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Looking in the Mirror

How many times can we actually say that we have truly looked at ourselves in the mirror?  None would be too scary to state, but there are many of us who go our entire lives without truly seeing ourselves.

Ms bell hooks mentions in her Sisters of the Yam book that we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and state what we see.  The truth is that many of us can’t even think of doing this because what we might find there might be too painful. 

I have seen many people, including myself, trying to desperately find someone that is simply not in our reflection.  We look superficially just to make sure our outer layer is somehow acceptable to the “public” and then try to conform to whatever expectation we have been given. 

I wish I could say that the ”conformity” extends only to the physical body, but it reaches deep within our psyche.  How many times have we enjoyed looking at our naked bodies in the mirror?  No, we always become too preoccupied with self-criticism. 

Try dancing in front of a full length mirror.  It can be a little bit scary, but after a while you start enjoying the way your body “jiggles” and the mysterious ways in which body produces movement.  Then it is not about the body as a confining shell, but rather as an instrument by which your soul expresses deep emotions.

At a conference in Puerto Rico in 2005, a speaker asked us to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves what do we have to offer when we have stripped ourselves of make-up, clothes and any accessory.  Who are we after we take off all of the layers? 

It can be scary to look at ourselves that way because we then can see all the pain that scars our souls.  We have been well trained to think that our bodies are dirty and that our “battle wounds” are reminders of our unworthiness and shamefulness. 

Our bodies have memory and every time we are hurt, harmed or injured, the wounds remain inscribed.  Whether physically or psychologically we carry the scars that society tells us we should take the blame for.  After several traumas it is difficult to know how to reclaim our bodies.  How do we reconnect them to our souls?  How do we convince them that we have the right to feel?  How do we protect them during their healing stage and still keep them open to new experiences?  How do we heal at all?

I wish I had the immediate answers, but that is not how recovery works.  All I can say is that we should dance, dance naked until we look beyond the physical.  When the body becomes blurry and you see some light pouring through your pores, then you will know that you are near the core.  This doesn’t mean that you’ve entirely found yourself, but it is a good beginning.

Don’t force the light to come through the mirror.  Little by little you’ll see how your face is enlightened by your soul.  Then it won’t be about the reflection in the mirror, but about your true self shining through.  This won’t change the past, but it gives you the hope that you can create a better present and future.

 

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