The Power of Photos and Mirrors

Growing up I avoided being around people with cameras, getting caught in candid shots, or heaven forbid posing for pictures.  I hated pictures, people who took pictures, people that shared pictures, being in picture and most of all my mother getting a hold of any picture of me.  When they took school pictures every year it was an absolute nightmare.  I couldn’t stay home sick that day because I had to have perfect attendance (yeah it was a thing). I couldn’t avoid having the pictures taken because the teacher,  a young or old nun in full wimple and habit, rosary beading clacking as she walked would not allow such disrespect (and besides I could not lose my status as teacher’s pet, another thing).  But man, did I hate the whole ritual, the picture taking, the distribution of the hated picture packets, the collection of the payment for the pictures from my parents to be brought into school, etc.  But the worst part was the mean spirited critique my mother would do every year.  Why didn't I fix my hair nicer? Why am I not smiling? Are you kidding? . When will I go on a diet and lose all that fat? And of course the never ending, you sister always looks so beautiful in pictures, sigh.  And then me, humiliated, saying things like, Mom, you don't have to buy these.  Sister said if you don’t like them just return them.  Only a shrug and a sigh as she mournfully wrote out the check and handed it to me disgusted.  Every year - year after year - even when in high school as yearbook editor my pictures actually rocked. As a favorite of the photo club that took the hsots, I actually saw a few that were not half bad.  Yet, the story at home was always the same.  Over time I realized that my mother’s hang up was that I actually look a lot like her - and she hated herself, and thus the venom towards me and pictures.  Cerebrally I came to know that, but emotionally still could not bear cameras and pictures, associating them with feeling ugly, criticism, fat shaming, and embarrassment.  

Next came mirrors, or should I say reflections, store windows, rear view mirrors, even makeup kits - anything that reflected my body. Although during my young years up through 8th grade at least, I actually was not overweight, my mother’s perception that I was obese (compared to my size 0 sister) became my perception and I ate my way into it.  I spent the rest of my life dieting and regaining weight - each time more, gaining and losing 100’s of pounds each time.  Needless to say you become your own vision - I certainly did - perception is reality.  Do you realize that who you think you are, what you look like, and how you are perceived by others may not be, are usually not the same thing? 

I came to a  decision  not too long ago that my self perception was not the person or vision of who I wanted to be.  Moreover, I wanted to be the kind of person who actually liked herself.  I started to think about what kind of person I usually liked and admired - and they were the types of people that liked themselves well enough not to fear a camera or detest their one reflection.  In short, I changed the lens that I looked at myself.  The KETO lifestyle was an opportunity I wisely ;leveraged to get healthy, get fit, lose 120 lbs this time forever, and recognize the me that was always there as a person and that I like a lot - who is worth taking care of, and of which I am quite proud. And the person I have always been is someone who likes to help other people do great things - and so I am.  I became a keto coach and I help others overcome their fears of simple things like photos and mirrors.  Now those things that have been my kryptonite are the fun and energy of any day, and I look forward to taking videos, pictures, and stops in front of any mirror I see, to reaffirm that I am all right, I am better than all right. 

I am living proof that even after a lifetime of self abuse and self hate, even with crazy 60 hr work weeks, and family and pets, and all sorts of other complexity, at 63 I can overcome a life long problem, forever.  So can you.  Take your kryptonite and turn it into the very thing that makes you soar.  You deserve it.  You’re a rockstar.

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