Monday, May 22, 2006

Me Talk Pretty One Day*

I learned a really good lesson over the weekend. It's something that most women deal with. Almost all of us have a fat day, a fat week, a fat year. I've yet to have a friend who hasn't said to me on occasion that she hates her new haircut or that she needs new clothes. Your skin is never perfectly clear enough, nails too short and eyebrows in need of a wax. Our careers not good enough, staying at home isn't as satisfying as you dreamt it would be. Your expectations, your standards, never met. Some days love isn't enough, your current situation isn't enough and most of all sometimes you wonder, when did you not become enough.

Jon and I were so excited last Friday when my Mother offered to watch Noah while we went out to dinner and a movie. Over the past six months or so, we haven't been able to spend much time alone together. We missed talking, we missed feeling young. Noah was born nine months and two days after our wedding day and so each time we do get out, it feels like catching up on lost newlywed time for me. Sure we had nine months and two days to say goodbye to our carefree youth, to enjoy each other, to have fun. But those of you who have children know, from the moment you find out you are pregnant with your first child, especially one that is a bit of a surprise, those nine months are consumed with planning,deciding,as with us, moving, painting, buying, being exhausted, being scared , not consumed with newlywed bliss or travel or relaxing.

We decided on Cafe Habana for dinner. I admit I was a pain, complaining to Jon about how I hated myself. I was having one of those days, a real self loathing day. I complained about how fat I was, about how my clothes didn't look good, how I was getting old, how I wasn't cool or creative anymore. I went on about my new haircut and how much I hated it. How the cut made me feel more ugly than I have even felt, how I was so sad that I let this happen.I went on and on. I can't think of anything more unattractive than a person talking about how unattractive they are. Deep down inside, when you feel like I did on Friday, you just want to be invisible. So that's kind of what I did.

As we finished up dinner I tried to be a little more fun. I put on a smile for Jon and chatted about something other than my lack of self esteem. It was good that we were out, it's fun! Our dinners were both delicious, we had each other, we only had to pay for on the meters for one more hour until they went free. Life is good. Yes, you can sometimes hate yourself and forget it for a while.

Then low and behold, who should suddenly walk out of Cafe Habana's door and stand at the window we were seated next to but my very most favorite blogging chick EVER, Melissa from Suburban Bliss! I almost pee'd in my pants. I mean this was big, this was very big! It's none other than Suburban Bliss! She's Doocer than Dooce and I like Dooce a lot too! For those of you who don't know, that's really pretty cool.

I was in shock and frozen. I said "Jon! That's Melissa from Suburban Bliss"! and he said "Wow! Well, hurry, why don;t you go introduce yourself"! "I can't"! I said. "Why"!? Jon yelled. "Because" I answered. "I just can't, I look too bad. I'm too embarrassed".

Regardless of the fact that they were on a date and probably wanted to be left alone, regardless that I would have seemed like a complete weirdo on the street. It was just so sad that here was one of my most admired writers, someone who's words really speak to me and make a difference in my life. Someone that I look up to and just wanted to thank but couldn't because I felt so ugly and embarrassed.

They walked away, Melissa and her husband Logan. I remember thinking how cool they looked in person, just like on Suburban Bliss.

After dinner Jon and I took a walk, wandered into a store or two. Then we crossed the street an headed in another direction. Sure enough, Melissa and Logan came down the street right for us. I panicked. All I could think of was my mushroom-like haircut, the ugly dark circles under my eyes, how I felt like a chubby round ball in weird clothes. I couldn't let me blogging icon see me this way. Not that she would even recognize me, but who knows, you never know. So I took off in the other direction, dragging Jon with me.

"You're crazy". He said. "Why are you acting like this"? It was so hard to explain. I wish that I was able to better. I wanted to cry. Who, WHO was this insecure, self-hating person I had become!? I didn't recognize myself. How did I become this person and not even know it? This was not me, this wasn't the Lauren that married Jonathan, this wasn't even the Lauren of October 2004. It was more recent, but sneaked up on me month by month, failure by failure.

We walked. I headed for the nearest salon. Desperate, I went in and asked if anyone could help me, could fix my hair. Unfortunately nobody was available and so I left with the same mushroom on my head, no quick fix for a broken self esteem.

The evening was pretty much ruined due to my stupidity, to being wrapped up in negative feelings, for feeling badly. We decided to skip the movie we had planned to watch and instead headed home where the Internet swallowed each of us whole as it usually does on any given night.

I had plenty of time to think about what I had become and how to change things. It struck me how unfortunate it was that my own lack of self-esteem put up a wall and stopped me from doing something that I really wanted to do, say "hello" to Melissa.

Then I saw THIS.

And it hit me. She's the same.

Here I am, afraid to say "hello" because of my lame haircut and Melissa is going through and has gone through in the past the same doubts! She doesn't love her new haircut either! Well, she likes the side and the back but not the front. The point is, is God, we're all human!!!

I let this dumb stuff stop me. We are all so hard on ourselves, especially women. We are critical of ourselves to a point where it can get unhealthy. It's not a good thing. The worst part, we are much harder on our own selves than anyone else and don't even realize it!

It was a light bulb moment, we need to be kind. We need to be kind to ourselves. We need to find worth, we need to try and understand, we need to accept. It's not about lowering the bar or letting yourself go. It's just about learning to like yourself along the way. I think women would be much happier, myself included, if we had some pride in who we are. If you find even an ounce of confidence and build upon it, that's a life changing thing.

