Somewhere along the line, through the rough blows of trauma and grief and heartache, we gave up on our beauty. Even though the grievance went directly against the grain of what our souls were longing for, we decided beauty wasn't for us. We were too broken, too fragmented, too incomplete to ever hope for a beauty that could breathe energy and life back into our hearts and into the people around us.
This evening, after a long day of homework and a long week of heartache, I pulled out my paint set. I got it when I was in my early teen years with the inspiration to become a painter, and ever since then it has sat on my shelf. I pull it out every now and again, when I feel like reconnecting with my inner child. Tonight, though, I wasn't going to paint a picture on canvas or a piece of paper.
Standing before the full length mirror, I mixed the paint and began painting shapes on my stomach. Red circles, purple lines, green fingerprints, I was painting my scars.
When I had finished painting the scars, when all the pain on the inside was now splashed across my outsides, I looked in the mirror. All the lines, all the circles, all the fingerprints, they spoke volumes. But that's not the story I want to tell. And so, dipping my fingers in the green ink, I scrawled something else on my body.
followed by words like brave and love and strong. Because my body is all of those things too.
And as I looked in the mirror, what I saw wasn't a mess of paint and tears. It was beautiful.
I grew up with an intense hatred for my body. My body was the enemy. It failed me when I needed it to work properly. It attracted trauma and pain. It was easier to deprive it of nourishment and make myself sick, or to cut away skin and try to allow the pain to breathe than to deal with what was underneath. Because underneath, the lies I was told and picked up on were strong enough to shake me to the core: that I am not loved, that I am not beautiful, that I am not worthy.
Of all the things I lost, of all the things that I had to now struggle to regain, I ended up losing the idea that I could be beautiful. When people would say it to me, I would reject it. There was nothing beautiful about my body because I believed there was nothing beautiful about my heart. I was a shell, the living dead.
Part of being free means making peace with my story, and one thing I'm learning to make peace with is the word beautiful.
I still struggle a lot with not feeling like enough. I still have days where I try to punish my body, to make it fit into how I think it should be. If we are composed of mind, body and soul, part of being free means being realizing and living from a place of this is a good body.
This body, that was abused and criticized and pulled apart and analyzed, it is a good body.
The world around us doesn't know what to do with this beauty. So we criticize it, bottle it up and reduce it to a one size fits all souls. But the truth is we can't be packaged. We can't be held in. Beauty is busting at the seams ready to spill energy and hope and compassion and love.
So, my friend, let your beauty spill. Let it spill everywhere, on everyone, and get messy.
Write the words that change hearts. Champion those who are disadvantaged, who cannot speak for themselves. Make art that colors the world around you. Speak words that change the trajectory of a generation. Wake up with so much passion that those that rub up against you are infused with light. Be the beauty in your heart that is aching and longing to wake up.