Thursday, January 5, 2012

the torture below

I have this theory.

We talk big.  “My worth is MORE than my appearance”.  But society tells us that IS NOT TRUE.  Appearance and worth are sadly tied, and until society changes the rules and the collective media comes to its senses, we have to live with it.

My Identity is tied so firmly to My Run, that when I'm run-less, I start to question everything.
Even things that are unquestionable.

I think that many many women are blind and only see what they think they see.  And they’re deaf, and can only hear what they think they know.   And sometimes they’re surrounded by thick dark impenetrable evil that cloaks the world.  The view from behind the darkness is distorted and false. 

For example, one of my friends is particularly stunning.  She has a laugh that’s like champagne and a smile that’s lovely.  But the reason that men stop what they’re doing to stare “inconspicuously” as she walks through a room is probably not champagne and smile related.  She seems to have no idea that her legs are the kind of legs people dream about, and yeah, I mean that how it sounded.

Another friend is so pretty that the first time I saw her photo I had to draw her.  Her beauty is classic.   Fresh, blond, fair, and tall, it's no wonder my son has a crush on her.  She’s athletic and strong.  Sometimes I hear doubt from her.  DOUBT?  WTF?  Why does someone who looks like you doubt her beauty?

Come to think of it, most of my friends seem to have no idea what they look like.  One or two realize they’re beautiful and either don’t seem to care (“I’m worth more than my looks”) or just roll with it (“I consider it a public service”). 

The rest see the worst, the flaws, the imaginary fat, the thick thighs, and the childhood scars.  They see what I never even notice, or what doesn’t exist.  They have no clue what they really look like. 

I wonder:  Do I have any idea what I look like?

Probably. Not. 

I caught myself in the mirror the other day and thought, “I’m ugly.”  It was a passing thought, but I didn’t bother to banish it.  For some reason, it rang of truth. 

I pulled a fleece over my head, put my hood up and went to the gym where I destroyed myself in the pool. 

Ragged breathing was all I could hear as I churned in the dark water.  Then when I could scarcely breathe, I ripped the gay purple visor off my head, abruptly breaking the bubble gum Britney and Fergalious feed,  I snapped a pair of black goggles into place.  I raked my body down the pool and back again for a few hundred meters, punishing myself with brutal speed.  My arms ached, crying for mercy, but I had none.

I kept thinking about how ugly I am.  That I am unwanted.  I am impossible. 

I don’t know; it was just a thought that wouldn’t go away.  Nothing could break through the shadows.  The lifeguard sat witness, blessedly unaware of the torture below the surface.

I soaked in the pain, ignoring the fire in my lungs and swallowed back the iron I tasted as I sucked in the chlorine laced air.   Recover, breathe, catch, kick, pull.  The rhythm served as punctuation.

I might be ugly, but at least I. can. f*cking. swim.

An hour later I could barely pull my weary body over the side onto the cold floor.  Clutching my towel to my chest, I stumbled toward the locker room.  Pink hands that were too tired to adjust the nozzle of the shower turned a knob, and my skin was pricked by water that quickly grew too hot.

Ah, the torture continued.

It was when I went to dry myself that I realized I must be possessed.  The still trembling leg I was drying was not fat.  It was muscular and curvy.  A quick inspection of myself revealed what I was beginning to suspect. 

I am not a Victoria’s Secret model.  Thank f*ck.  Imagine the stress that goes with that gig.

I am real.  I will never get fired for aging.  And not one part of me should be berated or punished the way I punished myself because I am real.

I have seen photos.  I know on film that I am not completely unfortunate looking.  WHY did I suddenly look in the mirror and NOT BELIEVE? 

The answer is simple. 

I am blind.  I only see what I EXPECT to see.
I AM DEAF, and only hear what I think I already know.
And when I say women are surrounded in evil, tell me friends, what would make my beautiful friends think they are anything less than exquisite? 

The darkness needs to go.

Next time that your friend tells you “you are the hottest mom ever”, see the honesty in the message and believe that you are THE HOTTEST MOM EVER.  When your husband , wife, brother, sister, guy or girlfriend says, “You are stunning”, I hope you will listen with your mind open to hear the truth of the message.

And I hope you will pay it forward.  Share the message with the beautiful people in your life.

You never know if the message you send, or comment you make, will be the light that breaks through and illuminates a path for someone who’s drowning in the darkness.


carrie said...

OMG this is freaking awesome!! So true! When I look at myself, all I see is the stretch marks from my breasts to my ankles from two pregnancies, the flap of loose abdominal skin from once weighing 209 at 37 1/2 weeks pregnant that "desperately needs to be tucked" and those saggy boobs.

