Yeah, I know. It’s sad that I have to post this. But it comes from more than one experience, lately. (I mean, Walmart? Seriously? I can’t even get a guy to hit on me at a bar – let alone buy me a drink – and you’re hitting on me in WALMART?!? And you’re not even offering to pick up the tab on my orange juice??? Ugh! Leave me alone – I’m shopping, here.)
Welcome to my “new,” now semi-anonymous website. What you need to know is that I’m a 47 year-old, divorced mom, and once again navigating the “single” waters. “The Rules” are based on a few things I’ve learned — mostly about myself. But let me know if you agree. ;)
I posted this a year ago, today. I know I’ve only published a handful of posts in the interim; my life is very different now than it was then. I’ve been working hard at going forward, changing. And I’ve progressed — sometimes by choice, sometimes because it’s been thrust upon me. (You just can’t hide from LIFE!)
But I can’t forget. I wish I could, but all I can do is try to heal, bide my time in a safe place until the wounds seal over. Sometimes, though, there’s nowhere safe. Sometimes it’s right there in front of me, and I have no choice but to face it. Like today, especially today, the two-year anniversary of my own, personal “D-day.”
This is a big post for me. I’m revealing more about myself than I ever have, publicly and overtly, thus far:
I have severe, negative self-image issues that are hard-wired to key people in my past. I abhor talking about my looks; I shut down when that happens. If you say I’m pretty, I have enough good manners to say “thank you,” but it’s like I become dead inside. I know you’re just being nice. I know I’m not pretty, no matter what words come out of your mouth. I’m working on getting over this. But I’m telling you this about me up-front because it’s possible that my own views on good netiquette are skewed, due to my “preexisting conditions.”
Maybe, maybe not….
Evening, a few weeks ago. I’d been home from work for about an hour, helped the little kids with their homework, cleaned up, and was just about to take my teenage daughter to the store (her, practice-driving!), when a friend, with whom I’d been texting all day, suddenly FB-messaged me that she liked my previous FB profile photo better than the one I currently had up.
What? WTF? Where did that come from? I was shocked, confused, and defensive. Who judges people’s Facebook profile photos?
Instead of letting the raw emotions win, I messaged her back:
"Feisty tonight, aren't we?"
She then proceeded to message me again, saying how she thought my current photo made me look too harsh, and the previous photo “made you look softer. And like you had hair.”
What!?! Then I really did get upset.
First of all, the only reason I’d had that photo up is because on 9/11 (a Thursday, this year) I’d put up a tribute-photo to a family member who’d died in the Towers, and then I’d hastily changed it out with a photo of me that was (a) recent and (b) that I hadn’t yet used for my profile. I knew it was obnoxiously close-up (one of my cousins commented that day: “Extreme close-up Friday?”), and I’d intended to take a new selfie and swap it out soon. But by now it was the following Monday evening, and I hadn’t yet had a chance to sit down and do it. So I had that level of defensiveness going on. (Okay, already, I’ll get to it!)
Secondly, I didn’t think it looked that bad — certainly not bad enough for someone to go out of their way to comment on it and let me know. Indeed, some of my friends seemed to like it. Regardless, I didn’t hate it. It reminded me of a lazy afternoon at the pool. Which it was.
And thirdly, it was my freaking Facebook profile photo,not a beauty pageant. Not something to be judged-on. And, again, it was my freaking Facebook profile photo. It was my own expression of myself, that I’d chosen to show the world at that moment. I hadn’t asked for anyone else’s opinion, let alone a negative one. Yes, unfortunately, Facebook announces to the world (or at least your entire newsfeed) when you’ve made a change to your profile picture. And, unfortunately, they allow comments. And they can’t stop your friends from messaging you, either. But didn’t we all learn in Kindergarten that if you don’t have something nice to say…?
Seriously, I have never, ever told someone I disliked their FB profile pic (or even insinuated it by saying that I preferred another one). I’ve either “liked” it or said nothing. My friends are my friends because of who they are inside. It’s none of my business to tell anyone else how to present herself among her own circle of friends. Each person has her own vision of who she is in a given moment. Amiright?
I was pissed, and I felt unduly, negatively judged. And ugly. After dealing with my kids, I grabbed another spare moment and inserted a pic of me and my kids from the day before, at the park. But the damage was done. My friend and I stopped talking. (She said she didn’t want to deal with someone around whom she felt like she had to walk on eggshells. Can’t say I blame her. I’m not fun to deal with all of the time.)
Sadly, my ordeal wasn’t over.
Yesterday. I changed out my FB profile picture again. I got a few “likes,” a few nice comments. And then one of my cousins — a wonderful, supportive, gorgeous creature, whom I’ve worshiped since childhood — told me she preferred two previous pics to the one I’d currently chosen. She happily offered to show me which ones.
"No, please don't...!"
