I've been mentally and emotionally unhealthy for a long time now. It started young, built from the lack of validation and the feeling of importance that I wanted, and continued as a subconscious hunger for the pain I felt I deserved. The latter manifested often in my dating choices, leading me away from the people who actually cared, straight into the arms of men who would never love me. I'd convinced myself that anger, frustration, drama, and pain were necessary parts of any real love, and while on some level that might be true, the levels at which I desired them were far from healthy. Eventually, my writing saved me from toxic relationships, but a lot happened before I came to that realization.
I'd convinced myself that anger, frustration, drama, and pain were necessary parts of any real love.
I'd like to say I had a life-changing epiphany when my first boyfriend told me I was too femme for him or when he had me spitting blood in the sink. I'd like to say I figured it all out when a summer crush came back for me after completely ignoring me and cutting me out, and I took him back. I'd like to say I saw the error in my ways when I had an attack of depression and anxiety in the middle of the night at this guy's house, and instead of supporting me or even asking me what was wrong, he took me somewhere else and never talked to me again.
I was always a glutton for punishment, I guess. I'd pick my unreliable, inconsistent friends over the ones that were always there for me because for some reason the emotional risk excited me. My (good) friends tried to help me. They'd let me cry and scream and throw a fit, and they'd stay up late with me, and feed me afterward when I was overwhelmed and exhausted. They were perfect and gave me everything I could've ever wanted or needed. But still, I found myself in dark places when they were gone, places where I believed I deserved to be treated poorly. I didn't find my saving light until college, when I really started writing.
I found myself in dark places when they were gone, places where I believed I deserved to be treated poorly. I didn't find my saving light until college, when I really started writing.
I'd always liked writing in school, but it never felt like anything special to me. I only really liked it when the teachers praised me or told me I did a good job. I remember the assignment that changed everything for me. My first English teacher in college asked us to write about our journey with writing. I was a bit overwhelmed at the assignment because it was so vague and I'd always been the type of person who preferred really specific instructions so that I could give the teacher exactly what they were looking for.
When I finally sat down to write it I was confused, but ultimately typed something up about how I didn't get the attention I wanted from my dad when it came to my writing. I veered off here and there and just said what I felt because I didn't have real guidelines on what she expected and this felt the easiest. I handed in the assignment and didn't expect much.
A week or two later, when she handed me my paper back, I was shocked to see a high A, something like a 98, written on it. There was also a surprisingly long comment on the title page. She wrote something like my voice was brilliant and vulnerable and that I should keep writing like this and being brave. I'd never thought of talking about my life as courageous or valuable before. I didn't know then, but that assignment changed me.
She wrote something like my voice was brilliant and vulnerable and that I should keep writing like this and being brave. I'd never thought of talking about my life as courageous or valuable before
More and more I started writing about my experiences, things I didn't think were important and things I thought that only I felt. What I found was that not only did I matter, but that people loved me for who I really was. For the first time in my young adult life, I felt a feeling more powerful than the feelings I got from someone I was dating. I thought there was nothing better than romantic love but having my writing responded to felt just as good, proving to me that there were things better than having a partner.
It's admittedly hard to describe this process, which is funny given that I wanted to write a piece on how writing saved me from toxic relationships. In many ways it feels like I'm trying to describe magic, how something took me from where I was and set me on the path to a happier, healthier life. It wasn't a conscious shift, nor did I really recognize any immediate change after that English-class assignment. It's just the first thing that comes to my mind.
Maybe this doesn't make for the best conclusion or article, but it's the truth. I could spin webs of metaphors and artsy language, but the simple truth is that writing was there at the right time and place in my life and that now my perspective on life is different.
...The simple truth is that writing was there at the right time and place in my life and that now my perspective on life is different.
I don't place romantic love above everything else, I don't associate with people who make me feel bad about myself, and I try my hardest to remind myself that I don't deserve to be hurt. It's a journey and I'm still on it. Writing online has its perks but it has its costs, too. People hurt me through my writing but one comment of love and support always brings me back. That's how I want to live my life, accepting and internalizing the good things and forgetting the bad. I'm not healed or perfectly healthy yet, and some days are still really hard, but I'm trying, and I'm writing.