I went on my first date, yesterday.
I wasn’t afraid of him. He was much bigger than I, and I still was not afraid, that is how mild mannered he is. Perfect, really, for me.
We met on a dating site, and he invited me for coffee. I ran a background check and found his wide open social media and went willingly.
Over a year ago I Skyped with a much younger man for the first time, ever. We had been talking for three years, via forum and text boxes. He thought I was cute. I was flummoxed. He knows my story.
Since then he has insisted I am beautiful, repeatedly, consistently. Until I began to have suspicions of my own that my self perception might be off.
I shaved my head. I still could not accept my face, and my hair grew in.
I complained in therapy about this, was it a dysmorphic disorder? My therapist was incredulous. “No one ever told you that you were pretty?” She asked me. She did not offer an opinion. She approached it thoughtfully. She had suggestions.
I started taking selfies. I skipped the filters and played with light. I read tutorials on eyeliner. I put my face online in places where I was known, but not my identity. Didn’t have a great response, but didn’t have a bad one, either.
I wrote a dating profile. I sat on it for months. I put it live. I got some responses, but all women do. I shut down the profile and started talking to some of those responses.
I got to my first adult date invite. Ever. The day before I go, my friend who insists I am beautiful tells me he wants to move here, where I live. He knows I love him, I don’t bother to hide it anymore, but he probably does not feel quite the same and I don’t think he should. The therapist tells me to let him make his own choices and stop deciding what is best for him. I start calling in favors via phone. I take time off work to do this.
I go on the date. He asks me for another. I plan it for two weeks from now. I can’t afford the sitters but I can’t afford not to go, either.
I don’t know what I am doing. How do you get to know someone without confessing things up front like “I am in hiding. I am an apostate, they want to kill me. He wants me dead. My children have PTSD. I have PTSD. I survived. I understand honour violence from the inside out. I am not a product of my culture.”
The small talk is killing me. I want more. I want everything, all at once.