I commented on Sherry’s Blog about being Comfortable in Your Own Skin… I thought I’d talk about it here as it is so important to me these days.
I first heard this phrase when on some Management Skills Development Course. This was in 2003 the year I was fighting to not drink, control my drinking – just do SOMETHING about my drinking. It was used by the psychologist who helped run the course and spent a lot of time talking to us about Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis theories. That alone was hugely illuminating. It isn’t unfair to say somewhere along the line the time I spent on that course and with the people I met on it led to me ending up in rehab a year later – also one other in my learning group then came to me some year or so further on again and said “You know I can’t control this any more what would you recommend I do?” He went to rehab (a different one) and is still in AA today.
Anyway back to 2003 – one of the guys on the course was a tall elegant Frenchman in his 30s, so good looking that whilst I’ve never had any inclination to be gay he could have turned me with a well placed smile. Trust me all females reading this – you’d have killed to be in his line of sight. So when the psychologist said about him that he was “Comfortable in his own skin” – I thought “He bloody well would be. Who wouldn’t if you looked like that?”.
I had it all so wrong – I thought that was what it was about and that I being ugly old short arse me with the barrow boy accent and too frequent use of the vernacular (that is cussing to you madame) would never ever be happy unless I could afford the biggest plastic surgery bill ever known to mankind!
Slowly I heard it used again – particularly when I got into recovery around AA. I heard it used about people who whilst clever and articulate were frankly no pin-ups in looks. I then began my second phase of misunderstanding on this one. That it was about you accepting how you looked. So I worked on that – ok I’m far from a Jane Austin hero in looks but I’m no Quasimodo either. I’ve seen too many disasters of plastic surgery to realise that you really should just accept what you are dealt with and get on with it – and anyway I’ll never be over 6ft no matter what you do. That was a move forward and not an invaluable realisation and development for me.
However. Truly comfortable in my own skin – what did that mean? I’m still working on it but to me now it is more about comfortable with what is inside my skin – that I’m OK, I’ve a good view of my inner self and what drives me, happy with my place in the world and how I’m moving in it. That serenity I saw in those in AA that I really thought had “IT“. I’m still progressing towards it but for me this is the best definition that works for me right now. Also it is a useful guide to whether I’m well – spiritually that is – do I feel comfortable being me today. If not is that just a blip that’ll pass or is this lingering is this something telling me I’m at odds with my external world with my internal being? If yes then I need to do something about that – if only acknowledge the area of conflict and learn to get on with it.