sadness is a streetlamp flickering out at the end of the path, sadness is a trigger for the buried childhood dreams stillborn in my belly, sadness is church bells and virgin marys and hallelujahs and youth group and bibles bibles bibles, sadness is the metallic tang in the back of my throat on the last day i feel sick, and i suck that feeling down with bathwater in my gin
i never had faith before you
i lost all of it
in your white mustang blocks
away from my grandparents house and
you told me you
fucked someone else
and i can taste the salt on your
skin, you asked me if you
could hold me one more time
and i let you
you cried into my hair and
i was sticky, i’m in the
cool bathwater now reading
plath and wondering
what it’s like to disappear, if i
could step off a train into –
but i know matter
cannot be created nor destroyed
and my matter
splattered on the front of
a metro bus won’t make you into
a faithful fiance,
me into a trophy wife,
or god any more real
it would just make me dead
the only thing my mom misses about you
is exactly what I miss about you, too
I don’t wish for things to be
the way they were, but I’m allowed
to miss you, right?
I’m allowed to grieve for you, to want for
the things you gave me after all this time
I’ve been on and off my meds lately
and I guess that’s where this is coming from
thw part of me I tried to suffocate and leave
behind when you left me
but it’s the only thing that makes me
want to write poetry, the grief
the pain that dug so deep and scarred over
new skin stretched over old skin and
wouldnt’t it be nice to see your face again?
But every old album on social media
memories remind me of why you weren’t
the one for me and why the one that comes
after is always a better one,
but are they the one
that comes and picks me up when it’s
too dark to walk home,
when the bus forgets to stop or when my
money runs too low or I read the wrong
times and I’m not sure how many calls I
made to you to help me out,
but you always did in the end
I know I can’t compare them all to you
but you were my first, and how
pathetic am I? To remember you,
to give you a poem after all the shit
you put me through,
what did I do to offer you
a permanent home inside me
that you never walked out of?
What precident did you set,
what scars are you forcing me to carve
on all the men that try to burrow in?
This is your final eviction notice,
within 3 days time, remove
every piece of you still attached
to the crevices of my being
and never even speak a syllable
resembling my name again
and this is a promise
that I’m renovating myself
and out front on my new lawn
a sign says,
come on in.”
I’ve been reflecting on this for a few reasons and events that have happened recently.
The first was when I woke up in a bit of frenzy, and as I was getting ready for work, I forgot to draw my eyebrows on. I didn’t notice my eyebrows weren’t there for my entire commute to my job; I boarded the bus, walked by guests, and interacted with customers with the same pep and enthusiasm as if my eyebrows were painted on perfectly. I’ll explain – I have something called trichotillomania, a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) where I compulsively pick my own hair, leaving me, essentially, eyebrow-less. Needless to say, I was embarrassed when I finally saw myself in the locker room mirror, since I hadn’t brought an eyebrow pencil with me and I couldn’t find a pen that would make a convincing mark on my skin. I asked to leave work early, but I’ll never forget the sheer fact that for a good hour, when I wasn’t focused on my appearance, I was happy, confident, and ready to face the day.
The second was when I was in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car, taking selfies of myself. I had put on makeup that day, which for me, was a rarity. I had straightened my hair, and believe me, I was looking good. As I was perfecting the angle on my phone to capture the light that hit me best, my boyfriend comments, “Those girls in the car next to us saw you taking pictures of yourself and they started laughing.” My initial response: who gives a shit? Did they not see how great I looked? I finally replied, “It took me a long time to feel this good about myself.” I know that even as millennials we tear down each other for taking constant selfies, but in that moment, I wanted to capture my love for myself and remember it for a future time when I wasn’t feeling beautiful. That revelation was one I wasn’t about to let go.
The infamous car selfie, in all of its glory!
The third was when I found out that someone I considered a close friend had been saying negative things about me to another friend. The act of gossiping is something I’m not unfamiliar with, and I’ve been a part of rumors from all sides. Finding out that this friend was making unflattering comments about me in the first place wasn’t the part that most surprised me, but instead what she was saying about me did. This friend had made jokes and nasty comments on my fashion choices, style, and appearance – and that is what truly shocked me. This was because, up until that moment, I hadn’t been focusing on how my appearance came across to other people. So many other challenges and problems had arisen in my life, so my personal style was pushed, mostly, to the back-burner.
I started to wonder, as I scrolled through my recent Instagram posts and focused on the clothes I was wearing – what do my fashion choices really say about me as a person? I thought I had made some cute outfits, sometimes…hadn’t I? Was I completely unattractive? Were my friends embarrassed to be around me, seen with me, take pictures with me?
And then I thought of one last question –
When was the last time I had felt this way – this crippling, anxiety-ridden lack of self-confidence?
