I am, more frequently than not, a terrible mother. Sometimes I lash out at people without apparent reason, including at my poor daughter, and I soon regret my words and actions which puts me in a deeper state of misery and anger.
In Beauty and the Beast, I didn’t understand why becoming a beast would make the prince so angry. Sadness–I would understand, but anger? He slashed his portrait and turned over furniture. He was ill-tempered and treated his servants with contempt, and he spent most of his day hidden away in a dark chamber. He was angry because he wasn’t beautiful anymore, and as vain and foolish as it may seem, his altered physical identity made him mad. I, too, judged him for his vanity, but now I understand the significance of his anger. Something was wrong with him and there was nothing he could do to fix it. I think that’s why I get angry at times: something’s wrong with me, whether it’s how I look or how I feel, and sometimes I feel so hopeless/helpless. I know there’s always hope and help in the Lord, but the reality is, as some say, “the struggle is real.”
Do you remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when the characters need to choose the “Holy Grail” cup and the man (I forget his name and role) chooses the wrong cup and he is suddenly shown decaying down to his skeletal state. It’s such a traumatic scene, especially for those of us who saw the film when we were children (what were our parents thinking?!).
Well, if there was another image I could conjure up of my current state of being, it would be that man in his speedy decay. Every bit of moisture being sucked out, leaving me with skin so dry it feels like sandpaper, and the layers of oil/lotion that I lather on my face every hour dries up again within the next hour. Lines and wrinkles have become so deep and visible in the light, I want to hide in darkness. Lines and wrinkles I didn’t think I’d see until I was at least fifty years old.
The Beast, the decaying man, is me. And I feel like tearing up my portrait, if I had one.
I hide it well during the day with layers of make-up and moisturizer, and if you stand far enough away I look rather normal. But I am at my most vulnerable state when you are talking to me face to face or in the morning, when the hours of the night have dried up the oils and all you can see is my protruding eyes on a surface of red, bumpy, flakey skin, with no eyelashes or eyebrows (because they fell out some time ago). I envision myself as a thing of nightmares.
But this daughter of mine comes to me and hugs me sometimes in the morning when she’s not so consumed by the thought of breakfast. When I dare look in her direction and make eye-contact, she looks straight into my eyes and smiles. It’s as though she doesn’t see any of my insecurities. She doesn’t see a monster.
She sees her mama.