Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thoughts On... Mirrors

They say that if you hear something often enough, you start to believe it to be true. This has been proven over and over again. Most notably, the social media evolution has given ample evidence. But there is an extension to this. Hear something often enough, you start believing it to be true. Keep hearing it and it stops being true and becomes fact. There is a difference between truth and fact. Truth is subject to interpretation. Fact is not. What the fact means, and how the fact links to other facts, that is open to interpretation. The Fact, however, is not. You can argue what causes us to stick to the earth, but that we stick to the earth is unarguable. Gravity is a fact.

As someone who prizes rationality above all else, I like facts. I live by them. I have so many that they fade into the background and spread their influence across all of my world, like gravity. Recently, I discovered that a friend of mine is going through a period of transition in his life. Among the things that are changing, one of the biggest is his weight. This change has also awakened him to certain realities of his life and thrown a light on certain perceptions he has of himself. While he's nowhere near to needing the kind of weight loss that I do, he did reach out to me during this trying time in an effort to find support and to give me some much needed support and motivation. In reaching out, he has reminded me of certain facts of my existence.  

Fact: I despise looking at myself in the mirror.
I have been overweight for roughly about 30 years. In that time, the only mirrors I've ever owned were the ones that came installed in bathrooms. I use them for shaving. I avoid looking at reflective surfaces. Part of that is being a man in the U.S., really. We're not really encouraged to admire ourselves, and my Dominican culture kills that even more. In fact, the only real time men are encouraged to stare at themselves is when they are getting ready to attempt to acquire a mate. But, my size eliminated any chances of THAT happening, so what did I need mirrors for?

TO this day, I never seek out mirrors unless it's of DIRE importance (shaving, needing to fix a tie for an interview, etc). And don't even get me started on cameras. There are very few pictures of me for a reason. Even in today's selfie obsessed society, there are less than 100 pics of me. My friends and roommates have pics of themselves numbering in the THOUSANDS and take more every day.

You have no idea how difficult it was to make those reflections videos I made.


As a child, I was ridiculed for the way I looked and because of my intelligence. I hated myself. It took years for me to stop hating myself. Then it was: "I'm a good guy, I just look hideous." And that lasted for a good decade or so, until I figured out how to break the link in my mind that equated what I was worth to how other people saw me. That's when I became a hermit. Other people really don't matter (and most of them bore me anyway), so why waste my energy on them? I've got better (and more fun) things to do. No one is an island, however, so I got a small core group of friends and the rest of the world be damned. That took a long while to break apart and I'm still working on getting out from under it.

But I can't get away from myself. And while I have grown to love myself and who I am, which was instrumental in breaking a lot of the issues in my life, I still can't bring myself to look in a mirror willingly. Even though I know that it doesn't really matter, I hate my reflection.

I hate my reflection.

All the jokes that I hear about fat people that I laugh along with... all the culturally trained revulsion and disgust... all of the rejections and pain... all of the basic tasks made more difficult... all of the frustrations of my life...

They all come to the forefront when I look in the mirror and see for myself how the rest of the world sees me. It's the type of thing that can drive someone to suicide. And at several points in my life, it almost did. My friend talks to me about being ferocious about my attempts to change my life. But, I have to be careful. If I try to take on too much, the emotional backlash could overwhelm the strength of personality and will that has kept me on this planet. Because unlike gravity, there's only so much personality and will power I can muster.


I HATE MY REFLECTION.


And none of this changes this one fact of my existence. At least.... not yet.

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