12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 7 Bangin’ Selfies

It’s hard to pick selfies that sum up your whole year, but these are some strong contenders! (Content note: there are boobs in this post!)

Femme friends were so important to me this year, and every year. One such pal is Rosaline, a pink-haired pixie who’s always around to cheer me on and pump me up over a bottle of white wine.

We had lots of goofy adventures together this year, mostly involving pre-drinking for various parties, doing our makeup together, and then marching into said parties all flirty and long-lashed like queens. I love how my femme friends remind me of immutable truths: being a femme person in this world is hard but it is also wonderful, and femmes are even more brave and powerful than the misogynist cultural forces that aim to keep us down. I hope to continue to foster my femme friendships in 2018 and beyond.


Speaking of good friends… I didn’t get to spend as much time with Brent this year as I have in previous years, because he wasn’t in Toronto as much. But when we did hang out, we made it count: we laughed a lot over beers, played a ton of Use Your Words, and on one memorable occasion, he saved me from a bunch of pill bugs I accidentally sat on. Our friendship is strange and lovely.

The night this photo was taken, I attended Use Your Words’ Toronto launch party because I was a staff writer on the game (fancy!). Between talking, schmoozing, and playing the game, Brent and I decided to order a couple of corndogs from the bar kitchen. “Can I take a selfie of us eating these?” I asked him, to which he replied, “Only if we both put ’em in our mouths like we’re fellating them.” Stuff like this is why we’re friends.


In March, my local community discovered someone we thought we could trust was actually a misogynist shitbag, and it shook the foundations of what we thought we knew. For weeks, I felt unable to trust any men (moreso even than usual). What was the point, if any so-called feminist man could turn out to be a total garbage fire?

I had coincidentally been invited to a party later that week whose theme was “femme witch power.” We were encouraged to wear whatever made us feel feminine and powerful. I slung on a navy skater dress, rimmed my eyes in dark eyeshadow, and painted on a deep maroon liquid lipstick. At the last minute before leaving the house, I added my glass eyeball necklace, pulled my tits out of my dress, and took some fierce-faced selfies on my laptop webcam.

I didn’t feel like smiling that day. I wanted to wield my femininity and sexuality like a weapon. So I resisted the urge to pull a smile or make a “pretty” face, and just stared down the camera, fierce and unforgiving. I felt beautiful, but in a way that was just for me – not for the consumption of the abusive fuckfaces who think they can just take and take and take.


I took this while out getting ice cream with Suz and Bex before a jaunt to Tell Me Something Good, our local sexy storytelling night. It was a lovely evening out with friends, and equally wonderful was that sometime either before or after this photo was taken, someone came up to us on the street to tell us they read and loved all three of our blogs. Getting recognized in public is a special kind of thrill, and the more it happens, the more my impostor syndrome melts away and I feel like a Real Writer doing Real, Important Things!


This was taken on one of the first days I actually felt slightly cute, competent, and coherent after a breakup that totally devastated me. I like how you can see in my facial expression that I’m still kind of a mess: I’ve heard fellow depressed people describe feeling “like an alien” who can’t even tell whether their face is forming appropriate and normal facial expressions, because they’re so numb and blunted, and that’s how I felt on this day. Unsure how all my different components hung together, but attempting to make a good show of myself nonetheless. Like Tony Kushner wrote on heartbreak in his magnum opus Angels in America: “Just mangled guts, pretending.

It’s telling that I’m wearing short shorts and have tied my shirt into a crop top. Depression makes me want to hide, but as I surface from that cave, I begin to want to show off again. Maybe just a little. Maybe still from the safety of monochromes and familiar fabrics. Bit by bit, I always come crawling back to my joy, even if it takes all the strength I can summon.


(Content note for suicidal ideations in this one, folks.) One of the most exciting events of my year was going to a My Brother, My Brother and Me live podcast recording at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. I first started listening to MBMBaM almost three years ago, and in that time, these boys have literally saved my life on countless occasions. When I’m too mind-numbingly depressed to be trusted with my sad thoughts in solitude, let alone to get out of bed and rejoin society, I put on a McElroy podcast. They keep me occupied until I can get back to living without wanting to die.

