This is me, circa 1975. This is the picture of me I probably hate the most in this world. Love the outfit, mind you. Handmade by a friend of the family. But everything else from my hair to my teeth to my glasses is just ugh!!! I don’t think I was even very happy with my look back then because that’s not my normal happy smile.
Flash forward to the present. 38 years later, braces, better glasses, a much better haircut later, I still struggle much of the time with feeling like the ugly duckling in the room. Doesn’t matter that my parents told me I was beautiful, that my husband tells me I’m beautiful, that my kids tell me if dress up and put makeup on I’m still a “hot mom”. There are days when I just can’t shake that feeling.
Some mornings I would wake up and I just couldn’t bear the thought of putting on clothes. I know that’s probably hard to understand, but my anxiety was so high that I felt like I would rather flay off all my skin and expose my raw nerve endings to the air – that had to be less painful than how I was feeling. I found that by only wearing soft clothes (cotton, cashmere, etc.) I could psych myself into getting dressed and out of the house. To this day it is still hard for me to be at a party or other social function. I am always so sure I will say something stupid and embarrass myself.
These days I mostly have my anxiety under control , through a little bit of medication, a little bit of therapy and a lot of behavior modification. When I’m so uncomfortable I want to get up and run out of the room, I calmly sit and in my head describe what I am wearing, how it feels, what the room looks like, etc. until I can relax and join in the festivities. If I start to get irrationally scared or sad, I can remind myself that “it’s just a thought” and let it pass. When neither one of those tricks work, I can take a half a pill and deal.
I have also learned that we all have our hang-ups. Art was teased as a child for being overweight. Other friends were “too skinny, too tall, too short.” The important thing is not who we were, but who we are. And who I am is not a gawky ugly duckling. Who I am is a sweet-faced, happy woman, who also happens to be a brilliant writer, if I do say so myself 😉
What is holding you back? What part of your past do you need to shed so you can be comfortable in your own skin?