Sometimes, you watch something that just hits you in a really weird way. Even when you’ve seen it several times before. This just happened to me with the movie “Because I Said So.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a really cute and quirky romantic comedy featuring Mandy Moore and Diane Keaton. Diane Keaton is Mandy Moore’s mother, a MAJOR helicopter mom, and decides Mandy must settle down so fixes her up with one guy and another guy meets her and she starts dating both. It’s hilarious, and touching. I won’t spoil the ending with details, but she ends up happy with one and unhappy with the other. I love romantic comedies, always have. Now, however, they stir up interesting emotions because I’m married to the love of my life.
Why do romantic comedies remind me of my relationship? A relationship that I truly believe to be perfect. Well, I find romantic comedies far more perfect than plain romances. Life is funny, it really is, and romantic comedies illustrate the craziness of life far better than romantic dramas do. Couples argue, even the perfect ones, and not everything goes smoothly. My life has always been far more like a romantic comedy than anything else.
I just don’t fit the mold of a “typical girlfriend” at all; actually, not really a “typical girl” either. Actually, I was bullied horrendously by “typical girls” and very consciously wanted to be as different from them as possible… though my personality doesn’t fit very well into the “typical girl” mold anyway. Unfortunately, being in a serious relationship, people expect certain things from you, and most of those things are not a part of my personality. Prior to our engagement, people kept telling me not to do this or not to do that because “you don’t want to scare him off.” Seems innocuous enough to the person saying it I suppose, but it’s essentially telling the person (me, in this case) that they obviously aren’t good enough to hold onto a fantastic guy on their own… and they shouldn’t do things that are a part of who they are because being themselves would obviously scare off anyone worth having. It puts a ton of pressure on the person that has been hearing “you don’t want to scare him off.” Pressure to remember never to be yourself in the relationship around the people who kept saying that. Pressure to never tell those people about any of the rough spots you hit in your relationship, and there will be rough spots because not a single person in the world is perfect. Pressure to make sure that NOTHING would EVER break up the relationship, because then you will be blamed for “scaring him off.” It’s painful and really sucks to know the people in your life honestly don’t believe you can possibly hold a relationship together by being yourself. And, it actually changes you, changes you into a person that isn’t who you are so that when you’re around those people it can actually cause you to be so different that it messes with your relationship. Anyway, that went a little off track… probably because I switched to watching “Meet the Parents” and overly identified with Ben Stiller’s character’s feelings of inadequacy. Not necessarily the situations, but how he changes who he is to try to live up to what the people around him expect of him and his relationship.
But, what I was going to say initially is a bit nicer, though having those feelings off my chest helps a lot (and has been very cathartic). Now, back to that “typical” girl thing. Now that I’m older, I’m finally okay with some of the “typical” things that I do like, like painting my nails, dresses, lacey skirts, etc. However, for a very long time, I was not okay with liking those things. Nail painting, sure, but I have always just painted them and then let them slowly flake off until all of it was gone and then I’d repaint them whenever I got around to it. Actively fighting against the “typical” feminine attributes allowed me to develop the parts of my personality that make me who I am. I didn’t like the girls I went to school with, since they pretty much all bullied me, so pretty much all of my friends were boys. I loved playing outside, being active, getting covered in dirt, and not having to worry about keeping my hair and clothing neat. My hair and clothing were pretty much only ever functional. Sure, I had a few nice outfits that I didn’t want to get dirty, but I lived in jeans and tee shirts because they were sturdy and comfortable. Once I started doing my own hair, it was pretty much only ever in ponytails. I still can really only do a ponytail, pigtails, or normal braids (no, I can’t French braid). Because of all of this, I became a very adventurous girl, once that never hesitated to get dirty.
My personality is very out there, very unique, and extremely obvious. I’m extremely empathetic, which unfortunately leaves me very raw emotionally… which means I am prone to outbursts and temper tantrums. Due to all of the bullying, I didn’t really learn how to socialize, and developed horrible social anxiety. That anxiety tends to manifest in me talking way too fast and way too loud about nothing, and being extremely ridiculous. However, I am extremely shy, and don’t open up about much until I really get to know someone.
