In the spring of grief
I let my self blossom again.
I took a long leisurely bath this morning, and let the skin wrinkle on my feet. Afterwards, I gently rubbed exfoliator onto my face, working in small circles across my cheeks and over my nose, removing a tiny layer of cells, freshening and renewing, rinsing away yesterday’s me, and as I did this I knew what I would be writing about today. When I first started this blog, back in April, I wasn’t sure how much I would reveal, or even how much there was to be revealed, as back then everything was kept so tightly wrapped in manageable parcels. I remember looking at Self Portrait Tuesday and thinking there’s no way on earth I’m doing that. Yet this week I feel I’m beginning to delurk here. While all my postings can be stitched together into the semblance of a self-portrait, I no longer feel so wary about showing my real face. The worry that, like a mirror, the internet will steal slivers of my soul is passing – I realise that we are all simply flesh and blood, normal people walking on the earth, trying our very best to make life work, for ourselves and those we love.
Talking to two trusted friends about this yesterday, I see that as I reveal my face – the outward expression of who I am – I undertake another layer of healing. For so long there was only one person I wanted to see me, one person who seemingly knew me inside and out (but even then missed out on so many of the small things he took for granted). How could I let myself be seen if he could no longer see me? I still wrestle with this question, but I also find myself wanting to see myself, to make friends with this new woman I am creating, to learn to accept her flaws as well her new-grown strengths (both internal and external). Naturally my first reaction is to think that this is wicked vanity on my part – who taught me not to show myself off? My Victorian grandmother? My mother? Me? Don’t make a fuss, Susannah. Pull down your skirt, pull up your socks. Be quiet. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Shush now… Little girls should be seen and not heard.
But despite the ghostly voices chiding me in my head, I post pictures on my blog, my portal into the world at large, and I feel nervous. I worry I will be seen as vain, seen as showing off… yet wasn’t I the girl who took naked self-portraits for three years at art college, who exhibited them and asked for criticism? Why is it, now I am in my thirties, I worry about revealing too much? I sat with this question last night, and the only response was this: you are claiming your space.