Valentine's Day is six days away. Whether you celebrate it or not, Amanda knows that dating and love are not easy- especially when you are curvy. Today, she shares, with us, two important life lessons she learned through dating.
Lesson #1- Take Chances
They called me boy crazy before they ever called me fat. I remember my first crush; it was pre-kindergarten and his name was Wesley. I remember he looked more like a Joey than a Wesley. That’s all I remember about Joey ..I mean Wesley. I didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school or junior high. These were prime plump years for me, and I allowed my weight to define my worth. As I think back to those formative years, I didn’t take a lot of chances until high school. I think it was freshman year, and we had to interview a grandparent. I chose to interview my Nana. Our conversation started off just like any other interview, “Where were you born, Nana?” “What was your favorite subject in school?” “What were your parents like?” I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting cross-legged in front of our wood crafted built-in (because at that time, phones still had cords) and as the interview ended, I asked her “What’s the one piece of advice you want me to remember?” What she said next would change my world forever. Before I discuss her life altering advice, I have to divulge that I was raised Catholic. Nana was married to my grandfather for over 20 years, until his rather young passing. Years later, she remarried a man I now know as my Grandpa Al, and they have been married for over 30 years. Nana’s advice, her life altering advice was that “You can have more than one true love.”
Let that settle for a minute- YOU CAN HAVE MORE THAN ONE TRUE LOVE.
Novel? Probably not. But it felt strange to my juvenile intellect. Cinderella had one true love. Snow White had ONE. Ariel - yup- she only had one.
It was the first time I thought about love, regret and how short life is. It was almost therapeutic- I could love more than one person. In fact, in my lifetime, I could love many. It was as if the pressure I felt to “find the one” or “be in the perfect relationship” just washed away. My fear of rejection lessened, and my fear of risk weakened. This advice didn’t cure me of my insecurities but, in a way, it forced me to look past them.
I was in the bathtub. It was a couple of months before my junior prom, and I had the BIGGEST crush on a senior. I remember talking to myself (you do that too, right?!) as I was trying to pump up my confidence because when I got out of the bathtub, I was going to ask him to prom. I remember thinking to myself “What’s the worst thing he’ll say? No.” I remember my Nana’s advice rang in my ear- life is short, don’t regret anything. Oh, man was I terrified. My stomach was in knots. My throat was dry. I dialed his number, and his mother answered. “Can I speak to Luigi*?” Sure, she said. My hands were shaking. I just wanted the phone call to be over. Please God let it be over. He got on the phone, “Hi” he said. “Hi Luigi, it’s Amanda. I wanted to know if you wanted to go to junior prom with me?” He paused. “Yeah! That would be fun!” I took a deep breath trying not to scream… “Cool. I’ll get you the rest of the information tomorrow.” “Okay cool. See you in the morning,” he said. I had done it. It was one of my first attempts to divert regret. It was one of the first times I opened my heart to love. It was completely liberating that I didn’t have just to love him. Chances were that it wouldn’t work out and I would love again. That I had it in my heart to love many and love much. It was the first time I chose love over doubt which, in the end, would teach me more of what self-love is all about.
Lesson #2- You're Worth It
I didn’t date in high school. I think it was an ill combination of low self-esteem and societal assumptions. My big bones – at my smallest weight- were still voluptuous. Something changed when I arrived at college. All of a sudden my voluptuous curves were pursued- instead of bullied. 398 miles away from everything I knew and I never felt more accepted.
It was the first ‘official’ day of my freshman year of college. He was sitting alone on a bench outside our dorm. I don’t remember how we started talking other than, I am sure, I must have initiated the conversation. He was a small town boy- graduated with a class of six people. Six. His parents were hog farmers who lived on a dusty, dirt road like the ones you see in the country music videos. It was instant kismet for me. For him- it must have been comforting and less lonely. Our relationship was complicated at best. I didn’t realize my worth, which made conveying it to him – impossible. Maybe we were young and stupid. Maybe we were insecure and naive. Either way, we eventually imploded. I remember that night like it was yesterday. We were in the small laundry room of my campus apartment, where we exchanged words – words that didn’t fairly represent us. (You probably want to know what was said…I do too! But I don’t remember much- it was so long ago.)
Fast forward five years later. I was a newlywed, having just married the love of my life. We were just settling in, having hosted a wedding and moving across town in a month span. Call it intuition or chance, but something told me to check my archived Facebook messages. There was a message request. He wanted to apologize. He explained that he was happily married, living on the farm with a litter of children. Intrigued, I told my husband that he contacted me and with my husband’s blessing- I gave Scott* my number.
It was a cold night; I sat patiently on my couch warmed by the soft purrs of my cats. He was going to call between dinner and bath time. A routine I was yet to be familiar with. The phone rang. “Hi,” he said. He sounded the same. Just like he sounded all those years before- his charming twang made me smile. “Hi Scott,” I said. “You got married! Good for you! How’s your hubby?” He asked as if we were old friends. “Yes! thank you. He’s wonderful. I’m very happy.” I said confidently, “Congratulations to you! Your family is beautiful.” “Thanks,” he said. He went on to explain that he had become a member of a church that requires him to contact those whom he believed he hurt- for forgiveness. He still remembers the words we exchanged that night in the small laundry room of my campus apartment. It soon became clear that his rendition of that night was quite different than mine. “I didn’t say very nice things to you that night,” he calmly said. “And I’m sorry.” Surprised and intrigued – I told him I forgave him. I forgave him because I knew he wasn’t the same man now, as he was before. I forgave him because he was sincere. I forgave him without asking for his version of that night. I forgave him because I didn’t want his version to taint mine. I was at peace with us. Little did he know but that night, amongst the ugliness – he had given me hope. His words echoed in my head, “Maybe, maybe I’m making the wrong decision, Amanda. Maybe I am supposed to marry you one day” Someday, someone is supposed to marry me. To the girl who spent most of her life feeling unworthy- his words encouraged me.
Sometimes you don’t get closure, and sometimes you do. While admitting our juvenile immoralities, I disclosed something to Scott that he didn’t know. Something that took me seven years to confess. Enlightened he said, “Oh, Amanda. You’re not a country girl, and I’m not a city boy. Everything happens for a reason.” We went on to make a polite agreement to stay in touch via Facebook, an agreement neither of us kept good on. There wasn’t anything left to say. He’d given me hope and perspective. It reaffirmed my understanding that everything happens for a reason. It didn't matter who remembered what, or how. That chapter didn't need to be rewritten. He taught me a crucial life lesson, the lesson of self-worth. He may not have made me feel worthy of love, but he implicated I could be. It was a personal epiphany; I didn’t need him to acknowledge my worth. And through that, my self-love journey was birthed.
What has dating taught you? What has love taught you? Share your experiences with us below.
Be Confidently Curvy,
*names were changed out of respect.
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