The Voice – Part II

The Voice – Part II

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.

This selfie says, "I'm a crazy dog lady!"
This selfie says, “I’m a crazy dog lady!”

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.

I call this face "Blue Steel meets Duck Face"
I call this face “Blue Steel meets Duck Face”

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.

31 thoughts on “The Voice – Part II

  1. Self esteem is such a fickle bitch, really and truly. I go for days and can’t even look in a mirror, then BAM one confident day. Super weird. I’m glad you’re finding ways to work through it. 🙂

  2. I read a good book once that said “hold your head up, keep your eyes lifted and walk down the sideway telling yourself….I am pretty….I am proud of who I am. Thinking only positive thoughts”. The author said you would be amazed at all the looks (as in good) and attention that attitude would give you. I tried it and she was correct.

    I’m overweight for my height….and I’m sure not a raving beauty by any means. And my favorite saying is “what you see is what you get and it’s not getting any younger or better….in fact the opposite”. So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned to live with myself.

    Take care, I know all of this is hard and it’s still a huge adjustment for you.

  3. I think that outfit you’ve got on in the selfie looks FAB on you – and Eliott and Pascale clearly share my opinion! Also love the new haircut. So even if Tim isn’t here to say it… you’re very pretty!

  4. When I was about 26 I ended a very long, rather abusive relationship (mostly verbal, but occasionally physical). In the time I was with the person I gained about 25 pounds (bc I like donuts, but also bc he hated any sort of self-improvement I did as it was some signal that I was planning on leaving him). Regardless, when I finally got up the nerve to really leave him I had that voice BAD. No one will want me, I’m too old, I’m too heavy, I don’t want kids, I’m not the perfect version of feminine appeal. One thing that helped me a lot was joining a gym and doing classes. It made me feel like I was part of something, that I was a badass, it Introduced me to new people, and physically I saw a change which was just an added perk. What’s funny is, once I started doing that consistently I totally stopped caring what people thought of me bc I felt good about myself. I don’t know if that’s something you’re interested in, but I know that it really helped me. Good luck on your journey! Ps – you are pretty!

    1. Good for you on leaving and finding your bad ass self! The classes are a really good idea. I’ve thought about taking kick boxing, mainly because with each passing week of dealing with all this bureaucracy I find myself more and more wanting to kick people.

      1. Kickboxing sounds like an awesome way to start!! #1 You will feel better and stronger physically, #2 The knowledge that you can totally kick someone’s ass at any time is a HUGE confidence boost!! Hold your head high, girl. Eventually you will see the beauty that everyone else sees in you, too. 🙂

      2. I totally agree with this stance. When I’m having low self esteem phases, doing something like this helps me feel a little better. Even if I don’t get instantly get thinner/better skin/shinier hair or whatever, just proactively doing something to improve myself makes me feel better because I am taking matters into my own hands, and I know that eventually there will be improvement. Also kickboxing is great for pent up steam. It’s amazing what a good shot of adreniline + the endorphins you get from exercise + hitting something really hard will do for you.

  5. I wish I had an answer for you, but I struggle with this myself.

    My mom told me once in college when I was having a really tough time to make sure I got up every day and dressed nice and put on some makeup. It’s amazing how a simple act like that can really make a difference, so I think your approach is spot on.

    Just try not to be too hard on yourself.

  6. I have pretty darn low self esteem that actually got worse with the addition of an SO. My boyfriend’s body is the type of body you find in magazines – perfectly sculpted, gorgeous arms, 6 pack, lean-mean hunting machine. On the other hand, I’m fit, but not nearly as fit as he is, and it bothered me to the point that I actually started working out TOO much and made myself sick. So I stopped working out, ate a bunch of donuts, and then felt horrible again. I’ve finally found the right balance of working out/eating healthy but allowing myself to be who I am. It still sucks when he goes jogging shirtless with me and I lament over how I wish I could do that but alas I have no confidence in the chub that is my mid-section.

    TLDR: Fancying yourself up and taking exercise classes to help make yourself feel better is a great idea. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and you still love yourself for you.

