September is normally my favourite month. I love autumn and as a kid I always enjoyed going back to school. Yet as this September draws to a close, I realise that that this one has been frankly quite crap, and I feel a bit broken. In this past month, I have been really upset about a mess that I made of a situation. I feel like I have been disproportionately affected by it, but what lies beneath is an uncomfortable truth. So I’m hoping that writing about it will help to make sense of it all.
What happened is that I met someone amazing, went on a few dates, opened up, and then they chose to not want to see me again. To be clear, it’s not the rejection that hurts, it’s my reaction to it. And yes, I do realise it’s ridiculous to be so upset over someone you barely know. And yet…
As additional context, I should mention that this person referenced my anxiety as a reason for not wanting to be with me. Honestly, with hindsight I think it was a well-intentioned (if misguided) attempt to protect me. Nevertheless, at the time I massively overreacted, and then the boy disappeared.
Some women would no doubt brush this off fairly quickly, so why have I been crying in bed every night for the last month?
Firstly, with the benefit of hindsight I probably shouldn’t be going on dates with anybody just yet. I’ve only been single for a few months, and I guess I’m more vulnerable than I thought. But then, when somebody attractive and funny asks you out for a drink, it’s very difficult to say no. So we went out for said drink, and our first date was one of the best first dates I have ever been on. The guy was smart and charming and we talked for hours. Date two was agreed before the night was out and I went off home feeling happy and just a little bit smitten by his lovely eyes.
So the second date followed a few days later, and proceeded to be even better than date one. Again we spoke for hours and opened up to each other about life, love, rugby… all the important things. Date three was agreed, we said goodnight. Then the following day the problems began.
Essentially, I freaked out first because it felt like I was rushing into something too quickly, so we agreed to wait a few weeks until date three. All very sensible and grown-up. And, unfortunately, too good to be true. Because a few days later, I got a long text from the guy saying he didn’t think we could be together and mentioning my anxiety as a reason why I would be better off without him.
So this leads me on to my second reason for the tears: I think the experience has opened up old wounds. What I perceived (wrongly, it turns out) from his text was that he was using my illness and my past as a reason to not to be with me. This then triggered all of my worst fears about myself. By the time we spoke, a few hours after he sent the text, I was in a bad place. I had spent the day telling myself that I was damaged goods and nobody would want me ever again. This all came at the end of a turbulent few months and felt like the last straw. My actions that followed were disproportionate. I was really angry with him, and then really upset. I was alone and so took out my frustrations about my life in general on him. So understandably, he ran for the hills.
This was all over a month ago and I have been feeling upset about it ever since. I felt powerless in the whole situation and this is what upset me so much. Not only was I powerless over his actions, but more importantly I was powerless in my reactions to him. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I hate feeling a loss of control in this way, and why it upsets me so much. The old wounds that I thought had healed are actually still there just under the surface, along with a lot of anger.
A final, uncomfortable truth is that I am still looking for validation from men to make me feel good about myself. I haven’t changed all that much from the shy teenager I once was, needing approval from boys to make me feel as pretty as my friends. I didn’t think I was that girl anymore, so seeing my true colours isn’t pretty. I was unable to deal with rejection in a sensible way and I guess that makes me more immature than I thought. I couldn’t see things from his point of view; I just took the rejection personally and used it as an excuse to beat myself up. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Thus September ends, and I don’t want to waste anymore energy being upset over this. Yes, the guy and I had a connection, but the timing was all wrong. Neither one of us behaved brilliantly, but what’s done is done. The end. Time to let it go and stop crying. “Enough now”, as the cute guy in Love Actually says to an undeserving Keira Knightley, “Enough now”.