Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Grey hairs February 21, 2010

Filed under: Anecdotal — Addicted to Yarn @ 6:05 pm
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I just want to say this. I need to say it. It’s something that’s been on my mind for quite some time and it’s time that I was honest about this. Some people may take offense. If they do, I hope that they can look beyond their narrow mindedness and see the truth behind what I am saying.

I love my grey hair. I think it’s beautiful. When I look in the mirror and I see the grey streaking through my dark curls, I think it’s lovely. The contrast is wonderful. The difference between feel is fun. The grey hairs are wiry and tough, my still dark hairs are soft and fine.

I had a hair stylist ask me if premature greying ran in my family. I was shocked by her question, first for its audacity and second for its obvious attempt at profiting from my shattered self esteem. I’ve not returned to her since. I actually haven’t gotten a hair cut since then because I do not trust my hair to someone that thinks the beauty of my grey hairs are something to ashamed of and hidden from the world. To be ashamed of them is to be ashamed of the life I’ve lived. Ashamed of giving birth to the world’s most amazing child. Ashamed of marrying the world’s most wonderful man (sorry world – I don’t share). Ashamed of walking the path that has led to me being me.

I know that many out there do not like their grey and I hope that they are able to find some solace in their bottles of hair dye but for me, the beauty of it and the life it represents is solace enough.

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TV, Self Esteem, and Bags of Hershey’s Kisses August 27, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,Weight — Addicted to Yarn @ 4:57 pm
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I received a comment on my “I’m fat. Fat and Sexy” blog and wrote the commenter an email. After I sent it, I realized I’d written a small book and thought I’d post it as a blog. I’m lazy and I want to get some blogs in before the end of the month. That and I think I had some good things to share. A lot of it is things I said in the above mentioned blog and in “Self Loathing and How to Get Rid of It” but I think those things bear repeating.

Hey there,

I’m not sure if you were actually asking for advice or not but I’m going to give it and if you didn’t want a response, feel free to delete this. 🙂

You said: “I am about 50 pounds over weight and it kills me. Anything I try doesn’t seem to help I can’t make myself eat right or even get off the couch to walk my dogs lord forbid I even consider the thought of excerise. How do you do it? How do you make your self feel fine in a body you don’t want? I would give anything to have my fit high school body back. I don’t know how to get my real self back.”

First of all, I am also overweight. I am about 230 pounds and I think 160-180 would be a healthy weight for me. I’ve not seen that since highschool so it may be unrealistic. I don’t know and I’ll cross that bridge when I’m a little closer to those numbers. So, I understand about being 50+ pounds over weight.

Second of all, I HATE eating healthy and I HATE excercising…if the goal is to lose weight. When the goal is feeling alive, it’s not so hard. Don’t get me wrong, I am no health food junkie or workout freak. I’m doing good if I work out once a week (and by work out I mean belly dance for thirty minutes or so until I’m sweaty). There are a few things I do that help me maintain the thirty pounds I’ve already lost. I don’t watch TV. Let me tell you a story.

Two years ago, my husband had to spend six weeks in another state doing some training. While he was away, I watched the entire series of Friends. I ate bags of Hershey’s Kisses and Peanut Butter Cups. I ate a jar of Salsa Con Queso and a bag of tortilla chips in one setting. I ate ice cream for meals. And when he got back, I felt worse about myself than I ever had before. Upon his return, I laid off the crap and quit watching hours of TV and movies a night but I still watched probably an hour or so of TV or movies a day. I joined Curves and lost about 30 pounds. I was eating healthier and riding my bike most every day. I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then he left for three weeks of training and while I managed to not pig out so much, I started watching a couple of hours of TV/movies a night and by the time he returned, my self esteem was at an all time low. I cut myself off from TV and movies completely and within a month, I was feeling more like
myself and within a couple of months I found my self esteem soaring.

So, advice number one. Quit watching TV. It rots your brain and it rots your body. What do you do in your free time? Learn to crochet. Learn to knit. Learn to dance. Join a book club. Join the SCA (which my husband calls an excuse for chubby girls to wear corsets…not that he’s complaining). Take some college courses. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Get a part time job. Clean your house. I don’t know what interests you but I know that when I quit watching hours of TV, I found I had hours more to my day.

