Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Have you ever felt unrequited love?

Usually when I think of unrequited love, I think of something great. Some sort of grand story full of catharsis. Unrequited is generally special.

A type of love that demands to be talked about for an eternity. Something electric, with compulsive wavelengths. Something like the movies that comes with its own playlist attached to it.

Something with late and long nights spent together in a damp minivan twinkling and spitting out dreams on a whim. Something with vicious fights fueled by our own desire. Something that makes my soul open up just as swiftly as it gets torn apart. And, somehow I wind up bursting at the seams yet feel completely unsatisfied. I always want more. 

Why do we long for the type of love that hurts so much it imprints our hearts? It is difficult to locate the line that separates struggle and triumph, as nearly every love story in popular media blurs the two. But unrequited love is so unbelievably magnificent and sad at the same time that it becomes all encompassing.

Unrequited love is an entire body, overwhelming, feeling. I have broken hearts before and I have had my heart broken, so I can tell you that the feeling never fades, one way or the other. It feels as if you are running fast, and for a long time, yet making no distance at all.

One time I waited two months for a guy to message me back before I realized that he just wasn’t going to. Ever. Again. And that entire time I couldn’t help but wonder why I cared so much. What we had wasn’t at all special, but I still was left longing for a distraction from the heartbreak. I was showered by his passivity instead of his kisses and I wanted him to know how much his absence hurt me, but he was so equally careless and carefree that none of it mattered.

Not even for a second. 

I felt unrequited love again while in a long-distance relationship. This kind of unrequited was different. It wasn’t one-sided. Instead, we felt tremendously for each other. It’s just that our bodies weren’t able to be physically together for some time. We were only long distance for the few months that I would be studying abroad, but it felt like an eternity. I remember being there and using all of my senses to try to gauge what his touch felt like.

Somedays I would wake up and watch the sun from my window, silently knowing that that same sun wouldn’t bounce to him for another six hours, and I would recall how that same sun looked dancing across his back at dawn. I’d lay in bed at night and want to tell him about my day, but I knew that I couldn’t. I was constantly reminded that he no longer took up the space in between my arms when we slept. But I was, and still am, fascinated by the immediate consumption of these moments. I am so grateful to have given him my heart. He still has it. 

The extent of passion is practically boundless. We should feel like we can fly on a whim, or scream and dance, when we are in love. Unrequited love just forces you to confront that intensity, those struggles and triumphs, head on. Some of it is beautiful; some not so much. I like to remind myself that love doesn’t need a reason, love just is. 

Unrequited love is messy, but worth it. It is a collection of fleeting moments. It teaches us that all love should be leaking, dripping, through every difficulty yet also a thread that is continuously weaving through and connecting our bodies and our souls. The whole point of longing is to continue, because there will always be potential to love someone rather than to have loved someone. They can’t be the one that got away if they weren’t the one in the first place.

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The women in my family thought panic attacks were normal – until I learned they weren’t

Most of the women in my family have suffered from some form of an anxiety disorder. It would take me a long time to figure out, but this is actually fairly common in many Latinx families. It just simply wasn’t something that we talked about.

Looking back on being young, I think that I always just sort of assumed that I was nervous. I was nervous about everything. The things that now intrigue and excite me as an adult would completely wipe me out with panic as a child. This was mostly things like space, the ocean, or dogs – wonderful, slightly mystical things that have the power to consume. To me, that leaned a bit too close to being the power to chew me up and spit me out. When asked what I wanted to be when I got older, I remember saying “Not an astronaut,” just to lay it out on the line in case anyone had any funny ideas.

It took a long time, but I finally was able to put a name to what I was going through. Of course, this wasn’t without years of filling in blanks and tracking down missing pieces. I learned over the years about how my mom would watch my grandmother struggle with panic attacks. Slowly, bits of information were peppered into conversations as I got older: a cousin with health-related anxiety, an aunt with PTSD. I was forming a picture in my mind of all the women who came before me, and we all looked the same: afraid and confused.

So when I started noticing my baby sister developing certain phobias and compulsions, I was sure she was feeling it too. I knew more than anything that I wanted to spare her the guilt and uncertainty that comes with anxiety. I wanted her to know most of all that she was okay. But beyond that, I wanted her to have answers – to have tools to keep it from taking joy from her life.

