THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Self-Acceptance

Mary-Berkley Gaines

Mary-Berkley Gains

 

Date of Interview: January 29, 2017

Name: Mary-Berkley Gaines

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Birmingham, AL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Probably… every other day, every day. Trying to cut back ::laughs::.

If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?

Mermaid. For sure. For sure, I’m a mermaid, most definitely. Ariel was my favorite when I was little, I love the ocean, I’m a Pisces. I’m a water baby, it’s just me. I actually had a fashion blog that was called the Teal Siren. I’m such a mermaid. And now it’s a thing so I have to chill on that because everyone wants to be a mermaid and I am one. I was one first, just so we all know the deal ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about radical self love. Being body positive. Self acceptance. Growth, just like, progressing as a human. Making my world and my community better. I feel like we can always push ourselves to be better. It’s my life, starting my organization and now we’re an official non-profit… Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham started as just a website and it’s now it’s own entity. It’s crazy! I’m a founder and I started it, but now it has this own life. It’s amazing.The people… we wouldn’t be anything without the community and the people and having people identify with it. We have followers from all over the country and even some people from different parts of the world. I think that in Birmingham we are the heart of the civil rights movement. We are where things went down, so it’s only natural that we have this project that we can be progressive with and move forward with in a different way. There’s always been that history, I think people forget that we are a city of activists. There’s still a strong community of people. There are all these protests for different things every other week, especially now and we can’t forget what our history is. It only makes us better and stronger. I think people connect it with a lot of negative things but it’s positive in some ways because we can continue to better ourselves. Being in the Bible Belt is really hard but we’re a pretty progressive city and we are a city in a very conservative place.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Well! I think giving myself a break. I’ve always been really hard on myself and being a bigger person, being a plus size girl and having eating disorders and struggling with that and body dysmorphia and going through a lot of stuff and having PTSD and depression, anxiety, mental illness, having a learning disability growing up. Going through all this stuff, I never gave myself a break. It’s a lot going on and I never gave myself credit and was really hard on myself. So now, I can push myself forward and progress but I still have those checks and balances of telling myself, “you can’t do anything but take it one day at a time”. So giving myself a break is my biggest accomplishment.

What is something you still struggle with?

Probably still struggling with trying to get over that thing of being a human and that I’ll fuck up and that it’s okay. Being flawed and knowing it’s okay for me to be… that I’ll fuck up and it’s okay for me to be on this journey.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.

I think they’re really important. You can learn something from every relationship and I feel like we need to be more intimate with people and that intimacy isn’t just a sexual thing. I love that I have friends that I can be like that with, that we can cuddle and hold hands and love on each other without it being a sexual thing. I love that I have sexual relationships where I’m respected enough that I can explore them. I’m queer and I’m noticing as I explore what queer means to me, I’m finding out so much more about myself and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can do that. It was hard growing up queer in Alabama. I always knew I had an attraction to women, that’s how it started, but I never was really comfortable with that. Well, I was comfortable with it but you know, when you’re younger it’s kind of weird to come out. You don’t really know how to navigate that. So, I only came out a few years ago. I struggled with that because there’s not really a gay scene here and it was kind of what’s the point if I’m going through all this shit if I can’t go out and express it or meet people. But then, as I got older I realized that I wasn’t the only one. It just took me going through college and having those experiences to finally figure out that I’m queer! And like, it’s a thing and I can experience it. It’s been about three years. It’s been great!

Sandy

Sandy

 

Date of Interview: January 4, 2017

Name: Sandy

Age: 42

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Rockville, MD

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

That depends… I cycle through depression. If I am in a depressed mode, it’s more likely that I’m not going bathe. However, I have this really weird “thing”.  I will always make sure my puss and my butt are clean. SO those get cleaned every day. If I’m in an accident and something happens, my junk is cleaned up. The rest of me might not be ::laughs::. However, when I’m in a good phase, let’s say every day.

Do you feel like mental health correlates with your life in ways outside of bathing?

