Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Who Are You?

What do you think? Not a bad looking person. The photo is a little blurry because the person taking it was laughing. It's me in the photo. Me in my twenties. My sister sent me this photo right before I went to Spain. I had not seen it since the day it was taken. When I saw it again I was shocked by it. As I gazed at it I thought, "But, I'm not ugly."

I thought I was at the time.

Self image. How we see ourselves. Body image. Those things can be warped so easily. How could I see myself as ugly? I know self image begins at birth and that the way other people react to us helps to form our sense of worth. Our sense of worth affects how we see ourselves.

I know I was a sensitive child that tuned into other people's feeling very quickly. I remember at the age of three or four walking into a room that my grandmother was in and feeling her hatred pour over me like a bucket of black paint. It was so overwhelmingly that I could not move and stood there as the darkness of it blinded me. It wasn't until years later that I remembered my mother was in the room. Then I realized all that hatred had been directed at her. My grandmother never tried to hide her dislike for my mother.

I picked up lots of stray emotions that flew around our house. Lots of sadness, depression, hopelessness, worthlessness. All that I internalized. How could I see what I looked like? I was using a mirror that was cracked and distorted by other peoples emotions. Try using that mirror when you going though those self absorbed teen years. The mirror gets even more distorted.

I think as we grow older in body we also mature (if we are lucky) in self image. We start out seeing ourselves through that distorted mirror in our head. We don't use that distorted mirror when we look at other people. At some point we no longer use that mirror to look at ourselves either. I think that is why I can look at this picture and finally see what I really looked like then. I am no longer looking at the picture though that greatly flawed mirror that was in my head at the time.

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