I think that's pretty awesome. So I said yes, knowing the event was a fashion show.
Now, I have done two fashion shows before, both benefitting the Arthritis Foundation. In each of those, I got to wear outfits from Talbots. I met a representative at the store at Worthington Mall beforehand, tried on some beautiful pieces, and together we put together outfits that looked and felt good. Both times, the event was a great experience as I walked to the front of the room in my outfits and did a little fashion show twirl.
This time it would be a little different. This time I would be wearing fitness apparel. On a stage.
About a week before the event, I started to wonder (freak out about) what clothing they would have for me to wear. Here is the email I sent to my contact, Liz: "My inner fat girl is worrying about you putting me in too tight tights and a tank top. I'm almost 50 years old, so nothing too low in the waist please."
Her response, "Stop it!"
I tried. I really did. But the voice of fear had started its taunting and it was hard to get control of it. I was afraid to look like I didn't belong with all the other fitness people that would be participating. I was afraid I would be put in low rise pants that make my belly stick out over the waistband. I was afraid of looking stupid.
~ Our biggest abuser/critic lives in the back of our head. ~
The week of the event came and I heard the old temptations. Starve yourself for a few days, you'll look better. Go low carb. No snacks. Blah blah blah. At least I know that lie and kept from actually acting on any of that craziness, but the tape ran in my head nevertheless.
Finally, the night of the event came and I showed up ready to conquer this madness. With a spray tan! Because like they say, if you can't tone it, tan it.
I was pleasantly surprised to find clothing I really liked awaiting me. They were also kind enough to bring a few different sizes to choose from. So I took my outfit and went to change. While I was changing, I met some of the women who were also participating. They were absolutely beautiful and fit. I kept telling myself that I belonged here, and no one was looking at me like, "OMG what is she doing here??"
~ Sometimes I have to tell the voice of fear to just shut up. ~
Finally, it was time to line up. We would be called up on stage one at a time, and as the outfit was being described, we were to show off our personality as well as our clothing. (They were auctioning off the outfits later.) My heart was pounding. Good grief, will I never get over these fears of not being good enough?
Then, my name. All I heard was Sue Markovitch. I remember telling myself to walk slowly and not to fall. I know there were two women with microphones up there describing my background and the outfit, but all I was aware of were very bright lights and lots of faces staring up at me. Oh no! They all looked horrified. I must look ridiculous. My worst fears were coming true.
The back of my head, that liar and abuser, went rather nuts for the two minutes I was up there. I didn't have a rational thought in my head, except, "find people you know in the audience and smile and wave." So that's what I did. I was so relieved to be done, and once I was back on the floor I was so disappointed. Why didn't I have more courage? Why didn't I show more personality?
A few days later, I was sitting at my computer reading an article by Martha Beck entitled, "How to Cure Self-Consciousness" (ironic, I know) when a message popped up. Marie, who had also participated in the event, posted a 5 minute video of the fashion show. Oh no. I started to pray. Please God don't let it be as bad as I thought. Please oh please oh please...
No way. I did great! I walked up on stage, did a slow fashion show twirl while smiling and waving, and left. No big deal. It was obvious to absolutely no one what was going on in my head. I was the only one who heard the old, "You're not good enough, you look stupid."
Listen. The voice of the inner critic is a liar.
We don't have to let that abuse hold us back anymore. I wanted to share this experience with you so I could tell you how happy I am that I did this! And how healing it was for me to understand, yet again, that the tapes running in my head were nowhere in line with reality. Everything was great, I did belong, and everyone there was supportive, encouraging and complimentary.
We all have these tapes. We all have an inner critic. That's never the problem. The problem is that we listen. The problem comes when we identify with what is being said, even though it is clearly not true. My work will always be right here, in my identity. Am I a child of God, beautiful and whole regardless of my past, my body, my weight, my mistakes? Or am I the messed up girl who doesn't matter, doesn't belong, looks stupid and is never enough?
I know the answer to this now. I hope you do, too.