Sienna (Pt 5) – I’m A Miracle

The previous four parts have really delved into my lifelong struggle with loneliness and we left off at the point where I had started hating myself.

It continued to get worse. Despite me thinking my problem was a personality issue, the low self-esteem was about to take me down another harmful path. I began to hate more than just being shy, different and lonely. I began to hate the way I looked.

Looking back, that had nothing to do with anything really! Maybe I thought that if I was prettier, I wouldn’t have as hard a time making friends, or people would have tried harder to speak to me, despite my shyness. Maybe I saw people who I thought were beautiful always surrounded by friends and for some reason they always seemed to be confident and outgoing, and so I thought that would make all the difference. Who knows? Looking back, none of it makes much sense, but what I do know is that I truly believed I was ugly. Not just “not pretty”, but U-G-L-Y ugly.

I know I’m not alone with this. Especially now, where all around us are pictures and videos of flawless looking celebrities. Filters dominate social media and every post looks amazing. But again, I internalised it all. It got to the point that I would wake up, get ready to go to school, and later as an adult, work, and only look in the mirror to check that my hair looked, shall we say, presentable! For the rest of the day, I would actively avoid looking at my reflection in windows. I would deliberately avoid looking in mirrors when I went to the toilet. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to see myself, see what I believed to be ugliness.

This lasted for years and well into adulthood. Avoiding photos and mirrors was one of my greatest skills! Up until my late-20s, there are only a small number of photos of me. I didn’t need to see the ugliness that I felt, so I avoided it as much as I could. But that was no way to live. Feeling worthless and alone was bad enough; I didn’t need this extra layer of self-loathing, but I couldn’t see how it was ever going to change.

I didn’t need to though; God knew.

If you read the previous parts of my story, you’ll know that music has always been a game changer for me. This part of the story is no exception. Kirk Franklin released a Gospel song in 2005 called, ‘Imagine Me’. It was a hit. I liked the song and sang it like everyone else. But I felt nothing; I just liked the beat and the piano groove if I’m totally honest. If you know, you know.

But look at the lyrics: Imagine me, loving what I see when the mirror looks at me ‘cause I, I imagine me. In a place, of no insecurities, and I’m finally happy ‘cause, I imagine me…
…I admit it was hard to see, You being in love with someone like me. Finally, I can imagine me.

There’s a reason why songs that get played over and over again on the radio become hits. Music plus repetition makes a difference. I sang these lyrics year after year. I wanted to imagine: and after years of saying it, I started to be able to.

One look in the mirror each day, became two. The odd glance here and there was palatable. Eventually, I felt okay posting a photo on social media that I didn’t hate (but after 100 takes of course!). I even grew to accept that being able to deal with my loneliness was a sign of strength (more on that later). I didn’t just wake up one day and love myself – of course not. Not every miracle is instant. But each day, I moved a little bit along that scale from hate to love. Now don’t get me wrong, do I still struggle sometimes? Of course, I’m only human. We all have insecurities. But God didn’t give up on me. He didn’t leave me to forever think I was worthless, to forever hate the sight of myself.

No, He loves me and wants me to love me too. All of me.

Now here I am, having refurbished my bathroom a few years ago and what did I do? I put a mirror across the whole width of one of the walls. Whenever I’m in my bathroom, I’m looking into that mirror, dancing in front of that mirror even! From avoiding mirrors to that… I think you have to admit that I’m a walking miracle.

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