Understanding the nature of your anxiety and learning how to manage it is a full-time job. I have spotty gaps in my memory and years lost that my ambitious heart wishes it could get back. I went through a lot of suffering in order to find a path to peace. Still, I feel like it was worth it in so many ways. Because of the trauma, research, and recovery that I went through, I now feel educated enough to offer help to the other women in my family when they need it.

[bctt tweet=”Understanding the nature of your anxiety and learning how to manage it is a full-time job.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I can still remember the first time my grandma told me how she felt on one particularly anxious night. It was terrifying and something I was all too familiar with. The look of hope and relief on her face after I explained what a panic attack was will always sit with me as both comforting and unbelievably sad. She and her sisters didn’t have the resources that my generation does; I feel endlessly lucky to know that I can find solutions to how I feel.

With this, I’ve been able to help my sister understand and better manage her own anxiety. Moments, where I would falter, are now moments of self-learning for her. When I was a child, any thought that felt out of the norm was a serious cause for worry. I would keep myself awake at night worrying about the moral and psychological implications. I kept it all to myself, and I felt very alone. And while she may still feel lost often, she has the tools she needs to work through things like intrusive thoughts and rumination. She has the comfort of knowing that someone understands and that she is not in any way abnormal for having these feelings.

I know that I’ll always be constantly searching for coping techniques and ways to remember to relax, decompress and breathe. But I’m watching the knowledge and self-care flourish in the women I love after years of battling with themselves, and that is enough to give me hope. I know now that we’ve broken the pattern – that we will continue talking to our daughters about this feeling before they get lost.

That is what gives me peace.

Gender & Identity Life

I was forced to cut my father out of my life. I didn’t have a choice.

My father has never understood me.

For as long as I can remember, his presence in my life has been a series of sporadic pop-ups and inevitable letdowns. My memory of him is spotty. Most of what I do remember sits packed tight in the back of my head so as not to let out all the chaos. It’s just how things are when one of your parents values themselves over you at all times.

This doesn’t mean I wasn’t taken care of though; my mom was more than enough in the parent department, and because we had such a strong sense of family and culture, I never felt the absence.

What I did feel, however, was the run-off from his toxic behavior.

As early as when I was three, he could be found intentionally exacerbating my anxiety and shaming me during panic attacks. This was commonplace in his family – a group of white southerners with a penchant for bigotry. Mental illness, sexuality, and race were the common targets of their jeering. It’s really no surprise that as a queer, biracial person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it took me most of my early twenties to wrap my head around my own identity.

How could I when I’d spent an entire childhood feeling shame for simply existing?

The answer was shockingly simple: cut them off.

It was a slow process, cutting ties with an entire half of my family. But the moment that I first began weeding out the most toxic of them, life immediately felt simpler. I no longer found myself in constant social media arguments or brimming with anger over some disgusting remark. I was no longer stuck in an endless cycle of reminding myself to pick my battles and then ending up exhausting myself over their ignorance again.

It wasn’t my responsibility to change them, and finally seeing that changed me.

But it was never so easy when it came to my father.

Ever the boundary-crosser, he would insert himself into my life and pass judgment on my newfound independence. Now that I was an adult who didn’t need caring for, he wanted to make amends. Truly, there were times when I believed that if he really wanted it, he could change things. I never wanted to have a bad relationship with my father, and while I never felt an emptiness from his absence, I wasn’t against finding positivity there.

But after every heartfelt talk, there was more manipulation, until I finally hit my breaking point.

In the end, he wound up using his ill wife to keep me near.

I often think back to how, had it not been for her circumstances, I would have stopped speaking to him years ago. But I couldn’t – not at the time. His manipulation, in the same way, that it bled onto my mother and our family, also bled onto his wife.

It’s been a few months now since she passed away, and in her absence, I feel the emptiness I always thought I should have felt for him.

I feel as though I’ve lost a parent.

And despite the fact that I’ve been able to pull away from my father since this loss, I still feel the tethered cord of his making. I feel it when he texts me on Christmas. Again I feel it when he goes out for lunch with my brother. I feel it often.

But each day, the feeling lessens. I’m holding on the hope that one day, it won’t be there at all.

