When I was 11 I had a solo in the Christmas program. It wasn’t unusual for me to have solos in school programs; most of the girls in my class were already too insecure with themselves to stand in front of a large crowd and sing. Not me. I was holding on to the bits of innocence that still remained. Four days after Christmas I would turn 12; by October I was kissing my first boyfriend behind the local grocery store, and holding his hand in the back of his dad’s car. My solo, at the age of 11, was one of the last times in my life that I remember feeling 100% confident in myself, without a hint of nerves or self-doubt. So the question I’m asking myself is: what changes when we start kissing boys that we automatically begin doubting ourselves?
I was terribly nervous. Dressed as a hippie (in baggy jeans that I’d decorated with marker-drawn flowers) at a friend’s Halloween party, I held his had all night. He’d put his head close to mine to test the boundaries and then ease away when he felt my body become tense. I remember wanting to leave the party, and secretly hoping that my mom or dad would show up at the house and demand that I march upstairs and out to their car. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Stephen, but I just wasn’t ready to commit myself to participating in something in which I wasn’t immediately going to excel. While I was in the restroom, Stephen and a friend contrived a plan that would make our kiss become a reality, and almost immediately upon my return to the sofa, the lights in the basement ‘mysteriously’ went out. By the time the lights came back on Stephen had his wish. He was grinning; I was already freaking out.
Has anyone else seen the preview for “Virgin Diaries” on TLC?
Times have changed since this day. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that it was 16 years ago. Have I really been kissing boys for 16 years? Is it strange that I was getting more action, albeit awkward, at the age of 12 than I am at the age of 28? I say no. It’s not strange that I now reserve the right to keep my mouth detached from any bozo who comes along or that I know better than to fall for the ‘ol power outage trick. Hell, it’s not even something that I miss. That moment was just torture. And sometimes I wish that I could return to that moment and redo it, so that the kiss would’ve been on my terms. Maybe if I had been more upfront about what I wanted, I wouldn’t have walked away feeling so insecure in my kissing abilities.
This December I plan to revisit my long-lost total confidence by creating an opportunity to share another solo performance. My golden birthday is happening and, to celebrate, I’ll be wearing something with sparkle…something that says, “Try to concoct a plan that’s good enough to get me to kiss you when I return.” Because it won’t happen.
I said that I was going to stomp all over 2011 and, for the most part, I did. It took me a little while to get the nerve to follow through with my plan and walk away from silly boys but, looking back at it, I am nowhere near the same girl that I was at this time last year. I was just finding my voice and still searching for where it fit in a post-abuse world. I was fighting 50,000 different battles inside of my head every day. Today, I’m not fighting battles (and I didn’t have to fight them yesterday), I’m perfectly capable of surviving on my own, I’m not threatened by anyone else’s words, and I’m certainly not looking back.
I did what needed to be done in 2011. And the next few weeks will serve as excellent preparation for 2012. Instead of boasting that I’ll make next year my bitch (like I did with 2011), I’ll boast that I’ll make it my lover. I’ll be more kind to myself and to others. I’ll practice living in the moment and appreciating the little things, because I needed to realize that a bunch of tiny milestones can lead to big, big changes.
This year is proof.