A few days ago my counselor gave me an assignment – to think about what I’d say if I shared my story in front of a group. She believes at some point and time that others can learn from what I’ve been through, and it’d be good for me to prepare myself for the possibility of doing so sometime in the future.
It’s easy to tell those of you reading this blog. Supergirl is my profile picture, and I’m hiding behind my smart device in an undisclosed location. I’m out of the spotlight.
I’ll never forget the first time I sang in church. My knees shook so much I could hardly stand still.
I was able to complete my assignment writing down what I’d say. I even read what I wrote and put it on an mp3. I was quite proud of myself until my counselor asks me if I only did audio. I told her it was easier to record because I could pause, but the real truth was I didn’t like looking at myself.
She said, “We are going to have to work on that.”
Oh boy, here it comes I just know she’s gonna have me stand in front of the mirror forcing myself to look at myself or something.
I told her I’d try to video myself, but I fear I’ll never get past the first 5 minutes of seeing myself on the screen.
I’m so friggin self-conscious that I drive myself crazy at times! It happens at the grocery store, at restaurants, and more often than any other time – at church. As far back as I can remember it’s been a problem. I try to cover it up, but after all these years I realize it’s not working. So I might as well get it out.
Sometimes when I’m out at a restaurant and I go to the bathroom to wash my hands I won’t look in the mirror, because if I perceive that I look bad I’ll let it ruin my whole evening, so it’s easier not to look. A good friend of mine got married several years back, and I was probably the largest bridesmaid in the wedding. I thought the dress looked horrible on me and made me look huge. I refused to wear heals because I’d tower over the other women. My hair, after spending hours on it, I believed looked terrible. I was in a tizzy before that wedding was over. I know it sounds crazy, but feeling like I didn’t look good made me think I didn’t need to even be in the wedding. Thankfully, I’ve gotten some better, but I still struggle way more than I wish I did.
My counselor told me a while back that when a person has been abused it usually affects them somewhere in their body. This is clear in my own story. My self contempt screams at me when I perceive that I don’t look good. Maybe you’ve heard those condemning voices before.
You look terrible.
You make me sick.
You are an embarrassment to those you are with.
You are a cow.
It may sound petty and vain, but it’s painful no matter what it is. When I’m rational I recognize no one cares what I look like.
When was the last time I didn’t want to be around someone because they were having a bad hair day? That would be ridiculous.
When I was in highschool and was dressed in something I thought actually looked good, my adopted father made the comment that my pants were too short and made me look like a tramp. Mind you they were Capri pants and not Daisy Dukes. He would comment sometimes about my make up, too. When he said things like this I felt like my character was being attacked and usually I’d change what I had on and never want to wear it again.
A clear memory that comes to mind is before my adopted father abused me he’d have me put on one of his own t-shirts and a pair of very short silky shorts. How I looked was important to him. He’d bought me a white swimsuit one weekend and taken me swimming at a hotel pool. I was so self conscious of the fact that you could see the outline of my breasts in the suit. Inside I felt like I was a sick and disgusting person who deserved to be abused.
When I was in the 5th grade and my breasts were just starting to grow I remember covering them up with Band-Aids.
When I was abused by an older man in the 8th grade I threw the clothes away immediately afterwards.
My former pastor used to tell me I was beautiful eye candy. This made me feel so good and less ashamed about who I was. It also kept me hooked.
I know I place way too much importance on how I look. I want that to change.
It’s interesting to note that the first thing Adam and Eve wanted to do when they’d disobeyed God was to cover themselves with fig leaves.
Genesis 3:7 ESV
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Prior the Fall, scripture says,
Genesis 2:25 ESV
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Before the Fall and before they knew what evil was they were uncovered, unafraid and unashamed.
I’d love to know how that feels.
I’d give anything to look in the mirror and like what I see – with clothes on.
I think of the freedom David had dancing before the Lord and everyone else in only a linen cloth.
His wife, Michal, watched him from the window despising what she saw. Later, she told him what he did was vulgar and shameful.
I haven’t come anywhere close to experiencing the kind of freedom David felt, but I know what it is to be like Michal and despise what I see. Usually it’s when I look in the mirror.
But God looked at David that day and saw a man after His own heart.
Proverbs 31:30 ESV
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
So enough with the messages that tell me that I’m:
It’s not who God says I am.
It’s what the enemy uses to keep me standing behind the mirror despising myself feeling too unworthy to come down with David and dance.
God help me to see all the things you say about me. Help me to know I’m clothed in your righteousness. Help me to forget the shame brought on my body and soul by my abusers. Help me to know I can stand before you naked and unashamed. Remind me I’m a temple for your Holy Spirit and that your glory shines on my face.
Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.