When I was 18 I suffered the biggest heartbreak of my life. The guy who had been my first love, the guy I had lost my virginity to, dropped me overnight.
For reasons only he knows, he cut off communication with me for years (only to come crawling back later, but that’s a story for another day). I had already struggled with depression that year, but when he broke up with me in such a heartless way I fell in much deeper.
I was left feeling so insecure, with so many questions about why I wasn’t enough for my ex. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, cool enough—I didn’t even know what exactly I was lacking, but deep down I was certain that had I been enough, this guy would have stayed.
I began engaging in self-harm, regularly drinking to get plastered and looking for validation from almost any guy who would give it. I quickly found that an effective way to numb my pain—or so I thought—was through casual hook ups.
I would mess around with guys in their dorm rooms or in their cars; maybe we’d meet up at a party or a club first, or maybe it would be spur of the moment on a random Monday night. I would laugh about it with my friends and even fooled myself into thinking I liked living that way for a while.
Feeling powerful, wanted, and desirable was like a drug: It was a temporary fix with risky consequences that left me feeling pretty awful whenever I sat in the silence long enough to think about it.
I so desperately needed to have the holes in my heart filled that I mistook temporary relief for true self-love. At the time, I called my actions “liberated” and “free spirited.” But the truth is, I was only hiding from my deepest fears about who I was.
Just like self-harm and substance abuse, hooking up can be a way to self-medicate that only hurts us in the long run. Now that I’m on the other side, I can see that counseling was actually what I really needed and am glad I finally went.
I wish that instead of bottling everything up inside, I had talked earlier with a therapist who could help me make sense of my feelings. I wish I had spent more time writing in my journal. I wish I had looked for books that tackled the struggles I was dealing with. I wish I had been honest with my friends and asked them to keep me accountable for making healthy choices that truly met my needs.
That hard partying lifestyle kept me from finding true wholeness and healing for too long. Eventually, I found my way but I wish I hadn’t traveled down that road to get there.
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