Right now

Suffering a setback. This week has mostly been great, but I’m not feeling all that well right now.

 

The B Word started talking to me again last week. As happy as I was that he did, and asked how I was, I kind of wish he hadn’t. Separating myself from him was working, and pretty well. If I had any sense I’d just defriend him on Facebook and just take him out of my life altogether for a while, but I still can’t really bring myself to burn that bridge. I’m angry at him, and I’m bitter, and I don’t really care that my anger isn’t really justified. I think it’s good that I’m angry. It’s a step up from pining, and surely not giving a shit must be just over the horizon from anger.

 

He just made some dumb joke on one of my statuses, and it upset me, because I DO give a shit. Today has been especially unpleasant because I had a dream last night that he sent me a bunch of letters telling me he loved me and missed me. I was ecstatically happy in the instant between being asleep and being fully awake, when I realized that it was a dream and he doesn’t love me or miss me, not at all. And I shouldn’t love or miss him either.

 

No matter how many times I tell myself that he was horrible to me and he’s an asshole, I still miss him sometimes. Most of the time I just feel lonely and I just kind of have my anger at him in the back of my mind, but I don’t miss him all the time like I used to.

 

I just wish…..

 

I don’t know what I wish. I wish I didn’t care, while at the same time knowing that this is an important life change and lesson and something I need to suffer through for my own betterment. Knowing that doesn’t make it much easier.

 

I want to be done with the waiting and get to the part where I don’t care anymore. I want to get on with life.

 

All I can say is that it’s a good thing I’m not inclined towards drug or drink, because I’d be even more messed up. I haven’t cut myself since that one day; my vices have just been sleep and cat cuddling. I could do with an outlet, though, I guess. I keep thinking I should draw, but I don’t know what.

 

I don’t want to be damaged anymore. I want to be better and well and whole again.

 

I just have to wait.

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Nineteen, or The Year I Went Crazy and Why

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011

I’m writing this from my very nice, rather expensive hotel room overlooking the beach in Santa Cruz. I’ve had a few decent meals and I spent most of the day with my best friend. Tonight we went for a walk on the beach and talked and laughed. She’s gone off to spend some time with her latest man friend now, leaving me in this huge room by myself. I took a bath and nibbled my leftover food, and now I’m lying on the bed listening to some of my favorite music.

I feel incredibly relaxed and at peace. I can still feel That Fuzzy Gray bastard in the back of my mind, but for now, at least, he’s released his grip.

How did I get here?

I had a little money saved, and a birthday coming up, so with my parents’ assistance I was able to arrange my first vacation in years, if only for a couple days.

I had to promise them, though, that I wasn’t coming here to kill myself.

I’ve been sad, you see. More sad more often than I’ve been in at least five years. I’m hoping that writing this will put things in perspective and allow me to put some things behind me. Healing takes time, but introspection has always been a particular talent of mine, and I’ve always found it to be incredibly useful, especially after a particularly trying ordeal.

As tempting as it is to blame all of this on The B Word, it goes back farther than that. Sure, there were more factors that contributed to getting me to this point, but I’m going to start my story at around a year ago.

Last year I was all about casual sex – after being stifled by an unsatisfying monogamous relationship for the first six months of the year, I was eager to take advantage of my new freedom. At first I was strictly only interested in casual encounters and wanted a relationship about as much as I wanted broken glass in my eyes, so it was all well and good. I was careful, though of course there’s always some amount of risk involved. I wasn’t desperate for attention or affection, I just enjoyed sex, and wanted it when I wanted it with who I wanted it.

Towards the end of the year, I started seeing a man I’ll call Brian. He was not a nice man, but he was intelligent, and creative, and above all, painfully attractive. I clicked with him immediately and it wasn’t long before we started sleeping together.

He was troubled, though. He had been abused as a child and had an inherent mistrust in himself and others that only became clear to me after it was all over. I started to develop feelings for him – nothing serious, but I certainly liked him a lot more than any of my other prospects at the time. I was gearing up to tell him one night, when he suddenly began to tell me about his ex-girlfriend who had left him just a couple weeks before we had met. He hadn’t talked about her much before, so I hadn’t really thought about it, though it seems so obvious now. He told me that she was the only person he cared about, and how much he loved and missed her. It would have been sweet, and sad, except for the tiny hairline fracture I could feel in my little 18-year-old heart. He didn’t feel anything for me, and never would, which became increasingly obvious as a few more months went by. Brian was my first experience with the love-em-and-leave-em archetype – he was only in it for the thrill of the chase, and once he had had you a couple times, he completely lost interest. I would have been happy staying just friends, but he started to be cruel to me without provocation and I eventually had enough. I haven’t spoken to him since, though I do wonder about him sometimes. I wonder if he ever won her back, and if he’s happy. He didn’t really seem like he wanted to be happy.

