I saw her last night in the mirror as I passed by. She was right there, unexpectedly, and smiling warmly. I stopped and stared. A flood of emotions swept though me. I had only ever seen her in older photos. She was a beautiful young woman and I had always wondered what had happened to her, why I didn’t see her in life. My children, as my teenage daughter never fails to tell me, see her all the time and don’t get how I could keep missing her.

Why hadn’t I seen her? What on earth was I looking at all this time? What, exactly, was I seeing?

It’s not hard to figure this one out, really. I saw generations of anger, hate, self-loathing, mental illness, regret, grief. My family story, like that of so many others, is long and tortuous. It’s filled with intrigue, lies, abuse on all levels–at all ages, and even involves Nazi Germany, Hitler and concentration camps. I suppose, I could write a book about it all, and maybe I will.

But at this moment, here and now, I finally see past all of that. Past my childhood abuses, past my own grief and regrets, past the insanity of my mother, past my inner self-loathing that I have harborerd for so long. Right now, finally, I can look in the mirror and see the beautiful middle-aged woman that I have become. The woman who choses to accept the moldings of her past and use those, no longer as a crutch for self-sabatoging, but as a tool to stengthen relationships and help others.

My experiences have shaped me, they brought me here – to where I am now and armed me with the love, compassion, knowledge, and experience to take this next step. To raise my own children in a better light. To be awarded the Goochland farm, to open and run a successful school, to help teenagers find and restore their beautiful, inner core.

To the woman I now see in the mirror, I love you. I accept you for who your are. I respect you. Now I can see you, your beauty, your strength, your love. Now I can finally see You. Your are. I am.