Tag Archives: Insecurity

Bikini Body?

Ordering a bathing suit online is a ridiculous idea.  But when the company that makes the running shorts that make me feel hot, not just athletic, had a sale – I took the bait.

It is the time of the year that I have the Great Bikini Debate.  Last summer I tried to embrace the stretch marks. I gave it a solid effort.  I even tried to tan those mofos.  If I am 100% honest – the red bikini took a backseat to the trusty one piece the great majority of the time. And now here I am again, another year older, another year closer to the Year I Should Really Stop Wearing A Two Piece.  (I am not sure when that is, exactly, but I am certain it exists.)

Standing in my bathroom in the new two piece I could acknowledge that this summer’s bikini body is slightly more toned than last year’s.  I have run my ass off this year and it is starting to show.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.  Bend over.  Sit down.  Eh.  It is what it is but it is unlikely that it is gonna get better than it is right now, right? The fit is ok.  But the color?

Brown. The brown bikini was the only sale suit in my size.  I just don’t know about brown.

I called to Emily.  “Come here.  What do you think?”

She just stood there with her hand on her tiny little hip.   “Hmmm.  That’s a tricky question. I’m trying to decide what you want me to say.” Damn kid.

“The truth,” I answer.

“Well, you have really big boobs and that top is really big like a lot of fabric but weirdly it makes your boobs look not as noticeable. And I think it’s ok that your stomach is like, well, you know like that because you had two babies and you’re a great mom and you look pretty.” She paused to take a breath.  “Do you like it?”

I love her. I do.  I should have been more clear, I suppose.  “Do you like this color brown?” Sigh.

Back tattoo teapot

If the bikini makes its presence known this summer than the excitement will be two-fold.  My stomach and the stretch marks there really get all the press.  But it is high time that the wreckage on my hips and lower back get a little face time.  The 2014 new ink highlights them nicely.  Last summer’s motto seemed to be “if you can’t tone it, tan it.” This summer it is looking like I am embracing the “if you can’t tone it, tattoo it” philosophy.  Someday perhaps I will get to that level of peace where I don’t even have this conversation with myself. Maybe next spring when I am trying on bathing suits for my 39th summer I will only ask myself the question that my sweet Emily June asked me –  “Do I like it?” Maybe.  Someday.

Diamonds on the inside…

Some times when MQD and I climb in to bed and I can feel a distance between us I ask him a simple question.  “Tell me three things you love about me,” I will say, my voice cracks and I speak in to his chest because it embarrasses me to need to hear it out loud.

My asking the question sends the message “I need to feel closer to you right now, I am feeling far away, insecure, I am beating myself up over nothing.”

His answers always bring me back to what is real.  Sometimes the answers are humorous, sometimes they are sentimental, sometimes they are predictable but occasionally they take me by surprise.

“I love how sensitive you are.”  I won’t ever forget the night that was his first answer. I had always assumed that my hypersensitivity, my mid-day phone calls in tears because I “am so in love with you” or because I “am so lucky,” I thought these were things MQD tolerated, not something he loved about me.

What you see isn’t always what you get.  I don’t apologize anymore when what’s on the inside shows.   Neither should you.



I hate the “P” word. But sometimes it is exactly the right word.

Just because I am full of Hope and new Habits and dreams and crock pot recipes doesn’t mean I have turned my back on my  demons.

But last night I laid one to rest.

Perhaps other  people’s husbands say just the right thing and it is poetic and full of “sweethearts” and “I love yous” broken up only by tender moments.

But when I need support. True support. I don’t  need coddling. I just need someone to shoot it straight.

“I will not even entertain this conversation” he said.

Always mannerly, even in an argument. He managed to tell me to shut the fuck up in such a way that he eased my fears. I hate that he can do that.  Even while I am simultaneously loving it  – it pisses me off.

When you write about your insides and you don’t seem to edit much out there is an assumption that you put it all out there. Maybe some people do but I don’t. Not out of a desire for privacy or an intent to be misleading. I just can’t write until I’ve figured it out. And then it is an after the fact admission instead of a real time confession. But the writing it all down. It helps me to keep the same fears from cropping up time and again. Once  the demons that I wrestle with in my head  have names they don’t scare me anymore.

Last night in the middle of an argument (the details of which are both private and irrelevant as I have a knack for deviating from the original discussion) I realized I wasn’t making sense. I was pushing MQD away out of fear. So I summoned the courage to be brave for just one minute.

