I was trying to take a picture of myself to send to some of my far-away loved ones who haven’t seen my purple hair in person… I just had my hair re-purpled and it is most brilliant when it’s freshly dyed, so I wanted to take the picture right away so it would show up well in the photo.
I stood in my bathroom and took some selfies, but they weren’t turning out right. I deleted every one. Thinking that the light in the bathroom wasn’t quite right, I decided to move to the living room.
I took a series of pictures in the living room with the natural afternoon light shining through the big windows. The pictures still weren’t right. Something was still off.
I turned on the lights to supplement the natural light in the living room. I took more pictures.
After more selfies I realized that the light had nothing to do with it. I didn’t like the pictures because they didn’t look like me. I couldn’t bring myself to send these pictures to anyone, because that’s not how I look. Or is it?
I looked through the pictures we’ve in taken the last few months and although there were some good ones of my hair, I felt like there was something off about those pictures too.
There’s just something about recent pictures that isn’t right, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it. There’s nothing necessarily *wrong* with the girl I see in the mirror or in pictures; it’s just that she’s not me. I feel like I’m looking at someone else or some fragmented or altered version of myself. Like all of our cameras are stuck on some strange filter that is changing my face and no one else’s.
Apparently I don’t have a single current picture of myself that I feel looks like me. But why? What’s different? Has my appearance really changed? What’s going on?
Has my face changed shape? Is my face thinner or rounder than it used to be? Or do I look different because my hair is longer than it used to be? If I think about that closely though, I don’t think either of those are the problem. My weight has fluctuated slightly all my adult life and I always thought I still looked like me, so I don’t think face shape is throwing me off. I’ve had long hair and short hair and all kinds of lengths in between, and I feel like pictures of myself still look like me.
Or are the dark circles under my eyes throwing me off? Because they are definitely there. I try to get as much sleep as I can, but some nights just aren’t meant for good sleeping, apparently. And even after a good night of sleep, the circles are still there… constantly reminding me of my exhausting journey walking the road of infertility and loss. I’m so tired. Physically. Emotionally. And it’s hard to hide it. I’ve pretty much given up on trying to with makeup; it just doesn’t work. But do circles under my eyes really make enough of an impact to make me feel disconnected from my reflection? I doubt it.
I look hard at the pictures. I think I look sad… Have I lost some kind of sparkle in my eyes? Is my smile less authentic? Do I just look sad all the time now?
When I smile for a camera I feel like a fraud. Like I’m lying to the world. Because I’m not happy right now. Unless I’m really in the moment and actually feeling truly happy, I don’t think I’m smiling too much these days. When I was trying to take a selfie to show off my purple hair, I struggled with smiling or not smiling. Smiling for my own camera feels so fake to me, but not smiling for the camera feels weird too. And when I do smile, even for someone else’s camera, I feel too often like the picture shows a smile that’s forced, a smile that’s not authentic. Maybe when I see pictures of myself I’m uncomfortable with the smile I see.
Or it could be that this disconnect is all psychological. Maybe because I feel different now, I also feel like I look different when see my reflection and pictures of myself… Do I think I look sad because I *am* sad? Do I think I look tired because I *am* tired? Is this some kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Do I see the world through lenses of sadness? I like to think that my infertility couldn’t possibly affect the way I view my reflection, but our minds are quite powerful. Maybe the change I sense is psychological.
I asked Matt if he thinks I look different now. He doesn’t think so… but if a change has actually taken place, if it’s not all psychological, I think maybe because he sees me every single day he hasn’t noticed the change. Maybe whatever change I think I see has happened slowly, over time… Because when I look back at older pictures, I think I look different.
When I see pictures of myself taken before infertility, I see myself happy and full of hopes and dreams for my future. I see real, authentic smiles. I don’t see sad eyes or dark circles. I look at those photos and think of how innocent I was then, with my heart mostly intact and not yet shattered to pieces. I see those pictures and I yearn to be back in a place where my heart didn’t know this kind of loss. Back when I felt and looked like myself.
I do think I’m a different person now compared to before, but I thought that was all in my heart and mind. Infertility has changed me in a lot of ways… but I didn’t realize infertility was changing my appearance too. But I think it is… because when I look in the mirror and when I see pictures of myself, I hardly even recognize that girl. Who is she and what is she doing there? Where did the girl I once knew go? Will she ever come back?