Pretty Like Her-My Quest to Find Peace With the Mirror
Updated: Apr 29, 2018
This an excerpt from a new project I'm working on called, Pretty Like her. I hope you like it. I'd love to hear what you think and how you deal with insecurities.
I did a small poll on social media asking women if they dealt with #insecurities and if so, to what extent. The response was overwhelming. Although it saddened me, I wasn’t surprised. The age ranged from middle school to women in their seventies. This is so sad y’all. I believe one way we can help put an end to this is to stop being so hard on each other. We need to teach our kids (by example) to love themselves and all people no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. No matter if they are pretty or ugly, rich or poor. We have eleven year olds committing suicide in our country. I can’t even comprehend how something like that is happening. Y’all that is a baby…a baby.
My own journey with self-esteem issues probably began a long time before I truly realized what was happening. I believe all women experience some form of insecurities at least once in their lifetime. Some of us much more than others.
I can remember growing up as a child I never really worried about how I looked. I am from a different time when #selfies didn’t exist, and social media didn’t determine if you were “liked” or not. It wasn’t until my first encounter with hatefulness that I started to really look at myself negatively. It started with nicknames. There were a few…Pug…Jap…and the infamous, Chinese Waffle Face. It is funny how you never forget the first time someone addresses a flaw that you didn’t even know you had. Sure, my nose is flat, and my eyes slant, but I had never thought about it as anything to look down upon until it was brought to my attention and even then didn’t give it a lot of thought. Yet I’ve never forgotten those names.
I spent my elementary years in awkwardness, which carried over into middle school. I actually always found the company of boys more enjoyable than the drama clad females that were always so catty, save a few. Even when there was nothing sexual involved, I just liked hanging out with the guys, and to this day, find myself connecting better with them in terms of friendship. In my experience, most women are just too darn competitive, and it’s not in my blood to be combative.
I think females have an innate animal instinct or something. It’s like, a bunch of cats marking their territory. Now don’t get all pissy yourself. I’m not a woman hater or anything, I just think we girls can be mean. Ask any high schooler.
I don’t like to admit it, and actually don’t remember much of it, but I know I played the part of bully myself some in high school. I guess that kind of stuff rubs off on you. Looking back now, I wish I could slap myself around a bit. Not only for treating others unkind (even if they were sleeping with my boyfriend), but mostly for allowing myself to be sucked into that world, the world of backstabbing and name calling, the world of kill or be killed, the world that bats women against each other and turns friends into enemies.
I don’t think I was as #insecure about my looks back then as I was just simply being enough. I wasn’t poor, but I wasn’t rich either. I wasn’t ugly, but I wasn’t drop dead gorgeous either. I stayed somewhere in the middle….Average. Yes, I believed I was average.
I always loved to draw and wanted to go to art school, but I was told I wasn’t quite good enough. Besides, what kind of job is that, right? Shouldn’t I want to be a nurse or a lawyer or a teacher? You know, have a respectable job. I remember entertaining the idea of going to college at Ole Miss. This was laughable to some, because “I wouldn’t fit in there.” They were probably right.
I loved drama and writing. I dreamed of having a powder blue Chevelle with custom white interior and a rear view mirror just perfect enough to hold my handcuffs and purple Crown Royal bag that held inside of it all my secrets. I loved everything unique and unusual. I wrote poetry like it was going out of style and read Edgar Allen Poe for fun. I sketched comic book characters, and had dreams of Hollywood. I didn’t really fit in with the status quo and honestly never wanted to. How boring to be like everyone else.
I actually grew to despise the norm. I never could understand why anyone would want to own a pair of shoes or clothes that “everyone” else had. I loved thrift stores and vintage clothes. I did try to suppress most of my uniqueness in order to fit in, something I regret, and I don’t think I did a good job at it. Needless to say, I put on a face that people would somewhat except. There were very few that got to see the real me and even they only got glimpses.
I would like to think that if I went back to high school, I would be a total rock star and not care what anyone thought, but I suppose that might not be the case. You see, a lot of the things that held me in bondage then are still present today. Except now, I also deal with insecurities about my appearance, due to past trouble in my #marriage, and a general feeling of worthlessness. I hate to admit it, but I would probably still face a lot of the same insecurities along with a few more. Which makes me wonder if I’ve even grown at all.
I have never been much of a “people person” anyway. Large crowds and parties have always made me uncomfortable. If you knew me in high school, or a while after, you might not believe that. I know of, at least, a few videos still floating around that immortalize my raunchy behavior at parties, and they don’t even show how truly crazy things sometimes got. Forgive me Jesus! Give anyone a few glasses of vodka and a joint, and they will be a totally different person. Or maybe just a freer person, one that removes all boundaries. Mostly these nights ended badly, but, even as a Christian, I can’t help but look back on some of those nights and smile. That is only because they were experienced with my person.
