It’s been a long time since I felt beautiful.
And before you say or think anything...this isn’t a fish for compliments or affirmation or anything of the sort so, yannow, just let me finish.
When I say “felt beautiful”...that has very little to do with physical appearance - although physicality does play a small part. I think what I generally mean by feeling beautiful though is feeling good, positive, energetic, peaceful.
I hadn’t felt beautiful or ugly or anything in between. I just...hadn’t given any thought to beauty or myself. At all. Completely disconnected.
2013 was an epic year for major change - a series of (mostly) unrelated events - that would seem to change the trajectory of my life in ways I’d never anticipated.
You know I bought a house.
You know I moved my dad to an independent/assisted living apartment.
I changed jobs.
What you don’t know is that Spux and I, well, we had a massive falling out. And someone who’d been such a huge presence in my life wasn’t there anymore and I started to withdraw from the places and scene where I might run into her to avoid conflict and discomfort.
You also don’t know that I quit Denhac. I didn’t have the time or energy or the enthusiasm to dedicate to the space anymore and I felt the members deserved a Board who could be there in ways I couldn’t.
I suppose you might say I withdrew from that scene too.
So I was already feeling kind of lost at sea.
In November and December of that year, 2013, Acr0nym - my near constant companion, my non-sexual non-husband, my BFF - suffered a MAJOR mental health crisis. I mean, y’all, it got bad. And then it got worse. And then it got to New Year’s Eve and, well, I did the unthinkable.
I had him committed.
It was dawn on New Year’s Day 2014 when I rolled back into my garage after having spent the entire night talking him down off the proverbial ledge and convincing him to go to the ER and subsequently sitting in the ER with him while waiting on pins and needles for the doctor to decide whether or not to place the 72-hour hold on him.
I fixed myself a cocktail at 7 a.m, watched the sunrise, and collapsed in ginormous racking sobs as the anxiety and terror and exhaustion of the prior weeks rolled right over the top of me in waves.
He was safe.
And I could shut down.
So that’s what I did. For many, many months.
Before I go any further, Acr0 was hospitalized for 13 days. During that time, his father died and so the staff worked to stabilize him enough to be able to release him so he could be with his family. It’s been a very long road since then but he is better now. So ever much better! For real!
2014 was a blur. There’s not much to say about it except to say, while my friendship with Acr0 was still intact, he had his hands full just trying to get by and so, for the first time in years, I was on my own. I think, after his father’s memorial service, I saw him a total of maybe six times throughout 2014 and even less in 2015. Also of note, my father, already declining in hearing, mobility, and function, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February and underwent radiation daily for 6 weeks (the treatment worked - he’s cancer free).
Mostly, 2014 and the first part of 2015, as far as I can recall, didn’t actually happen. (Although something good did happen! Spux and I made amends and are, for real, great friends again!)
Shut down, beat down, withdrawn, disconnected, I had a vague sense of the passage of time but viewed it with apathy - like time was passing but it wasn’t related to me - I was moving on automatic right through it. The more tired I felt, the more invisible I tried to become, and, with invisibility comes silence...on the blog, on social media, on any platform where I might have been heard and/or seen.
I will, however, assert here that I don’t believe I was depressed. I’ve experienced depression and this wasn’t it. Rather, I believe I was physically and mentally exhausted and getting sick...sicker by the minute and much sicker than I realized.
In the spring of this year, I suffered a series of health problems.
I won’t go into it here...at least, not tonight...but it was an extremely loud and incredibly close wake up call to PAY ATTENTION! I wasn’t taking care of myself in any way. I thought withdrawing from people in my personal life would help me re-charge, re-energize and that would get me moving in the right direction - ANY direction - again.
The only purpose withdrawing did was to allow me an uninterrupted path to a complete physical break down. Woot.
That wake up call, as so often happens, was the exact call I needed to get moving in more ways than one. I started eating better. I started walking again. I bought a Fitbit. I started thinking more about myself and what was good for me and less about what others needed from me. I started to evaluate what was good, what was bad, what was necessary, and what was nonsense.
I started to care about and pay attention to me again.
I started to sleep again.
I started to really feel compassion again.
I started to forgive...everyone.
I started to emerge.
To see and be seen.
And THAT is how we come to now and feeling beautiful.
About a month ago, while I was on vacation, Acr0 took the day off to spend with me and he told me we could do whatever my heart desired.
I made a list.
- Visit his mom.
- Tour Tinkermill.
- Have lunch with our friend, Monk.
- Tour the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg.
And so that’s what we did. It was a perfect day. The weather was gorgeous. There were no hiccups or tensions. Everything was entirely right with the world and incredibly easy in a way it hadn’t been in a couple of years.
At Tinkermill, where we ran into Monk earlier than we’d expected, the three of us walked out to the parking lot together and, as the sunlight hit me, Monk exclaimed, “You are beautiful!” completely out of the blue.
I was taken aback.
I hadn’t thought of myself as beautiful in what felt like forever. No one had thought to acknowledge me as beautiful in nearly as long.
And so I chewed on that for awhile.
And then I went shopping...for clothes...which I normally dread.
And all of a sudden what appealed to me wasn’t black, black, and some more black.
What caught my eye were reds and purples and blues. Oh my, yes. Lots of red.
I spent way too much money on clothes in colors and patterns...things I’ve abhorred in the past.
And then I wore them.
And, on the first day I wore red, as I drove toward work, I thought, “I feel really beautiful. I should wear more red.”
And so...I am.
Red. It’s the new black.
And I’m beautiful.