This post is about a subject that could be misinterpreted, or even misdiagnosed. I do not generally have low self-esteem. I am secure in myself. More than that I am happy with myself. I also have a lot of confidence in public, social and other settings. I don’t become shy or nervous without a very good reason.
I have a healthy amount of self-esteem. I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses. I am happy with me. I know what I am proud of, I know what I need to work on. I have a very high appreciation for others, which helps me to keep a balanced view of myself.
Fundamentally, what I like about me is that I love people. Like my parents, who trained me and whose example I imitate, I have learnt to be patient, mild, a peace-maker, forgiving, kind, tactful, sensitive and graceful. I like that I am joyful and cheery, but I can change my temperament according to the needs of others. I like who I am.
However, this post is not about my strengths. It is about one of my weaknesses. I have more than one weakness. But this particular weakness is frustrating. It is a ridiculous irrational oddity. But it has a powerful effect on me.
I hate seeing photographs of myself. I don’t mind posing for photos. But I literally hate seeing the photograph after it is taken. If you don’t have a similar reaction yourself to seeing photos of you, you might find it hard to comprehend the extreme feelings I have. I cannot bear to see myself in a photo. My eyes immediately focus on the less admirable parts of me, or how tired I look, or the lumpy bumpy parts of me, of my hair or eyebrows looking a mess, or my tummy sticking out…I find what I see repugnant.
Strangely, I don’t have those feelings when I look into a mirror. Mirrors are fine. Perhaps mirrors are kinder than cameras. But what I see in the mirror is pleasant, even attractive (lol – if I do say so myself!)
I know I can’t really be repugnant. Neither Goldfinch or Jack are in anyway desperate for attention, Either of them could attract beautiful women. If I truly was as ugly and horrid as the creature I see in photographs of me, they would not be interested in me.
If you point a camera at me, I instinctively switch on the entertainer in me. I can pose and prance and pout all you like. But when I catch sight of myself in a photo, I become depressed, and very very upset. Recently, poor Jack had to calm me down when I became inconsolable about some pictures he was taking of me.
It all started when I mentioned to Goldfinch that Jack and I were heading to our first public event together. I told Goldfinch I was going to be wearing a lovely dress. Goldfinch asked me for a photo of me in the dress. Oh boy! A simple request, you might think. Not in my case.
I asked Jack to take it. I cannot do selfies. It would drive me to despair. But I was happy to pose as Jack took several photos. He liked the photos a lot. He wanted to post one on Instagram and comment that I had found the dress in a charity shop. Jack has been extremely keen for a long time to post photos of us as a couple on his Instagram account. He sees it as a way of making sure any critics realize we are not intimidated. (Although, the truth is I am intimidated!) I saw the photos he took and was devastated. Absolutely horrified by how awful I looked.
That’s always the way I feel. I hate seeing photos of myself. I truly literally detest what I see. Jack tried to contradict my self deprecating statements. He tried to calm me down. it didn’t work. I was inconsolable. That was the night before we were going to our first public event. Jack was tired that night. Perhaps I was too. In the end, he gave up and went to bed because I was in such a major sulk.
The following night, we had an amazing time. All my confidence came back at the event, because I was focused on other people, both Jack and everyone else. I had no shyness, not low self-esteem. But people took photos. Some of those photos on now on their Instagram accounts. Jack says we look great, but I have begged him not to let me see them.
Poor Goldfinch. He has no idea what he started when he asked me for a photo. Poor Jack! To him photos are part of daily life. As a celebrity, he can’t avoid photos. He is always taking selfies and pictures of people he meets and places he visits. He repeatedly poses for photos with people who recognise him. But he has a girlfriend who has something between a phobia to a paranoia when it comes to seeing photographs of herself.
I don’t like that Jack saw me so upset about something that must seem so ridiculous. He has now seen a crippling weakness and how it makes me crumble. He wants to “cure” me. But he will have a battle. I have felt that way since I was a small girl. I have always hated to see photographs and video footage of myself. It hasn’t stopped me from being on stage, on television, and in fashion shows. Neither has it stopped me posing for cameras. But I can only do and enjoy any of that on the proviso that I don’t see the images the camera has captured afterwards.
I am fully cognizant of how much it doesn’t make any sense, Nonetheless, it is a powerful feeling. I am repelled by photographs of me. I find them revolting. So it is best, to let me carry on dancing, singing, posing and generally lighting up the room. But please do not show me the pictures you took. Because I will be on the floor in a puddle of tears, hating the abominable creature in those photos.
As I mentioned, it doesn’t effect how I feel about myself. The inner me is delightful. I know that. I get to walk around with a heart full of joy and warmth and smiles. There is no sinister unkindness lurking. I don’t have these intense feelings when I see myself in a mirror. But nonetheless, photos of me are a problem. They crush me.
Anyway, Jack is going to be away now for a while. I don’t think I can be on my own with a photo of us on his Instagram account. It’s something I am going to need his support to endure. Sigh.