I remember the first time I asked my mother about being pretty. I don’t remember the exact conversation we had verbatim or how I started that conversation but the gist of what transpired was that I was having an ugly duckling life. I wanted to know if I was pretty. If I couldn’t know that I was pretty, or at least attractive, then I wanted something to make me feel better so that I could live with the alternative. I hoped by asking the question, I would hear a response that would make me feel okay about myself.
In my mind, a female was not worth much nor did she get much attention unless she was attractive. In short, boys were not going to give me special valentines in grade school and when I got old enough, they were not going to date me. If I were attractive, I thought, people would like me more, smile at me more, include me in their circle, tolerate me more,and in general be more open to me. I wanted all that. I wanted to pound on that three-foot thick glass wall between where I was and where I wanted to be until I smashed it into a million pieces. What I wanted, no, what I thought I needed, was so close I could see it but I could not reach it through that wall.
I remember that Mama gave me the most over-used, but tried-and-true answer to that question. What else could she say to me, an awkward, shy, lonely little girl, accept that real beauty is inside? Today I know that beauty really is inside and that this beauty is pure love. Back then what I was really seeking was love, not physical beauty, but I didn’t know that. I thought physical beauty would bring me love and I would feel good about myself. I though if I were being sought after, admired, accepted or invited into the inside group, or was popular I would be okay. At that time I thought this would be proof to me that I was loved or worthy of love – that I was okay and normal. It was a matter of my chasing my own tail so to speak. It got me nowhere. I didn’t know until much later in life, that once I found that love inside of myself and learned to be okay with me, that I didn’t need the other things. I could feel love and be love with or without them. I could be thankful for all things but I already had what I needed, what I had searched for all my life.
I can not say that I never feel that I am not okay or good enough. Old habits and feelings can sneak up on me, on any human being, from time to time because these habits and feelings become so ingrained, so habitual. What I can say is that Love never leaves me. I can lose consciousness of it but I can never lose it. It nourishes me and fulfills me because that is all I wanted all along.
Am I beautiful? Yes I am. And so are you. How did I get to that place? That is a subject for another chapter.