Friday, September 18, 2015

Internet Therapy...

My Internet Therapist (a reader) had asked me to consider an exercise where I take two pictures of myself, one I like and one I don't like, and then talk to the reasons I like or don't like each.  I certainly see the value in an exercise like this but to be honest, my desire for anonymity got the best of me and I chose not to follow through exactly how he proposed.  Instead, I thought I could respond in another way with pictures that help paint the, uh, picture.
My father was a tall, slender man who wore a suit to work every day.  Dark hair, clean shaven, handsome.  My mom marveled at how he would make the ladies melt with his friendly personality and charm.  When I saw an image of Don Draper for the very first time, I immediately saw what I recall my father looking like when he was in his forties.  I look absolutely nothing like Don Draper.  Yet, when I look in the mirror, more often than not, I see my father's face staring back at me.

As early as I possibly could, I wore a mustache.  During my years in the military, I often had superiors give me the stink eye because my mustache was absolutely always outside the grooming standards mandated by regulation.  It wasn't a bushy mustache, but I certainly let the outer edges grow beyond the imaginary line at the edge of my lips.  Occasionally, kind people, my wife and others would say I looked like Tom Selleck.  I can assure you, I look nothing like Tom Selleck.
There was that time I sat in the airport lounge in one of the terminals at LAX, enjoying a third beer while I waited for a flight to Hawaii and Guam.  Two even drunker girls were sitting across the bar from me, maybe six feet away separated by a bunch of liquor bottles, when one pointed at me and loudly whispered to the other, "I think that's Tom Selleck."  Ego stroked; but no, I really look nothing like Tom Selleck.

I am tall by some standards.  At just over six feet I'm not the shortest man in my family but not the tallest either.  I tower above many of my colleagues, yet I feel fairly average, after all, this is Texas.  I'm heavy by east coast standards (so a doctor once told me) but for San Antonio, I'm fairly normal sized (same small, thin, petite doctor from New York said so).  I don't know if people are just kind but when I refer to myself as a fat ass, I am almost universally told I carry my weight well.  Well, everyone but that doctor.

When I was a teen, I would often look in the mirror and cry at how ugly I felt because of acne.  Yet, up until I was fifty or so, my mom would always tell me how handsome I was.  I admit, I often stare at the mirror and see a handsome man staring back.  I don't see Selleck, but I do see an appealing face.  I hear my mother saying, "You're the cutest boy in the sixth grade."
At the same time, I am very conscientious about my body and I often imagine looking into my office from the doorway and in my mind, I see Milton, that stapler guy from Office Space.  You know him. Heavy, sweaty, an outcast.  No, I don't look like him either, but there are times when my internal self-image computer is telling me that.  I think self image is always mostly wrong.

Years ago, 30 years ago or so, I recall posing for my sister in a pair of gym shorts.  She took a snap of me with a Polaroid camera and I wrote "Before" on the white open space on the bottom.  I was feeling fat at 185 pounds and I had intended to slim down.   I recall seeing that photo several years later when I was probably 210 pounds, and I thought how great I looked in the "Before" photo.  And today, I look at images of me in those 210 pound years and admire how svelte I looked back then.  I've never had a positive body image.  But I recognize that and try not to dwell on it.

So this probably doesn't meet the needs of the exercise at hand, but it does reveal a little more about me.

4 comments:

Aunt Clara said...

When I was in college I went to a gynecologist who had a poster of Tom Selleck on the ceiling, so when I would be on the table in stirrups with a doctor at my business end, all I could see was Mr. Selleck in his "nut cutter" shorty shorts with his hairy chest on display.

You saying you looked like him just brought back that memory.

JFBreak said...

Honestly, I don't look like Tom Selleck. And at my age, if I wore those sort of shorts, my balls would hang out!

CuriousRob said...

I was probably at my best weight and physical conditioning when I was in the Army (and 10 years later when the wife and I put some real effort into losing weight, and I got down to 195 lbs.) I can look at pictures of myself then and see how much leaner I was and I miss it. But I clearly remember thinking then how pathetically fat I was.

(I apologize for coming so late to the party.)

JFBreak said...

Better late than never. I'm just glad you are still out there!