Deep breath and spill it. If something happened to me and Mike, to our marriage, I’d lose everything. He would get Lucy half the time. And Emily, too, if I did right by her. And I’d be lost. Without a home, a job or my children.

As always once I said it out loud it lost a lot of its power. But it was what he said that assuaged it altogether.

He could have asked me what my problem was or been hurt that I’d be suggesting now of all times that our marriage would fail. Instead he just said he refused to entertain this conversation.

“Ok.” And I could feel the weight lift. “I guess it is just as much a waste of time as making a plan for if aliens land in the backyard.”  I smiled.

And even though I’d been yelling at him and being all kinds of hysterical for the last half an hour he smiled too. “No, that would actually be more worthwhile.”

What reason do I have for being afraid? Are there problems in my new marriage I haven’t addressed? No. None.

It’s just me. And February. My divorce from Emily’s dad was final in a February. I saw the date pass in the calendar  recently and I thought about the nail in our coffin. And for a moment I forgot the truth and I began to think that it was all me. And my love for Emily. That I couldn’t be a wife and a mother and our divide began when Em was born. That it was all me that had failed. And the Insecurity Dragon (the only demon with a name that I fear I will never slay) reared its head and went to work on my heart.

Several days later and I am in my kitchen crying. Preparing my heart for the day when my marriage crumbles again because I pour my heart in to being a mother and I don’t know how to be a wife at all.

Only this time I do know how. I stopped yelling. And I stopped crying. And I said “I am afraid”  and I asked for help. That is four impossibly hard things if you’re keeping track.

He stood and took the baby from my arms and jiggled her on one shoulder. With his other arm wrapped around me, there was stereo crying in his ears.
It’s funny. The things I repeat in my head. The moments in my marriage that become touchstones for when I require strength or faith. I’m adding “I will not entertain this conversation” to the pile with what MQD said the day I went in to labor.

Early in the day not long after he came home from work I was pacing in the kitchen when it hit me. Today would be the day I’d realize a dream.  My unmedicated birth.   And then I started to question if I’d have the strength, no the courage, to follow through. He must have seen the fear start to take root and he stopped  me. “You’re a bad ass Kelly. You just can’t be too much of a pussy today to be a bad ass. “

I love that he said “today.”  Because  you can’t be expected to be a bad ass everyday. And sometimes all it takes to be a bad ass is to just not act like such a pussy.

I’m working on it.  Being brave is not so impossibly hard.

In December of 2008 I thought MQD was a kid and I was all Grown Up. I couldn't have been more wrong.

For MQD – Because one day I will be Grown Up.  And it will knock your socks off.  Thank you for being so patient.  I love you.  More today than I have in all our days.  At least until the aliens land.  xo

Post Cards from the Edge

PostPartum Missives, maybe is a better title.  Only because Postcards From the Edge has already been taken.

I forgot a hundred things about being a new mom in the last six years. But I remembered one.  New moms put hormonal teenagers to shame.  I am out of my fucking mind.  Carrie Fisher style.  Crazy.  But lucid enough to know it. Carrie Fisher crazy without the booze.

But this time it has not taken me by surprise.  Four days.  I made it four days on virtually no sleep before I asked MQD to just sit by me.  He held my hand and I  wept.  First quiet, reverent, emotionally charged tears.  And then big, fat sobby, snot running down my face in to my mouth tears.  “What’s wrong, babe?”

“I have no idea.  I am pretty sure nothing.  I just started to cry and now I can’t stop. ”  MQD handed me some tissues and he sat back down next to me.

He sat back down.  And he held my hand.  And I smiled.  Because he sat back down.

Aside from a general state of crazy… the last few days have been unbelievable.  Eventually the weepy “I am so in love with this baby and my family is complete now” post will come.  But I haven’t had a chance to process all that yet.  Next week, after my family leaves, before MQD’s arrives, while Emily is in school and I can get my “stare at Lucy and contemplate my love for her” on it will come… but today all I have is some observations regarding my postpartum self.

Since my post regarding grooming was such a hit I figured I’d share this.  If you’ve ever ordered a draft beer  in a cheap pizza place then you will know what I am talking about.  The big mug arrives.  Oh, a frosty mug of beer.  Delightful.  And you pick it up to raise it to your lips and HOLY SHIT, you almost zing beer over your shoulder on to the backs of the people sitting in the booth behind you because it is so much lighter than you’d anticipated.

