Today has been one of those days where it just felt like every little thing in life ganged up on me to ruin my disposition. I overslept, which meant forgoing the daily shower that is almost a requirement for my sanity. I hate being dirty. I took a quick sponge bath, grabbed a protein bar for breakfast, slapped on the very minimum of makeup, threw my slightly greasy hair up in a pony tail, and headed out the door. On my way to work, I barely avoided two different crazy drivers who almost hit me. Red means stop, people. You have a blind spot, check it before merging. I arrived at my client’s house just barely on time, feeling rather out of sorts. Thankfully I had a sweet client today.
But this client has 3 cats. One of them apparently decided to crap right in the middle of the front steps, and yes, I stepped in it. Anyone a fan of the way that cat poo smells? Not me. It makes me gag a little. I spent about the next 35 minutes scrubbing cat poop out of their shag carpet, and off my shoes and off the front steps. Glad to be done with that, I threw away my disposable gloves, washed up thoroughly, and went to fix my client some lunch. I had taken my shoes off because they were wet from the scrubbing I gave them. Evidently one of the cats (probably the stupid step crapper) had also decided to take a whiz on the kitchen floor. So I gave up on lunch, threw my socks away, and cleaned that as well. I also tracked down all three cats in her big house and put them all outside.
After lunch one of the cats wanted back in, and I felt sorry for it, so I took mercy and let it in. Soon she happily curled up on my lap and was purring as I petted her. Presently, I felt something on my arm, and looked down and it was a flea! Yuck. I flushed it in some tp, and placed the kitty on another sofa. She could share her fleas with her own family, but not with me. No thanks! She came right back.
Presently the back door burst open, and in barged a burly looking man. The cat dug her claws deeply into my legs, hissed and leaped onto the floor. Evidently the man was my client’s son. Why he barged into the back door without letting us know he was coming is a little beyond me, but oh well.
He introduced himself with a booming voice, and said he was pleased to meet me, but that he had expected someone a bit older. An adult, perhaps. He said that with all my acne I couldn’t be a day past 16. I tried to swallow the tears rising in my throat, and gently informed him that I am actually 23. He said “Gee, haven’t seen anyone that age with acne, darlin’. But if you say so.” Evidently my stingy makeup job that morning had not been adequate for his approval. I know he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. Likely he is just an outspoken person, and didn’t think how those words might make me feel. The way he related to his mom spoke of a kind heart inside him. But they did hurt me.
It seemed like the rest of the day just followed suit. Little things that wouldn’t ordinarily be a big deal just kept teaming up on me. I spent several hours on the phone with customer service representatives who repeatedly put me on hold and then somehow lost connection, and later with an automated phone system that wasn’t working properly. I ended up snapping at someone I care about because I was so frustrated about the whole situation. Of course that didn’t help at all. After apologizing I kept trying to get through to someone. I still haven’t accomplished what I need to with this company. But life has bigger fish to fry.
I went in the bathroom to wash my face, and looking in the mirror I heard that man’s voice “perhaps an adult…I have never seen anyone that age with acne, darlin’. But if you say so….” I looked at my reflection, and I didn’t see a successful 23 year old woman. I saw an insecure acne laden 15 year old looking back at me. In a flash all the insecurity that I felt at that age came racing back. All the pain, all the fear, all the unhappiness. I began to cry, and I began to hear the other hurtful voices that have said negative things about my appearance and my identity over the years. It all seemed to culminate in a symphony of hurtful words. I began to feel unworthy of love, unworthy of affection, unworthy of life. This is how I felt when I was 15. I was a very broken girl.
I am not that girl anymore though. My acne is still with me, yes. But that other stuff, I have dumped a lot of it off as the years go by. There are times like tonight when it revisits, but I don’t let it stay long. I have learned to ask for help when I am hurting. I call, or text or message someone who loves me and tell them how I am feeling. I reach out to my God, who created me, and who designed me as a work of art, and treasures me. I do allow myself to remember those hurtful years, and to cry for that girl who was hurting. But then I remind myself of who I am now. I am a young woman with a big heart. I am a child of God. I am a survivor. I am someone who knows how to forgive. I have things to offer the world. I will not allow the hurtful words that have been said to me to identify me.
I turn on some worship music, dry my tears, and look back in the mirror. Now I see me. I see a 23 year old woman. She has acne, but it is only a reminder of the struggles she once went through and came out of a stronger person. The acne may take a toll on her vanity, but it doesn’t affect her identity. She knows who she is.
Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to grieve. Grieve for the losses you have had. Allow yourself to remember. Cry if you need to. Then dry your tears, remember who you are, and move on. You are more than your flaws. You are more than the negativity that has been thrown at you. You are more than what you have lived through.
You may not love what you see in the mirror every day, but that person looking back at you isn’t who you are. You are what is in your heart. Sometimes mirrors lie to us. Sometimes society lies to us. Sometimes people say things that we misinterpret because of our insecurities. Thankfully, none of these things identifies us unless we allow them too.
Who are you really? You are your strengths. You are the things that make you a unique individual. You are a work of art, designed by the greatest artist of all time. You are precious. You are beautiful the way you are. You are loved. Please don’t forget it.