I'm a 24 year old lady with failed relationship woes. Help me stop feeling so crummy about myself and give me day-to-day ways to feel more centered, happy, and not-desperate.
I ended my longest relationship (3+ years) a year ago, because it was bad for me and I was being bled dry by its emotionally abusive aspects. I'm proud that I did that, but things have been hard since then.
I had a follow up relationship with someone I met online dating that crashed and burned spectacularly after about five months due to his "lack of attraction." That was a low blow and it hurt a lot.
Since then, I've hopped into bed with two different old friends (not at the same time, haha!) who also became single in the past year. The first was honest from the get-go that he wasn't ready to dive into something new yet and we parted ways fairly nicely. The second made a lot of mushy comments about how long he had had a crush on me but has been squirrelly and non communicative since, even after a fun and non-awkward "next morning." While both experiences were fun at the time and had no serious repercussions, I am finding that it's only fueling my insecure lizard brain later when it becomes obvious that they aren't really interested in pursuing me in earnest and things fizzle out.
I feel like relationships are my kryptonite. I feel sad, anxious, and lonely during them and after them and in between them. I can handle deadlines, pressure at school and work, family chaos--whatever happens--but this one area of my life makes me feel unhinged. I know in my logical mind that I am a beautiful, successful, smart, fun, caring, kind, and loving person. I have the most amazing family and friends who offer me so much support and love. I'm emotionally intense and I wouldn't change that about myself, but there has to be some way to cope with these feelings without so much angst, right? What is my problem?! Why can't I turn off the voice that tells me I'm nothing because nobody loves me in a romantic way? Why can't I be satisfied with the love my family and friends give me instead of feeling left out because they mostly are in serious partnerships and I'm not?
I am in graduate school and I work 4 different jobs at the same time to make ends meet. I'm great at all the things I do, but I think I'm making impulsive choices to break up the rigid discipline of my life, except it's making me feel worse instead of carefree.
I've had therapy before, following a sexual assault in college years ago, and it was helpful, but I'm not confident I can find time and a weekly $30 copay to do it again. My school has counseling services but I opted not to pay the fee that would cover them (which I now regret, but oh well). If you think it is the only thing that would help, maybe some suggestions for the type of mental health care provider to look for would be useful. My GP has me on an anxiety med and it helps a LOT, but I know some of the work I need to do is beyond that.
However, mostly I just think I need your own lost-in-your-twenties anecdotes, advice, and maybe some books to read? I need to learn to cope with the ugly feelings that come up and repair my self esteem. How can I talk myself out of being crazy with neediness and loneliness when I'm single or in the beginnings of a relationship? I don't tend to act really crazy in terms of calling a lot or being outwardly needy, but my emotions drive me nuts. Sometimes I post angsty social media updates that I later regret and delete (and then feel sheepish, like I'm Miley Cyrus
or something). How can I get better coping skills for dealing with these nasty, panicky feelings? How can I stop letting my entire emotional world depend on whether whats-his-face texts me back? I'm a little disgusted with myself and I need your advice for how to get a grip.