If you asked me what my favorite love song was five years ago, I would have said Selena’s I Could Fall in Love. Three years later, it was Paramore’s The Only Exception. Up until recently, it was a lonely but hopeful Siberia.
Today, I don’t have one to reference.
Unlike the song by Paramore, I cannot make any exceptions. When I tell this to other people, they offer me unsolicited advice.
“I know you don’t believe this, but I know there’s someone out there for you!”
“Don’t build your walls too high.”
“Why are you so bitter? Just give people a chance.”
I choose not to adhere to society-fed beliefs. My views on marriage and monogamy are created not only by experience, but by choice of lifestyle and methodology. And that methodology applies not only to romantic love but to friendship and family.
I don’t want to constantly cite my reasons for defense mechanisms, because it causes people to demean my experiences. I don’t want to keep explaining the same sob story.
I understand that there are people who have lived through much more horrors in both modern and third-world countries. We can play the privilege and tragedy game all the way down to the Asian sex slave or the African victim of genital mutilation. But privilege is not tied to prosperity and misfortune is different than unhappiness.
I met a girl who was raped by her uncle for years but found support in the rest of her family. I know a boy who was friendless and bullied most of his life, but somehow retained a trust in people. I cannot pretend that my tragedies are worse than theirs. We all react to things differently.
When I was sixteen, my friend cut her wrists because her parents had an argument. By that age, I had already lived through two broken marriages and the late night screaming battles had regressed to white noise that lulled me back to sleep. I had not reacted the same way, and couldn’t understand how a single fight could have unhinged her. But later, I found out that she was clinically depressed. And a few years after, I realized I was too.
Those who do not live under a cloud of depression seem not to understand.
Some of us are walking suicide risks, a quiet bomb waiting to explode. We avoid trusting people to escape destruction. We try to pass as normal and oftentimes succeed on the outside. But in our broken selves we need to minimize harm, and not cut ourselves and our friends with jagged shards that emerge from time to time.
I can’t help wanting to be friends with people, trusting people, falling for people who are kind to me, and venting my problems to strangers that I know will abandon me. Keeping silent hurts, but talking about it involves the burden of more people. The cycle of broken trust and social destruction continues. I am learning to adapt with the way that I am. But I don’t want to be normal, I want to be accepted.
As carnal beings, we become conditioned. We’re not too different than Pavlov’s dogs. My fascination with domestic abuse stems from personal experience. I am fascinated by broken promises, deception, and the concept of the people closest to you hurting you. When people told me they loved me or cared about me in the past, they would end up verbally abusing or abandoning me. After a while, those same words made me cry. Today, it is greeted with only indifference and disbelief.
Sometimes people I love mysteriously disappear for their own reasons. It feels like they were a tank running at its limit until it fizzled out and broke down. When your allies die on the battlefield, you start looking around at everyone that’s left. The ones that are still here operate under a ticking timer. Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy if I accept their deaths before they happen?
People mistake me to have low self-esteem. It’s not that I don’t love myself, it’s just that it seems like no one else does. But they do, people insist. Yes, but for how long? The ones that try to convince me otherwise are usually the first to leave. Everyone else that lets me be myself lingers in the background.
I didn’t understand back then, but now I do. People aren’t bad, they are just incapable of giving me what I need. It is my fault to not adapt.
I still play out fantasies in my head. I entertain love stories that end in divorce and suicide. I see myself with faceless strangers and remind myself that their entertainment will be short-lived. I watch anti-rom coms that are rarely realistic enough. And I voice my problems here rather than with the people I care about.
My love song is not written with a white picket fence, a wedding, and a man in a tux. It is a love song of survival and acceptance, watching other people slip away while thanking them for the brief time they stayed with me.