What do you see when you look in a mirror? We can’t see what other people see, a mirror reverses an image, so when we look at our own reflection it still is not “real” or “true.” My parents tell me I was a beautiful baby, a beautiful little girl, a perfect child, a good kid, all the accolades one would expect loving parents to spill all over an obedient & well-behaved child. As a teenager, like most I suppose, I rebelled, quite a bit more than they expected or certainly anticipated, but still, despite my “bad” phases, there was still a moral compass in me that always tried to steer me back to GOOD.
I was brainwashed in a way to believe, truly in my heart, that all this goodness was going to “GET” me somewhere or something. When I was younger, I had no idea, where or what, only that there seemed to be some reward ahead of me for all the “perfect daughter-ness” I possessed. I waited. I made terrible choices and many mistakes. I was a super successful college student and a really hard worker, a very caring, despite my youth, mother, and still I waited…for what I am not sure, but for something more than what was. Through every heartbreak, sadness, disappointment, terrible choice, and bad decision, there always remained hope, anticipation for whatever the universe had in store for me next.
Over the years of my life, since I left home at 17, I grew more and more discouraged, that no matter how hard I worked, how kind I was, how good I was, there was still this GOAL that I could not achieve. This unattainable something else that would come to me for all these hours of breathing. Sometimes I would stare at the reflection in the mirror, this girl,this woman, looking back at me who had no idea what she was doing but only that she had to keep going through the motions of this so-called life because the alternative was nothingness. I went through periods of really high highs and really low lows; often knowing what I was working towards or reaching for, and other times being utterly clueless and just going through the motions .
When my sister got engaged I was wrought with depression. Why was she getting what I always wanted? It felt sickening to be so envious of my sister when I should have been so happy and excited for her. I wanted somebody to love like that too, and to love me like he loved her. I felt awful for feeling awful. When my daughter got married and left home I grew so tired…I had no idea what my purpose was. I had raised a human to adulthood and did the very best that I could and I felt empty…total nothingness. I drank and smoked my way through many weeks and described myself as feeling like I had been cut from my neck to my knees and had nothing in the middle. It was maybe the lowest I had ever felt, and to be clear, my experiment in 1985 at being married and playing house was a really, really low time. Then one morning I just felt better. I looked in the mirror and felt like me.
That lasted for a time. I can’t say how long because before long, I was back in my high-low mode…being blissful one day and feeling confident that the world was mine, and like turning off a switch I could then go to feeling unsure and unfulfilled and uneasy. I thought about trying antidepressants, not because I was “depressed” but because I felt unstable. Like everything about me was precariously balanced on the head of a pin, like all my parts and all my wishes and all my dreams and all my successes and all of my failures could just spill into the abyss at a moment…but I realized one day that if I tried drugs to find a balance, and they did not work, then I would be left feeling hopeless. I always had hope I would “FIND” myself. I always had hope that I would discover my true image, the me I knew who I was but could not see.
Over the last few months I have noticed I look in the mirror less and less. I’ve stopped asking that image “what am I doing?” and I have stopped asking that image “what is next for me in this life?” because somehow I suddenly and unexpectedly find my life fuller and complete. When the beautiful face of the boy I love lights up when I walk into the room, I see in his face that he sees something in me I do not see in myself. When the daughters of my daughter wrap their little arms around my neck and kiss me with wet slobbery lips and look into my eyes and smile with their whole bodies, I see in their faces that they see something in me I do not see in myself. Maybe that is the truest reflection of myself I could wish for, love in the eyes of those I love.