Through a series of inferences and coincidences, my family found out I was dating somebody last year (the kid suspected and let it slip to his uncle, who proceeded to tell everyone else). The break-up happened when the kid was away, so he had no idea that this not-yet-discussed-or-confirmed situation was no longer. So, what I was met with the day I came to retrieve my precocious child was a Spanish Inquisition of sorts from my family, wanting to know about this “guy who would date (me)”.
I couldn’t hide the fact it was over with that ambush. I felt like an old magazine; looked at with some interest but tossed out without a second thought when it was discovered there were newer, prettier editions out there to be had. Goodbye and good luck. I was beyond devastated. Couldn’t stop crying over anything and everything, including stupid songs, spilled popcorn and chipped nail polish.
Image: Kristaps Bergfelds via Flickr
Since I “cry ugly”, there was no way to pretend all was good, but I didn’t give details other than “it didn’t work out”. That didn’t stop them from making their own conclusions on how I had managed to “mess up again”. Yes, I knew to expect cracks on my looks (“Perhaps if you did something about your hair…” and “Well, did you try to improve on anything to keep him?”) but the hardest one to hear was this one:
“You should just date guys who are into girls like you.”
Coming from them, they mean fat. Homely. Not beautiful. Not pretty. The one who is always the friend, never the girlfriend. Loved, but not “love-loved”. Settle for someone who will settle for you.
Me in December, practicing the “pivot and look TRY to look thinner pose”.
I don’t own a full-length mirror; sorry that the one at work is so filthy.
Sad facts to face, even worse since I had just heard similar words from the person I was in love with. Now I was hearing it from those who are supposed to have loved me no matter what. Normally, this would be enough to make me mad and cry more. Their lack of regard to my feelings isn’t a new thing, though it hurts each time. This night, something else finally occurred to me, and this upset me more because it finally sank in:They know nothing about me.
My family only sees me for the person I am on the outside, even when they have the inside track to know everything. They knew my mother was abusive, physically until I left home for good, emotionally until the day she died (literally, she started a fight with me four hours before she passed away). They heard her say things about my weight and how I looked but never spoke up so as not to have her turn on them next, sometimes even playing along to get on her good side.
While genetics may play into the depression and the eating disorders haven’t helped, they sure have made it their mission to ruin my self-esteem for 35+ years now. That’s a hard habit to break. I can’t take compliments because of them. I don’t go around in a sackcloth and ashes or crying “woe is me”, but the damage is there.
I was sharing this with a friend and we started thinking about what this phrase should mean instead of the implied message of being grateful to get what you can. We started tossing out words and phrases describing ourselves (we have a lot in common, though she is happily married and lives on the other side of the country). What I ended up with is a list that looks very similar to the words I used in my International Label Day post,
- Mario Kart Champion.
- Cat owner.
- Star Wars fan.
- Star Trek fan.
- Not a LOTR fan.
- Fledgling blogger.
- (Mostly) Intelligent.
- Hello Kitty/Domo enthusiast.
- Nail polish collector.
- Twitter addict enthusiast.
- Diet Pepsi addict.
- Color lover.
- Art observer.
- Music enthusiast.
- Bleeding-heart liberal.
- Roller-coaster rider.
- Steelers fan.
- Orioles fan.
- Penguins fan.
- Tetris expert.
- Classic and B-movie fan.
- Trash TV watcher.
- Sugar-free gum chewer.
- Repressed artist.
Now, I don’t expect to find someone who has all of this on their “perfect woman” list. I don’t even have a “perfect guy” list because what I thought I have wanted before hasn’t worked out. Whoever I meet, when I meet them, if I ever do, will have to accept me for all the items listed above. I hope my looks don’t play into their decision to take a chance, though I am not optimistic. A great personality is priceless, but unless you have the look to draw them in, they will never find out. Or you get friend-zoned early in the game, watching from the sidelines as “that nice girl who would have such a pretty face if she lost weight”.
I don’t mind being alone. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, just like I had to take care of everything when I was younger and still do today. I won’t crumble or waste away to a whisper without a man in my life…but it would be nice to not be lonely once in a while. To be wanted, cared for and about, held and kissed. Actions as well as words.
Yet, if the phrase “you must love yourself before anyone else can love you” is true, then I am already fucked over in the relationship game. I have a lot of love to give but there’s that damn self-esteem again. I am not looking for constant affirmation or someone to cure me. I’m not anyone’s project. I already have a therapist. I want a partner. Why can’t I just find someone who is willing to take a chance?
Taking this inventory again, I think I may actually be a ‘catch’ because of (or in spite of) these items above. Just typing that makes me worry about sounding egotistical, but it’s a huge step to even acknowledge anything positive now, so I will own it.
These things, plus some, are what make me, “me”. Now I just need to figure out what that actually means as I keep moving forward.