Writing those words makes me extremely sad. I hate myself for struggling with self confidence my entire life but it is what it is. I grew up in a Hispanic household where beauty, being girly and thin were praised. I was none of those things. I was an average looking, chubby tomboy and that was nothing to be praised about. I was also the middle child sandwiched between two amazingly gorgeous, thin sisters. Although my big sister was a tomboy, she was praised for being skinny. My little sister was as girly as it came and was mostly praised for being skinny, although she did love to dress “inappropriately” according to our parents. Both of them have always been so confident with their own bodies that I guess I thought if I was skinny, I would love myself too… I was so wrong.
For so long, I thought there was something wrong with me. Why was I the chubby one out my sisters? Why do they get asked out and I didn’t? Why do my parents yell at me for not losing weight? I shit you not, this last one did happen… a lot! I remember one epic meltdown the summer before I turned 16… I told my parents I was done feeling like an outcast and our mutual solution was to enroll me in a weight loss program. Because losing weight was going to make me happy. I did lose weight but I wasn’t happy. If I gained weight, my dad would yell at me in disappointment. I was so scared to eat because I didn’t want to disappoint him. I knew they had paid a lot of money for me to lose weight, so I couldn’t fail them at my attempts to be happy.
I was always stressed out about my appearance or what I ate and all it made me do was feel worse about my self. I mostly kept to myself and focused on school. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. I was quiet and reserved. How could I not be when every grown up in my life said I wasn’t worthy enough?
I ended up finding a group of people that were as awkward as me in high school and those 4 years were the best. They allowed me to be my best weirdo self and I’m forever grateful. I came out of my shell just a smidge but still really hated myself for not being as beautiful as some of my friends. I compared my self to everyone all the time and there were so many days that I wouldn’t participate because of my own insecurities or lash out at people because of my own internal bullshit. I am sorry everyday for pushing them away.
I lost so many friendships because of my own insecurities. I pushed people away because I didn’t feel worthy. I just ignored everyone and then blamed them for not reaching out. It was a dick move. However, when you hate yourself so much, you don’t see that the problem is you and not the people around you. There’s only so much people can put up with and I pushed everyone to their limits. To this day, I don’t consider myself having a best friend because of that fear I will push them away.
When I met my husband, I didn’t know he was flirting with me. Like I looked around for a hidden camera all the time. I had to ask my sisters what was going on because I didn’t believe a guy was in to me. Me? The one that my grandma said would never get married because I was too fat for anyone to love. I struggled and some days still struggle to believe he finds me attractive. I tried to do to him what I did to my friends and push him away. I didn’t feel worthy to have him and had this mentality that he would realize one day that I didn’t deserve him. However, he saw through my bullshit and called me out on it. 14 years later, he not only makes me feel worthy, he assures me I can do hard things when I doubt myself.
Still, there are days when I only focus on the flaws: Double chin, saggy deflated breasts, apron belly, enormous thighs that rub together and ruin all leggings and jeans, wide feet that don’t look good in any opened toe shoe. I cry a lot about all these things I hate about myself. Because some days the negative voices are just too loud to ignore. I get on the scale and if it goes up, I beat myself up about it. Start thinking what can I do to drop the weight quickly… eliminate carbs all together? Maybe just don’t eat for the day and stick with water. Sulk and cry? I have done some if not all these things at some point in my life from the time I was 8 years old… It sucks. Again… the negative voices telling me I have to lose weight to be accepted are hard to mute. They are hard wired in my DNA for life. No matter all the wonderful things my husband, daughters and sisters do to make me feel better, some days the negativity wins.
I am learning acceptance. I try to tell myself one positive thing a day. I’ll focus on how strong my legs are and remember how many miles we have run in the last 2 years. If I’m focused on my stomach/abdominal area, I remind myself that I housed 2 full term daughters back to back, each weighing 8 pounds a piece and how they are my little kickass queens. I’ll stare at my massive booty and tell myself there are women who pay to have to achieve this. Recently, I started running outdoors in just a sports bra, shorts and my favorite Sparkle Skirts. This is a huge step for me. I used to run in layers of clothing to hide my jiggly bits. The most important step I’ve taken towards self love and acceptance is to remind myself that if I want to raise daughters and nieces that exude self confidence, I have to do it myself and lead by example.
Being a woman sucks. Being a woman in a world where beauty standards are so warped that it causes mental health issues is the worst. Destiny gave me daughters and nieces to show them that we are more than just our appearance. We have to be good, kind-hearted people. We are allowed to be whatever the hell we want to be. I believe that I went through all that I went through to make sure my girls, all 18,000 of them (sarcasm, we just have a lot of girls in our family) don’t have to deal with the same shit I dealt with. Because that’s what it was: SHIT. No one needs to hate themselves at 8 years old or 9, 10, 11… no one should hate themselves at any age. Periodt!
It’s not an easy road and it will be my life long journey. There will be setbacks and obstacles and people who will try to bring you down because of their own insecurities. My hope is that with each passing day, I can look beyond the mirror to focus on my accomplishments as a person, mom, wife, runner and whatever other hat I wear from here until the day I die. My goal is to be on my deathbed and my final words to be:
“I was a badass.”