Have you ever looked in the mirror, saw your own the reflection, and thought…”? Who the FUCK are YOU?’ There is nothing more perplexing than being so disconnected from…well…you! I can’t be the only person who feels one way on the inside and the complete opposite on the outside, Can I? This is probably the reason I find myself drawn to those silly videos of children on Facebook who have this outrageous self confidence that I am still struggling to find. I have to say, one of my favorites is the little chubby girl who is flinging her hips side to side, while shaking her finger with attitude to Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT! Why, oh why, isn’t being almost 50 and chubby with a sassy misdemeanor so endearing???? Ugh!
I have blogged about how I think I developed such a poor self-esteem. But I don’t think I started out with any form of self-esteem at all, good nor bad. I do know the formulation of my self-esteem bloomed from what and who people told me I was: Big nose, chipped front tooth to make my buck teeth stand out even more, short curly hair, stocky build…all negative. Sadly, I cannot remember one time looking in the mirror and saying to myself….” DAMN GIRL!” Not even to date. I have 2 very different opinions of who I am. I am this outer shell that is damaged and cracked but this shell has done its job in carrying me through this life so far. I am not fond of my outer shell at all. Then I have this very different perception of who I am at the core. I have done so much work in this area. Before, my perception of the outside and inside used to be very similar: Self-loathing all around. That was sort of my secret at the time. I can remember hearing Smokey Robinson’s song “Tracks of my Tears” for the first time and almost crying.
“People say I’m the life of the party
‘Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughin’ loud and hardy
Deep inside I’m blue
So, take a good look at my face
You see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears.”
That was the first time I really understood how good I was at hiding how broken I was. But I have made real progress on liking who I am at the core, despite my struggles to align that with how I feel about my physical appearance.
I have worked over the years to repair the damage the actions that others instilled on my body and soul. I have become a self-help book, magazine, and talk show junkie. I am not sure where my life would be if it wasn’t for the wisdom and guidance of people like Oprah, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, Joel Osteen and Eckhart Toole, Although my blogs up to this point have talked about how broken and damaged I had become through my life’s experiences, my work over the past decade has been significant enough that I do like myself for the most part. I am a good person. STOP, I am, for anyone who just giggled. Don’t get me wrong, if you cross me, I will take you out. But I am good, and my heart is even better because I have learned that although there were many times, I couldn’t help myself, helping others has bridged that disconnect within and has made me more empathetic and caring towards others, including myself. And here is where I now experience a strange and painful disconnect with who I feel like I am within and the person I see on the outside.
I have tried to like the outside. And I have found some things I really can appreciate. I like my eyes. They are my dad’s eyes. When I look in the mirror, I can look past all my flaws when I focus on my eyes. My eyes are now getting tired looking with age. The fine lines and bags are hard to ignore, but they remind me of my dad, so I tend to look past the imperfection that surrounds them. I have also developed an appreciation for my skin, but even that is beginning to fail me as I have been diagnosed with precancerous cells from my years of sun worshipping and I will spend a few weeks this winter undergoing a chemical peel through a chemotherapy type cream. But there is where I draw the line regarding the things I like about my face.
I have taken my body and face shaming to insane levels. I have never been the person I had hoped I would be in that department. I am no stranger to plastic surgery. The mean taunting of a horrible stranger led me to be terribly self-conscious of my huge bump in my nose. What bump you say??? EXACTLY! The ridicule of an ex pushed my self-loathing of my body to the extent that I tucked my belly and lifted my boobs (I know…they still need some more lifting…all in good time). Somewhere along the line, as much as my weight has been a constant source of stress for me, I have allowed my weight to creep up and up. I have honestly lost and gained the same 50 pounds for over a decade. I have been on a roller coaster of several diets…so many, that I can no longer keep track. I have even woken up some days committed to Weight Watchers and by dinner, I am in a restaurant ordering wings and I thinking, “Aww, screw it…I’m on Atkins now. Waitress, throw in a Tito’s and Club!” And even at my current age, I am undergoing a second round of braces in the form of Invisalign. Oh, and let’s not forget the Botox trial that made my forehead and nose resemble a female version of Herman Monster? On second thought, I think it’s best for us all to leave that story where it lies, in my twisted past.
You have probably seen a certain saying on Facebook stating, “I AM ENOUGH!” I do not need to be what society says I should be. I am enough just the way I am. I have not had the easiest paper route, but I persevered. I have survived devastating relationships and turbulent and heart-breaking parental challenges. Regardless, I owned a very successful business with about 75+ employees across 4 states, my business has helped hundreds, no, honestly thousands of children with disabilities over a 10-year period. I try hard to be a good wife, mother, daughter and sister. I am a friend that will move mountains to help you. I love to a fault. I am more than enough. I am entitled to every wrinkle and stress line I wear on my face; the ones that time is making more prominent lately. And if I am overweight, who cares…I am enough. I am not morbidly obese. I have earned the pizza, the wine, and the piece of chocolate I sneak when I think no one is looking. I deserve it all. I am enough! My mouth could easily say those things, but my heart was singing a different tune.
