Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No More Schlumpy Betty and My 1000th Post Request Which You Are Required to Carry Out.

This summer during my house renovation, I pretty much lived in three pair of shorts, assorted ratty t-shirts, and my sneakers. Since all my earthly possessions were crammed in and piled up in my garage, on the rare occasion when I needed other clothing, I had to crawl over a mattress, squeeze between couches and then belly crawl under a table to get to the stack of clothes bagged up and stacked on a dresser.  It didn’t happen very often and that was fine.  Gypsum dust filled the air and wet paint was around every corner.  My shorts and t-shirts were the perfect ensemble for that time and place.

 As most of you know, the work went on forever and there were only a few days between when I shoved the last contractor out of the house and the start of school.  The night before my first day of class, I hurriedly hung my work clothes back in my newly painted closet. The next day, I grabbed an old reliable, if somewhat boring, outfit and wore it to school.  The next day I repeated the process, barely stopping in front of a mirror check out my bad self.  I knew I didn’t feel great in my clothes, but after all, I had just been through all kinds of upheaval.  These were my teaching outfits that I had worn for years.  They were not very exciting but they had served me well in the past.

So there I was at the start of week three, walking up to my office when the maintenance man, who is one of my good friends who saw me through the mess of last year, stopped, stared and said, ‘What in the hell are you wearing? “  (Believe me, given his tone of voice and his facial expression, there was no way to misconstrue this comment as a compliment.)  I looked down at my clothes and suddenly I saw them for what they were: a baggy dress and old lady shoes.  What was I wearing anyway?  These clothes that had fit me well before and were my idea of what I should be wearing as teacher no longer fit me in any way shape or form.  I felt old.  I felt schlumpy. I knew it was time to make a change.

Now, almost every woman who goes through a divorce loses weight.  For me, it was a fairly dramatic nine pounds in one week, twelve pounds in total.  I knew I looked skeletal, but the thought of eating made me sick to my stomach.   I stayed that thin for some time.  One day when I was wearing black tights and a long straight black dress, the same blunt friend said to me, “Lord, girl. You are one bun away from being Olive Oyl. For God’s sake, go get some clothes with some color and eat a pizza while you are at it.” 

Now I am a pretty evolved woman.  I totally understand that my worth does not depend upon my beauty, but when you are left behind by a man and he goes directly to another woman, all the anxiety about your looks that you thought you dealt with when you were twenty-two come back.  When I closed my eyes at night, all the black cockroaches of insecurity came out to click and rattle in my head.  Was I not pretty enough?  Had I let myself go?  Is that why he left? Was the other woman a beauty with no wrinkles whatsoever?  In the light of day the stress and tension of the divorce showed on my face.  I looked drawn and exhausted.  I felt drained.  No ego boost there.  This summer while cleaning out the house, I came across all those pictures of me during the kid years.  It was painful to look at some of them. There I was in the large glasses, the stringy hair, the bulky sweater with the catsup stains, proudly holding out a perfectly groomed, clean, impeccably dressed little boy who did not care one hoot how he looked.  Was it possible that through time, stress and sacrifice I had  lost all the beauty that once was mine?  Could I ever get it back?

There is something about getting a wake-up call in the middle of your life.  Divorce certainly tears down everything that is familiar to you and it’s your job to rebuild.  That day at school I realized that while those clothes were a little big on me, the real issue was that they did not fit my personality any longer. Those were my old Betty clothes and I was a new Betty.  I went home that day, got out of my car, stood in my garage, took off that dress and put it in the Goodwill bag.  Then I went to my closet and cleaned it out.  I took out anything that I didn’t like.  Whether it was old or new, if I put it on and I didn’t feel good in it, out it went.  It was scary at first.  It went against everything I had been taught. Who did I think I was throwing out perfectly good clothing?  A woman on her own, with a single salary, in debt over a home renovation should not be so picky.  The voice of my mother was strong in my head and yet, finally, there was a stronger voice that come through too.  You are no longer settling.  You deserve to feel good.  You are in charge of how you look.  Life is too damn short to wear clothes you don’t feel good in. 

