Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Woman in the Mirror

I was standing in the bathroom this morning thinking about today's know like...what the heck am I going to write today after Lou gave me such a wonderful compliment yesterday and now I feel the pressure to be witty and coherent? (Just kidding Lou - thanks again.) Then I looked up to see my reflection in the mirror and thought, "Who is that woman?"

I have NEVER liked the way I looked.  I have always struggled with my weight, skin and self-esteem.  Part of it comes from being the sister of a gorgeous person (at one time) and most of it comes from being the daughter of a narcissist and an alcoholic.  It really doesn't matter - what's done is done and I've been trying to overcome it all of my life and as a result, I am preoccupied with how I look and how I appear to the world.

Inside is really no better.  I'm trying to see myself as I really am but this early into recovery I'm still second guessing everything I do and say.  My confidence has been taken down several pegs (which is a good thing in some respects since most of my confidence in the past has been false bravado) and I'm working on rebuilding it.

So this morning I took a really hard look at that woman in the mirror.

I saw olive green eyes with long lashes, perfectly coiffed brows, a straight nose thanks to two nose jobs, very few wrinkles due to oily Italian skin and limited sun exposure, ears that do not stick out, a mouth that has begun to turn down slightly but that still has fairly full lips the lower of which remains rather pouty. All in all not too bad for a woman who will be 51 in less than a month.

Then I looked at my face as an entire package and...nope...still don't like it.  The fact is I look too much like my mom and my sister to ever really like the way I look.  Their sins live within me and when I look at myself I see them...plain and simple.

Then I start trying to look through the reflection to see what I am inside.  This is somewhat trickier since, like most recovering souls, I am really not sure who the hell I am anymore.  I used to know (or thought I did) but it involved a great deal of drinking to numb pain and to make me feel confident and included.  Without it?  That one is still up for debate.

Here's what I know so far.  I'm still loving, warm and kind hearted.  People still want to come to me for advice and hugs.  I can still be funny and make people laugh out loud.  I still have a great sense of humor.  I have a greater capacity for compassion and empathy than I have ever had.  I tend not to judge people and wait to find out what's going on underneath before I draw any conclusions.  I am nice.  I can be charming.

One thing you should know is the use of the word know is very important in that last paragraph.  Some of these things I thought I was, prior to sobriety and recovery, but  now I know.  I'm not sure how well you can relate to this, but it is such a relief to know that I am good and kind and loving all the way down to my teal painted toenails. 

And perhaps, eventually, that will begin to show through that reflection and I will think of my self as pretty.  For now, it is enough to know that my soul is pretty.  And since that's all God sees I'm pretty dang happy with it.


  1. I really like you. I can relate to you and it makes me understand that its ok to be complex, hope that doesn't come across wrong. Lately I feel neurotic to a fault. The internal tennis match inside the brain, the one I have grown resentment towards and nearly given up cheering for one side or the other regardless of the bet. I looked at myself in the mirror last week, and for a split second (this is really going to sound crazy) I didn't recognize myself. I saw everyone else in my eyes. I watched this DVD my girlfriend lent me, Ill try to get a post into today to talk about it because it gave me some relief. Had to do with marriage, but better yet described as an insightful way to cope with the way women's brains function - and why men are almost always lost trying to understand it (and visa versa). Hopefully I am not too off track here, just wanted to thank you again for your honesty.

  2. Yes..the knowing vs. the thinking..

    That means accepting that none of us are all black/white or all good/bad. The qualities you listed are wonderful, how great to "know" these things. And sure, you "know" the not so good things also..but it's the total package that shapes us.

    Maybe recovery..growing..enlightenment.. is working on strengthening those good qualities, and mitigating the bad. It goes on for a lifetime.

    And I don't know one woman who thinks she is "pretty enough". All the messages we get bombarded with are to work on our cosmetic flaws. I bet your husband, kids, and a few others think you are stunning!

  3. I think your insides are gorgeous and I have a feeling your outsides are pretty damn attractive too. I could relate to this post more than almost anything else I've ever read, it almost felt like I wrote it when I read it! (I even have olive green eyes, oily "youthful skin" but no pouty lower lip, darn it). I haven't been in recovery from drinking but I have all the same symptoms of an addict - using food, using other things, to conform my life into something I could handle without feeling the real feelings. It sucks living like that. I'm liking myself more now than I ever have but still feel so completely ugly, fat and stupid (even though I KNOW I am intelligent).

    Lou's right about the messages we get. It also had to do with living in this area, the capital of vanity and good looks, when I go out of state or even out of LA or Orange County - I feel good. I feel like I fit in. I don't feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. You're in LA right? I just KNOW you are beautiful on the outside as well as the in. Not that it matters, but I sense that you are.

    You rock.

  4. Why the heck did I think you were in LA? LOL

  5. I find human beings to be so very beautiful, particularily those who don't put any masks on (whether it's make-up or the invisible protect-the-true-self-masks). Those who are themselves, honest and goodhearted and kind. Wrinkly faces intrigues me, their wrinkles being the result of the lifes that they've led. I wish that my wrinkels, as they will appear more and more, will display a woman who has laughed and loved alot. Only a few have I met who I eventually found to be veeery ugly. It was their selfish, arrogant, nasty, mean and evil personalities that shined through their perhaps good looking exterior.

    I have never seen you but would bet that you are a good looking woman. And what I have learned about your marvellous personality through your blog, I believe you must look simply gorgeous.

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, as they say - I hope you (I'm directing this towards myself as well) will see your beauty when looking at and inside yourself.


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