Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing


Self Esteem

Silencing My Inner Critic

A very warm and joyous Friday to you!  I am still riding my high from the weekend and I’ve decided to consciously choose to live on this high for the rest of my life.  I say that with the full understanding that life is going to happen and every moment won’t necessarily be a pleasant one.  However, I recognized that allowing myself to get overwhelmed to the point that I need a get away doesn’t serve me well.  I recognized a lot this weekend.  One of the things that became glaringly obvious to me was the way that I speak to myself.  I caught myself and I actually cringed.  I asked myself, Why do you speak this way to yourself? and I recognized that it was my inner critic speaking.  My inner critic was a harsh one.  But I had to have a sit down with her and I think it was the start of a beautiful ending of a relationship.


Sensitivity is the New Strong

I love the way the Universe works.  Pay attention and you’re sure to get a message or confirmation of something that’s been making itself known to you.  That happened to me yesterday.  I wrote this post some days ago.  I’d been mulling it around for a while and finally got around to writing it.  But once I wrote it, I just left it sitting in the drafts.  I didn’t want to share it.   I was resisting it for some reason.  But I saw a post from my mentor, Namaste Moore, as I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and it spoke exactly to what this post is about. So I took that as a loving nudge from The Universe to get out of my own way, and so here I am sharing it. Ok, on with the show.

I’ve been telling you since the beginning of the year how the past year has been all about me unpacking my past. I’m still in the process of unpacking. I’ve got a lot of stuff to purge. 30 plus years of issues. And because they’re so layered, once I purge one thing, I find another beneath it. As I’ve been unpacking a lot of my issues that I’ve tagged onto my dad, I recognized that I need to accept my sensitivity. I’ve always been an extremely sensitive person.  It was problematic for me because my father taught me that it was a problem. I wasn’t supposed to be sensitive. Sensitivity was weakness. Sensitivity meant I was a punk. And I needed to be tough because my father wasn’t raising any punks and the world wasn’t going to be kind to a punk. According to my father, the world was cold and unrelenting, full of people wanting to hurt me and if I didn’t get myself together it was going to chew me up and spit me out.  So I needed to be strong, independent, and able to take care of myself and others. Also according to my father, I wasn’t going to be able to do any of those things carrying my sensitivity around. So I had to get to getting with the business of toughening up.

silhouette-1564372_640          My sensitivity displayed itself in ways that seemed to get under my father’s skin. One of my worst offenses was that I cried. A lot. Actually I still do. I cried if I was happy. I cried if I was sad. Or mad. I even cried if I saw another in pain. But that was unacceptable for my father.  Crying was for punks and I needed to stop crying all of the time.  I remember one such episode when I was 9 years old.  A boy on my school bus punched me in the eye.  While my dad did defend me once he found out, he was also quite upset with me for not fighting the way he thought I should have.  He became incredibly upset when he asked me, What did you do after he punched you? only to hear me say in response, I cried. I thought it was a ridiculous question.  It hurt. Crying when hurt is a normal response, correct?  What was I supposed to do?  My father thought it a ridiculous response. Who in the hell cries when they get hurt?  Hell naw that ain’t normal!  I was supposed to kick the boy’s ass!  That’s what I was supposed to do.  So he told me that I needed to kick his ass the next day, otherwise he would kick mine. Now to some, this probably seems like a reasonable order from a parent.  It certainly was based on my dad’s own upbringing.  He was old school.  Old school wasn’t about being a punk.  Punks jumped up to get beat down, so you best not be a punk.  That meant you didn’t let anybody hurt you.  If you got hurt, it was your fault.  I didn’t know at the time, but for my father that applied to my emotional self as well as my physical self.  As far as he was concerned, he was doing it for my own good.  He would even lament about how hard it was to raise a daughter because he couldn’t be as hard on me as he wanted to be–certainly not as hard as he could be with a boy.  He hated how soft he had to be with me.  I, on the other hand, was perplexed as to how he could possibly think he was soft at all.

The thing about the way my father raised me was that it didn’t work for me.  As he lamented, I wasn’t a boy. I was, indeed a girl.  That meant that I was soft. But softness didn’t mean weakness.  It was just my make up. I was (and still am) sensitive.  I was compassionate. I didn’t physically fight. But I also wasn’t a pushover.  Actually, his harshness caused me to shrink more than my sensitivity ever did.  And the effects of his harshness lasted well into my adulthood.  I struggled with my sensitivity.  I hated myself for feeling all of my feelings–especially hurt.  I hated myself for crying.  I actually still hate to cry in front of people.  I felt like I was going against everything my father stood for whenever I would and even though I would never admit it to him, I desperately wanted his approval–and even to be just like him.  I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to be all he wanted because I was his only child.  I hated myself whenever I didn’t do what I thought he would do–even if I didn’t agree with him! What I now know is that I was (and still am) a lot like my father–sensitivity and all.  When he was chastising me about my sensitivity, he was actually chastising himself.  He didn’t like that he was sensitive (and believe me, he was).  He saw it as weakness so he developed a bark so loud that no fool ever dare test him. While I, on the other hand, didn’t feel the need to bark. I was content being me. I felt like whomever didn’t like it would leave me alone and those who did would fall in line with me.  But because he didn’t know better, he taught me that I was wrong to feel that way.  And because I didn’t know better, I learned to believe him.  So I packed that gem and have been carrying it around with me ever since.  Until today.