I messaged this to her and explained my recent episode with my friend. I also explained about my negative self-image issues (which I’m not sure she’d understood about me, previously), and how being judged for a profile pic on FB triggered all of this in me. I also explained how I considered it rude to comment on peoples’ FB profile pics, when they hadn’t asked for it (i.e. “stuff that is no one else’s business”).
My cousin apologized. I think she felt bad, and I felt bad for making her feel that way. I told her I didn’t think she’d meant to be harmful or rude, but that, seriously, who’d asked? She said she and her sister tell each other stuff like this all the time. (Maybe I should be flattered that she treated me like her sister?) But the whole thing made me really not want to be judged anymore. Especially by my “friends.”
So I deleted my FB profile pic and haven’t replaced it yet. I’m a blank silhouette now.
Fresh start: This morning, I decided that if the world was going to judge me, they were going to have to judge the real me. Usually people see me with all of my makeup on:
But before I look like that, this is the real me. This morning, fresh out of the shower:
Ugly? Not pretty? Yeah, I already know. And, yeah, maybe I’m taking a page out of Colbie Caillat’s playbook. But so what? There is no call to judge people who don’t ask to be judged. Not about things that don’t really matter.
My legs quaked as I braced my hands on my thighs to suck air. Panting, I raised my head to look at the trail.
And yet another rise that loomed in front of me.
Holy crap! Fuck this shit!
Eight hours earlier….
It was late on a Saturday night, and I was already nervous at the prospect of trying something new, let alone meeting new people. But it was an innocuous enough label on the hike I was was considering signing up for the following morning. “Mt. Sanitas, Boulder. Moderate-to-strenuous,” it said. Well….
I’m in shape, I reasoned. I walk for 20 minutes a day, and hiking is just walking on a trail, right?
I also do yoga five days a week, plus strength training. Plus, the hike was nearby, in Boulder, so I wouldn’t have to drive that far, and the start-time was a reasonable 9 a.m. (not 6:30 a.m., like some of the other hikes). Out of excuses for a milisecond, I quickly clicked the button. No turning back now.
The next morning I woke up at my usual time, showered, and applied my makeup (taking extra time, to make it look like I’d barely taken any time with it). Then, due to a bad map on the hiking site, I arrived somewhere in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Not a trailhead in sight. Fortunately, the hike’s organizer had left his cell number on the website. “Oh yeah, the map on the site is wrong,” he apologized… and spent the next 10 minutes talking me through as I drove to the correct place. By the time I found parking and hoofed it several blocks to the trailhead the group was long gone. There was a sign posted at the trailhead warning people of recent mountain lion sightings.
I decided to do the hike on my own, anyway. (There were lots of other hikers out. Odds are the mountain lions would eat one of them first.)
I set out and quickly hit the first set of “stairs” — a series of two-foot high boulders set into the slope. Giant step up, giant step up, giant step up…. After about a hundred ungodly paces, the stairs evened out onto a steppe. Okay *breathe, breathe* that wasn’t so bad. I looked ahead to see that the trail went flat for about ten feet, then went up again. Okaaaayyy…..
I was getting lapped by scores of other people: teenagers, other people “my age” (who were probably from Boulder — i.e. Hippie-Health Central), and even by senior citizens (evidently the altitude had affected their abilities to tell that they were too old for this).
Yes, I was being lapped by people who were running — uphill — and downhill — over the giant two-foot rocks and past me. Instead of Sanitas, I began to call the mountain Sandinistas; I could see Nicaraguan rebels using this as a training course.
Moderate to strenuous? Are you fucking kidding me?!?
That was when I realized that “moderate to strenuous” for Colorado was different from “moderate to strenuous” for the rest of the U.S. And “moderate to strenuous” for Boulder was different from “moderate to strenuous” for the rest of Colorado. I’m in good shape compared to the rest of the country. I worked hard to get to where I am, and I wear a size 4. That’s skinny in the rest of the country.
It’s average in Colorado. I’m in average shape for Colorado.
But now, I wasn’t just in Colorado. I was in Boulder Country.
After about five rounds of fuck this shit. in my head, I knew I wasn’t going to quit — had known it from the start — because that’s just not how I roll. But it made me feel better to give myself permission to dismiss the mountain.
And then finally, when I was ready to die, I reached another set of boulders that just had to be the top. There were others, who appeared to be part of a group, panting, too.
“Y’all don’t happen to be Boulder Social Hikers, do you?” I asked.
“Yes, we are.”
Hallelujah! I didn’t even care about the sweat trickling down my nose or how my ponytail had held up. I was just grateful to have caught up with the group. And to still be cognizant and upright.
Going down was the easy part. I caught my breath, chatted with some of the other hikers. It was nice. But I haven’t forgotten the way up. And I haven’t forgotten how that mountain almost got the best of me.
Sanitas, I’m coming for a rematch. You won’t know when, but someday, when you least expect it, I’ll be at your base. (If you have expectations, that is. You’re a mountain, for pete’s sake.) Just you and me.