I stared in the mirror. Unsure, insecure, second-guessing, I couldn’t fight the voice in my head. I sighed and turned away. It was time to go to school.
Later that week ugly was hissed at me in the hallway as I walked head down, to my class. It only happened once but it was enough to confirm what I already suspected. I wasn’t good enough.
Not good enough followed me through most of my childhood into young adulthood. Ugly waned and there was reprieve. I gained confidence, but the need for more grew. It was comparison’s turn to nag me. She has a great life. Why can’t you be more like her? What is wrong with you?
I smiled. I had friends, a job, a boyfriend. And I carried a secret. I served the facade of fine and together, hiding what I lacked. No one could know how emptiness gnawed and chewed me up, how I couldn’t fill the holes. I hurt and I didn’t know how to stop it, so I dressed carefully, arranged my face, and exposed vulnerability only if provoked.
As I got older the voices quieted, emptiness retreated, and edges softened. I got to know honesty and courage. No longer bound to a lie I was free, becoming more, joy and beauty found; unaware I would be tested in two years.
A nurse handed me a mirror. “Are you ready?” On my back, on my side, attached to machines I saw my body, raw and ravaged, every day. This was the first time I would see my face months after the fire. Angry, red scar around my chin. Bald head. Oh, my eyebrows need plucking! I met my 23 year old green eyes. Too wide in my hollow face. Too much. I handed my nurse the mirror. I’ll never be the same. But, each day there was enough strength to survive, to overcome.
At 37, a few days away from 38, I’m in front of the bathroom mirror blow-drying my hair hurrying, hurrying to finish. My face is splotchy, bumpy. I need a coffee. Hair-dryer in one hand I turn on my iPod with the other, find a song I like, turn up the volume. Doubt threatens, comparison teases. I glance at the foggy mirror.
You know who you are.
I curl my hair around the brush. Struggling with doing it all and not doing enough, I rest in the reminder. I know who I am. I’ve come a long way. There will always be change, noise, something I don’t like. Today I’m accepting. Today I’m human. Today I’m happy with my hair.
I’m joining the wonderful writing community that is yeah write today. If you’re new to writing or have done it forever there is a space for you, or if you just want to get cozy and curl up with some good writing, then come on over.