When I was twenty-three years old, I had just gotten out of a relationship with my British boyfriend. After several weeks of being single, I decided I was absolutely done with men.
I realized putting all of my faith into another person was a terrible idea. I always found that the men I dated ended up being unreliable, untrustworthy, and unfaithful. I concluded that the only person I could ever love and trust was myself.
So after contemplating this notion for some time, I announced to all of my girlfriends, “Ladies! We are going to have the ultimate bachelorette party this weekend!” My best friend Penelope asked, “Um. Who is getting married?” Then I smiled radiantly to Penelope and said, “ME. I am marrying myself so I am going to throw a big party for myself.” My friends were in hysterics.
That Saturday night, my four best friends and I dressed up to the nines. Atop my head, I placed a silver crown with a white wedding veil attached to the back. Over my left shoulder, a white sash that had the word, “Bachelorette” hung across my chest. Around my neck, I wore a necklace adorned with a chain of large glow in the dark penises. When I was fully decorated, I finished my look in a silky red, strapless dress.
To commence the night, I made reservations for the fanciest Spanish restaurant in Austin. I called the hostess and told them that I was soon to be married and I would love to have a special table located near the stage. I wanted all of us to have the best view of the restaurant’s nightly flamenco performance.
When we arrived, we devoured squid ink paella with mussels and langostino, along with an array of tapas. Ceviche, Spanish tortillas, patatas bravas, croquetas, empanadas, a charcuterie board filled with Jamon Iberico paired with manchego cheese, morcilla, and olives. We washed everything down with bottles of Spanish red wine.
During the flamenco performance, we were gushing when the tall, dark, and handsome guitarist went off the stage, walked over to our table, then sang to us whimsical tunes that drifted throughout the restaurant. Towards the end of our meal, the restaurant surprised each of us with our own plate of goxua, a Spanish twist to the Italian, tiramisu.
After we left the restaurant, we headed over to the flashiest bar in town. Upon arrival, we were escorted to our VIP table which already had an ice bucket filled with two bottles of champagne. When we headed to the dance floor, I was flooded with so many strangers wishing me congratulations. “What is the name of your future husband?” they would ask. Prepared for this question, I quickly responded with, “James Morrison.”
I knew that most of these drunk strangers would have never made the connection that James Morrison was a reference to Jim Morrison, the singer of my favorite band, The Doors. I decided that if I ever did have a soul mate, it would be him. Soon as I heard his music and read his poetry, I thought he was a lyrical genius. It didn’t hurt that he was handsome, rebellious, and wild. All the characteristics that I loved in a man. But unfortunately, he just so happened to be buried six feet under in Paris at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Every hour on the hour, the deejay would make the announcement, “It’s Liliana’s last night as a single lady! Buy her a drink!” Men and women were rushing up to give me a hug along with a shot or a cocktail. I didn’t have to pay for one drink that entire night.
After the bars closed, we headed to our favorite after-hours Korean karaoke bar. We sang in a private karaoke room until 7AM eating ramen and drinking soju. By 8AM, I was crawling to my apartment door and passed out on the floor soon as I made it inside the house.
When I woke up that night, I was proud of the sacred union I had officially created for myself. I was pleased with how much I took the time to stop and announce that I was worthy of love and that no one else will ever love me more than myself. I felt stronger by simply knowing that.
But ten years later, at the age of thirty-three. I found myself separated from myself. I fell in love with Oppenheimer, a man that consumed me. I did anything and everything for him. I was willing to die for him. But he never did the same for me. As he reigned above me from his pedestal, I had utterly and completely lost myself. I stopped making art. I stopped seeing my friends. I stopped venturing out on my own. Due to my extreme co-dependency issues, I clutched onto Oppenheimer as though he was my only life support. I wanted to be with him 24/7.
But if I was honest, I had separated from myself years before I had even met Oppenheimer. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, I was at the height of a BPD episode in my late twenties. The stresses of working full time, getting my Master’s full time, and dealing with personal issues made me soon forget that I once had values and morals. I forgot the importance of what it meant to share my body with another person. Without thinking, I would present my body to a cute stranger who cared about me as much as I cared about him. To forget what I was doing with my physical body, I numbed my insides through drugs and alcohol.
It wasn’t until I met Oppenheimer that I thought I had found true love. I was so scared to lose this love that I became paranoid and obsessive at the idea of him leaving me. When I had these thoughts, I would lash at him for no reason even though all I wanted to do was keep him by my side. I couldn’t control my emotions and soon he left me two years later for a co-worker that sat directly next to him.
On March 1, 2020, the same day the first case of COVID-19 was detected in America, I tried to hang myself on the night he broke up with me over text. The year before that, I had attempted three times to kill myself. All of these decisions were impulsive. I was stressed by work and our relationship and I was ready to throw my life away in an instant simply because I couldn’t handle the emotions behind my problems.
When I was admitted into what I lovingly dubbed as The Heartbreak Hospital in my memoir, I began to slowly reconnect with myself. The therapists at the mental facility were teaching all of the patients the meaning of “self-love”, “self-compassion”, and “self-care.” At the time, all of these terms were a blank for me.
I couldn’t see how I was ever worthy enough to love myself. I couldn’t understand what I could ever do to show myself self-compassion when all I had was guilt for my past behavior. I had no idea how to give myself the care that I desperately needed. While the therapists at the heartbreak hospital went over lists of suggestions on how to do all of these things, it was beyond me. I understood I had to do this to save myself, but the act of applying this concept was another story.
All of my friends, family, and doctors kept saying, “Forget Oppenheimer. He’s not worth dying for. Focus on yourself. Love yourself and then you will be happy.” I was so disconnected as to who I used to be I could never foresee how I would ever be at that level. But after seven weeks of outpatient therapy and then months of intense one on one weekly therapy, I emerged from my fog.
I had no choice but to pick myself up for the sake of my career. Given that everyone around me was losing their job during quarantine, I knew I couldn’t afford to lose my job as well. That would only push me further off the edge. I had no choice but to force myself to function. I began to focus on the things that only I could have control over. I poured myself into my job and began wearing different hats to try and see what other areas I may be good at. I started taking bubble baths. After being in a mental hospital for two weeks where I only had five minutes to shower, I never took for granted how much I simply missed soaking in a tub.
I went for walks, I laid out by the pool, I talked to my close friends, and I started to laugh once more. During all of this, I obsessively wrote. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote to the point I decided to compile everything into a memoir titled, Heartbreak In The Time of Coronavirus. Nearly every hour of every day, my free time was devoted to my memoir. When it came to mental health, I wanted to let others know they weren’t alone. I wanted to shed light on the issues of BPD. I wanted to reach out to all of the hearts that were broken and tell them not to give up.
By doing this, it saved me. I began to remember who I once was.
Fiery. Outspoken. Funny. Friendly. Social. Intelligent. Brave. Daring. Adventurous. Beautiful.
By focusing truly on myself, I am realizing the respect and love I hold for my mind, body, and my soul. I need to build healthy boundaries. I need to stop saying yes and start saying no. If I ever choose to be intimate with someone again, it will be because there is a deep connection. My body is a gift that should only be unwrapped to those that deserve it.
My body is my temple.
I have to worship myself, pray for myself, empower myself, and be good to myself.
By practicing the act of reconciliation, I remembered once more that there are no guarantees in life.
Except for myself.