BEB: Ideals of Love

by maya silardi

I spent so long aspiring to how I wanted my relationship to others—the other—to be, that I forgot to think about what I wanted in my relationship to myself.

As I glossed over old “journal” entries—dare I say diaries—from my middle and high school years, there was an overwhelming desire to be saved by “the one.” To have a knight in shining armor who would rescue me from teenage angst and, as my 9th grade self put it, “sweep me up from my pools of self-pity” (that’s certainly one way to describe it). The aspiration to this mythic love, this savior love, warmed me in times of self-doubt. That even if I couldn’t love myself, maybe somebody else would. Maybe just maybe a boy would come along and love me first. Maybe I could practice self-love under the gaze of another (even if that gaze belonged to an awfully shy high school boy who reeked of body odor and had clammy hands).

I learned that being in love meant being saved. That my body was worth something only if somebody else said it was. I idolized young boys around me. Placed them on pedestals. Prayed one would notice me (some did). I learned that my body’s power lied in the careful stares from my male teachers whose eyes precariously landed on my chest. Learned my sexual value rested in what I could do, who I could do, not who I was.

It was this lesson that taught me that my body was worthy of what it received. And each day that passes, I am trying to unlearn this lesson. A lesson that entangled me with people who will never be worthy of what I had become, who I have become. It was this lesson that pardoned trespassers in the once untouched landscape that became my body. A lesson riddled with unholy excuses and undeserved forgiveness. It was this lesson that reminded me each day that I was only as valuable as the boy who noticed me in a classroom full of girls wishing for the same thing I was: validation.

Page after page of hopelessly, aimlessly, desperately waiting for the savior I was told would come (of course, he never did). How I wished I could hug me then.


Michele Dale