My first tattoo (left side/ribcage) representing all of the hardships I’ve tackled, conquered, and will continue to fight as I keep on doing that whole “life” thing.
I saw on Facebook today that an old friend of mine from “the West Point days” recently got engaged. I looked through the pictures (that ring, though) and posts of congratulations, and felt only a mild-level (aka, normal-level for regular human beings who are not me) of happiness and excitement for her.
Their engagement was sweet and long-expected, which is the type of engagement that would usually leave me extremely overcome with joy; it all had amounted to this big, romantic “FINALLY” moment that I myself had always dreamed of having. However, as previously mentioned, my reaction to this news was very mild. I thought about why that might be — quickly ruling out that I’ve suddenly turned heartless and bitter — and then came to one other conclusion.
Previously, when I would fan-girl over wedding videos, incessantly pin my wedding ideas to Pinterest boards (I deleted those around 6 months ago), and become overcome with giddiness when a friend made that next big step with their partner, I wasn’t happy in my relationship. I mean, I was. But I wasn’t really, really happy. I always, subconsciously, felt like something was missing; primarily the love and excitement that comes from the kind of moment an engagement and a marriage/wedding appears to elicit. I got so excited by the idea of an engagement (and a wedding) because I felt like that’s what I needed to be happy in my relationship, that’s what it meant to believe in a love that would last, that’s what would have to happen for me to believe that someone wanted to be with me. I wanted it so desperately.
I don’t feel like that anymore. Like, not at all.
There’s a bell hooks quote that goes: “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”
There are a few things I’ve learned over the last year or so:
1. If love is not given freely, you can’t ask for it (and if you do, you’ll never be satisfied with it knowing that you asked for it).
2. You have to love yourself first — you can’t expect for someone else to come in and love you, and have it fix all of your insecurities and problems. (It’s kind of sad of us to believe that the only people who have control over how we feel are outside of ourselves).
3. If you’re unable to be happy alone (as in single), then you’re probably mistaking love for comfort.
All that being said, the conclusion that I came to when analyzing why my reaction to an elaborate and romantic marriage proposal had changed was this:
I am happy. I am really, really happy. I am happy with myself. I am capable of making myself happy. I am so, so happy with the love that I an receiving and giving. I am in a relationship that brings out the best in me. I am not treating the future as if it were an expectation, even if the idea of it excites me. I don’t feel like I need anything more from the relationship in order to feel loved, wanted, satisfied, etc.
And, all of that feels awesome. Incredibly pure and awesome.
There are two people you’ll meet in your life. One will run a finger down the index of who you are and jump straight to the parts of you that peak their interest. The other will take his or her time reading through every one of your chapters and maybe fold corners of you that inspired them most. You will meet these two people; it is a given. It is the third that you’ll never see coming. That one person who not only finishes your sentences, but keeps the book.
Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken…
Kiss a lover
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure…
Face your life
Leave no path untaken.
I get really uncomfortable when people talk about what they hate about their bodies. Really, really uncomfortable.
I’d like to think that I’m a good friend, but when it comes to your desire to talk about how you want to lose 10 or 30 pounds, I shut down. I can’t handle the conversation. Maybe that makes me a terrible person, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it (and I lose sleep over much smaller faults).
Whenever a topic like this gets brought up, I feel bad because I’m reminded that I’m “supposed to care” about what my body looks like. The truth of the matter is, I’m happy with how I look. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t parts of my body that I wish were different — but not so much that I think I need to vent to all of my friends about it, kill my body at the gym, or go on some super cleanse.
When I go on a run or go to the gym, it’s not for my body. It’s for my mind. I care far more about staying healthy than staying thin or looking hot. Why? Because “Looking hot” wouldn’t be something I’d be doing for me. But being mentally stable is something that I do for me, and I don’t do a whole lot of things “for me.”
I know this probably sounds like bullshit coming from someone who is average sized/smaller (though definitely still not the magazine model for beautiful or sexy). But I honestly think that there’s something to celebrate about every body type. When you say you’re not getting guys because you’re “fat” or because you’re a size ____, it takes everything in me not to yell, “fuck that,” rather than just kindly tell you, “No…that’s not true.”
BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT? If a guy doesn’t like you because you’re a size 10 or 14, and not a size 0 or 4, he probably isn’t worth your time and attention. If someone is incapable of not valuing a whole person, and being attracted to a personality, and loving your mind more than your body, you’re not going to marry that person…so why bother dating them? (Okay, maybe that’s extreme…but really. Something to consider if you’re older and in college and if you think that there’s no point in a long-term relationship unless you actually want it to be, well, long-term).
So often I witness people only caring about what they see, or putting the judgements of someone’s aesthetic ahead of everything else. But when has that ever worked out for anyone?
[I’ll mention that I’m definitely NOT against people wanting to talk/confide emotionally about their past or present issues with weight or physical appearance. I also don’t want to discredit anyone who has these serious concerns about their body. I’ve been there, believe it or not, and I know that issues of body image are serious and deadly. What I’m referring to in this post is this: when body image talk becomes a conversation where we sit around Mean Girls style and mention all of the things we hate about our bodies in a whiney and condescending way. In those cases, I will pull a Lindsay Lohan and say, “I have really bad breath in the morning.”]
1. First and foremost, I’m sappy.
2. If you shake me, some leaves might fall off, but I’ll remain standing.
3. Throw a storm at me, and I will be distressed, but I will continue to grow.
4. If you cut me down and made me into paper, every page would have a story.
5. I change with the seasons.
6. I am deeply connected to the roots from which I grew up, that foster who I have risen up to become.
7. I need sun and rain equally.
8. I stand solitary and unique, even among a forest of others.
9. I provide: arms to be held by, protection from harm.
I’ve come to realize that a lot of what I’ve been going through is a result of the major trauma that I have endured. Feelings for old lovers, complications with my family, worries about my future: All of these things have not actually been issues. Until I made them issues. Until I needed other things to distract myself from what truly has been hurting me.
But it’s time to face it now.
It’s an autumn day here at @westernwashingtonuniversity #wwu #bham #bellingham #fall
My best friend goes to the United States Military Academy, and he and his friends are running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC in a few weeks. They are working to raise $800 for an organization called TAPS, which supports families who have lost a loved on in the line of duty.
Please consider donating any amount at all to help raise money for this great cause, and to support my dear friend. Link to donate below.