A reflection in the Mirror can be Deceiving

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story that involves a reflection in a mirror.... view prompt

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Inspirational Contemporary

This story was written by my mother Susan Duckett. She gave me permission to share it with you all. She is hoping that it will resonate with some of you. She struggles with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and constant pain due to health issues but she wanted to remind you all that healing is possible. Healing is worth it.

I walked past the mirror but I didn’t look at the reflection. I was afraid of what I would look like. You see, my dad got mad at me and he had on rings so I had a lot of bruises. That was 3 days ago. I was afraid to look at myself in the mirror. I was afraid for anyone else to see me. I could finally walk a little bit but it was painful. I finally talked myself into looking at the reflection even though I was very afraid of what I might see. I walked slowly over to the mirror. I stood an extra minute before deciding to look. I looked into her face and what I noticed was sadness. I had a black eye, a bruise above my right eye and a bruise on my cheek. I had bruises on my arms and my ankle was swollen and bruised. I couldn’t see bruises on my head but I had a headache and it hurt to even comb my hair. What would people think if they were able to see my reflection?

The funeral for my aunt was in a couple of days. Should I go? There would be a lot of people there so I decided not to let anyone see me. The shame I felt was overwhelming. My mom’s main concern was what people would think of her. She didn’t even take me to the hospital for my ankle. It hurt and was swollen for weeks. My grandpa thought I made up the entire thing even though he could see the bruises. I went to the funeral but I stayed in the car. My aunt that passed away didn’t like my dad. She knew what he was like.

I left home and my home was very different. My home is safe. My children are loved and I listen to them. I haven’t owned a mirror for a long time. Because of shame, I didn’t take care of myself and I am now overweight. I am ashamed of how I look but I don’t have bruises. I am safe. I am loved. It is hard to change how you see yourself when you are abused. You internalize comments that other people have always made about you and you come to believe them. Other people don’t see you that way. Some people won’t see you for who you are. Ignore them. I am just starting to be able to look at myself in the mirror. There are things I need to work on but for the most part I really like myself. I like who I am. My mother is still embarrassed for people to see me. She will probably always feel that way.

This was not the only time I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I have been called some terrible names by family members. I started to heal and set boundaries. Now, many of my family members won’t talk to me and they all talk about me behind my back but I am making a new life. Healing has been a series of very tough decisions and it has been a long journey. I started going to counseling when I was 13 years old. My grandpa stopped talking to me because he had a rule that we don’t tell people outside of our family anything about our family. I have been in counseling on and off over the years. I have come a long way and I still have a long way to go. I still struggle with self confidence and I definitely struggle with how I look but I am working on it. I can’t change what happened to me when I was growing up. I am not sure I would want to change it because all of these events made me who I am today and I like who I am today. Hopefully, as I continue to look at my reflection in the mirror I will be able to see myself instead of the person I was told I was. I have had so many people tell me that I should just forget about it. I am not sure how they think that is possible when abuse has an impact of every area of life. If abuse is allowed to continue it will impact several generations. It has been really important to teach my kids how to set boundaries and help them understand that they are valuable and loved. If I don’t heal and help them understand what happened to me, they will be doomed to make the same mistakes that I have. I want my children and grandchildren to be safe and loved. So, mirrors are important in my house. The mirror does not have to reflect what everyone else sees you as or sees in you. You can learn to see yourself better than all of the words you have been called. I decided not to be afraid of the mirror any more. The longer I let that hold me back the longer I let fear control my life. It has helped me to journal every day and document my progress or setbacks. It has also helped me to hear the stories of others. Then I am able to say if they can heal then I believe I can too. Another thing that has helped is music. I also use art. I have learned that a true reflection is more about what you perceive than what other people perceive. Don’t be afraid of that reflection but instead you can start to change how you see yourself and that will change how others see you.

July 09, 2021 00:01

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