I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mom yesterday…one of my favorite parts of being home (getting to spend little, everyday moments with my family). But we were having some mother-daughter talk, and so naturally…the topic of my boyfriend came up.
Not in a…let’s gossip about my man…sort of way, but more of a…Caralyn, how are you enjoying being in a relationship?…kind of way.
Because let’s be honest…this is the first Christmas in a while where I’ve been ~romantically involved~. And given the fact that I’ve been away from home weathering the pandemic for the last year, this is really this first time my mom and I have had a chance to have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart since this time last year, when I was in a different place than where I am today.
And without even a second thought, I said to my mom, “Ever since [my special gentleman] has entered my life, I’ve woken up happy.”
**I know, I know…cue the “awwww’s,” and the heart eye emojis. I am asking for it with that one. But to honest, I’m just telling the gosh darn truth.
I have never been happier in my life.
I was scrolling through my blog archives the other night, and I came across a post from a couple years ago titled, “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Dating.” Interest piqued, I read through it, and yeah – everything still holds true. But it was written by a girl who was just putting her toe in the dating waters. Reading through it, now, in my present, I thought…Wow, I had no idea of what a) dating really was all about, and b) what was in store, just around the corner.
It’s no secret…if you follow my Instagram, (@beauty.beyond.bones), or if you’ve been reading between the lines on my blog, then you will know, that yes, I have a very special, very wonderful gentleman in my life. 🙂 A man who makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
But thinking about where my heart is now, verses where it was writing that original, piece, I wanted to update my list, and share what I really wish I would have known before I started dating.
So without further ado:
1) Letting someone “in” is not scary, but in fact, the most beautiful thing you will ever do.
I’m going to be honest, I avoided dating for a long time for fear of having to share my past with someone who I was emotionally attached to. Sure I went on dates, but until it got to the point of having to let someone into my past, I would either end things, or put them squarely into the “friend zone.” Having a history of anorexia in my past, I believed it disqualified me from being someone a man could love. I was tarnished, stained, broken. And therefore, if I never let anyone get close enough to me to actually learn those things, then they would never have the opportunity to reject me, and confirm my belief that it made me unlovable.
So I kept men at arm’s length. That way, I was safe. But, alone.
I wish I would have known the freedom and true joy that would come from sharing my past with the man I admire. All of my fears – of the rejection, of being unloved – it turns out that my preconceived notions were the exact opposite of reality.
And it is such a testament to this man’s heart. After letting him into my past – and all the garbage that accompanies an eating disorder, – I have never felt more seen, more loved, more known, more free.
I am free to be truly, wholehearted me. Unencumbered. Unabashedly, me.
And the other incredible thing — is that, this knowledge that I thought would be a source of judgement, and disapproval (that I thought would be the source of relationship demise) … it has actually been the most affirming thing in the world. I look at him and know that I have a teammate. Someone who is in my corner, believing in me. And choosing to care for me, knowing all of who I am.
I wish I knew how amazing that feeling would be.
2) My dietary restrictions will not be the downfall of my relationship!
Though not necessarily the most obvious thing, food is a big “player” in a relationship. Going out to eat together, date night dinners at home, sharing snacks while watching a movie…food is such a communal point of connection. I mean, dinner and a movie is a cliche for a reason: because sharing a meal with someone is a intimate thing.
And honestly, living with Ulcerative Colitis, and having to eat a very specific way in order to stay in remission — it has been a challenge as a single young woman, let alone in a relationship. Because let’s face it: the Specific Carb Diet is not the most ~dating friendly~ diet. Not being able to eat gluten, grains, sugar or dairy…poses a few obstacles. But it is how I have, in essence, cured my UC, and have stayed in remission for 11 years now.
But I had always been apprehensive about what the ramifications would be, romantically, for having to eat in this certain way. Would I have to find someone who also is in the Ulcerative Colitis community? Would I need to find someone who eats gluten free? Would a “normal eater” consider this a deal breaker? My mind would run circles.
