“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ross
I use to hate the man I saw in the mirror. There was a time in my life where I lived as a shut in. For years I isolated. I threw towels over the mirrors in my home, I had blankets over the windows. The house was dark and you couldn’t tell if it was night or day. I slept all day and stayed up all night. I didn’t answer my phone or the door. I pushed away everyone who loved me. I spun into the depths of my worst thoughts about myself. I ate, slept… I was deeply lonely, and my loneliness hurt, physically hurt. I longed to be held and told everything would be OK. When the pain of loneliness was so bad, I’d binge on food till the pain in my stomach masked the pain in my head. If that didn’t work, I cut myself. If that didn’t numb the pain, I’d take a handful of pain killers and alcohol then sleep a day or two and pray for a miracle that when I woke up something would be different.
My story of hitting bottom is long, and in several areas of my life the wreckage of my past haunts me. But I don’t look back and wish it was different. I don’t regret my past. I don’t have any shame about the man I was in my addiction. I don’t have shame about the man I was in my depression. The pain, suffering, failure, defeat… it’s all a part of the man I’ve become.
I love who I am today. The struggle, the challenges I’ve faced in my life shaped the man that I am. I’ve lost well over 100 pounds from my top weight, I don’t drink or do drugs, and I have a respect for mental illness as a problem never to be taken lightly or treated by my own will.
When I look in the mirror today I’m sometimes surprised by how different I am. When I look in the eyes of someone who’s been where I’ve been or someone who’s feeling like I’ve felt, I see beauty. I see them in there vulnerability and they are beautiful. I see myself… I see a compassionate, sensitive, understanding, loving man. I feel beautiful.
The secret to feeling beautiful… is feeling everything. Feel shame, feel hurt, feel lonely, feel sadness, feel loss, feel defeat, feel suffering, feel vulnerable, then feel compassion, feel forgiveness, feel the courage to face your fears. If you allow yourself the feelings, if you allow yourself help and support, I promise you will feel a beauty in yourself that will change the world around you.