I have spent most if not all of my life hating my body. I would look in the mirror and examine with such hatred and disgust. My thighs touch and jiggle and are speckled with cellulite. My stomach is soft and round and striped with stretch marks. My breasts sag and are bigger then all of my friends (combined). My face is too round and my nose is a bit crooked and one eye is just a touch bigger then the other. I could list everything I hate about my body in a list that would probably be a mile long. I once had a therapist ask me what I liked about my self physically it took me a good two minuets to find one thing. the color of my eyes. All of the things that I used to hate (and to be honest still do sometimes) we all things that society had deemed ugly and unworthy of love. There weren’t girls who looked like me in magazines or movies and on the off chance there was a girl who did look like me she wasn’t the love interest. She was the funny best friend or the weird girl that got bullied. Even in the books I read the main character was always described as slim, willowy, small, slender. Words that I don’t think anybody would ever use to describe me. Even in my own home my father would make comments on what I was eating and that I should take better care of myself. Now I can confidently say, on most days, that I am hot. Like I am an attractive person with curves for days. I love every cellulite dimple and stretch mark on my body because they are apart of me, plus I have a pretty kick ass personality to boot.
Learning to love my body has been a very long and very difficult journey. It doesn’t just happen over night and it is something I worked really hard for. I was about 18/19 years old when I realized that I was just exhausted from hating myself. I mean lets face it hating yourself and being cruel to yourself for so long is pretty exhausting. At first I would just fake the confidence but slowly little by little I actually became more confident in how I looked and felt in my own skin. Affirmations also really help, although they do feel a bit funny to begin with. Its on odd feeling to look yourself, or more accurately your reflection, in the eye and say things like “You’re beautiful” or “I love you” at first but they really do help. Yes my thighs touch and my stomach looks more like Winnie the Pooh’s then Jennifer Lawrence, but that just means that A) I can cook a mean meal, B) there is more of me to love, and C) I will never not finish your fries. In the wise words of Queen Latifah, “I ani’t no salad eating chick.”
Learning to the love the body you have doesn’t mean that you don’t want to change things or improve on things. I have been going to the gym fairly regularly and have been trying to eat better and for once its not so I can loose weight ans finally be beautiful, but its to feel better mood wise, to boost my energy and to look even hotter then I already do. Loving yourself even when you not completely happy with how you look is the first step to enacting change, because when you love something you treat it with kindness and respect. When I finally started loving my body I stopped the bad habits that kept me hating it, the over eating when I was feeling emotional, the pushing my self way past my limits when I did workout, skipping meals. I still have my days where I eat nothing but fast food or where I force myself to go way to hard at the gym or when I only eat one meal in a day, but overall the way I treat my body has vastly improved over the years and will continue to improve with time. Its okay to stand up and say that you are beautiful inside out and not only worth of love but deserving of it. Having a few extra pound doesn’t make you ugly. Having a crooked nose, arms that jiggle or thighs that touch doesn’t make you ugly. The things that we hate about ourselves doesn’t make us ugly. What makes a person ugly is a person who says that the things we hate make us unworthy or unimportant. A person who is ugly is someone who is mean and cruel to others and that has nothing to do with how someone looks and everything with their personality. I have know some of the prettiest people have the ugliest harts.
You may be thinking “Jacqueline the title says self care but the picture says Spring cleaning.” Well let me tell you self care is about more then just face masks, bubble baths and scented candles. While those things can be and are very helpful to dealing with and coping with mental health they are not the end all be all of self care. Self care is one of the more important, if not the most important, tool one has when dealing with mental health in any capacity and it is the probably the hardest tool to get a handle on. Self care ranges from making it out of bed in the morning to studying for that test to yes the almighty bubble bath face mask scented candle combo. One of the biggest signs that depression is kicking my ass is the state of my room. If there is dishes every where, my closet looks like it exploded, and (as gross as it is) there is a slight smell it all means I have sunk in deep and I am no longer taking care of anything. Sad to say but my room looks like this about once a month to once every other month and lasts for about a week or two before I pull myself together again and go on a up swing.
