I want him to tell me that I’m beautiful. Shower me with compliments. Caress me. Show me how much he is attracted to me. And he does. Some days, my head is in the right place, and I believe him. My heart is full.
And other days, my mind tells me lies. He compliments me, but it doesn’t make it inside. I don’t believe him. My mind forgets or stops trusting his truth. I ask again for a compliment. And again. I look for an affirmation. It reaches my ears, but it doesn’t sink in. I don’t feel beautiful, I don’t feel good enough. I pick apart my perceived imperfections, refusing to see what he sees.
My poor husband. He obviously thinks the world of his wife (and thinks she’s pretty hot), and some days, her mind just won’t let her hear it.
Ever since I remember, I’ve been told I was pretty. By my parents (because what well-meaning mom or dad doesn’t tell their daughter she’s beautiful?), by friends, by strangers. When I was a teen, I was very thin. Almost dreadfully so. I ate (plenty!). No eating disorder in sight. I heard all kinds of comments.
“You’re so lucky – you don’t have to watch what you eat.”
“I would kill to have your tiny waist.”
“Why do you need to work out? You’re skinny!”
“Be careful, or you’ll get blown away!”
Obviously, I was different. It was viewed positively, from what I could tell, but still…different. Somehow, contrary to what some might believe, this didn’t really feed my esteem in a positive manner. Perhaps due to an accumulation of all of these experiences, perhaps not, but over time, I realized that in life, your body and your appearance matter. It was important to people. So of course, being the overachiever/people pleaser that I am, I wanted to make sure I was measuring up.
Trouble is, my mind found plenty of ways I wasn’t “measuring up”. Acne. Cellulite. A hair where there wasn’t supposed to be one. And as I became an adult, additional weight. A few more dimples. Squishy parts. While I was never overweight, I felt fat. Unpretty. Less than what I should be. Not good enough. I would seek for affirmations, but even when I received them, I discounted them. Brushed off compliments, or picked apart a flaw instead. It was all I seemed to see. I didn’t see a pretty lady, a hot wife, or even as I started exercising, I didn’t see a fit person.
This, folks, is body dysmorphia. Now, I don’t mean that it’s a horrible awful mental disorder. And I don’t have an utter hatred for my body, although some people may. I see things and perceive my body in ways that are not true. Basically, the mind sees something other than reality. If I was to look at a friend that looked like me, I guarantee you I wouldn’t feel the same about her as I did about myself. I would tell her she was beautiful. Because she would be. I wouldn’t obsess over her flaws – I wouldn’t even see flaws! So why do I do this to myself?
So I’m changing that.
I shared in my post over at In Johnna’s Kitchen the other day about breaking free from body shaming. I’m learning to look at myself differently by also looking at the world differently. If I look for beauty in all things, I can’t help but see the beauty in myself.
My husband and I sometimes use a term to describe self-deprecating behavior. He does a pretty good job of calling me out on it. He says “Invisible Bat!” (Basically, it means that by saying what you’re saying, it’s akin to hitting yourself on the head with an invisible bat, and to stop beating yourself up.) Catching myself using that “invisible bat” helps, and having his support is immeasurably beneficial.
It’s not a perfect process, and there are still sometimes bad days. But I’m making progress. There are more good days all the time. It’s a reprogramming thing. If I clear my mind of critical thoughts, I can make room to receive positivity. You’d be surprised. There is a lot of wonderful, positive energy in this world, if you look for it. And when I do receive that positive energy – I mean, really, truly receive it – I have to say, it’s pretty great.