In the Mirror

I didn’t write yesterday because I went to the Orthopedic doctor to have my pinky checked out, and they depressed me.  It will be likely two more months before I am pain-free.  I am advised to keep the splint on as long as I want, so long as I do finger exercises once a day.  But, if my pinky so much as nudges something without the brace on, it’s excruciating.  So, I guess I will be typing with only nine fingers for a bit longer. 

I was looking at a photo the other day that E took of me.  It’s below.  That’s me and Mark down at the Union Ship Canal, where we usually fish Saturday mornings in the summer.  I looked at this photo and loved it instantly…me doing one of my favorite things with my favorite person.  And what’s more, no one ever takes photos of me.  I’m always the one behind the camera, so when E plays shutterbug and snaps my picture, it excites me.  Then it occurred to me that if it were ten years ago…I would have HATED this picture.

Oh my god, look at those Virginia ham arms.  Ugh a side view, really??  And those thighs!

Those would have been my thoughts back then.  I would have burned that photo.  It would not have been spoken of.

I have always been my own worst critic.  Sometime around the end of eighth grade, it occurred to me that other people, specifically my peers, didn’t know their ass form their elbow, and as such, I should not base my self-worth on their perception of me.  So, I based it on my perception of myself, which is a good thing, except for the 13 years prior to this epiphany that essentially trained me to hate myself.  While I was no longer relying on other people’s points of view to fuel my self-esteem, I was still pretty judgey of myself, particularly my body.  I mean, I have always been overweight.  That has never not been an issue in my life.  However, I look at things a lot differently now.

I only worry about my weight in terms of my health, not my appearance.  I lose weight to improve my diabetes, not my wardrobe.  I can truly say, now that I am hitting middle age, that I do not care what you think of my body.  I can say with full confidence that I think that’s actually a GOOD photo of me. So strange to see how things change.

I do some writing on this site called Hit Record that is run by one Mr. Joseph Gordon Levitt of 3rd Rock from the Sun fame.  They give you prompts, and you contribute.  Thing is, your contribution can then be made into a project, which is what I did with a piece I wrote called In the Mirror.  By making this project, I invited others to record themselves reading the piece…I got 60 remixes back.  60 people who liked my little monologue and either recorded themselves reading it or mixed it in with some music.  It’s pretty cool…I haven’t listened to them all but what I have heard was amazing.  You can find them HERE if you are interested.

I tell you this because I want to share In the Mirror with you.  It is the perfect summary of how I felt about myself, in the past and now.  It is the perfect accompaniment to this picture.  So, I shall leave you with that, and bid you adieu…happy Tuesday.

In the Mirror

I am eleven. I stand in front of my mirror, with tears in my eyes. I am chubby. I wear glasses. I am losing my hair due to a condition that most doctors have yet to understand. I am the epitome of schoolyard joke, and I hate what I see.

I am twenty, and I look again, seeing only a slightly older version of myself. Head now covered by a bandana to mask the bald spots, face a little rounder, contacts a failed experiment. No one comments on my appearance anymore, but I still feel their glances on my skin.

Today, I look in the mirror. A few pounds thinner. A full head of hair. Glasses that frame my face. The little girl gone, the young woman replaced, I embrace my beauty in middle age. I have found answers and solutions. I have found love and acceptance.

I look at a woman who looks like me, and we smile together, knowing that a mirror’s reflection is only a snapshot of time, and that grace and wisdom have aged me, making me beautiful at last.

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