It wasn’t until senior year, when I met my best friend, Amanda Rae, that I could finally be myself. At least a closer version to the person I knew I was inside. It’s freeing to meet a friend that passes no judgement, a friend that makes you laugh out loud. Not the fake kind of laugh but one that starts off deep down inside and erupts out of you without your consent. I don’t laugh like that much anymore. I miss it. Those are the #friends you must never let go of. When you find a friend that people accuse you of being lovers with, then you know you have found your other half, your partner in crime, your calm in the storms of life. Still to this day, I have met no one like her. Maybe you only get one of those in your lifetime. The point is, I had finally started not to care what others thought of me. Sure, I was most definitely talked about…sure, most of it was destructive…sure there are some inappropriate pictures of us floating around Canada somewhere (don’t ask, because I won’t tell), but it was freeing nonetheless.
I’m the first to admit that I struggle with sins from the past. Y’all I’ve done more damage than a Texas tornado and occasionally stumble over the debris. My list of, “wish I hadn’t done that” is ten miles long. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve shuffled around life with my head down. I survived, and you will too. I never even speak to most of the people that used to intimidate me. It’s funny how hashing up all these memories brings me right back to that place, right back to the girl that I used to be.
I wish I could tell y’all (especially you young girls) that #selfesteem issues are over once you get out of school, but that is not really the case. Those particular issues may be over, but you will be faced with more as you age. This is what happened to me. I somewhat got over my insecurities after high school or, at least, learned to cope. I didn’t really care what others thought of me, but I had developed a view of myself based on others opinions, instead of who I was in Christ, so I was now my own worst critic.
My marriage went south only a few years after we got hitched. I contribute some of this to the fact that my husband was not “one of the few” that had gotten to know the real me. He had fallen in love with a façade. I had made sure of that. Honestly, the person on the inside, the person I am without #Jesus, isn’t the one I want to be anyways. She’s a bit of a bruiser, an emotional mess, and a sex feign, among other distasteful attributes. Most of my issues today are because that trick is trying to run my life. It’s hard to fight off the attitudes and desires that demand to be heard. Especially when they are coming from your own head. Sometimes I think life would be easier if I just gave in, but I know that’s a lie that rears up its ugly head when I don't spend enough time in the word.
I think that is what many people do. They just give in to the hate, they give in to their inner demons and then hate the person they become. Either that or they hate what is inside them so badly that they judge others that openly do those things, causing that person then to feel insecure and judged. It’s a vicious cycle.
I don’t know what kind of religious beliefs you have. Like I mentioned before, I’m a Christian. Therefore, there is a standard of living that I’m called to live by. Whether you are a Christian or not, most of us have, at least, some moral boundaries. I personally don’t know how I would survive without something to tether myself to. I would hate to see the person I would become without it. I need boundaries and limits. I don’t always like them, but my life would fall apart without them.
This becomes even more evident when I’m having a “moment.” You know what I’m talking about. Those times when you wake up and look in the mirror and see an ugly face staring back at you. When you try on everything in your closet and nothing fits…When you look around at your beautiful friends and know that you don’t even hold a candle to them…When you are ashamed to wear a swimsuit because your body is less than attractive…When you want to have sex in the dark because you don’t want to disgust your husband…When your job isn’t going right…When you balance your checkbook…When you check social media and notice that everyone is having a blast and you realize what a bore you have become, because you just want to sit around and watch #Netflix…and honestly why must we always have to wear a bra? Can’t we just adopt a new law as a nation that states that saggy boobs and a chunky gut are sexy? Who’s with me?
You get the point, right? It’s in those times that I start to freak out. Years ago I was having a “moment” that had lasted for quite a while. I woke up one morning to eighteen red roses sitting on the table and decided I had to just get away. I kidnapped my best friend (literally), and we took off to Memphis, TN. She fought me the entire way, but we ended up staying there for a few weeks. I dropped out of college and out of reality for a bit. I needed a change of scenery, and I needed it immediately. From there we came home just long enough to pack some things and took off on the open road in my hot pink Cavalier. We traveled to New Orleans during Mardi Gras and then over to Texas. After a while we headed east to Virginia and North Carolina, Maryland and DC. My “moments” are sometimes extreme.
You see, I am a runner. My feet continuously point in the direction of the door, and my eyes stay fixed on the exit signs, always ready for a change. Always ready to throw in the towel and start over in my own "witness protection program." New name, new identity. Sadly, I have contemplated this more than I would like to admit. #Commitment scares the heck out of me, and I get bored very easily. These are not traits one would normally admit to. Especially a married mother of two. I believe because I’m not always allowing myself to be real, I get #insecure. One can’t be happy living a life that belongs to someone else. Someone that likes the mundane normalcy that makes me cringe. I’m not belittling that life. If you enjoy that type of existence then by all means live that life. It’s when we are not ourselves that our satisfaction becomes nonexistent and we become insecure and unhappy in our skin. And insecure people make wrong decisions. They make decisions based on whatever lie they believe about themselves.
