My partner told me the other day that when he looks at photos of me from before we met, that I don’t look like me. Even in the pictures where I’m laughing and smiling, it’s not the same as the way he sees me now and what I look like in pictures now.
He said that now I look at peace.
I’ve noticed this myself, especially when I look at images from my early twenties versus recently. Even when I look happy, on perfect beaches, traveling the world…there is something being held back, something is missing and it’s as though within the image I have tried to compensate for it.
The way we dye our hair, the outfits we pick, the poses we choose – they all give away subtle cues to what’s happening behind and within our pearly white smiles.
Even down to the filters we use to make ourselves look better, tell a story of uncertainty and not enoughness.
There are definitely things I’m still struggling with, I feel the effects of anxiety often and my body image, no matter how much reassurance my partner gives, isn’t the best.
Having a partner hasn’t solved all my ‘problems’ in fact it’s actually solved none of them.
What being in a relationship has done, is shown me two of life’s greatest gifts – two things we all always have access to. That is love and gratitude.
Before I met my partner, I struggled with these two things. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to feel so deeply connected to someone and I had trouble seeing all the positives in my life.
Now that I have this new relationship, I am so grateful for the experience and everything it has brought to my life (while not removing all the bad like most people secretly hope it will) that I find myself overwhelmed.
I’m reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, and he writes about mindfulness – and being in the present moment. In order to bring ourselves in to the present moment he says we should repeat a poem to ourselves. The first line is ‘I have arrived, I am home.’
This is exactly how I feel. I am at peace. I am home.
Sharing my life intimately with someone has opened up a new range of complications and pain points, but it’s given me so much more. It’s given me access to a part of myself I hadn’t been able to uncover on my own. The space within me where beneath all the anxiety and fear, there is peace.
For that I am forever grateful.
As my coworker said today. There is no magic button that makes everything ok.
But if we decide to make love and gratitude our barometers of whether or not we are successful or happy, then we have the power and control every day to find that elusive magic button no matter what our experience has been.