Monday, April 24, 2017

This is who I am.

The past several days, I've been dealt some heavy blows that have left me reeling. I've taken trips back to some of the darker parts of my thoughts and emotions, which has left me feeling pretty unmotivated to do schoolwork or exist really. My counselor had to stop coming to my school's campus because of how busy her life has gotten, so I've been therapist-less for over a month. Before, I was doing pretty well and figured I should start learning to stand on my own two feet anyways, so I didn't bother to try and start with a new counselor. I guess I also dreaded the whole "getting to know you" process, which can be tedious and at times even demeaning, especially with counselors who aren't as good at what they do. Teaching someone about your entire background can take several sessions in itself and they might still not understand where you're coming from, so I figured I'd be okay without.

Anyways, since my last post, I found out that: 1) because of a series of mistakes on my school's part, I can't graduate next month, and 2) the guy I liked is even crappier of a person than I thought, so now I definitely can't like him. Two big things that have been driving me through all the stress and busyness of this semester have been: 1) the knowledge that I'm finally graduating, and 2) the excitement of liking someone, talking about them, trying to talk to them, and anticipating the possibility of dating them. I think I had honestly convinced myself that I would finally get the chance to have a romantic relationship by the time summer rolled around, and I was so excited by that prospect that it propelled me through all the assignments and late nights. I like most of my schoolwork this semester, I love creative projects, but nothing motivates and excites me the way having a crush does. I don't know why that is, but it's just the truth.

Unfortunately, the reverse is that nothing breaks me the way that "losing" that person does. Usually I realize they just aren't interested in me, though sometimes, like in this case, I have to come to the cold, hard acceptance that they aren't the person for me, even though I really, really admire them. I really love caring about people, admiring them, looking for the best in them, so turning myself against someone I've grown to adore is heartbreaking. I guess that's why I (and many others) often turn to hating and talking smack about that person; it seems like the only way to channel such strong feelings into something besides admiration. Sometimes I'm still as obsessed with the person as before, just this time I want to berate them or hear others tear them down or have lengthy discussions wondering why on earth they weren't interested in being in a relationship with me.

Ultimately, these two blows robbed me of my two big dreams and sources of excitement and motivation. Now I feel stuck. Time inches along whereas before it felt like it was zooming by at the speed of light. I still have major assignments due almost every day, however, and I really don't want to let this growing darkness get the best of me, so I'm struggling to fight it. But my brain feels like it's off in Neverland...Never going to find love, never going to be happy, never going to escape depression ruining things for me, never going to be desired...I chase my tail in a prison of anxiety and angst.

Today was especially bad. It's been rainy for days, which doesn't help, and on Thursday I had a particularly frustrating interaction with the guy I liked. We actually had some good banter and he even told me he had heard about my not being able to graduate and was really sorry - more than the majority of my girl friends have even done - but later in class I heard him talking about drugs and realized we really lead completely different lifestyles. I gave a big presentation that afternoon, which was publicized in the class we're both in, and he missed it because he was off getting high somewhere. Flashback to all the other times I've hoped guys would come to events and support me and they didn't show...

Anyways, I went through a period of shock as I wrestled with my admiration for this guy's good qualities with the growing amount of information I was receiving from a friend of mine (as well as my own interaction) about this guy's seriously immature traits and his interest in other women. I didn't want to let go, but I slowly realized I had to, for my own protection. Naturally, being the lovesick young thing that I am, I turned back to a former crush of mine - someone I really, really liked and subsequently had to really hate to try and get over him. I don't know what made me go back to him except that he really has seemed like one of the most compatible people I've liked and I had very strong feelings for him. Only problem is, to get over him, I cut off all communication with him, including unfriending him on social media, so I had no non-awkward way of getting back in touch.

Of course, I began to obsess about the situation and ask myself whether he really is compatible with me and rack my brain for a way to get back in touch with him. Subsequently, I've been miserable from the anxiety of obsessing, but also from the shame of admitting to people who I've ranted about how awfully he treated me that I'm actually interested in him again. I was afraid of their judgment, but I hate bottling things like that up.

I decided, impulsively, to try and reach out to some of our mutual acquaintances from my old school and ask about him, but this led me down the dark hole of, well, interacting with those people and remembering what shitty friends they were/are. I got even more upset and frustrated and lonely, feeling like nobody really cared or understood me. My friends would rarely ask about me and their answers were condescending or overly brief. Nobody asked me if I was graduating. I started recalling how the same people didn't respond when I said I wouldn't be coming back to that school. How they didn't check in to see if I was doing okay. How tempting coldness like that made ending it all seem. I want so badly to love people and invest in friendships because I love showing people kindness and thoughtfulness, but I get tired of how little people invest in relationships or appreciate other people's lives. I felt tempted to stop investing in relationships at all, but that's a depressing prospect too.

Ultimately, today has been really tough and I'm scared to think of what tomorrow is going to be like, but I realized that I need to be the one who embraces myself. I felt so embarrassed today for being interested in this guy who I previously ranted about, but at the end of the day, I'd rather be somebody who is honest about going back and forth than someone who denies they were ever on a different side than they are on now. At one point, when I was driving to class, I decided to just accept that I flip-flop a lot on things. It is part of my personality and the way I process. I don't think it's necessarily wrong, though I understand why it might frustrate people. I would rather be open-minded about things than be someone who makes a snap judgment and never reconsiders. People and situations are constantly changing, so it's oftentimes worth reevaluating your opinion. I've changed so much in life, and I firmly believe most of it has been for the better.