I climb in the shower yesterday, hair washed, face washed.  Listen for Lucy.  I hear quiet from the bedroom.  I picture MQD snuggling with our sweet girl in bed.  Drip, drip, drip go the boobs, no harm no foul.  We are in the shower.   I have five more minutes to shave my legs.  And I grab my razor, lift my foot up to the corner of the shower (where I propped my foot before I could only reach the side of the tub) and HOLY SHIT if I was a cheap plastic mug of beer I’d have been ass over head on my back in the shower.  Without the giant stomach to stop me,  body still hopped up on relaxin, the hormone that makes your joints limber for an easier labor….  I can damn near put my foot behind my ear from a standing position.  Stretch marks, stitches and a total absence of abdominal muscles makes this a much less appealing visual than it might have been at nineteen…but nonetheless, I had a smile as I imagined my post-pregnancy body… not too different from a cheap plastic mug of beer.  It’s no frosty pint glass.  But at least it’s beer.

Feeling rather full of myself I jumped out of the shower.  And took the first long look in the mirror. At 29, after Em was born I had high hopes.  Aspirations of bouncing right back to my pre-baby body.  This time, I know better.

Yesterday I pulled all of the super pregnant third trimester maternity pants out of my closet.    And I replaced them.  With the super comfortable elastic waist band pants of early pregnancy.  Elastic waistbands, we’re thick as thieves, you and me.

I’m not going to turn my back on you just yet.  We can’t stay friends like this forever. But for now… please take good care of my belly.  Do what you can to not let it fold over your elasticy goodness.  No one needs to see that.  And I promise to keep you covered with a tank top as often as possible, choosing to pull my boobs out the top of my shirt instead of lifting up my shirt to expose myself as an elastic pants wearer.

In the meantime, I will try to see past the stretch marks and the belly and the big black circles under my eyes.  And I will try to remember the wondrous thing my  body did for me less than a week ago.   You gave me my Lucy Quinn, body.   So I will give you a couple of months of elastic pants.  But just a couple.

A couple of years after Em was born  I had the pleasure of stumbling in to this website – The Shape of  a Mother.   I struggled with posting this picture today and then was reminded of the brave women that came before me, telling their stories.  Stories of birth and rebirth, of love and fear and shame and pride and all the emotions in between.

I have been honest about so much of this journey.  And this is where I am today.  Six days post-partum.  Weepy.  Joyful.  Falling in love a hundred times a day.

The Weight

So, a really smart person asked me another really smart question. And for a second I wished she’d knock that shit off.  But it was asked with just the right amount of “tell me if I am stepping on your toes and I’ll shut up” to know she really meant that.  And given that she knows whereof she speaks, I paused.  And really thought about the answer.

And the more I thought about it the quieter I felt like being… and now that I think I have an answer for her, I figured it was as good an excuse as any to choke back out some words right here so I can get past the pre-christmas pity party I threw for myself.  Barfing up some whiny mess here is like barfing up tequila at a party.  You’re not really even sorry you did it, because you really do feel better, you’re just sorry you have to see any of those people again, the people that saw you leaving the bathroom, sweating, dazed and stinking of a Cancun party bus.

So, what she asked me is if I was  “depressed.”  Or suffering from “minor depression” with an apology for the use of the word minor, which was fair, as all who have suffered from it know that it feels like being told you were in a “minor car accident,” only your car is totaled and uninsured.  Short answer.  No.  I’m not.  I have been, in my life, and so I took some time and stepped back and thought about it.  But nope.    But I am suffering daily.  On two fronts.  That I am hard pressed to believe are not related.

Several months ago when I had my IUD removed I started paying really careful attention to my body.  Oddly, at the same time I stopped taking  particularly good care of it.  Thank you very much, holiday food and drink.  But in an effort to keep my psychosis and paranoia from consuming me I started charting my temps and watching my ovulation signs so I would know when to expect my period, consequently limiting the amount of time I spend convinced I am pregnant mere months before the Biggest and Most Fun Party Ever, I mean our wedding.   At about this same time I started experiencing terrific back pain.  Being a nerd, I logged all these symptoms in to my phone.  Since the holidays were a bigger priority to me than running or the gym has been the last couple months, I couldn’t blame it on the gym.

