Even though I’m 28 and (technically) an adult, when something hurts me, as in cuts me straight down to the core, I resort to childish tendencies. I pout, I lash out, I act on impulse. In other words, I become a brat.
I have this perpetual fear of people leaving. Everytime somebody chooses not to be in my life anymore, I immediately deflate. Even if they are toxic or mean or have been in my life no longer than 15 minutes, I just can’t deal with them going.
This phobia has been the one thing that has governed the course of my life for the last decade. I’ve changed schools, moved to different states, and have flown half way across the world and back trying to avoid it.
All through my formative years, some innate thing in me was growing. It made me bite my nails at 65 MPH and it made me sad in the winter and it made me never want to be alone. And when I moved to the city, I shut it down. Hey there, painful thing, let’s just chill out for a few years. So there we sat, in a new apartment with a boatload of friends and a shiny full-time job in journalism.
But off and on for the last two years or so, it’s been moving around again. It keeps banging around in my head, telling me I’m not good enough, that people don’t like me, that I’m a failure. And as much as I try to shut it out with work and dinner dates and volunteering, it comes back.
This phobia of not being lovable, of not being worthy, has ruined so much potential happiness in my life. I’ve lost friendships and boyfriends over it. I’ve wasted hours and hours ruminating over if this person liked me or if this individual was mad at me. Recently, I might have lost somebody that meant the world to me.
So many people in their 20’s deal with anxiety and depression and phobias and fears. Yet, nobody ever talks about it. We all go out to the bar and drink our cheap lager and talk about our lives and yet nobody ever thinks to ask about or to bring up the fact that they’re suffering. And I’m talking a deep, deep suffering here. A gut-wrenching kinda suffering that I don’t think people even want to acknowledge.
And nobody’s to blame. We just all continue to sidestep our painful things or sedate them with medication or martinis or yoga and ignore the fact that they’re there.
But the thing is, we all have to deal with our demons. We’re like closets. We’re all neat and tidy on the outside but inside we’re just a mess of things we didn’t sort out yet. We need to take all that junk out and lay it on the floor and decide what we should let go of and what we keep before cramming it all in again and shutting the doors.