Ghosts of my childhood

abandoned store front window

I see a hint of her from the corner of my eye as I walk down a busy street. There she is watching me through store windows that distort my already misshapen body like funhouse mirrors. When I try to catch her spying on me, she vanishes.

Sitting in the neighborhood cafe, sipping coffee with two creams and a sugar, picking praline pecans from my cinnamon roll, I feel her disapproving stare on my exposed neck. Reaching up to settle my prickling skin, I nervously laugh at my foolishness.

She hangs in my closet, surrounded by drab business suits and indifferent overcoats that camouflage my gender, questioning my decision to wear graceful silk.

Her voice carries over the sea birds as I bask in the sun at the beach. Away from the crowd, discretely dressed with a sarong wrapped around my waist to cover my thunderous thighs, she drowns out my cries of, “I have nothing to hide.”

I’m haunted by childhood ghosts of her self doubts, “I’m not pretty enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m undesirable. You look just like me.”

The circle is unbroken.

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Light and Shade Challenge: “Some ghosts are so quiet you would hardly know they were there.” ~ Bernie McGill, The Butterfly Cabinet
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4/31 – Childhood
This came out of a conversation a friend and I had while at the beach over the weekend. People watching, we marveled at the different aspects of various women of various sizes, and how their self-image was sometimes painfully apparent.

There were curvaceous women, heavier by far than either of us, who were wearing skimpy, string bikinis and were literally strutting. Other woman kept covered up, wearing long tops or flowing sarongs. The way they carried themselves led us to believe they were ashamed of their bodies, when they were all beautiful women.

My friend and I are both battling our image demons, sharing stories of how our mothers insecurities were passed to us. I want to strut, and believe in my magnificence. I hope that I’ve broken that circle of shame with my daughter, and that she never questions the beauty of the woman she has become.

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

7 thoughts on “Ghosts of my childhood

  1. It is so hard to not just fight those inner voices that bring image shame, but to be careful to not pass them on to our daughters. I’m still in the midst of that fight on both sides.

    This was beautifully written, and very thought provoking. A good reminder.

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  2. Ghost of self doubts are difficult to drive away. It’s so important to break free from stereo-typed notions of the perfect figure. I wish we all have the courage to accept ourselves. Good luck! Lovely piece of writing 🙂

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  3. I think the woman you are is beautiful – in every aspect I can think of. What I love about you most, however, is that you think – in ways that open my eyes to things I never thought of, realized or understood. Thank you for being who you are – and for being my friend.

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  4. Gorgeous writing, as usual. This one really resonated with me as I fear that my own negative images and insecurities will be passed to my beautiful daughter. I have noticed that I tend to be overly critical of myself and my new late-thirties, mother of 3, less active body type. I will be sure to pay close attention to holding my tongue for her sake. Great post!

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