Just a week ago my room definitely looked like some kind of disaster of an iSpy game. It was frankly rather gross and I am very embarrassed to show the state my room was in, but I know its also the hard truth of having depression or in my case being in a depressive state. I don’t believe there was anything functional about my room and honestly even though I hardly left it, it was a stressful place for me to be. There was nothing peaceful or serene about it. All the clutter and lack of cleanliness made it gross to be in but i just couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it. This is the physical manifestation of mental illness.
I have a theory that somebody’s living space and/or bedroom is a reflection of what is going on in their head. When my depression is in full swing and I am coming close to bottom my room tends to look like the above pictures. I can’t bring myself to even began to take care of anything. Luckily through a combination of my mood going in a hypomanic up swing, the weather getting somewhat nice where I live, and binge watching Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo I got inspired to clean, declutter, and reorganize. Now if I am being honest while I got rid of a lot of stuff (a whole SUV and a half worth) I was not as ruthless as Ms. Kondo’s method entails so I also kept alot. My bedroom is now clean and organized and fresh. It feels lighter and more airy. I can now have dance parties and I have a place to write.
Now to circle this back to self care. When your space is conducive to taking care of yourself (i.e. you can find everything you need, your favorite pjs are washed and ready to go, and you have a pace to do the unfun parts of self care like work or school) then it becomes easier to relax and destress from a long day or talk yourself into doing little tasks. Now when I get home from work I can light a candle change into comfy pjs and watch my favorite TV shows guilt free without removing stuff on my bed or clearing a path to the door. Its also easier to make myself take one dish to the kitchen then it is to try and take 20 or to make my bed in the morning. The internet talks a lot about self care but I feel a lot of posts focus on the pampering side of self care on not on the necessity side of things. Cleaning the house is just as much self care as taking a bubble bath. Going to class is just as much self care as painting your nails. Paying a bill is just as much self care as taking a shower. The only difference is that cleaning, going to class, and paying a bill is that these things are long term self care; while a bubble bath, painting your nails and taking a shower are short time self care.
We all struggle with mental health at some point in our lives. Everybody gets anxious about certain thing (ie job promotions or public speaking) or people go through bouts of depression (ie after the loss of a family member or getting fired), but some people just struggle to a point where they are consumed by their illness and the sad thing is that nobody wants to ever talk about it. I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression when I was 18 and then diagnosed with Bi-Polar II when I was 19. I struggle with General Anxiety, Suicidal Ideation, and my Bi-Polar Disorder on a daily biases. I never understood why mental illness was so looked down upon. I mean nobody in their right mind would look at a cancer patient and tell them that its all in their head and that in their generation there was no such thing as cancer and yet that’s what people with mental illness hear all the time. I went into my deepest and longest depression when I was 15 and it lasted till almost my 18th birthday. I was so scared to turn to anybody in for help. I wouldn’t even talk to my own mother about for fear that I would be judged and told I was crazy. I remember one particularly bad night my mom heard me crying in the middle of the night and she came into my room and was holding me as she asked me what was wrong and to please just talk to her all I remember doing is shaking my head, sobbing and telling her to go away.
Eight years later and mental health is talked about more and there is less of a stigma, but there is still tons to be done. I tell people about what I deal with and they look at me like i have two heads or that I am going to fall apart. Getting a mental health diagnoses is the best worst thing. Its the best because it finally has a name and the worst cause it feels like a life sentence. There is not cure for any mental health illnesses, there is only treatments like medication, therapy and coping mechanisms (all of which I use to get me through the day). Some days always end up being better then others though. When your mood is set to a cycle of sadness and okayness its hard to have good days, but they days I spend with the people I love and the days I spend laughing till I cant breathe are always my favorite. My support system is my anchor to the light blue shallows of my illness. For as long as I have been going to therapy I have always used this photo as a reference to where my head is at on any given day. The lighter the blue the “happier” I am; the darker the blue the worse I am. On any given day I tend to stay in the lightish blue colors. It took a lot of fighting and admitting to myself and to my support system that I needed help. I think the hardest person to admit this to, besides myself, was my dad. My dad is a very strong very stubborn man. He struggles with anxiety and depression though will never admit it to anybody. He comes from a generation that thinks mental illness is a myth, but my dad put how he feels about it aside and he just say his daughter in pain and all he wanted to do was make it go away. He had been my strongest supporter throughout my journey and even though he may not always understand and he may think its foolish or all in my head he loves me anyway and will always listen to me when I talk.