Stepping back now I can see I am in pain more often than not.

In the morning I struggle to get out of bed.  Mornings are the toughest, as I wince through making coffee, struggle to get back up from a crouched position to get something from the fridge.  I am short with Em and MQD.  I am angry.  A hot shower and a heaping handful of Advil go a long way.  But it’s not my favorite way to wake up.  Angry.  Hurting.

The pain in my back lends itself nicely to feeling sorry for myself.  Not only does it contribute to my lack of exercise, but it causes me to dwell unnecessarily on the process of aging.  I think, and think about how lucky I was that I was so healthy for so many years, and really have experienced very little physical pain.

And as soon as I make that distinction….. no physical pain,  the pain I did feel all comes back, because I am already crying, might as well make use of it.  And before I know it, I am crouched on the floor in the kitchen in front of the fridge, or bent over the trying to pick up my shoes, crying… because my back hurts, and because I am sad I went so long without doing the hard work to get happy.  Now that I have it, this capital letter h Happy… I can’t believe I went so long without finding it.  The easier my relationship becomes with Jer the more I wonder why I didn’t just let him go sooner.  We have our family back.  Em’s got her dad, I have my friend.  And we have MQD.  Who daily is more than I ever could have imagined a man to be.

So… the short answer to am I depressed is no.  But I am in pain.  My back hurts.  And my heart hurts.  And hurting makes me angry.  And being angry makes me unreasonably frustrated with everything.

I am having a hard time reconciling the fact that I am really fucking sad. Right smack dab in the middle of the happiest time of my life.  And I am confused by it.

Marriage is a leap of faith.  One I am prepared to make.  I feel confident and secure.  As secure as someone like me gets anyway…. but all of it, all of this capital letter “H” Happiness is stirring up Sadness and Anger and Failure and all kinds of bullshit that has no repository.  So, how do just I barf it up like that cheap tequila so I can make it all over with quicker?  The same way I used to try to then… drink more of it.  I wallowed in it, hoping that one good splash of feelings would come up from deep inside me and the sweating would stop and I’d feel better.  But it’s just not coming.  So… where do I go from here?

To have someone help me  pull it all out.  Let me look at it and then step over it.

My back hurts.  My heart hurts.  And it’s getting in the way of me sucking up all the Good that is surrounding me.  So in the last couple of weeks I did a couple of things that were hard, but not as hard as carrying this weight.  I asked MQD to help me with Em so I can take care of me.  I made an appointment with someone “to talk to” so I can move on.  And this morning I called the chiropractor.  It’s either my heart making my back hurt or my back making my heart hurt.  I’m not wasting any more time….   gonna fix ’em both up.  And take a load off….

Costume A-ha Moment…

Halloween planning is in full tilt at our house.   There are ghosts in our trees,  creepy scarecrows on our porches and cobwebs with plastic spider rings in our bushes.  There are bags of candy hidden in our closets. Pumpkins have been carved (and will hopefully survive the 85 degree afternoons we’ve been having between rainstorms.)  This Halloween has me soaking up the “family-ness” of it all.  Halloween is MQD’s favorite holiday, and it has long since been mine.  Emily mentioned the other day that Halloween is her favorite day, too, and MQD was quick to point out that with the  number of times a day that kid changes her clothes and/or dresses up, EVERY day is like Halloween to her.  

Em has been under the weather off and on for more than  week.  So the other night when I was at the store and saw this fantastic Queen of Hearts costume I caved and bought it.  It didn’t matter to me if she wanted it for Halloween or not, the gigantic hoop skirt had me so excited that I knew she’d love it.  She has since settled on a plan.  Tinkerbell for the day time at school, Queen of Hearts for the weekend trick or treating.

She’d previously been hoping that we’d all dress up as the Flintstones and was heartbroken when her buddy did not jump at the chance to be Bam-Bam.  I got to thinking about the possibility of a group Alice in Wonderland costume and MQD was on board with either a Mad Hatter or a White Rabbit.  The gears started churning and I started getting more and more excited.  Already I can see in Em’s face the teenager she will some day be.  And I know that the Halloweens she will want to dress up with me are numbered.  It seems like it was only last year that she was a little lamb, and I was a Fairy God Mother.

