Yeah. No. No, they aren’t. But that is not the point — but we are definitely going to talk about that point…
As the world knows, if they read my blog, that I have struggled with some underlying body image issues that have become extreme at times, and definitely a lot in the last year or so since I am unable to control what is going on with my metabolism and my thyroid… I have been down, depressed, hurting, self-deprecating, almost to the point of being incapable of leaving the house. However, July 4th, I had a long hard look in the mirror and told myself that I was going to look amazing and I was going to leave the house in my red dress and not drag my fiance down into my little hole of feeling “un-pretty”. He deserves better… I deserve better.
So, this day, (July 4th) which is also my late grandmother’s birthday and has represented different life lessons to me over the years… and a small part of me wonders if it is because of her – but maybe that is hocus-pocus, perhaps – or some The Secret thing. Who knows?!
July 4th, 2012 – I moved out into my first apartment after asking for a divorce three weeks prior. I also ended up being coaxed out of the house and on an outing with a man who would later break my heart and manipulate me into a very dark place.
The Lesson: Never EVER let a man treat you ‘LESS THAN’ or toy with your emotions. REAL men don’t do that.
July 4th 2013 – I had given up all hope of finding someone to share my time with. I was very lonely and very depressed and I had to be literally dragged out of the house by my friends because wallowing was not going to get me anywhere. I met another guy that night, that I dated briefly, but even though he turned out to not be the right one for me he kept my mind off of the issues that I was losing myself to. I learned something big from that weekend.
The Lesson: Calm down. There are a million fish in the sea. Nobody likes a depressed Debbie Downer… Even if it doesn’t work out – keep trying – Oh, and trust your girlfriends who have done that ‘dating’ thing a whole lot more than you ever did, since, you know… you got married at 17.
July 4th 2014 – I had met Drew and we had been dating for a handful of months at that juncture, but I was just beginning to meet the bulk of his friends. I was a bit anxious. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be more liked than his ex-wife. (I certainly still do…) I wanted to be the most liked of any person Drew had ever dated and so I was going to overachieve, like usual… I was SO worried about whether or not they would ‘like me’… that I obsessed over it for days! Who the hell does that??? Who in the world wastes that much time concerning themselves over-the-top with whether or not they will be “liked”.
The Lesson: I met lots of them, they were all so nice, pleasant and accepting, and legitimately interested in me as a person. I ended up really making friends with several of them myself. If you meet a man who loves, adores you, and treats you with respect — chances are that he only keeps company with people who also care for others and treat them with respect. Stop worrying so much, Alyssa – it robs you of today’s joy before anything bad even happens!
July 4, 2015… was different… let’s get back to that red dress. I put on sandals since we were going to walk a mile or so from our house to our friend’s homes on the parade route. I wore the strapless red dress, a big blue ring (to be festive!) and even some red lipstick, to boot. I left the house feeling like a million bucks, believing in the fact that I needed to give Drew some relief of my “down” that has snuck into our lives in the last year and made it difficult to focus on anything else. I needed a break, too. I felt pretty good. We headed to our first stop, met up with our family and friends and friends-of-friends and it was nice to see everyone in one place. People lifted my spirits, talking about the wedding, and flowers, and invitations, etc. It gave me a nice little pick-me-up since the wedding and honeymoon have been a big brightspot in my life to help overpower the “down days”. We decided to part ways for a little bit and head down the street to visit other friends. The sidewalks were slammed. Absolutely jam-packed, so the only option was to walk in the street – closely to the curb to avoid the oncoming parade. As we walked past the house next door to our friend’s home that we had just left — there were three women standing on the sidewalk in front of the hedges, in front of the house…
“Wow… pfft… you think those things are real?”
(Laughter among them)
I heard it and my heart started pounding. They were talking about me and they were talking about my breasts. Laughing about my breasts, in public and where families with small children could hear.
I turned on a heel, still holding Drew’s hand. I scanned the eyes of the people sitting close to them and it was clear they were staring at my chest. All of them…(except the little kids, of course.) I felt completely naked and on display. My chest, not my breasts, hurt. I felt so heartbroken and hurt in that moment – that I yelled back…
“Hey, no, they aren’t! But, you could have just asked. I’m real open about it!”
Awful. They were objectifying me for some insecure reason of their own… on the street… in front of families. In front of the man I will be lucky to call my husband in less than three months. In front of my community. Neighbors. People my kids go to school with. And for what? I think my biggest question is.. “Why?” Why do women not support other women and go straight for the jugular of cutting down a woman’s looks? I’m a stranger. I am a kind person – who would never do that to you… so, why me? Why this day? Why on this particular day when I had to have a pep talk with myself to get myself out of the door and even into that dress…? Why did they choose to call me out? What have I ever done to deserve this type of behavior from others? I certainly couldn’t think of anything. I have caused no intentional harm to another — so I couldn’t think of any bad Karma I had coming…
What if I had been a post-augmentation double mastectomy cancer patient? Would they have cared then? Pffffftt…. probably not.
So, I did what any self-respecting, strong woman would do. Ignored it.
Hahhh…. No, I didn’t. I definitely did not do that. I utilized a community site and called them out for objectifying me. Karma is not fast enough, as I have learned from previous relationships — I laid all of the facts out there in hopes to speed Karma up. I let them know how completely backwards this behavior is between women within the same community, raising children together, and building businesses and building friendships.
And the response that I got from other women was an explosion of AMAZING! So many supportive women poured out of the woodwork, many that I had never had any previous interaction with. I was feeling the love. Lots of women stepped in, who didn’t have to, who could have easily sided with these catty women… – they told me how important it was that we were talking about why women are competition to one another, and shouldn’t be, and how we need to really have the hard talks about things like this so our daughters don’t grow up on a foundation of insecurity — or, let’s face it, bitchy, catty, behavior. But most of all – many of these women felt like they had to apologize for these humans of their gender for doing such a deplorable thing to another of their same gender. Most especially unprovoked.
My only conclusion is that women tend to bond, far too often, over the circling of the wagons by cutting another woman down. And on this day, that woman was me. This is NOT acceptable.
I owe other females, strangers even, my respect. Period.
The lesson: Teach your daughter to love herself, her body, and most especially to love and respect other women, because otherwise we are backpedaling on this whole “women’s liberation” thing. Women are designed to be catty, jealous, competitive, and degrade other women – likely, more than men are. It’s OK to be mad. It is also OK in whatever forum I choose to be angry. Those are my feelings, my emotions and I own them and they are OK to have – even if they are not kept private. Others are free to choose whichever action, road, what-have-you, that they would like but they are NOT in ANY WAY free of the consequences of their actions. My emotions, my anger – those were the consequence and if all of their neighbors now know what they did and feel as though they do not wish to continue a relationship with them, then that is their consequence.
Oh, and I looked amazing in that dress, those cluckin’ old hens didn’t know what in the world they were talking about! 😉 (Also, part of the lesson…)
Happy 4th of July, Peeps.