Camera/Photo Shy

I’ve always been camera/photo shy. I know the reasons why, I’ve always known. Being insulted and made fun of for my looks by my mother has made us with very low body self-esteem. We have worked long and hard on this issue, and I don’t think that I have gotten very far when it comes to assessing my face right now with any sense of accuracy or love or acceptance.

Unfortunately others have continued the verbal abuse over the years. I really don’t understand why someone would feel that it is their right to insult another person for any reason based on societal beauty standards or some males ideas about how a woman’s body should be. I tend to try to discount believing anyone who would be cruel to me.

Someone who I thought was one of my best online friends, not a blog friend, more than five years ago, could not find it within herself to say one nice or kind thing after I shared a photo of myself with her and she actually insulted me. I can’t begin to tell you how devastating that was for me. So I have even been more sensitive since then and would really try to avoid being on camera for any reason.I will have to say that she is the only friend that I have ever known, online and in real life, who ever chose to insult me like that.

I can’t imagine my best online friend Fish ever saying or doing something like that. But my friend Fish is so pure and so sweet I can never imagine her hurting me.

After all, if someone who says they love you and are your friend feels free to insult your looks, well that hurts and it hurts even more than if it was a stranger in public who is an ass. I think she realized that she had hurt me and her next email was to say that I actually, was not so bad. I can’t imagine how much I would have to hate someone to insult them directly about their facial features or body. I can’t imagine ever doing that. We stopped being friends not that long after that, for a huge number of reasons.

It’s bizarre because now I can look at my childhood photos and see that I was indeed pretty, beautiful even. And I can see that in photos from twenty years ago. I can see that I am pretty.

I still have trouble really seeing myself accurately now, but I hope that changes for the better as I continue to heal. My great niece always wants to take a photo of me at family gatherings and a lot of the time I say no. I let her do it a few times a year. She messages me copies. It disgusts me. I hate each and every one of them. I’m not sure if I still am laboring under body dysmorphic issues or if I have really gotten ugly. I think it is that I still have body dysmorphic disorder and cannot see myself accurately.

I don’t think that I am pretty. I don’t think that I am tolerable. But fuck pretty. I won’t live the rest of my life pursuing pretty or those who think that is what I need to be and who are hateful when they think I don’t measure up to their invented standards.

I insist that my value and my treatment not be based on my looks or my body and I reject anyone who feels the need to do so. And I know that those who love and value my personality, my good qualities, my soul, my goodness and kindness would never judge me by my face, would never hurt or wound me on purpose. I find that comforting.

Still Extra Stepping

I am happy to report that I am still doing the extra stepping exercise program through my manual treadmill and walking extra steps whenever I can get out and about. I also started using a stationary bike about three months ago, so that I could stay more active over the winter when I couldn’t get out to bike in the snow and cold, when it was too cold.

As always I would like to be a lot further along in my efforts of being more physically active. But some days it is just too much for me, so I don’t exercise a few days a week, usually. I am happy that the exercise helps moderate my moods, helps my muscles relax, decreases my level of pain in my legs and hips, and usually contributes to better sleep.

I haven’t lost any weight for months, but I also haven’t gained any. I’m not dieting or doing anything restrictive. I’d really rather be farther along on the weight issue, as weighing more always causes me more pain.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I really love myself and don’t care what others think of my body. It’s not just body acceptance but a real love and acceptance of who I am and what I do. It’s really kind of nice to be on this side of love. I think that doing Soul Retrieval work and self-esteem work has brought me to this place and I want to blog soon about both of those things in the near future.

Make Lists

Last year one of my resolutions was to start making lists, starting with lists of healing things. I did work on two lists in detail and several other lists in less detail, and am planning on sharing a lot of that stuff on my lists here. The less detailed lists are on the topics of female role models/kick ass women warriors, mother symbols, and my fathers, the fictional men that I have attached to as father figures.

One of the lists was on coping methods I use in my life and the other list was on ways that I have been working on self-esteem. I have to get my coping list out of my pile of papers in order to make up a post on it. The other list I made on pinterest and I look at it very often. I want to share about both of them here extensively.

I have to say that I’ve gotten a lot of healing through working on self-esteem and I’ve done a lot of that work in the last couple of years. I think that I have always known that self-esteem work would bring me a lot of healing. I’ll write a lot more about my process this year.

Healing Quotes 605-611

“I can’t be shaken anymore, by anyone. I’ve got to that point in my life that if you’re not a good person, and you can’t make me feel good with love and life, then fuck off, basically.”

