Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Feel So (Un)Pretty

I woke up early this morning and felt the left side of my nose and started crying. I had extensive reconstructive surgery on the inside of my nose and sinus' yesterday afternoon to fix parts of my nasal cartilage that had structurally collapsed and were causing me several health issues. The surgery naturally had caused one side of my nose to be swollen and unsymmetrical from the other.

My nose is something that I'm already super insecure about due to life long bullying from my peers (all of whom I can still tell you their names and what names they called me; fatty, ugly, big nose) starting in junior high and all the way up to college.

I cried to my parents telling them if my nose doesn't heal normally, then I have to get plastic surgery. My nose is already hideous to me when it's symmetrical, the thought of it being deformed is unbearable.

For me, the nose is just the tip of the iceberg. I've dealt with severe body image issues since I was 12 years old. My brother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2000. At the time, there wasn't much conversation going on medically about mental illness. My parents freaked out and sought treatment for me as well, not fully understanding how mental illness works. I was put on the same medication my brother was on and I gained 50 lb. as a side effect of the medicine. I am NOT bipolar we quickly found out, and as a result of being on medication I didn't need, it caused a spike in depression and irritability.

I battled weight issues through middle school up to my sophomore year of high school. I endured bullying from not only classmates, but my own siblings at times. I developed a very negative perception of myself and had a very distorted view of what I looked like.

I began a crazy crash diet/work out routine and dropped close to 40 lb. within a month. I would be on the treadmill or elliptical for an hour and a half a day burning at least 1,500 calories. I was anorexic and bulimic. It became an obsession that it took help from friends and family to overcome, and even now I struggle with extreme insecurities and body image issues because of it.

An interview I did a while back on my struggles with being a guy who suffered from an eating disorder:

In addition to my insecurities with my weight and my nose, I struggle with the way I look.

The first time I was ever told I was attractive or good looking by someone that wasn't related to me or an old lady in the ward congregation was by my first girlfriend at 18 years old. She told me and I literally thought she was messing with me because I didn't see how anyone could find me appealing or attractive at all. I've always felt like and been the nice guy that finished last. Never the "crushee" or "boyfriend", always the "great friend" or "crusher."

My insecurities have seemingly gotten worse lately and I literally have imaginary lines drawn all over my face with notes on what I would want to do to change and improve my looks such as orbital reshaping, ears pinned back, nose job, cheek revision, chin sculpting.

I can't tell you how many times I've been told that "David you're such a great guy, I'm just not attracted to you." There are things you get used to, and that is definitely not one of them. I've had my heart broken and stepped on so many times because it's been alluded to that I wasn't an option to someone because I wasn't better looking. It's the worse feeling in the world and just makes you want to climb into a hole and die.

I write this not to seek attention or obtain sympathy, but to raise awareness. Everyone has feelings and insecurities, guys included. Not only that, but viewing someone as unattractive or ugly does not take away their feelings or the fact that they are a human being. It hurts no matter who says it and where it's coming from.

Watch your words, you never know how damaging and hurtful they really are, even if you think someone is strong enough for them.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

What No One Tells You About Being Mormon And Single At 25

I graduated from BYU-I back in April. I turned 25 in August. 25. I'm now five years from 30. When the crap did I get so old?

To the outside world, 25 is fairly young. You're normal if you're not yet married. It's not a big deal.

In Mormon culture, it's a much different story. My parents married at 20 and by the time they were my age, they had two kids and a third on the way. I don't even have a dog.

BYU-I is a Church school notorious for short engagements and quick marriages. Everyone jumps on the marriage train even if they barely know someone. There's a reason its unofficial name is BYU-I-Do and most common major for women is a MRS degree.

To say the least, my accomplishment of graduating without marrying someone (yet alone steadily dating one person) is fairly impressive.

I was prepared to not marry at school. My major being what it was and my tendency to avoid any girl who couldn't form a coherent sentence without speaking at a tone that cause dogs to howl or using like as every other word; it was bound to happen.

I was prepared to move to Texas and start my new life.

I was prepared for new people and new experiences. 

What was I not prepared for? The loneliness.

The nice thing about being married is that you this person stuck with you all the time. They're home when you come home at the end of the day. They're there to drive you crazy, to hold you when you cry, or to chase you around the house with a water gun.

