I no longer care about how attractive I am to others. You see, something happened to me about 3 years ago, around the time I turned 50, which, based on the many spiritual books I've read, would be called my "enlightenment". It was my own inner shift in consciousness, as the books so aptly describe it. But in layman's terms: I just suddenly woke up one day and saw people and myself differently. What other people thought about my appearance suddenly stopped mattering. It was as if they became invisible and I just never saw them anymore. Perhaps that doesn't sound earth shattering to you, but it was something pretty momentous to me. You see, ever since I was a child, other people's opinions about me always mattered. I was shy to the point of fearing people as a child. I feared being humiliated by comments they made about how I looked. My mother's critical assessment about my looks haunted me daily. My relatives were ruthless with their opinion about how thin I was or how I still didn't have breasts. I became an adult consumed by how she looked to other people. My coworker's opinions of each new outfit I wore mattered to me. A salesperson's opinion about how clothes looked on me when I went shopping mattered to me. I would get gas at the gas station and if the gas station attendant called me dear and leaned into my car a little bit more than standard protocol, I would feel attractive and that mattered to me. Like I said, everyone's opinion on my appearance mattered to me. And it became my addictive fix.So why did I suddenly stop caring?
One day, I started tripping whenever I wore my 3 ½ inch heeled shoes. I'd fall in parking lots on the way to shopping in stores. It was as if the universe was telling me, "You are not supposed to wear those things, they are not on your life's path anymore". A man in the Target's parking lot asked me if I was alright once when I tripped and fell to the ground. Oddly enough, I wasn't embarrassed and I didn't care if he tried to help me up or not. I was laughing to myself as I sat there, and he probably thought I was a little crazy. "I'm fine" I told him, feeling like the fingers in my left hand were sprained. I knew he wouldn't understand if I said "My body is just catching up with my new sense of enlightenment about the insignificance of my external being's appearance to others and I need lower heels". Yes, it was around that time my enlightenment about the ridiculousness about fixating on my appearance started to kick in.
But this kind of enlightenment does have its drawbacks. I am a Jewish female who was raised by a Jewish mother in the suburbs of New Jersey. My mother's definition of living was based on what new outfit she bought every day at her favorite discount store. So, seeing the world through a non external vision was like getting my first taste of food without salt or sugar. Life was much blander. I was beginning to ask myself those profound questions, like "Was a sugar rush really that terrible?" What on earth was happening to me? I started to care less about getting compliments from female friends. Then I stopped thinking about what new outfit I'd buy next and stopped caring about how good everyone else thought I looked. Then I stopped shopping for clothes all the time. Would there be no end to my enlightened state of numbness?
I guess you could call it numbness. Nothing that used to matter to me mattered anymore. I just didn't care what other people thought about me or my life. Was this what living an authentic existence was about? Okay, I was more "in touch" with my inner beliefs about what I really cared about. But I was also feeling a little melancholy, because nothing really gave me that intoxicating adrenaline rush anymore. And I kind of missed it. All the spiritual gurus in the world who encourage you to care less about the physical world around you never tell you about the down side of this kind of spiritual awakening. How much you feel like you don't fit in with your current friends and how everyone else seems to be in a different place on the planet. Because the world is a place of beings all focused on how good or bad they look, how good or bad you look, and how much you notice how good or bad you both look. And when you no longer care about that kind of feedback from the world you're in, the world feels like a lonely and strange place. And you miss the high you used to get when all that stuff did matter to you.
So, I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with this new state of "consciousness". I meditate a lot. It seems to help replace that high I used to get, at least in some mild, therapeutic way. I do miss the sexy, attractive, voluptuous me that felt good about herself whenever a trucker's horn beeped as he passed by on the highway. And I miss the smell of having a new wardrobe in my closet and breathing in the essence of those clothes with an ecstatic euphoria as if I was just pumped some kind of mind altering drug. But I miss it like a person misses a ritual they used to do, that has lost its significance because it now seems incredibly bizarre. There's just no point to it anymore. I think about my past life of wanting compliments and attention and praise from the world around me. I wonder why I cared so much about how all those people in my life saw me. I'm feeling free of the hold their opinions had on me. And I have to admit, that kind of inner freedom sure feels good.
Now my life is consistently uneventful and serene. I care about reading books and writing stories. I focus on finding my "self fulfillment". I'm still trying to figure out what that is for me, but I do know that it has nothing to do with what anyone else around me thinks about my appearance. Perhaps this is what "transcendence" is for a voluptuous 50 year old woman in New Jersey. I live "inside myself' most of the time, only to reappear outside myself every once in awhile when I notice an attentive eye passing me by on the street with that drooling like on its face. How odd that something so insignificant once meant so much to me. But noticing those stares passes, and I return again inside the new, inner me, more grounded, and secure. And dare I say it? Yes, I feel good.
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