I should not listen to the mirror. It taunts me. But the truth is, it is not just the mirror. It is my entire physical body. It screams, “This is not Mel.” And I believe it. I just don’t see the Mel that I used to be. I am not the Mel that I want to see. She is gone.
Ironically, I struggled with self-image long before I was diagnosed with NF2. Over the years I have had my ups and downs…before the diagnosis, it was the desire to impress and be popular. Now it concerns physical changes or side effects from medicines. Lately, it is the latter of the two.
It is no secret that I have been on steroids since December 2012. It was not until March that I noticed a change beginning. It started in my neck: now, I am a fan of football, but the thought crossed my mind, “You have a football neck.” (If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at a defensive tackle roster and then you will understand.) I covered for myself and laughed that I was getting muscle from my neck exercises. Then it started in my face. I covered for myself and laughed, “My chubby chipmunk cheeks.” Then it came to my stomach. I covered for myself and bought new wardrobe needs.
But I am tired of covering for myself, tired of being a different Mel: I am tired of seeing my parents sacrifice their time and energy for me when I want to be able to do it on my own. I am tired of having the constant cravings to eat, matched with sick intestines. I am tired of the endless needs, weekly appointments, and crazy sleeping patterns. I think it comes down this: I am tired of trying to be the Mel that I wish to see. She is gone.
But I am still here. And I hope in time that I will again see Mel. Not by my eyes, but in the eyes of my Savior.
Aslan: “You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.”
C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
This morning was one of those mornings. Not that I got started off with the wrong foot, but definitely the wrong shoes! I should start paying closer attention to my gut feeling that says, “This is not going to work.” Now I like to be optimistic, but that little voice inside tried to warn me that the dress I was trying on in the Target fitting room was too small. “It’s so cute, I want to try it anyway.” I get stuck. Thankfully my Mom was shopping with me that day. Lesson learned (at least for shopping).
You would think from my Cinderella shoe experience that I would have learned to follow signs that it might not be a good day to wear certain shoes. Think again. The cause: they completed my Sunday morning outfit (even to the choice of earrings). The effect: I was tripping in them even before I left the house. “If I walk slow I will do fine.” Even slow was not working. I get to the church door and the man who greeted me acted calm but I wonder what he was actually thinking. I said, “Good morning!” Then tripped and said, “Stupid shoes.” I never fell, but on the way out of church I was having such a hard time, I just slipped off my shoes and went barefoot to the car. The shoes are now in the thrift store pile. As cute as they are, they just have to go.
This morning, the message was on Psalm 16; “A Psalm of Confidence.” On the drive home, I was thinking of how the message was exactly what I needed to hear in encouragement and truth that “Confidence in the Lord means that I trust Him regardless.” It was like preparation for the days to come.
As I am still thinking, before you know it, one of my favorite movies comes to mind: Rogers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. It could have been my shoe experience or emphasis on the word, “confidence,” but I started to laugh as I could picture Maria (played by Julie Andrews) singing and doing her fancy feet work in the song, “I Have Confidence.”
[Fancy feet – 2:30; my feet – 3:46] 🙂
I definitely don’t trust my feeble ankles or my shoes to preserve me when I walk, but I have confidence in the One who is able: “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8