The Aging House In The Mirror

Dear Diary,

I am notorious in my family for awkwardness with electronics. It was no surprise to my daughter when I accidently “Facetimed” her from my ipad. So much so that she doesn’t even bother to answer anymore.

What was such a huge surprise to me was the old lady I was looking at on my screen. At first, I didn’t even know myself. Then I realized the old lady was mirroring my motions, and I quickly shut it down.

I have never spent time in front of the mirror. I put make up on if I’m going out, but it’s for everyone else’s sake that may look my way, not mine. I never give another thought to my appearance for the rest of the day.

I think of the skin I live in as just a house for who I really am. I don’t live on the outside of my house, I live on the inside.

I guess that’s why it is such a shock when I see photos with me in them, or as in the case last night, see myself beyond the make-up mirror. I don’t feel that old. I feel like I should look the way I did 30 years ago, because my mind and soul don’t feel aged.

Sage with time maybe, but certainly not as ancient as the old lady on my screen.

I’ve never even considered enhancing the outside of my house. Maybe because I thought God didn’t give me much to work with from the start, and since it wasn’t meant to last forever anyway, I tried not to get too mad about it being so deficient when compared to all those around me.

There is the key I wish I would have found sooner…don’t compare my house to anyone else’s house. Each of our houses is one of a kind, specially built to match no other, not meant to be compared to any standard.

It was meant to be appreciated for the rare gift that it is. The definition of unhappiness is wanting things different than what they are. Yet…that’s what most of us do. We hold ourselves up to images on magazine covers that have been “photoshopped” to perfection. An impossible illusion.

That’s why the “beauty” industry is ever burgeoning. It is more than happy to help one try and achieve what is impossible, especially when the ability to digitally enhance images keeps upping the stakes.

I’m all for being the best we can be, but what would happen if everyone suddenly became happy to be exactly who they already are on the outside?

That’s not good for business.

I had no hope of ever competing with anyone else, so I’ve always been much more interested with what needed fixing on the inside and have no plans to ever finish that project.

The inside is what I’ll take with me when I go. The house stays here.

I’m not judging anyone else who spends time staring at their mirror, it’s just not for me.

My little sister Susan was born beautiful. She was without even trying. Her perfect olive skin, her heart face, her dazzling smile. I remember when I was about 24 or 25, Susan and I went to Olan Mills to have our photos taken together as a Mother’s Day gift to our mother. The photographer thought I was Susan’s mother. I’m only 2 years older than her for crying out loud.

Susan

Susan

Yet, while still in her twenties, she began enhancing what was already perfect.

She ramped up focusing on the outside after her daughter died. She’d had a tummy tuck (what tummy?), liposuction, and a facelift by 39. When I packed up her house after her suicide at 40, on her calendar was a future appointment to have her lips injected.

I know now that the acceleration of perfecting the outside was to create a beautiful mask for what writhing regrets and pain were doing on the inside, however misplaced those regrets were didn’t matter.

I think when we work toward mending or developing what’s on the inside, the outside takes care of itself. Have you ever seen a happy person that is hard to look at? We are drawn to them, like hungry ants to sugar. Happiness from inside is what makes a house beautiful on the outside. Without exception.

It’s not surprising that my house shows more weathering than those around me the same age. I’ve demanded quite a lot from it over its 56 years and frankly am surprised it’s still standing at all. Because I drove it from the inside, I know I pushed it harder than I should have. But God bless it, my house is still trying to keep up even as it is irreparably breaking down.

That’s not to say that the inside didn’t have its share of storms. Some were so dark and long that the fire in my soul was reduced to embers, and many times I was afraid it would go out altogether.

Then I learned to let God and time fan the embers back to life. This light is eternal, it never really goes out anyway. It just moves into God’s house when it’s free. Kind of makes it sound like our earthly home could really be a prison doesn’t it?

It just might be.

I also learned to open up the closets and let the light shine on the monsters that reside there. When the monsters are allowed to be kept hidden in the dark, they become bigger and more menacing than us mere mortals think we can handle. Opening those dark doors and shining a light on what’s inside in our own time, allows us to see monsters for what they really are, small and insignificant with no teeth at all.

When I finally became brave enough to look at the biggest monsters I was hiding since I was a child, I realized they didn’t even belong to me, they were remnants of the evil that my stepfather rained on us and taught us to keep hidden. Those will always be there as dark memories, but I don’t claim their monstrous origin.

The monsters that are of my own creation will always be there also, but when I feel them trying to gather strength to erode the forgiveness I’ve worked so hard to allow myself, however painful it may be I must face them anew.

I remind myself that they reside in the past, they are not here, are not now. Then they are reduced again to just an old bad memory…until the next time they try and rule. Monsters tend to want to kick me when I’m down, so now I know to keep an eye out for them when I’m vulnerable.

The truth is, there are so many good and happy memories in my house the little monsters pale in comparison.

Redirect the focus, which is the key to positivity versus negativity. Light versus dark.

I promise when you look into my eyes which are the windows of my house, you will see that I am looking back out at you. I am seeing you from the inside.

We are not both on the outside looking at me. Unless I accidently “Facetime” you, but chances are I’ll shut it down before you can answer.

Let my weathered house be a testimony to the storms it has endured. That it still endures. It may be older and breaking down on the outside, but it is ageless and strives to be beautifully happy on the inside.

Where I live.

Until next time dear diary.

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