Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chapter 2: The Loathsome Question and the Answer (part one)

Alright, alright, for those of you that are amazing at updating your blogs and capable of eloquently describing life or events, I sincerely apologize. First, please understand that I have been working and going to school full time. At the end of the day, my life has been booked. Plus, I consider it a social obligation to write something worth reading!

So...If I had ten bucks for every time someone asked me, "Marie, I just don't get it, why are you STILL single." I'd be slightly wealthy. I have been asked this by seriously at least a hundred people and among those are guys I actually started dating. This, is in fact my least favorite question. I mean, what am I supposed to say??? Am I supposed to spin that like they tell you to in an interview. "Well, you see, I just work too hard. I never know when to take a break." Or do I take it as a rhetorical question? Or do I pretend that it's a question that I have an answer to? Is this question truly intended to solicit a valid response? I see your inquisitive, genuine looks of concern. I've watched the scrutiny in your eyes as you try to solve this quandary on your own. And I've actually heard the pity in your voices.

Usually I try to find a funny answer to this question. "Well you see, it's that sixth toe on both my feet and that seems to be a deal breaker." Perhaps taking a poll of all the guys I have dated you could tell me! This has been a question that I use regularly for serious introspection. I mean, I'm not a horrible human being, I don't feel like I fell out of the ugly tree, I don't think I'm an idiot or 100% neurotic. I don't have crazy vices, I try to be a contributing member of society and I love my mom and dad. All in all, despite circumstances beyond my control, I have managed to make my life one that is positive and I think I'm a happy person. But in relationships, it is apparently not that simple.
At the end of the day, I'm not certain I can answer that question completely. But I will do my best to finally put that bad boy to bed.

First, I feel like I'm going through the dating experiences with a severe handicap. I mean, truth be told, my first kiss wasn't until I was 26, yeah, I said 26. My first real relationship came along when I was 27. I had serious self image issues. I mean, I have spent the majority of my life being the funny fat girl and the best friend to all, girlfriend to none. I listened to my guy friends break down just about every attribute, (physical and otherwise), of a girl after a date in such a way as to make it clear, I stood no chance in my obese frame. I cannot express how demoralizing this was to me. I also saw that girls with no confidence got no where and I was in the red with confidence. It was easier to take myself out of the game so as to not feel this harsh scrutiny. As I started losing weight, I honestly felt empowered and guys started noticing me. But the problem? I had and quite possibly still have not learned to play the "game", you know, the one where she plays hard to get and he falls all over himself to win her heart. Let me be clear, I spent all of my elementary and secondary education on the outside. Never quite breaking into the realms of popularity. I learned to watch. I saw high school girls lie and act like MORONS in order to appear flirty and cute. GAG ME NOW. More amazingly, this actually kept going into college and yes, even now. I watched guys get tripped up time and time again by these girls. I was acutely aware of this game, but I swore to myself that once I started dating, I was going to be true to myself and my character.

So, to this day I still struggle with the rules of engagement in dating. How am I to act and behave so to convince him that I'm a catch? In fact, a few weeks ago I had a very interesting conversation with a friend who has a similar temperment to my own. She's sassy and pointed. She's happy but she's also not to the point of being fake. She's real. I told her that I didn't know which of my personality traits were fatal flaws and which were beneficial with respect to dating guys and this ridiculous game. She then explained her view, "you know Marie, I've thought about this and have come to the conclusion that God created me as His daughter. He created me with this personality that serves me well. If He made me who I am then my personality traits are not a mistake. I do not think we need to diminish these traits so that guys won't feel intimidated." This resonated with me. For the last years I've had many, MANY people try to teach me (clearly unsuccessfully) to play the game. They tell me to not be so honest, to just keep everything light and fun because THAT'S what guys like. I was told to not be available to them. I was told to play hard to get. The list really could go on. At the end of the day, down playing my "strong" personality serves no one. I like to communicate, I like to solve problems, and if something needs to be said, I learned to open my mouth. In every other aspect of my life, these traits have made all the difference and served me well. I do not have time to play a game in which I ultimately am lying about who and what I am. If this means I am single for a very long time, then so be it as opposed to being something I am not, I will manage.

One of the quotes that sincerely changed how I viewed myself was part of Nelson Mandela's innagural speech but I found was actually written by Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so
that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."

I do not believe I am magnifying the gifts I have been given and the person I have become by being something I am not nor is it a service to my friends or the guys I date. I believe, with my whole heart that somewhere in singledom, there is a man that is fully capable of loving me with these personality traits. You see, I believe very strongly in the possibilities of both myself and those around me. I feel that one thing I do well is see the potential in everyone. While I need to smooth off my rough edges, who I am has served many people in positive ways and will ultimately provide me with the skills to be a great wife and mother one day. Diminishing myself and my traits should serve to make me unappealing to men, (if logic truly prevailed in dating). One day I will find that guy that actually sees all that I have worked very hard to overcome and accomplish and I will be worth any effort needed to make a relationship work. It's not up to me to convince a guy I'm of some extensive worth that they surely cannot pass me up. It is my job to be true to myself and be grateful and giving any opportunity I am provided with.

Having been clear about that, one thing that I do feel is that somehow, after a myraid of failed relationships and severely broken hearts, I have become a lot harder to reach. This became at first a coping mechanism when I did not like myself and did not want to reveal this to others. Now, it's become a screening technique, a REALLY bad technique. Until I feel a guy is in it to win it I seldom show that I indeed to have a sensitive heart. People may see me as insensitive because I don't really cry a lot or show a lot of emotion...but that's not the case. First, I've been through some personal hells and frankly, minor set backs don't phase me anymore. I fall and I pick myself up, dust myself off, and take the stairs instead of the elevator! I'm not going to get upset and fall apart over something that I have no control over, that's not a great use of anyone's time! I also am a realist to some extent. To me, life is what we chose to make of it. Sure there are circumstances that we fall into that aren't necessarily in our control, but we do chose how long we remain in those circumstances and the power we allow those circumstances to have over us.
Having opened the blinds a little into the heart of Marie, I see where this may make it seem that I am cold and distant. However, do not count me out yet. For those that know me and I mean REALLY know know that I would do just about anything for almost anyone. I am loyal and will ALWAYS fight for an underdog. I will drop things for a friend anytime. Sure, that's not what you'll see at first, but I think love at first sight is super hokey anyway.

Alright...that is part one and quite possibly a little more insight into the answer to this question than you might have signed up for. This is a SUPER long post (don't judge, I'm making up in length for what I lack in consistency in posting). I'm not sure this is as entertaining as I would have liked it to be, it took on a life of its own.

Hopefully I'll post again before the next decade. As a disclaimer...I threw in a few pictures of some of my latest adventures...they actually aren't related to this post completely. I just needed to break it up a tiny bit.