BEAUTY IN THE BEAST

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A few weeks ago I considered dropping out of this “SisterWives” project. Here I am in the midst of some fantastic women and for some reason I was invited to join. What makes me think I can keep up? What makes me think I have anything worthwhile to add? I told myself I would only bring the collective down with my ridiculous fears and my weak self-confidence. I have serious self-image issues and, once triggered, it causes me weeks of mental anguish. I hope being a part of this group helps not only me but others who don’t see the beauty in themselves.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used to be a skinny tom boy growing up. I had long brown stringy hair I sometimes wore in pig tails. I wasn’t much on showers or brushing my teeth but I think my mom probably forced me to do both. I grew up on a street where most all the kids were boys. I loved doing stunts on my bike, riding a skateboard, and playing baseball barefoot in my front yard. I remember having one girlfriend, named Pam, who I learned to roller skate with and, for the most part, I don’t ever remember caring about my appearance.

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I had my own style. I wore earrings I made myself; mismatched my clothes on purpose, and wore the most colorful makeup I could. I remember when they came out with blue and green mascara and I wore it nearly every day. During the last part of high school I wore mostly black. I wore heels when I could with black skirts, and black hosiery, and dyed my hair copper.

The point is, I was me and most people were pretty cool with me being me. Or maybe I never paid attention to the stares or the whispers. But one day, I started to notice and, for some reason, I began to care. I suspect it had a lot to do with boys. My guy friends started changing like aliens had invaded their bodies. One minute they were my friend and the next they were drooling over every girl in school.

Then a girl told me I had hairy arms, so I shaved them.

A group of older girls teased me for always wearing pink so I never wore pink again.

Then a boy told me I was a fat cow.

OUCH. Although one of my guy friends stood up for me the damage was done.

That one comment broke me and changed the rest of my life.

You might be saying, “Really Hasty? You let one comment change your life?” I am sad to say yes. I don’t remember much about the boy other than I thought he was a really cool guy. I don’t even remember why he called me a fat cow but I remember where I was and how it made me feel. I even remember the dress I was wearing.

That was the moment, at nearly 110 lbs and 5’3”, I began to see myself as fat. The image in the mirror no longer had anything to do with how I saw myself. The rest of my high school years were spent saran wrapping my body for an excessive work out, Weight Watchers, and throwing up every time I ate too much. I had tons of boys for friends but I was afraid of boys who were too affectionate. I avoided dating or intimacy for the most part because I wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough.

It was the very beginning of NOT ENOUGH.

I have discovered, through therapy, that I seek evidence to prove my worthlessness. If we look, we can find the evidence to prove pretty much anything we feel as the truth. If there is one thing I am an expert at, it is finding and accepting the negative about myself and discounting the positive. I go through some sort of selective processing with the information I encounter.

My junior year I met a boy where I worked who took me to a Christmas dance. We never even kissed but he was as close as I got to a boyfriend. For Christmas, I painted him a picture of a “Guns and Roses” CD cover and he got me a stuffed Tweety Bird that said “Fat Is In”. Needless to say, I laughed it off and made excuses not to go anywhere else with him.

My next date was with my best friend; he was the best date I could have asked for, no expectations and no funny business. Coincidentally, he was the same boy who stuck up for me when I got called a fat cow. We are still friends to this day. Well, we were, but he just stopped talking to me, disappeared and I am guessing it is because he got married. I mean that is a legitimate reason to just disappear…right?

I graduated high school and started full time summer school at a local college, while also working two 40 hour a week jobs. I had little time to worry about my appearance or dating. But then a friend from work set me up with someone. I wrote about him already in my blog titled Your Kind of Love Ended Trust for Me. He made me feel so beautiful. I remember thinking about him with weak knees. It was the first time I remembered someone looking me directly in the eyes and telling me how beautiful my eyes were. I loved him, I thought, but it is more likely I just craved how he made me feel.

He knew all the right things to do and say and then when he didn’t have to be nice anymore I got to see the real him. He changed within a matter of seconds. He played me perfectly and I fell for it. He was a liar. I wasn’t beautiful and I didn’t have beautiful eyes. I would never fall for those lies again.

I could probably go on all day with the memories I have stored as evidence that my reflection is that of a beast not a beauty. However, I can’t really recall with any great detail or certainty any good evidence to support I am beautiful. I don’t think it is because I don’t receive compliments; I believe I disregard them as false before they reach the place memories are stored.

After a series of quick relationships I met my husband. He tells me the truth no matter how hurtful. He tells me when I look awful, fat, or need to do this or that. He doesn’t lie and try to find something positive to say. He says all the things I already know. My husband has never told me I am beautiful. I am ok with that because it is comfortable.

You may think this story is about my weight or my looks, but it isn’t. I have weighed anywhere between 115 and 230 lbs. Regardless of my weight, how I dressed, or what I looked like I collected the bad as truth and ignored the good as lies.  This post is about how I have let the opinions of others shape how I see myself.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.~Carl Jung

I believe we find evidence to support what we believe. If we believe we are worthless, we will find evidence to sustain this belief. I am quite sure I have spent the biggest portion of my life mining out all the compliments and treasuring only the negative comments I have received. Why? I don’t know. But I want to change that.

What if tomorrow I wake up and start looking for evidence I am awesome?

Remember the image at the top?  I had to have a third party redo it and I am going to try my very best to see the BEAUTY IN THE BEAST.  I would invite others to try this with their own photos.  Describe yourself then have someone else describe you.  I tell my daughter everyday that everyone will see her differently, some good and some bad, but how she views herself is the most important view of all.  How can I expect her to see beauty in herself if I don’t know how to find it in myself?

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I hope to one day look in the mirror and with a smile say, “You are SO beautiful” and believe it as truth.

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