For Valentine’s Day, my wonderful husband made me a playlist of “Beautiful” songs. It included various versions of “You Are So Beautiful”, “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt and many others. The one that always sticks in my mind is “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. The line in the title is from that song.
I have talked about being bullied, called all sorts of names, and internalizing all of the negative messages throughout my life. However, I have learned that just like the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, so are all those negative labels. We can so easily discount the first one and believe all the others. But Why?
My mother said on many occasions that I was ordinary. While some of my friends were pretty, thin, athletic, brilliant, etc., I was ordinary. Then she would say “there is nothing wrong with ordinary.” I held on to that for years and even blamed my feeling “not good enough” on her.
Words like beautiful, ordinary, intelligent, normal, are just that – words. And the thing about words is that they can have many definitions and even more interpretations.
Let’s start with “normal”. The usual thoughts on this are that it means “status quo”, and in a way that is true, but on an individual basis only.
When I was in a mental health day program many years ago, the doctor who ran one of the group sessions was talking about what normal meant to us. I was in a very depressed state on top of my incredibly low self-esteem. He said that our normal was how we were right at that moment. I took it to mean that this was it. I wasn’t going to get any better and I would always be fat, ugly, stupid, and everything else negative that I had been called. I ran out of the room and hid in a bathroom stall. One of the program leaders followed me and through the closed stall door, she said that what he meant was that this was my normal for that moment and it is okay. She went on to say that my normal would change as I changed whether for better or worse. It would all depend on me. Oh, and other people’s normal levels are not mine so I shouldn’t compare myself.
Beautiful is another word I have struggled with. When Hubby has called me beautiful I would think of the person I last saw in the mirror and think “Is he blind or something?” Yet other times when I am not inflamed from illness or medication and/or I have been able to get some activity going I can look in the mirror and see some beauty.
How come Hubby can see it all the time and I can’t? It really isn’t the changes in my health, it is the changes in my mind and heart. When I was 22 I made a framed photo collage for my parents’ Christmas present. It was a difficult project because I couldn’t find any pictures of me I really liked. Now I am 60 and when I look at those same pictures I see someone I like very much. I am finding that this revelation is giving me a better attitude.
I have been finding it difficult to lose the weight I need to for my health’s sake because I have been thinking that “when I lose it I will look better”. By thinking that I already am beautiful, I just need to eat healthier, it is easier to stay away from the bad foods. If I do falter (like the ice cream yesterday), I remind myself that I will feel such and such the next day (depending on the food). If I lose weight from it all then that is a bonus!
The picture above was taken by a friend in our dog park. If I had known that she was taking it I would have been upset. But it was totally candid and picked up a little moment between Miley and me with her football. Even a year ago I would have deleted it because I am “too fat”, “not looking my best (with the dog walking hat)”, and using the walker. Well, the truth is, I love this image because it shows me as I am and my little goofball in a sweet moment. That is why I used it here – Sometimes we bring ourselves down with words…but not today!
The song By Christina Agulera was written by Linda Perry and originally Christina didn’t want to record it. However, as she dug deeper into the lyrics she agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. The official video shows people struggling with various issues from depression, bullying, anorexia, Not being strong enough. It also shows a cross-dresser and a gay kiss. This was because all sorts of people really could relate to how words and attitudes can bring them down. I love that video; however, I chose a lyric video because I wanted to focus on the words themselves.