"Living well is the best revenge."
You know me, even if you've never met me. I was the one in your school in the back of the classroom, eyes down, trying not to call attention to myself. I was the one with good grades and an abnormally high IQ who the teachers and guidance counselors were worried about because I always seemed lost. I was the one who made my clothing choices based on whether or not I was bullied the last time I wore that outfit. I considered it a compliment if I was called “she” rather than “it.” Once I returned home for the day, certain family members made sure that I did not forget that I was not as pretty, as tall, as thin, or as talented as they were. For much of my childhood and teenage years, I escaped into my imagination. It was safer there. I didn't fully come back to reality until I met the young man that would later become my husband, who through patience and caring reminded me that I had value.
I was well into adulthood before I realized all those negative experiences can be summed up in three words: body image issues. Some time ago I came to the understanding that enough is enough and it was time to change the way I thought about myself. It was time to fully be the person that I always had been, despite the taunting voices. These are the things I now know about myself.
I can change, but if I do, it will be on my terms, not yours.
If I don't like my hair, I'll change it. Same with clothes, shoes, etc. And yes, I am trying to shed a few pounds, but that's because I want to be more healthy. I will do it the way I want to, because I want to do it. I will cease trying to please others who never cared about me in the first place.
I will never look like them, and that's OK.
I stopped comparing myself to models, actresses, family members, and friends long ago. I don't look like anyone else in the world, because I look like ME! Why would I want to look like anyone else? Enough with the “Why don't you do ______ like ______ does so you look more like them.” Screw that. I have no time for such nonsense.
Some time ago, I found out that I really, seriously, am big boned. No, really! It was so freeing to know that. I could lose weight, I could get trimmer, but I was never, ever going to look long and lean like the models because my bone structure would never allow it. Mind you, I am trying to loose about 10 pounds, which would put me firmly in the healthy range for my height/sex/structure, but that's because I want to be healthy. Even after I get there, I will still look roundish because I'm just shaped that way. And you know what? I'm good with that. My goal is to be healthy, not a carbon copy of someone else.
No one can make me feel like less of a person unless I let them.
When I was a teenager, I had a terrible crush on a certain boy. One of my friends told him that and, in true teenage fashioned, asked him out for me. Pretty standard procedure for young teenage girls, wouldn't you say? Operating under this unwritten code, I expected a simple “yes” or “no.” The actual answer was far more than I expected: “No, she's a dog.”
If I had any sort of desire to find this person and ask him about that moment (I don't have any desire to do so), he probably wouldn't even remember it. For me, though, that five second interaction had lasting effects that stung for years. It's been a decade and a half since that happened, and I still remember that exact moment with ridiculous clarity. On some level, I believed what he said.
Several years had passed before I knew and fully understood that not only did he not have the right to say such a thing, but I had no reason to listen. What did he know, anyway? Most important, why, [itlaic|why], was I letting his offhanded, meaningless remark affect how I felt about myself? The comment was meant to hurt. I had no reason to let it. No one can make me feel like I am less of a person unless I allow them to do so.
I am loved.
In the past, there have been people in my life who for some reason made it their mission to make sure that I felt that I was ugly and unlovable. I no longer have any patience for such people. Now, I surround myself with people who see me for the wonderful person that I am. My friends want to spend time with me, my children crave my affection, and my husband can't wait to fall into bed and put his arms around me. This makes all the negativity I've faced before now meaningless. I can now see all the past nastiness I've experienced as what it is: poor behavior from those who didn't know better and chose not to act differently.
I am sexy!
I don't have to rely on others to tell me this anymore. It's in the way I move through my space. It's in the way I care for myself. It's in the way my husband looks at me. It's in the knowledge of my value.
I've come a very long way from the dark, depressed place I used to be in. I know who I was. I know who I am. I know my value as a person despite anything that anyone at any time has said to me. I am not a dog. I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am awe-inspiring and breathtaking. I am loving and I am loved. I am me.