It happened sometime this week, I stopped caring about what others think about me. I don’t know why or the exact moment when but maybe there is something to exposure therapy.
I used to hate going to the pool or beach in my bathing suit. It’s always been uncomfortable because I’ve always been uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve never been truly happy with what I see in the mirror and then suddenly, I believe it was Wednesday … I just stopped giving a f*ck. It was like I just couldn’t be bothered to worry about it any longer and it was like a million-pound weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I could breathe again.
You see, I have daughters; beautiful, smart, funny, amazing daughters and I’ve got to be the example of self-love. I’ve always known this and I’ve given it the old college try but my default is self-deprecating. But those little girls’ eyes they are always watching. I can’t hide how I really feel so I have to change the story.
I’ve always made a conscious effort to change and be free with my body in front of the girls. Even though it is counterintuitive for me but I do it because if they see Mommy (appearing to be) comfortable changing, or dancing around the room in her panties and bra or just normalizing nakedness then I’m showing them that it’s okay. That our body is just the skin we live in, it doesn’t define us (even if in my brain I was scrutinizing every single bend and reach). I was faking it ( and not as good as I’d liked) until I made it.
Then a couple weeks ago we were at BlogHer and the girls came with me and instead of spending my free time drinking in the lounge it was mandatory that I lounge in the pool with my girls and I couldn’t refuse because “I don’t want my friends to see me in a bikini ” because WTF does that teach my girls about female friendships? Especially since they had met so many of my friends and thought they were amazing. So I did it!
I walked all over Disney world in outfits matching shirts my tweens because the oldest wanted to. I let go the thought that Joe some stranger I didn’t know might think I was trying to reclaim my youth because I was dressed like my girls. And I fumbled all over that lazy river with my family, jumping and bending and falling all over that tube and I didn’t care who saw me because my daughters were smiling and laughing with me and every time I caught the Big Guy looking at me, it was with those adoring eyes; like I was the sexiest thing in the pool. In that moment, nothing else mattered. I got over myself. I’ve realized something, I have a tendency to get in my own way a.lot. I never needed a bully, I did just fine all on my own.
That was a 10-day trip of just letting stuff go. Then all this past week, at home, I took the girls to our clubhouse pool and by Wednesday I realized I didn’t care who looked at me or what they thought. I realized, I’m just as awesome as my kids think I am. Slowly, I’ve been finding myself letting go of the expectation of who I think I’m supposed to be and am beginning to love who I am because damn it, I’m pretty awesome.
By yesterday, I was bathing suit shopping with my daughters. The 3 of us together in the dressing room as the Big Guy waited outside the dressing room. We were laughing at how terrible some of the suits looked and looking for the redeeming qualities in others.
Honestly, I even tried on one that we affectionately referred to as my “GLOW” outfit, complete with a Hulk Hogan pose and I died laughing doing it. (Sorry, not sharing that pic because the boobs made it look a bit indecent.) There may have even been some boomerang shenanigans in one of my suits. The thing is there were no tears, feeling of disgust or anger. It’s just a bathing suit (a piece of clothing) and it has no power over me. I think this was the first time in my life that I actually knew that.
The Big Guy was astonished when I came out with a smile and a suit. I even sent him pics from the dressing room to get his thoughts. He was expecting the usual dressing room self-loathing funk that usually settles over me like thick fog whenever I go into those little rooms but I just couldn’t be bothered with wasting time on this nonsense. I have memories to make with my girls and too many have already been wasted with me tugging and pulling at my clothes. Too many years have been wasted hiding behind a number. I’m curvy and I kind of love that I can appreciate that now.
That’s when I realized, that we’ve just got to own that shit. It’s our body. It’s our story. It doesn’t matter if we feel too big or little, short, tall, fat, skinny, ugly or pretty. None of us is perfect. We all have our struggles with something, physical or mental or both. Life is hard enough without being our own worst critic. We have to get out of our own way to happiness. We all deserve happiness. It starts with acceptance.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier. That is doable. But healthy doesn’t necessarily mean a certain weight or BMI, those are guidelines. Healthy is a way of life, not a number. It’s crazy, I’ve never questioned how smart I am. I can quantify that with my I.Q. score and degrees and no one can ever take that away from me but somehow, I’ve never felt that same sureness about my body. I’ve always given the power to others and I’m never doing that again.
Wishing to be taller, shorter, built differently, having a different face, or body parts will just serve to make us feel less than because we can’t change who we are. Sure there are surgeries and diets but why? Who are we doing it for? Believe me, I’ve spent 30 years learning this lesson the hard way. The person on the inside, that’s the person who counts. You matter.
I realized something pretty eye-opening recently, being the mom of daughters has given me the gift of self-love and acceptance. You see I’ve always measured myself against other women and someone else’s impossible standards and I always fell short because when you’re pursuing someone else’s dream, you’ll never get there. You’ll never be truly happy.
My daughters have made me realize that I am the only standard of measurement that should count and no one else’s opinion of me should matter because being my best me is all that matters. Hmmm, the students have surpassed the teacher. I taught them that shit and I firmly believe it… for them but now, I believe for me too. The only standard I need to measure is my happiness.
My happiness matters and it has nothing to do with how I look in my bikini or how I think other people perceive me (because believe me, I’m way harder on myself than anyone has ever been on me). It’s about feeling good enough and when I see myself reflected in the smiles of my daughters’ eyes… I am fucking amazing to me and nothing else matters!
Now tell me, what’s amazing about you? What is the one thing you love about yourself?