There was a time in my marriage that I became so focused on pleasing my husband, which was a lost cause, that I literally almost went insane. It is impossible to please others if you are not true to yourself. If you are trying to make others happy by living a lie, eventually something is going to break and that something will be you. The thing that you try so hard to keep by being an altered version of yourself will eventually crumble. Which was the case with my marriage. The more I tried to be everything he wanted, the more of myself was lost. I didn’t even recognize the person I had become by the time it was over. Now, we have children that I didn’t want to experience the hurt that I saw them going through, and God was able to restore my marriage, but first I had to come to the place where I was no longer going to succumb to the insecurities that landed me in a lawyer’s office signing #divorce papers. I’m not saying it has been easy. On the contrary, marriage is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. Remember what I said? Commitment freaks the heck out of me. “Forever” sounds like a curse word to my ears. The permanence of anything is scary to me, and choosing to continue to do the same thing day in and day out “till death do you part” sounds horrible and like the very thing that makes me panic. Yet, I need it. I need something tying me down lest I float off into the oblivion. Luckily, my husband now lets me have my “moments” and we move on. I still hold back some but mostly I am free to be me, even if it’s only when I’m by myself, which is a Godsend.
I’m still on this journey to be free from insecurities which sometimes feels like it will last a lifetime. I envy you ladies that truly don’t care what others think or at least are confident in the person you were born to be. I get so mad when I let life get me down. I look around and see no reason to be unhappy or insecure. I have great kids, a great husband whom I am extremely attracted to, I have great sex, I still weigh almost the same as I did in high school, I love my job, I love my church, and I make great money. It’s not the kind of thing that makes sense. When I did the poll on social media I saw many beautiful #women that, from all outward appearances, had great families and lives, beautiful young girls with their futures before them and grandmothers that had lived long full lives. Yet, even they dealt daily with this curse. I know many men also deal with feelings of inadequacies. We measure ourselves up against other people that, if we knew the truth, are not any happier than us.
When I wrote the book, If I’m Being Honest, I was shocked by the people that approached me privately confessing their marriage problems and hidden sins. Y’all, these people were rocking marriage on the outside. It kind of knocked me down a bit. I thought, if these people aren’t happy, who in the heck is? I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no happy marriages, no happy people. I know that sounds really negative, but it’s true. Nobody can be truly happy every day on their own. We need Jesus! There is no way two imperfect people can come together and live without some turmoil. I’m not saying happiness is unattainable, I’m just saying sometimes we have to choose to be happy even when everything sucks. When you’ve gained weight and your husband is being a jerk, when you can’t pay your bills and your kids are driving you crazy, when life isn’t turning out the way you thought it would, when everything in you says “run” and basically everything in your life goes haywire, you have to choose to be happy.
Those are the times in my life when I have to get away. I encourage you to figure out what it takes to get you back to a place where you can handle your business. For me, it’s a change in scenery. I’ve driven only twenty miles away before, got a hotel room for a night and came back a better person. I’m lucky enough to have a getaway. My parents have a condo in Arkansas, which I take advantage of as often as possible. In order for my life to keep on keeping on, I HAVE to get away alone. I used to not take that time and held it all in. This was not good.
I love the ride, it’s just under five hours. I turn the music up as loud as I can, sing to the top of my lungs, rap like I’m a thug and zone out. Once I’m there, I write, watch TV, eat, and veg out. I pray and cry if need be. Whatever it takes. I am one hundred percent me and I love it, even when it’s hard. I don’t have to be a wife or mother or anything that anybody needs. I drink coffee on the patio and get inspiration and motivation to keep on living. That is very important for me, because there was a time that thoughts of #suicide tried to take me out. That is the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered. If you ever experience thoughts like that, those machine gun attacks that weaken your very core, please…please seek help. Tell someone. I know it’s embarrassing to admit. I know you are ashamed, but tell someone. Because life is worth living and sometimes we need others to help us see through the fog. On my trips, I make peace with the past and commit to do better. Everyone needs something. Find out where your sanity lies and take full advantage.
Regardless of what it is, we as women have to hold each other up in prayer and whatever it is that you can do to encourage each other. #Moms need other moms. #Women need other women. We need to hear your horror stories of how you caught your twelve month old eating her poo or your fourteen year old sending inappropriate pictures to her boyfriend. We need to hear about your fight with your husband and the make-up sex that followed. It’s not that we are happy about your mishaps but it makes us feel more human. It makes us feel less alone and less judged. I believe that’s why I’m writing this, why I always seem to air my dirty laundry. When I published the book about my affair, it freaked some people out that I would put it all out there like that. But my whole reason was to help someone else, and you know what, I have heard many testimonies of how the book has helped them. I’m not saying you have to tell all but, at least tell your friends. They will thank you later.
I say all that to say this, whether you are the one trembling in fear or are the person responsible for this imaginary line we all feel we must cross, the good news is, you can change. Every day we have a choice. A choice to be kind or to be mean, a choice to #love or to hate, a choice to love ourselves and let others do the same or continue on this path to destruction. It’s simple but not always easy. Again, going back to my Christianity, the Bible teaches that we are to love God and love people. Those are the only two commands. Such a tiny sentence, such a small word…LOVE…yet it can have a profound impact on our lives and all those around us. Hopefully this makes you think. We must love others and ourselves, and we must do it now. For only then will we ever be truly happy. Much love and happy reading!