Saturday, September 09, 2006

By those who love...

"Our lives are shaped by those who love us,
and by those who refuse to love us."


This quote has been hanging around in my office for several months now. It is on a poster with 30 or so other quotes...and I hadn't really noticed it (that particular quote) until the other day.

A friend, who is the ultimate teacher at heart, was trying to explain to me about something in psychology called "shaping"- and while I think I understand the concept of this...(I've used it many times to teach my own kids- I just didn't know what it was called) I think the above quote sums up the idea pretty well.

"If you don't love me- I don't care much what you think of me."

That is a fairly profound thing for a person to say. And it's usually NOT true.

I'm ruled to some degree by what complete strangers might think of compells me to wear make-up when I leave the house- and to double check what I'm wearing. Heaven forbid someone think of me as unattractive, or sloppy- or FAT!

I've lost a fair amount of weight in the last year...40 pounds. I need to drop another 20- and it's hard. I've gotten slack about walking with the accursed summer heat, but it's breaking- and I'll be out on the pavement again tomorrow.

But to be clear...the walking and weight loss has mostly been for me-and not to impress anyone.
I want to be healthy.

However, someone in my life...someone close to me- loved me with "conditional love" for a very long time. It's hard to overcome the kind of "shaping" that does to a person. As I approach my 40's (in a few years) I see that I am still bound to thinking that a person can only really love me if I am a size 6. (and I am a 12/14)
Or, they can only love me if my teeth are straight...or if I am happy all of the time. Or whatever---

If you don't love me...what of it?
I personally wouldn't blame you.
Sad- huh? I know me better than you do, and some days I don't love me either!

I wonder how many of us struggle with the image of who we are...and how we are received by the outside world. How many of us lie and say, "If you don't love me, I don't care what you think!!!"
And on the inside...we are pleading with tiny voices:

"Please love me...please like me...I need you."

And we hate ourselves for it.

I am who I am.

Even Jesus said something close... "I AM". No apologies- no explanations...Just a profound and powerful statement of Who He was.

I'm nothing close to that...and yet, I can identify...I long to just run around and shout out...
"I am who I am. Not always nice, not always pretty, not always right...almost never skinny!"

I am me. You are you.

None of us perfect...all of us special.

I'm blessed to know each of you. And I refuse NOT to love you!
It does shape you...and it shapes me- not into a size 6, but in better ways :)


Lady Prism said...

good morning Cora!...I tink with all my heart that you are the loveliest dearest cyber friend I have....

I struggle with the same things you do...I want to look good NOT for anyone...but for myself...I grew up thinking I was was a struggle to even face the mirror..I was too eyes sunken with round eyebrows too bushy....I wasn't tall...maybe...maybe ...that's why I wasn't picked out for Mary..I didn't meet the look...

anyway...Igotta' go to school now...but...just want to tell you..we are one on this!...I'll be back later..hugs...hugs...hugs..and mwah!

Anonymous said...

you do
seem to have
a way of getting
right to it, mayd

always come away from your blog with something to think on -- you are food for the mind & soul



Enemy of the Republic said...

That is one bold statement. What makes people love us and what makes them feel nothing of the kind? And what kind of love do we want? I struggle with that when I love and the person hurts me, or I love and the person shows me none, but then what if someone wants my love and I'm too human and selfish to give it or I base love on something silly? This is a good post. You made me always!

Anonymous said...

I think the greatest accomplishment of my life was about 15 or 20 years ago when I finally came to grips with the fact that what total or partial strangers think of me is of no consequence whatsoever. The burden of trying to make everyone think highly of me(to include those I only temporarily met and never saw again) was wearing my ass out.

Once I adopted the "It only matters what true friends and family think" (and even that has limitations) life became a lot less complicated. Not necessarily any better or happier, but simpler to say the least.

If I meet someone and they look queerly, suspicously, or disdainfully my way, I make a conscious effort to put on my best F you 2 face for them. Their sometimes stunned reaction to my arrogant afront to them is worth it's weight in gold.

