I kinda imagine my body, heart, mind and soul as this unified vessel that’s been filled with all sorts of stuff over the years- some good, some not-so-good, some downright toxic- and I’ve reached this point where there’s very little room left inside. My vessel seems too packed, crammed to the edges, about to explode. And I’m suffocating.
You could say I had a pretty normal childhood… Loving parents, stable family. Growing up, I was only kinda insecure. (Although I do remember telling my father when I was 14 that I wanted to commit suicide because I was so ugly. He laughed.) I’m the oldest and with that comes all sorts of complexities and challenges: parentified relationships, over-achieving tendencies and feelings of unworthiness that creep up from time to time… but nothing that would necessarily sound off any radars. My teens and early twenties were filled with questions of identity, boundary-pushing, travel (literal and figurative) and definitely some dejection. (I have this pillow that is full of black mascara streaks, a sort of Rorschach of a broken heart… I haven’t washed it in 15 years.) But again, nothing that seems incredibly out of the ordinary.
I never imagined that at 35 years old, I’d be dealing with so much stuff and desperately looking for a way to heal.
When I got married, I was suddenly faced with aspects of myself that seemed downright… Ugly. Who was this angry, hard-to-please woman? She seemed so… extreme. And with every child and added responsibilities of life and work, my ugly side seemed to get even uglier. I felt so confused.
How come the people I love most trigger me to behave so bad? What oh-so-sensitive buttons are these relationships pushing?
I have yet to find an answer. But I’m willing to try.
I’m realizing just how nuanced life is. How very complex we are as people. How many needs and wants we have that seem to be so essential yet so utterly contradictory.
I want space to be who I am. I want to fully belong.
I want to connect, communicate and share. I am scared to reveal too much.
I want to be known, understood and celebrated. I want to be anonymous, blend into the landscape, utterly average and inconspicuous.
There is no one Me… Just many jagged parts.
There’s a part of me that’s always on the verge of tears. There’s a part of me that imagines myself sprinting through a field of flowers, a smile breaking my face, melting into the wind. There’s a part of me that is always squirming, fidgeting in my skin. There is a part of me that just wants to grab you right now, in this moment, and hold you tight. And there’s a part of me that is always running away, running away…
And to tell you the truth, I am so, so tired of running.
It’s time to pull off the veneer.
I’ve decided to face my Ugly.
That frustrated, angry, sad, messy, undisciplined, lonely force that emerges when I feel like I have no control, when everything and everyone around me is pushing me over the edge. My Ugly is overwhelmed, cries, wants to be alone in a far-off land, miles away from everyone it knows. My Ugly locks down, closes its heart and deflects attention. My Ugly is broken.
And as much as we may try to hide it, as much as it’s not the part of us we’re most proud of, Ugly lives inside each one of us… Right? Packaged differently, but pain nonetheless.
For some, our Ugly gets depressed. Feels detached. Believes nothing is worth it… Ever.
For others, our Ugly is addiction riddled, looking for something to fill the void. Full of urges and wants, desperately seeking to find that thing that won’t let it down… That thing we can finally trust.
Our Ugly can be camouflaged in condescending sarcasm and disdain. Clever comebacks, biting comments and a quick-witted, belittling humor… anything to escape any amount of introspection.
Maybe our Ugly hides in heroic acts, always focused on how to help, nourish and comfort the other, never really looking at the pain inside.
I know how hard it is to look inward. But I came to a moment when I realized it’s time to look at the pain, to look at Ugly straight in the eye.
We can do it. Stop hiding. Don’t be afraid.
And whether it’s through perseverance, transformation or whatever path we choose, we can find the power in our Ugly.
Because where we’ll find Ugly, we will surely, absolutely, most definitely find Beautiful.