Advice number two is this: Quit worrying about getting your highschool body back. You aren’t who you were in highschool. You are older and more mature (hopefully). You have more life experience. That’s good. The thing to do is, and I tell my four year old who wants to grow up faster this, be the best you can be today. I will never be 27 and 30 days away from going to Europe for the first time ever again. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I should be the best I can be today. That said, I don’t worry about eating healthy to lose weight. I think about eating in such a way that at the end of the night, the waistband of my pants isn’t too tight. I try to eat in a way that I will still respect myself in the morning. I try to eat in a way that makes me feel good about myself.

These are things that have helped my self esteem improve. I have no idea if they will help anyone else. I hope I’ve given you some things to mull over at least.

Anyway, this has probably been way more than you ever expected or probably even wanted but I’m wishing the best for you and if you want to talk more, just drop me a line.

Becky

 

Self loathing and how to get rid of it. July 2, 2008

While flipping though a recently filled journaling/shopping list/sermon note/random lists book, I came upon this observation:

Does the fact that I don’t believe the Bible verse, “His (God’s) commandments are not burdensome,” reveal a serious lack of faith? The two greatest commandments, says Jesus, are to love the Lord and love our neighbors. So loving is not burdensome but it is. I believe the Bible is true and that Jehovah is God Almighty. So the wrong is with me. Why? How do I get over it?

So many wrong ways of thinking are revealed here. The one which seems clearest deals with self-loathing and personal value, something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I spent over a decade and a half of my twenty-seven years on this earth struggling with low self esteem and self-loathing. During the last six months to a year, a lot of those struggles have disappeared. When my sister asked what I had done to get over or rid of self-loathing, I struggled to answer her. There have been so many changes, both to me and around me, I wasn’t really sure exactly what happened to reveal to me, my own intrinsic worth.

The number one factor is my husband. He is my biggest fan. He’s hugely encouraging and always ready to tell me I’m wonderful and beautiful and brilliant. But I can’t share him. Wanting something to pass on to my sister and others I know, I’ve spent the last two weeks mulling over the question, “Who do you rid yourself of self-loathing when you don’t have an Israel Walker in your corner?”. I’ve talked with my husband at length, started at least one blog, and have talked with some close friends about it. The answer I’ve come to is that it’s all about belief; heart belief to be specific. What you really believe in your heart of hearts. Some things which, were you to voice them out loud, you would deny believing but deep inside you embrace them as truth.

One of the main beliefs whose dismissal has changed my view of self is revealed in this passage from my journal.

I said, “The wrong is with me.” Because I believed the Bible was true, literal and the inspired word of God and exactly as modern Christianity said it was, when it said that God’s commandments weren’t burdensome and yet I found them so, the only answer was that I had a problem. If I take myself back three years ago and I imagine a friend coming to me and explaining that she finds loving people to be burdensome and asks what to do about it, I would have answered that she was trying too hard to do it on her own. I would have advised that she rely more on Jesus to love people through her and not lean so much on her own understanding.

The problem resided in me. It was my fault. I was either not “faithing” enough or not trying enough. I didn’t have enough discipline. I was too busy seeking pleasure. Simply, I wasn’t good enough.

If I wasn’t finding joy in Bible reading, it was a failure in me. It couldn’t possibly be that bible reading wasn’t something I enjoyed and therefore not joyful. I wasn’t good enough.

Other parts of my “Christian” doctrine supported this. As a teen I was given a list of statements about my identity in God. I was a child of God, saved by grace, filled with the Holy Spirit, etc. This was how I was to build my self esteem. By realizing I was these things, I wasn’t supposed to be discouraged by the world’s view of me.

Yet, I only had this identity in God because Jesus had died for me. Without that, I was worthless, all my goodness as filthy rags.

