Day 11 comes from a rad girl named Janie, whom I have never actually met! She is friends with my former roommate Jasmine, and I was so excited to get her entry this year. It’s such an honest, tender story about love beyond fear, and how consistent, accepting love can truly heal.
“When I was 19, I got the opportunity to travel to South America to participate in a service project. I felt excitement and apprehension for the months ahead. Not long after arriving in the country our service group was divided into partnerships and I was partnered with a native with the last name Maldonado. From the moment we met, I knew she resented me.
Makayla Maldonado resented my hopefully optimistic attitude and labeled me as a “fake American”. She mocked my passion for our project and my bright-eyed “I can help change the world” attitude by reminding me that I couldn’t even speak the language or understand the culture properly. She took every opportunity to criticize me, accentuating my weakness and making my strengths seem made-up.
Prior to going on the trip, I had imagined how my partner and I would be best friends. Now, I felt like I was always walking on egg shells. I felt scared to suggest things to her because they made her angry and she treated me worse. I stopped being happy or excited because she targeted me for “acting” that way. Instead, I wondered what I was even doing on the trip. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I wanted to go home but had invested so much in this trip that I knew that I just needed to stick it out.
My Spanish was rocky when I arrived but I learned four things while I was in South America. The first three things I learned were that in Spanish “Mal” meant “bad”, “don” meant a “gift”, and “ado” at the end of a verb made it a past participle. The fourth thing I learned was that I been “bad-gifted” or in other words “cursed” to have Makayla Maldonado as my partner.
I knew Makayla wasn’t treating me well but I wanted to make it work. I spent those autumn months weakly trying to advocate for myself while she walked all over me. I came home from my trip and returned to my daily life. However, I harbored in my heart a deep hurt and fear. My confidence and self-esteem were broken and I looked on what was supposed to be the most rewarding trip of my life with shame because I felt like a failure.
I carried this with me at college, but felt okay when I kept to myself. However, last year, I met a guy named Spencer. He asked me out and even after a horrible first date he pursued me. We started spending everyday together and my fears and insecurities screamed at me. I wanted to pull away from him because I knew that if he discovered my flaws he’d run away. If I pulled away I would at least be able to protect myself from hurting a bit more. When I tried to pull away, he pulled me closer and I found myself falling more and more in love with him.
Shortly after we started dating, he asked me if I would marry him. Without hesitation I told him I would because he made me happier than I could say. However, when he left I felt consumed with anxiety and regret. How could I marry him?! I was a broken person and he’d come to resent me. He deserved someone better than I was.
Life has a way of sending us angels in moments of weakness. My friend Claire read a destressed text message I had sent and called me immediately in the middle of her work day. Like a true best friend, she told me I sometimes drove her crazy but that she loved me for it. She told me I was being stupid for thinking the way I was and then let me cry. I did cry. I cried for an hour more after we hung up and after that hour I just hung onto Claire’s words as I continued to date and eventually married Spencer.
My husband makes me feel like I am fully accepted. Even though he is aware of my flaws, he loves me. He makes me feel loved and talented. He makes me laugh and loves when I am happy or excited. He filled a hole that was left in my heart some autumn months years ago. I’m not afraid that he’ll react poorly when I suggest things to him and I don’t feel like there are any egg shells lining the floor of our small apartment. Recently someone asked me about my trip abroad because I speak Spanish as a second language at my work. I began to tell them about the trip and I realized that the shame I had felt was no longer there. I felt healed. Love heals.”