Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

mirror mirror

Like much of humanity I have believed aesthetic beauty as real beauty. And by beauty I mean (shamefully) more worthy. As if a thing is more loveable because it possesses appeal. Sight, via my eyes, was my pathway to beauty or lack of. My longing to be visually beautiful revealed indifference, and often rejection, for that thing I believed lacking.

It is erroneous. It is not pleasing to my eyes. It must not be good.

I learned at a young age that beauty was favored. Beauty was honored. Beauty was revered. Be lovely to another’s eyes and you will be loveable.

I diligently put forth the effort to have the coveted appeal. If I could just get the outside looking beautiful than the inside can stop the Be-Beautiful-So–You-Can-Be-Loveable Campaign.

Drinking gave me the pseudo-beauty I longed for. I felt so not-enough most of my waking (and non-waking) hours. When cocktail hour arrived, I was released from my unaltered prison of thought into my altered galaxy of alcohol.  I could be beautiful or ugly and it simply did not matter. I was somewhere, anywhere, besides alone with my deficiency.

Fast forward to today, literally today. I am on day two of not looking in the mirror. I have become obsessed with the mirror. It has become the new craving in life. I hunger to look and see only cleared skin. I check the mirror at any passing to confirm its healing with the new (rather latest) medication.

When it is not better I reconfirm my lack, my inability to heal, my unworthiness to heal. I leave the reflection and suffer—justified in my perception of self. Why does everyone else get beauty, but not me? Why does no one else suffer with this? Why me? When will this end? When? Why? How? It’s not fair.

I struggled … until yesterday. It was a break through moment. You know those moments … the ones when it seems impossible to comprehend. You’ve spent your whole life believing something is true only to find it isn’t? The new awareness is one hundred and eighty degrees away from your prior agreement with self. Yep, that’s the one.

What I learned (rather began to learn): I’m vain.

    • Lie no. 1:  If I look a certain way (by ‘certain way’ I mean beautiful) you will love me more.
    • Lie no. 2: I will be a better person for having received your love, your approval.
    • Lie no. 3: Me valuing my worth comes from you loving how I look.
    • Lie no. 4: My worthiness and beauty come from looking in the mirror and seeing attractiveness with my eyes.

I am as vain and insecure as the queen in Snow White. I want the mirror to reveal a truth so that I can be confident. I want something outside me to make inside me ok.

    • Truth no. 1: I am loveable regardless of how I look.
    • Truth no. 2: Me loving me comes from me loving me.

It’s time for me to behave as beauty and stop thinking about how I look. The answer is no more in the mirror than it was in a bottle of wine.

Onto Day 2 without my mirror, mirror.


31 Responses to “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

  • Oh Lisa did you write this for me? Because it certainly speaks directly to my heart. This is my mission this year. To learn to love myself, exactly how I am for who I am and to STOP trying to find my happy from the outside in but rather from the inside out. I promise to keep you honest if you’ll do the same for me.

    This shouldn’t be this hard…

    Wonderful, inspiring post. Thank you.


    • I find your comment enlightening. When I first started the blog I did it to promote my book. After that I wrote to “help” others. I have finally learned that this girl writes to keep her recovery intact, her mind sharp, and her relationship with Creator evolving. When I write for any other purpose I am deluding myself. I am so in love with this blogging community. Mostly, because writing (publicly) keeps so many of us in integrity. We can’t pretend we didn’t write it, or feel it, or say it. When we put it up on the page we are owning up to it. For me, this is the path of healing. I am blessed to have women (and men) like you who relate. What a gift to share my pain, my struggle, my journey and hear your pain, struggle, and journey. Thank you for the equally inspiring comment. Lisa

  • Your beauty is in your words. This is a perfect post for those of us who place our personal value and worth on our external. Thanks for the eloquent reminder on what genuine beauty means.
    Hugs and light,

    • Linda, I feel I am learning for the first time. Seems no matter how much I know there is still so much more to grasp. It is humbling, in the sweetest of ways to be able to write and be received. The gift of acceptance. I always receive it when I post. How lucky am I?