I went to this show by myself, because I didn’t know anyone else who was both as McElroy-obsessed as me and financially and temporally able to get to the venue. I snapped this photo quickly, self-consciously, as I stood in line amongst throngs of other fans. Moments later, when the line moved ahead and I walked into the theatre, tears burned down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe I was so physically close to these boys who had saved my life, walked me through dark days, made me laugh when nothing else could. Thankfully, no one seemed to think my weeping was weird. I bought a poster, waited in line for a radioactively green cocktail, settled into my seat surrounded by jovial strangers, and laughed the night away.


I’ll close here with a moment of genuine joy; it’s a good note to go out on.

One night earlier this month, I was on the phone with someone who makes my heart feel all fuzzy and stupid. We exchanged goofy selfies while we talked, trying to disarm each other, to feel physically close though we were not.

He had asked me about the way my hair was cut, so I shook it out to its full glory so I could capture it in a selfie. Just as I went to hit the shutter, he made some dumb joke that set off sparks in my heart, and I burst into giggles and snapped this shot. “Aw, you made me laugh mid-selfie,” I commented, looking at the result on my phone screen and trying to decide if it was too silly to send.

No, I thought. This is how I wish I looked all the time. Lost in giggly reverie.

Heartsick & Miserable? Ask Yourself This One Question…

I read something recently that blew my mind, and if I may, I’d like to blow yours too.

In Lisa A. Phillips’ book Unrequited, she writes – having studied unreturned romantic obsessions, including her own, for ages in order to write the book – that it is important to ponder what an unrequited love is trying to tell you about your life.

When you are painfully obsessed with someone who doesn’t love you back, Phillips writes, you’re not really obsessed with that person – you’re obsessed with what is missing from your life, which this person has somehow come to represent in your mind.

I read this simple insight while flying back from D.C. to Toronto and actually gasped aloud on the plane, drawing stares from nearby seatmates. I couldn’t help it. It felt like Lisa A. Phillips had just shined a spotlight directly into my soul. I felt simultaneously called out and cleansed. Halle-fuckin’-lujah.

I thought back to the worst unrequited love of my life so far – an innocent-crush-turned-crushing-heartbreak centering on a person I met in 2015 and tortured myself over throughout 2016. While he’s indisputably charming, smart, funny, and lovely, so are a lot of people I meet. The question had haunted me for a while: why did I fall in love with him? What enabled him to get inside my head and absolutely break me? What made him feel so vital to my happiness on a basal, gut level?

I think it has a lot to do with when I met him, and what kind of person I was then. At that time, I had been single for nearly a year, having broken up with my long-term partner in 2014 – and I hadn’t dated anyone or had sex with anyone during that entire year. I was cripplingly insecure, uncertain, and shy. I worried constantly that no one would ever love me or want me again. That anxiety kept me from going out and socializing, which, in turn, kept me from meeting people who might want me or eventually love me. It was a self-perpetuating cycle of self-loathing.

And then along came this boy, dazzling and bright. He swept into my life with all the loud self-assuredness I’d later come to love about him. We went on two not-explicitly-romantic dates and I was immediately smitten: it had been a long time since I’d met someone this funny, confident, and effervescently charismatic. He made me laugh harder than I had in ages, with seemingly no effort. I felt glued to his words. He activated a lightness in me I didn’t know I could still feel.

On top of all that, he made me feel entirely focused upon. His attention was a laser, and when he focused it on me, I suddenly felt important and desirable – two feelings I’d lost sight of in my year of loneliness and celibacy.

As we became friends-with-benefits and then actual friends over the following year, I noticed myself falling into an unhealthy emotional cycle. It mirrored – and often triggered – the ups and downs I experience as part of my bipolar disorder. When I was around him, I felt starry-eyed, ecstatic, elated, like nothing in the world could possibly be wrong and I’d be happy forever. Nothing could touch me. But when we said goodbye – whether it was for a few days or a few months – I crashed, hard. The light he brought into my life had been extinguished, and I didn’t know how to reignite it myself. It felt like he contained all the humor and happiness I’d ever experienced, and I wouldn’t be able to get any of it back unless he was there with me.

And the trouble was, he didn’t always want to be there with me. He didn’t love me. He valued our friendship, but that’s all it was to him. I wasn’t angry at him for not loving me back, because I understood that he couldn’t help it – but I was profoundly sad, because it felt like he owned the key to my happiness and he would only lend it to me on a limited, conditional basis.

