I catch a glimpse of myself in the smudged mirror as I exit the bathroom. My reflection catches me off guard, as it usually does. It’s something that I don’t really recognize. When did my own body become foreign to me? I rub the dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep, I pick at the acne on my cheeks and chin, and I run my hands through my brittle hair.
Ashamed and embarrassed by my image, I look down. This was a mistake. I see the pudgy ghost of where my defined core used to be. I stretch my hands over the long purple marks that have formed on my legs. This is not a body I am proud of. Once, it was something that I spent hours a week working on, perfecting.
When had I decided that taking care of myself was no longer a priority?
I don’t have to look much longer to find my answer. I pull my sleeves down quickly to cover the scars on my arms, as I always do. This is the part of me that I am the most ashamed of. Somewhere when the depression set in, and I slowly began giving up on other parts of my life, my body had gone with it. I was ashamed of those scars. They are few, but they are there. They reminded me of the darkest era of my life.
I look up at the mirror again, this time blurred from my view by the tears threatening to spill onto my cheeks.
I remind myself of how far I’ve come, where I started, and where I was going. I reminded myself that what mattered was the person inside, not the scars on this temporal body. Just as the cuts had healed into scars, the raw cuts on my self-image would heal over.
I wipe my tears, smile at my reflection in the mirror, and I take a closer look.
I marvel at my smooth lips, the beautiful curl in my hair, and the deep blue of my eyes. I look down and admire the strength that comes from my sturdy legs, the full belly that means that I haven’t had to go hungry, and my elegant, long arms. I see my scars, both visible and not, as a foundation for great growth. My past does not define me, but it shows how I’ve gotten to where I am now. It reminds me that I’m strong. It reminds me that I can shoulder through the trials. It reminds me of what I will never be again.