But… He Said I Was Pretty

Have you ever had a scent, a song, a taste or a location bring memories flooding back to you from your past?

I have, and it happened again this weekend. I went to Lansing on Saturday to spend time with friends and family. Lansing is about an hour south-east from where I live now in Grand Rapids… Lansing is also the city I grew up in. As you can imagine I have many memories from this town.

I came alone this time, so the commute and downtime in between meeting up with people allowed for me to contemplate. I drove past a couple of the locations I use to work – McDonald’s and what use to be, Circuit City. I really enjoyed both of those jobs, but they also brought with them memories of me at 16, 19 and 22. First a girl, then a young woman, greatly desiring to be loved and told that I was beautiful and worth fighting for.

A specific memory came to mind of a coworker I hung out with. We hung out at his apartment. He didn’t live in the greatest area. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good either. When it was time for me to go, he walked me to the front door of his apartment, but stopped there. I stopped too. “Aren’t you going to walk me to my car?” He laughed and said, “No. It’s cold outside.” I was stunned, but not feeling confident, I didn’t call him out on it. I just turned and walked briskly to my car.

As I re-experienced this memory, my heart sank for this girl who was looking for protection and not receiving it. That experience reinforced a message that had already been festering within her, “If you were worth anything to him, he would have walked you to your car.”

Growing up, and sometimes even now, I find myself engaging in relationships that are unhealthy and abusive. Sometimes I have chosen to stick around because the thought of being alone seemed more scary than the abuse.

What abusive or unhealthy relationships are you choosing to continue simply because you are afraid to be alone, to lose a friend or to have conflict? Maybe its time to step away from this relationship. You are worth fighting for.


18 thoughts on “But… He Said I Was Pretty

  1. I guess I’m still not so sure what sort of of response you’re looking to elicit here. Are you suggesting that the boy you told the story of was unhealthy or abusive? Hearing you say that him not walking you to your car wasn’t that big of a deal (in the video) and then turning around and writing a blog post about it seems to also send a mixed message. To you, it was a big deal. Enough so that years later you’re writing and vlogging about it. Your expectations seemed to be quite a bit different than the bonehead who didn’t take the chance to walk you to your car (symbol of protection?). Were you stunned that he didn’t walk you to your car or that he didn’t understand what you wanted?
    After reading, I find myself wishing you had called him out on it.

    • Nokdeez, thank you for sharing your confusion. I did not realize until you mentioned it that I was sending a mixed message. To me, it was actually a huge deal that he did not walk me to my car – mostly because it reinforced a message I already believed – that I was not worth protecting. I’m so glad you pointed this out because in the video I definitely downplayed what this action – or lack thereof – meant to me. I downplayed it because I know others have experienced truly abusive relationships – they are abused verbally, sexually and emotionally. I didn’t want others to think I was putting this event on the same level. However, it has affected me greatly, like you said, because years later I still experience it as a fresh wound. I think I was more stunned that he didn’t understand why it bothered me.

      This particular relationship was unhealthy for me – mostly because I was looking for him to define my value. My goal for this post is to encourage others to be aware of the unhealthy relationships they are in – maybe they are unhealthy because of the way they are being treated, but they could also be unhealthy because of the expectations not being met. In hindsight to creating this post, I would add that one does not necessarily need to abandon a relationship if it is unhealthy. It may certainly be worth the fight.

      I agree with you – I wish I would have called him out.

  2. Girl! I know how you feel! I actually got a kick in the face by a similar type of situation this weekend. It is definitely time to trim the fat when it comes to some of the people I call my friends. I usually end up feeling beat up and wonder if I have a habit of picking crappy friends or if I’m a crappy person. And this line of thinking has to stop. This is part of my goals for the year and I know it’s going to be the hardest of all to do. If I don’t have those friends, I really don’t have any. That thought scares me, but I’ve ended up realizing it’s better than feeling unloved. Point of clarification – I do have friends in other states, but it’s a little unrealistic to say that I can grab a quick bite to eat with them or hang out for the weekend, so I’m not counting those friendships in this bit of info. Keep up the great posts!

    • Skye, I am intrigued by what you referenced when you said this line of thinking has to stop and it is part of your goals for the year. What did you mean?

      I too have struggled with friendships where they felt significantly one-side. It is incredibly frustrating! Through this I learned to be more aware of how I am showing up to others and how I may appear like I do not care about THEM. It’s so interesting how things work out like that. 🙂

      • Thinking that I’m not good enough or that my friends don’t love me…that has to stop. I can’t think I’m not good enough, because I am. If I’m not appreciated by people, then maybe we shouldn’t be friends – more so when that’s a constant situation.
        This year I am focusing on appreciating myself and removing supposed friendships that only cause pain. It’s going to be a hard process, but I think it’ll make life a little more pleasant in the the long run. Does that make sense?

      • WOW! Skye, this is good stuff! “… I can’t think I’m not good enough, because I am.” I often find myself getting sucked into defining my “value” by those around me. If they don’t seem to be digging me at the moment, then I feel I have little value, because I did… they would want to be around me, right? I agree with you – if you are continually putting in the effort and it is just one-sided, then it may be a time to walk away. I am looking to find the balance for this myself. When is it good to continue to push forward and when is it good to walk away?

