Forgiveness Friday: Life Lessons from a lifetime of Ack!ne

When I think of all the “cute” things in the world with spots, from baby deer rumps to quaint dresses and tea cups, I wonder why then I am so intolerant of my own.  Since the age of 11 I have battled my skin.  Hormonal breakouts plagued me, starting with my face and then gradually taking over my neck…then chest…then back…like a slow epidemic wiping out my sense of self-worth one square inch of skin at a time.

I was able to find some relief and control with certain types of birth control pills – relegating the breakouts to manageable moments mostly on my face.  After 20 years of intermittent to mostly consistent use of the pill, only stopping while starting a family (obviously) and most recently a change of doctor, who in startled alarm said “…any woman who experiences migraine with aura should NOT be on the pill for increased risk of stroke.”  So here I am in the middle of all this self-compassion work with the one challenge I’ve never been able to forgive, accept or be with – my spots – every-effing-where.

I have a Fine Arts Degree and love to draw, paint, photograph and bare witness to beautiful things.  What was a bonus in the honing of my artistic abilities was I became a master of camouflage.  I can blend and dab the shit out of a pimple.  Layering with special brushes and flesh toned pigment is no different than shading a 2-D image to life or painting the emergence of a flower on a canvas.  This mastery also comes from the massive time commitment I resigned myself to in the pursuit of appearing perfect.  Sadly, when I couldn’t overcome a challenging blemish with the trickery of my makeup bag, I would choose to sit out of events.  I couldn’t bare to “look so flawed” in the company of others and felt it said something about who I really was inside. (Because it did: insecure,  emotionally traumatized, false sense of ego and what really actually matters in a life well-lived – I think this is called “shallow”).

Not very self-compassionate, I know.

Now I occasionally find myself wishing for early-menopause…maybe if there are fewer hormones…my body will have an easier chemistry to balance…I may look older but at least my skin won’t be covered in red bumps??  Ridiculous, I know.

What I really hope is that I find the compassion in my own heart and soul to forgive my body for this biological hiccup.  I have already resigned myself to the idea that I will never post a make-up free selfie on Facebook, but maybe I can stop wishing ill-will towards those who can and do?  Maybe.  I go without make-up at home and my husband and son don’t seem to notice which is a relief.  When my filter-less son asked me once (in his 6 years of knowing me) what the red spots on my face were, I didn’t go into self-loathing-Sarah-mode.  I told him some people just have spots on their skin sometimes or (what feels like) all the time.  He accepted this without hesitation just like he accepts me, spots and all.

I know it starts with me and ends with me.  The spots, the migraines, the chronic pain…it may go or it may never go.  But I will always be here and will try my best to no longer abandon myself with discouragement and harsh judgement.  The self-love will grow because of the mind-body-spirit work I continue to commit to.  In the meantime, I will use the love of my greatest champions to inspire forgiveness and acceptance in myself.

Oprah has Super Soul Sunday’s and now I have Forgiveness Friday’s…because there are a whole 7 days every week for me to eff-up, recognize, and then hopefully forgive myself through the writing process.  So much opportunity to hone my writing, self-compassion and authenticity! Oh goodie…better get started…I wonder what this week will bring?!




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