Well, as it turns out, yet again…I was wrong on all accounts. And food has actually become quite a source of joy and FUN in our relationship!
Especially during the pandemic, when every meal has to be eaten in, it has been such a creative adventure to expand my cooking — as you may have noticed from my Wednesday night recipe posts! My favorite new palate explorations have been authentic Filipino dishes, like Kare Kare and Sinigang! (I just wish I could eat rice!)
3) The real, natural me is worth embracing.
I was so surprised when my boyfriend saw me without makeup for the first time. He looked at me and said, “Wow, you’re so beautiful.” In that moment, I think I laughed it off, but internally, that was one of kindest things he could have said.
As women, we believe that in order to be “presentable,” we have to be wearing a full face of make up – hair done, nails manicured, picture perfect. Just look at the beauty industry: we’re marketing makeup and high heels to three year olds. This standard of perfection we’ve come to expect for women is not only exhausting, but really does a number to our psyche — as we attach our worth to our outer appearance.
And sure, we’ve begun to shift our thinking around beauty, and this so-called, “body positivity…” ((this is how I really feel about that...))…but there’s still a long way to go.
I wish I would have begun the process of embracing my natural self – without makeup, curly hair, “dressed down” – much sooner. Not only do men find it more attractive, but it has been so affirming for my self worth to be known and loved for who I am on the inside, and not how well I’ve applied my winged eyeliner that morning, or how strong my makeup-setting-spray is hanging on for dear life at 10pm.
I have never felt more beautiful, or more calm or confident in my own skin, than I do now. And I have my special gentleman to thank for that.
Reading this back, and thinking about it all, my heart is just exploding in gratitude to God for bringing this man into my life. Funny, because for seven years…he had been right there the whole time, as my friend. Amazing how God works.
He has enriched my life in so many ways. And I am a better woman because of him. I pray that — even in some tiny way — I’ve been able to do the same for him, too.
So, if by chance, you’re like I was, for such a long time: afraid of letting love into your life, know that love is nothing to fear.
And in fact, it will not only be a beautiful adventure, but the greatest gift you will ever give to yourself, if you allow yourself to receive it.
Have a wonderful evening, friends. And I’ll talk to you on Wednesday, when I share a Filipino recipe, in honor of this wonderful man!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
SIGN UP BELOW FOR MY FREE NEWSLETTER!
GET MY DAILY VIDEOS, RECIPES AND POSTS DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX!
Here was yesterday’s video! https://youtu.be/8pmp4ZI968A
MAGIC TOOTHPASTE? Yes! I am in love with this superior whitening toothpaste. It keeps my smile sparkling, without sensitivity or bleach! I made a website where you can directly order this miracle product! So if you want to give it a try, you can go ahead and grab a tube for yourself. I promise, your smile will thank you!Get a tube!
Be sure to check out my affiliate, Audible. Listening to audiobooks while I cook is literally my new favorite thing. And just for you, they’re offering a Free 30-Day Trial Membership. And with this free membership, you’re going to get 2 free audiobooks! Literally. Free. It is the best deal ever. And if for some reason, you decide it’s not for you, you can cancel within those 30 days and it’s zero money out of your pocket, plus, you get to keep the 2 audiobooks. Soooo…it’s pretty much a no brainer. Plus, it’s a free and easy way to support this blog! So thank you!!
@beauty.beyond.bones – Instagram
For Podcast versions of my posts, please check out Patreon! It’s only $2 a month!! You make this blog possible 🙂
And really quickly, I’ve had several questions concerning my Amazon link (amazon.com/shop/beautybeyondbones) — You do not need to buy one of my specific highlighted products on my page, in order for it to “credit” my account. Any purchases that you search or make from anywhere on Amazon, after first visiting my Amazon page, will credit this blog and help support this blog ministry. I am truly so grateful and appreciative to those of you wanting to do so! So thank you! Again, it is an absolutely free, and easy way for you to help keep this blog going!