"everybody has that thing where they need to look one way but they come out looking another way and that's what people observe. you see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw. it's just extraordinary that we should have been given these peculiarities. something is ironic in the world and it has to do with the fact that what you intend never comes out like you intend it." - diane arbus
“we’re all products of what we want to project to the world. even people who don’t spend any time, or think they don’t, on preparing themselves for the world out there – i think that ultimately they have for their whole lives groomed themselves to be a certain way, to present a face to the world.” – cindy sherman
this post is a little nerve-wrecking for me, and all i've done so far is show you my tits.
a handful of people know about my childhood. my mother and i have a... difficult relationship. any emotional baggage i have stems from that woman. i love her, and i hate her. it's exhausting feeling those two polar opposite emotions towards another human being at all times.
for as long as i can remember i have always felt less than worthy of my mother's love. she equates value with physicality, something to be measured and quantified. my younger sister is very beautiful and i grew up hearing about this from anyone and everyone, people mistake her for a model on a regular basis. my mother was also very beautiful when she was younger, and constantly reminds us of this fact and how similar my sister and her are, not only in their beauty, but their personalities. i am the hardworking, talented, funny (but not pretty) daughter. all of this was something i knew growing up, but didn't quite understand how it affected me until i was out on my own, away from my mother and her abuse. it was abuse. i can say that now after 7 years of trying to work out what happened in our home.
the thing is though, i know my mother didn't do any of it purposefully. i know in her own way she loves me, but she damaged me. i grew up being told no man would ever want me. she would scream this at me when she was angry. i was told many times i was disgusting and vile and no man wants to look at a girl like me. to be told that as a teenage girl, by your own mother, is devastating. so much of a woman's worth is tied to her appearance.
i didn't date in high school or college. i wanted to, but i always went after guys who wanted nothing to do with me in that way. looking back, i was probably trying to protect myself by holding onto people who didn't want me. because if they didn't want me, they couldn't really hurt me, and i'd already been hurt so much in my young life.
i have some incredible friends i can talk to about this, they are my therapy. a couple of them have told me my mother is a narcissist. i didn't know this was a personality disorder until recently, but it makes sense. i've known for years there is something off about my mother. no mentally healthy person treats others the way that she does. so many times growing up i felt like i was going crazy. she told me i needed therapy as she was screaming at me from other side of a bedroom door. what she failed to realize was she was the cause of all of my out of control feelings. i realized after i left home that i never, ever felt that way around anyone else, only her.
it must be obvious by now to anyone reading this post that i had major body issues growing up. i never spoke of the abuse at home to anyone until i was 25 or so. by that time i had been away from my mother on a daily basis and could start to come to terms with how i was affected by everything. the more people i told, the easier it became, and the more i realized how un-normal my childhood was. when you grow up in a home with abuse it's hard to know what is acceptable behavior sometimes. when i started telling my friends some of the things she said to me, they were shocked. and i was shocked they were shocked.
the closer i got to thirty, the more i started to fully accept who i am as a person, flaws and all. (and there are a lot of them.) i'm never going to be skinny, and i don't want to be. my body was made to have curves and i love them now. i'm never going to have long legs, but my short legs get me to where i need to be. i'm always going to have big boobs, that hurt my back and make my clothes fit weird, but they make me feel like a woman. my lips are big and i used to be incredibly self-conscious about them growing up because they garnered unwanted attention, but am now trying to embrace them. my stomach will probably always have a cookie pooch, but oh well, i like food even though it doesn't like me back.
to some all of this may seem silly. another girl whining about her looks. that isn't my purpose at all with this post. it's about healing myself and moving past some things so that i can be a better version of myself. i've never spoken to my mother about any of this, and i don't think i ever will. a friend told me about gaslighting the other day. it's something narcissistic people do to make their victims feel like everything is their fault and the abuser has no blame in the matter. so for my own sanity, i'll tell the internet rather than my mother in hopes of releasing some of the trauma.
i'm thankful to be part of a generation that acknowledges mental health disorders and wants to face them, rather than sweeping things under the rug. i long ago left religion, it's not for me. but when i did, i realized that this is it. we have one life and i want to make the most of mine and be happy. it's a choice to let someone take that away from you and i don't want someone to have that power over me any longer.