Learning to love what’s different and special about me

I remember this photo session. I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin in those days. I was afraid to show myself, I felt trapped in my wounds, in my own way of seeing myself.

I was deeply convinced that I was really ugly. I was certain that people were being charitable if they looked at me when they spoke to me. I had developed all kinds of reflexes to hide my face, because I had this burning impression that I was so ugly. When I first saw the photographs that these paintings were made from shortly after the session, I cried, because they confirmed once again the ugliness of my face and of my body. To me, this ugliness was quite dramatic, because in my mind, how could you possibly love something that was ugly? And what I wanted the most, more than anything else, was to be loved.

I was also quite convinced, deep down, that my boyfriend could only see my imperfections and that he was just waiting for an opportunity to leave me and find himself someone better. Even so, if I looked at this logically, I could see that something was wrong, because I saw that many women around me were flawed according to the beauty ideals of the moment and were loved by their partners even if according to my judgement, they were too tall, too short, too thin or too fat.

No matter how much I rationalized, the wound of feeling unloved that I carried towards my appearance, my body and my face continually reappeared.

The first time I saw the photos, I saw a face that reflected foolishness, narrow-mindedness, a weakness of character, arrogance and many other flaws. Perhaps what I was finally discovering on the outside were the judgements I had unconsciously applied to myself for so long.

 

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During the photo session my cat appeared, as if to remind me that the tenderness and gentleness in the world were within reach, that I only had to open myself up to what is small and vulnerable like this small animal.  I started to feel better when I focused myattention elsewhere than on myself.

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In spite of so much discomfort, at the same time I really wanted to unveil myself in order to be free from the horribly destructive tension that I carried in the way I saw myself. But it was difficult as I had to fight my shame of showing my face and body as they really are. I started by allowing my bare back to show in order to get used to the nudity, the truth of the body. At least from the back I didn’t have to face the shame of showing my face! It was as if by uncovering my body, especially the front of my body, my belly, I was revealing my real face, my true nature… and a person I did not believe to be deserving of love. That person had to hide herself to protect her shame and her wounds.

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devoilement-4The sheet was like a screen. I hid behind it, but I also used it to slowly allow myself to be exposed. I kept my eyes closed the whole time, to stay concentrated on listening to a tiny little place of peace inside me. In spite of the devastating effects of my self-view, I could concentrate on a little space inside me where nothing moved, and which seemed to grow and grow as I started to move away from my inner paralysis. In this image, I am preparing to open up and allow the vulnerability of my stomach and my breasts to emerge.

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Finally I dared to take the plunge and let the entirety of my shame be exposed, my stomach and my face.

This last pose reminds me of something growing out of the earth.

The suffering that usually bullies my body and soul quieted down.

 

– Marie

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