Most unhappy people need to learn just one lesson: how to see themselves through the lens of genuine compassion and treat themselves accordingly. — Martha Beck
I have spent the last year feeling ugly. Not skin-ugly but soul-ugly. Dorothy Parker wrote, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” And I some way I felt this characterized me.
Sometime in the spring of last year I stopped writing because I feared the things that would come out would be ugly, angry and dark. Those were the things that were coming out in my relationships. I felt overwhelmed by fear and anxiety and I felt completely abandoned. That feeling of abandonment turned to anger, and anger turned to resentment. It was a deeply painful time and writing about it felt like spoon-feeding people my pain.
I’m a pupil of the likes of Julia Cameron and Laura Doyle, so I thought the answer was better self-care. I exercised, I sought out sunshine (quite the quest in the Pacific Northwest), I got counseling, I treated myself kindly on days I wanted to bite everyone’s head off (if only I could have treated them so). But no amount of bubble baths could wash away something that was bubbling up from inside me. Continue reading →
It would figure that the one hour I spent alone in Istanbul would land me in the front seat of a cab with a sleazy driver. With barely a word of language in common, he’d managed to cover all the hot topics of conversation: I was American, unmarried, vaguely his age. My typical warnings about large brothers dropped somewhere into the language gap between his seat and mine. He turned the heater full blast and encouraged me to take off my heavy coat, and I pretended I was still cold, as beads of perspiration condensed on my forehead. He pointed to the little dots on the back of my hand, the only skin I had left showing, and arched an eyebrow.
“Freckles,” I told him.
“Fleckels,” he said. I could tell he was not sold on them.
“In America,” I said, “freckles are beautiful.” I drew the last word out emphatically, knowing it was one of those ones that transcends cultures. But I wasn’t speaking to him anymore, I was preaching to to my own spirit. The sermon was the same that time a man in India said his uncle could get me a cream that would rid me of them. “What! These? They’re beautiful!”
I reacted like he’d offered me a lotion that could erase my skin. And, in a way, he had . . .