The last healthy relationship I had was in 7th grade. We’ll call my middle school “man” John Smith Anonymous. Smith Anonymous and I hit it off after my best friend dared me to wear sneakers on my hands, run past his house, and scream, “I’M A PENGUIN.” I waddled my awkward little 12-year old legs and everything. Guys must’ve been into that back then because he asked me out the next day.
There was a lot of handholding and note passing reassuring one another that we were still in love; he bought me earrings from Claire’s one time and put them on a beanie baby; in case you don’t speak Generation Y, FYI, that was a BIG deal.
Albeit, our relationship met an untimely death in 8th grade and I don’t remember why. Maybe he saw me flirting with another boy on the blacktop, or maybe I dropped his super chicken sandwich on the cafeteria floor and it was game over, OR it could have been that he joined the other boys in the “rattie-tattie-you’re-a-flattie” chant, and I threw a binder at his face as I ran off to the girls room crying. At least I’d like to think there was some binder throwing. I’d also like to think were no tears, but that’s just not true. Kids are fucking assholes. Hash-tag resentment.
Fast-forward 14 years. I’m skipping over the trauma I live with from college comparable to PTSD, I’m ignoring the years in high school when I couldn’t stop looking in the mirror to count my flaws and cringe (how could I ever let a boy look at the same face?), (ok I still do that, but not as often), and skipping the most recent mentally abusive relationship I was stuck in and let myself stay in; by relationship I’m referring to the text book definition: “the way in which two or more people behave with each other.” Over the course of nearly 2 and 1/2 years I lost almost lost every shred of dignity. The “behavior” made me hate myself on a level I have only just recognized, now that my mind is becoming a healthier habitat and I know what respect looks like. I have had to make daily, conscious efforts to restore self-respect and self-worth.
By the time I left California I wanted out from everything. With fear as my passport and anger as my driving force I decided to buy a one-way-ticket to Central America. I went to AA instead.
Since then, I have been in recovery from drugs, alcohol, messed up thinking for 26 years. So granted, I am not in any hurry to get anywhere near a relationship again, but I do understand why AA strongly “suggests” not to date in the first year of sobriety. For me, anyway, I know it’d be as destructive as drinking.
Comfort in my own skin is a long way off, but the steps are bringing me closer. No one should influence my new, gradual yet groundbreaking changes. The goal is to look in the mirror and see a self-sufficient woman of dignity and grace, and that sinew has to come from within, without a guy to give or take my strength away. I don’t even think it’s possible for me to be in a healthy relationship right now. Unless it’s comprised of handholding, note passing, and double dares.