  7. I always feel better about myself when I take the time to do something to my hair (or you know, get my quarterly haircut), put on makeup, and dress in something that isn’t black Kerrits tights and a t-shirt. The extra time I spend caring for myself always makes me feel good.

    Doing yoga/pilates always makes me feel good about myself too. When I did kickboxing and MMA, I felt REALLY good about myself because I knew I could totally kick someone’s ass AND I could take a punch to the face and be none the worse for wear.

    You are beautiful, inside and out!

  8. Eyeshadow is my kryptonite. I own way to much of it for as inconsistently as I use it.

    But when I use it…..I feel like a million bucks. My life could be crashing around my ears but I look good doing it darn it. so much so that a friend of mine commented that it looked like things were improving and he pointed to my makeup usage as a sign I was feeling better. He wasn’t wrong.

    So whatever it takes to make you feel good about you; sparkly make-up, bright red nail polish, semi-regular massages, good smelling bath products….you get the idea. Use the tools you have and enjoy the indulgences.

  9. One good tip: Stay far, far away from fashion magazines! Seriously, though, the Voice sucks. I’m sorry you’re contending with that along with everything else at the moment. I echo everyone else… do the hair. Do the makeup. Treat yourself to a couple new outfits that fit and flatter. It WILL help. You’ll get your mojo back, it’s just going to take time like everything else!

    I have the Voice pretty bad myself right now and I’m working on it: wearing more/better makeup (even though absolutely nobody notices), dressing a bit better, buying some new garments that actually flatter my figure, working out almost every day, etc.

    P.S. Bathe in the love shining from your horse’s and dog’s eyes. 🙂 They truly do not care WHAT we look like and it’s a wonderful balm.

  10. Can you still skate or do you have any injuries that prevent it? If you can, FIND A ROLLER DERBY TEAM. Seriously. I don’t know anything more guaranteed to make a woman feel like a badass than roller derby. I played it for years. Changed my life completely, maybe even more than riding. I can’t skate anymore because of an injury (and now i live in a town with no league) but I’d still be doing it if I could.

    In other “it’s all about me” news, I used to feel like shit about how I looked all the time and no amount of external validation did a goddamn thing for me. What did get me over it–and I am in NO WAY suggesting that this exact strategy should be yours, because I don’t think it should–was cutting off my hair, throwing away my girl clothes, buying boy clothes, getting glasses I liked, and then BAM. I felt like a million bucks and rarely have a moment of self-doubt. I realize this makes me a weirdo, but I’m a happy weirdo. I think we all have to find the thing that works for us. If adorable outfits, great haircut, and lovely makeup are working for you, go on wid yer bad self.

      1. I had never been on skates in my entire life when I started. Not once. And I was NOT a natural. Mary thinks it’s hard to teach me dressage but she didn’t see my poor derby coaches.

        You could always start out as a non-skating official (I was at one point considered the best non-skating official, like, basically ever so I have advice and also it’s fun). Then watch some practices, watch some bouts, see if it’s a community you’d be interested in joining before you decide if you want to try again with the wheels or participate in other ways or not at all. It’s just… roller derby is the best. The best.

  11. You’ve gotten some great advice in the comments above. 😀

    I would add that in the vein of the getting out of the house and meeting people suggestions, find a way to volunteer in your community. Focusing on and helping others does wonders for self esteem and helps get rid of “the voice”. There are always other folks who have it way worse than we do, which helps put our issues in perspective. And helping people feels good. 😀

  12. #normal

    Just in case you weren’t sure. I think every female (and a surprising number of males!) has the same thoughts and feelings. Some days I’m all :”this is me, take it or leave it”. And other days I wish I was still 104 lbs. I’m not sure what’s different on the days it’s ok to be a little curvier versus those other days when I curse these 25 extra lbs. But I think if any of us can figure out, we’d best write a book.

    Try and tell that voice to go eat a donut and leave you alone.

  13. You are rocking that hair lady!

    I don’t think you need a man, it is more just someone who says it is ok to be you. you are fine the way you are. even tho you already KNOW that, it is nice to hear it from outside your head. Tim wouldn’t let you be as hard on yourself as you want to be. Sometimes we forget to be nice to ourselves.

