Last year, I rang in the New Year with a breakdown. I’ve written about this, I have talked about it, joked about it. I thought I had processed it, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and sent it away. I thought that maybe, I was able to joke away the Great New Year’s Eve Breakdown of 2018, but in a cruel twist of fate, my anxiety meter is saying that is indeed a lie. Let me recap what happened last year for you:
My friend had a big New Year’s Eve house party and I was very excited to go. I drank, was merry, but then my roommate mentioned she thought someone was cute at the party and well, my brain took it to a whole new section of ingrained trauma we hadn’t visited before. You’re probably thinking, wow my dude, that’s not normal. Just wait, there’s more. Throughout the evening, I got more and more in my head about this situation and was really ~feeling my feelings~. This culminated in me having a stage 10 breakdown that night. Like crying on the side of the street waiting for the cab, crying in the cab, crying walking from the cab into my house, crying in my house. My roommate was a champion, and we had a very earnest discussion about what I was feeling and where it was coming from. We both cried. Laying out your fears and trauma is scary and it tends to swallow anyone within a five foot radius. Needless to say, New Year’s Eve last year was really really bad. This breakdown was fed by the impending doom of desirability politics and the scarcity of care. I was scared, because I have experienced the zero-sum game of care. I have experienced my friends entering romantic relationships and leaving my life, because all their care is now reserved for their romantic partners. When my roommate said she thought someone was cute, it triggered a wall to break down and all of this to come flooding in. It wasn’t cute, but it was real.
Alright, now that you’re caught up, let’s keep going.
With a rock in my stomach, I have been watching the calendar slowly crawl closer to the closing out of 2018, and the ringing in of 2019. Returning to New Year’s Eve feels like I’m returning to the scene of a crime, filled with evidence of my inner traumas. A splatter of Complex PTSD, a smear of attachment anxiety, a pool of internalized fatphobia over there in the corner. I navigated 2018 with yellow “do not cross” tape wrapped around my body, and now I am getting ready to clean up the scene in 2019. My roommate, who is like a wiser Jiminy Cricket, keeps telling me that New Year’s Eve itself didn’t cause me pain. Logically, I hear her. I can understand that New Year’s Eve is literally just a day. This day, technically, holds no power over me. I get it, Jiminy, now let’s tell that to my amygdala.
Life Moved On
Post-NYE Breakdown, I was really scared. I had ripped the scab off of years of internalized trauma, hurt, and pain in one swoop that night. There’s no easy way to find yourself again after you’ve lost yourself in pain. I had laid myself bare, and now I had to start to put myself back together. It was here, in the transitioning of time, that I learned three big life lessons:
- I will be ok, eventually.
- Trust in the process.
- Trust in your relationships (and loved ones).
It’s hard to accept that even these little things are a success when you’re healing. We tend to look at the big picture, want to be better right now, need to feel better because it makes the day to day so much easier. In reality, we will never see the big picture. Instead, we are left with having to celebrate the small victories in our journey. I woke up, January 1st, 2018, breathing. That was a success.
You’re probably reading this thinking, “wow, Sam for a girl who imprints like a Twilight werewolf, why do you have to learn to trust the people you love?” Let me tell you, when your brain is hardwired to be scared of people leaving you, you learn to trust no one. Everyone you love is also your biggest enemy, because your brain keeps telling you that the ones you love can hurt you the most. Not only is this exhausting for you, it’s exhausting for your loved ones.
I am struggling with this lesson. I have near nightly dreams where my closest loved ones are horrible and mean to me. I have dreams where my roommate midnight moves out, replaces me with someone else, or I somehow become obsolete in her life. I have dreams where my friends decide they hate me and leave me out like it’s 1998 and I’m back in grade school. In my dreams, I am replaceable. I tell my roommate these things. She is empathetic, but also tired, because in my dreams she is an antagonist. She tells me that our relationship doesn’t only impact me, she is a part of it too. This is my wake up call. I am not as replaceable as my brain tells me. I need to trust in the love my friends have for me, and trust that I am also important in their lives.
Nothing is Simple or Straightforward
I don’t want you to think that what happened on NYE was caused by my own trauma and not by the complex interactions of desirability politics, fatness, and the patriarchy. My mental health and I do not exist in a vacuum. I still steadfastly believe that romantic relationships are a capitalist joke. At least the heteronormative, monogamous, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence version of romance most of us have been fed since we were freed from the womb. I am still here, telling you that there are barely any differences between platonic and romantic relationships. Our platonic relationships are just as important as our romantic ones, and just as serious and fulfilling. Your friends are not place markers in your life, there until you find a romantic partner to put all your care and time into. My NYE breakdown was aided by my traumas, but fully supported by the world I experience as a fat woman.
In the year since I published my piece post-NYE, I have received amazing support from people in my communities. Everyone has been nice and called me things like “brave” and “well-spoken”. Thin friends have provided words of empathy. Men who felt guilty for how they had treated me sent me “wow, I didn’t realize these things” messages. And yet, here we are. I am still living in a fatphobic hellscape. I am a stronger person with better coping mechanisms, but as I said last year, no matter how much I work on myself, I am still up against a society that doesn’t want to change. I still am in communities of people who tell me I’m beautiful, but only date thin people. I see, again and again, thin white people being upheld the highest. I see thin white women getting more praise than fat women and women of colour, or god forbid, fat women of colour. I am in a place where people recognize fatphobia as a concept, but are not willing to investigate why they only swipe right on thin people.
I stand by that no one has to be attracted to anyone, but I think the reasons we are not attracted to specific types of people are generally coming from a bad place. If you’re reading this and you’re like, “Sam, I’m just not attracted to fat people!,” ask yourself why. Why are you only attracted to thin people? Why do you only have sex with thin people? Why do you only want to kiss thin people? When you’re walking down the street, and there is a thin woman and a fat woman walking together, why do you only smile at the thin one? Why did it take you three months to learn my name? Why do some of you hit up my thin friends relentlessly, but never slip into my DMs? Think about your answers.
I don’t think romantic relationships are bad. Sometimes I wonder if I have shot myself in the foot by writing things like this. Sometimes I want a shirt that reads: “I’m not scary, I’ve just done a lot of self reflection. Please still make out with me.” I’m human, I crave romantic intimacy just as much as I crave platonic intimacy. I think having partners that are platonic and partners that are romantic is important, I just don’t think one is more important than the other. I also don’t think that you can get everything you need out of one human: that’s asking a lot of another person.
Our entire lives, we are fed the idea that we are living only to find that one romantic partner that will complete us, and that is just not true. There is a whole entire world out there full of interesting, loving, and complex humans, why would I expect just one of them to be my everything? It’s wild. That being said, if you have a crush on a fat person, tell them. If you want to make out with a fat person, ask them. If you have a crush on a fat person but are too ashamed that you’re attracted to someone who is fat, then keep your damn mouth shut and start processing.
I am scared of New Year’s Eve this year. I keep watching the calendar crawl closer and closer to the day, and my stomach lurches. I am not ok, I am a half-healed wound, but I am happy. I have learned hard lessons this year, and will probably learn even more in the coming years. When the 31st comes, I will face it with expectations that I am hoping will not be met. But if the worst happens, I know that I will wake up on January 1st. And from what I have learned this year, that is progress. That is a celebration.