260: Owning my Beauty

eigth grade

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.

Photo on 11-20-12 at 10.24 AM #3

Day 117: A Body of True Confessions

(This post used to have photos of me. They have been removed by me. Hope you find the post useful.)

This is me HAPPY. This is my real smile caught by camera. I just found out the frozen banana bread ice-cream sandwich was going to be dipped in chocolate! That’s me in a nutshell. Give me chocolate and I forget everything else.

We have returned from Maui. And I am sorting through photos. I HATE  don’t care for photos of me.  I never ever feel like a photo looks like me. I see myself in parts, not in whole. So I see my nose, or the wrinkles around my brow, or the sun spot on my forehead, or the many other “flaws” that jump out at me. I tell myself I should look better. That I need to change. That I’ve aged. And so on….

No picture I have ever taken looks like how I see myself. And in every photo, I look so different (to me).

I get super depressed when I go through vacation photos, because I think I look absolutely terrible. I don’t think it’s a vanity thing. It really is not having a clue what I look like or understanding the image I am looking at. I try to tell myself positive messages, but somehow the messages get all twisted.

And then I get a host of negative messages, such as: “You need to lose fifteen more pounds. Imagine what you looked like before you lost those ten pounds. You are so HEAVY.” I tell myself horrible things, like: “Oh, your husband probably hated to take this photo of you, knowing you are starting to look soooo old.”

I’ve partaken in this negative self-talk, since puberty. Before then, I could care less. I had a huge overbite and a chipped front tooth, and would smile like I was a movie star. Something changed with puberty. Something changed when I realized people judge on appearances.

Thing is, I don’t notice the physical “flaws” in other people. When I look at their photos I see pure beauty. I see their essence. I think all people are beautiful. But I still get so terribly down on myself.

Posting photos of me on this blog is HUGE for me. Of course, I went through and cursed a dozen or so shots, before choosing the ones I felt safe to post.

Often, after a few years pass, I can look back on a photo, and see more of me. I can appreciate the happiness I had during the photo and see less of the flaws. I tell myself: “Why were you so hard on yourself. You’re sweet and kind. And you look absolutely fine!”

I’m hoping, this time, it won’t take a few years. I don’t know why the passing of time helps to view myself, but it does somehow.

I tell myself, I ought to be happy I can take a decent photo with little to no makeup on and my hair barely brushed, if brushed at all. I tell myself that everyone ages, that no one is perfect, that my distinct characteristics make me ME! But the talking doesn’t help. The negative thoughts come back full force. It really is a curse.

I don’t like worrying about how I look to other people. And I certainly don’t like worrying about how I look to me!

I’m putting this out there to help myself. To share my deepest thoughts, and in so doing release some of the associated doubts and deep-seeded fear. Heck! I just returned from one of the BEST VACATIONS in my life. Probably THE BEST, and I’m fretting over how ugly I am, telling myself I ought not go out in the world and be seen in public! It’s very, very ridiculous.

Maybe part of it is not having had a father who ever hugged me, called me pretty, or said he loved me. Could be that my father is so heavily into fitness, always firm and muscular, always concerned about his looks, that when I see me, I feel rather inadequate.

Could be, too, that it’s how my brain works. I know other people with Aspergers that see things in parts and have a hard time seeing the whole. Maybe seeing myself in parts, scrambles my beauty in my head. Sort of like seeing a lovely Black Beauty Horse cut and dissected into pieces on a platter. I think that’s what I do: Dissect and pull apart so that nothing remains but broken slabs of me.

Here is a list of what I feel uncomfortable about me:

1) Since my mid-twenties my arms have been thicker than I’d like, heavy and wide compared to other people my size. I have to be a size 2, seriously, for my arms to appear skinny. My husband says its proportional to my chest and that I have a swimmer’s body; another friend calls me ‘healthy.’ I don’t like either one of those observations, and would much prefer to have skinny arms! Skinny arms fits my personality. I see myself as petite, like a fairy. No fairies have a swimmer’s back.

2) I have incorrect posture. So does my son with Aspergers. It is hard for me to stand fully erect. I look funny, to me, when I stand up tall. I don’t know how to stand without feeling unnatural and in an awkward position. To protect myself from others, I have always hunched. I feel safer hunched. My posture makes me appear odd looking in photos. Same with my hands and arms. I don’t know where to put them in photos. And my smile….I never know what a real smile looks like.

3) My skin used to be perfect. I was very lucky. I looked like those kids in the suntan advertisements. Lots of California sun changed that. Now I’m spotted like a spotted lizard. This spots jump out at me in photos, as does every freckle, marking, mole, and “imperfection.” As I age, day by day, more markings appear. I don’t like to watch my skin change. It bothers me to no end.

4) My Italian nose will forever haunt me. I have tried to love it, truly. And it didn’t seem to get in the way of attracting previous mates; however, my nose is all I see in photos when I first look. That’s why I like far away shots. My nose looks cute if I’m standing back about five blocks!