The next weekend I went to my hairdresser and got a new haircut.  I bought some new make-up and most importantly, I bought some new clothes. I figured it was time to have some fun, to take some chances with my style.  I forced myself to try on clothes that I ordinarily would have passed by thinking they were too far out for me.  Every day, I am surrounded by 18 and 19 year-olds who celebrate their creativity by putting together outfits that are sometimes winners and sometimes not so much, but who cares?  They inspire me with their willingness to try new things. From now on, I’ve decided to dress in clothes that make me feel good about myself.  In the past, I have worried too much about how people view me and have taken the “safe” route, but I have discovered when people are confident and feel good in whatever they are wearing, no one questions their choices. Everyone feels good being around people who feel good about themselves. It’s all about the attitude, baby. 

Never fear.  I am aware that I am a woman in my fifties.  There will be no rhinestone thong playing peek-a-boo from some pair of low-slung jeans.  I get it that halter tops are probably not appropriate to wear to work.  But I recently fell in love with some rather hip looking boots complete with strap around the heels and some skinny legged jeans and, honey, I bought ‘em and I wore ‘em and I feel great in them.

Life gave me a do-over and I grabbed on to it.  Sometimes I’ll try on an outfit in the morning and face the mirror.  When I waver on whether I should take a chance on a look,  I say aloud, “Oh, why the hell not?” and I laugh.  Seriously, if not now, when?   I am done with the kid years, I am dating a wonderful man, (who, by the way, thinks I am absolutely gorgeous no matter what I am wearing) and I managed to stop gaining back the weight I lost when I got to a comfortable place for me.  In many ways, I am in the prime of my life.  It’s time to have some fun, to live, to explore, to take some chances.

I wonder now if life had not given me this opportunity, whether I would have snapped myself out of the hole I was in.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  All I know is I was given a chance to reinvent myself and I am grateful for it.  No more Schlumpy Betty. 

Now, not to be a big shot or anything, but this is my 1000th post.  Everyone in Blogland knows that on the occasion of your 1000th post, you get to make a request and your readers are required to carry out that request.  (What?  You’ve never heard of this rule?  It’s true!) 

Here is my humble request: I would like you, my dear readers, to arise up off of your buttocks, go to your closets and get out one piece of clothing that you dislike--that shirt that makes you feel fat, that pair of pants you spent a lot of money on but that make you feel old, that sweater that someone gave you but that you hate—and I want you to throw it away or donate it.  Get rid of it.  Don’t listen to those voices in your head that are telling you to keep it.  Listen to me instead.  You deserve to feel good.  Life is too short to wear clothes that make you feel less than absolutely great.  

Are you with me, my people?  Will you carry out my request? 
Repeat after me:  “We will, Betty!  We will!”
Leave me a comment and tell me what you are getting rid of. 

Now go out there and be fabulous.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty - absolutely loved this post - the way you expressed yourself and how life has changed you - it is a wonderful read. I'm inspired .. I will be chucking some stuff out and will be getting some bright new shiny bits and bobs ... bought red trousers and have started wearing those - fun ... Happy Thanksgiving and am so pleased life is fun for you now ..

Cheers Hilary

My Mind's Eye said...

BB as soon as I can see through the tears from LAUGHING my fool head off I will do as you requested!!
I did considerable purging after I retired but I'm sure there is something left to discard.

Olga said...

When I retired I hauled away bags and bags of shapeless, long jumpers and the plain tee tops I wore under them. So easy to pull on early in the morning. No zips or buttons to deal with. Comfy all day with my sturdy shoes. And so very unattractive! I started this pattern warly in my career when a h.s. student gave me a note saying he had a crush on me and he thought I had a "nice ass." Fixed one problem, but turned me into a fashion mistake for years.
I purge my closet regularly since retirement and have a few tees and blouses that were well oleved in their time, but now they have to go.

