A Year Passed
I have lived a humbling existence this past year. My life has unfolded right before me, as well as right before anyone who would like to see. It is there, out in the open and out of the shadows.
I had lived for many years in a shell that I had gradually built up around myself over time. I was not truly aware of what I had accomplished, but I accomplished it none the less.
I had grown monstrously complacent. I knew what I had, and I knew what I wanted, or so I thought. I knew what level of comfort was best for me. My worries and fears and inhibitions had their own separate drawer in the bureau at the other end of the house, and they seldom came out to see the light of day.
I have talked about my inhibitions and fears and worries with my wife and family and a few counsilors in the past. I have recently talked in length about the struggles of mine with one of my sisters. I have shed some light on what had been going on inside my mind over the years, and how I feel that I am slowly starting to understand the mind set of the person who has been staring back at me in the mirror all these years.
I have been, for the longest time, very uncomfortable with my appearance. This has played a major part in my process of growth throughout my years, especially my adolescent years. I have hid my opposition to my looks from just about everyone. I may have hidden it from most people, but the one person that I could not hide it from was myself.
Yes I know all of the people and family that have told me forever that I am a handsome and good looking man, and I appreciate the hell out of you all for trying to instill this into me. For the most part, these positive affirmations have gone in one ear, and right out the other.
I have never been able to fully accept my looks. I just never thought I was anything other than hideous looking. My teenage years and all of the reconstruction procedures that I had done in Boston, took their toll on me in more ways than I had ever realized. It is my perception, and no one else’s. My perception is the one that played over and over in my mind. I could create positive scenarios here and there, but my own triggered reactions to what I saw in the mirror are what stayed with me.
Since my vision loss last summer, it seems that a tremendous weight has been lifted off of my psyche. It seems that I am finally starting to unravel the twisted cage that has kept me locked up inside my own perceptions. Without the visual input of my own self as seen by me, I seem to be able to learn about what is inside me. Rather than what is on the outside of me. I have always been more than my appearance. I have never given that much thought though. What I saw in the mirror was what I felt was me, inside and out.
Many times I would think I was having a pretty good day where I felt ok with myself, and then something would trigger a reaction that would usually send me plummeting to my frequently manufactured lows. This reaction was always brought on by a quick unannounced glimpse of myself in a window or a mirror, or by someone’s reaction when they saw me. My mind has been well trained to sudden knee jerk reactions that left me bewildered and befuddled and anxious and fearful and pathetically inadequate. My own twisted logic over the years has left me with a coping skill against myself. I had become my worst enemy. The battle of setting my spirit free was a daily encounter. Day after day my own perceptions riddled with false fears and made up logic would twist and turn their way into my life and convince me that I was only what I saw on the outside, and not what I felt inside.
I have spent this last year getting to know the man I am from the inside out. I have never paid much attention to this guy living inside of me. He seemed ok for the most part. He was always liked by most people. He had many loves and dreams and cravings and worries and legitimate cares and concerns. He was also gullible and naïve and believed what ever the guy in the mirror was telling him. He believed that anyone who saw him would surely see the hideous monster that was in the mirror. He had brainwashed the innocent little boy in the mirror. He had deprived this little boy from developing into the one that everyone else saw. He wondered how they could see something so drastically different than what he saw. He felt trapped and scared and alone so many days. The one looking back at him in the mirror had picked his pocket of youth
He has grown into the man that is starting to feel his life fully for the first time. I feel that I owe my wife and son and grandson so much. I have let this twisted voice inside of me talk myself out of so many wonderful feelings. I do not want to miss out on anything any more. I can not afford to.
I have met my life head on this past year, and if nothing else, I have discovered that I have more feelings inside of me than I ever thought possible. My emotions have taken over on a lot of days, and that has felt wonderfully frightening, but wonderful none the less. I have slammed shut my feelings for so long that I wasn’t sure how to handle all of them. One after another they did show their faces and I was re-introduced to myself again.
I am still learning every day what these feelings and emotions are. I am also learning that I am in control of them, and no one else. It is up to me to take these experiences and make something good out of them.
With the help and love and support of people in my life, and god, I will continue to grow into the man that everyone else has always seen. I always joke that I hope to be half the man my dogs think I am some day. I am starting to think that I hope I can be half the man that had been staring back at me from the mirror all those years. He is still me, and I am still him.
My future looks bright today. I never thought of my future as having bright possibilities before. A few doors have closed from behind me this past year, but that pales in comparison to the windows that are beginning to show signs of opening.
With help, love, faith and support, I plan to go through them all, one by one.
Hopefully they are all on the first floor.