This past weekend, I made a pretty big change to my appearance! I went from being blonde my entire life to being a brunette!
This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it was an extremely drastic change for me. I had been talking about doing it for years, but never had the courage. So, I finally asked myself, “What’s holding you back?” and the answer was a little embarrassing, yet not surprising – FEAR!
Fear! Dun Dun Duuuunnnnn! I was worried what other people would think.
Fear is ruthless, relentless and a killer of joy.
So, I stood up tall, clenched my fists, lifted my eyes to the sky (imagine Superwoman, but in more conservative attire…wink), and told myself that my reasoning was ridiculous, that the opinions of others should not deter me from doing the things that make me happy, and that if I want to do it, then I should do it, dammit!
And then I did it!
The result? I am in love with it! 😍
I’ve realized something recently. One of the many epiphanies I’ve had throughout my recovery. And it’s funny, because my husband, of all people, helped me to discover this about myself. I was talking with him about how my face and body have changed over the years, and how it’s been really difficult to lose weight and that I just don’t feel pretty anymore, and it’s making me extremely uncomfortable and a little embarrassed. He asked me why I felt this way, and I literally said, “I haven’t even been hit on in years.”
Yuck! How frickin’ shallow, right?!?
Here’s the thing – it wasn’t meant to be shallow. This thought seemed completely rational to me, though in reality, it simply served as evidence of my flawed thinking.
My husband looked at me surprised and said, “Why would you want to be hit on anyway? You are amazing, and married, and I think you are beautiful. Besides, I hit on you every day.”
I love him.
In that moment, I realized that for my entire life I’ve had a completely warped understanding of beauty and self-acceptance. Everything I thought and believed was completely inaccurate. It’s only taken me 35 years to figure it out…
Here it is:
Throughout my life, I’ve allowed a good portion of my self-worth, and especially body image, to rely directly on the opinions of men. As far back as I can remember, I depended on men to determine if I was pretty enough, thin enough. If my hair should be blonde or brown. If I was dressed appropriately, or if I should dress sexier to get their attention. I needed their approval. I craved their approval. I thought the approval and attraction of men would make me feel loved, respected, or at the very least, admired.
Because of this, I let men treat me poorly. I was sexually assaulted and verbally abused. I let men disrespect me, use me, lie to me, humiliate me and play with my head and my heart – all for one very simple reason – I just wanted to be loved.
Throughout this process, I lost all respect for myself too, and if you ask me, that is the real tragedy in all of this.
Even after being in a loving relationship with my husband for over a decade, I’ve realized I was still hoping to be desirable. I still craved the attention, and I thought because I wasn’t receiving it anymore, that it meant I wasn’t beautiful.
The thought never even crossed my mind that the one person I so desperately needed that love and attention from, was myself. That if I can look in the mirror and see the beauty in myself, I would no longer desire the validation of others.
So here I am today, coming to terms with my aging appearance. I’ve got a chubby belly and thick thighs – bags under my eyes and wrinkles in my forehead. I’ve got scars from acne, and surgery, and worse, from the stitches I received after cutting my wrists years ago. My nose is a little too big, my face is a little too round, and I have a cleft in my chin – a chin, I might add, that suddenly decided to sprout one rogue black hair that requires a weekly plucking! What the crap is that about?!?
But, you see, even with all of those physical imperfections, I am happy. I really, truly am. I am much happier than I have ever been in my life. I couldn’t say that when I was younger, skinnier, prettier.
There’s the silver lining.
That is freedom.
I would be lying if I told you that I felt this acceptance at all times. I don’t.
I would be lying if I told you that I love myself every second of every day. It ebbs and flows.
But, I feel it today.
I dyed my hair a beautiful dark chocolate brown because I wanted to. Not because my husband wanted me to, or because I thought it would make me look prettier or younger, or garner the attention of men, but because I wanted to. My daughter might cry when she’s see it, and that’s ok too, because it will only take her a few moments to recognize that hair color doesn’t change a person. It’s just hair!
I think positive change is beautiful, no matter what shade it comes in, and I was in need of a little change today.
What’s holding you back?