Neoma said...

the opposite of caring what people think, isn't making a fuck off face, it is indifference. The fact that a person makes a conscience EFFORT to affront, proves that they do care. You are only kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

I personally do NOT care what anyone thinks of me, family or friends......if they are friends they know me well enough to know that I don't lie to them or TO MYSELF.

Anyone who takes as many pictures of herself, who at 40 needs braces, who wants everyone to love them, who never goes out without makeup, has a lot of insecurity.

I read your blog all the time Mayden, I think you are a wonderful writer, but I detect deep, deep insecurities. You feel the need to have many, many men look to you, YOU WANT to turn heads and I would think there might be a mid life crisis thing happens to all of us at about 40. When the reality that your age will NEVER go backwards, and you will never be the one that the boys look at again. Oh yeh, you can tweak it here and there for a few more years....and you can convince yourself you are still a teenager, but it is only a facade.

Giving it up, learning to live in the skin you are in, giving up the makeup and the quest for perfection allows you true freedom. And with it comes a new form of happiness. Happiness comes from within, not from someone bestowing it on us with pretty words.

X. Dell said...

Shaping implies intensification. For example, someone you are attracted to doesn't respond at all you might feel compelled to wear makeup. If someone you like likes you, but keeps their distance, you might wear makeup AND wear sexy clothes. If someone who's close to you ignores you, then you might wear makeup AND worry about your clothes AND straighten your teeth AND lose weight. That's shaping. Going to farther and farther extremes towards a certain direction in response to a stimulus.

I think you're correct in your assessment, for you do exhibit shaping behavior, the stimulus of which is personal reaction to you.

At the same time, however, I wonder why you would think of other people's opinions about you seem to have more weight than your own. Even people you respect aren't right all of the time.

You have eyes and ears like everyone else. Perhaps you should reserve the right of judging yourself to yourself.

Anonymous said...


....The fact that they make a conscious effort to AFFRONT shows that they care....

You said that, and I'm sure you think you're being very deep when in fact you sound like an idiot -

A fact underscored when you made a personal attack against the owner of this blog. I'm glad you don't care what anyone thinks of you because I'm quite sure you're condescending caustic manerisms have offended many.

Sorry Mayden - I just hijacked your Blog - but someone needed to tell Nea she was an A-hole.

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bird said...

i appreciate this post a lot - it gave me a different peek into you mayden.

"our lives are shaped by those who refuse to love us..."

i think we can all testify to this.we are all witnesses.

i don't think in terms of strangers, but intimates who refuse to love, or perhaps refuse to express that love in ways i can understand.

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Dearest Lux...Hugs to you too!
None of us perfect...all of us special- so glad to know you and call you friend :)

/t- thank you :)

EOR- You? Human and selfish? :) I just don't see it :)
I think each of has an idea of what love should be...and when the ideas aren't the same- we suffer, and compromise, and try to change. It's got to be about finding a balance- and about being honest with those we love.

Anon- you are right.

Nea- Maybe one day I'll have my life as "together" as you do.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on some hard won wisdom.

(Sorry, I'm not able to log in to comment at the moment.)

Mayden' s Voyage said...

X- What you described is dangerous- and I see where caution would be in order if I saw this as an extreme in my life- which thankfully I don't.
I said I was motivated "to some degree" by what people "might" think...not driven to be perfect and no hair out of place when I go to Kroger. This past year has been one full of changes that I've made for me...not for Tim, not for my dad, not for my kids- but for me. All have been good changes and for my benefit- which in the end results in a benefit for everyone I am close to.

Your point about my judging myself is well made- and I have been a harsh judge...we are all a work in progress- it's time for me to cut myself some slack- make new priorties, and enjoy this season as much as I can.

I think I was trying to reflect a sense of self acceptance with my last statement..."None of us perfect, all of us special"

This idea levels the playing field- no one is below me, and no one is above me. I know, in my heart- that this is completely true...even if I haven't always "felt" that way.

Anonymous said...

Of course! It just hit me! You shop at Kroger!

Hellooooo! No wonder you have issues. Winn Dixie is where all the mentally stable people go.