I also accept that I am who I am. I want to be the person who is in my corner. Obviously, I'm not going to get the validation and acceptance I'm seeking from other people. I either get torn up because those people disappoint me in their friendship, or I do experience validation via grades or applause or the occasional positive interaction and still feel unsatisfied. I guess I need to accept myself because even if I do get what I really crave - a relationship where the other person is really invested in and excited about me and vice versa - I will need a firm grounding in who I am so I don't get lost in that other person and so I can survive if the relationship doesn't work out.

So I'm not perfect in any way -- I'm sure anyone could read this post and pick it apart to identify a host of character flaws and psychological issues. But I'm trying really hard to be a better person, to love others, to improve my own methods of dealing with tough times. And I choose to accept that I am still growing and that's just the way life works. We can't get it all right at once. Or maybe, like, ever.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I'm not okay, okay?

Days haven't been too dark lately, but they haven't exactly been light either. You know how you get your hopes up about something - or someone - but then your happiness gets tied to that idea or that person? Well, I'm guilty of that.

I'm sitting in my school hallway and silently crying. I'm on Crisis Text Line because I was shaking and I wanted to puke but I have class later so I can't go home and I was starting to think about ways to end it all but knowing that I shouldn't end things over a stupid little thing like this.

An hour and a half ago, I went through the effort to come to campus extra early so I could try and get a chance to talk to him. I should've just stayed home. I don't know why I keep putting all this effort into these relationships that won't work. Why can't I learn that when the other person doesn't put any effort in, it's not worth doing the pursuing? I should have listened to my mom's advice that a relationship that's supposed to work should be easy, should work out well. But I was infatuated.

Anyways, I walked in, my heart pounding, going out of my way yet again to try and talk to him, and he was talking to another girl - a loud girl - asking about another woman. Asking if she could set him up with this other girl. Saying she was hot. She said something about how he has a crush on so-and-so. It was enough to know he had moved on, if he was ever even interested in me.

I don't know why I still tried to talk to him. I guess because I had gone through all the effort to go there and I didn't want to feel like I hadn't tried. The conversation wasn't anything special and just in the way he talked to me, I could tell something had changed. I got that sense of pity, of him wanting to be polite but not really being super interested in talking to me.

I know it's stupid. I know it's small. But it's the cumulative effect of over and over having the same story play out: Girl meets guy. Girl observes guy from afar and slowly grows to admire him. Girl imagines them together and develops embarrassingly strong feelings for him, but they don't interact much. Girl tries to overcome her shyness and talk to the guy, but they have little more than occasional conversations but her friends all say they would be so cute together so she keeps hoping. Guy never shows interest or straight up chooses someone else. Girl feels like a piece of shit nobody once and hates herself for not being outgoing and bubbly and sexy and normal.

That's happened so many times, I've lost count. So now that it's happened again, can you blame me for feeling a little worthless? More than anything though, I feel stupid. I feel mad at myself for falling into the same trap, telling myself the same lies, devaluing myself again by chasing after someone who doesn't make an effort to do the same for me.

In the mental health world, people talk a lot about triggers. Usually they think that reading about something traumatic you've gone through will trigger you to have upsetting thoughts or other negative emotions. I haven't found that to be true for me, personally. I've found my biggest trigger is experiencing rejection. I got a lot of rejections in the past; literal ones like, "We don't want you in our club" and more indirect ones like, "I told another friend my big news before you", or "I'd rather date this bitchy girl than you." Sometimes people don't come right out and reject you, but they get the idea across pretty well regardless by just ignoring you or not answering your messages any more or whatever.

When I was going through my hellish depression, I was also experiencing rejection. Rejection on a larger scale of realizing that I was never really accepted into the school I had been attending for three years; they just tolerated my existence, but I was never really part of their community or one of them. Rejection in the sense that friends were showing that they didn't really care about me enough to be there for me when I needed it most. But most of all, rejection from a guy who I really cared about. He seemed interested at first. He came to see me play a concert, we had nice conversations, he checked in to see if I was okay a few times when I was depressed. In turn, I tried to talk to him, get to know him, learn about the things he was interested in, support his music, send him encouraging notes. But ultimately I felt him slowly drift away and found out halfway through the year that he had decided to date a particularly unpleasant, jealous girl.

That was all happening as my mind and my life and my happiness was rapidly unraveling. It wasn't the cause of the destruction, but it sure added insult to the injury. It multiplied the pain infinitesimally. I turned to self-injury to try and deal with the pain so deep and intense I couldn't communicate it or even figure out how to endure it. People don't understand unless they've been there.

So when I experience rejection again, in whatever form it comes, I fall apart. I unravel. It's my trigger. I can't even help the emotions. They're just a reaction I can't control. Friends judge me, wondering why I have such a strong reaction to something so small as a conversation that didn't go well, and I can never get them to understand it's because of my past.

The Crisis Text counselor sounded more like a robot. They fed me the lines. I've heard all the lines. This month is my three-year anniversary in counseling. I know all the right answers, but I can't just give them to you right now because I'm hurting. I know you want me to just pull it all back together so you can don't have to feel uncomfortable, but I'm hurting right now and I just need you to let me hurt and be on my side, in my corner.

My friend told me I need to grow thicker skin, to be positive, to believe things will work out in the future. She told me she had endured actually breaking up from a real relationship but she was okay now. I felt disrespected. I felt betrayed. How dare she compare our experiences to devalue mine. And I've been through loads of shit, even if I've never been through a breakup.

I know all the answers. I also know my own history. I know my heart. I know the hurts its seen and the places that never healed quite right so they just burst at any tug at the seams. I feel self-conscious about how sensitive and emotional I can be, but at the end of the day, I don't think I want thicker skin. Because then I'd be the kind of person who tells a girl crying alone in a school hallway to have a thicker skin.

I just want you to be okay with me not being okay right now.