Mr. “What If”

Almost everyone’s life story has a chapter titled “The One That Got Away”. The story line is almost always the same, someone amazing comes into the picture, but for some reason, doesn’t stay. The reasons for separation make up the climax of the chapter. The desire to stay with this person clashes with unforeseen events that change the course of the relationship forever. The end of the relationship writes itself a cruel paradox.

Sometimes both parties know why it ended, they were in two different places in life, one or both could not meet expectations of the relationship, or maybe there was too much distance between them. Sometimes the reason is unknown. Nevertheless, that person seems to leave a hole in the other’s life or a thought that never truly diminishes. Life goes on, other relationships come and go, but what about that “one that got away”?

I was seventeen when I met my “what if”. I had just left a relationship with who I’ll call Mr. Rebound.

(me at seventeen)

I came off of a bad breakup and ran into Mr. Rebound while out with friends. He was all wrong for me but I just had my heart broke. I wasn’t attracted to Mr. Rebound, but he made it known that he was interested in me. I felt a desperation to find someone who wouldn’t hurt me in the way I was hurt in my previous relationship and Mr. Rebound said all the right things. We dated for a while but something was missing, there was no spark and I couldn’t think of a relationship with him in the long term, so I ended it.

Some time after my break-up, Mr. What If and I were spending time together. I was a bit apprehensive because I had met him before, he was friends with my heartbreak. Spending time with him didn’t concern me, but the more time I spent with him, the more I felt a change in the way I felt with him.

When I started to have feelings, I began to overanalyze everything. Did his friend talk to him about me? Could I allow myself to be vulnerable again? Would I get hurt all over again?

His friend was my first intense relationship. I was very young and I had a hard time picking myself up after the breakup. Life for me was complicated beyond this breakup, so I decided to take everything very slow. I was afraid.

I was afraid of the feelings I was developing. I was afraid of getting hurt. I think he needed more than I was willing to give. As great as it felt to feel that spark with someone, it ended rather abruptly. He told me he decided to pursue a relationship with someone else. I was disappointed. I felt like it had ended before I allowed myself the opportunity to let go.

Of course Mr. Rebound was waiting with his promises not to hurt me. And because I believed all my fears had manifested, I went back to Mr. Rebound. The truth was, I was vulnerable and he interjected himself back into my life.

I gave up the passion I felt with Mr. What If for the promises of Mr. Rebound. I didn’t have to be afraid of my feelings when I wasn’t overrun by them. Sometimes control is lost in the moment and I tried to control too much with Mr. What If.

Many describe a good romance as a “whirlwind romance”. They get caught up in the emotions like the turbulent wind of a tornado, exhilaration and fear lift in unison. I have wondered what it would have been like if I would have just let go and let myself be taken in the updraft. I know I missed out on a passionate experience that could have broken my heart but that’s always a part of falling in love. Falling in love means letting go and losing that control. Why didn’t I see that great highs always come with the possibilities of crushing lows?

That’s essentially the mantra of a good life, live it as well as possible without fear. Fear kept me from experiencing the fullness of this relationship. Fear made me go back to a relationship that broke me emotionally and eventually ended four years later.

Staying or getting into a relationship out of fear is never a good idea because when a relationship isn’t pursued for the right reasons, red flags can be missed.

I missed lots of red flags with Mr. Rebound. I missed out on what I could have had with Mr. What If. Instead I was going through the motions, trying to convince myself that the “spark” didn’t matter. Relationships are worth going all in for, but with the right person and for the right reasons.

Once I realized I may have missed out on an opportunity to fall in love, I didn’t want to miss it again. This meant my first marriage ultimately ended in divorce. I was single for several months and I never had the opportunity to try again with him, so this chapter of my life closed when I remarried almost fourteen years ago.

Life has a way of using each experience for growth. Although I wish I could have changed some things in my past, my past helped shape who I am.

Every one of us has a story in our book of life that makes us ask, “What if I made a different choice?”

“What if I took the wrong job?”

“What if I moved to the wrong location?”

“What if it could have been wonderful?”

I don’t think the “what if” is as important as living life to the fullest to eliminate as many “what ifs” as possible.

Love without fear of heartbreak because a broken heart means one loved with all of their heart.

Live each moment to the fullest because you may not get a second chance.

So this is my chapter entitled “The One That Got Away”. Thank goodness it’s not where my story ends. There were still great things to come.

*d*

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Mean Girls?

I ran into a classmate I hadn’t seen in maybe 15 years at the pet store where I was stocking up on cat food prior to an impending snow/ice storm. The last thing you want to do is run out of food and be snowed in with your cats. They love you, but if push comes to shove, they’ll eat you. Don’t let their cute little faces fool you.

That’s hunger in her eyes.

So, anyway, I’ve been planning our 20th Class Reunion for this year and trying to track down current addresses for class members. When I saw her, I was super excited because I didn’t know how to reach her easily since she wasn’t on social media (good for her, BTW).

