Don’t you just love pop culture and how viral some phrases, slangs or sayings can be? For a few months now, the lyrics from the popular song from a popular Nigerian musician have been used for just about everything. #FallOnMe became one of the very many popular hashtags of 2017. In fact, it has gone from being one people use to wish good, or maybe even not-so-good, things on themselves, but even for other people. If you follow the hit TV series, Battleground, and if you follow their fan page on Instagram, you’ll recall how the administrator of that page wished for ‘sense to fall on Teni’. I found that hilarious, and if you follow the show, I reckon so will you.
I’m sure you might be wondering why all this #FallOnMe talk. Well, it’s because I find that, especially in our TTC world, self doubt and low self esteem are prevalent. In the past couple of weeks alone, I have had cause to counsel some women, all of whom have taken big hits to their self esteem, all in this quest to find a baby. With their permission, I’ll share a few highlights of our discussions.
One of them, Salamatu*, has been trying for a baby for about 6 years, and even though she says has her husband has not given her reason to think so, she desperately fears losing him to another woman, who can give him what she can’t. She has bilateral tubal damage, and their only option is IVF, something they can not afford now. This searing guilt she feels over the fact that she is the one getting in their way, has turned her into a shadow of her self. She has become hyper sensitive and reads meaning into every and anything her husband does. In her own words, she is a walking time bomb…and I agree, especially if she keeps up with this behavior. I asked her what might sound like a cliche question, being if her husband married her because he loves her or solely for the purpose of procreation. I had to remind her, that outside of bearing children, there is a relationship that needs to be fostered…the one she has with her husband. If she has become this paranoid, edgy, sensitive person that is unrecognizable even to him, that in itself is enough for him to leave. It became obvious that her damaged self confidence has come from her own hatred of her body…for letting her down. To move forward, Salamatu has to forgive her body first, and also learn how to love herself unconditionally. This is the only way she can be confident enough to continue the journey, thankfully with a good and supportive man who loves her.
The other woman, Temi*, is an old friend of mine. When we were in University, she was one of those faultless beauties that all the guys wanted, and all the girls wanted to be. But over the years, the weight has crept on, sending her from a size 10 to an 18. Frankly, apart from the weight gain, she is still extremely beautiful to me, but in her own eyes, she has become a monster, thanks to the dreaded PCOS she suffers from. She tearfully complained about how her hair has thinned to almost nothingness, and about her excess facial hair. “Nicole, I share a shaving stick with my husband! Who does that??!” she wailed to me, and I had to tell her that, nne, na the two of us get that wahala oh! LOL! Like her, I too have been struggling with my weight, and I too have seen my full head of hair almost vanish. When she talked about faded beauty, I found myself silently realizing that I had also been nursing a similar insecurity…of not looking the same as I did years ago. But I had to quickly shake off the funk, so that I could help her do the same. I mean, who are we kidding? PCOS or not, we can’t look the same way we did 20 years ago. Of course, we can still look fantastic and do our best to keep fit and healthy, but the truth is that we are aging, whether we like it or not. Even the most beautiful middle aged women in the world, the likes of Halle Berry, Gabrielle Union, Angela Basset, etc. who, though they all look fantastic now, don’t look the same way they did decades ago. Some of them even look better now. Change is the only constant in life. I advised her to get on a healthy lifestyle, not only to try to lose the weight but also get her body in better condition to conceive. But more importantly, for her to learn to love her new self, in whatever package it comes in.
I have a friend who had a baby about two years ago, Soba*. She was one of those people who didn’t even put on a kilo of extra weight during pregnancy, and looked as beautiful as ever till she had the baby; no swollen nose, no skin discoloration, no skin tags, nothing. And after having the baby, she was the snap-back queen, back to her pre-pregnancy size almost immediately. Lucky her, right? Imagine my surprise when we were talking recently, and she confided in me about hating her body since having her baby, and how her husband hadn’t had sex with her in months. It turns out she ended up with very severe stretch marks. Not the light lines a few of us have, but some very deep and dark scarring, and on her light skinned stomach, they stand out. I told her what I’ve been telling myself since my girls gave me my own scars, that they were her victory marks, and that they were very likely a reminder to her husband of the gift she had carried in her body for him. I was shocked to realize she didn’t know she was still incredibly beautiful, and that the very many people who tell her this, c-o-n-s-i-s-t-e-n-t-l-y, are not just ‘being nice.’
I’ve also had my own dose of self-confidence dents here and there. I could empathize with Salamatu, because I also was very hard on myself when I was TTC. I could empathize with Temi, because of the changes my body has gone through because of PCOS. I could even empathize with Soba, because I won’t lie, in the early days, my stretch marks used to really worry me!!! But thankfully, I’ve come to a point of self-acceptance…or at least, I thought I had…
I recently discovered an area of my life, where I had lost my self-esteem so badly, it pretty much took me by surprise. I guess it got so bad because I didn’t notice when it started, until I realized I couldn’t type a single word. Yep, I had slowly but surely lost confidence in my ability to write. At first, I blamed it on my busy schedule, and then it was the diverse and opinionated audience I had on the other platform I was writing for, and then it was me turning 40…I blamed so many things for it. But the fact remains that I just could not write an article to save my life. I would pop open my laptop and literally freeze. I had to do some inner soul searching to find the root cause…and I did. So thankfully, here I am again, after not writing for about 7 months…so I hope you’ll forgive me for being a little rusty.
So, yes oh! May #SelfConfidenceFallOnMe, on Salamatu, on Temi, on Soba…and indeed each and everyone of us. If we don’t love ourselves for the queens we are…who will. Whatever your situation, don’t let your confidence slip away. It’s what makes the difference between being a victim…and being a conqueror!
Baby dust to all!
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