Imag(in)e

I hate mirrors. 

I’ve participated in my fair share of cocktail banter about Poor Self Image: Who has it? Is it fatal? Ohmyno present company excluded surely! It’s acceptable as long as it’s kept academic; there’s some kind of social rule at parties that everyone must pretend they are perfect so they can receive more positive attention when they are witheringly self-deprecating. 

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Have you ever walked through your old school and felt completely rejected? Like, not in an aggressive way, no, because then there would be some emotion attached; a feeling that some administrator has about you. They remembered me! Not that. More like… the small attachments you feel towards this place are not reciprocated. We don’t have time for you and we definitely don’t need random alumni skulking about. We are not interested in your success or your failure. You are a problem. A drain. This school doesn’t need or want your affections. Show yourself out whenever you tire of being ignored. KThnxbye. 

Why does that feel surreal? I didn’t realize it until after I was gone that day, but it hit me hard. Something in my assumptions was clearly incorrecct. My social navigation needed some recalibrating. I was so excited to say hi to teachers, I was one of their best and brightest! So compliant, so smart, so college-bound! I did everything they wanted out of their students but I guess I failed at making any human connections at all. 

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That’s not entirely true. I failed at understsanding human connection. I made connections like a robot baking cookies; aimlessly, uninterested in the fate of the cookies, always ready to make a new batch, throw out the last one. As if baking cookies serves no function in the world except to provide me with a  box to check. Life is boxes to check, spaces to fill, problems to solve, right? My theories were all sound, but my application was weak. 

I did what I could. The recipe was my only tool. I’m learning that my body tries to heal from trauma the way it tries to heal a bruise. The longer it takes to show up on the skin, the deeper the injury. My consciousness couldn’t deal with any of this until I had enough distnce and growth to begin to glimpse safety. And then there was all the years wasted wandering around in denial, not able to sense my own emotions or sensations, not even knowing that I needed help because I was so far gone! 

I try to give myself a break. This is all very heavy. I am a survivor of neglect, abuse, molestation, head injuries, Religious misogyny, brainwashing, and gas-lighting. I need this to sink in! I’ll keep saying it until it does. 

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Pictures must be fascinating. I realized today that I do not look at images the same way that most other people look at images. Sure, there are expected reactions to some types of photos, and maybe some of those seem strange to me but the ones that I find upsetting are the ones of me.
I don’t recognize myself.
I don’t understand it. I see it and I know it’s me but that person isn’t me. That body. It isn’t mine. I try to wrap my head around it and a wave of dysphoria washes through me. Disgust, rebuke, nausea, confusion, whydoilooklikethaaaaaat

I was under the impression I was in good compnay becuse everyone is deprecating of their own photos but come to find out tht’s just a slightly different social practice that reinforces a community’s heiraarchy and doesn’t bring people down because most peoplehave a health sense of self and a little self-deprecating doesn’t make them question their place inside their own skin. 

This body doesn’t feel like home. I don’t know how to feel safe.

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