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

Love

Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us, that commercial day of love sold to us by companies across the world, online or offline. Telling us to take someone special out for a candlelight meal at an expensive restaurant, buy a dozen red roses for the one our hearts desire or send a card anonymously to one we secretly adore in the hope that they love us much as we do them.

However, do we really need a day to say what our words, thoughts and actions do every day anyway, no matter how unspoken they may apparently be or hidden we try to keep them. Nobody has the right to say we cannot love another due to their gender, racism, beliefs, or ability, as it is their personality ultimately that matters and makes us fall in love with them. That love being like a parent, sibling, friend, or romantic, it is universal but one size does not fit all.

The way we view love now is has changed over the centuries, and is quite different to the our ancestors. In Ancient Greece for example romantic love was not held with the high regard and emphasis we put on it; to them love for friends was considered every bit as special as romantic love. The philosopher Aristotle regarded friendship as a lifetime commitment to mutual welfare, in which two people become “second selves” to each other.

The idea of unconditional love, which is a fairly modern concept. Love was been seen in different ways by philosophers until then: for example Plato saw it as conditional on the other person’s beauty; Aristotle emphasised another’s virtues; for St Augustine it was their goodness; and for Rousseau it was their moral authenticity. It was during 18th century Enlightenment philosophers suggested unconditional love on others rather than god.

We almost expect someone that said “I love you” to mean that they loved us unconditionally and accepted us for who we are. However, when someone says to us they love us but just as a friend we feel it is a second rate love as will never have that romantic love with them. To me for a friend to acknowledge their love for me is truly special as mean I matter to them and that is every bit as important as romance. Having a loyal and trustworthy friend counts for so much, and never know what it may blossom into.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Time to smile

There is a saying that time is the greatest healer, and I would totally agree with it. What seems like a major incident today is but a footnote on our life’s story. In 2006 I hid the pain of depression inside and sometimes self harming my feet, I looked older than the almost 28 years I was suppose to then be. We are now in 2015, I let go of what hurt me and try not let today’s pains stick, setting them free as the sun sets. I am happier now within than I have ever felt previously. So whatever is making the world seem black, focus on the good things and keep the colour in focus. Remember we all have scars from where this world has bitten us, but it is now time to bite back.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Memories of Plavecky Hrad

Plavecky HradDeparting from the village with a stream and air of times past I began my ascent. My journey was joined by cornflowers, clovers and cowslips marking a path with flashes of blue, purple and yellow lights to guide my feet to the edge of a forest.On entering the forest it was like I had completed level one of a secret test to locate the castle. The climb now because very steep and enclosed by trees, which were trying to prepare for their autumnal ball or awaiting a Prince Charming for a dance. Steeper and steeper every step seemed, I felt like I was missing an equine friend to enjoy the journey together. I stopped five times to rest and refresh, with each one my legs felt like they were climbing Everest five times over such was the distance and steepness climbed.

Then level two cleared as the ruins first caught my eyes and I felt at one with those who had made the journey before me. The light of the sun caught the remains of every window to the highest tower, giving each one their moment in the spotlight. The view with a hazy filter caught my breath, it then felt like it was that which covered my view. Through the haze were fifty shades of green, like soldiers standing guard over the land. The human settlement that shares the land appeared to be singing nature’s songs along with her, a far cry from the fifty shades of grey that I often saw back home. I then saw a solitary tree beside where I stood, he whispered in the wind he now guarded this view, which once human had; Mother Nature told him it was the most important role in all the land, so he took great pride in his work. Then I returned to the remains of the castle which glowed in the sun, almost showing off medals of past victories against an enemy now nowhere to be seen or heard. Looking out of her ruined windows was like looking into her soul and how much the view had long been part of her; she was as much part of the land as the tree who guarded her.

The descent felt like I was on fast forward, although watching for branches and roots with every step, the steepness seemed almost to have been a mirage, perhaps it really had been part of a test to see if I was worthy of rescuing a princess, which in this case was the castle herself. Soon I was met by the floral friends I met on my my ascent, who I felt were cheering my way for seeing what few of them ever could or would. My final step down was accompanied by the rushing of the stream, almost applauding and toasting me on behalf of the village as I had seen their princess. On meeting the mayor of the village I felt like I was meeting a relative or colleague of the tree in human form, a foot soldier at the the bottom of the hill. I smiled as I now knew a secret that the world did not of this village and her castle, which I then realised were twins as there would not be one without the other.

© Fi S. J. Brown