My next experience with the love-em-leave-em type was just a month or so later, possibly simultaneously, I’m not really sure. I’ll call him JB. The first time JB and I hooked up was great- though I accidentally kneed him in the face at one point, which kind of set the tone for what is now a pretty decent friendship. JB taught me the limits of my tolerance for bullshit. At first we had great fun together. We’d have lots of sex {though never as much or as good as I’d have liked), order junk food, and watch movies and TV shows, occasionally going out to go thrift-hopping or otherwise adventuring. I had started to develop feelings for him, too, as tends to happen when you spend a lot of time hanging out and screwing someone you can actually stand. Unlike with Brian, though, I legitimately thought my feelings were returned. Sure, he was a little distant and hardly affectionate, but whatever, he was probably just afraid that I didn’t feel the same way, right?

As it turned out, no. I’m not sure why, but I picked Christmas Eve to tell him of my infatuation, and he said something to the effect of “Well, I kind of figured. Just don’t let it get in the way of things, I guess.”

Ouch.

I spent Christmas Day trying to hide my low spirits, and exacted ridiculously petty vengeance by writing “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE” with a white colored pencil inside the sleeve of a jacket that I was altering for him.

Despite all that, I continued to see him for quite a while after that. It all seems like kind of a blur now – I spent so much time doing nothing with him that I barely remember most of it. Because, you see, he started to lose interest too. He said it was because he was tired and stressed from work and school, and while that probably was a big part of it, suddenly we just had no sex at all anymore. I put up with a lot of bullshit from him. Towards the end, I’d go over there and spend most of the time sitting on his bed or helping him clean his apartment, waiting for him to tackle me and driving home frustrated and pissed off at the end of the night when he didn’t. One night I literally sat half-naked in his bed while he played strip blackjack on webcam with a married woman in Ohio who he’d met at a concert months earlier. I was FUMING. I wanted to yell at him, shake him, tell him “I’M RIGHT HERE. I HAVE A VAGINA THAT YOU CAN USE.”

I didn’t say that, though this was the first time I was angry enough to confront him, though I’m still not sure why I didn’t just get up and leave. Though he apologized and gave me the dicking I wanted, I was fed up and disgusted with myself for putting up with him. I don’t think it was long after that that I stopped seeing JB altogether, though I could be wrong.

It was after JB that I began to build a wall around myself. No more of this getting hurt, I told myself. From now on, this wall will only come down when I can trust someone not to hurt me.

It worked for a while. I wouldn’t develop interest in anyone unless I was sure that I had a chance. If not, oh well, no harm done, move on to the next.

Coincidentally, it was around that time that I decided to try phasing myself off of the antidepressants I’d been on since I was 13 years old. I was out of high school and the extension of high school they call ‘community college’, and I was kicking ass and taking names in a field of study I was loving at a great school. Every day was amazing, and while I was still bitter over JB, I was quickly putting him behind me. I didn’t think I needed the medicine anymore.

At pretty much exactly the same time, I met The B Word.

This part is going to be painful to write, as it’s all still much too fresh in my mind, but this is what I need to do. Brian and JB are long behind me, but they were necessary background information to lead in to the meat of the story.

The B Word was amazing. He was everything I was looking for, with just the right combination of traits that I was beginning to give up on ever finding – he was handsome and charming; had a steady, well-paying job that looked to be the beginning of a promising career; he was from my hometown and lived close by; he had decent taste in media and was definitely a nerd; he didn’t smoke and only drank socially; and above all, he was a blast to hang out with and genuinely made me laugh. Later I found out that he was also great at sex, though he had a similar problem to the one I had at the time – unable to orgasm from intercourse. That may seem overly personal and irrelevant, but it became a major contributing factor to the problems that arose.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I’m on the beach now. The water is freezing and the waves threaten to knock me on my ass but the sun is mild and there’s a nice breeze playing over my soon-to-be-roasted skin. I just had the remainders of my breakfast stolen by gulls – the little bastards even spilled my iced tea all over my towel so it looks like someone gave birth on it. To be expected, I suppose, and I was pretty much finished anyway.

I sort of didn’t want to stop writing last night, because I knew if I stopped I’d have to start again, but sleep was calling, and this is as good a place as any to continue.

The B Word and I had a great first date. We went out for burgers and then adjourned to a park by my house. It was a little awkward, sure, but he could talk a blue streak and didn’t seem to mind how quiet I was. At the park we made out and I gave him head, and that was the first time he put me down.

Now, I know my way around a dick, and I’ve had plenty of guys tell me that I’ve got super skills. I was definitely confident in my abilities, though I did try not to be, erm, cocky about it.

The B Word, however, thought differently. He did not mince words and I believe the world “terrible” entered into the conversation at least several times. I was surprised, but didn’t really think anything of it, and tried even harder to please him. I thought I’d eventually get the hang of things and have him at my beck and call like I had had so many others.

