Mirror, Mirror on my wall

I am not a fan of the mirror.

When I look into at the image the mirror, I see Rosannadanna hair and a face only Cher would love in the movie Mask. I see the long front teeth that got me nicknamed “bucky” by a vengeful cousin in JR High. I used to hate going into the bathroom that said “Bucky was here” where a chunk of the counter was chipped.

When I look at the image in the mirror I see a body that has gained 25 pounds since high school graduation.  I see the C-section “pouch” that will not go away no matter how many sit-ups or planks I do.

When I look at the image in the mirror, I see the child who first tried to take her own life at 12. And again at 14 and 17. I see the girl who was not strong enough to play with the hand life had dealt her.

When I look at the image in the mirror, I see the girl who wore Healthtex jeans in 9th grade because that is all her mom could afford to buy (and they fit). I see the girl who was homeless at 11 and again at 12 and  at 22.

When I look at the image in the mirror, I see the girl who was overwhelmed at 18 and who had no one at school to guide her college application process. I see the girl who was thinking of financially surviving the next month and didn’t understand how important education would have been to stopping the cycle.

When I look at the image in the mirror, I see the girl who mumbled and talked to fast. I see the girl who was so afraid to speak her voice. I see the girl who was ashamed and did not think anyone would want to hear her thoughts.

When I look at the image of the mirror, I see the girl who looked for a prince to save her. I see the girl who fell in love with a boy who had the family she thought was ideal. I see the girl who fell in love with the family a lot more than the boy she moved in with at just 18 years old.

***

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see the hair that most women pay good money to obtain. I see the face that hasn’t had make-up on it except on my wedding day. I see the front teeth that a good dentist fixed and the teeth that were not fixed don’t matter so much.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see that being 89 pounds as a senior in high school was anorexic and unhealthy. I see the C-section pouch that gave me two beautiful girls that I would not ever trade for the flattest of abs.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see the survivor of suicide. Suicide does not make you weak or ashamed. It only means you are without hope. I see now, that the young girl in her bleakest moments never gave up hope. I see the girl who was lucky enough to see the tiniest pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel and it wasn’t a train aiming for her.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see that being homeless and poor has allowed me to never take for granted the food in my fridge, the clothes on my back or the house I call a home.  I see the mom who in her darkest hour made sure I had jeans, they might not have been Guess but they were clean. I remember the mom who made cake from 3 ingredients and pizza at a laundry mat a five-star meal.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see the woman who went to college in her 30’s and graduated while 8 months pregnant with a degree that would help her career. I see a woman who did not waste freshman year partying or end up with a 4 year beer tab. I see a woman who made a choice to go to college, not because that is what her friends are doing but because it was the right choice at the right time.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see the woman who got up on stage last year at Listen to Your Mother and shared her story. I see the woman who won BlogHer Voice of the Year. I see the woman who speaks up at School Committee and in her own office. I see the woman who uses her voice to advocate for her child and for every child.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see the woman who doesn’t look for a knight in shining armor, but a partner who will stand beside her. I see the woman who was very lucky the boy she loved more for his family was kind and not abusive. I see the woman who is thankful that the boy moved on without harming her but giving her a glimpse of the life she deserved. If only she would work hard for it.

When I look past the image in the mirror, I see the girl who had her wishes come true. She is surrounded by a family that loves her, friends who embrace her and a community that supports her.

 

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Image is a funny thing. My husband looks at me and sees a beautiful, strong woman. I look at the same image and see the flaws.

It’s when I look past the image I see what matters:

Strength, hope, kindness and resilience.

I need to remember that, the next time I look into the mirror.

This is how I Finished the Sentence Friday, When I look into the mirror….

 

31 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror on my wall

  1. Chris Carter (@themomcafe)

    Oh my heart. I didn’t know all these things about you, my friend. What an incredible life you have lived and survived and how you rose victoriously into the light of grace, strength, endurance, and success. YOU are amazing. Wow. Just wow.

    I’m in awe of your courage, your honesty, and your beautiful BEAUTIFUL place in this world in who you are and all you do to make it a better place. Carry on, warrior. Carry on…

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  2. flemily

    Wow Kerri, this post was amazing for so many reasons. First, your story. I had no idea and I am truly inspired by your resilience as well as your courage to share where you’ve been. Second, your message. Look past the image. Oh how I need to do that every single day and I’m not just talking about what I’m actually seeing, but what I’m feeling about myself too. Thank you for writing such a powerful piece – I know several people struggling now, whether it’s a personal struggle or one concerning a child, but reading something like this gives me hope for them as well as myself. xoxo

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  3. mamasick

    I have had some experiences that are similar to yours but your inspiring post made me realize that I am a survivor and doing the very best I can with the circumstances that have been dealt to me. I will try to look in the mirror and see me the way my son sees me which is beautiful.