Its really easy to judge people and to dismiss people, but its even easier to be polite and attempt to understand. If you have somebody in your life that is struggling or had confided in you be there for them, listen to them, and help them cope. Sometimes it takes tough love; sometimes it takes a gentle touch. If you are the one struggling don’t be scared to reach out, especially if you have tried before and it was not good. If you are struggling or even if you are in a goodish place and you have a friend that is struggling and is pulling you deeper into the black its okay to distance yourself or let go entirely even if that person is a family member. Most importantly just know its gets better. It ALWAYS gets better.
DISCLAIMER: This is entirely from my own prospective and I contributed to the toxicity in the relationship in some form I am sure
Having a toxic friend is like having an open wound that you have let fester and get infected. Everyone you meet sees it and goes “Hey you should get that looked at it doesn’t look so good,” and you just respond with “It’s fine. Just a scratch.” In reality the wound is oozing and has gangrene and has caused the entire arm to go necrotic. When it comes to finally realizing that your entire arm is necrotic it always takes a major event that makes you refocus. I like to call this moment “The Line in the Concrete”, because a line in the sand when crossed can be redrawn and crossed again; a line in concrete can never be redrawn. Well I recently got my arm metaphorically amputated and my concrete line was crossed. Weddings are lovely joyous occasions that are cause for friends and family to come together and celebrate the love between the bride and groom. They are not occasions for you to have epiphanies about the fact that your 14 year friendship to one of the bridesmaids is as toxic as toxic gets. What can I say I have convenient timing. Now luckily this epiphany didn’t come with an all out dramatic yelling match (a Lifetime movie this is not), but it did put an unfortunate damper on our best friends wedding day. Something I will never forgive myself for. Hence why it was my line in the concrete.
This was a person I actively called one of my best friends on any given day; I mean we had known each other for 14 years for God’s sake. Her mom is basically a second mother to me and our parents are best friends. There’s a lot that happens in 14 years, some of it good some of it bad and in our case a lot bad. We met when we were 9 (and before you ask I don’t wish I had never met her) and for the first 3 years of our friendship we were inseparable. Everything from sleepovers to Girl Scouts we did together. Then 7th grade hit suddenly we went from carefree children to pubescent moody preteens. Suddenly I wasn’t cool enough to be seen with at school and she would only talk to me after school. Her new “cool” (this is where she went into her “emo” phase) didn’t much like me and I didn’t much like them. Yet our friendship persisted into high school where I was cool enough to be seen with at school again (mostly cause we rode the same bus I think) but that’s kind of where things got bad. I remember the put downs and the snide remarks, but also remember the kind words and the helpful advise. It was in high school that I began to realize that she was jealous of things I couldn’t control and she would weaponize that against me.
I am an only child and I am also a girl. I am the first one to tell you that I am a spoiled and I am occasionally known to be a brat, although I don’t personally consider myself to be a spoiled brat. On the other hand she was the eldest of three and spoiled and bratty in much different ways not that she would ever admit to that. I believe she resented that fact that I in fact did get my way or what I wanted the majority of the time. Every fight we have ever had the fact that I am an only child and I am the sole focus of my parents gets thrown in my face. There were a lot of fights and a lot of times where I just bit my tongue and let her put me down. Especially when were with a group of new people is when she would go in, almost as if trying to make me look bad in comparison. She constantly craved attention and to be the center of everything. Everything in life had to be about her and in relation to her. It was always more of a one way friendship with her and all ways lead to her.
It took me 10ish years to realize that I deserved better out of a friendship. There are going to be people in your life that you love with your whole heart and you want to help them and be there for them, but they just pull you down with them. These are the hardest people to leave and the hardest people to cut contact with. When you finally do cut contact its like coming up for air after being underwater. Its okay to love your toxic person and miss your toxic person, but its not okay to let your toxic person drag you down. I am choosing to surround myself with people who love and support me and who I love and support back. Even though I still love and care for my friend I know in my heart its the best for both of us to be apart and stay apart.
So like your girl is single AF and if my dating life over the past couple years is anything to go by I am going to have better luck finding a goddamn leprechaun riding a unicorn in space then finding love in this day and age. I am a 23 year old woman (who admittedly has standards as high as Mt. Everest) and I have been single for about three years give or take. Now I will admit that there are other reasons why I am single that have nothing to do with men, society, or how people find love in this tech filled world and everything to do with me as a woman who is picky and reads WAY to many romance novels. That being said there are most definitely some issues with dating in the modern age. So sit down grab some snakes and enjoy the ride.
