Striving for Wholeness Rather Than Greatness

Be Yourself

It is interesting to me how we think of ourselves versus the actual way we are, or how other people perceive us. I often think of the most influential people that I have met, and how the world around them upholds them in a certain light, yet their family rolls their eyes at their antics. The persona they uphold is powerful, yet their personal life is quite possibly lacking something; perhaps attention to detail. I know comedians often repeat their jokes in different settings, which can get incredibly old and taxing on a significant other who hears the same thing over and over. I’ve met pastors who hold their congregation to high standards while their children were out in the world causing havoc. I think I’ve seen these types of gaps in people’s lives enough to pay attention to myself and how I’m putting something out in the world that I’m not exactly paying attention to in my immediate affairs. The images we hide behind create incredible illusions. How many people do we meet that are genuine and transparent? I find those kinds of people to be humble and fascinating; more so than those who can talk a good talk.

I had a conversation with someone yesterday about how money changes some people, and how it doesn’t affect the way other people behave in the world. I brought up the fact that I want to be one of those people who treats everyone the same, whether they are famous, infamous, or living on the streets. I recall so many times when I’ve entered into places where I felt extremely uncomfortable, and someone of significance approached me and graciously made me feel welcome. I’ve also been in several settings where I was snubbed for not wearing the right attire or appearing the role. Just the other night while walking around downtown in my sweats, my daughter and I took a stroll inside a new art gallery. They were having an open house. Not one person treated us like we were welcome there. If I had been wearing something different, I’m certain I would have gotten at least a handshake or a nod. But nope. We were treated like outsiders and ignored. I am the same exact person whether I’m wearing a gown, or a pair of jeans. It’s so funny how people treat me differently according to what I’m wearing.

We put so much emphasis on our looks and how we appear to the world, but since I’ve worked on myself from the inside out, I easily see through people’s personas. I can tell when someone is guarded, or when they are hiding behind a thick mask of illusion. I can see people who do not even know that they are hiding behind masks, and those that think they have it all going on, yet their lack of self-worth is casually leaking through. I think back to myself when I was in their shoes and wonder how many people saw right through me. I used to be a great actress. Now I’m embarrassed when I find myself in a situation where I’m trying to impress someone, or when I throw out an impressive image to hide my insecurities. More than anything, I just want to remember that I am no better than the person standing next to me. I have worked hard on myself, but I also vividly recall what it was like to be uncomfortable in my own skin, and how it feels to suffer. I try to offer my most genuine self to new people now, although it’s tricky to be genuine 100% of the time. Many people have a way of expecting impressive stories or pulling out that mask of mine that I’ve tried to leave behind. The world is filled with people who want to impress the world.

Before I go into a new place where I might feel uncomfortable, I do a simple little meditation to ground myself. I pretend that I am a tree and I imagine my roots going deep into the earth and then wrapping themselves around the earth’s core. I do this so that I feel like I’m rooted deeply in who I am, rather than being easily swayed by the people in the room. If I feel grounded, I’m less likely to feel insecure or to need to hide behind some weird mask. I think many people struggle with social anxiety, which is why many of us drank to begin with, and why many people do drink in social settings. I want to be one of those people that can walk into any room and feel magnificent in my own skin. I’m working on it… (one day at a time). I don’t beat myself up (however) when I do find myself feeling insecure or when I go back to my old ways and hide behind images. I am compassionate with myself, knowing that I’m still learning and growing. I understand that I have a long way to go. It is not a negative thing to feel insecure. It simply shines a light on what I need to work on in myself. When I sense other people feeling insecure, I offer that graciousness that has so often been offered to me in the past. There is nothing like someone who treats another human being like they are more than welcome, no matter who they are or how they appear. I know how good I’ve felt when someone “greater than me” has treated me like their equal. It can really give a person wings.

I would rather have nothing of significance, or to be no one of significance, but to have been known as someone who was genuine, and also someone who made others feel welcome. I feel like it has taken most of my life to get to know myself, and I want to honor that self of mine, rather than try to be someone I’m not, or to appear better than I am. Humility is not something to shy away from. It is a cloak of integrity, and the shelter that keeps us in alignment with who we truly are. I used to want to be like every other person. Now I realize that I am the only person who can be me, and I am so incredibly excited about sharing my uniqueness to the surrounding world. Being who you are is the greatest gift you can give to the world. It is also satisfying and noncompetitive. It’s simple and free. I think my greatest life lesson has been that when I had nothing, I was still me. I was still alive and there. There was nothing lacking. I try to carry that with me wherever I go now, and it has completely set me free.

