Confessions of a Commitment Phobe Nerd Who Got Engaged
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
In elementary school, I only had a couple friends, no inclination for sports, a penchant for Cher Horowtiz skirt suits and straight A’s. But I still thought I was pretty rad.
From grades four to six I may have lusted and obsessed over a secret crush, full of hope and faith that before grade eight graduation we’d be together (like Ross and Rachel). It all came crashing down during one of those fateful dance-a-thons. You know the one: half-empty gym, past-his-prime DJ, colourful strobe lights and Venga Boys on blast.
As I resumed my go-to spot against the wall during the never-ending slow songs, a couple of popular girls figured out the identity of my crush and asked him to dance on my behalf. It was like watching a train wreck slash outer body experience. BUT a tiny part of me was excited that the cat was out of the bag, two years early! Hoping for good news, obviously.
Unfortunately, his face was aghast with horror and he backed away, hands up like he was under arrest. The reality of his reaction slowly sunk in and I ran to the bathroom with a hot face and shaking body, willing the tears to wait until I could take cover in a stall.
And I think that was the moment when I started to feel not quite “good enough”.
The memory haunted me for years and could bring me to tears, as silly and minor as it sounds now. I never wanted to experience that kind of public humiliation or rejection again. So I focused on achievements and working hard because I could control it and feel good about myself (Lord knows I couldn’t trade on my looks).
After a couple more puppy love heartbreaks in my teens, I put my fragile heart on lockdown and threw away the key. I didn’t know how to receive love and I didn’t know how to give it (to my self or to anyone else). I made romantic decisions with my head or out of pure infatuation, both mild recipes for disaster. I went along with almost any boy who would have me, grateful for the opportunity. Some men were even kind enough to point out why I was doomed to die alone (often after I rejected THEM).
Until “unlucky-in-love” became part of my identity, a twisted badge of honour. I was the token single friend with the crazy, entertaining and sometimes sad stories (I do love making people laugh). I became addicted to self-help everythang, convinced that if I could fix the broken parts of me, I’d be in a position to attract the kind of person I wanted to be.
When I first met Vito, at the tender age of 25, I was adamantly against dating him. He must have frightened my ego, fighting to cling to the familiar. I judged him before I knew him, sticking him in the boring Italian pile with the others. He didn’t have charismatic swagger. He wasn’t artsy or a world traveller. But after Match.com brought us back together two years ago (I still dreaded online dating), he wore me down and we started dating.
For a couple of weeks I felt sheer TERROR when I realized I was HAPPY. I promptly focused on all the small things that weren’t perfect and criticized him to death until we were done like dinner. Self sabotage reigned supreme, even after the psychic told me we were twin flames.
But Vito came back because he’s resilient like that. And always felt sure. He saw my light and focused on it. He tried to understand my point of view. He gave me space to be neurotic and put up defenses. He held me without judgment when I cried because they threw out all the chicken at the Portuguese takeout place one minute before I got there (#thestruggleisreal). He treated me with respect and looked at me with love in his eyes. Vito was the first boy I didn’t want to change (the second time around), though nothing and no one is perfect.
So after an emotional roller coaster and epic pondering last summer in Greece, I finally gave up on the old stories and familiar emotions like loneliness, despair, self-loathing and self-pity. Choosing love was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Have any of you experienced the same?
I brought Vito to Greece this summer, despite my family’s protests of unbetrothed village scandal. I wanted him to meet my grandmother and that desire trumped the risk of bringing a third boy to Greece who may not be forever. I started crying out of nowhere just after midnight on the 2nd night of our trip, in a beautiful resort outside of Athens. I told Vito that he was going to break up with me by the end of the trip, once he saw all the ways I could sabotage fun and relaxation, completely disoriented outside my Toronto bubble. The flaws my Exes saw would surely be impossible to hide and impossible for him to ignore.
He told me that was the craziest thing I’ve ever said.
Two days later Vito proposed on the beach just after sunset, during a mini-getaway. It was the last night of Mercury Retrograde (yay) and the (almost) full moon had popped out from behind the mountain, catching us both by surprise. He picked that day for a few reasons, but mainly so we could tell my grandparents in person before leaving for Malta. It was a private, simple and heartfelt proposal, again not quite what I pictured (I was also very much in my head).
Upon hearing the news, Papou beamed from ear to ear and set out on foot to spread the word. Yia yia was pretty happy too, having pressured me every day for the past 5 years to get hitched. EVEN IF she has no recollection of our visit (her mind is going), she was present in that moment and we’ll always remember…
And the funny thing is, I would have had the biggest crush on Vito in elementary school.
Advice to Anyone who may be Struggling with Love:
Not that I’m a qualified expert, but no matter! Here are some well-intentioned words of wisdom…
Timing is everything and you are on your own journey so try as hard as you can NOT to compare yourself to others or let fear run your choices (been there big time sista).
Also it’s impossible to ruin the right thing – you will get a second or fifth chance. So don’t worry but also, try not to be an asshole.
Forgive yourself for all your bad decisions, indiscretions, perceived and real shortcomings. Do the shadow work. Give the gift of closure to yourself for any unhealed endings. Write the letters, burn the sage, tune in and host the make-believe dialogues. Hold space for the inevitable EX dreams (and delete your search history trying to decode them, LOL but actually).
Deconstruct limiting beliefs around love. Not all the good people are taken. Commitment doesn’t need to represent stagnation or loss of freedom or changing who you are. It doesn’t have to be the ending…it CAN be the beginning.
When you are ready, make that clear to the universe/your soul, as things can change very quickly from there. Be open to being wrong. Be open to meeting someone in an unexpected way and having him or her look a little different too.
Above all, know that you are perfectly lovable just the way you are. In your ugliest physical state, in your ugliest emotional state, when you play small. There is someone who still finds you pretty cute in those moments and will stand by you through it all (including your success).
Promise to be open to feeling joy and excitement for where you are right now and for where you’ll go. Because joy can be the hardest part…even after you’ve met “the one”.
Here’s to continuing on the journey of life, imperfectly as we are.