Standing in line at my local café around 8:00 am on a sunny, summer morning I overheard a young woman say that she was obsessed with the mirror and her weight.
That made me aware that the transformation in my brain is completely miraculous when I look into the mirror today vs. years ago.
Then: I was a typical teenage girl, growing up on the streets of Brooklyn. One in five girls are victims of abuse by the time they are 18 years old; that fact makes me typical! Sadly this fact is true. Perhaps, typical of young girls, I gave the mirror the power to be my torturer, my judge. It was a critique-seeking missile. My mirror always reflected where I came up short. My job was to make my face, my hair, my boobs, and my stomach acceptable.
My best friend was married when I was in my late 20s. At her shower I wore a beautiful, white, off the shoulder, peasant blouse. Oh, that beautiful youthful body, face and full head of gorgeous hair. But then I only saw a flawed, imperfect, almost-ugly woman on my best day, and unacceptably ugly one on my worst.
It never occurred to me that what I said and believed about my beauty mattered. It never occurred to me to observe my mind, my values, my likes and my successes when I looked at my reflection. It only mattered how I compared with Marilyn Monroe, or Twiggy, or Sophia Loren. In later years as a young feminist, it still mattered that I catch they eyes of men, young and old. Offering myself up for their measurement, their appetite. I did not like the feeling of emptiness when one of them would throw me a bone of attention. But still, I sought their eyes, and measured myself by what I imagined they thought of me. And always, those thoughts had to do with how I looked, what my body could offer them, so they might offer me love and admiration.
I certainly have been therapized and analyzed over the years. I can look back and theorize as to why I had those unkind thoughts and beliefs. Living through them is another story. Feeling abandoned, not good enough and believing that if I were pretty enough, someone would love me and stay with me sucked. What a waste of time.
Now: Transformation. Today it is still enjoyable to think that I am attractive, though at my age the audience is not the same, the feeling of needing to be desired is not there, the desperation to be loved is just not there. I still wear make-up and work at having a face that is fun to look at. I start with a clean face in the morning and I say, “Hey, good looking! We are going to transform you from an old lady to a bright older woman!” Then I put on my face and love to see my eyes pop and my lips shine. The difference today is that if I choose to read or meditate and write in the morning so that I don’t have time to put on my face, I still go out into the world, loving that I am still here. Still getting a chance to show up and participate in work, spending time with friends, talking with my daughter and being of service.
I want to share my tools of recovery to self-love with you every day; whether my face is on or not has nothing to do with it. Is my heart connected? Am I looking at my thoughts – doing my brain hygiene? Am I taking quiet time to be aware and awake? Am I connecting to the power that gives me breath and allows my heart to pump and my neurons to fire? Am I open to you all?
There is so much more value to the “Now” reflection rather than the “Then” reflection. It gives me so much more joy and grounding than looking at Jennifer Aniston’s photo and wishing my hair and skin looked like hers.
Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the most beautiful one of all?
You are. You are.
Where are you in the spectrum of knowing your beauty and self worth?