May 19, 2014
My once-flawless skin is now covered with scars, traces of an acne breakout I’ve undergone for the past two months. In the age of social media, we don’t often share the downsides of our daily lives. We see hard bodies, beautiful vacations, happy children and perfect marriages wondering what’s wrong with our imperfect lives. We compare ourselves with others who freely share their success and hide their failures in marriage, weight gain, depression or facial defects. After all, when we expose a supposed weakness, we become vulnerable to challenges that make us feel defensive. While life trials are painful to experience, no one can make you feel shame, guilt, unattractive or weak without your consent. If you can live your truth in the firestorm of others condemnation, you can become your own hero.
One morning a few flesh-colored bumps appeared on my forehead. This was surprising for someone who never experienced acne in the past – not even in her teens. A few days later several other bumps would appear. Even though many pimples were extracted during facials, more would pop up the next day. My skin was perennially red, inflamed and in pain. I didn’t know how to control it.
While I routinely applied topical medications, washed my face thoroughly, used natural remedies and saw an esthetician, nothing would cure the breakout. Instinctively I knew, however, that focusing on superficial symptoms wouldn’t stop the internal cause for why the breakout began.
I remember distinctly when the challenges originated. Personally, we were in the process of moving. Professionally, I was on writing deadlines and building the NEM campaign all while managing my elderly care homes and operating my household. Physically, I sustained an injury that left me unable to move my neck or apply any impact on my body. After months of no rest and another round of public criticism, the weight of my world started collapsing around me.
Stress has been a silent cause of weight gain, constipation – and now acne – in my life. The trauma you feel internally will always manifest externally, whether it’s how you look, how you act or how you create the world around you. Every morning is a constant struggle to feel gratitude despite seeing physical remnants of a recent past teeming with stress, depression, anxiety and fear.
Years before I had children, I underwent a similar struggle – only this time, it was my weight. When I took hormones to correct the two-year loss of my menstrual cycle, it resulted in weight gain. My body was also changing – and storing fat – from years of disordered eating. When I was 25lbs overweight counting every calorie and exercising twice a day, I failed to see any physical success for several years. My lack of results reflected prior years I spent depressed, often measuring my self-worth with how I looked. I knew my body’s equilibrium needed to re-calibrate and find safety in a spirit that would love, accept and nourish it. So even though I didn’t feel beautiful, I believed that I was. Even though I didn’t feel strong, I said that I was. Most of all, even though I didn’t look outwardly fit, I knew in my heart, that inside of me lay a beautiful, strong and fit human being that will one day ‘show the world.’
So I put away the scale. And today, I put away the mirror.
If you look at something every day hoping to see change, it won’t change. Unlike the lies hidden in infomercials, advertisements and even the pictures of your friend’s Facebook page, change doesn’t happen instantly. It starts with acceptance – a realistic, often painful, tally of where you’re at – and a desire to change it. Once you create a plan of action, don’t dig into the details or press too hard to hasten the process, like a pimple, it will inflame, become agitated, and take longer to heal. Life always gets harder right before it gets better. I learned this lesson the hard way several times in my life and I’m pretty sure God will make sure I re-learn it again when I forget to find daily balance.
Never in a million years did I envision being the May cover model for Shape Malaysia.
This image was taken in January (before my breakout, obviously! haha)
Some inside images…
Mother’s Day Tea Party at Christian’s pre-k class!
He painted my nails and made me a hat and bracelet.
Follow my on Instagram for more daily pics!