Leah J. Utas said...

Betty, this is wonderful. I am so happy for you. I've got a few summer tops I've been meaning to get rid of. I cannot deny your request. They will be gone.

ellen abbott said...

Betty reborn! New house, new man, new Betty.

I have a pair of dress pants that I really don't like, elastic in the waist, no real shape or form. They make me feel like a frumpy old woman when I wear them. Yes, I'm 62 but I don't feel or think of myself as old. Anyway, I bought them because I loved the blouse that they went with. I tried to find a different skirt or pants to wear with it and was unsuccessful so I bought the pants. Well, no more. Out they go! Thanks Betty.

Unknown said...

I would do as you requested if I had anything left in my closet. Started running a few months ago and had to donate almost everything. Down to one pair of pants and a couple of t-shirts. Just trying to make it through the holiday season then going to try on EVERYTHING.

Cathy said...

Good for you! You deserve to look as great as you feel. Up until a couple of years ago I was wearing some of the clothes my own daughters had worn in high school and I am 60 now! Fortunately my friend and daughter took me in hand, took me shopping and taught me how to buy clothes that actually fit. Then they helped me get rid of the stuff I should have been ashamed to wear. It's still hard for me to get rid of perfectly good clothing that doesn't fit well or doesn't make me feel good but I'm getting better.

I love the boots by the way!!

Pearl said...

Totally diggin' the new Betty.

I found this and thought of you:

I didn't trust it for a moment,
But I drank it anyway.

The wine of my own Poetry.

It gave me the daring to
Take hold of the Darkness
And tear it down and cut
It into little pieces.

Lola, 14th Cent. Persian Poet

Right on, Betty. Right on.


Baby Sister said...

Good for you, Betty!! You are absolutely right. I went through my closet a couple of months ago, and it was painful, but I feel better now when I look at it. I'm sure I could find something else though that a small part of me wanted to hang on to. I'll have to go look.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll go toss out two articles of clothing for you! Congratulations on 1000 posts.
And good for you for embracing the new you.
You've posted many pictures of yourself and I think you're crazy for worrying. You certainly don't look like you're in your fifties!

Tabor said...

I have thrown away a ton of stuff in the past...but now maybe I need to give away those brown suede skirts since my gray hair mean I have to go with cooler colors.

annie said...

Done and done!
Happy Thanksgiving Betty.

Brian said...

Congrats on 1,000 posts, ya done good Betty!

Hilary said...

Yay for you! I love this post. I go through my closet semi-regularly but some of those silly items still remain. Before commenting, I just selected 3 schlumpy tops and one dress still with price tag. They're all wrong for me. Thanks for the push.

Congrats one 1000 posts.. my how you've evolved. And I just love those boots.

Ms. A said...

I'd have to throw out my entire closet and I'm much too clingy and frugal.

Congratulations on hitting 1,000 AND the new you!

Ann said...

I remember going through the stage of getting rid of frumpy Ann and creating a whole new me. My daughter had talked me into buying some more up to date clothes and I felt like a million bucks. Of course now I think I"m heading back to frumpy but sometimes it's a comfortable fit for me....lol I'll go see what I can toss out though since you did request it

Shelly said...

Good for you! I'm getting rid of some baggy work out clothes.

You've emerged from your cocoon, you know~

Gigi said...

Great minds, girlfriend, great minds.....it has been in the back of my mind to do a closet purge. But today wearing totally uncomfortable pants and armed with the knowledge that Hubby is now earning some sort of paycheck, guess what I will be doing this weekend (after all the turkey and fixin's, of course)? Tossing every piece of clothing that has made me miserable over the past two and a half years!

Way to go, Betty! And, for the record, I LOVE those boots and totally would have bought them too! x

Lin said...

