respect

i never thought i would be writing this post but here i am

i think this is mostly catharsis but a small part of me hopes that someone in this situation may somehow stumble on this post and realize what i didnt.

but i feel like i must write it because i am so so angry still. and i hope this brings healing

so i used to date a boy. we were together for five to six months officially and involved for seven. ive written about the break up on this blog. cried about it. gotten over it.

looking back, im amazed by how unhealthy the relationship was.

to begin with, i did not want a relationship with him. we started off as friends with benefits but i realized that he wanted to be more.

however, i became pretty dependent on him, having become more distant from high school friends and failing to make new ones in uni, so i convinced myself that i did want a relationship and we would work out, even though my brain knew well before that

  • i was not ready for a relationship and wanted to be single for a while longer
  • if i did get in a relationship, it wouldn’t be with him. i wasn’t physically attracted to him and i knew our personalities did not match too well

but we got into a relationship that became increasingly codependent. im not 100 percent sure on his emotions, but i know that for mine, the relationship was incredibly intense. i would miss him intensely even when i had just seen him and he would tell me the same.

i became dependent on him for happiness because i was very depressed and lonely. however, after a while even he couldn’t make me happy anymore. i was extremely down, and every time he would socialize, i would feel so very inadequate, comparing myself to him. then when i was depressed, he would feel inadequate for not being able to cure my depression. he wasnt able to handle my mental illness. i cannot blame him for that at all. in this narrative, it is very much on me that i got into this relationship (my first serious one) knowing that it was not right for me and would inevitably end.

however, there were things that were not my fault and i cannot believe did not signal huge red flags in my head.

things such as him telling his friends about my depression which was insensitive.

things such as him telling both his friends and mutuals many details about our sex life even after i asked him not to do this

things such as him lying to friends about me.

things such as lying to me about his number of past sexual partners.

things like slut shaming a coworker

things like blatantly disregarding my sexual boundaries after i told him of them many many times

this is what gets to me

i cannot believe that i stayed in a relationship for as long as i did with someone who disrespected my wishes as much and as plainly as he did. i guess in my head i thought it was my fault for not being clear enough. it’s not that he wouldnt stop if i screamed no, stop! when he did and it’s not that he wouldnt stop if i struggled. it’s just that i’d say no and then two minutes later he would do it again. it’s just that id later message him, please dont do this, it really upsets and bothers me, and he’d agree, then the next time we met, it was like our conversation didnt happen.

i wanted to make him happy and i was so tired of telling him to stop, over and over again.

it was only after being with two other partners that i discovered the radical idea that there are men who will only do things with you that you explicitly and enthusiastically consent to, and you can have boundaries without losing a man, and there are people who will wholeheartedly and lovingly care and respect for you. in all aspects of life – not just outside the bedroom.

it still makes me so angry thinking about it. i know it is in the past and i need to forgive. i dont consider myself to have been molested or abused. but i would say i was taken advantage of and definitely disrespected and i feel awful thinking about it – thinking of how i let this happen and how horrible and dirty and violated i felt when and after it did. it shouldn’t have been like that. i still feel horrible thinking about it and affects me still with my comfort with aspects of sex, my trust, and my mental health

so again, i just want to say to anyone who may be reading this … if anything in your relationship seems wrong, if there is more pain and tears than happiness, and if you are only staying because you cannot bear leaving, then please please reevaluate. And if your partner ever disregards your boundaries even after you’ve made them clear, do not let codependency keep you there. you will be ok and someday you will feel so much better after you’ve left the unhealthy situation.

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meaningful connections

I follow my university’s “confessions” page and I’ve noticed a common recurrent theme in these confessions. There is an overwhelming amount of students struggling to make friends at university and in life in general. They are lonely, shy, afraid of rejection, tired of trying, depressed, and suffering from low self esteem.

They are, in other words, my kindred souls.

The number of posts and comments suggest that loneliness is an epidemic, but that’s good for us, isn’t it? It means that there are plenty of other people out there who have NOT established friend groups yet and are looking for human connection.

For what do we mean when we say “friends”?

