To Be or Not To Be....

Carrie Bradshaw says to look for someone who loves the you that you love.

When I was almost twenty-one, I got married. I was a beautiful and glowing bride at seven months pregnant. hehehe
It's true, I had a fantastic body. I didn't know it then, but I did. When my groom-to-be met me he was just amazed that he could reel in such a catch! We dated for two years. During that time, there were a number of red flags. He would often try to coax me to do things and be things that I didn't want to do or be. I was young. I probably thought this was normal. But inside, I knew it wasn't good. His frustrations grew and they manifested in his taking opportunities to be cruel and controlling. He would try to get me to do demeaning things. Not extreme or sexual or anything, just things that would sort of let me know that I was lesser and he was greater. Put me in my place. I had a strong upbringing and none of this set well with me. But I would do them. I suppose in hopes that by doing them I'd prove my love and he'd stop or whatever reasons people come up with to put up with abuse. Again, let me remind, this is when abuse is at its very infancy, but abuse is never to be taken lightly. Or so I know now. Let me give you an example.

One day, I think it was Thanksgiving, we were all at his parents' house (he lived there, too) and he and his sister's boyfriend decided to go skiing. So they did. They had a great time. When they got home, he said to me, "Go out and get my skis off of the car." I laughed, because I was sure he was joking. He didn't laugh. And he had a very stern look on his face. I said, "What? Why?" He said, "Because I want you to."
I looked around for help from someone. They all just stared, dumfounded. So, I just went out and did it. I am sure that this is the first time in my life that I felt real humiliation.
It's also the first time in my life I denied the adage, "To thine own self be true." Little thing, big mistake.
He continued to do little things like this from time to time. I really didn't get the deep reason why until many, many years later. And that is yet another story. But for now, I use thise to talk about some of the more normal problems this causes in a relationship.

After we had dated the two years, I broke up with him. I went on a trip to Cape Cod to spend the summer with a girlfriend of mine whose grandmother had a beach house there. Was a great trip. Many things learned. Now my figure has never been slim. I've always been curvy. And at age nineteen that summer, my weight was probably around 130. I was (and am) 5'4". Well my friend and I found a very meager host in her grandmother (or, should I say, step-grandmother) and we spent a good deal of the time very hungry. I got down to around 118. And then we started eating like starving people and drinking LOTS of beer. By the time I got back home, I weighed around 150. When I arrived, this boyfriend I had broken up with wanted me back immediately. He begged and begged. So, well my stupid young heart was far too inexperienced to know what a trap it was. I got pregnant and then he convinced me to marry him. I don't really remember how. But I know it was important to him to do the right thing. This was the rightest thing he could think of. He joined the Navy (left for bootcamp two weeks after the wedding) and the baby was born a month or so later (he was still in boot camp).
You can imagine, this didn't help my struggling weight. But in all fairness, I didn't gain a lot of weight during the pregnancy, and in just a few months, I didn't look at all like a woman who had just given birth. So I didn't look bad. However, he thought I did. Very much so. I'm afraid this is all too common for men to feel this way about their wives/girlfriends who have babies. Now, there are many movie stars and models who will make it clear to the world that there is no reason to have childbearing affect your figure at all! (Thank god, that fad is passing for the moment ~ good girl, Jen!)

So, to make this long story longer...
What happens next? Does he just suck it up and say, oh well, she's my wife and I'm stuck with her? Or does he tell her that he needs her to care more about her appearance (oh and don't forget to add health)?

*heavy sigh*

Here's what I think. I don't like either of those choices. I've learned to love the honest approach. And settle for nothing less. Aha, you say! Honesty requires him to tell her he's not attracted to a fat-ass woman! This is not the honesty of which I speak. I'm talking about honesty with his own self. I think it's just plain wrong to get involved with or marry a person you don't want. Obviously, I was no small thing. Trouble is, this man likes the starved look on a woman. He likes small hips. Small everything. If you could see my hips, you'd realize how asinine it is that he even asked me out! They are not small, they never were and they never will be!
So rather than admit to himself that he just doesn't like my kind of woman, he tortured me for it over the years. He even argued that all men want slim women and that no man would be attracted to me. Now there's a fun strategy.
Unfortunately for him, there were plenty of men (most of them his friends) who were attracted to me. Very attracted. Most of them approached me at least once and said, "Leave this bum and go out with me!" (Especially when I got into aerobics and bicycle riding and boy! did I look good! It's scary how good I looked! ~ he would just say, "Aerobics every day? Try twice a day.")
To these "friends" I would reply, "Yeah.. sure you like me now, but what about in ten years? You'll be just like him." And I wasn't kidding. I really believed that.

