As a girl growing up I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror. Most of my moments were quick; a quick check of the hair and makeup or maybe even a few trips back and forth to make sure my outfit really did look okay. Sometimes I would find myself lingering a little too long as I squeezed my sides back to see what my waist looked like without my “muffin top.” Like most girls my reaction to my reflection was always different. Some days I thought I looked fabulous while the very next day I would walk away from the mirror crying. Damn mirrors. I loved the way I looked and I hated it all at the same time, but none the less each day I went back to the mirror to look again.
I have heard more than once that the eyes are the windows to a persons soul and I could not agree more. If you really look into a person’s eyes you can learn so much about them. Whenever I looked into the mirror whether I liked what I saw or not, I at least saw me. I saw my soul and that ever so important part I loved so much.
During my anxiety I avoided mirrors like the plague, well not entirely. I used them on a needed basis. I of course didn’t want to leave the house looking like a crazy person with food in my teeth or a snot in my nose. I already was feeling crazy enough, I didn’t need to leave the house looking the part.
The lingering in front of the mirror stopped completely. I couldn’t bear to look myself in the eyes anymore because the person I saw looking back at me I no longer knew. Every once in a while I would force myself to stop and look into my eyes and each time I had the same outcome. Through my eyes I saw the mess that my mind had become. I saw darkness and fear. I saw guilt and uncertainty. I saw the pain and sorrow that had settled in my mind with no plans of leaving. I would struggle to find something familiar in my reflection, something comforting, but each time it was as if I was staring at a stranger in my own home. My chest would tighten and my arms would begin to tingle. Each breath suddenly required a massive amount of energy and effort to take. My mind would start swirling and finally after all of maybe two minutes I would have to look away. I would try to get a hold of my breathing as I walked away dizzy, nauseous and worst of all defeated. All of these awful feelings just from looking in the mirror. What a terrible way to feel.
During my struggle with anxiety I spent a lot of time thinking about myself. How was I feeling? How would I make it through the day? Am I going crazy? Will I ever get over this? Should I get help? Should I go on medicine? There were many long days spent just thinking about myself, but at the very same time I was losing sight of who I was. It’s a strange feeling when your own body feels alien to you. I think strange is too lite of a word. It feels terrible. There were days when I wanted to rip my own skin off and run away from me. How do you get away from the person you can’t stand when that person is you?
I knew that deep down inside, past the wild thoughts there was a girl whom I loved dearly. I had known her once before and she was great. On my journey to peace I was determined to rediscover myself and all the qualities I possessed that were beautiful. Following my “epiphany” at the end of 2012 (see my next post for this), I began making it a point to stand in front of the mirror, relax my breathing, and really look into my eyes and see past the storm of uncontrolled thoughts. I knew that if I did this long enough I would eventually find myself looking back.
As the days of 2013 passed I began to recognize the person in the mirror. It did not happen quickly and it was by no means easy. I was no longer walking away dizzy and nauseous. I was walking away with a smile on my face. This would be one of the hardest parts of my journey, but by far the most rewarding.
There is no better feeling than looking in the mirror and loving, not what you see, but who you see.