Somewhere in my thirties I realized I didn’t come here to be beautiful.
This was a great moment for me because I wasn’t very good at being beautiful. The times when I felt pleased with my appearance weren’t often enough to satisfy my need for validation.
Somewhere in my thirties I started hearing myself answering, “I just want to be free.”
This was followed by my being laid off from a thirteen-year, well-paid job and then a struggle to determine how to charge people for work I had often done in the past - for free.
Somewhere in the dark, laying in bed feeling shitty about myself, my mind started to repeat, “I need to be seen.”
This was funny because I was lying in the dark, in my house alone - the only place I was certain no one could reflect my state back to me - least of all myself.
It was goofy for me to get hung up on being beautiful. Beauty is so specific to the person doing the viewing and can change by the trend or the pound or the angle. It’s like money that way. Here’s this piece of linen or metal that we agree can be used to purchase some things - even tho it’s worthless in and of itself. We agree upon certain standards and call that beauty. And it changes. It means nothing. Sometimes it means everything. The fear of not being found attractive took up a huge section of time in my brain - a brain that kicked back and didn’t learn anything new during those hours cause being worried about something totally out of my control was a lot easier than taking action to become more than not-beautiful-enough.
If my innate value came not from my appearance, then did it come from my ability to do stuff? At first I did a lot of work for free because I could. A full-time job enabled me to pay my bills and have the luxury of deciding to belittle myself. I found that when I decided to live like I was only here to be useful - I got exactly what I presented to the world. Used. And because I didn’t value what I gave, no one else did either. And the pain of being devalued was so much easier to see when it came through the perceived neglect and disregard of others, as opposed to the shitty treatment I offered up to myself. Service for the purpose of justifiying existence is a sad cost to require of anyone. And it certainly isn’t free.
When I don’t like who I am - when I’m not clear on my worth - being seen is a fate to be fled from. Every eye will reflect back my lack of clarity - will poke holes in a compromised self-esteem. And it hurts. It hurts because I know it’s wrong. And god-help the person who, through their treatment, affirms that I am worthless - they will get all the rage or silent hate that I’ve been saving up for myself. For later. In the dark - where there’s no one to stop me from hurting myself with my thoughts.
Sometime in my thirties I realized I did everything because I wanted to and because it reflected back what I believed to be true. And sometime in my thirties I realized that I could change my mind. Completely. About everything. And in doing so I could see more clearly. Both myself and then others with eyes not clouded by need.
I have always loved you. I just wasn’t great at showing you yet. I was too busy trying to be beautiful, useful - and in so many ways I made myself and others pay for it.