What I wish I had pondered more deeply is this: what was missing from my life? And how could I give that to myself instead of relying on him?

I think this concept was what eventually enabled my healing process to begin, though I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time. My crush made me laugh more than anyone else I knew, so I started spending more time with funny friends, upping my comedy podcast intake, and cultivating my own sense of humor even further. My crush made me feel focused on and valued, so I sought more friends who made me feel that way, and also chose to focus on and value myself by amping up my self-care regimen. My crush made me feel sexy and desirable, so I started flirting with people more and going on more Tinder dates to generate more of those feelings (and got comfortable cutting ties with people who didn’t meet my standards in this way). The sex with my crush had been devastatingly good, so I tried to get better at asking for what I wanted with other partners so my sex life would improve overall – and I mixed up my masturbation routine to make it more fulfilling. Basically, I looked for holes my crush could no longer fill for me, and I filled them my damn self (vagina joke only partly intended).

It wasn’t until I started seeing my last boyfriend that I felt entirely divested of that old unrequited love, but I think the work I’d done on myself had laid the groundwork for me to meet such a wonderful person and accept him into my life. If I’d still been stuck on my old crush, I don’t think I would’ve been able to open myself up to someone new. It would’ve felt pointless, because how could someone new possibly be better than the person I’d been stuck on for over a year? But by divorcing that person from the joys he brought me, I became able to see that other people could make me happy, too, if I let them.

I wish I could go back in time and explain this revelation to my past self. Maybe it would save her a lot of heartache. But I think it’s more likely she wouldn’t even listen to me. That’s the nature of unrequited love: other people can spout lessons and truisms at you ad nauseum, and you won’t believe them; you have to learn these things for yourself, experientially. You’re always convinced your world is ending until it isn’t anymore.

What do you wish someone had told you about unrequited love when you were going through it?

Links & Hijinks: Soaking, Rimming, & Writing

• Here’s why people have more sex in summer.

• Interesting: sex researchers have less sex than everyone else.

Paying for porn is the feminist way to get off. Hear hear!

• “There are two things I love eating: steak, and ass.” This piece on rimjobs is a delight.

• This as-told-to on the Mormon sex act of “soaking” (“No thrusting, no grinding, no climax. Just pop it in, and hold the fuck still”) is hilarious and fascinating. “There was always squirming on both of our parts but never any real thrusts. I guess squirming is technically moving, but it’s not like her preacher was reffing the event.”

• Useful tips for freelancers who work at home. (I am feeling this struggle harrrd lately!)

• On that note: freelancing can take a toll on your mental health.

• I’m a little tired of reading about sex robots, because I just don’t think they’re going to be the futuristic epidemic everyone claims they will be. But here’s an interesting piece about RealDolls.

• You know, I rarely link to erotica in these round-ups, but this brief tale about orgasm denial made me all tingly, so there you go.

• Maria Yagoda wonders: is period sex okay for a first-time hook-up? “As punishment for not menstruating, people who don’t should occasionally have to deal with some of the inconveniences of blood, blood everywhere. For this reason, period sex can seem like a feminist act, as it defies the societal expectation of women to hide, or be ashamed of, this awful fucking thing.”

• Sugarcunt has some great advice on writing sex toy reviews.

• Here’s a beginner’s guide to keeping a journal.

“Unusual” sexual desires are more common than we previously thought. Hmm!

• Emmeline reviewed an inflatable swan phallus we tried at Woodhull and it’s the funniest sex toy review I’ve read in ages.

Dating while depressed is difficult but doable.

• Mired in writer’s block? Alex Franzen has some topic suggestions for you.

• Brandon Taylor is such a beautiful writer. “There is a way in which people talk about domestic writing or personal writing that does not set itself on fire—they call it quiet. They call it still. They call it muted. As if there were anything quiet about relationships that go awry.”

Date ideas for stoners. The OkCupid blog has gotten weird and I’m into it.

“Porny sex” is still valid sex. You’re not a “bad feminist” if you enjoy things like pussy-slapping, “degrading” D/s, and messy blowjobs.

