13 years old the day I was hanging out with my best guy friend after school, looking with envy on a very popular young lady whose bra size was significantly larger than my own. The guys surrounded her like bees surround a honeysuckle. I envied the attention she was receiving. I wanted them to want me like that.
I mentioned my thoughts to this guy friend of mine, telling him I wished that guys would want me like they wanted her.
"Do you want them to want you for what's in your bra, or do you want them to want you for what's in your head?"
His words were powerful then, and they are powerful now. They still echo throughout my life, reverberating and changing how I view myself and reminding me that I have so much more to offer than what is in my bra and my panties.I have a head and a heart, too.
His words lifted me up, built me up, empowered me. They were words of love, even if I didn't recognize them for what they were that day.
I was 14 years old when John Smith came into my life. I was hungry for love, filled with insecurities and doubts about my worth, wanting to be affirmed as desirable. John was cute, seemed sweet, and I sincerely believed him when he told me that he cared. I gave in to the pressure to sleep with him on the premise that he loved me.
I left for a week at my grandparents' the next day and didn't see John again that entire time. When I returned home, I went to the mall to hang out with friends. I was surprised and delighted to see John there. I snuck up behind him and put my hands over his eyes, assuming that after a week apart he'd be just as glad to see me as I was to see him. When I uncovered his eyes and he looked at me, it wasn't happiness I saw there.
He proceeded to tell me that he "needed space."
I was too stunned to know what to say. "Okay" was the best I could manage in terms of a response.
Then I took a walk around that mall and called my best guy friend - the same one who had given me such marvelous advice that past year. I told him what had happened.
He said, "What did you expect from a guy like that?"
Not very sympathetic, but I realized he was right. I'd gone after a guy who thought my greatest assets were in my bra and my panties. That guy didn't value what was in my head or my heart. Suddenly, I went from feeling broken hearted and down to being angry and on fire.
I marched right back up to John and looked him square in the face.
"You want space? You've got all the space you need. Don't call me, don't write me, don't come over to my house. I don't ever want to see you again."
And I meant it, too. It might have taken me a year for the words spoken to me by my best guy friend to sink in fully, but they were part of what lifted me up and showed me I was worth more than what I'd allowed myself to accept.
The guy who lifted me up, built me up, and empowered me? I couldn't forget him. He set himself apart from all other men in the world by the way he treated me. He showed me what real love looks like, and I couldn't let that go. I ended up marrying that man, and I'm still married to him 21 years later.
The guy who thought my greatest assets were in my bra and my panties? I'll tell you a funny story about that. Five years later he was at a party with a friend of mine. The two of them were drunk. John was crying into his beer - literally - telling my friend I was the best thing that had ever happened to him and he'd let me get away.
I'd become unforgettable to him because I wasn't like the other girls he was used to stringing along. I was worth something, and I knew it. I knew, because someone reminded me, that I was worth more than that. And so I refused to allow him to treat me as worthless.
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