Dum Spiro, Spero

One of the parts of my life I find most difficult to think about these days is the area of love. By love, I don’t mean friendship, because I know my friends love me and I love them, and I don’t mean family, because that’s essentially the same. No, I mean romance, and my general lack of success in that area.

Feeling unloved has been one of the key components of my depression for a long time. There were times I felt totally unloved, and unlovable, which I am told is not all that uncommon in people with depression. Even now, it is something I struggle with, because my experience in the romantic arena has been, frankly, not too great. I have never had a girlfriend, which at 33 puts me over 80% of the way to being a Steve Carrell character, only not as funny. I had one relationship, which largely failed because I was emotionally unavailable when I wasn’t deep in depression. Every time I have asked a woman out has ended badly for me.

There are times I wonder if it is still worth trying. As a guy, I have never been good at reading the signs from women; as far as I know, there’s only been one instance where a woman was attracted to me, and as noted above, that didn’t work out so well. I just can’t seem to observe any proof that women are interested in me, which means either I am totally blind in that area or there’s really nobody interested – for now, I’ll go with the former. Without having any idea if a woman is interested, I find myself afraid, perhaps unreasonably so, that I will once again be rejected, and that’s a leap I find myself unwilling to take.

While I am told I have a great sense of humor, which is something that people find attractive, I know that there’s a lot about me that isn’t terribly attractive. I’m short and overweight, both of which contribute to self-esteem issues that are deep-seeded. I don’t have much in the way of fashion sense; most of my wardrobe is untucked collared shirts, t-shirts, and jeans, with a few pairs of khakis thrown in. I have difficulty initiating conversation, and I am hard-pressed to continue conversations with people I don’t know.

Is this an issue I can really address in treatment here? I’m not sure. I see relationships forming around me, and I am happy for my friends, but I also don’t see much hope for me in this area. I don’t even really remember what having feelings for someone is like, other than that I remember as one of the best, and worst, experiences of my life. I’m not sure that I would recognize what that feels like if it happened. I feel like being alone might be all that I have to look forward to, and it is hard to come to terms with that.

I have some physical issues to work through in regard to relationships, as well. Not regarding my appearance, but rather because I am not very good at allowing myself to be touched by other people or to know when to reciprocate. With people I don’t know or trust, this is pretty severe, but even once I get to know people I have problems. I never know when to give a friend a hug, or put a hand on their shoulder, or what to do when the object of such affection. I imagine I would be even worse in a romantic relationship; the combination of overactive protective impulses and difficulty with physical intimacy would not make for a great relationship.

I know that a lot of this is just fear talking; that I am probably a lot more likely to end up having some sort of relationship than I realize. But it is a hard fear to shake, because I have been without any kind of relationship for so long. I am really afraid of being hurt again, because the first time was so bad that I felt like I had nothing left, that it just hollowed me out. Again, I don’t blame anyone; I was a relatively unemotional person who went from virtually no emotional response to one of the strongest emotional situations you can have, and then when it ended I just didn’t have any means of coping with what I was feeling.

So I am trying to have some hope for my love life. Even if I don’t know if anyone will ever have feelings for me, or if I will ever have feelings for anyone else, hope is what I got. Like the blog entry title says, dum spiro, spero – while I breathe, I hope. I’m tempted to get a tattoo of that to remind me about it constantly. Because really, if I don’t have hope, what do I have?

Love still terrifies me, though.

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