• Gosh, I adore the way Girl on the Net writes about sex. Her Ambit dildo review is wonderful: “I don’t want him to fuck me with this in a playful way or a quick way. I want to catch him when he’s in this focused mode: when he’ll not just use it to warm me up for a fuck, but really settle into the act of fucking me with it. Laying it out on the bed like he’s a surgeon aligning his equipment, then ordering me to strip off my knickers and lie still.”

• We need to stop supporting and protecting abusive men.

• Taryn busted some myths about asexuality.

• We don’t talk about dental dams enough, and it’s emblematic of a bigger problem.

• [Content warning for ableism.] Some people have a fetish for becoming disabled and go to great lengths to fulfill that fantasy. Apparently it may even have a legitimate neurological cause. Uh, wow…

Sadsturbation: Hobby of the Heartbroken and Horny

One night, in the throes of a mind-numbing depression, I nuzzle my nose into my boyfriend’s chest. He tells me he’s feeling out of sorts as well, and sex is off the table tonight. “You are more than welcome to masturbate, though,” he adds.

“Nah, I don’t want to do that,” I reply instantly. I don’t mean it as the guilt trip it probably sounds like; it’s just that masturbation holds no appeal for me now, while sex still does. Partnered sex, when I’m depressed, is like visiting another world – a world where my selfish problems are distant and unimportant, where everything boils down to connectivity and sensuality, and where my pleasure is useful to someone other than myself. Sex is a mutual joy that brings me out of my self-absorbed misery and into the light of another person’s gaze. I can be someone else when I’m having sex, someone who isn’t depressed, if just for a little while.

We don’t have sex that night, and we don’t masturbate, either. We connect physically in other ways – touching, kissing, cuddling – and it feels like almost enough.

In the morning, I hold his hand while we walk dazedly down the street, and I confess I haven’t masturbated in over a week. A long time for me. “I think tonight I’m gonna get high and party down with my Hitachi,” I say, noticing immediately how much the idea does not appeal to me, while also recognizing how necessary it is to my wellbeing.

“I’ll help. I’ll sext you,” my partner replies, and I want to cry because it is the most selfless thing I have ever heard.


Many people report that when they’re depressed, their libido goes away. Mine rarely works that way. It goes deeper underground, maybe, or I get distracted from it for a while – but it’s always there.

But masturbating while depressed is a task and a half. It’s like trying to go ballroom dancing with an anvil chained to your ankle. Sure, you can do it. But it’s probably gonna be fucking miserable and you’re gonna feel exhausted the whole time.

When I’m depressed – whether due to situational factors, biochemical factors, or both – I often think of masturbation as a medicine I must force-feed myself. It won’t be pleasant or fun, in the way masturbation is “supposed” to be. But it’ll shift my neurotransmitters just enough, lift my crushing depression just enough that I can get out from under it for a little while.

The entire process may feel unappealing from start to finish – but at the very least, it’ll remind me that my body is capable of pleasure. Even if the pleasure is muted. Even if I feel undeserving of any pleasure at all.


Sexual fantasies are supposed to be fun. What happens when they aren’t anymore?

What happens when the person who fucks you most reliably in your fantasies is also the person who broke your heart? What happens when thinking about them makes you cry, but you can’t get off without thinking about them? When your precious, elusive orgasms hinge on replaying memories that make you want to weep and hurt yourself and give up on love forever?

Sometimes you find distraction tactics, workarounds. You mentally replace the object of your affections with a beloved celebrity or fictional character: Jim Halpert, John Watson, Rosa Diaz. You seek out new porn or erotica to repopulate your sexual fantasies with people and situations that don’t hurt. You cultivate a crush on a fresh new human, a crush for the sake of crushing.

Other times, though, you wade headlong into your heartbreak. You spritz on the cologne of the person who wrecked your heart, murmur to yourself all the dark hot things they said to you, and try to fuck yourself like they did – in that sweet special way you worry no one will ever fuck you again.

In discussing the ends of relationships, we rarely mention the unique pervy grief of missing the way your lost love fucked you. In losing them, you are also losing that particular flavor of sex you loved so much. Maybe no one else will do those particular things to you ever again – or maybe they will, and it’ll just be different; better, even. But sometimes, for the time being, you just have to mourn melancholically for that particular flick of their wrist, that one thing they could do with their tongue, those magnificent words they knew how to whisper at the always-perfect moment.

