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The proof is in the pudding

Or in my case, a bar of soap.

Not too long ago, I slipped on a bar of soap and broke my foot. Little did I know how much that bar of soap would teach me.

The day it happened, as I lay there writhing in pain, I screamed out for help. Steven, of course, came running and found me sprawled on the floor in a crumpled heap rocking back and forth.

My first thought was: oh, thank God, help was here! My second thought was:  wait … I’m naked and my little fat rolls are exposed! Oh the humiliation!

As soon as he entered, I saw his mortified face. I began screeching, “Throw me the towel, throw me the towel!”  Not my finest hour.

Let me tell you that there is no panic like that of a wounded naked woman who feels she has something to hide.

I think that our instincts are challenged daily. Do we take care of our realities or do we try to preserve whatever dignity we have left?

Hiding our flaws is something we are all pretty good at. Whether we are hiding our lies, our faults or our shortcomings, we all have a collection of things we’d rather not share with others.

I have to wonder if all the effort is worth the outcome.

I get the humiliation aspect of being seen for what we truly are (it doesn’t get more bare than naked on the floor). But I wonder if we are being fair to ourselves.

My ex husband spends a boat load of money going to a hair club that glues new hair on his head every two weeks.  Few people know, not even his new squeeze. Is it doing any harm?

I have friends who live their lives buying things they can’t afford so they can appear more successful than they are. Is it hurting anything other than their pocket book?

We know a couple who refer to their children as entrepreneurs to gloss over the fact that their kids are once again unemployed and looking for work.  Does it really matter?

And I would hugely prefer to cover up my crumpled, naked, fluffy body so that the man of my dreams doesn’t see it in the stark light of day. What’s the harm?

I’m a big believer in full disclosure but I also understand not everyone is entitled to know or see everything about us. Privacy is reserved for those closest to us.

Take my shower incident for example. Steven is a man who has seen me naked about a billion times. I’ve always hoped that it was a positive experience for him. I also own up to having impeccable posture and sucking in my gut when I know he is looking. Is that wrong?

My pin-up days are clearly over. I’ve got C-section and hysterectomy scars that prove I gave birth and survived menopause. Not exactly an unblemished body. On top of that, I’m 25 pounds (okay fine, 30) fluffier than I should be. Suffice it to say, I’m not vacuuming naked.

Still, I feel every bit the saucy minx I once was (and still believe myself to be). Yes, I might be a legend in my own mind, but it’s my mind and whose to judge?

So I’m thinking if it makes my ex feel better to lie about being bald, let him. If our friends have a need to feel successful, who am I to disagree? And if people want to think of their unemployed children as entrepreneurs, well, hey, maybe they will be some day.

Maybe the real damage of our lies and deceit happens at the end of the day when the lights go out and the room goes dark. When there is no one else there, what do we really think of ourselves?

There in the dark the deceits disappear and the truth stands alone.

My truth is that I’m loved by a wonderful man who knows I’m fluffy and clumsy. I’m not yet ready to prance around the house naked, but I’m getting there.

Self esteem runs deep. So does self loathing. We should respect both as the line that divides them is fragile.

Best we all remember that none of us is perfect. So what if we go around hiding our imperfections? There are moments that in order for me to maintain a level of confidence in my life I have to keep an ideal of myself in my head. It doesn’t always match what I see in the mirror but it doesn’t mean it’s not who I really am, want to be or once was.

The naked girl crumpled on the floor begging to be covered is also the same girl who can stand before hundreds of people delivering a knockout keynote presentation or successfully coach a fledgling apprentice towards a new life. She’s also the same girl who single handedly ran several successful businesses, raised a great kid who is now 26 and has forged a midlife career in writing.

I’m aware that amid our confidences lurk insecurities. Things we know we could or should be better at. I’m willing to bet that you, my readers, have them too. I’m hoping they never stand in your way.

It took a bar of soap to give me a reality check. Not being proud of something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ashamed of it. While I’m not perfect, my vulnerable moments should not be confused for weakness.

