|*source: Alyssa Ballou Photography (Patrick's sister...isn't this pic amazing?! Thank you, Alyssa!)|
The problem was, I really wanted to someday find a guy who would more than "like" me. I wanted someone to "cherish" me. I don't know how I got stuck on this word, but that's what I wanted. And we would get married, have a family, and laugh and enjoy a happy, simple, awesome life together. Not that I ever acted like I wanted to love and be loved...I openly mocked all things cheesy and lovey-dovey. (Jane Austen movies don't count...they are FAR from silly or cheesy.) But, here's the catch: you can't exactly get married without dating anyone. (and...being a mail order bride didn't seem like a smart option.)
I was just so afraid.
While serving a year and a half mission for my church, I learned a lot about facing fears. I mean, at the young age of 22, I discussed religion with trained Ministers and Preachers, I faced off drunk dudes on the street, and I invited people to learn more about Christ who looked like they wanted to punt me over a fence. Plus, I was away from my family that whole time...quite a stretching experience for me! When I got home I knew that it was time to face the fear, and I knew that with Heavenly Father's help I could accomplish anything, even DATING.
So, three weeks after returning, I was back at college. Walking into my new apartment, feeling nervous, excited and determined not to act like an awkward, recently returned missionary (picture me as Smalls on the Sandlot muttering to myself..."Don't be a goofus, Don't be a GOOFUS!"), I met my new roommate, Whitney, and her friend Patrick. Honestly, that first meeting is not very memorable to me; I had a lot on my mind (buying books, picking a room, starting classes, etc). I do remember the second time I saw Patrick. There were lots of people over that Sunday evening, and for a few minutes he and I talked about our missions. While we talked, I remember getting a brief, but strong feeling that he was a good person and that I could trust him. I could just tell. I immediately thought, "Ok...that was random," and thought nothing more of it.
Patrick hung around our apartment all the time with Whitney. Funny--she was the best friend of the girl he was writing while she served her mission in Africa. Whitney and Patrick had become good friends while he liked her best friend, so now he hung out with her while avoiding dating, patiently awaiting her friend's return.
|Patrick, Whitney and I!|
After a while, I started to notice how often I thought about him or wondered when he would come over to our apartment--but I brushed it off. We were just really good friends, right? I loved to be around him. He was chill and cool. We both liked to dance, and he had some SKILLS. A white guy who was good at Hip Hop? Impressive. We were both into music--I love to sing--he could play the guitar AND piano...double swoon. (BOYS, a word of advice...learn to play the piano or the guitar and use these shamelessly on the girl you want to woo. She will be wooed.)
Plus, I think I was in denial because I was afraid, and he was just SO different than what I had in mind as my "type". I had told my friends and roomies in the past that what I looked for in a guy, as far as looks went, was height and hair. He had to be tall and he had to have GREAT hair. (I'm sure those who know Patrick are laughing right now.) And...well, Patrick was barely 2 inches taller than me and...bald. I'm not talking thinning, I mean...bald. Also, he was 2 years younger than me, and I wanted to marry a guy a bit older than me, just about to finish school so we would graduate around the same time.
But, on the other hand, he fit every other characteristic that I wanted, and those were the important ones. He was fun, considerate, smart, hard-working, he didn't flirt with girls and lead them on just for kicks (oooh...that was my pet peeve.) and I knew he was a good person who cared about following God. Most of all, he was kind. He looked to other people's needs and tried to help however he could, whether that was giving someone a ride, helping a stranger change their tire, or explaining a math problem. He really listened and cared about people.
The moment I realized 100% that I liked Patrick, my roomies and I were having a Nacho Libre party. It was my idea, (I LOVE that movie...don't hate!) and I invited a boy from one of my classes (I told you I was still in denial about Patrick) who had asked me on a date--YIKES. I wasn't ready for a date yet, so I deflected by asking him to the party that my roommates and I were having (then went home and informed my roommates that we were having a party...ha). He was tall, good-looking, and had lots of hair.
So, before hair-boy got to the party, I was a nervous psycho. And...horror, we couldn't get the DVD player hooked up. Of course, Patrick was there, and he was working on the DVD situation. He ran back, not once, but twice to his apartment to get different cords to try. I watched him on the floor in front of the tv, muttering about the stupid cords, trying to help us get our party started. It was pretty funny and so nice that he was working so hard. Then, all of a sudden, I thought, "I think I love that guy."
