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Laying It On the Love Line

This reflection submitted by Ruffle reader Kira has an awesome “voice” to it.  We love ladies who lay themselves out for their writing, and she does just that with a personal look into her love psyche.  Plus, these sweet photos from A Better Story Studios are the essence of candid.  We love them.  Enjoy!

WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I believed that something terrible was bound to happen to the people around me, my family and close friends—simply based on the fact that they knew me. Me. Seven years old and I was incredibly dangerous.

A shy little girl with long, brown braided pigtails and green stirrup pants—and because you knew me—your days were numbered.

The danger was particularly strong if you were male. I figured this because both my grandpas and my father died before I was ten years old. And so I found it necessary to stay away from men of all ages. To protect them from certain death.

As an unexpected result of this behavior, I, in turn, developed a phobia of boys. Being around them at school made me nervous. My heart would race and my palms would get all sweaty. But not in the normal, “Oh my word, I totally have a crush on this guy, and he makes me all swoony,” kinda way. But in the, “ I think my heart might stop. I’m having a massive panic attack at nine years old,” kind of way. I couldn’t even talk to them.

Flash forward to last summer, when I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while at a barbecue (I’ll call him Matt).  When I went over to say goodbye to him on my way out, he took my car keys out of my hand and put them in his pocket and said, “I haven’t seen you forever, and we haven’t even talked yet. Where do you think you’re going?” I explained that I had had a very long day and was only “stopping by” to be nice—and that what I really wanted to do was go home and sit on my couch and eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream out of the carton and watch The Notebook.

I must say I was more than a little amused when Matt confessed that he’d never understood why girls were the only ones allowed to veg out on the couch—and that he had always wanted to do that. So we agreed to meet up later that week and eat ice cream and watch chick flicks. And I wasn’t even nervous. When I was around Matt, I never felt like I needed to pretend to be better than I was, or be something else that he might want me to be. In fact, he made me more sure of myself. And that felt amazing. So when we met up on Friday, he picked me up on his motorcycle, and we went to Blockbuster to rent a movie.

Back in my kitchen, we talked and joked and shared a pint of Ben and Jerry’s banana split ice cream  (which is undoubtedly the best flavor in the world!) and then sat on the couch watching the pilot from Lost that I’d finally convinced him he needed to see. We had great, easy conversations. We laughed a lot. We had a great time. And then he didn’t call me.

The next week at work I ran into this guy who I was having a hard time figuring out. Amongst my friends he is frequently, affectionately and awkwardly referred to as The Lunch Boy. On this particular day, I was sitting outside at this little café table in the cobble stone courtyard, eating and reading a book. The Lunch Boy came over, while I was still reading and sat down at my table. After he got all situated, he said, “Mind if I sit here?” Seriously. He’s cute, and from brief conversations we’ve had before I know he’s a smart guy. I might be interested. I haven’t decided yet.

As we sat there talking, I had this strange out-of-body experience. I realized that my body language did not match what I was thinking and feeling about him at all. Not even remotely. I was thinking that I might be interested in him, while my body language said, “No. You are dangerous. Where is the nearest exit?!”

After I’d finished eating, I got up and carried my tray inside, and, as I walked back out the front door toward my office, I passed him again. I said a quick “See you later” and then continued power walking back upstairs.

As soon as I sat down in my office I had this revelation. I had just totally run away from The Lunch Boy. Like, full on RUN. Which doesn’t make sense. He’s not a mass murderer kind of guy. I don’t get the feeling that he’s the least bit dangerous. And even if he was, I’m 5’9.’’ I could totally take him down. All these illogical and self-deprecating thoughts started swirling through my head, and in that moment, I was sure that The Lunch Boy would never talk to me again.

Back at home, I called my mother, who is a psychologist. She doesn’t act as my shrink, except when I ask her to. Dr. Mom explained something that sounded very Psych 101-ish to me: that I am not physically comfortable around men because I have never had a safe man in my life to adapt to. No dad or grandpa to hug me and love me in a normal familial way. Great. Mom recommended that I get a safe guy friend to come over and cuddle with me on the couch. “And how exactly am I supposed to do that?” I asked, “How do you ask someone for that?To tell someone you need to practice holding hands?” “You just do,” she said.

Even though I knew that one particular guy would gladly help me in a completely platonic way, my heart sank. I found myself sobbing into the phone “I can’t do it.” I whispered, “I know that’s right but I can’t imagine asking someone for that.”  And though I had no idea how to overcome this deeply rooted fear, I felt a strange sense of accomplishment at having identified the problem.

In the weeks that followed, I started feeling noticeably better, to the point that my fear has subsided substantially in every day life. I’m not as afraid to ask for things that would have made me nervous before. I’ve even talked to my friend, TJ, about my problem, and he said he totally understood and would be happy to help. He even told me that he’s known amongst friends to be especially empathetic about “emotional girl stuff” and has thus been (self) dubbed “The Ambassador of Love”. That made me laugh, and I felt so much better.

As the days go by, it occurs to me that despite the fact that we all want to be ‘fixed’ before we engage in a new relationship, even though we’d like to be more whole than broken, maybe the best thing and the hardest part is just learning to identify what your issues are. Maybe that’s all you need. Healing is a process. And every new relationship, be it romantic or otherwise brings a certain new knowledge and strength.

A month or so ago, The Lunch Boy found me again. He sat down and we had a nice, normal, fun conversation. He encouraged me to pursue my interests in living overseas for awhile, and told me about his traveling experiences. The next week, I sucked up all my courage and asked him if he wanted to intentionally meet up for lunch next time. He said, “sure”. And I did a little bouncing victory dance in my office chair.

Photo credits: abetterstorystudios.com

Check out A Better Story Studios, who did these amazing photos!  Their work has a super cool look – so personal and unique – and they donate 20% of their proceeds to charity!

Also, check out Kira’s blog for more of her adventures.  You’ll find her at www.aspeckledpony.blogspot.com

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2 Responses to “Laying It On the Love Line”

  1. I’m not sure that’s quite how I remember it. Then again, I’m old and losing my mind.

    I’m just happy with whatever makes you feel better!

    -TJ

  2. Chris Cole says:
    June 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Loved your article. I love the transparency with which you write. I love how confident you are becoming. Mostly, I just love you.

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