November is National Blogging Month or Don’t Call Me Beautiful

November is National Blogging Month. The goal is to  post every day in the month of November. I was hesitating to share what happened to me today, because it is very personal. However,  if I am going  to post every day, it has to be about something that I feel strongly about, so what the hell,  here it is.

I went to the grocery store today to order a birthday cake for my mother in law. It was a simple errand and as I often do, I wore one of my husband’s t shirts. I also wore a pair of my own capris, so don’t panic.

I forgot what I was wearing when a young man with Downs Syndrome read my shirt to me. “The Sun is Trying to Kill me.” Then he said, ” I don’t understand.” It took me a moment to process, then I realized it was now my responsibility to explain it to him.

I , as I often do, said the first thing that popped into my head. ” It’s a joke. It’s my husband’s shirt. He plays a lot of video games and he is inside a lot.” (Don’t judge him. He works full time and has a life.)

The young man stared at me. I am pretty sure he did not get it.  He continued to look at me and I waited to see what he said next. I was willing to try again, I was just waiting for the next question.

He completely surprised me by saying, “You look beautiful today, very beautiful.”

“Thank you.” I said.

He walked away.

I was completely uncomfortable.  I would have been fine with a thirty minute conversation trying to explain the meaning of my shirt to him, but not this.  He was nice to me. Well, what the hell was I going to do with that?

I’ll tell you what I did. I paid for my groceries and I felt uncomfortable as hell and tried to hide it. Then after putting my groceries in my car, I started driving home and I started crying.

No, I am not crazy. Well, you know, no more than anyone else. I am an introvert but I am comfortable talking with people and I can be outgoing at times.

The real problem , I realized, because I am analytical as fuck, is that although I have worked through an enormous amount of shit from my crazy, abusive childhood, I apparently still have a ways to go.

I realized if he had called me ugly, that I KNOW I am not ugly. I think I would have actually been more comfortable with that.

I recalled an incident from the summer before last. It was one of the best days ever. I was spending it with my teenage niece. She is beautiful and completely comfortable being called that as she should be.  She is also smart, strong, funny,  creative and so many  good things.

We were at a picturesque Mountain lake for the day. It was one of those days where so many things go wrong, but they all end up being funny. It was a day you couldn’t plan or recreate even if you tried.

I was happy, truly happy and so was she. I was spending the day with someone I loved. My heart was filled with joy.  On that day I went swimming in a lake in Pennsylvannia for the first time since I was a child. On that day I was 51 years old and it was the first time I had worn a swim suit in front of someone other than my husband for many, many years.

My niece did not know that. It was an act of bravery for me. I did it for myself but I also did it for her. She wanted to go to the lake so I told her we would go. I didn’t tell her that I had not worn a swim suit in public in years. I didn’t tell her that I was self conscious about it. I just decided to do it because having fun with her was more important to me than worrying about what other people thought.

Then it happened. I came out of the bathroom and as I walked down the steps, three teenage boys stared at me. One said to the other, “Take it all in.” It was the words and the tone of voice.

In that moment, my joy went away. For a brief moment, I was embarrassed, thinking of what they must be seeing.   I had worked hard to lose weight over many months and even over the summer. I had been feeling good about my body although it was not a  tiny, skinny one.  I had found a swim suit that complimented my body and I felt comfortable in it. I had decided not to judge myself. Then they judged me.

The moment was brief. I had become stronger that summer. I was in take no shit mode and I stared back at all three boys while I tried to decide if I would give them the finger, tell them to fuck off, or give them a lecture on not saying rude things to people.  I decided relatively quickly that I would not give them the finger or tell them to fuck off. I was tempted, however briefly, but as the “adult” in the situation, I decided it would just be wrong.

I stared at them. I just stared and they stared back and we went our separate ways. Then I walked to the towels where my niece waited and continued to have a beautiful day. I did not mention the incident to my niece. And I quickly forgot about it, at least for that day.

We swam, we ate, we talked and laughed. We made amazing memories at the lake that day.

Then today, this nice young man called me beautiful. I was more uncomfortable today than I was that summer day.

When I was about seven years old, I showed my mother an art project that I was really proud of. She looked at the art project. Then she fixed her eyes on me and in the coldest, meanest tone of voice she said, “Who do you think you are?”

I was shocked. I did not know what to say.

She had an answer for me. ” You are nobody.”

When she said it, in that cold, cruel voice, staring at me with her eyes,  I knew it. I believed it. I was nobody.

That was not the last time I heard that or similar things.  No, I am not comfortable being called beautiful. But I have a pretty good idea why and what I need to do.

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About jambiethoughts

My name is Jamie W. Bryant,. Sometimes I drop the W. I am a currently a 55 year old woman with a serious sense of whimsy. I was having a hard time describing myself but when a friend said everyone wanted to be a princess, men and women, I said to call me a Queen, Warrior Queen. I think Whimsical Happy sometimes Silly Warrior Queen Who Takes No Shit But Is Really Kind and loves to have fun but is really responsible might do it. It is long, however I have never been good at editing myself, in SO MANY WAYS, so there is that. If you still have no idea who I am, well, read my blog and try to figure it out. I can be serious. I can be silly. I love to make myself and others laugh. I speak real shit. I believe everyone should be treated with respect, and I will if you will. I calls them as I sees them. I sometimes swear. Gasp! I do not swear when I am in the presence of children, but this blog is for grown ups. You have been warned.
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One Response to November is National Blogging Month or Don’t Call Me Beautiful

  1. thehouseai says:

    I get it – Mine was not as overt as yours, but everybody around me growing up propped up my idea that I wasn’t beautiful – that I was just plain jane. And husband even more so – he was more like your mom. Such cruelty should never happen to a child, and I am sorry it did to you. Even later, after my divorce, a guy I was seeing told me that I didn’t look that great when I didn’t smile. That I needed to smile. Unfortunately, my face naturally falls into a non-smile expression, and I have to think to smile and it takes work. Although he thought I was special, it reenforced my belief that I was plain at heart, and only through diligence and work was I not. But the young man today no doubt saw through the crap loaded onto your soul, and spoke the truth. They usually see the world as it truly is.

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