{Guest Blogger} – “I Fell in Love…With Myself”

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I wrote and submitted a guest blog post that was shared on the The Sum of Many Things, “A Lifestyle, Wellness and Personal Development Blog for Busy Women of Color.” (Amazing tagline, right?) Direct link to my post is here. I’d love to hear/read your thoughts about the piece, of course.

Thanks for your support. You’ll make this writer/blogger/author/unceasing lover of Ricky Schroder very happy.

Bon weekend…

schroder
Bae since 1980.

 

The Spray of Water.

Let’s just get into it.

When I was 15 years old, I was washing dishes in my 10th grade Home Economics class one day. Since I was barely passable during the cooking part, but bomb when it came to suds and plates, I was very comfortable at the sink. A boy in my class, Mario, approached the other side of the sink, adjacent to me, and started to “play” around with me while I washed the dishes. Trying to touch me, attempting to tickle me. I told him to stop, to leave me alone. He certainly didn’t listen, ignoring my protests and continuing with the touching and “playing” around. I repeated that I wanted him to stop. He continued. So I sprayed him in the face with the water gun. He smacked me across the face.

Growing up, my sister and I got into some physical altercations. Being sisters close in age who shared a room, every pair of socks looked the same and therefore had been stolen by the other and deserved some kind of retribution, every eye roll needed to be avenged, so on and so forth. The few times my brother and I got into it officially ended when my mother reminded me that he was no longer a five year-old. “Quit it,” she said sharply, focusing on me as the eldest sibling. “He’s a growing boy and you’re a young woman.” I got her drift. Here’s the point: we were family and therefore not actively trying to hurt each other. We succumbed to physical displays of anger and irritation, trying to prove our respective (largely juvenile) points when words failed us. After a few years, we grew up and dealt solely with words. Mario wasn’t my brother. He wasn’t my sibling. We weren’t family. Looking back, I specifically recall how inexplicably calm everything was, how calm I was. As the right side of my face burned with shock, as tiny stars floated around before my eyes, I continued to wash the dishes. I remained there, glued to that spot, my hands repeatedly drowning in warm, soapy water. After hitting me and demanding what was wrong with me, Mario eventually walked away. I finished my task, wiped down the counters, and returned to my seat. No teacher was summoned, I didn’t run screaming to a friend with tears in my eyes. (In case you’re wondering, apparently none of the students or our teacher saw this. If they had, no one said anything or intervened.) Prior to this, we had been somewhat friendly in class, sitting at the same table at times. After that day, I never spoke to him again.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m so sensitive to tales of domestic violence, why the thought of one person violently attacking another joined to them by marriage or relationship leaves me disturbed and shaken. Eureka. I’ve never forgotten the feel of his hand against my face, the way my cheek stung, how it hurt. I can’t imagine the thousands, millions, of women and men who have dealt with more than that and beyond in their relationships. Might be why I whisper “leave, please leave” when I hear about this happening, especially to women. It’s never justified. Mario’s actions weren’t justifiable. I don’t care about the spray of water dripping from his face.

As with other things that happened during those tenuous teen and adolescent years, I told no one about what happened and suppressed all the emotions that came with it. (I literally just told my sister about it a few weeks ago, when the memory randomly made itself known.) I don’t think I even wrote about it in my diary. I shoved it away as I was prone to do, youthfully unaware of all the little explosions that these events were causing inside of me. But those are the benefits of getting older and working on yourself: I’m talking about it now. I acknowledge the pain, anger, confusion, sadness, and shock I felt in that moment. I acknowledge that I did begin to hate him. And yet I can also say that hate is not an emotion I will presently allow. Wherever he is, I simply hope he’s no longer responding to situations the way he did when we were 15.

It constantly and honestly amazes me that I made it through those strange, long years, dear reader. But with healing comes memories, revelations, conversations. And we shall have them.

Fall in Love.

I’ve talked about body image/self image on here more times I can link or number. It’s an important thing to me. Having struggled for so, so long with a dangerous, damaging view of myself and my physical body (there was quite some mental/emotional toxicity going on, too), and having crossed to that other side where I can look in the mirror and fully love what I see, it’s still important to me to talk about it. Because:

  • Journeys may deviate and turn, but they don’t truly end.
  • We all have our moments.
  • Every day becomes an affirmation.
  • Empowering women by example is so crucial.

In other words, it’s a topic that will always appear on This Square Peg.

Please watch this video. A friend recently posted it on Facebook and I watched it and cried and I had to share it here. Quite simply: we have to fall in love with our bodies. We have to. Whether bruised or scarred or “wobbly,” they were made to accomplish pretty amazing things. To give birth. To endure disease. To partly make us who we are. The mirror merely provides the reflection. We provide the commentary. Let the words uttered to ourselves and our bodies be good, positive, kind, uplifting.

 

younger.

younger

This speaks to me.

When I was younger, especially in my teens and a large part of my twenties, I was desperate for someone in my life who could pull me through. Through those moments when loving myself was non-factor. When I would look in the mirror and loathe the girl looking back at me. When I refused to believe that I would ever be happy. When I was just so, so lost.

