You’d Better Find Some Other Means To Find A Husband Because It Won’t Be Through Your Looks!

“It’s amazing

how complete the illusion is,

that beauty is goodness.”

[Leo Tolstoy]


Note: I wrote this yesterday, but for some reason I couldn’t publish it.

I’m having an ugly-day today. One of those days, where I feel picasso-esque. I get those from time to time.

I have a very warped body image of myself. I know that. For instance, I won’t let Phil carry me and I rarely sit on his lap, because I think my weight equals that of a baby-elephant.

I can’t trust mirrors either. Well either that or I can’t trust the people telling me, that what I see in the mirror is not what they see when they look at me. And they don’t mean it in the inner-beauty-shining-through-kind-of-way, either.

When I was younger, I used to get angry at people complimenting me on my looks. I seriously thought they were adding insult to injury.

This might explain, why I only fell for guys, who treated me badly. I really must have thought, I don’t deserve better or at least they are being honest with me or something.

Today, because I’m a bit older and have learned to fit into a realm of social expectation, I don’t shoot people filthy looks anymore when they complement my looks. I graciously accept and smile and say “Thank You” in my sweetest telephone voice (do you have a telephone voice too? Not even sure why and how I started having one, but I sound very Mary Poppin-sy with a cheerful little laugh in my voice. Phil’s Mom can’t stand it!).

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that I see what they are seeing.

Most of the time, I just accept that apparently my vision is skewed when it comes to me. And that’s fine. I don’t really think about it too much.

But then, other times, I can’t ignore it. Everything about me feels off. Picassoeque is actually the best term I have to describe the feeling (hunchback of Notre Dame would do equally well, if you prefer that image).

Today is one of those days.

When I walk through town, I get paranoid. I feel like everybody is staring at me. At the freak. It’s horrid. I avoid leaving the house on days like this, if I can.

Today, fortunately, I could since it was a study day.

Usually (and today was no different) I look through old pictures of myself. Retrospectively, I can agree, that I don’t look that way, but I can’t transport that insight into the present (it doesn’t even work, if I take a picture, I tried).

I think it may have something to do with feeling disconnected to the person in the picture. Over time, the woman smiling back at me, banned on celluloide, feel like an old acquaintance. Someone I lost touch with over the years, but not like myself.

It’s during those times, that I think of my american grandmother.

All the dysfunctional crazy that she is deserves several posts of epic lengths, but I am not up to that today.

The reason I mentioned her, is because even though she loves me (and I’m sure she does in her own dark world) she has never been to great at making me feel like I deserved to be loved.

Explanation? Sure.

For a while after my mother died, I wasn’t allowed to visit my american grandparents, because my grandmother was convinced my father had murdered my mother and my father was convinced my grandmother would kidnap me, if she ever got her hands on me (you know what?! I think she might have). But that’s an entirely different post on its own, too.

When I started seeing them again, I think I was around five.

One of my earliest memories of my grandmother is telling me I’d better work hard in school and learn how to cook and other house-wify-stuff, because I surely wasn’t going to find a husband based on my looks. I think I must have been around six at that time.

She also constantly told me to cover my, as she put them, “manly” legs ( I think she ment fat and was trying to soften the blow).

When Phil met my family in the U.S. about three years ago, I hadn’t seen them in ten years.

The first thing she did was tell me I had gotten big (in all honesty, I had put on about 10 pounds at that time so I was probably a size 10 at that point).

The second thing she did was ask Phil if he wanted to marry me in the future. He said “Yes, absolutely.” She looked at him surprised (honestly surprised!) and said “Why?”.

There was a short pause while my cousins tried to fade into the background (people do that, when she speaks at times. It’s like an incredibly embarrassing scene in a Movie you can’t watch, so you shrink away from it).

Before Phil could answer, she continued “It’s not because of the family money, is it! She won’t be inheriting anything for a long time!” (I’d have to add that my grandparents are quite wealthy, but you wouldn’t know by looking at my grandmother, most of the times she looks like a bag lady, honestly she does!).

Obviously, Phil denied this looking more and more like a deer caught in the headlights. I had told him about my dysfunctional family, but most people don’t believe me until they’ve seen it with their own eyes.

My grandmother sensed this and bellowed on “You better tell me. I will find out sooner or later. It can’t be her looks. I mean look at you.”

A year later, I visited them again, this time alone. It was after my grandfather’s funeral which I had missed due to the volcano eruption that grounded all air transportation. I needed to see him one last time and say good-bye (I still get choked up writing this. He ment the world to me).

I had dropped the 10 pounds and a couple more.

