“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”~ Marianne Williamson
Matt, my husband, rolls his eyes and laughs most of the time when I compliment him. It bothers me that he doesn’t see his fabulousness. I find this man not only physically attractive but highly intelligent and stimulating. He brings out the best in me as I am always in awed of him. When I ask him, “Do you know how amazing you are?” He asks me to “please stop.” I tell him to take it and own it. When the tables reverse and he compliments me I ask him to “please stop with the nonsense and go check his eye sight.” Imagine that! I have come to realize that we are the sums of those traumas from the past and all the peeps we handed our worth on platters. It is time we take it back and stop fearing our greatness, fabulousness, and awesomeness!
I have never had a healthy acceptance of compliments, especially about my body or talents. We can spend hours analyzing the root of this issue. If hundreds of hours in therapy did not correct it I doubt that this post will. But here is the thing I have learned about compliments and self-worth: we truly fear them. For the most part we hide behind what society expects from us. An older woman who was my neighbor at 18 (she was 94) said to me, “My sweet young woman, when someone hands you a flower what do you say? You say ‘thank you.’ So, when a person compliments you look at them in the eyes (even if you don’t believe it) and accept the gift.” Almost thirty years later I get the reason why. If you are forced to share the moment and look at that person (stopping everything else in your head) you may see that they are genuine. We have been accustomed to disregard our worth, the natural beauty in our existence, and beat ourselves up because we can’t fit in some kind of social acceptance or perfection.
Body images change with fashion and fads. Decades determine if size 10 is a healthy average woman’s size or size 2 is the new size 6. Should your collar bones stick out so you can use them as soap holders? Should you plump up your lips like a bee stung them? Is it healthy now to let your eyebrows grow out or should we still be plucking them into an arch that puts the shock factor on your face along with botox? I can’t keep up, can you? I stay away from those fashion magazines. I have never been good at following directions.
When I look in the mirror lately I don’t see myself. It isn’t that I sit there examining. I stare at the reflection brushing my teeth, often times in la-la land but catch a glimpse of a middle age woman who has come into her own. I feel sexier now than I did in my twenties when I had a breast reduction, liposuction and the insane habit of dieting until I would faint. I have many more laugh lines, wrinkles, freckles, and age spots. Each one of them maps out some incredible lessons. I have a flabby but healthier body that climbs mountains, drinks wine, loves lattes, and at times indulges in some delicious dessert that I can’t pronounce. And, yes, a few times a year I give everything a break and detox the middle age part of me giving up everything for a month or two or four until my friends beg that I go back to carbs, “please” because I am nicer when I eat junk.
I love watching the love of my life move. I love studying his strong middle age body. He might not like it but I find that each scar, dimple, and extra space is what allows more of him to love me. Each time I embrace him I feel like I am with the sexiest man alive and I can’t understand why a magazine hasn’t posted this on their front page. To me it is headline news.
As Marianne Williamson writes, “who are you not to” see yourself as beautiful? Don’t let society determine what is beautiful. At what age do we stop worrying about body image, and what needs to be done, tucked, fastened, or covered up? You are beautiful: curves, flab, scars, more or less. It is the body given to you to journey on this life. I don’t want to be perfect. Hell no! That’s a lot of pressure. I want to be loved by those around me because of how I reflect parts of them. If I can make you smile then I have done my part for the day. These days when you hand me a compliment I will take it as a flower, put it in a vase, and relish that someone thinks I am special, beautiful or whatever else your spirit sees in me. The returned words, “thank you” are magical in so many ways connecting us to each other. Now go flaunt your spectacular-ness into the world.