Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and it is important to behold your own internal beauty. Relying on externals is an illusion and you will never find peace this way. There is nothing wrong with outer beauty—it’s fun. Enjoy it. But, will you be your most authentic self and love yourself?
As a teen, I longed to be a woman I could love. It became increasingly more difficult to be vulnerable with anyone out of fear of being hurt, so I became quiet. I thought what was on the inside was unlovable. I chose Smith College, an all women’s college, believing it would shape me into a powerful woman who could not be bullied by anyone, including myself.
I envisioned falling into the arms of supportive sisters who would tenderly guide me back to the love I lost inside. My year at Smith ended up being the loneliest year of my life. By the second month of school, I strayed from my pristine dorm that served tea every Friday in porcelain cups, to a dingy beer hut at the end of town.
Because of my inability to speak with my words, I tried to express myself in a number of unhealthy ways. I made small cuts in my flesh, the expression of blood releasing anxiety, the scar keeping some at a safe distance. As a bulimic, I purged out rage, and my body became thin, heavy and then thin again, a reflection of how lost I was, never able to feel at home in my skin.
I was drawn to drugs like marijuana and ecstasy, because they temporarily removed the unbearable ring of fear around my heart that forced me into cramped loneliness. I loved taking those drugs in the rave scene, bass pounding me back to my mother’s womb. It felt like home. Under the influence, I was able to feel connected to others in the most freeing way.
The problem with all those methods of expression is that they provided me temporary relief but not actual recovery from my separation of self and others.
I have been on an amazing journey of recovery for many years now, utilizing many tools to find an expression of my authentic self from a place of vibrant health and self love. Starting tribal fusion and belly dance last year changed my life. I am finding a powerful voice with dance, and have been healed in ways I never thought possible.
If you are suffering in silence, I want to encourage you to find your own unique beauty. Here are some tools I found useful:
Heal the Mind, Body and Spirit:
Go to healers that work on all levels. Hands on energy healing brought me an experience that surpassed any drug high I had and led me to become a healer myself. Get acupuncture, massages, therapy, Reiki, Rolfing. Explore yourself from every angle. Our bodies hold stories that need to be told and our words won’t get the job done.
Practice this alone or in a crowd. The key is to go inside yourself and express your form from that place without judgement. Practice dancing without caring what people think and see what happens.
Journaling saved my life as a teenager and as a young adult. I still practice journaling. Your writings will serve you for the rest of your life. They help you piece together your story, heal your wounds, serve as road-maps back to your soul.
I discovered that although I have panic attacks at the thought of speaking in front of a crowd, that does not mean that I cannot share my voice. I found mine through dance. Explore all things creative: paint, draw, write, chant, do yoga, dance—anything that is an expression of yourself.
Sometimes living up to Oscar Wilde’s famous advice, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” is most difficult. At some point, to be authentic requires bravery.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Sugianto Suparman/ Pixoto