Typical woman-taught by society and “well meaning” others to never be happy in my own skin. To look in the mirror and see all the flaws. Too heavy, small breasted, big nose, uneven eyes, I could go on.
I battled my entire teen years into adulthood with my weight. It was drilled into my head by several sources that I needed to be tiny. Difficult really when one is part German and big boned. Didn’t matter. I developed a love-hate relationship with my own image. I loved myself when I was in full dance season and I had the strength and grace to fly to the music. I was always my smallest during those times. My senior year of high school I let my hair grow long because “you’d be prettier with long hair”. I hated it but everyone else loved it. I dated a young man that year who loved me more when I dressed more feminine. He even told me I needed to. Of course I listened- after all it’s what I was taught to do. “Don’t wear your hair up your face is too round” or “don’t cut your hair short your nose looks bigger”.
When I joined the Army I learned to appreciate my body in a new way. I went from being unable to do the required 10 push-ups (to avoid extra PT) to being able to whip them out like nothing. The Army truly did create a lean mean fighting machine, but with that came the sexual harassment that ran rampant then-I’m betting it still does. I’ll never forget a sergeant standing over me while I was on the ground doing said push-ups and making a rude noise then saying I had a body for making babies. Later, he invited me to a party. Something he was not allowed to do.
I hated/loved myself when I attracted attention from men. I was happy, or so I thought, with my weight but hated the attention it brought. After a childhood filled with sexual abuse it generated a different type of self-loathing. That abuse added to the outside messages of what I was supposed to look like. What I was supposed to be. It created a woman who craved love where she could find it-hating herself all the while. If I felt loved and wanted then surely I mattered. You can imagine how healthy those relationships were. The best thing I ever received from two of those relationships was my children. Oh I loved carrying life inside me. I loved how loved I felt. I love the true and honest love that my children give me to this day. I wish I could say that it had been enough, the love of my children. No. Society and my own demons pushed me into what I thought I was supposed to have. A whole family. As if a mother and her children aren’t a complete family. So I continued to demean myself by accepting “love” that wasn’t worth it. That caused more damage to myself. More growing hair, losing weight and losing more of myself. Living with a man whose own self esteem was wrapped up in my devotion…it damaged my psyche to the point that I didn’t know who or what I was. Then again, did I ever? It was only when I fell into a manic depression that led me to the best therapist I had ever met, did I climb out of that pit. She helped me stop having nightmares of my abuse. She helped me see what I’d been doing to myself. To my children. To see myself as having always being stronger than I knew. That I wasn’t unlike others before me who coped and survived the only way we knew how. I finally snapped back to life and made changes. Left the husband. Spent time trying to see who I really was. In the process of learning to live my new life, to love myself enough, Cancer came knocking at my door.
Here’s the bitch of this whole cancer thing- it’s what taught me to actually love myself enough to put myself first. To stand up for what I truly needed. To know I mattered enough to fight to live, and to stop beating myself up for all the many mistakes I’d made in my life. It taught me the cliche of life is too short. We’ve all heard that before, right? Sadly too many of us don’t truly understand what means until faced with our own mortality.
So cancer- I really do hate you. I hate you for what you’ve robbed me of….but you also have taught me what I never expected.
Love yourself people. Now. Love ALL of yourself.
I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I no longer look for love and acceptance outside of myself for I finally love all of me. It’s exhilarating to feel so free and alive. Yes, even though I’m in daily pain and I get lost in a circle with my memory issues, missing body parts and aging what feels like 20 years! it’s exhilarating, exhausting but I’m living my life as just me.
I’m Samantha. Free to be me. Alive and yes loved by the only relationship I want. Samantha, mother, grandmother and life explorer. Nice to meet you ❤️
As always #fuckcancer .