Tag Archives: self-esteem

Hold Your Tongue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always known myself to be a patchwork of spindly arms and legs, a little thicker in the center, a little fuller in the cheeks. My appearance see-sawed from plump to almost sickly throughout high school, scrutinized nonetheless; kids are, were, so uninhibited, so cruel, always heaping together like frightened mice then breaking apart, only then with a few less pieces of themselves. Undaunted bumper cars they are, always coming back together again. Adolescence is frightening that way; either we befriend those who whisper about us in the locker room or we spend lunch with the only other kid who decided to trade loyalty for self-respecting loneliness. No one realizes at the time that he is the only genius in the room – he’s already glimpsed the future, where high school is just another burning bridge.

After mucking through four years of rolling emotions and even a bit of education, I was working my first job behind the cash register of a small store with bad lighting; the green rug was always covered in lint and everything cost a dollar. Each time I walked through the door the slightly stinging scent of powdered dish detergent met my nostrils and it was like plunging straight down to the gates of Hell, only instead of the Devil himself I was always met by half-deflated Mylar balloons and an old gumball machine.

One hot afternoon I was glued to my usual spot, twisting the ribbon attached to a nearby balloon, when a woman with a short haircut and an unlit cigarette hanging from her lips approached the counter. She mumbled something I couldn’t make out, but her voice was deep and grainy. I don’t remember her buying anything, I only remember thinking she was on drugs, and the hazy way she laughed after asking if I was pregnant. After that, I can only assume she stumbled out of the store while I hid my face and tried to swallow the bowling ball that was forming in my throat.

Before that, my broken body image had always floated cautiously at the forefront of my young brain – the usual watering hole for self-consciousness in most girls (and boys) – but after that day I realized it must have been lurking in the shadows, begging for that perfect lapse in my own awareness where it could make its move and upgrade to the penthouse that is my here and now. That shattered reflection is now an invisible yet so perfectly noticeable extension of me, like a missing limb; I’ve learned to function again, but the damage is permanent.

I talk to myself sometimes, forever the struggling mentor. More, similar experiences piled up after that one – each putting another notch in my psyche’s bedpost. At times I shrink so far into my dark wallowing that I need hands that aren’t my own to lift me out, and then the cycle can begin again.

If there’s two things I’ve learned, it’s that every human experience, no matter how miniscule, is shrouded in possibility; and that words aren’t just noise we send out into the world – instead they are the foundation upon which we see ourselves, how we see others.

So please, hold your tongue. Because somewhere, just now, a young girl’s world has gone dark.

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Click the image below to check out this week’s writing challenge over at Yeah Write!

challenge154

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Of Me

This poem was a hard one for me, but so very, very easy to write.

I have questioned my own size and shape since I was thirteen years old. After a school nurse was disappointed with my weigh-in, I went home and buried my face in my mother’s chest and wondered what I was “supposed” to look like. Too short, too tall, too thin, too wide. I drink and I eat sweets, but not a moment goes by without me questioning my shape and my own self worth along with it; these thoughts are a plague to those struggling with self esteem issues, from the time they climb out of bed to the moment they undress at night. And while each day is a struggle, I have managed to find small pockets of peace within myself. We are all different, and we are all beautiful in our own way. Who wants to look like everyone else? What a boring world we would be living in. I try daily to remind myself of all the other things I like about me. To all those others sailing along in my boat: take a deep breath, throw your shoulders back, and make the mirror your new best friend. After all, confidence is sexy.

xoxo,

Nicole Marie

bruised

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such rough patchwork

on such a young thing,

no glass smooth flesh

just marble valleys

on a pale pink landscape.

 

those smiling lines on her back

aren’t the wings of a butterfly,

those glowing highways

on her thighs

don’t twist with assurance.

bwme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a real life caricature

all lowered brow, all rising forehead,

the living reflection

of a fun house mirror

she looks away as she dresses.

 

cemented tongueless

in a wavering cave

the elements get in easily here,

she hides her breath

until the flooding stops.

 

nothing matters

when the roadway

is littered with flaws,

she only trips

over the rubble.

 

all is wrapped in silence

when she wakes,

eyes shut tight

no shedding litters

the bedroom floor.

 

how can she grow

when her sight

is a fogged mirror,

when words fall so hard

from a slapping screen door?

 

that soft skin,

gathered like wrinkled blankets

beneath each arm,

it is not a sign of prosperity,

she does not raise her chin.

anatomy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

no other is in want

of a hard bruised shook up

stretch of pale and bone

holding some view of the world

in her wide-knuckled grasp.

