Category: Essays

Heft: Notes from the Grayspace

I’m struggling with self-worth right now.  I’m struggling with staying alive.  I’m an optimist sandbagged by depression, desperately clawing for hope.  Everything hurts right now: my body, my head, my spirit.  It all feels so heavy.  Is it always supposed to be this hard?

I feel like I have to force people to love me.  I chase until I am breathless, heaving.  Love was introduced to me as something I had to earn.  I never unlearned that.  When you’ve never really been wanted your whole life, when the only thing you’ve been to others is option rather than priority, it’s hard.  I wish I could gloss this with poetic language, make the pain sound pretty, but it’s not.  My emotions and mindset are coarse, brutal, unrelenting. My head is desolate, my throat tight, stomach heavy. I can’t even call it rejection, as it rejected implies that you fit somewhere at some point.  I am aimless, a nomad homesick for community.

People don’t want me as a person.  As a concept—something consumable, disposable, ready at their leisure—I am wanted.  But my vulnerabilities, my hopes and hurts and everything in between—nobody is interested in that.  I know this because when I ask for help, I am shamed. How dare the concept think she’s a real girl?!  How could you reach so close to others that you almost touch them?

I don’t want to be alive right now.  And I know this is so utterly hypocritical to my last entry, a stark contrast in message.  I meant every word I wrote last time.  I mean every word I’m writing now.  With every breath, I’m fighting to stay here.  The last thing I want to be is a tragic tale.  Part of this stems from believing that I am capable of multitudes, that I can offer others something good.  I still believe, as cloudy and everything is, that the best is yet to come.   I cannot house the responsibility I do as a sister and friend and mentor in this world and end things. Even if  I can’t be loved back, I am obligated to everything/one I’ve ever loved to continue.

But the other part is that I don’t want people to discuss me, and say “if only I knew, I would have done something”.  Let me be clear:  No you fucking wouldn’t have.  I’m fighting for my own life because I know nobody else will do it for me.  They will watch me drown, as I am screaming for help, and trust that some other person will throw me a lifejacket.  That other person doesn’t exist, and you don’t want to be inconvenienced.  My screams make you uncomfortable, and you will feel relief when they stop.

My mental health and self-care is my responsibility and no one else’s.  I am not pawning it off or expecting anything from anybody else.    But, then, if I fail at this.  If this is the monsoon season that drowns me, please don’t come to my wake wishing you knew and proclaiming your love for me.  You don’t love me.  You loved an idea that served you.  You didn’t know because you only saw and heard what sounded sweet and looked pretty. You were never interested in me, and it’s hard for me not to hurt over that.  It’s hard for me not to ache and cry and wonder, “why not me? Why never me?”  Why, after I learned to love myself, after I did set boundaries, after I have been my own knight in shining armor, after I have tried therapy and exercise, and got all the accolades was it never enough?  I could never ascend from the option category of anyone’s relationships.

“You are not a reflection of those who cannot love you, Marisa.  You are abundant.  They are smallness.  It’s profoundly unhealthy to emotionally flog yourself over matters you can’t control like this.  It’s out there.  What you’re starving for is out there.”  I tell myself these things a lot, repeating affirmations like prayer until they are spoken into reality.  I try to soothe myself.  But being regarded as inconsequential by so many for so long inevitably affects a person’s self-worth.  It happens over and over and over, reader.  It happens whether I want it to or not, regardless of strategy or lack there of.  Rejection finds me.  Scarcity finds me.  I attract all the things I ultimately repel.  They just linger long enough to remind me that I do not love being alone.

No answers are hidden in this post.  This is not a scavenger hunt for hope between sentences. Suicidal is familiar for me.  I’ve burrowed and barreled my way through agony and made transportation systems of my emptiness before.  It never feels easier, never lighter. I would more than willingly take a lifetime of this, if I knew I would be loved as something other than an afterthought.   But I don’t have that guarantee.  Depression, anxiety, and suicide are dragons I’ve slayed before, but I’ve never overcome my lack of belonging.  Loneliness is another beast entirely, savage and unrelenting. I can’t banish it through binge-ing, purging, sweating– I know this because I’ve tried.  You cannot be a village unto yourself.  I cannot make a community out of only me and be my only support system, and I don’t have a solution.  I put myself out there.  I am a good friend, sister, daughter, co-worker.  Hell, I’m even liked.  It is exhausting to put my whole self out there every time, all the time, and have nothing reciprocated.  I don’t think I can keep doing this, but I don’t know what else to do. I am an oxymoron– always brimming with life and fire, while always so close to the grayspace that is suicidal.  I don’t want to be that anymore.