        I love that you are focusing on appreciating yourself. Do you have specific ways that you already have in mind that you will do this? Or is it more of a thing that you will do as the opportunity arises?

      • Odd…there was no reply button on what I was actually replying to. Oh well.

        No clue how I’m going to make it happen. haha I am trying new things this year (like learning how to use this confusing mask called make-up) and I’m working on the 25 things I love about me, which was inspired by you. 🙂 I’m also working on being/eating healthy and just enjoying life.

        This year is going to be awesome in so many ways. Yay!

      • LOL! Sky, your reference to make-up as the confusing mask made me laugh. One year for my birthday I asked that Josh purchase a “make-up” session for me. I wanted a professional to teach me how to wear it properly. It helped for about a day. Make-up application is certainly an art.

        I am excited about the other things you are doing as well and can’t wait to see your list of 25 Things you love about you!

  3. I was listening to a book today that said the kind of people we attract in our lives is merely a reflection of how we view ourselves. Talk about a punch in the face! So according to this lady…if I don’t love myself or take care of myself I will attract people that will compliment that (people won’t really love me or take care of me). On the contrary if I DO love myself I will start to find that those around me will love me the same. CRAZY!

    Seems like there is a lot going on in this story, thanks for sharing Alana! I never knew this happened. Fear of being in an unsafe place, not feeling protected, feeling like you are good enough to hang out with, but not good enough to “go the extra mile for,” expectations (and stereotypes) of what a guy is “supposed” to do for you.

    Sorry that happened. You are worth it, you are loved.

    • Josh, yes I definitely had expectations of him. I think on the surface it was based on the stereotype that a “gentleman” would walk a lady to her car, but there were also most certainly some deep seeded messages that if he did not go out of his way to protect me that he did not think I was worth being protected.

      Since posting this on Monday, I feel like the responses I have received from others is helping me to process through this even more to learn why this experience (in addition to many others) have had such an impact on me. I would not have processed through all this without the responses from those who posted here, so thank you!

      Josh, I also agree with the author you mentioned. I feel like when I am my “healthy” self, I attract “healthy” people. We have better interactions and more enjoyable relationships. When I begin to doubt myself and live in a spirit of fear, I tend to attract others who also are afraid – maybe afraid for different reasons, but still fearful.

  4. Alana,
    Yeah some of those hurts go so deep! We don’t even realize they are still there years later.

    I was only able to address my unhealthy relationships after reading the book “Boundaries.” I didn’t ever know how before that. It was super helpful in addressing relationships that have been unhealthy in my own life.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    So, are you going to ask him, or let it go? 😉 Just curious!

    • Claudia,

      I think I’m going to have to check that book out. Josh and I know a lot of people who have referenced that book recently! Is it the kind of book you read straight through from beginning to end or is it more topical where you look up the type of relationship that you are having issues with?

      I feel like with this particular instance, I need to process and then let it go. I have not seen or spoken to this guy in 7 or 8 years. Thanks for asking me this! 🙂

  5. awesome Alana! And so timely for me right now!! Your video presence has improved immensely, exponentially! Thanks for sharing this. I have done it too, hung on, out of fear, far too often.

    • Marcia – excellent! I am excited this is a timely message for you! Thank you also for the feedback on the video. It is good to know! I am confident that as I continue to make videos they will only get better! 🙂

  6. very interesting how something that happened so long ago can still resurrect such hurts. I’m sorry for that but do feel it’s OK to let it/his power go … you’ve learned from it and now .. now you have the love that eluded you then!


  7. MJ, you make a very interesting point. It IS pretty crazy how we may have experienced something in our past and we completely forget about it. Then one day, something will trigger that memory and we live through the pain and confusion all over again. Sometimes it’s just a matter of speaking the scenario out loud and processing through it with others. Then it no longer has the bondage power it once had.

  8. Nice piece, Alana. I hope you don’t mind me asking: What is/was your relationship like with your father? It occurs to me that so many young ladies just don’t have a good relationship with their dads — and it manifests itself on how they view themselves…esp with members of the opposite sex. As to the guy who didn’t walk you to your car…to me, it depends on context. If you were just friends (platonic), his response was a little off-putting, but not surprising. (Although, he still should’ve walked you to your car.) If your relationship was more than just friends, yes — definitely — that was a twerp thing for him to do. But his response says WAY MORE about him, than about you. (I do understand how hurt you would’ve felt.) But look at you now! The wise woman you’ve become! As painful as they were, all those experiences helped shape you.

    • Joe, thank you for your questions and perspective! As I share parts of my Story on my blog, I am learning that my occasional vagueness dilutes my message and worse, can lead to confusion. I shared a physical relationship with the male I mentioned in the video, so when he did not walk me to my car, I felt used. I felt like he got what he wanted from me and did not feel the need or desire to put forth any more effort toward me. This message of not being worth fighting for had already been growing in me both through my relationship with my father as well as other males I had looked to to define my worth. You are right… look at the wise woman I am becoming! I am learning more and more than my past does not define me. Although my past plays a significant role in who I am today, it does not dictate what my future will be. A friend of mine, Kent Julian, teaches that the event + Response = outcome. Just because something happened in my past does not mean that is how I have to let it play out the rest of my life. I can choose my Response and that response will determine the outcome. Can-I-get-a wha-what! for redemption. 🙂 I am Redeeming my Story.

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