Making an effort

Yesterday, someone made an unkind comment about my weight and my personal appearance.  I’m not sure if it makes it better or worse, but it wasn’t done spitefully, and it was made by someone I like, who I believe (even still) cares about me.  I had sent her some pictures of our adventures from this past Spring (she isn’t on Facebook), and after looking at what we’ve been up to, she said, in essence, “You know, it’s really time you start making an effort on your appearance again.”

Wow.  That hurt.  It hurt, because I *am* making an effort.  I run.  I’m focusing on eating better and more consciously.  I’m taking the time to spruce myself up before leaving the house (more often, at least, but not every day — I don’t do much before I go running, for example).  It hurt because apparently, the effort doesn’t show.

I used to be so much better at all of this.  I used to be fit.  I used to do my hair and makeup (well, at least my makeup) almost every day.  I used to dress nicely — I even had a job where I was *required* (how ridiculous is that?) to wear a skirt 3 days every week.  I wore heels 6 days a week (even 8+ months pregnant).  I looked nice, most of the time.

Since then, life has happened.  Two kids and an inter-continental move later, and I have struggled to find the time and energy to put myself first in the same way.  I recognize that it’s important.  I’m working on it.  I am.

It was so invalidating, discouraging and disappointing to get that comment.  First I was shocked, then angry, and then the self-destructiveness set in.  I had all kinds of completely unproductive ideas cross my mind:  “I’ll never send her pictures again!”, “I’ll stop eating and SHOW her how much of an effort I can make” (don’t worry, I SO do not have it in me to be anorexic), “I’m not going to talk to her again until I’ve lost 30 pounds!”, and finally (and most familiarly), “I’ll stop making any effort whatsoever, since it isn’t working anyway”.

I’m not going to do any of that.  It was a thoughtless, unkind comment.  It is not the end of the world.  It hurt my feelings, and after I recovered from the shock (and cried about it) I told her so.  I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.  I’m not doing it to receive acknowledgement, validation or praise from someone else.  I’m not doing it to make anybody else happy or to make them feel like I look good “enough”.  I am doing everything that I do FOR ME.  It’s all still just as valid as it was this time yesterday (pre-mean-comment).

I almost don’t recognize my own thoughts.  Instead of glomming on to all of the negativity in her comment and using it to confirm my own cruel inner monologue, I passed through that moment and set it aside, as something unpleasant from my past.  (Which is where I’d like it to stay.)

I know I’m on the right track.  This was a big moment for me, and I *still* feel good.  Well, I feel ok.  But that’s progress.

(But seriously, I don’t think I’m going to send her pictures anymore.  I mean, ouch.)

3 thoughts on “Making an effort

  1. Emily,
    You are a rare beauty. I hardly know you, but the times we have met you have left a lasting impression of grace and kindness. That means more then any gravity based number. I admire your travels and think highly of the honesty of your writing. You are raising two beautiful little boys in a foreign country, and that is so much more important then eyeliner and superficial beauty that the Americans idealize. Remember that your doing amazing things, and you are in fact very beautiful.
    -amanda’s friend Lauren.

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