I didn’t always want this

My mind has always felt more haunted house than head.  I learned anxiety before the sound of my own name.  You can still hear it like an accent in all the unnecessary apologies I pepper in my sentences.  By 8, depression moved in. My head made islands out of crowded rooms. I never felt like I belonged, always isolated the the thunderous, looping fictions I told myself.

It became so loud that I attempted suicide 3 times–all before my sixteenth birthday. I played twister with medications–taking them in a variety of different fashions. I believed I was a burden.
I was eight when my perspective became more shadow than substance, when I defined myself as burden rather than being.

As I got older, I looked for people who were adrift like me.  I looked for wrists with scars that matched mine, like self abuse was a language written in hieroglyphics on the skin.  I wondered how many people saw food as the enemy instead of just… food.   I was homesick for community.  My pre-college self was a nomad desperate for a hometown, some coordinates to stake herself into.

College offered some relief.  Still, in college, I wondered how many people posted galleries of the lives they hoped to live, a contrast to loneliness.  Even when I was happy, surrounded by people, I’d feel my spirit drift in the gray space where you aren’t dead, but apathetic toward continuing to live.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t fathom my early twenties. It sounds so silly now, and I hope if I read this at 40, I’ll roll my eyes, howling. Conceptualizing a complex and fulfilling existence on the pillars of my own creation seemed more fantasy than future in my teens.

There’s nothing “after” about this.  Most days, my breath feels more concrete than air.  My head makes islands of crowded rooms. There are nights anxiety holds me hostage from sleep and mornings when everything outside me is barbed wire.  I don’t feel like I belong a lot.  I am what high functioning anxiety and depression looks like.  I’ve known depression longer than most of my favorite people. Anxiety is the native tongue I’d give anything  On the worst days, I choose my life over the alternative. Every day I live is a monument to survival, a love letter to all the women I’ve been before–thanking them for not letting go.  I can’t regard my past selves with anything but reverence, knowing that every painful day she/they endured brought me to this messy and beautiful and rich and unconventional marvel I call my life.

Anything else but water

Hunger exists for a purpose.  It enforces the basic need to be fed. Hunger, as an alarm, exists for survival. Emotional hunger pangs howl so loudly, I forget to hear mine sometimes.  So used to the shrill decibel that it barely registers as starvation.  I am afraid of my emotional hunger to connect.  I am afraid of not being wanted or belonging and the shame it’s all ensnared in.  The following is my acceptance of my emotional hunger, and acceptance of those who cannot nourish me.

I’m so embarrassed– perhaps even a little mortified– at how desperately I’ve wanted people.  Whether it was my dad, my extended family, a community of peers, a boyfriend– my insatiable craving for belonging and connection has drained me to emaciation.  I rehearse deep conversations with people who will never participate or reciprocate.  I wait these moments like a child hopes for Christmas morning, only it’s the dead of August.  There’s nothing wrong with August.  But it’s not Dec 25th.

Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman much older than I am.  Our words spanned the whole universe, but something he said to me stuck out.  I bemoaned how some people don’t get me.  They like me.  They respond to my warm smile.  But where I hope to find light, it’s hollow.  I know their light is there.  It’s just in a hiding place.  The man, we’ll call him C looked at me and said, “Dear, they don’t see all of you.  You’re too big for them.  You’re too much.  You can fill this whole stadium, and they can’t see all of that”.  All the bells rang in my head.  People have told me this like this before.  How many times have I beat my head against brick walls to make myself small enough for someone to see what they like?  This was the first time I was willing to hear it and let it stick

If you’ve scanned this page, you feel my craving for connection, how it douses everything I write and speak.  If you could see me, you’d recognize my capacity for connection before you’d recognize that my eyes are green.  Not everyone holds such strong adhesive properties.  Not everyone is a series of lose threads to be tied to innumerable people and places.  This embarrasses me.  It is always exposure to be so sensitive. I am forever playing a game of chicken I will never win.  Because not everyone wants to go through life like this, and I can no longer hold that against them.  Because I can’t allow another person’s inability to remain raw to rub off on me.  I know how deeply I would regret being anything else but water in a world if black mirrors.

