Never did I imagine as a young teen that I would still be dealing with my insecurities well into my thirties still. Bright-eyed about the future with all my youthful naivety, adulthood seemed like a magical place where all my issues would disappear with instant maturity.
When I thought about what it would be like to be a mother back then, I imagined myself being a responsible and level-headed, calm and collected photocopy of any late eighties and early nineties family sitcom mom. Never did I consider the possibility that emotional growth wouldn’t just happen the same way my body grew and changed overnight with puberty.
Here I am, over fifteen years later, and I am still struggling to get a grip, fed up with the insecurities consuming my mind.
Growing up, I had the stereotypical child of an alcoholic thing going on. My father was a police officer and my stepmother his wannabe Barbie doll barely over the legal age. Both were seasoned drinkers with no time for raising children. It’s easy to conclude that my self-esteem never quite developed and my ideas, views, and values were a little skewed after growing up in their care. There was no one available for nurturing or guidance, after all. I was left to raise my brother and keep the house the best I could for a young girl because when my parents weren’t working they were at the bar and when the bar closed they brought the party home until it was time to go to work again.
Approaching the only mother figure I had when puberty began turned out to be the biggest mistake for my already fragile core. My stepmother fits the mold of womanly perfection, as her trophy wife status disclaimed. She was everything I wanted to look and be like. Naturally curvy, carrying an extra five or ten pounds around my middle, it was obvious to me early on that my body type was never going to be like hers. I still can’t say for sure, all this time later, if anything she said to me about accepting my differences was genuinely sincere or a calculated manipulation to keep me from coming under my father’s spotlight. She never took the time to show me how to care for myself or do any of the womanly things a girl learns from her mother. Never showed me how to feel pretty or how to love myself.
All I walked away with was more self-doubt and shame than I had ever felt before.
Uncomfortable in my own skin doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. From that point on, I lived in constant fear of my flaws, seeking fault in everything I could find to validate the growing insecurities I gathered like friends- my looks, my personality, my intelligence, my worth. Nothing was free from scrutiny. My confidence and self-respect had been blown to smithereens.
Deep down, I really believed my daydreams of feeling whole and valuable would become a reality once I left home as an adult. That I would be able to fix all the broken pieces of myself just because I wanted to. I hadn’t the wisdom to know any better, yet. I lived in a bubble of fairytale hopes and aspirations too unrealistic to ever become a reality until the truth hit me in the face. The damage had grown rooted in the core of my being, becoming part of who I thought I was. It would be necessary to unthread parts of my identity in order to begin the re-stitching process needed to mend the insecurities which plagued my soul.
I fought against the truth for far too long, hoping, wishing, and praying I would wake up and be well. The idea of trying to find my true self under the false beliefs and self-loathing was daunting and overwhelming. Enough to make me contemplate suicide to end my miserable existence at one point along the way. Underneath my negative self-imagery, though, I was a fighter and always up for a challenge. Living was not going to beat me at living. No way, no how.
Here I am, a decade and a half later, finally ready to take action. No more ugly business. No more picking and poking at every little glitch on my skin. No more resentment and jealousy over the traits I do not have. No more comparing myself to The Mold I became so obsessed with – and for what? To live in fear of being disliked… rejected… tormented… because I didn’t fit within it? Fuck that.
Excuse my language, but I have had enough of some ridiculous stereotype defining my sense of worth and leaving me trapped in a void by my overpowering insecurities.
Looking back, I can now see what I never could see clearly when I was younger- those I knew who fit The Mold, had very little else to offer this world. Certainly not compassion. Something I know without a doubt I excel at. I may not be the prettiest, the skinniest, or the most breath-taking of female specimens to grace the planet with their presence, however, I am the most kind-hearted, caring, and selfless giver of them all. For me, those are much more valuable traits to possess and be known for than all the beauty in humanity.
Those positive traits are the key to unraveling the roots wrapped around my core, squeezing the ability to love myself right out of me. Focusing on what I have to offer instead of what I lack, I can find myself all over again. I can learn to live with who I am.
With enough hard work and dedication, I will lay these overgrown insecurities to rest once and for all. The challenge has finally been accepted, as terrified of taking on myself that I am, and I will not let life win this time, either. I can’t. It’s already taken away too many years of my life making me hate myself. I will not let another fifteen years go by living in fear of loving myself.