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!