Recently I found myself in a same–sex relationship. I never imagined myself having to explain to my family and friends that I like girls… and boys. Explaining my situation was something that took time. Something I had to think very carefully about when trying to help people understand.
“No, I do not have a preference, no I cannot put a percentage on it and no, this does not change who I am.”
Some explanations took longer than others, some didn’t seem to mind and others just didn’t understand. But that’s okay, because throughout this process I learned the most important lesson. How to love myself.
In the beginning, I didn’t know what these feelings were. Were we just friends? Is this just some weird kind of friendship thing? Maybe I’m just being silly. I tried to fight the feelings and question them as much as possible, rationalising the fact that we were just friends, right? Wrong.
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Fearful of what everyone was going to say, I tried to hide this little ‘thing’ that my girlfriend and I had developed. However, as the days grew into weeks nothing had changed, the feelings were all still there but stronger than ever. As my feelings evolved I began to quickly realise, if this is what makes me happy, what makes me feel so good inside, why should I fight it? So I stopped. I stopped fighting the feelings.
Once I had made a conscious effort to kick every piece of doubt out of my mind and embrace my same-sex relationship, the way I viewed myself began to change.
Waking up in the morning fresh faced and sleepy-eyed used to be a rude awakening for me, I would usher myself away from the mirror as quickly as possible.
This was the first thing to change.
Seeing the beauty in another woman’s sleepy-eyed, makeup-free face showed me the attractiveness of my not so perfect morning look. I had this idea in my head that every other woman in the world (minus me) looked so perfect in the morning, with rosy cheeks and their hair perfectly positioned on the pillow.
Seeing another woman in their most raw moments showed me just how wrong I was. As I fell in love with the beauty with the sleepy eyes and the disheveled hair, looking in the mirror in the morning wasn’t such a daunting task.
I had begun to break down the walls of what I thought women should look like and replace them with reality.
Putting a full face of makeup on in the morning was part of my daily routine. It’s now been five consecutive days since I have worn makeup. What changed? I asked myself. The answer is very simple, I started to look at myself the way I looked at her and my reflection began to change.
I wasn’t so hard on myself, I didn’t pick apart every blemish that resided on my face. I didn’t stand there and think about how I could look or how I should look. I realised that what I thought were imperfections were really just characteristics of my face. Not necessarily bad.
Abby Dawson. Image: Supplied.
Sometimes we have our ‘days’. Times where we feel like we just cannot get it right. Whether that be our outfits, our hair, our bodies, life in general, or our makeup. I watched my girlfriend stand in front of the mirror and say, “ugh I am just having ‘a day’” and it made me think, are we really having ‘a day’? Maybe we should be easier on ourselves, maybe we actually did get it right, maybe we aren’t really having ‘a day’ after all.
Being attracted to another woman and admiring her body gave me the ability to do the same, welcoming the beautiful imperfections that I have. I started to appreciate a woman's body in a way that I never had before, and it changed the way at looked at mine.
Seeing another woman’s insecurity has changed the way I engage with myself. I have started talking to myself the way I would talk to her. If I can be so gentle and loving to someone else’s insecurities, why can’t I do the same for myself?
You know that internal dialogue you have with yourself, in your head? You’re obviously not going to be able to get all this finished in time, why do you even bother? Yes, on my busy days my self-talk used to go a little something like that. But then I thought, if my girlfriend ever turned around and said that to me, I wouldn’t be too happy.
We are very busy women with very busy schedules and I understand that sometimes everything can get a little bit much. Nevertheless, I’d probably tell her to change her attitude. Give her a little pep talk and send her on her way.
So why wouldn’t I take the same approach with myself? I started to take a little bit of my own advice. I started changing my internal dialogue. I’ve got a lot to do today, it is going to be a productive day with lots of prioritising. Or, you’ve got this Abby, you’re a busy woman with a busy schedule and that’s just how it is. You can do it. I started to nail my inner monologue.
Getting tasks done during the day is now more of a positive experience, and so is taking time for myself.
My girlfriend and I are doing the long distance thing and it's not the easiest way to pursue a relationship, but it’s been a blessing in disguise.
Sometimes when things all seem to get a bit too much in our lives I like to remind her (and myself for that matter) that it’s important to take time for yourself. To do some yoga, or go for a walk, but mainly to have some down time.
Since I vowed to start practicing what I preach, I too started to board the ‘down time train’. My routine changed from just go, go, go, sleep and repeat.
I began to schedule time to lay on my bed and listen to music or go for a walk. I began to schedule in time to look after myself.
Seeing the intimacies of another woman's insecurities makes me think about all the ways I can be kinder to myself. I can give myself the love I so freely give to other people.
How has your relationship helped you?