For A Long Time

gray bridge and trees

For a long time, it felt like I was running in a hamster wheel. It felt like I was shoveling dirt into a hole in the ground but it was never getting filled up. Sometimes it felt like I was crouched in a corner, in the dark, with my palms to the side of my head.

My coping mechanisms came in the form of chasing unrequited affection. When I wasn’t doing that, I was drinking a lot and eating. I’d overlook these things like I overlooked myself. I gave them excuses because I thought I was just being a girl experiencing life.

For a long time, I felt invisible.

It was less about being shy and more of a reflection of my self-worth. It had less to do with being timid and more about being angry and defensive. For a long time, I couldn’t see it that way. I just felt crazy or defective. I wanted people to see me but I was scared to be seen because I convinced myself people wouldn’t care for what they saw so I acted accordingly to that.

For a long time, I thought the way I was living my life was what I was meant to live, even though it didn’t feel good. Even though I had moments where I’d break down crying from it. Even though I’d pray for the strength to make it through this life because man, it felt long and exhausting. I thought people dismissed me because I wasn’t worth the respect and that it was a truth. I thought I was a loser for wanting warmer feelings and it wasn’t cool to be like that.

For a long time, I took what I could get because that’s what I thought I deserved even if it meant being an option. I treated the scraps I got with more meaning than it held because hey, at least I was still getting fed. I latched onto the inconsistencies given to me because I thought there was more meaning behind it than just guys who were emotionally unaware. For a long time that’s how I lived; as an option and that I was lucky to even be that. I was scared to connect but also longing so hard for genuine affection. The push and pull with myself and how I was with others was exhausting. There were times I tried to be cool with things when I wasn’t because I wasn’t sure if how I felt was valid and didn’t want to make the wrong impression. It was a lowkey way of overlooking myself for someone who didn’t even consider me all that much.

For a long time, I suffered in silence. For a long time, I downplayed my feelings. I put a lot on myself because I was so busy chasing approval from those I felt I had to earn it from. I thought that’s how I was meant to feel validated. I thought this was normal. For a long time, I thought their lack of belief in me was a reflection of myself as a person.

For a long time, I felt stupid. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to rely on the love for myself because there wasn’t much to love, or so that’s what I thought. For a long time, I felt like an impostor. I was constantly living in anxiety that I was wrong about everything and at any moment, someone would call me out for it and I’d have to eat shit for it. For a long time, it was easier to hide this way. I was so used to the discomfort that I thought it was me and normal.

For a long time, I would be confusing to myself. I tried to be a distorted version of myself. I tried to be someone people wanted and failed so miserably at that. It came from being desperate to be accepted. To have friends. To feel like a part of something. It was always so uncomfortable. For a long time that’s how I lived, in constant discomfort. For the long time that I was trying and failing, I didn’t feel like a real person. For a long time, I’d look in the mirror and try to convince myself that I was real. For a long time, it didn’t feel true.

For a long time, every time I said to myself that I loved myself, it felt like it was a big fat lie. It felt that way because I genuinely believed there wasn’t much to love. That I had nothing to offer. For a long time, I couldn’t understand when an outside voice told me to be more kind to myself. To me, at the time, I thought I was at my limits.

For a long time, most things I did felt like I had to prove something of myself with poor results and just as poor execution. I didn’t know what I was doing and felt stupid as a result of that. Since I had nothing to show, I thought I should prove. It goes back to everything had to be earned because I wasn’t enough.

A long time doesn’t mean forever though because I’m no longer any of the above.

Then & Now

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I think I wrote that in like, 2013. At the time, this list was astonishing because it was after a bit over a year of learning how to be self-sufficient and independent when I had no clue how to be.

In 2012, I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship and it was the first time I’d ever been on my own. Before that, I always had someone taking care of me or someone to depend on. I moved into a place with four male roommates and it was the first time I’d ever just randomly lived with strangers. To be honest, it was a great household to live in until some of us started graduating from the place. By then, I figured it was time for me to branch out on my own too.

But that year living there, I worked hard for myself. I pushed myself to the gym after barely/struggling with any form of fitness in my entire life. I was so dumb about anything that I made a friend of mine hold my hand and basically do everything for me but pay when I got my gym membership. I was anxious. What made me sign up was this awkward moment where the group of girls I was friends with at the time all silently agreed that I was chubby. We had taken a photo and I was so surprised by how I looked and said, “ARE THOSE FAT ROLLS ON MY BACK?”. The response I got was silence and no one would look at me. This scene is forever in my memory. After a tough start, I fell in love with powerlifting and the lowkey confidence that manifested through that probably saved my life at the time. Still, I took myself for granted.

During that year, I put all my energy into building myself. It was probably the most disciplined I’d ever been in my life. In the beginning, there were times where I felt so lonely that I would call the suicide hotline just to talk to someone for a bit. I didn’t seek help or support because I was that alone and didn’t have the knowledge I do now. Eventually, I was still living a lonely life but I was getting somewhere with it.

When I wrote that in 2013, I still thought I was getting somewhere. I couldn’t have predicted that my life would go into the downward dark spiral that it did for the next few years. I was doing great in terms of jobs. I was working my regular office job but also serving just to keep myself from being a complete hermit. I ended up dating a guy on and off for seven months and it was such a dumb relationship. He was so dumb. After we broke up and he fucked off to Reno, there began my downfall.