I’ve spent much of my young life muting myself.  Hoarding internet tips and misguided lessons, I associated strategy with security.  Being wanted is an intoxication, but belonging is fulfillment.   I used to believe that I would make someone want me, and then open everything up.  Coy and calculated, the overture, but no one stayed for the main act. I preserved myself for the buyer who never came.  Despite my feminist rhetoric, I behaved the way women “ought to be” so I would never be the reason for my un-wanting.  This process was emotional self-abuse. I learned that emotional violence couldn’t be my homeostasis, that it wasn’t sustainable to define myself by how many hopes I could ignore.

“What have you got to lose?” Heartsick and lonely, I mustered the courage to muse.  Quit collecting grains of sand when you want a foundation of concrete, Marisa!   I am homesick for community, connection, love, and affection.  So let it hurt, and call the pan what it is.  Let my hands remind me that they can grasp something other than air.  Let your soul lead you out of shame and into all the reasons you’re here and to all the things you’re entitled to feel.

This admission comes with the acceptance that not everyone is capable of linking so intensely.  For some people, I am more Polaroid than person.  I had to be flattened to be visible– for them to recognize me as anything at all. The image is inaccurate.  I am an open heart with fangs, more force of nature than woman.  But you gotta open the doors and windows to feel the elements, and most would rather stay shut and enjoy the AC.  I am not a reflection of those who cannot love me, even less so of people who don’t get me.

Have you ever had someone who didn’t understand you make you something? I have.  I held misunderstanding in my hands.  It was the tangible idea of me– big, ostentatious, glamorous, a frenzy of electrons unable to be configured into a recognizable element.  She couldn’t see me.  And that’s ok.

Connection feels like a game of bumper cars sometimes.  I crash into people who drive away and quell my disappointment.  I hit wall after wall and debate shrinking back into strategy.  I get whiplash and exhausted.  But, my heart assures me I’ll fit, and it won’t feel forced.  And I will thank every wall and escaped car for not letting me in.  When I fit, even if it’s in the dustiest of corners, I’ll know.

I am devoted to connection.  My ability to recognize the light in others, and have them see my brightness, both naked and raw, is the only religion I can practice.   Every time I am vulnerable, it is a pilgrimage.  Every time I open, it’s a prayer.  Some go unanswered.  This makes every connection is a miracle.  Every thank you, a hallelujah, every I love you, an Amen.  I was born of Joan of Arc’s feast day, and ever since, I have wondered what I would be a martyr for.  This is it.  This is the stake I tie myself to.  But if I go up in flames, I hope then, all of me is seen and felt and ablaze.

Sick of Myself

I wish there were a sign I could hang outside myself, “soul out sick”.  My ideas, my writing, have gotten tired, worn, gray.  They used to have teeth– the things I said.  I think on a loop now– somehow convinced that if I write about these themes, if I talk them out, if I purge and discharge them, they will cease to be in my head.  It doesn’t work. Perhaps I’m prematurely birthing thoughts that needed more womb time, even nurtured in draft bassinets before publishing.  No.  I push my poems into the world like myself — way before I was ready.  That’s the thing with abandonment issues– there are exits and footprints away from all the things I fathom.

I read my previous feed like I’m cleaning my closet.  Looking for the clutter in cloned pieces.  All the while, I know that I am writing more than thoughts.  These are my fears that I don’t dare dive into, but merely landscape in flowery prose.  If I barreled a lawnmower through the literary devices, what would remain?  I feel complacent.  I worry I’m going anywhere.   I once had wings and sliced them myself so no one would be threatened by my ability to fly, ashamed that I could ever touch the clouds to begin with. I’ve tried defining my infinite-ness by subtraction, and continue wracking my brain over impossible equations.  My atrophied phrases mirror the fear paralyzing me.  That I might not be good enough.  Am I a collection of second hand thoughts I write with my non-dominant hand?  Would I still be pretty if all you had to go off of was the color of my soul?

