Love is an Inside Job

I scroll through pages of advice on how to improve self-esteem, how to stop jealousy, how to love yourself. I consult Google for my most intimate concerns and fears.

(Am I ugly?) (Does he love me?) (Am I fat?)

Steve’s advice is to do things other people can’t. He claims that you can’t help but feel good about yourself when you feel strong. And while I agree with that to a point, I also pointed out that only 1% of the population has run a marathon and I’m training for my second. I’m going to run 32km tomorrow which will bring my weekly total to 53km. I work out hard, six times a week. Tell me who else that you know does that?

His theory doesn’t work for me. Because it’s his.

I get waves of anxiety, where suddenly it feels like everyone is looking at me funny. They must think I’m weird. Steve sees it in my eyes, the stress. It makes me want to stay at home, to not go out. That is not me.

Alcohol makes it infinitely worse, not that I drink a lot. But at least I used to be able to have a couple (too many) glasses of wine with friends without suddenly feeling embarrassed about myself. That ruins the night, let me tell you.

I refuse to stop my life, I refuse to yield to this. We have a night without the kids this weekend and are going to a pub with friends. Good friends. Real friends. The ones I love and am comfortable with. I don’t plan on drinking, but I do plan on enjoying myself and laughing and maybe even dancing.

We went out last weekend with my parents for dinner and then to a pub afterwards for a beer (I was driving and so sipped my Sprite). I looked at Steve and he smiled at me and I thought You are so handsome. How is it that men become better looking with age as they fill out their faces and shoulders and noses/foreheads/necks/whatever awkward body part they had as a teenager while women (me) get tired looking? I see pictures of myself and see my aunt and my father and a lot of people but never really me.

Steve told me he doesn’t feel like he looks 32. What does 32 look like? I wondered, Because I still feel like I look 22. (I don’t.)

I refuse to bemoan the passage of time, though it may leave creases around my eyes. I refuse to be saddened by aging the same way I refuse to be a woman who wants to lose 10lbs. Time has been wonderful and kind to me. Time has given me perspective and my children and a marriage. Time has given me the opportunity to realize what my dreams really are

How long does this take, this building of self-esteem? How many more months of these saddened thoughts and jealous fears? The worst of it is, I don’t have one single valid reason to feel this way. I don’t understand why, in what, by the looks of things, is the happiest time of my life, has all of this insecurity bubbled to the surface.

Because it’s time for change or because it’s time to move beyond it or because because because. They all seemed like grand theories six weeks ago but I tire of it all, now.

So I start at the beginning, once again, because I’ve let myself slip these past few weeks. I grew tired of the constant vigilance I require from myself, I guess.

I start again with the most basic of things: no more criticism.

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