beautiful |

Beautiful like me.

DenaJune 20, 2014

beautiful |

Something happened when I turned thirty. I started loving myself again.

In the months leading up to Roman’s first birthday, I fell apart. It was a regular self-hate fest around here. I was angry, sad, and mostly — disappointed — in myself because I had not lost all of the “baby weight” by the one-year point. You know how these things happen. Negative thoughts and self-doubt are quiet and scattered at first.

What am I going to wear to Roman’s party? Nothing fits me.

Then they get louder and meaner.

What a slob I am! I can’t believe that Roman was born a year ago and I still don’t fit into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes. How humiliating! Everyone is going to be staring at me, judging me. I have truly failed. I am ugly. I am old. Being a mother has aged me ten years in twelve months. Look at her! She looks amazing. She looks better than she did before baby and it’s only been five months!

And on and on it goes. A terrible runaway train of self-cruelty. It spirals and worsens. And then one day you find yourself in a heap, crying all over your beautiful duvet, at two o’clock on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. Yes, that’s how it happens.

It’s awful and I am still ashamed, but now I am not ashamed at the extra sixteen pounds of fat strewn across various parts of my body, but rather I am ashamed that I ever treated myself so poorly. I am ashamed that I forgot that I am a queen, a warrior, a goddess who accomplished the most incredible feat of womanly magic.

So fucking what if I do not fit into the jeans that I wore before I carried, grew, and pushed my precious child into this world? So fucking what if I never do again?

What matters is being healthy. What matters is being happy. What matters is being the best woman and mother that I am capable of being. The depression that self-doubt put me in, made me anything but healthy or happy. It was all emotional eating, binging, and lethargy. Thankfully, I’ve worked my way out of that dark hole. I fell off track. But I am back, and I am grateful.

I don’t compare myself to anyone else anymore. Because I’m not beautiful like — her or her or her or you — I’m beautiful like me.

M. took the photograph at the top of this post during our family camping trip. At first, I wanted to burn it off the face of the earth. It represents all of the things that I hated — no makeup, puffy face, bags under my eyes, frizzy hair, wrinkles appearing everywhere. But then, when I looked past that frivolous vanity, I saw the joy in that photograph. I saw that my face is not angry or tired or old, but it is relaxed. I was at peace there. That photograph represents one of the happiest, most peaceful memories of the last year of our lives. I embrace it, just as I embrace me, for everything that it is.

Comments (20)

  • Candice

    June 20, 2014 at 10:10 am

    You are lovely. I struggled with weight gain when my kids hit 1 year. I started gaining, gaining, gaining because I stopped nursing and kept eating like I was nursing. It wasn’t until my youngest was 2.5 that I changed my eating and exercise habits consistently enough to start losing. I felt exactly the way that you are describing. I was mad that I was heavier 18 months after my kids were born than I was 9 months after they were born. It wasn’t supposed to be that way!! I’ve finally lost the weight and feel so much better. I was never able to feel content with myself being bigger than I wanted to be, so I applaud you!!! You will get there…if you want to…and if you don’t want to or don’t get there as soon as you want, that’s okay too.

    1. Dena

      June 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Thanks, Candice. I definitely want to lose it.. haha. But not because I hate it or myself, simply because I do not feel my best. I forgot to mention in the post but I am still nursing 3-4 times a day, so… I have to cut myself some slack. It will all unfold exactly as it is meant to. <3

      Thanks so much for sharing your journey, too.

  • Erin

    June 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Thank you for writing this, and your honesty here! We are so quick to shred ourselves and forget all of our accomplishments as women and mothers in the face of just one or two things we don’t feel we’re up to par on. It’s damaging, unfair, and so easy to do. Thank you for this reminder!