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Self-Love and Self-Acceptance is Not Just About Rockin’ the Curves

All about the bass

As catchy as this tune is, it still reinforces that women should feel good about their bodies because men like them a certain way.  “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” REALLY?!  As a full grown woman in this twisted-ass society, I am so SICK of feeling like I have to impress men with my body, or even worse – get their acceptance of MY BODY.  I’ve done the math and figured out that the men who are attracted to me for my body – no matter if it’s when I’m thin as a rail, thick and curvy from being bloated from drinking, a little chubby from depression eating, or fit and athletic looking – those men are scumbags.  I’ve had all the body types with the exception of being obese (because I’ve been a consciously healthy eater throughout my life), and I’m going to be brave and admit right now that in all of my ever-changing wardrobes from size 0 to size 12, I’ve always been concerned about how I appeared to men.  Throughout my womanhood I’ve been hit on by married men, arrogant asshole men, men hanging out of their low-riding cars flashing their grills making cat calls, old men, much-too-young men, and “sophisticated” men.  For YEARS this made me feel good about myself.  BARF!  Here is what I want to say to those men – I NO LONGER NEED YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF ME TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL.  FUCK OFF ALREADY!

I used to look in the mirror and detest my freckles.  I spent hundreds of dollars and too many years trying to hide my natural, lovely freckles.  When I got to rehab for alcoholism (because I completely self-destructed while trying to live up to other people’s standards) – for SIX MONTHS I was not allowed to wear make-up. So guess what?  I had to either accept my freckles or spend the entire time obsessing about them.  I chose to accept them, and the funny thing was, no one cared about my damn freckles.  The only thing I ever heard about my freckles from my peers was how darned cute they were.  I began looking in the mirror and seeing what other people saw – a confident woman who had more on her mind than appearing perfect. In that six month period where I was not the center of attention for once, I learned to love my face without the make-up.  I noticed the kindness behind my amber eyes and the way they smiled when I smiled.  I noticed my dimples and the radiance of my ivory skin – all the things I’d never noticed about myself before because I was too busy trying to cover up my freckles.

When I accepted my freckles I stopped caring what other people thought about them.  The obsession was gone.  I could finally walk around without make-up not thinking anything about the spots on my face. What freedom! How liberating! It took thirty-five flippen years for me to get to that place, but the last thing I’m going to ever say to my daughter about this is, “Men love freckles, so you should embrace them.”  Oh HELL NO.  It doesn’t matter what men think of my freckles.  I LOVE my freckles.  That’s all that matters.

Same goes for the ole’ body.  I’ve had body image problems all my life just like the rest of the women in society.  I still do, but I am working on overcoming them and I take care of my body because I not only want to look good – I also want to feel good for as long as possible.  Several years ago I went and had breast implants because I felt like my shoulders were too broad for my size B-cup boobs.  I was very insecure about my breasts, especially because I noticed that most men were into larger breasts.  I tell people I had this surgery done for myself, but the truth is, I wanted to feel better about myself through the likes of men, and I also wanted to appear more confident than I felt inside.  Instead of accepting my body the way it was, I transformed it.  I don’t exactly have regrets, but often I notice the way men look at them and sexualize me rather than notice other things about me, like how I articulate myself.  I have gotten to a place in my life where I do not think much about my breasts at all.  More important to me is how present I am in any given situation.  I think about the state of my soul more than I care about the way my breasts appear.  I care about laughing and about noticing the beauty in the world.  I care about what comes up for me emotionally through the mirrors of other people.  The inner body is much more real to me than the one that is going to eventually grow old and wither.  When I go out in the world now, I am not thinking about attracting men.  I am much more interested in the magic of being alive.  I am fulfilled as a human being – as a confident woman.  I no longer need the acceptance of a man to help me feel good, or better about myself.  In fact, there hasn’t been a man yet who’s come along and offered me more confidence and love than I have for myself today.

I’ve had plenty of boyfriends who’ve told me I was beautiful when I didn’t think I was beautiful, and their compliments never penetrated my being the way I feel about myself now. Some of those men did not hesitate to tear me apart when our relationship was not working out in the end. If I had valued myself through their lustful eyes, I would have also devalued myself when they were knocking me down. I knew better. I knew I was worth more than a man’s shifty opinion of me.