We continued to see each other several times a week for a couple weeks. It took us a few times to actually have sex, which I had really never experienced before. I went from basically nothing to all the way and had never had a long buildup. He told me that he had just come out of a long-term relationship and wasn’t eager to get into anything serious, so I thought we’d just keep having sex for a while and that would be that. Sure, I would have been happy with that, though I have to wonder how much differently things would have turned out – I probably wouldn’t have had him and then lost him like I did, but I imagine I would have fallen victim to my usual infatuations anyway.

One night, though, he started to say “I like you,” over and over again. I was a little confused, hopeful but cautious after what had happened with my last two crushes. We talked about it, and he said he was interested in me for more than just sex, though he still didn’t want anything serious. I agreed, though at first I was reluctant to get myself into something monogamous again. I realized, though, that I was satisfied enough with him that I didn’t really want anyone else.

And thus, we went from just screwing to full-on dating, though it was another month or two before we began to refer to each other as “boyfriend” and “ladyfriend”. We saw each other almost every day, even when I was so busy I barely even noticed him. He was really sweet to me, at first. He’d bring me ice cream and help me with my homework in any way he could, and when I was done for the night we’d cuddle and fool around and watch movies or play video games.

I knew he liked me, but he teased me mercilessly, especially about sex, and though I laughed and didn’t mind most of the time, eventually there stopped being reassurance and sweetness and doubt started to creep in.

We had a lot of fun together, but in public I felt dwarfed by his presence and spent a lot of the time simply basking in it. His parents and friends didn’t like me because I was so quiet, and even around him I’d sometimes clam up because of how afraid I was of how much I liked him.

There had been a night, sometime early on, when I hadn’t been feeling well but we had sex anyway, and when I finally and firmly told him to stop because of how much it hurt, he became angry. He told me if I wanted our relationship to continue, I was going to have to start trying harder to please him. I was horrified at the thought of him leaving me, especially for a reason like that, so I vowed to obey and try harder.

When he moved out of his parents’ house and into his own apartment, sex started to become a problem. Getting him off had felt like a chore for a while, but I did it anyway because I wanted him to like me. I had sex whenever he wanted to, sometimes three or four hour-long sessions in a day, and would finish him off afterwards with half-hour blowjobs that made me nauseous and my throat and jaw ache for days afterwards.

Meanwhile, I’d discovered that I could now have orgasms in front of other people, which had never happened before. I still couldn’t get off from conventional methods, but I was satisfied after a few minutes with a vibrator. He knew this, of course, and while he may have tried to get me off himself a few times in the early days, after a while he stopped trying altogether. When he was done with me he’d take out the vibrator I kept at his place and throw it over to me, as if to say “Well, I’m done, here, go nuts.”

All the while he was still making jokes or outright telling me how bad I was at sex and how much better his exes had been. He was always comparing me to them, while none of my former partners had even come close to being the whole package that he was, so I rarely brought them up. At the time, I was bothered, but I didn’t say or do anything about it, as more than anything I didn’t want to lose him.

Did I love him? Yes. Was I obsessed? More than a little bit.

After a while, he stopped even telling me he liked me, and I would open my eyes during sex, fully feeling the passion I felt for him, and I’d look into his eyes and see absolutely nothing. I became terrified that he was going to leave me or was getting bored of me or could tell how much I adored him and was freaked out by it.

On what would become our last weekend together, he was more distant than ever. When we were out to dinner I glanced over at him as he was messing with his phone, and I noticed that he was texting a girl that I knew he had some kind of sexual history with. It made me nervous, but I didn’t say anything because I knew they were also just good friends, and I didn’t want him to think I was jealous. That night we were kind of casually talking and he said “I think I might fuck my ex-girlfriend next month.” He said it as if he were just talking about the weather. I had told him at the beginning that I probably wouldn’t mind if he wanted to sleep with someone else, provided that we talk about it first. This wasn’t talking, though, this was just him telling me. Still I said nothing, though my discomfort must have been evident. I admit that I sometimes expect my lovers to read my mind, though of course they never can.

The next morning, we were in the shower and I made some joke about being his fuck-hole, and he sort of smiled and asked if I’d rather be a fuck-hole or a girlfriend. I was taken aback, but replied “Girlfriend. You know that.” I then nervously reciprocated the question, though I was afraid of the answer, and he confirmed my fears when he answered that he didn’t really care.

I was appalled, though still I said nothing. I have a bad habit of acting like nothing’s wrong, because a confrontation or a fight could mean the end of the relationship or my partner could simply tell me, “You’re unhappy? Oh, okay, bye then.” Irrational fears, maybe, but they were built into the wall I had erected around myself after how I had been treated in the past.