When I asked her if she had any interest in coming to the reunion, she immediately said, “NO. I don’t do anything with that school. NO…no.”

I laughed a little and with my hands up defensively said, “Ok! Understood.”

I went to turn my cart around and she said, “Nobody liked me then so I don’t have any desire to hang out with them now.”

To which I replied, “Oh, I get it. Definitely. Nobody liked me either. You too, for that matter.” All of this was said with a grin and no attack in my voice. But it was true.

“Oh! That’s not true! I just didn’t really talk to anybody,” she said, laughing.

When we checked out, she teased me for holding up the line fumbling for my debit card and I told her to let me know if she changed her mind about the reunion. That was it.

But as I drove home, I thought about our high school experience and how they had apparently been similar. What was very odd to me was that she wasn’t nice to me in school. While she might not have talked to me much, the only things I ever heard come out of her mouth were snide, snarky and intimidating. I always saw her as one of the many “mean girls” who made my day-to-day struggle through school so nerve racking. It turns out that she might have felt just as I had and her defense was to come off bitchy and mean, while mine was to cower and stay silent. It made me wonder if all the people who were nasty to me in school, and seemingly nasty to this pet-store-shopping classmate, were only that way because they had someone above them making them feel just as terrible. I’d say the answer is probably yes.

 

Does it make any of it right? No, absolutely not. Is it indicative of the age group we’re talking about? Yeah, unfortunately. But that doesn’t have to be the case either. There were plenty of good people in our class, and plenty that didn’t feel like they had to lash out to keep from getting shoved to the bottom, some of which I chose to ask for help in planning this reunion.

As to why I was able to put aside my memories of torment and my long-lost classmate was not, I feel like that is a personal choice. It takes effort and an unpacking of some yucky baggage. I totally get why she feels the way she does, and why she might have opted to NOT forgive the way she was treated by our peers. I choose to believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to prove that they’ve grown up. As for adults who still behave like they’re in high school, ain’t nobody got time for that.

~L~

Filling Out

I usually don’t openly complain about my own body issues but I have them. I recently got a little annoyed while doing some online browsing.

I’m small busted. Not just small busted, I’m “God forgot to give me boobs” small busted. It’s been an issue with my self-confidence since middle school. As we all know, kids can be mean, downright jerks. To their defense, a lot of growing is about trial and error. Sometimes, that trial and error comes at the cost of others.

For me, I noticeably didn’t mature like the other girls in my class. I didn’t reach “maturity” so to speak until I was almost fifteen. It was too late for my new surge of hormones to grow the necessary parts to be attractive to most boys jacked-up on hormones my age. By that time, they had noticed all of the other girls were growing and I soon became an easy target for humiliation from a biological process I had no control over.

Memories of my awkward years are as muddled as my complexion at fourteen, but I will never forget boys wading up paper and throwing it down the front of their shirts to humiliate me. I was called names and reminded how unattractive I was because I didn’t have breasts at fourteen.

Middle school is an awful experience for most. Most kids in their early teens are experiencing surging hormones that suddenly make classmates they’ve known since the age of five attractive, voices shaky, and body parts stuck somewhere between the little kid you thought you were and the adult you would be some day. Emotions were confusing and relationships didn’t seem as simple as they were once.

Nothing screamed awkward like the full page close up of fifteen year old me in the yearbook. I was the cheerleader that no one anticipated making the squad. My face was broke out and my insecurities seeped right through my crooked smile. Thankfully I didn’t find that gem until I was looking at yearbooks during study hall in the library my senior year.

If I had anything, I had hope. That hope came from the summer between middle school and high school. That happened to be the year I discovered padded bras. It worked. I got off the bus on my first day of freshman year and the change was noticeable. A boy in my class said, “Looks like you finally grew some”. The appearance of breasts are the only thing I felt that got me noticed. It wasn’t my face, I struggled with acne so bad that I had to see a dermatologist, it wasn’t my body, I was teased and called “monkey arms” in middle school, and it wasn’t my personality, boys didn’t want to get to know “that” girl.

Yes I was “that” girl. In eighth grade, I dated one boy. I really thought he liked me. He was on the football and basketball team and I was a cheerleader. I broke-up with him after I found out his teammates were making fun of him for being my boyfriend. He was too immature to stand-up to them and I was too insecure to see my own worth.

I’m 38 and I have never been able to see myself as beautiful because of my cup size. I thought once I graduated, I would leave the judgemental world of body shaming behind but that hasn’t been the case. Some women would use passive-aggressive tactics to tear me down using their obviously bigger bust size as leverage. In my head, I was not only unattractive to men, but to other women as well.

