In Her Eyes

Ever since I was a little girl, giving gifts has always been my favorite part of Christmas.

And, not to toot my own horn, or rather — ring my own jingle bell —

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But I’m pretty darn good at it.

Let’s just say I’d give the elves a run for their money.

And I’m not talking about some coupon book for free hugs and foot rubs. Nah. That’s amateur. I’m talking about turning a paper grocery bag into a “juke box” as a youngin’ and then giving each member of my family a “record” to play.

And then there was the year during the Michelle Kwan era that I choreographed a *roller* skating masterpiece to My Heart Will Go On, and rolled the rug back and performed it in the foyer. Complete with a Ribbon Dancer and a twirling skirt.

I may not have had cash money to spend as a kid, but damn, could I give a heartfelt gift.


And I’ll let you in on a secret of how the magic happens. How I come up with the perfect gift.

And I promise there’s a point to this.

I find a quiet time, and I just sit and look at a picture of each person I’m giving a gift to. I just look at them. For about 5 minutes or so. Until it just…I don’t know…comes to me.

And well, here it is December 19, and I am just now getting around to shopping.

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So this weekend, I found myself sitting and looking at photos of all the members of my family. And I finally came to my little three year old niece. We’ll call her A.

This kid. I mean, I wish I could put a picture of her on here, because she is the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen. White blond hair. Crystal blue eyes. I mean, my brother better stay fit because he’s going to be beating the boys away with sticks when she gets older.

But I digress.

I was sitting, looking at the photo of my niece, and it was this hauntingly beautiful photo where she’s kneeling down in a creek by some rocks, and just looking up at the camera, and her eyes, so wide and innocent, just piercing my heart.

And as I write this, a lump is swelling up in my throat because I miss her so incredibly much, and wish I could be more present in her life…

But I just couldn’t shake those eyes.

The way my little niece looks at me…I’m her Aunt Dooga. (Don’t ask.) I’m the fun aunt that comes around sometimes that makes her laugh and has crazy dance parties and has a weird affinity for butternut squash ice cream.


In her eyes, right now, she sees only good. Only positive things. I am blameless to her.

And then it hit me. One day, when she gets older, I’m going to have to tell her about my history of anorexia. She’s going to look at her parent’s wedding photos and want to know what’s going on with Dooga? Why does she look so scary? Why was her skin so grey? Why didn’t she have any hair?

And that’s when it will happen. When that only-good, positive image she has of me in her sweet little mind is going to come crashing down. And I will disappoint her. Deeply.

Dooga’s not the put together aunt from NYC that is fun and happy and silly. But the girl with the secret past. The broken past. The past that scares her.

And it’s at that moment that I will forever be different in her beautiful blue eyes.

Will she forgive me? Will she ever trust me again?

I’m still looking at her picture. So unknowingly looking up at me. Seeing me. Those eyes that piece to my soul, but don’t really know. Not yet.

And I pray in that moment that she never has to go though what I went through. That she never experience the veiled torture of an eating disorder.

And it got me thinking…if I could tell her one thing, what would it be? Because it seems that I’m a lot better at dishing out advice than taking my own to heart.

And it’s this…

Never forget how greatly loved and treasured you are. If you win scholarships or prizes, or fall short or mess up…you are precious no matter what. And you are worth joy. And love. And peace. The world can be mean – people can say things that hurt, and people may disappoint you – and you may even disappoint yourself – but there is a goodness and beauty in you that cannot be tarnished. Because it is from God. So never forget…you are enough.

There will come a day when I share with her my past. And I trust that God will use that opportunity as a way to exemplify His forgiveness and mercy and glory. And even though I’m giving myself a hernia thinking about how that conversation is going to go, I trust that God will give me the words in that moment.

But that day, is not today. And now, it’s time for bed.

