I’ve been lazily in love with myself the past few months.
Since I don’t have a reason to get ready for the day, majority of the time I stay in my pajamas with undone hair. Everett is basically the only one who sees me and today, he’s truthfully wearing a toucan print muscle tank with rocket ship pants…we don’t care what we look like around here.
But I’m starting to fall short in the confidence I was once so abundantly full of because I rarely bother with a “beauty routine” anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic being in the comfort of home with no bra, sometimes no pants and a bare clean face. But I’m creating a yucky habit out of the mom life.
So I am getting intentional, wanting to give myself the opportunity to feel beautiful in my skin because curled hair and makeup make me feel good. Just because I’m not leaving the house for a job, doesn’t mean I don’t have one worthy looking nice for.
Each morning this week, I got ready in chunks of time, separating my shower, blow drying, hot rollers, makeup and getting dressed. It’s a lot better than a straight hour in the bathroom, something no working woman or mother has the time or energy for. And honestly, I already feel better because of this “routine.”
My world has been becoming more clear because I’m paying attention to how I think, understanding that what matters most is that I FEEL GOOD. Always, without exception. If “getting pretty” helps, then I’m gonna keep making the time for it.
You set a really good example for me. I had a mother who really and truly loved herself. It was something obvious for anyone who knew you. You always got ready, and I know it was for no one other than yourself.
I used to do my hair and makeup without any clothes on, in front of the mirror. I guess I thought it was normal because you always did. But it forced me to look at my naked body and love what I saw, especially while pregnant and going through so many physical changes.
Now when I’m undressed in front of the mirror, the first thing I look at are my boobs. They’ve become deflated, like little dispirited pockets of skin, begging for the filling fat that my body simply doesn’t have. Then I look at my teeth and the ever-growing gap between the front two.
Why is it so easy to think negative things about my body but not positive? It feels weird to look in the mirror and say, “I love my hair. I love my stomach. I love my legs.” But without even thinking, I can look and say bad things.
And that’s just it–I’m not thinking.
I’d go through my day without paying attention to what I was talking about. Words would automatically come out of my mouth, interpreting whatever it was I was experiencing. If in traffic, I’d complain. If I got bad news, I’d tell whoever listened. If someone made me mad, I’d allow them to take up my energy by talking about just how mad they made me.
Nothing should be talked about unless it makes me feel better doing so. Worrying about something is literally like praying for what I don’t want to happen and when I verbally put it in my vibration, I’m asking the Universe for more worry, more problems to talk about.
Thinking before I speak and consciously choosing what I talk about, takes practice. I still worry. I still say bad things or make comments about other people. I’m not a peaceful all love hippy with no negativity.
But I’m learning that positivity isn’t only relative to things and experiences in my life, but to myself.
Making little changes, like tidying and gratitude lists and learning to love my body yet again, have all come into existence because I’ve been aware of my thoughts. After all, it’s me inside my own head. I have power over that voice.
I know I’m not the only woman who judges what looks back at her in reflection. I’m just refusing to do it anymore. I want everyone to be able to see their good and not feel ashamed or egotistical when saying what they love about themselves.
If we aren’t in love with ourselves, how can we attract more love? How would we feel worthy enough for all the beauty the Universe can bring us?
I had times in my life when I hated my body. I had times in my life when I over exercised, tirelessly trying to fight the demons in my head that said I wasn’t thin enough. Or trying to fight the emptiness that was left after you died, treating my body like it was nothing because I quite literally felt like nothing.
I had times in my life where I didn’t keep my food down because I felt so disgusted being full.
When I’d throw up over the toilet, I’d think, what would Mom do if she could see you right now? But that still wasn’t enough for me to stop.
Oh god. I can’t believe I’m admitting that to you. I know you’ve known, but even for me to write it seems like I’m making up a story about myself: I cannot believe I used to treat my body in such a way.
I can still remember how I’d hunch over the toilet and tighten my stomach, feeling the consumed food pour out of me. I can still remember how disgusting I felt…how ashamed and dirty I felt, when throw up would splash on my face.