In my search to find inner peace and balance, and to confront my weight demons, I tried a little experiment. I GOT NAKED! I did this to accept and live comfortably in my well-deserved “Enough” body. This was such a terrifying experience, that I literally stopped in my tracks, threw back on some clothes, downed a double shot of Petron in seconds, and thought to myself, WHAT THE FUCK! However, I was committed to doin this thing I have avoided for years. So, yes, I got naked once again and glared into the mirror. I am a ‘lights out’ girl, if you know what I mean, and I only own one full length mirror that I almost never look in, so this was a big deal for me. I resolved that I was going to take a hard look at myself in the mirror, in my most vulnerable state and accept all that I am and all that I have endured. I was going to accept this god given human form that supported me through the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life.
At first, I didn’t know where to begin, so I started at the top. I looked at my hair. Darn it…I always wished I had long, thick hair. But I got thin, curly hair that is ok with me at this point. Hair extensions have helped. Next, my attention went to my eyes. They are tired. But the sleep I lost over the years gave me time to reflect on moving forward, which I did successfully, so in all sense of the term, my eyes are ‘enough.’ I looked hard at the scar on my forehead from when fell in my driveway as a child, the one above my eye from the truck door flinging back at me when I got out while dropping my kids off at my mom’s on my way to work, and the one on my chin that I have no recollection of but it clearly required several stitches. All battle wounds were classified and tucked away as things that made me strong. I then focused on the new aging and sun spots on my cheeks and neck. As horrible as they now appear, they represented years of summers at the swim club and on the beach creating memories with family and friends that somehow kept me sane in the tumultuous world I lived in. All Blemishes were accepted and tucked away as a well-deserved price to pay for such great times. My torso was a bit more brutal to look at objectively. I observed the 2 incisions under each breast from my lift which helped release insecurity of sagging boobs a bit, the ones that endured engorgement of breast milk 4 times and bore the stretch marks to prove it. Then, there was the scar between my breasts from the mole removal. Remnants of an afternoon in a friend’s pool slathered in Crisco Oil…what the hell were we thinking?? Next came my most recent scars. 6 small incisions that span across my stomach in a semi-circle fashion from the 4-hour surgery to remove 2 significant tumors and help the oncologist rule out ovarian and /or uterine cancer. The successful surgery and residual scars are a small price to pay for the peace of mind it gave me: Accepted and tucked away in my memory . Scanning lower, I observed the significant scarring from hip to hip from delivering my breach 10 lb. 7 oz son. Overlapping the C-section scars, my body displays a significant tummy tuck scar which aided in removing the excess abdominal fat from the weight gain I went through being pregnant and delivering a baby at almost 38 years old and never losing the weight permanently. All of these ‘battle wounds’ are well-deserved scars of a life that I was, somehow, no longer ashamed of. I scanned down my legs to the scar on left knee from where I nearly bled to death in an early-age leg shaving accident. Adjacent was a scar I sustained from running from the cops in a raid at a beer party in the woods as a teenager. All battle wounds were classified and stored in my memory as proof that I was a stupid teenager, but boy I had some great times. My final scar was the one I bare on my inner left foot. The one that represents my first, real heart break from a boy. Mission accomplished. The front is done. I AM ENOUGH. My body, and all its imperfection serves as a road map to 50 years of love and loss. I finally did a quick spin around and examined my naked derriere.
Let me start my saying that God is an extremely cleaver being having the hindsight to put our eyes in the front of our head and our ass in a place where the eyes cannot see easily or on a regular basis. The split second I turned around to evaluate the back of me, panic struck. UHM, NOPE! Reality hit me square in the ego. I quickly dressed and opened a bottle of wine. My rear end was most certainly ‘Enough’. In fact, the backside of me was MORE THAN ENOUGH! Enough for me and perhaps another person or two. And then it occurred to me how silly this saying “I AM ENOUGH” can be for some people. I am NOT enough. Not for me.
Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am trying to fit into society’s expectation of being perfect. I am not starting a new cycle of finding faults. That is not it at all. I do accept most of me. But I honestly believe its perfectly fine to want to be the best version of yourself…and my legs and ass are not, to my standards, an acceptable version. I want more and better for myself. It would be so easy for me to continue to justify my weight. In doing that, I am justifying and accepting a state of being that is not healthy. I think I said this before, I have no desire to be a twiggy thin person. One, my frame was not made for that, but two, I like my curves…they are just too curvy for me right now. So, I will continue my endeavor to achieve change, but in doing so, I vow to be kinder to me. I vow to continue to find the good in me. I vow to do the best I can to be kind to and help others. I vow to use gratitude to show me that this life is good, and I contribute positively to it. And I vow to get on the treadmill and try all kinds of lifestyle changes to bring the rest of my body in line with a version of me I can finally find peace with. I encourage all of you to love you enough to do the same. Be the best version of you! Find your version of being “Enough” and work towards it. Don’t look for perfection. It doesn’t exist. But self-love and acceptance is possible. Do the work to find it. That is my plan. Persevere Bitches!