We don’t mean the girl you wave to when you pass each other in the hall or the boy you’re paired up with for a group assignment. I hate small talk and although I know that I’m further isolating myself and causing my own loneliness, sometimes I’m too tired by small talk so I just don’t bother. And it’s not only that I’m tired and anxious. I don’t see the point. I don’t enjoy it and who’s to say it will lead to anything more? And maybe it’s because I try to make small talk with people and go nowhere, while I see a girl who spends one week with the people I have known for a year already become integrated into the group in a way I know I never will.

But, as evidence seems to show, again, I am not alone. Yet, if there are so many of us pining for friendships, why are we not able to find each other and make these connections?

Obviously, it’s not as easy as it sounds. From personal experience, I can vouch for anxiety being a huge huge factor in isolation. Everyone will tell you to join clubs and to talk to the person sitting beside you in the lecture. They don’t seem to understand how much courage it takes to merely show up at one of those club meetings and to merely NOT leave a seat in between you and the next person. We’re not even talking about going up and introducing yourself. Just to put yourself in a position where that could happen is terrifying. But say it does happen. You do end up in a club meeting. You find that half the people already have friends and are laughing and chatting at a high decibel. The other half are already in engaged conversation with the person they met 15 minutes ago. You sit in silence hoping someone will come up to you and make the first move. If someone does, you talk for two minutes about both of your majors and they give a fake laugh at your lame joke, then they announce their friend has arrived and leave.

But here’s the rub. If by some miracle of nature and humankind, you manage to put yourself in a social situation and start talking to another person, that doesn’t mean you are going to become friends. I’m not sure what percentage the likelihood of friendship developing is but I know it is not high.

I’m beginning to think I might understand something of why so many of us are struggling with this thing they call friendship. Friendship is connection. But how are connections formed? Maybe connection is formed through shared experiences and conversations – through a growing mutual understanding of each other and spending enough time together to grow comfortable and able to open up and perhaps most importantly, it means becoming attached to another person so that you care for each other and form an interest in each other’s lives.

Time forms bonds.

But before I’m comfortable with someone, it’s so hard to keep conversations going (small talk) and they don’t care about my life yet because they don’t know me and it’s so hard to have the strength and courage to start that conversation in the first place. And yet that could be the foundation of forming a friendship.

So I am stuck in a depressing circle.

And then there are people who can be immediately comfortable with strangers and OF COURSE they are going to be chosen as a friend over someone who is awkward and nervous and not quite herself yet.

The only area of connection with which I’ve seemed to have had fairly consistent success is when sex is involved. This makes me wonder if the prospect of sex encourages a person to participate in an emotional and psychological exchange and this in turn causes connection. I can’t say the idea doesn’t depress me. Do I need sex to convince people to give me a chance?

I guess some evidence goes against this theory. Some people do seem to make friends very rapidly. Then I fall into a rabbit hole of wondering if I am simply an excruciatingly boring person; hence, why I end up alone. The flip side is that the conversations I have managed to sustain haven’t succeeded in bringing me friendships. So why expend time and effort for something that is so unlikely to bear fruit?

Maybe it is a self fulfilling prophecy. I always return to this and wonder if I am the enemy of my own life. If I believed that everyone wanted to be friends with me, would this turn into reality?

Seems like a fantasy.

At the end of the day, I know it is not a question that I am my own enemy. I’m the one who is anxious, too tired to make an effort, too quiet, too intimidated by everyone talking over me to pitch in a word and unable to make myself heard when I try.

I’m still longing for connection and I’m not ready to give up trying just yet. But I’m well aware that what I call “trying” falls short of everything I could be doing and I’ve been trying and trying to change my personality and neuroses enough to make real “trying” possible.

But it never happens.

i want it all

sometimes i wonder if i want more than life can give me

i am wary of expecting too much and taking what i do have for granted

i am well aware that what i have now is far far more than many people do.

yet i have a vision for what i want and it is a concrete and real vision so this makes me think it is not simply another case of my Type 4 personality. it is something that theoretically could be satisfied.

but practically? do i ask for too much when i want to have a “perfect” relationship – a relationship with someone who fascinates me, who is a kind, caring, and nonjudgmental person, who i am attracted to, and who fulfills me both emotionally and physically? do i ask for too much when i want a job that i will enjoy and that will intellectually challenge me and that will also pay me well?

do i seek a perfection that is unrealistic?

