Journal #1 Made The Big Mistake of Dancing In My Storm
By: Brittany Priore Illustration: Amanda Kate Design
When looking in the mirror I don't love the person I'm looking at as much as the person I'm lying next to. This doesn't stem from me putting my lover's happiness and wellbeing before my own; it stems from the deep-rooted hatred I have developed toward myself. There are many truths I have denied, many fears I have suppressed, and many lies I have repeated to prevent anyone from seeing me for what I am -- for who I've become.
It's not easy to admit that you're unhappy and it's certainly not easy to look in the mirror and admit it to yourself. Each morning I find that I can barely glance at myself in the mirror. I am the last person I want to see. If it isn't because of the acne splattered across my face, then it's because of the hyper-pigmentation and craters accompanying it.
When I look in the mirror I see a monster. I see a broken shell of the person I used to be - a person I barely even remember. When was the last time you actually felt pretty? When was the last time you felt comfortable in your skin, confident with what you look like? When was the last time you felt like you were enough? I have never been able to answers these questions, but I assume it was probably around the same time I started feeling invisible, and on some days like an eyesore, to society.
I started developing cystic acne in 2013 when I was in college and it took a major toll on my self-worth. I started seeing myself as ugly, as unimportant, and inconvenient to society. I stopped going out with friends. I refused to let anyone in my life, besides my family, see me for who I really was. I kept up appearances on Instagram by letting the world see what I wanted them to see - an airbrushed version of myself.
Looking back, I don't think I was able to even admit that I didn't look like that girl in those photoshopped pictures. I was in such denial about what was happening to me, that I stopped telling myself the truth and started filtering lies that made me feel better about myself.
It was around this time that I started developing severe anxiety and panic attacks. I became so dependent on being at home that I was convinced my panic attacks would only subside if I was at home. Because of this, I started to develop agoraphobia and depression. I became too anxious to leave my house and whenever I did I felt an illogical fear that pushed me to go back home almost immediately. Not many people around me recognized what was happening. Friends didn't believe me or thought I was being dramatic. And my family seemed unaware and almost oblivious to what was going on. I think they might have been in denial, too.
I fell into a different life. It was as if I woke up one day and the person I had been was gone, and all that was left was a storm of depression, fear, self-loathing and defeat. I started to care less and less about my appearance. It may seem foolish to some, but I couldn't get passed my face. The acne influenced every decision I made. I hated going out in public. I hated watching peoples eyes scan my face as I was talking. I hated the unsolicited opinions strangers would give me on how to clear my acne. I hated the embarrassment I felt running into some I knew. And I hated, more than anything else, I hated when someone would tell me how pretty I looked when I was wearing makeup because I never heard that compliment barefaced.
Fast forward 5 years later and I am still waking up with that hatred in my heart. I have lied to myself for so long that I was unable to recognize the vicious cycle of desolation I had put myself in. I am no longer in college, I am now the proud founding Editor-In-Chief of The Write Dose, and I am applying for grad school next fall. So how have I changed? How do those old scars affect me today? The answer is simple: I haven't changed and those scars never healed. They are still open wounds I have been bandaging up and leaving untreated for quite some time.
It's hard for me to admit that I am depressed, but, yes, I would say that I have sunken into a depressive state again. I feel the lowest I have ever been in my life. I feel unloved, worthless, defeated, lost, and empty. I don't feel those emotions because of what anyone else around me has done or said. I feel those emotions because of what I have done and said to myself. Please don't feel pity for me. This is not my intention.
Don't you see? I recognize this. I recognize the person I have allowed myself to become. I recognize the truth. I recognize the lies. I recognize the defeat. I am able to tell the truth to myself, to you, to my family, to my friends. I am ready to start loving myself again. I know this will be a long journey. I know it will be dark and trying at times. But I know it will be worth it because I'm tired of hating myself. I am so ready to love every piece of me. I want to genuinely practice what I preach to all of you and that is self-love and acceptance. Even in my darkest times, the last thing I want for any of you is to feel as lousy about yourself as I do about myself.
I don't want to bail on friends or cancel meetings or be afraid to attend grad school in the fall because I'm embarrassed by what I look like. I want to wake up feeling confident. I want to get dressed feeling confident. I want to look in the mirror feeling confident. I want to smile genuinely and stop talking so damn much in the effort to mask the melancholy I feel inside - the parts of me I am ashamed of people seeing.
Not all this will happen at once. I know that. I desperately need to take baby steps to see genuine and authentic improvement in myself. But I promise you, and more importantly, I promise myself, that I am ready to start dancing in my storms rather than seeking out shelter from them.
My reason for this article today, during the 1-year anniversary of The Write Dose’s creation, is to ask you to join me. Come dance in my storms and while you're at it, splash around in yours, too. My first baby step has been journaling. It's such a cathartic way to recognize, process, and accept whatever it is you are trying to grow through. So, I have decided to share it with you. In hopes of inspiring you and me on this journey, I have decided to share my journal entries with you each week on The Write Dose. The thought doesn't settle completely well with me. I'm sure I can speak for many of us when I say it's not always easy being vulnerable. But I hope that these journal entries inspire you to keep fighting for your happiness or bring you to your truth.
If you would like to join me on this journey, be sure to check in each week under the new "Journal" category listed on the site.