After my knees, my skin was bursting to tell her story and to reveal to me the guilt and grief she felt.
If my skin could talk, she would say “I’m so sorry Shaelyn. I know how much you hated me all those years. I watched you recoil every time you saw me in the mirror. I tried so hard but there was no where for the pain to go but out. I was only doing my job.”
She’s referring to the severe acne I had as a teen and young adult. She’s referring to the shame and I hatred I felt towards myself and she’s right. She’s referring to the fact that our skin is our largest organ and it helps us detoxify our bodies. My body was full of a lifetime of emotions that I had no capacity to meet so they would release in my face where I had no choice but to see them.
For so many years I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror. I tried every medication until two courses of Accutane and many chemical peels finally cleared my skin. The scars still live on the inside though.
I remember my skin flaring again postpartum with my first daughter and all my shame coming right back to the surface at a time when my resources were depleted.
I noticed how I would wash my face with such tense hands trying to rush the process so I didn’t have to see the pimples or feel the shame.
I remember thinking, there’s another way.
I began a ritual then that I practice every morning and evening. It is my way of saying sorry to my skin for hating her all those years. As I wash my face I tell my skin, “I love and accept you” as I gently rub the cleanser around and then apply lotion or oil. I repeat this over and over in my mind so much that it is automatic now.
At first I hated this practice. It felt like a lie. It's been just over 7 years and now i cantle wash my face without hearing a voice within say, "I love and accept you."
Words are spells and this gentle practice is one of the ways I weave magic into the mundane. Slowly I've replaced the voice of my harsh inner critic with the voice of my loving Inner Mother who teaches me to love the skin I'm in.
My skin has begin to show signs of aging. And my Inner Mother reminds me that each line is a map of the places I've been and all that I've survived. Thanks to an incredible mentorship with Sarah Durham Wilson I have come to see my own aging as a saging process. A beautiful rite off passage into the Mature Feminine that inspired this project.