Saturday, February 14, 2009

Learning to Love begins with Me

I have not always liked who I am. In my own eyes, I never quite measured up to other people. I don't think I really thought about this much as a child, because children almost naturally accept themselves without hesitation. It's not until the outside world begins passing judgment of one kind or another that low self-esteem develops.

You're not smart enough. Your grades stink. You're a nerd (too smart). You're not pretty. You're too fat. You're clumsy. You'll never amount to anything. You're lazy.

I don't like you.

What child hasn't heard this litany or something similar at some point in their life? It is the beginning of low self-esteem, making the child question their own abilities and worth.

I'm pretty sure mine started with "You're too fat," and went from there. I was a roly-poly pre-teen. What I didn't realize at the time was that a lot of girls are. They gain a little weight and then when the hormones kick in, those fat cells re-arrange themselves into breasts and hips and the rest of them is quite slender again. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a blob. If I'd bothered to look anywhere else outside my own head, I'd have seen quite a few around me. But I didn't, and the self-image of "I'm fat" was set at around age 12.

I've spent most of my life feeling fat - even when I wasn't. When I look back of pictures of teenaged me, I wonder how on earth I could have thought I was fat. A short bout of anorexia did nothing to alleviate my mental picture. I've been fat for 35 years in my head.

In self defense, I developed a personality. I'm smart. I am a capable writer, home improvement maven, pet owner, job holder, bike rider, and avid reader. And I discovered that I can love other people and have their lives be better because of it. And when that happened, I learned how to make friends, be friendly, and make actual conversations. I'm a pretty good wife and mother.

I finally like myself. Which sounds odd coming out of a nearly-47 year old. It seems like it took me a long time.

And FAT isn't the first label I apply to myself. Because of that (because technically, I still AM fat), I have changed my attitude.

I am learning to do things I never thought I'd do. I am choosing my life and not another piece of cake. I'm choosing to stretch this body's abilities, feed it food that will sustain it and give it energy rather than sedate it and prepare it for hibernation. I'm healing it of all the anger and hatred I've felt towards it for so long because it didn't measure up to other people's standards.

I am learning to love it... and myself. And because of that, I can love other people better too.

Thanks to HoosierGirl for giving me the idea for this post!


HoosierGirl5 said...

What I like about you is that you're multifaceted - you're interested in lots of different things. And you're a good mom.

Happy VD!


Anonymous said...

Fat is not the first adjective that comes to mind when I think of you either.

I think of things like compassionate, bright, talented, dedicated, generous, good human being, devoted mother ... as just the first seven things that come to mind... and that's just from knowing you through the internet, your "real life" friends and family must be very happy to have you in their lives.

I do share your sentiments about self-love and the ability to love others. I too appreciate me more than I ever did and that does help me in my responce to others. Better late than never I say.

Happy Valentines dear Sayre.


Anonymous said...

Coming from someone that has known you for years, I never saw all those things in you as we grew up. I loved you for who you were just as I still do today.

Don't get me wrong it is about growth and sometimes we develop in our own minds a little later in life.
Because even though you may not have seen me I was on the same boat.

Your beauty and intelligence has always shone brightly.


grace said...

you always stop by mine to encourage me, that means a lot to me. I hope you had a lovely valentine

nikki said...

You're beautiful....inside and out.

SwampAngel65 said...

I can completely relate to what you're saying. Things got better for me once I was out of school. I found that once away from all the cliques and peer-pressure, people didn't judge so quickly.

You are so many things to so many people. Nona said it all.

Eventhough we've never met, I think of you as a friend, a kind person, a smart and compassionate person.

Hope you had a wonderful V-Day! I luv ya!!!

Alice in Wonderbread said...

Hi Sayre-
I just dedicated a post exclusively to you, then I come here and read this!

Absolutely...because you love me, I am a better person. Jeez, did you know before I did I was going to write a post with the same conclusion?

I too thought I was fat- even when I was 124 pounds and five foot six. I remember freaking out because I only fit into size 7 and not size 5. WTF is up with that image.

I agree with everyone else's comments here. :) Thank you for being you, and loving yourself!

Janis said...

Kudos to you Sayre, happiness is an inside out job. I am so glad you discovered that. Happy belated Valentines day.