Join me, if you will, on a trip down memory lane.
The year? 2018
The location? The grown up’s bathroom in a 4th floor walk up condo in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, USA.
The main character? A stay-at-home mom of a 2 and a half year old and a 6 month old (read: sleep deprived) who was interested in lowering her and her family’s environmental toxin exposure (read: was swapping out every cleaning product in the house), who had lost a long-term friendship (read: she got girl dumped via text), was embarking on minimalism with her husband (read: digging through every closet and drawer), had been talking to a friend about Beautycounter and was starting bi-monthly therapy (read: in her head a lot).
Here’s what happened.
A few months after my second child was born I wasn’t myself. I’ve long had a tendency towards what I thought was depression. Turns out I’ve been a life-long sufferer of volatile self esteem. I hesitate to say “low” because I could turn it on and off. I would roller coaster between high and low. I would not do things because I was worried about what other people would think of me and I would also turn right around and do other things in front of a big ole group of people (ie: volunteer for the improv portion of our senior night shut-in).
All through my 20s I would bobble back and forth between believing in myself and shutting down what I was working on. And there are a lot of contributing factors towards this (which I’m saving for my memoir; publish date TBD). And at the end of the day, inconsistent self esteem is confusing.
And confusion leads to doubt.
And doubt leads to inaction.
And inaction can lead to negative self talk.
And that is where you find me in the bathroom in October 2018.
I had just emptied my drawer and cleared out e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that was under the cabinet. I was surrounded by a lot of expensive, and expired, products. Thoughts like “I can’t believe you spent all this money on products you don’t even use” and “What a waste” flowed.
Instead of sorting, I just threw it all away. I was going to start fresh. Start clean.
But how? I’ll have to check the tape to see who reached out first but a conversation was started with a friend from high school, Shea, who was selling Beautycounter. I was interested in the low-tox life (because I had witnessed endocrine disrupting issues like infertility and cancers in people around me) and I connected to the story of Beautycounter founder Gregg Renfrew who saw the same things in her friends and family and created a company to solve it.
I had just tossed everything and decided that I would need something in my drawers besides toothpaste so I asked Shea for a sample of the least expensive thing on the site. The Peppermint Conditioning Lip Balm.
A few days later I’m in therapy and telling my therapist about these negative thoughts and she says to me “Why don’t you try finding a skincare routine? Like make taking care of yourself a priority.”
hashtag mind exploding emoji (🤯)
Seriously lady? I just threw everything away! Granted most of it was over 2 years old but like why couldn’t she have told me this at my last appointment!
Either way. What I did next changed my life.
Four months prior (June 2018) I had received my low self esteem diagnosis from my therapist. A month later (July 2018) I shared to social media a post of my husband playing with our two kids on the sofa. I shared my mental health moment honestly. Openly. Brutally.
While the scene before me captured with my iPhone camera was depicting pure joy behind the camera was a person saying “what have I done to deserve this?” and she’d then catalog all her shortcomings. On the off chance that any other person in my social media network battled with anything similar to what I had just experienced I wrote it up and shared on Instagram [here she is folks].
A few hours later I got a text from my college roommate, my maid-of-honor, my text-about-anything person. The text explained that we would no longer be talking because my inability to appreciate my family rendered her unable to speak to me.
I lost it.
Like inner voice saying “see you don’t make anyone’s life better” (completely ignoring the several people who had commented and DMed me about their feelings).
An emergency therapy session helped. A two-week vacation to Colorado a few days later helped. The next two months were split between taking care of kids and cleaning out.
Now we’re at October 2018, I’m back from therapy and going “well huh, I’m supposed to start a skincare routine and I have no skincare left.” And what do I do next? Well I do what every self-respecting person does when a task is looming and I go scroll social media.
I had a message from Shea saying that the lip balm should get there soon and to let her know if I had any other questions.
So my little lip balm sample arrived and I proceeded to order it and a cleanser and moisturizer and shampoo and conditioner.
Washing my face morning and night and showering much more often had the desired effect. I began to take pride in my appearance. And so I requested the makeup for Christmas.
As a stay-at-home mom I spent most of my waking hours mothering. Diaper changing, breast feeding, potty training, meal feeding and bathing. Not to mention playing and cleaning. The few minutes I spent everyday washing my face reminded me that I deserve some mothering myself.
That my sole existence wasn’t just to keep these other two humans alive.
That I was a person worth caring for.
Over the next several years my self esteem blossomed. I even got to the point where I enrolled a consultant in June 2021. Four years after I got my low self esteem diagnosis I had nurtured my self esteem to a point where I not only believed in my worth as a person I was ready to help other people grow theirs through skincare.
Now it is September 2022, I’m still in therapy (we keep finding new things to talk about), I have added a few steps to my daily skincare routine (most notably two toners and exfoliation) and as a Beautycounter consultant I now get to have conversations about skincare and makeup and self love and personal growth everyday.