I didn't realize how alone I felt until moving back to Texas. Friends at school who had gotten married forget about you all together because they have their own lives and families to provide for. Single friends, unless you live by them, sadly tend to forget about you. I've never felt so alone as times when I've gone days without having a non-school-or-work related conversation with someone who was not part of my family.

Then there's the whole intimacy part of it. I'm 25, so of course there's sex. But it's so much more than that, it's the idea of being mentally, emotionally, spiritually AND physically close to someone. Humans are meant to physically touch each other, and I'm not talking about sexually here. I'm talking about hugs, sitting close to each other, and cuddling on the couch. The human fetus spends on average nine months in the warmth of it's mother's womb, feeling the comfort of her heartbeat and voice. Then for the first crucial years of life, babies are held constantly. There's a reason the fetal position is called the fetal position, it's our natural subconscious position of comfort. 

I've found myself over the last 6 months aching for connection. My body and heart literally aching to be close to someone, to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel peace.

It has become so frustrating and disconcerting to me that I'm so alone. I crave that companionship that so many others have. There are literally no foreseeable potentials here for me which makes it that much harder. Then you add in the continuous message from Church culture to get married, and see everyone who is happy and married... Sometimes it just gets to you. Sometimes it's just too much.

In the Church you're taught since you exit the womb that you're going to go to BYU and get married and then you'll have 12 kids together (never ever ever ever, like ever) and live happily ever after. What you're not taught, is what to do when you don't fit the mold. When you enter uncharted territory and there's no set sunday school answer to rely on.

I was baptized, I earned my Eagle Scout award, I received both priesthoods, I went to the temple, I served a mission, I went to BYU, why am I not married yet? What did I do wrong? What's wrong with me? Where's my happiness? Why can't I have someone? Why do I have to be alone?

I've struggled with depression and doubt. I've struggled with anger and sadness. I've been angry at God and more than once found myself shaking my fist at the heavens. I've cried more tears than I knew to be humanly possible.

I came home at the end of a bad day-not that terrible, but a day where you feel like it's the straw that broke the camel's back or I'm-going-to-eat-an-entire-gallon-of-ice-cream; and I was in tears. I was exhausted and hopeless. I messaged my friend Danielle and voiced my troubles. She listened like the champ she is, and then offered me these sincere pearls of wisdom:

"She's out there. And she's probably looking in the mirror on nights like tonight wondering where you are and thinking, 'He's missing it. He's missing my life. Where is he?' I thought that for years. She's out there David, I know she is. Can't you feel it? I could. When I was quiet, I knew there was someone--I just didn't know who or where or when. 

"I think love and marriage and sexual satisfaction in that relationship have much more to do with true charity, the bond you have with another human, and the connection of your two souls than other non-important superficial things. She's out there doing her thing wishing she could share her life with you already. I mean, hey, maybe she's not a member and the Lord is working with her, bringing her slowly to that point so that she will someday embrace the gospel and you and think, 'What did I ever see in Maggie Gyllenhaal's geeky brother?' It could happen.

"In all seriousness, though, when you're really still and listen, don't you feel that the Lord's plan for you includes a wife and children? I can totally see that for you. I see you totally happy in the future with new stresses and worries but this time with a wife and kids. And seriously David, med school and residency suck for you and your wife. I've watched it firsthand with two siblings and many friends. The least you can do is spare your wife undergrad and prereqs. So just focus on you and getting through this phase and think of it as consecration, 'I'm doing this for you, honey, so that you don't have to carry this stress with me, so that when we meet and start having children, there will be that fewer years that my children will have to have a daddy (and possibly a mommy) who work all the time to get us to a better, more stable future."

Danielle's words resonated within my heart. To my mind came promises of marriage and children included in my patriarchal blessing. I again shed tears, but this time they were tears of joy. The spirit reminded me and comforted me of things I needed to remember.

I don't believe Heavenly Father wants me to be alone-in fact I know he doesn't. He wants my happiness but he knows what will make me most happy even if I don't. 

I don't believe that we all fit into one mold or timeline of when we're supposed to get married or reach certain expectations by a certain age even if culture norms dictate otherwise. We are all different and we are supposed to be. 

In no way, shape, or form has my chronic #foreveralone-ness been cured. I still don't really have any prospects, and I still get down and out a lot about it. But I have been promised-promised by a perfect Heavenly Father that if I hold up my end of things, he will hold up his end which includes a wife and children. It will happen.