A life in threes

Tag: what I learned

The Other.

<<<<see previous post for context<<<<<<

1 September 2016 – Day 2

The visualization today requires one to look in the mirror and ask oneself:

What is being hidden? What is holding you back?

When I looked into the bowl – I saw myself, at approximately age 10 or so.  I was crying, I was cutting – words into my skin.

And then I saw myself (at age 6 or 7) sitting at a table, deep in concentration.

I am making things out of clay.

My mother is there, but she is cleaning the kitchen.

(I am remembering, I am hearing snippets of my mother’s commentary:  Stupid little junky things and making such a mess.

These were things my mother hated: messes and ‘junky things.’

And I am making a mess.

According to her, I am sitting there, always making ‘stupid little junky things.’  My mother hated them; but my father collected them.  I see them lined up on the top of his bureau, these things I’ve made.

I watch myself trying not to cry, trying not to listen or to care about what is being said.

I feel defeated.

Suddenly, the words



creative girl

run through my head as I consider my younger self in this vision.

It is difficult to see her.  I want to push this away.

I want her to be someone who is not afraid to say ‘No’

I want her to be the sort of child who is not afraid to stand up and tell her mother:

You are wrong. 

That is not true.

I am more than you know. 

I am more than you think. 

Where is she? The one who can do – the one who is unashamed – to create, to be, to shine?

She is crying.  I am crying.

Suddenly I remember those words, said just a few nights ago:

How dare you dull yourself for others….

I saw a girl who stopped trying.

The girl who gave up, who accepted their words

their ridicule

their anger

feeling like she deserved this treatment.

The quiet girl who simply tried harder to be perfect.

I wanted to show you…the one who decided to accept their opinions rather than creating herself. 

This is the one who hid.

This is the one you hid.

And then, I saw a ten-year old  girl pinned to the wall of a well-lighted bathroom – disassociating from the humiliation of what her mother is doing.

‘Come here, will you? Stay still! Just let me…goddamnit, I am trying to help you!….’

Feeling ashamed.  Trying to disassociate from the pain of fingernails digging into skin; face feeling hot and swollen…. and crying.

‘You know, you’d be so pretty if you would just let me fix…let me get this….’

I feel ANGRY.

This is the girl who holds it all in.

This is the girl who doesn’t complain.

This is the girl who didn’t think that she could win, so she didn’t fight.

This is the girl who acquiesced.

I wish that I could tell that girl that she did not deserve that  —  she did not have to accept that treatment – she didn’t have to allow her mother to do that.

I realize that this is why I have always inwardly cringed a little bit at those words Accept and Allow.

This is why I Can’t.

Because I realize when I accepted that – I accepted the unacceptable along with the acceptable and I allowed behavior that should not have ever been allowed.

And why?  Because I thought that if I was ‘good,’ I would be loved…but I was never good enough.

‘Here.  Step into the light.  Look at your face…let me fix that….’

Crying didn’t help.  Anger didn’t help.  Physical resistance only led to escalating altercations that just exacerbated things between my mother and I.

So what did I do — to cope?

I learned to ‘fix.’

Like my mother, I compulsively examine my face in the mirror.  I pluck my eyebrows and pick and scratch at the skin of my face, trying to fix.

I am wrecking my skin. I routinely  over-pluck my eyebrows.

And she ‘taught’ me how, because at some point, she stopped pinning me against the wall – because I learned to do these things to myself – to fix.

But I always feel so ugly afterwards.

Each time I tell myself that I won’t do it again.

Until the next time, every time that I feel or see an ingrown hair growing crooked or feel a bump or a flake of dry skin.   I always think my ‘fixing’ will make things better.

So I spend a lot of time examining my face in bathroom mirrors, looking for the slightest flaws – lumps, discolorations, hairs.

I also pick and scratch and worry the skin around my fingernails and at the tips of my fingers… and while I do not bite my fingernails, I try to keep them short enough so I can’t.

I convince myself that I’ve gotten better, you know.

Because it has to have been a good 25 years since I had gotten so lost in scratching or picking that the only thing that broke me out of my stress-induced reverie was that my fingers were bleeding.

When I’m stressed, I lightly – though compulsively – scratch my scalp.  (I still actually find head-scratching rather soothing.  Head-scratching is one of the only OCD things that I still do that doesn’t seem to do too much damage, but I can be obsessive about it, and thus feel ashamed enough to sit on my hands on my particularly ‘bad days.’)

It is OCD.

But the important difference between my mother and I – is that I respect the bodily autonomy of others.

And I have been through enough therapy to realize that what my mother did was abusive and wrong

This is hard.

You must step into the light…

But I realize that I am the one holding me back.



I had a post all prepared for today concerning how I’ve begun doing a particular daily devotional activity, but instead, I got derailed by this article that accompanies this photo:


Well, this photo got me to thinking.

The father featured in this photo hopes for a day when a father just doing his daughter’s hair doesn’t come off as a big deal.

This father hopes for a day when any father doing this would not be considered unusual or even worthy of commentary.

Evidently some think that this photo should garner surprise or alarm or go as viral as this photo did on the Internet.

It’s a nice photo.  It evokes a lot of thoughts for me, but maybe they are not what you might think.

What does it make me think of?

The fact that I never learned how to do my own hair very well, and that had always made me feel like I was somehow less of a girl.

Sure, I had a mother and a sister, and a few close female friends, but no, no one ever really showed me how to do my own hair.

Some of them – the female friends in high school – would offer to do my hair for me, or, sometimes, rarely, let me watch them do theirs.

But, truthfully, the whole concept of hands-on skills of how to do braids or make evenly distributed pigtails or putting my hair up in a loose French twist with just a pencil (a trick that still delights and fascinates me, to this day) always eluded me.  Nobody really taught me the process of doing anything like that.

I’ve had three states of hairdo up to young adulthood: ‘long hair down’, ‘long hair in one loose ponytail with rubber band’, and ‘hair cut so short that I can’t do a ponytail.’

And then, when I was about 25 or so, I had a friend named Steve.

Steve took the time to show me how to braid my hair three different ways.  He also showed me the basics of pigtails, and how to take a ponytail and turn it into a bun and/or a twist.

He even knew how to make that loose French twist with a pencil trick that I love so much (but, I still never get much practice doing.)

And no, Steve was not a hairdresser.

He was just the father of one little girl, whom I imagine, always got to school with her hair done really nicely.

So, I look at this picture, and think about how grateful I am to a father of a particular little girl (who probably isn’t so little anymore), and it just makes me happy.

That picture makes me happy…and grateful that somebody’s dad taught me how to do my hair.

Thank you, Steve ❤