Tag Archives: learning to love yourself

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.

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I catapulted into the passenger seat of the car wearing the most convincing grin I could find before leaving the house.

I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t wanted her to accuse me. I didn’t want the argument. I wanted to ramble about the things I was sure of: the weather. My shoe size. My craving for the evening entree: Mexican. Definitely Mexican. 

“So, how…” she started to speak.

“We had a really great day,” I cut her off quickly. “We spent it hiking. And we didn’t fight at all. It was like we were starting all over again. It was great.”

We sat in silence for a tiny eternity before she pressed her hand to the gear and pushed it into reverse. “Hannah,” she whispered.

Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

“One day does not change the last year of your life.” 

 

Hi, my name is Hannah Brencher and I am a retired member of the “I Tried to Fix You” Club. I’ve resigned from my position as secretary of the “Please, Just Change” Club. I’ve stopped knocking my gavel at the “Tomorrow Things Will Be Different” Club.

I’ve been there, floating on the dang door in the icy ocean, holding tight to someone who is dying right in front of me. I’ve been the one to say, “I’ll never let go.” And I’ve learned the pain that comes in loosening the grip simply because we don’t always stumble into the people who ask us to hold on. Some people have never wanted that of us.

Sometimes we stumble, crash, collide, and even fall in love with people that walk away. It happens. That’s life. Cue Frank Sinatra.

But that story of mine goes back to a bad year. A year full of fighting. A year full of tumult & tears. A year spent wondering what it would cost to walk away. How would things turn? How would they tumble? And could we stand on our own anymore? And where, oh, where was the guidebook– the handbook, the dictionary, the Wikipedia site– for all of us who got so tangled in Another Soul that we forgot who we were apart from another pair of hands. Another pair of arms. Two eyes that always saw us through?

 

I used to put my whole body into relationships.

I used to turn to a speck, a glitter, beside someone else.

I’d be sucked dry of self esteem and left hanging on the every word of boys who should have never needed to validate me like a Taylor Swift ballad. I cried at night after parties, my tiny body on the floor wondering how vodka brought so much honesty & heartbreak through my bloodstream, imagining the day in which I would take the concrete shoes off. The day I would walk away finally. The day I would finally face the mirror and ask, “And who are you, girl?” Who. Are. You?

I never wanted my fingerprints on that question. I never wanted to dance with the Ugly I found inside of me. I’d rather pour my energy into fixing someone. And healing someone else. And be a big ol’ bandage to anyone who ever came to me with their heart in their hands. And staying in relationships as flimsy as scotch tape houses if it meant I could focus on holding up anything other than me.

 

It was nearing 2am.

Her words kept rubbing against me as I crossed and uncrossed my legs on the floor.

“One day does not change the last year of your life.” 

“One day does not change the last year of your life.” 

I was alone now.

And I’d stayed up to plow through India and learn to love in Bali.

I was reaching the edge of “Eat, Pray, Love.” In a quiet house that held the snores of my parents somewhere within it, I was reaching the point in the journey where Elizabeth Gilbert would dot her last sentence. Leave me there. To start my own path towards fixing whatever was broken. Replacing whatever was lost.

I was alone now. The texts weren’t coming any longer. There were no goodnight kisses or someone to battle with over who loved who more. And I felt aloneness for the first time. It was the first sense of knowing that I was on my own. It would stay that way.

And it was strange but lovely to feel like, for the first time, it was time for my own repairs. The fog was clearing and it was just fine to learn the art of putting myself back together again. Without all the king’s horsemen. Or all the king’s men. 

I felt more worth it in that moment than ever before.

I sucked the last line in deep. I closed the book and folded my legs up around me. I whispered to the spaces that always hold God at night, “I don’t know what I was made for.”

I didn’t know what God was scratching his chin about on the day He decided that there’d be a little girl with freckled limbs & wild red hair. I didn’t know if He sang. If He danced. If He wrote a poem and sat in a cloud of a canopy for the rest of the afternoon.

But He had gone through the trouble & the tumble to make me. And I was a being who cried separately, who dreamed apart, who could walk away. It might take a few steps, a few falls, a few mistakes, but I could walk away. And stand alone. And learn to fix the wings so stitched for flight.

And, in that moment, knowing just that was enough.

It was enough to start over. It was enough to stay walking on the path towards Away.

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Beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

The secret to a life well-lived is beautiful skin. A whittled waistline and “stop him dead in his tracks” pick up lines. The right pair of shoes. A clean diet (one that will try to convince you is not based upon deprivation). Great sex. A slim body and a fat wallet. A swimsuit that fits your shape. Flat abs that take less than 15 minutes a day to maintain. Makeup that feels like it is barely there. And looking better naked.

At least this is what the world tells me as I walk out the door each morning.

My hands detected the worth and weight of beauty magazines at the age of 12 and I was never the same again. I flipped through the glossy pages where pretty girls smiled back at me and home remedies made promises that I don’t think they were ever fully equipped to keep. As I traced the Perfect Lips. Lashes. Long Flowing Hair. I remember thinking to myself, “I never realized I had this much to fix.I never knew I was missing so much.” I never realized I was this broken.

We digest the pages of these magazines and websites as though they are the 300-calorie sandwich with only 217 milligrams of sodium that sits and waits for us on page 112.

We are fed this idea that the key to true satisfaction and real happiness is somewhere amidst a butt-toning workout and a cream that makes cellulite vanish. We stay hungry over the fact that we can chalk life up to being obsessed with outward appearance, to Always Needing to Fix Something. And as a result? We never need to put away the tool belt, fully loaded with 8-minute abs and voluminous mascara.

If we always have some outer glitch to fix- To Make Our Thighs Smaller, Our Love Handles A Little More Lovely- then we never have to stare inward. We can abandon a quest for inner piece in order to make a journey towards a clear complexion. We never need to shred emotional baggage when Jillian Michaels and P90X promise us a different- more visible- kind of shred.

A great friend of mine spent time building a medical clinic near an all girls orphanage in Latin America and I saw the revelation in his eyes as he told me about the beautiful little girls. Little Girls who missed arms & legs & limbs and yet found nothing to miss at all. “But they were the happiest children I had ever seen, ” he told me. “Because they had not been taught that they were missing something.

We are floundering in a culture that wants to convince us that we are missing something. Constantly Missing. Seven Steps Away From Perfection. Perfect Thighs. Perfect Curves. Perfect Lovers. Perfect Days. What would happen to all those magazines and reality TV shows and billboards if we looked in the mirror and realized we were missing nothing. That it was all there. Sitting abundantly on both our insides and outsides.

That we could stop in our own reflection stand there without an ounce of pressing time itching at our ankles.  To realize the most radiant element on our faces was not half off at WalMart yesterday. To say confidently to our inner selves, “You are not missing things. You are wonderful just the way you are. You are whole.

Whole in a world that tells us we are empty. Full in a world that tells us we are hungry. Content in a world that tells us we are unsatisfied. Here. Right Here. All Parts Intact. In a world that convinces us that we are missing vital parts. Parts that will fulfill us, happiness that sits on a shelf for $4.99, beauty that comes in six shades of red and seven different sizes.

At some point we decide that we are going to pull away, that we are going to shun our ears from the messages that seek to pierce us and make us feel less than worthy. It is not an easy task. A task that never meets perfection. But little by little we allow ourselves to put down the tool belt, put down the coupons and the washed up images of the “way we used to look” to stop and see that all we ever needed never cost us $19.99 and our own self esteem as a sacrifice.

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Filed under Beauty, Healthy Lifestyle, Love Yourself, Women