The two most common things I have found that I say a great deal to myself are "I hate my life" and "I'm tired."
The first is an absolute lie. I don't hate my life. Not in the least. I have a beautiful daughter, who is my world even when she's being a snarky teenager. I have a good job, my own house and a nice car. I am very blessed to have many amazing friends who love me despite the fact that I am, at times, a babbling, insecure, weirdo. I have family that loves me unconditionally and supports me no matter what. I normally say "I hate my life" to myself when something is going wrong or I'm just caught up in a stressful moment. I have to remind myself that it's just a bad day or moment, not a bad life. But I still catch myself saying it. All. The. Time. It's a habit I really wish I could break.
The second thing, about being tired is sometimes true but not nearly as much as I say or think it. I must think it 1000 times a day, every day. Can I possibly be that tired all the time? Lately I've made myself stop and evaluate, am I really tired? The answer generally is no, but for some reason my brain just has that immediate response for everything. Also, if I am actually tired, it's usually my own fault. See, I'm a night owl in an 8 - 5 world. I get a second wind around 10 pm and it's not unusual for me to stay up until midnight or later. Last night I was up until 1am. Thankfully I don't have to be up until 7 but still, I'm probably always running a little short of sleep. Sometimes on the weekends my body will take its revenge and I will sleep about 10 hours straight. But there is rarely time for a luxury of that nature in this busy world. Am I doing anything productive when I stay up late? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Last night for instance, I was trying to clear some space of my DVR. Yup, I was sitting on my ass watching TV. These are the days when I go to bed berating myself for staying up. As if there is no excuse for not getting housework done (which is NEVER done by the way, everything just gets dirty again) or working on one of my many projects I have going or am trying to get started. My inner voice seems to think I am never allowed to relax. We have an ongoing inner battle where I justify that I have every right to some do nothing time now and then and she tells me, whatever, you are always sitting on your lazy ass! Go do something!
I think I may have mentioned my inner voice before, she's a total bitch! I'm not kidding. She is constantly putting me down, telling me I talk too much, drink too much and that everyone will tire of me at some point. According to her I am fat and ugly and will spend the rest of my life alone. She's just freaking EVIL! When a friend tells me I'm beautiful, she's there whispering in my ear that they are only saying it because they love me and don't really mean it. She's constantly pointing out all my faults and drilling holes in my confidence. They say to be careful how you speak to your children as that becomes their inner voice. I don't think that is true, my mother never would have said the ugly things my inner voice says to me. So where does this come from? Why when we look at ourselves are we so quick to find our every flaw and use it to tear ourselves down? I think part of it comes from when we are growing up and we don't want to appear vain so we start talking about things we don't like about ourselves. Then that becomes our focus more than the things we do like about ourselves.
A few years ago there was a TV Show called How to Look Good Naked. It was hosted by Carson Kressley of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame. I think it was based on a show in England. It wasn't on very long but I really, really wish they would bring it back. I know the title is frightening, who out there thinks they look good naked? Not me, that's for sure. But they would take ordinary ladies and strip them down to their underwear and take pictures. They would post the lady's picture (from the neck down) on the jumbo tron in Times Square or somewhere equally obvious. Then they would ask passers-by what they thought of the picture. They would then show the video clips to the woman so she could hear the many positive comments from total strangers. They also did a makeover and gave them tips on how to dress in a more flattering way for their body shape. Each show ended with a photo-shoot where the hope was that they had built up the woman's self-confidence to the point she felt she could pose in the buff. Tastefully covered by scarves or feathers or what have you, of course. We never saw nipple or anything. I loved it! I was always a blubbering mess by the time it was over, these women were changed forever. I secretly wanted to nominate myself to be on the show. I wanted to meet Carson. That man seems like he is just too much fun! And I would love tips on how to dress. I never can seem to find a style that is me. I end up feeling like a frumpy mom most of the time. But isn't it sad that there even needed to be a show like that for women to help them build their self-confidence?
And just to play devil's advocate, let's look at the other side of the coin too. If you see a confident women don't you sometimes think to yourself, jeez what a snob? Why!? Why is being a self-critical mess acceptable and being strong and confident a sign that you are a conceited jerk? It's a fine line. And one of the great mysteries of the universe. The painful realization for me now is that I'm starting to notice the same behavior in my daughter. This girl is truly beautiful. I'm not just saying that just as her mom. She could be a model if she had the desire to be. But if you ask her, she will give you a very long list of things she doesn't like about herself and the way she looks. I have never said any of these things to her so I know that it's not me that has become her inner voice. But the outside world with all it's unrealistic views on beauty that has started chipping away at her confidence. It makes me unbearably sad. I've tried very hard to build up her confidence and support a strong self-image. But what I didn't pay attention to was the fact that every time I called myself fat or said something else negative about myself, she was listening and it has affected her in a negative way as well. Now I have an even greater challenge of trying to improve my own self-image so I can lead by example for her.
As happens more often than not, I have gone way off on some tangent and can barely remember my original point. It's probably far too late now to try to get back there now. I was upfront about this somewhere on this blog that I am fairly ADD and that means crazy, long, rambling tangents will happen people!
I had a manager and friend many moons ago that told me she needed to talk to me about some complaints that she had received about me. I almost lost my mind. I am all about people pleasing and this just about sent me over the edge. Then she informed me that the person who was complaining about me was ME. She told me to stop. So I guess the message I have today if there is one in all this, is to just give yourself a break. And love yourself. It's okay. You really ARE beautiful. And you do deserve some lazy, TV watching time, we all do. And maybe if I let myself I will realize that I am beautiful too. I will leave you with a photo of a poem given to me by a woman who is a mother to me, I keep it on my fridge where I have to see it almost every day.