I learned to ride a bike when I was 7. My first bike was pale blue with a banana seat that boasted a chrome handle on the back of it. It had a little plastic basket on the front and red, white & blue streamers on the handle bars.
I remember waking up Christmas morning, our last Christmas before becoming Jehovah's Witnesses, and seeing this huge gift wrapped box sitting next to our tiny plastic tree and being speechless because I had gotten such a big gift.
I don't remember how long it took my dad to put it together but I remember he refused to put the training wheels on it. He said it was easy to learn and there was no point in wasting time. I find that ironic now because he later went on to weld training wheels he made out of a shopping cart to a motorcycle he owned.
The apartments we lived in had a small side yard that ran the length of the apartments. My first try was riding from our apartment, number 4, to my friend nurselizy's apartment, number 1. My dad guided the bike while running behind me but when he let go, my bike wobbled out of control and I almost crashed into the front fence. I'm sure I must have fallen but I really don't remember. For my second try I went from my friend nurselizy's apartment to mine and wasn't able to stop myself into to miss hitting the clothes lines. I remember that fall because I skinned my knee.
My third try, my dad guided the bike and I made it all the way to the front fence without falling. I thought it was because he hadn't let go but when I
turned around, I saw him standing halfway in between our apartments with a big cheesy grin and clapping. He ran up to me and said we should try again right away while I had this victory momentum. When he went to guide the bike, I told him I could do it alone this time and he let me. I got on the bike, he balanced it for me and then I flew through the yard. I was only seven so I don't think I knew what the names of the feelings I was having were but now I know they were pride, exhilaration, self confidence and just plain happiness. Besides this being one of the best memories I have of my dad, it is also one of the best ones I have about me.
The reason I'm bringing up this 30 year old memory is because I recently found that little girl again. The following post will be like an exorcism of sorts. I know my family members will be shocked to read the words I'm typing. All because I felt like I needed to keep these issues private, that I had to deal with them on my own because otherwise I would show my weaknesses.
For some years now, about 6 or so, I have felt vulnerable, inadequate, sad, angry, confused, repulsive, ashamed . . . and the list goes on and on. I'm sure I've touched on this subject before. Professionally, I'm still an ass kicker but personally? My self esteem in my appearance has been a roller coaster. I would dress up and feel confident, ready to take on the world but then I'd walk by a mirror and it would be as if someone stripped me of all that confidence and replaced it with feelings of repugnance and bitterness.
I've had debilitating bouts of depression that all centered on one specific issue. My body. Each year that goes by I'd feel more and more angry at myself for not being able to have the motivation and self control it would take to maintain a healthy weight. Each year I felt more self loathing than the next. I tried this fad and that fad. I entered weight challenges and nothing worked to keep me on track.
A couple of weeks ago, all my insecurities had regained force and punched me in the face leaving me feeling crushed under waves of inadequacy. Finding humor in anything was an impossibility which is why I needed to take some (quasi) time off from blogging and analyze myself. Sleep eluded me. My mood was so bleak, I felt as if my chest was going to cave in.
Over the past few days, I've wondered why I've let any other forces cloud my judgment. Why I let anyone make me feel inferior. Why (Why not *how* because I know the how) did I become so engrossed in this that or the other that I made it impossible for myself to go one day without this feeling of hatred for myself.
What happened to that chick who would be fearless at parties/clubs? Or the one who, as I think back on it now, WTF was I thinking, would ride on the back of guys motorcycles, speeding through the highway, feeling immortal? What about the woman who attempted skiing, no matter how disastrous the outcome was, I'm still proud to say that I tried. Specifically, what happened to that little girl who confidently told her dad she could ride her bike without his help and succeeded?
I did all these things because I had enough confidence in myself that I had no preconceived notions of failure. I didn't second guess myself, I just fucking did and so I was. Sure some of my choices and adventures weren't the safest but I'm here so lets not dwell on my intelligence, mkay?
That self confidence is to thank for a lot of special memories. I've had guys sing to me, I've had guys fight over me (that was more in my teen years but it still counts), I've had guys bribe my brothers so they could put in a good word for them, I've had men cry for me. Okay, that would need more of an explanation but now is not the time. I've gone into job interviews knowing how lucky they would be to have me. I was always sure of who I was. Now my sad ass shies away from mirrors because I don't need a confirmation on how unattractive I feel. I stopped accompanying Andy to any work gatherings because I was embarrassed on how much I 'let myself go'.
I let myself believe that that reflection in the mirror represented who I was inside. But that's not the case, I may have a different wrapper but I'm still the same person. The same person who believes she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. One who refuses to sink deeper into this abyss of bitterness and is ready to do something about it.
Unfortunately, because I have had such a wall around me, sometimes people overlook the fact that I do have feelings. While strangers and people who don't matter to me may not penetrate my shell, it was still vulnerable to those I care about. Saying the wrong thing may cause damage no matter how well intended the comments may be. I can't change how people view me but I'll be damned if I continue this body dysmorphia! I know that what I see when I look in a mirror is only in my head and even though I may not be 100% happy with what I see, I still know it's nowhere near as bad as I make myself believe it is.
I woke up a week ago with this angry need to change my life. Enough with feeling sorry for myself! I wasn't sure what my next step would be but I knew that I needed to regain control of myself. There is no miracle cure, no plastic surgeon is going to offer me thousands of dollars worth of free surgery, I'm not going to sign up for a "Fatty loser" reality show. What I have to do is what I have done my whole life when I really want something, work for it.
The important things I have wanted in life didn't come to me by chance or luck. I've had to work hard to get them so why should this be any different?
I am as of this very moment, putting a stop to any thoughts of shortfalls, failures or any other bullshit that has no right to be in my head. All I can do is change my attitude and strangely enough, people have taken notice of this life altering decision to take control of my self esteem. People have been commenting on how good I look, how young I look, etc.
Sure, I still have my dark moments but then I flip off my reflection and I tell her to enjoy her time because the happier me is slowly going to take over and then kick her ass. I just have to keep remembering that I am the boss of me and everybody else can go fuck themselves.
Also, I have lost 12 pounds since January so that has also been a great motivator. And, don't let anybody undermine your self confidence. If you need professional help, don't be ashamed to get it.