What I post here is everything I’m too ashamed to say aloud, to know the ears of the universe heard my voice crack when I asked to be loved.  When I wish hands besides my own knew how to worship my body–or wanted to learn.  I worry I am un-wantable and disposable.  One day, I will find my vulnerability beside the recycling, and, express with gratitude, that it will make a nice cup or newspaper in another life, never mourning that no one valued my exposure enough to keep it.  It’s a hard lesson to absorb that self-love does not encompass all other loves.  It’s the earth, not the trees.  It’s a harder lesson to accept that I will still want and need other loves, even with a profound sense of my own.  The hardest is to celebrate that I deserve to be loved profoundly and deeply and in many ways by other people.  That I cannot continue convincing myself that it’s ok to be a pit stop in everyone’s story.  Telling myself this as I collect the litter they leave in their wake.  Moreover, I can’t define myself by another’s road map.  If someone referred to the Pyramids as a pit stop, it’s not a comment on the Pyramids.

I am in a footrace with my thoughts.  They always win. I touch my hair so my head feels lighter. To think differently, I need to do differently.  I don’t entirely know what that is.  I’m so annoyed with the items in my head.  They’re only asking to breathe and be heard.  I don’t know how to do that.  I only know how to smother all the things I feel are weak in me.  Maybe that’s why my fingers find themselves pounding at this keyboard, the same ideas with different words– because you can’t choke ache.  You can’t suffocate needs.  They find ways to exists, perhaps more furiously than originally intended.  Sometimes, processing feels pathetic.  If feels sad and lonely– and maybe I am those things while also bring the bright-burning, strong, independent woman I’ve always been.   My head feels like a Rustbelt Town I can’t afford to leave.  So, how do I build?  Reinvent?  Revolutionize?

The answer isn’t out there, but in here.  It’s tuning into myself.  What feels good and what doesn’t?  Screw the magazine tips and wives tales, your gut is your compass, allow it to guide you.  Be radically vulnerable and sincere.  Profoundly uncool as it is, this is what I have to do. I’m going to get my ass kicked.  There is a 100% chance I will embarrass myself and fall on my face.  Guess I’ll be seeing the world from a lot of different angles. I need to surrender my coolness, my upper hand, all the ways I lull myself into security, if I want to be fulfilled.   The Pacific Ocean is dwarfed by the depths of my emotions.  My thoughts make Hamlet appear succinct.  I got more baggage than a Southwest Flight the on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.   I am the headache you would never dare to wish away with Advil.  And I deserve the things I want (as a person, not bs stuff like shoes.  I don’t deserve fancy shoes).  I have to believe that first, open in all the places I’ve broken, and allow myself to receive it.  Of course, timing could totally screw me over on this one.

Rather than checking out, like the beginning of this essay, I want to check into myself again.  To turn the dial to a place where my head is clear, even if I don’t always love what’s playing.  Maybe the point isn’t to catch my thoughts, but let them tire themselves out by running and screaming until their presence is graffiti in my skull.  After all, I can always paint over that stuff.

Dear 2017

I meant to write this on the first, to be a cliche and corny and uncool as I am.  I closed my thoughts on 2016 on Christmas.  With 2017, it commences with intention.  I want my hopes for 2017 to exist in black and white– out there in the universe, breathing themselves into reality.  Just as last week, I’m scared.  I feel more exposed now.  In the past year, I reopened this blog in the rawest fashion– confessing my suicidal thoughts.   My words traversed depression, a lack of community, mustering the courage to leave, to start over, belonging, boundaries, love and what if I don’t get it, all the things I want but go mute between my head and my vocal cords.  Vulnerability is profoundly uncomfortable, but I’m glad I’m exploring it here.  Thank you.  Thank you for reading, for listening.  I don’t personally know anyone who follows this blog, and that makes it all the more humbling to feel a sense of support just everywhere.