Two tools I return to in my saddest masturbation sessions, time and time again, are the Magic Wand Rechargeable and marijuana.

Weed can make me horny when seemingly nothing else can. It lifts the pressure of my sadness slightly, just enough to let arousal flow in. I might still be aware of the heartbreaks weighing on me, but they seem less impactful – like how weed makes physical pain feel like pleasure to me. I am aware that it hurts but, absurdly and blessedly, I do not mind.

The Magic Wand, on the other hand, gives me the distance from my genitals that I seem to need when I’m depressed. When the very idea of sticking my hand into my panties feels distasteful, when even contemplating my own heat and wetness and skin feels unsettlingly intimate, a wand vibe can save the day. I just turn it on and press it against myself through layers of fabric, and it does what it’s made to do – no nauseating touchy-feeliness required.

Sometimes my third go-to when cryin’ and jerkin’ it is reliable porn – reliable in the sense that it almost always turns me on and helps me get off. For me, this category is basically limited to Heather Harmon‘s POV blowjob videos. But even Heather, in all her dependable beauty and skill, sometimes makes me sad when I’m sad already. I contemplate the rumors that she divorced her husband, which would prove once and for all that even terrific sex full of care and love cannot always save a relationship. Or sometimes I just stare jealously at Heather and Jim’s sexual rapport, profoundly bitter I’ve never felt as connected to anything as Heather seems to feel to her husband’s dick.

Look, porn is great, but sometimes I just need to turn off my brain and focus on the vibrator thrumming against me. Orgasms don’t have to be about anything. Sometimes they can just happen, unmoored and isolated from any mental stimulus. Sometimes that’s the exact type of orgasm I need, or the only kind of which I’m capable.


Though my partner’s explicitly offered to help me get off by sexting me, I’m too anxious to ask directly – knowing he’s not in the sexy headspace that could make sexting a fun thing for us rather than just for me. I ask for it in a way that feels safe. “If you felt inclined to tell me some hott things to help me in my quest, I would be amenable to that,” I hem and haw.

“Has your quest already begun?” he asks, and we’re off to the races.

He guides me through a sext-a-thon that feels more meditative than sexy – like when a yoga teacher asks you to visualize a waterfall, an ocean, a bold white light spreading through your body from the inside out. “Imagine me putting my hands on you, kissing you,” he texts. He doesn’t need to describe how he would kiss me if he was here; I already know. “I’m going to slide my hand between your legs, over your panties. I can feel you getting wet already.” He’s right. I am.

In sext-land, he chokes me, fucks my face, pushes his fingers inside me. I can see it, feel it, and it’s some semblance of something I deeply need. Hot tears drift down my cheeks and dry on my lips as I pant and moan. He is so sweet and selfless to type these words of salacious encouragement into his phone for me, when I know he doesn’t feel like it. He understands that this sexual interaction is more than sexual to me; it’s life-affirming, mood-lifting, intimacy-building. It’s a “sexual favor” in the sense that it’s sexual and a favor, but it’s so much more than that.

“I know you’re going to come for me like a good girl,” he writes. “Turn that toy up higher.”

I crank the wand. I’m surprised at how close I am, in almost no time at all. For a week, arousal’s felt like a jewel in a locked treasure chest – and here he is, handing me the goddamn key.

“I’m so close, daddy,” I tell him.

“I want you to come for me, princess,” he writes back.

I do. It’s delicious and deep. I feel something shift in my brain – something small but important.

“Mm, I did it, daddy. That was really nice,” I type. “Thank you.”

Good girl,” he responds, and for the first time in days, I feel like I might actually be a good girl. A girl whose brain isn’t swimming in depression. A girl who believes in herself, and can accomplish things. A girl whose daddy wants her to be happy, and who can therefore soldier on.

I set my Hitachi down, put my phone away, wipe off the tears half-dried on my face, curl up contentedly, and go to sleep. Maybe I’ll be okay after all.

Diary of a Ghosted Girl

Sunday night. I am depressed. I have been depressed for a solid week, with no hypomanic reprieve. Shit is dire.

I have guzzled more wine than I ought to’ve, and smoked more weed than is probably reasonable. There are one or two crusted tears on my cheeks, but mostly I’m numb. Aching to feel something; aching to ache.