Jeesh. Don't you know anything?

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Anon- you are free to say what you think, everyone else does!

Bird- You make a good distinction about strangers and intimates...and I probably was not as clear as I should have been. This was kind of a journal post- perhaps I should have written it in my journal and kept it there?

Anyway- it's out- so no going back now! :)
Everything about me in real life is fairly conservative. I avoid dressing in away that draws attention to myself- yet it matters to me that I appear pulled together. I brush my hair, my teeth, and put on some lip gloss and mascara before heading out- because it makes ME feel better about me.
I can't, and don't always put the best foot forward- but I am happier with myself when I do- it matters much less with strangers...and a good deal more with people I am close to.

I've missed you Iamnot :)
Thanks for stopping by...

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Anon...Oh! That's the problem?
Thank goodness I have you to set me straight about such's the deal:
We don't have a Winn Dixie here!
Food Lion yes- WD- nope! :)

Anonymous said...

Of course. Personally, I used to go to "Stop and Shop" and the old A&P.

They merged to form "Stop and P", but it was never as good

Sean said...

i needed to read this and still need to spend some time thinking on it. neat how things pop up just when you need them.

thanks, you're beautiful.


sparringK9 said...

/bark bark bark

just back from a bit of free ranging mayden ....what's this? a steamer in the yard, not of my own making?

howwwwwwwwl! grrrrrrrrrrrr!

is not a mayden on the cusp of forty still a mayden? is there no virtue in wanting to reflect outwardly a beauty carried within? is it a weakness to delight in a hard won battle for a shape and then to rejoice in that victory? is it not a nod of appreciation to the creator to show off his handiwork, the body temple, in the best of light?

i was not aware that by forty a lady should give no effort or consideration to her appearance for in doing so she might earn the disdain of the ones who chose to throw in the towel and declare immunity from the desire to please, to be noticed, or to be appreciated.


dare i say it? to be loved? what a silly terrible crime for a lady, yet i think to want love and be loved is to be still fully alive! however, i believe it NOT to be the "why" of photos on these pages.

the why, i think, might be represented in the work of, say, a chuck close, a rembrant or a frida kahlo.
all of whom painted themselves over and over, and in some cases defined the entire of a lifes work in this same way. yet these collectible great art works differ from the maydens posting today (and any other containing self portraits) primarily because they carry with them a boatload of curatorial commentary to validate the exploration of the subject of "self"?

and wouldnt the rebellious caw of "i dont care"
ring as narcississtically, though in reverse, as its sister on the flip side? for if one were truly above it all, would a dig on the other be necessary when compassion is the correct response from that evolved point of view?

and wouldnt the rottie love for more ladies, and gents for that matter, to give a little more thought to how they might arrive at the grocery store or anywhere else for that matter?

an effort on appearance is called "greasing the wheels of civilization" and it is a COURTESY to others. in fact, its a selfless act of defiance to the dime store doctor freuds in this world.

and finally, is there anything more dispiriting than a backhanded compliment....hostility masked behind charity?


doc-t said...

Nea, you assume WAAYYYY too much...

you THINK you know mayden well enough to make those conclusions... But quite simply, you don't. Perhaps someone in your situation, with your lifestyle, and your beliefs would show photos of herself ONLY if she's insecure...

And your attack on someone who is 40 with braces? WTF is that? That's just rude! WTF is wrong with someone having braces? Are you one of those people who made fun of those with braces when you were a kid?

Insecure??? An insecure woman would NOT post pictures of herself in a blog. and If she did it would be a photo that is taken at such an angle it makes her look better than she does in person.

Comments, constructive criticism, advice, and opinions are one thing... and you may bery well believe that is what you gave to Mayden.

But the truth of the matter is... when you attack a person rather than the flaw you're speaking of... That's simply an attack...

I'm pretty sure I know Mayden better than you. I've spoken with her a number of times... That lady is confident....

..................... said...

lawdy, lawdy, lawdy...

here i was having a hard time posting comments yesterday, so I take a break a lo and behold.....
this again....


I wish I was a confident as you to post all these pictures.

xxxxooooo, your friend, schaumi

boneman said...

