I have been wanting to write this particular post for two weeks now, but I kept making excuses for not doing it. I didn’t have time, I couldn’t find the right words, I wasn’t in the right mood, blah blah blah. Truth is, I was terrified. I am scared to be this real with people, to let it all out, my life flayed open for all to judge. But hey, that’s the purpose of this blog … *deep breath* so here goes:
I was raised in a Christian household. For as long as I can remember, we attended a Southern Baptist church in Southern California. It was a good place to raise a kid, there were good families with similar aged kids that I grew up alongside. I learned bible verses, went to church camps, participated in biblical trivia battles and the AWANA Olympics and through it all I never really believed. I was baptized at the age of 6 and went through all the motions; I knew what I supposed to do on Sundays, what I was supposed to say, but I never put my heart into it.
Recently, I have had a change of heart, I started listening to a little voice in the back of my mind. It started as a whisper and has escalated into a roar. I’m not sure when I started listening, but I am certain that it has been calling me for quite sometime. Things in my life started to change, subtly at first, then I started to feel ways about stuff, like an adult. The night I told my boyfriend, whom I had been building a life with for a year, that I couldn’t marry him someday if he wasn’t a Christian was a huge turning point in my life. He reacted in the most volatile manner imaginable. He disappeared for a night (we’re neighbors) and when he returned, he wouldn’t look at me, barely acknowledged my presence and then said some of the most hurtful things that have ever been directed at me. He fucked with my head and broke my heart (and our relationship) into a million pieces. Granted, there were a myriad of red flags that I willfully ignored (anger issues, a drinking problem, lying), but my returning to faith and requiring that belief in a partner was the straw to break the camel’s back. I am in no way suggesting that all the fault lies on him, I have my faults as well. Just as it takes two people to make a relationship, it takes two people to break it.
The bible tells us not to be unequally yoked. I like the New Living Translation best: “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
What the bible doesn’t tell you about is the gut-wrenching pain that comes with finding the truth of this verse the hard way. It doesn’t prepare you for the sleepless nights, the loss of appetite, the stomach aches, the exhaustion brought on by hours of crying, the dreams where everything is okay and you wake up to find your world in pieces around you leaving you to experience the heartbreak anew. It’s been two weeks since that night and while I am stronger now, while I know I made the right decision, I need to remind myself daily that I am on the right track.
In the days following the break up, I was on a roller coaster of emotions that drained me, scared me, almost broke me. I clung to Sushi to keep me sane, keep me focused, keep me putting one foot in front of the other and rebuild our routine. Sunday night, four days into the aftermath, my heart broke. I had been crying and trying to find my way out of the depression when something inside me clicked. I sat on my couch, placed my hand on the living room wall (the wall that he and I share in the apartment complex) and prayed. I prayed for God to harden my heart against this man, not to make me hate him, but to make me remember why it is that God felt the need to distance my heart in the first place. I prayed for my ex, that he be granted peace and that he find it in him to be a better man, the man I know he is capable of being. Then, I slid to the floor and silently cried out to God, asking him to use me as the vessel he intends, asking him what I am to learn from this heartache, what am I supposed to gain from this suffering. I needed answers and those first few nights all I wanted was for the man next door to hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay. Seeing as how he’s the reason everything was broken, that was never going to happen.
Something clicked with me that night. I didn’t need the man next door, I need the Man Upstairs. I have always needed Him. For the first time in my life, I have decided to take my faith seriously. It’s something that is completely new to me, it’s scary, frustrating and, at times, feels really cheesy. I’ve been reading a book called “The Single Woman” by Mandy Hale and it has helped smooth out the rocky ride. It talks about finding your worth inside of yourself, with your Creator and not in the eyes of any man.
What I am about to share with you, I have only shared with one other person: the reason why I stayed with him for so long …
I stayed with Nick for so long because I wanted to be wanted, for once. I haven’t had much luck in the dating world and here was this handsome, tall, funny guy who was into me, REALLY into me. Then he started talking marriage and my heart leaped at the chance to be so loved by one man for the rest of my life. I let my crushing desire to not spend my life alone cloud my judgement and blind me from what I needed to see. I am TERRIFIED that I won’t find love, because I am not the girl that guys go after. I’m not the prom queen, the size 3, the hot one, etc. I am taller than most people I know, I am outspoken, I am quirky and I can be pretty loud.
I stayed with him when I should have left because I don’t think that I can be worthy of anyone’s real love. And what he told me the night that it all came crashing down(that he had slept with someone else the night before) just solidified that in my mind. I am not the girl that men seek out and I am not enough for them to stay. I did EVERYTHING for him, I gave him EVERYTHING and ALL of me and it just. wasn’t. enough.
I can’t keep pouring my heart and soul into every person I date or I want have anything left, but I don’t want to become cold and bitter and my greatest fear is still ending up alone, one way or another: whether I have been destroyed and I am a husk of the person I once was or I become callus to feeling anything but fear and mistrust.
And it was through this conversation that I hit upon an idea. An amazing, wonderful, uplifting idea. I am starting a second blog (I will still keep this one going) to foster a 365 photography project. No matter what, each day I am going to take a “selfie”, most likely with Sushi involved, even if I feel fat or ugly or just not photogenic. Then I’ll post it on the blog with a little blurb. I want girls, and grown women, to know that you have to love yourself first. I don’t want anyone I know, and even those I don’t, to feel like I do now. Finding your way in this world is a tough experience, so no one should have to go it alone. Find my daily photo project HERE.
For those of with a significant other, make sure you’re not taking them for granted and for those of you who are fellow soldiers in the dating war, know that you are not alone, that we’re all in this together and it sucks. You’re not going to meet the perfect person, they just don’t exist. However, you ARE going to find someone who compliments you, not completes you. If someone tells you that you’re “too picky” tell them thank you. The standards you set determine the life you get; don’t EVER settle for something that you don’t feel is right, listen to your intuition and trust your gut. You deserve the best.