So what keeps us from being honest? I mean he struggled for so many years just TRYING to convince me that I needed to change my appearance so he could want me. He fluctuated between trying to be the right kind of man and just look at the good things about me and cheating on me with women he did want. All of this killing his own soul. What the hell? Didn't he know where the door was?
Of course he knew. He just felt that divorce was the wrong thing. He was all about the right thing. (See how warped we are about the right thing?)

I don't want the right thing. I want the true thing. I don't want a man who settles for me because I have some good qualities, so he'll just do his best to accept the rest. That isn't what I wanted him to be.
I want a man who can appreciate who I am, in all aspects. It's true, I don't look at all like a model. But I'm damn good lookin. And, even though I am MUCH heavier than I ever was when I was married to him, I still have a great figure. I'm fit (still work out every day) and active and healthy and sexy and I have a passel of men who will confirm this, if you don't believe me. But what if I weren't? What if I were homely and sickly? What if the only qualities I had to offer were substantial emotional support and a great and interesting mind and creativity that has no bounds and love and acceptance that is immeasurable? How then would I want to settle for a man who says,
"I know.. I love those things about you and I don't even care that you are homely." I say nay. A man who really appreciates the things that make me who I am, will certainly never see me as homely. Or fat. Or inferior in any way.

Is this an ideal that lives in no man? I say nay again. I know many men like this. If you don't have one, then girls, go get one! And I say the same is true in the reverse. I think it's time to be honest with ourselves and not drag another soul down with us into our own desperate darkness of discontentment and all the while call it righteousness.

19 comments:

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

I believe we live two lives: The first life is the life we learn who we are with, and this usually lasts until about age 30-35. And the second life is the life we live with.

I married my girlfriend when I was in my mid twenties because she wanted to get married. I was a stupid kid and didn't know anything about things like romance and love. I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I married her.

Fortunately, she is absolutely wonderful in every way and since we married I have been slowly falling in love with her.

Now, I truly love her deeply. But you are right in that, Honesty is very, very important. I wasn't honest with myself and it could have turned out horribly. I was lucky.

I learned something from it though, and I will carry that with me to my death, and hopefully (please Goddess) into my next life. But it's like I suggested, we live two lives. The life I live with is the one I'm on now... I'd like to think.

Always!
Jas...

Becka said...

I have to keep reminding myself that you are relaying your own story and not mine. So many things our lives have in common.
Maybe one day I can grow up to be just like you.

Melinda said...

I have also been in an abusive relationship or should I say relationships. First I looked good. Because I weighed like 100 lbs when we got married but after I have a couple kids. It was Kinda hard for me to lose the weight. I finally did. But It took a long time. But One of my husbands told me that If I got fat he would find something better. What Kind of love is that. Oh well, I've got plenty of stories in this area. So I'll stop for now.

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

what a great story..

i got married a month shy of my 20th birthday. Been married nearly 12 years now..gosh that makes me 28 right..hehe

sometimes we marry the right one on our first try, sometimes we dont:)

I had a rockin body at that age too..:)

starry nights said...

Teri..I am glad you learned what kind of person he ws. some people never learn and stay in relationships like that and are abused. I think verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, words can be used as weapons. I think he should love you for who you are, he should see the inside. its good to be trim to stay healthy. but it is wrong of him to say he likes slim girls. all men are not like that.It is good to be honest with yourself. You were so young and did not know.what happens as we grow older and dont have the figure and face when we were younger , does he look beyond that. I hope so. one cannot look or be young forever.I admire your courage and strength to get out of a relationship like that.I dont think any man should belittle a woman.

Maisha said...

wow...i dont even know what to say.leaves me re-thinking my position and asking myself lots of questions...

cathouse teri said...

redneck nerdie boy: Your messages are always so rich. Thanks for that.

becka bug: You know I love you, girl!

Miss Bossy Pants: Thanks, rockin' mama! :)
We all did... have rockin' bodies. Point is, not to look back at those days as, "oh my... didn't I look good then!" but to look at how much better we look now. Better in a different way. A man who doesn't know that kind of beauty in a woman, is not the man for me.

Starry Eyes: Well don't be too proud of me, I stayed in that abusive relationship for twenty years! But thanks for the encouraging words. ;)


Maisha darling: Rethinking is certainly always good. Especially in the area of tying yourself to a person for what is to be a lifetime.

cathouse teri said...

I know it looks like I skipped Melinda, but that is just your imagination. :)

Okay fine... Melinda Princess... I'm with ya, babe! We've got a lot to talk about!

BarnGoddess said...

yes, rednecknerdboy is so RIGHT on this issue.

You have became a woman to be proud of :)

Andrew said...

It is amazing that you have gained so much insight from life, and sad that the learning caused so much pain along the way. Thanks for sharing.

