In the last month or two, I have found myself confronted by others with the perception that I lack confidence. “You just need to work on your self-confidence.” Whenever this comes up, I tend to get inwardly bent out of shape. I’m offended.
I’m a successful person, I’m strong, I’m courageous, I’m feisty… I don’t get what they’re telling me? I am working out, I take pride in my appearance. Do I have some body issues? Yes. Am I feeling the effects of entering my forties and all the weird things that gravity and collagen depletion seem to start doing to your body? Yes. Do I hate myself? No. Is there self-loathing? No.
What are my issues? If I’m labeling them, stretch marks. I gained 60lbs when I had my son. No one told me about cocoa butter and lathering your body with cream. I ended up with stretch marks added to the already existing stretch marks I had from growing 10 inches in a year around 11 and 12. Add 14 lbs. of twins for my second pregnancy and my stomach now looks like my children clawed their way out of my stomach. It’s a tough one for me, when I see them. The memory of silky peaches and cream skin.
This for me affects how I feel when I get into a bikini or naked in the bedroom. I don’t feel confident in these situations. But I don’t feel like I’m unworthy of anything because of it either. I will have to work on faking confidence in these situations because I cannot change these things. All the Bio-oil in the world won’t change these things.
When someone says “you need self-confidence”, it rubs me the wrong way because it seems like something that you have as an all or nothing. It’s either low or it’s high. You have it or you don’t. I feel like I have it but then conversations lead me in other directions. I suppose if you compartmentalize self-confidence to areas of your life then its all or nothing essence makes sense. We know we can build self-confidence. Knowing how to in some areas is hard.
When it comes to work, my intelligence, creativity and attaining work related goals, I have confidence. I’m resourceful, I work well with others, I write well… I’m confident there. When it comes to trying new things I’m open and adventurous.
When it comes to meeting new people, I’m at a place in my life where I am not really too worried what other people think. I know I’m kind and witty and I’m okay if I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. This has evolved a lot more over the last six months, post NARC. I’ve made new friends and put myself in more social situations to allow that to happen. Being in a pattern of abusive relationships for so long, took me out of situations where I could socialize and just be me. Now, I’m just me. I’m not worrying about the fact that my significant other won’t like me talking to a guy at work. I’m not avoiding social situations because my S.O. won’t want to be involved or will make my life miserable if I leave them behind to have fun.
When my verbally abusive ex-husband was leaving our matrimonial home, he told me to be careful and that the only reason men will be interested in me is for sex. One last, mind fuck on his way out the door. Being with an insecure, selfish, and abusive human being for sixteen years of your life is not conducive to an overflow of self-confidence and sparkle.
The more distance there is from these toxic relationships I was in, the more self aware I become. If I look at the relationships I was in, I know I was codependent. I wanted to prove myself worthy to others. I put their happiness above my own. Leaving it impossible for me to shine and recognize my own worth. Allowing them to define what that worth was. It’s that dangerous and unyielding place where we look outside to have our self worth reflected.
“Confidence is a feeling of trust in someone or something. To be self–confident is to have confidence in yourself. Self–confident people don’t doubt themselves. This is usually a positive word: you can be self–confident without being cocky, arrogant, or overconfident.”
Self-awareness and situations are intrinsic to self-confidence. The activities, situations and people we choose to invest our time in will either foster positive growth in self-confidence or deplete it. Ensuring an evolution in our self confidence comes from knowing what we value, our boundaries related to those values and not waivering on them. Participating in activities that make us feel challenged and accomplished. That bring a smile to our face. Surrounding ourselves with like minded people who practice gratitude and kindness and embrace their uniqueness all fan the flames of the self-confidence fire that burns within.
Relying only on the opinion of others to define our self-worth is something we all know to be destructive. Staying in situations or allowing people to stay in our lives that drain us or stress us will take its toll.
I recently went on a business trip. Just before I left, I had a conversation with the firefighter, I have had a few times now in the last couple of months. I have tried to frame my questions on the status of “us” in a million different ways in the hopes of getting an answer that doesn’t require a masters degree in cryptography to decipher. So, I ask if we are exclusively seeing each other (i.e. not on 8 different dating sites under the guise “doesn’t want anything serious”). Are we actually seeing if this already 6 month thing could be worth the “c” word known as commitment. I get the same old answer I’ve been getting. I’m working on me, you’re great, you deserve better…blah, blah, blah.
The great thing about finding the right people is that you can actually help each other. You can provide support, motivation and accountability to one another. I’m working on myself too. Not unlike accountability coaches in reaching fitness goals, we can support each other in self-realization and self-awareness too.
So, I don’t buy the goods that are being sold. “You’ve helped me through a difficult time. Helped me feel like I’m normal.” but I’m still gonna shop around for… I don’t know what that … is. It’s not for me to know. My answer is not what is said. What is said doesn’t make sense. It’s the between the lines, the … that is the answer. Regardless, I cannot and no one should be in a situation riddled with the (…) . It doesn’t feel good. It throws things off balance.
On my business trip with a female colleague, we run in to an old high school friend of hers. I score a suite at our hotel and we all hang out. The firefighter comes into the conversation. We ask for some male perspective. Who’s not going to get the 411 from a hot, former SWAT team member. Hello! He starts by saying, I think he’s using you, that’s what I read. Followed by delete that guy’s number. You can do better. “You want my opinion? Can I tell you what I think?” I encourage the sharing of his thoughts. “You’re hot, you’re sweet – you’re a MILF. You need to set the bar higher and don’t settle.” He goes on to tell us how he got his girlfriend. He had met her previously but she was not on the market. He told himself that she was the standard. She set the bar for who he wanted. Ironically, in the end she also became his one and only when she later became available. This conversation was pivotal for me in my whole resistance to the self-confidence thing. I didn’t know this guy. He’s telling me the stuff friends and family say but because there is no investment on either of our parts, his words hold a little more power for me.
On Valentine’s Day, we hung out as a trio. My colleague left early. Leaving the SWAT guy and I hanging out in my room, visiting the hotel bar and returning to my room. The vibe is the same as it was on Monday night after all the MILF talk. He was lingering and I was freaking out understanding what the lingering was about. There’s an awareness that he has an open-ish kind of relationship. My colleague is encouraging whatever this is.
Even with Pinot Grigio coursing through my veins, I cannot do this. Did I mention he was hot?! We talk about “it”, hug it out and he leaves. I put the onus (or guilt) on him. That said, I may have caved had I gotten into bed and there was a subsequent knock on the door. But that didn’t happen…
So with all of that, I’m setting the bar. Maybe I’ll be lucky like SWAT man and down the line firefighter will fit that bar. Whatever happens, Valentine’s week 2018 has raised the bar for the next guy and all things I invite into my life. Only took me 20 years to get here…
Work in progress.