When she saw me said “You are thinner now. That’s better, but I think there’s nothing we can do about the rest.”

I don’t know why my grandmother thinks I’m ugly.

Weirdly, she always praises my mother for her beauty (which is true: My mother was one of those truly stunning women that only come around every couple of years). The one thing I heard growing up at nauseam was how much I favored my mom. She denies this. “Oh you look only like your father.”, she says (which in itself, wouldn’t be that bad either, since my father is rather presentable, but it’s just not true. So not true, that people used to think I was his girlfriend when we went out together on father-daughter-dates).

I’m not sure, if my grandmother is the catalyst of my own warped view of myself or if she only enforced something that was there from the start.

In the end, it doesn’t matter.

Except on days like these, where I keep hearing her voice in my head over and over again:

“You’d better find other means to find a husband, because it won’t be through your looks” – Seriously, who does that to a child?

19 thoughts on “You’d Better Find Some Other Means To Find A Husband Because It Won’t Be Through Your Looks!

  1. Unfortunately, your grandmother is projecting something of her own. I am sorry you have had to endure this and that it’s been so askew for you.

    I have found that people can grow ugly, or more beautiful, by taking the time to know them, and that knowing can change the way you sense someone. it’s sad when we miss that.

    I hate to link back to something I’ve written before but it’s late here and my creative conscious is slowing to a crawl so I’ll defer to this :

    • Beautiful post – I really should read backwards through your stuff – seems like I’ve been missing out on a lot! 🙂

      You are right. Absolutely right. I know that in my head and that’s exactly how I feel about everybody else, except myself.

      Somehow, at it’s a really warped and weird somehow, that doesn’t seem to apply to me. I always had this notion of having to be perfect to be loved (don’t get me wrong I know, rationally, that that’s not the case; but it’s that little voice inside my head or gut or wherever) and if not perfect, well than at least gorgeous!

      Which I’m not. I mean I’m not Victoria’s Secret Angel gorgeous. Somehow, in a very warped way, I connect my self worth to my looks. To me, my own “goodness” is always at it’s best when I’ve dropped to a size 6 and always at it’s worst when I’m at a size 10. My “normal” size is an 8, which I can deal with. I have no idea, why I link those two and it doesn’t even make any sense. I’m rather tall, so my friends actually feel frightened by a size 6 – they say I look sick.

      And you know, the thing is, my “manly” legs always remain the way they are, no matter what size

      Ah well, but it’s gotten a lot better. The days are fewer and more inbetween and I’ve come to accept them for the crazy that they are. And I know they are

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on this eventhough you were on your way to bed. It means a lot 🙂

  2. If she were my grandmother, I would spend as little time with her as possible. Those are unkind things to say to anyone, let alone your granddaughter.

    As women, and apparently it doesn’t matter what country we live in, we struggle with the image of beauty. What is regarded as beautiful by society does not often match the package we are living in. I felt the same way you described in your post. As I approached 40 (and then crossed that line) I began to realize that spending my life waiting to be the ideal of beauty was a sad way to spend my time. I am not supermodel gorgeous – far from it. I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be thin. Instead I focus on the things I like about myself and the positive attributes I’ve been blessed with. It doesn’t always make me feel better about myself when I’m looking in a mirror while bathing suit shopping, but it has definitely made me more confident.

    P.S. Everyone has a Picassoesque day. Just go with it. Afterall, his paintings are hanging in museums around the world.

    • Let’s put it this way: I feel fortunate having the atlantic between us! 😉

      It’s not just me though. Regardless of what she says (and she is convinced that her version is right) my mother and her had a very intense love-hate relationship as well.

      The last time they saw each other, before my mother’s tragic accident, my father could only just stop my mother from literally throwing my grandmother down a flight of stairs. Oh and this is after she had grabbed a pen and paper and signed off on a self-scripted document happily relliquishing all rights and privileges of being her mother’s daughter for the sake of never seeing her again. (she – that is my mother – did have a thing for the mellow-dramatic, I should add).

      That was about half a year before my mom passed away. The reason they were arguing in the first place, b.t.w., is because my grandmother felt it was unsuitable for me to play with my mother’s best friends little girl for the only reason, that this friend was a cleaning lady (oh yes, she is very snobbish too – my grandmother I mean – she has always looked down on my father because he came from a blue-collar family and was the first person out of his family to go to college)

      She has allienated herself from her son (although I really don’t understand why, since they are so much alike) and she treats her loving, devoted daughter, who all but sacrifice herself for her mother’s needs like dirt or ignores her at the best of times.

