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My name is Cheyenne and I’m a Habitual Self Sabotager

My name is Cheyenne and I’m a Habitual Self Sabotager. 

I’m fully aware of how strikingly similar this sounds to that of an addict introducing themselves at a group session, and I want you to know this is both intentional, and rightfully so. My condition may not be as physically deteriorating to the extremes of alcohol or drug addiction, but it takes a toll on me nonetheless. A toll significant enough to be shared, addressed, confronted, and hopefully abandoned sooner rather than later. 

Let’s unpack this a little first, shall we? 

One doesn’t simply awaken one day and decide to self sabotage every romantic encounter they face. In other words, I would’ve never chosen this. Just like I can’t just choose to stop. It’s an instinct at this point. It’s an automatic, involuntary mental response made by my being and mind at the occurrence of any trait or situation with even a mere resemblance to child’s play. 

The only way for you to totally grasp the concept of my habitual self sabotaging  is for me to depict a hypothetical  scenario completely unrelated to my life in any way, shape, or form. 

We’ll examine the life of my friend, Diane. Diane meets Boy. Boy subsequently texts Diane. Diane, coaching herself not to get her hopes up because he will likely be like the others, proceeds to respond to boy initially at her convenience. Weeks go by, and Boy is consistent. Diane, though reluctant, allows herself to fall into routine with Boy; constant texting, phone calls, even a few outings. 

Throughout the duration of the time Diane spends with Boy, she has a voice inside her house commentating every encounter, a voice that has formed and endured on the basis of all her past failures in romance. 

Don’t get too comfortable. Take an hour to respond, you don’t wanna look too eager. You saw him last week, take this week off so that you don’t seem too available. Hang out with two other guys too, just to keep your options open. Don’t call him, let him call you. 

Ideally, Diane would walk into all experiences with her potential partners with an open mind. However, the trauma from feeling forgotten, discarded, and unwanted by those from the past serves as haunting elevator music to the continuous escalation and de-escalation of her love life. She can’t help it; she projects, overthinks, and avoids. 

A late text isn’t just a late text; it says, he’s ignoring you. Canceling plans can’t just be regarded as, “something came up,” it says, he’d rather be somewhere else. And even when things appear to be all good and sweet, when he’s consistent, communicative, affectionate, and takes initiative: the voice persists, only growing in volume. 

It won’t last. 

Despite the fact Diane really likes boy, she insists on listening to the voice in her head. She’ll push boy away before red flags turn into red lights, and before a minor inconvenience turns into a major heartbreak. Thus we have the art of self sabotage; ruining all things before they even have the opportunity to be proven good or bad. Rejecting potential rejection because it can be birthed by reality. Why, you might ask. Why doesn’t Diane give boy the opportunity to at least prove that menacing voice in her head to be wrong? 

Diane self sabotages because she’d rather hurt herself than be vulnerable to being hurt by an outsider. 

Now, whether Diane will ever give anybody the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of the demise of her successful career of self sabotage is still to be determined. Since she and I are two different women and this scenario has been oddly specific but nonetheless completely hypothetical, a clear prediction on both of our futures is unfortunately unwritten. 

Maybe one day love will free us from the shackles of self sabotage, maybe the unworthy and unwilling will keep us bound in the comfort of our solitude. I understand that love cannot be found where it is not welcomed, but neither can heartache. I’ll take my chances. 


Cheyenne Paterson is a senior English major, Strategic Communications minor studying at Hampton University from Boston, MA. She aspires to combine storytelling and an editorial style of writing to increase audience engagement and advocate for brands and corporations. Cheyenne is the Editor-In-Chief for Hampton University's Chapter of Her Campus, a regular contributor to Impressions of Beauty, and the President of the Peer Counselor's organization on campus. In her free time, Cheyenne enjoys dabbling in interior design, perfecting her homemade coffee, and baking new recipes!
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