A new OkCupid message lands in my inbox, and I open it with the characteristic slowness of a person weighed down by depression. “Fuck. This profile was an intensely enjoyable read that had me grinning like a total idiot,” it reads. “I don’t even know where to start except HEY (for now).” Then he asks me something about toxic jelly dildos, which I mention in my profile. My ears perk up, and so do I, a little.

I flick through his profile – pictures, paragraphs, compatibility question responses – and it achieves the rare thing of making him seem more interesting rather than less. (Most men are atrocious at writing online-dating profiles.) I message him back.

Our conversation kicks into high gear almost immediately. Jokes. Stories. Questions. All-caps shouts of “ME TOO!” and sparks of recognition. He likes my puns. I care if he likes my puns. I talk about my work and he doesn’t take it as an invitation to ask invasive questions about my sex life, as so many OkSuitors before him have. I am absurdly, miraculously, hastily hooked.

He tells me his full name – “incase you’d like to move this over to Facebook/creep me for mutual friends/affirm I am in fact a real person and not an elaborate cat-fishing account” – and, to my shock, it’s almost exactly the name of a person I used to be in love with. Their first names are as close as Lee and Leo, and they have the same surname. Intellectually, I understand that this doesn’t mean anything. Emotionally, it seems to mean quite a lot. It feels like the universe is shining a spotlight on this boy and shouting in my ear: Notice this person. Pay attention. He could be important.

We move things over to text. We talk about sex in a way that is flirty but not explicit – my favorite, when I don’t know someone well yet. He’s such a good flirt that I’m screaming and cackling at my phone – indeed so good that a friend christens him “Mr. Goodflirtz” when I relay the key points of our conversation later.

I send him a picture of me. Not a nude – just a cute selfie, where I’m pleased with how I look, and I look like the kind of girl that a man like him might be interested in. “Fuck,” he writes back. “…Fuuuuck. I mean you are just so fucking good-looking.” More cackling at my phone. More blushing, sweating, and covering my eyes. My heart is thudding.

But it’s late, and I have to get some sleep – which I laughingly tell him even as he’s still blowing up my phone with compliments in little green text bubbles. “Yes yes sorry,” he writes. “Good night.”

I do a thing I have done too many times, and have promised myself not to do again: I get over-invested. I turn his name and face over in my mind. I lie awake thinking about the dress I’ll wear on our first date, and what we’ll do after he tugs it off of me. Eventually, somehow, I fall asleep – and dream about his pretty mouth all night.

On Monday morning I am pinged awake by my phone’s text tone. “That picture was the first thing I saw this morning as it was still open on my phone,” I blink sleep out of my eyes to read. This is followed by some gratuitous information about how his dick is reacting to said photo and what he is doing about it – information I find charming, not alarming, because at this point I feel like I know him. He is a wizard with words. His words alone have made me want to kiss his face, suck his dick, build some kind of future. It’s ridiculous.

“I’d gladly take any other pictures you’d like to share,” he adds – politely, I think. But I have a boundary around this, which I explain to him: I don’t like to sext with people before I meet them in person. It often makes me lose interest in them, or feel weird, so I tend to avoid it, especially if I suspect I might actually like the person. “Fair enough,” he writes back. “Let’s hang soon, then.”

“I am free tonight or Thursday,” I tell him, and he replies, “Thursday is probably best, but mayyybe tonight.” We talk logistics – locations, times – and lapse once again into giggly half-sexts laced with wordplay. I’m still barely awake; I tell him I’m going back to sleep, and I’ll be in touch later.

That afternoon, I send him a selfie of me looking put-upon and adorable. “This is my ‘You should have drinks with me tonight’ face,” I caption it.

No answer. I try to keep myself occupied with other diversions. Four hours pass. I complain to my best friend, stare at my phone for far too long, then decide to take a nap, hoping I’ll wake up to a text notification.