Gender & Identity Life

My worst nightmare didn’t harden me, it only made me kinder

Trigger warning: mentions and descriptions of physical and mental illnesses.

People tend to assume that going through hardships is reason enough to harden a person, but I didn’t instead I became a kinder human being. One day I woke up to an illness that caused me to be in extreme physical pain and covered my entire body with rashes. I couldn’t eat, talk, sleep or do anything without someone’s help.

I’d gone from being an independent young woman to a shriveled up seemingly insignificant being who didn’t know if she’d wake up to see the light next day.

But, I did. Eventually, I did.

It took quite a while for me to get there, and then to get better to the point that I’m able to write about this experience of mine without letting it consume me whole. And it hasn’t been easy; the entire experience of getting here has been anything but a cakewalk. It’s been tough and it’s definitely taken a toll on me but I’ve actually come out of it feeling better and softer (to the vulnerabilities of the world around me).

It’s hardened me in the sense that I’m mostly unaffected by the triviality of life that used to be the bane of my existence pre-illness, but now I’m soft to the fact that I’m not alone in this seemingly scary world. I was always a kind and altruistic human being so when this nightmare of an illness hit me overnight, I was shocked and bothered wondering what or who I could’ve wronged for me to be suffering this fate.

Consumed by an illness I never dreamt would hit me, and so it did, overnight – I was bewildered and disappointed. Suddenly, my life had come to an absolute halt. While my friends planned their future, I was stuck going from one hospital to another, trying to figure out what was going to help me get better. Here’s the thing though, for the longest time – I didn’t get better. It only got worse. I was losing all hope. But it was that little shred of me that wasn’t losing any hope that’s probably the reason why I’m here.

Eventually, I did start getting better. I found the right set of doctors and therapists who helped me heal – both physically and emotionally. But a lot of the emotional work had to be carried out by me alone. Soon enough – with enough self-reflection – I realized that my belief in destiny strengthened through this (rather horrible) experience of mine and I hadn’t done anything wrong to anyone, but what’s meant to happen has a way of happening on its own.

Getting back to life after this ended up being easier than I anticipated it to be.

Everyone around me was shocked as to how I could be so kind and so vibrant despite having been through so much but it honestly wasn’t even something I had to force myself to be – I just was. In a way, having suffered so much just ended up making me realize the worth of my life and my place in the world – which I didn’t realize as deeply before the illness. After the illness, I realized I didn’t want to waste my life away being stuck in bed. I didn’t want to be insignificant. I wanted to be everything I could possibly be.

My understanding of this entire experience is quite simple, really. I suffered a lot but now that it’s in the past. I don’t wish for this to dictate how I live my life beyond it.

I don’t wish to let it control my thoughts and actions. I’ve liberated myself from my demons of the past and embraced myself to be the person I am today – a kind, soft, brave, and vibrant human being in all the glory of being alive.

The world might be a cruel place at times, and life might get really hard but I don’t have to be the same.

I can’t let one isolated bad experience define the person I am for the rest of my life. I’ve chosen to retain the humanity in me, the real me, instead of succumbing to the attractive yet unhealthy coping mechanisms that could make me feel satisfied for a short period but end up giving me more pain in the long run.

I faced my demons head on and defeated them in the process too. They still come to haunt me, at times – but they still don’t know that I’m a lot stronger than they’ll ever be.

Gender & Identity Life

Being a single child has defined the person that I have grown up to be

Being a single child is one hell of an adventure. It involves innumerable ups and downs and is filled to the brim with so much of learning and unlearning every step of the way. As a single child, I’ve been the youngest, eldest, and middle child all at once.

I’ve always noticed that there’s a stark difference in the way people who have siblings behave in relation to me and my fellow single kids. We’re not as comfortable sharing the people in our lives or our space. I’ve seen this in myself so much so that I feel like it might come across as selfish at times (and it probably is, too). I just cannot, for the life of me, share anything – from material things to anything immaterial.

It probably stems from the fact that growing up, everything I’ve ever owned has been all mine, and there was no second person to share it with. So the habit of sharing was always limited to the school scenario, where I’d have to share a pencil or pen, for a limited period of time, knowing I’d get it back eventually.

Other than that, sharing didn’t exist in my dictionary.