Above all, I was terrified that he didn’t care. My worst fear was that he would do to me what I had done to my last boyfriend – up and leave without a second glance and cut me out of his life altogether. When I left on Sunday morning, he told me we probably wouldn’t be able to see each other that week or the next weekend because he was going to be busy with work and had a friend coming to stay for the weekend. He didn’t kiss or hug me goodbye, just unceremoniously said “BYE” In that ironically cheerful tone of his.

I cried in the car all the way home. After seeing him texting that girl at dinner and having him tell me he was going to screw his ex and then admit he didn’t care whether we were just having sex or dating, was I so crazy so suspect foul play? Panic started to set in, and though I didn’t realize it, I was starting to have a depressive episode, more commonly known as a nervous breakdown.

When I got home, I was still highly upset and texted him asking if we could talk. He called me, and I was unable to keep my voice from breaking as I held back nervous tears. He said he was coming over, so I waited, and when he arrived we sat in my room and I asked him, with difficulty, if he was getting bored of me. I told him he’d seemed distant and like he didn’t care about or respect me. I didn’t realize it until later, but what I was feeling was powerlessness. I was trapped by my love for him and frozen solid by the fear that he didn’t care. He reassured me, though he also expressed exasperation at the fact that this was happening “again”, as he had told me that almost all of his girlfriends had had these kinds of talks with him at least several times. Not entirely reassuring, as it made me think that he found it annoying and didn’t take it seriously at all, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I still saw no sincerity in his eyes and heard none in the tone of his voice and was not reassured at all, though I pretended to be.

When he left, the panic and fear settled back in. All week I felt a knot of fear and doubt in my stomach and I’d burst into tears at the slightest provocation. I was totally losing it, but I didn’t want him to worry or think I was crazy, so I avoided talking to him about it, or at all, though I wanted nothing more than for him to ask me what was wrong and to comfort me. Once again, I pretended that nothing was wrong, but by Friday he had noticed that something was up and confronted me about it.

Earlier that day I had had a particularly bad spot that had culminated in cutting myself, something that was a regular vice when I was twelve years old but I hadn’t done for ages. I wasn’t angry at myself, or at anyone else, it jut seemed like the right thing to do. I’ve always loved the sharp bite of cuts and scratches, needles and pins, but when I turned eighteen I traded in my scissors, knives, and safety pins for piercing needles and tattoo guns. It’s a rush, and having scars and holes in my body feels like validation of my strength. Surely if I can survive physical pain, if I can enjoy it, I can survive anything. I’d experimented with BDSM, but found that giving up control to someone who didn’t know the right ways to hurt me was unsatisfying and frustrating. I hid my scars and bruises from family and authority figures, of course, but I’d also show them off to anyone else who asked. Stupid, yes, but I was a teenager and I was experimenting. I still haven’t completely written it off and probably never will.

That first slice of the knife on my thigh felt like the first breath of fresh air after being stuck in a stuffy room. I did it several more times, knowing how bad it was but reveling in how good it felt. I had forgotten, in all the years that had passed, what it had felt like.

When The B Word confronted me, I told him everything, including about the fresh cuts on my legs. He freaked out completely, as to be expected, and asked me why the hell I hadn’t talked to him sooner. Though it was nearing midnight and he had a friend staying in his apartment, he said he was coming over.

How could I explain? How could I tell him that if I talked to him about what was going on, he’d think I was crazy, or if I mentioned any problem I was having with him, he might just decide to leave? How could I explain that when I knew perfectly well how stupid it was?

I’d rarely been so happy to see anyone in my life as I was when he arrived, though I was still crying. I clung to him and didn’t want to let go, though I suggested we go for a walk so that we could talk without being interrupted by my sleeping parents. We went down to the same park we ended our first date in, and there we sat and I cried and he told me that I scared him and that he couldn’t be with someone who had emotional problems and cut themselves, though he said it in a much nicer way than that.

I really did not expect him to dump me. I thought we’d cuddle and he’d comfort me and the next day I’d be better and everything would be fine. I didn’t really take into account just how badly messed up I was and how much that would scare anyone, especially my boyfriend.

He told me that he’d been able to tell for a while that things were getting too serious, and that he couldn’t be the person to help me or someone that I could depend on for help, and though he didn’t say it, he couldn’t be my devoted, faithful lover. When he asked me if I loved him, I looked right into his eyes and lied. I told him that I didn’t know, and that it was complicated. Not so. I was crazy about him, and he must have been able to tell. Why else would he say he could tell it was “getting too serious”? I’ve played this game, I know that that means the other person is just clingy as hell and it’s freaking you out. And yes, I did cling to him, fiercely. Because you see, I thought I could trust him. I thought it would be okay to let him inside the wall. I should have known from the start that it wasn’t going anywhere, but I thought it couldn’t hurt just to enjoy what it was for the time being, and maybe he could be convinced to stay.

That wasn’t what happened. He didn’t love me, and he didn’t care enough to help me through a rough patch. He was nice – or maybe it was guilt- enough to say that he really liked me and it didn’t have to be forever, and if in a couple months I was better maybe we could try again.

