Stranger In the Mirror

By Jill MacDonald

I look in the mirror and stare into my eyes

It’s so hard to focus, I look away in surprise

Why is it so hard to look myself in the eye?

Is it me that I deny? I really want to comply

There are things that are hiding, things I don’t want to see

I can look someone else in the eye, then why not me?

I try again, this time more determined than ever

I ignore the awkward gesture and say never say never!

What am I so afraid of? I wonder what I can do

I don’t want to be a prisoner inside this zoo

 I gaze into my eyes, my hopes and dreams flood my mind

Then pain and fear take over leaving me confined

These feelings it seems have been there all along

When I focus on them I don’t feel so strong

I can clearly see the power they’ve had over me

This is a problem that I must deal with fiercely

For if I am ever to be comfortable in my own skin

I know I must first deal with things from within

I look again into the mirror and stare into my eyes

And…I find a nice surprise!

I wrote this poem many years ago after an assignment a mentor gave me. I was told to look at myself in the mirror every day and tell myself “I love you”. It sounded simple enough; I just had to look into my eyes and say “I love you”. No problem, that is easy! 

The first day I tried this, it didn’t go as I thought it would. I started to look myself in the eyes, but I couldn’t. Every time, I would look briefly and then turn away. I found it hard to hold my gaze. My eyes would begin to flicker back and forth. It took me a few more days of this, and finally I was starting to get somewhere. I was able to look myself in the eyes for a few seconds. I then tried to say “I love you” to myself, but I found the words getting caught in my throat. Again, I was surprised. “It’s just me, why is this so difficult?” After a few more days, I was still unable to do it. I decided to try something else; I started out by saying “I like you:!  That seemed to work! It took a few weeks of that, and then I was able to progress to “I love you!”.

Looking back, I can see the place I was in, and how far I had come. It is sad to think I couldn’t look myself in the eyes and say “I love you”. In the scriptures, we are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves. There was an important connection that I had missed. We have to first love ourselves and then we can love our neighbor. So I challenge you to start with yourself. Look yourself in the eyes and say “I love you!”. If you’re not able to do that, then start where I did and seek to make progress every day. Pretty soon you will look in the mirror and find a nice surprise!

_________

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