Well it’s time to stop talking about my intentions for discovering myself or uncovering my true self image and get down to business. In my last post I described phase one as taking a look at how I view my physical self. My appearance, my body etc.
I’ve never really had considerable issues with my appearance, but heaven knows I’ve also never been one who’s been happy to accept all my flaws either. I think I’ve learned to compensate in ways. If I don’t like this part or that part, I try to focus on this other part and that other part and make the most of those things I do like. I’ve been mostly confident in my appearance all my life. For all outwardly appearances anyway. Yet truth be known, like most women I know, I have never been unaware of the parts of me I wish were different or better. So here goes, it’s time to embrace all my feelings. The good, the bad, the ugly, all revealed…..
What do I look like? I’m average height. I’ve said for years that I’m 5’4 but recently found out I’m really 5’5. I can recall many years ago as a cheerleader being weighed and my height checked and I suppose somehow for some reason I never really had another reason to document my height. Somehow in my mind I remained 5’4. Unfortunately, just as I didn’t remain 5’4, I didn’t remain 110 pounds!
Do I really want to address weight, here for the world to read? No. I’m just not that brave. And it’s not because I am extremely large or obese. I am of average weight for a woman. Average weight for a woman is slightly more than the ideal weight but the reality is that many women are slightly above normal weight and so that makes me average in my weight. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal weight for my height or BMI, just that I’m average in a society where most are larger than what the Doctor’s wall chart says we should be. I’m also average in clothing size. Any woman knows that shopping for clothes is not an exact science. What fits in a dress may not fit in jeans, what fits from one designer or brand doesn’t come close for another. That last 4 jeans I purchased were size 12. But I have plenty of other brand names in my closet that are 14. I have a pair of slim cuts that are 16 which nearly chokes my pride yet they are literally smaller than my size 12’s. I recently purchased new sun dresses this summer in size 10 and medium. I might by a blouse in a size 10 or 12 and turn around and buy a sweater or t-shirt in XL. For one thing I love soft baggy sweaters over a cami with a pair of snug jeans and tall boots. The point is that when it comes to clothing sizes it’s really hard to judge by the number or the size on the tag what the person looks like. You can place two women the same size beside each other and one might look trim while the other looks chubby. It’s frustrating as hell.
It’s why I refuse to let my partner by my clothes. He’s so obsessed with size that the thought of him buying me XL literally makes me want to cry, even though I know I might place that extra large beside another smaller size and see no difference at all. Likewise the thought of him buying me something he thinks is really great and when I put it on finding that it’s too snug through the chest or in the thighs mortifies me. Why? Because in my mind it is the same as saying guess what honey, you’re right, I’m not a perfect size woman! I don’t meet your expectations in that area. Those thoughts raise two emotions in me, self loathing and anger at him for making me feel less than a beautiful woman because of his ideals in a woman. No, I’ll buy my own clothes. As a woman I know the brands and I know the cuts. I know a low rise jean and a different cut jean in the same size will not fit the same. They require different sizes for an attractive fit on the same body.
So what is this all telling me about my body? It’s telling me I wish I were slimmer. I wish I had my teenage cheerleader body back with toned legs and flat abs. My pre-motherhood pre-mid age body where my skin was tight and glowing with no signs of veins or stretch marks or emerging cellulite. When I had all the time in the world to be active and didn’t have to figure out a way to either work out at 5AM or after midnight when all my other tasks were done. Clearly neither of those options are working out for me right now.
OK yes, I have some body confidence issues and never more so than now with my current partner of 7 years. I was open and honest about my size and appearance when we met on line. It scared him. I’m surprised he decided to meet me in person. Though now that I know his on line sex history I guess I’m also at the same time less surprised. He’s less critical about what he has slept with, than what he wants to spend his life with and I know that is probably true for both a lot of men and women. Our expectations rise when we are thinking about long term mates. We don’t want to feel like we are settling or missing out on something better. When he met me his jaw dropped. He has told me repeatedly how much I knocked his socks off. He told me once while we were driving through the night after a long trip that I was the most beautiful woman he had ever been with and I could gain 25 pounds and he’d still think I was the sexiest woman to walk the earth!! Over 5 years I gained 12 pounds. He sighted it as a reason for cheating. He was afraid I’d get out of control and he can’t see himself with a heavy woman.
After each of my children I carried a lot of weight that took up to 2 years to fully lose. I felt pretty bad about myself at those times but I also knew that eventually it would come off, through yoga, staying busy, watching what I ate. It came off painfully slow and I had a lot of days I felt like a pork chop but for some odd reason I didn’t lose my confidence the way I have lost it now.
