As long as I could remember, I’ve just wanted to belong.
In elementary school, I was the weird, shy, heavy girl who didn’t really have a best friend. Everyone kind of liked me, but I was the girl they’d cry to when they were arguing with their real best friend. I was just a stopgap.
In middle and high school, I was the peripheral friend. I was the girl that you forgot to invite to your birthday party, not because you didn’t like her but simply because you didn’t think of her when you were making out the invitations. Friendships meant more to me than they did to the other person. I got anxiety attacks thinking about group situations where I had to rely on others wanting to choose me, whether it was picking teams in gym class or getting a date for prom or figuring out where to sit at lunch. I was quiet and just kept my head down, hoping someone would someday see me.
I wanted to belong so badly.
So, I started finding a way to get people’s attention. By the time I was in college, I had started to self harm.
Most people, when they say “self harm” mean cutting or sometimes burning, but my inflictions were varied. I experimenting a little with cutting, which really was more like scratching because I didn’t like to break skin. To bleed made me feel weak, and I didn’t want to be weak. I just wanted to be part of something, even if that group I was part of was “mentally ill.”
I began drinking and smoking. I experimented with weed. I had sex with nearly anyone that would have me, even in very risky, unprotected situations. This was my real self harm.
In and of themselves, I don’t any of these things (drinking, smoking, sex) are that bad. I was just doing them for the wrong reasons. I wanted people to worry about me. I wanted people to want to help me and take care of me. I wanted to feel loved.
At one point, a friend told me she was worried I was becoming “one of those girls,” and I actually felt a sense of pride. I belonged to a group. I was “one of” something instead of just one.
My anxiety reached a breaking point and I started to have panic attacks at the thought of people singling me out of the group or not caring about me or sometimes for no reason at all. I distinctly remember one time walking into my part time job and having to hide for ten minutes under the stairs because I was panicking about my life. Nothing specific, just about my life.
I being even riskier with my activities because maybe if I was the girl who attempted suicide I’d really feel loved. I didn’t want to die. I just wanted people to care about me.
That’s why I don’t like when people say that a suicide attempt was just “a cry for attention.” You’re probably right. Not everyone who’s suicidal wants to actually die. But that doesn’t mean their situation in life is any better. Because that’s how I felt: So upset and anxious and unloved that I was willing to risk my life in order to get attention and feel loved.
Why do people roll their eyes at that, yet not at suicide attempts where the person actually wants to die? Sometimes suicide is about feeling so much pain you want to die. Other times, it is about being willing to die if it means you might live and feel like you belong, even just for a moment.
I never attempted to kill myself because I was in pain. I only self harmed because I wanted someone to reach out. Just once, I wanted to be the most important person in someone’s life.
In some ways, I think this all led me to D/s in a round-about, rambling way (much like this post). When you have a dom, you know you are owned. For me, that is the best feeling in the world. I don’t feel like I have to self harm to get attention. I’m his, and Cash reminds me of that every day.
For a while, I speculated that this was perhaps not healthy, that I was using submission simply to self medicate and ignore underlying issues. Some days, I still feel like that.
But most days, and what I’ve come to identify as reality, I know that submission is, for me, the answer. I am always going to need constant reminders from my partner that I am loved. That is not going to change. I feel myself when I am submitting to Cash, in a way I was never able to experience before. Since I was a kid, I’ve been trying to belong, and I suddenly found this community where I’m not only welcomed, but I’m constantly told by the person most important to me that I’m the most important person in the world to him.
I can give of myself without constant anxiety that it won’t be reciprocated. With Cash, I never have to worry that I love him more than he loves me.
And this has led me to healthier relationships with the other people in my life as well. I always felt like my parents put too much pressure on me throughout high school, yet did not tell me they were proud of my accomplishments. Now, I’m more clearly able to see how proud my parents are of me. I also always felt like my friends didn’t care, that it was up to me to maintain friendships or they’d just wither and die. Now, I’m able to see that people have lives that don’t revolve around me, and that it’s not personal when they only have time to call a few times a year.
Being the most important to one person helps me cope with being second, third, fourth, etc. place in everyone else’s life. One is all I need.
And most importantly, it’s helped me define who I am without that relationship. I need a dom in my life to be happy and feel completely myself. Now, I’m confident in saying that, whereas before I felt like less of a person, like I should be strong enough to be happy on my own. Fuck that. Life, for me, is meant to be shared with another person. My relationships absolutely define my happiness, and I’m 100% okay with that.
I guess where this post is leading is…and end. No, not an end to this blog, but an end to unhappiness. An end to self harm because I want to belong someone. An end to feeling like I don’t have a place in this world.
An end…and a whole new beginning.
Rori is the founder of Between My Sheets. She works full time as a writer, reviewer, and online educator and can be reached at rori-at-betweenmysheets.com