We cuddled for a little while back at my house, and then he left. I haven’t seen him since.

So, to sum up so far. He tore down my confidence; made me feel powerless and trapped by my love for him; then he saw me at my worst, decided he didn’t want to deal with it, broke my heart, and left me hanging.

I didn’t realize it then, of course. I spent that night and much of the next week in denial and anguish. I couldn’t believe he was gone, couldn’t handle that he was no longer mine (or me his, as I never really had him) and that I was now basically alone, as I didn’t see my friends much to begin with and I no longer had any desire to cavort around with the boys I’d been involved with before him. I knew they would bring me no comfort anyway.

The B Word and I continued to talk almost every day, and as I had believed him when he said we could try again, I felt hopeful, though still desperately sad and missing him half to death. I focused on my schoolwork, though my motivation was down and there wasn’t enough work, for once, to keep my mind fully occupied. I talked to friends online, looked for comfort whereever I could find it, at the same time as I withdrew from the real world. Friends invited me out and I declined, electing to stay in my house and wallow in the melancholy that had settled me over like a smothering wool blanket.

I began to notice, too, that food was no longer as comforting or appealing as it had always been. I still ate, though less enthusiastically, and found that I was full after just a few bites. The weight I’d gained when we were together due to the steady diet of burgers and ice cream began to fall off. As my moods became deeper and consumed me for longer, I ate less and less and spent as much time asleep as I could.

I’d wake up every morning with a pit of anxiety in my stomach, and if he didn’t talk to me in the morning it would stay there all day. Our conversations were about nothing most of the time, but they sated me. Unconsciously, I began to think that as long as we talked, he was still interested, and as long as he was interested, there was still hope.

My moods were becoming a serious problem. It took me way too long to realize that maybe it hadn’t been such a great idea to go off of my medication, and that The B Word may have simply been a catalyst, and was now something for my depression to center around, rather than being the cause, necessarily. The whole debacle certainly made things worse, yes, but maybe it wasn’t really about him. Maybe I was just sick.

Before I had that realization, though, I spent at least the first month missing him terribly and feeling horribly sad and alone. The thought never even crossed my mind to rebound, as I’ve never been one to hop from relationship to relationship and I knew that I was seriously fucked up and I needed to focus on getting back to where I was before I met him – happy, loving life, a little lonely but content to spend time on my own while still keeping an eye out for someone to keep me company.

We still talked about sex, and after a while I thought I was ready and tried to talk to him about it seriously.  He all but blew me off, and at the end of one particularly long conversation full of teasing in which I offered to come over and he refused to give me a straight answer, he told me I should be more aggressive and go for what I want.

I was confused. Wasn’t that exactly what I had been doing? I told him I wanted to fuck and offered to drive over. Maybe it’s me but I don’t think that’s at all coy or unsure.

It pissed me off that he was playing games, though still not enough to stop puppy-dog-eyeing after him every single day. I finally began to reflect and think more seriously about what we had had, though, and it was then that I began to see that he was never very good to me. I adored him and I was happy when we were together, yes, but he was cruel, cold, and manipulative. He didn’t mean to be, sure, that’s just how he was, and I had always considered it just part of the package. Nobody’s perfect, right?

More disturbing than that, though, was the fact that I did nothing to stop that behaviour. Of course he treated me that way, because I let him, and if I said nothing how could he know everything wasn’t peachy? I let him use me and belittle me and make me crazy and desperate. I was so afraid of losing him that I let me treat me horribly, and because of that, I lost sight of myself. I was no longer the tough-as-nails yet calm and collected girl with big dreams who didn’t let anyone stand in her way. I was a heartsick child: insecure, afraid, and confused and increasingly horrified at what was happening to my life.

As time went on, I made several efforts to just say “fuck it” and get on with life, but That Fuzzy Gray Bastard had me now and he wouldn’t let me go, not for a second. Days were a blur, nights seemed to drag on forever and weekends found me huddled in tears on my bed more often than not. Food became less and less of a priority and I began sleeping longer. I was more miserable than I could remember being since I was 12 years old, before therapy and medication.

I still followed The B Word religiously on the internet, though he had started to ignore me and it was becoming clear even to my broken mind, clouded by desperate hope, that he was no longer even remotely interested.

One day – and this was just a couple days ago now – I noticed a comment thread on his Facebook in which he had mentioned buying a bag of candy for a girl I had never heard of before. I hated myself for it, but my stomach dropped ten feet and I could feel my heart racing, and I asked him who she was. His answer confirmed my fears – “A girl I’ve been seeing”. For how long? Oh, about a month.

He was very casual, even cold about it, asking if I had really expected him not to see other women. Well, the truth was I hadn’t, at least not right away, for God’s sake. I spilled my guts, telling him that no, not really, but I didn’t want him too because he hurt me, a lot, and I knew I had no control over that and he didn’t owe me anything but it still sucked and I was upset.

