This is me...was me... on my wedding day seventeen years ago. I was gifted this picture by our wedding photographer and it has hung in our home ever since. Over the past several years, something hasn't resonated with me when I stop and look at this person in the picture. At least once, every day, I have stopped and stared at this image wondering why I don't feel joy like I used to when I see it. Then it hit me. This image of me, on one of the biggest days of my life, properly pulled together in a beautiful gown, perfect hair and makeup and just married to my best friend...is not really me. What struck me is the realization that this is just another healing portrait on my healing journey. You might think this statement is odd and maybe even disrespectful to my husband, but let me explain.
Seventeen years ago, this young woman in this image had many things to be grateful for. I don't deny that what I had achieved up to this point was not incredible, but I was also fighting a significant battle no one knew about. Just to get to this point required profound courage, strength and resilience. I didn't see it or honor it then but I can now. When I look at this image today, I see a young woman who is starting out on a whole new journey in life but has yet to heal from the journey she had been on up to this point. I get compliments on this image about how pretty I looked, how skinny I was; but the irony is I was at my most unhealthy and most unhealed. I lacked the ability to forgive myself, to love myself, to truly lean in and listen to what I needed most on every level.
Today, when I look in the mirror, I see a woman who is 17 years older, 30 pounds heavier, with more wrinkles, stretch marks from two beautiful children and not nearly as "pulled together" as I appeared in my wedding picture. BUT, the woman I see now is one who is also more gentle with herself, more tolerant of imperfections, and more complete and accepting of who she has become. Because of the healing work I have done (because it is WORK) and the shadows I have learned to embrace, there is more room for ME. There is more for others to love and to see because of the love I feel for myself. The wounds I have exposed and allowed to heal remove a weight that can't be measured on a scale.
The woman I see looking back at me in the mirror is a true picture of strength, of beauty, of imperfect perfection. I'm still on my journey of healing and always will be to the end. Understanding and holding space for that alone allows me to remain open to what experiences come my way and how I chose to handle them. My decisions won't always be perfect and I'll still struggle like everyone else, but those moments will only add to my story of who I am. My story of being enough.