Updated: Mar 3, 2021
TRIGGER WARNING: The following post discusses toxic relationships in some detail. It also contains X-Ray imagery of my collarbone and elbow, which some may find uncomfortable, and briefly mentions the details of the injury leading up to said X-Rays.
I had been experiencing a bit of a crisis with regards to my “main sport” throughout 2015. I’d been a competitive swimmer for nearly my whole life; never Olympics-bound, but always a graceful swimmer, always the one the coach would ask for a demonstration of my perfect stroke. Swimming had been my everything, especially in the Spring of 2015: the one and only season I swam for my college. During League Championships at the close of that season, I injured my shoulder so badly that I couldn’t swim all summer. Restlessness due to my inability to swim pushed me to get more into road cycling. In August, however, I took a bad fall on the hilly streets of San Francisco, breaking my collarbone and elbow simultaneously, and permanently damaging my hip.
Now afraid to ride my bike due to PTSD, I tried to swim again. It didn’t take long to discover that the resistance of the water against my new titanium elbow caused tendrils of pain to explode through my arm, and the rubbing of my swimsuit straps against the heads of the seven screws and titanium plate holding my collarbone together gave me serious heebie-jeebies, so I stopped going to swim practice as frequently. Needless to say, by December of 2015, my interest in the sport was dwindling.
It wasn't just injury, however, responsible for this shift in interest. There was another factor at play in 2015 that influenced nearly every decision I made. You may remember from last week my mentioning that I had a boyfriend at the time? Well, "boyfriend" is an understatement. I was—or so I thought—deeply in love.
But it wasn't love at all. I realize now that it was, in essence, the embodiment of the song by Glass Animals, “Hot Sugar.”
As lead-singer Dave Bayley puts it himself, the song is about “admiring somebody and confusing that for love or being kind of in awe of someone and thinking that it’s love…and going with the relationship for that reason, but really…you just kinda wanna be like that person ’cause they’re really cool.”
In our case, there were specific characteristics in the other person that we each coveted. As a result, there was this silent, unacknowledgeable and yet incessant competition between us. We were just showing off for each other. That was our relationship. “So cool, but we don’t talk,” as the song goes. “I don’t wanna be around you. Just wanna be like you.”
Our relationship was a balanced give-and-take—in a mutually parasitic type of way—from the start. But as time went on, our individual reasons for depending on each other began to shift into much unhealthier, much more abusive territory.