Once a month, I get the pms, and I believe that the issues which arise during this time are the issues I most need to look at, honor, heal, and release. But there is life to live, and there are distractions, and denial, and the fact that changing old beliefs is a gradual process. So, I get repeats, like accepting my own aging process. I briefly touched on this subject in the June 16 post My Naked Face. This month, I have decided to really focus on reassessing my beliefs about aging and beauty. Let's start with the old stuff...
I don't have vivid memories of how I viewed my physicality as a kid. I was active, and loved to do 'gymnastics' in the yard, and run and ride my bike and swim. I got my period for the first time when I was twelve, and it ushered in a world of changes. I went from super skinny to all filled out and it felt strange and uncomfortable. My first remembered compliments on my appearance came hand in hand with fear, shame, and a numbing sense of isolation.
In High School I remember liking my hands. I read a lot (also known as constantly) and wore great big Cure and Smiths tee shirts. I remember Amy (I think her name was Amy) Hutton, who shaved her head but not her armpits, and loving that about her.
When I was in my early 20's I was super skinny. Every day I smoked a pack of cigarettes, drank a few pots of coffee and ate popcorn for at least two meals, so that isn't much of a surprise. I had 20-ish year old skin, and it was lovely. I had some serious dislike for my face, and ignored, abused, and generally hated my body. I shaved my head, and wore enormous overalls with men's tee shirts.
By my early 30's a few things had happened, helped along by lots of excellent talk therapy in my 20's and a driving desire to know myself, and to be happy. I quit smoking, gained weight, and freaked out. Having a soft pillowy body felt unsafe to me, and I missed feeling like I was a 'safe' assemblage of edges and lines. I started reading about and practicing self acceptance, and I eventually developed a connection with my body as something to honor and care for. I started to like my face, a bit more anyway. I learned to look into my own eyes and say I love you. When my mother died (which I wrote about in my July 26 entry Grief Takes Time), and I found peace and forgiveness and enormous reserves of love for her, I learned to love my face, in theory.
So here I am. 39 years old. I still struggle with the body I am living in, and the face I wear. And I am tired of that struggle. I have wasted too much of my precious time in harsh judgement of my physical body. Wasted time. I will never be this young again. The little wrinkles? They'll grow up to be the predominant feature on my face to most people. The wee soft chin? It will likely (given genetics) one day rest itself upon my chest. I will get very soft, and cats and chickens will think they've found heaven in my lap and arms. I will get shorter. I will grow invisible to young people. I intend to stay active, and to garden and tend my chickens, and work my property, though I will likely do it all rather slowly. And in orthopedic shoes. One day I will look at pictures of me at this age and think, 'damn, what a looker'. So I may as well start doing that right now. Allowing myself to say I am beautiful, allowing myself to believe it. To feel gratitude that my body is beautiful, and strong, and capable, and miraculous. I carry my parents around in the shape of my face and the color of my eyes. And I love my parents, and I'm so lucky to see them when I look in the mirror. To see my face, not as a flawed thing but as a perfect one.
I think this has helped. When I am tempted to be harsh with myself, I will imagine I am 60, 70, 80 years old and looking at my 39 year old face. And I'll look deeply into my own eyes in the mirror and say, 'honey, you're a looker'.
My face today.