Nothing. No response.

I completely flipped my shit. I cried, I screamed, I hyperventilated, I threw things, I threw up. I tore the drawings he’d given me off of my wall and ripped them to shreds, I picked up one of the comic books he loaned me and tore all the pages out. I cried for hours, and when I couldn’t anymore I took a sleeping pill so that I could sleep and not have to deal with it.

All of my hope had been shattered, and what was worse, I had been forced to confront just how stupid I’d been for ever believing him in the first place, or for pining after him long after it had become obvious that there was no hope.

As tempted as I was to drive to his house and throw a brick through the window or spraypaint penises and bad words on his car, it didn’t take long to realize that my anger at him wasn’t really justified. He really didn’t owe me a thing, and i was just angry at him for not caring about me and going on with his life while I was stuck in a deep hole that seemed to have no way out. I am not his responsibility, not at all, and while I’m still angry at him, I’m really more angry at myself.

I ignored the fact that I was sick for too long, and I was in denial about the reality of our relationship and our breakup. It was over, he wasn’t coming back, and I needed to realize that and face the fact that even if he did, I’d still be a prisoner to him and be miserable in his shadow, even more fearful after he had left me once already.

Basically, it was time to move on. The first step was to finally remove all reminders of him from my environment. I packed up his books, folded away his clothes, unsubscribed from him on all social media, and stopped looking at his facebook page and trying to talk to him on chat. My anger fueled me, made me feel powerful for the first time in half a year.

I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t still upset – I still feel a horrible knot in my stomach and throat every time I think of him and a boiling rage every time I think of his new girlfriend. And now, suddenly, I can’t eat. I felt sick and hungry but the thought of good just made me feel more nauseous. On Monday I started back on my medication, but hadn’t eaten, so I threw up violently halfway through the day. I managed to get down some tea and toast, but each bite was like cardboard and it seemed like I had to chew forever, until I could taste the sweet starch, before the food would go down. I just don’t want to eat. I know I need to, and I feel hunger, but nothing is appetizing at all. In the past two months I’ve lost almost fifteen pounds, two to three in the last week alone. At first I’d just eat what was put in front of me or what was convenient without really thinking about food like I used to. Now, though, even bland food like bread and rice, or things that used to be my favorites like ice cream, are an effort in themselves. I’m not starving myself on purpose because I want to be skinny or anything, I just don’t find food appealing anymore. I literally have to force myself to eat, and anything more than a few bites or with lots of flavor makes me feel like I’m going to vomit.

That’s this week. I booked this vacation on Monday, and now here I am. I’m trying not to think about The B Word, though obviously while writing this I’ve had to think about him quite a bit. The purpose of this was to step back and separate myself from the drama and allow myself to really look at the events and what they mean.

In my anger I’ve wished that I could take it all back and do this year over, but I know from past experiences that the greatest lessons come from the greatest hardships. This is the most messed up I’ve been in almost ten years, and I’m hoping that in a few months to a year I’ll be able to reflect on what happened and see how much I’ve grown and changed as a result of it.

So what does it all mean? What have I learned, and what happens next?

A lesser person might take the lessons that all men are liars, love doesn’t exist, and trusting people will only get you hurt. As much as I’m tempted to believe that, I have to hold out hope that there’s someone out there worth trusting who will break down my wall and replace it with a bridge – someone I can love and trust to love me without making me feel like a prisoner, who I can share my life with for longer than the average shelf life of infatuation.

I’m going to begin my conclusion with a list of things I’ve learned, because I like lists:

1. Heartbreak sucks, horribly, but it’s a part of life and it doesn’t need to be the end of the world.

2. Being sick and sad is nothing to be ashamed of and I can’t be afraid to admit that I need help, or to ask for it.

3. Love doesn’t mean giving yourself up and being taken over by another person.

4. I must never, ever lose sight of myself ever again.

5. People don’t treat you the way they want to be treated, they treat you the way you let them, and if you want or deserve better you need to speak up and take action.

6. I can’t do “not serious” or “casual” relationships. It’s either just sex or it’s everything, though I’m definitely not asking for marriage and babies. I just want something that doesn’t start out with a set deadline.

7. If I’m having problems in a relationship, I need to let my partner know. If I act like nothing’s wrong, they’re going to think nothing’s wrong and I’m going to grow to resent them for not being able to read my mind, which is ridiculous.

8. I don’t need to overanalyze, but I need to realize when I’m being treated poorly and understand when I need to remove myself from a situation.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day, and he was basically telling me to give up, that there’s no such thing as love, there’s only sex and dependency, and that trusting people or thinking otherwise is as foolish as flying an iron kite in a lightning storm.