      I appreciate your thoughts about body immage. Although, obviously I’d want you to be abathing suit model, because I think there would be nothing better than a witty and intelligent AND drop dead gorgeous model, I have to admit it’s comforting that I’m not the only one at odds with my body.

      It’s true, that it does become less important with age. Whereas I am not nearly at the point in my life where I can be compitent about my looks, at least I can ignore this feeling of discomfort most days (I’d say roughly 340 / year)

      And I loved your thoughts about Picassos hanging in museeums – I’ll totally steal that and pass it off as mine (although I’m not sure a lot of people would believe I came up with it 😉 )

      Thank you for your thoughts and openness, Paprika – Means a lot! 🙂

  3. People of your grandmother’s generation often believed that they were protecting their loved one by toughening them up with insults. She may well believe she is sparing you humiliation and disappointment. She is wrong but bear in mind people once thought the earth was flat.

    Forget looks. Seriously. I have discovered in my life that it is healthier and better if people think you are beautiful because they love you and not the other way around – i.e. love you because you’re beautiful.

    As for what you think about yourself – don’t worry about it. Everybody feels they look ugly some of the time. The more you worry about feeling that way the more it will last – it’s like creating a dam in a river. Just stand there and look at the thoughts as they flow past – like twigs – and don’t bother trying to stop them go by – that only creates a dam.

    Mind you – I love the Picasso-esque analogy – it describes the feeling perfectly!

    • Hmmmm, you might be right about the generation thing. I’ve never thought about it that way and you might have a point: Let me think about it 🙂

      On the other hand, I’m not sure, my grandmother would actually consider her comments insults (no matter with what intention in mind). She might not even consider them “harsh” or “rude”.

      She’s a very complex woman, my grandmother, I’ll give her that! It’s very hard to explain her without actually seeing her act out in person. I’ve seen her literally throw a temper tantrum infront of her bank for no reason. Like a 3 year old.

      But still, I really appreciate your view point, because I honestly never thought it could be a generational thing or maybe even cultural thing (since she’s originally czech). – It’s neat to see the immage of something you’ve had in your mind and thought you’d looked at it from every possible angle suddenly develop a new side to it – Thank you for that, P. 🙂

      – As for the rest. You are right, I know you are. It’s one of those rationell-emotionell seperation things. Do you ever have those? 🙂 I guess you are right about the grass not always being quite as green on the other side too – in all honesty, I don’t know anybody who’s so drop dead gorgeous that they are loved merly for their beauty (well not personally that is).

      I love that you love the picasso-esque term in coined – so awesome. Use it! Often! Spread the word! You can even let people think it was your creative mind that came up with it, I really don’t care. I just think picasso-esque should become part of the quotidian vocab! 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment – I really appreciate it! 🙂

  4. Great post…now I’m feeling insecure that I spurred it out of you because i told you yestday you are so pretty, or something like that. Doesn’t matter, this piece illustrates all I’ve been trying to explain to myself and to anyone who will listen about The Shadow. Your grandmother clearly had some parts, like Erik said, she was not on speaking terms with. She disowed those parts and saw them in others. This is what I mean to send back home to the original owners. Perhaps by bringing these uninvited guests out of the shadows, allowing them to be observed by others who can see them for what they are, imposters, you will gain some ability to dismiss them. That’s the hope, right?

    I so so so relate to everything you wrote in the post. While in public I would sometimes feel my eyes responding like two startled rodents forced to face being found in the bright glare of strangers who did not approve them. I would often avert them, lower them to the ground, anything to reduced their edginess, their impulse to jump off of my face and run for cover. I must say this sort of experience has lessened somewhat over the years. It was pretty bad when I was in my 30s. I started forcing myself to smile at people in public more, and ask them how they were doing, if appropriate. It was the hardest thing in the world when my true instinct was to avert my gaze.
    I love Picasso.

    • Ha ha – you are cute 🙂 No, I can absolutely assure you, that I was already feeling the way I was feeling before you said I was adorable, which I actually liked 🙂
      Not really sure what triggered it this time, b.t.w., because I was in high spirits when I got off my scale in morning, basking in the feeling of having lost 2 pounds (seriously, sometimes I feel it’s so ridiculous that stupid figures should hold such power over me).
      Then I got dressed and checked how it looked in the full body mirror and – puff – I was picasso-esque.
      I then decided I was going to have an at home study day instead of an at the library study day and changed out of my jeans into sweats
      – So you are not responsible at all – And even if, I think it would be more of a causation than a responsibility and I’d actually feel gratefull to you (like I did towards Eric when he triggered my “I need to tell you about Solveig-Marie and the nameless one” post).

