Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Monster in the Mirror? It Isn't You

    Every morning, I shuffle to the kitchen to feed the ever-exuberant kittens. Then I shuffle to the bathroom, where I dress and clean my face and brush my hair, where I decorate my sleep-filled eyes with makeup. Where I stare at my dim reflection in the mirror.
    Every morning, before breakfast, I also twist open a white-capped, translucent orange bottle and take out a green and blue pill.
    And every morning, I swallow it with water and a twinge of thanks.

    I need us to know, I need us to understand: there is no shame in being sick.
    There is no shame in crying curled up in a corner, in clawing at despair - and sometimes, yes, ourselves.
    There is no shame in losing yourself to the black depression, in collapsing under the loneliness, in trampling yourself with anxiety, in burning yourself down with mania. In losing another battle against the addictions that provide a fleeting reprieve. Whether you swallow down the panic attack or are ravaged full-force, there is no shame.
    There is no shame.

    It is okay to be sick.
    It is not okay that we're sick, oh no. We don't deserve the torment in our mind and whatever - genetics, trauma, sensitivity - triggered it. But we are not wrong for being sick.

    Maybe there's a part of you, and me, that hates ourselves.
    When I was younger I heard preachers say we can't truly hate ourselves. There was always a small part of me that scoffed at them.
    Because somewhere deep inside, I did hate myself. I knew I deserved the bad things, the pain and anguish and tears and shame.
    I. Hated. Myself.
    And in that grotesque, insidious piece I knew I could never be loved because I wasn't strong and I wasn't brave and I wasn't...I wasn't what I was supposed to be.
    It never stopped screaming, You are not loved!

   There was a part of me, you see, so sick and black I couldn't clean it out. Devotion to prayer and Bible studies, grades, and even inviting God Himself inside me, didn't clean it out. Hatred and denial, desperation and rage didn't bleed it out.
    So I took the blue and green pills, unsure if I was condemning myself deeper, unsure if I was just plain damned. Blue, the color of tears, met green, the color of life. My favorite colors, on a simple aromatic compound that would somehow regulate the chemicals in my brain.
   It's a fierce fiend, that demon. But the cleansing only started when I talked about it - in therapy, with friends who (surprisingly) did love me, on this blog.
   The shame fades and fades, because the more you open up and the more people and God come in. And the more we open, the more we are changed.
   It doesn't leave easily - it's still there. Oh yes. I got a B on a homework assignment recently, and oh, how the shame washed over me again (that's why I'm writing that here, I suppose). But it is fading in the light of grace, of God and of people.

   But first, I need you to know, I need you to understand: we are all loved, and more than that, we are all wanted.
   You're not the monster in the mirror.



  1. I like how so much of this parallels to something I've been working on about mirrors and how we see ourselves. Not to say it's something wholly unique in anyone's lives but it's enjoyable to see the similarity and be reminded how we are alike.

    I think a lot of how we see ourselves comes to down to how we attain approval. For those of us who see ourselves as less than worthy, seeking approval outside of ourselves tends to worsen this. Maybe that's why we hear "what Gods says about you is more true than anything else—that you are loved." To me, this is the same as being able to remind myself of and hold onto that approval. And it's helped me since coming out as bi even though a lot of people don't agree with what I do or who I am. It's also helped me be more understanding and less non-judgmental to anyone else.

    Because we are of being, we are loved. I wish we all could remember that whether we're religious or not.

  2. Which also isn't to say that simple self-affirmation negates any biological chemical imbalances.. I have to take that pill just like everyone else still, but those realizations have been a boon for me to live a better way