I was flicking through some old pictures of myself recently, and after laughing at all my different hairstyles and hair colours, the fashions and my fluctuations in weight, something quite profound struck me… even though I was smiling in the majority of the photos, I wasn’t actually really smiling!!
My mouth was turning up at the corners yet my teeth were gritted together, my eyes appeared painfully sad, and my body was held rigid and hard – almost like a soldier standing to attention. The person in the picture could barely look at the camera and there was something about the pose that was aggressively defensive – if that makes sense. It was like I was saying: “back off buddy, I don’t want you to see me for who I really am”, or “please don’t notice how sad and lost I feel inside”.
PICTURES OF ME – AS A CHILD – WHERE DID I GO?
After this observation I dug out photos of when I was a little girl. I was curious – did I carry that sad look and defensive pose back then, and if so, could I pinpoint when it started?
There are not many pictures of me as a child – my family was not very well off and back then getting a roll of film developed was a luxurious expense. There are a couple of pictures of me as a toddler and around the age of 3-4yrs. In these I can see a naturalness in the way my body holds itself and a loving tenderness in my eyes; there is deep joy and a cheeky playfulness in my smile.
Pictures of me from around 6 through to 10yrs show the beginning of a shyness in my gaze and some tension in the way I hold my body. My mouth turns up in a smile but my eyes have a hint of sadness within them, and not the cheeky joy of the younger me.
And… well, the shots from my teenage years show defiance, aggression and sadness all rolled into one, even in the photos where I am being goofy and clowning around. There are a few flashes of that cute little girl whose smile and eyes beam with joy when I didn’t realise I was being watched and captured by the camera lens.
So where did that little girl who knew herself to be beautiful go, and why did I try to hide her?
In a world that is difficult and tough, and where love and gentleness are not celebrated as they ought to be, a child learns to please and give their parents, teachers, friends and relatives what they think is required. We change our ways and alter who we are to fit in, be accepted, get the pat on the back, or to simply disappear and blend into the background.
This not being who we are but being who we think we should be, hurts us as it goes against our innermost nature.
For me it meant my whole way of being became aggressive and driven – but looking at the pictures of me, the sadness in my eyes clearly showed.
PICTURES OF ME – NOW – AS A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
A couple of months ago I had a professional photographer come to my dental practice to do a shoot of my team and myself for our new website.
Instead of it being a stuffy and formal affair with the photographer telling us where to stand, how to pose and so forth, it was actually one of the most fun and enjoyable things I have experienced. Everybody was able to relax and just be themselves very quickly; most shots were taken of us simply doing our thing, role playing, working together in the dental office. I don’t think I have laughed so much in ages; I forgot the camera was even there most of the time.
This energy of ease and fun along with the love, care and tenderness of my team and myself was beautifully captured in the proof photographs that came back. As I looked through the shots I was deeply moved by the incredible work of the photographer, but also by the beauty of the people (us) in the images I was seeing.
Then one photo stopped me dead in my tracks, I think I actually gasped. It is of a tender, loving, beautiful woman who is not smiling with her mouth but with her eyes and all her heart… allowing you to see deep inside of her to the very essence of who she is, an essence that is pure love.
And as I looked at myself looking back at me, I wept with pure joy knowing that I no longer had to hide who I am, that I had come home to myself.
I was looking at a true picture of me.
By Dr Rachel Hall, Holistic Dentist, Brisbane