I have spent countless hours refinishing old furniture, lately. Some people would complain but I like that it has made me obsessive or rather that my obsessive disorder is triggered on it because if I am sanding and staining and scrubbing things beautiful, I am not obsessing about getting some rare cancer from inhaling Scandinavian sheep farts.
I kid, but the reality of my dysfunction can be literally exhausting. I am afraid of every pain, every ache, every fleeting moment. I am terrified of things getting contaminated or tainted. I am frightened of every day life. My brain makes me worry. If my side hurts I may have liver cancer. If my head hurts it could be a tumor. A rash could mean something nefarious and scary. The gum under the table could give me Hepatitis. And even though I know this is all bullshit my mind makes up, it changes nothing for my anxiety.
And as much as I would love to, I can not turn it off. I can't stop thinking about it. The only thing I can do is distract myself when that same old broken record with the same old shitty song starts replaying in my head over and over and over again.
Being me can be so very tiring.
Days, weeks, months are filled with excessive worry. People see me as someone who has her shit together. I try so very hard to present myself that way but the truth and perception are two very different things.
The truth is that I have battled this mental illness for thirty three years. I know nothing else. It has stolen so much of my time and resources. It has ruined relationships. It has made my life hell.
But I refuse to be macabre and morose about it. I refuse to stay silent in the shadows and be ashamed. It is not me being brave it is me trying desperately to survive under it's clutches. And I will survive because I am not someone who gives up. I can't afford to be or this illness would take everything from me and I am not going down like that.
Which leads me to my point of this post:
Last weekend someone threw this table out to be picked up by the garbage truck. It was rough, dirty, and damp. It looked like it had went through hell and back and possibly a house fire and a war zone with angry bat wielding leprechauns. Someone had felt that it's ugliness meant that nothing beautiful was underneath the years of it's mistreatment and bad style choices. They overlooked it. They counted it to be less than. But I could see it for what it really was. Something that just needed some tlc. It just needed someone to see it for what it truly was, strong underneath all of it's ugly.
I saw myself in that piece of furniture. A little warped, some ugly bits on the outside, thought of as less than what I am worth at first glance because not everything about me is pretty to behold or easy to deal with. But under all of that distraction and dysfunction I am sturdy. I am more beautiful and strong than I ever thought possible.
Under the layers of paint and pain I am still me, still real, still a solid force to deal with. Maybe that is why this table, so casually discarded, moved me so much. Because I could see, even if no one else could, that this table was way more than just trash.
Refinishing this table delighted me. It healed me with every scrape of the paint chisel, with every piece of sandpaper, with every brush stroke of stain. Every moment of saving this table felt like me saving myself. Weird, I know.
A little sanding, a little stain, and a little bit of soapy water and viola.....
How could something so beautiful and sturdy as this be considered as garbage?
So, I am going to keep at it and keep refinishing the furniture I find discarded because of perceived flaws. I will make them beautiful again. And every time I bring something back to it's original beauty I will be reminded that deep down we are all beautiful underneath too. Despite our flaws and in spite of our supposed "ugly". Flaws don't make you weak, hideous, nor does it make you expendable. We are beautiful.
Truth and perceptions, people....truth and perceptions.