So when I started looking online for an Alice dress I was prepared to spend a few bucks.  I was excited.  But what I wasn’t prepared for was my reaction to the available costumes.  What if you were planning on Trick or Treating with your children?  What if you weren’t  planning  on using Halloween as an excuse to dress like a tramp?  Now this is certainly not a new observation.  I have been laughing at the quiet girls that suddenly turn in to Sexy Firemen or Sexy Nurses or Sexy Chefs for years.  And it wasn’t because I had a problem with it.  I just had a problem with hiding behind the holiday, with not owning it.  And now it seems I had a problem with the fact that costume manufacturers are under the assumption that everyone wants to look like a hooker on  Halloween.

I think it is important to point out here that this opinion is coming from the girl who proudly left the top three buttons of her shirt open while she served drinks for YEARS  because I had no shame in my game.  I sold liquor.  To men.  Liquor and laughs and, yes, a few cheap boob peeks.     I have zero problem with looking cheap.  But you gotta own it.  And if you own it, you might as well work it. And if you’re gonna work it, you might as well work it for cash.  (The impact that selling T&A along with a side order of Miller Lite had on my self-esteem and emotional development is a story in and of itself but suffice it to say that I still  don’t feel “pretty” all covered up. )

But Halloween isn’t about being “pretty.”  And this Halloween isn’t even about me.  It’s about being the Alice to my Queen.  Ultimately I found a great costume.  And it was supremely affordable compared to many of the other options out there.  And it covered my ass.  And did not require bloomers.  Alice is not known for her cleavage and my rendition would be no exception.  I anxiously awaited the arrival of the costume.  I did cringe a little when I ordered it, an Extra Large.  I do my best not to take it to heart, sizing is so relative.  And costumes always tend to run small, I didn’t have time for my pride to get in the way of… well, of my tits.  Which would most definitely not fit in a Large according to the  costume measurement guidelines on the website.  So I sucked it up, ordered the Extra Large and waited.

Last night it got here.  I pulled it on and it buttons up!  By all definitions it “fits.”  Flattering on the other hand, it is not. I can use this dress next year to go as a Prison Matron, I think.  But Em’s face.   She looked delighted.  So delighted in fact that I didn’t even cringe when I looked in the mirror.  Was I successful in procuring a costume that is not unnecessarily sexy?  Yes.  Do I look like a linebacker?  Yes.    Will I be smiling while I portray the GIGANTIC post “Eat Me” Alice?  You bet your ass.


Sidenote:  The challenges will resume shortly.  I am waiting on my slack ass buddies to catch up with me.


Upside down

The shittiest part about being  a person that is capable of feeling great joy, about being a person that “loves right NOW” is that I am also so capable of feeling quite the opposite.

I woke up today feeling about an inch tall.  Like somehow I managed to undo every bit of hard work and goodness I’ve been wrangling in to my corner all week.  I’ve much to look forward to this weekend.  But even that is no match for waking up with that feeling like you wish you were anyone but you.   I tried to finagle a hug out of the little lady but she wasn’t interested this morning.  I contemplated calling in to work and just staying in bed all day but that would have contributed to my feelings of worthlessness.  My mom used to call them mental health days.  She said that everyone had days where they felt like “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.”  I’m thinking worms won’t cut it.  Peanut M&Ms are my go-to “I feel like I need a pick me up” food.  But I didn’t buy them this morning.  Because it might have improved my foul mood.

And I wore a shirt I fucking hate today.  And every time I look down I think why the fuck do I even own this shirt, much less put it on my body.  I feel like my skin is on inside out and every thing I brush up against hurts.  I’m giving myself until 10 am to wallow and then I’m considering the wearing of this god awful shirt punishment enough.

Some days you reach for the stars, you want to change the world and be the best self you can be.  Other days you just wanna “stay alive.”  In the middle of my pity party I accidentally got a good laugh.  I uploaded a video of Emily rockin’ out to this ridiculous metal Bee Gees cover band.  Once I’d formulated the second sentence in this paragraph it seemed fitting.  And I couldn’t remember the name of the band.  Tragedy.  Of fucking course.  Way to mock my bad mood fucking disco metal cover band.

Oh man, you’re a hot mess when you can’t even wallow in your bad mood without fucking up.  Without further ado… my lady… She’s Stayin’ Alive.  I suppose I will, too….


