I just sprinted to Mann at the end of Spanish. I once again didn’t do the homework for that class, worsening my already abysmal grade in it. I need to pass it to graduate. I was going to email Katie and tell her that I just couldn’t turn in a column this week. But here I am sitting at this damn table writing this. Even though I’m very much crunched for time, I’m writing this because I’m feeling some type of way and I have something to say about it. And I want to express that for queer people, especially queer people of color, that may be feeling the same way about relationships. Whether it’s one they’ve been in, are currently in or yet to be. This is something y’all should know.
If you’ve listened to the song on repeat that the title of this column is referencing, you can stop reading now.
Last year while I was allowing myself to be played, I wrote that I was basically Taylor Swift. This year in my development, if you can call it that, I’m Amy Winehouse. That’s who I was to my first boyfriend, now my first ex, at no fault of his. The shittiest thing about queer relationships, especially when they involve two queer people of color, is that each person probably has their own individual shit that they’re going through as a result of their lives up to their meeting. And unlike Julie Michael’s song “Issues,” that’s not what I chose for the title. But her sentiment does make sense while you’re drunk in each other’s company.
We are abandoned. Whether it’s from our own families, our own friends, our “communities” that extend acceptance only up to their own politics. I don’t feel the need to justify what I mean, if you read that and it resonates then that’s enough. If it doesn’t, go talk to someone like me. Or email me. Starved of genuine, unconditional love, we cling to each other and in a world that has roundly rejected us. While we were dating for all of two months, he was my only source of happiness.
No one has ever touched me like that, no one has ever kissed me like that. I’ve never felt loved like that. At the height of it I would’ve done anything for him, proudly promising I was his “ride or die” and the last thing he did before I cut him off was promising that he was mine. No matter the level of toxicity our relationship reached — and we reached some heights — we knew that the only refuge we could ever find was with each other. The reason I had to cut him off was because if I broke up with him in person, I wouldn’t. I told him I’d always be there for him, a promise I broke. We promised if we ever wanted to break up (it happened about five times over the course of those few months), then we would at least do it in person. Another promise I broke, but I had to.
We loved each other. But I feel like what I’m about to say isn’t even an opinion. Love isn’t enough. If you’re already working on yourself, love will not help that process. Your issues won’t disappear but will adjust with your partner in some way. In my case, I drowned in them. I have severe self-esteem issues and clung to him because he made me feel like I was dumb for even thinking I was nothing. But the reassurance couldn’t smooth over deep wounds that caused them. That traced to the deep, growing pains that are still fresh as I continue to develop. Taylor Swift was still in there. I loved him so much I doubted it every time he said he loved me. I convinced myself he was fucking some twink on the side. Perhaps the worst thing about anxiety is it flattens even the people you deeply love, and convinces you somehow they too will eventually abandon for some reason or the other. Or just the simple fact that you were never worth it.
After I share this on my Facebook, I don’t need someone to comment “you’re amazing!” I don’t like “empowerment,” because it doesn’t let me sit with pain, and learn to live with it. It’s human to have it, and I’ve spent years masking it. Whether it was grades, boys or love, anything to numb it. And through an actual proactive thought I had at a particularly tense moment, I knew our love would destroy us. I would leave Cornell and go wherever he went. Chase that feeling for the rest of my life.
Falling in love when you’re already fucky is a lose-lose. I lost when I lost him, but I’d lose if I didn’t. I’ve joked that I was basically a teenager when I first started thinking about boys in a real sense, but now I’m not and it hurts to involuntarily let go of that innocence. But I’m better for it, and you’ll be too. Growth is good. And the fact that there’s always tomorrow is too.
Narayan Reddy is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reddy, Set, Go! runs every other Thursday.