I loaded the white clothes into the washer and moved on to the kitchen where I shoved the stopper in the sink and turned on the water, soap bubbles erupting from the Joy bottle as I gave it a good squirt. I slipped my yellow, flannel-lined rubber gloves on and commenced to tackle the mound of dirty dishes. As I did, I remembered what Anarwen had posted. “…and your hands look so elegant!”
They are nice, I thought. I was in the habit of having my nails done and that made my fingers seem long and slender. In fact, my hands were quite small. I held them up, water dripping down my arms past the rubber that covered to the elbow, and wrapped the first finger and thumb of one around the wrist of the other. My fingers met and overlapped. That meant, said the special “weight loss” doctor my mother had taken me to right out of high school, that I was small boned and should, therefore, weigh far less than I did.
What a nightmare! Here I was in college, and just when I had begun to feel I could move beyond David and Cathy and get on with my life, there was Dr. Darby and his obedrine pills and vitamin shots; and for the first time in my life I lost weight. And went on my first date. And got horribly sick. And bought a brand-new wardrobe right off the store rack. And went to the hospital and had to have surgery. And got engaged and married.
I didn’t take the diet pills and shots after that, and is typical of someone that has been dieting for a while then stops, I gained some of the weight back. And I have hated the way I look every day since then. No matter how many compliments my wonderful husband has tried to pay me over the years, I’ve laughed them off. And after awhile he stopped. He felt it was pointless, for no matter how often he tried to tell me I was pretty or looked nice, I’d have no part of it. I buried the need we all have to be admired by someone we love and vowed it just didn’t matter.
At least I didn’t think it did anymore, until one day we were watching a Beauty and the Beast episode on TV and the appearance of a very deformed man scared the hell out of a little girl. He was so distraught he ran away and hid, and when the beast Vincent, a true beast in his own right, found him, the man told him how sorry he was that his looks offended everyone.
My reaction was immediate, and much to my husband’s dismay, I started to cry. For the words the man had spoken were the words of my own heart. Somehow through all those unfortunate, unhappy experiences I had come to believe that I truly was that big old ugly dog that could scare everyone away.
All afternoon I looked at the snapshot that I had posted at the site. I couldn’t walk by it without picking it up. I’d recently found out I was diabetic, and I’d lost nearly 30 pounds. Admittedly, it was a nice picture. Well, except for his lordship’s goofy expression!
Later, as I finished hanging some clean shirts in my closet, I stopped to run my hand over a velvet shirt my friend had brought me from Australia last fall. If ever there was anyone who embodied J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elves, it was Kim. Petite with long, flowing blonde hair, the woman sees beauty and love and goodness wherever she looks . . . even when she looks at me.
And so it was she brought me clothes, things I would never have purchased for myself. She smiled approvingly as I modeled them for her, brushing my embarrassed complaining aside. But sometime during her 10-day visit I began to think perhaps I had been entirely too hard on myself all these years, for when she looked earnestly at me all dressed up in those scrumptiously feminine clothes and said I was lovely, it was easy to believe that maybe I was.
Chores done, I showered and dried my hair. I had let it grow since Kim’s visit and it was getting long again, though a bit on the thin side after all these years. I paused one last time in front of the mirror and gave myself a really good look. Rosie’s words floated through my mind, “Very nice pic, Calen. You’re very pretty.” Well, heaven knows I’m far from being a beauty, but maybe, just maybe I’m not nearly as bad as I thought.
And I smiled, for those younger gals at the site would never understand the avalanche of hateful memories their words had unleashed in me. And for my part, I’m amazed at how those same words have impacted my heart far more deeply than all the positive self-gibberish I have struggled to practice over the years.
I turned off the curling iron, hung the hair dryer back up and smiled shyly at the woman in the mirror. “Oh hell,” I said to her with a grin, “Who says God
has a dog anyway!”