  • debbiebarlow@cox.net
    11 years ago

    Hey really miss you – can we talk this week?

    Love you,

  • I was unsure of whether to comment here, because this seemed to be something perhaps more attached to women and their struggle with that beauty-identity thing you speak so well of. It’s a bit different for men, in general, I think. We have different and equally unhealthy / unrealistic ways of judging ourselves and how others judge us (masculinity, manliness, etc). Sure every men’s magazine talks about getting rock hard abs, but frankly, many of us stopped caring a long time ago…ha ha.

    But looking at it in a different light, it certainly speaks to seeking validation from the external. And to that, I can raise my hand and say yeah, I am guilty of that big time. I can list a million ways I have done that, and continue to do that, but I think you already know or understand that struggle. We all have different ways of looking outward, and it crops up in different ways. Your two truths are wonderful and simple and yet powerful. I hope I can find it in me to really take them head on.

    Thanks for this.

    (I got thinking of a Special K commercial years ago talking about how men see themselves in a funny way, and I looked on line for it…it’s cute: http://www.adweek.com/video/kelloggs-special-k-resolution-122229 )


    • 1. I fell out of my chair laughing at that commercial. I’ve never seen it. thank you.
      2. One of the qualities I admire in you; you have that tendency to see “how” it can apply. I love that.
      3. As of the reading of your comment I am well into day 3. I keep singing the Carly Simon song, ‘You’re so Vain’ … my gosh, sobriety is a trip.
      4. Only a real man can post on a chick’s page about vanity.
      L & L, Lisa

    • Paul, I just have to chime in here… is it intentionally ironic that you posted a commercial that takes place entirely in a bar?

      Too, too funny, I am so glad I clicked!

  • Thanks for this Lisa. I think you speak to most women with this post. It’s a constant struggle for me, but I have found that the acceptance I have learned in recovery has helped – not only with others, but myself as well. I love the. I mirror idea, but honestly it terrifies me. Obviously, I still have some issues! Love your honesty!

    • I would agree: My ability to work at/toward honesty has been the saving grace of my sobriety. Thank you for supporting my recovery as I enter new territory and what seems like an ever narrowing path.

  • “Beauty is an experience, nothing else. It is not a fixed pattern or an arrangement of features. It is something felt, a glow or a communicated sense of fineness.”
    -DH Lawrence

    If DH Lawrence is correct in his concept of beauty, then Lisa, you are one of the most beautiful people I know!

  • I’ve been struggling with these lies too. When I was drinking, I always thought I looked younger than my age but it was probably just that I acted younger (no kids, partying with younger people, etc). Now that I’m sober and a parent, I’m acting and feeling my age. I can’t pretend that I’m not in my 40s with the help of liquid denial. This time in my life would probably be hard even with alcohol to help me delude myself but there’s no running away from the fact that I’m officially (gasp) middle aged. At least I hope I have another 43 years ahead of me and that’s what I try to focus on – that this life is not any more precious if I look good, only if I live well. Some days are easier than others. Thank you for pointing out that they are indeed lies!

    • Karen,
      I want to start by saying I want to get over to your blog and read. I am not up on your life and you are one of my favorite bloggers. I am committing to getting over this week. On a secondary note, thank you for the comment. I just celebrated by 50th birthday this month and boy was it confrontational. I thought it was going to be harder than it was though. Somehow, even though I wrote this post for a facial/skin dilemma, I noticed that I felt beautiful that whole day, even without my make up, with my nose band-aid, and the ever present cameraflash. It almost shocked me how freeing it felt to be okay … being me and looking like me. I feel like I am growing up. I, too, partied like the young kids. I thought it was cool, but looking back, I see a shallow, misguided (albeit fun) girl. The kids were the turning point and the initial reason to get sober. I often think they saved me. And yes, I love how you say “life is not anymore precious if I look good, only if I live well.” We have the best gift of all; moms being present for their kids. I adore you. Thanks for being part of my sobriety.

