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What I See in This Photo Now That I Didn't See Before

I thought my arms looked fat. Brian looked awesome, but I thought my makeup was off. If you looked closely, you could see my stomach sticking out too much. The dress was maybe a little too va-va-voom and my hair was curled weird on one side.

This post is for the ladies. I’m learning a hard lesson here and I want to spare you this hurt. We all play our own hardest critics. How can we possibly judge ourselves so harshly? The worst part about this picture is that this occasion really had absolutely nothing to do with how I looked, and a whole lot more to do with the bride! 

The author and Brian with their arms around each other, smiling for the camera. He's wearing a suit and tie, and she is wearing a pink dress and gold earrings.

Oh, I’ve said this before, but we just didn’t know. I could not have fathomed a little over a year ago at my oldest friend’s wedding what we were gearing up for. I had an invasive tumor at this point. I was already months late on an ultrasound ordered by my doctor.

The lady in that picture has cancer. Huh? Not that chick. She is dancing the night away with her favorite guy, laughing and hugging on old friends and dancing some more.

A residing theme in this journey is vanity. I think I’m almost over it. But somehow, I’m still not even close. Here is what scares me: if I’m not over it after this, then I’m terrified of the lesson to come.

Here is a secret. I still look at myself in the mirror in yoga class and notice how I’m a couple of sizes bigger than the lady in front of me. I still search for new wrinkles and I am obsessive about checking for gray hairs in my incoming crop.

I have nothing to teach us here. No lesson I’ve learned. In fact, I’m appalled at how this has not changed in me. I am hurt at myself that I can still actually mutter the words, “I feel fat,” when there are things of so much more consequence to address.

I’m not usually so conflicted in what I want to say. I think I only know how to be truthful and it would be inauthentic of me to offer advise on being kind to yourself. In the same breath and out of the same mouth I can promise you that I see so much beauty in you, and I see a beauty that I did not before in the lady in the pretty pink dress. She was so happy, and honestly, she was having a really good hair day. Her heart was shining through.

Please be easier on yourself than I was. You never know what your future holds.

A photo of the author after going through chemotherapy

This post originally appeared on the “More to Learn” Facebook page.