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How to embrace getting older, sisters, best friends, motherhood, growing up, I used to be beautiful, getting older

I Used to Be Beautiful

by Deborah Cruz

I use to be beautiful but no one told me how to embrace getting older. When I was younger, I always thought I could be taller, thinner, lips fuller, breasts bigger, skin darker, nose straighter, fingers longer. Believe me, I had a laundry list of things that I wanted to change about myself. I think most of us probably do, at that age. But photos tell a different story. In retrospect, I can see that I was beautiful. My skin was flawless and the perfect shade of golden brown or alabaster, depending on the time of year. I had great legs, hair and boobs. I can see now that I was pretty. I couldn’t see it then.

Now, I am middle-aged and though not “ugly”, I look tired and grey. I look worn and everything is the victim of gravity from eyelids to breasts and my ass. Every part of me is exhausted from years of sporadic sleep, worry and stress. When I gave birth, I knew there would be sacrifices but I had no idea how much it would change me, inside and out. I had no idea that it would rob me of my vitality.

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I am no longer first in my life. I probably never will be again. Even when I try to make myself a priority, my heart knows that my children always come first. I don’t mind so much. I feel like I have given my life over to a higher purpose. I sacrificed myself for them. It sounds damn pitiful when I write it out but it’s not.

The only time it bothers me is when I show an old photo of myself to my girls and they stare blankly at it for a few minutes trying desperately to place the face. It’s mine but not one they recognize because it has bright white teeth, big happy eyes, make-up on, hair not in a ponytail and a body that I should have been thanking God back then instead of complaining and killing myself via starvation of my body and soul.

I used to be beautiful.

The girl in the photo is young, beautiful with perky breasts and svelte legs. She was well rested and ridiculously optimistic. She had her entire life ahead of her. There was nothing but hope ahead. She still lives inside of the woman you see today.

The thing is this, I don’t want to be who I was at 25 because then I wouldn’t be who I am today but I also don’t want my children to look at photos of me when I was 25 and find me unrecognizable. That hurts because to me, I am still that girl. I know I am exhausted, and not as hip or free-spirited as I once was. I am no longer the life of the party or the girl who lived so big and hard that the only thing constraining her was the atmosphere. No, she is long gone but in her place, someone deeper, wiser and better has emerged even if I do have more luggage under my eyes than I do in my attic.

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I was not born a mother; run down and tired from caring for others constantly. I was not born old. I used to travel, dance and go out to fancy dinners. I used to enjoy being the center of attention. I used to be selfish in ways that you cannot imagine. I am much happier now.

beautiful, sisters, best friends, motherhood, growing up, How to embrace getting older, sisters, best friends, motherhood, growing up, I used to be beautiful, getting older

I used to be beautiful.

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Leighann 2014/03/25 - 11:14 am

you are gorgeous!
I know how this feels. I have looked back on pictures of myself and wondered why I was so hard on myself, why didn’t I appreciate what I had?
But I am happy, so happy, with what I have now. It’s bittersweet.

Jenni Chiu @ MommyNaniBooboo 2014/03/26 - 11:28 am

Yes. That’s pretty much all I can say. I know all of these feelings. For me, sometimes I’ll remember what it feels like to be young… and then I’ll look in the mirror and be so disappointed. Then I’ll look at my children and be amazed… it’s a rollercoaster. I’m still struggling with living n the now while missing the past…

Amanda 2014/03/26 - 9:37 pm

Still beautiful!

I wish it were easier to be proud and content in the moment. I love that you are reflecting on it, but maybe in ten years you’ll utter similar things about the you now…just be gentle on you!

Brittany 2014/04/06 - 8:21 pm

You are beautiful! I think sometimes it is so hard to see when we compare ourselves to our past, but like Jenni said when you look at your girls (or at least when I do) see you in them and all your beauty and then look at yourself again. You are beautiful!

The Cubicle Chick 2014/04/07 - 10:58 am

I think we’ve all been there. Our teen and young adult years are tragic. We have no real appreciation for what we had or what we were. Everything then was all wrong, not fair, not fun, blah. And then you get older and realize that actually, life wasn’t bad back then. In fact, you were in your “prime”. I remember dieting so much as a teen and I look at photos and see how skinny I was. I shouldn’t have been dieting at all, but then, I thought I was fat. If I could be that size now, girl, LOOK! I would be too hard to handle. LOL.

Great post. And you are still beautiful. Your mommyhood scars make it so. Toodles!

Lisa Fan 2014/04/11 - 5:12 pm

Beautiful piece, I think it reflects a lot of emotions that many people can’t or won’t say out loud. I’ve tried talking to my mother before, asking her about her life in the past. She answered in Mandarin, saying, “Why does it matter? We should look towards the future.” Sometimes I look at old photos of her, realizing that she was extremely graceful, light, and peaceful. I think she still maintains that same spirit, just with a different persona.

Nina Faye 2015/07/24 - 11:19 pm

You have taken the words right out side of my mouth. I used to be a bad girl. I was just right in all the right places. I’m just one of those women whose appearance changes completely when I gain weight. I don’t even look like the same person. Not to mention the lack of funds or energy to keep my hair care and make up supplies current. I remember being referred to as ugly and just two years earlier I was making awesome money in and out of strip clubs just being a escort. I like a completely different lifestyle now, but I know who I am and I am beautiful. I just have to find the extra, over the top, willpower that is needed to put in the time required to get my body and mind back.

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Lauren 2019/03/02 - 6:11 am

I’ve actually done that my whole life with pictures


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