It’s 3 am.  These words won’t look away .  They inundate my thoughts like a monsoon that downs all other sounds.  Be your own wreckage for once, Marisa.  Don’t stand neatly in this box, praying nothing will wreck you so you can remain innocent and clean.  That’s not you.  Be the messy, brave glory you were born to be.

Dear 2017,

Please be good to me.  Love me hard and send me abundant, indulgent, unconditional, incandescent love.  Send it to me in people and places.  Send me to them.  Mail me with intention so I am delivered (and accept) to those who honor me as I honor them, rather than settling to avoid ever feeling lonely.  This is terrifying and overwhelming and jolts me in an emotional tailspin about my ability to deserve love. That’s ok.  Send it anyway.

I understand the trade off for this (not that love is a transaction force– it’s not) is my surrender of perfectionism.  Now, I unsubscribe from the collector’s ideology: I will travel/ date/ find love/ tell people about this blog/ try that workout class/ talk to those people/ demand better treatment from others.  Perfect doesn’t exist.  It’s the opt-out clause for acting now.  But, knowing how little treating myself like memorabilia has gotten me, it’s necessary to try something else.   Here it goes– here I am trying to peel back the layers of shame, shoulds, and coulds and woulds.  Let it be uncomfortable, raw, exposing, vulnerable, let sensations return, and with that alone, it will be worth it.

Let this be a year alive.  I want to experience this year– travel, taste, sweat, curse, dance, cry, laugh, connect, scream, come and go, marvel, empower, be empowered, love, revel, and celebrate.  It won’t be perfect.  Don’t worry, 2017, you don’t have to be.  Let me be alive this year.  Staring less into the black mirror of a cell phone or TV and more into the eyes of the people around me.  I want to numb less, petrifying as it is to expose my nerves to this gritty world.

I will challenge myself this year.  I will stretch and grow and grow up a little (but not too much).  Inevitably, I’m going to fall short and fall on my face.  This won’t be easy since I’ve acquired a taste for control.  Life is most delicious when you allow it the space to unfold for itself.  So, I’ll center back on my values and allow things to unfold, knowing I did the best I could with that.   It’s not about doing to most or overcompensating.  I just need to tune into the woman I am at my core.  She’s in there.

My boundaries, the ones that I firmly believe in, will be respected by others and myself.

Screw pretty.  Screw the way it looks.  What does it feel like?  Let this be a year that glows from the inside out.

May I find community, belonging, and the courage to connect without the insurance of longevity.

2017, I’m scared I won’t get the things I want.  I’m scared I don’t deserve the things I won’t.  I’m going to it anyway.  Shaking, sweat palms, I’m going for it– all of it.  I am ready for you.  May you be all the things a good year is, and I will be my best self (this far).

Love,

Marisa

Happy Merry Blessed Everything

Merry Christmas!  Merry happy blessed everything.  Truly.  As the year draws to a close, my mind ventures along the same pilgrimage everyone’s does– where did I go this year?  Was it good?  Was I good, and how can I be better?  I’ve been so many women in 360 days.  I began 2016 as a damsel in distress– contorting myself into a a series of uncomfortable positions to fit into Cleveland, into a city that was never really meant to be more than a launchpad in my life.  My mettle matched my desires when I got brave enough to leave.  I got a new job, and returned to a place where I could flourish.  No one is going to do life for you.  I’ve doled this advise out countless times, but I hadn’t heeded it in a while.  There’s this misled section of me that hopes fate or life or some celestial force will intervene in so many aspects.  But all the good in my life is the fruit of being unprepared, un-calculated, and bravely throwing myself into the arena anyway.

With that, for the first time in my life, I actively dated.  Not much came from this endeavor, but I did it.  I maturely negotiated conflict with another mature party.  I advocated for my needs without an apology.  I invested in my health.  I indulged.  2016 was a year I did things, as opposed to having events befall me.