What I know today is that my sensitivity (and my father’s for that matter) is not a weakness.  It’s actually a strength.  And the audacity to be as sensitive as I am without attempting to cover it–to allow myself to be vulnerable–is an even greater strength. I’m embracing my sensitivity and softness.  I’m embracing being vulnerable.  I also know that my father did the best he could with what he had so I don’t need to be angry with him for teaching me as he did.  I know that I also did the best I could, so I don’t need to be angry with myself for carrying the burden as long as I have.  I’m learning to be gentle with myself.  And while he didn’t necessarily directly do it, my father taught me that. And for that I’m grateful.  So as Forrest Gump said, that’s good, one less thing.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  I might have been awfully uncomfortable last year when having to face the contents of my baggage, but these days post unpacking have been quite enlightening.  I believe Erykah Badu said it best when she instructed in her song, Bag Lady to pack light. So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m packing light.  And I gotta say, I like it.  A lot.

An Open Letter to My Body

Dear Body of Mine,

I owe you a most sincere apology.  For just about your entire existence, I have not liked you.  I have spoken of and to you in most unkind ways.  I’ve called you horrible names like fat, awful, and ugly. I’ve compared you to others and found you to fail to measure up.  I’ve wished you were something you were not.  And each time I felt you failed me, I blamed you.  I actually felt like you were a curse to me.  In short, I have hated you.

You may wonder why I have hated you and abused you.  I could pontificate about all of the underlying psychological issues and social conditioning that I may have and have possibly been exposed to.  However, the simple truth is that I’ve never thought you were good enough.

Why did I think that?  Well, I’ll admit that I just never liked the way you looked.  In the beginning, you were just skinny. Too skinny. And remember, this wasn’t during the time that it was cool to be skinny. I felt that you subjected me to teasing and taunts from others. Laughter filled advice about eating sammiches were painfully abundant for me–despite the fact that I did, in fact, eat many sammiches and more.  Yet, you weren’t filling out any time soon.

It would be many years later when you would begin to fill out.  I would be about 24 years of age.  Yet the problem with that is that you didn’t fill out the way I wanted you to.  You didn’t give me the curves I wanted.  You didn’t fill out to create the hour-glass physique I so desperately coveted.  No, there would be no Tocarra Jones’ body for me.  Instad, you kept your athletic physique, complete with its  narrow hips and wide waistline.   But you didn’t even have the decency to give me Serena Williams athletic type.  You just gave me straight body with a tire around my waist.  And I hated you for that.  Each time I saw another woman with the coveted hour glass frame, I thought you to be an even greater failure.  Why can’t you look like her? I’d lament.  You never answered me either.  Instead, you just kept calling for me to love you as you were and I refused.

Then came what I felt was the ultimate betrayal.  Pregnancy.  After the birth of The Fizzle, you developed stretch marks in places I never wanted, never even realized one could develop there.  You began to bulge and droop in places that I didn’t think were meant to bulge and droop.  And let’s not even talk about what you did to my stomach!  I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy to combat such changes, yet they were all for naught. You still drooped and bulged and you didn’t even have the courtesy to return to your pre-pregnancy state, post pregnancy. Then you gave me the dreaded C-section pooch.   It was hard enough tolerating you before then.  Now how was I supposed to appreciate you?  I swore I would never forgive you.  And I didn’t.  Until now.

Now here we are, 10 years post pregnancy. I’ve since accepted that the pre-pregnancy body is NEVER returning.  And while I don’t like it (not one bit), I realize how cruel and superficial I have been. I have treated you as if you’re good for nothing more than an aesthetically pleasing accessory.  How wrong I have been!  You are so much more than that.  You have carried me through this world.  You even brought forth life!  How amazing is that?  And thanks to yoga, I now know you can do some amazing things I never even thought possible!  You are the vessel through which this soul of mine wanders through this Earth.  You lend your hands to help others up. And what’s more, you use your hands to pull yourself up when you fall down.  You love me so much that you will pad yourself to protect me when I am wounded.  I have finally realized that your worth doesn’t lie in what you look like.  Isn’t that ironic though? I’d have a fit if someone deemed me less than worthy based on my appearance, yet I meted that exact harsh judgment on my damn self. I have no excuses or any justifiable reasons for my ill behavior. All I can say is that I was ignorant and immature.  I didn’t know.  And I’m so sorry that I didn’t know and even more sorry for the way I have treated you.  But since I am not big on sorry’s or words, I’ll allow my actions to show you how much I have changed.  I’ll affirm you when I look at you instead of cursing you for everything I hated about you.  I’ll reframe your so-called flaws.  Where I once saw failure, I’ll see Life and splendor.  I won’t compare you to anyone.  I’ll appreciate you for who you are.  I’ll feed you well and move you so that you’re as fit and healthy as you can be.  As my Daddy used to say, I can show you better than I can tell you. And while I have never actually said this to you before, please allow me to close this simply by saying I love you.

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