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Spending large amounts of time at home, with massive anxiety about our health, the future, and securing an income to get through this period, tends to bring up some of the less charming aspects of our personalities.
They seem to all charge to the forefront. The most damaging for me? My codependent tendencies.
My codependency doesn’t take the form of needing someone to take care of me; it’s more insidious than that. It takes the form of completely abandoning the self that I perceive as worthless for anyone who will love me.
I say yes to things I physically or emotionally can’t do because maybe if I help you, you will love me. Then I will be worthy like all the other women. I’ll make your life so easy, you will never want to live without me. Then I will know what love feels like.
Except it never feels like love, and it always ends with my feeling resentful of being used.
Still, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through dating apps and social media, looking for anything to fill this person-sized hole in my chest. Like an addict seeking my next high, I answer messages from men who I know are not what I am looking for, and then feeling completely unworthy and undesirable when they eventually stop messaging.
I watch myself become trapped in a spiral of worthlessness and despair, and the longer this goes on, the deeper it goes—feeling desperate for anyone to connect with, anyone who will tell me I am worthy of love and everything I seek.
I know this is not how these things are achieved. I am far enough along in my journey to know that the things I am searching for cannot be found outside of myself. But that fearful voice in the back of my mind becomes stuck on a self-destructive loop.
Comparing myself to others is my drug of choice during these times. I scroll through social media and think about how everyone is more beautiful, more poised, and more worthy of love. I become stuck on the fact that other women have partners and I am alone, and determine from that, that I am not as deserving of love as they are. I lack something.
Then as I panic, I start searching more frantically, only to find ghosts and people who are as “damaged” as I am, also stuck thinking of all the ways they need to change themselves to be worthy.
I need to lose weight. I need a nose job. I need a boob job. If only I were small and pretty and perfect, I would have love.
I know these thoughts aren’t real. I know my inherent worth has nothing to do with romantic partners or my size. But right now, during this crisis, when my distractions and coping techniques have vanished, I find myself alone and overwhelmed.
The uncertainty of everything makes it easier for that desperate voice to overtake the small, steady voice that assures me I am loved. I try to cling to my tools for healing: writing, yoga, reading.
During the darkest moments I reach for these tools and bring myself back from the precipice, only to find myself back there, perched precariously on the edge, the next day. I know if I let go, I will lose myself. All the work I’ve done. All the soul searching.
Sometimes, in those darkest moments I ponder trading this for the security of being desired—the “safety” of being worthy in someone else’s eyes.
But for today, I am still clinging.