I don’t believe that. I’ve tasted love, even before all of this, and I know it’s out there for me, somewhere. Before I find it, though, I need to be happy with myself and be the best person I can be. I don’t want to go from rebound to rebound out of fear of being alone. I want to get back to being myself: Comfortable being me and satisfied enough on my own.

I’m still the same girl who likes 90’s music and history and costumes and kittycats who wants to own the whole world when she grows up, I’ve just been hurt, and I’ve been sad, and now I’m recovering.

I wish I could say that if The B Word came back to me I’d tell him to eat a dick, but I’m still not over him, and it’s going to be a long process. My goal now is not to get him back, it’s to get to a place where I can get through several days without thinking of him, and if I do it comes without the sharp pang of regret and sadness in my gut. I want to move on. I want to start a new chapter in my life – 20 years old is coming up, and next year I’ll be moving out and going to art school. I’ve got a long and interesting life ahead of me, and while I don’t expect it to be perfect, I do expect it to be mine.

– Z

Research paper

Punk’s Not Dead

 

“I was attracted by a look, stayed for the music, and left having fallen in love with the absurdity of it all.” – Marc Jacobs

Just what exactly is punk, anyway? It seems to be one of those indefinable words, one which everyone uses but nobody really agrees on. It surely doesn’t help that there are so many different applications of the term – music, art, film, fashion, philosophy, attitude; negative, positive, condescending. It seems the only thing that anyone can agree on, as far as definition goes, is that punk is rebellion, and almost always hostile. Punk is especially associated with youthful rebellion, particularly among teenagers and young adults. In a culture that’s been more and more obsessed with preserving and recapturing youth, punk has become something of a valuable commodity, and a major influence on modern fashion.

In the United States, punk style began in the 1970’s as a reaction against hippie and disco styles. Young adults began wearing simple, often dirty clothing, such as jeans, t-shirts, and leather jackets, as well as cutting their hair shorter, in place of the more popular and extravagant styles. Second-hand clothing was also popular.

Across the pond, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren were creating the shocking, offensive look that most people now think of when they think “punk”. A lot of the items they created were influenced by fetish and bondage wear, which led to chains, leather, rubber, and metal studs, as well as piercings and tattoos. Clothing was often damaged or destroyed on purpose, which became popular in a new do-it-yourself clothing movement. Deliberately controversial and offensive images and slogans were splattered and printed on simple t-shirts, which were then often ripped and repaired with safety pins. Malcolm McLaren writes “I made clothes that looked like ruins. I created something new by destroying the old. This wasn’t fashion as a commodity; this was fashion as an idea.”

It wasn’t until the 1980’s, however, that punk really took on a life of its own. The 80’s were when British punk and American punk began to merge into one entity. Kids started walking around in leather jackets covered in metal spikes and studs, garish tartan kilts, chunky motorcycle boots, and brightly colored hair, often styled into even more spikes. Clothes and makeup were often unisex, though you were more likely to see a female punk in a leather skirt than a male one. DIY became the cornerstone of punk style, as almost every item in a punk’s wardrobe was customized in some way or another.

As the world entered into the 90’s, punk started to split off into different factions, though certain elements remained consistent. Punk also started to rear its ugly head in mainstream culture and fashion. The 90’s saw a huge surge in rock and roll culture, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 50’s. Tattoos and piercings became hugely popular, and rock and roll style, including punk, became accessible to everyone.

Punk on the fashion runway began in the 80’s with Vivienne Westwood. She officially separated from McLaren and punk with the launch of her first collection, though her roots have always shown through in her work, whether by (de)construction details, textiles, colors, accessories, styling, or just plain attitude. Though she’s almost 70 years old, her designs still exude the youthful rebellious attitudes of punk, though in a more playful, satirical way than the shocking, hostile clothes she made in the 70’s. Contrary to what might have been expected, it wasn’t difficult for Westwood to integrate herself among the top names in fashion. The fashion world was ready for something new, and the principles of punk certainly didn’t disappoint.

The appeal of punk in fashion has always been its elusiveness. Malcolm McLaren himself put it quite well: “Youth, irreverence, and anti-fashion statements are coveted, as they can never be bought, but in various forms they can be taken up and converted into fashion before being discarded.”  In an industry where money and material is everything, attitudes and styles are incredibly valuable, precisely because they cannot be purchased. They can be faked, but not very well. The job of the designer is to interpret a style or attitude in a way that allows it to be expressed in clothing.

It’s easy to look at modern collections and pick out elements that were probably inspired by punk. Deconstruction is the easiest and most abundant concept to recognize. For every perfectly tailored suit that walks down the runway, there’s a ragged, deconstructed blazer and trousers that walks down another one just like it. Though punks who lived through the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s will often cry and moan about what fashion and trend has done to their subculture, it was really impossible to avoid. Nothing is safe from being noticed by fashion designers and absorbed as inspiration, even that which was meant to shock and offend those very people.

