My collective romantic history reads like the offspring of a comic book, a horror story and a classic tragedy.
I broke up with my first ever boyfriend at the age of 16. After our demise he proceeded to leave suicidal messages on my voicemail only to immediately shut his phone off so I could not call back. He followed me to work on numerous occasions and was once apprehended by mall security for lurking outside the store I worked in. It was not unusual for him to appear unexpectedly at my home and on several occasions I spotted him in the hallways at my high school (where he was not enrolled). I still cannot be sure why he put so much effort into stalking me since he was busy with the other girlfriend he acquired during our relationship.
At the time I did not realize the profound emotional magnitude that this experience had on my blueprint for dating and love. In fact, it is not until quite recently that I started to see a connection between my first flame and my present day circumstances.
I chiefly seem to choose men with commitment, fidelity and substance abuse issues. These are not choices I made consciously nor patterns I am proud of and these selections have not served me well. But despite my insight about these archetypes I have remained somewhat unable to free myself from the shackles of Dating Traumatic Stress Disorder (DTSD). I am currently petitioning to have this original new diagnosis added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-6.
Each time I score a date my mind races with anticipation and my body twirls with hope. If after a few dates things are going well, I remind myself to be cautious, to take it slow and to hold on to my heart. But at the end of the day I cannot help but embrace the excitement. After all, what the hell is the point of love if not to feel a little insane and a lot elated? Yet it is this exact madness, the anxiety and unease that follow an encouraging romantic encounter, that leads to the development of DTSD.
We know that the encouraging romantic encounter, the one we let ourselves get giddy about, may fail miserably. The flirty text we sent may go unreturned. The date we discussed may never materialize. At any single moment in our single lives, all of our expectations, hopes and excitements about a potential partner can implode onto themselves. There is nothing to do but sit in the ruins of rejection and failure with the possibility of more rejection and failure looming but a short distance ahead.
It is true that no man I have dated has shown me the respect that I deserve or offered me the love that I desire. But it is truer that I avoided acknowledging the significance of my life’s own love stories, that I unknowingly carry with me the fears of pages past. Today I remind myself that just because nothing has worked so far does not guarantee that nothing will ever work.
Today I acknowledge my DTSD and kindly tell it to fuck off. I open my heart and cleanse it of aches past, just in case a sweet, kind, funny, nerdy, ambitious, generous, simple, normal kind of guy happens to come along.