Today, with sweat running down my face and my hair piled messily on top of my head into a loose bun, I was reminded that I am in fact, not unpretty. I know, I know. That’s not actually a real word. But it’s fitting for how I’ve felt these past few months. And quite honestly, I don’t know that I want to apply any other descriptive adjective to myself right now. They seem to change with the wind anyway. So today, unpretty works.
It’s funny how the way you feel about yourself changes once you become a mother. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was hands down in the very best physical shape of my life. I worked hard to get there. I was proud of the time and sweat equity that I put into myself. I was strong. And that made me feel beautiful.
It didn’t make me feel pretty in the sense that I was skinny. Because I wasn’t skinny. I’ll never be skinny. I have these hips that have spread even more since giving birth to my boy. And a butt that is downright obnoxious when it comes to finding jeans that will comfortably fit it and my waist, which is significantly smaller. So skinny wouldn’t ever be descriptive of me. But healthy was. And I was just that. And that made me feel beautiful.
When I was pregnant that feeling of beautiful changed. It was no longer coming from my physical self. It was more of an internal kind of beautiful that came from being genuinely happy. For the first time, maybe ever, I was happy. And I was in love. With both my boy I was growing, and his father. Life was certainly far from perfect, but it was good. And that good translated well with me. Pregnancy translated well with me. I even had that, dare I say, pregnancy glow. It could have also been sweat, since I was carrying around 40 extra pounds in the Florida heat, but either way. That glow/sweat translated well with me too.
And even though my body changed pretty significantly, as most pregnant women’s do, I was still approached by people pretty consistently. Which was both a lovely compliment and a little bit creepy. But it was nice, since even though I felt so incredibly great, I seemed to be all but invisible to my son’s father. Thinking back now, I don’t know that he ever told me I was pretty/beautiful or anything like that when I was carrying his son, or after I had him. It seems odd to think about that now.
But then when I had my Kam I felt this entirely different sense of beautiful. I remember initially seeing a picture that my own Mama took of me my first time getting to hold him. At first I was horrified at seeing my loose, stretched out belly and overly tired eyes. But then I noticed how entirely happy I looked. There was a smile that couldn’t be faked, and a glow that was anything but sweat. I was a new mama, and that showed. That wholly unselfish loved showed. I was finally getting to hold this perfect little miracle that I spent 38 weeks and 2 days carefully crafting. And in that tired, makeup-less moment, I was more beautiful than I ever have been. And that translated well.
And then when I lost my Kamren, I lost all of those feelings of beautiful. I felt ugly. And worse than ugly. I felt like a failure. I hated to look at myself. I hated the feeling of seeing the light in my eyes go out. I felt dead. Every beautiful part of me felt dead. And even with everyone around me, telling me how good I looked 3 weeks postpartum, I felt anything but. I just saw this empty shell of a person that once held my beauty. It’s such an odd feeling. Looking at yourself in the mirror and not recognizing anything about you. Finding your green eyes, that were given to you from your own father, brighter than usual from the endless tears, and feeling entirely unfamiliar with them. I’m not sure what an out of body experience really feels like, but I imagine it’s pretty similar.
This is what most of the past almost 5 months have felt like. Beautiful not being an adjective that would fit appropriately into my own self image.
Except today. Today was different. Today I woke up and I felt different. Not better. Not less sad, but just different. I shuffled to my Kuerig, half asleep, and let the smell of fresh brewed Gevalia perk me up enough to get Lola outside. And I knew that today I had to go back to the gym for real. And not to just do my yoga. But to really sweat. And to push myself through one of my old workouts.
And so I did. I pushed, and I felt good. I remembered the strength I once knew feeling the sweat drip down my face and onto my collarbone. It’s an odd high that reminded me why I began chasing it a few years back. God, how’ve I’ve missed that feeling. That must have translated well, because on my way out and incredibly handsome man approached me to introduce himself. He oddly looked like a better version of Ray Allen, I know, like there is such a thing. But if you know me, you know how much I love that man and the fluidity of his shot. So hearing how I was able to gain his attention when I walked in, and keep it for the next hour and half, reminded me that even now, post war, I am still not unpretty. And I may not be able to keep this feeling for long, but today, that feeling was enough. So today, that feeling is exactly what is.