Monday, March 23, 2009

Keeping up Appearances...

I read a book written by my friend Stacey. It's called I Never Asked to Become a Butterfly.

In it she talks about the transformation she's undergone with her debilitating illness and speaks about how much the change in her appearance has affected her.

I'm generally one who sticks my fingers in my ears and goes la la la la la la la I can't heeear youuuuuuuuuuuu if there is something I'd rather not talk about and in this case it's more of a la la la la la la I can't seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee youuuuuuuu when I look in the mirror.

Mostly I tend to avoid mirrors and anyone who knows me understands that pointing their camera in my direction is grounds for having to purchase a new one because I've stomped your offending one to tiny pieces.

Reading Stacey's book has caused me to think. (Note to self: remember go thank Stacey by whapping her over the head )

Mostly what I've thought about is the disconnect between who I feel I am and what I look like to others. It's not a pleasant subject for me to delve into, and when I'm feeling good about myself, then I feel good about myself and that's that. At those times I don't really care what complete strangers think about me.

When I'm not feeling confident and walk with my head down and don't make eye contact with others is when I believe what others think of me when they see me. I'm not talking about the family and friends that love me---I'm talking about people out in public who don't know me from a hole in the wall. People....who sometimes aren't all that nice to me. On my good days I blow it off. On my bad days, well it's not pretty what it does to me.

The disconnect between who I think I am, who I feel I am and what I look like is as vast a divide as the Grand Canyon.

I will jokingly say that my children think I look like the Crypt Keeper, and it's really not a joke. I remember when my babies were little and loved me unconditionally that I feared what they would think of me when they were older and realized they had a hideous looking Mom. Honestly, I didn't blame them. I still don't.

You see, I, like most females I have some fairly severe self esteem issues. Mine are mostly self-caused and yes, I know I have no one to blame but myself and I understand that whole part of life. It's simply that my issues are out there for the entire world to see,unlike others whose issues are easier to hide. Mine aren't.

Want to hear something funny? When I was having my third (or was it my fourth?) child, I wanted to have picture of my other children in my hospital room with me. I wanted the nurses and other health care workers there to see my beautiful children so they wouldn't think so poorly of me. You see, they would say, "Hmmm...she's really incredibly disgusting, but look at those beautiful children she has given birth to. She can't be all bad then"

When I've been at my lowest points emotionally I would refuse to go to the store alone. I'd make sure to take one of my gorgeous babies with me as if to say to the world, "Yes, I am nauseating to look at, but I have these amazingly beautiful children and a wonderfully handsome husband who loves me so I must have some redeeming qualities"

Bear with me here, this is turning into a longer post than I thought it would be.

On second thought, I think I'll cut this short and just say one or more things.

I do not want my girls to feel about themselves the way I feel about myself. Ever. I also do not want their sense of self-worth tied to their physical appearance. I hate that the world we live in makes that such an incredible priority. I tell them I think they are beautiful inside as well as outside. I let them know that inner beauty is more important and certainly more lasting than outer beauty.

I pray they get the message.

3 comments:

  1. Pamela...stop this...you know, somehwere inside you, you know you are amazing and the outward appearance is a society problem that others have to get over! I used to have more issues with this same topic, even though I didn't want to believe I was a bad person because I am fat (yes, FAT, it is just a word...it is what it is!!!) One major step in finally getting over that issue and worrying about what others thought about it was reading the book Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann. Anyway, I could go on and on about this, but for now, I will leave it with the most important viewpoint of all, 1Samuel 16:7....loves to a great lookin' gal from another great lookin' gal...trust me on this, I know a little something about the topic!!!

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  2. You should meet Vicus. You'll never have cause to feel bad about yourself again after seeing that hideous visage.

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  3. I have days and then I have days...very similar to yours, only I have to admit, I think your case of self esteem is worse than mine. What amazes me is my daughters, because they are continually telling me how beautiful they think I am, and how they hope to grow older like I have (supposedly looking wonderful...gray hair and all). It's flattering, but most of the time I just refuse to let it in. Lately I've realized that how others see me is very different from how I see myself. I try to remind myself of it when I look in the mirror and see the large behind and hips that seem to stick out like neon lights to the world and say "Hey look! There's a fat woman walking here!"
    That's not what people seem to see. So despite what we think...it's more what we feel in our hearts, and it takes time and healing.
    Good luck with your daughters...I haven't been able to get mine to see their beauty...sigh.

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Go ahead....tell me the truth :)