A great minister friend of mine asked me to be careful not to make my site or speaking engagements “hen parties focused on male-bashing.” I try to ensure that this is a positive place for me to share my growth with others and a place for those who are enduring/have survived these trials to relate. While at times I may share intimate details regarding my dating disasters, railroaded relationships and crashed coupledom, it is only to illustrate that I am not my scars—I am the woman who rose above them!
That being said, I felt the need to share a moment of clarity. I’d just worked my 1st 11 hour work day of the year, serviced more than 50 students via phone and office visits and somehow dragged myself home to cook dinner for the little one. In short, I was exhausted. The suitor stopped by, saw me in sweatpants sans makeup and looked me up and down disapprovingly. “Why are you in sweatpants? Where is your makeup? Where is your lip gloss? You know I expect perfection,” he said to me in front of my daughter, as he twisted his face in disdain. This was 8:30 at night on a very busy, turbulent Monday and my first 11 hour work day; not even a visit from the POTUS or Jay-Z and Beyonce themselves could have made me put heels on that night after the day I’d had.
It’s one of those moments where you just know the relationship dynamic will forever be changed. Never mind the fact that he was not sensitive to my physical and mental exhaustion. What his words were telling me (and in front of my child, no less) was, “I can’t be safe with you. If I stay with you, I will be forced to masquerade for you like I do the rest of the world. I can’t EVER remove my mask (makeup) and show you me. I can’t be vulnerable with you; you prefer the pretense---the razzle-dazzle, the façade the show.” All shows, dear reader, come to an end.
Why am I telling you this? Because transparency is important. In any intimate relationship, parent/child, sibling/sibling, friend/friend, boo thing/significant other, DEMAND the safety to be you, your true authentic, organic, amazing self! If you are with someone where you are forced to wear a mask to make them comfortable or to make them accept you, one of two things will happen. One-you will tire of the charade and the real you will eventually surface. Two-you will continue the charade but eventually start to resent them and the relationship will unravel anyway. Before I start getting emails from the guys stating there is nothing wrong with wanting to see their woman dressed up, let me concur! I totally agree with you. There is nothing wrong with a woman looking nice for her man (or for herself, for that matter). There is nothing wrong with her WANTING to.
There IS, however, something wrong with him mandating “perfection,” as this gentleman would remind me every time I had a pimple on my face or wore flats instead of heels. He would callously point out every flaw to the point that the insecure me was beginning to resurface. The freedom to be myself is so amazing and priceless and I have come to value it more and more as I age. I’m joining the throng women who are comfortable in their own skin and realize their worth and what they have to offer and understand that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that ANY man who only looks at the charisma of their external not the content of their internal, probably doesn’t deserve her anyway. Yea you!!! I’m finally there. I demand the freedom to be transparent and mask-free. I demand the freedom to be me. And I have done a LOT of self work (crying, reflecting, journaling, praying, accepting, soul-searching) to be able to love ALL of me. Any man vying for a position in my heart has to love all of me too. Whether I am in sweatpants or stilettos.
So, now comes the last disclaimer. I look back on my growth and I have to give honor where it’s due. I recognize the “iron that sharpens iron,”------the friends, mentors, and loved ones who have at times seen the need to grow me up out of some stuff. The ones who have told me, gently and with love, when I needed course correction in an area. So, dear reader, this blog is NOT about being incapable to accept constructive criticism. This post is NOT about being complacent, stuck in your ways or stubborn as one matures into her character, career or purpose. THIS post is about being uncompromisingly aware of your worth and being unwillingly to barter it for anything and anyone. This blog is about not letting your circumstances or the comments of others destroy your self-esteem.
What I learned from our brief courtship is that the standard of perfection is not only unrealistic, it is impossible! I heard an incredible, dynamic preacher of a multi-campus, million-member church say that he doesn’t go to sleep at night hoping to have everything done perfectly, having completed every task on his to-do last or having gotten it all right. If you or someone else has placed that ridiculous expectation on yourself, stop it. NOW! Do you best? Yes. Keep growing? Yes. But beat yourself up for not being perfect (or allow someone else to)? NO! Be you. The best, amazing, authentic, healed, thriving, confident, true you that you can be and love that you unapologetically!