Andrew

cathouse teri said...

Is there a way to learn without pain?

I do hope not to sound like I've had it too rough. For every awful thing that's happened to me, I've had double the joyful things.

I think if you love life, it will love you right back!

Miss 1999 said...

You're right, there are no perfect men- but don't ever settle for less than what you need- and NEVER accept any abuse, from ANY man.

Susiebadoozie said...

once again i'm late to the party, but regardless i've got lots to share. this is a very profound subject for all of us, women and men alike. what i've noticed is that many times, the woman will have a great bod, and the guy she's with is out of shape and flabby.

and i think the reason for this is just as you mentioned, its possible that only one of them is concerned, or worried about their looks. and how often is it the man who is festering over his appearance? hardly ever.

i want to know why. i want to know why it is the woman who hates getting old. who put this notion into our heads. who programmed us to be so disgusted with ourselves, when we look over and see the beer gut next to us.

in my own life, i've always been thin. there were times i was way too thin. and trust me, i got noticed. my first husband never really had an opinion on anything i did or wore. he just didn't. i don't know why. he rarely ever said i looked good, or i was hot, or whatever. so the weight at that point was just me, being hard on myself.

i gained some weight before i had dylan and had some extra after he was born. i noticed men did not look at me anymore, then, i lost the weight, exercised tons, and i got really thin again and i got noticed. a lot.

still hubby number one didn't really care. but hubby number two did. he noticed. lots. and he fell in love or lust, with the skinny, hot momma that shopped in his store. and you guessed it. i thrived on his attentions. i ate it up like cake.

well, we got married. the marriage sucked, he sucked and i sucked. i got depressed, more so than ever, and i went on medication. i gained weight. i weigh more now that i ever have. he used to make comments about my hot ass, and my flat stomach. and after i gained weight he stopped. he just didn't comment. i knew why, i'm not stupid, and i beat myself up about my weight. i walked 5 miles a day for a YEAR and nothing changed. i didn't lose one ounce.

well, he's gone now, and i'm slowly, ever so slowly realizing that my weight is not an issue. its my attitude ABOUT myself thats the issue. i'm accepting that my weight is where it should be!! my weight is a HEALTHY weight, and when i see pictures of myself skinny? i look SICK. i'm begining to really like myself just like i am. curvy. and guess what? i get looked at ALL THE FREAKIN TIME. by all of them young old and alike.

i've never been able to be confident enough to admit to myself but you now what? i'm a hottie. i'm the hottest mom in dylans class. and i'm happy about that. it rocks cause i'm old!! and because i'm beautiful just like i am.

i can truly appreciate that a man who finds me beautiful right now, nearing 40 yrs old, a little curvy is THE MAN that will prove he loves me because i'm me.

and if that man has extra pounds i won't even bat an eye. what i'll notice is how he feels about himself how he treats me and what sort of personality he has. yes i like hot men just like the next girl? but i don't want to marry one. cause most of them know they're hot and they have the tude to go with it. and i'm not into that anymore. i'm into people who accept themselves because just like you said, if they don't accept themselves, they'll never accept me.

thanks for the chance to spew this. i love that you're still blogging. keep it up, this is such fun.

hugs to you ms. tericat

Dona said...

Carrie Bradshaw is right and so are you, Ms Teri!

Love your opennesss, insight, willingness to face reality and clear warmth.

Good work, please keep at it.

Jenn said...

I can't tell you how much I wanted to cry when I read this. I had a husband much like the man you speak of. When I would go for a slice of pizza or some ice cream, he would grunt and say, "Do you really think you need to be eating that?"

Damn right I was going to eat it.

I've always been on the heavy side, but I've never had any trouble getting a date. Regardless of my size, I am a funny, amazing and sexy chick.

There's good honesty and bad honesty. Good honesty: "Honey, I love you no matter what, but if you want to lose weight, I will support and help you."

Bad honesty: "Why don't you just put that donut directly on your ass, cuz that's where it's gonna end up anyway."

Turtle Guy said...

I've been pressed for a marriage proposal twice. Both times were "ultamatum" style.

BIG RED FLAG HERE!!! AND IT READ

"Run far, Run Fast!"

...and so I did... as fast as my turtle-legs would carry me!

It just has to feel right. If not, see above.

Gary said...

He was young, immature and stupid. Hopefully he has wised up just a little bit. If not, then he is paying the price.

That was a great post. You have a lot of insight into yourself and others.

I hope you are having a nice week.

Big Ben said...

great post, very real. Some times you don't know what the right or what the true thing is!

Jay said...

Truth is a great ideal, but in the heat of the moment, how many of us are capable of it? Truth seems to be the thing that comes after the mistake far too often.