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.
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….