Monday, March 21, 2011

Scars, Beauty, Loving Myself

Having recently had my second total knee replacement surgery, I now have one more long scar that reminds me I am getting older, and I don't look the way I want to look. The past week or so I have been having conversations with a few friends and they have been telling me things I already know. I have to love myself in spite of what I think I look like. Not just on the inside but on the outside too. God looks at the inner person. Unfortunately people look at the outside of the package before they decide if they want what is on the inside. You see this all the time at gift giving events such as Christmas or birthdays. You see it at book stores and libraries. How many times have we all been taught not to judge a book by its cover, yet how many times do we still pick out the books that appeal to our sight? Hollywood and the media have gone to great lengths to make beauty the most important features people "should" be looking at. Yet when the beautiful people fall, like Charlie Sheen recently did, we see a good looking man who was not so good looking on the inside. What does he have left for the general public to admire? My point is, beauty really is only skin deep.

How this applies to my blog today is this: My body is full of scars. My body is overweight. Even though I am losing weight and may be successful at continuing to lose weight, I probably will never have a good supermodel type body. I don't even want to. I just want to feel healthy and strong again. But all those scars, and each and every inch and pound I carry on this body represents something I have gone through in my life. Most of those things were not pleasant events. I started gaining weight at the age of 7 or 8 after the last time I was molested by a neighborhood teenage boy. Prior to that I had been molested by other people, each time a different incident and different people. When I got to that last time, I somehow subconsciously told myself it would never happen again because I would not let it. I believed some of the monsters who told me that it was my fault because I was "such a pretty little girl". To stop it, I started to gain weight. No matter how much I tried as a teenager or young woman to lose weight, the weight just kept piling on, underneath it all the fear that if I got thin I would be raped. When people look at me today and see me as I am, no one can tell what the scars of this overweight woman are from. But there are more reasons this woman is overweight--more events in life that brought on weight gains. But more on that follows.

All my other scars tell their own stories. One that reminds me of the day my beautiful daughter was born. Her birth did not cause a scar but shortly after I needed surgery to remove my gallbladder which I was told had stones that probably shifted during the pregnancy and birth. Another scar is from the birth of my precious son born by C-section. There was a lot of fear surrounding his birth along with a lot of faith. Thankfully everything was fine. I have many more scars. Each one representing something God has brought me through and each scar reminds me that I am here and alive and God is with me always. My excess weight is not all about the fears of being raped. I've had a lot of bad situations in life I have lived through. Stress, we now know, causes weight gain. Plus I admit I ate too much. I don't drink alcohol and I don't smoke. I don't gamble and I don't spend money I don't have. I don't do any number of stress-relieving activities that are harmful to our health. I eat. Or I should say I ate. After a year of reversing that harmful behavior my weight has started to go down. But I have to take it slowly because if I lose weight too quickly I could have other problems I can't fix. Each of my two pregnancies worked in reverse of most women's pregnancies. I did not gain weight with the pregnancies. But I put on the baby weight AFTER the babies were born. Maybe I felt an empty place needed filled. I don't know. All I do know is my metabolism skyrocketed while pregnant and dropped afterwards.

Now this brings me to what I really want to say. I love myself. I love myself and I am happy with who I am. It has taken me many years to come to the place in my life where I could say I like who I am. I like the woman I have become on the inside and I want to continue to improve myself in anyway I can. Loving my body has been a totally different struggle, but this past week or so with the conversations I've had, I've come to a conclusion. I am what I am. Take me as I am or not. I like me. I like the scars. I like what they remind me of because they remind me that I am never alone. God is with me every step I take. The Israelites placed altars along their journeys with God. Every time God brought them through something, or taught them something, they built an altar as remembrance. I consider my scars as my spiritual markers to help me remember just how far I have come in this faith journey called life. If you have trouble looking at me, or seeing me for who I really am because you can't look past the outer shell, that is your loss. My life has never been easy. It probably never will be, although one can always hope. I am beautiful, scars and all, excess weight and all. I am worth getting to know. I am worth caring about. I am worth friendship. I am worth loving. My scars belong to me. They are part of me. They mark who I am. For all those in my life who have turned away from me for whatever reason, I forgive you. If you don't have the courage to talk to me about it, that is also your loss. I am a forgiving person and I have already forgiven you all. For all those who may come into my life in the future and take one look and turn away, I forgive you as well. But for all of you who are currently in my life and have stuck it out with me, I love you all in a very special way. May you all be blessed with love and happiness. With scars come pain. Physical pain and emotional or mental pain as well. Those of you who know what I am talking about understand this pain and the meaning of your own scars. Some scars can't even be seen with human eyes. But we each feel the pain that put those scars there. Hopefully we've also felt the healing. If any of you can't accept me as your friend because of what I look like, and don't care to take the time to know who I really am, it is your loss. Thank you to the ones who do take time to know me. Thank you to the ones who have stood by me as long as we've known each other. Thank you especially that one who could have turned your back but chose not to and continues to reach out to know me better and let me know you. Here's hoping this journey of life and friendship continues in peace and health for all of us.

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