What if someone is critical of you?

On my first date after my divorce, I went swimming with a handsome young man.

Because I knew that I was still vulnerable and my self-esteem was low, I wanted to look my best. I wore a modest two-piece bathing suit. It was pink with lace, and I was sure that I looked my best.

I thought that I was making a good impression until we were chatting casually in the swimming pool with me on one float and my date right next to me on another. Suddenly, he looked at me with an odd expression and remarked; “Fayteen, you have wrinkled elbows.”

Because I wasn’t sure what to think, I blurted out, “Well, they’re not dry.”

“They bother me,” he said.

(And, Joy asks: “Did he really say that?” And, Fayteen laughs and says: “He really did.”

I went home and rubbed lots of lotion into my elbows, but I was devastated. Later, I found out that this particular man played the same game with every woman he dated. He found something that he could be critical about—however minor. It was his way of keeping a distance from women.

I am trying to make a point about boundaries. Because my self-esteem was so crushed by my divorce, I didn’t have very good boundaries. I let what someone else said about me affect how I felt about myself.

Today, if anyone said something like that to me, I probably would just laugh and say, “No kidding?”

If someone says something that seems critical and not-so-stupid, I try to listen and determine if there is any truth in the comment—if I need to consider the comment as constructive criticism.

Most important, today how I feel about myself comes from inside me—not from what others think about me.