True Love, Self Love

I was recently sitting in a cabin full of my 16-year old female campers. As is usual with 16-year-olds, the topic was relationships.

The girls, most of whom I’d known and watched grow up at camp over the last six years, knew through stories I’d told them that I’d once had a boyfriend, that we’d been together seven years, and that though it was now over, I still regarded the relationship with happiness, and knew I’d been lucky to be a part of something so wonderful. This all blew their minds.

They were asking how it lasted so long (seven years is almost half their lifetimes), and how it came that something that seemed so right ended (people change over time). They also wanted to see a picture of him. I decided to let them see a couple; one of when we were teenagers, early in the relationship, and one of us later, closer to the end, closer to how we look today.

They oooh’ed and ahhh’ed: my ex was, and still is, a very attractive guy.

“How did you land that?!” They all wanted to know.

After explaining that he was certainly not a “that,” I told them the truth: I hardly “landed” that wonderful guy. We met at a birthday party. Most of the other kids there, all high schoolers like us, had dressed up a little for the party. Dresses, or nice, new jeans with button-down shirts or a fancy top. New, clean sneakers for boys and strappy sandals for girls.

I had dressed up, too. But I was (and still am, I sometimes think) an odd bird. My dressed up meant wearing my new black and blue Reebok basketball shoes, blue cargo shorts, and a neon green fuzzy spaghetti strap shirt. And my hair…oh god, my hair. My hair was in about 50 little pony tails, sticking out at every angle from my head, held together by multi-colored rubberbands, like Coolio with Skittles stuck in his hair. There was also a dogtag necklace, probably, and maybe  a dog collar…I’ll have to check the pictures.

Yes, there are pictures.

Point being, I told my girls, I was certainly not trying to do anything but be myself that night and have fun…and that was exactly what I was doing, dancing by myself on the edge of the empty dance floor, when “that” guy walked up to me and asked to dance.

Genuinely.

And we danced, and it was good. We danced, just the two of us on the floor at first, prompting other people to join. We talked while we danced. Our friends later exchanged our numbers for us, and we talked and talked and talked…and so began one of the best experiences of my life.

The 16-year-olds were flabbergasted. I looked at them as I realized something I’d honestly never, ever thought of before. Something I’d always known was true, but I didn’t know why I knew it was true; I just knew.

You really do have to just be yourself, love yourself, and live a life you love. The rest will come. That night, if “that” guy hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have been any worse for wear – I was doing me, I was being me, and I was loving it, like I had been doing and like I continued to do after that night.

I might be crazy…it’s possible. People might balk at my self-identification as a polyamorist and a slut. But I’m happy. And if someone comes along that wants to join this happiness party, kudos to them. Come over here and get on the friggin’ dance floor.

If not; that’s cool. I’mma be over here, dancin’.

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4 Comments

  1. “Skittles stuck in [her] hair.” Hah! I definitely would’ve joined both of you dancing! In fact, I too have been known to often dance by myself at places with a live band or DJ, oblivious to those around me. LOL

    Great story Shannon. Thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome! It was too good a moment not to share. I can only imagine what it’d be like if the three of us had been dancing there that night, lol!

      Reply
  2. Love this…. Some of my greatest relationships, romantic or otherwise, have happened when I was just being me.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! I once said to someone, “I have many friends who love me despite who I am, and a few friends who love me FOR who I am.” We all gotta find those few when we can.

      Reply

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