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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

200 thoughts on “In Her Eyes

  1. Beautiful post. I love your heart for your niece. I can’t wait for you to experience that overwhelming acceptance that comes when I child hears your story and still thinks you are every bit as awesome & someday, the uninhibited forgiveness that comes for ones who are innocent. And I have a feeling your are just that cool. We have so much to learn from children, so much to return to.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think your little niece will understand when the time comes. I had a lot of inner turmoil as a kid so I don’t expect kids to be judgy…I think that’s something I worry more about when it comes to adults (even though I shouldn’t worry at all). This post was so sweet. I think I found a kindred spirit in you. I thought that I was the only one who poured my heart into gift giving…you’ve got me beat :). I love the idea of meditating on the photos and really thinking about the person you’re gifting too. so sweet ❤ I hope you come up with some lovely ideas this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, that brought moisture to my eyes. I”m unfortunately at the point where all I can relate to is the sense of disappointment. Of not being good enough. Of not being worth looking at the same way again.
    I hope you get the opportunity to share with her that she is always loved in God’s eyes, and in yours.

    May you have a wonderful merry Christmas and a happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jeff. I’m glad it hit home with you. I can definitely relate to that feeling. But then I just have to remember that Jesus said I was enough. He proclaimed that through His actions on the cross and nothing I do or don’t do will effect that. Have a merry merry Christmas my friend! Hugs and love xox

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  4. I look forward to hearing the gifts you come up with this year …

    As for your niece, don’t underestimate the amount of compassion a child has … I doubt she will be disappointed. She might want to comfort you more than feel that you have let her down in any way. It is the past, let it continue to shape you into a beautiful person and let it be the only purpose that it happened.

    Have a Merry Christmas with all who love you… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the sincerity you place into choosing your gifts for loved ones. I’ve not started shopping yet myself and is the 21st! Not to worry though, some of the best gifts are the spontaneous ones, the ones God just drops into your heart that are so perfect. Blessings to you this Christmas. Additionally, I’ve found the areas in which I’ve struggled to be the ones from which I minister to others in like situations. God will redeem your experience for his glory as you share your story and point others to him.

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  6. Thank you for visiting my blog! I absolutely love the way you write. I too, have struggled with anorexia in my teenage years and as an adult I struggle with negative self-image. On a positive note I really love the way you would come up with meaningful gifts for your loved ones. I am on disability and don’t have much left after living expenses. This post has really spoken to me in a way that made me realize that I can make more meaningful gifts from the heart! I will definitely be whipping out the photo album tonight! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there friend! I’m sorry to hear that we have that in our pasts that connect us, but I’m so glad to know we’re on the journey of recovery together! Know that im cheering you on! Have fun with the gift planning! Big hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, I believe you’re going to get the right words to say to her flowing right out of your mouth when the time comes😄 and she’s going to see you for the beautiful and great person you’ve emerged and transformed into, and not your past.

    She’s got you for an aunt Caralyn 😄, so, let’s say she’ll grow up with the same abilities to see the good in people while focusing on the present and the future, not the past.

    By the way, left you a message in your mail. Do check it out…
    – Kizo Daniels

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your niece will still see you as this Amazing aunts who overcome everything. Through your eyes she will learn about strength, not giving up. She will
    Learn what forgiveness is through you and the LOVE of God ❤.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. She will never judge you for that I am sure. Don’t make situations where there are none. Fretting your valuable life away predicting your future and assuming something like that is not where you need to be. You need to now, for today, for the time that you have. Tomorrow is not a promise and failing yourself in the now is cheating God and yourself!! Look no further than past your nose and cherish what you have, not what you think you’re going to lose. Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now lol.

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  10. I read this and it reminds me of my dad and his horrendous scar just below his collarbone. One day he told us he got it from a car accident while drunk driving. He’s lucky he didn’t get himself killed. He did have a drinking problem and he has long since overcome it but like you he was afraid to tell us that story. He was afraid to be seen as less than or worse, lead us down the same path. I’m glad he shared that story with us. I’m glad I’ve seen the scar. Any time I’ve ever had a drink since, someone else gets my keys before my first sip. I learned a long time ago to watch and stick to my limits too. Now it’s only one drink thanks to my meds, but that’s my limit. Just one and I’m ready for sleep. lol Good enough for me. The point is I don’t think you will lose anything but I think your niece will gain a wealth of wisdom that she will not have to walk through hellfire on her own to earn. That is a profound gift to give her so don’t let doubt or shame tell you otherwise. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow thank you so much for sharing this with me. What a powerful testimony. You’re right- looking at it with that perspective, I really can use it as a learning and growing opportunity for her. So glad you stopped by. Big hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The beauty of kids is that they really have a pure kind of love! Your little niece will look at those pictures and see an aunt dooga who has faced adversity and is overcoming it! She will see a strong Aunty who we be an example that with Christ all things are possible and even the darkest of tunnels have light at the end of them! You are the perfect example of grace! Many blessings to you my friend!