Perfection does have its place. I’m just not sure that real life is one of them.


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Joan Cooper - You certainly know how to make a lot out of very little – a bar of soap ticked all this?

I love “fluffy” instead of ‘fat’.

Perfection like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Have you seen the woman James Cameron (Titanic etc), married? He could have had any gorgeous babe around.

Joan Coooper

Tammy - Hi Joan, I’m going to take that as a compliment even though I’m quite unsure. Yes, I’m a thinker sometimes. When I had that shameful moment on the floor and rather than think of what was good for me, my vanity took over, it unleashed a flurry or thought. Why do we care so bloody much about what someone else might think of us? And I got to thinking that I wasn’t the only one. Plenty of us have things that we hide or misrepresent. I’m not at all sure it’s worth the effort. Yes, even a bar of soap can teach some big lessons. Re Cameron and his wife, I’m assuming (and hoping for them both) that they have tremendous chemistry. I have to believe that with his ego he is not the easiest person to live with. But then … who is? Thanks for being here Joan; you always bring something to the table.

Trenna - I love you! You are singularly the most talented person I know. Also, the most sensible. Why someone doesn’t grab you up, give you a million dollars just to use your talents to the fullest is a mystery to me. But, life isn’t over and I’m quite sure that one of these days you will be “discovered” by those who will make you famous. Then, I can say, “I knew Tammy before she was discovered!” Keep at it my dear.

Tammy - Hi Trenna, oh … I love you too! I don’t know why someone hasn’t grabbed me up and given me a million dollars for my talents (we are talking writing, right?) but I’ll keep waiting. Personally I’m thinking you can keep fame but I’ll take fortune. Either way, you can say you knew me ‘when’. Glad you enjoyed the read. Naked humiliation should have some benefits for mankind, don’t you think? Wonderful to have you here and thanks so much for posting!

Carmen - WOW!!!! This one leaves me speechless. Here I thought I am as close to perfection as I will ever get given my age and life experiences,,,,,,your article has made a great impresion and has made me dig deep!!!! OH BOY!!!!! I will try not to ask my children how perfect I have been and perhaps are?????? Oh gee….I won’t go there!!!!!Thanks for a great article. You always bring out the best in us! Keep em coming.

Suerae Stein - I love your honesty, Tammy, and especially that last line in your post. And that our vulnerabilities are not our weaknesses. I often confuse the two when it comes to me. Thank you for the reality check – and the chuckle as well! ~ Suerae

Tammy - Hi Suerae, I’ve tried being less forthcoming but usually fail in my attempt. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s always easy to know what I’m thinking, wanting or dreaming of. Some people just wear their hearts on their sleeves. I truly believe that vulnerabilities are not to be confused with our weaknesses. Rather, they are there perhaps to help us in our compassion, for ourselves and for others. This past Monday I had to have surgery on that foot because things didn’t heal right. Not awesome. This little foot and that bar of soap have taught me well. Just for the record, I’m looking at installing those metal bars in the shower. Yup. I figure I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not all too anxious to re-visit this scenario. Thanks for being here, Suerae, you are a breath of fresh air and I appreciate your posts.

Tammy - Hi Carmen, haven’t seen you around for some time. So glad you are still reading. I have a feeling you are pretty close to perfect so I wouldn’t try for it too hard. As for asking your children what their impression is, I highly recommend waiting to do so until their children have grown and taught them the cost of benefits of motherhood. Only then can/will they understand how perfect you were and are. Thanks for the kind words; I’m happy you are on the other end of my weekly rants. Thanks for posting!

Carole Schultz - What a great blog, Tammy, and could so relate. Thank you for putting into words how so many of us feel. Great insight.

Tammy - Hi Carol, thanks, so glad you like it. It’s my little corner of the world. My friends always say that I can be counted on for voicing their fears, thoughts and desires. I think it’s a nice way of telling me I have a big mouth. I prefer to think of it as being a spokesperson. So happy you enjoyed the read and so grateful you took the time to post. Thanks for being here!

