...is the one I have with myself.
2017 will be one of the years that define me. Some years pass...and they are a mixture of laughter and tears and highs and lows...and of course, all of those moments shape you. But then there are some years that CHANGE you.
This will be that year for me.
I have been waiting to write "the blog post"...the one I know so many of you are waiting for. The post will shed light on my vague status updates on Facebook, or more direct posts (although still "illusive") on Instagram.
And that post will come. In due time. But not yet. One thing I would like to think I have always been over these last 8 years is transparent with you. It's one of the things that you probably like about me. I will talk about pretty much anything. We don't have very many secrets between us. So that post will come. But not yet.
So until then...you get this.
I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Have you ever tried it? It's fucking scary. Because when you search for something...you might just find it. And the "it" is usually hard to find for a reason. We bury the "it". Once you start to pull the blanket back though, once you start to peep into places you usually try to skim right over...things start to happen.
And it's happening to me.
I'm going to tell you a secret. And I hesitate, literally, to type it, because I don't want it to change the way you think about me.
But the secret is...I am full of self-doubt, insecurities, and feelings of inadequacies. I believe I have a way with words. I can tell a story, I can tell a joke, I can write a love letter, I can pen this blog. Well you should just HEAR the words I say to myself, sometimes inside my head. Sometimes aloud when I am alone. They can be terrible and cruel.
Recently, some of the wonderful people in my life (that I am thankfully surrounded by) have heard me say the things I think about myself. I have said them out loud to actual people for the first time in...well..for the first time ever. I don't/didn't want people to know that the Amy that they love...the funny, charming, outgoing, happy, upbeat Amy...isn't really that person on the inside. I mean...I AM...but there is another Amy. And I suppose that is true for many people. But here I am, this person always shouting LOVE YOURSELF...
and I don't love myself.
And here is a distinction I want to make. I am not talking about my external self. I still will shout LOVE YOUR BODY...WEAR THE BIKINI...because I am really at a place with my body these days that is relatively wonderful. I am at peace (98%) of the time with all of me. The muscles and the fluff. The curves and the cellulite. My body is strong and I AM confident in that. And what will be will be. Some things will never change. My biceps can get bigger, my butt can grow in wonderful ways...but I will always have loose skin. I will always have scars. And that is just fine.
It's difficult to explain.
People say "But Amy...when I look at you...you always seem so confident".
Well yes. Because confidence is attractive and I want people to like me and no one likes a sad sack who mopes around and complains. So I stand up straight, look people in the eyes, make them laugh and try to win them over with my charm. I am confident in my wit, my heart, my kindness, my mind, my ability to squat you.
But self-worth is a different animal.
And when it comes to matters of the heart, and more specifically, Heather...I've never been enough. Not in my mind. My fear from day one was that at any moment, Heather would realize that I was not good enough for her. And what you think, you become. This feeling is what has shaped every action and decision in our relationship.. This feeling is why I have allowed things to happen...things that have hurt me and have almost broken me. How could I stand up for myself? She is amazing. And self-disciplined. And attractive. And has abs. Who am I? Nothing compared to her. So I have though I should be happy to have something....rather than not have her at all. We teach people how to treat us. And we let people treat us the way we do based on how we value our own worth.
Some of you are going to tell me I am crazy. Some of you are going to tell me Heather is the lucky one. That I am beautiful and smart. WELL OF COURSE you are going to tell me that. Because you are nice and like me.
But several months ago, two of my closest friends did tell me I was crazy. And for some reason...a little seed was planted.
And it's growing.
And I am nurturing it.
But it's not easy.
Learning to love myself has been, thus far, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.
Standing up for myself is hard. I want to please and be loved. I want to make people happy. I am a giver. Giving and doing brings me joy. I want to be that person for my friends, and certainly for the person I thought I would spend forever with. Standing up for myself makes me feel...selfish. Wanting things that make my heart happy...makes me feel selfish. And it can be confusing.
I started going to therapy for the first time in my life. I wanted to "fix" whatever was wrong with me. Maybe if I could fix whatever was broken, maybe Heather would love me more.
Do you know what I have discovered (not in therapy...but just over the last couple of months)?
I do not need to be fixed.
I am not broken.
I am actually kind of amazing.
I might actually like me.