~ FKA twigs 
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“At that moment I was sure. That I belonged in my skin. That my organs were mine and my eyes were mine and my ears, which could only hear the silence of this night and my faint breathing, were mine, and I loved them and what they could do.”
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~ Dave Eggers
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“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.”
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~ Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
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“No matter my size, no matter my health. I am allowed to exist and I should be able to do so without persecution.”
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~ fatfunkbabe

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“You are not your bra-size, nor are you the width of your waist, nor are you the slenderness of your calves. You are not your hair color, your skin color, nor are you a shade of lipstick. Your shoe-size is of no consequence. You are not defined by the amount of attention you get from males, females, or any combination thereof. You are not the number of sit-ups you can do, nor are you the number of calories in a day. You are not your mustache. You are not the hair on your legs. You are not a little red dress.You are no amalgam of these things.
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You are the content of your character. You are the ambitions that drive you. You are the goals that you set. You are the things that you laugh at and the words that you say. You are the thoughts you think and the things you wonder. You are beautiful and desirable not for the clique you attend, but for the spark of life within you that compels you to make your life a full and meaningful one. You are beautiful not for the shape of the vessel, but for the volume of the soul it carries.”

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~ Michael Wriston
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“Start ignoring people who threaten your joy. Literally, ignore them. Say nothing. Don’t invite any parts of them into your space.”
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~ Alex Elle.
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“However, some things must be said, and there are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.”
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~ Ayaan Hirsi Ali

More Comments on Public Verbal Abusers

So two females felt free to verbally abuse me about their perceptions and beliefs about my body and my bicycling. Apparently, and I have read about this on other blogs, some people feel free to verbally abuse others when they are in public doing physical activities, if they are perceived in a negative way, by abusers.

Now I’ve been a bike rider most of my life, and my physical size in no way has ever hindered me physically or psychologically from biking. I refuse to let someone else hinder me! I love bike riding. I’ve written about it often on this blog. It brings me independence and a sense of freedom.

I don’t normally get that kind of stuff from women, usually I just get the silent treatment, the judgmental looks, the shunning, something that my mother and sister started and that continues, at times, to this day.

It seems bizarre to me that at a time in my life where I really and truly have internalized a deep love of myself, an accurate valuation of myself, and a deep love and respect for my beautiful body that two females would choose that time to verbally abuse me on the basis of something as bizarre and inappropriate as their beliefs and personal opinions of my body size.

I love myself and their lives will have no effect whatsoever on my life, except to give me something to write about and more of a personal interest in being an advocate for equal rights. I have decided from now on to think of myself and to describe myself as an advocate.

This is the exactly the kind of incident that I start thinking about writing about almost immediately after they happen. Being a writer means life is fodder and that is about all they deserve to be, fodder: food for livestock, only this is food for writing. As human beings they are found lacking, but as writing material they are just adequate. What I do with the incident rises it up to the level of worthy of being written about and read. Every little incident can be turned into a space for healing. I hope that really really bothers them. That instead of their intended wounding of my spirit, my self-esteem, my body image, I used them back to turn their interactions with me into statements of the equal rights of all and equal treatment.

We each deserve societal acceptance; no matter what our stories are, what our life histories are, who we are, how we look, our mental health levels, our race, our religion, our affiliations and non-affiliations, etc etc etc. None of us deserve to be mistreated, bullied and abused over trivial matters, and being perceived as different is a trivial matter.

We all deserve better. No life is not fair, yes abusers and bullies are in the world, looking for kicks and victims. But I won’t be one of theirs. I can speak up for myself and even if they don’t respond, I spoke up in some way; through my words, my intentions, my beliefs, my thoughts, my compassion for myself and others, my resistance to the dominant oppressive paradigm. I have been a quiet advocate for a long long time, but things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. I have truly found my voice and nothing will ever be the same.

Will these incidents stop these two from verbally abusing someone else? Probably not. Maybe not. Will my advocacy for myself and others stop others from being abusive? Will people stop judging, being hateful, and showing a vast array of prejuidices against people who do not conform to their standards of size and beauty and other hateful speech and actions against others? Again those are probably not going to get better for some time.

I care about me. I care about us. I love other people more than I love anything else on this lovely earth, this wonderful universe. Here’s the thing, no one, no abuser, can take that away from me, will ever be able to take that away from me. In that way I win every time, every incident, every day, every week, every month, every year. I love, I care, and there is nothing they can ever do to change me, to make me hard, to make me uncaring, to make me spiteful, vengeful, or jealous.

I believe with all my heart, we will make this world a better place for all who get perceived as being different and therefore targets of abuse by those looking to feel better about their own lives and selves by mistreating others.

