The Eye of the Beholder

Personal value and beauty. Today I’m pondering these things as I had a soul searching conversation with one of my very best and oldest friends. He’s one who doesn’t pull any punches and, at least with me, says it like it is. It’s really awesome and refreshing but he can also say some hard things too. And he won’t back down in a disagreement.

Over the years, and I guess really my entire life, if I’m honest with myself, I have struggled with my purpose, my meaning, and my worth. Perhaps if I create beautiful art my family will notice me. Perhaps if I am loud, brazen, and funny my peers will notice me. Perhaps if I’m the perfect spouse my partner will notice me. Perhaps if I dress a certain way in public strangers will notice me.

I have always doubted my inherent worth or value. Never made to feel anything other ordinary, perhaps less than ordinary. Strangers I meet would be underwhelmed by our passing. I do not make a lasting impression. I do not cause a fleeting second glance. And yet….every once in a while maybe I do.

This change started to happen for me – or maybe it’s the first time I noticed it – during the chance meeting of that friend from days of old in the laundromat. It was the turning back and taking a second look. Stopping to chat. Giving me his number. I’ve never experienced that before. He went out of his way and reached out to me (for what, I couldn’t say). Since then, I have seen him a few more times and we’ve texted a couple times. I really like him. I don’t believe our friendship will grow like I would like as he is an extremely busy man. But I’m going to cherish the little bit I have got with him. He literally changed my life, and for that I am thankful. As I mentioned previously, I feel a more whole person having met him and lesser of one with his absence. You can’t force someone into friendship, though, so I will have to let that one be.

Maybe you CAN force a friendship though, or at least weasel your way into someone’s life, if it’s the right person and circumstances. Take my other friend. The one who I had the soul-searching convo with yesterday. We were cut from the same cloth. We’re like two peas in a pod. I kinda forced myself upon him. Not leaving him alone over the course of a few days to the point that we may be attached at the hip currently, so to speak. Here’s a guy who makes me think. Gets me for who I am. Makes me laugh. And makes me think outside my comfort zone. I think he’s also on a mission to prove to me my inherent worth and beauty.

“We see our own beauty reflected in the eyes of those who love us.” That’s what he said. And it hit me like a hammer to the chest. I’ve been doubting my own beauty or worth because I do NOT see it reflected in the one’s eyes I should. I literally cannot think of a time when my partner has said I had worth or was beautiful (in any capacity). I have been treated like an inconvenience and a screw-up for so long. Nothing, I mean nothing, is EVER good enough. In his eyes I see: annoyance, condemnation, despise. I don’t see beauty or worth. I don’t even see affection born of years of familiarity. I’m pretty sure he just hangs in there because he’s stubborn too. I’m not happy. He’s not happy. We’re surviving. Sticking it out. But to what ends? What’s the purpose? To say that we DID? Do I look down the corridors of time into the future and see us together? How’d you do it? What’s your secret to 40 years of marriage? And our answer: we stuck it out.

Coming to this realization, do I really WANT that? I do not *want* to make him miserable. I actually want him happy. He’s my friend. We’ve known each other for a long time. I feel like we’re *just* that: friends. Not deeper. It’s what we were before we got together. It’s what we are now. We certainly aren’t soul-mates or something like that. Most days we barely tolerate one another. Like siblings or long-time friends. We know each other’s ugly parts and weaknesses and we know how to exploit them. It’s not a grand love story or a “happily-ever-after”. It’s just life.

I want a change. I want to be able to surround myself with those who will take a second or third look. With those who really listen to what I’ve said and maybe see beyond it. Who embrace me for me but also push me to be something more. Not different, but better. I want to be seen as a beautiful soul. I want to surround myself with those who look forward to seeing me. Whose eyes light up when they think of me. Those who will make time for me, to include me and make me part of their own lives. I want that for myself. I want to be a part of that. And in so doing, maybe just maybe, I will start to see my own beauty and worth and value reflected in their eyes. Maybe I can start to believe it for myself, too.

First I gotta get brave. “What makes you brave is working through the fear, staring it in the face with truth.” Something else my pea-pod friend said yesterday. Alright. I’m staring. Like I’m having an actual stare-down with my fear right now. Truth: I want to be happy. Fear: I don’t deserve happiness. Truth: I want to feel valued and beautiful. Fear: Value and beauty are fluid, prone to change at the whims of the beholder. Truth: I want to make a change. Fear: I’m scared and I don’t know how to or what that looks like. Truth: I’m scared.


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