Well, I love ya, and in a good way, too.
Heck, I even love yer hubby, but, let's not make too much of that, eh?

About the weight thing, good luck.
Near as I can tell, we all find an area and fit into it as if it was us all along.
You CAN deviate from that "norm" fer a while, but, I'm telling ya the truth. As soon as y'relax and enjoy the things y'enjoy, yer weight will respond quickly to that end, be it too big or too little, and therefore, I would dare to venture into the area of,
everyone is as heavy as they should be.

Now, as fer dropping weight, and enjoying foods, too? Well, there are several ways to achieve this end. And, I don't mean bulemia.

My personal favorite was the Scarsdale Diet, which can still be found in those half price book stores in larger towns.
I didn't like eatin' lamd, though, so I did chicken breast on that night.
Fruits were a freebie, sort'a, and that made m'day!
Best recipe from the book (that I can remember) was t'broil the chiken breast (skinned) with whatever seasonnings y'like on a few slices of orange or lemon. The fruit gives a bit of flavor, but more important, the meat is held away from the fat.

A weightwatcher secret was that popcorn in the evening is a freebie. All you can eat, and barely any caloric addition.
(butter was extra, but, the neat thing was that sprinkling it with parmmesian cheese and a touch of pepper was ok, and quite flavorful.

Anotgher totally different way was the Lean Cuisines and the Weightwatcher meals in a pan.
The trick was t'find what y'liked best, note the ingredients (skipping the msg, and whatever other chemicals they add fer color and longevity) and try t'make it yerself.

Personally, though, y'all don't even look big enough t'worry 'bout it.
Just be active, stand as often as possible and dang! You'll live t'be a hundred and still turn the guys' heads!

puerileuwaite said...

To me, it's how we internalize the external. And not what others do, but how we react to it. Trite perhaps, but it works for me.

Bird said...

Mayden - you wonder if you should have kept your writing in your journal and not on this post...

But look how much your post has stirred the pot.

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Sean- I'm always happy to see you...thank you- in more ways than one.

K9- you said what I meant, and felt- and a 1,000 times better! Smooch to you.
When growing up a dear friend of the family told us girls (there were 4 of us) that she thought she dishonored herself- and the people she came into to contact with if she went out into the world without making herself presentable.
Her words stuck with me. I agree with her- your comments reminded me of that conversation- over 25 years ago:) You are the best :)
Do you get tired of me telling you that?

Doc-t...thank you. I appreciate you~

Schaumi :) You and I have talked about the photo thing before- and your input has meant a great deal to me- increased my confidence about it in many ways...thank you! :)
For such a long time I have avoided the camera- it seems some still wish I did! lol :) you too! South Beach- cutting out the sugar and starches is what did it for me, and it's been a year- so far, so good. Diabetes is rampant on my mothers side of the family...I can count back 4 generations of women who have been plagued with it. I've been assured that it is in my future too- but I can keep it at bay for another 30 or 40 years with the right diet and exercise.
Hey- I've come to the wonderful realization that I love myself enough to do what's best for me!
At least in this area! :)

PW- it is sobering to hear you be serious...and it makes you all the more interesting to me :) Thank you for showing your grown-up side :)

Bird- I've kept a journal since I was's scary to think of how many things I've written that might REALLY stir the pot! LOL :)
Thank you :)

Neoma said...

Oh, I never said that I had my life together, and actually a lot of the time I can be a real asshole...........but then can't we all. That is another one of those things we see when we look in the mirror. OURSELF. But what I find interesting, I don't try to hide behind "Anonymous", and I always seem to find that people who really are trying to hurt my bad, can't be done.......better people have tried than you.."Anonymous"

Not trying to be deep at all, I am not into that kind of game....never have been. Deep is for the ocean......

I was being truthfully. And I am sure you know it. Whether you like hearing is another thing.

So Anonymous, take yourself in front of your own mirror and see what kind of asshole you might be......what is it they say, takes one to know one. haha

And now back to REAL life.....the one where I have to soak my husbands foot because he was too stupid to go to the DR.

