I am what I am (a.k.a Self Portrait 2018)

Five years ago I posted the photograph below with the words written upon it describing my journey recovering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), self-hate, and low self-esteem. Today things are very different and this entry describes how things are today. If I am honest I still did not think I could ever reach the point of body and self positivism as the negative hung around like a bad smell I could not get rid of. Looking at old photographs I can see and feel my pain with part of me wishing I had the keys to a time machine to reassure myself but know I probably would not believe myself or recognise the person as me. The ogre that once lived in my head has been truly vanquished, such are the incredible healing properties of self-acceptance and happiness. Actually, I thought I was not allowed to be happy as was meant for others and not for me. Now I realise happiness takes many forms, and I have the right to that as much as anyone else on this planet.

In an age when judgement is made so much on our physical form it makes me still at question if I fit in. Judging on physical form deeply saddens me as know there is so much to us than our shell of many colours. To those that think looks are everything consider the following: when you see an iceberg you only ever see the top of it not what it actually looks like in physical form (this is like judging someone from the clothes you see them in and only desiring the slimmest of figures); equally consider a swan that as a child looks very ordinary but becomes a beautiful and majestic bird (this is akin to judging someone based on their past alone, not who they are in the present and what they may have overcome); and finally consider if the music remained only oral and never visual with those you judge their music based on their sex appeal you could never see (this is like basing your attraction on a walking puppet controlled by someone unseen where nothing is actually real).

I know I am not an ogre but I am equally not a Hollywood A-list celebrity, but then again I would rather be the ogre than the Hollywood star! Accepting me as me has been far harder than academic study; although on saying that my PhD was one of the greatest stresses of my life to date. I am me, not the love child of Frankenstein’s monster and the Hunchback of Notre Dame as I used to think. Which was replaced with Pablo Picasso’s ‘Woman in Hat and Fur Collar’ for a bit as I attempted to readjust the mental image in my head. This was followed by a patchwork doll made up of patches that represented all the different things that make me, me, and stitched together with love from those that are special in my life. However, now I see the same image others see in my photographs and smile like I never thought I could, it used to physically hurt my face for starters. If I was to have any other visual of me it is of a Matryoshka doll, because there is more to learn about me even when you think you know me well I will always surprise you with another layer to what makes me the uniquely beautiful human being I am.

© Fi S. J. Brown

5 years ago.jpg

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To Be Free

Every time we leave home,
A road full of routine we follow blindly,
Into a world that seems unchanging.
Familiar faces exchanging glances,
Old places that we remember being built,
As memories rush by of times now gone.

New places seem frightening in contrast,
In a world where nothing seems to last,
And in a blink of our eyes it is gone forever.
Everyone just wants to fit in labelled boxes,
Normal as just who wants to be different?
We are all individuals but collectively one.

We find comfort in the routine,
The intimacy shared like a loved partner,
That we trust with our every heartbeat.
With changes bringing out our distrust,
As begin to question their loyalty to us,
And reach for prayer that all will be well.

Just as we loathe the sound of Monday,
Friday always seems just out of touch,
And weekends are over far too quick.
Letting time tick with a monotone beat,
Seldom stopping to learn our rhythm,
Dancing away like an one trick pony.

Many simply call it the ‘rat race’,
But then who’s laboratory are we in?
And who are we in competition with?
Part of someone else’s experiments,
But how to escape the hidden cage,
When there are no bars to break free.

Bread to fear the change of constant,
To fly away requires thinking anew,
Going the detours with an open mind.
Following a compass of our free souls,
Discovering the hidden life that awaits,
Free to live and dance the way we want.

Travelling awakened and refreshed,
Saying yes to invitations to the new,
Returning home enriched and fortified.
Living our lives with the fullest glass
And in the moment not past or future,
With happiness written upon our faces.

© Fi S. J. Brown