In the fall, I got lazy.  Comforted lulled me out of my bravery.  I got into my groove at work, regularly went to the gym, hung out with my friends– content in my established routine.  I dislike myself slouching. I don’t like myself asleep.  I want to grow and challenge, and I know I am far too hard on myself.  But courage tingles on my taste buds like a craving I haven’t indulged in a while.

Jump starting my resolutions (which I normally avoid because I find them cheesy), I went to a counselor recently.  Therapy and I never worked before.  I don’t think I’ll revisit this counselor.  However, even after my experience with her, I was open to exploring therapy in the future.  I appreciated the insights she offered, even if we aren’t compatible.  Growth is shit failing and still pursuing the vision and hope.  I’m doing that.

I did that with dating.  In addition to putting myself out there, I was vulnerable and authentic with men.  Finally setting fire to the standards and games and goals and barriers, I (toward the end of 2016) allowed myself the freedom to interact as two people.  Connection is a liberation I hope to explore more within the next year.

I’m scared.  I’m scared I’m not enough, that I’m too poor, too fat, not pretty, not smart.  Those fears won’t dissolve anytime soon.  But my courage can be louder.  Being whole comes with the bad stuff, but allows the good stuff to speak.  I will close this holiday (and this year) in a messy way.  I probably won’t get skinny in 2017.  That’s not the goal.  But I will experience more, fall on my face, get up, be hurt and heal, and make it one hell of a year.  Cheers to that.  Happy merry blessed everything.

 

Notes on Being Single

I am 23 years old.  I’ve never had a boyfriend.  If you’ve read my other posts, my unease I feel with this is palpable.  It’s not a hope to be halved and had by someone else.  More that, I am trying to reconcile my fierce independence with my human (and natural) craving for romance and affection.  I’m embarrassed for thinking about this as much as I do.  I feel like I’ve compromised my “strong woman” status with these knotted sentiments: half of celebrating my freedom, the other half curious about a romantic relationship.  Even my curiosity is proud– refusing to settle, in harmony with my gut at all times.   When my intuition tells me it’s not right, I can’t allow myself to continue pursuing a person.  I wish I could, but bending isn’t something my will enjoys.

I had my first crush at five– in kindergarten.  The following year, he declared before our first grade class that, not only did he not like me, but I was the ugliest girl in the world!  I moved on in third grade.  Although, I quickly squashed my chances by fracturing his jaw in a game of crab soccer. I met attraction as a shameful and always-distant beast. My first two crushes set the stage for a series of unrequited almosts that have followed me ever since.   The cocktail of unachieveable affection and my addiction to romantic narratives (Jane Austen, Love Actually, Jane Eyre– you get the gist) sculpted my perception into an hourglass.  I was waiting for romantic love for my life to begin, never realizing that I was already living.

And every time, I expected love to save me .  When I attempted suicide, when all I wanted to do was run and I noticed anchors at my heels, through abuse and assault and harassment, on the rough days and in crisis– I half-heartedly hoped some beautiful boy would mend the messy parts for me.  But it was just me.  Me, alone in the chaos of the tempests I created.  I didn’t–and still don’t– have a lifeline to pull.  As a white, middle class, able-bodied, cis-woman, resources are abundant to me.  In dissecting my singlehood, it’s also important to point out my privilege.  The world wants to protect fragile, pretty, young white women, and in many ways, my privilege has been my lifeline.  When the system is designed for your protection and success, it’s easy to sound triumphant.  Were I born somebody else, I would not be so fortunate.

But since no man is here to do the heavy lifting, I get my hands dirty.  I am brazen about self-advocacy.  There isn’t space for fear in saving yourself.   You have to dive in and figure out if you have the chops to make it as you go.  More often than not, I realize I have what it takes when I remember that I am worth saving.

I’m not saying that I don’t feel lonely.  I’m not saying that there aren’t moments when I resent my singlehood.  There are.  They come often.   However,  I am certain that the regret I’d feel from wasting time and emotions and energy on a lackluster relationship outweighs my loneliness.  Moreover, I’ve learned to self-soothe.

