Woman in My Mirror

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I used to avoid looking at myself in the mirror.

Why? Because I was ugly.  At least, I felt like I was.  Every time I looked at myself in the mirror I saw cystic acne, enlarged pores, crazy eyebrows and sad eyes hidden behind prescription glasses.  And this was just how I felt about my face!

I hated looking at my naked body because I would have to face my small saggy boobs, the stretch marks spanned across my tummy and thighs like a maple tree, and my c-section scar, which leads to a wrinkly pouch of skin that has seen better days.  I hated looking at my body because, in my eyes it was not beautiful, it was ruined.

I turned thirty June 28 (#teamcancer)  and now I understand what it means to “love the skin your in”.

Let that sink in.

I am thirty year old, mother of two, who just learned how to love her body.  Kinda pathetic, I know, but better late than never. Earlier this year, I stumbled across a quote that made me think:

“As a child, I never heard one woman say to me, ‘I love my body.’  Not my mother, my elder sister, my best friend.  No woman has ever said, ‘I am so proud of my body.’  So I make sure to say it to Mia, because a positive physical outlook has to start at an early age. “

    -Kate Winslet

I realized my mother never told me she loved her body.  I also realized I never told my daughter I loved my body, because frankly, I didn’t.  This was the day I decided it was time to change.  After almost two decades of hating my body, it was time to try something different.  I needed to be proud of my entire body, including the ugly, wrinkled parts.  Plus, this body has done some pretty incredible things, like, produce life, twice!  I need to have a positive body image, if not for me, for my daughter.  My Kennedy.  My muse for this personal movement.

Now when I looked at myself in the mirror I see a beautiful woman.  Sad, thing is that she was there the entire time, patiently waiting to be noticed.

What reflection do you see when you look in the mirror?

-XO

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#WhyIStayed

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Yesterday, as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, a video popped up.  I assumed it was a funny vine, I was wrong.  It was a video clip of Ray Rice, beating his wife, Janay, in a casino elevator.   Ray Rice used to be a running back for the Raven’s, until this footage was released yesterday morning.  Since I am not a football enthusiast, I had to look up the definition of a running back.  According to Wikipedia, “A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.”  

One of his primary roles as a NFL running back is “to block”.  One of his primary roles as a husband is to “protect”.  He miserably failed at both of these roles.  Instead of using his football skills to block Janay from hitting him, he chose to beat her unconscious.   I can’t get the image of her crumpled body, on the elevator floor, out of my mind.  The image of him standing over her lifeless, exposed body brought back ugly, painful memories for me.  

Everyone has an opinion on this incident, including myself.  Some opinions gave me hope. Others made me cringe.  Here are my thoughts.  Janay, did not deserve to be attacked.  First, she was attacked by her husband.  Now she is being attacked by the public.  

What did she do to make him mad? Why did she marry him?  Why should he lose his job, she hit him first?

These are the wrong questions to ask.  

Instead we should be asking.  

 Why is the victim apologizing? Why hasn’t he been arrested? How can we help Janay and other victims like her?

I was in an abusive relationship in college for over 2 years.  It started off great, he was smart, caring, attentive, giving, lived off campus and had a car.  What more can an out of state freshman ask for?  I was so young and dumb.  After a while, attentive turned into jealously and that house off campus became my prison.  My little fairytale relationship became a nightmare.  I was one of those girls who used to say, “I will never let a man hit me.”  I ate those words and washed them down with tears and blood.  I thought because I FOUGHT back, that I wasn’t a victim…I was a fighter.  I was in denial about being in physically and emotionally abusive relationship.  I stayed with an abusive man for far too long because I believed he would change, for me.  

I finally left him after I realized it was NOT my job to fix a broken man.  I am not God.  I was broken and I needed to fix myself.  While in college, I was blessed with a sisterhood of warriors, my husband nicknamed us “The Legion of Doom” because if you mess with one you have to deal with the squad.  These women nursed my emotional wounds and rehabilitated my soul.  These women loved on me, prayed for me and supported me without judgement so I will pass it forward.

Janay, I support you.  I experienced the humiliation of being attacked by a partner in public.  I allowed it to happened to me twice.  I would be mortified if I had to relive those disgustingly painful experiences because it was caught on tape.  I hope you have a sisterhood of warriors to rally around you and protect you from public judgement.  If you don’t, I support you and I am praying for your healing.  To all the women justifying Ray Rice’s actions: I pray you never experience domestic violence. I pray your loved ones never experience domestic violence. And if you or a loved one are unfortunate enough to experience it, I pray people show more empathy and compassion for you than you have showed Mrs. Rice.
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-XO