Recently, my husband and I drove from Ontario, Canada to Miami, Florida, U.S.A., took a round-trip cruise to the Bahamas, got back in our car, and drove home. Over 6,000 km. all together. It was a good trip. We had great weather, no mishaps, good food, good beds, and good company.
But, as hard as I try, I’m not a great traveller. I get nervous when I am away, and when I get nervous, I get self-conscious. And when I got on that cruise ship, where everyone was wearing their best, skimpy summer clothes, I became, once again, hyper-aware of my body. Such an old, old story for me, one I may carry with me to my deathbed. A story that, thankfully, doesn’t appear much when I am home and safe, but returns with neon signs and fireworks when I am out of my comfort zone. Like on a cruise ship. Every article of clothing I put on was judged harshly in that full length mirror in that tiny stateroom. Lots of big sighs in such a small space.
So, on the last night of our cruise, we decided to go to one of the nice restaurants on the ship. I put on a dress, and my best red shoes and I thought I looked very pretty and I looked at my husband and he looked at me, and…nothing. I wanted him to say “You look beautiful”. He didn’t. And I got upset, and I left.
I wandered around the ship until I found a quiet spot to sit and watch the ocean. I felt sad. A little angry. Why can’t my husband, after 23 years, just know that I, a girl who is self-conscious about her weight and is all about words, need some reassuring ones said to me? Don’t I deserve that? I sat there feeling miserable, fighting off the tears that were threatening to fill my eyes.
And then I remembered.
It’s not my husband’s job to make me feel good about myself. It’s mine. I am who I believe I am. It’s my choice. And I started to list the things that I am. I am beautiful, inside and out. I am kind. I am smart. I am a spark of the divine. I am beautiful, inside and out. I am beautiful, inside and out. I AM BEAUTIFUL, INSIDE AND OUT.
I sat there for over an hour, repeating this mantra in my head. I started to really look at where I was, and I felt immense gratitude. I was floating along on a beautiful ocean, in a comfortable chair, in nice clothes, waiting to go eat an incredible meal. Life was very good. I was incredibly fortunate.
I met my husband at the restaurant, and although there was a wee part of me that wanted to slap him upside the head for not telling me that I looked pretty, I let it go. We talked about it later that evening, and, since that day, I have used those words over and over.
I say them in my head, so that I don’t forget. I am beautiful, inside and out. I say them out loud to make my husband laugh. “I’m going to have the shrimp and grits, and do you know why? Because I am beautiful, inside and out.” Last night, as we were lying in bed, drifting off to sleep, my husband said “Michelle, you are beautiful, inside and out” And I said “Thank you, so are you”. Because he is. And so are you. You are beautiful, inside and out. Truly.