That’s not why I engage in advocacy for myself. I refused to be silent; looks can speak loudly, hand gestures speak loudly, shunning and ignoring them speaks loudly, my voice in relating these incidents speak loudly, my words on my blog speak loudly.

It took the suffragettes fifty years to get the right to vote. It took India decades of protest of many kinds in order to get independence for their country. It took years and years of activism and advocacy for the end of slavery in the USA and then again years of the same before the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson. It took many years for gay couples to have the right to marry. There is no national laws guaranteeing those who are gay from firing, discrimination, and persecution in many venues of life, and  no legal right to marriage. It took years to get the legal right for gay couples to marry in specific states. The tide turns, usually only after many people, those being discriminated against and their allies, use their voices, their words, their actions, their advocacy for positive social change.

One thing I know for sure, my soul, my mind, my body will never be occupied by the enemy, ever again.

A Little Slip of Sunshine

(Note: This is a guest post I created for my blog friend Liz.  I am adding it here, because I want to submit this post to the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Accepting compliments and increasing positive self-esteem are important and valid issues for us all.)

I remember clearly when I started to change a certain area of my life. I was in college and it wasn’t while I was young, I was an older student. I recall that time period; I was taking a lot of women’s studies courses and loving them. What I learned in those classes and others at college didn’t change what I knew and believed, but they did something vital. They gave me a framework to work with and from. I am who I am today because of what I took from those classes, what I learned, and what I did with that.

One day in class my women’s studies professor said, women don’t often compliment other women. That was something that I thought I could change, at least in my own life. I knew the importance of being honest in giving a compliment, but I didn’t understand how difficult it would be to interact with someone after giving them the compliment and I didn’t realize how hard learning the interacting skills would be.

I am excluding compliments that seem false in this discussion. There are people who are false and tell compliments for their own ends. Sometimes it is difficult to tell, but I think it is a good approach to treat those that we don’t trust differently from those who seem honest and caring in aspects of their life that we are aware of.

I often notice how when I give an accurate assessment/compliment to someone in person they almost always deny or reject it. In essence they are denying or rejecting the truth of the person that they are. They are being unloving and unkind to themselves, to their soul. I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse and I have noticed I do the same thing, and reflecting on my past I see it as well.

I often recall a compliment I received from a co-worker twenty years ago. She said you have flawless beautiful skin. I have been told something like this a couple of times. I have to admit that I was taught by my mother to believe that I was ugly, so believing something like that or taking the compliment and accepting it has always been beyond me, and this was only the third time in my life someone had said this. I said oh genetics, guess I should thank my mother and father for that. She was visibly upset at my glib response, she said, “you don’t know how to take a compliment. When someone gives you a compliment, just say thank you.”

Here is what I have learned about taking a compliment:

A compliment is one person reaching out to you. This is vital that you see this component. If you think that your “brutal honesty” about yourself is what they want in response, you are wrong. You don’t need to tell the other person of your many faults, and bizarrely many people will do that. I’m not being Pollyanna by pointing out something wonderful about you, I am being honest and caring and wanting to interact with you in an honest, uplifting, and loving way.

A compliment does not have to be true about your complete personhood in order for you to accept it graciously. You do not need to say negative and depreciating comments about your self in response. I know you are not perfect. You know you are not perfect. We all accept that. No one needs to know the details.

Another thing that I have seen is that the person being complimented so often takes a sharp and deep breath and holds it and then responds with negative comments about themselves. Holding your breath in is not a normal thing to do. We naturally breathe in and out. Holding your breath blocks you, it holds in pain, it keeps you stuck in a negative space. Breathe in, breathe out.

Often the person giving the compliment will suddenly avoid eye contact with me. Sometimes to the side and sometimes down when they are talking and denying that they are a nice person. You have nothing to be ashamed of, you have just gotten a compliment from another person, you are not being insulted, don’t insult them by denying what they are saying.

Here is how to accept a compliment:

Someone gives a compliment.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Say thank you. Smile if you can. If you can give eye contact, do so.

And if you can, just for one moment, let in a little sunshine into your soul with those words and try, for just one moment, to accept them as the truth, with no debate or words in response, even in your own mind. When a blog friend writes something nice about you, try this approach as well.

I keep a post in my draft area of my blog especially for compliments from blog friends. When I am accepting of all the negative beliefs about myself and can’t believe something good I go there and read all the loving things those who love me have said. Some days I need them like I need to breathe air. Slowly I am starting to believe some of them. Always I try to be gracious in accepting them. Always it is a challenge.