    The best thing that got me over the destructive voice (omg was I a self hater as a teen) was realizing that no one would ever be able to love me as much as I *could* love me. Not to sound as selfish as that does, but people aren’t mind readers. We try and do right by our loved ones, but sometimes we can be fickle creatures and want people around us, and sometimes we don’t, just for example. Only you know what you are thinking and feeling and it is so much easier to work for yourself than against yourself. I started out by really talking to myself neutrally and trying to get the pieces of me to work for the common good. I know this sounds strange, but maybe it will help you. Sorry if this was completely confusing and strange.

    Maybe just direct the voice elsewhere instead of trying to make it STFU. For every bad thing it tells you, make it tell you something good too.

  14. You are beautiful and always have good riding outfits (I find this very important!) I have seriously struggled
    with being happy with my body. I’ve dealt with serious anorexia. The scale can be a huge trigger for me. I really go by how my pants fit. I’m not sure if I’ll ever love looking at my body in the mirror, but I DO feel most confident when I’m working out regularly. Something about really sweating several times a week gives me a huge confidence boost (probably the endorphins, but whatever, I’ll take it). Also, riding is what got me through the worst of my eating disorder. It taught me to want to be strong, and that’s not the same as being really skinny. Your position in the saddle always looks strong and balanced to me. You’re obviously doing a lot right!

  15. Hey, Lauren. You know I don’t comment all that often, but I feel compelled to have a sit-down with you. :0)

    I didn’t read all the MANY comments that no doubt were filled with words of encouragement, so mine might just be one more on a huge pile.

    Here’s what I have to contribute: You are right. Confidence HAS to come from inside you, not from what others think of you. I will say that the very best thing about hitting 40 was the self-confidence that came with it. I say this because nothing but awesomeness is in front of you. You’ve just got to make it through this decade.

    We are our own worst critics. No one judges you and your weight more than you do. Two of the women that I most enjoy being with are REALLY heavy. I think they are beautiful, funny, and they do nothing but enrich my life. I don’t give a rat’s ass what size they are. Our culture is stupidly obsessed with weight; don’t join in. Live a healthy life and love yourself.

    So back to being in my 40s. I am not sure what happened, but as soon I hit 40, I absolutely quit giving any kind of shit what anyone thinks of me, even my husband. I mean I love him, and he loves me, and we have a better than most relationship, but he needs to love ME the way I am. That doesn’t mean I get to act like a nasty bitch, but I get to be me whatever that size is. We both work on weight, not because we want to look a particular way, but because we want to live a healthy life style.

    Please, please, please recognize that which makes you special and unique and worthy of being loved and cherished. And even if there is no man to verbalize that you are loved and cherished, know that whether you like it or not, God/Love/Spirit/Our Father-Mother/Whoever thinks you are a most precious gift. I secretly struggled for so very long with feelings of not being worthy of such a deep love, but I finally gave up and accepted that I am loved whether I think I am worth it or not. You are too.

    Treat yourself well, not because others will like you better for it, but because you are worth it. Be proud of your intelligence, wit, good humor, beauty (YES, even that!) because God/Love/Spirit/Our Father-Mother/Whoever created you for a very special purpose with those very special qualities. Our creator is proud of you, his/her perfect masterpiece. How dare we question that perfect idea?!

    Hugs to you, my friend, during this time in your life. Press on. Happiness and love and peace are at hand. :0)

  16. Do what you need to make yourself feel how you want to feel. That’s not faking it. No one loves themselves 100% of the time. That’s a fairy tale. We’re not raised to do that. Put on some make up, put on a dress that makes you feel hott, and sometimes putting your hair up is just as good as letting it down. You’ll get that glow back and people will bask in it. And I totally agree with the Roller Derby comment… If I had the time and money I’d be right there with you.

  17. i’m a HUGE believer in ‘fake it til you make it’ – false bravado has gotten me through more things than i really care to admit. attitude is everything, right?? and i love your attitude – you look great (love the haircut!) and are making choices to reinforce that good feeling and shut out that awful voice. keep it up!

  18. Self-esteem is a bitch. One day you feel like gods gift and the next a frumpy she beast. Although not helpful in anyway, I think that it’s normal to have self doubt. You may not feel it everyday, but you are gorgeous!

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