Poison or Pleasure

Looking in the mirror is uncomfortable. The older I get, I find that the reflection that waits for me there is a liar.  That’s not me! Photographs are a similar torment.  My unstudied appearance (the perception I have of myself unconfirmed by the looking glass) is presentable; my outsides reflect my insides.

Except they don’t.

I once found my son standing in the bathroom staring at his reflection in the mirror. He was crying.

“What’s wrong with my face, Mom?” he said.

“There’s nothing wrong with your face! You’re so handsome.” I was very confused.

“No. My face doesn’t look like me— it’s NOT ME. It’s so ugly.” Jude said.

You can imagine how freaked out I was. I took Jude to a therapist shortly thereafter. He periodically mentions his disillusionment with his appearance, and I’ve learned how to handle it. And really, how can I expect him to be any different, he’s my child. Self-assessment is in our make-up. Separating yourself from your identity is not a vanity struggle, it’s a truth struggle.

All humans have two faces; the one we believe we have and the one we actually have (the face that other people see). Very often when people look in the mirror they see the face they believe they have, simply because they don’t know to look for the other face.

What my son and I have to work on, what I’m trying to get better at, is not hating the other face just because it’s different from my perception of myself.

Blogging is a vulnerable undertaking. It is also arrogant. Sitting down every day to expose my thinking to the world borders on self-harm. Don’t tell them that! I say to myself. They’ll hate you. They’ll think you’re crazy. They’ll all go away! And I sit and sit, staring at the blank page, and the blinking cursor says, be brave, be brave, be brave. 

The other me, the face that you may see reflected in this blog, says listen, you’re doing them a favour— they need to hear this. They might not like it, but a teaspoon of salt will only make the batter sweeter. Do it. DO IT!!! 

Have you ever been in a relationship that you realise is slowly poisoning you? When they call, you have to brace yourself, and when you’ve been with them, you leave feeling completely drained, almost weepy?  But you look at how other people relate to that person, and they seem to feed off of that person’s energy? They must be seeing a different face.

I spent years thinking that I needed to ‘fix my heart’ in those circumstances, but now I am mature enough to know that one man’s food, in another man’s poison. I walk away from the poison, or I set boundaries; I don’t spend time trying to fix myself.

In the same way, I will be poison to some, and pleasure for others. This blog, my life, even my energy might be too much to swallow for some people. And that’s okay. I hope those people feel free not to consume my offerings.

I am learning, and constantly reminding myself, everyone is doing their best. I’m doing my best. Don’t be afraid to look long in the mirror. And learn to like the face that other people see. Both faces are you, it’s just a different angle.

That’s all folks! Have a lovely weekend.

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