This constant struggle – between our desire for the acceptance of others and the self-confidence we feel in ourselves – was one I faced when I was much, much younger than I am now. In elementary school, at the peak of my self-confidence, I wore strangely coordinating outfits based on holidays, animals, and themes. The crazier, the tackier, and the more unique the clothes, the more it fit my style. My mom always praised me for my outfits, and I proudly wore them outside and to class, thinking, wow – I’m fashionable!
Exhibit A: Two loose braids on either side of my head, two clips holding them…in place, maybe? Elvis glasses? This picture is tame, believe me. I just can’t wrap my head around this one in particular.
Looking back on these hideous tween outfits I’d parade around in (and that my mom took way too many pictures of as proof), I realize now that, obviously, my mother wasn’t praising my fashion sense that was obviously underdeveloped for my age. When my mom would tell me I was cute or that my themed outfit was perfect for school that day, her intent was to build my confidence in my sense of self. My quirky outfits definitely stood out, and helped me for the better: it weeded out my peers that cared about appearance over personality, and allowed me to make supportive friendships that only continued to build my love for myself.
Middle school, for all of us, is probably the fall of our self-confidence. Acne exploded not only on my face, but over my entire body. My glasses were straight out of Harry Potter, and my braces seemed to be permanently affixed to my teeth. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup to school, but I still gave myself those tell-tale, emo raccoon eyes. I was experimenting with clothes, style, and life – but my confidence wasn’t exactly sky-high during this intense time of transition.
I’m not sure what’s happening here, but I found this in an old picture album entitled “im effing awesome”. I hope you’re appreciating both that very high MySpace angle I achieved, as well as the fact this picture is still on my hard drive.
I’d like to say my style matured in high school, but it was more an act of convenience. I bounced between school, home, theater rehearsals, and choir performances. I was changing from costume to outfit to pajamas constantly, so the aspect of comfort almost always won out when it came to more fashionable items in my closet. Sweatpants, basic v-neck t-shirts, and dresses (basically a long-ass shirt that passes as a complete outfit, and is, in my opinion, one of the laziest choices we girls have at our disposal) were my typical pick. I didn’t have time to slather on makeup, because I’d just have to wash it off and put on stage makeup that same night. I didn’t have time to complete a whole outfit when I was barely squeezing in homework in the hours I wasn’t practicing lines, rehearsing my harmonies, or spending time with my family.
This selfie is called the “smile-and-casually-pose-as-if-someone-else-is-taking-it-for-you-when-really-you-were-taking-it-yourself-alone-in-the-living-room”.
Sweatpants turned to leggings when I graduated and moved on to college, because they literally go with everything. E-ver-y-thing. I will fight someone on this. Comfort above fashion, people. I don’t think I’ve worn jeans for more than a day in a row, purposefully, since probably my freshman year of college. I went to college for almost five years. I’m serious about leggings. Seriously.
All things considered, since those anxiety-ridden middle school days, the confidence in my body and appearance was slowly growing into a state of contentment. I began to love parts of my body – my hair, my stomach, my eyes, my smile – until there was barely anything I hadn’t grown to love about myself.
But how did I get to this state of comfort, not only with my clothes, but with showing my vulnerable and quirky side to complete strangers through my outfits and my attitude?
Your thoughts about your body and yourself can be influenced by a lot of external factors: your family, your friends, the media, your significant other. But these thoughts all become internal. How you feel about your weight, your style, your hair – it’s all in your mind. To begin loving yourself, you have to see yourself in a new light. I can tell you all day that thinking positively can have real life positive effects, and in our worst moments, seeing ourselves as beautiful is the hardest thing to do. Remember that you have a lot of hidden strength within that mind of yours, and changing your perspective in small ways can have an enormous impact on building your self-worth. So don’t wait until you’re feeling your crappiest to tell yourself you’re beautiful. Change your perspective right now. Take a good selfie of yourself, look at yourself in the mirror, or just look down at your body as it is. Focus on each body part and think something positive – maybe your legs are just shaved and are super smooth, or maybe your hair smells fresh right out of the shower. If you get stuck on an element of yourself that you don’t like, take a moment to appreciate that it exists, and that you love yourself regardless of these elements that make you uncomfortable. Slowly begin to see your body as a unique, loved whole instead of separate parts that you either like or hate.
Now that you’ve spent all that time focusing on yourself, another big step you can make in loving yourself is turning your attention to your life goals. These could be daily, weekly, yearly, or even future goals, but take some time out of your life to pursue what makes you happy. Diving into hobbies, activities, exercise, or socializing takes you out of your negative, inner feelings and thrusts you into what’s happening in your life. I’ve found that I’m the most confident in myself, my weight, my body, my appearance, and well, my everything, when I’m busy actively participating in things that I know I enjoy.
