A series of posts uncovering what is really beneath my anorexia and depression.
Reason 6. Unrequited Love. Repeatedly.
Not long ago, I posted a vignette about my first crush and how he asked me to eat lunch with him, but I was too shy and said no and he moved away and then moved back and became a popular football player who dated my childhood best friend. And how I thought I had probably jinxed myself for the rest of my life from having a relationship.
Middle and High School (1990-1996):
I had a unique and ineffective way of interacting with boys in middle and high school. I had a crush approximately each year of school. Mostly, I rarely (if ever) spoke to them, and admired them from afar. Naturally, this did not lead to any success.
Here’s a summary:
- 7th grade: see above
- 8th grade: boy in history class; he may have known my name; I made an art project involving papier mache, toothpicks, and his initials
- 9th grade: boy in Spanish class; we had a small group in class that talked, but didn’t see each other outside class; he got a girlfriend later in the school year
- 10th grade: boy at church who also went to my high school; EVERYONE knew he had been in love with a girl at church for a long time; this was just dumb
- 11th grade: boy in choir at high school; my friend was good friends with him but I never really crossed the second degree of separation
- 12th grade: boy in history/government class; became friends with him in class; for the first time, actually told him how I felt; he was very nice but said he did not feel the same
On the other end of things, I had one boy in 9th grade tell me my legs looked good in my skirt. He was, in a word, disgusting. That was the extent of boys paying me any attention.
Everyone else seemed to be able to find another person who wanted to date them. I didn’t know how to have boy friends, and was shy around boys, so my experience with them was largely third wheeling my best friend and her flavor of the week. With everyone else dating, I decided there was something wrong with me. I was clearly not what boys were interested in at all. I wasn’t pretty enough or cool enough.
When I went to college, this had set pretty firmly as my mindset around where I stood with the opposite sex. At the tiny Baptist college I went to, EVERYONE dated.
- Junior year: crush on BEAUTIFUL guy who literally had hordes of girls interested in him; I was friends with him and actually thought I had a chance; nope.
- Senior year: crush on guy I met through friends; had nerve to ask him out; he said yes; he indicated interest; then I discovered he had started dating my new roommate and they hadn’t known how to tell me so they just didn’t
- Also Senior year: became good friends with guy and had interest, and thought he did too; turns out he’s just really flirty.
- Junior/Senior year: good friends with guys in a small fraternity at my school. When they voted in “Little Sis” for the year, I was rejected for a pretty, popular girl they barely knew.
Adult Life (2001-2008):
So, by the time I became a post-college graduate, I literally had never had a boyfriend or even kissed someone. I had solidified my status as single, probably forever. My adult life brought some twists on the same old “unwanted” theme:
- Post-college – 2001: a horny teen-man decided it would be fun to flirt with me and “teach me” some Makeout 101
- In Africa – 2003: another missionary was interested in me; I wasn’t really interested in him but I forced myself to be since he was and he must be crazy and probably the only one who would be ever; since dating wasn’t really allowed for us, this went basically nowhere
- Back in the States – 2005: at church, we had a lot of Navy guys since there was a base in town; one was really gorgeous and started paying attention to me, but only when we were alone, never in front of others; one day, he simply stopped talking to me
- Online dating – 2006-2007: Eharmony and Match were overall unsuccessful; I went on a few first dates but nothing worked out; mostly, they seemed uninterested in me; the one who was interested, I could NOT stand his laugh so that had to end
- Welcome to Seattle – 2007: became good friends with guy at church; he actually said he reciprocated my feelings; we dated for a few weeks before he told me he had been trying to make himself interested
I share all of this, not because it makes me look or feel awesome (because it absolutely does NOT), but to try to explain how Ana used this area of my life as reason #6. For 16 years, I experienced a remarkable dearth of any love life. The toll this took on my self-esteem is not something I can really put into words. I spent those years completely embarrassed that I couldn’t seem to do what everyone else did. I spent those years watching people that I really thought were either uglier or fatter or just terrible people find others who wanted to be with them and couldn’t fathom what was so awful about me that NO ONE wanted me. Ever.
This is a part of my history that even though it’s in the past, it still completely affects how I feel about myself now. How I interpret how men are looking at me or thinking about me. Ana knew just how vulnerable I was in this particular area and used it to fully convince me that I was completely undesirable, unlovable, and an ugly person (in all the ways). She sank her teeth in and hasn’t let go. I can’t be super cute and fun like the other girls, but I can be skinny…