5) My eyes. I’ve always loved my eyes. But now they appear sunken and old. Like I’m twenty years older than I am. Maybe that’s because I still feel like a teenager inside. But outside someone has redecorated, and I’m not too impressed.

6) My chin. At some angles, I look like I have three, and can’t tell where my neck ends and my face begins. I have a very prominent chin. My son’s orthodontist complimented my bone structure. Maybe if the whole world were orthodontists, I’d be set. I see a witches chin. The witch that has the house fall on her. I want to be the good witch. Luckily I have no warts or hair growing out of moles.

7) Sadness. Sometimes in photos I look very sad or even angry. It’s not how I’m feeling. I don’t feel irritated or melancholy, but I look like someone either just said something to piss me off or just told me my cat died. I try to look like me, and have no clue how to. It’s very frustrating. Sometimes I over smile so people will know I’m happy. Then my husband says: Don’t smile so intensely. Often my eyes bug out, if I’m trying too hard to smile.

8) My hair. It has a life of its own. I never know what to expect. My hair looks the best in the bathroom mirror, and as soon as I step outside the bathroom, my hair changes. I swear it does! Perhaps it is the lighting and the shadows, as my hair appears entirely different in every photo.

9) Shadows and lighting. The lighting of a photo changes how I appear to me. Sometimes I appear swollen or shrunken; other times expanded, elongated, and downright horrific to look at. I want to carry around a perfect lighting bulb above me, like a photographer. I have not posted the photos of me that make me look like I’m a marshmallow, that make my face appear shrunken into itself, and that show I’ve been tattooed with wrinkles. But they exist.

10) Ghastly spider veins. I’ve inherited those creepy little bluish-red lines that decorate my knees and thighs. I think I have as many as most people approaching their eighties. They are truly icky. I press on them and they magically disappear for ten seconds. My husband says that’s not what men are looking at. I don’t really care what men are looking at! I care what I’m looking at. And spider veins are not beautiful. I once read that a lady had lost a lot of function in her legs (mobility) and that she would do anything to have legs that moved well. She said who cared about spider veins. She’d be thankful to have any functioning legs. Reading information like that only makes me feel extremely guilty for not appreciating what I have. Then I just beat myself up more.

To be fair, I do like my eyebrows, my hair color, my teeth, my neck, the bottom half of my legs, and my toes. So that’s a good start, I suppose.

My Biggest Fear……That I will be too ugly to be loved. That’s it! I said it. It haunts me day and night. I feel so beautiful and light-filled inside, but I am afraid the outside will scare people away. It’s silly, I suppose, but it is how I feel. I don’t want to grow old. I don’t want to watch myself change. I don’t like change!!! I want to live a long life, but I want to freeze my appearance. I don’t know how to handle my body shifting. I don’t want to be one of those plastic surgery ladies or Botox queens, but I want to be able to look at a photo and see me.

Wine tasting, and what am I thinking. Oh, I look terrible in this photo. Notice how I chopped my arm out of the photo. Huge stress line on forehead, spotted arm, pointy chin….Gag me. I’m so super self-conscious and critical. If only this were a redeeming quality.

Almost didn’t post this because of my nose wrinkles. I secretly want you to think I’m 20. I had my kids at the age of 6! I’m such a goof-head. Someone change my brain, please!!!

I see big nose, forehead wrinkles, and fat face. This is what I see. I want to see friendship, love, and happiness. But I think: I wonder why my friend likes me when I am ugly. Yes, this is sad, but this is truth.

I love this picture. This is truly me HAPPY. Right before I surfed. My arms are covered so I feel safer. And this is one cool dude!

I like this photo because I’m far enough away that my nose looks cute and you can’t see my wrinkles! Maybe I’ll just stay a distance away from people. Of course, I see my flabby arms and my double chin and my pointy little ear. But my teeth look white!

I’m crying streams of tears. This is beneficial. This is healing. I’ve told my secrets. They shall no longer haunt me!

Day 49: The View From Atop the Triangle

Last night I was up until 1:00 am worried that I wasn’t good enough.

Some of my worries:

I’m ugly

I’m fat

I’m aging

I’m weird

I’m obsessive

I’m not a good enough mother

I’m not a good enough wife

I think about me too much

I don’t do enough to help others

My blog is stupid

I care too much about what others’ think

I’m lazy

I obsessed on the computer most of the day, fluctuating between a social network page, YouTube videos, and this blog.

There is something extremely calming about my blog. I just click on the main page and stare, reread, and peruse the comments. My blog connects me to another realm, to another part of myself, and to other people who know my journey. The writing offers me a reflection of me: my uniqueness and beauty. My blog is my passion, my talent, my creativity.