These days, even those people who were once considered the very epitome of punk rock have started to “sell out”. As consumers are getting thriftier and buying more basic items from designers and more trendy or special-occasion items from less expensive brands, designers are losing a lot of creative freedom. “I originally came into fashion because it meant something, because it promoted subcultures. But by the time I arrived it had changed and the subculture was being replaced by mall culture…You have to lose your identity to be successful in fashion today”, wrote John Bartlett. He continues, “These days, when Sonic Youth…pose[s] for Calvin Klein advertising campaigns and Iggy Pop flexes his mutant torso for Donatella Versace’s show in Milan, the fire has disappeared from fashion and music.”

So where do we go from here? If punk – something once so hostile and frightening to the establishment – has been adopted by that very entity and twisted and warped into something marketable and is no longer enough to scare the squares, what do we do with it?

The answer, of course, is to evolve. A studded jacket and a Mohawk is no longer enough to establish one’s individuality. I think the Japanese punk rockers have captured this quite well. You look at Japanese rockers, and they just look weird. What they’ve done is taken the principle idea – scare the squares – and run wild with it. The same basic elements are there: deconstruction, bondage and BDSM wear, clashing colors, and simple silhouettes. They’ve just been reinvented into something new and original.

People have been saying that punk is dead since it was first created. While it may be true that the novelty and newness of punk is long dead, I don’t think punk as a concept or a style will ever die. There will always be fashion designers who are inspired by street fashion, and there will always be young people who dress to represent their anger at society and social norms.

As we’ve come into the 21st century, futurewear has largely split into two camps – that with an optimistic view of the future, which I’ll call Jetsons, and the apocalyptic and dystopic pessimists, which I’ll refer to as the Flinstones. The Jetsons designers are all about clean, crisp, futuristic silhouettes and construction. Technology is the major inspiration, and these designers are perfectly willing to supply the looks for the Information Age, and whatever generations come after that.

The Flinstones, however, is where punk can be seen clawing away at that Utopian idea of the future. Dystopia is a key word, as deconstructed, grungy, distressed clothing is seen as the future of fashion. The ugly side of technology is the focus, as concerns about global warming and nuclear power develop in the minds of everyday people. Sewing and clothing construction is a dying art, which is mostly done by low-paid foreign workers in second and third world countries. If that pattern continues, clothing will become much more simple and possibly much messier. Just like punk was a rebellion against the free-love ideas of the hippie movement, dystopic fashion is a rebellion against the Jetsons view of the future.

Fashion is not a permanent thing, and neither is street style. Both must always continue to evolve in order to keep to their goals: Fashion to sell, and street style to avoid fashion. Punk may be a zombie, but it’s not dead, and it never will be.

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Sick of things and mad at myself.

I am a fucking idiot.

 

If I had any brains or self-respect at all I would never ever go back there again. I would have stopped going back there a long time ago. And I certainly never would have developed any bit of feeling for him whatsoever.

 

What does it say about me that the minute anyone shows any bit of interest in me, when I’m not interested in them, I run for the hills, but when I’m interested in someone and they’re not interested in me, I will put up with SO MUCH bullshit and asshole behavior without saying a single word?

 

I put up with things that would be grounds for a divorce. Seriously.

 

I go over there and he basically ignores me. It used to be that at least I’d get some good sex a couple times in the process, but now I go over and I’m just bored. It’s like I’m some vaguely amusing pet that he just keeps around for company.

 

The whole time I’m there I just want to yell at him, stop fucking around, just fucking look at me, talk to me, touch me, anything. Treat me like you’d treat a friend, if not like someone you’re sleeping with, not like a goddamn cat or something.

 

And if you don’t want me here, just say so. If you don’t want to fuck me anymore, just say so. I’m a big girl, I can handle it. It might suck, but I’ll deal. If you like having me around and want to be my friend, fucking treat me like a goddamn friend.

 

And yet, I keep dragging myself back there, to spend another night bored out of my mind, waiting for at least some measure of attention, wondering what I’m doing wrong that he’s not even interested in my body anymore. I’m so eager to go back there, all the time, and it’s only once I’ve been there for a while that I remember why it sucks, and by the time I leave I’m completely hating myself once again.

 

We get along great, when we actually interact. If he had half a brain he’d realize that he’s not ever going to do any better than me.

 

And for that, he doesn’t deserve me. But he’s the best I’ve got right now.

 

I need someone new. Someone who will respect me and not be a total inconsiderate asshole.

I fucking hate my life.

I was *so sure* that that was not going to happen again.

 

Why is it that I can have anyone except for the ones I want?

 

I don’t ever let my guard down, and when I do, I get very silly about it, and it’s usually okay, but not recently.

 

And this whole used thing is really, really not a nice feeling. I feel completely taken advantage of.

 

Clearly the only solution is to become stone-hearted and never let my guard down ever again, for anyone.

 

Clearly.

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