The Audacity of Loving an Ugly Duckling

4thgrade

A friend who I really only know through Facebook posted a few pics of the “new” her that were so striking that I felt compelled to encourage her with a comment. What I said was “You look great! I hope your mind has followed.” She’s someone who I know has struggled because she’s been pretty honest and open about how she feels. Some of it is easily just the rites of passage that all of us go through in our twenties. But some of it is that extra tweak of damage I recognize because it reminds me of me. So naturally I root for her from afar.
I grew up a pretty ugly kid. Nerdy on top of that. And an introvert. With a big brain and an uncool depth of feeling. In short, I was fucked. When I turned 18 and got clean I miraculously went from ugly duckling to stoner punk rock swan. Only I had no idea that I had. I saw myself through the same filter I always had, only now girls started to pay attention to me. Which I thought was weird, but I sure wasn’t going to ignore my good fortune. Unfortunately my mind didn’t keep up with my improved outer appearance and I played from the perspective that I still suck but I’m smart and charming and as long as I’m good in bed you’ll hang out for awhile.
For the next 30 years.
I made a LOT of messes. Aimed for women who I had no business falling for. Managed to never get shot. (and I don’t make that statement for dramatic color) Pushed away lovers who were probably actually great, loving, loyal people for the very reason that they were just those things. And handed my heart on a platter to lovers who were no more capable of receiving it responsibly than I was at staying.
I finally broke at just under 40 years old.
I spent the next two years doing absolutely nothing romantically inclined and sought outside help. I’d dug as far as I could with the steps. They weren’t designed for this shit. But they DID give me the basic honesty and self awareness to be able to flip all my cards face up with a professional so *they* could put them in an order that made sense and receive new tools to heal my psyche. Learning to apply those ideas and skills was sometimes graceless. But it was exciting and it required me to step radically outside my comfort zone. Frankly I was all for it.
My 40’s became bar none, the best decade of my life by a long stretch. At 43 I was brushing my teeth one morning when it dawned on me that I was a pretty good looking guy. It was quite literally the first time I’d had that thought. My mind caught up to my outsides – just in time to get deathly ill for about 4 straight years, culminating in the loss of my leg. During that stretch of repeated tastes of “almost dead” fear drove me back to all my old ways in spades. But I wasn’t that ugly, introverted, awkward kid anymore. My mind actually had caught up, though at the expense of another relationship and long friendship.
It’s funny, having a fake leg hasn’t rendered me ugly. If anything it’s emboldened me. It no longer matters to me whether I’m attractive or not. Because I am clearly not my body. I am the thoughts I act on. I am the kindness I show others that no one knows about. I am a kid blowing raspberries in my wife’s belly while she squeals in equally childlike laughter and redoubles her feisty efforts to pin me. She thinks I’m hot and it makes me smile because it just isn’t important anymore. Staying and appreciating a fellow good, kind, loyal soul as my partner is what matters.
So I have great hopes for my Facebook friend. Because it took that guy to become this guy. I’m rooting for her.

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Speaking of the Unspeakable

voodoo-dolls-wallpaper

I think almost every woman I’ve ever encountered rants about trust – with their eyes ready to be narrowed and an almost imperceptible head roll that warns you to keep your mouth shut. It’s almost a sort of bonding ritual. And it binds them all to continue to mistrust. We all dutifully hang our heads because we’ve all been untrustworthy before and they think “mmhmm. Another douchebag.” at which point we’re second guessed forever because we have a penis, or immediately fucked. Or both. It’s an exhaustive Sisterhood cult thing that no one is allowed to say anything to. Because we’re all guilty. 
It also doesn’t give us permission to rise above our pasts, or the past of the jerk who was jumping up and down shouting “HI!!! I’M A BAD BOY!!! THROW EVERYTHING YOU ARE INTO ME TO PROVE YOU’RE LOVABLE EVEN THOUGH I’M OBVIOUSLY NOT INTERESTED IN GOING THERE!!!” …or something like that. 
Stop it. As long as the bonding through the Coven of Unjustly Brokenhearted keeps up there is no looking at what’s really happening that could change EVERYTHING…
Take some time.
Reboot your relationship with yourself.
Take baby steps getting reacquainted with your intuition.
Because somewhere along the way of redoubling your efforts at loving the bad old way it got misaligned and not to be trusted because you needed Sir Dumptruck to stay. So you batted that little voice down that told you he was full of shit. Traded away another piece of integrity for his presence. Now, horribly askew, you growl at anything wearing brown cowboy boots and are annoyingly repulsed by and drawn to varying versions of the same old shit.
Make friends with yourself again – or for the first time.
In an alternate universe – right next to you – people trust until you give them reason not to and it’s not a reflection on their worth or value. Because they like themselves.