I will start this off by saying this has been one of the hardest posts I’ve had to write. And if you’re looking for the funny, sunny, on the light side Peg, sorry. She’s not here today. You can skip today and come back later in the week or if you’re feeling brave, soldier on.
Sunday I was reading Carol’s post from Wanderings of an Elusive Mind and she was sharing a blogpost from another blogger she is familiar with, Danoah, aka Single Dad, Laughing. I clicked on the link to read a post about our society’s obsession with perfection and everyone’s struggle to obtain this unattainable perfection and how horribly this inability to be perfect affects us all. Some with very dire results. It was a very powerful post that touched me to my very core. You can read the post in it’s entirety here. Or you can click on the picture on the right hand of my blog over here>>>> that says “ a powerful message”. That will also take you to the post. He wrote it last week and has had totally unexpected and phenomenal reaction to it. I think it floored him as much as anyone that this thing has gone viral.
This morning I received an email from Dan, the author of Single Dad, Laughing asking me to please go to his blog today and read its message and please participate. You can read about it here, but, in a nutshell what he asked was:
First, share with us the biggest struggle, mistake, or trial you’ve ever survived. Share why it was so hard for you. Don’t sugar coat it. Be real. Be as real as you can possibly be about it.
Second, write a short message to the “you then”. If the “you now” could send a message to the “you then”, what would you tell yourself? Somewhere here among us, there is a broken soul; a trampled spirit; a lost individual, trying to survive the very thing you’ve already been through; a beautiful person who desperately wants to receive your message; a beautiful person who desperately needs to receive your message.
Third, tell us what the “Perfection” article has done for you in your life and to your way of thinking. Your perspective on it will hit others in a way that my writing never could.
I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to participate and then realized that I needed to participate whether or not I wanted to. What I have written will surely anger some people, including family members, and will probably lose me some readers and for that, I’m sorry. I feel compelled to write this. Who knows? Maybe what I have to say will help someone. And if it helps just one other person with these struggles in their lives then it’s worth alienating a few in mine. I don’t mean that in a harsh way. I’m just saying that it’s time for me to stop hiding and stop trying to please everyone else in my quest for fulfillment, to be liked. In my quest for acceptance I have put up with a lot of crap that no one should have to put up with, from friends, neighbors, and relatives. And I realize it’s my fear of rejection that has kept me silent for so long. I need to share my voice.
I apologize in advance if I hurt anyone’s feelings or shock or embarrass anyone. This is an adult aimed post and the theme and subject matter are not really suitable for children. Not that children ever read my blog, I’m just warning you in advance.
I will try to make this as brief as possible but don’t think I will succeed. You know me, I tend to ramble. Most of you already know that I was raised in a very dysfunctional family. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t or don’t love them, that’s just the facts. I was always made to feel I wasn’t good enough. It may not have been intentional, but it was there. I felt ugly, fat, unloved and unlovable.
I moved in with an older sister and her young son right out of high school. She was separated from her husband and in my opinion, very unhappy with her life. My belief is that she felt trapped and looking back more objectively now, I see that she was probably jealous of me, not necessarily because I was prettier or better or anything, but, I was FREE and younger and unencumbered. She had been married since she graduated high school and had a child less than six months later. I had no real responsibilities to anyone but myself.
She used the opportunity of my living with her as a built in babysitter (although I’m sure she’d tell you that she took care of me) and constantly told me how fat and ugly I was and how no man would ever love me because of that. She only reinforced the low self esteem I already had. She told me that the only guys who would go out with me only did so because they really just wanted to be closer to her but since they couldn’t have her, they would settle for me. She tried to seduce (and many times succeeded) every guy I dated. I hated to introduce her to any potential suitor. I pulled my own weight and paid my part (and sometimes more) of expenses. But yet I still felt I owed her. And she constantly reinforced that guilt.
Skip ahead a year and let’s just say you can read my blog post describing the scene here. This was in response to a writing assignment and the first time I had attempted to put into words what I had been through.
In case you don’t want to read it right now, long story shorter, I was raped by HER friend. He had “dropped by” to see her, unannounced, but she had a date and left him there with me, “to keep me company”. I had never met him before he showed up on our doorstep that night. Her son was home, asleep in the next room, so I couldn’t scream for fear of waking him and although I did try to fight him off, he was a 5th degree black belt in karate and at about 5’5” (and that’s stretching it) and about 130 pounds, I was no match for him physically. When she got home a little later that night I was hysterical. I tried to tell her what happened but instead of being the support I thought she was going to be, she instead got mad at ME and accused me of seducing her friend and trying to blame him for me being a slut and her exact words were “Well, I’ll just call him tomorrow and get HIS side of the story.”
