Friday, October 17, 2008

Hate Me, Love Me

I remember climbing up onto the vanity in our cramped yellow bathroom. I was small enough to put my feet in the sink while I balanced the rest of my tiny frame onto its sides.

I would stare in the mirror, questioning the reflection before me. Who are you? I would ask, believing that one day she'd respond.

I examined every part of that face. The pronounced Armenian nose, the German blue eyes, the high cheekbones, the pale skin, the gap between my two front teeth, the scar on my forehead and another that would dance upon my cheek whenever I would laugh.

I hated that face. My face.

I was not beautiful. I never would be . . . I wasn't the smartest, coolest or the most talented either.

And, I didn't care. Not yet, anyway. I didn't know enough to care what people thought of me. I blindly went about my life in my scruffy clothes, ratty shoes and unkempt hair. I sang from my gut. I yelled out answers and didn't care if they were wrong. I hopped and twirled and danced down the streets (in the mall, the grocery store, the park). I would fall to the floor in fits of laughter (sometimes for no reason at all). I was living as loudly as I could, drinking in every drop of life. Not caring . . . not knowing.

But sometimes knowledge comes at a price . . . the euphoric innocence of youth. My voice was silenced, my hands rested firmly in my lap (even if I was sure I knew the answer), the dancing stopped and seldom did laughter escape from my lips. I did this . . . to myself. Believing I could just fade away.

As a young girl, not yet stumbling into adolescence, my carefully crafted facade began to give way to tiny cracks from each "well-meaning" comment and criticism . . . my face, my body, my brains, my abilities. I wasn't smart enough. Pretty enough. Good enough.

The words came from others . . . and sometimes the words were unspoken. The stares. The whispers. Last picked. Overlooked. Left out.

I spent the better part of my youth trying to prove myself. Trying to prove that I was good enough . . . worthy enough. I became the person they thought I was, the person they wanted me to be. I cowered under criticism. I said YES when I meant NO. I soothed feelings in spite of my own. I gave up. I gave in. I compromised and never gained a thing.

And then something happened. I went back to that girl, sitting on the vanity, her feet in the sink, examining her every feature, her icy blue eyes filled with self-loathing

and I shook her . . . awake.

I made her abandon the cloak of the past--the histories that were not hers to bear.

I am not the same as I was a decade ago, a year ago . . . even yesterday. And, I doubt I'll be the same tomorrow. That's fine with me . . .

My face is a constellation of flaws, there are bags under my eyes and my hair declares war on me every day. I have a quirky personality (and often a lame sense of humor to match). I say things that might make you cringe or even cry. I'm smart, but I have to work at it . . . nothing comes easy. Nothing. I get frustrated, irritated, annoyed, and plain old ANGRY, but I try to keep it all in check. I cry too much and sometimes, not enough. I'm a pessimistic optimist who expects the worst but hopes for the best.

You may hate me for what I say, what I believe in, for the car I drive or for how I part my hair.

You may love me for my unabashed honesty, my self-deprecating humor, my patient and calm demeanor (my incredible humility).

Whatever your choice, this is it. This is who I am and who I will be. Hate me . . . love me.

I no longer make apologies for who I am, what I do or what I believe.

I can't let that little girl down. I can't ever let her think that she doesn't matter or that she won't just fade away . . . because if I do . . .

I'll let him down. . .


and that just can't happen.

51 comments:

Lori said...

being a parent makes me step back and look at what is important... and what I want my guys to learn is important in life

Indy said...

I hope I get to this point sometime soon. I find that I still care too much what people think.

Karen said...

Micah made me come to this point. It's good and bad. Sometimes now I am *too* outspoken. But all in all, it's a happy place. A comfortable place. And I know that I'm being me. If I can teach my kids that the thoughts and opinions of others don't shape who you are, I'll have succeeded in parenting.

Rachel said...

Oh hell woman.
Just perfect. It's amazing how parenting can change you, make you stronger and smarter in so many ways. The world becomes a different place and priorities are so different.

Marmarbug said...

Isn't it funny how we reexamine ourselves when we have children? I always want Bean to be proud of who he is. And I know that starts with me.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It's the best thing about growing up--you know yourself and you don't need to change for anyone.

ConverseMomma said...

