I spent my entire last relationship internalizing every single one of my problems/struggles because the person I was dating did not think that what I was going through was worth a listen. Almost 2 years of my life, completely and utterly alone in my head and in my feelings. My freshman and sophomore years of college were the worst mental health years of my life. I felt that I had finally reached that “rock bottom” that everyone talks about. All I did was cry and beg someone who obviously did not give a fuck about me to show me just an ounce of the love and care that I was showing them. The more I got rejected, the less I started to feel about myself, and the more time I spent trying to prove that I was good enough for him. Finally getting to a point in the relationship where I truly believed that I deserved the treatment that I was getting. I wasn’t worthy of healthy love and this was the best that I could do.
It’s been months since we broke up. It took a while to build my self-esteem back up. Yes, I no longer have feelings for this person nor any want/need to ever be with them again. But the aftermath of that treatment continues to haunt me in every single interaction that I have had with men since him. It’s like a ghost right there in my ear whispering, reminding me of the past, and causing me to move with utter uncertainty. I spend my time creating scenarios in my head that stress me out and leave me anxious and tired. I can’t fully enjoy any new relationship because my mind is always going 100 mph with questions. Am I doing something wrong? Did I say too much? Why isn’t he texting me back? He’s probably over me.
Recently, I was watching an episode of ‘Being Mary Jane’ where the main character, Mary Jane goes on a rant about how nobody wants to ask black women why they are how they are. It’s quick and easy to place a judgement on us and our behavior, call our feelings and actions irrational, invalidate our struggles and deem them as overreactions. Oh we’re just angry. Nobody ever wants to take the time to figure out how we got here? Why am I “crazy” or insecure, how come it’s so hard for me to open up and let someone in?
My ex used to do this thing where he would break up with me and ignore me for days… sometimes even weeks. This usually happened when I brought up an issue that bothered me and he decided that he did not want to talk about it. Rather than discuss something like two adults, he would escalate small situations and then break up with me and then ignore me. I would text, call, no answer. Yet when I would log onto social media I saw that he was active, commenting, posting, interacting with everyone but me. The ignoring drove me INSANE. I became obsessed. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. Everything in my life became an after-thought because my priority became getting a response… something. This happened ALL THE TIME. I spent my days crying, losing weight, and stalking social media. I would apologize for bringing the subject up, apologize for telling him how I felt. It finally got to a point where I looked in the mirror and realized that I had allowed someone to take me so far out of character that I couldn’t even recognize the girl that was looking back at me. That day, I blocked him on everything.
That’s just an isolated problem, our relationship was riddled with toxicity. But I’ve noticed that those interactions with my ex directly affect the way that I work in any new relationship or potential relationship. Focusing on the ignoring bit. After we broke up, I implemented a 2 day rule. If I’m talking to a guy and I don’t hear from him in 48 hours then I delete the number and move on. Yes, I understand that things happen and people get busy. But I also understand that I don’t want to go down the same slippery road that I’ve been on multiple times. I understand that my mental health is important to me, and I’m not ready to compromise any of the progress that I have made. So I’d rather cut it off immediately than figure out what the explanation is. Another rule of mine, I don’t follow the person that I am dating/talking to on social media. Why? Because in the past social media became my gateway drug to OBSESSION. I wasn’t hearing from my boyfriend so I would clock everything and anything just to catch a glimpse of what he was doing, any indication of if he was on his phone and actually ignoring me.
Every day I see some girl on Twitter praising an action that a guy has done for her. Everyday I see someone quote the tweet with something like “bare minimum twitter” or ” the bar is on the ground”. For the longest time, I laughed at those jokes. I agreed with them. It was until I found myself in a situation where I was open and honest with someone and rather than do what I was used to and make me feel like what I felt didn’t matter, he thanked me for feeling comfortable enough to talk to him and told me that my feelings were valid. I cried. I cried like a baby because I wasn’t used to it. And I cried even harder because I had allowed myself to put up with less than the bare minimum for so long. Something so minuscule like having someone truly care and try to understand where I was coming from was foreign to me.
I think it’s weird that we never talk about the aftermath of certain situations. How certain traumas that we have experienced in our lifetime can continue to follow us throughout our lives. Whether it be from romantic relationships or even family. These traumas are a part of us, and if we let them they can begin to dictate how we move, how we function. Everybody has them. I feel like most people spend their time trying to hide them, cover them up, and run away. I also think it’s pretty fucked up how we aren’t more understanding of people who are still working through or dealing with these feelings. We’ve created such high expectations for everyone to be perfect, completely disregarding the fact that we’re all going through something. We have managed to make everyone feel self conscious about being open about their struggles. It’s a lack of communication on both sides. And it’s a conversation that needs to be had. At what point in your “talking stages” do you take a moment to really drop the walls and talk about your bare self. No fluff, no bullshit, just what makes you.. you?