When I first got divorced, I was so starved for physical contact and attention that I soaked it up like a sponge. I was flattered by the attention I got and loved feeling sexy and pretty, even if there was ultimately no emotional connection behind it. My confidence grew. But little by little, it started to not feel so good. I started to realize I was nothing more than a piece of ass to most of these guys, and that was the opposite of the progress I was attempting to make in my life.
I started being more choosy in whom I spent time with. I stopped responding to the booty calls that once made me feel wanted and desired. I decided that being alone sometimes on the weekends was preferable to feeling cheap and nameless.
A week or so ago, I ran into Eric at the grocery store. I’ve bumped into him a few times before, and every time, he wanted me to go somewhere to hook up. Every time I said no. This time, though, I was disgusted. I initially tried to just be nice and walk away, but he kept appearing in whatever aisle I was in, making comments and looking me up and down. The final straw was when he actually pressed up against me and said, “See, you got my dick hard.” I quickly walked away from him and he said he was going to wait for me in the parking lot. That really scared the hell out of me. Thankfully, he was nowhere in sight when I left, and I texted him saying to leave me the hell alone. He replied back saying I was crazy for thinking he was being anything but nice and that he only hooks up with pretty girls. Whatever, dude. Those ‘pretty girls’ can have your nasty self.
That incident made me realize just how far I’ve come. A few short years ago, I very likely may have gone and hooked up with him anyway. A few short years ago, I just wanted to feel wanted.
I’ve mentioned before how I’ve kind of given myself a gradual makeover since my divorce. Now I hardly recognize myself. A few weeks ago, I was walking down the hall at work feeling pretty good in a cute skirt and top with wedge heels. I suddenly had this surreal moment of seeing myself through the eyes of myself from 9 or 10 years ago. If someone had shown me back then how I’d look and feel now, I would have never believed it. If the me from 10 years ago, in comfortable baggy jeans and shapeless t-shirt, had seen the me of today, not only wearing clothes that fit properly, but wearing heels and makeup (voluntarily!), I would have assumed it was a mistake. Without realizing it, I’m slowly becoming the me I always longed to be but never thought I could be. I’m confident enough to wear more girly clothes, to show a little leg, and to feel ok in my own skin. Several years ago, I heard someone say, “Whatever it is you are — tall, short, skinny, fat, black, or white — own that.” I think now, I’m finally living by that advice.
Last year I went to my class reunion and decided to wear a maxi dress that made me feel sexy and pretty. At the previous reunion, I wore jeans and a casual top, hoping to blend in and go unnoticed. This time, I wanted to feel good. Sure, I’ve gained some weight since we graduated from high school, but so what? Lots of girls from my class have put on a few pounds. I walked in there feeling great and was surprised to realize I really didn’t care if my classmates noticed my weight. I saw that several of the other girls were wearing clothes that covered them up (like I used to wear), hoping to conceal their larger middles or more ample behinds. None of them looked comfortable or confident. I walked in there and owned who I am and I felt amazing. Maybe they thought I looked good, maybe they didn’t, but I had a great time and felt unstoppable, and it made all the difference.
Many times, my friends have said my ex-husband must see me now and wonder what happened. I never looked or acted like this, even in my twenties when I weighed considerably less. There’s much to be said for shedding one’s skin, dumping one’s baggage, and looking forward. I used to look back with disdain for my old self. I was embarrassed at how much I had let myself go and how I didn’t care at all about how I looked. But now I realize I needed to go through that to get here. The old me is someone to be proud of, doing the best she could with a shitty situation. Now I embrace that old me and hope that she would be proud of the new (and still improving) me and know that she helped me get here.
I know all of this might sound incredibly conceited, but really, I’m in awe of all I’ve accomplished. I’m a better me in pretty much every area of my life: my job performance has drastically improved, my general attitude has improved, and I’m definitely a much better mom now. So no, I won’t apologize for tooting my own horn occasionally because for the first time in a very long time, I feel like I have something to toot about.