yet the problem with this idea is that i believe that even if everyone around me was telling me that my desires are unrealistic, that wouldn’t make me satisfied with something less. in the back of my mind, i would know that that was not what i really wanted and i would either in the back of my mind be holding out with the hope that what i want is still out there or i would end up disappointed and upset.

i don’t want to settle.

i do want it all and i can only hope that this is not an impossible wish

i can’t help falling in love

yes, i am someone who has fallen into this pit they call love. now contrary to popular opinion, love is not the opposite of rationality. definitely not, or surely love would have stopped my constant thinking. but yet i find myself basking in love while at the back of my mind, there is still a voice telling me, “well, what is love really and how do you know you have found it, oh, you impostor?”

it has got me wondering, what do i mean when i say “i love you”? when we get into a beautiful relationship, do we love them for who they are? or do we love how they treat us? is there a difference?

perhaps you are how you treat others?

this is something that never fails to confuse me. i feel a feeling in my heart and from everything ive learned thus far in my life, the word that best corresponds to it is “love”. it feels like a ball of intense ache, squeezing your heart with its tenderness and beauty and joy.

but how long does it take to love? am i a liar for saying “i love you” too soon? is a month enough? is three months enough? is one year enough? some people will say, at least more than a year, because then you’ve passed the infatuation stage and you know that this is real. because you know that we are bodies so clouded by our hormones and sexual instincts to know the truth.

does this mean we avoid saying i love you for a year .. because we cannot bring ourselves to trust our feelings?

for our feelings do tell us that it couldn’t be any other way. that we DO love with heart and soul.

is it so wrong to trust our intuition? people say love is a choice. but what if you aren’t making an effort to choose because you just love like it is breathing? it seems like a very strange thing to say that love is only love when it is a choice made. parents (most parents at least) do not say they choose to love their children. they just do. loving rather than making the choice to love does not mean this love is not unconditional – on the contrary.

who decides what it means to love? who really decides?

the word is so ambiguous that it could mean something different to everybody and perhaps it does. do we have a right to say that our version of love is more accurate than another person’s? and what gives us that right, when language is ever changing, evolving, and fluid – ever dependent on the context: the speaker and the listener and the time and the place?

maybe, then, love isn’t a single unambiguous word that can be written into a dictionary of stone. and doesn’t that ring true to what we know about love? love is about people and love is about the amazing capacity of the human spirit that cares for another like itself and love is about feelings and smiling kisses and the fluttering of butterflies and love is about crying and making up and love is about comfort and comfortable silence and peace and love can be about all of these things.

love is about people and the word people is awfully general to describe seven billion.

they say you are afraid of the things you do not know, and maybe it is true then that i wonder if i do not really know love so i am afraid to say it.

but i do. i can’t tell myself i haven’t for in my heart i know this to be true. i have felt the magic of love and …

now that i have, how could i bear to let fear stop me from sharing it?

careers crisis

it’s a fun and funny moment when you realise halfway through your degree that you actually kinda want to work in marketing or publishing or teaching and you should have done an English and media degree … because it’s not like you had an entire 18 years to figure that out

English was my first love and has always been my comfort zone. i suppose i have tried to stretch outside my comfort zone and ive definitely had to do that with these logic and maths papers but its also made me realise that i dont think my brain, stress levels, and gpa can survive any more of this. so now it’s time for a last change and while i still have my first major psychology to rely on, im wary of putting all my eggs in one basket.

ive always been quite interested in publishing(whether as a writer, editor, or marketer) and i could conceivably see myself in digital marketing or copywriting. definitely more than i could imagine myself in tech. it would also definitely be good for teaching. so perhaps that is the right path for me then. turning back to my first love. stories. how to write them, how to analyse them, how to make other people want to read them.

my other goal is academia (which granted has always been my ultimate goal). i suppose im scared that psychology may not work out for me with all the competition – so wouldn’t it be nice to have 2 or 3 subjects i could pursue in research?

i suppose these kinds of careers have always seemed inaccessible to me. people talk about them like only the lucky privileged few get to work in such industries. and maybe that is the case after all. and yet i cannot imagine myself working in something other than academia or perhaps publishing. perhaps this is a case where i should simply accept nothing but what i want and try try try.