A couple of thoughts sprang from this. If I’m a dirty rotten sinner without Jesus, (This is one of those heart beliefs I spoke of earlier. Most Christians would refute this belief but deep inside it’s what many believe and I certainly did.) then Jesus died for a loser and God loved and was willing to sacrifice his son for a world of worthless people. Jesus must not have valued his life very highly to give it up for piles of crap.

I wouldn’t step in front of a speeding bus to save a cage of hamsters. My life has more value than that. However, if they carried, within them, the cure for AIDS or cancer or depression, suddenly they have value and are worth my life.

So by believing I was worthless without Jesus, I not only removed the value of my own life, but also from Jesus’ as well.

The other thought turns to the promises of the Bible. To be honest, I’m not sure how many of these “promises” are actually Biblical but they are definitely “Christian.” You will find joy in the Lord. Your day will go better if you have a quiet time. You will feel peace when you spend enough time praying and meditating on the things of the Lord.

These didn’t work for me. Focusing on who God said I was didn’t lift my self esteem. Reading the Bible, praying, “pressing into the Lord,” none of it brought about character or behavior change nor did it even make me happy. Happiness or contentment being the safety net if everything else fails. “You should find contentment in the Lord. Be content where you are. Bloom where you are planted.” etc.

To paraphrase what Israel said in a blog, “I didn’t want to feel better about my crappy character and unhealthy behavior; I wanted to not have a crappy character and not have unhealthy behavior.”

Another thing I believed was that a wife should be submissive to her husband. I was never raised believing this made exploitation or abuse acceptable but simply that the wife was to put the husband’s needs and wants before her own. Another quote from my journal:

The Lord said to me: …Your job is to minister to Israel. You will have other ministries but right now, your sole ministry is to Israel.

I asked: How?

He says: What means a lot to Israel? A clean house? Clean the house. Your time? Give him your time. Your full attention? Give him your full attention. Your enthusiasm? Be enthused. Ask in my name and I will give it.

Jesus, I ask in your name for more enthusiasm when it comes to things that interest Israel. In Jesus name, I ask that what he finds interesting, I would find interesting.

I should change. I should mold myself around Israel. Why would God create me as me if He only wanted me to be a drone of Israel? It’s not even what Israel wanted then nor wants now.

Because I believed I was his help meet and nothing more, what I wanted to do with my life wasn’t important.

When I was a high school freshman I had an English Literature teacher who encouraged me to go to college. I said I didn’t want to, that all I wanted to do was be a stay at home mom and raise my kids (homeschooling of course) to be godly men and women. I thought I would raise them to be something amazing. Of course, if I never did anything with my talents but be a stay at home mom, why would my daughters aspire to anything else, but that’s another blog. I said “no” to college because I thought my place was at my husband’s side, supporting his dreams and his passions.

A couple of months ago, Israel found a bit of information which rocked my world. He came across a discussion about the apostle Junia(s) (Romans 16:7). There is debate as to whether this is a man’s name or a woman’s name. There is support on both sides but it leans toward being a female name. A female apostle wrecks a lot of havoc with other verses and beliefs regarding women in the church and the leadership roles they are or are not to take. Finding out that there may be biblical record of a female apostle is not what really rocked me. What bothered me was that I was twenty-six years old before I found out it was even a possibility. I grew up being taught that women should not be in leadership, until I joined the Rock, which taught that men and women are to partner in leadership but never drew upon Junia as an example. With this simple name, I began to take an honest look at some of my deep seated heart beliefs and began to reject many of them.

Around this time I also read a book called “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life” and it, too, had a profound effect on me. I began to see where my self loathing had come from.

I’m fat. I’ve not always been fat but I’ve always been a big person. I have a large frame and I’ve always had a good amount of muscle. But since the third grade, or there abouts, I’ve thought I was fat. And with this fat came a whole slew of unanticipated baggage. If someone was rude to me, it was because I was fat. If I didn’t get the part in the school play, it was because I was fat. If I didn’t have a boyfriend, it was because I was fat. If I wasn’t having a quiet time it was because I was lazy (a.k.a. fat). Fat became the reason behind every bad thing that happened to me.

