I looked into the mirror. I looked into the mirror, and I didn’t see me.
I looked the same fundamentally, of course – black hair, brown eyes, brown skin, kind of a gut – but it was a stranger who stared back all the same. His eyes, once gleaming with excitement, now carried a sadness I had not previously been privy to, and invisible pools threatening to burst forth were their new accessory of choice. They were older than his years, not by the knowledge they carried or the things they’d seen, but by the weariness that had settled in and made itself home.
An ache had set in the mirror man’s body and pain coloured his form. It was apparent in his stance and his gait, and it was apparent in even in the most miniscule of inattentive movements. The burden of consciousness was slowly chipping away at him, taking piece by little piece, soon to be left with little other than despair.
The man that once approached every situation with a novel curiosity now appeared deflated and defeated, the only welcome experience of the day being the chance to end it. He woke up to the new day not out of desire or necessity, but because he knew little else, for in the question of the evils we have and others that we know not of, the abyss did not yet seem as welcoming. He left himself paralysed in place, stuck in a tortured limbo, unable to commit to one or the other. Unable to belong.
They say whatever causes night in your soul will leave stars as it fades, but the man in the mirror is caught in a perpetual state of waiting, biding my time until the stars gleam and pierce through the dark.
I’ve started seeing him again. The boy who might have preferred waking up to the midday sun rather than the crack of dawn, but looked forward to the day nonetheless. The boy who might have still liked staying up into the night, but because it was a serene and creative time, instead of a period during which he might escape from the perils of the day. The boy who leaped from world to world not to escape but for the thrill of exploration.
The boy who belted out choruses horribly off key but laughed through it all the same. The boy who did a little dance while waiting for the bus without care for anyone watching. The boy whose eyes gleamed and soul bloomed, and the boy enchanted enough to believe he had a soul. The boy who turned everything into an adventure and the boy who enjoyed the sweetness of doing nothing.
I knew that boy – that warm and wonderful boy – was just around the corner, lurking just out of sight. So I started doing the things he liked – the things we liked – to draw him out. To make him feel safe enough to show himself again.
The boy I once loved – the boy I still love – has started seeing me.
Not sure I’m a huge fan of baring my soul like this, but every now and again, I’m moved to. I’m glad you’re here while I do.
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'They were older than his years, not by the knowledge they carried or the things they’d seen, but by the weariness that had settled in and made itself home.'
'The burden of consciousness was slowly chipping away at him, taking piece by little piece, soon to be left with little other than despair.'
^The way constant mental exhaustion ages you, wears you out.
'...the abyss did not yet seem as welcoming.'
^For a lot of folks trapped in a deep anguish, in a deep pain, they do not want things to end necessarily, just for the pain to stop.
'...but looked forward to the day nonetheless.'
^The way healing & progress does not have to be perfect, where there is space to breathe, to be.
'To make him feel safe enough to show himself again.'
^A lovely summary of self love, to say so.
I do appreciate the phrasing, where pain & whatever suffering you've gone through winds up being a journey of losing & finding yourself over & over.
As someone else trying to find the balance between the world-weary stranger, the child, and the responsible adult, thank you for putting words to what so many of us can't. This was absolutely lovely.