In the early days of 2014, I was suicidal. I’ve asked multiple health professionals if that is an accurate term for the incident. I don’t want to be overly dramatic. I also don’t want to minimize the topic and invalidate other people’s experiences or emotions. I tried to commit suicide and my attempt was stopped. No need to ask for details because I’m not gonna give you any. I’m sure someone else would be game to provide a play-by-play of their failed suicide attempt. But, in the annals of retelling the lurid details of foiled suicide attempts, I’m certainly not your girl.
I don’t talk much about it. I never want to discuss my reasoning because when I start to analyze my mindset and my motivation that night I feel deeply ashamed. I was worried about all the same things most people worry about. I was plagued with concerns that, six long years later, still rattle around my brain to this day.
I wondered if I’d ever find a true partner. Still wonder about this one. Truth is, not much luck on that front. I always prided myself on announcing to anyone who would listen that I was not that picky. I was at a complete loss as to why I’d been single for so long. Because, as I would refrain to anyone within earshot, I’m not even “that picky!” But the truth is much different, I am picky. Extremely picky. Consciously and subconsciously. Frankly I rarely meet anyone I am remotely attracted to. In the past five years, I can think of three guys I was interested in. And the more I thought about what I am looking for in a partner, I realized my list is fucking impossible.
Upon telling my requirements to my therapist, she remarked, “It just sounds like you’re looking for someone like you.”
I stared at her and replied, “Um exactly.”
I’m looking for a fucking unicorn. Like me! I’m a unicorn. I can’t hang out with some regular basic dude for the rest of my life.
I’m that annoying guy who is looking for a girl who: likes all the same bands as him, understands his cultural references, is pretentious about the things that matter (like drinking natural wine and seeing independent movies in the theater) and unpretentious about the things that don’t matter (generic is just as good as name brand). And, of course, that guy demands, in addition to all of these ridiculous benchmarks, that this woman also be attractive. I am that guy. And literally everyone hates that guy because he is entitled and has impossible standards. But I can’t be anybody else and I don’t want just anybody. And I refuse to change my ridiculous benchmarks.
And, of course, I need my future partner to also have a completely different personality than me. For example, I’m anxious and get overwhelmed by small things. I require a calming force. Things like large menus terrify me. I usually get overwhelmed and just ordered the first entree and then desperately wish I’d ordered something else. I just want someone to order for me.
Additionally I am desperately scared that all of my baggage will not fit comfortably into anyone else’s life. So when presented with the ever present (and truly rude — like literally stop fucking asking people this) question: “Why ARE you single?” Well, honestly? I’m a rape and sexual assault survivor who was once suicidal but didn’t actually start truly addressing those issues until the fall of 2018 when my dad was diagnosed with cancer (he’s fine now btw) and the suicidal episode was kinda instigated by being laid off from an extremely well paying and prestigious job after being in a brand new city for four months. I got laid off on New Years Eve. Can you believe? Anyway — after that I just threw myself into rebuilding my career and actually making friends. Oh I moved back to Chicago but I didn’t actually have any friends here so I poured myself into my career and friends. Happy to report I’m doing well on both fronts. ANYWAY — I kinda just shut down emotionally regarding romantic relationships because they’re so much work and I was giving all of my energy to appearing somewhat together in other areas of my life. Couldn’t add a boyfriend to the mix. And, I didn’t really have the emotional tools, honestly. Thus the therapy. Which I’m happy to report has been going well. The dating, really has not though. Those apps are trash by the way. And secretly I’d hoped some guy would read my blog or my Twitter feed and think I was so interesting and witty and demand a date. That multiple year plan has failed miserably but I’m still hopeful! And, oh, I’m insanely picky and need someone to order my food at restaurants. *sigh* That’s like the cliffnotes version!
I also worried that I’d never be fulfilled in my profession. Don’t get me wrong I actually like what I do. Surprise surprise, right? But I didn’t need to do this work. Thousands of people can do my job. But thousands of people can’t be me. Thousands of people can’t write like me. Thousands of people aren’t as irreverent and observant as I am. Thousands of people aren’t as funny and quirky as I am. Thousands of people just simply aren’t as interesting as I am. But then again, would an interesting person lose their job, attempt suicide and then decide to continue their life down the most safe risk-adverse path? When presented with an option to simply walk away from everything because the universe had presented a violent and disruptive escape hatch, I chose to stand up and keep walking down the same road. Six years later, I’m on the same road. I mean, let’s be real, I haven’t even left the fucking block. (Again, I actually like my job and profession. And, frankly, I think I’m good at it. Imagine how depressed I would be if I hated what I did.)
Additionally, saddled with sickening amounts of student debt, I simply don’t have the freedom to pursue the life I truly wanted. Even without the husband or the kids. By plunging right into law school after college, I had erased all hope of an “in between” phase. The phase where I worked odd jobs. Attempted writing. For real. Submitted my writing to websites. Built up a following. Had people remarking that I was witty and interesting without having to do the work of describing myself as such to strangers. Because as we all know, if you have to tell people that you are “witty” or “interesting”, you are most likely neither.
Six years later, many things have changed. I gained a lot of professional experience. I’ve made a ton of friends. But, unfortunately, many things are painfully the same. I remain unwaveringly picky and my impossible benchmarks will most likely lead me directly to “fun aunt in a kimono who plays Kate Bush too loud” status. I enjoy my work but I often feel like I’m, in no way, living up to my full potential. I’m a good lawyer and I like what I do but I also think I’d be an excellent writer. In some parallel universe, I’ve successfully published a book of essays (it would be longer versions of all the ramblings on this blog) and people call me “witty” and “interesting” to save myself from having to bestow those honors on myself. And, of course, I’d be wearing a kimono while drinking natural wine before requesting they turn down the Kate Bush playlist at my reception.