Last time I wrote about the voice, I wrote about how I have attempted to squash the feelings of self doubt when it comes to my weight and riding. I’ve worked hard to keep those negative feelings at bay when it comes to riding, but life outside of the barn is an entirely different story.
Let me tell you, there’s nothing like being suddenly abruptly single for the first time in almost a decade and then looking at yourself in the mirror. Take ten years, thirty pounds and add in a smidge of trauma to create a nice concoction challenged self esteem. Even though I’ve always struggled somewhat with a positive body image, all of a sudden things seem a lot more critical than they did three months ago.
As I’m sure we’ve all accepted by now, my husband was not perfect. However, one of the things he did routinely was compliment me. I remember one time I was feeling particularly down about myself and how I looked, and he said something like “Why do you second guess me when I say you look pretty? Don’t insult my opinion! Don’t you trust what I say?” It wasn’t fluff either, it was genuine. After that conversation, I took his compliments more to heart.
Now he’s gone, and I don’t like what I see in the mirror a lot more often. Typing that out frustrates me, because I hate that part of me needs a man around to tell me I’m pretty. I’m an independent person. I’m an above average thinker, sufficiently quick witted and decently educated. I shouldn’t crumble at all being on my own, but in this area I’m faltering some. The voice is beating me down.
I know I’m not the only person who’s ever felt this way. One of my friends said they considered going back to an ex once, because they felt like no one else would find them attractive. I heard this person say this, and was completely shocked. In my eyes, they’ve never needed to change a thing but we are all our own worst enemy.
So what do you do to put the voice back in its box? Short of tapping on my husband’s ashes and yelling, “TELL ME I’M PRETTY!” I’m not sure.
I know positive body image and good self esteem need to source from yourself, not from others. If you hold yourself to a standard of beauty that you don’t control, you’re always going to be set up for failure. I know this, but it’s not easy to practice.
What I am doing is employing a”fake it ’till you make it” strategy that I always keep in my back pocket. New haircut? Check. Start wearing makeup to work again? Absolutely. Spend a little more money on clothes? Whatever we need to do sister, it’s go time.
The voice still catches me off guard, and still makes me sad sometimes but I sit a little straighter on a good hair day. From the outside perspective, people are probably wondering why I all of a sudden look about 10x more put together than I typically do after going through such an ordeal, but they can wonder. I don’t know if the extra effort I put into my appearance right now is feeding the voice or starving it, but it feels like the best line of self defense I have at the moment.