So, I’ve been making a commitment to maintaining my Beautiful Me Journal and I mentioned in a previous post (don’t remember exactly, so please don’t make me cite it) that I may combine days, skip days or whatever and this is one of those times where I’m skipping days 15 & 16. On Day 15, the author asks us to find a child we are close to and have her/him draw a picture of themselves. And you’re supposed to marvel at that child and build her or his self-esteem. Then on Day 16, you’re supposed to do a self-portrait drawing and use it as a gauge for later reflection. Well, I don’t know any young children that right now, and I am not in an artistic mood right now, so I didn’t feel like doing it. So, I’m gonna focus on Day 17.
Day 17: Replace What You Heard
Using the author’s own words, this day is focused on “reconciling past experiences”. Really, it’s an attempt to move past things we have internalized in a negative way. Specifically, the author suggests putting the thoughts in our head to a little test: “Is this my voice or someone else’s?” And I have to admit, that I really like this. I know there are some major negative things I have said to myself. Granted, I have embraced this idea that these negative things are personified in Hilda, so I have a way to understand that the negativity isn’t a natural part of who I am. In many ways, this helps me, but I like how this day is asking us to go beyond Hilda – to figure out where the these negative thoughts have originated. And specifically, the things that we are highly critical about with respect to our body images tend to be something we focus on.
I can group a lot of negative thoughts into categories where they come from. For example, my parents have unintentionally taught me to be a perfectionist. Although, they never criticized me in destructive ways, they taught me that being self-critical refines you into being better than what you were before. So, there was little room for some mistakes in my household (this is a bit of an exaggeration and I’m infusing emotion into this unintentionally too). Five minutes late getting home from a friend’s house would have earned a grounding for a week, as an example. I also didn’t come from a rich family, so money seemed to be always controlled (something I went extremely opposite from within my life – regardless how hard I try). I look at this category as all being related to achieving success in life.
Another category, would probably be more directed towards looks and physique. I’m not tall, for a man. I’m 5’6″ tall. Trust me, when you’re interested in girls, they all seemed to prefer tall, dark and handsome – none of which, I ever felt. I remember lining up in school and I was always among the shortest people (thanks mom, for being so tiny!). Combine this with the fact that I was not a fast kid either, it made me feel less like a boy (yes, yes, yes…obviously, this is a point of struggle within my life – always seeing myself as less than masculine).
And then there is my butt. You see, I have a bubble butt. It’s big and round. I remember once, in gym class during middle school all of the guys in class running by me on the track, sticking their butt out and making fun of me. That did not feel good, at all. Then, there was that time during summer break after my freshman year in college, when I worked with a bunch of low-life pukes (do I sound bitter?) that described my butt as a n-word woman’s butt (I can’t type out the actual word they used, but I think you all get the point). Another time, when I was a police officer and worked in the schools as a School Resource Officer, I discovered that all the kids referred to me as Officer Bubbles (ya know….bubble-butt). So, I arrested them all…just kidding. But you get where I’m going here. It sucked.
And then there are things I’ve heard about my looks. Granted, she liked my ass, but there was a girl I had a crush on in high school, but she had told one of my friends, “He’s got a nice ass, but he’s ugly…” I hated that. I remember people making fun of my lips too. They are full. Of course, there were times that I was told that my lips were DSLs (Dick Sucking Lips), but this was long before I had accepted my sexuality and it felt like a major insult at the time. And having been friend-zoned so much made me feel self-conscious about my looks too. I never saw myself as hot. And I never considered myself “manly” either. Girls never flocked to me like I saw them flock to other guys.
Side note: I have had conflicts with how I saw myself – masculine and feminine too. No one ever told me how unfeminine I looked, but on the few times I tried to cross-dress, I felt hideous.
The author encourages us to explore where these messages came from and focus on what we would have preferred to hear. I think I can sum it up all at once – the messages should be about empowering, encouraging, emphasizing the positive. I’m making an attempt at doing that. It’s not always easy, but I have made a commitment to myself and I’m going to see it through until I feel…