I never ever thought I was pretty.
There is something beautiful about a person who cannot see her beauty on the outside. A sad humbleness that pulls the person into the eyes and soul—a vulnerability that others pick up on innately but generally cannot recognize or pinpoint.
When anyone complimented my looks, I thought one of many thoughts:
1) You can’t really see me
2) This isn’t how I normally look
3) You must have poor eyesight
4) You are lying
5) You want to hurt me
6) You want my body
7) You are just saying that to be nice
8) I hate me
9) You say that to everyone
10) You must feel sorry for me
I could never own my beauty.
This view of myself, as being not adequate on the outside, is something I’ve held onto since I was eleven. I can theorize until I’m blue in the face, and come up with a plethora of reasons why I doubted my beauty, starting with my overbite and chipped front tooth and ending with being victimized by men.
But the truth is, I think I was made to be that way….this way. I think I was chiseled and molded into this me that I am.
There are beliefs I carry that say: To love yourself in completion is to be vain and conceded.
There are thoughts that scream how can you think you are pretty, look at your flaws?
There is the dark voice that says, you will age and no one will love you.
I’m starting to have flashbacks of all the times strangers came up to me when I was younger, and the messages they said:
You have such beautiful eyes. So intelligent and wise.
Your face has so many angles and emotions; you should be a model.
Oh, I can tell by looking at you that you are one of them—a deep soul.
Do not worry, you are prettier than her, inside and out.
Wow, they didn’t make teenagers like you when I was in school.
Has anyone ever said how beautiful you are?
Those were strangers. Off the street, they would approach me.
And I never could take in what they said. Never believe it. Never for a moment feel their words or truth. I always had doubt and disbelief. Actually it was beyond doubt. The compliments I quickly shifted into sadness and fear. For what if they were to see the real me? What if they realized how very wrong they were?
Something did happen, though. I began to see how my exterior gained attention.
In some ways I was fortunate. In my youth, with this “beauty,” people were typically accommodating, overly-friendly, and eager to date me. However the experience was more over misfortune because I felt I was not seen for the real me and thought furthermore that because I was truly ugly that I was playing some game of trickery. I believed one day people would awaken and the truth of my ugliness would be seen.
When I went to college, ripped away from my best friend of six years, and not having my boyfriend at my side, I felt extremely self-conscious, vulnerable, frightened, and paranoid. I was beyond shy. I walked with my head down and never ever peered up. I gave off the vibration of Keep AWAY at all costs. I was lovely, but untouchable. I thought I was ugly and unwanted. No one said hello to me. Only one boy in five years at college. I thought for certain that validated my beliefs; that in truth I was born ugly, unwanted, unneeded, and desperately flawed.
If a boy tried to make contact with me in class, I brushed him off with my insecurities or was clueless that he was trying to connect. I took “come on” lines at face value. If a boy asked about last night’s homework, that’s what he was interested in. Not me, only the homework. If he said I looked young for my age, that was the truth of his statement, nothing beyond, no agenda, just an observation. I couldn’t feel or see people reaching out to me. I was lost in my own world of ugliness and isolation.
When I gained weight in my early twenties, and then later gained sixty pounds from my pregnancy, I saw how others treated me differently based on my weight. I began to see how fickle and surface-level people could be. At that point I had nothing to turn to. I hated myself on the inside and outside, but at least for a long time I could get by on these supposed “looks.”
At this time, I began to really hook onto and believe all the negative messages I told myself. In fact, I had been right all along: I was horribly ugly.
It has taken me the last few months, since late April, to reclaim the beauty I misplaced when I was eleven years of age: thirty-three long years. For the first time in my adult years, I can look at my face and not cry, cringe, or loop over my image. For the first time I am embracing this wonderful woman I am, and morning for the lost years, when the word beautiful was masked behind a curtain of fear.
What I find odd, is I didn’t judge my friends or strangers in the same way I judged myself. I saw their beauty. Their souls shined through. And all I saw was gorgeousness. Now, when I look at myself, my soul shines through, and I too am the same, one with all, pure loveliness.
Some will call me self-centered, vain, obsessed with my looks, or shallow, but I know the truth. I am home. I am reconnected. I am in love again with me. A child reborn.
I still have doubts. I still have those thoughts…and that familiar dark voice. But there is a light, no doubt, that outshines the rest. A light I am learning to embrace more each day.