“if you are searching for that one person that will change your life look in the mirror”
I posted a pic with this quote the other day on this blog’s Facebook page and while at the time I liked it, it wasn’t until I saw how many people were into it that I gave it more thought. And I could not agree more! How i felt about myself and my body greatly impacted my everyday life, even in ways I didn’t realize. But I guess this whole thing is about not realizing, eh? Ha-ha!
We have an internal dialogue and it is that dialogue in which we are most honest and most brutal to ourselves. For so many years I hated myself and felt I wasn’t worth the very air I was breathing in order to survive. I felt, deep down, that I deserved to suffer and barely survive and that was my lot in life, nothing more. Pain was my only reminder that I was even alive! And it is because of that that I have an embarrassing and horrifically 90’s tattoo (Chinese characters) that mean: Everlasting Pain *EpicEyeRoll* It’s just who I was at the time, ya know?
Every morning I would avoid the mirror, even just my face was enough to leave me crushed and sad the rest of the day, not that I knew what happy or contentment felt like then. When someone gave me a compliment, genuine or not, I did everything I could to deflect it. I was a mess. I didn’t know it at the time but I know now that I was suffering from severe PTSD symptoms and depression after spending the previous five years of my young and tender life held nearly hostage in my own home by my abuser-boyfriend. I didn’t have an identity, I had nothing and was literally starting over from scratch in a town I had only just heard of.
It took over a decade of work, support, friends and finally the fat community to build my self esteem and show me that I am loved and valued and worth more than just the air I was breathing. When I met my (now ex-) husband, we bonded over heartbreak and a romantic vision of suicide, grunge music and dark humor comic books. Yet as our self esteem grew our relationship changed. Eventually I wanted to go out more and he wanted to stay in more, distrusting the outside world (understandably). As my circle of friends changed and my involvement in activism and the local fat community increased, I began to see the world differently. My opinions of things evolved and this was hard for my ex to understand. (I can now say that we are both in happier and hopefully healthier relationships now and for over a year.)
When I left him and struck out on my own again I was scared and unsure of myself. If you’re read this blog for a long time I’m sure you’ve seen me go through some heavy stuff. But here I am, living to tell the tales and look back on those troubles with gratitude and kindness. The universe throws things at us and we have to decide how best to handle them. When you hate yourself, when you hate the life you have, you can’t see the good or the beauty in the world. It was the simplest of things that pulled me out of my darkest of times.
It wasn’t until I realized that I had a say, that it was my choice to react to things and feel that way about myself that I began to understand how much control I actually had over my own life. I started to experiment with small things like not moaning and groaning the moment my alarm clock went off in the morning. That was actually a big one, come to think of it. Ha! But you get the idea. I soon became more and more aware of how I was feeling in the moment. It was about that time that I started to read about more spiritual things again (since high school) and connected with some buddhist principles, specifically about living in the present and just general patience and kindness.
I don’t necessarily see myself as a “success story” except in the sense that I have the life I’ve always wanted and I’m very happy. But how much control did I have over all of that? Well, I certainly made some big decisions along the way that got me here, for better or worse at the time, it has all seemed to lead me here. For this I am truly grateful, but if you ask me in person, I will insist that I am the luckiest gal on the planet! So is it sheer luck or a culmination of growth and choices? I can’t say for sure. I don’t know that life is ultimately so random.
I do know that when you are feeling great about you that you carry yourself very differently and people notice. When you rock your own socks and dance to your own beat the right people tend to just gravitate toward you. This is what I have found and have seen in my own life. It certainly has shown in my recent career moves and choices. I never would have imagined working for the last company I did or the one I am currently with, but hey, they wanted me for me and all of my experience…I cannot argue with that!
P.S. Now I can look in the mirror and enjoy the smile in my reflection. 😉