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  12. Being an Aunt (or Uncle) is great. We can sometimes give life lessons that children will not hear from parents. The point is not that we have been perfect in our niece’s or nephew’s eye, but that we have continued on with life with our errors and imperfections.
    Oscar
    P.S. my Christmas stocking at work had at least a dozen lumps of (chocolate) coal. I think the elves really like me.

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  13. Seeing who you were will not change who you are. You may have been in that struggle in those pictures then, but that doesn’t erase who you’ve been to her. That’s who she knows. Your past can’t undo that in her heart. I also want to say something I hope you know today. You are a stunner. You are incredibly beautiful. Really. Seriously. You may have looked one way in those wedding pictures, but it will be impossible for A’s eyes not to see that beauty that is present that you fought for beyond physical beauty.

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    1. Thanks Tory. What a kind thing to say. I really appreciate the encouragement. You’re right, kids can be quick to forgive and accept the person in front of them. How refreshing. wow, i am so touched by your kind words. Have a beautiful afternoon! and happy holidays! xox

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I really like your Christmas present ideas! Thank you for explaining how you come up with them-I’ve been trying to choose my presents really carefully this year and make sure that it fits the person that I am giving it to.
    I know what you mean about your niece-I feel the same way when I see my little sister growing up. I never want her to know about the times when I messed up or went through difficult things or even just didn’t conform to society’s expectations. But I guess everyone has to learn what the world is really like one day-the good parts and the bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lilly! You’re so right. And I think the great thing about kids too is that they are quick to forgive and tend to only see the person in front of them. Thanks for stopping by! Merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

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  15. The good thing about being an aunt is they will sometimes listen to you when they don’t want to listen to their parents. As well as fun to dispense you will also have some wisdom to impart when the time is right.

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  16. So, a couple of days ago I mentioned that at Christmas Eve, my goddaughter wanted me to hold her all through mass. She just turned 2 in September. Her dad likes to tell her about the time that Auntie Laura lived with her when she was a baby, and how special that time was, but what he doesn’t tell her is that the reason I was living with them was because I was in treatment for my eating disorder. For her 3rd and 4th month of life, I lived in the guest bedroom upstairs. It happened to be late November through January – I spent all the holidays there. In the day, I was in partial hospitalization, and the rest of the time, I got to be part of this amazing family. I sometimes wonder how she will discover all of this history. Will I tell her? Will her parents? How will that conversation go? But, I don’t dread that day. I am actually looking forward to her knowing about my broken past. Maybe, when she knows that I am not perfect, that I am crazy and messed up and went through some really bad stuff, it will bring us closer. That is what I hope, at least. I hope that she will be able to come to me when she feels insecure, or afraid, or invalidated, or uncertain, or alone. I hope that she will know that I’ve been there, and that I will listen, and that I will always love her, no matter what. It sounds like you have a great relationship with your niece. I am imagining a future like this for you both, too.

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    1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this, Lulu. It sounds like you really have a special relationship with your niece. that’s so wonderful. And you know what? I think you’re right — I think that she will love you all the more when the conversation happens. And i think that it will give her an even great love and admiration for you 🙂 thanks for all your sweet words tonight. big hugs xox

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much, my friend! I hope that your relationship with your niece will be deepened and strengthened as she comes to know you more and more authentically. I was thinking about what St Paul wrote when he talked about praying for the thorn to be removed from his side and receiving the reply from the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you.” I often meditate on just those words, but tonight, I was thinking about the rest of that passage. “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times, I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:7-10). Just from reading your blog, I can see how much strength you draw from what you have been through, and God is working great things in you. In our weakness and brokenness, He manifests the fullness of His strength. I can definitely see His light shining in your life, and I pray that your niece and everyone you love will see that, too. ❤ Hugs back!

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  17. This post about brought me to tears. I hope one day once she gets old enough that you gift this post to her in some way. Beautifully written and so heartfelt.

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