I have never really felt like a woman. I came close while nursing my children. While nursing I could fill out a size B cup. I at least looked like woman physically. I could put on a dress and not worry about the front falling forward because of the lack of assumed physical form, I could wear a bra without it riding up over the lack of breast tissue. I had confidence because I felt like I was the woman I was supposed to be. Nursing had it’s perks. Obviously for a woman who naturally had little breast tissue but for my children as well. I didn’t read the fine print when researching breastfeeding, “once nursing is finished, expect to loose breast volume”.

I finished nursing my last child in 2015. The fine print didn’t lie.

The years of teasing compiled on top of my own distorted view of beauty, has led me to where I am today. I am unable to see myself as feminine and beautiful.

I am aware that I have to be the change agent in how I view myself because years of reassurance has not helped my frame of mind. I just want to feel like other women feel. I want to be able to wear something beautiful and not have to worry if I will be able to fill it out.

This leads me to my annoyance. Valentine’s Day is approaching and although my husband and I never celebrate the holiday, I thought I would browse lingerie, specifically “lingerie for small busted women”. My search led me to several articles and every article recommended lingerie modeled by women who had average sized breasts.

“Nevermind.”

I want to wear something nice for my husband but nothing “fits” me. One piece lingerie is out of the question because the bottom half needs to be smaller than the top half. I can’t fill out even the smallest bras because there is always a fold where breast tissue is supposed to be. Nothing fits me. Nothing…..

In my desperation, I went to Victoria’s Secret to be fitted. The level of anxiety in someone else even coming close to seeing my upper half is overwhelming. I sucked it up because I was told they can find something for almost anyone. Guess who left without a bra? This girl. They couldn’t fit me. I was too small.

After that, I began to research breast augmentation. I made an appointment with a surgeon who had excellent reviews. I thought there would be hope for me to feel whole. Unfortunately, hope comes with a price tag. My appointment also came with humiliation. They take a photo so they can have a before prior to surgery (if you decide to go that route). I didn’t expect to have to stare at it during my consultation. I finally had to ask him to take it down.

I still hope I can pursue surgery but I also know I need to figure out how to change my frame of mind. It’s hard to do when I can’t even feel comfortable in a bathing suit. It’s hard to do when you’ve been made to believe one’s beauty depends on a natural process my body seemingly forgot to finish. It’s hard to see myself as beautiful when I feel like I have come short of expectations. How could anyone look at me and be satisfied knowing I will never look like a woman?

I may never figure it out. I hope I do, or I hope I can at least figure out how to feel better about myself.

Some women dream of fame, I dream of a “B” cup!

– D

New York City – Part 1 – Why We Went

New York City has always been one of those far-off, bucket list trips for me. Husband (Allen) and I talked about it numerous times when we discussed where we’d like to go on vacation down the road. But it remained a dream, an enigma of a city to a couple of folks who grew up among the cows, corn, and beans.

Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge

We knew “of” each other in high school and I remembered him as “That guy who runs all the time.”  That’s how everyone seemed to know him.  Even in the years where he’d given it up, gained weight, and all but lost who he really was to a crummy marriage, people always asked him, “You still runnin’?” The answer was a reluctant “No.”

Allen circa 2011 and our recently departed “Princess” Onyx.

Then we got together and though it was definitely not overnight, he started to remember who he was, and what he was passionate about, and he began hitting the pavement again.

5King with friends is the best way to 5K.

 

 

 

2015

In his younger years of running, he had qualified for Boston, more than once, but he never went. So, that has become his goal: to qualify and actually run the race.

2015 YOLO Half-Marathon.
YOLO Half-Marathon 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the training, we talked of other Marathons that could be good to run to try to qualify for Boston. The New York City Marathon came up quite a bit, but in the end, we decided to wait another year before diving into that race and the immense culture shock we knew we were in for. I imagine that was mostly me, since I was going to have to mentally prepare my-super-mega-ultra-introverted-self like never before, as well as plan most of the trip.

YOLO Half-Marathon 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Then, *d* shared a link on Facebook that the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance was looking to fill some spots on its NYC Marathon team. If you’ve read any of the blogs she’s written here, you know that her youngest son has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. We’ve always felt helpless when it comes to saying the right thing or offering the right help to her. Suddenly, there was a way to help the Alliance, draw attention to this terrible disease, and honor one tough little boy and his family.

YOLO Half-Marathon 2018, used as a “training race” for the impending NYC Marathon

So, Allen contacted the Alliance and got a place on the team. The Alliance set a goal of $5,000 to be raised by each runner and set up individual donation pages. I set up a Facebook page where his training progress could be followed by friends, family, and fellow athletes, and the donation page easily found.

 

After being interviewed by the local paper, multiple people sharing the donation link, contributing to the cause, rooting him on, and a year of diligent training, it was time to fly.

Literally. We took a plane to NYC.

On our way!

 

 

 

View of the city from the plane. (Photo courtesy of Ariana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

And our adventure began.

~L~