Yes, it does. I think that’s what helps me… it’s funny, I used to hate that I have depression. I also have a disorder called  trichotillomania. It’s a hair pulling disorder. Two in 50 people have it and it used to be the worst thing ever for me.  I used it unknowingly  to push people away, but now it seems to be the thing that can connect me to people. People come to me with their “stuff.” Even if it is different from my stuff, on some level I might get what they are going through. I feel all emotions really big and I like that. When I’m sad it can be awful and deep. However, I get the equivalent amount of feelings and depth when I’m happy. I appreciate that I can feel that fucking happy. Most people don’t feel as happy as I feel when I’m happy since many people tend to mute their emotions. It is impossible to mute just one emotion. When one mutes one, they mute them all. Feeling them so big  can be a gift and a curse. It can take up & impact a lot of my life. That said, when I see something beautiful, like when you came in and I was watching that gorgeous scene from American Beauty, I cry. I’m just so moved it can bring me to tears in a good way. I like it and I hate it.

What are you passionate about?

That’s a good question… Nature. I wasn’t raised that way but I always liked being outside. One day I saw a deer on the side of the road that was hit by a car. I did not see it get it. It was still alive. I ended up helping to save it. After we got it to safety in the woods, hours later I could not help but go back and check on it.  I slept in the woods with it for awhile. It was 1 in the morning but I needed to know that it was okay, which it was. It was this beautiful moment… there was a full moon. It was summer. He let me pet him and feed him….and the breeze… that moment was my most favorite, perfect moment in my life. After that, I became even more connected to nature. There’s just something there.  When I’m not feeling good, I can go out and ground myself and feel I’m a part of something. The world makes sense, and I make sense when I’m out there. I feel people don’t appreciate nature as much as they should. I hate that it’s being destroyed and I don’t think people get how important nature is.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Honestly, just embracing me and who I am as much as possible, as well as being okay with it. I feel when I’m out in the world with people I’m both extroverted and introverted. That said, there are many people when I am around them, I get the feeling I do not quite fit it. Most of the time it is something they said to me and I get they just do not get me, who I am, how I live my life, as well as what I stand for. I’m waiting to find a zipper on my body because I feel like an alien a lot of times when I don’t fit in. I can imagine finding the zipper and pulling off my human skin and underneath there is this other alien body exposed.  I can see myself saying, “This is why I don’t make sense to all of you!!” But there’s something about that. I feel accomplished because I have this inner part of me that’s beautiful, awesome, and makes sense to me. It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else as long as it makes sense to me. I think that has allowed me to love myself. That’s a big fucking deal. Especially since I spent a lot of my time hating myself for many years. I worked hard for that.

What supported you with getting more comfortable with yourself?

I wonder if part of it was getting older and growing up.  I also took many self-development courses, was a coach, and I have a coach myself. Sometimes, we all get in our own way. When I do, sometimes I need someone to ask “what’s that about?” I needed guides to help me… ask questions I couldn’t ask or see what I couldn’t, or see what was in my way. Meditating in the woods helped me a great deal. A lot of amazing people showed up for me.  I feel like they had little red bows on them. They were gifts to me, even if they were temporary gifts. I had a lot of good supportive people. I still do.  I think that, as well as being ready. I was ready or it would not have happened otherwise.

What is something you still struggle with?

Probably my body. I’m working very hard at accepting where it is at. I have been a lot bigger than I am now, 35-40 lbs bigger. I do get some of our bodies shift due to age. ::laughs:: Intellectually I get it.  I was sick on and off for two years and my body is the product of that.  I was honoring where it was at by allowing it to rest a lot more, and work out less. It’s still a beautiful body… it’s just a little bit different than it was and it may not go back. I struggle with that.  For instance, these are my big boobs now and I don’t like them this big. I like smaller breasts.  However, this is where they are at and it is what it is.

What do you want to do this year?

I want to create positive energy this year. I’m looking forward to being outside more. I want to be in the woods more. I’m looking forward to that. I feel this is a scary time for a lot of people. I would love to collectively create something that would feel supportive and positive for others, a safe space. Or even myself if I should need it. I want to have fun too. I want to have fucking fun! I want to see live music, embrace my inner child and go roller skating! I want to create adventure, love, self-love, support, health, prosperity, and so much more.

Mykalee “Mykie” McGowan

Mykalee McGowan

 

Date of Interview: November 4, 2016

Name: Mykalee “Mykie” McGowan

Age: 23

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to do it like, twice a day. That’s showering, baths, I want to start doing that once a week and things of that nature with spiritual baths. So, alright, so I say that I’m a witch and I feel that baths are very healing and it’s very calm. And you know, sometimes showers just don’t do it for me. So I want to take spiritual baths once a week to unwind, get the stress out, relax as well as doing some witchy shit like setting intentions and doing spells. Yeah.

