Body Shaming: When Will It End?

Body Snark Free Zone Sign

Body Snark Free Zone Sign (Photo credit: The Lingerie Addict)

Ok, so this isn’t a post about alcoholism or addiction in the sense of drugs and booze, but this is a post related to the addiction with body image of which most of us are probably unaware.  I watched a video of images a young girl (or any female for that matter) are subjected to in the course of a day.  The video was time warped into about a minute, but I got the idea.  Apparently, if a woman isn’t either a size zero walking on a runway or built like Marilyn Monroe from yesteryear she really isn’t a woman at all.

That’s bullshit.

The most disturbing part of all this is when I read the comments on articles or Facebook posts, it is women attacking other women! WTF Ladies! Get your heads out of your fat, skinny or otherwise perfect asses and wake the hell up!

The media is destroying us with commercials, unhealthy diets  and ridiculous clothing.  When that doesn’t work we resort to plastic surgery.  There are so many items for women to make themselves “look perfect.”

  • make-up
  • skin tightener
  • bras that make boobs look bigger
  • panties that make butts look bigger
  • girdles and cinches that make waists look smaller
  • high heels
  • hair dye
  • plastic surgery

Those are just a handful of items.

I have small boobs.  I HATE my boobs.  But the thought of actually having objects inserted into my breasts to make them appear bigger so I can feel like “I fit in” is disturbing on a myriad of levels.  I have actually entertained the thought a number of times because even watching the news in the morning can fuck up my whole day.

Then I turn the news off and drive to work.  When I get to work, I walk by the magazine rack: more images of air-brushed, photo-shopped women with heaving bosoms and blinding, perfect smiles.

Then I am at my desk.  I have to go online to do some research for my job.  Commence pop-up ads of “have a flat stomach in ten days” and “diet without exercise” and women with “curvy shapes.”

Fuck you.

And my email homepage?  Fuggedaboutit.  I was on there today and the top news articles were about actresses and other famous (or moderately famous) women ‘baring bikini bods’ or ‘rocking their curves’ or ‘so and so wows in skimpy dress.’

So this is what I, a 40 year old woman, go through on a daily basis.  I cannot fathom what young women and girls go through today; what my daughters go through today.  It’s disturbing to know that women cannot ‘just be.’  We can’t just be beautiful because we are who we are.  We (me included) point out the flaws when someone compliments us: Thanks, but…

Or we point out the flaws in other women because their beauty makes us uncomfortable and we ‘don’t measure up.’

 When did the media decide body shaming is a great idea and when did we, as the human race, buy into their crap?

I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t think anyone knows.

What do you think?

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Being Me…

Dance Floor

Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

Okay, so I’m an alcoholic.  I was probably born one, but didn’t catch on until my late twenties.  Further, I didn’t do anything about it until my early thirties. I tripped, stumbled, blacked out… did all the crazy things that alcoholics do and then some.

The one thing that got me tripped up all my life was… me.  I am so damn hard on myself!  I can go down my list of “nots” and really spiral into a dark, lifeless hole.

I am not pretty enough; smart enough; talented enough; GOOD enough. It seeps in like a cool November breeze and before I know it I am sitting there shivering with rage.  I cry, curse at myself. Hell, when I was a teenager, I even used to hit myself if you can imagine that one.  I just hated myself so much.  I hated me, I hated my mother for giving birth to me and I hated God for allowing my birth.  Surely, it was a mistake.  Why on Earth would He put someone as pathetic and ugly as me on the planet?

Yeah, ugly.  I suffered with my self-image for a long time and still do… sometimes.  I was picked on all through school as a child and then a pre-teen and a teenager.  I was even made fun of as an adult. I resorted to violence to fend off the teasing when I was younger.  When I was older, I just drank more.  Surely the alcohol would numb my self-loathing.

I guess I felt, “hey, if I can’t be pretty, I’ll be a brute.”  Even though I weighed maybe seventy pounds soaking wet when I was thirteen.  At five feet seven, that right there my friends is a ‘bean pole,’ as I was called.

There were much worse names.

I was picked on in junior high school because I didn’t “fill out” like all the other girls.  I was so flat chested, I didn’t even wear a bra.  One time, some boys were walking down the hallway behind my friend and me and they grabbed at our backs to snap our bra straps.  I found out later they did that to prove I didn’t have a bra on because I didn’t have breasts. They laughed their asses off that day.  I ran in the bathroom and cried.

I felt worthless.  I felt ashamed.  I felt soooo ugly.

