Ad­mit it: Dat­ing can suck

Ash­leigh Atwell is a queer les­bian writer and or­ga­nizer born and raised in At­lanta, GA.

GA Voice - - Outspoken - By Ash­leigh Atwell

Heart­break is trau­ma­tiz­ing. Heart­break is al­most un­bear­able when you’re men­tally ill. This time last year, my life was in sham­bles. I made a mis­take that deeply hurt one of my friends and it turned into a pub­lic spec­ta­cle. It got so bad that I de­ac­ti­vated my Face­book and turned my phone off for a few days be­cause I couldn’t take the fall­out. A cou­ple months later, while in the midst of a de­pres­sive episode, I got dumped.

When you’re crazy, there is no such thing as just get­ting over some­thing. De­pend­ing on your sit­u­a­tion, it can take months or even years to truly “get over it.” Some­times, you never do. I was dev­as­tated. I thought my re­la­tion­ship was the one thing I was do­ing right in the midst of my funk and it got swept out from un­der me. It’s some­thing I’m still get­ting over. I loved her. I still do. As hurt and an­gry as I am, I still love her. When she gave me the breakup speech, she told me she loved me. Al­most ev­ery day, I won­der if she meant it. We float in many of the same spa­ces and some­times, I’ll catch her look­ing and I’ll won­der what she’s think­ing. Some­thing tells me that I will never know.

For a year, I have been grap­pling with ques­tions that will prob­a­bly re­main unan­swered: What did I do? How could I not see it com­ing? What’s wrong with me? Is it my looks? De­pres­sion tells me it’s def­i­nitely me. The ex­tro­verted side of me wants to go out and ac­tu­ally meet peo­ple, but anx­i­ety talks me out of it. When I ac­tu­ally go out, I’m around the same peo­ple, so much of the time I don’t bother, be­cause dat­ing seems like a crap­shoot.

Dat­ing, in gen­eral, is dif­fi­cult. When you’re crazy, it’s an­other moun­tain that I have to climb, and I’m no ath­lete.

Al­though I don’t know her, I ex­pe­ri­enced a surge of emo­tions when trans ac­tivist Janet Mock mar­ried her long­time love Aaron Tread­well. When their wed­ding pho­tos sur­faced, Mock looked so re­laxed and com­fort­able in her new hus­band’s em­brace. I was ex­tremely happy for her, but I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sad­ness.

I want that. I want some­one to adore me like that. I want to feel com­fort­able. I want to feel de­sir­able. I know we’re not sup­posed to seek val­i­da­tion from other peo­ple, but some­times it’s nice to feel like some­one is look­ing at me like Kanye West looks at him­self in the mir­ror. I’m not say- ing this to draw sym­pa­thy. The only party I can’t stand is a pity party. While we bask in the glow of mar­riage equal­ity, we have to re­mem­ber that the dat­ing scene ain’t pretty. If you don’t look or act a cer­tain way, you get looked over. While some of us are run­ning to the chapel to get mar­ried, there are folks pick­ing up the pieces of an­other bro­ken re­la­tion­ship or try­ing to fig­ure out why some­one has ghosted them. I’ve fi­nally dipped my toe back in the dat­ing pool and it’s scary be­cause it brings an­other set of ques­tions. I like them, but do they like me? Where is this go­ing? How long will it last? At this point, I’m try­ing to en­joy my­self even though the thought of an­other heart­break scares me. I don’t know what 2016 holds for my love life, but I’m ready for it. I think.

“I know we’re not sup­posed to seek val­i­da­tion from other peo­ple, but some­times it’s nice to feel like some­one is look­ing at me like Kanye West looks at him­self in the mir­ror.”

Fe­bru­ary 5, 2016

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