    You’re gorgeous inside and out, as well as incredibly talented! XOXO

    1. Dena

      June 20, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Thank you, Erin. Your kindness and friendship mean so much to me, always. xo

  • Nicole

    June 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

    The first thing I thought when I saw that photo was “Wow! She looks absolutely GORGEOUS in this photo!” Seriously, I’m not just saying that to make you feel better. Funny how other people see the beauty we sometimes cannot see in ourselves. And yes, so fucking what if you cannot fit into those jeans! At 30 and after having a baby most of us women just have to accept that our bodies are different now and that that is totally ok. We are still beautiful and strong! I remember after I had Logan, I went to get some new clothes, going into a changing room and crying my eyes out. I think dealing with our new bodies after having a baby is the hardest part. My baby is 13 and I still have a mommy tummy if it makes you feel any better! You are beautiful! Love you girl!

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Thank you so much, Nicole. You are an incredibly wonderful friend. I’m so grateful for you!

  • Gillian

    June 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

    you are absolutely wonderful, dena! i love this and you are so strong to share. 🙂 🙂

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      thank you so much. xo

  • Tina

    June 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Wow, this post. It’s like I wrote it myself. I still have all those feelings about myself. I’m so embarrassed by my size and how I look and I feel like everyone is judging me and saying “ew” everywhere I go. But the thing is, I’ve never judged one other mother before. When I see they’ve gained weight I just assume it’s from child birth and think it’s totally normal and OKAY and great and they should be proud of their stretch marks and saggy boobs because it all helped create their child… but I don’t hold myself to those same standards. All I have is self hate. I’m glad you’ve gotten passed that because you are beautiful and a great mother and that is what matters. Maybe more women writing posts like this will encourage me to heal myself too.

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks so much for reminding me that I am not alone, Tina. And you’re absolutely right, so much of our insecurity is in our own heads and not coming from other people. I hope that you begin to love yourself the way that you deserve to be loved! <3

  • Laura

    June 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Beautiful and well written post. When I turned 30, I actually felt liberated and more confident with myself than ever. Kudos to you for recognizing the beauty you possess not only on the outside, but within as well. I have always admired your beauty and drive you have for life. Keep up the excellent work !!!

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks so much, Laura. It’s amazing. Now that I am past the insecurity I feel incredibly liberated and more confident than ever, too. Thirty is beautiful!!

  • Liz

    June 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Dena, I feel like most women feel this way after having children, I know I sure did. It took me almost a year to lose it, lol just to gain it again due to baby #2. And yet again I see myself going thru the same pattern of self hatred and mean down right mean to myself. I hear myself calling myself fat, gross, etc. My maternity clothes are too big, yet my pre-pregnancy clothes are small fitting me way to tight. Trying on those clothes makes me feel ten times worse afterwards. I try to remind myself of the blessing I have been given. What amazing things my body has done and be kinder to myself. I will eventually lose the weight (hopefully fingers crossed). But I need to love myself better, ron and my children love me for how I am, so why can’t i. Realizing your not your youthful self also adds insult to injury but I remind myself that I’d rather be the person I have been shaped into today than the version of me from 10 yeas ago. Your brutal honesty is comforting, reminding me I am not alone on this journey even tho I feel that way. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you, Liz. You are such an inspiration. The way you pushed through those mommy and me classes when you were preggo totally amazed me. I’m so lucky to have women like you around to support and encourage me! <3

  • Crista Hebel

    June 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

    This is such a brave share, Dena, and I think you’ll find the more you voice those painful truths, the more people there are who feel exactly. like. you do. Sending love to you, you beautiful warrior, you! xo

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you, Crista. Your kindness means so much to me. xo

  • Julie Arnhold

    June 21, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    You are beautiful, Dena! And a fantastic mama to your precious little boy!! I am so happy you found peace, all women struggle with doubt. I too look at my developing wrinkles and cringe, how did we get to thirty already?! 😉 xo

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Seriously, Julie, it seems like just yesterday when we were barely into our twenties. It foes so fast.

      Thank you! xo

  • Carmen

    June 24, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I relate to this post. I felt this way before Jack’s first birthday, and again now just before his second birthday. I need to start loving me more… I mean really, how much do those last 10 pounds matter? I gained the love of my life out of it! 🙂

    1. Dena

      July 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks, Carmen. You are so completely right!! <3

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