Sometimes you need to take a long hard look at yourself, but it’s not always your true reflection that stares back at you. I so rarely see myself when I look in the mirror that I often wonder if the dysmorphia stemmed the mental health issues, or did the mental health issues create the dysmorphia? It started so young that I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be able to answer that question, the answer lost to time itself, stolen away by memories lost to the innocence of childhood.
I have learned to look past my reflection, past the monster staring back at me. I have learned how to present myself, which parts of the monster to preen and where should be left alone. I have learned how to distract others away from peering in too closely, for the freakshow doesn’t run on their terms, I run it on mine now. The big multi coloured hair that brings such delight and wonder to those who wish they had the courage and permission to do the same. I have no such courage, I simply threw caution to the wind and took a lucky leap that happened to pay off for me. Nobody looks too closely at me anymore, not when the technicolour dream hair glistens in the sun, the colours dancing through the layers, the wonder of what will the freak do next? Beneath the hair and the vast array of glorious glasses that I have at my disposal, you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s all a mask, you’d ve forgiven because you’d be right. After all, if I can’t see who I really am, then why should anyone else get to?
Sometimes my own true self breaks through, like the princess just before the happily ever after. Sometimes my actual reflection fights through and for a few fleeting moments I get to see what I truly look like before the Dysmorphia overpowers us both and reclaims its power.
Today I saw myself for the first time in a long time. I was beautiful. The swelling and the bloat reduced from what I normally see. Cheekbones, a jawline, the possibility of a collarbone. The curve of my back smooth, my midriff still showing proudly that it grew two humans, but not so proudly that it looks like they’re still in there. For a second I smile as I recognise myself, a slither of pride lights up inside, but of course
The Monster extinguishes the light and drags me back into the image of myself that it created oh so long ago, the image that I cannot erase nor run or hide from.
You would think that The Monster is intrinsically the bad guy in all this, but my true image is not as blameless as you might think. Sometimes I wonder if Dysmorphia is there to protect me from myself a little bit? Yes it spurns me on and motivates me in all the wrong ways, but then if I never truly saw myself, I would have no idea as to the potential I have. The thought of collarbones sparks an excitement within me. The smooth curve of my back showed me that my former hourglass is on it’s way back. I remember back to before, before it went too far. The ridges, the angles, the collarbones. The way my hipbones would jut out ever so slightly as I walked. These memories spark and flash inside, you can see it in my eyes. I can see it in the eyes of my true reflection in our brief reunion. The sparks lure me in closer to the edge, they’re calling me to come and rejoin my true reflection. With my eyes closed I see where this path lead me so blindly before, but this time I know the way so maybe the journey will be different?