Self-Image; Another Part of The Journey to Rediscovery

As a child I spent much of my life comparing myself to those girls/women around me.  I never thought of myself as attractive, always thought I lilballerinashad a huge weight problem and was the epitome of the ‘ugly duckling’ – only I would be cursed never to emerge the lovely swan.   To me it was so obvious.  The boys were never attracted to me – they would swarm around the other girls like bees to honey, and would only laugh at, or make fun of me.  Don’t get me wrong, I was fairly happy, until puberty… (Isn’t that normal?  I mean, who’s happy going through puberty?)

This last week was fraught with getting Kimball’s house ready to go on the market.  Elizabeth flew out and we met at the house each day.  The week started with an Estate Sale, at which time we had hoped much of the items would have sold – no such luck.  Many items sold (true); however, there was still so much more to go through, donate/junk.  Among those items were pictures, many pictures.

Kimball was a second mom to me (of sorts).  When our father died, our mother was so very overwhelmed that, unfortunately, Kimball was relied upon to do many of the chores and to step up for ‘baby’ duty (I was only a year at the time).  And step up she did.  So, most of my baby pictures we taken by Kimball and they were pretty cute pics (if I do say so myself).

As I was going through these, I noticed something; not one fat girl in the bunch.  WOW!  And it brought to mind the question; how and when do we get these images in our heads?  It also reminded me of just how powerful that image is when in the head of our inner child.  I believe I’ve written about this before and, for the sake of this example, I will touch on it again.  I can remember when I was in Kindergarten, my classroom was on a lower level; at the one end were these stairs climbing up to the double doors that lead to the hall.  They were beautiful wooden stair cases that split and cascaded down into the room.

Flash forward twenty-three years; I returned to that school to say hello to some of my teachers (if they were still there… and some of them were).  I entered the Kindergarten room from the hallway, excited to see the ‘cascading staircase’ in all its glory.  As I opened the door I am stunned.  What I remembered in my child’s mind’s eye was reduced to only five (count them 5) stairs… not the twenty or so, cascading down.  I chuckled to myself and was astounded at just how powerful that child’s memory can be when compared to the actual truth.

Stickfigure.jph

How powerful that is, think about is for a minute.  Too bad we can’t see for ourselves the actual truths with each and every memory holding our happiness hostage.  Because when we scrutinize our image, our weight, our looks – comparing them to others – we are giving power to that which we somehow picked up on as children.  And that, I believe, is holding our happiness hostage and I had done this for some time.  Sure, I thought I had gotten past this, thought I had beaten the image thing.  I was happy with my weight, my looks, myself.  But, I was still berating that little girl, the teen, etc… I wasn’t being kind to her at all.  And how often is it that we all do this?   To what purpose does this serve?

As I continue this journey of self-discovery, I must also learn to love myself (way to go Ann, duh!).  I know, that is the obvious.  But this means everything, the good and the bad, including all that I have done to belittle myself.  We are so quick to forgive others of their own trespasses, but are reticent in forgiving our own.  Forgiveness is a wonderful way of letting go and moving on.  Shouldn’t we then practice this with ourselves?  I came across this poem by the great Charlie Chaplin; it spoke to me and I hope you will enjoy.

As I Began to Love Myself – Self Love Poem by Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time
was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this
person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens
at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in
my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for
my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew
me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude
a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since
I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry
about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING
is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my
mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this
connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing
new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

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6 thoughts on “Self-Image; Another Part of The Journey to Rediscovery

  1. Wonderful, terrific post with a punch in it! I think our childhood perceptions are very different from reality and we carry those thoughts long after we should outgrow them. I was very outgoing as a toddler and kindergartner, then got more and more quiet as the years went by. Mom says I was “saucy” in ballet, imitating the teacher when I was only 4! It took me to college where someone said, “You can recreate yourself when you leave high school.” There I met my first husband and was so full of confidence… I was a pudgy baby but not that much through the years. My forties I went through it again. But laugh out loud, menopause came early and created havoc. I am hoping that everyone will love the story of the cascading stairs and your post. Memories can hold our happiness hostage. Great line!

  2. Great post! Have you seen the letter floating around facebook called something like “When I learned my mother was fat” (That’s not exactly it, but I can’t find it a the moment)? It’s a reminder that how we view ourselves also influences how children view themselves. I was very much like you as a child, and I haven’t grown out of that self-doubt yet. Sigh.

    • Well SNAP out of it [smile]… it is so refreshing when we can face those truths head on. I’ve decided to meet with a hypnotist in the hopes that I can have some (albeit very brief) memory of my father… while at the same time I can squelch those poor child memories that are keeping certain happiness’ hostage. So glad to see you back by the way –

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