I lied again and again…so why take me back? Well, I think it had a lot to do with the fact that in-between these two relationships I found out that I had been cheated on in the 2 years I spent with the very person I cheated with. It was then that I owned up to my own cheating, and realized just how badly I had hurt the person I cheated on. As silly as it sounds, you just can’t realize the pain cheating causes until it happens to you.

So let’s jump forward onto the timeline to this past March, when I officially took back Fred, aka Mr.2 years. After yelling at him again and again, and then not speaking to him, I had realized I still had feelings for him, and he still had feelings for me. So we decided to explore them, and see if we still could get along and function together on the regular. But then we realized we both wanted to make it official—neither one of us wanted to see other people. So we called it a relationship, and here we are months later.

How do I trust him? How do I not worry about repeating the same mistakes? Well, it’s not easy. If I didn’t believe that this person wasn’t worth spending the rest of my life with, I wouldn’t be with him. If he hadn’t changed his behavior and started being honest and open, I wouldn’t be with him. If I hadn’t learned to deal with the insecurity and mistrust the cheating instilled in me, I wouldn’t be with him. A lot of work has gone into repairing the damage, and a lot of serious talks between us had to happen before I felt like we both knew exactly what we were signing up for again. And even now, it is still a process. Honestly is something that has to constantly maintained, and that will never change. We both have promised to keep each other in the loop, to talk about whether or not we are happy, if we are feeling tempted by someone else, or if we are doing something (or in the position to do something) that might upset the other person. He works on not sugar-coating the truth or hiding things, and I work on actually speaking up when I’m upset or feel insecure. By dealing with the hard stuff directly, we are able to have room to truly enjoy the happy, easy things.

All in all, the cheating made our relationship stronger, opened both of our eyes to the ugly parts of each other, and forced us to grow up a bit and realize what we want. But other people don’t always understand that part of the story…when you tell your friends and family that you took back the person who cheated on you, there tends to be some judgement. Luckily, everyone I’ve told has been supportive and happy for me, but I still feel the need to justify my decision when I talk about how my relationship is going.

See, it’s really easy to say, “Don’t ever take back a cheater!” when you’ve never been in the middle of cheating. It’s not as black and white as you would think—yes, it is wrong, no doubt about it. But the person who did it still may be a good person. If I hadn’t cheated myself, I probably couldn’t have forgiven Fred. But after my own experience, while very different, I saw how confusing and trapped someone can feel in that situation. When I cheated, guilt swallowed up my entire life and ended up destroying my relationship. I couldn’t take it back, no matter how much I wished I could, and I couldn’t seem to convey how deeply I loved the person despite cheating on them. But people hated me and judged me for cheating anyway, and while I understood that I wished they realized that I was still the same person, just one that made a very terrible mistake.

So that’s why I’m breaking the rule. Ultimately, I am in charge of my life and my happiness, which I don’t have to explain to anyone. Fred makes me happy, and I make him happy, so we are working hard to make sure that we maintain our relationship and prevent any cheating. The bottom line is: you can’t change the past, but you should give people the opportunity to learn from it. I’m not saying that everyone in every circumstance should take back their ex who cheated, just that people are more than ‘cheaters’ and more than ‘cheated on’. We are human, we make mistakes and hurt others, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change or that we don’t deserve love.

Starting a New Journey

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Everyone in their 20’s can relate to the same struggle: figuring out which path in life you would like to take. Even when you outgrow your 20’s, it seems that many people are still searching for this answer in their 30’s and even 40’s or 50’s. This is a dilemma I’ve written about again and again, and though this seems to be a recurring theme in every problem I encounter I am no closer to finding my path. Or am I?

Tomorrow I’m getting on a plane to Central America. My reasoning for buying this ticket to a country I’ve never been to and my reasoning for going are very distinct—I bought the ticket because I was in love and I wanted salvation for my relationship. I’m getting on the plane because I am in search of inspiration and direction in my life, and after a severe bout of depression I need to do something kind for myself. Also it was a nonrefundable ticket.

Back in January, I was in a long distance relationship and my partner had just moved to Central America. I was incredibly sad and lonely, and my depression was creeping back into my life. So I bought the ticket as an incentive for myself to keep going, and something me and my partner could remember in our moments of doubt. I thought that if I liked being there enough, maybe I could briefly move there during the summer, and then wait for my partner to move back to the U.S. in December. Life had other plans, though. My relationship disintegrated, my depression worsened, and my ability to plan for the future vanished. But the plane ticket was still there, waiting for me.

Now, in the present, my circumstances are different. My plans for the summer are school and work back home where I grew up. I’m transferring schools, finding a new job, and exploring a different relationship. Everything I’ve recently done has been to better myself, and instead of worrying about someone thousands of miles away, I’m preoccupied with changing my life in helpful ways. So I’m using that plane ticket, getting on that plane, and spending a week in Central America.

