One of these days after the smoke clears and the fog lifts, she’s going to show up. For some of you, she’ll appear suddenly. For others, she’ll make a gradual appearance. Still for others, she’ll appear and reappear a couple of times (maybe more) before she finally comes and stands under the light. I’m not talking about an apparition, a ghost or some figment of your imagination. I’m talking about the woman who has been beaten down, sometimes to the point that she’s unrecognizable. She stops taking care of herself. She doesn’t care enough about herself to do anything more than pull her beautiful hair up in a ponytail. Makeup? Nah.
Sometimes, though, she looks just fine from the outside. She’s smiling, laughing and seemingly enjoying life. That makeup is slamming. There’s not a hair out-of-place. The truth is, mentally and emotionally, everything about her is scattered. Many days, she doesn’t even know how or where to start because nothing is right. Nothing. Oh, she carries on but inside, all she wants to do is hide in a deep, dark place so she isn’t further destroyed or belittled. There’s safety in the darkness. There’s a level of peace. No one can see you so you don’t have to take the mental punch. You don’t have to take that roundhouse to your emotional state.
I lived in that fog for years. I was one of the ones who would appear then disappear but would make another entrance a little later down the road. I ducked in and out between bouts of emotional/mental cage matches, some of which I won, some in which I sustainable debilitating injury. What was visible was that I just didn’t care enough about my appearance to do anything outside of the basics – wash my face, brush my teeth and shower. Most of the time, I was too tired to do more than that because sleep was not something I got. What you couldn’t see was the confusion (there were times when I couldn’t, for the world of me, tell you what day it was), the fear (what would cause him to get mad this time – pee on Will’s toilet, an unwashed coffee mug that I’d forgotten on the counter due to the morning rush), or the sadness (knowing that regardless of what you did, somehow, it just wouldn’t be enough). After the divorce was final, I went deeper into that fog than I’d ever been but one day, I decided to turn around and head back toward the light. Oh, I stopped a couple of times during that journey but I decided that I was going to walk it all the way out.
I stood in the light and finally faced what I saw in the mirror. I saw a broken woman. A woman with dark circles around her eyes, stress-induced eczema on my eyelids, and a weight gain of over 60 lbs. And there was that darned ponytail. I decided that that’s not who I am. That chick was the creation of someone who didn’t love himself enough to love me. I decided that she needed to be evicted. She couldn’t stay. The road to my renovation hasn’t been without bumps. The physical things are still under construction. I got a haircut, started using my makeup skills and bought some clothes. The mental/emotional stuff will always be a work in progress. The reason? There shouldn’t be any positive voice that’s louder than your own. You absolutely, positively need the support of family and friends but it is imperative that you become your own biggest cheerleader. You have to speak love into and over yourself. Your level of confidence should be on such a level that nothing negative can penetrate even the surface. Give yourself the same level of love and respect that you expect from others. Trust me, it’s the only way to live.