I got an email this weekend from a girl, a woman?  What do you call someone who was a junior in high school the last time you saw her and is now an amazing mother and wife? If I call her a “girl” then she is the girl I went to school with, that I thought I knew.  And a “woman?” Well I didn’t go to high school with any women.   That just draws attention to the fact that the woman whose blog I have been reading for the last several months is really almost a stranger.  And not because she is so different from the girl I knew but because she is exactly the woman I knew she’d become.  Genuine, funny, sincere, frighteningly smart and insightful.  She is as interesting to me now as she was then.  Only I am different.   She doesn’t intimidate me like she did then.  So there is an opportunity now for a discourse, albeit through the comfortable distance of email, but honest nonetheless.

So, when I got an email from her this weekend it gave me pause.  I wasn’t really sure how to answer her.  But I’ll do the best I can.

You write a lot about having low self esteem, and I guess as someone with self esteem problems myself I should understand it. But I am so perplexed! In high school I envied your confidence so much. You were popular and not just with the drama kids, you were hot and tall and you took your clothes off at every opportunity. All the girls wanted to be just like you and I think we both know what the guys wanted to do…All that time were you really insecure or did it develop later?

Low self-esteem means different things to different people.  I had it really easy as a kid, I was tall, strong, smart and kinda funny.  I can’t recall ever really feeling shy or embarrassed in any situation.  My parents went out of their way to ensure that I never went without even though we struggled financially at times.  Middle school came and went with just the right amount of awkwardness.  I was tall entering the seventh grade but by the beginning of freshman year the boys were catching up with me and I wasn’t so uncomfortable in  my own skin.  I fell in easily with the Drama kids.  I found my high school niche in our great big school early on freshman year and it seemed like high school might not be the torturous experience so many people describe.

I’m not sure how it started.  When I started feeling really uncomfortable with the fact that my life was so “easy.”  What was I going to rebel against?  What was going to make me special?  How was I ever going to be an actress, an artist, an anybody if everything always came easy to me?  How as I any different from the perfect cheerleaders at the other end of our long high school hallway?  It embarrassed me.  It embarrassed me when I was nominated for Homecoming Court.  It didn’t matter how much I yearned to be cast in a “real” role in a play. I was Pretty Kelly.  That’s what people saw.  At least that’s what I assumed.  Eventually I guess I let it define me more than it should have.  I hid behind my ‘”perfect face.”  If I feared that was all anyone saw in me than why not make it easy?  You can’t be annoyed that no one sees who you really are if you’re standing around in your underwear, right?    I knew (or at least I thought I knew) what the people I admired thought of me.  An inch deep.  I would never be an artist.

My issues with my body were nagging on their best days.  Crippling on their worst.  When you come to the realization that the only thing any one sees in you is the Outside you start putting way too much emphasis on it.

“Popularity” is a curse in high school,  You don’t get to come back after a summer, with a new look.  Because everyone knows you.  The quiet girl in the back of the room can reinvent herself ten times over.  Or again, at least, that is what I thought.  I felt trapped in my Perfect Family, with my Perfect 4.0.  I didn’t know who I wanted to be.  I don’t even think there’s anything I’d have changed.  It was just suffocating to feel like I didn’t have the freedom to try on a new “me.”  I just knew I was sick and tired of being Perfect.   I was “Best Looking Class of 1994.”  My best days would soon be behind me and there was no stopping that train.

College gave me a chance to start over.  I found a whole bunch of unhealthy ways to maintain my Perfect body.  I fell in love with a Townie.  I ran around with a messy crowd of people.  I fucked up at school just enough to feel like I wasn’t really a part of this Perfect William & Mary scene but tried to keep my nose clean enough that I wouldn’t be barred from returning to the Perfect world I was raised in when it was time.

Bartending was the perfect game for me.  I got to be whoever you wanted me to be every night.  I made money hand over fist.  I thought I was breaking out of my mold but really I was just digging myself deeper.  I had all but wasted my college education because I was busy getting paid to be Pretty Kelly.  So rebellious, right?

I’m still not really answering her question.  Did I always struggle with low self-esteem?  Absolutely.  Only it looks different on me than it does on most people, I think.  I never doubted that people liked me.  I never lacked confidence.  I just thought that if anyone really knew me, hell, if I did, than they surely wouldn’t  like what they saw.  I wanted so badly to stand up and say “hey, what you see isn’t what you get!”  But I was afraid that the next question would be “So, then who are you?”  and I didn’t really have any idea.