After my life went to hell in February, time kept moving faster and faster. This trip has sort of snuck up on me, and honestly I don’t think it will feel real until my mom drops me off at the airport tomorrow morning. I’m excited but hesitant…my life has reached a steady rhythm and I’m nervous to disrupt the balance again. Especially because it means spending a week with my ex Jessie, who doesn’t exactly encourage my more rational side. Jessie brings up our old relationship all the time, and I’m worried he’s going to forget that there’s no relationship left. He’s in Central America, I’m in the U.S., end of story. I’ve moved on, and so has he. Nothing good can come from beating a dead horse.

Right now I’m done with planning out my future within relationships. In a few years it might be more realistic to start doing that, but until then I just want to enjoy the moment. After all, I need to find my passion and indulge that while I’m young and I still can. So I’m pursuing my passion for travel right now, and then hopefully pursuing my passion for creativity when I get back to the states. What was once a trip about figuring out the future for Jessie and I has become a trip about reawakening my hunger for life. I was severely depressed, I made changes and started to recover, I found stability, and now it is time to wake up again, and start my life over. I’m embarking on a path,  and seeing where else my life can take me.

Los Opuestos Se Atraen/Opposites Attract

(The title of this post was formed via Google Translate. If it’s inaccurate, please read the rest of this post to find out why I don’t care.)

My mom has met Jessie a few times, and after both times I would pull her aside and like most women, ask, “So what do ya think??” And each time, my mom has said the same thing: “I just don’t know how much you two have in common.” Most of the time, I remember this and get defensive, reasoning away in my head that Jessie and I are great together. But sometimes, sometimes…..I wonder what we really do have in common.

You know how most couples have those few topics where they will just never come to an agreement? Well for Jessie and I, one of them is Spanish. Like most Americans, I took two years of Spanish in high school, managed to get an A all four semesters, but never learned a thing. And that was totally fine with me, because after the first week I realized that learning a language is hard and if you’re not passionate about it/you won’t use it/you don’t grow up speaking it, then you’re going to hate it, because it will feel like a waste of time. And it was a waste of time, because when I went to college I had to take three semesters of a foreign language anyway, and since I never learned any Spanish I decided to try a completely different language. So until I met Jessie, I never gave Spanish a second thought.

But Jessie…Jessie LOVES Spanish. I mean, it’s his obsession. No matter how well he can speak it, it never seems to be enough. He’s completely fluent, but he can’t stand the small things that set him apart from native speakers. Hell, Spanish is the reason he moved to Central America (that, and to get un-“stuck” from the college town where I live and he used to live). Jessie’s whole life seems to be Spanish—he speaks it all day, every day. But ever since I told him I’d visit him after he moved to Central America he’s been hell-bent that I learn it.

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Here’s the problem: when Jessie gets all worked up about something, he wants everyone in his life to do the same. When we first started dating it was yoga. He begged me to do yoga with him all the time. And then biking. And trying the vegan food he cooked. And henna. One by one, he would pick up a new kick and try to get me to partake in it with him. And I tried for a while there—I did yoga sometimes, I got out my old bike and tried riding again, I did henna and tried not to make a face whenever I ate the vegan stuff put in front of me. But it wasn’t for me; the only thing I really seemed to enjoy for myself out of those activities was biking, and I only liked to do that by myself because then if I fell or ran into something no one would be there to see it. The point is, I tried, and I tried for Jessie. But I won’t try Spanish.

See, after a while I just got tired of working up interest and optimism in things I wasn’t so interested in. “Try new things,” I’d tell myself, “Keep an open mind.” But usually after trying it the first time, my mind’s door would slam shut. Where Jessie had endless energy, I felt exhausted, where he craved stimulation, I craved solitude and/or quiet. His extraversion and my introversion were batting heads, so I just decided to give up. “Be yourself,” I finally said instead, “do what makes you happy, and be honest.” So I started refusing the vegan food, and stopped feigning interest in yoga. Don’t get me wrong—I was always supportive and pleasant about it, and usually said something like, “No thanks, but feel free to go ahead. I’ll be right here.” But it always disappointed Jessie; I could tell he didn’t like getting no for an answer.

All this comes back to the Spanish. “You’re going to need to learn Spanish if you’re going to be here,” he keeps saying, and I keep replying, “I’m only going to be there for a week!” It’s so frustrating. Sometimes I think Jessie is trying so hard to be Latino that he can’t fathom anyone who is happy being American. “Bring jeans to wear,” he’ll tell me, “everyone wears jeans here.” “I’ll bring whatever I want to wear,” I say back, “I don’t care about fitting in. I’m white and I can only speak English; I’m already not going to fit in.” I can tell he looks down upon the fact that I’m unwilling to learn Spanish even though it is the native language in the area, but I’m not going to learn flawless Spanish in the course of a month. There is a significant amount of tourism in the area that we’ll be in, and most of those tourists are white and speak English, so many people in the area know how to speak it too. I’m not saying that local language shouldn’t be respected or acknowledged, but I would never ask someone who didn’t want to learn English to learn it if they wanted to visit New York City or L.A., or even if they wanted to live in the U.S. (although that would be pretty hard if they didn’t know someone who could translate).

