Surprised? I was!

Last week’s confessional was a surprise! I honestly didn’t think I’d want to put all of that down yet, but I have said in my opening gambit on the home page that I would be honest and that this is a journey, so that’s exactly what it needs to be. Maybe my experience and thoughts have helped someone else reading my posts out there somewhere. Maybe you experienced similar and needed a little bit of a guiding hand to give you the oomph to kick yourself up the bum and challenge your insecurities. Baby steps, please. Don’t do everything at once. You’ll become overwhelmed and shrink back into yourself.

I touched on a couple of things last week – being verbally bullied and my loss of identity. Both are semi-intertwined with each other in a way, as I still had residual confidence issues from being bullied. Which as we know will impact on how we feel about ourselves for years to come. I do feel that although I know the reasons behind my confidence hit, I may never be a really confident person. There will always be a nagging doubt behind the things I do or say. I do know though, that I can ‘fake’ it. This is a strong tool for some who are able to do it. If you can fake it you inevitably end up changing your mood, which can then begin to change your outlook on things.

I’m no scientist, and what works for me may not and will not work for everyone, but if it helps just one person then that’s enough in my book. I rarely open up about how I feel deep down, but now I think it’s time to get my big girl pants on as a friend would say and get over it. I sometimes think that by opening up about these things perhaps people may think I’m trying to say I’m depressed. I’m not. I have low days and struggle just like many others but my feelings on those occasions are not a complex minefield but rather more simplistic. I’ve not had enough sleep, or the kids are pushing every button possible or simply that I’m just not in the right frame of mind. I applaud those that have been able to face up to depression. In my eyes it takes a huge amount of inner strength for someone to say “I feel crap, today is not a good day and I can’t do this anymore. I need help”. Depression is a complex and difficult illness to understand. I implore anyone reading this who feel they may have it, or may be on the cusp of depression, please talk to someone. Your best mate, the coffee shop barista, stranger on the station anyone. But just tell someone. It might help. If your mate’s been texting you asking if you’re OK and you’ve completely ignored them. Text them back. They are looking out for you, and they care. It’s not about ‘manning up!’, so forget about all the male bravado, it’s about getting help and getting YOU back.

Where do I go from here?

My challenge to myself is to get myself back on track to becoming ‘me’ again. I will never be the ‘old me’. Those days are gone. We change a little, or a lot, as we age. Age makes us more understanding of what we really need and what we want and also, what we can achieve. Growing older has given me an edge, where I can be slightly more demanding of others and particularly of myself. I joke about turning 60 and dying my hair purple and getting a tattoo, buying a motorbike and sticking two fingers up to the world 😉. Actually, I might just dye my hair purple and get a tattoo anyway!

I absolutely love this quote by Roald Dahl. It’s from The Twits if you aren’t sure. I really feel it sums up a lot of how I feel I want to feel. Good thoughts make you glow. They show in your face. The slight crook of a smile appearing, the glint in the eye. It all shows you know. I look better when I feel better. Its simple psychology really. We lift our head, stand straighter and become more of a presence. When we feel unhappy the opposite happens, we look hunched over, we scowl and look as unhappy as we feel. 

What changed my viewpoint?

I didn’t have many mirrors in my old house as I just couldn’t stand looking at myself in them. I had such a negative view of myself, every time I did look in the mirror I used to pick out the flaws I could see. I was ugly, had a wonky nose, square jawline, fat face… the list just went on and on. I just couldn’t see anything nice about myself. I had a change of view when I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen for ages, some years in fact, and the one sweet friend of whom I’d always thought was the most confident admitted she’d always been envious of my hair. Then another said she felt annoyance at me as she was fed up of wearing false lashes and mine were long and full and I ‘just didn’t have to go through all the hassle everyday’. I felt better about myself for a moment or two, and then when I got home I actually looked in the mirror and thought to myself they had a point. I began to like my hair. It’s full of body and is healthy. I noticed that I didn’t look in the mirror and feel so negative. I was beginning to like myself again. A little bit more each day. There are still days where a negative gnome sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear I’m ugly or some other flaw that I have but no so much anymore. Devils and angels are ‘so last year dahling’ as Patsy would say! Like I said it’s baby steps. It’s not being vain either, it’s about learning to have personal positivity, which includes body and mind.

Colour plays a big part in the impression we give, both to others and to ourselves. If I’m feeling happy then I tend to wear brighter colours and make an effort. When I feel miserable and stressed I wear darker more neutral colours without adding accessories. The days where I just feel low I tend not to look at what I’m choosing to wear, I just grab anything and rarely does it go with anything nor is it flattering and if I’m honest it probably isn’t allowing me to blend in with the background despite me wanting to do just that. Because it’s so badly thrown together it makes me stand out, perhaps giving others an opportunity to think ‘she doesn’t care’, or ‘what does she think she looks like’ or something to that effect. And, when I’m at that point, the days where I’m so totally not in the zone, I actually don’t care nor do I wonder what I look like so their thoughts are futile. I’m just not thinking about me.

I recently grabbed one of my old Trinny and Susanna books from the shelf when I was having a sort out and started reading it. I forget which one, it might have been ‘what your clothes say about you’ maybe. But, anyway, I laughed at the picture of a stressed, harassed mum carrying plastic carrier bags and dressed in beige (really not my colour!) with a child pulling her in one direction when she was trying to go in another, it was a set up shot of Trinny role playing but it made me think that I have been that mum on more than one occasion. A Tesco bag in one hand despite owning some fabulous family sized totes, along with kids coats, bottles and school paraphernalia in the other. Trying to coax the kids down from the climbing frame because ‘we really need to get home’… read ‘mummy just wants to go home and get tea ready, and have a sit down as she’s been busy all day cleaning up your mess again!’.

On the opposite page it showed a more serene, organised Trinny with same child pulling on her hand, but looking much more as though she could deal with it. It was all down to staging the perfect life, yes, I get that. But it was also about looking the part too. Well cut jeans, sensible but trendy shoes, jacket just in case you got caught in the rain and nice top underneath, oh.. and a good sized bag for all the kid bits! Although I’ll probably always be a little bit late in dropping the kids off, and always be slightly disorganised and forget their coat or water bottle or something but I can at least try to look the part. So my first challenge is come September, I will aim to get my head in the zone and be a little more put together for the school run. That way when some supply work does come along I’ll have a go to outfit readily available to grab and go.

Baby steps…

But, I’m going to start small. A little bit at a time. Beginning here, my aim for the next two weeks is to make sure I put mascara on. Everyday, without hesitation. I will make it a habit. Isn’t it a habit after fifteen days? I’m sure I read that somewhere. Anyway, small things to start my positive image habits off. I don’t see much point in trying to form a habit of wearing foundation or even my usual BB cream as it usually comes off on the masks we have to wear out. Although it’s swings and roundabouts at the moment as I don’t really like going out much and I like the freedom of having just sun cream on my face. Perhaps that little habit might have to wait a little.

I think I also need to look at forming an exercise habit as currently it’s a bit hit and miss. OK, I admit more miss than hit! I don’t like exercising and rarely enjoy it when I do it so I need to work up to doing this habit. gently does it. Twenty minutes a day to start off with and then work up to thirty after a couple of weeks maybe? I think I’m going to need to do a reward chart just like we use with kids! I really hate exercising! I’ll keep you updated on this one as I’m not even sure where to start.

Have you been an exercise star during lock down? Or have you been watching Joe from the sofa with a cuppa every morning during PE with Joe? Me? The latter 😂

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