I couldn't believe I had just thought that! Where the crap did that come from? We were just friends! Right? I sat in stunned silence, trying to sort through the weirdness in my mind. Then I realized that I really didn't care if hair-boy came. Actually, I kind of hoped he wouldn't. But then he did.
As we all watched the movie, I kept eyeing Patrick, wishing I was next to him, my thoughts a jumbled, frenzied mess: "Does he like me, too? OH, please like me too! I think he glanced this way....Wait, you floosy, he's got a flippin' missionary! And she is Whitney's best friend! What do I do? Should I tell him? Oh my gosh, I am going to puke." This whole time I was trying to act normal and attentive to the guy I had invited, trying to make the appropriate responses as he flirted with me. Poor guy, I just wanted him to go away so I could think.
The night ended and I didn't puke. I didn't tell anyone about liking Patrick, but--oh blessed day--I did find out that one of my roommates asked him if he liked me (she had been getting suspicious) and he told her that he did. (I found out later that he got PRETTY jealous at the Nacho Libre party seeing me with hair-boy and that's when he realized how much he liked me...haha, good ol' jealousy...thank you hair-boy!) I was ecstatic. And, freakin' terrified. I had always liked from afar, and I had NEVER had a boyfriend. I didn't know what happened when the liking was mutual! What was I supposed to do next?
I managed to act halfway normal around him, keeping my feelings for him hidden. It seemed that realizing I liked him suddenly made me notice 100 times more how much I did! I was seeing him new...and he was so cute--especially his bright blue eyes (man, I am laughing at my cheesiness as I write this, but it is true! I was stinkin' nuts about him!) But I still didn't know what to do. I actually lost close to 5 lbs during this time. I was so worried I actually felt nauseated, making it really hard to eat! (Ha--that changed when we started dating...I mean, that boy can COOK!)
A few days later, while Patrick was at my apartment, I was seeking advice from my roommates and telling them about a guy who liked me, but I just wanted to be friends, and he took my friendliness to mean that I was interested. Patrick was listening in to this story; he was being super quiet, then abruptly he said that he had to go, and left. I wondered why? Then one of my roommates asked me privately in her room if I told that story as a message to him. "OH GREAT." I thought, "I like this guy SO much and now he thinks that I just like him as a friend because of that stupid story." It was crazy because he believed the complete opposite of what was true; I actually liked him SO much. And I was crushed. I thought I had blew my chance, that he now thought of me as a jerk who leads guys on.
I started bawling--on my roommates bed--blubbering like some fool. I couldn't stand it. I couldn't lose HIM! He was so fun and good and kind and...perfect. Not really perfect, but... ya know, perfect for me. And, it felt so different from any other time I had liked a guy.
I spent a sleepless night, freaking out and praying for peace and guidance. Then I realized at, like 3 am, that I had to talk to him. I literally felt compelled, in a way I never had, that I had to make a move. I understood that if I chose him, then I was going to have to be brave--more brave than I had EVER been--and I had to talk to him to fix this situation. And...OHHH boy, was I scared. But, I knew that Patrick was worth facing the fear. I just stared up in the dark thinking about him, trying to grow the courage I would need the next day. I planned out what to do and say, then, satisfied, I fell asleep, asking God, "Please, just don't let Patrick think I'm a jerk."
The next day, I confessed to Whitney, who laughed and wasn't mad, as I had worried. She handed me her phone, and with trembling hands, I called him. In a rush I said, "This is Amy, will you meet me on the bottom floor of the art building tonight at 11:00?" He said he would and I hung up.
That evening, as I worked on my painting, eyeing the clock the whole time, I was FREAKING OUT. For real. I was trying to control the rising terror inside of my body. Remember this was ALL new to me. My mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, (my painting looked like crap, by the way...) Because I was about to explode, I rambled out the whole story to my art buddy. He told me to buck up and quit being chicken--I'm paraphrasing. So at 10:59, I glanced at my friend, he gave me a thumbs up while laughing at my pale face, and I started down the three flights of stairs.
Each step echoed in the stair well as I stepped down...one. at. a. time. I kept getting slower and slower, but I willed my feet to keep going. With every step I repeated those words like a mantra, "He's worth facing the fear." and then prayed, "Please, Heavenly Father, don't let me puke." My head hurt SO bad and my stomach churned. But I knew I had given him the wrong idea, and I needed to fix this. At the bottom, I saw him waiting and I said, "Follow me." We got in my car and began to drive on the country roads outside of Rexburg.
We talked and I calmed down. He was just Patrick! And he was my friend. And...I decided not to bring anything up.
