Thursday, 26 November

The Woman in the Mirror I Am Facing

A woman watched me right from the elevator mirror – a tired and sad woman in sizeless dresses, a woman marketers, designers and stylists came up with boho style for, whose figure began to change, and it became so convenient to hide in the folds of that beautiful boho…

I definitely wouldn’t want to be that woman. But it was me.

I’ve read a hundred books and a thousand articles about how and why I can love myself. I took a piece of paper, divided it in half, carefully wrote out my pros and cons, then I threw away the part with the cons, and carried around and read the one with the pros. But it was just a text, a list – about someone else, not me. I listened to compliments and sincere admiration about what I did or what I was, but I felt awkward and waved it off with both hands: oh, come on! Don’t make it up, I don’t even have a particle of what you’re talking about!

And here I am, a grown-up woman, aged 51, weighing 65 kilograms, 163 centimeters tall, sitting at my laptop to write to you about how I dislike myself.

My life is a way to recognizing my self-dislike. My life is about neglecting my own interests. About the need to be liked by strangers and to deserve a positive assessment of those who just walk past me and whom I will never see again. About the need to step on the throat of my own desire. About the impossibility of dreams because my dreams always go against those who surround me. About the discomfort inside myself and the need to do a lot of things that need to be done because they are supposed to be done, they are necessary, people did it before me.

And a particular red light lit up in my brain because of a banal case. My arm ached. Well, it was rather whining, echoing with a sharp pain at any careless movement. The pain should have stopped, right? I bandaged it carefully if I didn’t forget. I bought an ointment after consulting with the pharmacist and telling her about my symptoms.

After bandaging, it got worse. And the ointment burned the skin on my wrist. Then it turned out that both things shouldn’t have been done in any case.

A month later I went to the doctor. And only because it had already started to ache severely.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been lucky with doctors. This one was wonderful as well. A couple of tests, a conversation – and there is the diagnosis. Later I googled that diagnosis, of course. Everything coincided. The doctor prescribed a combination of two types of pills and explained why I needed them. And advised wearing orthosis – now I know that’s the name of the device for rigid fixation of thumb without putting too much pressure on the hand.

I left the doctor. Bought pills. The next day, I quickly found the orthosis. I went to buy it in the medical equipment store. The orthosis produced in Spain fit me best. I put it on. And exhaled.

It turns out that elementary, simple things can radically change your condition for the better.
If you think that such an irresponsible attitude to yourself is only a “female problem”, then you are mistaken.

My husband went to a clinic abroad – he also had terrible pain in his arm. He went there with our daughter. After the visit, a very surprised daughter called me: “Mom! Can you imagine?! The doctor asked dad how long his arm had been hurting, and he told her that several years! Can you imagine?! And the doctor looked at us like we were crazy! How could it be?! How?!”

It is worth saying that the treatment was simple – my husband was shown a set of special exercises that he faithfully performed. The pain disappeared in around a month. He does these exercises to this day.

And such cases are about not loving yourself. About neglecting your needs, pain, problems, desires.

I myself am just preparing to love myself. And I understand everything with my brain. Theoretically. You know how I put it in words? Very simply: I need to lose some weight, to be the way I used to be – slender, not too big for my old jeans. Then I’ll buy myself a nice thing, will like and love myself – renewed and skinny.

The thing is, I’ll never be this way again. I will never fit into my old skinny jeans anymore. And I remember very well that I disliked myself (rather didn’t love myself) even when I weighed 55 kilograms. Because it’s not about looks or weight. It’s about not loving myself.

Our mothers could not teach us to love ourselves. They didn’t have such an option even in their minds. How could they teach us what they didn’t have?!

We were taught to suffer. To save money for a “rainy day” by all means. To wear old things, not to indulge ourselves with something new. Not to laugh for no reason. They taught us that life is hard. We must survive. We need a house. We need to save money. We need a reliable profession, and not some art or, God forbid, poetry.

We were not taught to manage the budget rationally. To understand and keep our own boundaries. To listen to our bodies and understand them. Not to stifle our emotions. To be happy and smile just like that, for no reason. To live for ourselves too, not only for children, business, future achievements, so that the neighbors approve.

Unhappy, unloved, not self-discovered mothers and fathers cannot raise happy children. The cycle of dislike in nature. Few people understand this, unfortunately. And only a handful manage to escape that whirlpool.

We like to post pictures with motivating stories about how the mother closed herself in a room to escape from her children and stayed there for a while. And when she opened the door, the astonished children saw their mother drinking tea and eating a cake. And mom told them: “I am making a happy mommy for you!”

And when my daughter tells me that it is important for her to eat in time, and goes to eat, I begin to wail as if the end of the world has already come: “HOW CAN YOU EVEN EAT, WHEN YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT FED??????”

The eternal “to have the children fed” is the stupidest phrase to waste words for. You have to be healthy, you have to be able to satisfy your own needs, you have to understand your own desires because otherwise how will your children learn anything having a completely different example in front of their eyes?!

By the way, my daughter, when she gave birth to her first child and read Ukrainian and Russian websites about motherhood, did the exact same thing – carried a baby in her arms around the house, not having time for herself. After all, motherhood is suffering and a feat. Or something else. But definitely not joy and positive emotions.

It was different with the next two kids. And I, hardly separating from the suffering I was accustomed to since childhood, at home and everywhere else, realized that she is doing the right thing. And I am glad that her path of knowing and loving herself seems to be shorter.

Loving yourself is hard. Not sacrificing yourself to circumstances, to others, even if they are the dearest people, not allowing yourself to be neglected, not depending on other people’s opinions about you – this is something that is almost absent in our mentality.

I look at myself in the mirror. Most of my life was spent on attempts to know myself. Just attempts. Because I still cannot forgive myself a lot of different mistakes and traumatic experiences. Instead of taking it all as a part of myself. And loving myself as I am now. The woman in a boho dress. Tired and sad. Who still wants to lose weight because she thinks that her life will be different then…

Text by Zoya Kazanzhy

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