There are people in your life who are going to love you for all of the wrong reasons. They will love you for the best part of your face, the best part of you naked, the best mood on your best day, the best story you ever wrote, the best outfit you ever wore.
They are going to miss the scar on the underside of your nose from the time your older brothers dared you to run across a pile of logs. They won’t know that you fell on a hidden nail just as you completed the challenge. They’ll miss the scar on your finger, too from the time you were seven and closed a swiss army knife on it. They won’t understand that these are two of only a handful of things you can remember about your childhood. They’ll notice that you have great tits, but they’ll miss that your thumb tucks into their palm when you’re walking together and that your eyes have darker circles when a migraine is coming. They won’t know you get migraines. They won’t ask where the story you wrote came from, so they’ll never know that it was true. They’ll love it because it feels real to them. They’ll miss knowing the sweatshirt full of holes that they criticized you for wearing was your dads. You might tell them some of these things along the way, but they will remember the best things instead.
They will love your good moods, your energy, your sense of humor, but miss that you never turn to them, but rather to a shower or a pillow or the back of your throat to shed tears. They won’t ever consider you strong.
When the parts that aren’t your best come out, some people will shield their eyes as if you have just forced them to look directly into the sun for hours until their irises burn. They’ll silently make you promise to never show them that again. Those things are not to be shown. Be at your best so I can love you. I would love you more if only you never show me those things.
And you do not marry those people. You do not sit and sleepily drink coffee with those people. You leave those people and you remind yourself that they missed the better parts of you.
– From Give Me A Job, Please
I’ve been thinking about those boys a lot lately, what with being engaged, being in the longest relationship of my life, and living with a significant other for the first (and hopefully only) time.
I once had an ex-boyfriend who would literally yell at me if I put my hair up, even if it was just in the car to prevent tangles since he insisted on keeping the windows down. Another ex once walked in while I was drying my hair and I watched his face melt into horror, because my hair is so fine that I look kind of bald when my hair is soaking wet. Another boy I dated once took me for a hike on a hot day, and couldn’t shut up about how sweaty I was by the end of it. (Even at my fittest, I sweat like an obese man.)
Because of those boys, some of whom I loved more than anything in the world, I doubted myself for the longest time. I never thought I could find someone who would love me in spite of my hair, or the way I sweat, or the way I balloon up every few years, or the way my eyes puff out in the morning, or the insane way I act when I’m sleep deprived, or the way I look at least once a month when I just want to sit in my pajamas all day and cry for no reason at all. I would even worry about my wedding day – what if I can’t make my hair right? What if a big dress makes me sweaty? – and I’d convince myself that if I made it that far with someone, those things would somehow scare him off.
But Justin will sit and talk to me while I’m drying my hair, and he’ll wait patiently if it takes me a million hours to make my pigtail buns look okay. He’ll high five me when I’ve run 8 miles and I’m totally gross. And if it was a bad run, he’ll hug me and tell me he’s proud of me even when my shirt is entirely soaked in sweat. He loves when I wear my PJ short shorts, even though my muffin top hangs out and I’m far too old to wear that shit. He doesn’t point out my faults, just the fallacies. He’ll call me out on my bullshit. He loves when I grow and when I try to improve myself. But he loves me 100%, even at my worst, and he even loves things about me that I hate about myself.
And it’s been that way since the beginning. I mean, I used to think that if a guy ran his fingers though my hair, he would recoil in horror. The first time Justin touched my hair he told me, without provocation, that it was “so pretty.” It shocked me so much that on the drive home, I cried.
I look back on when I was the most heartbroken, and I remember missing the way that those boys smelled, the way that they talked with me, the way that they looked at me when I was at my best. But now that I’m with someone who loves me unconditionally, I’m suddenly remembering those little things, those invisible baby daggers, those tiny red flags that signaled the end when I wasn’t paying attention. For as much as I’ve reflected on past relationships, you’d think that I would have analyzed this part to death already.
I was the only single person in my group of friends for a long, long time, so I feel like I can say this with empathy even though I’m now one of “them”: wait for that person. I mean, date the assholes; they are adorable and it can be fun. But look for those signals, and don’t settle for anything less. I realize this is the most cliché thing a person can ever write, but that’s because it’s so true: there is someone out there who will love you for who you actually are, not who you portray, and the best thing you can do in the meantime is learn how to love yourself as much as they will.
That post I quoted is really making me doubt myself as a writer, though. Ugh, it’s so good.
(I know I haven’t done a Mortified Monday in a couple weeks, and that’s because there hasn’t been any progress at all. Sometimes I don’t love myself as much as Justin loves me, and when that happens, I’m not in the mood to broadcast my failures. And then there’s a day like today where I write about how chunky and sweaty I am. Someday I will be in this mood on a Monday again. And I’m trying very hard to not give up because of an occasional bad day. )