Notes to Self

July 30, 2013

because She said so

Saying it aloud makes it seem silly, obvious, as if I should have always known. But the complexities of the mind, the way we learn and the way every little experience has the potential to influence how our personalities develop…I didn’t realize it.

So yesterday when I finally made the connection, the impact was profound. I think it will take time to really understand, and then to change.

I believe beyond all doubt that I am a fat, ugly, disgusting whore who is incapable of being feminine or sophisticated; I am nothing but a bum and will always look like one, despite what I am wearing. I am a failure as a woman, which means I am a failure as a human.

I have lived my life in jeans and t-shirts, rarely venturing out of my comfort zone (and having great anxiety when I did). I’d avoid situations where dressing up was necessary. I never wore makeup. Never cared about my hair or nails. I did the bare minimum.

I avoided mirrors, would run out of bathrooms if another came in and I was trying to redo my pathetic hairstyle (barett, half way up). I felt I had no right to look and even less right to attempt to appear feminine.

I never had many friends. I constantly compared myself to other girls/women, telling myself how unworthy I was of their presence and friendship, and how less of a girl/woman I was because I didn’t dress nicely, do my hair, wear makeup, get my nails done or wear pretty shoes. I was not as worthy of a human being because I was not a good enough female. After all, I was used and no one wants a used person (yes, that is what my mother said to me when I was 13 years old after a very manipulative, abusive 16 year old boy took advantage of me).

I believe all this to be true because She said so.

That is the only reason.

It was an “ah-ha” moment laden with pain. My body cringed as my mind tried to make sense of the simple truth. Because She said so. I could almost see the words come out of her mouth and pave the neuronal pathways that caused the morning tears and tantrums as I went through my wardrobe desperately trying to find something to wear that would take away the negative thoughts and feelings. Day after day the struggle to hide behind cotton and somehow cognitively ignore my own body.  “It’s bad enough you look like a tramp but now you have to dress like a hobo too!” she said one day. Every time I got my hair cut, with a new do, she’d say “oh, well I would have done something different, but if you like it.” Miss Manners was always turning over in her grave at my existence. I stopped going shopping (clothes) with my mother when I was in the 6th grade or so – after she pulled out some frilly shirt (for the hundredth) and I replied “do you really think I would like that?”. It was clear she didn’t know me, didn’t approve of me and wanted me to be something else.  The messages of “I do not approve of you and you are not good enough” came from all directions in various forms. The eye rolls when I came down the stairs. This ’tisk’ when I got a little dirty (as a child mind you).

It was all there, all the information I needed to realize that no, there is and was nothing inherently wrong with me that makes me less of a human or woman. Stop hating yourself and thinking you are undeserving of anything but abuse. Stop trying to fix yourself or deny yourself fundamental love and appreciation for the individual you are.

I look at pictures of myself from when I was a child/adolescent and feel such great, deep sadness. As if I see my potential dying. As if I could have been great but it was lost and I am doomed to being….me. I hate that feeling. I hate thinking that I am nothing but a shell of a person who was wonderful.

And to think that I believe all this to be true simply because She said so.

I don’t know how long it will take me to fully appreciate this realization. I am still in shock. I do know that it is the beginning of brighter days ahead. I just need to figure out how to let all of her words go; how to dust off the little girl that needed love, encouragement and support, and emerge the person I am, that I have always been and will finally love.

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June 29, 2012

I am what I am (and it’s not in a dress)

My daughter loves water. She loves to play in it, splash in it and, I guess drink it (she is still a baby and gets mostly milk!).

She will splash in puddles, loves to have the indoor and outdoor faucet’s turned on (she gets completely soaked when outside!), she loves her baby pool and bath time and if you have a bucket or glass of water, she will stick her hand or arm into it!

I am pleased with her love for water, and for her lack of fear of the water!

I used to swim competitively. I used to puddle jump and walk in the rain for hours. I still love sitting on the porch when it’s raining. I rarely carry an umbrella.

Last night it rained.

This morning my daughter wanted to go outside (as we usually do before leaving for work/daycare). I couldn’t say no because she put on her jacket and then brought me MY shoes and then brought me HER shoes, and then sat down so I could put her shoes on her feet! There was no saying no to this 15 month old!

So we played and thankfully only her jacket got wet (daddy saved her from sitting in a puddle!). There was still some time before we could leave (waiting for daycare to open) so I decided to show her what happens when you shake the branches on a tree after it has rained.

We stood underneath the tree – her in my arms and I shook. The water rained down and she smiled. I shook again. She giggled. This is living.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

She squealed in delight, she closed her eyes and put her face to the sky, she opened her mouth to catch the rain.

Needless to say we were pretty wet. I wasn’t wearing a jacket (she was but her hair was wet).

I arrived at daycare with a wet shirt (like I had been caught in the rain). I explained myself to a few people and they all thought it was great.

I walked to the car smiling – I had given my daughter a wonderful moment that I will always cherish.

I realized that I am, always have been and always will be, a gal in jeans and not a dress.

Makeup runs in the rain and high heels get stuck in grass. They just don’t fit into my life.

I would rather sleep or cuddle with my husband, daughter or cat than spend that time doing my hair or makeup. I’m a wash-and-go type gal and I should just embrace it!

More importantly, this doesn’t make me less feminine or inferior to other women who do chose to (or need to based on career/office dress policy) spend more time on their appearance.

Maybe, if they had the choice (or more courage?) they would also shake the branches of a wet tree upon the heads of their children.

So keep your pantyhose and your foundation. I’ve made my life without them (and one could argue that I’ve directed my life so I could live without them!?).

I am what I am and I think I am beginning to like me.

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