There is a reason I’ve written this saga. It began the night I wrote part 1.
I lie on the air mattress at Dreamer & Irishman’s house staring at the ceiling in the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep.
Why am I so insecure? Why do I hold back? I really do care too much about what people think.
These thoughts dredge up the past and then I’m lying there going over and over memories in my head. Seeing the night my 8th-grade crush walked with Gleam under the stars. Then the realization hits me.
It’s been 15 years. FIFTEEN YEARS. And somehow I’m in nearly the EXACT same scenario. How did I get here again!?
The similarity is too uncanny. It’s more than coincidence.
Lord, what is going on? This has to be for a reason. Why are you doing this? What are you trying to show me?
Dreamer and Irishman started a small-group that I’ve started attending. It is for creative Christians and so far it’s been really great for me. First, it has inspired me to keep writing my novel and I’ve made tons of progress since beginning to attend in January. Second, it’s awesome to have a group of people MY AGE, who are a nice mix of singles and marrieds, who are outside my normal social bubble and with whom I have a lot in common. Finally…and more pertinent to this blog… there are single, Christian, attractive men.
I will discuss the two who are on my radar at the moment. At her New Years party, Dreamer suggested I consider the first one, Shanks.
The first time I met him I didn’t. Meaning…I met pretty much everyone there except him even though there was ample opportunity for us to meet. The reason was that he seemed to be avoiding me like the plague or just actually physically couldn’t see me at all. Because he ignored me. Like, would talk to the people next to me and his eyes would glaze right past me like I wasn’t actually there. It was rude. If he had paused I would have introduced myself because that’s what everyone at that party was doing. They are a group of very nice people. Not him. At least, not to me. He was super friendly and chatty with everyone else, it seemed.
Needless to say I was very quickly turned off by this. I can’t stand people who act like other people aren’t important and I don’t like people who are rude to everyone but their friends. In this setting it was rude.
By 4 in the morning most of the guests had left but a small group of maybe 8 of us. Shanks brought a game and we decided to play it. It was the best kind of game. A game to show your wit by writing down things. And I was funny. And often in the lead. And often pitted against Shanks. He had no choice but to acknowledge me. I felt so inwardly smug and justified when my answer beat his over and over again.
That’s right, I’m a person, I thought, and my brain is a force to be reckoned with. There’s some gold in there and you gotta deal with it.
When I attended the small group a couple weeks later I made an effort to talk to him. Just because he was rude didn’t mean I was going to be. He did talk with me some but it was by no means very engaging.
Dreamer asked me about talking to him later. I mentioned how he’d ignored me at the New Years party and she responded, “Yeah, I noticed that, too! You know, Ace, I’m starting to think that he’s just awkward around girls because that seemed so out of character for him”
That gave me a little more grace. After all, I’m an expert at feeling awkward around attractive members of the opposite sex so I’ll cut him a little slack. But only a little😉
After the New Years party I was a little confused as to why Dreamer thought Shanks and I would be a good match. Didn’t she know that I prefer friendly, warm, fun, and engaging men? Shanks was definitely cute, and seemed like he could be fun once he let you in his club, but he didn’t see anyone outside of it. Whoever I end up with has to see people. He has to care about those around him. A man might treat me like a princess but if he’s oblivious to how he makes everyone else feel then what good is that? It only shows that his love extends to those from which he wants something.
I love people. I don’t ever want to be inconsiderate of their feelings. That’s why I’m drawn to people who also care about those around them. We may not be perfect at it but at least being considerate is important to us.
The second man on my radar, Falk, is one of these people. I met him the same time, and instantly felt seen and important. He’s fun, caring, confident, and a good listener. He’s physically attractive and has never met a stranger. He introduced himself to me and every time I’ve seen him he makes a point to talk to me. I shared with him a job situation and the next time I saw him he asked me about it. He treats everyone like that, from what I’ve seen.
After the New Years party I was further confused at why Dreamer didn’t consider him for me. Later she revealed that they were hoping to set him up with her sister.
My mind and emotions chewed on that one for a while.
Dreamer’s loyalty to her sister is greater than her loyalty to me and so her sister should end up with the best guy she knows, and/or she really does think they’d make a better match than he and I would be. Both are understandable and I’m not upset at Dreamer about this.
I can’t say I’m thrilled about the situation, though. Finally, here’s a handsome, Christ-loving, people-loving, fun, kind, engaging man who isn’t married (and who is not too young for me!) and who is in a good stage of life, and my friend basically betroths him to her sister.
And her sister is Gleam.
I mean seriously, Lord?
Now I’m sitting up on the air mattress, mouth hanging open with the realization that once again doubts and insecurities are creeping up because I’m comparing myself, and I happen to be comparing myself to the same freaking girl who won the heart of my first major crush!
