There are a lot of lies we tell ourselves. Some of them are less damaging than others like, “they won’t kill off Tyrion, he’s the best character.” But others can be catastrophic.
This week’s Weight Watcher’s meeting was about body confidence. It was about learning to love ourselves. A month ago, I would have marched into that room and declared that I had all the answers. I had it covered. My last year with The Embraceable Project taught me to be confident, bold, and sexy. I learned to become those things, but my new self was untested.
For the last ten years of my life I have ate, slept, and sat in solemn silence-d theatre. I got a B.A. in theatre. I got an M.F.A. in theatre.I attended four shows a month and read a play a week. Once I attended nineteen performances in twenty-four days. This meant that I was well-culture, but it also meant that interactions with straight men were incredibly rare.
In January I began my credential program. I had sexistly/ageistly thought that credential programs were filled with twenty-two year old women. Not so. I am in classes with incredible people of all ages, sexes, orientations, and ethnicities — including straight men. (Also I got on an elevator today at the doctor’s office and six men my age stepped on; I need to work at Kaiser).
Although this proximity has certainly been exciting, it’s also showed the cracks in my armor.
I collapsed into old habits, shorting every guy I met into two categories: “maybe” and “definitely not” — but all to the question “would he ask me out at my current weight?” This was how old Rachell thought, the old Rachell who wrote “The Invisibility Cloak” and “Fear of Not Failing.” Last month I re-read those blogs, thrilled that I was no longer that person. It turns out I am, my new found confidence was simply untested and therefore without roots.
So today at Weight Watchers, having been warned by my mother what this week was about, I went in, shoulders stooped, after a very long week of unfortunate mishaps. I felt invisible, insignificant, and not-so-small. Then my leader Carol said we have to change the way we talk about ourselves. If we tell ourselves that we are fat, worthless, and no one wants us, it becomes true — not because it actually is, but because our minds made it so. My art teacher in high school put it this way: when you’re mountain biking, you can’t focus on where you don’t want to go (the rocks, trees, and rattle snakes) or you will crash. You have to focus on where you want to go. In this case, you have to focus on kind self-talk. Carol’s suggestions was to put post-its on the mirror. That’s an old trick, but it works. In fact, I had grabbed a post-it off the floor today which said exactly what I needed…
At the beloved middle school where I teach, they put post-its of affirmation around to encourage the students. Originally, I thought they were intended for the students to give to one another like “you make me smile” or “you have a great laugh.” Today, I discovered they were also for ourselves. Today I found one that said, “So many are in awe of you.” At first I thought it was stupid — an exaggeration, but when I looked back over my week, I was honored by the truth of it. I had a hellish week emotionally, but friends from every section of my life came out of the woodwork to support me. Some I have known for five weeks, some I have known for eighteen years. They all stood beside me, wanting me.
There are times I get bogged down in negative thoughts. “Old Rachell” would have said, “you shouldn’t think those things, they’re not nice” — but she would still believe they were true. Now I hear the voices in my head and know they are not just unkind, or even simply wrong — they are outright lies.
So, if you needed it, here are some post-it inspirations. If it makes you feel silly to think of them as coming from yourself, then you can label them from me, because I 100% believe…
- You are beautiful
- You are hilarious
- You are sweet
- You are a miracle
- You are special
- You are amazing
- You are loved
- You are worthy of love
- You are sexy
- You’re hot to trot
- You’ve got gorgeous eyes
- Your smile lights up a room
- You are handsome
- You won’t let them get you down
- You have an amazing heart
- You are someone’s angel
- You make me smile
- You are daring and brave
- You have a great laugh
- You are charming
- You are gracious
- You are precious
Or at the very least, listen to Viola Davis…
She won an Oscar this week, she knows all.
Be well, my loves, and do not listen to the lies. Much love.
Weight: 204lbs How do you feel?: Shaken, not stirred Small Victory: I took myself out to dinner tonight, and I did not order the peach pie that looked amazing. Biggest Disappointment: I did not eat peach pie Thing I appreciated about my body this week: My calf muscles! I went to physical therapy today because my foot went from “killing me” to “utterly unbearable” after my half-marathon. He said my foot can be healed in 6-8 weeks if I do calf-muscle strength training. YES! Answers to a year and a half of foot pain! #embraceablenow: because I am wanted.