 

i am, she says,

a well-wrapped box

of weeds and good intentions,

worn at the seams,

no card attached.

 

but she will never learn

the weight of her own gravity,

she will never see

the blue of the sky

if she never raises her eyes to it.

bwwedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem originally featured on ChowderHead.

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Of Me – A Chowderhead Production

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My good friend Chowderhead, AKA Adam, recently asked if I’d like to be a guest blogger over at his place. Did I say yes? Of COURSE I did. The man is hilarious, and an amazing writer.

Adam’s only request was that I write about something very important to me. And that I did.

So please, if you have a moment, click on this link and read about something very near and dear to my heart. And stay for some other amazing guest posts, Chowderhead’s own hilarious posts, and some beers, duh.

xoxo,

Nicole Marie

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“Are you anorexic?” Taming Body Image

self-dissectionWhat does it all mean, the dips and grooves in our bodies? How do they define us? Some see stretch marks as beautiful scars of battle; others view them as embarrassing reminders of weight struggle, laziness, unattractiveness. Who is really to say what is most beautiful? Our personal definitions of beauty reach both ends of the spectrum, and some never can get a grasp on what they think they should be, and instead spend every morning in the mirror, bouncing helplessly between confidence and self-loathing.

I never recognized my weight until we were forced into the nurse’s office in the eighth grade. I was “chunky”, sure – so were several other classmates, thirteen and awkward in size, overindulging in candy and ice cream and still watching cartoons. We were a year away from high school and still ignorant to a world of tight skirts, sex and pure vanity.

I don’t remember the number, but I do remember the look of concern on the nurse’s face, and the warm tears that rolled down my face that afternoon as I drank Mountain Dew and buried my face in my mother’s shoulder. I had just been introduced to body image, and from the start I knew it’d be a disastrous relationship.

The summer between eighth grade and freshman year I ate cupcakes and pizza at sleepovers, drank my favorite soda and spent afternoons in the pool or on the trampoline. With no apparent reason other than some sort of growth spurt, I dropped about twenty pounds and was suddenly sharing jeans with my – previously – much thinner best friend. The weight had melted off of me so fast I looked tired and pale, but either way I was happy to be approaching fourteen a size three. Then my grandmother cornered me at a family BBQ in late August.

“Are you anorexic?” She was lucky I knew what the word meant.

I can’t remember my answer, although I can only guess it was “no” between bites of a hotdog.

As freshman year began I made plenty of new friends, who later confessed between giggles that they thought I was bulimic. The thought still twists my insides into a constrictor knot. Large or small, I found it impossible to escape from the judgment, both internal and external. From there the bedroom mirror became my best friend and my worst enemy, and with each morning came the unpredictability of how I’d view myself for the day. While I struggled, I remained somewhat of a social butterfly (even involved in chorus and theater), and had two boyfriends while in high school. My first told me my bra made my breasts look saggy. The second never judged my appearance. We lasted a bit beyond senior year.

In those four years I went from super thin back to plump, and in the beginnings of college I remained that way, camouflaging the insecurities with lots of black clothing and lots of piercings. (I still love black clothing and piercings, but my reasons for that love have somewhat evolved.) I weaved my way through a string of insignificant relationships that temporarily made me feel better about myself. Typical, is all I could, and do, think.

When I met my husband I was still thick, and while I worked my confidence in my own sexual prowess I was still scared and insecure. I knew he found me attractive, but as always I was terrified that with the first argument or the first pass from another woman, he’d be gone. The worst part of my own self-judgment is the thought that my own physical imperfections somehow make me intellectually inferior to others. I have managed to convince myself that my opinion is never quite the best, that my voice could never be heard over the voices of everyone else when I’m the girl in the corner with the chocolate in her hand; that without the perfect hourglass, there will always be someone better, no matter what someone sees in me. Ridiculous? Maybe. But never for a second will I think I’m the only one.

I’ve gotten better since, despite events in my life that completely tore down remnants of confidence I had to force myself to regain. A few years ago I joined a gym and unearthed a love of running, and while every day is a struggle, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I eat pretty well with the occasional indulgence. I drink too much. I scold myself for both. The mornings are still unpredictable, and sometimes I still want to smash that mirror to bits. But in the twelve years since thirteen year old me came face to face with a lifelong enemy, I’ve discovered ways to keep the beast at bay. But don’t ask me for pictures; I’d like to keep the past in the past.

Who has the right to judge us, but us? Let’s spend every day trying to feel good about who we are.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with Anorexia or Bulimia, there is help.

xo

 

 

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