What is it about the touch of another human being that makes us throw caution to the wind, forget about any possible risks, and give in to a "night of passion" that generally turns out to be less than we had hoped for?
No matter how independent, self-reliant, and strong we are, sometimes there's a part of us that wants to self-destruct. Usually, after a traumatic experience, when we feel especially vulnerable, scared, and alone.
For me, it was the depression. The alcoholism. The isolation. Insurmountable health issues. Infidelity and the crushing amount of guilt that came with it. Losing dream jobs. And the devastating breakup with my fiancé and boyfriend/best friend of nine years.
I had never been very adventurous in the sexual department. But after my breakup, everything was up for grabs. I didn't care about myself, I didn't care if men respected me, and I didn't care about the risks involved. I didn't want to be alone. I wanted someone to distract me from my pain. And often times, they did. It wasn't worth the regret I felt afterward. But dating apps made everything (and everyone) so accessible and appealing, so my journey of self destruction continued.
Throughout every moment of these adventures, I was drinking. Wasted. Sometimes I'd see a guy multiple times, sometimes I'd never hear from them again. I often recounted stories of my struggles over and over, perhaps as an attempt to make sense of everything, somehow cope with my issues, and/or gain sympathy for problems I had mostly brought on myself.
I'd try to do damage control the next morning by downplaying my issues, saying things like, "Sorry about last night, I had a bit too much to drink!" or "I'm so embarrassed, I never drink that much!" Sometimes I went "psycho" if I never heard back from someone I'd been seeing. Or I lied, saying my life had taken a drastic turn for the better just so a guy would want to see me again.
At my lowest point, I practically begged for their company, only to come across what would ultimately brand itself as a tired, clichéd message with the same all-encompassing theme: "I may have taken advantage of your mental state and vulnerability, but I'm really a great guy and want the best for you!" (i.e., "You're an amazing person and don't think this means I think any less of you. You should focus on getting better. Best of luck!") Never to be heard from again. I guess I don't really blame them. I was the one who put myself out there to be "taken advantage of" in the first place. After all, I was the crazy one.
However, these messages still bothered me. I was obviously intoxicated on dates. Significantly moreso than anyone I had met. Receiving some holier-than-thou BS message after they chose to have sloppy, drunk sex with me irritated me. Yet the less responses I received, the crazier it drove me. Ultimately, I was responsible for my own actions. But these experiences sent me spiraling into a deep, dark hole of depression, anger, pain, and hopelessness.
I knew I was a mess. But being dismissed so easily greatly affected my already low self-esteem. All I could think about was how messed up I was, and that I'd never find anyone who would want to be with me again. Which, in turn, contributed to the cycle of desperation.
Looking back, I feel utterly embarrassed and completely horrified. I felt pathetic. I still feel pathetic. It's nobody else's job to "save me" and it's crazy for me to expect that of anyone.
But I couldn't escape. It was a magnetic force that drew me to the next single guy available. I didn't care if he treated me like shit, called me a "cunt," or pushed me into a street. (True stories.) I wanted love and companionship. I wanted validation. I wanted to be accepted for who I was.
A few guys gave me cheesy books on the "journey to happiness" and New Age religious crap. To me, it was a blatant attempt to feel good about themselves while simultaneously giving me the boot. If they had really cared about my well-being, perhaps they would have checked in once or twice. But who has time for that when there's an avalanche of dating apps and the next available girl is only one swipe away? (And probably a lot more sane.)
Did I even truly like any of these guys? Maybe a few. Either way, rejection hurts any way you slice it. I knew deep down no one could fix me. I wanted to believe it anyway, to get some semblance of peace in my life.
I'm not religious, but I prayed anyway, pleading God to somehow make me "normal." I've always suffered from depression, but I had never imagined the depths of emotional pain I'd begin to feel on a regular basis -- it greeted me smugly every morning and haunted me every night.
I'm not proud of my actions and I can't rewrite the past. But I can break the cycle and make a choice everyday to try and love myself to the core instead of endlessly swiping away, wishing someone could "fix" my broken parts when I know the only person capable of doing that is myself.
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