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DAY 6

February 7, 2016
Day 5 comes from my big sister, Tori. Tori is my rock. Even though she lives in California, Tori has the ability to somehow be involved in and aware of my every day, the little things. I can ask her opinion about anything and she accepts me however I am feeling. She makes me laugh every time we talk and she makes me feel brave. She is brilliant, capable, beautiful, and so, so wise. I love what she shares about loving ourselves because I think it is SO relatable and also so important. You can’t give love, appreciation, or accept anyone if you’re always on the defensive about yourself. AMEN, sister-friend. Spoiler alert: Beautiful poem ahead. BEEP BEEP. “‘I know, right? I really love myself.’
I’ll admit, the first time I heard a new acquaintance say that phrase, I found it somewhat off-putting. The critical voice in my head—the one that has been conditioned to expect people (especially women) to make only self-effacing comments about their self-worth—immediately made assumptions about that woman and what I believed to be her lack of self-awareness. ‘Wow, she’s a little full of herself, isn’t she?’ or ’She must not realize how braggy that sounds.’ I wrote her off as an egotistical, Type-A personality: smart and driven, but clearly lacking in humility and social skills. Wrapped firmly in my own gender-conditioning and insecurities, I felt justified in judging this unabashed declaration of self-love. After all, who really says something like that? It was not until much, much later that I learned that this woman had spent years trapped in an abusive marriage where she was told constantly and emphatically that she was worthless, that she was ugly, that she could not do anything right. In fact, she had been in the throes of this devastating relationship when she had sat on my couch and smilingly proclaimed, “I really love myself.” With this new insight and long-delayed compassion, I finally saw her statement for what it was: a triumphant act of defiance in a world that tells us constantly, in ways big and small, the that we are not good enough, not worthy of love. Refusing to believe this insidious lie, my beautiful friend loved herself enough not only to eventually get out of that relationship, but to teach me a lesson about love I will never forget. Since that time, I have tried to speak more positively about myself in conversations with others. It doesn’t always feel natural, and I am still learning how to ignore the critical voice in my head, but I am getting there—and offering myself love and patience in the meantime. The following is a poem I wrote about one of those moments:

WINGS Standing in front of the sink, Harsh bathroom lights illuminate The face reflected back to me in the mirror. Fine lines and furrows around my mouth, eyes, and brow where emotions have mapped their way across my skin. Broad shoulders straining the seams of a shirt made to fit someone shaped not like me. The soft pockets of flesh scattered around my body like rest stops for the weary of being inspected, dissected, corrected, subjected. Not good enough. Not good. Enough. I turn away from the mirror as I have so many times before, but in glancing back, I catch sight of a girl, with eyes like galaxies, constellations of holy truth, as I see myself for the first time. Shoulders like wings. Set free.”

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1 comment

Bev February 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Beautiful and poignant for all women. I love you sweet nieces, and think you have wisdom way beyond your years!

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