On the same vein, I’ve never been comfortable with sleepovers – no matter what. I’ve tried so hard to become okay with them but the thought of sharing my personal space at night, which has otherwise always been exclusive for me, just never sat well with me – and still doesn’t.

It’s too invasive a process for me and I can’t be okay with it, no matter what.

I’ve seen that people with siblings never seem to have a problem with sleepovers or anything of that sort because they’ve been sharing their personal space for their whole lives.

I love my own company – and fiercely so too. I cannot imagine not spending time alone and having an absolute blast. And this isn’t something a lot of people can often relate to, but having grown up without any siblings, I’ve just learned to be my own best friend somewhere along the way.

This experience hasn’t come without its own set of cons though. Being a single child can get lonely at times. Because life isn’t perfect, and we all struggle at some point or another – not having someone to share all the struggles and pain with, can feel isolating.

A lot of times the insecurities have piled up inside of me and found unhealthy outlets because I’ve felt unsure of how to deal with things when they got too overwhelming. There’s also this constant FOMO that used to haunt me as a kid and a teenager when I used to see my friends with their siblings. It wasn’t easy because I felt like I’d never get to experience anything like that for myself.

Thankfully, I have since recognized that I did have a wholesome experience growing up.

I guess after a point I just realized that I had to make experiences happen with what I’ve got and make the best of it all. And so I did. Being a single child has made me into a strong and confident young woman who isn’t afraid to be herself because she’s used to being there for herself even when nobody else is.

I feel like growing up a single child is the reason I am everything that I am today, and it’s been quite the journey in itself. And it’s one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed too.

Race Inequality

Here’s the one thing I would change about Black History Month

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series. Celebrate with us by sharing your favorite articles on social media and uplifting the stories, life, and work of Black people.

February, as Black History Month, is dedicated to highlighting important accomplishments of black activists, leaders, and just anyone in our community whose voices would otherwise would not be uplifted and silenced. Yet as great as this month is, I can’t help but feel at least a little bit of bitterness towards it all.

“Shouldn’t you be excited?” people tell me. “I mean, it’s Black History Month and you’re black.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’m not glad we have Black History Month, but I know there are some things we could do better as far as representation and celebration goes during this month.

Growing up, I felt like the main black activists that were talked about were Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. It wasn’t until I got older that I really began to learn about the lives and experiences of other important black figures, like Ida B. Wells and Angela Davis. This was when I began to really learn about what blackness really meant.

It was when I finally started going beyond the basis of black education that I began to truly appreciate the beauty of what is known as Black History.

As important as it is, Black History Month should be about more than just reflecting on the past. We should see more celebrations of our important figures of today. We need to go beyond just teaching our kids and ourselves about the tokenized handful, and really expand into telling them about the voices that aren’t as heard.

Instead of allowing our school systems to simply teach their students about the glorious end of slavery along with some sweet-sounding MLK quotes so they can pat themselves on the back, we need to go above and beyond.

We need to show young kids of all backgrounds and races just how much there is to Black History. There also needs to be an extra emphasis on the voice of black LGBTQIA+ activists and black women.

In early February, I went on Twitter and saw what was honestly the best thing I had seen on social media in a long time. The hashtag #blackhistorymonth emerged on Twitter, highlighting so many different experiences and accomplishments from so many important figures of color. Being able to see all those stories being shared online seriously made such a difference with how I experienced black history month this year. This was the first time that I really felt like I could see myself in

As I continue to enjoy using hashtags like #blackhistorymonth and #blackgirlmagic, I can’t help think of all the little black girls out there who haven’t tapped into the Internet jackpot I’ve been lucky enough to find yet.

So, what exactly do I want out of this celebratory month? I want the usual 12 Years a Slave showings and Martin Luther King documentaries, but I also want Proud Family reruns and musician highlights on MTV. I want every black person, of every age, gender, and sexuality to feel like their voice is being celebrated during this month. I want to be able to have fun during this month and not have all of it feel so serious and solemn.

In the past, I’ve thought that I have a certain obligation to like something related to my identity. I’ve felt that I am not allowed to criticize it or say that there are certain things I would like to change about it. But if we don’t criticize anything we have, how are we going to improve?

Now, excuse me while I go reblog gifs of Nicki Minaj while watching The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air.