Posted on | March 25, 2012 | 21 Comments

For much of my life I have been convinced of one sacred truth.  Through all the ups and downs, all the craziness of growing up and education and marriage and divorce, I knew one thing… one imperfect, semi-disputed, seldom voiced truth:

I am not pretty.

I do not say this to get you to disagree with me; I say it because it is how I have lived my life.  I have pretty moments, days when I believe my hair has smoothed out nicely and my nose is not, perhaps, as big as I’ve imagined.  I have moments where I believe that whatever outfit I’m wearing sufficiently masks my imperfect body and whatever makeup I’ve purchased adequately covers my imperfect face.  But these moments are few and far between.

I have always seen myself as a sum of my parts: a too big nose, odd colored eyes, too thin lips.  I have never been able to put aside my own critical eye and embrace my face and body and soul for who and what they are.  And for all that I’ve been through in the past year, the hardest toll of all was on that small shred of self-confidence that struggled to survive.  I wondered often if I was just the type of person divorce happens to… the sort of face, the shape of figure… the aching absence of self-worth.

I realized, a little too late, that my self worth was wrapped up in the package of “wife” … The white dress wedding, the husband, the Sunday dinners, the house with pink azaleas, the children… the child.  I was aching for normality, a life that would signal to others that I’m okay.. I’m perfectly normal.  I thought the band on my finger screamed to the world “Look! She IS pretty.”  To someone. Maybe.  When my marriage fell apart, I fell apart alongside, wondering what this new failure meant to who I was, who I wanted to be.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still hurt a lot of days.

As a parent, I want desperately to instill in my son a secure and satisfied warmth about the person he is, both inside and out.  I want him to know things about himself, I want him to know the things that are really important… the things I know now about myself that make me beautiful even if they don’t manifest on the instant shake of Polaroid film.

In the past year, I have been deconstructed, ripped down into a bare base of a woman, quakingly lonely and desperately searching for approval… from someone.  It took a long time to believe this wasn’t my fault.  It took a long time to realize that maybe, just maybe, that “universal truth” I clung to was merely a product of my own fears and doubts.  It took a long time for me to learn to look in the mirror and see… me… not a frizz of reddish hair and a blemish of spots and wrinkles.  It has taken me a long time to see myself as beautiful, not based on my reflection in the mirror, but rooted firmly in my reflection of spirit.

I am a strong and kind woman.  I am a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, who cries perhaps a little too often, and who would rather give all her money to someone else than buy anything for herself.  I am a good woman.  I have a good heart and a sharp mind.  And because of these things, I am beautiful.  My hair is still too red.  My eyes are still a chameleon of colors and I still have a mole on the side of my face that seems to have created it’s own ecosystem.  I still want to lose twenty pounds, still want to tuck and tighten and reduce. 

But at the end of the day, I have learned to define my own beauty, and the beauty of those around me.  My son is beautiful: perfect in his tiny imperfections, sweet in even his most un-sweet of moments.  He will always be beautiful to me, no matter what he weighs or what color his eyes or hair.  He is beautiful because I love him; he will stay beautiful because I will always love him… heart and soul, without condition.

Something funny happened over this past year… I learned what it means to be pretty.  I learned to love myself, heart and soul, without condition… and in that blossoming newness of clarity, I found my beauty, too.  

And for that, I am forever grateful.


21 Responses to “Pretty”

  1. Allison
    March 25th, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

    Beautifully written. I filed for divorce last week & have been through a year of hell as well. I def question my self worth, something I try to work on daily. Props to you momma!

  2. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    🙁 I’m sorry to hear of anyone going through divorce… but let it change you. Let it tear you down if it must so that you can rebuild into the person you are supposed to be. Sending you hugs and hope and lots of love.

  3. Jana A (@jana0926)
    March 25th, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    I love your beauty. Inside and out.

  4. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    Ditto, friend!

  5. Heather Griffitts Clark
    March 26th, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    I just want to hug you…. Instead of trying to convince you that I’ve thought you were quite beautiful from the first time I saw a picture of you (believe it or not, I was jealous of your hair. And you have an amazing smile)…. I am going to tell you that I’m so glad you’re figuring out what *real* beauty is.

    And I understand….so wholeheartedly.

  6. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    I’ll take that hug and I don’t even LIKE hugs! 🙂

  7. Alena (@Alena29)
    March 26th, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    :sigh: this post. my heart. the two fit too well together.

  8. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    I love you, lady. You are an amazing pillar of strength, hope you know that.

  9. Mvaglide
    March 26th, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    you made my day, heart & soul, inside & outside…… have ALWAYS been beautiful to me!

  10. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    Thanks, mom. 🙂

  11. MaconMom
    March 26th, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

    Such a great lesson. I wasted so many years trying to be pretty outwardly. I, too, have days when my hair cooperates, an outfit looks good, but there are far more days when it doesn’t come together. Now, at 41, I do not care as much (as evident by my lack of style and hair style, etc.). I have friends who are so together (fabulous) on the outside, but I know on the inside they are not feeling as content.

    I’ll take my imperfections, color of the month from a box for my hair, lack of manicure/pedicure, etc., but being happy inside with where I am today, over that any day of the week.

    Yes, it was a great weekend and I’m in a happy place today.

    What’s really hard are the days when I’m not feeling great on the inside and the outside is having a rough day as well. Those days I am thankful for Monkey to keep me smiling and thankful!

    Thanks for such a truthful piece and great reminder.

  12. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    You, my friend, are gorgeous both inside and out. Honest.

  13. KeAnne
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    I know I commented on this post on Twitter yesterday, but I just wanted to reiterate what a wonderful post this was. Your inner beauty is shining through; I can see how much you have had to rebuild over the last year, and you’ve done a great job.

  14. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    Thank you so much… I feel like a college basketball team… 2011 was a rebuilding year… 🙂

  15. Jenn Matiyasic Bennett
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    This sentence: “In the past year, I have been deconstructed, ripped down into a bare base of a woman, quakingly lonely and desperately searching for approval… from someone. “…

    I spent many hours/dollars/and A LOT of time in that sentence.. therapy, church, friends, and little progress…

    until i started to look beyond the roadblock.. (fear/doubt/shame/anger)

    No sugar coating here, it SUCKS, but wow, as you pick yourself up and grow stronger w/ each day/lesson/or event… you’ll shock yourself.

    Mom’s are such amazing strong people
    We have the hardest job we’ll ever love…


  16. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    It really is amazing how much you can still learn and grow… even as a semi-“old dog”. And yeah… moms pretty much rock. 🙂

  17. Julia
    March 26th, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

    Gorgeous words. I am so glad you have found the beauty that you possess, because, my friend, you are absolutely beautiful.

  18. Lawmomma77
    March 26th, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    Thank you so much… it’s nice to FEEL beautiful for a change. Now if I can just hold on to it for a very, very long time. 🙂

  19. Amnixo25
    March 27th, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    You will come to realize many things after this painful transformation. You will realize what an amazing woman and mother you are. You will see that there is nothing you can’t weather. You will realize that the outward appearance is nothing, its the strength inside.

  20. paralegalmom
    March 29th, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    “I am a good woman. ” Yes. You are. You are a good woman and a good mom.

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