I get it. I get it. But, here is the rub. None of us really wants to be hated. We are all going to worry about being judged. If you knew your truth would exclude you from the world, would you speak it? Not many of us would, even me. The truth is that even a rebel needs a cause.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Standing and cheering for you girl. So many of us gals have been there and struggle to do what you are doing. Good for you!

CC said...

Beautifully said.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Wow. That is so profoundly true and profoundly said.

Threeboys1mommy said...

Look I've been really really ridiculously good looking most of my life so I can't relate, but I certainly know what you mean by needing to work at being smart... well no... not really. I'm brilliant!
(and completely full of myself, I can't help it! I don't know where the confidence came from, but I do remember always having it. It's a great way to live your life. I'm glad you discovered it.)

Should the stuff in the parenthesis be longer then what I wrote? ... Yes! Yes it should! (somebody put me in my place!)

Stacie said...

I love you and I don't even KNOW you...

Elaine A. said...

Sounds like you're human to me.

Good post. Your little guy is lucky to have you for his momma...

crazymumma said...

It never ceases to astound me how having children, has forced me to grow.

Colleen said...

*hugs*

I really want to hug you for saying all of that. I got so caught-up in middle school and high school with wanting to fit in; with suppressing my true self so that others might like me instead of realizing they didn't know the true me and that I was better off with only 1 or 2 good friends who "get" me than 10 or 12 pseudo-friends who drop me the second I am not conforming to them. I'm glad that in college I finally started to find my way back to myself, and even more so now as a mother.

Tracey said...

Love this. LOVE it.

And, judging by your blog's voice alone, you ARE smart enough, cool enough and a good friend and mommy.

Ms. Sappypants and all...

Lisa said...

how do you find the words?

proud of you....

Smart A$$ Mom said...

wonderful. Love it.

Kristen said...

OK, so seriously when are you going to write a book?

Again, remarkable!!

Perfect, and yes oh so true.

I too often think of my past. My past feelings of "not enough" and wonder how they will effect the kids. It is so important to me that our kids feel that they can do anything. That they are someone. And they are perfect, no matter the outside "things".

Beautifully written!

Kathryn said...

Amen!
That's awesome. :)

Lori said...

You are by far the most inspiring blog that I read!!!

Flea said...

I think it's your incredible humility that will help in raising him. :) There's a great book for lovely women like us, called The Allure of Hope. Jan Meyers, I think. Welcome to the land of the living! Glad to have you. :D I'm a recent transplant myself.

Karen MEG said...

Hate you... never. Love you, in an instant. You're growing up into a fine young woman ;). I remember my own bathroom sink/mirror moments and they were pretty ugly, believe you me.

I don't think it was until I became a mom that I got to this point either. Being strong for yourself is the best thing you can do for your boy.

huddtoo said...

This is a wonderful post! It makes me think. But, it makes me think of ME too! I see so much of that in myself.

You are so right, you can't let that sweet little J down, but you can't let you down too!

I should print this and give it to my hubby! :)

Kami said...

Um dude, you are like, the most excellent writer I know...

So you are not only smart, cool and beautiful but freaking brilliant.

Like Stacie said, I love you and I don't even know you. But I would love to know you. I would be privileged to know you.

Tara R. said...

My kids think I'm cool, they don't see me as the frumpy aging mom, and they are genuinely proud of me... who am I to argue?

J is one lucky little man to have one of the cool moms too.

painted maypole said...

lovely, just lovely. so glad you have arrived in this place.

womaninawindow said...

And I keep trying to remember when I wrote this. Could be my story. It is my story really. And I'm just becoming fortified in the last few years too. Wonderful. Liberating. Solidifying. Calm. and then I fart, and it's all stink clouds and laughter and who really gives a damn anyway? (Have you guessed yet? I'm four. I like farts. Burps are second.)

And I was just thinking about this while I was cleaning my house: Now you - you are doing the choosing. You are the captain of the team. And for once I've been called to a team too. Isn't it wonderful to not be the last one standing off to the side picking your nose? (Ya, nose picking -right up there too!)

AVT Coach said...