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    1. firebailey Post author

      And that RIGHT THERE is why I hit publish and not delete. Because I knew I wouldn’t be alone in having these feelings or experiences. I hope you do look through your sons eyes, but more that you look past the image and see your strength

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Allie

    Wow! I didn’t know so much of this, and it hurt my heart to read…but then the Kerry I’ve come to know shined through. Such powerful writing, you amaze me! I wish you had submitted this to the HSP!

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  5. K

    This post gave me chills. We’ve never met in person (hopefully someday!!!) but I want you to know that you are one of the strongest, most beautiful people I know, and you’ve made such a big difference in my life. You are such a brave and kindhearted person, and the words on this blog have undoubtedly made the world a more amazing place. Thank you for speaking up and giving strength to so many people.

    And thank you for reminding us that when we look into the mirror, we need to look beyond the surface. My experiences in life haven’t been nearly as difficult as yours — I am amazed at your courage and triumph and ability to rise up from all of these struggles — but sometimes, when I look into the mirror, I just can’t stop focusing on my imperfections and my collapsing knees and crumpled toes…and it’s hard. Thank you for reminding me to look past that.

    Thank you for being YOU. You are beautiful, and I am so glad that you have so much love in your life. You deserve all of it.

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  6. Kristi Campbell (@FindingNinee)

    Oh Friend. I didn’t know so much of this and think you’re amazing. I love love LOVE that you shared all of this and that you are able to look past the mirror to the incredible person you are. Also, speaking of the ACTUAL image in the mirror, I’ve met you in person and think you’re beautiful and radiant and strong and totally completely awesome in all of the ways. xoxo
    Wow. This post. I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time.

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  7. lrconsiderer

    This one, I won’t troll. Huge kudos for sharing such deeply personal and painful moments, and for showing the determination which fills your core, and which brought you to the past-the-mirror-you, you are now. I’ve always enjoyed seeing your passion and intense focus on embettering the world for your girls, for other kids, and for yourself, and I have long thought you’re an amazing, inspiring woman. This very much cements my opinion.

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  8. Mardra

    Beautiful Kerry – I wasn’t brave enough to take on this post.
    After yours I briefly thought – she did it. I can.
    Then I thought – No – You said it all right here.
    I’m going to tuck this one in my pocket.

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    1. firebailey Post author

      Thanks, Mardra. Yeah, this one was a tough one. I didn’t expect the words the prompt would bring forth, for sure. I’m glad it wasn’t planned and while I may struggle with actually making it public..it’s because of support like yours that allows me to trust it will be accepted.

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  9. Julie Jo Severson

    Kerri, this is filled with so many stunning images. “I see the girl who was lucky enough to see the tiniest pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel and it wasn’t a train aiming for her.” That is incredible! Like the opening line for a memoir. Keep it handy! Oh my gosh, I was anchored to my chair reading this the whole way through. I could picture everything so vividly. The bathroom with the chunk of the counter chipped with that cruel message! Reading this broke my heart for every single child who feels so alone in the school hallways. I felt very alone, too. Not at home, but at school. You had it tough at both, and I just can’t imagine. But how you’ve blossomed through all this, planting the pain and letting it grow into a beautiful soul and a beautiful life. Way to go. This was amazing. Keep sharing your story. People need to hear it.

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    1. firebailey Post author

      Thank you, Julie Jo. I know that my experience was not unique or sadly something that happened to only me. I hope you realize that while you might have felt alone in that hallway that is no longer the case today. Thank you for encouraging me to continue to share my story. I value your support

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  10. Anna Fitfunner

    Wow! Just wow! So much of this is new to me, even though Iv’e been reading your blog for over a year now. I know about so much that you’ve done for your girls (and I truly admire you for that) that I never suspected the troubles that had plagued you in the past. Notice that I wrote “past” because you’ve created such a wonderful life for your family and yourself. I’m sending hugs, because I’m running out of words to express my admiration!

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    1. firebailey Post author

      Thanks, Anna. I think the past troubles is what actually gave me the strength to deal with the unexpected twist Bridget brought to our lives. As far as the past, you are right. The life I was able to create was worth it.

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  11. April (@theaprilnoelle)

    Beautiful. Family is truly the worst sometimes. My family was definitely the meanest to me, and I was supposed to accept it because they were my family. It hurt for many, many years. I wouldn’t give up my c-section pouch for my children either.

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    1. firebailey Post author

      Yeah, it sucks when the ones who are supposed to care do more harm than love. I have learned to let them out of my life and have been much happier since I took that very difficult step.

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      Reply
  12. Ashley Turney

    I see the person who exuded the most warmth and love on the first rehearsal of LTYM. And who had more courage than I could ever imagine. And I loved uou from the first day I met you (even though you don’t like spicy food).

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