I’m the kind of girl who will give you a handshake when you go in for a hug and give you a hug when you reach out for a handshake.
It doesn’t stop there.
I’m the kind of girl who will somehow miss your hand when going for the handshake and accidentally stare at your groin, not because I’m penile obsessed but only because I’m not supposed to stare at your groin. You’ll catch me.
When I hug you, it’s a side-hug so that my boobs don’t touch you or so that I don’t accidentally kiss you when going in for a hug. Why would I fear an accidental kiss? Because don’t underestimate that it would happen to me. Right on the lips. Maybe I’d have an epileptic seizure and accidentally tongue kiss you, too. I’ve never had one, but there’s always the possibility.
Bridget Jones was cute when she had verbal diarrhea. Why can’t I embrace my incurable awkwardness?
I stood behind him because there was no other place to stand. He left no room beside him, which was typical. Behind him, I was not in his circle of friends, but I was directly outside of it, still visible through human crevices. I didn’t feel left out. In fact, I felt a part of it. His guy friends were talking to me. The other girlfriends were all sitting along the wall discussing their bracelet-ed arms, a.k.a. arm parties, and the possibilities of near-future frozen yogurt. It’s not that I didn’t want to be a part of it, but I felt more at home laughing with the guys around the bar. It was more natural to me. I didn’t even think twice about me being the only girl who apparently didn’t know “my place.” I grew up having several guys as my best friends. There has never been a preference of gender, it just happened that way.
On the way home, his careful demeanor changed, and he said, “Why are you so awkward? It’s honestly really embarrassing.”
Immediately, my skin turned pale and my heart beat so hard that my chest lost the space it needed to breathe properly. How could this person I held up so high on a pedestal think so low of me? I had to ask.
“Do I disgust you? Because you are leaving the impression that I disgust you.”
“Yes, I have to say that you do. Why can’t you just be like the other girls?”
And that’s when I should have realized that maybe I wasn’t like those girls, at least not in the way he wanted me to be, and the right guy would appreciate me for me, but he didn’t. I was an embarrassment to him. Instead, my thoughts turned to shame. Why didn’t I have an arm party to share with them, too? Why did I not choose to sit next to them? They must think I’m a bitch and that I don’t like them. My main concern became whether I was the right kind of girl for him or the right kind of girl to have a plethora of girlfriends, and I decided I had to be both. I vowed to make more of an effort the next time.
I tried to convince him that I truly liked those girls and was sorry if he felt like I was ignoring them, but that it was just that I was honestly enjoying myself in the moment, but all he could focus on was that I had stood awkwardly outside of his circle.
The more he mentioned this, the larger that gap grew between me and the circle of men. In my mind, the room became a commons, my heartbeats creating echoes in the small space I fashioned for myself. A single dot, not a part of his geometry. Had I known I looked this way, I would have pushed my way through to form something more friendly to a growing circumference.
This awkward didn’t feel cute. It felt devastating. I was a leper to the man I admired — the man who was supposed to protect me and make me feel as though I was perfect for him just the way I am, but challenge me softly to want to do better for myself without criticism.
After turning out the lights, I lay my head on his chest and suggested a desire with my hands on his body to alter the tone. He brushed me off. I thought if I just tried harder… I kissed him and removed his shirt. He grabbed his shirt and slapped me with it repeatedly until I was breathless like the relentless rib fingering of a cousin that felt more like torture than it was meant to tickle. It didn’t hurt. It was fabric, but I’ll never forget the pain.
And that’s the very moment I gave him all the power. I remember it like I had seen a ghost, and all I thought I knew in life would be different from then on.
Justification comes in many forms when someone has power over you. It wasn’t the first time he had touched me in a way that was meant to hurt, but he hadn’t hit me. Not with his fists. I convinced myself I wasn’t in an abusive relationship. No fist contact, I had brains, I came from a good family with good morals who had many conversations about how difficult it was to understand why any person would stay in an abusive relationship. So it wasn’t happening to me.
The first and only time his fist hit my body, it wasn’t me who left. It was him. I never got the opportunity to raise my chin, take a stand, and walk away. Instead, he told me that he was leaving because he was afraid of what he might do if he stayed.
It took years to rebuild my confidence to where it was before I met him, to release myself from the shame. It didn’t take me as long to again find solace in another man’s arms but the shame was still there.
After my most recent break up, I’ve realized the solace I find will not be in the arms of another man. The solace I find is right in my very own, fumbling, awkward arms. I love those arms. And yes, it may be that one day a man will be the Mark Darcy to my Bridget Jones, but for now I’m keeping my own company.
I realized that every time I tell myself not to be awkward, I am continuing to give power to a man who is not in my life anymore.
Only he’s still there, lingering. He’s present in my negative self-talk. I would never abuse someone else, so why would I abuse myself? I want to take back my moment, the moment I so wished I would have taken before he walked away from me first. With readers as my witness, I’m walking away from him now. This is my chin-up-moment.
I may not be the kind of girl who talks arm parties in the corner of a party. I may not have an easily penetrable, predictable bubble. And I may often make mistakes. But I like myself. I’m that kind of girl.
I measure my happiness by comparing it to the time I accepted myself the most. I was eighteen, and it felt as though anything in the world was at finger-tips’ length. My confidence had never been higher, and it attracted more friends than I knew what to do with. They loved me for who I was because they saw that I had loved me for who I was. Even if it were for no other reason, I was comfortable with that. There were no apologies. I was known as the girl who was always smiling for no reason at all because I relied on no one else to give me a reason.
Again, at this juncture, I find myself a solitary dot, outside of a circle. But the gap between me and the circle doesn’t exist this time. In fact, it never did exist. Those people that matter, they are beside me, no matter of whether I’m able to step inside the circle or not. Self-love is my main companion, and anyone who comes into my life will have to share that love. Today, my smile is wide, and sometimes it’s there with no reason at all.
I’m a happy girl. The only thing that matters is, I’m that kind of girl.
Lauren a.k.a. Darlin’ teaches prepubescents how to read, write, choose kind over wrong or right, and to laugh at her lame jokes. She hopes to inspire her readers to make the most of what they have without settling for less than desired, all the while convincing herself to do the same. She currently makes mistakes in Austin, TX.