I love this post. You are expressing what at one time or another most people feel but do not say out loud. We get a different mindset as we get older, that part does improve with age. I agree that what happens is the child we bear is so important to us that we do not want them to have the same negative thoughts, hear the same criticisms or think that they don't fit in the world. The real truth is that no matter how good we are, they will still have moments when they think that. It won't be our fault but they will. The best thing though, is that although we cannot "control" that, we can fill each day with as much love and encouragment as possible and live our own days with those same positive thoughts about ourselves. Your little guy is lucky to have a mommy like you! I really enjoyed this post!

GoteeMan said...

Amazing post... I so much appreciate what you are saying...
I went through a very difficult time as a young man - self-hating, even suicidal gestures...
and my battles were hard won...
they have been for some time, but I have never forgotten how it felt, what I lived through (and almost died from), and what it looks like in others...

Thank you so much for posting this. I do not know you, but I do know this - you are a beautiful person with a beautiful heart...

Blessings & peace...

J/ (goteeman.blogspot.com)

April said...

As always, a beautiful and strong post.

lizzy-loo said...

i found your blog recently and i must say have kept coming back because your writing is great and speaks to me.

i think most of us - especially girls i'm afraid have had those moments,or in my case years,of self-doubt and feelings of just not measuring up. being a mother makes you take stock. hopefully we realize we are good enough and we learn to embrace all we are.

Nap Warden said...

"I'm a pessimistic optimist who expects the worst but hopes for the best." THAT is me...wow do I get this!

Stacie said...

tagged and awarded on my blog, come see. :)

Kimmylyn said...

You have no idea how this post hits so close to home with what I am going through.. finding my voice.. letting go of the old and creating the new is the only way I am going to be a STRONG role model for my boys..

Stephanie said...

I don't think you could have said this any more perfectly girl. Wow! Totally hits home. I used to be hell bent on having people like me and accept me. Now, it's me I accept and they can take it or leave it. I'm not there to please anyone else but me and my family.

Allison Says said...

Wow. That was an absolutely beautiful post. Resonates very strongly with me.

It's amazing what becoming a mom can do, isn't it? The way it changes you.

Again, beautiful post. Made me tear up.

Jennifer said...

YOU are wonderfully perfect just the way YOU are. i'm proud and happy to call you my FRIEND and I love you just the way you are!!

xoxoxo

DysFUNctional Mom said...

*Smile* What a GREAT post!

Eve Grey said...

You are also an amazing writer, mother, and blogger.
I would so love to go back in time to give the little girl you a hug and tell you how beautiful you are, were, and will be.

Momisodes said...

Your words resonate so much of what I aspire to become as a mother. Such a brilliant post.

Beth said...

Beautiful. Inspiring. *claps* I'm glad I clicked over to your blog today.

Pamela said...

I think you're my brain sister. I love this post.

Sue said...

You're beautiful to me inside and out.

Pregnantly Plump said...

What a thought-provoking post. I definitely felt the same way through adolescence and my teen years. Then something just happened and I stopped obsessing over my perceived flaws. It's a much happier way to live.

RJTrue said...

I'm pretty sure you're the best big sister in the whole entire world.

And for that, I am so lucky.

I hate you because you live far away. I love you because you're beautiful.

Yes, beautiful.

:)

LceeL said...

I don't know you. We've never met. I have no idea what you look like. But I know your mind. Your beautiful, smart, intelligent mind. And that makes me love you, right then and there.

Hyphen Mama said...

I choose to Love you. You write what I'd write from inside my brain, if I had the talent to write as well as you do.

I come from that same place inside. Now I have a daughter and I am DETERMINED to show her (or die trying) that she should love herself regardless of what others think. I tell her she's beautiful every day. One day she told her friend "I'm the most beautiful princess EVER." Her friend said "That's not nice!" Her friend's mom told me about the incident, as if she expected me to reprimand my daughter for her words. OH HELL NO!

abby p said...

You know I have struggled with this for so, so long.

I knew there was a reason I adored you.

Anonymous said...

i wish i had the guts to write this. i'm still just trying to figure out what i like about myself and what i want others to like about me.


quite a mantra. and quite an adorable boy.

ace

Lindsey said...

First off, LOVE the pic of baby J. May I still call him a baby? I think so!

Oh Laskigal, I love ya just the way you are. I do know what it's like trying to prove yourself. I've spent the majority of my life trying to. It's hard work. It's even harder trying to accept yourself. I'm constantly working at that. It's a journey!

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