This I Believe

I believe in the mirror.

From an early age, my self-worth came from the mouths of others. I wanted to fulfill their expectations of me. Any criticism was a personal attack. Their negative appraisal meant that something was factually wrong and needed to change. It was more than just a mere opinion to take into consideration or even discarded. Unfortunately, many things were beyond my control. I was very skinny with really bad acne. I wore the big Coke bottle glasses, which did not help. These traits only served as ammunition for the antics of my classmates. At home, as most siblings do, my older brother would insult me. He would talk about my big feet, my big nose, and my big lips. I was always a momma’s boy. I did not like the manly things like sports. I enjoyed the arts; acted in school plays and sang in the choir. My brother called me a “sissy.” I had no sense of belonging inside or outside of the home so life for me was pointless. I wanted to kill myself but my religious belief would not enable me to follow through. Thus, my mantra became, hope for the best but expect the worst and you will never be hurt again. I became emotionally numb.

It was in the downstairs bathroom of my parent’s home that it happened. I looked in the mirror. My spirit hovered outside of my body looking at this shell of a being. As if seeing a stranger for the first time, I saw him; and I continued to see him until many days hence when I finally built up the nerve to confront him. “Who are you?” I asked. Thereafter, we started meeting regularly and every time he looked different. Some days he embodied hope; some days, fear. Some days he was larger than life. Other days he was merely the outpouring of bottled up tears of years gone by. Though he was unlike anyone I had ever met, I eventually grew very fond of him. Until one day, in complete nakedness, without any pretense or judgment I slowly began to embrace him; all of him. I began to embrace me. For you see, I spent so many years putting my own self down that even the images of love that I did receive from others only came out distorted through the broken lens of my inadequacies. Yet, that day; the day when we embraced, I found love and love introduced me to his good friends, confidence and approval.

Today, for the first time in my life I am happy being me. It does not matter what people say or think. I do not seek love or acceptance from without because it overflows from within. And it all began when I took a look; a deeper look, in the mirror. I believe in the mirror.

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