      Yay, I now get your shadow’s part – this is awesome! 🙂 And yes you are right, that’s exactly what the hope was in posting this 🙂 I think it’s totally cool, that our posts trigger each other without even completly understanding them (well at least in my case) (Weirdly enough, now that you mention it, it does make sense if you take into account my grandmother’s social “standing” and her outright snobbyness towards everybody of a lower position, as she would call it – only she would do so with a very strong czech accent)

      I completely understand how hard it is to smile at strangers. I might have to force myself to do just that when my next picasso-esque day comes along (which hopefully won’t be for a while) – Seriously. Maybe it would help if someone smiled back… .

      On a side-note I have something else to ask you… . Remember the part about T.H. and the conversation in one of my picture&quote posts (I think Nr.6) – I thought it would be neat to write a play of a family at dinner or maybe even at a wake constructed solely of lines from (well) known poetry. I actually started collecting some lines, that I thought could work, but I thought it would be grand, if we could make it a mutual post / project – Maybe with Eric, Worrywarts, Paprika or anyone you would like to include – It wouldn’t have to be a seriously long play with tons of acts and characters and stuff – more like a spoof , a tongue in cheek kind of thing. -Would that be something you would like or not so much? It’s okay, if you say no 🙂

      • I think the spoof idea is great…I love it actually. I’m crying again as I read all this conversation, it’s so amazing how people find each other, it’s astonishing to me. Happy tears. I feel like the writers of a distant era, the kind who would come together in their funny salons and they would spur each other to move further in the direction they each needed to take. I’ve always been a little jealous of those relationships. I understand a little more now how precious they must have been to the other. It’s so hard to step out, it’s nice when others brave the unknown known it too.

        • I’m excited about you liking this idea – really am – I will send you what I got so far, but it’s only a couple of lines that I collected – nothing connected yet no setting etc. Just some stuff I thought would work 🙂

          btw – is your emailadress still the one you check regularly? Because I would send it you via email a.k.a. the modern day writers saloon 😉 (same types of characters, different setting , that’s all 😉 )

    • Patrice, I just had a flash of an idea that might not be a great one, but here goes. What if three or four of us (or more?) each took an aspect of Shadow and wrote about it, then published it on the same day? I need to do some serious Shadow work but I’m a little unsure where or how to start. Perhaps writing about it would be a good way to break through?

      • Patrice, Erik and I were actually discussing the benefit of a “secret” mutual blog with administrative rights for all the participants, so that we could share stuff in private, if we don’t feel like sharing it with the general public yet or if we feel we need some imput from others we trust and your name came up too – I think Erik wanted to get in touch with everybody about this. Would this interest you at all? 🙂

          • Great! If I talk to him, I will mention that you’d be up for it too. Or maybe you want to mail him personally (I think his email adress is on his contacts page on his blog) – anyways, it might take a while to set this up. Not sure – but I think it’s brilliant, so I really want to see this happen 🙂

  5. Oh family. Oh voices in our heads. Oh skewed perceptions. This baggage is hard to carry sometimes. Okay, it’s hard to carry everyday. And what a lot of dear friends don’t understand is that there is aboslutely nothing they can say to alter the tape loop. We are the only ones who can empower ourselves. We are the only ones who can tell the truth with any meaning and affect. That’s the hard part to accept and start working on.

    Tapes. I thought cassettes were a thing of the past?

    • Totally random, but the beginning of your post completly reminded me of the monologue of own of the semi-side (but still important) character in one of my all time favorite books (Matt Ruff – Fool on the hill) 🙂 – I love that!

      You are right about that. I mean, you are right about the limitations of others and our own power – I love the tape loop metaphor (or is it a simile – I have to admit I never quite know which is which – shameful, I know)
      – Also makes me think off how those tapes (after being played over and over again) used get caught in the tape player and you had to take them out and unravel them. Not quite sure how that fits into this comparision, but to me it does. – Thanks for that immagery 🙂

      Wonder if anyone born in the mid-90’s would still use this immage – they would probably relate stuff to discs (mind you, not the old floppy disks) 😉

      Then again I loved records and my record player when I was a kid, so maybe it’s not so much the time, but more the willingness to keep things going – I like tapes – To me they live 🙂

  6. I have told my two girls that they are beautiful since they could understand what that meant. And then I tell ‘you’re beautiful but get over it.’ Meaning there are more important things in life. They’ve both grown up to be beautiful and interesting young woman.

    • That’s a great approach, David.

      I don’t think being aware of ones own beauty is the most important thing in life, but it’s not “nothing” either.

      I like that you let your girls know how beautiful they are and that outward beauty alone does not a good woman make.

      I really do – Thanks for sharing this here 🙂

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