Mental Illness and Romantic Rejection

“I just don’t think I could handle that kind of rejection.” – George McFly

When you’re a little obsessed with your own mistakes, and you can replay every stupid thing you’ve ever said in your head, dozens or hundreds of times, until you become the biggest idiot in the world and can prove it mathematically, you tend to take some things a little harshly. Romantic rejection isn’t easy for anyone, but experiencing it with a healthy dose of depression and obsession is a whole lot less fun.

It never really matters how it began. You meet someone (in person, on line, it doesn’t matter), and something strikes you about them, and you feel moved to, well, make a move. Something clicks, then it sparks, then a flame sputters to life and next thing you know, you’re burning, and so are they… or so you think. Maybe they are, or maybe it’s just your excitement being transferred onto them.

As tends to happen with things that burn hot and fast, they die out fast, too, either in a great big display of fireworks, or else into a puff of smoke as they exhaust their fuel like a rocket. If you’re lucky, you shoot out into the stars and make it into orbit, and if you’re not so lucky, at least it’s a short ride back down. Of course, here we’re just talking about the latter – why would one start an article about rejection and talk about being destined for the stars?

There are some people who are simply aromantic. My personal experience makes it hard to understand this – I’ve been romantically inclined since I can remember. I once told my dad when I was, maybe 16, that I *knew* I wanted to get married and have kids. Of course, I didn’t realize how much of a stereotypically female desire this is back then, but now I look back and roll my eyes at young me quite a bit about things I missed back then.

Anyway, it seems finding that one special person is really a very common desire for most people, regardless of how the story ends in your head. A lot of people want to “make it to the stars” with someone, so it makes sense. When you’re socially inept at best, however, as well as a child abuse survivor, a trans woman forced into an all-boys Catholic high school, and have a Personality Disorder, NOS, suffering from depression, it’s easy to see why one might fall back on an idealized fantasy.

Growing up through my teens, I had zero romantic experience. I simply knew nobody I was interested in, and while we had some minor connections with a girl’s school in the area, I was a geeky loser with no chance, and no ambition to try. My romantic interests were with movie characters – I was in love with Julia Ormond’s Sabrina, and Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day (yes, I always had a thing for older women). The subsequent problem that arose from this was that I wasn’t falling for real people, and I wasn’t learning real interaction skills. As a result, in my head, my life quickly became a movie in my head, and unfortunately, things that worked in movies just don’t work in real life.

Being a child abuse survivor, I had the scars to show for it, and they weren’t the ones you could see. For me, social interaction was never easy, I didn’t know how to talk to people, and thanks to my mother, I was constantly afraid of saying the wrong thing. This created a constant state of confusion in my early years as I learned what was and wasn’t socially acceptable (a penchant for constant honesty didn’t help), and I sort of created my own script to life.

One thing that never seemed to occur to me was that in life, we don’t actually get our own Groundhog Day syndrome. Once you say something, it’s in the records forever, and you don’t just try again tomorrow. As a result, I had a habit of replaying things that happened, and trying to find the alternative route. I also developed a tendency to actually TRY THEM OUT, so if I got dumped by someone, or rejected, I would go back and give it another shot, only weird, and a little rambling, and definitely looking crazy.

In the last few years, I’ve managed to reprogram that behavior, but it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t without some slips. I required a friend chronically reminding me that this kind of behavior wasn’t acceptable, and that I needed to stick to my resolution to change it. Even now, I get the urge from time to time to go back to someone and try to explain myself. Recently, however, I found that I have even been able to discern when the right time to try again is. Now all I need to do is listen to all those warning bells in my head so I stop going after crazy people.

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