So, one day this mushroom haircut will grow out. Perhaps one year I will find myself in really good shape and have the money for a great wardrobe. Maybe I will accomplish great things small and large, have the dear self-esteem I have always searched for. And maybe, just maybe, someday I will be able to proudly walk up to Suburban Bliss and say "Hi. My name is Lauren, it's nice to meet you".

*By the way, in case you are wondering, this is the title of a David Sedaris book.


Jonathan said...

My take on Friday night - "That was a nice evening. Dinner was good and I enjoyed my wife's company. We should do this again sometime."

One thing I should point out is that we're not totally anti-social, we weren't typing away in different rooms on separate computers. We spent some time after dinner looking at t-shirts together (, and we went to Trader Joe's. They were almost totally out of beer, maybe because the Pistons were playing.

To me it's equivalent to watching a movie but more interactive; the web is just a different form of entertainment. I challenge anyone to look at and not spend at least an hour mentally trying on shirts.

Kendra Lynn said...

Dear, sweet, BEAUTIFUL Lauren,
I'm sorry you had a low-self esteem night. I have ruined more dates that way! A few times we never even made it to the restaurant because I was so down on myself that Scott couldn't handle it.
Count yourself blessed that you made it to dinner and back home without a lecture. :)
As you know, I think you are lovely...always have and always will.
Its the inside that counts...even though that's hard for us to believe. Scott always tells me that the biggest turn-on for a guy is not how the girl looks, but is her confidence level. If she presents herself in a sexy, confident way, then she IS sexy and confident. It doesn't matter what your hair or body looks like, exude confidence and sexiness...and that is beautiful.
Let's face it, any of us who have had kids will NEVER make it back to the body shape we once had. Sigh. That is the hardest thing for me. I can live with the grey hair, but the fact that my body is never going to go back to my pre-pregnancy shape, that's killin' me.
I know where you are coming from, and I feel just as you do.
But know this, I think you are beautiful...inside AND out.

Melissa said...

So so so funny and sad but also funny.

I absolutely know what you mean and I wish I had the answer for it but God it's sad that so many of us are walking around with that on our shoulders.

Because Friday night? I felt like a dump too I'd raced to get groceries while friends were watching the kids, Logan was late coming home because of work.

Next time though you should say hi. (I've been known to do the exact same thing though!)

FYI Jonathan: Trader Joe's has been out of (most) beers for like 3 weeks! I'm in shock. I thought maybe they were phasing it out entirely.

Lauren said...

Ha! Ha ha ha. ha! I am laughing at myslef. Ha! I am laughing because it's much better than hating myself for being a being a dork last weeked. Oh hee hee, that was a funny story.

Thanks for all of the very sweet and encouraging words Kendra, really.I'm lucky to have a friend in you.

Melissa,if that was your impersonation of a "dumpy" day. You're not very good at it! Next time I'll say "hi".

Thanks you guys!

Judy said...

Hey Lauren!

Now, not knowing you before blogging and before Noah, I'd say you are a VERY attractive gal. See, I would see *you* walking down the street and turn the other way, thinking I wasn't looking my best.

(((HUGS))) to you.

chuyia said...

Oh man, I am laughing my ass off. I sat here and read the whole post, nodding my premenstrual head in affirmation, and then I read Jonathan's take on Friday night, and nearly lost my mouthful of beverage. Priceless!

SO said...

I read Melissa's blog faithfully every day. I love her! Lauren, you ARE beautiful!!! I can totally relate to your story though, every bit of it. And this is why I never get my haircut. The few times I've had a hair cut I've been mortified. So now I don't bother.. just a trim from time to time, which some how makes me feel ugly too!!

VenturaMom said...

Wonderful post!! Really spot-on. I too have fallen victim to haircut shame/tubby belly shame/ill-fitting clothes shame. Shame on us. We need some sort of website just for when we feel like that. It will pop up with a random cute-but-not-threatening gal who will say, "You're hair looks great. Have you switched shampoo? And I really like that top. Have a swell day!" Maybe Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls. Could work.

PS - you're a very talented writer.

VenturaMom said...

PPS - I have an irrational fear of running into Mrs. Kennedy from since she lives about 15 miles North of me. She is thin and does yoga. I am not thin and do donuts. So I also feel your pain re: the whole Melissa thing. And I have a girl crush on Melissa. Why do I suddenly feel I am confessing my sins? Gotta go!

SUEB0B said...

You are so lovely. And you are young! Appreciate your loveliness and youngness while you have it...I don't mean to sound like a bitter 45-year-old, because the self-consciousness actually gets better as you get older...which is odd, considering that my body is busy going straight to hell.

Natalie said...

I so hear you. But you know since I became a 'surprise!' mom 13 years ago I have felt so many of the same emotions. Now with old age (hit the big 40 last month) I realize it is time for change dammit! I am going to work the bod into a resemblence of my past life and get on with it. Too many fun opportunities lost worrying about how people think I look dammit. I suggest you do the same!

Mama Pajama said...

Yikes - the hair traumas are worst. My most recent, a little something I like to a call the 'side mullet', had me running around for days in a hat until my regular stylist took me in and chopped it off. Of course now I'm back to growing it out...AGAIN.

But that's not the point is it? I feel a little sad that so many of the amazing, smart, talented and oh yes, beautiful, women I know can burrow in their insecurities so deeply that suddenly they can see nothing else.

I think most of know that the reverse can be true as well - on our confident days we can feel sexy as hell in jeans & a t-shirt. How exactly we cultivate the latter and eradicate the former? Well, that's what therapy is for, no?!

This is my first visit to your site (via Suburban Bliss) and from what I've seen - you've got every reason to live in a sea of confident days. And you are without a doubt still a very creative person!