It’s been a long time since I have literally stood in front of one of those mirrors that warp the way I see myself. Or I thought it had been until I realized I have been standing in front of one my whole life.
In fact, my family lived in a hall of mirrors. As siblings, we grew up with a skewed vision of who we were. The future was filled with promises of greatness for the oldest three. When it came to the last two of us, our futures were far more ordinary, if not downright bleak.
For a while, those warped reflections must have brought some sort of order to the chaos in our lives. My father’s drinking and volatility made some sort of defense necessary. Trouble was that for me, it was my siblings’ instability that had a more profound effect on me. I was careful of my father to be sure, but my sister and brothers, who were much older than I, shaped who I was.
Each one of us clung to the images in those mirrors as if they were real. The mere suggestion that they weren’t true brought swift retaliation from the others. I tended to be the one pointing out that there was a problem with the picture. My mirror was not kind.
As the youngest of us, I got labeled with the traits that no one else could manage. I was sensitive, crazy, irrational, weak and dramatic; my perception of reality was warped, not theirs.
Then the mirrors grew old and cracked. True reflections started to emerge. Three of us started to back up and take a good look and, one by one, make our way out of the funhouse. I have known about those mirrors being phony for a long time; I just didn’t know where the door was to get out of the crazy place I was in.
It turns out that, in the real world of fresh air and sunlight, I am strong and smart, sane and insightful. I had to fight hard for that realization, because it is one that was unacceptable to the family that lived in the warped world of those mirrors.
My heart breaks for the two left inside. I love them and I am enraged by them. I point out that the mirror distorts them and they dismiss me as still the crazy one. I keep trying to show them the door, but they only see a traitor. I have betrayed the family myth, which they nobly preserve.
It is time to detach with love. I won’t wait for them, but I will greet them warmly when they choose to be themselves.