If you were an underwater creature which one would you be? Mythical or real.

Cool beans, cuz the first thing that popped in my head is a mermaid. I would be a mermaid! Yeah, I feel like the human form sometimes is not negative, but it’s whatever while still being cool. You can have the fishy aspect and the human aspect, I wouldn’t want to get totally rid of the human part.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about creating, I’m passionate about expressing myself as well as showing people dope shit. And dope events. And bringing dope people to dope people. I am kind of known as the person who knows everybody, that knows everything that’s going on. I have my friends telling me “GIRL! You should have told me about that event, what the hell!” Because I just like what people do and I just want to show that to the world and help people express that and help them express themselves. But right now I’m trying to learn to express myself cuz I’m dope too ::laughs::.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is starting my own business. My biggest accomplishment is starting my own business because I’m the only one in my family that has done that. I think about where I was in 2015, I was broke as fuck, my father had just passed away, dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety and stuff like that. To now, when I started my business in July, to know that I’m the only person in my family to have done that. It just feels really really good, it feels really sweet ::laughs::. Especially because I’m the black sheep of my family and a lot of times, my mom asks “what are you doing?”. It just feels good to have something that I own.

What do you mean by black sheep?

I mean I’m the black sheep cuz I’m the one… So my sister was in the army. My other sister graduated college on time and she’s the youngest, she’s a year younger than I am, she has a job and a car and a house. And here I am trying to figure it all out in this very small room, in this house in DC. When you’re raised by Jamaican parents, having a secure and normal career is what they want for you. But I can’t physically, mentally, or emotionally get a “normal” job. Whenever I try, It always backfires. Like, God won’t let me. So to be outside of a having a car/house/job, that’s me being a black sheep. Yeah. And I’m still doing okay!

What is something that you still struggle with?

Accepting myself, and all of myself. Expressing myself and all of myself too, I tend to try to form myself in the way that I think people will like me to be. I felt that my past self was like a parasite. When it came to lovers, when it came to friends, I felt like I would try to stick on to them because I think they’re amazing and that I wasn’t amazing enough. I would try to form to be like, the sassy side chick or the bomb ass lover and now I’m in a space where I have to be me. So I’m alone a lot of the time and I force myself to be alone to see myself and deal with myself alone so I can be like, “Mykalee, you are cool and you do have flaws but everybody has flaws”. And yeah. That’s how things are right now.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise.

Oh my God. Ohhhhh okay ::laughs:: SO relationships! Oh my God, platonic ones. I’m actually learning to express myself and be out there more. A challenge I had in the beginning of summer was to see more people. Talk to more people and stuff, so I think that’s really good. But when it comes to romantic relationships I’m not the one. I’ve tried polyamory, I’ve tried monogamy, now it’s just plain old I don’t want to talk to nobody ::laughs::. At this moment in time, ya know, there are times because it’s people, times that it’s myself, it’s a way to protect myself. I haven’t successfully navigated romantic relationships at this moment. Gotta find my way, I know I’ll get there one day. And regardless of if I’m with many people or with one or by myself, I’m gonna be fine. Sexually, I love sex. I love sex, even though I’ve been celibate for a year to protect myself, and try to shed some energy that’s been old and needs to be moved, sex is good. Sex is alright by me. That’s it ::laughs::.

What are you afraid of for the world?

I’m afraid that people will just not… I feel like people already don’t accept each other. And if you say you’re something, I should just acknowledge it instead of being like, WELL this states or that states, you know, if I’m saying I’m a certain thing you need to respect that. Just do that! I don’t think it’s a hard thing to do. A lot of the time I do feel that, but there is such a division going on. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid to be homeless, I’m afraid to succumb to my depression and anxieties. I think about that a lot. But I’m also afraid to succeed because success draws more responsibility and I’m someone who is easily overwhelmed and I don’t want that to take over.

What did you see today that was beautiful?

I saw a couple at my favorite cafe. They were just… So sweet together. I thought about my mom and my stepfather, it was just those candid tiny moments, those beautiful moments.

 

%d bloggers like this: