Embrace the beauty in living life unfiltered.

Thank you for reading my stories, laughing along, and being brave enough to share yours! 

selfie love

Growing up my sister would often catch me acting out a one-woman play in front of wherever a mirror was to be found in our home. She might pass by a drama unfolding in the half bath or perhaps a musical in our bedroom.

Inevitably her eyes would roll, as if to say, “How’d I get this weirdo sister?”

I never cared. I was my biggest fan. I was the only fan I needed.

I loved myself then. I couldn’t articulate why, I simply didn’t have a reason not to.

When I was 10 years old, vying for attention and hoping to build a bridge in my parent’s troubled marriage, I made a disturbing collage.

The thought of my parents bonding over this new problem I would soon present them came from a sincere place, but at 10, I didn’t have the psychological know-how to realize that problems usually created more problems.

Messages regarding how my body should, and shouldn't look, were already coming in strong at that point. Though I was still enjoying my nightly (and giant) bowl of ice cream, I had begun contemplating what roads to perfection I should consider.

I walked myself to the local craft store and purchased some art supplies. I then moseyed over to the drug store to grab a few young women’s magazines. Home I went to create my masterpiece.

I began clipping and pasting together a tribute to eating disorders. In ransom style letters, I wrote out “bulimia” and “anorexia.” Next to that would be a cut out of a waifish model.

These topics were bound to garner some marital love. If nothing else, I’d subconsciously hoped my parent’s reaction would reassure me I could still be the goofy, ice cream-loving 10 year old I was happy being. 

Unfortunately, my intentions to forge a bond failed.

How my Father handled this situation didn’t help matters. He flipped my artwork over, yelled at my Mom as he stormed out of my room, gave us both a couple weeks of silent treatment, and never mentioned it again.

Between the media messages being received and the parental messages that were missing, I was aware then that I had reason to question my self, my worth, and my body. It certainly felt less reasonable to so easily love myself.

I stopped acting in front of mirrors after that.

Mirrors became a space to scrutinize what needed changing. Each mirror passed I’d catch myself, as if doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I felt wrong for being the way I was.

Finding flaws turned default mode for the next two decades of my life. The search for how to better something about myself that seemed constitutionally wrong became a quest.

Both of my eyebrows were nearly plucked off in pursuit of the perfect arch.

Years baking in the sun for a golden glow my Irish skin would never achieve were followed by years avoiding its harmful rays. Because cancer, of course. But definitely because of wrinkles.

I had multiple periods where I worked out too hard, restricted too much, and got too thin. I liked when people would say how tiny I looked. Ironically, I never wanted to live a tiny life.

At first, the focus was purely physical, but then I began searching for flaws in my being.

If relationships ended, I perseverated over what I did wrong, gauging my worth based on someone else’s appraisal of me.

I once dated a guy who was ashamed I was a nurse. At cocktails parties, he’d emphasize my bone marrow specialization during introductions. Not in a way that felt proud. Instead in a way that made my insides feel poor.

I dated someone who slept with someone else the night after he met my family. I tried to stay with him after I knew what happened.

My self-scrutiny worsened. I walked into rooms, parties, and events hoping to be unseen. I would navigate conversations to stay out of the spotlight whenever possible.

I was willing to accept things in my life I would never allow others to accept in theirs.

When I think about how the better part of my short life had been spent out of love with myself it makes me sad.

What if I loved myself like that 10 year old did my whole life? Where and who would I be? What would I have been brave enough to create?

Those questions remind me of an article I read about the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery called Kintsugi. Broken pieces of pottery are resealed with a special lacquer and then dusted in silver, gold, or platinum- often leaving the pottery more beautiful than before.

The Kintsugi method doesn’t seek to hide the cracks or fractures of a piece but rather highlight and celebrate the total history.

I love that.

The years I spent berating myself added the cracks to my history. Exploring my insecurities added meaning and deepened my self-love. With a dynamic set of tools I learned how to repair myself.

Perhaps one of the most wonderful and brave things a person can do is to own their cracks and fractures, to make the effort to carefully repair themselves, and paint our broken parts sparkly in order to walk more self-lovingly in all our glory.

Mirrors haven’t reverted to acting stages but they are no longer a stopping point for self-scrutiny. Though recently I have caught a few glimpses of an older woman staring back at me. It takes me aback because I'm not sure where she came from but she looks happy and I love her. 

Openly sharing my stories with you allows me to wear the cracks in my foundation, painted boldly in gold with pride. And to be honest, I’ve never felt more beautiful.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t forget to love your WHOLE selfie!

letting go

twenty great teen