Neoma said...

I am a bit curious thought, why it is considered a personal attack when I repeat some things that Mayden has just finished saying about her own self....

Most of my post was actually meant as a little insight as to how much easier life can be once you forget vanity and live with what god gave you. But you can take it anyway you want. I personally had to pay a shrink a lot of money for this advice that I just gave it to you for free......go figure......but i think there are people in this world just looking for something to get offended about. Personally I like to be selective, I choose to not take offense at being called an asshole. Many of the people I know are Prime Cut assholes, in fact not just anyone can get into this group, certainly not someone who wouldn't spit shit if they were holding it in their mouth. And that cut wasn't aimed at anyone, it is one of those, "if the mouth fits type things."

A cut would have been if I had said, "there is nothing here worth reading"....and I didn't say that.

Yes said...

Oh, my God, I'm SO glad you didn't hide this in your journal, Mayden!
Don't even think of such a thing!

Kudos to k9 for charging in to rescue you--he said what needed to be said, with his usual eloquence...

While I understand that Nea is trying to warn against unnecessary emotional stress, and makes some excellent points, it is VERY hard to say such things without sounding like a personal attack.
Why would you say things that sound negative to someone whom you have categorized as "insecure"?
Even with the best motivations, you are risking being hurtful.

Mayden, I needed to see the people on "What Not To Wear", the reality TV show, to learn the lesson that we owe the world the courtesy of looking our best (not perfect, just trying). And that if we tell ourselves we don't care how we appear to others, we are cheating ourselves out of an opportunity for positive feedback and admiration, and it affects how we feel about ourselves.

I personally am dealing with a heavy load of negativity from those in my life who should have loved and accepted me, but who didn't know any better...and my friends and I are supporting each other in this daily struggle. We are ALL insecure, and part of breaking free is to find our own standards to live by. You have had the courage to live up to your own ideals, and be a shining example!

Nothing in your post speaks of weakness, your position is one of STRENGTH!

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Firebird...thank you. Those 2 words don't convey all that I feel- but from the bottom of my heart...thank you!

mantissa said...

"Mayden, I needed to see the people on "What Not To Wear", the reality TV show, to learn the lesson that we owe the world the courtesy of looking our best (not perfect, just trying). And that if we tell ourselves we don't care how we appear to others, we are cheating ourselves out of an opportunity for positive feedback and admiration, and it affects how we feel about ourselves."

ok. seriously? you are telling ME i OWE it to the world to LOOK my best? what cracker jack box does THAT come from. do i owe it to that blind man on the corner to look my best too? or perhaps he doesn't count because he can't see what i look like? or perhaps the fact that he can't see means he counts all the more.

but, i digress. and i also disagree.

why do i owe it to the world to look my best? it sounds like we are saying we must look good to be worthy. why? what if i don't look my best because i've spent 12 hours swimming in blood clots and smelly wounds and saving lives? am i still worthy? or is it all about appearance?

i used to live my life obsessed of what others thought of me. but now i see its so unecessary. not everyone will love me. not everyone will like me. so what? i can live with that.

and i really do mean it when i say ... (and there's no offense intended, just expressing myself here) i could care less what any of you think. honest.

Yes said...

No misunderstandings, please--

Striving to look one's best FOR others is a GIVING to others, NOT a test of "worthiness" in their eyes.

If you are dirty and worn from honest and selfless occupations, and too exhausted to do anything but limp home and fall into bed, well then you ARE "looking your best", more power to you!

I think k9 said it best:

"Is there no virtue in wanting to reflect outwardly a beauty carried within? is it not a nod of appreciation to the creator to show off his handiwork, the body temple, in the best of light?"

It comes down to positive self-expression, not a struggle for approval.

b said...

Cora - that's a wonderful post and one that hits home with me too. I guess it does for all women. I've spent a lot of my life trying to work through issues around the 'approval from outside' and have made a lot of progress from when I was a wee lass.

I still have lots to go but I wanted to say thanks for having the courage to talk about this. I think you're beautiful and one day we both will think that about ourselves!