Some Thoughts on Self-Image

I got an email last night that made me ecstatic. A reader wrote to let me know that I’ve played a big part in her rediscovering her self-worth after an emotionally abusive and cruel relationship (because he was an abuser, honey, and don’t ever think less of him). These kinds of emails make me feel like all the grief I go through to try and generate something reasonably fresh on a daily basis is worth it.

Really, I get no money out of this blog yet and I’m trying to figure out a way to do so, and I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later, but right now? Nada. Screwing up the energy to write every day sometimes seems futile… and then I get those occasional emails that blow my mind. “Me? I did that for you? WICKED.”

Self-esteem, self-worth, self-love… my god, how furtive they seem. One would think that loving oneself would be an easy thing to do. Sadly, the opposite is more true.

You know, I have a hearing problem. I wear two hearing aids, they’re small, they aren’t always perceptible, and while I’m having some issues with hearing right now, normally I’m pretty good with it, despite fucking hating it. But I was just thinking a bit ago about being deaf. Could you imagine? Probably not. I can. I’m pretty much deaf (25% – 50% hearing) when I roll out of bed in the morning, and to tell you the truth, I enjoy the silence while I can. I’ll often wait an hour or so to put in my buds – I’ll write in quiet and ignore the world. I wonder sometimes what being deaf all the time would be – living in your head, never breaking free of those wheels turning constantly in the corners of your mind.

You wouldn’t be able to escape yourself, for good or for ill. Sounds, I’ve come to learn, provide ample distraction from who and what we are; that bus rumbling down the street, birds chirping, a dripping faucet, an asthmatic wheezing nearby. I sometimes wonder if my lack of hearing is part of why I’m such a contemplative individual. Perhaps.

There was a time when my contemplation led to self-loathing. Nowadays it’s a coping mechanism, and a cottage industry, it seems.

I find that a lot of people I know are often a little daunted at the prospect of being alone too long, as if being alone means being lonely; the two, however, are not related.

I honestly think it’s impossible to be a well-balanced person if you can’t handle being alone, but maybe that’s me reading too much into my lifestyle. Self-love, self-worth, it comes from knowing you’re good company. It comes from being able to realistically see yourself as others see you, not through your hyper-judgmental eyes. After all, how accepting are we of average people streetside? Much moreso than we are about ourselves.

Thanks to the media, we’re surrounded by beautiful people who are airbrushed for magazine covers or filmed in soft light, and then we spend our days walking into shitty fluorescent bathrooms, staring in dirty mirrors, and we wonder why we’re not the sex gods the rest of the world seems filled with. It’d almost be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

Becoming realistic about what each of us has to offer is one of the hardest things to ever learn. Becoming secure when naked is a difficult task to accomplish. It’s not something that occurs overnight, and god knows I’m still on my journey. In this relationship I’m in now, I’m comfortable with him naked. It doesn’t sound huge, but it really is. Lying around naked with your lover is a great way to get past insecurities and to focus on matters at hand. It has taken me my whole life to get to this point.

I’m a bonus-lover gal. My ass has got some grip room, if you know what I’m saying. I’m fit, I’m active, but I’m, well, chubby. Cute, but chubby. My weight has been something I’ve hated my entire life – and the hatred is one of the things my mother is to blame for, as she always reminded me to watch my food and things like that. The food’s always been a minor issue, but it was exercise that was my bane. These days, I’m getting pretty active and I’m liking the toning I’ve got. Sixty pounds down, another forty or so to go.

I noticed something incredible a couple weeks back – I went swimming. I’ve gone swimming off and on for the last year and a half, after not setting foot in a pool for about 15 years, thanks to insecurities. When I first re-entered the pool after all those years, I felt like I’d just come home again. I forgot how much I loved the pool. I wasn’t happy about being in a swimsuit, but I did it again anyhow. Two weeks ago, I put the suit on and strutted – not walked, not strolled, but strutted – out to the swimming pool, my towel dangling at my side instead of being held like a security blanket in front of me. After, I got nekkid and showered with the ladies. I used to shower with my suit on and change in the bathroom. Not anymore.

(After all, go to the pool and really, really look at the other people. What in the hell do you have to be ashamed of?)

And it felt fucking awesome. It dawned on me that sometimes insecurity is just a bad habit, something we get so accustomed to being that we simply don’t change, when the reality is we can. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. I’m proof positive. (Thank heavens.)