“Shortly after being discharged from the hospital, someone commented on my postpartum appearance. C-section incision still bandaged, tattoo of fuzz from medical tape remnants still sticky, the comment reached my muddled, emotional mind and gave it a cold hard slap.
I cried instantly. A deep childlike cry, leaving me needing an Advil from a throbbing head. The sting was as much from the disappointment people can be so cruel as it was from the actual comment itself. The worst part? The comment-slinger was not even someone in my close circle. And still, it did such a number on my already-raw heart.
A week or so later, I was FaceTiming my mother-in-law. Much like every other FaceTime since The Comment, I kept the camera only angled towards my son James and my husband Luke—careful to ensure no one caught a glimpse of my healing body I was suddenly insecure about. During the call, James needed me, so Luke took the phone. I was thrust into the camera view. Jane said, ‘Kels. Your face is glowing with motherly peace and joy.’
The weeks since then, I’ve seesawed back and forth between the two women’s comments. One put my mind in an unrelenting, negative chokehold. The other reached in and tenderly held my hand—giving it a knowing, understanding squeeze. One made me feel obsessively insecure about my appearance. The other shifted my focus back into the reality of what really matters—how I feel. Not how I look.
I won’t say what the negative comment was. I don’t want to speak it and give it more weight than I already have. As Brené Brown so beautifully says, criticism is cheap, easy, and chickensh*t. We have to choose to step over it and move on. But what I will say is this: we have a choice. We have all been the giver of the not-so-great comment at some point. But every day, in every conversation, we have a choice.
How will our voice ring in someone’s ears? Will we be the one to smack them into a spiral of negative self-talk for months? Or will we be the one to spin their chair toward the mirror, put our arms on their shoulders, and gently point them toward the qualities in themselves that truly last and truly matter? We have a choice. Every day. Will you heal or will you hurt?”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelsey Pfleiderer of Islamorada, Florida. Follow her journey on Instagram here and her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Kelsey here:
‘We cancelled our baby shower. I went from Googling dangly monkey earrings to ‘28-week baby premature survival rates.’: Woman expecting her rainbow baby says ‘I will continue to stay home and fight to be a helper’
‘I started ‘hiding’ my social media posts from these two. I put them on the ‘restricted’ list, to be safe from the hurl of their hurt.’: Woman encourages others to ‘stop hiding,’ because you’ll never ‘get the good’ if you stay hidden ‘from the bad’
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