As conceited as it sounds—no not sounds, but frankly just is—I never envisioned myself ever being the girl who would be left.
I remember being told by one of my good friends back when we were both maybe 17:
"You never need to worry about being left, Bianca. You just don’t. You’re freakin’ Bianca Betancourt and you’re a babe and no guy will be stupid enough to dump you. You’re the one who is going to determine when things are done, not the other way around."
Granted, this was the same girl who thought it was appropriate to hold a secret past midnight sleepover with my boyfriend a week after I had left to go back to school early this past summer—and we don’t talk anymore—
To a sense she was right—things ended in my last relationship absolutely on my terms—my terms of being an insecure, jealous and immature bitch.
I remember whenever there was an incident involving another woman—a factor in which I groan and roll my eyes at the thought of how frivolously un-life threatening they were in the first place—I immediately compared myself to them in terms of looks. How attractive I saw another girl determined my level of jealousy and short term insanity that took over me for a certain period of time.
(The biggest threats? Always anyone with the bigger boobs. Always.)
If there’s anything I’ve seen change within myself though, through this journey of these past three years, it’s been the fading importance of beauty in terms of my relationships—with my significant other, and with myself.
Being a teenaged girl, there’s stepping stones in the terms of how you’re physically seen:
Tier 1: Cute
Tier 2: Pretty
Tier 3: Hot
Tier 4: Beautiful
Bonus Tier: Sexy
I don’t remember the first time he called me beautiful—but I remember how it felt when he did—because he was the first person to make me believe it. Instantly, through the validation of someone else, (but remember, I loved him) I started to notice my shallow sense of self-worth.
That self-worth quickly morphed into my defense mechanism for whenever I acted up—it didn’t matter how many times I pushed him, provoked him, verbally beat him up—my face—my eyes, my lashes, my lips—would always lead a path to forgiveness at the end of it all.
I can’t count how many times I was told “I wish you weren’t so beautiful” and I secretly smirked with satisfaction. I didn’t smile because what he said I believed to be true however—I was still the same insecure girl from grade school who stressed over any spare hair that resided on her body, who refused to let people close to her face in fear of them critiquing any imperfection that lay upon it—when I looked in the mirror in the morning, I still felt ugly. But he thought I was beautiful. And I knew it—and took advantage of it—and as ashamed as I am to admit it now, to this day I still do.
But instead of a smile, my reactions to his daily compliments reek of sadness.
Every time that we’ve been together where I’ve ended up breaking down and crying (an amount I’m too embarrassed to admit) he’s held my face in his hands—a hold I still ache for—and the first words he would say would always be
But as time went on—the fights seemed unfixable, there were less and less words to say—him telling me I was beautiful all of a sudden wasn’t the end all, fix all. I would stare into his big, brown eyes and communicate through my opposing gaze that I was waiting—waiting for more, needed more…
I’m beautiful. And..? What else was I? This was someone who claimed to love me, claimed to know me better than anyone else, but was giving me a surface level coating of comfort.
Seventeen year old me would have smiled, wiped her tears and forgiven and forgotten.
Almost 20 year old me, is demanding more.
Last night we laid together as we drifted off to sleep, because even if we’re not right, right now, physically being next to each other still feels so, and it’s been a hard habit to break.
He stroked my cheeks, my lips, my neck and my hair—telling me how each part of me is aesthetically perfect. Physically, I am the dream girl.
I felt my heart break as I finally realized I wanted to be so much more than that.
“So what?” I told him, as I stared up at his bedroom’s ceiling. I told him I wanted to be more than beautiful. I wanted someone to love me for the person that I was—even with all my faults—someone I saw as still a very decent human being. I wanted someone to love my thoughts, and my ticks, my craziness, and my quirks. And more than anything, instead of being looked at, I wanted to be heard.
In which he responded, “Good.”
—story by BIANCA BETANCOURT