I was insecure. I was always chubby, and I was always the outcast. Combined with my depression, I felt worthless. I know our parents try to teach us that our worth is not determined by what boys are interested in us, but as a teenager with massive insecurity problems, and watching all the guys you like fall for your friends, it becomes difficult not to judge yourself by that.
Even though as a Christian, I believed that the Bible is the Word of God and the word says that we are all special, and all worth something in the eyes of God, I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see anything past the fact that I was undesirable.
When college hit, things weren’t much different. The first guy I had a crush on after starting realized it, and instead of just telling me he wasn’t interested, set up a scenario that left me publicly embarrassed at one of our pub nights. A couple months later, he accepted a bet to hook up with me, because I “looked hotter” after allowing a friend to dress me and do my makeup.
From there it was a spiral. The more my self-esteem plummeted, the more I turned to alcohol, the more I lost all sense of worth.
Between first and second year, I lost quite a bit of weight, cut my hair and things seemed to change. First, guys started to notice me and hit on me. My boyfriend at the time had just dumped me, but it seemed like there was no shortage of interest from other guys. I was learning that looking hot = receiving attention.
But then, as I started seeing some of these guys, they made it very clear they were only interested if I put out. That my worth, to them, was determined by looking hot and doing stuff for them. I started seeing one of those guys regularly, and after a few weeks, he started telling me this wouldn’t last long unless I did more. I didn’t want to, but I wanted to feel wanted. So I got drunk, and I did what he asked. This carried on for a few months, until I confessed to him that I couldn’t sleep with him. It was the one thing that I couldn’t convince myself to do, no matter how drunk I got. Call it guilt, call it the Spirit’s nudge, call it what you will; I couldn’t do it.
I never heard from him again. We had the same friends, lived at the same residence, but as far as he was concerned, I no longer existed. Even when I was working the front desk and he was required to show me his residence card, he pretended I wasn’t there and blew past me.
From there, the spiralling grew worse. Being one of a few ‘attractive’ girls on a very nerdy website, I suddenly became insanely popular online. I talked to the guys who showed interest; I did what they asked to momentarily feel wanted, to feel like I was worth something. I felt even worse afterwards, but I kept going back because for a moment, I felt special. It was like a drug.
The guys I actually got involved with were no better. The final one I got involved with in college was awful. He had told me that he couldn’t foresee a relationship with someone who wouldn’t have sex with him, so desperate to still feel like I was worth it, I asked for some time. I had been raised with the idea sex before marriage was wrong, and it wasn’t something I could just turn off.
He told me, if I wouldn’t sleep with him, I wasn’t worth anything. And good luck finding someone to love me.
I shattered. I spent the next four days drunk in New York, trying to numb the pain.
Over the next year, as my bipolar worsened, and the guy I fell for had eyes for nearly every girl but me, I started to doubt that I would ever find love, or worth. I would spend nearly every night watching chick flicks then crying myself to sleep wondering why I could never be that girl. I was the textbook definition of pathetic and desperate.
One day, I got sick of it. I got sick of believing the lies, sick of feeling like crap about myself, sick of letting whether or not a guy was interested in me determine my worth.
In November of 2009, I decided I was done. I made a vow that I wouldn’t start dating again until I could feel value without a man. I also needed to start sticking to my standards, and not allow them to be altered just because of a guy. And I needed to believe that if this desire to one day be a wife was so heavy on my heart, that I would one day meet someone, as God would not put a desire so strong on me if he didn’t intend to fulfil it.
I needed to be able to redirect my emotions, my fears and my hopes into something that could prevent me from plummeting further. That day, I decided that I would start a journal, and write to my future husband, and God, about everything – from the struggles I was facing, to the hopes I had for him and for our future.
It was awkward and hard at first, but then, it became familiar to me; it became a comfort. When I was hurting and lonely, I wrote to God, expressing my feelings. When I was wishing someone would be in my life, and feeling unloved, I wrote to my future husband. He became a presence in my life, even though he wasn’t there yet.
By the time I met my now husband, I was honestly a changed woman. Part of that was obviously due to growing up, but a large part was because of those letters, and because of how they helped me change not only how I viewed myself, but how I viewed love and life as well.
Now, six years later, I’m married to an amazing man. A man who is more incredible than I could have ever imagined, and who made those years of letter writing worth it. Last Christmas, I gave him the letters as a Christmas gift. As we read through some of them, it was incredible to see how some of the strangest, and oddest things I wrote came to fruition; including the list of all the qualities I had hoped to find in him (down to silly ones that were put in more for my amusement!).
Starting next Saturday (with the blessing of my husband), I will be starting a weekly series where I will be sharing those letters, in the hopes that maybe someone else can benefit from them.