There are days I feel like the puppy at the pound nobody picked. I watch each one as they’re wanted and carried home.  And holy hell how I want to be picked.  I question if I am lovable, if I am pretty,  why none of this has happened yet. But, that scenario hinges on being selected out of pity. It frames love as a sales pitch and me as a product.  Love doesn’t work like that. I don’t know much about relationships or how they work, but I’m certain it’s not through pity.  It’s a mutual choice every day to prioritize this relationship over other options you have.   I think relationships work best when it isn’t a necessity that both (or more than two) people stay together.

Women, especially, are told that no relationship is higher, more important, than the one she has with a romantic other. Men are paramount, and sisterhood is secondary.  I’m not saying the relationship with your partner isn’t profoundly important.  What I am saying is that one person cannot be everything to another person.  A human body cannot configure itself into a life preserver.  Contrary to the beautiful and harrowing scenes of Hollywood, romantic love and sex are not your savior. It’s you and connection that will rescue you.

I tell myself this a lot.  I convince myself that self-love can substitute for everything else.  Humanity is vulnerability.  Our ability to need and want connects us to other living things.  But, somehow, I would sooner engulf myself in flames than allow you to blister my thumb.  Denying my wants and needs is a pipeline to internalized shame.   My ego perpetually wars with my humanity.  The truth is, I want to know what it’s like to have a romantic other. I don’t know how to allow this want to exist without shame, without my pride storming in to bludgeon myself out of wanting or hoping.  Lashing out at myself is easier than embracing the desire to be loved.

This year, 2016, I put myself out there more.  I actively dated.  I attempted the app game.  I thawed.  The result was relatively the same.  I wasn’t that into most of the guys I dated, and the ones I did attempt to pursue weren’t into me.  My attempts at dating were in conversation with my attempts to unravel myself from all the “dating rules” women are fed.  You can’t text him first or call him first and you can’t sleep with anyone until you’ve been seeing each other for 90 days.  How the hell am I supposed to be authentic when I’m supposed to be keeping track of all of these rules?!  But the other part of me says, “what if you don’t follow them and end up alone?”

I operated under the collector’s mentality up until this point– this idea that if I preserve myself from a distance, that I never make a fool out of myself or dare to be messy and human– I will always have the upper hand.  But it’s the upper hand because nobody is holing it.  And this “rules” driven strategy only yields regret.  I’m writing this essay because the words have been stewing for nine years– new content with the same sentiments. I’m sick of it.  I don’t want to feel the same way anymore.  I can’t individually change my relationship status, but I can change my attitude about dating, opening up, and allowing it to be the terrifying mess it is.  So, damn it, I’m going to Rihanna, Chelsea Handler, Samantha Jones my way through 2017.

I still feel like the puppy who wasn’t picked, who goes to bed alone in the pound after everyone else has found a home, hope somehow still gleaming after the disappointment.  I’m still prying off all the armor– shaking through the process.  I wonder if this will never happen for me– romantic love.  I hope I read this again in five years and howl.  I hope it’s a riot, not because I am in a relationship, but because of everything else that happened– because I am so full and bright that I make the Chrysler Building look like a piece of lint.

Posting this is as vulnerable as it gets, but I felt compelled to talk about it.  I am taking ownership of my feelings and actions.  I’m 23.  Always single. Always independent and strong.  Always exhausted from the exteriors I’ve erected. I wonder what it would mean to be something besides a series of always– to be inconsistent and messy and maybe unwanted, but at least, unwanted up close rather than from a distance.

 

EDIT:  I greatly appreciate the comments and feedback.  I want to be clear about something– I am not lamenting my single status.  Rather, I am unleashing the candor about the loneliness, lack of certainty, and internalized shame I feel with it.  Normally, I do not to curate my posts.  I want others to draw from them what they value.  This case is the exception.  Please do not let the lesson of my words be: I want a boyfriend.  I am emphatically whole.  Wholeheartedness hails from vulnerability– in admitting instabilities, inconsistencies, the aspects of our celebrated facets that we do not throw confetti onto.  These words were begging for a body, and I gave it to them.  I refuse to outline how I love myself to prove this point, as it is possible to both love myself and question these things.  Please, feel free to comment.  Feel free to interpret.  I just needed to contextualize this piece, as my point could not be further from, “being single sucks”.