She was an ugly child – at least that is what she told me. There was no symmetry in her face and her legs turned inside, she said. While her hand touched the curls many women would die to have, she told me that as a child her hair could not be tamed and was a constant challenge. At 16, when her mother refused to take her for a nose operation, she thought that even her own mother hated her.
She hadn’t wanted to go to school, as the other children bullied her and called her names she preferred not to repeat. She believed that this was the reason drawing became her friend. She would lock herself in her room, with her sketchbook and draw. Surprisingly she didn’t create melancholic art, but quite the opposite. She found herself inventing figures – friends that came to life from the paper. They were cheerful, they loved to dance and they had many secret clubs where they planned to color everybody and give them a more creative version of themselves.
Art lessons were heaven to her as her drawing was the center of her world. Nobody could avoid smiling, when they looked at her charming friends dance out of the drawings in her sketchbook. Her art teacher encouraged her to send some of them to a competition that was announced by one of the respectful art magazines. When she received the letter that said that she won first place, it took her a few days until she told anybody.
She came to some sessions with me, a radiate woman in her late thirties – a respected artist, a loved wife and soon to be a mother. “I can’t seem to shake the feeling that everybody thinks that I’m ugly and that I have to hide myself at any social events.” She looked pleadingly at me, asking for help. “I’m even ashamed that I care so much. It shouldn’t matter anymore” she looked at me with shy eyes.
I didn’t have to tell her how beautiful she was – things that might have not been proportional when she was a child, had developed into a very unique and beautiful face as an adult. One that I’m sure was memorized by any person that met her. Her black curly hair perfectly framed the huge smile on her face and the laughter in her eyes was touching, as if she could see the humor in my soul. I didn’t have to tell her that her anyway it’s often our inner beauty that touches people’s hearts. She knew all of that already.
We focused our sessions on digesting parts of her past and creating peace for her with her own childhood. We strengthened her confidence about herself, her values and her view of life. In some sessions she re-felt the disappointment, the anger and the hurt from her childhood classmates, but she also could feel her love and passion for drawing and how the challenge of those times were partially the reason for that. She remembered how insecure she and those children were and how part of their behavior didn’t come from hate, but from lack of confidence.
She learned to appreciate again the girl she used to be, to remember that her appearance back then was a temporary thing and that what her heart carries would stay with her forever. Together with accepting her past, her love of herself and of life grew.
Children can be cruel and I think that many of us, when we were young, were ashamed of parts of ourselves and tried to hide them. We wanted to blend in and when we felt we weren’t accepted, we wanted to change who we were. Working with grown-ups (most of the time), I am often amazed to see that the same parts that were disturbing and different when we were young, end up being strengths and uniqueness later on in life. By overcoming obstacles in the life form the past we can recognise that often it’s what made us special then, that can lead our life to be individual and unique now.
I believe that any challenge we encounter on our way, whether as children or later in our grown-up life, allow us to create transforming processes in our life. We can ‘re-choose’, to re-direct our life, according to what is right for us, realizing that each of us have their own set of priorities leading them along their life path.