Fearless Friday: Facing Another Coping Mechanism

Loneliness haunts me.

A week ago I was so lonely, I created a tinder account again. In that moment it was under the guise of wanting to have sex, and thinking maybe finding someone to have casual sex with would be good for right now.

It took me 12 hours (mostly of sleep) to recognize the pattern and get rid of my Tinder account.

There’s nothing wrong with dating apps of any sort, it just depends on how you use them.

I don’t know if I’ve ever said this on here, but I realized this year that I use men as a kind of coping mechanism. When I’m upset, I turn to men. Whether it be to find comfort in them. Or to pick a fight with them. Or to blame them for my feelings. It’s what I do. And it feels a little uncomfortable to acknowledge that.

It’s a little weird how often I think I’m upset because of Peter and think “maybe I just need to cut him out of my life.” Only to find myself telling the story to my therapist and realizing I didn’t mention Peter once. Often, what I’m feelings have nothing to do with him. Yet he’s the one I’m quick to blame.

It’s weird.

It’s weird, these beliefs that often drive our lives without our knowing.

Today I keep going back and forth between heavy sadness and light knowingness. I am sad because my one great wonderful friend at work moved to another area. For a long time my chats with him were the reason I was willingly coming to work every day. And now, though it’s only been a few days, I can see where that is changing. I feel lonely at work again.

But in a weird way, this event solidified something I already knew. I need to move on from here. At least for the time being. I need to go check out something new, and learn about myself.

Like I did with Peter.

Like I did with men.

Several months after I broke up with Peter, I broke up with men. It was when I realized that men had been a coping mechanism for a lot of feelings I’ve buried down from when I was a child. I stopped dating. I got rid of all my apps. And I kept reminding myself that I wanted and needed to be single for a while.

It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Maybe the second scariest after breaking up with Peter. Maybe the third after leaving my first job and moving to Oregon. They’re probably about on the same page. I didn’t realize, until this decision, how many beliefs I held around dating. Sure, being single sucks, but as long as I haven’t given up on love I’ll be OK eventually.

Being single and not seeking was leaving me nauseous and anxious and scared. I hated many moments of it, but I also saw the rewards on the horizon. I saw how getting to really know myself would feel. How having an idea of my passions, of my values, of what I refuse to give up, would finally give me the sense of self I’ve been missing.

I’m still in the midst of the journey, I think. That’s the struggle, I don’t know when this being single and not seeking will end.

I know I want to know myself.

But I’ve also, at the same time, made sure to make myself be known. To old friends and new. To my ex and good friend, which is complicated. A lot of losing myself was losing myself in order to please others. I didn’t lose myself because I didn’t want to know, I lost myself because I feared that I wasn’t good enough, wouldn’t be loved and accepted as I was.

So in finding, I am also sharing. When I hear a song I like, I share it. When I read a book I appreciate, I let someone know. When I learn something important about myself I make sure to tell others. I am slowly compiling a list of things I like. I am slowly compiling a list of activities that bring me joy and calm.

It is strange, the type of love you feel when you let yourself be known and that you is embraced. It is strange what that acceptance stirs inside of you. I recognize it. I had had it before. And then I lost it. It slipped through my fingers. And I knew the only way to get it back would be so so hard.

People are complicated. A person is complicated. People, and the relationships between them, that might be beyond the scope of true understanding. There are too many factors. That’s why, in my opinion, those dating sites that claim to match people are full of it.

There is no science behind love and attraction.

Yes, there is an understanding of what love looks like in the brain. Of what chemicals and hormones get released. There have been studies trying to find correlations between successful relationships and anything. But I think this is beyond us. And I think that is a wonderful thing.

Yesterday, I felt I was in love. And in feeling so I chided myself for being childish and naïve. But that is what love is. Love is childish and naïve. It is a huge risk with no guaranteed rewards. It often leads to hurt and grief. But for those moments it doesn’t, love is the most wonderful thing.

I told my therapist yesterday that until Colin, my history was one of unrequited love.

Then I realized that was a lie.

Until Peter, my history was one of unrequited love.

I was ashamed of this.

Our society sees someone who loves and isn’t loved back as someone weak and desperate and sad.

How horrible for our society.

I think being open to love, no matter the reciprocation, shows immense courage and strength.

There are a lot of people that I love in this world. There are a lot of people that spark my interest. If I kept shoving those feelings down, I’d be lost to myself. But I don’t do that anymore. I let the feelings flow through me. I write about them. I talk about them. I tell people if I can.

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