banger song by Lorde, not so banger mentality
heavy TW: explicit mentions of suicidal ideation, suicide, borderline personality disorder, mental illness
i’m having an off day. i haven’t had one in a while, which is in itself throwing me — are you ready for it — off. but i guess i was due for one since the january blues haven’t threatened to tug me into su*c*d*l ideation territory as they have so many winters before.
usually, at this point of the year, i’m hopping back onto the apps (much to my friends’ dismay). maybe it’s because i tend to marathon saccharine christmas rom-coms during the holiday season. it probably has more to do with seasonal depression and the sudden urge to fill a Void.
regardless, i have this awful habit, which i think i’m finally making progress in killing, where i throw myself into the open waters of Hinge and Bumble and OKCupid and i think i want a relationship until i’m actually on the precipice of one.
i think the last time i was close to actually pushing through the instinct to run was three years ago, in the thick of COVID. i’d been more or less seeing someone virtually since around march. we finally met IRL in july, but uh, as i’ve alluded to in the past, august 2020 was one of three major low points in my life.
surprise, surprise, this wasn’t my ex’s fault (if i can call him that). and i recognize now it wasn’t even 100% mine — it was just a perfect storm. one in which i braced for cover alone.
when my friends and family faced loss after loss that year, i turned away and inward.
i can’t even map out the details of that august. i just know the reason i turned my face away in this photo was not for the aesthetic. i turned away because i had spent much of the car ride heading there crying inconsolably, having an anxiety attack in the back of my parents’ car, curled up in meme-worthy fetal position.
for a long time, and especially that summer, i was convinced i wasn’t good or human enough to deserve or maintain a real connection. i was convinced my BPD, which i’d been trying desperately for years to push down, to erase, to cure, made me a liability.
i kept having this recurring thought.
“it’s irresponsible of me to expose myself to others. i can only hurt or disappoint them.”
i resolved to remaining not only single, but childless and was convinced i wasn’t cut out for friendships. even though i’ve wanted nothing more than to share my life with a partner and adopt a child.
it sounds silly. i was just fundamentally convinced i was a monster.
so, one summer’s day, i climbed into a bathtub and hoped never to resurface.
but as zendaya’s MJ learned in spider-man: no way home (2021), expecting the worst is a nice illusion of safety until life proves you otherwise.
almost three years later, i can look back on this chapter — on myself — with some semblance of grace. i don’t believe in my core anymore that i’m a blight to all i encounter.
and listen, i know i’ve caused some real harm, intent be damned.
i know i’ve caused enough harm that when i last posted so explicitly about suicide, someone effectively decided to tell me i was right. that it was good for others to distance themselves for me. at the time, i laughed at the absurdity of such casual cruelty. i still laugh at it. but it stung.
on my bad days, i like to take out these thoughts again, because in some ways, they’re my most familiar friends. tattered animals i’ve sat with. i’ve stained them with my tears and tea.
but i recognize now these are bad days. not a bad life. not a bad person.
i was avoidant because i was afraid.
let’s face it. i was not great at making time for dates. even now that i’ve graduated, when i actually have hours to spare after work, it takes a lot of energy for me to say yes to any engagement, much less a date.
of course, this is all out of anxiety.
because i’ve tried it, haven’t i? i’ve tried to try. i’ve tried to be raw and vulnerable and open and instead i was left gutted like a fish.
naively, for years, i poured myself into friendships and connections only for them to combust or suddenly vanish. i’ll be real.
i got tired of crying alone to exhaustion in the car. i got tired of getting scared every time i saw a familiar face in a crowd. i got tired of saying things like “I’d go grocery shopping with you for the rest of my life” and never getting to take them back and save them for someone else.
so i shut down.
honestly, by the time my brief relationship sputtered out, i was numb. i was more upset with my friends and family than i was with being single again.
when i think of him now, i miss his friendship the most. in the end, he found someone else, and i was elated for him.
i’ve changed, but i don’t want to use loneliness as a shield anymore.
i’m not racing to the apps this year because i feel fulfilled by my relationships as they are. my family’s even more tight-knit than we used to be. i’m content with my best friends. i find joy in my communities. i’m proud of the work i’m doing. i’m thrilled and enchanted and frightened by the book i’m writing.
still, i don’t want to use my independence as a shield or crutch anymore. i don’t want to shy away from vulnerability because that’s just not who i want to be. for the last four years, i’ve been ashamed to be soft. i mean, it’s why i kept taking down my posts here.
it’s probably why i’ll never recover from having an anxiety attack in front of joseph quinn’s stupidly gentle and kind face. (joseph, i’m so sorry you had to witness my snotty face — i just don’t loooove being yelled at by random staff and effective strangers.)
i’m not like suddenly free from the fear of getting hurt or left behind. i don’t think any of us get to escape those fears. i think they actually make us human and wonderful.
whatever or whoever comes my way, i want to lean into my gentleness. because it’s not a foil to strengthy. being soft and open and real is the most cutthroat thing to do in this age.
and i know that! i’ve seen it. i see it in becca and nabs and mariam. i see it in the way my dog experiences joy and whimsy so freely. i see it in the oddball moments my family has and laughs hard over.
i’ve realized that growing out of being a hopeless romantic doesn’t mean you have to embrace cold and clinical cynicism. enjoying your time alone doesn’t mean you can’t also yearn to share in your aloneness or to embark on adventures with another person.
i guess TLDR: this year, i want to love more than i fear.
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