I am 37 years old, and my father will tell you that I have always sold myself short. He is usually referring to my career and why I don't believe in myself enough to push...but he is right. This isn't just related to Heather...but my entire life.
And you know what? I had a great childhood. My parents always, and still, support me and believe in me. My mom was THAT mom at graduation, holding the Carpe Diem sign in the crowd. My lack of self worth didn't come from lack of love and encouragement. I suppose it came from a mixture of the relationship with my brother (who I love and am not blaming), and my relationship with my weight. Feeling fat from a super early age (even though I was NOT fat until later) shaped my life. I had to be the clown that made people love her, so I wouldn't be the fat girl that people made fun of. I had do and overdo.
And that has never stopped.
I am a size 8-10 now. Below "average". And yet I still feel like everyone's first impression of me is "look at that fat girl".
Sure, I have muscle. But I feel like people think "Wow, that fat girl has a lot of muscle".
Sure I have a sexy walk and can fill out a pencil skirt...but I feel like people are thinking "Wow, that fat girl sure has a sexy walk and can fill out a pencil skirt".
When people see Heather and I together...I feel like they are thinking "Wow, that super fit girl with abs is in love with a fat girl".
As I type this my hands are trembling. It's easier to pose naked in front of strangers than it is to be honest with people that care about you. I don't really want you to know all of my secrets.
On this journey, as my little seed of self love is growing (it's like the science experiment with the seed and Styrofoam cup that most of us did in elementary school)...I am trying some new things.
1. The negative hateful self talk...I stop it almost as soon as it begins. And it's with pride that I say...it doesn't happen as often as it used to. It likes to come up when I am drinking (hmmm...perhaps I should not drink then)...but I literally have said to myself "STOP"...and I do.
2. I am surrounding myself with people that love me. I am SO lucky to have people in my life that want to pick me up. People that will listen to me when I am sad. And that means being honest and not always being "happy Amy". And you know what I have discovered? They STILL love me. Even when I am unable to get out of bed or I am crying so hard I can't breathe or speak. They still want to be my friends.
3. I am trying to make choices FOR ME. This is so so hard. And I am not there yet. But I have resolved myself to stop trying to fix everything at once. I don't need to think about next week or next month or next year. Today is what I am given and I can make a choice today. One day at a time. One little step at a time.
4. I want to do things that will make me the best version of myself. And if something hurts me or makes me a lesser version...or is something or someone makes the sad Amy want to come out...then I need to look at that as a sign. I don't want to be bitter. I want to be better.
5. I'm reading self-help books. Lord. I don't like to type that. But sometimes there are helpful tidbits in those suckers! And while those authors may not be any more mentally sound than I am...if their words can cause me to THINK...well then it was worth it.
6. If what we think, we become...I am trying to live mindfully. I am trying to be present. I am trying to focus on what I WANT. What I want to happen. Where I want to be. This is hard as well...because it means I have to think about what I WANT (see number 3).
7. I believe that we are meant to share our lives with other people. For most of that, that is an intimate partner. And I have long thought I needed someone to complete me. Don't get me wrong. I have been single and am not one of those people who "needs" someone because they don't want to be alone. But I am a romantic and have long bought into "you complete me". But I have realized, I can't expect someone else to complete me. I must be complete on my own. I CAN expect someone to compliment, support me, love me, encourage me, challenge me, spoil me. But the voids I feel cannot be filled by another. That's work for me to do.
8. Things that I have wanted to change about myself for a long time...I am learning that those are the things that the good people love about me. I AM super sensitive. But you know what? My emotions and my empathy is why I can relate to people. It's why I can make you feel better. It's why I can love with my whole heart. I've been told that I am "too sensitive". But I love my heart and it's capacity to hope and believe. So I am going to keep "overly sensitive" Amy around.
I've been told that I live in an "imaginary world"...where love never fades and people don't hurt you. For a few months I actually began to think maybe "they" were right. But I realized on my way to bowling one night...I KNOW love is real. I know it because I feel it. I know it because I possess it.
It's a really really weird place for me to be. It's sad and scary and also...exciting. We have all heard things like "You can't really love someone until you love yourself". Well I can love, and do love, and have loved. But I think the truth is...if you don't love yourself, how can you expect someone else to love you in the way you need and deserve.
One of the quotes that sticks with me is...
"You owe yourself the love that you so freely give to other people".
And for the first time in my life...I am starting to believe that.