Content warning: suicide, depression, suicidal thoughts/feelings, domestic violence, sexual assault
I found myself thinking about how sometimes people threaten to commit suicide when their partners leave them. This is seen as abusive and unhealthy behavior. And it is. But what about those intense feelings? Because it’s branded as “abusive and unhealthy”, there’s certainly a stigma around it, so does that mean you are an abusive and unhealthy person if you feel (at least somewhat) suicidal when rejected? I am certain this is a controversial topic, but I think it’s something that should be examined.
I was recently rejected by a crush. It’s brought a lot of pain into my life, and some pain into my crush’s life (which then brings me more pain at the thought of making someone I have feelings for feel pain). But even after months (over half a a year since the rejection, and nearing a year since my crush began), I have not recovered. I’m still attracted to my crush, and I long for their love that I will never receive. I simultaneous want to love them with all my heart and hate their guts. Unrequited love is awful. And right now, it’s unbearable. My depression took a turn for the worst in the spring. I was crying nearly every day for weeks. I still cry, but I can now go days, and sometimes weeks, without crying, but it’s still the same thoughts that creep into my mind, making me feel worthless.
I am unloveable. No one likes me. No one will ever love me. I’m ugly. Will I be forever alone? Why haven’t I ever been in a relationship? What do people even think of me? Who would want to love me? I’m an emotional mess undeserving of love. No one would want to be with someone like me. I have too much emotional baggage. If I ever let anyone in, they will fear and resent me. My crush did. I want to be loved so bad. My touch brings pain to people. My love brings pain to people. If I’m incapable of being loved, what’s the point of all this? I never asked to be alive. I wish I was never born. I don’t like being alive. I hate myself. If I died, no one would actually care. Life goes on. Sure, some people would be hurt if I died, and maybe some people will come to my funeral, but then they will move on. I am no one’s best friend anyways. No one thinks of me first. No one invites me to do things. No one loves me. No one likes me. I hate being alive. All I want are great friends who love me intensely, and a romantic and emotional partner so I can love and be loved. I don’t have any of this. I don’t know if I ever will. If I never will, I see no point to being alive.
It’s a long chain of ugly, negative thoughts. I suppose this means I have suicidal thoughts and/or feelings, but in truth, I don’t have the agency to go through with it. Death scares me in the long run. I try and hold onto some hope that I will have that kind of love one day. But I hate having hope.
But the thing about these thoughts and feelings is that I can’t share them with anyone. They make me feel pathetic. People (in relationships, mind you) tell me I’m not missing out. They tell me I should try online dating (which comes with other emotional obstacles). You hear people say that you can never truly love until you love yourself. And sure, rejection hurts, but how long is it supposed to last? It shouldn’t bring a person deeper into their depression, and if that’s the case, then they have things to work on and shouldn’t be in a relationship anyways. If you have suicidal/depressed feelings, expressing them would make you abusive. But how is one supposed to get help unless they express these feelings? Also, having these feelings make me feel like I’d appear desperate and pathetic. No one wants to be with someone who is desperate and pathetic. No one wants to be around someone who is desperate and pathetic. And then I fall deeper into loneliness.
I tried DBT and seeing a therapist. I recently broke up with my therapist because she wasn’t helping. When I finally opened up about being afraid of never finding love, all she said was, “That must be really hard.” Another therapist I saw once said something similar. Why the fuck do they think saying that would help? That just makes me want to end everything sooner. Because as my negative thoughts indicate, If I’m incapable of being loved, what’s the point of all this?
But besides me and my feelings, I was reading about Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and her lover/husband, Percy Shelley, on Wikipedia. Apparently Percy Shelley’s first wife threatened to commit suicide, and that’s around the time he decided to marry her (to save her). She eventually committed suicide when she thought her second lover abandoned her. Percy Shelley apparently threatened to commit suicide if Mary didn’t reciprocate his feelings. And apparently Mary’s step-sister, Fanny, was also in love with Percy, and she ended up committing suicide because she felt rejected when Percy and Mary fled on a trip with Mary’s other step-sister, Claire, without her. I guess that was a double-whammy of rejected feelings: love interest and friends/siblings leaving you behind.
