This is an incredibly personal post and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable for putting it out there, but I’ve had it written in my head for a few years now, I figured it was time. 

My mother in law wanted a family photo. One with all of her kids, their spouses and the grandkids. In one photo. At one time. My mother in law has four kids. Her oldest son is married and has four kids, her second son is unmarried, her third son is Matt, and her youngest, a daughter, is married with a son. The kids ages range from Audrey, at 22 months to A.T. who is almost 12.

In one photo.

But because we love our mother in law, we acquiesced and we all planned to meet at Matt’s oldest brother’s house where they would have a photographer waiting.

I may seem on the outside to be an outgoing person, but self-confidence hasn’t come easy. Any given day of the week, if someone were to say to me, wear gym casual attire, I’d be set. But when I have to wear something that’s even the slightest bit dressy, I go from feeling confident to the ugliest girl in the world in a matter of a few seconds.

I teach five classes a week, and yet I still don’t feel like I look the part. I don’t write this for sympathy or for people to come out and say, “Oh! But you’re wrong!” Mostly because I know what I see in the mirror. I see tired. I see plain. I see eh.

This happens every time I’m near Matt’s family. They’re always so well put together and even though I’ve been in the family a decade, I still feel like an outsider. Completely because I’ve put myself there. I’m a stranger to the traditional family scene and I’m still working on how I can fit in while being myself. I’m incredibly outspoken and I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, and they’re probably the kindest, most normal people I’ve ever met, and it’s still hard to find where I fit.

I’ve never felt as if I’m interesting enough or do things that are worth talking about. When I get to a gathering, I make up in my mind that I must be quiet because no one cares what I have to say. Or if I do decide to talk, talk about the kids.

Truth is, Matt’s family is very beautiful. And every time we get together, I immediately feel frumpy and so plain. It’s hard enough being a woman in this day and age when everyone is constantly judging you, but when you judge yourself? Game over. And I lose every time. I am my worst critic and it shows in the ten minutes before we have to leave the house to go, and I’m changing my clothes for the tenth time and I’m looking at my face in the mirror and sighing.

And then I turn around and see Claire or Mae watching me. What am I teaching them about beauty? How can I show the girls how to love themselves for everything they are when I don’t even find myself to be beautiful? I’ve struggled with this for a long time, mostly starting around the time of Tony’s death, which is subsequently when everything changed for me, and the only way I felt release was by cutting.

I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want them to feel so awful and self-isolated that they have to resort to that awful world. I don’t want them to punch themselves in the face because they’re not good enough. Because they don’t look like the girls in the magazines. Because they have to wear makeup to look halfway decent, unlike the other girls who can get away with a clean face and confidence. I don’t want them to feel that feeling in the pit of their stomach when they know they have less than 10 minutes to get ready for a gathering where everyone else looks better and feels better than they do.

I don’t want that for them. I want them to know that they do good things. That they have good taste in music and books. That they are incredibly strong physically and strong willed. That they do good for animals and humans alike. That they can draw really well and are pretty good at Sudoku. That they have a really good life. That there’s more to beauty than what they see in the mirror.

Mostly, I wish I could say that to me.

What is beauty? Because I really, really want to be beautiful.

About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on January 4, 2015, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. For what it’s worth, I have distinct memory of being envious of you in highschool. Everyone adored you. You were friends with everyone, were pretty and thin. I had a lot of mental struggles in highschool that affected me well into my 20s (and today) but leaving the bullies (some of whom were my “best friends”) behind was the best decision I could make.

    Furthermore, I do, to some extent understand where you are coming from. I do the same thing. I work from home, and have very few friends in MN (I didn’t have many in San Diego, but it was much easier when you lived within minutes of the ocean/ beach and it was almost always sunny and warm enough to be outside). I have very few reasons to get dressed beyond workout clothes, which I’m in now, put on real makeup, wear a real bra… It wears on you. Summer is a bit better, as I can toss on a flowy dress and “boom, I’m dressed” but in the winter, there are less options to hide your insecurities and look/ feel good doing it. It’s tough, and know it’s a mental thing, but that doesn’t change the way I look at myself sometimes/ often. I also do the “nobody wants to hear your stories. Nobody cares what you have to say” when I’m with family/ co-workers, etc.

    You’re one of my favorite people to follow on social media because I admire the strength you have and the way you’re raising your kids. I think it’s incredible that, despite having four kids and a busy husband, you get SO much done. You do so much with and for your child, for the fosters that you bring into your home, and for the ARL in general. You appear to take care of your body with the foods you prepare (teaching your kids healthy lifestyles, too), running, teaching at the gym, and overall, taking the kids to dance class/ taekwando, inspiring everyone with your thought provoking posts on health, wellness, bullying, art, controversial topics in the news… The lists goes on.

    We’re our toughest critics, and it’s hard to shut off the voices in your head, but from an outsiders point-of-view, I think you’re strong, smart, beautiful and raising four kids amazingly.

  2. I don’t think you are alone in feeling this (though I do think you’re beautiful and very striking). When I look in the mirror I see my weight and my flyaway and my inability to do anything presentable with my hair. I don’t really do makeup. Most of the time it’s fine by me, but I have those insecure moments with parties and pictures and thin in laws. You are right though, we do the best we can to muster confidence and try not to communicate those insecurities to our daughters.

  3. We as women, are our worst enemies. I run from cameras. You are a goddess in the eyes of the people you love the most. They are beautiful, too, BECAUSE of you. Stand up straight for the photographer and flash them your beautiful smile, and know it is reflected in the smiles of your lovely, kind children.

  4. Real beauty lies in loving, and being loved… do, and you are.

  5. I could say that I think you are beautiful inside and out (because I do – so there, I said it!), but that probably won’t really change a thing? I think I know that (and of course I might be totally wrong) because I am quite the same, as are probably many women and men. I do not really have self-confidence – I trained it somewhat, but as soon as a certain situation arises, or somebody says something triggering or gives me a weird look, it all goes out the window and I feel like I did in my teen years – insecure, not interesting, worthless or at least not worth a lot, numb and at the same time simply in too much pain and with too many overwhelming feelings which the cutting helps with, …
    The bad news is that only we can change all that. We have to do the work to really learn to see our beauty, inside and out, to not devalue ourselves when comparing with other people but to see and admire them for who they are and to see and admire ourselves for who we are.
    The good news is that we are aware of the problem, and we know that we can do something about it or at least try again and again, even after we might have failed so many times. Because our daughters and sisters and mothers and friends are worth it, and because we are worth it to try to change how women are looked at by first changing how we look at ourselves.

  6. if you got into your in-laws heads, they probably feel the same. You probably make them feel insecure about something as well. I don’t know that anyone is completely comfortable and secure with themselves.

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