I knew it was wrong, I knew I needed to stop, but I never did it constantly, maybe once or twice a month. I thought it was “under control,” kept it secret, and did it sparingly when I didn’t know how else to cope with what felt like the loss of everything: my mother, my family, my boyfriend, my father, my friends.
The worst was my freshman year in college. I was the loneliest I’d ever been. My childhood friends were no longer with me every day like they were in high school. You had been gone for just over a year, and the first shock of your loss was over. It all finally felt real. Everyone moved on with their lives, but our family couldn’t. I couldn’t.
When I would come home from school to visit, which was almost every weekend, you weren’t there. Somehow I still expected you to be. Dad would go out and I had no idea where he was going. Terri started to be present in his life and I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t ready.
To deal with the emptiness within our house and family, I’d watch a movie in the basement of our vacant house and binge eat. Home was really the only place I ever did this.
I’d eat goldfish and pretzels, mixed together in the same bowl. Then some cereal and milk. Then a bagel with ham, egg and cheese and I’d finish off with ice cream because it made for an easy exit out of my stomach. I would go up to my bedroom on the top floor and empty it all out, leaving me to feel evenly empty on the inside. I wanted that feeling. I had control over it. Because nothing else in my life was going my way.
I just wanted you back. I wanted my family back. I was so desperate for our love and communal chaos again.
When I started consistently going to yoga, it taught me how to respect my body. I learned that my body was a temple and filling it with food and throwing up was not treating it as such.
Yoga forced me to sit still with myself and feel your loss. It made me feel my strained relationship with Dad and the changes he was experiencing. It made me feel the loss of who I thought was my first love, the one who left me only a few months after you died.
Yoga showed me that the past didn’t really exist anymore, and no matter how hard I fought to get back to it, I’d never get there. It showed me that dwelling on a failed relationship wouldn’t fix it. It showed me that controlling my body through eating and exercising would never control the circumstances that took you from this world.
It taught me that I was worthy of love again and capable of giving it away.
I can proudly tell you now that I have not abused food since one night five years ago, when Chris and I got shamrock shakes at the McDonald’s drive-thru. We drank them in his car and I threw mine up in private when we got back to his parent’s house.
Afterwards, it was like everything finally clicked together, and I somehow had the strength to draw the line and stop forever. I promised never again never again as I walked back into his bedroom. And I’ve kept my promise. I would never lie to you.
Having gone through all of that, I understand how beautiful my body is. I understand that it’s flawed, but only when I choose to see those flaws.
If I feel good about myself and choose to say, “I love you,” when I look in the mirror, more evidence will come my way saying, “Yes! You are beautiful. See?”
I just wish it was easier to understand the power we have over our own lives. Why aren’t we ever taught this? I have to read and search and journal and post positive affirmations on my refrigerator to try and constantly remind myself to think before I think. It’s like I’m trying to rewire my brain.
All this good, loving and positive energy that I’m trying to get absorbed in, begins with loving myself. It’s an essential part I’ve skipped over.
Because if you don’t love yourself, why would you care to stop abusing your body? Why would you care to get out of an unhealthy relationship? Why would you care to listen to that beautiful inner voice that knows best? Why would you care to believe you’re magic and capable of bringing whatever it is you want into your own life’s experience?
I have you to thank for the self love I’ve found–for the way you danced, the way you played, the way you dressed and the way you carried yourself.
I have my yoga practice to thank, too. It is what keeps me accountable for how I feel about myself, still to this day. It forces me to pay attention to my emotions–my important indicators that guide each response to the outside world.
But most importantly, I have me to thank for the self love I’ve found, and I’m giving myself all the credit in the world because frankly, I deserve it. I’ve secretly overcome a lot. Very few people know about what I just told you.
One of the most important things I want to teach my kids is how to love themselves. I want them to love themselves so much, that they feel powerful enough to be brave and go for whatever it is they want in this world.
I hope I have a little girl, the one who will have her mermaid room, and get the chance to teach her how to love her body. To show her, through example, what it means to be confident. It’s something you did for me, something that I cannot possibly thank you enough for.
You gave me the zest I’ve always had within me, the vibrancy that I’m now claiming back into my life.
I am a part of you and a piece of you lives on within me. How could I not love every ounce of me there is?…the me that just started trying to get pregnant!