So yeah, I became violent. I started getting in fights with other girls and I started beating up boys.  Beating up boys!  Not so much beating them into a bloody pulp, but I got the best of them for sure.

Now, you would think that after all these years, and all my years sober and all the step work I have done and all the resentments I have talked about with my sponsor and all the shit I have let go, that this would be the big one I wanted to let go, because, after all, who the hell wants to hold onto a big pile of shit?

I just don’t know how to let it the hell go!  I am so mad still (sometimes.) I am not mad all the time, but sometimes I just get mad.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror and still see that skinny, flat-chested girl who used to get picked on. The girl who boys didn’t like.  The girl who boys didn’t ask to go to dances and when she was at dances, they certainly didn’t want to dance with. The girl who never got put on the “list of girls.”

A lot of people say, “Darlene, get the hell over it.  That was a long time ago.  You’re beautiful!”

Yes, there are times that I feel beautiful. But there are other times, usually when I am watching television or I am on the beach or at a big concert or something, that I just get way lost in the hoopla of what is defined as beauty today.

For the record, I don’t watch much television and I rarely go to the beach. I listen to a lot of music, do a lot of writing and I do my readings everyday because a small part of me knows it is all in my head.  A small part of me sometimes sees something beautiful in me.

I never think of drinking over this.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time a drink entered my mind.  Thankfully, I have a lot of women in my life and a pretty good support system.  Thankfully, I have the rooms and the literature I read.

Thankfully, most times I recognize it is all in my head.

Hope – It Keeps Me Hanging On

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” but there is a great scene in that film regarding ‘hope.’  Tim Robbins’ character has it and Morgan Freeman’s character thinks he is hopelessly romancing hope because hope is a heart breaker.

Maybe it depends on the person when it comes to hope.  I used to feel disdain for hope.  Maybe it was because I grouped hope with wishing and praying when I was using and drinking.  Then again, the things I hoped for were things like not getting pulled over by the police while I was high or having twenty extra dollars in my pocket to finish getting my load on. Go figure.

These days ‘hope’ is very different for me.  I do hope for material things like hitting the lottery or waking up one day with big boobs, but I know these things aren’t going to happen, so I am acting the child when it comes to hoping, praying and wishing for things.

I need to redirect my hope to attainable things that are not materialistic.  I write music reviews for three different websites.  At this moment, I am not paid for this, but that’s okay.  I love what I do.  I hope to one day get paid to write about music, but until then I will work my day job and write about music in the evening.

I hope to one day have a flourishing career in the music/writing industry.

Hope is amazing.

Day 2 – Pretending

Attraction

Attraction (Photo credit: Scott.Paterson)

“One of the best ways to uncover some of those long-hidden wants is to pretend.”

Yes!  This is a fancy way of saying, “Fake it until you make it.”  And why shouldn’t we?  A few years back I read “The Secret” which is all about the Law of Attraction.

Whatever your predominant thoughts are, you best believe that stuff is going to happen. Don’t believe me?  Have you ever driven to work (running late of course) and all that is on your mind is awful traffic along with foxhole prayers for no red lights?  And what happens?  Red lights and crazy traffic. UGH.

Yeah, I’ve been there, too!

Sometimes I envision great things for myself.  No, I still haven’t woken up looking like Julia Roberts, but I have noticed that when I pretend things are going to turn out awesome, they almost always do.

Sometimes I pretend that I am a bigtime writer for Rolling Stone magazine.  While that hasn’t happened yet, I am now writing about music for three websites.  Am I getting paid? Nope!  But I have my eye on the prize and I am loving what I am doing.

Have you ever tried positive thinking?  How did it work out for you?

Kensington Blues – A Hardcore Photo Blog

El fly-by

El fly-by (Photo credit: Tim McFarlane)

So a friend of mine told me about this blog called Kensington Blues.  I thought, “hey, I’m from Philly, knew a lot of ‘Kenso’s’ growing up after junior high school, this should be interesting.”

Interesting was an understatement after I saw the photos of addicts on the streets of Kensington.  I forced myself to look into their eyes of quiet desperation.  My eyes darted over the real-life backdrops of littered streets, graffiti covered buildings and the devastating picture of Nichol who looks no older than fourteen.

Heartbreaking.

The truth is no one wants a life on the street, selling their ass to get high or peddling for change to get another fix.  Life just goes that way for some.  I can’t explain it and I know in my heart that any of those women could have been me.  That stark reality is forever at the forefront of my mind when I see a bottle of booze or happen to be within earshot of someone talking about drugs.