Stephen C. Spencer (@PaulDMallory) - Some people will do anything to get an idea for a column! Hope you’re okay, Tammy, and that your recovery was/will be a quick and complete one.

By and large, I agree: why in the world wouldn’t anyone want to show themselves to the world in the best possible light, whether through fake hair, phony tans, or age-and-shape-appropriate clothing? I wish more people would do it. Take a stroll down the aisles at your local Walmart, and you’ll see what I mean. Painful stuff!

But it’s still what’s inside us that’s most important. The trouble looms when these little cosmetic “deceptions”—and even that may be too strong a word—begin to fool oneself past the point of a simple confidence boost. If you’re not careful, it can put you on a slippery slope indeed.

In short, The Red Queen’s advice to Alice seems particularly apposite (italics mine): Speak French when you can’t think of the English for a thing, turn your toes out as you walk, and remember who you are. You can’t go too far wrong with Lewis Carroll!

Kellie - Well Ms. Tammy
I know of not one woman who would feel comfortable in that situation. Regardless if they are a size 1 or size 18! If they say otherwise, I would have to call them on their dishonesty. Women and their body image is a real problem in this day and age. The media, hollywood and the unrealistic expectations set of what we SHOULD be all made worse by these industries. All one can hope for is a man who loves us just the way we are … if I may steal a line from the movie “Bridget Jones Diary.”

Tammy - Hi Stephen, oh my gosh, visions of past Wal-Mart visitations pop into my head. Pretty atrocious stuff. Yes, a bit more thought and decorum would be an excellent skill for everyone to possess. I offer no apologies for not wanting to be perceived as any less than I am. Problem is I sometimes am less than I wish to be. That is when my best efforts leap to my rescue. Often effective…sometimes not so much. I so agree with you that we must all be careful NOT to believe our own publicity. That is indeed a slippery slope of which I have seen many not return. Sad. And then, of course, we must be careful to not think one bit less of ourselves, as modesty has its place but not giving accolades to ourselves when they are due, is not one of them. It’s all such a balancing act, isn’t it? Perhaps the Queen was right and I should be taking up French as I hold my head high and never forget where I came from, who I am, and where it is I’m going. Thanks for being here. Your observations always lighten my day! Appreciate the post.

Tammy - Hi Kellie, loved the Bridget movies. So much true life there to be found. Yes, finding someone who loves us just the way we are is a blessing I wish for everyone. Loving ourselves is the harder goal. I sometimes struggle with my body image not because of any outside influences but because I know I can do better, be better. I hate falling short. I am proud of myself in so many ways that the few items that linger in the negative column carry less weight (no pun intended). It’s all a process and part of life. Sometimes easy … sometimes not so much. Thanks for posting and sharing with me. It means a lot.

Jenny Paulsen - I have a very good feeling that if you handed that man of yours a bar of soap he would gladly wash your back, neck, and …….
and I have 40 to 45 to lose and that didn’t stop me from enjoying some Easter nummies! “There’s always tomorrow…” a cute girl reindeer named Clarice sang this to Rudolph.

Tammy - Hi Jenny, I know it to be true but it’s good to be reminded. Embarrassment doesn’t get too much worse than this but as you can see, I survived. There IS always a tomorrow, I love that we have that to look forward to no matter what. I wake up every morning and say out loud “today is another chance”. I’m rarely disappointed in the offerings. Thanks tons for being here and for posting. You’re awesome!

Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen - Hi Tammy:

I am well known for being far too honest to just about everybody. During counseling training I was famous for being “too direct.”

My Mom used to say, “You don’t have to tell them everything you know!”

Tammy - Hi Laura Lee, I LOVE direct people! You never have to wonder where they stand or what their intentions are. What’s not to like about that? Your mom (and mine) was probably right; we don’t need to share everything but the truth is that when we do, it forges relationships. True story. When we lay ourselves openly and honestly to those around us it helps them to do the same with us … eventually. Thanks for stopping in and posting!

Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen - Hey Tammy!
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