Saturday, March 2, 2013

Look in the mirror and what do I see? Nothing good. Why IS that?

I remember being in my early 20's and living in Nashville, TN with 3-4 beautiful other girls in a 3 story condo off of West End Ave.  We called ourselves Troop 208, because we were all "good girls" (like girl scouts, really) and we lived in #208, so it fit.  We were "on top of the world" learning how to be adults, working for a living and enjoying the process as we muddled our way into the great wide future ahead of us.  We were what would be considered "normal", happy and focused in our direction.  We believed we knew what we wanted and where we wanted to go.  But it wasn't quite least not for me.  I never felt like I had it figured out...and I never felt like I'd be good enough.  And I still struggle with that to this day.

It wouldn't be such a big deal, if I could simply focus on what is good, but I always seem to find the negative in a situation.  There was always the issue I should have thought through more, or handled differently, or even more superficially, I was not really pretty enough and was the "nice" one in the group, because I wasn't beautiful like my roommates and VERY awkward when it came to men I was interested in.  I had difficulty feeling good about who I was. I have a very distinct memory of living at Troop 208, looking in the mirror when getting ready for work one day and saying to myself, "Well, Andrea, you're just going to have to make it on personality."

Truth be told, I've never felt pretty enough, or skinny enough, smart enough, or sexy enough...even when it's possible I might have been.  The exception to this may have been my wedding day.  And THAT I can thank my husband, family and friends for .  The pictures were flattering and the memories so very sweet, so I have something to look back on and say, "There!  On that day, right there, I felt on top of the world and finally like I was who I always hoped to be!"  The fact that I couldn't remember if I shampooed and conditioned my hair in the shower, or just conditioned my hair twice on that day, is irrelevant. I had everything I wanted, a man who loved me unconditionally, and I felt loved and treasured for who I was.  So why did that feeling not last?  Well, that's a good question and one I've been trying to figure out ever since.  Once I found the right guy, all of those insecurities and confusion should have ended, right?  Well, not exactly.  And I can't say that any of it has to do with David.  He has always loved me unconditionally.  Which still boggles my mind.  Even after 20 years and a MUCH fuller figure, scars and wrinkles, he loves and treasures me.

The problem is, when I look in the mirror, I see the flaws.  All of them, at once, in technicolor. And I wonder, how could anyone want to be with someone like me?  I have a group of women friends in Austin that I don't hang out with nearly enough.  These women are empowering, loving and not one bit afraid to be who they are.  They live out loud, grab for their happiness and continue in their lives very purposefully in spite of the obstacles they run across.  They embrace their flaws in such a way that I can only be envious of how beautiful they are in spite of them and I wish...oh, how I wish, I could be as confident in myself as they are.  At least as confident as I think they are.  They may struggle as much as I do, but if they do, I don't see it.

So why is it so hard for me?  I could easily look to and blame society and the "perfection" that we hold up as the ultimate woman (which is truly unattainable by anyone).  I could blame the fact that I've gone through too much emotionally to be able to pay attention to my weight and fitness and aging needs over the years, but truthfully, when it comes down to it, I know that even if I were still as skinny as I once was, I would still not feel like I'm pretty enough. So it comes down to the fact that I need to learn to accept myself, and all of my physical flaws and not see them as something to constantly overcome, because there is no "perfect" attainment in this area.  It varies and everyone appreciates something different.  When I look in the mirror, I want to learn how to see the deep blue of my eyes that are twinkling with happiness about how my kids are doing, and not the wrinkles next to them that say I'm getting old.  That I am grateful that I can still go out and do things physically, even though I may not be the perfect size  (I'm limited because I'm no longer 20 as to what I can do without hurting myself).  That when I smile, I don't see the imperfect teeth I have, but the joy behind it that speaks to what I have in love from my family.  That when my husband sees me coming out of the shower, he smiles at me and doesn't think I'm too fat to find desirable.

Could I be in better shape physically?  Absolutely.  Should I let it or any other of my physical flaws get in the way of my happiness?  Absolutely NOT.  Is it so important that I be "perfect" that I can't appreciate life going on around me?  No, it's something I need to learn to let go of and appreciate who I am, as I am, knowing there is always room for improvement.  It shouldn't take away my joy.  That's what I'm working on these days.  How about you?  Do you struggle with letting go of these kinds of issues?  If so, share what you feel as well.  We're all human and we all spite of our faith.

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