Growing up, I
wasn't by any stretch of the imagination what anyone would have considered
a "catch" romantically speaking. Or maybe I simply decided
I wasn't, and this belief in itself made that true………….
Granted, despite my for-the-most-part
successful efforts to suppress tics, as a teen I was still emotionally
volatile, unstable, pretty obtuse socially and, for many years, rather
fat. I'm betting that none of these qualities rank particularly high
on Chatelaine's "Recipe For A Hunk" list.
Yet losing over 70 pounds
and working out regularly seemed to make little difference. Gradually
becoming more socially aware through explicit skills training seemed
to make little difference. Doing post-graduate work with a good career
ahead seemed to make little difference. And, perhaps most confusing
and frustrating of all for me, treating romantic interests like royalty
seemed only to encourage them to run faster. It all seemed so backwards:
I showed every consideration possible. I drowned them in affection.
I doted on every word, and worshiped the ground they walked on. And
nothing. Was I that repugnant? Was TS such a hideous quality that, even
when hidden, it negated any positives I could possibly ever muster?
I certainly believed so.
Such a fate angered me. I looked for stones I had not yet unturned to
beat it. I sunk into depressions over it. Eventually there was nothing
left to do but accept it. This is who I was, it was not what this world
desired, and that was ok. I'd get by. So I stopped trying so hard with
women, and refocused my energies into my own pursuits.
Bingo. Imagine my disbelief
as my dating fortunes then began to grow, and continue to do so. The
final irony was of course that I hardly suppressed anymore: certainly
when I do suppress now it is with dubious success (those muscles have
atrophied from disuse) and is borne out of respect for a situation rather
than embarrassment. Hence my ticking has become unapologetic and outright
bizarre. Huh? Were all those Cro-Magnon men right that asserted the
less YOU cared, the more the WOMEN did??
Of course not. Obviously
you have to care about the person you date. But you have to show that
you care about yourself too. That had been the missing and most crucial
piece up until then. I recently approached a fellow graduate student
to ask her how I've changed over the four years she's known me (a time
period which has seen me go from a forced dating abstinence to multiple
opportunities) - without hesitation she replied I was now much more
self-assured and, as a result, more laid-back and positive about myself.
So maybe the TS DID play a role in my dating difficulties, but that
role was to alter my self-view, and the attitude I exuded. It was never
about the tics themselves.
Attitude oozes from our
every pore and gives people information on how to treat us. It is in
your gaze, which may or may not falter when you tic. It is in your shoulders
and stride, which may or may not be proud. It is in your priorities,
which may or may not send the message "you are important to me
but I will not always put you first because I am important too".
It is in your dating reactions that may or may not say, "I think
you are great and hope you like being with me, but it is not something
on which I hinge my belief in my own worth". I have learned that
believing I deserve ridicule causes me to be hyper vigilant of reactions,
and even, in retrospect, to disbelieve individuals that claimed to have
an interest in me. I have also learned that believing any cruel reactions
say more about the reactor than about myself causes my awareness of
many reactions to disappear. It has also led to a number of people approaching
me with a whole new flavour of reaction - demonstrating admiration for
my choice to be myself, and curious questioning.
Belief in yourself is the
ultimate aphrodisiac. Pit it against TS - even tics as severe as mine
- and it will trump the disorder without even breathing hard.
Until next time,