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  • I’d been let down by a man for the first time and was feeling quite miserable. I usually kept people at a distance but this one had gotten under my skin. Now I felt sad and not a little humiliated. My one consolation was that nobody knew how crushed I was. I had kept all to myself, just in case it didn't work out.

    My mother was in the lounge watching some TV show and I joined her quietly. After a while she looked over at me.

    “It’s that guy you work with isn’t it? He’s upset you.” She said.

    At the time, I just wished she’d let go of her eagle eye to always see what was going on inside my head and heart even when I'd said nothing to her, and just leave it be.

    “No, it’s nothing.” I said.

    “He’s the most godawful eejit.” She announced. “I don’t know what you ever were thinking of wanting someone like him.”

    “Mum. I don’t, I’m fine.”

    I burst into tears despite myself and then spilled all. How stupid I felt, how humiliating to be let down. I felt even more stupid for crying. I’d never cried about anyone before.

    She hugged me and made me tea and sat me down to watch the show with her.

    “You should marry someone like this, you’re far to good for the likes of that wassisname, these fellows are the ones in your league.” She said nodding toward the TV show.

    I looked at the two handsome leads. It wasn’t a show I watched but I knew of them. They were certainly attractive. It surprised me a little that my mother, who would re-arrange my hair and clothes and fuss disapprovingly and 'fix' me every time I went out, thought my (actually quite decent looking) crush was too ugly for me, and also that I was in the league of these stars.

    “Thanks mum.”

    “I mean it. I’m not flattering you.” She said. “You’re stunning, Lani, you just don’t know what you have so you don’t let people see it.”

    I sighed and chuckled, my ego was certainly boosted by the flattery but she was right in a way. She’d always been the beautiful one in the room. I’d never wanted nor tried to complete, always felt that my beauty was different to hers, something more inner that needed time to be discovered. ‘Lovely’ is the word men always use for me. I learned it was only ever a matter of time before each ‘he’ said the phrase ‘Lovely Leilani.' It was inevitable. Everyone I know says it sooner or later. It's a term of endearment but not of deep love, not the kind of love I want. I figured the one that finally didn't say it would be the one for me, the one who saw deeper. Right then I was resigned to that never happening.

    “Which one would you pick for me?” I asked looking at the show and sipping my tea.

    “Either.” She said. “Which one do you like?”

    And together my mother and I watched TV and stroked my ego, by raising my standard of acceptable mate, until the disappointment and misery faded. It actually took far less time than I’d imagined and I never forgot the lesson. Egotistical, perhaps, but the right kind of love is the only acceptable kind and I guess a mother’s love and appreciation is always far stronger motivation to respect yourself, than the lack of love from anyone else.
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