I’ve had several of my close girlfriends tell me what an amazing book Girl, Wash Your Face is. I even came close to purchasing it, but my arm was already overloaded with my fiction novels and children’s Gerald and Piggie collection. I always talk about signs and something nagged at me for not getting this book. After all, I have my shit relatively together… did I need another self-help “You got this guuurrrlll” booster? Not really…
I spent much of my early life, happy. I did not have a tumultuous home, money was not tight, we had no true hardships to battle. I was always well aware of my “luck” – 1. because I am a very observant person, even as a child. But 2. Because I was reminded of this everyday by my peers.
You’re rich. (I wasn’t)
You’re lucky. (Sure, I was in comparison)
You’re too serious all the time. (Again with the observant child thing – Yes, I was always studying people. I was curious about how relationships developed, curious why it was easier to others than myself.)
I’m not sure if people are born with self-esteem, confidence or if it’s something we develop, but I wasn’t lucky in that. I was always tiny, shapeless, average. I was either unnoticed or purposely ignored or when I was noticed – it was to be picked on.
BUT – I was still a happy person. I had my couple of close friends and I was more than happy with that. I didn’t need to be popular, I just wanted to be accepted by the people I considered my friends. Over the years, that however, became sticky, lines blurred and I learned the harsh realities of teenage girldom.
My first boyfriend ever happened to be the person who took my own control away from me. I gave him some and he just took it all and couldn’t care less about the damage he’d done that would ripple into the my decisions and relationships for many, many years after. He relished in destroying me – and I don’t blame him for this. I wanted to, I still do, but I have to see that he was broken. He did not have that luck like I did growing up.
For 3 years I allowed this person to chip away at me, to take my happiness, my honesty – with myself and others, my freedom, my creativity – all of the parts of me that were still developing and needed nurturing he stole. And I allowed it, I take personal responsibility quite serious now. Was it abusive? It was. In many ways that I don’t find necessary to discuss, but believe me – I was no longer that lucky, average girl. I had learned to lie – to make things look fine because nobody likes a cry baby. Nobody likes to look at the lucky girl with “rich” parents and good grades and hear that she’s having a hard time.
So, I kept up this lie. I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint my parents, I didn’t want to bother the few real friends I had and I didn’t want to go through the embarrassment of a breakup… I knew people were waiting for it – hoping for it so that they could torture me over it.
They already were.
It took 3 long years to find out why I was so painfully unhappy. I prayed in church every Sunday to fix it. To make him better, to make things easier to make our relationship work. I’m not sure when or how or even why, but I finally took a long, hard look in the mirror and realized that I was praying for the wrong things.
I was sitting in my car today, listening to the audio book of Girl, Wash Your Face. My kids fussing at each other in the backseat on the way to school, my wet hair dripping into my bra, my stress building as the minutes passed, traffic slowed and I was very close to being late to school – for me, late is on time… it’s a curse I’ve put upon myself since I started to wash my face.
This woman wrote my life, wrote the words I wish I had and just in the first few chapters as I raced, safely to school after having woken up early to go for my run before taking Cori to school… I wasn’t “inspired” but validated. I felt a connection to this woman who had other struggles and overcame them by taking back her life, her control and owning her own happiness.
Leaving that boyfriend and rebuilding my life took a lot of soul searching. A lot of faith in God and myself – it was the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, to date. Everything in my life began to fall into place. I figured out what I wanted of myself because in that look in the mirror, I was 30-40 lbs heavier, tired, fraying at all ends of my life from so much lack of inner strength. I had been sleeping for years and waking up, finally, was overwhelming. I was waking up everyday trying though, and I stand today now… STILL trying… why? Should there be a point we don’t have to try?
Always ALWAYS try!
There will always be things that make you unhappy – but now I have the tools to know how to navigate that. Last week was a low point emotionally for me. My husband has been working away a lot, away more than home and I require more emotionally of him where he requires very little emotion. We balance a lot of the time but there are ebbs and flows in our friendship and marriage (like any other) that needs a little maintenance from time to time. I finally decided to talk to him about it – to be honest.
Honesty was one of the things I promised myself all those years ago. IF I was going to be happy, if I was going to go on this journey with myself and expect certain things from the people I allow in my life, I was going to work my hardest to BE what I would like others to be to me. It’s a hell of a lot easier than how things used to be. It takes a lot of understanding, patience and grace to talk to your spouse (or anyone – including yourself) about the things that are hurting you. Things they are doing that are hurting you. I didn’t want to be unfair to the extreme stress he’s under, but I also knew I needed to tell him how I felt and we talked it over and I love him more today. Not because the problems are fixed, but because he talked to me about them and we are in this together, for better or worse, always and my fears are losing people I love for being myself. My husband won’t leave me because I need him.
I share my life openly and as honestly as possible. I hold to commitments I make to myself, my husband, my children, my friends and family because I want to be accountable. I want to be someone to be counted on when someone I love needs it. I have found things that make me happy so when I am feeling down and vulnerable, I can help myself to perk back up and know what IS in my control and what is not… and also know that what is NOT in my control… is ok.
Because it’s ok to be sad or unhappy or angry or frustrated or irrational, at times even… because we have the ability to re group, to take a minute to breathe and try again. It’s a journey we should give ourselves the chance to go on. It’s ok to have feelings – but what is NOT OK is to allow negative feelings to hold you back, hold you down and give you excuses not to be YOU.
Rachel Hollis – You’ll never see this, but thank you. Thank you SO much for writing this book.