Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gettin' Real

For those of you who know me and follow this blog regularly, the bluntness and openness in which I’m going to express this morning will come not come as a shock to you. But those who don’t normally follow my posts – well, you’re in for a treat today. I’m gettin’ real.

To start with, I want to celebrate a success. I’ve recently started a new workout routine called “4 for the Core” (*see post below) recommended by Army Drill Sergeant T. Emilio Solano. Today, I was able to reach my goal of holding the four core positions for the full minute required. I did it! It hurt like hell, my body was shaking, but I did it. In the middle of the last position, feeling so proud of myself for my accomplishment, I started balling my eyes out. Not because I reached another goal, but because I reached another goal.

I’ve come so far in the last two years, but not just on a physical plane. Actually, the physical is only a reflection of all the inner changes I’ve went through. The biggest of these changes have been my self-esteem. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’ve never had low self-esteem – as far as believing I was less than anyone else. I’ve actually held quite a lot of pride and belief in myself. However, there was a very long period in my life where I became numb and just didn’t love myself. I didn’t know how to love myself and I sure as hell didn’t know how to let anyone else love me either. While I believed I was capable of doing anything in this world, no matter how intellectually or physically challenging it posed, I wasn’t afraid to face those challenges. But, to put myself out there and let someone love me – scared the hell out of me. It scared me so much I hid from the world… behind a fat body. I noticed the heavier I became the less the world saw me. The less the world saw me, the less I could disappoint it. I didn’t do this consciously, but I can look back over the past 20 years and see how I disappeared, step by step by miserable step until I lost Me completely.

That’s not an exaggeration. Those who know me now, would have never recognized me just a few short years ago. Those who knew me a few years ago often don’t recognize me when I’m standing next to them. This happened the other day in the grocery store. I stood behind a woman I went to church with for nearly 15 years. She glanced at me, but had no recognition in her eyes. I smiled and was glad she didn’t know me. In truth, she’s never known me.

For nearly 20 years, I asked God and everyone around me – “Who am I and what am I supposed to do?” I could never answer those questions and they tormented me. I have over 40 journals FILLED with tear-stained pleas begging the answer to those two simple questions… to only be met with silence. I answered the silence with becoming what everyone else wanted me to be - what my husband wanted, what my church wanted, what my friends wanted, what my children wanted, what my boss wanted. I convinced myself being the best at these things defined my worth. It worked… to a point. Everyone valued me for what I was or could be for them. Opposition only happened when I began to make the decisions for myself and they proved to be contrary to the beliefs others had for me. In becoming myself I lost everything. I wasn’t loved for me – I wasn’t loved at all.

I have learned to love me – to love the woman I truly am. As I grow in that love, I’m transforming – literally. My body is changing. The woman I’ve seen in my dreams, I’ve caught her a few times looking back at me in the mirror. She wasn’t there before – always hidden behind a mask of professionalism, the cloak of religion, and the façade of middle-class piety. Guess what? She’s fucking beautiful, and sexy, and smart. I see her – all of her… all her scars, all her fears, all her love, all her hopes… and she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. She’s taught me to see the beautiful people in others.

I’m not perfect. None of us are. Entering the dating world has brought up other questions – What do I like, what do I want, what do I find attractive, what turns me off? What about me do men find attractive? What can I improve? I’m learning the answer to all these questions. Reading online profiles has me shaking my head and sometimes laughing out loud, because it’s made me realize I’m in a really good position because most people don’t know the answers to their questions. They don’t really have a clue what they want and what they like and hide behind their masks. When you don’t wear a mask anymore, you can tell when others do or don’t. Most often their expectations are unrealistic. (*see my upcoming post about The New Bachelorette - Dating over 40 Update), or they’ve convinced themselves of the good-sounding lie instead of the hard naked truth.

So, I celebrate my accomplishment. It’s one of several I’ve made this past week, this past month, this past year, and this past season of my life. I’ve still got a long way to go, baby… but I’m doing it. I’m living, loving, and learning. I can’t tolerate imitation any more. Only the real deal is good enough for me, because I’m bein’ real, getting’ real, and livin’ real.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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