It wasn’t until I read Shanker’s book that I realized how unhealthy and unrealistic blaming everything on weight was. I began to ask myself where this idea of fat being synonomous with lazy, unlovable, undesirable, untalented, and worthless came from.

The conclusion I came to was startling. My religion told me I sucked. I felt within that I wasn’t really that bad and so subconsciously I found something abhorrence worthy within myself to hate. My weight was an easy target. Our culture readily agreed with my prognosis of ugliness and inadequacy so it was an easy transition to begin hating myself for my fatness rather than for the unbelievable innate worthlessness Christianity told me I had.

Letting go of the religious lies I’d been told, whether purposely or not, was the really big change; the change heralding in the rest.

During the time of belief cleansing I began to challenge my view of sex. I think I was a fairly unprudish woman with a healthy sexual appetite but when I began to see myself as someone with value, I found myself incredibly desirous of my husband. My sex drive kicked into overdrive, much to Israel’s delight. As I began having more frequent and more fulfilling sex, I felt more desired. As I felt more desired, I wanted sex more. It was a fun self propagating circle.

I began to feel sexy and beautiful. My naked form in the mirror did not induce gagging as it once had. I began to see the beauty in my full thighs and supple abdomen.

I also began belly dancing. Belly dancing is very sensual. It does not have to be sexual. I read a book, “Grandmother’s Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing,” which told of Arabic women belly dancing for and with the women in their family and community. It was a dance of life, a dance to celebrate a girl’s entrance into the realm of womanhood, a dance to ease the pain of childbirth, a dance to share with one’s granddaughters, and a dance to mourn the passing of a loved one. It was feminine and beautiful. It was full of life and vigor. It made me feel alive and graceful.

I practiced belly dancing in my living room, in front of a full length mirror, with my pants or skirt pulled low on my hips and my shirt tucked up under my bra. As I danced, I watched the way my body moved and found it pleasing. I watched the way my muscles jumped when I flexed them and saw beauty. I shimmmed and reveled in the way my belly undulated.

I started taking care of myself. I began to eat healthier. Not because I needed to lose weight. I ate healthier because I was worth taking care of and I deserved to feel more energetic and clear headed.

I started taking care of my appearance. I was worth those couple of extra minutes.

After meeting a weight loss goal (for my health I do need to lose some weight but it is no longer a life sucking obsession), I got my hair cut. The haircut and products were nearly $100 but I was worth it. I don’t have to look like a frumpy old woman.

I started studying and reading books which previously I would have overlooked as “too technical” or “too involved.” For what? My tinee-tiny little brain?

I started looking into taking college classes. I have been given intelligence and it is wrong to squander it.

We had some of the guys from Israel’s shop over for dinner. Not the crappy guys you might have heard us complaining about. These were intelligent guys. They were fun and flirty with me, which Israel didn’t mind and I really liked. For some reason, I was suddenly able to see what Israel had been telling me for years. I was beautiful and desirable. I had believed for so long that Israel was attracted to me more out of duty than out of actual attractiveness on my part. Having these two single guys, well versed in the ways of the world, find me attractive was hugely encouraging.

Because these friends, the guys and others, were not “ministry opportunities” or “prayer concerns,” we were able to just be ourselves and enjoy having friends. We enjoyed having them over and there was never any pressure to “turn the conversation to things of the Lord.” We could just be our selves and give ourselves to our friends and receive what they had to offer. Both parties left feeling rejuvenated and eager for the next meeting.

Instead of feeling quilt at the end of every night because I’d made love to Israel, wrote a blog, and made curtains instead of spending time with God, I felt happy I’d had a day so full of life.

So was my newfound self-respect and, dare I say, self love, a result of turning my back on religiousness? Or was it making friends and realizing I was liked for me? Or was it bringing my weight under control?  Or was it realizing a life half lived is one not lived at all?

I don’t know. As I said, so many things have happened and changed at the same time, I’ve no idea which was cause and which was effect. All I know is I’ve quit trying to be a perfect christian; I don’t count calories; I try to do things which bring me joy; I try to spend time with people who have something to offer me and to whom I have something to offer in return. Maybe that’s the secret to happiness. It’s working well for me and mine.