I also find that I’m always slimmer and more fit when I am single than when in a relationship. Mostly because as a single person I have more alone time. I do very well when I’m alone, in terms of staying busy and motivated and I think that tends to keep me more fit. There’s more time for doing all that maintenance stuff like keeping my skin hydrated with lotions and manicures and pedicures and hour long conditioning treatments on my hair or walking around the house with a mud mask. Men want attractive sexy women to match up to the media image yet when you spend an hour in the bathroom they begin to classify you as high maintenance, When you greet them at the door with sea weed on your face they grimace. They want the beauty but they don’t want to know what it takes to maintain all those expectations they have for us. It’s a catch 22 and it sucks. Also, my partner wants me to come to bed with him at night where as I use to have those late evening hours to make use of and I was always occupied. Always cleaning something or painting a wall or tearing into organize some part of the house and I would put on music and dance. Just dance my heart out and sing at the top of my lungs. I was not only working my body I was refreshing my soul. Those things go away with someone in the house. I’m working around yet another persons schedules and needs now and I feel silly doing those things with someone watching me in the house. The added truth is that with struggles in our relationship and borderline depression that has come from that , I no longer sing or find the same joy in music or have that sense of abandon.
What I think I’m describing here is a lack of balance. I have more going out than I am taking in and it’s leaving me drained and blah and I’m seeing that reflected in my body, my eating habits and my enthusiasm or energy in life. The other thing I’m seeing here and have been learning to understand this past year is that I have a lot of anger. I’m angry at my partners affairs and expectations and his needs for having me fit his image of a sexy woman and his delight in experiencing that every place he could possibly try to find it, from porn to dating sites and affairs to watching attractive women everywhere every day. That anger causes me to fight against him. To refuse to give him the satisfaction of trying to make me something else because if I let that happen… if I go crazy physical and drop the 15-20 pounds that I need to and I look great then what am I really saying? I’m saying gee honey, you were right. I wasn’t woman enough after all, but now that I meet your expectations I’m just wonderful. It means once I reach it I have to maintain it forever because if I gain any of it back, if I sag or expand in any area, then sigh………I’ve failed him and his expectations again.
I know it is WRONG to not do it just because it would please him but the anger is so deep inside of me that I can’t seem to get past it. There is a twisted part of me that sees this scenario of a man who’s used women and a voice that says does he DESERVE to have some hot sexy woman on his arm after all the ways he has diminished women around him? Does he deserve to bask in my beauty and show me off after what he’s done to me?
Now, I know that’s completely irrational. I know that I need to do it for me! So the vicious circle is created. I want to be healthy and fit and yes I feel less attractive than I ever have, and yet… where I am right now, I have no energy to change it and way too much anger holding me back.
So, I have confidence and esteem issues but let me look also at the good things. It may sound as though I’m a frumpy unmotivated sloth. I feel that way some days but it’s not what I believe I am. It’s not how others respond to me either. I frequently get complimented on my appearance and I frequently get hit on by other men. Just this morning I experienced it at the gas station.
What are the good things about me? Even though I’d like to lose 15 to 20 pounds, I’m proportionate. I’m not pear shaped or apple shaped, I’m equally sized through out. I’m curvy in a gentle graceful way. My waist curves in and curves out in what I feel is a very sexy feminine curve. My breasts are not large, but they’re adequate and their shape fits my body. Yes, I’d like to see perky age 19 again but it could be way worse. I like their gentle curve, I like my nipples. I like my back, especially the small of my back where it curves into my butt. Where a beautiful auburn haired angle in shackles sets with her wings dipping into gentle pools of water. I love that tattoo. My only one but it was very well done and more than just a tat it is truly a beautiful piece of art. It was meant to be a reminder not to live my life in shackles. A reminder I need to pay much more attention to.
I am not crazy about my butt. I wish it were smaller but I like the shape of the very top of it, the way it curves so gently from the small of my back and curves so perfectly into my hips. I hate my legs. I always have. Even when I was thin I have always had stout legs instead of those long willowy legs that advertising tells me I should have. I get them from my grandmothers side on my moms side of the family. Strong heavy ankles and thick knees. Those I would like to trade in for a new model! I also inherited vein problems on both sides of my family. I’m having them treated with laser this year. I wanted to do something before they became terrible and prominent like others in my family. I have a few treatments left and it’s painful as hell but I feel better about them now. Considering how much I hate my legs, any help I can get I need! But as much as I hate that I don’t have beautiful legs long and lean with dainty bones, I will say this, they are strong. And they can dance. I am a very good dancer. I have great rhythm and I am very fluid, very sexy. It is one of those good things I’ve been told countless times over the years. That girl can dance!
My arms and legs basically are sized for my body. Not too short or too long.
My hands are showing wear but I still like them. I like what they stand for and represent. My loving touch, my seductive touch, my hard work, my artistic nature. Most generally I have nice nails. They grow quickly and are strong and well shaped. Other than the damage I put them through when gardening they usually look nice. Though I have to admit I have very little time for all the primping and polishing I use to do.