That me then, needed me now. And she has her.

Given the chance, I plan on being the present and future me (wholly loving of herself and finally happy) for anyone else who needs it.

This Curvy Square Peg?

Last night, as I stepped into my friend’s car for us to head to an appointment, she regarded me with a blank expression on her face and said the following:

Friend: I almost didn’t recognize you when you came out of the house.
Me: Huh?
Friend: That pencil skirt, that blouse. You have curves! WHY HAVE YOU BEEN HIDING YOUR CURVES?!

I couldn’t help laugh. Afterwards, I thanked her and informed her that, as always, the accepting of my body for what it is will be a constant work in progress. Having hidden in clothes for a long time to prevent (what I perceived) the appraisal of my body and physique by others, turning 30 five years ago changed more than a few things. For one, I stopped dorothyzdressing like my beloved Dorothy Zbornak there to your right. For another, I started making fashion choices that matched my new attitude. Essentially, because I worked on making what was inside all shiny and accepted, my body and I became besties. And, like any friendship, we’re still getting to know each other.

But I have curves? Really?

When I think of curvy ladies, I think of lovely hourglass figures. Of discernible hips. Of a waist. Of a derrière.

I have no discernible waist, the narrowest hips this side of Earth, hardly an hourglass figure, and a backside that must have missed the memo on being shapely in any kind of way. The only curvy things on this body are the reason I hold newborns for a short period of time before handing them back to their mothers and quietly informing them that the babe is hungry. You feel me. So when I reflected on her statement, I was like, for real? Moi? Curvy?

You know what, though? I have ’em. Curves. Although I sometimes gaze at my mother and my Ghanaian girls and some of my awesome friends in wonder and slight envy at their womanly, curvy shapes, I looked in the mirror for a looooonnng time and realized that there are curves there. I saw my waist. I saw those hiding hips. I sighed at the backside, but it’s there, too. It may not be the standard in curves, but it’s my standard, by gum, and I saw some curves! I also looked at myself in the outfit my friend exclaimed over. It was a simple black pencil skirt and a buttoned down coral/white blouse. In examining the way the skirt draped my body and the tucked in look of the blouse though–I looked kind of amazing. What? Yes, indeed. And I loved saying that to my reflection, silently, of course, since I’ve been caught conversing with myself before. Anyway. Saying that felt good and it continues to feel awesome.

This has been brought to you by a square peg who’s becoming progressively aware of a physique that is far from square. Onward and upward.

Gratitude Friday: A Thank You.

On this much belated Gratitude Friday, I was inspired by the words of actress Gabourey Sidibe during the Gloria Awards (honoring Gloria Steinem), as tweeted by the awesome Awesomely Luvvie:

“I’m grateful to…my 5th grade class because if they hadn’t made me cry, I wouldn’t be able to cry on cue now.”

I was moved by that profound and powerful statement for various reasons. Mostly, however, what stood out for me was that she was able to look back at that moment in her adolescence and communicate both the pain of the past and the fact that it hadn’t wrecked her. And this made her grateful. But I wasn’t just moved by her words. Those words also incited a memory for me. An indelible, powerful memory of what my 6th, not 5th, grade class gave me one afternoon.

We were in the chorus room, sitting cross-legged on that nubby brown carpet as we waited for our chorus teacher to come back. The next thing I knew, I heard the following chant: “Fish lips, fish lips, look at those fish lips.” I looked up, wondering who the voice belonged to and what in the world they were talking about. There, laughing, was the boy who had bullied me since I joined this new school. And he was pointing at me. The other kids soon followed suit, repeating the sing-songy chant and pointing and laughing. Those who weren’t part of it simply looked away uncomfortably. I remember feeling confusion (I look like a fish?), pain, embarrassment, even laughing a little to lessen the blow. That didn’t work though–the chanting and laughter continued until our teacher returned to the classroom.

It’s amazing, the blueprints that are created in seconds, in tiny moments. That moment in time created quite a few. For one thing, an interesting habit reared its head as I got older: covering my mouth when I laughed. Later, it became disdain when I looked at myself, my lips, in the mirror. Later still, it transformed into wondering if people were looking at them when I spoke. It wasn’t until I reached 30 (we will discuss the wonder of 30 in another post) that I looked in the mirror one day and was fully, exhale-y, and absolutely satisfied with these lips, this face, and everything in between.

daily-gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

So, like Gabby, I’m grateful to my 6th grade class because:

  • I wouldn’t appreciate these lips that look like my grandmother’s and my father’s if you hadn’t put them on blast.
  • I wouldn’t decorate them in the rubiest of Ruby Woo lipstick by MAC if I hadn’t come to appreciate the fullness of the shape you felt the need to highlight.
  • I wouldn’t be as grateful for this soul-searching journey that I was forced to go on if you hadn’t forced me to take that ride in the first place on that painful afternoon.
  • I don’t blame my old bully or those other kids for what happened anymore. I don’t blame the ones who looked away in discomfort. From what I could tell through those words and other statements she made, Gabourey Sidibe has reached the peak of her self-acceptance journey. And she’s not the only one.