Beyond the computer, I felt frightened, somewhat like a little girl running outside the protective circle of her guardian. When I pulled myself away I was nervous and I overate. I grounded chocolate-pudding brownies into mocha-almond-fudge ice cream. I had bread rolls and garlic bread, hash browns, and other carb-filled delights. All the while feeling worse and worse about myself.

I felt entirely alone and useless, despite my family being home. So much so that I googled: Why it’s okay to be lazy and Why it’s okay to do nothing.

I felt extreme guilt about being ME. I analyzed why I had this guilt, but the analysis made things worse. I knew all the things I should have been doing, such as: exercising, showering, drinking green tea, taking my supplements, getting out of the house. But I couldn’t do anything. I was immobilized, trapped, frozen. I couldn’t even change the stained shirt I was wearing or bend down to pick a crumb off the floor.

These types of days, where I am overcome by grief, fear, and fatigue, are nothing new to me. I’ve had these days since I was a teenager. The challenge is that now I’m not a teenager, I am a mother and a wife, which comes with responsibilities beyond my own needs.

These roles’ obligations add to my guilt, my feelings of low self-worth, and my inability to fully retreat, regroup, and reenergize.

Yesterday wasn’t the easiest of mornings for our family. There was some turmoil. This spike in the energy of the household left my brain sprawling. Any type of unexpected event causes me to feel unease and fear.

No amount of reasoning, cognitive tools, or talk can dissipate the fear. I have to go through the fear. Then, once on the other side—whether within minutes or a day—I have the clarity of mind to process and release.

Yesterday the fear stayed with me.

Yesterday I hated myself for starting this stupid blog. I thought for certain I’d never ever have anything to write about worth interest. I hated myself for thinking I was making a difference. I hated myself for my lack of willpower, my messed up emotions, my inability to relax, my constant, constant challenges. I hated life.

My life felt like poop, so much that I even Googled poop. I watched a YouTube on crap—and then wondered whose crap it was.

About midnight, I began preparing for the next day, hoping I’d awake in a different mindset. I wrote a poem about how I’m okay, listing everything from wearing pajamas all day to overeating. I started researching self-acceptance. Starting telling myself I am okay.

I understand with further clarity how I’m trapped in a cycle of perfectionism—always have been, and imagine I always will be. It’s something about the way my brain functions. My strong analytical ability and extreme fluid intelligence enable me to have complex thought processes and to produce quality work; however, those same abilities put me into overdrive of self-analysis, worry, and remorse.

My own thought processes set me up for failure.

I understand with further clarity how a well-balanced person experiences the ABC’s of Acceptance, Belonging, and Confidence. And how having Aspergers evokes feelings of Rejection, Not Fitting In, and Timidity.


I understand with further clarity how Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs relates to this female with Aspergers.

My physiological needs are being met.

My safety needs are not being met.

There is no security, stability, or freedom from fear. There are moments of relief from fear, but they are fleeting, always temporary, always changing.

My sense of belonging is limited.

I feel continually that I am not upholding to the rules, expectations, and norms of others. I question my actions, my motives, my own belief systems. I upset my spouse; I neglect my family; being a lover comes with its challenges. I have friends that love me unconditionally, but I worry that they will discover, at a deeper level, I am too odd, too strange, too much to deal with, not enough.

My self-esteem is limited.

I achieve mastery sometimes in my writing, in my thinking, in my ability to love others; but there remains an underlying doubt and fear about others’ judgment and rejection. I like ME most of the time. I would choose ME as a friend. I’d be happy with ME as a friend. Yet, at the same time I doubt my ability to be enough. I achieve recognition and even respect, but I over analyze both. I question am I worthy to receive recognition and respect? What if I disappoint, offend, and/or fall short? What if my faults are singled out? What if I am ridiculed, judged, and rejected? What if I become prideful?

My self-actualization is intriguing.

This is where my triangle is top-heavy. I do pursue my inner talents. I do pursue creative endeavors. I do feel fulfilled by my endeavors. It appears my self-actualization is reached from a different avenue than the norm. I do not progress up the triangle. Instead I take a ladder, lean it against the triangle, climb up, and bypass the center of the triangle, to reach the top. I pursue my talents because that is my refuge, my retreat, my coping mechanism. In this realm, atop the triangle, lies my freedom and power. Atop the triangle sits my obsession, fixation, passion, joy, and extreme love.

And that explains where I was yesterday. I was seated on the top-level of the triangle. High out of reach. I retreated to my place of comfort.

Today, I climb back down the ladder, back to the ground. But I carry with me a greater clarity, a clarity only found because I sat at the highest peak and viewed my world.

“We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.” ~ Ethel Barrett

“I was a personality before I became a person – I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven.” ~ Barbra Streisand

“I would step into a place of being lined up with a sense of purpose and my inner compass, and everything was going in the same direction. Then I’d get lazy and get off the track. And then things would start to fall apart, and I’d back up and get it together again.” ~ Kathy Mattea 

Kathy Mattea in 1994 Teach Your Children Well

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