It is a life to which no one aspires.  Sometimes it creeps in like a slow, ugly plague.  Other times, it punches you in the throat when you’re thrown out of the house at eighteen or molested by a trusted adult.

Us addicts and alcoholics spent many minutes on our knees, begging God for salvation or death, whichever should come first.

Please, take a look at the blog.  The life of an addict isn’t always some fancy story surrounded by a dysfunctional family in a three bedroom rancher portrayed on ‘Intervention.’  It can be much darker and sadistic.

See for yourself.

Those Damaging Thoughts…

Thinker thinks about how to take sun burst shot

(Photo credit: davidyuweb)

I have always been a thinker… more like an over-thinker.  I get something in my head that is pebble sized and before I know it there is a black boulder sitting in my skull that I want to smash out.  This doesn’t happen as much as it used to (which is scary, because it happens more than I like) and sometimes when it does, I get sucked into that damaging moment and my program goes out the window.  I don’t think about drinking or drugging because I have worked a solid 12 Step Program… but I guess, as much as I hate to admit it, I am human after all.

Shucks.

God has never given me anything I cannot handle.  Sometimes I try to handle the hurdles alone, and that is when I find myself sobbing in a little ball on the couch or my bed.  A light starts to glow in my head and I realize I need to pray, call a friend and journal.

IN THAT ORDER.  

In the last couple weeks I learned that free write journaling does more damage to me because (and someone said it in a comment on my blog) I kinda get locked into that whiny, poor me thinking and get no reflection work done.  If I pray and talk to someone before I journal, I can focus on a solution instead of staying in the problem.  Which, honestly, my thinking is the biggest problem. I get really worked up over dumb stuff because sometimes, that little eleven year old voice in my head chimes, “How you feel does not matter, Darlene.  Shut your mouth and stuff it down.  Stuff it down!

I cannot stuff it down.  Also, I cannot go running to whomever I am upset with and start bitching about all the shit they did that offended me, hurt my feelings, made me angry or whatever.  This is not a good idea.  When I try to communicate to someone before I pray and talk to another sober individual, my thoughts come out of my mouth like verbal vomit.

The gift of interpretation is amazing in my life today.  Instead of fearfully viewing an event as potentially hazardous, if I am in a good place, I can step back and sort the facts from the thoughts and go from there.

How do you stop your negative thinking?

T – Truth… Speaking My Own

truth by size

truth by size (Photo credit: Will Lion)

I was always a people pleaser.  Always… I couldn’t stand to be disliked so I would keep my feelings buried and wear that plastic smile, laugh that fake laugh and do what it took to gain acceptance.  This is probably the worst thing I have ever done to myself.  This is worse than sleeping with strangers, driving like a maniac or even breaking a window (on purpose).  Because by not speaking my truth, I fortified a wall of lies around my soul that I still chip at today.

I suck at speaking my truth.  I get that knot in my stomach and I get all frazzled and start thinking too much.  That’s when my truth turns into a monster.

Now, while I am an average writer,  I suck at talking.  Seriously.  I hold it in so long that by the time I do get it out (sometimes hours or even days later) it comes out all crazy and illogical.  And honestly, at that point I have lost my focus.  This has plagued me since I was little.

Here goes…

Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill.  Ugh, I know.  But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past.  Okay… no biggie.

We talked before we got out of the car and made a pact.  Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.

That pact lasted about fifteen minutes.  Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends.  I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot.  My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by with her tray full of booze loaded test tubes. I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand.  Still, she came by two more times.  Ugh, again.

So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar.  “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset.  I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.

I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him.  Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous.  This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.

I do not belong here.

So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away. Do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope.  All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’

For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment.  That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice.  But this time I wasn’t drunk or high.  I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.

So I guess I have grown up a little.  Most of my old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night.  I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well.

Today I did bring it up.  I had to speak my truth.  I had to say where I was inside and I had to let him know that I was not mad at him, but that he broke his word to me and that hurt.  And it wasn’t a question of me being right.  That’s not what I wanted.  I wanted an apology for him leaving my side; for him breaking the pact we made in the car.  He did apologize (sort of) after (from an outsider’s point of view) a hilarious argument/discussion/fight outside on Sunday.

Do you find it difficult to speak your truth?

