I am so two faced.
“Whew, I said it.”
I finally said it.
I found this picture of me, 1967.
I am 15 months old in this picture, I imagine myself seeing my own reflection for the first time. I am so pure, I have no insecurity’s , nothing to prove, I stand for nothing yet, I am honest and unfiltered. What you see is what you get, me smiling at my own face, hiding nothing.
I don’t know at what age that changed, but it did and if I took that same picture now at 49, the face you see would not be my true face. Back then I only had one face, my own face, but then life happened, people started to affect me, judge me, correct me , tell me what to stand for, what to feel, how to feel it. What was right, what was wrong, what the world would accept, what they wouldn’t accept.
I have this really heart wrenching, honest conversation with myself this time while looking in the mirror…” this face you look at every day in the mirror, how does it differ from all the other faces you show the world. And so I start-
The face I show my kids
I am strong, I am resilient, I get knocked down but I always get back up. “Everything happens for a reason.”
The face I see in the mirror: I don’t feel good about any decision I have ever made in my life, I have spent my entire life re-living the what if’s, the should have’s , the could have’s. The truth is I don’t think everything happens for a reason, I think sometimes life is ugly and cold and hard and it takes everything we have to show up and give it our best shot. I don’t know why a thousand things happen, why children die, why there is war, why people don’t have enough to eat, why women are raped, why there is cancer, why people are paralyzed with fear and anxiety. I don’t think those things happen for any reason at all. And if there is a reason, I don’t want to know about it .
The face I show to my Mother
I will always try to think about the welfare of others before myself, just like you taught me. I will live my life knowing the legacy I leave behind will only be measured in what I gave others. When I am gone only that will matter.
The face I see in the mirror: I am tired, tired of giving and giving only to be left empty and trying to re-build myself, I want to say I am worthy, I am the most important person. I come first and then whatever I have left over I can share with the world.
The face I showed my Father
I don’t need you, I am strong, I was not affected by the fact that we had no relationship. My Mother filled your shoes.
The face I see in the mirror: I needed you more than you will ever know, I needed you to accept me and love me, I needed you to put us first, I was so angry at you for taking care of someone else’s family and leaving us behind. I needed you to explain why you did that, how could you have done that, how did you sleep at night knowing we were one emergency away from disaster our entire lives. Not having a relationship with you affected every ounce of my being from as far back as I can remember. My Mother did the best she could, but she never did and never could fill the shoes you were supposed to fill. You were supposed to be my first lesson in a lifetime of relationships with men. You were supposed to make me feel safe and worthy and important, you failed…..and then I failed in every relationship with men that I have ever had.
The face I showed every man I have ever been in a relationship with
I don’t need you to take care of me, I can take care of myself. I am strong and independent , I can take care of the both of us.
The face I see in the mirror: I needed you, I needed you to be the strong one, I needed you to show up and take care of me without me asking. I needed someone to fight for me. I needed you to let me be vulnerable and weak. I always had one foot firmly planted inside the door and the other one poised to run, not because I wasn’t sure of you, because I was never sure of myself.
The face I show my friends
I am okay , It’s been four years since my last divorce and every day I get closer to being over it, taking the lesson I was supposed to learn and moving forward with my life. Most days are good, I only struggle sometimes.
The face I see in the mirror: It’s not Okay, my heart is broken, I don’t know if it will ever beat in the same rythym it used to. Or if it will forever and always skip a beat. I don’t know if I will ever get over it. I have learned a lot about myself and my relationships , but I would give up every day in the past four years for one more night to crawl in to bed with my ex-husband and fall asleep to the sound of his heart beating in my ear.
There you have it, the real me, the behind closed doors me, the me I see in the mirror every morning and every night, and then the one you see when I ” present myself to you, the way I have been conditioned and trained over a lifetime.”
The face I see in the mirror I hardly recognize sometimes, and when I truly recognize it, all it’s faults, it’s fears, it’s failures- I turn away quickly and try to see the face I have presented to the world.
I remind myself , we all do it. Hide our real face and present something else to the world, the tortured man hides behind his funny face, the hungry starve themselves , the crippling shy person presents themselves as the social butterfly ,the incredibly lonely hide behind the facade that they love being alone and independent.
Why? Perhaps in hopes that we will learn to combine the two into someone that can survive, in to someone we think the outside world will accept? We are killing ourselves, literally and figuratively.
I drop to my knee’s holding this picture of myself and I beg her :
From this day forward, show the world your real face, in the end the only one your fooling is yourself, the only one that suffers is you. The only one your confusing is that sweet little pumpkin face staring back at you in the mirror and you owe it to her to show the world your true face. She is counting on you, don’t let her down.