Self-Lover

This is the same old song that has been sung by so many – Dove, my mother, Tyra Banks – but I don’t feel like women get it all of the time, at least this woman doesn’t. But we really have to stop hating ourselves. We have to stop looking in the mirror and seeing all of the flaws and none of the beauty.

I am trying to be intentional about loving myself. I think negative things about me all the time: I look at my thighs and think “cellulite”; I look in the mirror and think “zits”; I look at my hair and think “not curly enough” or “not straight enough” or “too dry” or “too oily.” I’m just a mess, a terrible mess. And sometimes thinking all of these negatives things about me makes me hate me a little. It makes me want to hit something – hit it hard.

But I have to stop doing that. I have to stop doing it because the bottom line is I am imperfect, and I am going to do imperfect things and look imperfect and be completely imperfect sometimes. But imperfections are not flaws; imperfections are not ugly; imperfections are not unworthiness.

Once I realized how much I was hating myself, I knew that I had to stop. I have a niece; one day I might have a daughter. The last thing I want is for them to get bogged down with self-hatred. So, I have been intentional about looking in the mirror and thinking, “You’re pretty,” instead of, “You’re hair is a hot mess.” I’ve taken to looking at my thighs and thinking, “I’m so glad that I have these thighs; they are beautiful and they complement my body so well.”

It’s about way more than saying, “Your hair isn’t that crazy today,” or “You’re thighs aren’t that bad looking.” In fact, I don’t like that at all – saying “not that bad stuff” is just hating yourself to a lesser degree.

What intentionally thinking we’re beautiful is about is looking at yourself – myself – and seeing ourselves, thinking about ourselves as beautiful. This is about more than becoming “okay” with your flaws; it is about not seeing them as flaws anymore. It is about recognizing your flaws and calling them beautiful.

This photographer took these pictures of regular women in the nude around their houses – women of all shapes and all sizes, and I imagine that would be so terrifying because you just know that someone will look at your body and think, “What the hell was SHE thinking doing that? Just leave some things to the imagination.” But I love it – I love it so, so, so, so, so much. These women’s bodies were not perfect – they had stretch marks and cellulite just like my body; breasts were sagging and bellies were not flat, but their bodies – their imperfect bodies – are so far from being flawed. I look at the pictures and see how beautiful they are, every single one of them. And I am working on seeing myself like I see these women – beautiful with my flaws, not in spite of them. 

So, I’m working on loving myself. The Bible tells me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, and I believe that. I believe that hating on myself does not honor my creator at all, and I want to honor him as much as I can. This is a good place to start.

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Erasing

So, today I had to go through all my old emails looking for my UF Id code that I haven’t used in almost 4 years. I don’t remember it, and I thought that maybe I had this inspired idea when I was 21 years old and a recent graduate to record it somewhere in case I needed it again. Unfortunately, I had no such idea, and I just ended up going through piles and piles of old emails, many of them from my ex.

After a little while, I got all annoyed at these emails, so I started erasing them. I mean, his sweet words meant so much to me when we were together, but they don’t mean much to me now, right? So, I began erasing and erasing and erasing. After about 5 minutes of erasing, I realized that I had over 100 pages of messages to still erase. 100 PAGES. It was at that moment I realized that I cannot erase all of his emails. It would be entirely too time consuming. I stopped.

This led me a few moments of deeper reflections that resulted in this conclusion: as much as I would like to erase all the sweet words he spoke and all the feelings I had and all the tears I cried over him, as much as I would like to erase our entire relationship and the pain that its end caused me, I cannot. And erasing it would be quite silly, wouldn’t it? I mean, it happened. And there were so many moments, days, weeks that were perfectly wonderful. There were times when I was sublimely happy and I felt completely loved and happy and whole.

Now, after the relationship ended, I went through several months of sadness and pain and anger and grief. It wasn’t cute. There were a lot of tears and a lot of sleepness nights. In fact, I still tear up sometimes when I talk about him because I cared about him that deeply, and in a lot of ways I still do. And the pain sucks. Straight up. The fear of going through a break-up again also sucks. The cautiousness with which I now trust my heart to others sucks too. When I think about our relationship in those terms, I want to erase it. I want to get into a traumatic accident and forget just the past two years of my life, like that movie with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum.

But I go back to paragraph 3 – I remember what our relationship taught me about myself and him and others and God and love and beauty. I remember that he is not a bad person; he’s just a person who isn’t meant to be with me. And that can make me feel a little sad because I care about him, but it makes me more happy than sad because now we’re free to be with the right person.

Yes, our relationship gave me some insecurities and some apprehension about other potential romances. But it gave me more good things than it gave me bad things. And even if it gave me more bad things than good things, I still believe that it happened for a reason and that I am better because of it. So, I guess that I will stop erasing it.

Lying

I’m pretty sure that everyone lies. I think I lied today, but I don’t remember. If I did, it wasn’t a big lie that I would remember. I probably told one of those lies that I tell everyone, and I’ve told it so much that I think it’s the truth. Like that I’m allergic to seafood. I had a reaction once when I was in high school, and it freaked me out. So I stopped eating it. And I just assumed I was allergic. So I just started telling people I was allergic, but I don’t really know if I am. It might have been a one-time thing, like that one time when I was 18, and I dirty danced with a guy at a club in Pensacola. I never did get his name. I think he was cute, but I don’t remember because I was underage drinking. I do know that he was (well, I suppose he still is) black and short.

Today I realized something – we’re always disappointing people. And then I realized that I have to STOP worrying about disappointing everyone with my life. I mean, I do things that some people call “sin,” and other people do things that I call “sin.” Like this blog post; someone somewhere who loves me very much is going to pray for me and my salvation because of this post. And, because I love that person so much, I’ll be over here praying for his or her salvation. It’s actually funny, not in the “haha” sort of way, but in a “huh, that is interesting” kind of way. I wish English had a word for that. Better yet, I wish that I knew what that word was in English.

As I was driving home from work today, I thought about how I had been in total survival mode lately. Everything I am doing now is all about protection. I want to protect my body, my heart, my sanity. It’s all very normal and animal-istic, so I suppose I shouldn’t worry about it too much. See, first I was thinking about how nice it would be to be an ant because I wouldn’t have to deal with emotions and logic and the fight between emotions and logic. But then I realized that both emotions and logic are just defense mechanisms; they are a part of our survival toolkit. And I realized that emotions and logic are what made me like an ant because an ant’s entire life is about survival, and emotions and logic are what help us to survive. I mean, when I get angry it’s mostly because I’m trying to protect myself from something – rejection or hurt or fear or stress. Anyways, so then I realized that I am already an ant and that I don’t really enjoy being an ant – I’d rather be a human. And the best part of being a human is that we have the choice to un-protect ourselves and break free of that natural “survival mode.” Like I can choose to take off all of my clothes in below freezing weather and jump into a swimming pool. I have the choice to just open myself up completely and be totally vulnerable and tell the world all of flaws. Animals can’t do that. So I thought to myself that all I really want to do is jump into a freezing lake completely naked and then get a loudspeaker that can be heard over the whole world and confess all of my fears and shortcomings to every single person (I’d hire several translators.) And then I’d be totally human and not at all like an animal. What I actually did was bought take-out Chinese food and ate it on my couch fully dressed in a heated apartment in complete silence. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

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