"Have you ever seen someone from across the room and known instantly they were g
"Have you ever seen someone from across the room and known instantly they were going to matter to you? This is exactly what happened with Gavin and I when we met our freshman year of college, after we had signed up for the same theatre class. From the moment we were introduced, he looked at me like he couldn’t look away—and I was just as taken with him. While neither one of us ended up majoring in theatre (he studied music and I studied art), we collaborated on several creative projects for the department together, during our time in undergrad. It took seven years of crazy chemistry, before either one of us were brave enough to make the first move. But, when I think about this I am always reminded of a line from ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’: 'We accept the love we think we deserve.' It turns out I didn’t think I deserved that much, and as it would seem, neither did he.
Unfortunately, I struggled with food problems for a long time, and after we graduated and parted ways; I went on to spend the next four years in-and-out of eating disorder treatment centers and hospitals... Spending silent Thanksgivings with portioned-out potatoes, Christmas under makeshift trees, and ringing in each new year praying that the next year I would be out in the world wearing a sparkly dress and toasting to having made it to the other side. But, I wasn't getting better—my body was breaking down. I had just about lost hope for making it to my 25th birthday, when Gavin and I realized we were both living in Los Angeles, and reconnected. When we hugged for the first time after seeing each other again, my heart was beating so fast—I was nervous he could feel it; but it turns out I wasn’t alone in that. We both knew it was finally our time... 'I’m in love with you,' he said after we were two weeks in and tipsy under the stars, smitten and reckless; before adding 'I’ve always, always loved you.'
While finally being together felt so right, the severity of my eating disorder made our day-to-day circumstances very difficult. I was so sick that I was practically in a revolving door to the ER. Three months into our relationship, my body gave out. Gavin and I boarded a plane to Denver ACUTE, a specialized floor of Denver Health Hospital, where I could be re-fed and medically stabilized. After being well enough to attend a residential facility, I was transferred to one near home. It was my 7th treatment center and I was terrified getting better was just not in the cards for me. Even though I spent a lot of it feeling like I was going through the motions, I learned something I hadn't before... I had spent so many years trying to get rid of the qualities that (so to speak) fed my eating disorder: perfectionism, endurance, and determination, push-the-limit defy-gravity mentality. I finally realized that while these characteristics got me there, they were the exact same ones that were going to get me out—I just needed to channel the strength in a different direction. It wasn't the smoothest ride... I did EMDR and I cried so hard, I couldn't breathe. I tried ice cream for the first time as an adult; and relied on Gavin more than he will ever be able to know. I considered giving up an average of 12 times a day; and put in so many two week notices to my insurance, that one of the director told me I was wasting paper—and just granted me a permanent one. Despite the bumpy road, Gavin never wavered... He held my hand through heart monitors and IVs, all the way from inpatient to outpatient; he read the literature and showed up for every support group each of the facilities had to offer.
Today, I am healthy and happier than I ever imagined I could be and Gavin is a monumental part of that. He is the most kind and considerate soul I have ever met. We are only mature versions of who we were when we first met—he still looks at me the same way. Inspired by all of the help I was fortunate enough to receive, I am currently earning my dual M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy and Art Therapy. All of the incredible progressions bring to mind Nayyirah Waheed, and what she once said when someone asked her what love feels like: 'Like everything I’ve ever lost coming back to me.' I want this to be a message to anyone who is struggling, that: 'It gets better!' You are beautiful and capable and will find healing and the validation you have always needed—perhaps where and when you least expect it. I have a sneaking feeling the strength has been in you, all along.
Gavin and I weren't able to make dinner plans on our anniversary, because we were both working late. Gavin suggested I join him for his GMCLA choir rehearsal, so that we would be able to at least spend some time together. Upon my arrival, I listened to Gavin making general announcements. All seemed normal, until he explained that it was our anniversary. The piano accompanist began playing one of 'our' songs; and Gavin asked me to join him on the platform. The song is called 'Not Afraid', by Michael Arden; the whole theme being: 'I am not afraid to love you, no matter what.' Soon, the choir started harmonizing to the song. It turns out that Gavin had transcribed the music by hand, and the chorus had been practicing for weeks! Despite this, I truly thought he was singing to me because it was our anniversary until he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. After I said, 'Yes'; he asked me to turn around... Both of our families were standing there—even mine who had flown in from Oregon! It was the sweetest, most magical moment of my life that the people that love us the most were able to witness such a special moment! We tie the knot, this coming January. Cheers to this crazy, irrational, extraordinary, serendipitous life!"
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