And then, with that darn straightforwardness of his, he said, "So, why did you want me to meet you?" I took a breath and said, "I need to apologize to you." Then, he looked sick. I blurted out, "That story, it..uh..wasn't some kind of subliminal message. Ok?" After a pause he said, "I don't want to be like that guy." And I told him that he wouldn't be, but that he needed to be patient with me. And he told me he didn't mind being patient. And I don't think I looked at him that whole car ride until that moment. He had a big smile on his face. Gosh, my heart was going to explode. I was elated and on the edge of passing out. (Good thing I had pulled over by then in front of his complex.)
Then I said, "But I don't want you to hug me." (real smooth, huh?) He laughed and got out of the car, waving as he walked to his apartment.
When I got home, I was shaking from all the tension in my body. I flopped on my bed and screamed into my pillow for probably a full two minutes. Whitney just kept laughing and laughing. I stopped, and she asked how it went. And..I started screaming into my pillow again. I had just done THE boldest thing I had ever done. In my life.
So, after that, we kept hanging out and I was so awkward I literally couldn't look at him or sit next to him for a while. He was SO patient. And I prayed for courage every day. Literally.
|While dating, when I could finally let him put his arm around me.|
But he didn't. And every time I got worried, he reassured me again.
Holy cow, was I an idiot in love. I couldn't think straight. And the tallest man with the fullest head of hair could have walked up to me and proposed and I would have said, "Get away, fool. You're not Patrick." I loved him so much. But, it was still scary to go against the way I'd thought and acted for years, so he had to help me take baby steps.
First we went on a date. Then, after a month of seeing each other every day, we finally held hands. (Ok, he held on to my fist while I freaked out.)
Then, a month after that, we kissed for the first time after an hour (no exaggeration) of me huddled up on my side of the car saying, "I just can't. I just can't. Let's just forget about it, ok?" But, he wouldn't let me. My Patty-man had the perfect amount of persistence and patience.
Shoot, after I got used to that, I liked all that physical stuff. Haha!
At times I would get worried and think, "Did I make the right choice here?" But, I knew that God had helped me from the very beginning to know that I was safe with him. And it wasn't Heavenly Father saying, "Here is the man you are to marry. Now marry him." No, it was my choice. I chose him, and thank goodness, I felt God's approval.
So, he proposed, I almost passed out, and after being silent for 5 mintues, I squeaked out a yes.
And we got married.
What a crazy miracle. I, Amy, the freaked-out, scared of relationships, avoider-of-dates, am now married...and I have a baby, too! Sometimes I see people from high school and they say, "Wow, you are married! How did that happen?" Haha...yep, it blows me away too.
|Our first married Hallwoeen...Gangstas...Ohhh yeah.|
|Our two-year Anniversary! And some Blow-your-mind-delicious cake...|
And, I love Patrick. Our life and relationship has bumps like everyone's, but it just keeps getting better. We laugh so much and I still love to talk to him, and just be with him. When he holds me, I feel Heaven, ya know? Like, I finally understand what it means to be compelety understood and loved despite my flaws; I feel....cherished. I know everything will always work out. We will work through anything and support each other forever.
|With our brand new baber, Hayden. *source: Alyssa Ballou Photography|
I feel so dang lucky, so blessed, and even now, some days I look at him or cuddle up with him and our sweet little baby and think, "I get THIS? This is for me?" I can barely believe it.
|Christmas Morning! And, Hayden eating his hand.|
|My sweet little fam. *source: Sherie McDaniel (my sister...thanks Sher Bear! Ha!)|
So that's our story. I know it was long, but it means so much to me, and I wanted to share it, cause there are others who feel hopeless or like failures, whether in love, school, their careers...or in any other part of life. But, it's not true. I remember being convinced in the deepest time of my anxiety that I was un-lovable. But, that was not faith speaking, just fear.
And I don't know how each of your lives will progress, but keep hoping and trying and facing fears. You gotta start moving forward and keep moving, doing all that you can do.
Don't let fear paralyze you.
Cause for the best things in life--it's worth facing the fear.
P.S. At some point while we were dating, he wrote the girl on her mission to let her know that he was dating me. I always worry about the one who got hurt in every love story, but it all ended well, cause she's happily married now, too!
P.P.S. Ok, now it's YOUR turn to spill: Were (are) you scared to date/get married? What were (are) your fears? If you've overcome them, how did you do it? I would really love to hear from you.
P.P.P.S. I must admit I feel a little exposed sharing this story. Your comments would be appreciated, so I don't feel like I just spilled my guts into an empty room. Thanks, friends!