For the majority of my life, I’ve struggled with being comfortable in my skin. Itching, flaky, inflamed, sometimes painful lesions aside – I think it was more the awareness of how unhealthy my skin looked that made me hyper-aware of what other people thought of my skin.
Let me reword that simply. I was more concerned with what other people thought of my skin. It’s one of those things where I hear myself say it (to myself) and want to wring my own neck, “this is madness, you’re better than that.”
This started at a very young age. I remember my parents having to “soak” the scalp psoriasis with mineral oil and tar solutions and combing out the scales. Of course, I was teased. I was called “dragon skin”. And I had vivid nightmares of psoriasis completely covering my face making me unable to open my eyes in the morning. For most of my life, I’ve avoided black tee-shirts (and hate those black capes in salons) because of the obvious flakes. I’d hide any new lesions as creatively as I could but was so thankful when the “spots” covering my legs and torso disappeared thanks to suntanning in my late teens, leaving psoriasis only on my scalp.
Add in the usual young adult self-confidence struggles, being told point blank by your live-in boyfriend (ex, obviously) that he would “never be with a fat person”, the emotional eating that followed, those hormonal shifts and pimple-laden rites of passages… Outwardly, I tried to not give off a sense of being self-conscious, but if I were honest with myself it was just a mask I wore to protect my feelings. Because again, I was more concerned with what other people thought of me.
After Bugsy joined our family, I experienced some wicked postpartum flares and psoriasis began to show on my face (remember the nightmares I had as a child? that was a dealbreaker for me). This is what inspired changes that started me on my healing journey.
grow through life.
A huge shift in my way of thinking actually happened with The Mister’s help. He’s always made me feel worthy and attractive. I could be wearing yesterday’s t-shirt and jeans, my hair looking all sorts of crazy and he’d say, “god, you’re beautiful.” Hearing things like that consistently, seeing how he looks at me, knowing how much he adores me, hearing he doesn’t care if my scalp flakes because he just wants to touch my hair – his unconditional love slowly shifted how I thought of myself.
Of course, things changed even more after I became a momma. But especially having a daughter as my first. Having Luv was a total eye-opening, humbling, inspiring game-changer that made me be very selective with the words I chose to use and how I spoke of myself. I don’t want her to ever hear me speak poorly of myself or my body.
Last December when we visited my husband’s family, we stayed in a hotel. For the first time (well, at least the first time in the 14 years I’ve known The Mister), I didn’t wear board shorts over my swimsuit. I’m not talking the shorty board shorts. I’m talking the ones down that nearly come down to the knees. Yep, those. I wore a swimsuit (granted, one that was seven+ years old and didn’t fit me quite like it should). And you know what? I lived. No one pointed at me and gasped. No one giggled. But more importantly, I had fun and made memories with my daughter. This summer I bought a new suit (one that fits the body I have now, not seven years ago) and went to our local public pool to cool off with the kids and The Mister.
does this mean my skin is flawless?
*excuse me while I hold back a hearty guffaw*
Um, no. It’s not. I could walk you through every single imperfection, every scar, bald spots, every stretch mark, vericose veins, cellulite, the areas that probably need exfoliating and/or some body butter. But why? Learning to love my skin is a process. Something I’m still working on (otherwise, this post would be titled “I Learned to Love My Skin. Here’s How!”).
I still allow myself to feel frustrated with my skin at times (especially when it’s itching) and move on. I indulge my skin with luscious body butter (this one) and my fave DIY oil blends (avocado and sandalwood is my current favorite). I rarely wear makeup anymore and when I do it’s usually just mascara (my skin thanks me for making this choice years ago). My intentions are set. My skin is just as deserving of love as my whole self is.
This is me. Showing myself some compassion, hoping to make up for all the years that I didn’t. I accept my psoriasis and my flaws – but I no longer let them define me, apologize for them, or try to hide them.
Just as a tiger wears her stripes, a cheetah wears her spots, and a warrior wears her scars.