“…It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It…concentrated on you with an irresistable prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I love The Great Gatsby. Have always been in awe of it’s brilliance. The quote above? My favourite one from the book. It somehow encapsulates everything I feel about how we should, as individuals, treat people.
What’s a life – after all – if it’s not to make things that matter? And what matters more than making people feel they matter?
We all know people who feel down: about themselves, or their relationships, or their lives. Heavens, I struggle, some days, with a sadness that often makes me beside myself with frustration: it’d be self destructive if I let it have free reign but I know I have to keep it in check because I can’t let it destroy me. I have too much I still need to do in my life (post coming about that tomorrow!).
But it’s an emotion, a feeling, a state of being that makes me doubt myself, puts shivers in my soul, as it lessens me. And I’m not accustomed to being lessened or feeling less than everything I am. My self-esteem has been dented. I feel lost most days, as a woman. If it’s not one thing, it’s another: wanting a hug from someone that’s not a child, wanting someone to tell me I look pretty, wanting someone to notice I made an effort to make myself look nice….anything, really, that would make me feel alive again, as a woman.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want another relationship, nor anything even vaguely physical in that way. It’s not about having a man. It’s about being recognised as a woman. I am Helen, after all. 40. Still attractive. An attractive, young, woman.
Perhaps my biggest fear in this regard – when I admit it to myself – is that I’ve not had a relationship since I was 22 where the other half of the relationship has appreciated me for me, truly appreciated me for my unique qualities, for my unique womanliness. And I’m not getting any younger. And I’d like, I’d actually really like, someone to notice me. “Helen me”. The woman “me”. I’m not saying I need it. I’m just saying I’d like it to happen because I don’t want to get old and have not had me, the woman, recognised by someone who appreciated it. Because I think that would be a waste. A real waste. I don’t think I’d be able to bear it if I got to the end of my life and I hadn’t experienced it (because, I realise now, what I thought was genuine was anything but: narcissists aren’t capable of genuine love or genuine appreciation).
I’m not saying I’m Marilyn Monroe or anything, but, you know, it’d be really nice to flirt or feel appreciated for the woman I am. To have someone smile at me like “Gatsby looks at Daisy – in a way that every…girl wants to be looked at”.
I think this must mean I’m getting further along in my recovery from the abuse. I’m over the repeated replays of the violence in my head. I’m over the worst of the shakes from these replays. I’m over the fear every time I hear the lift coming upstairs. I’m moving on to pastures new. Reclaiming what was taken from me. It’s frustrating, empowering, dizzy-making, but it’s something I have to do. I can’t look back. Only forward. Time and tide wait for no man, especially not for an ageing battered old soul like myself.
While I re-locate my inner woman, and reconnect all my dots again, I’ll do something positive. Daily positive acts as a way through this living cha cha cha that is recovery from abuse (two steps forward, three steps back, cha cha cha). I’ll live by Fitzgerald’s words and try to make everybody feel like a somebody, try to make everyone’s load that little bit lighter and try to lift people up.
A smile (a Gatsby smile), a kind act: they’re powerful weapons in the fight to bring a sparkle to people’s days. And they’re things I have in abundance (despite – in spite of? – everything I’ve been through). I’m going to try to leave a little sparkle wherever I go while I wait for someone to make me sparkle. Because Heaven knows we all need a little more sparkle sometimes.
As Steve Maraboli says, “There’s nothing more rare and beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection”. Whilst I’m waiting for someone that’ll make me sparkle, I’ll take me being me beautifully and unapologetically perfectly imperfect. It’s all I have. So I have to make the best of it.
[You don’t have to thank me for brightening your day, ladies, with the twinkle in Leonardo’s eye 🙂 He’s totally twinkling as much for me as he is for you… 🙂 ]