Saturday, October 9, 2010

Who am I? 3

I had a series of bad relationships my junior and senior years of high school. And at the end of the last one I looked back at the pattern and was so scared by what I saw I decided that Ami wasn't allowed to pick her own men for a while. I decided then that I needed to learn how to be okay by myself. Because clearly something was up with me that I was picking men like this to be in a relationship with.

To add perspective I had a leader over my young women's group at church who encouraged us strongly to start a list of qualities we wanted in our eternal companions. And to review our list regularly, particularly at the start and end of a relationship to see how the people we were dating matched up to what we really wanted and to add things we learned that we did or did not want. And to prioritize the items on the list - very important, must have, can't have, would like to have.

And I had followed her advice and began a list and reviewed it regularly. And I think thats a big part of why I decided I shouldn't date for a while because apparently my initial judgement was so radically off base that clearly I wasn't seeing things right. And in hindsight I think that might have something to do with the fact that through most of my youth the single biggest thing a guy could do to get me to like him... was to like me. I felt so amazingly undesirable, so undesirable that wearing a burqa might be doing the world a favor levels of undesireable, that if any man actually wanted me that alone was so very exciting I should find a way to like him back.

Yes I really was messed up in the head. I'm better, but still not perfect.

So I get to college, and have a few injuries that resulted in the end of my dancing days and the resulting depression and comfort eating left me heavier than I had ever been in my life which really was not remotely helpful to myself image especially if you consider the body image issues that run so amazingly rampant in my family and myself in particular.

And the end result was the fear that I was never going to get married because no man could possibly want me because I was fat.

And just to reinforce this concern - my sophomore year I met this guy in a chat room that went to my school and we had some great times talking and decided to meet. His response upon actually meeting me? "Um, you're kinda chubby." I shit you not. Needless to say I was more than slightly devastated and its made me more than slightly gun shy of ever posting pictures of myself online... Especially full body shots. Because while my self image has dramatically improved, its still fragile and I'm not sure how well my fragile new image would survive against attacks of that caliber.

It did however, make me feel like a million bucks when I told this story to a guy friend earlier this year whose response was "Well clearly you can't take him seriously because he obviously had a closed head injury at the time." lol

And as horrible as that sounds it did lead to some good things. Starting with my junior year of college I had some amazing roommates who were extremely good for my self esteem. Diana told me that not only did chubby girls get married too, but that any man that didn't want me because I was fat wasn't the kind of man I would ever want to be with anyways.

That thought in particular was revelatory. It knocked me flat on my butt. I'd never, ever thought of it that way. I'd always heard my mother and her line that "as wonderful as your father is he never would have looked at me if I'd been heavy when we met".

I also started really looking with new eyes at the marriage relationships of the people I knew back home and in my extended family. And let me tell you how much of that was just plain scary. My home ward's relief society used to essentially be a chance for the sisters to get together and bash their husbands. This has thankfully changed but then thats what it was. So when I'd go home for the summer it was scary.

I will never forget one Sunday when the little sister who was in charge of such things got up on her soap box about wanting donations of canned goods for whatever cause she was collecting for now and one of the other sisters said that the problem was that she had this whole bag ready to go and sitting by the door and every Sunday by the time she wrangled her 5 small children into the car for church she'd forget the dang bag at home.

And I in my blissful naivete raised my hand and asked "Why can't you just ask your husband to grab the bag?" And that sister turned to me with eyes full of venom and said "Well clearly YOU don't have a husband." And all I could do was sit there and stare at her slack jawed and think - "Well if thats what its like I don't want one."

It was also about this time that I became aware of a rather remarkable woman by the name of Sheri Dew. If you've never heard her speak you're seriously missing out. Go buy one of her books, they're worth it. She was a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency at the time (Mormon moment: RS is the women's org of the church. She was one of the ones in charge of the WHOLE thing). She's the president, CEO and spokesperson for Deseret Book. And somewhat unusually for a Mormon female of her age - she has never been married.

And I for one think that Sheri Dew is one of the single coolest people on God's green earth. And so I decided that I only wanted to be married on my terms. I decided if I never did get married that was okay with me because I could just be like Sheri Dew. I decided I would rather be single and happy than married and miserable.

It was amazingly liberating. I was no longer paralyzed by the fear of being alone.

And then I had this amazing bishop and institute teacher (Mormon Moment: Institute is bible study class for college students) who would periodically pepper his lessons w/ dating tips and advice. lol And one of the biggest things I remember him saying was that like attracts like so you have to be what you want. If you have a big long list of these amazing qualities go take a long hard look in the mirror and see how you match up to your list. If you want amazing, be amazing.

That was another dang good piece of advice. It put more control of my situation back into my hands. It gave me something to work on and goals and directions for my personal development. And either way becoming a better person, more like the guy I was seeking on my list, just plain made me happier and more confident.

1 comment:

  1. I sooo get this! Thanks, Ami! Always easier not feeling alone.