I’m sure I’ve talked before about how I used to always feel ugly. How I longed for people to tell me that I’m beautiful. There was a huge whole in my psyche that refused to allow “good” thoughts to filter in. It was a really big problem. And it was also confusing. Let me explain:
I wanted people to tell me that I was beautiful. People (like my partner) would tell me I was beautiful and then I wouldn’t believe him. I would think, “Yeah, you kind of have to say that. You’re my husband.” I knew somewhere down deep that the opinions others had of me “good” or “bad” didn’t matter. I intrinsically knew that what really matters are those things that I whisper to myself about who I am. What I didn’t know was how to change the trash talk that I was allowing to play back in my head. I mean, those things were on repeat in my head in MY VOICE.
My voice told me that I was not beautiful. That I was not smart. That I was not funny. That I didn’t really have much value beyond what I could do for other people. My voice told me that I was not a good friend. My voice told me that I was “too much.” That I had too many opinions. That I couldn’t feel comfortable in the nuances of difficult issues.
My voice lied.
I have been doing some really hard and quite valuable interpersonal work in counseling. PPD has been a blessing in many ways because treatment for PPD has caused me to look at myself differently. With the help of my therapist, I have been able to work through much of the trash talk. I am learning to allow my heart to lead me. My heart which says that I can in fact trust myself. That I can believe what I say.
I am noticing that I’m talking way less trash to myself. The noticing is just the beginning.
I really feel that as I learn to love myself and all the beautifully complicated parts of me I am giving myself a gift. This is a gift that keeps on giving as it allows me to be the person who I truly am: the mama, the sister, the partner, the friend. I can give of myself and acknowledge my limits without beating myself up for what I “should have” or “could have” done. I find rest in the fact that truly know that I am doing the best that I can. As I type this, I am also acknowledging that other people- as annoying as they can be- are also doing the best that they can. This is a revelation.
I am more mindful about how I can take care of myself. I am definitely an introvert. I need time to myself to recharge. I need quiet. I need peace. As the mama of two babies who are so very full of life, I am truly spent at the “end” of every day. I give and give and give of myself. I willingly do so.
Another thing has changed: the lens through which I view my extraordinary body. I am actually able to look at myself and point out physical characteristics that I like about me. I am beginning to view my body as a work of art. I have choice in the way that I dress myself. In the clothes that I choose to sew for myself. I have artistic license with the way that I put outfits together. I get to choose. Sewing definitely helps me love myself.
I turned 35 a couple of weeks ago. And I did something brave. I had been thinking that a septum piercing would look cute on me and I finally took the plunge to get it done. I am totally surprised at how something as small as a piercing can help me feel so very confident. It’s amazing. The feeling. I want to soak it all in.
There is definitely (still) a stigma surrounding tattoos and piercings. I understand that. I am (mostly) okay with it. Here’s the thing: If someone does something with their body that you don’t like. It’s perfectly fine (even recommended) to say nothing. Don’t lie and say that you like it if you don’t. You also don’t need to say that you do like it if you do. You can choose to say nothing at all.
When my partner finally noticed my nose piercing, he didn’t say anything right away. I respected that. But soon, he was unable to hold it in. He chose to tell me that my piercing was “ugly” while we were driving home with both of our babies in the car. I want to tell myself that my girls weren’t paying attention. I want to tell myself that my partner’s words didn’t sting a little. But I won’t lie to myself. I know the truth. Both of my baby girls heard their daddy speak to me in a very ugly way… with such disdain. And my partner’s words did hurt. Instead of responding. I chose to say nothing to him. Not a thing.
There is value in silence.
Just because you can have an opinion on every single thing doesn’t mean that you need to give it.
Here’s what I know. The work that I’m doing now is a gift to me. It is also a precious gift to give to my babies. I am doing the work now to give my girls a mama who shows by example how to: take care themselves (by moving my body and nourishing my body with food that makes my body happy). Daily, I show my girls how to apologize and mean it, how to remain steadfast in the adversities of life, how to have a strong opinion even if it goes unstated and how to keep it even when the opinion is unpopular but also how to adapt- just because they have a certain belief or opinion right now doesn’t mean that they are unable to change that opinion. I am showing my girls the power and the importance of silence. I am showing my girls the necessity of speaking up. I am showing my girls how to have hobbies and how to learn and how to question- even those in authority. I am teaching my babies to be fierce and to know that they can be confident that no matter what their mama has their back. I am showing my girls daily that I love them and I like them and there is nothing in the world they can do to change the way I feel about them.
Do I need to constantly talk to my partner about how what I choose to do with my body is my choice? No. And my not discussing my stance doesn’t change my stance one bit. I don’t have to respond to every wrong comment I hear. I hear a lot of them. I can wait for someone to ask my opinion. I can remind myself that my truth has value. I can also choose to say nothing.