Before Babe and I moved in together, I lived alone in a bachelor apartment in midtown of the big city. It was just Dog and I, and I grew awfully lonely over time. My friends were either still at home with their parents or starting their new lives with their spouses. There weren’t many friends who had made the decision to live alone, which in hindsight was a big step for me. I loved the freedom of living alone and not having to answer to anyone – it was great! However, it wasn’t always the easiest – lots of macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, and hot dog dinners!
I had come out of a long-term dysfunctional relationship, followed by a couple short-term failed-from-the-start relationships. The long-term relationship could be made into an after school special about abusive relationships and maybe a lesson on how to avoid them. My parents bought me Dog, and that’s how it ended. Dog and a few mix-CD’s – which my friends and I coined “slit your wrists volume 1 through 4”.
One of the short-term relationships had us in Paris. It was incredible. One night we were enjoying a lovely, romantic meal under the stars in a fantastic courtyard restaurant. He took it upon himself to discuss what he wanted from a partner. I sat there naively checking off the list of everything he said, thinking I had everything he was looking for and was quite pleased. Until a few minutes later where he decided to then start discussing all of the things that I was lacking. The one issue that stuck with me was his feelings about my health.
Seriously?! Health? Like I have the ability to control it? Give. Me. A. Break. That’s as crazy as me saying that I don’t like the fact that you’re 8 years older and balding. Can you stop aging? Please. It’s an issue for me.
Anyway, I made a comment on our flight home saying how funny it would be if he turned around in few weeks and decided he didn’t want anything to do with me. It took exactly 3 weeks, for the record. Ha! To be quite honest I wasn’t terribly upset about that relationship ended. Looking back now, I think I dated him because I knew my parents would like me to be with someone like him as they were never thrilled about the long-term beau, but my heart wasn’t in it. I also have a strong suspicion that I wasn’t his type, if you catch my drift. I do know that he has since married, a woman if you’re curious. I do wish him well.
After this short string of failed romances and dead-end relationships, I was left feeling quite blue. Sure I had great friends, an amazing dog, but I struggled with living alone and feeling like I wasn’t good enough. It felt like there was this insane amount of pressure to find someone and marry – all my friends were doing it! That conversation in Paris definitely rocked me. I didn’t know how to get out of my funk. I saw a therapist after my long-term relationship ended as I knew my friends were becoming worn out by my sadness and I could tell that the deep, dark hole I was in was just getting deeper. I needed help to crawl out of it.
After many Google searches, lots of visits to the therapist, and many books/articles read about how to make yourself feel less like a romantic failure and more whole – I ended up using post-it notes. I wrote uplifting and encouraging messages on them and placed them all over my apartment. On the fridge – you make people laugh! On the bathroom mirror – you’re beautiful! On my closet door – you’re worth it! On the vanity mirror – you’re amazing!
I would tell myself these things daily as I had a feeling that if I said it enough I would believe it. I took them down after reading them every morning and put them back in their ‘place’ every night before bed. While it may seem silly, it worked! I had a new attitude, a feeling of a fresh start, and a new outlook on the world. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t get stuck in a bad relationship just to be in one, I wouldn’t be with someone who I didn’t truly like – and I stuck to that.
There was a guy who came into my life and we had a great time together, laughing all the time. It was a lot of fun. I had tickets to a sporting event so I invited him, knowing that he was an avid sports fan. He declined and I knew what was coming. I chuckled to myself. The ringtone on my phone, at the time, was Jay Z’s “99 Problems“. He called to have that conversation and in the middle of it all our phones cut out and dropped the call. When he decided to ring back, I answered laughing because the start of the ring tone was the opening lyrics –
If you’re havin’ girl problems i feel bad for you son,
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one
Needless to say, he wasn’t too amused so the conversation ended quickly and I continued to giggle about it for some time afterwards. Actually, it still makes me laugh just thinking about it. Timing is everything!
Babe blew into my life not long after that, and we both instantly knew that we had met our match. It was life changing, obvi!
Jumping to present day – I may need to revive these post-it notes. No, no, Babe and I are solid and strong. Our relationship gets better and better, so the need for the post-its is totally unrelated to that part of my life. As you may know, I’ve had a hard road during and since pregnancy, coupled with a winter that doesn’t seem to want to end (damn that Wiarton Willie/Puxatony Phil!), it’s all beginning to take its toll.
I realized a few weeks after delivering Baby that my expectations for losing the ‘baby weight’ was unrealistic. My mother had said, repeatedly, that the weight would just fall off after birth. It did not. I then got quite sick and lost all the weight in a very short time. It was a curse and a blessing. I was able to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes but I couldn’t leave the house as I was too unwell. Unfortunately, I needed to be put on steroids where I quickly gained it all back and a little extra. The side effects of steroids are brutal – facial mooning (where your face becomes quite rounded), increased hunger, weight gain (not just from the increased appetite), acne, insomnia, degeneration of hips, heart issues, bone marrow issues, and the list goes on and on. What a nasty trick those steroids play – they fix you up and heal you but when they leave, you are never the same.
Now here I sit, steroids are making their way our of my system as they’ve run their course but I am still suffering from their mean tricks. I know it will take time to get my body back into the pre-pregnacy shape I had, and I recognize that it took 9 months to put on all that weight, and that I’ve had a harder time with the health issues that I have but is it too unrealistic to ask that I be given a break, just once?
One of the many things I want to instill in Baby is a strong sense of self. How can I do this when I feel so gross in my own skin? Knowing that this is clearly an issue between my ears, how do I make myself feel better about my appearance? Do I need to bring back the post-its? Babe tells me that I look great, as do friends and family but I don’t feel it yet.
Spring will bring sunshine and warmer weather, hopefully. My self-esteem needs more vitamin D!