(learning to) embrace the ugly

(by anonymous)

I like shiny.  I don't want people to see my ugly.  Sometimes, I want to tell people, "it's mine, damn it.  back off."  Most people don't ask to see my ugly.  I'm normally the one doing the asking.  I ask people daily to open the refrigerator door & show me the ugly.  Show me the spoiled food.  The half eaten Chinese food.  The week old leftovers.  The frostbitten vegetable soup from last winter.

I ask them to show me what they've been hiding for 25 years. Show me what that 4th grade move did to their self-esteem.  Show me why they think they're ugly even when they're not.  Show me why they have a pattern of dating abusive people.  Show me their grief.  Show me why they hate God.   Show me what their dad did to them.  Show me the scars on their limbs from years of self-inflicted mutilation.  Show me what the neighbor did repeatedly to them while they were trying to grow up into a person.

Where do I put my ugly?  I hide it.  I take a hot shower & let the hot tears run down my cheeks.  Where do I put the ugly words I hear, the ugly deeds I know about, and the ugly faces people make at their children when they're just trying to grow up into a person. I can't put it in the fridge.  I can't put it in the pantry.  I can't put it in my relationship with my son.  I can't put it in my relationship with my spouse.  I can't put it in my friendships.

I take a hot shower & let the hot tears run down my cheeks.  I dance like a crazy person when I hear club music.  I'm 34.  I can't go to a club, so I dance in my zumba classes like I'm a professional stripper.  And, get compliments too.  I laugh with my sister so I forget my ugly.  I teach my son how to read, count, and be a good friend.  I make sure he's never out of sight so others' ugly won't get him.  I make big plans to protect him from others' ugly.  No sleepovers.  No fast cars.  No play dates without me there.  Period.  I know what other people's ugly looks and sounds like.  I know what it does to people when they are just trying to grow up into a person.  I give my ugly to God.  Repeatedly.  On my office floor.  On my bedroom floor.

I know what it feels like.  I have ugly in me.  I try to make it shiny but when the door cracks open, I find things that have spoiled or needs windex.  Childhood things.  Adolescent things.  Young adult things.  An ugly thought that hit my amygdala before my prefrontal lobe could get a handle on it.  A judgmental thing.  A protective wall.  I like walls.  I can sometimes put my ugly in the fruit drawer & wall it in.  I can see it, but I don't have to smell it.  Sometimes, I get the courage to hold my nose, reach in there, draw it out & toss it in the trash can.  I always feel better after I do that.  Toss my ugly.  I ask others to do it all the time.  And, I've learned how to do it too.

I take a hot shower & let the hot tears run down my cheeks.  I fly helicopters in the rain with my son.  I laugh really hard at myself.  I've been told I'm the most energetic & comical therapist by many clients.    I hope that's a good thing.  That's how I get rid of ugly.  I'm still shiny on the outside.  But those fingerprints, tiny dents & the place my son rammed his remote control car into are pretty cool too.  I guess a part of me is learning to love my ugly.  Just like my clients have taught me to do.


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