As millennial we look at love and dating very differently from the generation before us. It’s like we are all terrified to meet people these days so everything is just online where its safe and cozy. There are a multitude of dating apps and websites out there, from eHarmony.com to Tinder, and I’m pretty sure that I have tried most of them. The one I use and love to hate the most being the almighty Tinder. The amount of mind boggling stories I have form this app rivals the amount of times I have deleted and re-downloaded it. Men on Tinder range from completely skeevy deadbeats to the rare and elusive actually respectable guy. In my experience there are approximately three types of guys on tinder, “The Complete Asshole”, “The Supposed Nice Guy”, and “The Boyfriend Material.”
“The Boyfriend Material”– I have only met one of these on any kind of dating sight and due to neither of in a good place to sustain any kind of relationship, it was very short lived. But shot out to him for being a decent guy!
“The Supposed Nice Guy” – This group is arguable the largest and the most migraine inducing. They are the guy you meet who seems really nice at first (if he describes himself as a nice guy he falls into the third category which I will rant about in a moment). I have meet so many of these guys, like it feels like hundreds, that I can make them flip in less then a day. These guys act nice and sweet at first but they come with an air of entitlement about them. For some reason they seem to think that because they are nice to you that you seem to owe them your time, energy, body, etc. I have also nicknamed them “The 180” because that exactly what they do. It usually starts off a little something like this… “Your so beautiful! Like your eyes are just like wow!” and then you respond for a bit and then next thing you know they are calling you a fat ugly bitch and they can do better.
“The Complete Asshole” – I mean do I really need to go over this one? This is the guy that swipes right just to tell you that he wants to fuck even though he thinks your fugly.
Now that we have defined our groups lets chat about what frustrates me the most about what these boys (cause that’s what they are lets be honest) think is appropriate. I think the first thing that boys tend to do that drives me up the wall is the Dick Pic. There is no rhyme or reason as to when a girl might receive these beautiful works of art, but receive them they will. I don’t think I will ever understand what processes a human to send another human a picture of what could arguably be the ugliest body part out of the blue. Like seeing your penis does absolutely nothing to turn me on, unless its physically in me then that’s a different story, but a picture does nothing but make me feel repulsed. Then they like to get angry when their assault to your vision doesn’t have the effect they wanted it to have. I once had a guy call me a “stuck up bitch” because I didn’t respond to his picture. So then I have to explain why I as a human being don’t A) want to have a picture like that sent to be just out of the blue and B) how its really inappropriate to send that to someone with out their consent. This tends to make them more upset. They get offended by you not wanting a random DP which boggles my mind really. Now if you as a man are talking to another human and that human asks for one then send away, but if they don’t ask DO NOT SEND!
My second favorite thing guys do is expect you to meet them at the drop of a hat. I work full time and I go to college full time; I need advanced notice if I am going to meet up with somebody, especially if that somebody is a stranger from the internet. And really lets face it I want to look as close to my profile as I possibly can when we meet cause that shit is with makeup and filters. First impressions matter people! I usually work pretty late, at least till 11PM most days, the last thing I want to do when I get off is see somebody least of all a stranger and I DEFIANTLY do not want to go to a strangers house in the middle of the night! I don’t understand how this simple concept is so hard to comprehend for some “men”. Why on God’s green earth would I willingly walk into a situation where I could be potentially harmed? I watch Criminal Minds. I watch the news. Ladies if a guy you met on any kind of dating site and he goes just come over to mine and we’ll hang out and its after 10 o’clock at night A) if this is the first time you are meeting DO NOT GO and B) If you have met him and he does this he just wants to bang (if your okay with that then go just be safe about it. But not even thinking how dangers it could potentially be for the women think about it as a guy, like you don’t know the girl you invited over either she could drug you and take everything you own or worse! So like maybe set up a date that takes place in a public area during the day time and give ample time to get ready.
I have so much more about dating that riles me up and makes me want to punch a hole in the wall, but for know I will just leave this here. Honestly if I talked about everything that annoyed me about dating I would have a epic novel.