Are you effing kidding me??? What kind of sister does that? Even if I had ever given her any reason to think I would do something like that, which I hadn’t, why would you not comfort your own sister when she is obviously distressed to the point of hysteria? Instead of comforting me, she slammed cabinets and stomped around yelling at me. I was crushed, humiliated, scared shitless and heartbroken that she reacted the way she did. Needless to say, since I felt my own sister didn’t believe me, I did not call the police and report it. I was afraid to. If she didn’t believe me, who would? I couldn’t chance any further humiliation.
I spent many years afraid, afraid of every man (including my own father and brothers), afraid of my own feelings of anger, afraid of the disgust, degradation and unworthiness I felt about myself. I lost all respect for myself and did things I was not proud of. I felt that if no one else cared about me why should I? I spent many years hating myself. I lived in fear and shame even though it wasn’t my fault. But she made me feel like it was. I had done nothing to deserve it. But she made me feel like I did. I started thinking maybe I had done something to bring it on myself. Maybe I did deserve it. I started thinking I was a bad person. I started on a very dangerous path of self destruction.
I buried that fear and disgust and rage in food and promiscuous behavior. No one could hurt me if I didn’t care, right? I had no respect for myself or anyone else, only fear. And I fueled that fear as I fueled the rage. I used food as a protection and my body as a weapon. I felt if I was fat, NO ONE would bother me. Who would want to rape a fat girl? As long as I was fat I was safe. Besides, you couldn’t rape someone who didn’t care. My food and my fat were my comfort and protection. No one should have to go through that. I know NOW that it was ridiculous to think that way. I know NOW that rape is NOT a crime of passion but one of anger and control and it has nothing at all to do with how you look or who you are.
If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would tell the younger me first off, to report it. Because I didn’t report it at least 6 other young women on that campus were raped (he was a professor – of psychology – at the local college). I have spent innumerable years saddled with the guilt if I had only come forward, maybe those other young women would not have had to suffer the same way I did. I would tell her that she WAS loved and even though she was (as she saw herself) “damaged goods” she was lovable and worthy of respect. I would tell her to seek counseling and try to develop a healthy relationship with food and men and not to use either as a crutch or a weapon. That abusing anything, food, your body, men, drugs, alcohol or anything else is NOT healthy and is not the answer.
I would tell her she didn’t have to believe the minister who told her that a “real Christian” woman would rather die than allow herself to be raped and that she would be better off dead than to have allowed that to happen so she wasn’t worthy of life. I would tell her that just because he was a minister did not mean he was right or justified in saying what he said, only God has the right to judge you.
I would tell her that just because someone is your relative or “friend” does not always mean that they have YOUR best interest at heart and that sometimes you need to follow your heart and NOT worry about whether someone was going to be angry with you because of something THEY did. It was NOT your fault. You were totally innocent in the whole situation.
I would tell her that sometimes other people ARE jealous of you and do lie to you to compensate for their own shortcomings. They lie to you to make themselves feel better. I would tell her that just because they speak the lies as truth does not make them truth. Someone telling you that you are fat and ugly does not MAKE you fat and ugly and you don’t need to give in to the hurt and make their words come true. Not everyone who says they love you is looking out for you.
I would tell her that you need to cast off those toxic people who put you down and realize that you do have worth. You ARE a good person. You can overcome this distrust and hurt and anger. Life will get better and it is worth living. I would tell her that not all men are like that and there is someone out there worthy of your love and trust. It doesn’t matter if others get angry with you or even if they decide they want you out of their life because YOU deserve better. It WILL get better. And I would tell her that I do love her, now. That is what I would tell the younger me if I could.
Lastly, how this post has affected me. It makes me realize I am NOT alone. There are many hundreds of thousands of people just like me who struggle with horrible things that have happened to them and the havoc that “thing” has wreaked on their lives. But, you don’t have to let that havoc ruin your life. I realize that I am lovable and I don’t NEED to be perfect. I am perfectly IMPERFECT and I am perfectly ME and dang it, in spite of it all, I am happy! I have a wonderful husband who loves me as I am with all my imperfections. He shows me every single day that he loves me and respects me and values me. I have wonderful children and a wonderful home and I have all I need in life.
I no longer care that I don’t have the perfect body (OK, I CARE, but I am no longer obsessed with it) and people can say what they want about me. They are entitled to their opinion and it is just that, an opinion. There are lots of people who DO have perfect bodies who aren’t nearly as happy as I am. So who CARES if I’m overweight or undertall or underemployed or middle class or graying or wrinkled? If you don’t like me and can’t accept me for who I am, I don’t need you in my life. If you’re going to bring toxicity and negativity into my life, I don’t need YOU in my life. I don’t need anyone’s acceptance. I only need my own. And I am finally beginning to realize that.