  • alainadbn
    11 years ago

    It is interesting that this is your post for the week. I am a new follower and am making my best attempt at sobriety, more so, as my friend said, living a “sober” life. I have many reference books in my life almost like different “bibles” I have begun actually carrying around with me for comfort and inspiration during this journey. This week I have kept Marianne Williamsons’ book A Return to Love next to me at all times. Opening it the other day I found the Chapter on The Body and began to read. It is amazing how things present themselves; it addressed two major parts of my journey, emotion and physical. The physical part was and is my worry over the damage I have done to my body with my drinking. I did not realize the extreme of my physical dependence until Jan 1-5, the withdrawal that I went through was horrible, and for someone who is completely aware of what is right and wrong when it comes to most things I could not believe I had done this to myself. The emotional part is probably a much deeper journey for me. I lived 20 years in a relationship that for the other person was based solely on the physical. For this person I was never enough, it destroyed the little bit of self image I did have( I did not have much never being that girl that turned heads growing up) The person was very verbal not only about his opinion for me but also of his attraction to others. I feel very fearful of my future and what I and others will see because of this life experience. Then I read this chapter. This book is “A Reflection on the Principles of A Course in Miracles”

    The Course says that the body is “a tiny fence around around a little part of a glorious and complete idea”

    I wrote as I read ” My body is a means by which Gods and mines spirit is conducted through, only”

    The Course says that “health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly”

    She goes on to address many things about healing and how we see and feel about something that is essentially a conditional vessel, our bodies.

    Some things more than others in this reading brought me much comfort and helped me to come to terms with my rock bottom on December 20 2013 that in every way had to do with this exact subject. I am someone who has to look in the mirror, has to force myself to look at myself and tell myself that the energy of my being is going to be OK, that my soul is a safe place and that God loves me.

    I hope this made some kind of sense. Thank you

    • This makes TOTAL sense to me. I am a big Course in Miracles fan. As well as a Marianne fan. Your writing is eloquent. Thank you for sharing your past. What a gift for me to read your inspiring words. Please come around and share. When one heals we all heal. ACIM. Lisa

  • Lee Davy
    11 years ago

    Hi Lisa,

    I love your writing style. It touched me and that does the business as far as I am concerned.

    Your post reminded me of my acne when I was younger.

    I really believed that nobody would find me attractive because I was so spotty. When I did get a girlfriend my worry moved away from my face and onto my shoulders. They could see my face and they had accepted me; but they hadn’t seen my shoulders.

    I remember the first time I moved in with another woman. It was my ex wife and the first night we shared a bed I turned the light off before removing my shirt because I didn’t want her to see my spots.

    It was a huge deal for me until I got older and realised that nobody was looking at my spots. Aesthetics was only part of the deal and a minor one at that. It was how I made people feel that was important; not how I looked.

    Lee Davy

    • Well, I am equally touched by your candor. I have had acne (off/on) my whole life (since I was 13, and I just turned 50). This recent issue came through staph and has completely made any blemishes/breakouts seem welcome (or rather preferred). I am so touched to hear your story. This current issue has been escalating for a few years. I’m just feeling like I want to be done with it. Kind of like I felt with my drinking. I can see that my shift to ‘being beauty’ has been profound these past five days. My closest friends are getting a good dose of me struggling to achieve and my clients are truly watching me walk my talk. You sharing your words gives me hope that I, too, will grow into a deeper sense of self love and the truer meaning of the genuine beauty that lives not only within me, but in all. Thanks for the love. I needed it and I welcome it. I’ve had a couple of rough days. Onto day six of no mirror, mirror. Lisa

      • Lee Davy
        11 years ago


        Your reply just reminded me of something my mother said to me when I went to her in tears at the age of 14 telling her I would never get a girlfriend because I was so spotty.

        “They will be gone in a few years love.” She said.

        I’m 38 and I break out all of the time 🙂

        On a side note I truly believe that my spots are a result of my well being, and in particular my levels of stress. Even when I am stressed in a good way I generally break out. Yet when I am happy and life is rolling along like an out of control snowball my skin is lovely.

