- Your skin is too dark
- Your arms are too flabby
- Your stomach isn’t flat enough
- If only you were taller
- Why can’t you be more feminine?
- Why did you pick that school? It’s not even a good school.
- You are too stubborn
- I don’t like your friends
- I don’t want you talking to that person again
- There’s something not right in your head
- You only got that promotion because your boss is a man
- You can’t travel to that place
- Your dream job is stupid, it doesn’t even pay well
- You are too outgoing
- You need to change your eating habits
- You are stupid
- You have this f*cked up idea about how you want to live your life, and no guy is ever going to be okay with it
That was a list of things said to me by the men I’ve dated throughout my life. There’s probably more on that list but I’ve stopped remembering after a while.
What I do remember is the girl who cried herself to sleep over that list. The girl who clung onto every word that was said to her, and tried to change herself in every possible way to please some guy.
I remember the girl who stared back at me in the mirror, wondering what was so wrong about her that someone couldn’t love just the way she was. I remember the always feeling like broken toy that needed fixing. Except the toy became more broken every time someone tried to fix it. I remember being left to pick up the pieces on my own.
And so I picked up the pieces and then got right back into it. Back to the men who kept adding to the list.
A few years and men later, I hit rock bottom. I had just gotten out of a five year relationship, because he couldn’t accept me for who I am. I felt torn and vulnerable, and fell into the arms of another man very quickly – thinking it would ease the pain.
This new man seemed different from my ex – more understanding, more tolerant – and that’s probably what attracted me to him. But a few months down the line, I realized he was even worse. In his mind, he was perfection. Everything and everyone else was beneath him.
He was one of the most arrogant men I’ve ever met, and it was his words that sent me to rock bottom.
I honestly don’t recall the exact words of what he said to me (I probably blocked it out because it was too painful to think of), but I do remember it completely destroyed me at the time.
But you see, the thing about hitting rock bottom is that once you’re there, the only way out is to go UP.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I stopped crying and picked myself up. I looked in the mirror and realized that I liked what I saw. I wasn’t a broken toy that needed fixing – in fact I was whole in every way possible. I gathered the strength to walk away from these men and their opinions. And I started to love myself more, rather than trying to please someone else.
In a way, I am grateful to him. If it weren’t for what he said, I would have never broken free.
It’s funny because now I am laughing, instead of crying over that list.
I am laughing because I can’t believe I used to be so naive to let other people’s opinions affect me so much.
I am also laughing because, come on, that list is just silly! “You are too outgoing”? What does that even mean?
But most of all, I am laughing because all of those things were said to me in the name of ‘love’.
And I’m laughing because I believed it.
Looking back now, I realized that list wasn’t love. It could have been many things: insecurity, need for control, intimidation, fear, anger, jealousy. It could have been anything. But it wasn’t love.
And so it made me ask myself: what is this fancy thing called ‘love’, anyway?
Well, I don’t know. Love can mean different things for different people. I guess I’m still searching for answers.
But if I had to define ‘love’ in my own terms, then for me, love is freedom. Freedom to be myself. Freedom to make my own choices. Freedom to feel, think, do as I wish. And most importantly, freedom to be loved exactly the way I am.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for, do you?
Did you enjoy reading this post? If yes, please let me know by clicking on the share buttons below. I would be happy to receive your appreciation. :)