She’s still beautiful, still bubbly and sparkling. Still has that thing. That same infectious laugh.
Somehow wounds from that tumultuous age tend to take longer in the healing, and that same feeling of disappointment washes over me as my hope deflates. And all over again I’m alone on that porch swing witnessing their romance under the stars.
All over again I’m walking past Lara’s door, stomach dropping as I see her in George’s lap and the barely contained joy on his face as her arm drapes around his neck.
These wounds…so many years later and after so much growth and coming into who I’m supposed to be…they are still there. They are not healed as I thought. Why?
So I pick up my laptop and write, beginning the process of sorting it through.
I don’t fight to be seen. Or can’t. Or I won’t. Something about fighting for attention, fighting to be heard or noticed goes against something ingrained deep inside me. The very thought causes me some distress. Perhaps it is from numerous times of being ignored while trying to address a group of people.
My voice is at a pitch that naturally blends with other voices, no matter what volume I’m speaking. It’s frustrating because often I try to speak up, no one listens, and I feel unseen.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not uncomfortable with attention. I’m on stage for a living and I lead people and I can capture their attention if I have to. But just to be seen in a social setting…It’s different. I have plenty of conversation in me and I like talking to people, but if there are loud voices and personalities that make no space for me unless I force space for myself, then the majority of the time it’s not worth it. I’d rather sit quietly than try to fight to be heard.
The aversion to fighting to be seen and heard is on a whole new level when it comes to dating.
I hate competing against another woman for a man’s attention. It feels so wrong and stupid and I hate it and I won’t do it. And I don’t know if it feels that way because it is wrong and stupid, or if it’s because in the past I’ve always been passed over for someone else and so I don’t have any confidence that I could actually win. (But even saying that makes me feel wrong because I can’t help but think of the other woman involved and how I might make her feel…how Lara made me feel.)
I recognize that Falk is fair game. He’s not dating her yet. And just because Dreamer is picking out their wedding present doesn’t mean that they are automatically going to like each other. There is nothing wrong with me being warm and a little flirty just to let him know she’s not the only option out there.
And yet, there is something in me that recoils.
See, what I’ve come to realize is that it isn’t the exact same situation as 15 years ago. Very similar, and yet I see her differently. For all her charm and mystery and unquenchable sparkling beauty, Gleam, like me, has yet to win in love. Despite that thing she’s just as single as I am.
What’s more, since going to the small group, I now see her as a person in a way I couldn’t before, and definitely didn’t when I was 13. Then she was only this popular creature who had it all. Now I know that she was very lonely during high school. She didn’t have good friends. I think the girls in her class were, like I was, jealous of her. When you are jealous of someone you only see what they have and not what they need. I assumed she was perfectly happy because how could she not be when everyone desired her or desired to be her? I didn’t understand the isolation she felt because she had no friends who were girls. I’m guilty of adding to that isolation by not really seeing her.
Gleam has had it hard in her romantic life as well. She has had a few serious relationships that everyone, Gleam included, thought would end in marriage but only resulted in heartbreak. The first one of these ended when she found out he was cheating on her. How devastating that must have been for her. My heart aches when I put myself in her shoes.
After we talked and she shared with me her struggles in high school and then later shared with the group about her heartbreak, I realized what an enormous ass I’ve been. Even now I feel terrible for my selfishness and jealousy. By comparing myself to her I not only damaged myself but overlooked her need for love and acceptance. I told her I was so sorry that she was lonely in high school. I told her I wish I’d realized and had tried to reach out and bring her in.
I see her now, and I see that the issue isn’t about competing. It’s about comparing. When you are unseen by the one’s you want most to see you, sometimes it’s easier to blame the shininess of someone else for their ignorance. I always feel like…if they could just notice then they might catch a glimpse of my beauty that tells of yet more beauty within. But they don’t notice so I go on unseen. And this lack of notice is so painful, so damned frustrating and reaffirming of the lies that I’m not enough and too much, that it’s easier to not hope as soon as some other girl is in the picture.
When it comes to this hope is a sacrifice of worship. One that makes me want to scream and rage at God.
Can’t I just stop hoping and wanting? Can’t I just be content with the fact that You see me?
This Saga is not my normal writing, so thank you, readers, for bearing with me. Writing has helped me process. This Saga is not so much to inform my readers (though maybe you might understand me better), but to work out the source of these insecurities.
I started writing this post maybe two days after my last one. It has taken me this long to sort through my thoughts. I hadn’t figured it out yet. Hadn’t known where to finish. I still don’t think I have fully. So bear with me yet again as I finish with:
(To Be Continued….)