There is a poem by Maya Angelou called “Phenomenal Woman” and it opens up with:“ Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.”

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up in the morning, I don’t see pretty, I see “WHAT THE H—!” Sometimes I scare myself with dark bags under my eyes, hair looking like a birds nest, and my skin looking blotchy. Where is the pretty in that?  

A number of years ago, the first time I even heard of that poem, I was attending a baby shower of a friend of mine.  

I found it interesting that she would give this poem away to all of her guests as a thank you gift.  To this day, I still wonder about it and in fact; I still have that poem in the original frame.  

While I found her to be very plain, nothing particularly exquisite about her, I did find that she was very confident in herself.  She was a strong woman, withholding nothing. Now I understood why this particular male friend of mine, whom I had had a crush on, found her attractive.

It wasn’t all the makeup or the stylish clothes she wore, but the internal beauty she displayed on the outside.  When I asked him once, what he saw in her, he said “the good inside of her.”

At that time, I was trying to find exactly that.  I had low self-esteem, and I was trying to find myself.  I didn’t even really realize it at the time that it was even an issue for me, but unknowingly, it was.

I was going through a very difficult divorce and had no family around me at the time.  No help with my two boys and I was longing for something to help me find myself.  

It seems that anytime we as women go through something as difficult as a breakup, we automatically lose ourselves and become strangers within ourselves.  

A very dear friend of mine said the other day to me (she is going through a separation): “When we are married or get into a long term relationship, everything becomes about them.  We lose ourselves into our men.  We gain their friends and family, and somehow, our own personal relationships get lost. Then when the relationship ends for whatever reason, we lose ourselves and can’t find anything good within ourselves.”

Why is that?  How do we become strangers to ourselves and sometimes not even like who we have become?

Well, I don’t think we actually ever lose ourselves.  It’s just packed away in a pretty box of ribbons and bows in the closet where you keep all your special things that you pull out on a special occasion. Like that expensive perfume or your favorite dress or those slamming shoes you love to wear when you go out.

We, as women, are taught at a very young age that we are the ones who take care of the house, the children, and the man of the house (whether it be your husband or your boyfriend), that our lives become about our children and our men.

What’s funny about all this is that our man never really asked us to do that.  We sort of did it on our own.  I can’t say that I’ve actually ever heard a woman come to me and tell me, “Yes, that’s what my husband/ boyfriend told me I had to do.”  

On a recent episode of Chicago PD, there was a couple getting married and the wedding was almost canceled because both parties thought that the other was into wine tastings, hot air balloons, etc. and felt that they couldn’t keep up that kind of lifestyle after they got married. They felt that if they got married that the other partner would see who they really were.  

We send our representatives on a date, not our true selves.  We start to lose ourselves even in the dating scene.  While we love the courtship, the dating, the fun, do we really even show our partners who we really are?  

There is always something regal about a woman who shows who she really is.  And if you’re not sure who and what you are, then spend some time in the mirror and ask yourself who you really are.  What is it that you do from day to day?  How do you make a difference in someone’s life?  Whether it be your children, a friend, a relative, or even a stranger, it makes a difference.

Have you ever just sat for a while by yourself and thought, “It was a good day today because . . .”

That’s because you have given something incredible of yourself.  With that said, we all have good within ourselves that we just don’t see or use all the time.  Especially when we are not in a good place ourselves.  It’s even harder then.  It’s like that silver lining has become a dark, dull gray looming over you like a rainy cloud.   Own it, deal with it, and then let it go.  Holding on to it isn’t going to make it go away.  It does the opposite; it takes away all the good inside of us and we become angry, bitter and unhappy.  

People will hurt you every day if you let them.  People will purposely do things to agitate you.  People will do things to make you look bad.  Yes, and we actually can’t do anything about the way that other person feels, but we most definitely can do something about the way we feel about that person or situation.

We cannot allow others to determine the good inside of us.  Only we can do that.  We do to ourselves only what we allow ourselves to feel.  No one else has the right to make you feel less than.  No one is perfect, but we are perfect within ourselves.  God doesn’t make junk.  So why not see all the perfect imperfections within yourself and accept them for the beautiful and good person you are within.  

I am a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a lover, a fighter, an advocate, a believer, a daughter of God, and in all these things that are a part of who I am, they represent the good inside of me.