I had all the opportunity in the world handed to me.  I grew up in a great home.  With wonderful parents.  In a terrific school system.  I was smart, attractive, I think I even had a reasonable amount of talent at some point… but I didn’t know what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.  My friends from high school were following their “dreams.”  Each year at Christmas fewer people came home because they had “become somebody.”  They were building lives and fortunes and families of their own.  Some of them even had, shudder, careers.

And I still didn’t have a clue.  Because I couldn’t admit what I wanted…. not out loud.  It wasn’t enough, not for me.  Not for Kelly, Teacher’s Pet, who gave  a speech at graduation about how much potential we all had… I was almost thirty and I still hadn’t figured it out.  And even worse?  Pretty Kelly was fading.  I didn’t have the stomach for the drugs that had kept me skinny in my youth.  I didn’t have the desire to put in the effort it would require to maintain it in any other way.  I didn’t have the discipline because everything had been handed to me as a kid.  The lines around my eyes meant my youth was passing me by.  If I cried myself to sleep it took hours and expensive eye creams to look presentable in the morning, not just a cold shower.  I never wanted to be Pretty Kelly.  But all of a sudden I realized that she was fading like it or not.  And I had nothing waiting in the wings.

My twenties were a blur.  I was up and then down. I got “help” along the way from counselors and “groups” and books.  I had a partner in crime.  He was in so many ways just like me.  His own worst enemy.  You can’t fail if you never try.  I looked to him in moments of weakness, but even then I knew he was just as broken as I was.  I battled my own depression, I manifested sadness, drug problems, a bad marriage… all to give me something to overcome.  Something to lend “character” to Perfect Kelly.  Something to give me an identity I had earned.  And identity deeper than great genetics.

(Sitting here now, re-reading what  I have written, there is so much left out… but I am not sure how to wrap it all up in a bow.  Writing this all down here… knowing anyone might read it is like masturbating on stage.  If the point if to only make yourself feel good, than why do it in front of anyone?  I don’t have an answer to that….)

Until I got pregnant.  I was twenty-nine years old and it was finally not an embarassing thing to admit that all I ever really wanted was a family.  I wanted to be a Mom and a Wife.  A good one.  That’s all.  Not necessarily a “Stay At Home Mom” just a Mom.  You’re not allowed to be from Fairfax County and graduate at the top of your class and have no “ambition.” Not in theory, anyway.  I hated myself for not wanting more than that.

But now I am a Mom.  I still struggle with my body.  But at least the human being that I grew in there can be “blamed” for the less than flat stomach.  I struggle with aging, daily.  Because Pretty Kelly is on her way out. And like it or not I can already see that  Mom Kelly is not a hat I can wear forever, either.  But I figure I have a good fifteen more years to figure out who I will be after that.  More if I can manage to get this imperfect body to design another perfect child.  A lot hasn’t really changed at all.  But I am not ashamed of it anymore.

I’m a Mom.  And that isn’t all I wanted to be.  I also wanted to be a Wife.  And soon I will be that, too. As MQD and I plan a wedding it has been very hard for me to admit that I have dreamed of this moment all of my life. And not the way girls dream of being a Princess at their own wedding.  I dreamed of the moment someone would  look at me and see a woman that was not Perfect. Not on the outside.  Not on the inside. But a moment someone would say “I pick you to be my Family.”

It is impossible to talk about this part without acknowledging that I have done this once before. The Family I created with Jer wasn’t the one that was meant for me.  I desperately tried to fit my very, very round and average peg in to his square hole.  He is a Wanderer, a Dreamer, he is spontaneous and free.  I don’t begrudge Jer for not wanting the same things.  In many ways I think I picked him because I knew it would always be an uphill battle to build a Norman Rockwell life with him.  And I just didn’t want another thing in my life to be easy.

And now here I am on the precipice of the “Life” I wanted.  I make dinner and we eat at 6:30.  We play outside.  We have great friends and most of the time my kid asks to be excused after we eat.  We have a nice home even though we don’t have a lot of extra cash to  make it such.  I made curtains for every single window in our house within ten days of moving in here.  I pick up the living room really quickly before Mike gets home from work because it makes me feel good.  And I am not ashamed that this is “all” I wanted.  Because it is so much…. it is so very much.

All the “opportunities” I was afforded made me ashamed to want something so simple.  Or so I thought.  But all you have to do is read a newspaper or watch the news for five minutes to be reminded that the American family is a far from simple accomplishment.  I fight the urge even right now to say that what I want is a Perfect Family.  Because I know there is no such thing.  I just wanted to be a Mom.  And a Wife.  Not a perfect one. But the best one I can be….

