I’ve just devoured half a chicken. Half of the white meat anyway. I put it in the slow cooker before I left for work and returned nearly 12 hours later expecting to find something dry, brittle, and shrunken.
Instead, I peered through the lid to find a still plump bird bathing in its own juices.
When I stuck a fork into it, the meat fell away from the bone. I quickly pulled off one of the breasts and set it on my plate next to a towering mountain of a kale-based salad.
And then: I. Devoured. It.
And I did it alone.
And now I sit in my bath, the ends of my curled hair hovering inches above the hot water.
I liked my hair today. I wonder if I’ll actually let the ends fall into the water, or if I’ll try to preserve their gentle curves for just a little longer.
I’m reading Danica Patrick’s Pretty Intense.
Yes, the race car driver.
Yes, the one who posed for the cover in barely-there workout attire, her exposed six-pack gleaming. Her thick, perfectly coiffed hair draped casually over her shoulder, one hand on her hip, more of a smirk than a smile across her lips.
I make no pretenses: it’s a book about fitness regimes and nutrition guidelines. Its pages are sprinkled with success stories of those who have adopted its prescriptions. It’s the kind of book I’d normally roll my eyes at. Oh, another one of those.
And yet, I’m 71 pages in and with the exception of a short eat-more-of-eat-less-of-avoid-cut-back-on food list, she’s yet to discuss how to transform my abs into hers.
Instead, she’s focused on strengthening the personal narrative that is one’s own thoughts and feelings. Improving the lens through which we view the world around us.
In essence, improving on our truths.
I wonder if she’s gone to CoDA.
I’m always telling myself that my primary goal is to be the best I can be at this time, and if I keep that as my focus, I’ll always be okay with myself and where I am right now.
Just do the next healthy thing. With the next decision you make when you close this chapter, make the choice that moves you toward your dream. Then, when you’re faced with the next decision after that, do the same thing.
I learned a lot about myself during my recent travels. And one of them was that I cannot find my best self in another’s best self.
They are not my mirror. I will not find my reflection in them. There is nothing I can do to be them. Even if I tried, the result would still be my best self. Not theirs.
Somewhere along Government Street, blocks away from the Victoria harbor, I realized this. I would not find my reflection in another. Nor would I find any semblance of my best self in them.
Because I am me. Uniquely and wonderfully made.
But that is not an excuse to be lazy.
It is not an excuse to give up loving myself, to stop caring for myself in some misguided stand that others should love me for who I am. If I don’t love myself, what person am I asking others to love?
For years, I’ve tried to make myself a mirror image of those around me who I perceive as more beautiful, more sexy, more fashionable, more popular, more captivating. More loveable.
If I lose weight, I’ll be sexier to him. If I die my hair blonde, he’ll be prouder of me. If I wear $200 skinny jeans that hug my butt better, he won’t leave.
If, if, if.
And you know what I got for trying to be another’s mirror image? Depressed and resentful.
No, no. No more.
I cannot be another’s best version of themself. I can only be mine.
So then the conversation with the inner, wiser voice transformed.
Ok, what is the best version of you?
What does she look like?
What does she act like?
How does she feel?
Let’s start small. What part of your body do you like most?
Ok, then what can you do to appreciate them more?
Learn to do my makeup better.
Why do you feel discouraged when you pass a woman with what you perceive as perfect hair?
I don’t like my hair. It’s thin. I feel self-conscious. It never looks right to me. Other women look perfectly polished. Like they’ve been intentional about fixing their hair.
Ok, are you intentional about your own?
And so I go back and forth with myself. What is the next healthy step to help me reach my goals? How can I be the best me at this time?
So today, I tried something new: I got intentional. I curled my hair. And not in my typical let’s try this diffuser thing again. No, I pulled out my flat iron and curled my hair. And when in the process of doing so, I liked how my hair fell, I pinned it in place. And where I had little volume up top, I noticed my hair fell longer past my shoulder, the ends curled just so.
Was it perfect? No! But I felt pretty. And polished. And confident.
And when my boss saw me for the first time in nearly 10 days, he commented about how happy I looked, how I looked like a million bucks.
And I believed him.
Maybe that is the difference between codependency and recovery: intention. Maybe that is the difference between unrealized dreams and success: intention. Maybe that is the difference between feeling like life is done to me and knowing that I am in control of what I do next: intention.
And right now, my intention–my next healthy choice–the best me in this moment–is an unconscious one.