So much of what we look like is tied to our self esteem and how we feel about ourselves. Think about it, if you are feeling ugly when you look in the mirror, you are probably feeling bad on the inside; and if you are feeling bad on the inside, chances are you feel ugly on the outside.
I know that I have been in that very frame of mind many times, if not most of my life.
As a 3-year-old child my face was mangled in a horrible freak accident. I had been running in the house and carelessly dove face first into a large glass water cooler bottle. My face was split open and was mangled; I received more than a few dozen stitches on my tiny face and my nose was reconstructed through a couple of surgeries, the last one around age 7. Though I don’t remember anything about what the accident did to me mentally during those years, I do remember what it was like growing up and being asked constantly “What happened to your face?” I was questioned, over and over, by strangers about what had happened. I received a lot of attention, on a daily basis. People looked at me, talked to me and wanted to know. I hated it.
As my scars healed over the years and became less visible, people stopped looking. They stopped asking. I didn’t realize that after receiving so much attention for so many years that once it stopped I would begin to feel even uglier than I had felt growing up. I hated that attention when I was receiving it, but once it was gone, I hated the lack of attention even more.
I began to change my appearance almost constantly. From the age of 13 I was obsessed with changing my appearance and self; I piled on make up, constantly fussed with my hair. As I aged, every thing about me was in a constant state of change. My hair cuts and color, my clothing, my personalities and even groups of friends changed. The only thing that never really changed was my unrealized need for attention, my endless search for validation and the hatred I felt for my face. It was only in the past few years that I realized how that horrible incident had really deeply effected me.
I was in my late 20’s when I first began to understand. I slowly became obsessed with wondering what I would look like if the accident never occurred. What would my nose really look like? Would my face be symmetrical like my daughters? Would I have been as beautiful as she is? I would look in the mirror and fantasize about how different my life would have been had that never happened. It took me about 6 years to directly link the accident to my lack of self-esteem, constant need for change, and my endless desire for attention and validation.
While I am still working on accepting that I can’t change the past or will ever know what my life would have been like if the accident never occurred, I am glad to link most of my internal conflicts to something solid and specific. It’s a closure of sorts. And while it may have taken me 29 years to understand these things about myself, I am glad to finally understand and know what has been so wrong with me. Today I am thankful that the accident wasn’t worse. I am not blind, as the doctors had originally feared, I am not a vegetable and I am alive. It could have been so much worse. While I may not be happy about any of it ever occurring, it really could have ended up being so much worse.
Do you suffer from low self-esteem? Can you link it to a specific event in your own life?