What To Do When Someone Walks Away

Losing a friend or partner, even temporarily like in the case of a disagreement, can be extremely hard on people living with social anxiety and other mental illnesses like depression and borderline personality disorder.

I am no expert in how to get people to stick around. Clearly, I am terrible at that. But I do consider myself a little bit of an expert in how to deal with the aftermath, because this situation just keeps happening to me over and over again, at least once or twice a year. And every time, I am emotionally destroyed, but every time I somehow get back up again. At first, it seemed to me like this was an accident and I only started to feel better because something good randomly happened to me. But at this point I think it’s safe to say that I am pretty resilient.

I’m sort of going through one of those situations right now, and it occurred to me that although I am basically a ball of constant anxiety and I’m a lot lonelier than I was before, I am actually doing kind of okay. Not great, but okay. I’m doing better at this, and I’m also doing better at actually resolving conflicts. So it prompted me to take a closer look at my habits to figure out what was working and what wasn’t, and I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned with you.

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Fuck No Hard Feelings

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who make fun of others for caring about stuff. People who are emotionally detached from everything except the few things they deem acceptable (usually school, work, and family) because they’re too cool for feelings.

These were the people I was friends with in high school. When I fell in love with one of our friends it was, “You’d better not date him, you’ll start drama,” and when we broke up it was, “Well, what did you think would happen? We told you.” When I felt like I was being teased too much, it was, “Learn how to take a joke,” and, “You’re being dramatic,” and, my personal favourite, “Stop being so emo.” No one was there for me when I struggled because everyone thought I brought it on myself and I deserved it.

Fast-forward 10 years and the number 1 rule of relationships is still “don’t get attached”. Smart people don’t get attached. Smart people know that anyone could leave at any point. If you’re smart enough, you can avoid getting hurt. You can cheat the system. If you’re smart enough, you are better than other people. You have an advantage.

I don’t agree with any of the above, but it’s sort of true. Whether I like it or not, “smart people” can manipulate others into thinking what they want them to think at any given time, and I tend to be the person that gets manipulated. I am trusting and I take everything anyone says or does at face value. I am genuine and I mean everything I say and so I often forget that not everyone else does.

Sure??

One year ago today marks the first of a series of turning points that made me who I am today and probably changed my life forever. I mean, let’s hope, anyway.

Last year I was struggling to stand on my own, caught in this place between losing everything and finding new things. And I just really wanted to die. Like, a lot.

It had been like that for the past several months but it only kept getting worse. Up until this point the only person who knew about it was my ex, except all he really knew was that I was really, really pissed at him. I had good reasons (and little did I know then that it was worse than I ever could have possibly imagined) but next to no ability to express them properly. We used to be able to have calm, rational discussions about our feelings and work through just about anything that way, but in the face of, “I don’t love you any more, not sure why,” I lost all of my ability to do that.

That wasn’t really his fault; yes it was an incredibly long and complicated relationship that was breaking apart, but most people could probably keep it together. Or at the very least, they would bounce back a lot quicker.

RIP Obnoxious Plastic Tiara

My birthday has always kind of been shit. At least the ones I can remember. Whenever I complain to my parents I’m told that I had this really great party one time when I was 4.

Last year was the worst of all – the day was pretty good by my standards until the end, when the one person who really should have been there just didn’t show up for some reason. I can take solace in the fact that at least THAT won’t happen again this year, but that changed something for me.

I always had low expectations but I trusted that people would be there if they could. I still felt like I was worth showing up for.

I had this tiara that I’d been breaking out every year on my birthday all throughout university. I wore it in inappropriate situations really obnoxiously. In class, at dinner, on the street, etc. I didn’t do it for attention, and to be quite honest people didn’t seem to notice or care – I did it to make myself feel special for once.

I was wearing it then, and when the clock struck midnight and I fully realized what had just happened, my first reaction was to take the stupid thing off, but I couldn’t just stop there. I had to break it into pieces Mean Girls style and hurtle them across the room into the garbage can. Because princesses don’t get stood up. I did. I was alone. I was not even worthy of a cheap plastic tiara.

Fifteen

It’s okay. You’re going to be okay, because you are beautiful, and smart, and funny, and talented, and you are stronger than you think and capable of more than you know. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you’re a guy, you are also all of those things, but if you’d prefer I can say you’re handsome instead of beautiful. You are everything – anything – that you want to be; if you’re not there yet, you can get there. You probably have great ideas, even if they only exist as tiny sparks of hope right now. I promise you that things are not as bad as you think right now. Cling to those good things and rays of hope. It doesn’t make you weak or foolish or naive to believe that things will change.

Know Your Worth

For the past few months I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that I haven’t always treated people the way they deserved to be treated. Even though people were good to me, I assumed their actions to be disingenuous, or not enough. I’ve felt guilty about this and assumed all responsibility for the relationships that failed as a result.

Someone, or more specifically several someones, wronged me and ever since then I’ve only grown increasingly angry, suspicious, and defensive towards everyone in my life. Obviously, other people don’t like this type of reaction, and I still believe that I was wrong. Of course I was wrong. But they respond by doing even worse things to me.

For example, I’ll say the wrong thing once and then get completely excluded from something, or stood up, or cut out of someone’s life completely. I’ll be at least slightly angry about that for months, at least. Where does it end?