Tethered to ideals
Validation; I crave it
Tethered to ideals
Validation; I crave it
I believe the more pain and torment a person has gone through, the more well-rounded they can be. Either that or they become a serial killer.
When I was 11, I was in junior high school with older kids. Back then, if you were born in January, you were (un)lucky and could start school with older kids. Had I finished high school, I would have graduated when I was seventeen.
My age had nothing to do with much really… what really bothered me and many of my schoolmates, was that I was skinny. I was willing to let it go so I could learn and get through the awkward social aspect of school but the others weren’t having it.
It was so important to them to point out how skinny I was as if I wasn’t already painfully aware. They would push me around, call me names and worst of all play tricks on me. I would go home and cry to myself in my bedroom while I clutched one of my stuffed animals. I would look in the mirror and really study my face: my eyes were too small; my nose was too big; my face was too long. And where the hell were my breasts already?!
There was no way around it. All those kids in school were right: I truly was ugly.
After dropping out of high school, and getting sucked into a vicious cycle of abuse with an older boy, I still believed I was ugly. And that older boy? well, he helped hammer into my sponge-like brain that it was all true. All of it: I was fucking ugly.
Nothing made me feel un-ugly. The make-up, the clothes, the pushup bras, the promiscuity: it all worked for an hour or a day but in the end, when I went home at night and stripped it all away, I still felt ugly.
That belief – inherent in nature – stuck with me for centuries and was a catalyst in many bad decisions:
Depsite breaking the imaginary madness that I was indeed ugly well into my sobriety, I still have little flashbacks of junior high school and that shitty marriage from yesteryear. Every once in a while, I’ll have a bad day and throw it all on my looks.
“Well, if you looked better, you’d feel better,” I’ll say to myself in the mirror. But being older (and a wee bit wiser) I know that to be a lie.
It was always the other way around.
“The reality – the real reality – is that we are already worthy, there is no test to pass.”
That’s right. Worthiness. Self-worth. Feeling worthy. I battled with this demon for decades. I battle a little less each day and am winning the war. Go me!
Worthiness was all in my mind. I tied my self-worth to people, places and things for years (like a good alcoholic). Even after I got sober, I still did this and could not figure out why I wasn’t feeling any different. Then I started reading my Big Book and a ton of other books.
There is no test to pass! No one is judging me. Okay, maybe some people are (human nature), but you know what? Who cares! In the end I have to stand before me and my Higher Power and that is all I have to live with. If I can get to the end of the day and go through my inventory and know that I did the best I could, recognize where I need improvement and give it to a God of my understanding, I have lived my life as intended.
Do you ever feel unworthy? How do you leap that hurdle?
I’m not sure how many of my beautiful readers dealt with bullying and teasing as children, but I have to say, that stuff has a profound affect on people. It sure as hell had a profound affect on me. So much that, even today I, at times, have a case of the uglies. You know that sick, yucky, disturbing feeling inside… that “I’m not good enough, not pretty enough..” Hell, not anything enough.
As I write this post, I am reflecting on my day. I had a good day all in all (any day sober is a good day!) I did have a case of the uglies today, however, and when it was going down in my (always) amped up mind, I was beating myself up… royally. The “uglies” as I call them, are sneaky, vile little things that grip me up in a second if I cannot “kill” them.
I was talking with my boyfriend today about this stuff in a sense. Not specifically “killing the uglies” but more so why the hell shit bothers me that bothers me. Like, stuff that shouldn’t really bother me. One thing I do when I talk to people is listen to what I am saying because, believe it or not, there is always some message in my words that I should hear. Does that sound vain and egotistical? Perhaps…
I brought up a profound event in my life that shaped my sense of self from the age of nine until this very moment. I talk about these things because I have to KILL THE UGLIES. I have to remind myself that there is a deeper root to my insecurities and low self-esteem if I am going to get better. There is always something more than the “surface insecurity” and that is what I have to get to… fast.
This is where a big part of my program comes in. I couldn’t get over any of the pain, torment and geekiness I felt from a child through my early thirties. Being a good alcoholic, I drowned my pain in booze and promiscuity, as I searched for someone or something to fill that void or abandonment. Long after I got sober, I still searched. There had to be someone or something out there that could kill this damn ugly feeling. But alas, I learned that I had to kill the uglies from the inside.
Some days I still struggle. I might stop praying, slack on my meeting attendance or stop networking with my sober circle. That’s when the uglies start to seep in. Thankfully, I know just what to do to squash those bastards.
Do you have something that helps you when you start to get overwhelmed?
When I was about thirteen, I was “dating a boy” and I remember standing on the street corner with him and some friends and this pretty girl walked by. My “boyfriend” looked at her and I remember getting a twinge in my belly and then dismissing it. After all, he was only watching a girl walk by.
Fast forward a year to my new boyfriend (and the guy I would marry, have children with and divorce) who took jealousy to a whole new level for me. I had never been jealous before. If you had asked me what it meant at that age, I probably couldn’t have told you. I was young, silly and failing at fitting in to any group or click.
