It took me an extremely long time to like me. I grew up in a military family, where my dad had issues with weight vs. height standards according to the Army charts in the orderly room. I don’t think he realized that the standards are different for women than they are for men. My mom was always concerned about her weight and size. I think she’s always had an unhealthy view of herself…even when she only wore a size 5 jeans at 5’5″. I haven’t seen a size 5 jeans since I was in the 8th grade. And my mom had had 4 kids by then.
I think at her heaviest she was 135 lbs……without being pregnant. And probably only 155 lbs while 9 mos pregnant with my baby brother…who was 10 lbs 11ozs at birth. My mom always had a rock star figure. Even the guys in my high school thought so. But she continued to diet and jog and workout all the time. And never for the thrill of the workout or because it made her feel better. Seemingly, it was to lose weight so that she could make my dad like her better. What she never knew was that he liked her fine as she was.
I remember once when I was a senior in high school and a member of the track team and dance squad and running between 2 and 5 miles on the weekends because I liked how it made me feel, my dad asked me how much I weighed. I told him the truth. I weighed 120 lbs. He said that at 5’3″ I shouldn’t be more than 105. I told him that I’d inherited his mom’s body type and short of lopping off a boob, there was little chance of me losing weight. I wore a size 9 which is incredibly thin for my fairly muscular frame. (And when I say muscular frame, I’m talking about back when I was 17. I still have that same muscular frame now at thirty-thirteen but it’s very well insulated.) I always blew off the height/weight standards to how I felt in my clothes. I don’t think my sisters or my mom felt the way that I did, though.
I managed to get out of my parents home with more self-confidence than my siblings, I think. (I may be wrong about that. They can correct me in the comments section if they like.) And although I thought that since I moved out at 17 years old, that I didn’t get any of the low self-esteem issues or lack of self-confidence problems that I had seen in my mom, I was so wrong. I dated guys who were losers. I treated myself very badly. I carried myself in a manner that I WANTED to be but underneath, really wasn’t. I wanted to be a mover and a shaker. I was instead, a shover and a faker. It’s true. But about the time that I finally decided that I deserved better than the shitty relationship that I was in, I decided to take my faking to a whole new level.
I applied for a temporary assignment overseas….via backdoor means….and then pulled the, “REALLY? I didn’t know that was how I was supposed to do it” excuse when I got lectured by my boss about protocol and blah blah blah……Boy, was he PISSED when they called me and offered me the assignment. I took it. And I swore it was all this self-confidence that I had that led me to doing it. But in retrospect, I think it was just a way for me to get away from my ex without having to actually deal with him. And little bits of self-confidence were beginning to grow roots within me. But I don’t think they had actually taken root to me yet.
I think it took me about four years or more from that point to feel those roots of confidence start to wrap themselves around my core and then an opportunity to move overseas for a long term assignment. I took that assignment and ran like the wind. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Three months after I got there, I got my final documents giving me back my freedom and partied hard for another three months. I dialed back the partying after that but still had a great time with wonderful friends that I still keep in touch with today. And then I met my husband.
I continued to fake a lot of my self-confidence. I don’t think he knew it even….until we talked about it one night last year. It was so weird. I was so certain that I loved him 100% and that he probably loved me 50% or maybe up to about 60% but just wanted a wife because his younger brother married before he did and he felt obligated to marry and I was handy….and kind of cute. But I still felt this way, six or seven years into the marriage. I have no idea why. I had already left my job and we’d moved overseas to Egypt when it finally dawned on me, “Hey, this guy REALLY does love me and REALLY would give me the moon if he thought it would make me happy.”
I started to work on making me happy after that. I continued to read more and learn how to do things that I never thought I could. And you know what? It worked. I really, really, really started to like me. I also improved my Arabic skills, learned to sew, learned to make homemade ketchup and brown sugar, homemade pizza dough and to cook awesome Egyptian foods. I taught myself how to make a perfect pie crust, make my own fitted sheets, how to haggle with vendors in the open markets and souvenir shops. I learned how to rewire a lamp, change a valve in a faucet and to snake a floor drain in the bathroom. I discovered that I really suck at making my own clothes but I’m really good at making curtains, valances, sheets, pillows, and mending. I’m also one lesson ahead of my son in learning how to speak French.
I managed to lose 28 kilos through hard work and diet and kept it off for two years. Then it slowly crept back on and I haven’t been able to finally decide that I want to focus the attention I need to lose it again. But I will. Soon. And even though I’m way overweight again and unhappy with how I look, I STILL like me. I still love me. And I can see myself through my husband’s eyes. I am an incredible, sexy, intelligent, confident woman who does whatever she sets her mind to do. And I no longer need to fake the self-confidence. In the words of Abed from Community, “I’ve got self-esteem falling out of my butt.”