The days following Christmas are some of the most direly dark days of the year. The temporary high of glittering lights and endless glasses of sparkling wine have worn off, and we, my kittens, are collectively coming the f*ck down.
This year was a particularly painful post-holiday depression for me. My parent's house in Florida is super cozy and lovely, but just being in my teenage home stirred up some pretty intense, uncomfortable feels in my adult self. Staring at the perfectly intact Nine Inch Nails poster on my old bedroom wall overcame me with unwanted memories of being an eating-disordered, sexually confused, wildly insecure 16-year-old girl.
To add fuel to the post-holiday depression fire, I decided IT WAS A GREAT TIME to switch up my depression/anxiety meds right before I went home for the holidays. Ye ol' trusty Prozac was giving me acute migraine headaches, so my doctor and I decided it was time to switch over to a different antidepressant.
I was in that weird, dizzied, off-kilter period of weaning off one chemical and adjusting to another (sweats, pangs of panic and chronic dry mouth were just a few of the super fun side effects).
And just to seal the nail in the mother f*cking coffin, four days after Christmas, my ex-boyfriend got married to the love of his life. Which would have been totally f*cking fine if it weren’t the exact day my current girlfriend broke up with me.
This was the day of. Pity me.
Woah, Zara. Ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, a breakup, marriage, meds, depression and a sad selfie? I know I'm throwing pistols at you, my sweet kittens, but bear with me. Kindly allow me to backtrack.
It's no secret that I identify as a lesbian. I've been exclusively dating, loving and f*cking girls for just shy of a decade. I have a deeply emotional and unrelenting animal attraction to women that I've never experienced with a man. I'm a surefire, out-and-proud dyke (I love the word "dyke").
But that doesn't mean I didn't love my ex-boyfriend, Dash*. We met when I was a spindly 15-year-old freshman with stretched earlobes and torn tights. He was tucked into a corner of the cafeteria, visibly angst-ridden, clad in a black metal band shirt with "don't talk to me" headphones strapped to his ears. I took one look at his twinkling sad eyes and ridiculous spiky hair and knew we were cut from the same cloth.
So I did what all 15-year-old power-babes-in-training do: I made him mine.
The thing about Dash, though, was he wasn't just my boyfriend; he was my best friend. We dated off and on throughout the harrowing trials and tribulations of high school and the confusing blur of college. We even briefly shared a tiny little studio on West 16th Street. But as young lovers often do, Dash and I naturally drifted away from each other. I fled across the pond to explore my Sapphic sexual prowess in London, and he trotted across the great expanse of the globe working as a prestigious chef.
Our relationship wasn't the kind that left us with shattered hearts and broken spirits. Our lifestyles and sexualities weren't cohesive, so we always had an unspoken understanding that what we had was temporary. (I know, I know, we lived together and all that, but as you guys know, I live for fleeting distractions from the truth).
But I still view my relationship with Dash as a treasured token of youth and innocence.
After we broke up, I heard through the grapevine that Dash was in love. And a few years ago, when I first laid my eyes via social media on his then-fiancé Juliette*, I was left stunned by her effervescent beauty. She looked like a Parisian mermaid, flaming red saltwater sex locks, full lips and lashes for days. She's just effortlessly chic as f*ck (she is French after all).
She also happens to be an impossibly cool chickadee. Just a few months ago, I actually met her face-to-face. We were both curious about each other, so we decided to meet in a Midtown dive. She drank chamomile tea. I drank vodka on the rocks. We bonded.
"You and I will always have a special connection. Dash loved you, and I love Dash, so therefore, I love you,” she cooed in her sophisticated-yet-adorable accent, her long lashes fluttering.
I was (and am) authentically happy for Dash and Juliette. Not only because I'm a f*cking lesbian, but because I was also in love with a beautiful girl of my own. She was the first girl in years upon years who attained the ability to spark up my perpetually sleepy heart. We had a crazy pheromone, I-can't-get-enough-of-your-smell, your-taste-intoxicates-me kind of love affair. The kind where your bodies smoothly ooze into one another, and you feel buzzed from breathing them in.
We weren't ready to walk down the aisle yet, but I loved the sh*t out of her. Who needs drugs when you can get high on your lust/love for another human being?
But I guess like any drug, what comes up must come down, right?
I woke up Tuesday December 29 and did my typical morning scroll through Facebook, and the first thing I saw in my feed was Dash's Facebook post. He was gloating about how a perfect smattering of snow had magically appeared overnight, and how it was surely a miracle that it had happened the day he was about to marry the love of this life.
And while I felt happy for him (I promise), I also felt a sharp pang of anxiety. The underlying breakup anxiety.
Girls know when a breakup is coming. We feel it in the air. It's almost vibrational. We can sense it several days before, even if we choose to ignore that guttural breakup instinct. And I was right. My girlfriend broke up with me the very day that my ex got married.
I won't get into what served as the catalyst of our broken relationship. She certainly didn't know it was the same day my ex-boyfriend was getting married. She wasn't intentionally trying to hurt me. It just wasn't working between us and sh*t had to end. And damn, did it f*cking suck.
Then, I did exactly what my friends, my own mother and my better judgment told me NOT to do: I scrolled through social media and looked at pictures of Dash and Juliette's wedding as I nursed my shattered, broken heart.
Why when we find ourselves heartbroken do we feel this self-destructive urge to rub salt directly in the wounds so the sting is even more severe?
I can't quite put a word to the unsettling sensation stewing within me when I looked at Dash’s wedding photos. I wasn't jealous. It's not like I wanted it to be me walking down the aisle. That wasn't it at all.
I think I felt a huge wave of failure. Looking at the pictures of the beautiful couple exchanging vows in the regal New England countryside held up a mirror to exactly what I don't have in my life. Unconditional love. The strong arms of stability. A secure future.
Trite and weak, I know. Aren't I supposed to be that liberated feminist who doesn't need to rely on any outside sources to make her feel happy and secure within herself? Where was the independent strong girl I've cultivated? Why was she not showing up for me the day I needed her the most?
I felt like I was a partnerless, directionless shadow of a girl sifting through the air. I felt afraid of my own loneliness. It made me feel like somewhere along the course of my life, I took the wrong turn. The world seemed suddenly scary and unpredictable.
I asked myself, what wrong choices have I made, that I'm alone at 29 living in a six-story walkup writing about my sex life on the Internet, while the person I grew up with is marrying the love of his life surrounded by a sea of warm friends and family?
And, kittens, I cried my eyes out. It was the kind of guttural sobbing that can only be released in the safety of solitude. I cried about it all. The loss of my relationship. The end of an era. A new life without intimacy.
But you know what? After I released all that sensational tension, the hurt, the pain, the jealousy, the closing of a chapter through my eyeballs, I felt free. Free to officially end this book of my life and start a brand, new fresh one. I saw my life as a bunch of blank pages that could be filled with wild adventures, an exciting career, epic travels and eccentric friends.
There is no longer a co-writer in my life, and I'm free to write the story exactly the way I want it to go.
And this new book is going to be a different story than before. The last story was all about love, and relationships, and discovering my sexuality, and heartbreak, and pain, and other people.
This new story is going to be a love story, of course. But it's going to be the story in which I fall in f*cking love with myself.
*Name has been changed