An Option, Not A Priority: What It's Like To Be The Backburner Girl

by Sheena Sharma

"The best way out is always through." According to Robert Frost, that is.

But what if you never made it through... because someone was holding you back? And what if that person emerged safely on the other side and didn't reach back to pull you up?

We seldom meet a person who makes us want to settle down. If we're lucky, that person loves us the way we deserve to be loved.

But before we meet The One, we often encounter someone who fails to love us the way we need to be loved. This is the guy who can't love others because he doesn't know himself.

He gives us his all, but his all is never enough. He wants to change us, but he is unwilling to change his life to accommodate us.

He has one title for you: Backburner Girl. You're too unimportant to take precedence -- but too memorable to be forgotten.

He leaves you floating in a grey area that you can never escape, no matter how much you do to prove your worth.

There is one way to leave the grey area, but it has nothing to do with him. You have to make the choice to leave.

Leaving -- a task that is seemingly impossible, or at least your heart thinks so -- would be up to you.

Some people believe that to have choice is a blessing. But they're wrong. Having free will is the hardest part.

We naturally compartmentalize our lives. Without structure, we struggle to find ourselves. We must be the best at this, or the best at that. We lust after the "best" of everything -- including people.

Because this guy doesn't see you as his "best," you soon feel like the worst.

You don't fully commit to anyone.

He treats you as his rebound girl; in turn, you make him your rebound guy. By always having him as an option -- and by allowing him to fall back on you -- you fail to open your heart wide enough to let anyone else in.

There's a white line in the middle of the road, and you're driving along it, paralyzed and unable to pick a side.

You aren't with someone else, but you aren't single, either: You're riding on the false hope that he'll finish what he started.

Because you were never really together, you'll never find closure in your "ending."

Uncertainty keeps us from creating new beginnings. The danger lies in this ambiguity. He's never really gone, and you're never fully over it.

Your worth becomes the sum of all the women you compare yourself to.

Hyper-sensitivity consumed me. Unusually paranoid, I'd encounter couples on the street and think, “What does she have that I don't?” Or, “Maybe if I looked like her, then he would love me.”

When I declared that I'd never be "enough," I lost my identity. I became a half-person willing to settle for being half-loved.

I was convinced that these girls were simply better than I was -- and that the compromised love life I was imagining in my head was my destiny.

"She deserves a real relationship," I would think, "one in which both partners love each other equally. But I don't, because he didn't choose me."

As your self-esteem lowers, your standards follow suit.

When the person we love calls us "second best," we begin to believe we're no one's priority. In the wake of my rejection, I convinced myself I deserved less: in life, in love, in my career.

I was damaged goods, and because I didn't want to be around myself, I made it my mission to relieve everyone else of that burden, too.

I became available only to men who couldn't do the same for me. A non-committal relationship was the only one I felt I deserved. I didn't chase happiness, because it was never mine to have.

The bonds with your loved ones will suffer.

Best friends often take on the roles of therapists, especially in times of need. Without them, we'd drive into the forest and jump off the nearest cliff.

There are two stages that we go through after rejection. The first is denial; we shut down, turn inwards and drive ourselves mad with self-deprecation.

The second stage is acceptance -- of our depression, that is. When we make our sadness known, we end up distancing ourselves from family and friends.

Every conversation with your friends begins and ends with stories about the guy. The people closest to you don't like the person you've become, and you've also grown to hate her.

You can't find yourself -- but neither can they, even though they know you're in there somewhere.

Make no mistake: How you view yourself will continue to suffer as long as you keep yourself tethered to his thread. Recovery begins only once the thread is cut loose.

Men can smell your insecurities before you walk through the door. I've loved largely and lost painfully, but this is what I know to be most true: No one will love you until you find a way to love yourself again.

I have not yet made it through. But until I do, I'll be keeping the faith. Faith can be enough to hold us together in our darkest moments.