I was going through my plastic file container looking for a picture I was going to scan – it is a rather large photo of my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather. It is in that container because it fits in there. That container also has letters and cards my brother sent me over the years (remember when people wrote actual letters? I miss those days) as well as other little mementos and my school records and my diplomas and all my old writing and some term papers and xeroxes of stuff I used in school – 2 entire books actually, one called the “Magna Mater” which was long out print when it was assigned – long story, anyway, moving on…
There was a “graduation” card from physical therapy (5 months, 3 times a week), the “Alexandria Crew” wrote that they would miss my “everlasting smile and good cheer”. There is also a lovely handmade card from the charming young lady who did my nails at a salon in the Bahamas – she wrote “A client like you I could never forget. In the short time that I’ve known you, I’ve become very attached to you. What I admire most about you is that no matter what, you are always smiling” .
There have been other instances when people told me that when they think of me they always remember me smiling – even way, way, way back when I was one hot mess of a deeply depressed, angry emotionally crippled woman. (Some of you may think I am still, just much older, but you would be wrong. Ok, so maybe I am a bit depressed but not every day.)
I had a boyfriend who said “No matter what time it is, you always wake up smiling”
My dear, dear therapist said, in horror “How did you survive your childhood”. He also said, with a bit of amazement, “Basically you are a happy person”. Bless his heart, he was a great doctor.
I’ve never thought of myself as a basically happy person. Yet the general consensus of opinion is that I am. It seems people remember me by my smile – gap-toothed and all. So every once in a while when I need a little lift I rummage around in that old plastic file box and dig out those cards. I remember the people who wrote them and I feel good about myself.
It is said that feeling good about yourself should come from within, not from others, that self-esteem is self generated. But sometimes it is useful to see yourself as others see you – especially when they see you smiling.