What does all this mean? Even romantic literature makes out threats of suicide as indicators of passionate love, which feminism now criticizes. And I get that criticism. It’s not healthy, and people shouldn’t stay with a partner who threatens suicide if they don’t want to be with them, nor should they feel guilty if they actually do. A lot of feminist circles make out people who are the abusive one in the relationship as the bad person, and makes it black and white. But what I’ve realized is that they are a person too, and every one of us is capable of exuding abusive behavior. There’s an Everyday Feminism article that talks about how people sometime use social justice language in an abusive way in intimate relationships.
An example from the article: “A few years ago I took a deep breath, looked one of my closest friends in the eye, and told him that I thought he should stop beating up his boyfriend. He blinked at me in surprise. He shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe what I was saying. Then he said, ‘But it isn’t abuse if I hit him. I’m more oppressed than he is.'” Point is, one thing I’ve learned this past year (partly from my personal relationships, and partly from what I’ve seen by living in a co-op with leftist people with a variety of marginalized identities) is that even people we think aren’t capable of being abusive are capable of being abusive, and their identities do not excuse or justify abusive behavior. I mean, in the last year in my co-op, a black guy got kicked out for vandalizing another co-oper’s car, and a white girl got kicked out when she was accused of sexually assaulting many guys. I will say that both of these individuals made others in the community uncomfortable, but then we felt weird for kicking out a black guy and a white girl because of certain aspects of their identities and how it relates to their crimes (and how it made us appear). In the end, they needed to be kicked out.
And then as individuals, we don’t like to consider ourselves capable of being abusive. Here’s another Everyday Feminism article that talks about being accountable when you have been abusive. Because, as the article says at one point, “Nobody wants to be ‘an abuser.’ No one wants to admit that they have hurt someone, especially when so many of us have been hurt ourselves.” (Also, both of the articles I used are written by Kai Cheng Thom, so sending out appreciation for your articles.)
If we go back to the Shelleys and literature, history shows that thoughts and feelings of suicide and depression after being rejected by a lover are not exactly uncommon. To be clear, I’m not making this point because I’m trying to justify my feelings, or feel validated. I hate feeling this way. All I want is to love and be loved, not feel unloveable and pathetic. I want to talk about the possibility of these kinds of feelings as being potentially natural, learning ways to deal with such extreme feelings, and not feel guilty about it. I mean, there are a lot of feminist/mental health awareness articles out there that try to help suicidal people try and assuage feelings of guilt in regards to their suicidal feelings/attempts, so this shouldn’t be too different. But feeling such intense negative feelings due to rejection looks bad, and comes with stigmas associated with depression, suicide, and abusive behavior. Related to fears of being a “bad feminist” because you may have these feelings or behaviors.
I’m still trying to find a therapist and friends (and hopefully one day a romantic and emotional partner) that I can open up to about these intense feelings, not get replies that make me feel worse, and receive love and acceptance that can help me start to heal. As a depressed person, or a person experiencing depression (person/identity-first language, you decide), I’m trying to accept and put out there that sometimes you need the love of others to start loving yourself again, because depression makes you forget how to love yourself. I have to relearn it, but without any knowledge, that means I need to be taught.
Am I bad for having these intense feelings? Am I an awful person for not getting over my rejection quite yet? Would I be a bad person if I never do? I am trying to allow myself to be an emotional person. There’s work to be done. And I want anyone else out there who may have similar feelings as me to realize that you are not alone. Let’s try and let our hope last a little longer, and recognize suicidal thoughts and feelings as part of the complex human experience.
(Also, if you are feeling suicidal, or find that you may want to act on those feelings, please get help. Call someone you trust, or call a suicide prevention hotline.)