Now, after I married this guy and he berated, belittled and abused me, jealousy was something I came to know first hand. He took to pulling out Playboy magazines and telling me he wished I looked like the women that donned those shiny, seedy pages. Furthermore, he would (for a year) compare me to his ex-girlfriend in every aspect. Each time he did these things (all in the name of love, of course) I felt smaller, less than and wanted to be what he wanted me to be. I would get that angry little knot in my belly and start mentally beating myself up.
I still struggle with jealousy. Some people ask me why… and all I can say is, “your perception of me and my perception of me are on different avenues.” People tell me I am beautiful, pretty, smart, etc. And sometimes I really do feel that way.
But all it takes is my perception of beauty, intelligence or confidence to grace my presence in the form of another woman and boom. I’m jealous, insecure and comparing myself. And I almost always turn it inward.
So I pray, write snippets on ripped pieces of paper and throw them in my God Box. I talk to my friends in the program about how I feel sometimes. It helps. I hope someday to vanquish my jealousy.
I’m definitely better these days… Progress, not perfection.
Do you get jealous?
I joined Oprah’s Lifeclass a few weeks ago and I have to say… I love it. I am about ten classes in and am learning a lot about myself by answering thought-provoking questions that only I can see the answers to. There is also a Daily Life Question that we have the option of answering. It is linked to the users Twitter account.
As I read some of the answers (a lot of them anonymous) I shuddered at some of the things a lot of people have been through usually in great part by their parents. I saw remnants of abuse, both physical and sexual, mental anguish, alcoholism, abandonment… 😦
It just got me thinking.. like.. what the hell do I have to bitch about? Ok, yeah.. my childhood wasn’t the greatest.. I have always been socially awkward and put a lot of my worth on my physical beauty (but am too lazy to do any upkeep on it). I tend to talk way too much when I get nervous and yes.. I am an alcoholic.
BUT – I am sober! I AM beautiful! I grew up poor.. but I have character. I have small boobs.. but I have a great butt! I can be very indecisive, but when I know what I want.. no one is stopping me.
It is so important for me (and you!) to look at the silver lining in the dark, looming clouds that hover over our heads from time to time.
We have all been through our own share of hell. I remember years of self-pity, beating my head against the wall as I cursed and screamed “WHY ME?!”
Well, why not me? Bad things have happened to me because I have the ability to help others. If all I can do is take my experiences and share them with another, then whatever I have been through is not in vain.
Whatever doesn’t kill you – makes you stronger.
What experiences have made you stronger?
I was walking into the bank yesterday in my leggings and long form fitting sweater. The leggings were black. The sweater gray with black horizontal stripes; black belt and black flats accessorizing my look. My butt and boobs were tucked away.
This gentlemen – I use the term loosely – passed me and was looking at me oddly. He then says, “Wow. Look at that outfit. Look at that outfit.” Since I was having a less than secure day I kind of freaked out inside. What does that mean? Do I look bad? Do I look good? Is my look mediocre? Have you looked in the mirror lately pal? It seemed as though he had more to say, but before he could utter another word from his seemingly seedy lips, I ducked into the vestibule.
The rest of the day entailed me telling everyone who would listen about my momentary encounter with the stranger. I suppose I was looking for validation. I desperately needed someone to say, “your outfit is awesome! Nice! Super! ”
This was not the first time I have been in the presence of someone who thought it was necessary to let me know his or her feelings (which he didn’t really – he left it open to interpretation) about something that was really none of their business.
But maybe we need more of this. I mean, have you looked around lately?
Men in muscle shirts two sizes too small with very little muscle, women wearing clothes that leave nothing to the imagination and on some of these women imagination is needed.
I’ll admit it. When I was 20, 25, 30 and even 35 I walked around showing off as much of me as I possibly could. I had a great belly at one time and every chance I got, out came the midriff. I’d be at the bar or even the local corner store and I would get hit on or whistled at. After this came my incensement as to why no one took me seriously and why guys only just wanted to have sex with me.
Really? It took me all those years to finally get it. To get why the girls at the bar in the jeans and baggy t-shirts had boyfriends or husbands. To get why there never was a phone call the next day, or week or month for that matter, after having sex with someone less than twenty four hours after meeting.
I was nothing more than eye candy. If I had sex with you, then I was eye candy with the prize inside. But all in all, just something nice to look at. Like that freaky shirt in the window that looks awesome with it’s shiny studs and peacock colors, but the beige shirt is more practical and so that is the one we buy.
I can still wear clothes like that but I don’t want to. I realized that dressing like I am ready for my meeting at the local street corner still left me empty inside when I went home.
Men still check me out, and yeah, that feels nice sometimes. But men also take me seriously. More importantly, women take me seriously. I never had female friends in my twenties and early thirties. I thought it was because they were all bitches. Then I thought it was because I was unlikable. After I started putting some clothes on, I realized it was probably because I was unapproachable.
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