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I’ve always been a bit of a hopeless romantic. I’ve read romance novels, no joke, since the fourth grade. It’s my genre of choice, and I can’t seem to get enough of them no matter how many of them I read.  However, when it comes to life outside of the confines of a book I am constantly waiting for that other shoe to drop.

It all started, I believe, with desperately wanting to be liked. I was in the fourth grade, coincidentally the same year I discovered romance novels, and I didn’t have all that many friends. Just the girls in my girl scout troop and a handful of others, but a rare few that I considered to be super close. I also wanted boys to like me. I would be the only girl in class who never got a note from a boy or those stupid carnations on Valentine’s Day. So, I did silly things like be the only girl playing tackle football amongst a horde of thirty boys. I also allowed the popular girls to convince me that combing my hair to one side and putting on makeup was flattering at the start of fifth grade. That didn’t go well for me.

In the sixth grade it was more of the same. Wanting to be liked, but there was an added element of mean girls. This was also the year that I hit 204lbs and discovered that in P.E. class when my teacher weighed me. Unfortunately said teacher didn’t cover the scale well enough and the girl that tormented me the most saw the number.

Note: This is why I am so viciously opposed to children being weighed in public schools.

I’m not sure how or why this started but in seventh and eighth grade a group of rather popular and athletic boys kept telling me that one of them liked me. Example Boy 1 would tell me that boy 2 liked me and they’d continue that for a while until no, no it wasn’t boy 2, but boy 3 did. On that went for two years.

I moved from California to Texas between eighth and ninth grade. Bringing an end to that nonsense, thank goodness. There wasn’t much that happened in High School. I didn’t have a long term boyfriend, no real romantic traumas that stand out.

My grandma died shortly after I graduated high school. She was my rock. I took a bit of a stumble after she died and I went through a string of one night stands.

One of those turned into more than a one night stand and I moved in with him after only two months. Almost right away things started to change. I was informed that one of his friends said I wasn’t “fast acting or fast thinking enough” for him, and he seemed to accept that and that became the new thing. His favorite thing to do was to tell me “you’re beautiful, but you could use to lose some weight.” Eventually I left, after six months, but I left. I was paying half the rent, buying the groceries, doing the cleaning, including his laundry and then finally he threw a dirty bowl at me for not washing dishes when I got home from work at midnight rather than letting them soak overnight. It took me thirty minutes to pack my things and get out.

But it sticks with me to this day. I am trying online dating now. I want to believe that some of these guys are interested but I am waiting for one of them to go “no no it was this other guy.” I also wait when someone calls me beautiful. I hold my breath, I wait for that nasty little addendum. I automatically add a “but…” and wait for them to finish the rest. I wait for the other shoe to drop, for something to go wrong.

I should likely go to counseling for this at some point. I know that.

I think one of the things I am most looking forward to about this journey I am on.. is that one day, a guy will tell me I’m beautiful, and I won’t mentally add “but…”