The Mirror

This afternoon I “fell into the pit”. Instead of allowing my darkening thoughts to spiral me into further depression, I used Twitter as an escape vent and directed the self-hatred there. I surprised myself with being able to rhyme so neatly on my feet.

The mirror shows my room so clear, no shadows in its sight.
The sunlight through the window caresses all in gentle light.
I see the makeup, perfume, and jewelry, reflected in mirrored sheen.
I see the paper, pen, and book, and the desk now freshly clean.
I see the chair, warm from my flesh, and the cup of cooling coffee.
I see my room perfectly reflected, but never do I see me.
I sit before the mirror plain, yet never do I see me.

Being able to look on what I had written, and know that everyone that was following me also saw those words snapped me away from the pit back to the Here & Now. I acknowledged I wasn’t in a good place and walked away from the keyboard for a while. I was supposed to force myself to dwell on the positive and stable things in my life. That’s what all the bullshit self help books would tell me.

Instead, I went out and purchased my two dollars of lottery tickets for the week. Despite knowing the odds, those two dollars of defying logic bring me a deep satisfaction. Yea, I’m supposed to lose, I expect to lose, the math says I’m 99.99% going to lose, but What If?

I’m used to defying odds anyway. What if my babysitter had held the knife to my throat a little tighter? Instead of a few drops of blood tainting the blade, what if it was arterial spray? What if I hadn’t noticed the van following us the night I went Christmas caroling with my friends? What if the house we ran to for help was empty, and not the home of a police officer? What if the fire in the airplane’s engine spread? What if the train was going a little bit faster? What if I froze up when it came around the blind bend?

What if all my detractors were right, and nothing good would ever come of my life?

Then why am I buying two lottery tickets, for a prize I am all but certainly guaranteed never to win?

For the same reason I have makeup and jewelry even though I am mentally unable to see my face.

I dare.

The mental scars my babysitter left on (in) me made me terrified to become a mother. I was so afraid I would become a monster and destroy my own progeny. This afternoon, my teenage daughter gave me a hug and thanked me for being her mother. She was grateful for the fun times and for the discipline, because she knew I wanted her to become a healthy independent adult and not some whiny co-dependent princess. Fuck yea.

That caroling night, my two childhood friends were so sure we were going to be kidnapped and killed, they all but laid down before the van in defeat. I dragged them as I ran to the nearest house, screaming bloody murder, determined to rouse the entire neighborhood with screams for help. So if the first house was empty, there were three more closer to us than the van was. By the time the resident officer ran out front, he was met by three other neighbors that heard us and was coming to our aid. Fuck yea.

While I couldn’t do anything about the fire in the engine, I was determined not to die crying and begging to an indifferent god. If I died that afternoon, it would be with a glare of steady defiance on my face, and I would enter the next world with determination. I later found out, the passenger sitting next to me remained calm because I remained calm. She said as long as I was steady, she would not be afraid, even if the fire spread. Fuck yea.

Long story how I wound up crossing train tracks in front of Amtrak. Many expletives involved. When it came around the blind bend, I was 99.99% sure I was going to get hit. Already 1/3 across the tracks in a large SUV that my daughter could outrun from a dead stop. I didn’t think about avoiding impact. I thought about surviving impact. And by God, (or in spite of God,) I and my passengers were NOT going to die that night. I placed my body weight on the gas pedal, and focused on the far side of the track crossing. When the SUV lurched sideways from the impact, I did not turn my head to see what damage had been done. I remained focused on my targeted destination. As long as I had an engine, front wheel drive, and a working drivetrain, I and my passengers were going to survive. And we did. The only vehicle damage was the rear bumper that was removed from the frame by the impact. No bodily injuries to anyone involved. Fuck. Yea.

When the dark clouds come and my worst enemy (myself) starts tallying the degrees of my worthlessness, I have to start tallying my own marks. Yes, I am invisible in any gathering, small or large, private or public. Yes, I am formally outcast of my kin. Yes, I have only one friend that I can actually reach out and physically touch. Yes, I have scars on my arms and neck that will never completely fade. Yes, I have gray hair and am considered irrelevant in mainstream American culture. Yes, my marriage failed and the batshit craziness was shared by both parties. Yes, I am unemployed, and will likely never hold a job worthy of my college degree that I still owe student loans on.

But.

I dare.

I dare to continue on, day by day. I dare to measure myself by a ruler other than the one used by the public, one that measured internal strength instead of apparent monetary net worth. I dare to lift my head above the miasma that passes for American femininity. I dare to embrace my body. I dare to walk like a woman, with sturdy steps. I dare to tell would be lovers that I can do better with a pair of Double-A batteries than accept all the restrictions they demand for their physical embrace.

I dare to wear an afro in a community that says nappy hair is a step backwards for Black women. (But do the $200 weaves and $500 lock styles show fiscal responsibility? Hmm? How is unchecked vanity and vicious Sunday dressing good for the soul?) I dare to dress how I please, and not reveal the shape of my areolae through too tight a shirt. (If I can read the tag on your underwear, while you are fully clothed, there may be a problem.)

I dare to work through the pain left by different abusers. Dare to repair the earth of my soul that was scorched and salted by their assaults. I dare to allow my daughter to see I am not perfect, that I struggle with my own demons. I dare to teach her that she too can rise above her own torments. (And she does. Fuck yea.)

I dare to remember I am not this jumble of flesh and bones. That there is a part of me, deep within, that slumbers in ignorance. That part stirred once, and in a great shrug, tossed off most of the scars left by my molestation. I dare to Work to encounter her again, even if that encounter destroys what is “human” about me. (But then, what is “human” is temporary, anyway.)

I dare to not give up. I dare to take chances.

I remember I’m the same person that stood up to Sekhmet the Devourer (In a dream, yes, but I wasn’t lucid. I really thought it was Her!)

Let my detractors autotune the same song again. What they consider worthy, is useless to me. I’ll go my own way. Whistling.

There is only one accuser that can bring me to my knees. Truly, I am my own worst enemy. And even then, all she can do is remind me why I stand up in the first place. Hide my face from me forever, I won’t stop trying. Even if you, dear reader, look away, I’ll still continue to dare.

Because I can.