The mirror stands before me, but I don’t know how to use it. It offers a reflection of a person that I don’t recognize. Wide set hips, full soft midsection, tiny breasts that appear to be glued to a shell of a torso…Who is this person? A flame of hair falls over my shoulders. Smoke mixes with the flame as though it’s trying to extinguish the fire’s passion. A face stares back at me. It’s dry. It’s tired. It’s sad. Is this really ME? Is this what *I* actually look like?
Moving into the shower, I allow hot water to sting my skin in hopes of washing away my imperfections. I have so many after all. I’m short. I’m small, but way too large to actually be small. I have curves, just not in the right places, at least not the places that I’ve been told that I need them. Wait, that’s not really true. I’ve been told that I have “ass for days,” but my thighs are too strong (read fat), and my breasts are too small (read flat). My nose could host the Winter Olympics, but my eyes are a complex colour. I’m a paradox of too much, and too little all in the same body.
These are things that I’ve been told. Words that have shaped my own perception of my reflection. Words that have tattooed themselves on my skin in ink that only I see, and feel. So, I look at myself in the mirror. I don’t know who I am seeing. I don’t even know what I’m looking at.
Other words are spoken…I hear them. I try them on for size, but they never fit they way they were intended. Being told I’m beautiful, or gorgeous, or any other pleasantry for that matter feels like rain falling on an umbrella. I don’t feel them. They never reach me. The people who use those words are trying to tell me something, but I can’t understand what they are saying.
Some people want me exposed; vulnerable to their weaknesses thus turning me weak, leaving me open to pain. Others are sincere in their tongue. With some people, I know the difference. Words can be spoken with a heart. Words can be spoken with a soul. Words can also be spoken with a burning desire that consumes another person’s sense of self. I’m always on the watch for those people. Sadly, their burning words make me fear smoke in everyone’s words. Smoke hides the truth.
I only see myself through smoke. Maybe I don’t want to see what I really look like? Maybe i don’t want to know that I have the potential to be beautiful? Maybe I don’t want the words of fire to be true because then I have to live up to them? Maybe I’m scared? Maybe I have taken so many stabs to my identity, allowed too many people to shape my reflection that I’ll never see myself for who I am? I wonder…what do I REALLY look like? How will I ever know the truth? Will it be the words of someone who loves me? How will I know to trust them? Eventually, I will have to see what’s in the mirror…