Replacing My Mask

As I stood in my bathroom, looking into the mirror applying my make up for the third day in a row (one time a month is about my average), I was struck by a thought. Since my recent weight gain has settled in and I cannot seem to get the weight to drop for a multitude of reasons (some I can control, some I cannot), I feel an overpowering need to replace my “mask”.

Finishing the make-up application, I was so aware of my attempt to replace my “hot body” mask for a “great hair and mediocre make-up” mask. Since I can’t seem to wrap my head around consistently eating well, I decided I would fix something else. I’m not accepting anything- I’m just moving on.

Don’t get me wrong, moving on can be a healthy means of leaving old habits behind. And right now when I actually do something with my hair and put on make-up, I feel more beautiful and attractive. But let’s be honest, that’s not all that’s happening here.

I am unbelievably insecure about my looks. And not just my body but my face as well. My husband teases me because I always have my mouth open to make a silly face in every picture. I do it as a mask. I do it because I can laugh with people and never have to be laughed at. In my head, people will ridicule and laugh at me when I am not making a “pretty face”. Even worse, I feel like I look good but find out that someone else doesn’t think so. I’m an adult and logically know that most people don’t care what I look like in pictures, but my sensitive and previously damaged ego is more of a feeler than a thinker.

The worst part is that no one else can fix this issue for me. My husband, friends and family cannot tell me enough times how beautiful I am so that I will actually start believing it. Even if they could fix it for me, they would have to follow me around all day and night, every day and night saying, “You’re beautiful” every two minutes in order to thwart the bitch in my head. Even then, I am not sure she would stop because she can attack me when I least expect it and no one is looking.

There’s more to this change than just stopping the loud bitch in my head. I have been quieting her down increasingly more and more over the last year; the next step is to replace her. She doesn’t serve me any longer. She doesn’t protect me from others and their potential attacks. She hurts me, holds me back and reminds me of all of my fears and failures. But she’s not just wrong- something else is right!

There is beauty in me that’s skin deep, but there is also a beauty in me that radiates from the inside out and deserves the best I have to give. She deserves the best from the people around her, and shouldn’t put up with anything else. She selflessly and generously gives to the community of people around her because she cares. She is a precious diamond. Gosh that sounds cheesy and silly! (If you just read that diamond line, I worked hard to keep that in here. My less than romantic side is grossed out by it!)

As cheesy and silly as it sounds, it’s truth. It’s the most beautiful and freeing truth I have heard from myself in a long time. I am an extremely flawed and imperfect person, but I am a beautiful person. A beautiful person who wants heads to turn when others see me, and hearts to open when they spend time with me.

Why do so many of us believe they aren’t enough? That regardless of what we do, achieve, experience, and share we are inadequate? Adequate is different than perfect, and none of us are perfect, but we are certainly adequate in just about anything and better than adequate in many areas.

I don’t know what your bitch says to you, but here is the daily list of failures my loud bitch likes to lie to me about:

·         You’re a terrible mom- you are going to drive your kid to be an unproductive member of society who is a (fill in your choice of addiction)

·         Your husband is not being fulfilled because you’re not good enough, attractive enough, fun enough, etc.

·         You are not savvy enough to run a business

·         You will never achieve the business you envision

·         You failed at this before why wouldn’t you fail this time?

·         Your clients can’t lose weight if you can’t even maintain your own weight

·         You don’t have anything important to say, why do you talk so much?

·         You want to be a professional speaker? Have you heard yourself?

·         You’re so ugly! How did you ever think you were attractive?

·         You look so old, are you sure your birth certificate is right? (OK, that second part is my sense of humor right in this moment)

And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on…

Most likely if you’re still reading this blog, you have a list too. Maybe the same, maybe different. Either way, you probably can feel every insult as if it was the familiar voice you hear.

Honestly, as I take a look at this list and absorb it- Stockholm’s Syndrome makes sense. Just like a kidnapper holds someone captive and the victim starts to identify with and defend the poor choices of the perpetrator, I listen to and defend the bitch in my head.  I have the freedom of choice every single day to listen to the loud bitch or not, yet often times, I choose to not only listen to but to defend her! That sounds crazy, but I do it. I believe she’s justified by memories; moments I recall when she says those things. They are snap shots in time, but I take them to be the entirety of my story.

Our rational brains can’t make sense of it, but we don’t operate from a logical place all that often. There’s a theory that says we make decisions only with our emotions. We think through things and make our pros and cons lists taking 3 days to make some big decisions, but the truth of the matter is the decision was still emotionally instilled. Maybe the greater emotion that took over while you waited 3 days was greater than the impulsive emotion, but often, our first emotional decision is our final decision.

I don’t know about you, but I want to change my emotional reactions. I want to say things out loud that are true. I want to not just drink my own kool-aid that I spout out to anyone who listens. I want to live it out as an example to others, make an impact on my community, and change the way we think and act as a culture.  

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