I was burnt out from working all the time. I was heartbroken over such a stupid relationship. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to so instead I slowly started to self-destruct in ways that I masked as trying to be better. I bullshitted on the outside while being empty on the inside. I was pretty promiscuous because I thought I’d enjoy myself and you know, expand my sexual horizon. To be honest, most of it sucked and I didn’t really enjoy myself. I also went into this weird perverse phase that still baffles me to this day. I think it was because I kept what I wanted sexually on the inside and felt I had to sneak around about it. I also did another thing secretly that I actually enjoyed because it’s not as bad as people say. The only thing that sucked was the emotional abuse from a messed up man and the loneliness I felt about it.

Everything around me was pretty toxic. I gave up on opportunities out of anxiety. There were days I was so paralyzed that I couldn’t function but I pretended and it made things worse. I was drinking all the time. My relationships were fleeting and such headaches. I was trying to get guys who were emotionally unavailable to love me. Who weren’t interested in me and I convinced myself to believe their empty words. Or I’d date guys who I gave the feels to but they couldn’t handle them like an adult so I’d try to handle it for the both of us and those didn’t end well. The more I kept consuming myself in all the mess, the more I was losing myself. Even with the breakdowns, I would manage to lie to myself enough to keep pretending.

My only friend that knew anything was broken as well. That friendship seemed like the greatest love story but it was empty because we were. It was the equivalent of a toxic relationship that we both thought we needed. I would end up in another one when I moved in with a girl roommate. Most of my female friendships have been damaging or superficial. I struggle to feel the sincerity of it. I’m learning how to properly let a genuine connection happen but it’s not easy.

I started become lowkey scared of everything. I felt like an alien. I had isolated myself and pretended so much that I didn’t really know how to socialize anymore. When I had to, I faked it pretty well. I became so fucking broken and while I knew the truth, I couldn’t admit it to myself. There were nights where I would cry and pray for things to get better. They didn’t get better.

Though I do give big ups to the one guy I dated who is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. We only dated for a month and a half because he moved to Australia to become a doctor. What we did briefly have was pure and genuine. He was super caring and thoughtful and made me feel valued. Even when he was gone and busy with studying, he would still make time for me when he could. He was always there when he could be and he never left me hanging. I messed up our friendship when I got into an emotionally abusive relationship and became scared of guys. I’ve apologized to him years later but it’s not the same. I still remember our time together from time to time fondly. Sometimes it makes me tear up.

By the end of 2015, I stopped living my life for myself. It felt like all my options were dead ends. I was having frequent panic attacks but had nowhere to hide. I started investing in an emotionally abusive relationship to escape. The four months it lasted left me a shell of a person. It was cruelty through loyalty. It really fucked me up emotionally and to an extent, I let it happen. It only ended when he shoved me against a wall and I told him if he didn’t let go of me I would kill him. After that, I gave notice to my place and slept on a friend’s couch for three weeks because I didn’t trust myself to be alone. I started looking for a place with a roommate because I didn’t want to be alone.

The fucked up part was I tried to date during this time. I wanted to block out that relationship from my head and this was my way of moving on. Didn’t work.

I moved in with a girl and lived with her for a year and a half. It started out great but by the end of it, we hated each other. We were both pretty messed up in our own ways and were no good for each other. I still don’t like her and besides writing this about her, I barely think of her. To be fair, I did some dumb shit too. She had to put up with a lot of my bullshit, especially when I got into a relationship that almost resulted in eloping. It was the relationship that would make me realize that I needed to get help and I needed to be better. I started seeing a therapist but I was still hiding out about myself. There were moments where I felt so empty that I wanted to stab myself with a kitchen knife. It was a dull urge but it was there. I tried to push that down because hey, it was an upgrade from wanting to drown myself in a bath the year before.

Near the end of 2017, I worked through enough to start allowing myself to feel angry and take control of my life more. I quit my shit job and moved out into my own place. I was still feeling empty so I made the decision to get on anti-depressants.

2018 wasn’t a great year in terms of shit that happened. A lot happened behind the scenes and what felt like every aspect of my life. I struggled a lot. But it didn’t feel as exhausting as it once did. Towards the end of the year, I learned to not struggle alone. I started to learn to genuinely talk about what was happening to people I trusted. I haven’t learned to fully cope with certain things but I’m getting there. I don’t talk to douchebags anymore. I let my friends love me when I can’t love myself. I’m learning to accept their love without feeling like it’s trouble. I let them hug me and let me know it’s okay when it feels like everything is falling apart. I’m no longer lonely in that sense.

And here we are at 2019. I’ve been several months douchebag-free. I don’t count the last guy I hung out with amongst the trash. I understand the value of myself and know how I’d like to be treated. At first I was going to quit drinking but lately, I’ve been trusting myself with handling it and I’m confident it’s doable. I only think this because I’m learning to embrace the core of me and it takes away from the escape or distraction of just drinking. I’m slowly shedding that desire to be a version of myself that’s not really me. I’m getting down with my way of fun and what’s fun for me and I can see shining that path is. This glow up game is real and I’m beginning to see my sparkle.

I hope by the end of this year I can make another successful “in this past year”. I know this time around there won’t be another downward spiral. Not if I don’t ever try to downplay my sparkle again.