I just get so frustrated with him because he can’t stand it when things don’t go his way, or he can’t control a situation. He keeps pushing and pushing until people give in, but the thing is I won’t give in—I’m just as stubborn as he is, and I hate it when people tell me what to do.  And it would be one thing if it were just as simple as “I don’t want to learn Spanish,” but it’s not. I get insecure because I feel like Jessie is constantly trying to change me so I’m like him, and while I do like to try new things and do activities that my significant other likes, I want him to like me for who I am rather than who he is.

And I don’t care about Spanish, I really don’t. I think it’s nice that it makes Jessie happy, but that’s it. I mean, it’s important that I know a few phrases in Spanish for safety reasons before I travel, but I don’t want to know anything that’s not completely necessary. I don’t have a passion for Spanish, and I’m not embarrassed that I’m an American. (Although I wouldn’t exactly say I’m super proud to be one either–America has done some really stupid things, and running off to live in The Netherlands, U.K., Australia, or France wouldn’t bother me a bit. Even if I would have to potentially learn Dutch.)

Sometimes I get envious of the fact that Jessie is passionate about so many things, and other times I feel sad for him. I feel like the difference between me and him is that he distracts himself from what’s going on inside, and I dwell on it. Neither way is better or worse, but they both have their downsides. Jessie can never be anywhere too long because he gets restless/the distraction never lasts, and I can’t seem to find anything I’m passionate about because I get too wrapped up in my head.

I never share anything that means something to me because I’m afraid people will disregard it. Jessie shares everything with everyone because he’s eager for someone to agree or relate. Sometimes I think that it’s not that we necessarily have too much or too little in common, but it’s that we are two opposite sides of the same coin.

Why I Hate Dating and Dating Hates Me

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Here’s a new possible title for my autobiography: DATING: The Reason My Youth and Sexuality Were Squandered and I’m Writing A Book Instead of Getting Laid. Too long?

Readers, dating is not the most important thing in the world. I know, you know it, and even characters that hardly existed apart from their love lives like Carrie Bradshaw knew it. But sometimes, when all you’re asking from the world is to get laid by a beautiful queer woman, it can feel like the entire universe is uniting for the single purpose of making sure every queer woman on the planet stays as far away from you as possible….so, pretty important stuff.

In spite of knowing the ridiculousness of that overly dramatic statement, it might actually be true. So far I’m striking out left and right (yep, even when they swipe right) on Tinder and I’m starting to make lists of every shitty thing I’ve ever done so I can discover what I did to piss Karma off so badly. Last semester dating seemed so easy: a guy would message me, and I’d message back if I felt he might be fuck-worthy. And then if he played his cards right, it’d actually happen. But this semester I’m more interested in dating women rather than men, and I seem to suck at it.

It’s like being thirteen all over again. How do you flirt with them? How do you know if you’re being too forward or too shy? How do you get them to know you don’t want to date them for a 100 years, you just want to hang out a few times?

My experiences dating women have been very brief. There was my relationship with Jessie when he identified as a woman, there was a date to the Rocky Horror Picture Show with one girl from Tinder who I never texted back, a concert with Miranda where we had a hot make out session, and another date from Tinder a few weeks ago where the girl talked forever and we had zero chemistry. I’ve never really fallen into a dating mode with women—all of my experience was brief, or a legit relationship. So basically, I’m screwed.

Look, I love Jessie. But Jessie gets to fuck women and that other guy I’m seeing gets to fuck other women and dammit I’m just sitting here twiddling my thumbs like, “Let me tell you the story of when I was actually found attractive and dateable…” I know I’m attractive. I know I’m a catch. I know I can be fantastic at sex. But sometimes you just want to be validated for christ’s sake! Where are the people who will actually fuck me?!? When did I suddenly grow a horn in the middle of my forehead?!?

I don’t mind waiting around for the day Jessie will actually decide to come back and be with me. I don’t mind putting in the work to talk to him and maintain some sort of relationship while he goes off and fucks other people. I don’t mind driving to see that one guy I hang out with and letting him fuck me while he’s goes off and does whatever he wants when I’m not around. I don’t mind being by myself all the time and knowing that I won’t have a legitimate relationship with someone for several more months. But what I mind is the idea of just sitting around reminiscing about the days before Fred cheated on me and Jessie moved to a whole separate country. I don’t want to be mopey and sad and constantly pity myself. I want to be young and enjoy the freedom to do whatever the hell I want with whoever the hell I want! SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM, WORLD?!?!

Why does everyone I love seem to want different things, and leave me in a place where I even have to ask these stupid questions?

 

(Final Note: This is a rant session. This is ridiculous and hormone-fueled and the result of a very stressful week. Just remember not to take it too seriously, ok? Please don’t judge me too harshly… *Sigh*)

Empty Futures

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?

A Wake-Up Call

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.

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