The back story…
You know, throughout my life, no matter how I seemed like I had self confidence, I always felt like I was “one off” from everyone else. I wanted to be the one with the shocking clothes, the edgy haircut and the bright red lipstick but I was always – and I mean ALWAYS – worried about getting it all wrong so I stuck to wearing bulky sweatshirts. Lipstick? Forget it. And that was pretty much the theme of my whole entire existence for the next 40 years.
40 years is a LONG time to go feeling uncomfortable in your own skin but that’s exactly what happened. Having confidence is just not something I knew how to do. If I was told I should be wearing a certain style of (always conservative) clothing, I tried to fit in and I wore whatever everyone else was wearing. I let others convince me that, since my clothes didn’t match, or I “dressed too young” and dated younger men, I was a big failure. I let people convince me that I was the worst parent in the world and an embarrassment to my children. For. YEARS. It’s pretty awful having no confidence and feeling like, no matter what you try, you’re doing it wrong. Many times I wondered why I was even here on this earth if I couldn’t get anything right. I tried being like everyone else but I was miserable and lonely! More than once, the only reason I forced myself not to think about ending it all was my children – I couldn’t do that to them. But yeah. I was that miserable. And weirdly, I doubt anyone knew.
Last year, July 2016, I discovered my husband (my fourth, by the way, because, of course I was a failure at marriage, too) was having multiple online affairs. Camera sex. With women who weren’t his wife. Just…gross. When I confronted him, he “patiently” explained to me how it was wrong for him to have done it but, really, it was my fault because I’m too old and unattractive for anyone to actually find me desirable. Can we talk about my depleted self confidence again? My knee-jerk reaction was to cry and wonder how I could save my marriage and change his mind about me. But then something different happened.
I got MAD. And, as I sat there, listening to his speech about how this was for the best and, if I really want someone to want me, I needed to fit in more with his standard of beauty, I got MADDER. As I listened to him – my chinless, droopy eyed husband – advise me on how I could improve my fashion sense, my beauty sense, and more, I did something I’ve never done before in my life (brace yourself if curse words aren’t for you): I shouted, “you know what? FUCK YOU. FUCK. YOU!” and, with that, I walked out, blocked him from my life, and booked myself my first ever solo trip out of the country. I went to Peru and walked around alternately sobbing at my undesirability and peacefully smiling at my newfound freedom. And I came home with a new sense of….dare I say it? Self. Self confidence. Pride in my own strength to stand on my two feet after a crippling blow like that one.
The following year, I began reclaiming myself in all my freaking glory. I took a riverboat cruise in New Orleans and then I flew from there to Alaska. I went to Mexico and I climbed the arch in Cabo San Lucas! By myself! Then I went to the UK and flew from London to Edinburgh, to Wales! By myself – and listen, I’m not a wealthy woman… but I did it! Talk about letting your confidence begin to soar – this was amazing. And NEW.
When I came back from Cabo, I bought a pair of Steve Madden Women’s Smiley Fashion Sneakers with sparkly smiley faces on the heels. I love them. LOVE. Them. I sometimes wear them with striped socks because why not? Sometimes I go to work without make up and sometimes I go in looking like I just ransacked Sephora. I like both looks equally. My kids (all adults, ranging in age from 33 down to 20) say I’m hilarious. My oldest son recently said, “Mom, we don’t know what we’d do if you were ‘normal.’ You’re kinda kooky and, now that I’m a dad myself, I really appreciate that in you!”
Phew, thank goodness. Because, at the end of the day, that’s really all I care about. ♥