When I moved to Colorado, I met a group of people that I enjoyed being around. There were lots of crazy drunken antics (sorry, Mom!) and, well, crazy sober antics too! 😛 I had been extremely intimidated to speak with Dan, because I knew he would change my life and because he was extremely attractive (still is). It took a lot of alcohol to get the courage to start talking to him, and I don’t mean about anything deep, I just mean saying “hi” and stuff like that. One night, after a party, I started talking to him and we stayed up until the sun came up talking about our lives and everything. It was amazing, exhausting, but amazing. That night was the night, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, that my life started to change. But, of course, as is the fashion with romantic comedies, it just wasn’t that straight forward. You see, I’d become really good friends with one of Dan’s roommates, which is why I was always at their house. The two of them loved going on crazy adventures, like rock climbing and off roading, and I started accompanying them on these crazy trips. Eventually, we had to talk about the possibilities of romantic relationships. Dan’s friend has a jealous streak, but I’m a huge flirt, so eventually I just started distancing myself from him because I couldn’t handle the jealousy anymore. Dan and I started to grow extremely close. At one point, I just flat out told him I wanted to date him. However, his friend was still upset that I was pulling away, so we decided we needed to wait. A month after he got a girlfriend (they’re married now, actually) we started dating.
Our first date was ridiculous, but pretty much perfect. I had been living at their house (by myself actually, all of the roommates went home for winter break) because the dorms were closed, and for some reason I wasn’t able to go home yet… Dan had been away at the ski team training camp thing. When he got back, he asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him. I jumped at the chance, because it would be the first time we’d gone and done something fun just the two of us. On the way to the theater, he said “I think it’s time” and, even though I was pretty sure I knew what it was, I asked anyway. Sure enough, he was talking about it being the right time for us to start dating. All I could do was nod, because I was trying desperately hard not to squeak (I did not succeed). We went and saw the movie “Four Christmases,” and then we drove around the town looking for Christmas lights in the snow 🙂 It was wonderful. Kind of silly, but completely wonderful. And that is how our entire relationship has gone. Kind of silly, but completely wonderful.
Do we argue? Of course we do. Sure, there are couples out there that only argue for a moment or two, but I don’t know any couples like that with chronic illness… plus that pressure to not be myself so I don’t screw it up has changed me enough that I’ve gotten snappier. I know, seems like the opposite of what I would do, but remember that raw emotion thing? Ya, they can only handle so much pressure to change before they start fraying and breaking. And chronic illness puts a lot of pressure on them already. But our arguments usually end with us laughing and cuddling again. Dan fell in love with the goofy and crazy nature of my personality, and he loves that I’m so passionate about what I care about. I’ve never hidden who I was from him, never. I’ve always gotten snappy, I’ve had depression the entire time he’s known me, I get frustrated and throw temper tantrums… he’s always known these things about me.
As far as the romantic comedy thing goes, it’s very much out life. We make goofy faces at each other, and noises, all the time. I instigate random bouts of “dancing” (mostly just wiggling around being goofy). We have goofy and nonsensical conversation, we love playing games. Sometimes, while I’m being a complete goofball, I catch him looking at me with a very soft and happy expression on my face. I think it is subconscious, and that his love for me creeps across his face without his knowing. And sometimes, my illnesses are just silly. Not in a “Haha that’s fantastic! So funny!” type of way, but in a “we need to laugh to keep from crying because it’s so unbelievable that something else is going on.” Each new diagnosis, at this point, just makes me chuckle. Nothing has been terminal, or even cuts my life expectancy by a few years, so it’s easier to giggle about things. Each giggle is the expression of “why me? how does this always happen to me? ANOTHER one?!”
In romantic dramas, life follows stereotypes and a “normal” course of events. In romantic comedies, life is unexpected. There is room for the people that don’t fit the stereotypes, room for the misfits like me. There is room for unexpected twists and turns, the things that make life wonderful. There is room for mistakes, for misguided judgements. There is room for temper tantrums. My life is riddled with the things that make romantic comedies so wonderful. I married the perfect person for me, and our life couldn’t get more ridiculous even if someone was writing a script 😛 I love my the crazy romantic comedy that is my life, and I am so lucky to share this whirlwind adventure with Dan!