The other day I had a breakdown in my car on my way back home from a super fun tennis match. This breakdown began when I started to reflect on a friend breakup that happened throughout the latter half of 2019, about a kind, soft-hearted friend who dated a man and grew to depend on him. I thought about whether all my friends would eventually prioritize a cishet white man above all else. I reflected on where I misstepped in the friendship – how I envisioned her as someone she was not and held her to that standard, perhaps unfairly – and how she misstepped in the friendship. As typical of emotion dysregulation from PTSD, thoughts and emotions spiraled to the point where I felt a physical pain in my chest. All my emotions felt like so much, too much in the moment, like little bombs erupting in my brain.
At some point I thought to myself: you know, I could just stop eating. Not eating would help numb this pain, the grief over losing this friend and the frustration of living in a heteronormative patriarchal world. But then I reminded myself, aloud and alone in my car, “starving won’t solve anything.” Even if it may make me feel better in the short term, it will not solve anything. So I decided to feel how I feel by playing “Leave Me Lonely” by Ariana Grande, letting myself feel like shit, and finally, as I turned into my apartment complex, crying and crying and crying.
As I let myself have a breakdown, I introspected a lot on how I could cope. A friend of mine used to self-harm whenever she felt stressed until she met her boyfriend who she has now dated for several years; sometimes I wonder if and how she will care for herself if anything happens to him. The ex-friend I thought about in the car moved a couple of years ago, and when she felt lonely, she went on Coffee Meets Bagel and met her boyfriend, whom she spent and spends the majority of her time with. In my car, the one left to me by my grandmother, I thought about my options to cope with my pain and loneliness: I could starve, I could turn to one of the men who have expressed interest in me, I could go shopping or find a hookup or cope in any which way that would make me feel better in the short term.
But I reminded myself of a comment that an iconic human left on one of my recent blog posts, about the importance of growing my own garden. I write a lot about my friends on this blog and at the same time, I feel it so important to know how to care for myself as well. So on the night of my breakdown, I let myself cry in my car. I walked into my apartment and reread passages from Appetites by Caroline Knapp, and I felt so much more connected because she gets me on a deep level. I took a shower and cut my nails and made an outline for this post.
I still feel sad about the missed connections that happened throughout 2019. I still feel hopeless about the state of the world – heteronormativity and patriarchy yes, though also white supremacy and toxic masculinity and imperialism too. I am still grieving and always will be. At the same time, I’m tending to my own soul, nurturing it by giving myself space to heal, to write, to listen to pop music and read books and watch reruns of So You Think You Can Dance? I’m committed to contributing to the revolution in any way I can, and right now, I’m taking time to rest, so I can live to fight another day.
How do you cope when you encounter difficult emotions or life experiences? How do you balance both prioritizing connection with others and yourself? Lmk in the comments because I’m thirsty for insight! Also omg rereading this post is wild because I wrote it at the beginning of this week and now it’s Saturday morning and I’m having the best morning ever – I woke up, did some grading, ate leftover Chinese takeout and orange soda for breakfast, all while jamming to this iconic Spanish cover of my favorite scandalous song “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.” Guess it shows again how emotions are almost always temporary. Until next post!