A sex ed blog with more
I had a number of conversations with a very good friend of mine about how she was feeling about her romantic life, and various feelings of rejection. I asked her to write about her coping mechanisms. Love you, girl.
I am writing this to not only reflect on my own ways of coping, but to also help benefit others in promoting the recognition of why people cope the way they do, and how this self-awareness can create a shift in one’s lifestyle.
In 2013, I continuously felt rejected (not to mention that I started the year with a break up) by the opposite sex. In my heart, all I wanted was to feel unique to someone outside of my closest friends and family circle (for the most part they made me feel important in their lives). As much as the love and support of my friends and family was beneficial in continually fostering a positive self-image, I was constantly on the hunt for something more. I believe this was the combination of two issues:
1. The sudden awareness of my age, and consequently the traditional outlook of being in my mid-twenties – that of marriage, stability, and having a sustainable professional life.
2. The illness, marriage, AND house ownership of my older sister – within a year, my sister had conquered cancer, bought a house, and was married to a wonderful man. Don’t get me wrong, I have the most supportive parents. But their main focus, and the reason for most of my visits throughout 2013, was for her and her feats.
Last year, romantic rejection was more painful than employment or academic because I had found a job I enjoyed and was not worried about future employment. Rejection in employment, to me, is not a personal attack. Professional qualities and skills can be developed and mastered in time. Personal rejection (whether that is in a romantic or friend relationship) feels more like an attack on my value system; on my development that I always am trying to perfect. To me, these are not as easily altered or adjusted. It takes more time than professional development, especially if one is changing into something that they truly don’t want to be. In the end, I have to sleep/eat/live with myself and my value system every day (and as a result, ponder and dwell for hours). I don’t have to live with my professional life (plus it is easier to deflect) when I go home and have time to myself.
While I was looking for someone/thing long lasting, I only found solace in temporary highs. This included various lovers (I use that term loosely), drugs, alcohol, and often disingenuous affirmations. The more I was rejected by people (mainly men) the more I searched for temporary highs to mask this pain. In these temporary highs (especially the drugs and the comfort of other men) I became numb. This numbness felt good. It felt like all of my pain, heartache, and loss was temporarily misplaced; almost like it had never happened and I was free to just feel anything other than the hurt. However, as the drugs wore off, the lovers left, and the alcohol turned into hangovers, I felt myself even more alone than before. At the time, I tried to convince myself that this ‘lonely’ feeling was me feeling hungover, or tired… or PMS. I never tried to figure out why I was coping the way I was coping and that in the end these coping mechanisms were one of the reasons I was feeling worse about who I was.
Upon many falls (both physical & emotional) and concerned conversations with friends & family, I realized that these ‘temporary’ highs were a result of two things:
1. That I truly didn’t like me. If I had loved myself wholly and sincerely, no amount of rejection or neglect would have caused me to make the decisions I was making or cope the way I was coping. I also would search for others (especially men) to affirm my personality (which I believed, at the time, was shown in the form of my sexual self). Don’t get me wrong, there are always going to be times that we don’t like ourselves fully and that we think we can be a better person; there will also always be moments of doubt. This state of unknown and self-doubt, however, can remain temporary if we continue to love the person we are – faults and all. This is no easy feat and I don’t think there will ever be a time that I don’t have some sense of self-doubt in particular situations. But, I know now that if I can love myself and the positive qualities I embody, it can help me outweigh the challenging qualities that I can keep growing with/through.
2. I no longer had personal goals. For years, I had goals and new challenges to face with gusto and passion (and often with a partner at my side). At the beginning of 2013, however, I was faced with the huge realization that the goals and new challenges that year was going to bring (and the year previous had brought) were not going to be about me, and that I truly didn’t have any new goals for myself. This truly SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME, as it was the first time in my life that this had happened.
For me, the temporary highs were a real treat, a true escape into the unknown that I was OK with at the time. And to be honest, they continue to be a real life preserver at times of crisis and doubt. At present, however, these coping mechanism have become truly temporary. I still use drugs (less alcohol than before because of the negative effects on my body and spiraling depression I feel afterwards) to keep myself composed and relaxed (often not in the presence of others), but I recognize now that this stress HAS to be dealt with after the effects have worn off. I cannot leave it for another bout of drinking, smoking pot, or sleeping with men to overcome the challenge. Overall, I have realized that any coping mechanism I choose (whether it is healthy or not – ie. yoga vs. all night drinking) are not permanent solutions. They help me COPE not HEAL. True healing can only come from within, and that means that I have to start spending serious time learning to love myself, love the things I have done, and love who I am going to become. Furthermore, I have to start realizing WHY I am feeling the way I am and how I can CURE that self-doubt permanently.
We all have different situations and people that make us “tick”. Furthermore, each “tick”, each frustration and state of self-doubt, comes with different feelings and emotional responses. With each new challenging situation, I personally have tried to find different ways of coping that helped each situation in the most effective way possible. For example, if I am feeling stressed about work late into the evening, I know that getting stoned will help me realize that in that moment there is nothing I can do to change/fix the challenge. The next day, however, I know that I will need to deal with this stress if it is consistent. Furthermore, if I am feeling rejected by men in particular, I try to cope by chatting with friends (or more importantly, texting them late at night when I am feeling lonely vs. texting an ex-lover). From there, my friends can then help me realize why I am feeling lonely and ALSO help me realize that these feeling of rejection/loneliness are, in their own right, a temporary feeling.
Three funny quotes, including the thumbnail for this post, that have helped me come to these realizations & heal:
I have not yet found the solutions/ways to cope with all the different challenges that I am faced with, but I continue to tell myself that no feeling is PERMANENT and that if I continue/grow to love myself and the life that I have created/creating, than I am happy to conquer any new situation.