G- I think you are beautiful inside AND out. Hell, you're drop dead gorgeous! Thank you for writing this and pointing out that I need to look at myself the same way...I'll work on it.

bobbi said...

om fuckinig g

why do we do this?

why do *I* do this.

and as I sit hear dangerously close to ugly crying, I want you to know that you are the hottest mama I (virtually) know. and as sad as it is that we do this to ourselves, it makes me feel a little less...alone? something. that someone as stunning as you are feels this way too. (does that make any sort of sense? can't think. crying.)

MCM Mama said...

Hammer meet nail...

I'm really struggling right now with body issues and aging. And I'm sure most of it is being blind.

You are beautiful, in appearance and inside, but I totally understand those days when you just don't feel that way.

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

THIS POST. This post is stunning. You are stunning.

I will be re-reading this many times over, G. Thank you.

Your craft with words is a true gift, and I am grateful that you put what is in your heart out on the internet for us all to read. Your message has meant so much to me today. I need to hear this to really let it sink in and I need to pay it forward to all the beautiful women in my life.

Meredith said...

G, I didn't even realize until I was done reading and let my breath out that I was holding my breath as I read. Lump in my throat. Tears in my eyes. Honey, you just summed up what I'm pretty sure every female has felt at some point, many times over, in their lives. That darkness, well, I call it Satan, likes to throw so many lies at you that you don't even know what end is up. I just wrote about perception yesterday and this, my friend, is all about perception. There are the facts - that you are amazing, that you are strong, that you are gorgeous, that you are a blessing and did I mention stunning?? Then, there are the lies - well, you just wrote of them... not going to go there. Your perception, while punishing yourself was WAY off!! Love your final paragraph... I heard once that when someone compliments you and you shrug it off, you do not allow your brain to soak in the compliment. It's as if you didn't even hear it. When you say, "thank you", your brain hears it and you are able to accept it. Here's to "thank yous" and paying it forward. Love this! Love you!

Melissa Cunningham said...

very well written post here!
im sure most women can relate,as i am one of them.cant tell you how many times i have utilized working out/swimming/running as my "im not good enough so im going to take out my agession" outlet.
thank you for posting this today! i do hope you keep your blinders off....your awesome!!!

Pam @ said...

G darlin', this is one hell of a post. I do this shit to myself all the time. If only I could snap out of it after one punishment session. I'm a lifelong self-beater-upper. Too ugly, too fat, too slow... and to this day I positively hate to get a compliment of any kind. It makes me SO fucking self-conscious. I actually got MAD at my husband a few nights ago when he said something complimentary. I just said, "whatever," and he got mad because I wouldn't just accept the compliment for what it was. It ended with me yelling, "Just stop looking at me!" and leaving the room. To my ears, compliments are heard as sarcasm and meant to antagonize me.

Michelle said...

My heart rate is raised. My eyes are brimming with tears. I SO wanted to hear that you KNOW how beautiful you are. I don't even know you...I really don't *see* your picture often, but I can tell you from sharing blogs, that YOU are incredible.
I know you didn't write this post to get your ego blown up or to have people tell you that you are beautiful, but you tugged at my own heart today. Being at peace with ourselves is so hard.
I even have a husband who tells me often how beautiful he thinks I am. I KNOW that he honestly believes that. I guess that I should feel a little more worthy, but it sure is hard.
What a great post. Seriously.

Earth Momma Mer said...

Ummm...WOW. Another chills down my spine worth of GBA reading tonight. Thank you beautiful woman.

Char said...

I love what you've written here. Who doesn't look in the mirror and berate their looks and their body shape. I look in the mirror and see fat and am often surprised when photos don't show what the mirror does. I have three sisters who make men's heads turn and I hate to be photographed with them. But I try and see my value as something way deeper than looks

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Very well said. I came here through Bobbi's blog. I have body image dismorphia and an eating disorder, and struggle with this every day of my life. We all deserve better.

Michelle @ said...

I followed you here from my wonderful sister, Bobbi...
We as women do this...with tears in my eyes I can admit I did this today.
I don't know you...yet...
But from this post I can tell you that I find you gorgeous on so many levels already.

Thank you...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I needed to read this tonight.

Aimee said...

Like another blogger said, I think I was holding my breath the entire time I read this post. This is a powerful post and it is SO true. I have struggled with body image issues my entire life. While I know it's getting better, there are days, just like the one you had, that come around and I hate it! Thank you for writing this!

Rene' said...

Oh G...I love this post today. Turning 40 has filled me with such self doubt. I know that many of us feel that way, but it is good to read your post and the comments of other readers.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so hard to accept a compliment? Why can't we just believe in ourselves? This is something that I need to work on. I will be sharing this post today. I think that a lot of us need to read this.