        Stopping drinking and becoming vegetarian also helped.

        Take care

  • While reading this I thought…wait, I don’t remember writing this, I better scroll up again and see if I’m reading my blog or someone else’s! Lol! Seriously, spot on for this recovering gal!
    Geez, I’m not much but…I AM ALL I THINK ABOUT!
    With grace I will have 6 years clean/sober Feb. 4th and self love and validation are still my biggest challenges.
    I grew up (wait I haven’t grown)…I was raised very similar to what you wrote. My family was like The Cleavers ( I was more like Eddie Haskell though) . My folks were always validating everything about me, for me. That carried on and most of my adult life I assumed everyone was going to validate me like they had. When they did not, I was devastated & resentful. I had no idea until tons of therapy and AA that I could validate myself! What a concept!
    Learning not to compare my insides with others outsides is tough for me.
    I find when I feel down in the dumps I get all dolled up to ‘feel better’. If I clean up my outsides my insides will match…right?
    Maybe it helps slightly. Fake it till I make it! LOL!
    Ironically my sponcees call me on it every time! “What’s wrong Clairey? You’re all dressed up!”
    Darn it, I only fooled myself!

    Then I go grocery shopping in my yoga pants, no make-up, hair in a bun and praying to see no one. I see 10 people from the program instead. 2 sponcees. Of course I share with them all about my embarrassment and why I look gross. Biggest blessing I receive??

    Sponcee #1 “I wish you saw yourself as we do sponse”

    Sponcee #2 “we don’t care what you look like…we want what you have on the inside!”

    Touché, tears rolling down my face.

    What a blessing and a miracle to have the life I have today, to have found God, AA, the fellowship and now too this cyber world of people like you Lisa who speak ‘my language’!


    Clairey G.

    • I love how all us girls can talk about this mirror issue. Thank you for all of it. I related to every line. Life today is a miracle and blessing as you said. I love the blogging community. Lots of folks to share our “language.” And the great thing about cyber is we can’t take back our words or pretend we didn’t feel it, say it. It holds me to the highest level of accountability. I am forever growing. Super big hugs back. xoxox

      • I am SO glad you just told me that thought on blogging and feelings! I’ve been struggling on my post this week. I ‘felt it’ earlier in the week when I started writing. Yesterday & Today I’m
        in a funk and the people pleaser in me didn’t want to blog about how I feel right now in a different post all together. I was worried that it was going against the grain with my more positive posts & that I might disappoint somebody. Truth is, probably the only person that will be beating me up about sharing my ‘tougher’ moments is me! Who am I kidding, I can’t be happy, joyous and free in every single moment…I’m human! What I can be is grateful. Grateful I don’t have to pick up, I have awareness, and I’m working towards a solution! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Oh I just want to hug you in person for helping me ease into a solution already! WOWZA! GOD SHOT!!
        Thanks Angel!

  • I’m so happy to have found your blog. This is the most eloquent, real, and touching posts I have read in a long time. Beautiful and inspiring.

    • What an honor to have you read. I was over at your site, briefly, but see I will be putting it high on the priority list today. Your words of kindness are appreciated. Because of women like you, I am able to step into my life and become more than I ever possibly imagined. Blessings.

  • This post is amazing. Thank you. I am not sure I could go more than a few moments without finding a way to make sure I look okay. Oh body checking. I hope your endeavor is still going well!

    • What a week! The ups and downs of the mirror, the self doubt, the chatter, the agony. I have awakened much this week. It still amazes me … the room for growth. In every way I am better, but I was not 100% on target the whole week. And the interesting thing is that I want to lie about it. Ugh. Coming up on 10 years sober and still want to lie. What I know for sure … I am in a better place this week then I was last week. And that’s progress in my book.

      On another note, Thank you for commenting. It means so much to have the love and support from the recovery community. I am indebted to my fellow bloggers. Lots of love, Lisa

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