My face is not model perfect. Not gorgeous by any means. I have always considered myself average. I’ve been told many times over the years that I’m beautiful, gorgeous, sexy. I look in the mirror and I see average. But an average I like. An average that is pleasing. I’m told I have very classic features and nice symmetry to my face. I’ve been told there is cute and there is beautiful and I fit into beautiful. Again, I don’t see it when I look in the mirror but I also don’t see anything that makes me feel bad. When I was 7 I tore my upper lip off in a bike accident trying to keep up with the older boys in the neighborhood. After the repair I was left with a slight scar and ever so slightly a bit of a fat lip on one side of my upper lip. When I was young I thought it was horrible. I’ve come to like it. I’ve never met a man that didn’t tell me it was sexy. It seems to carry with it an Elvis like persona. Slightly pouty. I was told one that the inside scar tissue was a nice enhancement to oral sex. lol Well, I guess I’ll always have that going for me right?
I am fairly pale skinned but I tan nicely though more and more I avoid tanning because when you reach your 40’s you begin to understand no amount of product is going to restore youth and it’s not worth throwing it away for a sun tan.
My eyes are my favorite feature. They are not huge but they’re large and shaped well. I’ve alway wanted thick long dark lashes. My lashes are red. You can hardly see them without mascara. I don’t like that but it’s easy to fix with a coat of mascara so I don’t dwell on it. What I love is their deep brown color and the way they dance with excitement, smolder when I am passionate. The sexy smoldering look and the mischievous glint were the first things I mastered when I learned to flirt and it’s never failed me. They are warm, compassionate and they draw people in. I’m complimented on them frequently. Sadly they, like everything else, are showing signs of wear and I now wear cheaters when I read or use the computer. I’ve always had a slight stigmatism but now days I can not read ANYTHING without glasses.
My ears are a good size for my head. My head is perfectly sized for my body. And my second favorite feature is my hair. Long and thick, slightly wavy. The color is brown, with hints of auburn red. In a room it might look dark brown, in a different light it might have glints of deep auburn, in the sun it shines with copper lights.
What is sad to me is that hundreds of times over the years I have been asked if I colored my hair and had comments on how exceptional it is. Now at 46 I am discovering rapidly advancing gray hairs. It’s not prominent. But a year or two ago I might find a gray hair every couple of months. Now I find them half dozen at a time, every few days. I have twice tried to find a hair color that would match my own, some kind of plan for when the gray hair becomes more noticable and each time I have been disappointed. Too dark or too red and always too flat compared to the magical glow I’ve been so lucky to have all these years. That bothers me because I hate to lose it. I know there are lot’s of hair colors to choose from and I’ll find something that is attractive enough. But that is the key, it will be attractive enough but will not be what I have grown to love. One of those key things I identified as the best parts of me. The most notable and commented on features. My hair and my eyes.
Over all I like myself. Sure I’d trade my legs in for an upgrade in a heart beat. And I’d like to lose weight but honestly it’s not the number on the scale or the size on the clothes that bothers me. It’s that I am losing muscle tone and skin tone and combined with the number on the scale and my partners obsession with youth and appearance, I now feel as though all the best of me has been used up. I would happily keep the number on the scale if I could have lean muscle restored.
The worst part of it is that it all sounds so simple. Just let go of your anger and join a gym. Easier said than done. I don’t even know where to start to get my mind around doing this for me and not feeling like I had to do it for him. I have long pages of unfinished projects and responsibilities that barely get met in my days now. How do I find the space and time to add a work out routine? Where? When? I know, I KNOW…excuses. They are. And yet they are not. This is my reality and I have to find a way to make my reality work. For example. I have on average 3 hours a day with my child after working all day. In which I also have to fit in dinner prep, clean up afterward, getting her through the nightly bedtime routine, and setting up our assembly line for morning so we can make it out the door on time. I’m emotionally drained from work, and from her special needs which makes even the most simple tasks take 3 to 4 times longer. Medical needs, and otherwise. I am trying to be a good partner. To be attentive to my mate, listen to his problems, encourage him, make bonding time. AND trying to find somewhere in all of that stuff, enough energy, and desire for sex which he would probably tell you is not nearly frequent enough for him. I have the sense that he can’t understand why I’m not averaging the 4 days a week minimum he has on his needs list.
I KNOW they all boil down to an excuse and it’s holding me back but added to the fact that I despise gyms and would much rather be dancing or taking long walks at night, I simply haven’t figured out how to get all of this shit to fall into place so I can focus on something like strength training or aerobics. GRrrrrrrr. And that makes me feel like a failure. Surely a superwoman, multi-tasker, super people pleaser like ME can shake this heavy sinking feeling and figure this out.
What have I learned? I mostly like my appearance. I’m attractive even if not gorgeous but more than anything I am sexy and sensual. I have to figure out a way to find balance so I can find energy for myself. I have to find a way to let go of the anger that is destroying me inside. Need to learn how to make this about me and not about him.