I wake up a few hours later. “I’m dying of anxiety,” I tell Bex. “Why hasn’t he texted me back?!” Bex, the greatest friend anyone could hope for, replies: “You don’t know much about him. Maybe work got out of hand, maybe he has food poisoning, maybe something came up with his family, maybe a friend just went through a breakup, maybe he was up all night last night and fell asleep, maybe he got hit by a bus, maybe he’s secretly a superhero and is fighting his arch nemesis, maybe he burned all of his fingers making tacos and can’t use a phone, maybe his phone broke and he’s at the store trying to get it fixed, maybe Pennywise lured him into the sewers with the promise of all the pussy he could eat, maybe he is volunteering at an animal shelter and got distracted by all the puppies, maybe he got lost in that weird circus store y’all have and has no phone service and is wondering if he’s going to starve and should start eating his own arm… I could keep going.” I laugh, but I’m still sick with anxiety.

“Or maybe he’s a dick who decided to ghost after 12 hours,” Bex continues, “in which case, you dodged a bullet, because you don’t want to hang out with him, because he’s a dick.”

do want to hang out with him, is the thing.

My anxiety disorder has decided this is the most important thing in the world. I barely sleep, barely eat. I feel nauseous over the idea that not only does “Mr. Goodflirtz” not want me, but no one wants me, no one has ever wanted me, no one will want me ever again. I wonder if he was only ever looking for a sexting partner. I wonder if he Googled me and got scared off. I wonder if he was using fake pictures and fake information to solicit nudes from me. I wonder if he was an undercover creep from 4Chan or the Red Pill. I can’t stop wondering. My sleepless night is a whirlpool of uncontrollable wondering.

On Tuesday morning, I resolve that I will not text him.

On Tuesday afternoon, I text him. “Hey, would Thursday still be a good night to get drinks?” I hate myself immediately after pressing “send.”

By Tuesday night, he still hasn’t answered. I log onto OkCupid to stare longingly at our messages – and I see that he’s online. After fighting the urge to anxiety-puke, I fight the not-altogether-different urge to message him some variation of “Yo, what the fuck, bro?!” I have to physically close my computer and walk away from it to keep myself from doing this. It feels like the most difficult thing I’ve done in a very long time.

On Wednesday I go to a therapy appointment. I sniffle and sob while telling my endlessly compassionate therapist about this dumb boy and all the dumb feelings I’m feeling about him. It’s a double-whammy: I’m hurting because he disappeared, and because I’m embarrassed by how much this has hurt me. He didn’t owe me anything. I know that. And yet I can’t help feeling wronged. Dropped. Ghosted.

“You just lost your job, you’re still dealing with the fallout of unrequited love, and then this happened,” my therapist points out, reasonably. “You’ve been rejected a lot lately. Rejection hurts. But it’s not a reflection on you. It doesn’t mean you’re unloveable.”

Tears stream down my face. I know she’s right. But I don’t believe she’s right. They are two different things.

My phone’s been on Do Not Disturb mode for the duration of our appointment, like it always is – and as I walk out my therapist’s office door, I press the home button, blindly hoping. But nope. Still nothing. The ghost is still dead, and so, it seems, is my heart.

A fuckbuddy I was supposed to see on Wednesday night texts to say that he’s sick, and to ask if we can reschedule for next week. I know him well enough to know he isn’t lying, but my anxiety suspects he might be – because I distrust all men right now. If someone could be so enthusiastic about me and then disappear off the goddamn face of the earth, then everyone could be lying about everything. I ignore the anxious voices in my head and choose to accept that a request to reschedule is indeed a request to reschedule – not another rejection, perched upon my already precarious heap of recent rejections.

On Wednesday night, I spend hours in bed just numbly staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out what I did wrong, what I can do differently going forward. I grab my phone and open Tinder. I know it’s bad. I know. It’s like an alcoholic trying to nix their “one last” hangover with “one last” hair of the dog.

But it makes me feel a bit better. I flirt with a few boys, until I find one I actually connect with on some level. We talk, and joke, and learn about each other, in the formulaic dance that early online-dating interactions all tend to follow. It’s not fiery with white-hot excitement like it was with Mr. Goodflirtz, but it’s something.

We schedule a date, and I go to sleep, dreaming of someone new.

I don’t think about my ghost much on Thursday. But late that evening, my phone’s text tone beeps, and my heart leaps into my throat. I claw the thing out of my purse at lightning speed.

“How are you feeling today?” a friend has texted to ask – and I’m so goddamn angry at myself for being disappointed.