Okay, back to business as usual. Below, I've written my latest rendition of "Two Truths and a BIG Truth." As a reminder, my "Truths" are things I knew before I started this project (even though I didn't always follow my own advice!), and the "BIG Truths" are things I've discovered along the way.
Truth #7 Sanity Comes First
"rules" since the beginning of my no-mirrors adventure, when I promised myself that I'd quit the project immediately if it made me "go insane". Did I actually expect to go cookoo-chocoloco-crazy? Not really. But was I worried that going without mirrors had the potential to do more harm than good? Absolutely. I value my mental health above all else - including my physical health, my marriage, and even my ambitions. Wow, did I say that out loud? Yep, I did. Luckily, these three things are generally protective to my mental health, but I've got limits and have learned to respect them or pay the price.
For example, over the last 10 years I've taken an antidepressant that helps me truly feel like myself (which I define as being able to experiencing the full-range of human emotions - in relation to what's actually going on in my life!). Frustratingly, it's associated with some nasty side effects, including insulin resistance and high cholesterol. Know what? I take it anyway. A few years ago my cholesterol was elevated, so I tried switching to something new. BIG MISTAKE. Never again. These days I try to counter my risks through a healthy diet and exercise. So far it's working but, when push comes to shove, I'll accept the trade-off. As for my marriage, there are days when I become a reclusive hermit, avoiding my very snuggly and affection-craving husband because I have a deep need for solitude in order to feel rejuvenated. (I'm an introvert! Who knew?!) Finally, my ambitions have changed over the years to protect my mental health. I've flat out given up the idea of "fulfilling my potential!" at work, whatever that means (in the past, it has meant working waaaay too many hours!), and I switched careers in part because working in the fashion industry fed into my disordered eating. Yet - full disclosure here - there is one ambition I'm still struggling with: Parenthood. I'm terrified that I won't be able to handle it, and being a mommy isn't exactly a project I could "quit immediately if it made me 'go insane'". I have a few more years to figure out this last one, but I suspect many people (perhaps even my own husband) won't fully understand my concerns and priorities. I know this much: sanity will come first.
Truth #8 There is Beauty in the Breakdown
FYI, I flat-out stole the phrase "Beauty in the Breakdown" from the stunning song "Let Go," by Frou Frou. If you haven't heard it, you must stop everything you're doing and check it out here!
BIG Truth #4: If you focus on the good stuff and - this is crucial - find ways to celebrate it, the not-so-good stuff won't seem so important any more.Psychology Today that "couples who make a big deal of celebrating positive things in life score higher than others on intimacy and relationship satisfaction." Indeed, celebrating positive things is more important for relationship happiness than solving "issues." And it's been true for us: once MIchael and I put this idea to work, we noticed that we're substantially happier when we focus on having fun together, compared to the times when we painstakingly take inventory of our problems. Who'd have thunk it? So now applying this scientifically tested philosophy to the issue of body image. (I predict that this BIG Truth will be my most successful takeaway from my year without mirrors!)
In the months (years??) before I started this project, every time I looked into a mirror I focused on my flaws. I ignored things that I actually liked about my looks and literally saw the worst in myself. Why, oh why, do we do this to ourselves?! Since giving up mirrors, I've more frequently thought about the aspects of my reflection that I miss seeing - things like my smiling teeth, my strong and shapely legs, my hair (although, with I'll I've put it through, who knows what it looks like now?!), the soft skin on my face, and - of course - my favorite outfits! Instead of worrying about hiding my "imperfections," I'm getting excited to celebrate my uniqueness. (Please note that I did NOT say that I'm planning to flaunt my "perfections"... let's move away from that kind of thinking, pronto!) I'm going to celebrate these things by smiling all the time, wearing short summer dresses with power-heels, tossing my hair on the dance floor, wearing punchy-pink blush on the apples of my cheeks, and wearing my most colorful clothes. I am determined to celebrate the good stuff, and - in doing so - I'll force everything else to fade into the unimportant background.
What do you think?? Could you give up trying to "solve" your appearance insecurities (your "issues"?), in favor of just celebrating the stuff you already like?? Would that feel like a loss or a gain?