One of my readers, who shall remain anonymous, messaged me yesterday via the Facebook page associated with this blog and said: “how could things be difficult for you, you are a beautiful French woman – life doesn’t get any more generous than that. You are the envy of the world, both male and female. You are so fortunate.”
Well, I can only say I was genuinely baffled. Gobsmacked is probably a better word for it. This reader — kind as I’m sure he is, and meant to be — made a whole lot of assumptions and came up with a picture that couldn’t be further removed from the truth.
Let’s start with the fact that I am indeed very fortunate in many ways, not that I’m going to go into it here because I believe in keeping personal details private on a public site. Still, I am not and never have been “the envy of the world”, why should I be? I am really not that special that the world should be taking notice, and that’s absolutely fine with me. I have no desire for fame or glory, I just really want to be happy.
Beauty. Well, that’s a question of perception, isn’t it? We all have a different definition of it. It might sound really lame but physical beauty is not something I seek or cherish. I love fashion and have always cared about the image I project, but only because I think someone’s personality can shine through their style. I never look the same on any given day: I’m either very feminine, all dresses and killer heels, or rock chick dripping with leather and chunky jewellery, or girl next door in a pair of jeans and t-shirt.
It all depends on the mood, my look accommodates all the different sides of my personality. I have a lot of clothes, own far too many pairs of shoes, I’m well aware that this aspect of me is not exactly deep or particularly flattering but, it is only one facet of my identity. I have never sought validation based on my looks. Ultimately, I care far more about intelligence, passion, ideas, thoughts and kindness than I do about physical beauty. Make my mind reel or my head spin with your personality and you will become physically beautiful to me, even if your physical self is not necessarily up to conventional beauty standards. Similarly, if you look like a Greek god but have nothing to say of any interest, any physical attraction I may have felt will instantly disappear.
Does it really need stating though, that beautiful people (I’m not putting myself in that category btw) are not immune to pain and tragedy? Apparently, it does, which is strange since the corridors of history are littered with tales of such people.
It just really shocked me that a reader could be so bold as to assume they know about me and my life just by looking at a photograph. I do believe that when people put their heart and soul into their writing (as I often do) you glean plenty about them, about who they are as a person. I do passionately believe this. However, unless somebody tells you exactly what is happening in their life, how can you possibly know? And a picture may be worth a thousand words, but they’re not always the right words.
I am still now, as a grown woman, struggling to deal with the fact that my mother is unloving, selfish and cruel. I’ve been battling with insecurity and anxiety since I was a child as a result of it. I have long accepted that her failure as a mother (and human being) has nothing to do with me, that I am not responsible for it…and yet there are still occasional bad days when I feel (totally irrationally) that surely there must have been something wrong with me. She certainly told me exactly that as a child, ad nauseam, and still does now, when she gets the chance which is rare these days as I refuse to put myself through anymore unnecessary grief.
I was unwanted, unloved, emotionally abused and I have the scars, some of there barely healed, to prove it.
No, it doesn’t take a therapist to explain this need I have to help people, to try to repair the damages of the world, to fix things, why I cannot stand injustice, unfairness, nastiness and bullying, why it hurts so badly (and makes me so angry) when people take advantage of me.
I have, so far, been as honest as I wish to be, this is not meant to be a story of my trials and tribulations, but let me just add that I had to fight for everything I have now (cliched as it sounds) that I’ve suffered loss, that I’ve given so much of myself to too many people throughout my life only to be betrayed. . I have been through shit, like lots of others out there (and most of them had it far worse than me), I’m hardly unique…
…but, yes, “things have been difficult for me” dear reader, at various times in my life and more recently in the last few months. You are right though, I’ve also been fortunate, only it has nothing to do with this beauty you speak of which is not real: it is photos with flattering lighting and good angles, it is the magic of makeup and everything it entails.
However I like to think there is beauty in me: I’m not perfect and I have no wish to be. (Perfection doesn’t exist and if it did it would be terribly boring)
I have many flaws: I have a hard time dealing with stupidity and ignorance, I struggle with small talk and connecting with people on a superficial basis, I am sometimes too argumentative, stubborn, I can be too honest, but I’m also incredibly generous, loyal and compassionate. I really am the textbook case INFJ, there is a reason why we are so rare: it’s because we give so selflessly, and that is true beauty.
One additional thought: “If a man does not embrace his past, he has no future.” – Ardeth Bay
Image: Yesterday, in London: very interesting and productive day in many ways…& good lighting 😉