I do this all the time. If I put on something that doesn't make me feel good, it goes into the garage for the donate bin. I do this ALL the time. I think it is important to buy new things periodically to feel good and to look good. It may just be a scarf or something cheap, but it still makes me feel current.

Do not blame your "look" for the way things happened. Maybe he just didn't make you feel good about yourself. Or maybe he didn't tell you that you were pretty or surprise you with a new scarf or necklace. It takes two to tango, my friend, and we gals can't take all the blame for wandering eyes.

I'm glad you are doing so well. It's been a glorious ride cheering you on to the "new" Betty! And I see that it is getting better and better each day!

Chuck said...

Betty good for you...I was anxiously waiting a photo of you in your new duds at the end of the post :) I am way ahead of you...I have had this cleansing as well and I have 3 good sized boxes in the hall going to Goodwill this week.

Catherine said...

I am way ahead of you my dear Betty! My 'fat' clothes are all out of my closet and gone to a better place. (Salvation Army) Never shall they be on my butt again.

I'm glad you are taking care of yourself sweet girl. You are worth it! We all are!

Beautiful beautiful beautiful.

Big hugs!
xo Catherine

Maude Lynn said...

I'm doing this, too! You have inspired me!

Out on the prairie said...

I should show you how to really shop,I am always willing to go out and get new.I change with the seasons of what colors look good and dump the old.A friend is taking old clothes and having her friend make aprons with them.

Sueann said...

I am ahead of your girlfriend!! I lost 180 lbs. I got rid of everything and started over with younger and more hip clothing.
Color..some bling here and there. Love to get dressed now..fun and exciting!!!!
And good for you...sounds like the new Betty is well on her way

Pat said...

I am so happy for you, Betty! You are shedding the old skin, and starting anew!

I love the boots!

I will look through my closets in the next few weeks and toss something!

Sally Wessely said...

I'd like to get rid of all my fat clothes, but I have to lose the fat first. Darn! I am getting rid of a bunch of sweaters that I used to wear when I was teaching. I was thinking about getting rid of them because I no longer wear them or like them, but I felt I should hand on to them. You inspired me. I will clean those out right after Thanksgiving. Now, to shed the 20 pounds, will be the next thing I will continue to work on so I can get me some new clothes.

I love you new attitude about YOU. I also like the boots.

jenny_o said...

I kept thinking you looked younger and happier in photos of the past year - good for you seeing the opportunity you have, and seizing it. I've already started shedding my schlumpy clothing and will continue. Congratulations on your 1000th post - did you think when you started you would reach that number?! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your two special guys.

Leanne said...

oh, Betty . . . I needed this today. I relate to so much of what you've written here . . . It's almost scary. I am jumping on board, and cleaning the closet this weekend. in your honor. I thank you, love. Big time.

annie said...

Happy Thanksgiving Day Betty.
May it bring sunshine and love.

Susan said...

I am getting rid of a brand new race shirt I got for today's 5k. It makes me look even fatter than I already am, and I hate the way it looks on me. I have recently lost 26 pounds, and I want to be proud of myself and look good! (Tech shirts look great on athletes, but they do not look great on me). Thanks for the permission to get rid of it! I am proud of you, Betty and I have always thought you were beautiful inside and out ever since I met you over 25 years ago! You are beautiful!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Hope your lessons on self awareness keep on making you a stronger person. It seems you are heading in new directions and are starting to like those:)

Shan said...

Whew! I hear you loud and clear, BB.

Claudya Martinez said...

I'm so with you Betty! I just donated a HUGE bag of perfectly useful clothes to the Salvation Army. They don't make me feel beautiful or interesting, they don't need to be in my life. I love clothes, love them because they are a way of expressing yourself. I love people who break rules and celebrate themselves.

You rock. Go on with your skinny jeans and cool boots!

Unknown said...

1) This post made my day. Perfect.
2) Those boots are lovely and I am a bit jealous of them!
3) I just got rid of a few clothes I don't like. If only the contents of the closet would disappear and new ones would appear in their places... ;)