When Enough is Enough: The Lie of Outward Appearances
I've been saying it for a few weeks, but this summer is all about Lark & Bloom readers. You movers & shakers. Your wild ideas, beautiful stories and hopes of Something Bigger. Today I want you to meet Holly. The truth she tells is challenging and her vulnerability is beautiful. Enjoy!
I don't keep a full length mirror in my house.
I refuse to look at my reflection in store windows as I pass by.
I keep my eyes closed when I shower.
Maybe if I can't SEE my body, the imperfections will disappear. Or at least let me forget about them for a while.
At night, I pluck, cleanse, shave, and moisturize in an attempt to bring my body up to societies "code", but each morning I awaken and see what I have to work with and I'm not pleased. Actually, I'm devastated. This past Sunday, as I stood before my mirror that is big enough only for me to see my face, tears streamed down my cheeks in disgust.
No one is ever going to want me, I think. So far, that seems to be the case.
Most days though, I give a heavy sigh and do my best to conceal and highlight hoping that my make-up will somehow magically and miraculously transform my face. I examine my laugh lines around my mouth gauging whether more have appeared overnight and notice the "angry face" lines on my forehead seem to be deepening. My nose is covered with blackheads that I've tried to evict using every Pinterest at-home remedy available. Nothing has worked.
I critique each and every inch of my body -- from my chubby little toes to the tips of my split ends. Everything is flawed.
I've been having a harder time with my appearance than usual. That might have something to do with the fact that a friend from high school would like to meet up. We haven't seen one another outside of Facebook pictures (which I have carefully hand selected, cropped, filtered and angled), since 2003. If you're doing the math, that's 11 years -- 11 years of weight gain, weight loss and gain again. It's 11 years of wear and tear on this body of mine.
I guess I should also mention this friend of mine is of the male gender, which only intensifies my insecurities. In those 11 years, he's only gotten more...hot. There's just no way else to describe it. He works out religiously and his trimmed and chiseled body has been nicely accentuated by his hard work. To make matters worse, he's grown a sexy man beard which is basically my kryptonite.
Regardless of the fact that our relationship is strictly platonic, every time I think about getting to see him in a few days, I want to throw up. What's he going to think when he sees me? Will he be just as disgusted by my body as I am?
He's a nice guy, even if he did think those things, he wouldn't say them. If he did say something, I doubt it could be any worse than the names and/or descriptors I have called myself. I am, after all, my worst enemy.
I contemplated a binge diet in order to lose a few before our meet-up, but I'm also an emotional eater. The more I thought about him visiting, the more stressed out I felt, and the more I've tried to drown the stress in ice cream.
All of that is useless though because my problem, or rather the real issue, is the belief that I will never be good enough. I could lose 100 pounds, get facials, waxes, and pedicures and it still wouldn't make me feel any better. There will always be something to critique.
We all tell ourselves: If I just drop a few pounds, then I'll be happy. If I could just lighten my hair, then I'd be attractive. If I whiten my teeth, then I'll be acceptable. At least, those are the types of things I think.
Excuse me, but that's crap.
For far too long, I've based my worth on outside appearances. When they don't "measure up" to the runway model body image I think I should have, the rest of me doesn't make the cut either. I've made this correlation that if my body isn't perfect then neither is the rest of me. And if I'm not perfect then I am some kind of mess.
The truth is, I may be a mess, but I'm a beautiful mess. My beauty may not come from perfect hair or a perfect body, but it comes from some place much more lovely -- the heart.
As poet Kahlil Gibran once wrote, " Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart." More importantly, the Great Poet Himself once said, "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
And my heart loves fiercely. It loves despite having been abused, wounded and trampled upon. Yet, it remains pliable when life's circumstances could have easily hardened it. Like a stained glass window, it allows God's Light to shine through the broken places casting a beautiful array of colors on the world around it.
I make the world a more beautiful place just by being in it. Not because my body looks nice in a bikini, tankini or full body scuba suit, because I love well. And that is enough.
I am enough. And so are you.
Holly Hrywnak is a 30-year old, coffee drinking, blog writing, sassy jokester who enjoys sarcasm and loves Jesus. She strives to be genuine and transparent in her writing believing, in doing so, people will not only relate but find freedom in knowing they aren't alone in their struggles, feelings and disappointments. Her writing has been described by some as raw and real and she wouldn't want it any other way. Check out her blog, follow her on Twitter @thecommonqueen or follow her on Facebook.