This is one simple thing you can do, at all times. Smile more, and show your teeth! I realized that when I was younger, I’d make these “fake smiles” for pictures, because I thought I looked prettier when I didn’t show my teeth. Then I focused on the pictures where I was smiling candidly without thinking – I’m sure you can guess that in the latter, I looked so much more beautiful, because my smile was genuine and happy. Smiling often as big as you can is a rule that shouldn’t apply only to pictures! Don’t hesitate to laugh, smile, and enjoy moments when they happen. Smile when you lock eyes with a friendly stranger, and smile when you’re with your best friends and family. Relish in your happy moments, and remember these times when you’re not feeling your best.
You can still love yourself even on a day when everything goes wrong. Your outfit was ridiculed by your friends, or your makeup was ruined, or you gained weight or you lost it or you just feel like every part of your body is working against you – these crappy days are going to happen. Let them happen. Wallow in your crappy feelings for a bit, cry it out, call a friend, whatever you need to do to feel a little better. Take some deep breaths. You’re going to have moments when you really don’t feel like loving yourself. Remember that you have the strength to get through every bad day, and that strength came from inside of you. That, in itself, is one of the most beautiful things about you. Accept that not every part of you is going to live up to others or even your expectations. I promise these moments will only make you stronger.
This is a real, candid laugh, and what I personally think I look best doing.
I can’t guarantee that any of this advice will stop you from caring about what other people think of you, because it sure hasn’t done that for me. Loving myself, though, has given me the resilience to better handle the weird stares or trash talk that come my way from strangers, family, and even close friends. I truly feel though that once you start loving yourself, life will be more beautiful, and others will gravitate towards your radiant energy.
P.S. Did you love those few embarrassing pictures? I’d love to see your favorite tween, angsty selfies. Maybe that’ll be the subject of another blog post…because these sure weren’t my craziest selfies that are still on my laptop years later…
Months have passed and turned
to years, and suddenly a man I
knew so well is now a man some
girl knows better, and well, I
saw him not that long ago and
I’m pretty sure he knew my face and
when you see a man you knew
holding up the girl who now knows
that man on his shoulders, laughing
like there wasn’t a care in the world, like
he didn’t break some girl’s heart
months and months and months ago, like
that man never took a girl’s soul and
pierced it straight through until
a hole became infected and stitched over,
internally bruised and blood drenched and like
he had changed, but a man like that
could never change, and now that girl
who knows that man better, doesn’t know
how freeing it truly feels to be
rid of that man, to be truly
loved by herself, because that man she
thinks she knows is no lover
I feel like I’m always jumping ship from one relationship to the other, without much time in between to be on my own. I think the downfall of this type of dating is that it’s hard to see myself as someone out of a relationship, as my own personal entity. I don’t mean to say that I don’t want to date the person I’m dating, but I usually get very swept up in the love and affection that a new relationship brings.
Every relationship is a lesson. That’s what everyone tells us when we go through a break up – what have you learned? As long as you’ve changed as a person, then the relationship mattered, and was worth all the time and the effort and the money and the dreams and the hope and the love –
But sometimes I feel like a relationship just ends. No reason. No change. There’s no grand scheme – you didn’t break up just so you could have an epiphany. Sometimes the end of the relationship is just the end. Sometimes you’ve done everything you could, and everything right, and the person that you had imagined in your life is suddenly gone.
Sometimes a break-up just fucking sucks. The best thing to do is to enter into a relationship with yourself. ESPECIALLY when you’re still in a relationship.
Take yourself on a date. Buy yourself flowers. Take yourself to a movie and splurge on the large size popcorn. Text your best friend and remind her you love her, or bomb her phone with emojis. Go to an animal shelter and cuddle the puppies or kittens. Volunteer somewhere and help someone feel better. Watch that rom-com you’ve seen twenty times before and bawl your eyes out.
Give yourself the love you’ve always reserved for someone else – your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your lover, your friends, your family. If you’re in a relationship, give yourself an equal amount of self-love.
You owe yourself that.
give me your undivided attention
your eyes your mouth your ears, give
your reasons your excuses your pathetic
avenues, twisting yourself out of
all, giving me lie after calculated truth
give me your undivided affection
your fingertips your elbows your blood and
curve, isn’t that what you’ve always
longed for, a way to breathe into someone
else and give them a glimpse of you, give me
a peek of you unadulterated, a part of you you’ve
never wanted, give me the sharp parts you’ve
forgotten and buried shallow, give me your soft edges
them wide open, give me and take
from me, take what I’ve always wanted to build, take
from me the memories I can’t say with certainty
without wondering where we all and it all began
give me your empty and I’ll fill it ever full with
my regrets and my glass body, so easy to crack
I’ll give you my undivided
isn’t that what they’ve
told us, they’ve always
I want to glow from the inside out
fall in love
be embraced and explored
to your lips.
leave with you
to a place
just like heaven, where
the stars come out in the day
the past and future are present
and our hearts
are on fire