For me, one of the most difficult parts of recovery from trauma is learning to love myself. This may sound crazy, but I really don’t even know what that phrase means, “loving myself.”
How can I love someone I don’t really know?
People who haven’t experienced trauma may not know themselves, either. But this blog isn’t about them. It’s about me, and other people like me, whose connection to that inner self was broken, severed, crushed, killed, by the actions of another person.
Sometimes I picture myself reaching into space for an invisible rope that will lead me back to myself. I see a blind person on the sidewalk, tapping the white cane, and I, too, feel blind. There’s a vast ocean of air between the person I see in the mirror and the person who lives inside her.
Who is she? Is she worthy of love?
Who am I? Am I worthy of love?
I have felt invisible most of my adult life. Being invisible was one way to cope with the abusive spouse — trying to hide so I wouldn’t set him off. But obviously, that couldn’t possibly work.
It’s a shame, because looking back, I was an intelligent and beautiful person, inside and out. I’m now 50, an age where women — even if they were once beautiful — start to lose that “thing” that makes people look at them. This may sound selfish, but I miss being noticed: even though when a man looked at me, I used to feel uncomfortable, especially if I was in the company of my abuser. An ironic and confusing feeling, to be sure.
I feel sad, because it’s lovely to be recognized for being, well, lovely. And all my life, I have never been able to enjoy that. Now that I MIGHT have been able to enjoy some attention, my looks are fading. Can I be beautiful again? Can finding my sense of self make me beautiful on the outside?