How did I get to the point of genuine self-acceptance? I stopped fucking lying to myself about everything.  I looked past my facade. I stopped acting happy when I was angry.  I stopped “being nice” when I was feeling annoyed.  I began knowing myself through the wave of my emotions.  I listened to my negative thinking and got interested in my behaviors.  I stopped conforming to the outside world and became a watcher of my inner world.  I stopped distracting myself from my pain and began sitting with the pain.  It fucken hurt and I continued sitting with it.  I cried a lot.  I stopped being fake and just started getting real with myself.  I stopped telling myself that I was all of these positive things that were not true, including the one where I said I felt good about myself.  I was a liar.  I was a manipulator.  I was scared as shit about everything and everyone. I hated myself. I hated myself. I hated myself. I rejected myself although I spent years perfecting an image that looked like I was incredibly confident about who I was. All lies. I was terrified.

Stop worrying about shedding weight and begin focusing on shedding all the bullshit you tell yourself. You are not a victim. If you haven’t FELT yourself through your emotions, then you don’t know yourself, and if you don’t know yourself, you cannot accept yourself.  Stop hiding from your pain.  When people brought up raw emotion for me, I thought they were my enemies until I realized that the raw emotion was mine. If pain was coming up for me through other people’s words, then those people were merely guides pointing me back to myself so that I could see myself for what I was.  I stopped running from the raw emotion and began getting curious about it.  It came up for me a lot – for several years – and sometimes it still comes up, but I don’t reject it or resist it anymore.  I welcome it.  I welcome it because it’s coming up so that it can clear out, so that I can be the whole person that I truly am.  I faced myself.  I faced my demons.  I stopped being afraid of the inner universe and began exploring it.  THAT’s how I’ve come to love myself.  That’s how I’ve learned acceptance for ME. 

When people poke and prod at me now, and bring up things I used to be insecure about – I can actually laugh with them instead of getting defensive.  YES I know I’m controlling.  HA HA HA!  Yes these boobs are fake! Ha! I know that about myself and I am working on the character defects, but you cannot hurt me by pointing them out.  I’m aware of these things about myself and I accept myself for all of my character defects.  After all, they are not who I am. I’m growing every day and walking more and more in the awareness of my soul, rather than in the fragments of my mind.  So again, I don’t give a shit about what men think about me or my body.  I don’t even think of men much anymore (not that I’ve gone rebelliously lesbian – I’ve just got a lot more going on now than needing a man in my life).  I’ve never gotten my confidence through them.  Through facing myself in all my emotional facets – through being aware of my thought patterns and behaviors – I’ve become not only confident about myself, I’ve also discovered my wholeness and completeness.

“Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” may sound good in theory, but I seriously doubt it rings true to many women out there because many of us are lying to ourselves about how we truly feel inside.  And if you don’t feel good on the inside, you cannot feel genuinely good about what you’re rocking on the outside.  Do you even know how you appear to others when you look perfect on the outside, yet you lack inner confidence? You look like an insecure, self-centered narcissist who spends way too much time in the mirror. People see right through that shit and it is incredibly unattractive.

Self-awareness is the path to self-acceptance.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of courage to enter into yourself, but if you want to walk out of your house each morning not just saying you’re confident, but actually BEING confident, take the inner journey.  Be the brave and self-assured woman that you claim you are.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Take a full inventory of yourself and after you realize who you really are beneath the façade, you will discover that you are lacking NOTHING.  You are EVERYTHING my dear, but it’s up to you to truly FEEL this about yourself instead of just portraying it to the world.  When you truly accept yourself, and truly love who you are, you will see through people’s bullshit like never before, and all those men that you long to attract now will seem like monkeys to you at that point.  You will realize how absurd it is to get acceptance from people who do not even truly accept themselves. You’ll understand how much more you deserve and you will value yourself enough to stay single until the right person comes along and enhances what you already have.  You don’t need a man to validate you.  You need to stop listening to these ridiculous songs about rocking your curves for the boys, and get beneath the skin of yourself.  Transform yourself from the inside out and your beautiful soul will eventually shine through.

P.S. For men reading this who feel yourself offended, you need to do an inventory of yourself too. Women have been defining themselves through the eyes of men for way too long, and if you haven’t noticed this planet is unbalanced as hell. Stop sexulizing everything. Utilize your life for something worth living for, which is certainly not just sex. Make something of yourself. God gave you a whole body and mind, yet all you think about is your penis and what turns you on. We are over it already. While you’ve been jacking-off to porn, this world has gone to shit. There are greater things to accomplish in this lifetime. Wake the fuck up.

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