Q – Question Only What Needs Questioning

Derivative of 30px and 30px.Red version of Ima...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was always the “why kid.”  You know, that annoying little brat in the back seat (or at the lunch table) that questions everything.  I mean, I never questioned why the sky was blue or the sun was hot, but I did question a lot of stuff that really spoke for itself.

When I drank and drugged, I questioned why my life sucked so bad.  I questioned why life felt like hell everyday.  I questioned why the hell God kept me around after it was clear I did not want to be alive.  Honestly, my life sucked because I chose for it to suck.  Simple…

What I have learned in these past years is that questioning everything is a ridiculous behavior that I still get caught up in… a lot.  I start to question things when I don’t go to enough meetings.  And the questions I ask, in the car on the way to work (this is when I have my conversations with God) are pretty silly.  They are the kind of questions a teenager would ask their mother or God.

Yeah, I am slowly catching up to my real age.  I think at this point I am like 20 in drug years.

Other things I question are people’s motives or actions.  For example, I might question why my boyfriend did ‘x, y, or z.” But you know what?  It doesn’t really matter because he did whatever it is he did.  My job is to figure out why it makes me feel sad, jealous or angry and go from there.  I should question myself more and question others less.

What do you question?

P – People – They Teach Me A Lot

Wawa Area

Wawa Area (Photo credit: Loimere)

As much as I hated my life until about six years ago, I always loved people.  My first job was at a 7-11 working the 6 am – 3 pm shift and after my shyness and terror wore off, I realized… I love this.  The interaction with the customers was my favorite part of the day.  Even now, working at an accounting firm, as crazy as tax season is, I love when clients come in the office.  There is just something great about being around people.  I always joke that being in nature would be heaven for me, and that really isn’t a joke… really.  I love being around the trees, water and animals.  But people…

While the things I learn from people vary, what is interesting is I learn a lot of behaviors and mannerisms I wish not to have or use. I worked at a Wawa (part-time) as a second job about two years ago.  I loved being on register because of the customers (even the grumpy ones!) and I smiled at everyone that came through my line.  Sometimes there were rude people, and that was okay.  Sometimes there were bratty kids – and bratty adults – who handed me their money in a little rolled up ball (please, if you do this… it is rude.. stop!) But still, I smiled… I loved the people.

One night, a pretty woman a little younger than me came through my line. When I saw her I thought of myself immediately.  Here was this attractive woman, dressed a little provocatively and she was drunk off her ass.  Now, maybe when I was new in sobriety, this would have been a trigger for me, but at this point, it was a sort of epiphany.  I felt sad and embarrassed for her as I rang her up and asked her if she was okay.  She laughed and said something snarky and of course, I just smiled.

After I said a small prayer for her that night before bed, I thanked God for my second chance at life.  I also thanked him for sending that woman through my line as a stark reminder of “what it was like” for me and then remembered “what it is like now.”

It is different and I love it.  I love waking up feeling the same way I went to bed.  I love being able to talk about things without screaming at someone and then drowning my sorrows in booze and drugs.

The people, places and things in my life today are amazing.  Thank you God.. and thank you to everyone else and my program for getting me on with getting on.

How do you handle the interesting people who enter your life on a daily basis?

O – Openness – Frees the Soul

openness

openness (Photo credit: coolnalu)

It is interesting to me how throughout my life I lived some terrible ordeals, dealt with awful people and situations and still, I manage to be open and wear my heart on my sleeve.  I talked about this back in February, you can check that post out at the link.  I do find my honesty and openness freeing.  True, I sometimes lack openness, but those are the moments when I find myself feeling dark and that raging knot grows in my belly.

Now, when I say ‘open,’ I don’t mean telling a woman her dress makes her look fat or that the guy trying to chat me up is an asshole.  I’m talking about openness with myself and others regarding myself.

To Thine Own Self Be True

I have never been true to myself.  I was true to other people, places and things, but the self-loathing I felt each day inhibited me from being honest and open with one of the most important people in my life: me.  It was a vicious game I played and lost each time.  Still, I would go back in, guns blazing with sheer determination to ‘be who they wanted me to be’ no matter the outcome.

A couple of years into sobriety and doing my step work, I began to change.  I spoke up for myself (sometimes) and said ‘no’ when I meant ‘no’ and ‘yes’ when I meant ‘yes.’ Man, did this ever make me feel empowered!

Be Honest

Each time I am faced with a big decision, I no longer handle it alone.  Being honest with myself (above all else) and putting my trust and faith in God has done amazing things for my life.

Are you more open with yourself or other people?

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