I spent the first twenty-nine years of my life in a black hole of extreme emotional pain. Unrelenting depression was all I knew–it was my identity. Crying every day was my norm and I suffered from anorexia, drug abuse, cutting, and other destructive behaviors. It was only when I focused my energy on someone else that I was able to open my soul and figure out who I am: a woman worthy of the love being offered to her. I never thought I would have that in my life.
Ten years ago, I was painfully shy and had a very hard time making friends. I had been bullied for as long as I could remember and had self-esteem so low, I kind of gave up on trying to initiate friendships. Something had to be wrong with me…I just assumed I was blind to whatever the rest of the world saw. No one (other than my family) had ever loved me as much as I loved them and I was certain it would always be that way. What changed?
A few years ago, I decided that remaining a wallflower certainly wasn’t making my life any happier and being shy was getting me nowhere. I made a conscious decision that I was going to speak to 5 strangers every day. It started with pretending to be cheerful when I spoke to the bus driver every morning. Then I decided to sit in the front row every day in class and answer as many questions as I could…which was really fun when they were hot, nerdy TA’s (I love nerds). As I became more outgoing, my entire personality changed, I had more confidence, and I became more open-minded regarding relationships.
Ten years ago, I would have run for the hills after being asked out by a man 16 years my senior with two preteens…but interacting so often with different age groups and types of individuals showed me there is a lot of commonality despite age gaps and the differences give your interactions so much more color.
I give my boyfriend so much credit for my having emotional stability for the first time in my life and showing me what real love is. I still cry every day…but only grateful, happy tears. I finally have a lot of hope for a blissful ending with someone incredible, a man I love more than words…what’s more, I know I deserve it.