This is a reader submission for our Big Girl Badge week. Tell us how you evolved from woman-child to woman, and you could win hundreds of dollars of prizes! (Send your 800 word submissions to Jennifer [at] thegloss.com or Ashley [at] thegloss.com)
I’ve always been much better at running away than confronting my problems. If stress gets the better of me, I’ll skip classes or call in sick to work until I can complete everything. If a friend upsets me, I’ll avoid them indefinitely. If life gets overwhelming the phone gets unplugged and my bed becomes my new home.
Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to do more and more to try and stave off the need to sequester myself. I’m working two part-time jobs, with a few handfuls of part-time volunteer positions as well, while working on a degree and a diploma (full time classes). Maybe not the best choice for someone with a history of drug-abuse, physical-abuse, sexual-abuse, depression, and anxiety.
However, I had recently been diagnosed with PTSD and gone through a terrible break-up – so all I wanted to do was keep myself busy so the “crazy” wouldn’t set in. I also decided a great way to keep myself busy and keep my self-esteem high was to go on a dating spree. Hindsight: terrible idea.
I was seeing a number of guys, basically getting taken out to dinner and drinks about four times a week. But, oh man, did it ever feel empty and miserable. I didn’t feel comfortable telling any of them anything personal – I told myself they wouldn’t care, that they only wanted me for sex. I sort of felt comfortable about that, like I could give myself an excuse for being single and being grumpy. One by one, I let most of them drop off my radar only to be replaced with new faces. I started getting bad at returning calls and making plans. Then, I met one who seemed a little different. This guy liked my personality. I started dropping tidbits of personal information. Finally, after a few weeks, he asked, and I explained to him that maybe I was damaged goods, and, seriously, he should consider steering clear. In response, I got an “Are you stupid?” look, before he gathered me into a bear hug.
I wasn’t convinced. I thought about telling him I couldn’t see him anymore. I didn’t want to get attached, and I couldn’t believe he could. I thought the most-likely scenario was either him hurting me somehow, or him settling for me when he could go out with someone better. I thought the problems were further evidenced by the fact I was letting myself slip. The PTSD flashbacks and my heavy schedule were getting to be too much. I was showing up late to see him – and being too self-concious to really enjoy myself (the chipped nail polish and frizzy hair weren’t helping). I started to think I was crazy for thinking I could try to be in a relationship with someone when I wasn’t perfectly happy with myself.
Finally, one night when I was staying over at his place, I woke up in the midst of a PTSD attack. I panicked, rushing to the bathroom, trying to confront myself in the mirror. I could feel myself being attacked, reliving some of the scariest stuff of my life – I was shaking violently, tears running down my face, and I had no idea what to do. Usually, at home I would just walk it off. But here… I had no idea. I briefly thought about snatching up my clothes and just leaving. It was three in the morning and I could probably walk around without being noticed until the flashback subsided. My stuff was in the bedroom though… and I had class in the morning… and I was starting to feel too exhausted. I realized, that what I wanted was to just go back to bed. I wasn’t sure if it was the best move – I usually can’t stand being near people if I’m stressed out – but I was too tired to do anything else.
I hesitantly went back to the bedroom, where he was awake, and explained what was happening. And, instead of explaining that I had to leave, I found myself getting wrapped up in a comforting bear hug again. And I didn’t argue. I settled back into bed and we just talked it out, until I was no longer stressed or scared. It was a big moment for me. It was cool to realize that sometimes you can rely on other people. I know I’m a grown-ass person, but sometimes I think that means I have to do everything myself, with no compromises, and no support. Also, maybe instead of playing the lone wolf card, I can sit down and choose to be happy. Now, if I feel a panic attack coming on or I’m getting too stressed, I usually seem to find myself lounging around with him, playing video games and snacking on chips. And I realized that even if I’m feeling awful, I can start feeling okay if I just let myself.