Life is made better by little steps. Often we are taught that we have to make big steps and grand gestures in our life, so often that is not true. We rarely ever accept all our good, even though we readily accept all our bad. If we have a history of abuse in our life, past or present, this is even more of an issue.

True progress, true healing, true living comes in little moments were we turn off all the negative, or at least choose to look in the other direction for a moment, and let in a slip of sunshine. And yes it only takes one moment at a time. Believe me it is cumulative and powerful.

I know, it’s the work of a lifetime, but so is walking your path. Keep walking your path. Walk. your.  path. Good and healing thoughts to yous.

Kate

Reblogged: Reasons to Stop Making Comparisons

Reblogged: Reasons to Stop Making Comparsions

from the Internal Acceptance Movement website

by Daniell Koepke

“1. External things aren’t an accurate measure of self-worth. 

Because we can most easily compare the things that we can objectively measure, we live in a world that is great at measuring and comparing externals. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing our clothes, cars, body size, weight income, beauty and occupation. The reality however is that external things do not define your self worth. The person you are inside—your character, your attitude, your goals and dreams, your morals and values, the way in which you treat others—these are truly self-defining. The external things don’t have the power to discount who you are as a person.

2. You always compare your worst with their best.

Comparing your life with others is always a losing proposition because there will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly live the perfect life. We always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. The truth is that other people’s lives are never as perfect as your mind make them out to be. Everyone struggles. Everyone feels insecure. No one’s live is easy. People tend to put their best face on in public. Know that what you see is not usually the whole picture.

3. There is no end to the comparison game.

There are an infinite number of categories upon which you can compare yourself, and an almost infinite number of people to compare yourself to. Once you start down that road, you will never, ever find an end.

4. Life isn’t a competition.

How you measure up against others holds absolutely no importance in your life. Other people’s strengths, talents, and successes don’t discount your own. They don’t define who you are as a person. Your goal in life isn’t to be better than everyone else. The goal is to be the best you that you can possibly be.

5. Comparison puts your focus on the wrong person.

You can control one life – yours. When you consistently compare yourself to others, you’re wasting precious energy and time by focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than your own.

6. Comparison robs you of joy.

Comparing yourself to others will always cause you to regret what you aren’t, rather than allow you to enjoy and celebrate who you are. It will always steal the joy and happiness that is within your reach. It keeps you from recognizing and appreciating all the wonderful things that make you, you. And ultimately, comparing prevents you from fully living your life. It causes you to envy and fixate on other people’s lives rather than experiencing and engaging in your own.

Making comparisons doesn’t make us feel any better. It makes us feel inadequate and worthless, and in many ways, it keeps us stuck. While the temptation to compare may never be completely eliminated, there are definitely some practical steps that you can take to challenge the comparison thoughts. 

7. Recognize the inherent problems in comparing yourself to others.

You are a unique human being with an individual set of strengths, struggles, talents, insight, and characteristics. You can’t make comparisons, because as a unique person, you have a unique life. You can’t possibly expect your life to look like anyone else’s because there is no one else exactly like you.

8. Celebrate who you are.

Instead of focusing on all the things that other people have, start focusing on all the things make you special. You have so many wonderful things that make you who you are. These things that make you different are the things that make you beautiful. Don’t forget them.

9. Challenge the voice telling you that you aren’t good enough.

Your tendency to make comparisons isn’t a result of inadequacy. It stems from your insecurity and the belief that you aren’t good enough. When you can challenge these thoughts and counter them with truths. When you accept yourself for the person you are, and recognize all that you have to offer, the need to make comparisons will fade, because you’ll realize that other people’s lives and successes don’t have to take away from or discount all the things that make you wonderful.

10. Remember that nobody is perfect.

We live in a society that strives for perfection. The reality however, is that perfection is unrealistic and unobtainable. Everyone has flaws and imperfections. Everyone has made mistakes and messed up. No one’s life is perfect. You are no exception to that. Know that happiness doesn’t come from having the perfect life. It comes from looking past the imperfections and struggles and holding onto the good things. The sooner you stop striving for perfection, the sooner you can start enjoying your life.

11. Try something different.

Chances are that you’ve been comparing yourself to others for a long time. You know how awful it feels, and you know that it hasn’t really gotten you anywhere. So why not try something new? You have absolutely nothing to lose. So instead of shaming yourself for being different, try celebrating what makes you unique. Instead of beating yourself up for making a mistake, try accepting and loving yourself for who you are without conditions. Instead of striving for perfection, try to be the best you that you can be. Instead of making comparisons, try to remind yourself of all the things that make you special.”