In case you were/are freaked out by the picture, in no way is this a pregnancy announcement. That’s a food baby combined with the fact that I needed to use the bathroom and I’m bloated because that is just what women’s bodies do sometimes.
Let’s back up a little before I get into the knitty-gritty of this post, but bear in mind that picture has everything to do with it. I love to count down to things, I especially love to remember when things happen. My dad has always been completely amazed at the way my brain remembers dates and names. I remember conversations I had in the third grade, the way my first boyfriend in high school smelled (heavenly), and random off the wall quotes or facts about things I love.
I remember dates: when Joel proposed to Alanna and Chase proposed to Rachel; when Garrett married Lizzy, Austin married Carissa, Cole married Rachael, Michael married Natasha; when my first kiss was; when my cousins were born; when my brother called me after his first kiss; when I broke my arm, had surgery and got my cast removed… You get the picture. I know the dates of all those things.
I also remember the dates of things I wish I could forget, like the day I met the person who would take my already fragile body image issues where I had a mild fear of anyone seeing me in a swimsuit and completely obliterate those fears to turn them into total disgust for the only body I have.
You’ve all heard the story of the Marine. I don’t like to say his name, that makes him human. I don’t believe he is. Well, August 18 marks two years since I met him. Have I told you how we met? It’s not my favorite thing to admit, but it was at a local pub. I was having a girl’s night with some friends, I was finally 21. I was wearing jeans and a halter top.
I was CONSTANTLY told of the terrors of Marines. I heard the horror stories of well meaning girls who went out with their friends for a night out and ended up in the backseat of a car, beaten to a pulp with no memory of how it happened. Thankfully, this was never my reality. There is a reason girls end up anywhere with a **Marine like that… They are charming. They gaze so intently at you when you respond to their questions. They tell you how much they love your smile. They laugh at your jokes and make you feel like the only person on earth. They’re bashful when they ask for your phone number.
He told me he thought my passion for school and photography was amazing. At the time I thought I wanted to be a teacher, he told me I would be the kind of teacher he would always flirt with. My love for yearbook had not yet been tarnished by my senior year of college, he told me he thought it was so adorable the way I got excited over something so nerdy.
I gave him my phone number when he asked. I had just been dumped by someone who told me I was good for nothing, he would never love me and didn’t even know why he wanted to be with me in the first place. I was in denial that I was broken and this really cute guy was interested in everything I was told was useless.
Everything ended November 14. Not quite three months later. He broke up with me. He told me I was too intelligent for him, that my education made him feel like less of a man after he spent those months being upset when I would spend time with my guy friends at school, telling me I needed to go to the gym more because “no girlfriend of his should ever have a stomach like that,” telling me we wouldn’t go get dinner until I did 50 sit ups, telling me I wasn’t flexible enough for him and that I should really do more yoga, telling me what and how I should be eating so I could have the body HE wanted for me.
Here’s the thing about abusive relationships: you don’t feel like you can leave, you don’t want to leave… because you don’t know how they’ll react. He could lift 350 lbs over his head, I weigh 120. I felt isolated, I didn’t think anyone would listen or believe me. So I did everything I could to make breaking up his idea. In the end, it “was.” And then he spent the following months trying to get me back. Telling me he loved me but was afraid to tell me, saying I was the only woman for him and he wanted to show me that.
I haven’t heard from him in 550 days. That was the last time he called me and the first time he actually listened to me tell him no. It took too long for me to open up about the realities of that experience. But it’s been ever so healing since I have.
Here’s the thing about women’s bodies: they’re amazing. Another truth about women’s bodies: they do weird things like bloat to make us look pregnant when we’re totally not and nowhere close.
WE CAN GROW HUMANS INSIDE US. Not that I want to, but I CAN!! Amy Adams said the most amazing thing about her body when she was pregnant with her daughter, “Being pregnant finally helped me understand what my true relationship was with my body — meaning that it wasn’t put on this earth to look good in a swimsuit. I was like, ‘Look, I can carry a baby! I’m gaining weight right, everything’s going well.’ And I’ve had that relationship ever since.”
It’s been a long road beyond those words he used to say to me. Sometimes I still hear them… I’m always careful when I start dating someone new. I feel like it would be a disservice to them to keep them in the dark about how affected I was by those words. I know amazing people who have helped me come to a whole other state of mind about my body. I have the most incredible people in my corner who remind me that my physical shape doesn’t make me who I am.
I hope that the women who read this will realize that they were made for more. You are more than your reproductive organs and your sexuality. You are more than your jeans size. You are more than your acne or wrinkles or cellulite. You are more than your relationship status or lack thereof. YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN ALL THOSE THINGS. You in no way deserve to be torn down or told you are worth any less than a man who would brave shark infested waters to bring you a lemonade.
I believe in uplifting women and reminding them that they.are.amazing. and beautiful and dynamic and wonderful all around. I am a feminist and I won’t apologize for it because I think it’s the most Christ-like way to be. I don’t have a completely flat stomach, but my legs look ten miles long and I have Disney princess hair. I enjoy having an attractive man buy me a drink, but by no means am I interested in one who treats me like I can’t pay for it my damn self. I’m a Christian, and that won’t stop me from telling you to F off if you were just plain rude to me or someone I love. My body was not made for anything but carrying my soul through this earth to share the Gospel and to completely love people from every walk of life. That’s it. And that’s all I have to say about that.
** I know some good Marines. I do. It took a while to find them, but they are real. They are wonderful men. They love their wives, daughters, girlfriends, mothers, sisters… They treat all women they know with respect. Some have even repaired the damage that was done to me, just by being remarkably willing to accept my initial reservations to spending time alone with them. But make no mistake, if I ever have a daughter, no Marine will lay a hand on her without first surviving an interrogation from me.