So I get up every day and I forgive myself for my failures.  And I try again. And at the end of every day two people that I love so very much say “I love you, too.”  And that is enough.  It is so much more than enough.

Day 10: I’m smarter than I look…

Day 10 was a disappointment.  The challenge for today was to go to Benrik’s website and compare your journey thus far to that of a “user” on his blog.  I think the intent is to get you to their website and encourage you to perhaps detail your journey there.  I don’t know, I don’t much care.  It’s an extremely poorly organized website.  And I don’t have a lot of patience for internet mishmash, if I wanted to work hard for my information or entertainment I’d not be on the computer right?  The internet is the lazy man’s tool.

So, how does my journey compare to that of Jonas Jansson?  Mine seems a little more interesting, to me.  In fact, I think I am about a hundred times more awesome than Jonas.  So Day 10 can suck it.  I am way more awesome than day 10 gives me credit for being. Yup, I said it.  Which brings me to my next point. I am kind of awesome.

There’s a parallel mental journey going on inside my head these days.  It’s why I was so interested in this 365 day long experiment.  It would force me to sit down and write something down every day.  For me, about me.   In the years since Em has been born my self esteem struggles have come back with a vengeance.  I have been lacking a social circle in a way I never have.  I can’t be one of “the boys” anymore.  And MommyTown is a snooze fest of mythic proportions.  I lack definition and not just in my abdominals.

I’ve found a group of women via an internet forum that I felt connected to, we share a passion for breastfeeding and for our children and perhaps most importantly for remembering who we are outside of being a mother.  As I transitioned from unhappily married to my best friend from my raging twenties to a single mom in a new town it became increasingly more important to me to figure out who I would be as an adult.  After all I had walked away from a ten year long relationship because my partner was not wanting to “grow up.” So who was I to do this if I didn’t have the courage to grow up myself?

I spent almost two years really searching.  And every day I felt a little bit stronger and little bit more like me.  It didn’t hurt that Em grew in to an independent little thing, needing me less and less but wanting me all the same.  And slowly I felt like me.  But better.  Me from when I was about 12.  Before the insecurities and the body image and the “what the fuck is wrong with me”s started to attack from the inside out. A me that wore suspenders all the time and smiled easily and somehow managed not to notice that her braces were outrageous and her perm was out of this world.  I don’t know what it means when your goal as an adult is to get back to where you were when you were 12 but I was confident, focused, funny and unafraid.  I’ll take that.  With better hair, of course.

Feeling pretty badass I managed to find a partner in crime that complimented my strengths and challenged me to work on my weaknesses.  Moreover I felt fearless to expose those weaknesses.  This was huge.  Somehow in the last year and a half I’ve slid backwards, however… old habits die hard and all that jazz.  Falling in love makes me feel unstoppable.  But the day to day loving someone and being loved is a challenge for me.  The “being loved” in particular… another trite but true statement about not being able to accept love until you love yourself comes to mind…  If learning from your past means not repeating the same steps over and over than I am learning.  I am recognizing that my knee jerk desire to criticize a man that loves me dearly for not loving me the way I need him to is ridiculous.  I need to learn to accept the love that is presented to me first.  And when that love comes in the form of a wonderful man, with a RIDICULOUS ass that adores you, loves  your child as if she was his own, makes incredible banana bread, does the dishes, makes you smile and is willing to take dance lessons with you… yeah, that’s the kind of love I should probably not be bitching and moaning about.

So, I’m getting there.  A couple of weeks ago I admitted it out loud and in English that I am struggling with some old demons.  Sometimes the only way to make them shut the fuck up is to expose them for how absurd they really are.  So, I’ve promised myself to say it all out loud.  I guess this is akin to just looking under the bed when you’re a kid.  So.. I’m turning on the light, rolling over, hanging my head over the side of the bed, pulling up the dust ruffle and taking a look… and I have to admit… nothing under the bed is as scary as I thought it was gonna be.  And really… if I am being super honest, my ass doesn’t look as fat as I thought it would from that angle, either.

I’m not back yet.  But I am peeking around the corner.  And at least I think I can see where I am going.

Thank you for holding my hand, MQD.  You’re an inspiration.  Daily.